Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol

Title: Secondborn32972153
Author: Amy A. Bartol
Pages: 321
Year: 2017
Publisher: 47North
Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Firstborns rule society. Secondborns are the property of the government. Thirdborns are not tolerated. Long live the Fates Republic.

On Transition Day, the second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier for the Fate of Swords military arm of the Republic during the bloodiest rebellion in history, and her elite firstborn mother is happy to see her go.

Televised since her early childhood, Roselle’s privileged upbringing has earned her the resentment of her secondborn peers. Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.

But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. As the consequences of her actions ripple throughout the Fates Republic, can Roselle create a destiny of her own? Or will her Fate override everything she fights for—even love?

I read this book via Amazon’s Kindle First program.

Not another teen dystopian novel! Honestly, someone needs to do a parody of dystopian novels if they haven’t already. 10/10, would read, would buy seafood dinner.

Secondborn’s dystopian identifier is in its title. All second born children are handed over to the government as slaves, and the first born children rule the world. I thought this book offered a unique take on the “realms separated by factions” trope that we have seen so often in YA. Amy Bartol is very detailed in her world building and explained the politics and terminology very well, but it felt like a lot of information at once. Thank God for the glossary in the back of the book (that I didn’t realize was there until I had finished reading).

Our protagonist, Roselle St. Sismode (try saying that 5x fast…) is a second born. Her mother is the Clarity (leader) of her fate (caste system), whose high ranking has forced Roselle to live in the spotlight her entire life. Luckily, Roselle isn’t jaded by her privileged upbringing, and uses her celebrity as a means to help others. She has been trained as a fighter since she could walk, and is a natural born leader. While she is a bit naive, Roselle has a hero’s heart and is loyal to the people she loves. Yada-yada, oppressed second class rebels against their oppressors, led by a skinny white girl with a Mary Sue complex, yada.

The characters were distinctive and seemed to fit in well with the protagonist. There were a few characters that made an appearance only to never be mentioned again, but for the most part, every character had a purpose and a personality.

The pacing here was terrible. The first third of the book was pretty slow, due to detailed world building. We get detailed explanations about the weirdest things at the most bizarre times. Roselle learns about how soldiers get sex privileges right after surviving a terrorist attack and leaving the only father figure she has ever known. I suppose this was a way to hammer in the romance aspect early, but it could have been handled more naturally. There was time to build up the tension between these characters, but instead they got the insta-love special. About halfway through, we have a time jump (which wasn’t necessary to the plot in any way, whatsoever) and an entire year is described in two pages. The pacing did even out for the second half of the book, but the first half definitely put a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn’t figure out why the time jump was important and why our characters couldn’t have just continued as usual. I nearly put the book down and stopped reading, but didn’t, thankfully. Once Amy found her pacing, the rest of the book flowed very well.

All of that being said, I thought Secondborn was an interesting read. While Amy borrowed from a lot of dystopian tropes, she reworked them in a unique way. It was easy to be invested in certain characters, and in the world they live in. Amy’s imagination knows no bounds, as her futuristic and technological society is almost nothing like I’ve ever read before. 3.5 stars for selective poaching, bad pacing, and the need for a strong edit. Can’t wait to read book 2! 🙂


United States of Books: Idaho

Week twelve of the United States of Books coming your way! Here’s the road map; every Friday I will bring you book recommendations from each of the fifty nifty United States. Anyone else remember that song from elementary school? We’re just going to follow that order.

Hello Idaho!

Blue Heaven by C.J. Box


A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother go on the run in the woods of North Idaho, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder—four men who know exactly who William and Annie are, and who know exactly where their desperate mother is waiting for news of her children’s fate. Retired cops from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the inexperienced sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children.

William and Annie’s unexpected savior comes in the form of an old-school rancher teetering on the brink of foreclosure. But as one man against four who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses, Jess Rawlins needs allies, and he knows that one word to the wrong person could seal the fate of the children or their mother. In a town where most of the ranches like his have turned into acres of ranchettes populated by strangers, finding someone to trust won’t be easy.

With true-to-life, unforgettable characters and a ticking-clock plot that spans just over forty-eight hours, C.J. Box has created a thriller that delves into issues close to the heart: the ruthless power of greed over broken ideals, the healing power of community where unlikely heroes find themselves at the crossroads of duty and courage, and the truth about what constitutes a family. In a setting whose awesome beauty is threatened by those who want a piece of it, Blue Heaven delivers twists and turns until its last breathtaking page.

The Stand by Stephen King


This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.



Deadline by Chris Crutcher

275844Ben Wolf has big things planned for his senior year. Had big things planned. Now what he has is some very bad news and only one year left to make his mark on the world.

How can a pint-sized, smart-ass seventeen-year-old do anything significant in the nowheresville of Trout, Idaho?

First, Ben makes sure that no one else knows what is going on—not his superstar quarterback brother, Cody, not his parents, not his coach, no one. Next, he decides to become the best 127-pound football player Trout High has ever seen; to give his close-minded civics teacher a daily migraine; and to help the local drunk clean up his act.

And then there’s Dallas Suzuki. Amazingly perfect, fascinating Dallas Suzuki, who may or may not give Ben the time of day. Really, she’s first on the list.

Living with a secret isn’t easy, though, and Ben’s resolve begins to crumble . . . especially when he realizes that he isn’t the only person in Trout with secrets.


Monster by Frank E. Peretti

65684Something’s out there…

Reed Shelton organized this survival weekend. Hired the best guide in the region. Meticulously trained, studied, and packed while encouraging his wife, Beck, to do the same. But little did they know that surviving the elements would become the least of their worries. During their first night of camping, an unearthly wail pierces the calm of the forest. Then someone—no, something—emerges from the dense woods and begins pursuing them. Everything that follows is a blur to Reed—except for the unforgettable image of a huge creature carrying his wife into the darkness. Dependant on the efforts of a small town and a band of friends, Reed knows they have little time to find Beck. Even more important, he soon realizes that they aren’t the only ones doing the hunting. Something much faster, more relentless—and definitely not human—has begun to hunt them.


In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in an Unknown Country by Kim Barnes

11786366Poet Kim Barnes grew up in northern Idaho, in the isolated camps where her father worked as a logger and her mother made a modest but comfortable home for her husband and two children. Their lives were short on material wealth, but long on the riches of family and friendship, and the great sheltering power of the wilderness. But in the mid-1960’s, as automation and a declining economy drove more and more loggers out of the wilderness and into despair, Kim’s father dug in and determined to stay. It was then the family turned fervently toward Pentecostalism. It was then things changed.

In the Wilderness is the poet’s own account of a journey toward adulthood against an interior landscape every bit as awesome, as beautiful, and as fraught with hidden peril as the great forest itself. It is a story of how both faith and geography can shape the heart and soul, and of the uncharted territory we all must enter to face our demons. Above all, it is the clear-eyed and moving account of a young woman’s coming of terms with her family, her homeland, her spirituality, and herself.

Next week, Illinois!

Top Five Wednesday: Books from Before I Joined the Online Book Community

These are some of your favorite books from before you joined the online book community, whether that be booktube, goodreads, blogs, bookstagram, twitter, tumblr, etc.

I didn’t really join the online book community until college, when I started looking up YouTube reviews of books I wanted to read. Unfortunately, from about mid – middle school until college, I really didn’t read that much. I thought reading wasn’t cool, and I saw other kids getting picked on for reading, so I let it fall by the wayside. As I got older, I only got busier with school and internships and work, so I didn’t have time to read even when I wanted to. Now that I’ve settled into my post-grad, level 1 adult life, I’ve figured out that I actually do have time to read. Go figure!


Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix


Haddix was, and still is, such a cool and imaginative author. I always enjoyed reading her novels, turning pages at breakneck speeds. If I were 13 again, I wouldn’t hesitate to read her Missing Series. Turnabout is about two old women in the year 2000 who participate in an experiment called Project Turnabout, during which they take an experimental drug that ages them backwards. (Or something like that.) Fast-forward to 2085, the girls are teenagers looking for someone to help them before time runs out.

Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi


Girl in Blue was one of my favorite Ann Rinaldi novels, although I have to say I loved them all. It follows Sarah Louisa, a girl who disguises herself as a boy and joins the Union Army during the Civil War. From there, she has to keep her true identity a secret while fighting in battles she is more or less ill-prepared for. Ann Rinaldi’s novels are always based in history, sometimes following fictionalized accounts of real people from history, but always exploring an alternate route.

Uglies by Scott Westerfield


This series was one of my favorites growing up. I love, and still love the whole concept behind Tally Youngblood and the Pretty Society. They’ve changed the covers since I’ve read them last, which is annoying because I only own Pretties and I wanted to get all of them to match! Amazon it is, then…

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot


Meg Cabot is such a versatile author, writing anything from contemporary to historical fiction, paranormal, supernatural, urban fantasy, you name it. Authors like that never cease to impress me. From The Princess Diaries to The Mediator Series to All-American Girl, I devoured everything she wrote. The Mediator Series was one of my favorites of hers. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Susannah Simon and her ghostly adventures. However, I haven’t read these books since middle school, so I think it might be time for a refresh!

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel by Lois Gladys Leppard


I LOVED this series as a kid. My piano teacher had them all, so I would borrow one or two of them after each lesson. They do have a lot of Christian undertones, but I would compare these to Nancy Drew or the Boxcar Children. I only read up to book 25, but there are 40 books in the series. (Omg.) Fun fact: Leppard wrote the first book when she was eleven years old, but it wasn’t published until much later.

United States of Books: Hawaii

Week eleven of the United States of Books coming your way! Here’s the road map; every Friday I will bring you book recommendations from each of the fifty nifty United States. Anyone else remember that song from elementary school? We’re just going to follow that order.



Micro by Michael Crichton

11660590In the vein of Jurassic Park, this high-concept thriller follows a group of graduate students lured to Hawaii to work for a mysterious biotech company—only to find themselves cast out into the rain forest, with nothing but their scientific expertise and wits to protect them. An instant classic, Micro pits nature against technology in vintage Crichton fashion. Completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston, this boundary-pushing thriller melds scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction to create yet another masterpiece of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.





The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

968403Narrated in a bold, fearless, unforgettable voice and set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii, The Descendants is a stunning debut novel about an unconventional family forced to come together and re-create its own legacy.

Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors were financially and culturally progressive–one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state’s largest landowners.

Now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control: Ten-year-old Scottie is a smart-ass with a desperate need for attention, and seventeen-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. Matt’s charismatic, thrill-seeking, high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat-racing accident and will soon be taken off life support. The Kings can hardly picture life without her, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them–and spurs them into surprising actions.

Before honoring Joanie’s living will, Matt must gather her friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation made worse by the sudden discovery that there is one person who hasn’t been told: the man with whom Joanie had been having an affair, quite possibly the one man she ever truly loved. Forced to examine what he owes not only to the living but to the dead, Matt takes to the road with his daughters to find his wife’s lover, a memorable journey that leads to both painful revelations and unforeseen humor and growth. 


From Here to Eternity by James Jones

116114Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1941. Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company’s boxing team, he gets “the treatment” that may break him or kill him.

First Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden knows how to soldier better than almost anyone, yet he’s risking his career to have an affair with the commanding officer’s wife.

Both Warden and Prewitt are bound by a common bond: the Army is their heart and blood… and, possibly, their death.

In this magnificent but brutal classic of a soldier’s life, James Jones portrays the courage, violence and passions of men and women who live by unspoken codes and with unutterable despair… in the most important American novel to come out of World War II, a masterpiece that captures as no other the honor and savagery of men.


About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk

22307920Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when the Plan goes belly up, she’s forced to reconsider.

After accidentally answering her flatmate Vanessa’s phone, she decides that since being Tess isn’t going so well, she might try being Vanessa. With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa’s photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right?

But Tess is soon in big trouble. And the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he’d like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster. Far from home and in someone else’s shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or ‘fess up and run… 



Song of the Exile by Kiana Davenport

165924In this epic, original novel in which Hawaii’s fierce, sweeping past springs to life, Kiana Davenport, author of the acclaimed Shark Dialogues, draws upon the remarkable stories of her people to create a timeless, passionate tale of love and survival, tragedy and triumph, survival and transcendence. In spellbinding, sensual prose, Song of the Exile follows the fortunes of the Meahuna family–and the odyssey of one resilient man searching for his soul mate after she is torn from his side by the forces of war. From the turbulent years of World War II through Hawaii’s complex journey to statehood, this mesmerizing story presents a cast of richly imagined characters who rise up magnificent and forceful, redeemed by the spiritual power and the awesome beauty of their islands. 


Moloka’i by Alan Brennen

3273This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.


 Next week, Idaho!

As if this country wasn’t already screwed…

I heard on the radio this morning that 4/5 Americans cannot name a single author.


Is that wild or what? It’s 2017 and most of the United States, an affluent country with easy access to education, cannot name one author. Not one! Even the guys on the radio tried to name authors. Some of them named a few of the more popular ones like J.K. Rowling and Tom Clancy, which is like naming George Washington when it comes to Presidents but at least they could name someone.

One of them hilariously and proudly named “Ariel Stine” as their author. There are a few things wrong with this. One, It’s R.L. Stine… and two, R.L. Stine is a man.  (I’m sure there are men out there named Ariel, but in this instance, R.L. is a man.)

This got me to thinking… how many authors can I name off the top of my head without looking anyone up?

  1. J.K. Rowling
  2. Robert Galbraith (He counts!)
  3. Tom Clancy
  4. Tahereh Maafi
  5. Markus Zusak
  6. Cassandra Clare
  7. Dianna Gabaldon
  8. Lewis Carroll
  9. F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. Harper Lee
  11. Emily Bronte
  12. Charlotte Bronte
  13. Anne Bronte
  14. Jane Austen
  15. Sinclair Lewis
  16. Amy Bartol
  17. Suzanne Collins
  18. Veronica Roth
  19. Sarah J. Maas
  20. Katie Cross
  21. R.L. Stine
  22. Veronica Aveyard
  23. Cecelia Ahern
  24. Phillipa Gregory
  25. Jojo Moyes
  26. John Green
  27. Kristin Hannah
  28. Deborah Harkness
  29. Joe Hart
  30. Colleen Hoover
  31. Nicholas Sparks
  32. Amy Harmon
  33. Rick Riordan
  34. Marissa Meyer
  35. Stephanie Meyer
  36. Ann Rinaldi
  37. Scott Westerfield
  38. Lauren Weisberger
  39. Laura Ingalls Wilder
  40. Maud Hart Lovelace
  41. Gail Carson Levine
  42. Stephanie Perkins

This wasn’t as many as I would have hoped… I think I’m missing a few obvious ones. But it’s better than Ariel Stine!

Your turn! Leave me a comment or participate on your own blog and try to name as many authors as you can without looking anyone up! NO CHEATING! Not that I’d know, but it’s so much more fun this way.