Title: Toward a Secret Sky
Author: Heather Maclean
Publisher: Blink, 2017 (April 4)
Genre: YA Fantasy
**I received a copy of this book free from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review**
Sorry I have been so quiet lately. If you are active on Twitter, then you will have seen that I was in a car accident and the car was a total loss. Mainly bc of the airbags, bc when airbags deploy, they are like $3,000 to repair. Add that up when the car is a 2003 and you’ve got yourself a lost cause.
I’m ok. Just a little banged up. It was my mom’s car, which made it so much worse. Dog jumped out in front of me and to avoid it, I hit a pole. (My insurance company advised me to kill the animal next time because then it’s covered under “comprehensive,” so I guess they don’t want the dogs out there to live! 🤷♀️😂)
Anyway, now I’m back and I’m here to review for you one of the prettiest books I’ve seen…and that’s saying a lot!
I mean, the cover is stunning. The Rose emblem against the sunset? It makes me want to weep, it’s so beautiful! Have you heard of this one? Did you miss it? Heather is a local author, I found out later, but when I saw it on Netgalley I wished for it, and my wish was fulfilled! Then Heather sent me my own physical copy with some cool book-related swag!
Anyway, let’s get down to the book…I’ve missed writing reviews! (I’m reading a lot of Netgalley books to catch up so you’ll see some spring titles mixed in with newer ones in the coming months 😉).
We meet 17 year old Maren after she’s lost her mom, the one constant in her life. Though her mom travels and is busy at work all the time, she always tries to make special time for Maren. But now that Maren’s mom is gone, she is shipped off to Scotland to live with her dad’s parents, or her paternal grandparents. Growing up, she’s never met them: her mother told her that they didn’t like the fact that their son married her.
Now Maren is the new girl at a Scottish school, and the only thing left of her mother’s possessions is a strange Rose necklace hidden in a wooden box. As Maren tries to make friends and fit in, she runs into a girl who has the same necklace: both girls are orphans and both have parents who were killed…but the girl seems to know more about Maren’s mom than Maren herself.
Maybe Maren’s mom wasn’t really a systems analyst. Maybe she was part of an international organization.
And maybe that international organization worked with a more paranormal clientele.
One thing she uncovers? The cute guy hunting in the Scottish wood is not human. And since Maren can’t mind her own business, he’s become her personal bodyguard. Though I guess there could be worse things than being protected by a sexy angel while demons come after you…right?
As Maren learns more, she uncovers a war that’s been going on for ages…Angels and Demons, and her parents right in the middle of it. And she has information that is very important – important enough to put her right in the crosshairs.
She’s falling in love…with an angel.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes and no. It’s a cute and relatable book, and it’s definitely appealing for the YA audience: romance, intrigue, and clean enough to keep any concerns at bay. There are some interesting cultural facts about Scotland that are educational, and the culture clash would be a nice feature for the classroom. Also, currently it’s a standalone, so there’s no cliffhanger to make it confusing.
However, there really isn’t anything to anchor it into curriculum material. It might be a good book to include in your classroom library (I already have it there), but I couldn’t see a unit built around it. It’s possible, but it would be quite hard. I would leave this one more for recreational reading, but I would definitely point the students in the direction of this book: I would recommend it to all my high school readers who love contemporary with a dose of fantasy, and vice versa.
For classroom use, I give it ★★★☆☆: you theoretically could use it, but I wouldn’t and there are easier and better choices. Leave this one to outside and recreational reading.
I’m starting to get annoyed at how many books are left off the Lexile website. Luckily, because this book is so clean, it’s easy to recommend for readers 13 and up. I wouldn’t recommend too young because of a particular scene where Maren is almost taken advantage of, but it’s also not explicit and just simply warns about the dangers of parties. I can comfortably suggest 13 and up, and the book isn’t complicated so even a reluctant reader should enjoy it.
I wanted to read this and it didn’t disappoint! I do wish there were more paranormal instances in Toward a Secret Sky, because I really loved the angel and demon dynamics. I wanted more of that. I feel the correct categorization of this book would be paranormal and not fantasy, as the majority of the book is our contemporary setting – there just happens to be Angels and Demons. I’m a bigger fan of heavier fantasy. However, I still liked Heather’s book, and would love to get more from a sequel.
As it stands, it appears to be a standalone, but Heather alluded that there might be more for Maren. I certainly hope so. It felt a little quick…though that could have been me tearing through the pages as well.
I would recommend this more for a fan of lighter fantasy than, say, epic fantasy. Definitely a good paranormal romance. If you like your love forbidden, this is the book for you! (I’m such a Romeo and Juliet fan it’s sick…but I’d totally rewrite it to where Juliet wakes up and says, “Psyche!” amd they run away together. Anyone want to do that for me?)
I give Toward a Secret Sky three and a half stars, but that’s not the world we live in, and only whole stars reign supreme. So I have to round it to ★★★★☆.
So that means…
Now, I happen to have an extra copy of this book…I found one at my bookstore (an ARC) and was thinking, if you guys were interested, in setting up a Rafflecopter giveaway for it…but only if you guys would be interested?
Tell me in the comments and if you would like to read this, in my next review I’ll put up the giveaway for this book! If not, I can always do it on Twitter. So please tell me if this sounds like a book for you!
I’ll leave you with pictures of my car after the accident…have a great weekend, my bloggerinos!