Title: Valley of the Moon
Author: Bronwyn Archer
Publication date: April 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Date read: 28th July 2016
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for this wonderful opportunity to read and review this book.
There’s just one semester left at the Briar School for Girls in Sonoma, CA. But it will take more than straight As for Lana Goodwin to survive . . .
Senior year is not going well for 17-year-old Lana Goodwin. Her father’s vintage car business is about to crash and burn, the nicest (and cutest) teacher at school was fired under a cloud of scandal, and her hot sort-of boyfriend may or may not have something big to hide.
She’s also totally over being the class pauper. It’s bad enough her dad was briefly married to the head of the board—the rich, cruel, impeccably groomed Ramona Crawford. What’s worse is going to school with her vindictive ex-stepsister, who never misses an opportunity to make her life hell. Not ever.
It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.
Before Lana can escape to college, she finds herself in a life-or-death race to uncover her mother’s long-buried secrets.
Can she claim her birthright before her future and her life are snatched away?
Valley of the Moon is a modern-day fairy tale with some intense themes.
I was practically glued to my laptop since I started reading this book.
It’s like one big mystery enveloped around few smaller ones. As I read through Part One, I get more and more questions, which was answered in Part Two. I love mystery novels, and more often than not, I was disappointed when I read mystery YAs that is not Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys but I think Bronwyn Archer did quite a good job on this. I was slightly disappointed about the main mystery, which is about Lana’s mother (it would be great if the author went more in depth regarding the mystery surrounding Lana’s mother), but she did great with the smaller mysteries. She didn’t drag it out like in some other novels I read, and I love her for that.
When I was reading this book, I felt like I was reading a Cinderella retelling because of Lana’s ex-stepmother, Ramona, and ex-stepsister, Cressida. I had to go online a few times to check if this book was a retelling. Ramona was evil to the core, and Cressida was… well, she was a jealous brat. She pulled through when it matters, but in my opinion, she and Lana will never be friends.
I like the plot twist. The main reason was that I really didn’t see it coming. There’s this guy from the earlier part of the book who was flirting with Lana, but didn’t appear anymore after that. My gut told me that he was going to be someone important. I thought he was going to be Lana’s love interest, because hey, he was flirting with her and he seemed interested. But then, there was no mention of him again after that so I thought, ‘Ah, I guess he really is just some random character.’ And then, Part Two happened, and my guy was right, not about being Lana’s love interest (at least not yet, I hope), but about him being important. At least, he was kind of important. We finally get to learn his identity then, and that one I really didn’t see coming.
One thing that I’m really not fond of is the insta-love. Caleb liking Lana, and be interested in her after seeing her for the first time is acceptable. I mean, that’s how people get to dating, right? But then, they went on less than five dates, and already they are in love? Okay, I don’t remember if they’ve said “I love you” or not, but it all pointed towards that direction. And Caleb invited her to go on a vacation with him and his family? No, just no. Not that it’s wrong, but this is simply my preference. I don’t like insta-love because to me, it didn’t seem realistic. And look what happened to Lana because of the insta-love. So, seriously, date and get to know each other before proclaiming your love for one another.
Another thing that I’m not quite fond of is the paranormal stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love paranormal stuff if it’s fantasy YA, but in contemporary, it will take time for me to get use to it, and sometimes I didn’t at all. So, yes, some minus points is because of this paranormal aspect.
Lana is the main character, and narrator of this book. It took me awhile to warm up to her character, but eventually I did. I actually kind of like her too. She was admirable, working hard to earn money for college. I was a bit disappointed in her though. I thought she was smart enough not to go back to Caleb.
I am proud to say that I wasn’t fooled by him. I don’t know why, but I just don’t like him since the beginning. He seemed fishy, especially after the skiing trip with his cousins and didn’t keep in touch with Lana. There was a few times when I started to like him, but then I found out something that he kept a secret and I don’t like him again. I guess, it’s because he felt like a playboy.
The guy that went to Lana’s dad’s shop to look at the Aston Martin car! Him, I like. He was funny, and I like it when he was flirting with Lana. Then, we found out that he was 23 years old, and so, oooh. If he really does end up with Lana, that would be so sweet. I like it when the guy is a few years older than the female character.
She really is an evil witch. Although Ramona didn’t appear much, but every time I read about her, it always spook me. She gave me goosebumps. That is how much she creeps me out.
In the end, she was nothing more than a jealous, spoiled brat. While she did help Lana in the end, that did not stop me from disliking her. What she did at the after-prom party was too despicable.
The other side/minor characters that I like is Piper, Bridget and Maya. They really are such cool friends, although I did think Maya and Piper jumped into the relationship with Evan and Wyatt too quickly.
Lana’s dad, on the other hand, frustrates me so much. I know he did it because he loves Lana and did not want her to worry, but why on Earth does he has to make deals with a mafia? And not just any mafia, a RUSSIAN mafia at that.
This book kind of made me think of a cross between Tara Hyland’s Daughters of Fortune and Rosemary Clement-Moore’s The Splendour Falls (because of the slightly dark theme). Although the author wrote some great characters, I can’t see any character development, which disappoints me a little. I also think that the ending was anti-climatic, even if there’s a sequel later on. But despite that, this book was something that I could enjoy. I recommend this to people who enjoyed mystery novels, as well as people who liked the aforementioned books.
I give this book a rating of 3.5 / 5 stars.