by Bronwyn Archer
Publisher: Bronarch Books
Release Date: April 13th 2016
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.
About the Author
Bronwyn Archer is a young-adult author, digital media copywriter, and mother to several children, last time she counted.
At her all-girls high school, Bronwyn discovered a love of writing and the importance of a good fake ID. The only sport she was good at was boogie-boarding, but she decided to hang up her board after a terrifying close encounter with a seven-foot blue shark in the Santa Monica Bay.
She still gets nervous in black-bottomed swimming pools.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in English and Art History, she moved to Paris, where she edited a magazine for expatriates. After failing to become the next Hemingway—despite putting in many hours at the Ritz Hotel’s Hemingway Bar—she moved back to the States, where she developed a semi-successful career in New York and Los Angeles as a copywriter for ad agencies and companies like HBO and Disney.
Now Bronwyn writes fiction and raises children. She’s up to two rescue mutts and four kids, which makes her a semi-freak in this neck of the woods, but she’s learned that once you decide to live your life your way, everything else gets a little easier.
Besides writing and expertly avoiding baskets of laundry that need folding, Bronwyn loves movies from the 80s, comedy, Disneyland (sorry WDW), the paintings of Winslow Homer and Maxfield Parrish, coffee, Paris, Oscar Wilde, hot sauce, the Christmas season, Thai street food, making things with felt, and the smell of freshly printed books.
She is still searching for her own “signature fragrance,” which she’ll know when she finds it.
Lana is the girl with the crappy life. She gets picked on by her ex-stepsister’s group of popular friends at their fancy, all-girls high school. Lana’s ex-stepmother practically runs the school and will do anything to make her life miserable. Lana’s boyfriend is a jerk. Her mother committed suicide, and her dad, her only family left, made a horrible deal with the Russian Mafia. But perhaps the mysterious letters she keeps receiving and the journal she found under a floorboard in her room might hold the key to turning her life around.
I didn’t particularly like this book. I’m sorry, but I didn’t. The description I just wrote was a pretty accurate description of how sad her life was. For the most part, I spent most of the book feeling sorry for her and being glad it’s not my life. I would note that Lana did not spend the entire book complaining about her life, but her crappy existence was all too evident.
I just don’t like reading books that have more downs than ups, especially when, as in this book, some of the negative parts were somewhat unnecessary. I mean, was there really a point in making her boyfriend that bad? Her step-family and father’s mistakes, I understand, but not so much the boyfriend. He could almost be completely removed from the story, as far as I can see right now, without changing the story too much. And the action could have started sooner, instead of dragging out the depiction of Lana’s sorry life for half the book before really getting into things.
Most of all, I didn’t like the inclusion of the lying, drinking, drugs, partying, sex, and the like. I, personally, am against those things and do not care to read about them, especially in a YA book, despite how realistic it is for teens in the US.
All the same, there were still things I appreciated about the book. It inspired empathy for Lana and girls in a similar situation in the real world. It had realistic characters and situations that brought the setting and the characters to life. I can see the story building to a very happy ending, too, which will hopefully occur in the next book. The mystery and action in the second half of the book was quite interesting, and the added intrigue of the ghost added greatly to the story.
Overall, there were some parts of the book that I liked, but not the majority. There were too many downs and not enough ups. The end of the Goodreads description, about it being “a modern fairytale,” which is what drew me to the story, is a bit hard to believe, considering all that has happened, but the “intense themes” part is completely true.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.