Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finding Your Inner Animal

"'One day,' she said, 'I'll catch dreams like butterflies.'

'And then what?' he asked.

'Then I'll put them between the pages of big, fat books and press 
them until they're words.'

'Suppose there's someone who never dreams of anything but you?'

'Maybe then we're both words in a book. Two names among all the others.'" 
--Kai Meyer, Arcadia Awakens

Genre: YA Paranormal, Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, 452 pages
Publication Date: February 14th, 2012
Source: ARC won from Epic Reads

Goodreads Description: 

To New Yorker Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic, and wholly unknown. But when tragedy strikes, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where her sister and aunt have built their lives and where centuries of family secrets await her. Once there, Rosa wastes no time falling head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both intrigue and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.

Ancient myths brought to life in the Sicilian countryside, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a long history of familial bloodlust prove to Rosa that she can’t trust anyone—not even her own family. Torn between loyalty to her aunt and love for her family’s mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love . . . or run as far and as fast as she can.

My Thoughts

Wow. I am so in love with this book. I have never been more excited to write a review! I must premise this entire review by stating that I am Sicilian. My great-grandmother came over from the old country in the early 1900s. My family is steeped in Sicilian tradition, it is something that I identify with completely. I have had since as long as I can remember an intense, need to go back to the place where my family came from. It feels like a physical part of me and I can feel the fire of it burning inside me. In fact, if I had my way, I would do what Rosa did and just up and move there. I did have the opportunity to go to Italy last year which was AMAZING and it felt like home. I thought that my fire was fed and my soul was sated after going there...but after reading this book and picturing the landscape and reading about the Mafioso and the families...I feel a homesickness for a place I've never even been. I can't explain it, it is what it is, it is a passion that I have that I can give no better words for.

Anyways. Back to the book. We are introduced to Rosa and her odd habits immediately. I love her. She is like a wounded animal that must be approached with caution always. She is tough, unapologetic, fierce, fiery and just a cool chick. She wears metal studded boots, she carries a stapler as a weapon...I want this girl to be my friend...mostly so that if I ever meet her in a dark alley she is my ally not my enemy. Her characterization is beautiful in this book. With all that tough stuff said, there is a very tender side to her as well. She loves her sister and would do absolutely anything for her. Her loyalty to those she loves is unwavering. Very old school Italian. Love. What I like most about her is that she reminds me of myself a little bit. I tend to have this very rough and cynical attitude most of the time, especially about love, but I have moments myself where I find myself wanting to cry for no reason, wanting nothing more than a hand to hold in the dark and to comfort me when I'm sick. Rosa has these moments as well. She erupts with emotion only when she absolutely has to, I'm the same way, I can very easily relate to her on a personal level.

The interconnecting drama and secrets between all the different clans of families was amazingly interesting. The shady business dealings, the feuds between clans and members of their own families, the paranormal element that I will NOT give away. It was all amazing! The slow unraveling of secrets kept the plot going and every time I put the book down I was wondering what was going to happen next.

The landscape descriptions were beautiful. I could see, feel, hear and smell Sicily in my mind's eye (and nose and touch). The ruins fascinated me. The mix of mythology interweaving with current affairs was a fantastic component to add to the mix as well. I want to see it all. I may or may not have been looking up flights to's happening. I'm serious, it has to. I'm going this year. If I have to go by myself I will do it...

I digress...Again...Surprise, surprise. The love story was very exciting. Very Romeo and Juliet, yet another reason why I loved this book. It wasn't instantaneous love, Rosa has a good head on her shoulders, she went into it with eyes wide open. His name is Alessandro and I was mentally Nonna hopes with all hope I do find myself a nice Sicilian boy to marry and make babies with. Me too, Nonna, me too :) Alessandro is a very strong character. He is driven, relentless, vengeful but also kind and caring as well. He was a perfect mix of macchisimo and gentle spirit. Loved him.

I cannot wait to see where the rest of this story goes! I got the ARC of Arcadia Burns from Epic Reads and I am sooooo excited to start it!! This book felt like a sort of homecoming to me. I have never found a book that takes place in Sicily (besides The Godfather, of course) so it felt beyond amazing to read about a place I find so special and about family values that felt so familiar. Now you might be wondering if my family, like Rosa's, was part of the Mafia?...Well, like Gossip Girl once said...that's a secret I'll never tell... :)

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