Of Pens and Swords - Rena Rocford

Seventeen-year-old Cyra Berque wants two things in life: a date with Rochan and a chance to fence at the Olympics.

But people with one hand don’t normally fence, and girls with big thighs don’t get the boy.

Knowing that she wants to make the Olympics, Cyra’s coach sets her up with another coach, one who could take her all the way to the top, but the new coach costs more. Feeling her dreams slipping out of reach, Cyra agrees to tutor a ballerina with a rich father and a D minus in English. It’s triple the pay and triple the pain.

The ballerina isn’t interested in passing classes―she wants Rochan, and she’s promised she’ll turn her D minus into a full-fledged F if Cyra doesn’t help her win the heart of Rochan.


If I wasn't paying too much attention, this book could have been solid; however, there were a lot of things that really irked me about it and made it unrealistic.


I was excited to have a character with a disability, with only one arm. I was excited to see her resilience. However, I was really confused by the backstory. For most of the book, I assumed that she had simply been born with a birth defect; however, it later comes out that she lost it an accident that also killed her father and her sister. Yet this is completely skipped over. People worry about her arm, but they don't ever consider that it might be slightly traumatic to lose half of one's family? She doesn't talk about this at all. Not even when a friend dies. This seriously bugged me, and was a completely lost opportunity for character development.


Don't get too invested in Cyra's fencing, because this book turns out to be much more about the boy. The first half showed a lot of how hard the sport is and how dedicated Cyra was, and made me feel as though we might actually have an Olympian on our hands. However, the book deteriorates into a romance, and by the end, the only thing that matters is the boy.


It seems that Cyra's only friend is the one she's being paid to tutor. She seems to be pretty cool; she's very resilient and she works very hard to achieve her goals. Yet there's no best friend sitting around supporting her, and barely even other girls in homeroom that she can gossip with. There's not even a mention of Cyra wanting friendship or being too busy for friendship, that's just not even a thing that crosses her mind.


There's also a little too much angst for me to buy the plot. In reality, Christine wouldn't have done what she did, but would have been mad; she wasn't that selfless. The nemesis character, Sara, turned Cyra into a totally horrible person, and even when there was a golden opportunity to bury the hatchet, Cyra ends up attacking. I wanted to see more growth and maturity,


The twist that happens near the end in regard to said friend to me was just weird. There was very little real emotion afterwards, and the way that our main two characters just move forward was really inappropriate to me.


I really wanted to like this one, but it fell quite flat for me.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.