New to You (9): Lindsi Reviews Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Lindsi from Do You Dog-ear?. When she signed up and said she had never read book two in the Lumatere Chronicles I knew what book I was giving her. As someone that almost didn’t read this book I just couldn’t let her get away with it. Let’s see what she had to say about my all time favorite literary character!

New to You (9): Lindsi Reviews Froi of the Exiles by Melina MarchettaFroi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2) by Melina Marchetta
Published by Candlewick Press
Published: February 12, 2013
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five-stars

From master storyteller Melina Marchetta comes an exhilarating new fantasy springing from her celebrated epic, Finnikin of the Rock.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

It has been years since I read the first book, Finnikin of the Rock, but I had no trouble falling back into the beautiful world Melina Marchetta created. It was like I had never left even though the story starts three years after the first one ended. A lot of sequels try to summarize the first book within the second, but that wasn’t the case here. Tidbits of information are dropped throughout, but they were gentle reminders that didn’t take away from the current story.

I don’t really remember how I felt about Froi from Finnikin of the Rock, but I absolutely loved him in this! He’s so devoted to Isaboe and the kingdom of Lumatere. He’s made a home for himself and would do anything to protect those he loves. However, he isn’t expecting to form new relationships when he leaves on a secret mission for his queen and king. He didn’t think anyone could matter to him as much, but he cannot help his feelings or how they develop.

There are not enough words to describe how magical and wonderful this world is. I cannot fathom how Melina Marchetta’s mind works, or how she created something so complex and completely captivating. This book is a beast… like 600 pages, but I never wanted to stop reading. The length of Froi of the Exiles is what kept me from starting this one for so long, and I want to thank Andi for giving me the push I needed to finally commit to reading it.

I like to think I’m pretty good at figuring things out in a book before they happen, but damn… I never knew what was coming, and I was often so surprised I had to re-read a few pages to make sure I really understood what was going on. There are so many things happening at once, and everyone has a secret (or five). It wasn’t until everyone started explaining themselves that a complete picture was formed.

This book also made me feel. They weren’t always good feelings either, because there are things that happen that make me want to be a very violent person. I don’t know how Froi was able to restrain himself at times, and I know his bond had to be strong to keep himself from lashing out and killing everyone. Quintana broke my heart, and what happens to her is cruel and despicable. Gah, I can’t even talk about this without getting worked up.

Quintana was a fascinating character that cannot be easily explained. She’s so much more than people think, and my heart repeatedly broke for her. Despite everything she has lived through, she still remains a fierce force to be reckoned with.

I love all the characters in this book, and it would be impossible for me to list each one and what I liked about them. We see various perspectives throughout the book (though mostly Froi’s), and it was wonderful to watch each of them as the story progresses. I’m so happy Marchetta included everyone from the first book, and that we get to see what’s happening in their lives, too.

Have I said enough? Maybe. Can I say enough? Definitely not. I could go on and on about everything I loved about this book, but I’ll simply ask that you read it for yourself. It’s something that needs to be experienced by you and not just talked about by me. Technically, you could skip Finnikin of the Rock and just read Froi of the Exiles, because they can stand on their own. However, I would recommend reading them both so you can stay in Marchetta’s incredibly enchanting world just a little bit longer.

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Thanks Lindsi for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy I was the push you needed to read this gem!

My review of Froi of the Exiles.

Have you read anything by Melina Marchetta yet?

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Book Talk – The Near Misses

Usually after I read the first book of a series I make my decision if I will continue on and read the next book or if it will be a one and done. If I decide to not continue it’s because I’m either happy with how book 1 ended or I’m not that interested in seeing where it goes. There is really no rhyme or reason why some series I continue and some I don’t. I mean I have read some really bad book ones but they were so bad I wanted to know what would happen so I read book 2 and I have read really good book ones and decide I’m good and don’t need any more. But in my whole reading life there has been only 2 series that I said I wasn’t going to continue and I ended up being convinced to read books 2 and 3 and I’m really grateful that I was.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series

I read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in November of 2013 and I loved it. A friend let me borrow an early copy and I remember not being able to put it down. It was fun and quirky and reminded me of everything I loved about Jenny Han’s books. I loved the interaction between the Song sisters and Lara Jean and just a lot of the book in general. It was just an amazing book and I was so happy to have read it. I even lent it to others I loved it so much. But then I heard there was going to be a second and third book and I was like…NOPE. HARD NO. I’m gonna pass. I know what will happen and NO NO NO. So I ignored the release of P.S. I Still Love You and then ignored the release of Always and Forever, Lara Jean. I had friends tells me to read it and I said hard pass still. I’m happy leaving it where it was.

And then BookCon happened. I was spending the morning with Alexa, Rachel and Kristin and they had all just read Always and Forever and were gushing about it. They were talking about how amazing and perfect and wonderful it was and I’m not gonna lie I was intrigued. I had held off forU so long but something about the way they were talking sparked a long dead interest. I asked Kristin to spoil me before I would decide what to do and she did and I’m so happy she did because although I didn’t love P.S. I Still Love You, I think Always and Forever, Lara Jean was one of Jenny Han’s best books to date and I almost missed it. I almost missed seeing the Song girls grow up and change and become young women and that would have been unacceptable.

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The Lumatere Chronicles

In April of 2014 Gail made a deal with me. Honestly I don’t even remember the terms of the deal but I needed to read Finnikin of the Rock. I’m a huge fan of Melina Marchetta contemporary books but I was scared to read the fantasy series. In the first place fantasy wasn’t my thing and Marchetta likes to make to wait a whole lot of pages before you understand what is happening. But a deal is a deal and I agreed to read Finnikin. These are my exact words on my Goodreads page when I finished:

I wasn’t wowed but I didn’t hate it. I really enjoyed about 65% of the book and loved Finnikin and Evanjalin. Typical Marchetta the writing was just beautiful and the woman knows how to tell a story. I’m proud of myself for reading and finishing this as promised but I don’t think I’ll continue the series as of now.

As you can see I was done. I was most likely never going to read Froi of the Exiles or Quintana of Charyn. Finnikin didn’t wow me but that was fine. I did it. I held up my end of the deal.

Well in October of 2014 something changed. It could have been another deal with Gail or it could have been her being like, HERE, TAKE THESE BOOKS AND READ. I don’t know what it was but I ended up reading Froi of the Exiles and my reading world changed. Why did it change? Because Froi is still to this day the BEST LITERARY CHARACTER I have ever read. The change and growth to him was done so extraordinarily well I am still blown away by it. So much in fact I read it again. It was just a stunning part of the story that I almost didn’t know. I loved Froi so much I read Quintana of Charyn right after it.

It’s a series that almost wasn’t and I almost missed out on two all time favorite books. And to this day I will tell anyone that listens that even if they don’t love Finnikin, to just push through and go on because Froi and Quintana are worth it.

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The moral of this story? Maybe you should never say a hard pass no after reading just book one. You never know what you will find in the pages of a sequel…or two.

Do you have any series that you have said no to after reading book one? Have you read either of these series? Come share with me!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I Want to Meet

I freely admit that I have been pretty lucky when it comes to meeting some of my favorite authors. Rainbow Rowell, Lauren Oliver, Morgan Matson, Miranda Kenneally; I was lucky enough to meet these lovely ladies and get my books signed by them. But there is still that elusive list that I would love to meet some day. I mean I have interacted with almost all of the 10 and have signed books from a few, but the meeting had yet to happen. I wonder what I can bribe them with to come to Boston. 😉 So which authors are you DYING to meet? stephkarenemeryjodiheathermelinasarahlaurensuzannetrish

Stephanie Perkins || Karen Akins || Emery Lord || Jodi Meadow ||Heather Demetrios || Melina Marchetta || Sarah Ockler || Lauren Miller || Suzanne Young || Trish Doller

*Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
**Top Ten Tuesday photo made by me. If you would like to use it please give credit.

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Review: Quintana of Charyn – Melina Marchetta

Review: Quintana of Charyn – Melina MarchettaQuintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #3
Published by Candlewick
Published: May 27th 2014
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five-stars

The climactic conclusion of Printz Award winner Melina Marchetta’s epic fantasy trilogy!Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume.

Review

Before I go into my review I am going to say if you haven’t read any of the books in this series, 1) go and do that IMMEDIATELY (although admittedly the first was not a favorite of mine) and 2) don’t read this review until you have read the books. With Quintana of Charyn being a 3rd book that picks up after Froi of the Exiles, it is near impossible to have a spoiler free review so therefore you are being warned.

Now that that is out of the way I can get to my review. Piece of cake, right?? WRONG! Putting my thoughts on Quintana of Charyn onto paper is a feat I’m not sure I can handle. The book was utterly fantastic and I don’t think my words can accurately explain what I loved so much about this world and these characters. So in lieu of doing my regular kind of review I’m going to tell you what I loved about each of the characters.

Lucian/Phaedra

I want them to get their own book. I was intrigued by the two in Froi of the Exiles and even more so in Quintana of Charyn. I just feel like their story had so much more to tell. Two people promised to each other from neighboring “enemies” that seem to have nothing in common, that are scared to fall for each other, that do fall for each other. They have heart ache and love and more heart break. They are together and apart and together and apart. I want their story to be told.

Lucian was a hard egg to crack. He was trying to live up to all these expectation, trying to be his father, but he was more than that and I wanted to see just how much. And Phaedra loved fiercely and believed in people to the depths of her soul. She gave up her own happiness time and time again to do what she believed to be right. Their story is one I would like to follow some more.

Finnikin/Isaboe

Oh Finnikin and his Queen Isaboe. I loved them from the beginning of the series. I may not have loved the book per say, but I loved these two characters. Finnikin and Isaboe have a natural chemistry that carried through all 3 books that I really enjoyed and appreciated. Did I want to smack them both upside the head in Quintana of Charyn? ABSOLUTELY! But I also got where they were coming from. Essentially my heart broke for them a lot of the time, but it was worth it because it made them real.

Arjuro/Gargarin/Lirah

These 3 are a story all of their own. To say they are all broken is a major understatement. Basically they were all wrecked by the events that took place in the past and in Froi of the Exiles and were holding on the only way they knew how by keeping on going. They weren’t always the most likeable of characters and they made bad decisions but everything was done as a form of self-preservation or in the best interest of the kingdom. I can honestly say they were probably the least selfish people. It would be interesting to have a prequel for them to see what exactly went down in the past to make them what they were.

Froi/Quintana

What can I even say about these two?? Froi is hands down one of the best literary characters I’ve come across. He has so much depth to him. He was a character that I hated in Finnikin of the Rock but as he grew from a boy into an adult he grew on me and I could see what was really behind who he is a person. And Quintana…oh Quintana. Gel was crazy crackers but the kind of crazy crackers you can easily appreciate. She had a hard life and it wore on her making her having these crazy defenses up. But she also loved fiercely and trusted with the depths of her soul when she did trust you.

I can’t accurately put into words how much I loved these two separate and together as friends or as lovers. They had this whole “two halves of a whole” thing happening and just didn’t seem complete without each other. It is like a coin with two heads. It isn’t balanced without the tails and Froi and Quintana were that balanced coin.

All in all Quintana of Charyn pretty much destroyed me. I cried for about a week straight on the train on my way to work. It ripped my heart out and made me ache for the characters in only the way Melina Marchetta writing can do. For a series that I didn’t love the first book, the other two more than made up for it. Marchetta, you hit it out of the park with this one.

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Review: Froi of the Exiles – Melina Marchetta

Review: Froi of the Exiles – Melina MarchettaFroi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #2
Published by Candlewick Press
Published: February 12th 2013
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

Blood sings to blood, Froi . . .
Those born last will make the first . . .
For Charyn will be barren no more.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home... Or so he believes...

Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.

And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

Review

Words. You defy me words. I can’t even. Between that end, the fact that I loved it, and the fact that I actually read a 600 page book I’m word less. Where do I begin?? Better yet, why do I insist on letting Melina Marchetta get me like this every time??!!

Froi of the Exiles in the second book in The Lumatere Chronicles. It picks up 3 years after Finnikin of the Rock. Since living in Lumatere, Froi has been trained how to defend the queen he has a bond with at any cost. He’s become a trained assassin and has found his place within the world he lives in as oppose to the life he led before meeting Finnikin and the Queen. But Froi also aches for something he can’t name. There is a longing inside him that scares him, that makes him fear his dark side. When a stranger comes from another part Froi is sent undercover to try and help Charyn by killing their corrupt king. But what Froi finds is something he never expects and it all starts with the half mad princess, Quintana of Charyn. With a surprising group of people Froi is about to find out not only who he is, but what he wants to stand for in life.

I’m not going to mince words. I hated Froi in Finnikin of the Rock and I only mildly liked that book. Froi annoyed me and I found the story a little blah for my liking. I mean I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t crazy insane about it either. I had convinced myself that I tried the series and I was done as it didn’t work for me. Then enter my friend who after a series of drinks convinced me Froi of the Exiles was so much better than Finnikin of the Rock and I needed to read it. Since alcohol was involved I didn’t stand a chance and I agreed. And then I dragged my feet until succumbing about 4 months later. Yup, my friend was right. Froi was SO much better. Like beyond my belief better. And the reason? Froi himself.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I flipping loved Froi. He turned out to be such a complex character that I really couldn’t help but love him. He was different in book than he was in book 1. Sure you could sense his growth immediately, but you also felt his sadness, his loneliness. He was surrounded by people he loves, that love him, and yet he never felt like he belonged anywhere. He loved his queen and Finnikin with everything he had, but a part of his heart was missing. Mix that with his slowly unfolding (only in the way Marchetta can do it) back story and you just can’t help but love him. He’s a very layered character and when you get to know him you see that. He is now one of my favorite literary characters. Add in Quintana and I’m sold.

What to say about the crazy crackers Quintana of Charyn. She was off her rocker right off the bat. She was weird and quirky and just plain nuts but I also liked her almost immediately. There was something about her that drew me in. And then I got to know the character and I just loved her. She lived an impossible life and did what she had to to stay alive. She fought the best and the bravest way she could and I was in awe of her. She broke my heart a lot, but I loved her all the more. She was powerful in a quiet way and I appreciated that. Her scenes with Froi were pure genius and brought out a lightness in the both of them. They had an undeniable chemistry and I just wanted to read more (luckily there is a third book). Their story had an epic feel to it and they just worked well off each other.

Besides Froi and Quintana there was really an amazing story going nehind the scenes that connected everyone and one of my favorites thing about Froi of the Exiles. The story unfolds slowly but not impossibly so. It has a pace that I found comforting almost and it helped that I was invested in all the characters involved. Whether it was people I met in Finnikin of the Rock or new people, I wanted to know what happened to them. That right there made me happy I read the book.

Really for a book I almost didn’t read I can’t think of one thing I didn’t like about it. It really was fabulous. And don’t even get me started on the soul crushing ending. All you need to know is not to give up on a series because the first book was just okay. Things can easily change and grew and develop. A character you hate may turn into someone you love and want to talk to everyone about. I’m a prime example of this. If I quit after Finnikin I would have missed out on a pretty perfect book. So if you stopped after reading Finnikin of the Rock I implore you to not be so hasty. Froi does not disappoint.

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