Wednesday, July 24, 2013

You Are Mine For Keeps

Published: May 6th, 2013
You Are Mine (Mine # 1)
ISBN-13:  9780981616247

Serena knows a few simple things.  She will always be owned by a warlock.  She will never have freedom.  She will always do what her warlock wishes, no matter how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is.  And if she doesn't follow the rules, she will be tarnished.  Spelled to bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life - and worth less than the shadow she casts.  

Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country.  With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules.  When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world.  The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach.  Serena longs for both.  But in a society where women are only ever property, longing for more could be deadly.  


     The author, Janeal Falor, sent me a review request for this book a couple of weeks ago.  It is really easy to let books sit on a to-read shelf forever when you don't know the author personally.  And with a galley backlog as long as mine, you really have to be careful and considerate of the author who is requesting your micro-managed time! :)  I took a week to decide and downloaded a sample for my Kindle from Amazon.  When finishing those first five chapters only made me downright desperate to read the rest of the book, I knew I could give Janeal and her characters the time and effort that each author deserves from a reviewer.  I have read a lot of negative reviews about this book alongside the positive ones and maybe this comes from my imagination being tangled up inside my intellectualism, but all the complaints were ones that had me going, "Really?" with an eyebrow raised to the sky in consternation.  I've come to the conclusion that this is a book that you either get, or you don't.  And those are the best kind in my long-suffering reader's opinion.  Now onto the actual content of the book!
     The main character Serena is one of many sisters and they all live in a society where women are looked upon as property, with their only worth being that of their breeding capabilities.  Serena finds herself chafing at not speaking her mind, not being able to choose her future for herself (husband and otherwise) and for just being punished for who she is.  I loved Serena as a main character.  She has a seriously independent spirit, but in the context of the society she lives in still feels the need to be obedient and follow the Women's Canon (a stifling list of rules and behavioral expectations for women).  Serena hasn't let the constant hexes and beatings from her Father break her spirit and is something of a protector for her sisters, whom she loves with a burning sense of loyalty and true worry for their futures.  The society itself is so well built and described that I felt like I was walking alongside Serena.  I especially liked Janeal's descriptions of the magic and her intricately drawn sense of mutli-generational tradition, especially in regards to the extremely horrific engagement ceremony.  If it seems like I'm being overly vague, it's because this book is one you need to experience for yourself and I'm trying not spoil anything! :)
     Romance is an underlying theme in this book and with a woman being her husband/father/brother's property it's one that plays a rather large part.  But really the focus here is the obvious lack of romance in Serena's society.  Her new owner Thomas, who buys her after her blood is tested on her 17th birthday and found highly magical, is cruel and cares nothing for her.  If anything, Thomas promises to be just as hateful and menacing as her own Father.  But when Serena is won by a barbarian who kills Thomas and gains his property is when the real contrast starts.  In Zade's (the barbarian's) society, women are not treated as property.  They can have possessions and make decisions for themselves, even holding jobs without being tarnished members of society.  Alongside her second oldest sister Cynthia who is her main companion,
Serena learns what it means to be free and make decisions for herself.  One of her biggest ones being to employ a tarnished dressmaker, Katherine.  Interacting with Katherine who is in the lowest rung of society but has a wonderful spirit really encourages Serena that it's alright for her to become her own person.  She helps her learn that she has options in life and doesn't have to follow the commands lain out for her.  She can be her own strength and do what she thinks is right, even when it's dangerous.  It's not just Serena that's transformed either but Cynthia and one of their other sisters right alongside her as they view her being treated as a human being.
     This book is full of complex familial relationships, beautifully drawn friendships and camaraderie between women, alongside the building romance between Serena and Zade as she learns to trust him and view him differently from any other man she's ever known.  This book was one of the best that I've read this year and it also has a murder plot, intrigue and spies to keep a reader going alongside the complex workings of a very messed up society.  I truly loved the ending especially and am really excited to read the next book in the series, whether it focuses on Serena or another one of the characters I was introduced to.  If anyone is hesitant to read this book just ask yourself if you like a book that makes you think and you have an open mind.  If so, this might be the one for you.

VERDICT:  5/5  Stars

*I received an e-copy of this book from the author in exchanged for an honest review.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book was published on May 6th, 2013.*

1 comment:

  1. I read this book last week! It's really good. :)


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