Let’s talk How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Before starting this post off I just want to let you know that this could get a bit heavy. If you struggle with grief in any sort of way and don’t think you can handle this post then please stop reading. We all grieve differently and I don’t want to hurt anyone as they are working through things.

I am the type of person that yearns for books on grief. I am always drawn to them in an instant even though I know they will break my heart. How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow was no different.

40755416Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

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Initial reactions upon finishing:

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This book left me feeling all kinds of things. I felt that gut wrenching pain of loss, I felt the occasional smile, I felt the amount of love that is within the book…it was a bit of a roller coaster. And while I found myself sobbing quite a bit and my husband threatened to take it away because it was making me sad, I am so glad I read it.

The portrayal of grief was huge for me. The author showed the nitty gritty, the stuff that everyone is scared to talk about. Tiger went through the phases of grief without them needing to be labeled, because honestly the phases of grief don’t move that way. Throughout the book Tiger constantly described the initial stages of it all sinking in as feeling like wet cement, and I don’t think there is a more accurate description. You just feel heavy; heavy, but still moving slowly…one step at a time. I honestly don’t remember a time in my life that I have felt so heavy as I have when I have been hip deep in the darkest moments of grieving. Grief truly is the Big Suck, and it is always with you. This book really was a solid glimpse for those that maybe don’t understand it as well because they don’t have that personal experience. If you are ever wondering what a friend or family member may be feeling after the death of a loved one, this book will give you a good description of what they may be feeling.

While I related so well to the grief, I still found it to be a different journey. I lost a parent, just like Tiger, but I still had my other parent. I still had a place to live and a family to call my own. Once Tiger loses her mother that’s it. She’s alone. She’s put in foster care and into the system that so many people get bounced around in. To see her not only navigate her grief, but to also navigate through foster care and feeling like she had no one…that was tough. I found it incredibly eye opening as well. I know very little about the foster care system, minus what I might see on TV or in books. I really felt like the author took this to heart, knew that so many don’t really know what goes on in those homes, and put us through this journey with Tiger. It was a journey of heartbreak. It was a journey of pain. It was a journey that really had Tiger finding herself, just not always in the best of ways. It really had me thinking about my life and what I can do for others that don’t necessarily have a place to call home or people to call family.

This book, to me, is so important. It shows the darkness of grief, of the foster care system, of what may happen to a vulnerable young woman after everything is taken from her in just one evening. There aren’t enough books that paint the ugly in grief, but this one did. Grief is an ugly thing guys. And I really get tired of people glamorizing it, of characters that seem to just get over it throughout the book…because that’s not how it happens. Tiger’s journey with grief was real to me. So real that I had to take breaks, because occasionally the hurt was too much (which is really sucky when you think of all the people in real life that don’t have the option to take a break from that heavy feeling.).

Now, if you know me pretty well you must be asking yourself why I do this to myself. Why do I read books about grief, books that bring back all those ugly emotions?

Well first, there is nothing like the feeling when an author can get your feelings going just by something they wrote. There is something about that and I just can’t seem to walk away from books that are going to have me ugly crying.

But honestly…the biggest reason is because sometimes I need to remember that I’m not alone. My dad has been dead for 17 years. I’m not over it. I’ll never be over it. Some days it’s just a little easier to put one foot in front of the other, and then there are days that even getting out of bed is tough. Grief is here to stay, and sometimes, as silly as it sounds, I feel like I’m the only one that has dealt with it. I am so wrong, and I know that. But when I was 13, right after my dad passed, I couldn’t find books like this. I couldn’t find a way to relate, a way to make sense, and a way to fully deal with it. These books help me continue to process, even years later. And it helps me to know that there are books for those youths who are just starting their journey with grief.

Grief is the longest journey I never wanted to be on. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But here I am, feeling all those feels, and just working through the days that I feel like I can’t breathe. As the years have gone on it has gotten better. I don’t miss my dad any less, but I’m not constantly being punched in the gut by missing him. The constant hole is there, but it doesn’t hurt in the same way that it used to (most days).

Reading about grief has been a HUGE thing for me. It has helped me process so much and I think it has helped me get to the point I am at today. If you are ever looking for other books, books that I found helped me in some way or another as far as tacking the feelings of grief, then you should definitely check these out:

And if you are grieving, having a hard time, no matter how long it’s been or how fresh the wounds are…do not be afraid to reach out. I know it may seem like you are alone in this journey, but you are not. I may not be able to relate 100% to how you are feeling, but I am on this grief journey too…different stages, but I’m here. And I am an excellent listener.

This post has really gotten away from me, so if you’re still with me AWESOME! If you aren’t, I totally understand.

Basically…if you want a fairly accurate representation of grief, read How to Make Friends with the Dark. Just be sure you have some tissues nearby and take some breaks when it feels too heavy. And if you have read it, let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!

emily

Let’s talk about…The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

This year has been an excellent reading year for me. While I’m only averaging about 2-4 books per month, I am finding that I am loving a majority of what I’m reading and getting more out of it. It’s been hard for me to find the balance, but it’s also been really fun.

Today I’m talking about an upcoming release from an author who has become one of my favorites. I’ve read one of her series and ADORED it and really need to get my hands on more. She has a new book coming out, and guys…it’s a good one. Here’s a little more about The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

40597067For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen. 

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

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I received an eARC of this book in exchange for a review from the author. This does not sway my thoughts or opinions of this book.

Initial reaction upon finishing:

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If there was ever a book that screamed “that’s an Emily book,” then this is it. It has everything that I love in my fantasy books. A vigilante who is actually a royal in disguise, murder mystery, plot twists, an awesome female character that grows on you the more you read, development of the characters…it had everything. I loved running around on the streets of Forcadel with Brynna while also trying to figure out who murdered the royals. I was hooked from the start.

Here are some reasons I definitely think you should read it:

  • MASKED VIGILANTE. Ok, let’s be real…there are a lot of masked vigilante tales in the world right? That do-gooder who has a double life, ruler by day and good guy (or bad guy I guess) by night. Sometimes you wonder if it’s something that the author can pull off with a unique twist. Thank goodness S. Usher Evans did just that! She made this world and this tale come real in front of my eyes, and while I can find some similarities to other stories that are like this one I also found that she made it her own. I love the idea of the Veil being the vigilante, and I really love the origin of why she became The Veil. It just all came together to form an unforgettable and unique story.
  • STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. Ok, I’m going to get real here…I didn’t initially love Brynna. I started to feel like she was a bit entitled and just trying to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious. Her resentment for having to take over kind of turned me off and I wasn’t sure how this was going to change. Brynna grew before my eyes. She didn’t always think things through, but then she learned from the consequences. By the end I found her to be incredibly strong and someone that I wouldn’t mine becoming. She became relatabe by learning through her mistakes and growing from it. She started to develop relationships with others instead of being a loner. She became someone that I really liked and I definitely need to see what she has up her sleeve next.
  • PLOT TWISTS AND TURNS. This comes down to S Usher Evans taking a unique spin to a storyline that could become very basic. She created a believable environment and then kind of drove me crazy by making things not happen the way I wanted them to (I mean…I had really hoped after all we have been through things would go my way..). The characters I thought I could trust did crazy things and I ended the book in shock. There are few authors that cause me to abandon my better judgment on characters, but Evans is one of them. And then I fall for it and shake my fist at her. I fell for the trap again! This book is filled with subtle and not so subtle twists and turns, and when you think you know better you find that you really don’t.

I absolutely loved this book. I think it set up the series really well and gave me those elements of fantasy that I have been craving lately. When looking through other reviews on Goodreads I saw someone call this Throne of Glass meets Robin Hood, which I can totally see! The reasons for Brynna’s vigilante ways are very much in the realm of Robin Hood, but her methods definitely fall more into the way of Caelena in Throne of Glass. My love for both Throne of Glass and Robin Hood are quite large, so the fact that I fell in love with Forcadel and what Brynna is doing is no shock.

I always worry that I don’t do books I love justice. I worry I flail too much and that by the end you are just rolling your eyes at me because I’m just shouting random things in excitement. But note, if you love fantasy…if you like a good vigilante story…then you DEFINITELY need to check this book out.

The City of Veils comes out on April 16th. Please join me in flailing about this book and supporting this author!

emily

Let’s talk about…You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

What’s the last book you’ve read in a day? The last book that made you want to forget all of your to-do lists and just read? I imagine this has happened once in your life, at least. I imagine that you have started a book and struggled to put it down.

The last book that caused this reaction in me? You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn.

36146624Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk. 

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I received an advanced copy of this book in a giveaway. This in no way sways my thoughts or opinions.

If I could describe the book in a few gifs: giphygiphy-1msy

This book had it all…charm, swoons, drama, and a plot that was pretty believable considering the lives that these two characters were leading. It had songs that I would love to have in existence, and references to country artists that I need to learn more about. It was honestly a country music education for myself (which I’m sure Annie would be so proud of). I fell in love with this book more and more with each page turn. I loved each and every character, I loved their journey in life, and I love how real it got. This isn’t something that’s just, for lack of a better word, fluffy. This has those elements of a contemporary romance that we love with the real hardships people go through in life. It brushed on grief, addiction, and just the idea that we all want to find a place that we fit in. I couldn’t get enough of it.

So, my top 3 reasons that you should read this book:

  1. STRONG CHARACTERS. My goodness, even at her weakest Annie was strong. In a way, I could relate to her grief. Well, mostly I can relate that I have worked through some form of grief since the loss of my dad. I cannot imagine living in her situation, and the fact that she still pursued music is so strong. To me, these characters were realistic because they struggled. The way they faced their issues, one way or another, made them strong to me.
  2. MUSIC. I loved that this entire book revolved around music, and not at all in a cheesy way. You saw how life experiences created a song, you felt the emotion in the lyrics. This book, and those lyrics just hit me in a way not all books can. It made the emotions of the book even more real to me as a reader, and it made the book that much more important to me.
  3. PLOT. This sounds super broad I know, but hear me out…this book had a little bit of everything I wanted. There were plot twists, there were budding relationships, there were friendships, there was drama. I laughed, I cried, I cheered for them in their darkest moments, and I yelled at them as they were making stupid decisions. I felt like I was totally and completely in the story from the beginning, and I didn’t want it to end. It was the perfect story for me to fall head over heels in love with, and I am already planning on when I can read it again.

If you are looking for a book that makes you feel all the feels, that has you cheering for the characters to find themselves and succeed, that has you craving some good music, and that gives you all the swoons…then this is the book for you. I loved this book so much, and I just hope that my words can help you understand just how much I love it.

This book comes out on April 2nd. You should DEFINITELY get your hands on it!

emily

Let’s Talk About…Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

If you have been following me at all on social media you know that I’ve had a pretty solid reading year. I’ve read a lot of good books, but I think I’ve been missing that feeling of OH MY GOSH I CAN’T PUT THIS DOWN. I had books I felt very hooked in, but not a lot that I was constantly turning the pages because I just had to know what happened next. I was a little frustrated with this, which seems odd because why complain about the lack of a book hangover? I tried to not let that frustration get to me because I was reading a lot of good books, why complain because something really good isn’t at that next level?

Well I found it…I found that book that I could not put down and gave me that temporary book hangover that had me wondering just what I should do next.

That book is Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows. The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

I’m trying to think of how best to describe my thoughts and feelings on this book without massive amounts of gibberish, fangirling, and spoilers. Because it would not be hard to spoil this book. So instead…I think I’m going to tell you about the things that hooked me.

  • Ellery. I liked both her and Ezra, but Ellery really struck me. She had a bit of a fascination with true crime, which made sense, but it wasn’t something that took over her entire life. Yes, she was more cautious about things and had theories constantly, but she was able to admit that she was wrong when she was and to move on. I think this made her so much more human to me. She could admit her wrongs, she would feel bad about them, she would have more theories (obviously), but she didn’t let them get too in the way of friendships, etc.
  • Twists and turns that were both subtle and shocking. Ok, there were so many times that I told myself that I knew who did it, because ALL the signs were there. But instead McManus uses this small details and subtle changes to basically say “HA EMILY YOU ARE SO WRONG!” I loved that it wasn’t like huge, over the top reveals. Every twist and turn was subtle, flowed well within the story, and had me really upset because I was so sure so many times I had it figured out. Dear Karen, you are a master.
  • I felt that this was just well drawn up. Everything seemed believable. YOu know how sometimes when you’re reading a book or watching a movie about disappearances and cold cases and you just feel like it’s far fetched? Or there’s like the person who has never been there suddenly there and it just fixes everything magically and all is solved and they ride off into the sunset? That did not happen in this book. Not only was it believable but you also got some legitimate small town vibes. It felt like it could actually happen, and that kind of freaked me out a bit.

At this point this is really all I can say without giving spoilers. Because at this point I want to get into the nitty gritty. I want to tell you what happens and then scream “CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?” But I can’t do that. I want to…but I can’t.

This book was a page turner. I was hooked in the beginning with always a little bit of sadness to put it down, but them by about page 150 I was fully immersed and any moment I had to put it down KILLED me. I just had to know why things weren’t going as I had assumed they would and I had to know who did it. If you are looking for a book that will fully suck you in until the end, and still leave you wanting just a little bit more…this is the book.

This book is released on January 8th, 2019. You best get your hands on it when it gets here, because you will not regret it.

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Why I Read Holocaust Stories

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I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have started to type things about this book and then immediately deleted them. I’m hitting that point where I just don’t know if my words will do this book justice. And while that fear is very real, I realize that I can’t keep going on just not talking about this book. Why? Because this book moved me. It made me smile, it shocked me, it made me cry. It was an incredibly important book and it really bothers me that more people aren’t talking about it.

So, I am about to do my best to tell you reasons that you should read The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe.

31145052Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

This book was picked up kind of on a whim. When I was on vacation my friend kept talking about it, and then my sister in law had also started gushing about it (and she hadn’t even had the chance to finish it yet). So I filed it away to remember to grab it if I saw it at some point. Well let me tell you, I was so excited when it was sitting on the shelves at the library. I snatched it up immediately, determined that this was my next read (even if it meant my current read took a pause).

There was not a single second that I was disappointed in prioritizing this book. This book took me through a wide range of emotions as I read Dita’s story. I cheered in her happy moments, I cried in her gut-wrenching moments, and I continued to question just how humans could treat someone so poorly just because of their race, because of their culture, because of who they are.

I find that I read a lot of books about WWII, especially those surrounding people that suffered through the Holocaust. Sometimes I sit back and ask myself why…why would I willingly let myself read these tragedies, crying over the treatment of these people and the deaths? I asked myself these questions after I finished The Librarian of Auschwitz, and I think this book gave me all my reasons.

  1. To see the story of bravery in a dark time. I honestly don’t know how those imprisoned in concentration camps found the courage to keep going every single day. They were treated like they were worse than dirt. They were beaten, starved, experimented on. They were torn down and apart nearly every waking minute of the day. Their living situations were so awful that many died just from being sick from sleeping where they did. How…how does one gather the courage to face each day? Dita showed me that courage. She showed the struggle of wanting to give up. She showed me that it was worth it. That fighting through each and every moment, that fighting to survive, was worth it. She touched lives just by doing her job as the librarian, something that should be so simple. I read these stories to see bravery in the darkest of times.
  2. To see that people survived and have lived a good life. I think in just about every Holocaust story that I have read they have talked about the survivors, whether that be the main character or not. To see that someone can go through hell and come out to live a life is inspiring. I have only read about what they went through, and I know that’s just a small look into the terrible days and nights, but to know that some little bit of humanity survived the terror…it’s amazing. I know that the lives of survivors hasn’t been easy. I can’t imagine what they have had to overcome, but to know that so many have overcome that and have gone on to do good things…that helps me to see the good coming out of the bad.
  3. To be reminded of the past. I think it’s so important that we learn from the past, personally and as a society. I mean, if we don’t look to the mistakes and choices of the past are we really able to grow? When I read stories coming out of the Holocaust I think about what we as a society can do to ensure that something like this never happens. It’s a big thing to think of, especially today when we see so much that we question and don’t agree with. Reading books such as this one help us to see the terror that a nation caused because they don’t like someone’s race, culture, lifestyles, etc. It reminds us that it’s not ok (not that we should need the reminder, but I think it kind of amps the knowledge of what’s right and wrong up).
  4. To see good overcome evil in a real way. There’s so much evil in the world. So much. And sometimes reading the news, seeing everything play out…it just becomes overwhelming. I find it hard to maintain that hope that good will overcome some days. Books like these, stories like Dita’s, are reminders of how good overcame one of the worst evils. It’s a reminder that good WILL overcome, but we just need to do something before it goes as far as it did during WWII.

Dita’s story reminded me of the reasons I read stories of the Holocaust, both of survival and of those that went down with a fight. Dita’s story reminded me that one single person can make a difference to the lives of those around you. She reminded me that to be strong doesn’t mean you don’t break a little. She reminded me that courage can be a small act (even though her small act was a pretty big deal while in Auschwitz).

If you need a story of hope in the darkest places, read this book. If you want to see a girl risk her life to preserve books and the stories and lessons they hold, read this book. You will smile, you will cry…it’s a roller coaster but so worth it (though I do recommend not reading in public, unless you’re ok with the ugly cry in public).

Do you read WWII books? Why do you read them?

emily

Let’s talk about…Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision

35900323The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board. 

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.
Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…
To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.
Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.
She just isn’t sure that she won’t.

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Immediate reactions upon finishing:

This was such a fun read! I haven’t really read a lot of pirate books, so I was pretty excited to dive into this world of female pirates as they kick butt across the seas. I found this book super to be really quick to get in to and was filled with an adventure that I had definitely wanted to read.

Here are my top 3 reasons to read this book.

  1. AWESOME main character! I absolutely loved Grace. She was brave, strong, and just slightly imperfect. Sometimes she hesitated when I felt that I would also hesitate. She didn’t see everything that was going on in front of her, but she continued on anyway. She fought for what she believed in and was willing to do anything to get the people that she loved most back to her. I feel like she is a main character than any reader could look up to.
  2. Lady Pirates on an adventure! It’s pretty awesome to read a book about kick butt women taking on the seas. Nothing like laughing at the myth that women on a ship are bad luck and instead filling a ship with all women. There was adventure and surprises while on board the Luck as one would expect, and they kept me continuing on with the story. This book had some of the typical pirate story points, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of that. I love a good pirate story (even if I mostly watch movies and shows about pirates). This book made me need more pirate books!
  3. A nice break from reality! I have had a lot going on lately, and I found this story to be fun and exactly what I needed to take a temporary vacation from what was going on. I could definitely feel myself on the ship with the pirates and could see the story playing out. I felt that it helped me relax more, and I think that’s definitely a possibility for anyone that might pick up this book.

If you are look for a quick, fun, lady pirate adventure book then look no further! It could be a nice distraction, and I definitely think you need to meet Grace!

emily

Let’s Talk About….Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

sky in the deepOND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

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3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

Definitely a good debut novel from Adrienne Young. I have to say I wasn’t shouting over the moon at the end of this novel but I did enjoy it for what it was, a good kick-ass viking female book. I don’t think I could really call this a fantasy novel as it really didn’t have much to do with fantasy in my opinion but as far as a historical fiction, it was really good.
The parts I liked about the book: It had a simplistic approach which I really liked. Nowadays a lot of authors, especially in young adult, want to try to make these complicated books where you can’t keep everything straight. Sky in the Deep was straight forward and the story was easy to follow, along with the characters. The characters were interesting and I really ended up loving certain characters at the end that I thought I would hate at the beginning. It also is a thought provoking book. If you grew up learning to hate a certain group of people, is it possible to change your outlook or thoughts about them.
The parts I didn’t like about the book: There really wasn’t much world building at the beginning of the book. I had a hard time understanding at first why the Aska and Riki were fighting. There wasn’t really a backdrop for the story, it pretty much went into the fighting and Eelyn being captured. I also wish there was more info on the histories of the tribes other than that one story about Sigr and Thora.

Again, overall, a great debut novel for Adrienne Young and I would definitely pick up another one of her books.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

arika

3 Reasons to Read: Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen

Reign the EarthShalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarletwill hold readers spellbound.

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5/5 Stars ★★★

First reactions after finishing this book:

applause

girl power

i want more gif

Wow, just wow! I’ve been waiting for awhile for another book by A.C. Gaughen and this book definitely didn’t disappoint. There is just something about Gaughen’s writing that I just love and she just pulls me into her stories. I was hooked in the first chapter and loved the journey that we started with Shalia. So here are my 3 reasons why you need to read this awesome book!

  1. Strong female character: I really enjoyed Shalia and her personality. I felt connected with her on a personal level in that she is a women who wants peace and likes to be involved in the peace making. She wasn’t one to sit back and let events unfold. She wanted to be there on the front lines helping her people, whether they were a part of the desert or her new country. Shalia was, I feel, like a lot of women today who are strong and amazing but still have doubts on the inside. She would question herself on things (especially with some of the darker topics of this book) where we as women know its wrong but think that things will change. I thought that Gaughen showed real character growth with Shalia on that side of the story.
  2. Magic: I really love stories with elemental magic. There is just something about earth, wind, water and fire magic that appeals to me. I feel that Gaughen did an amazing job of explaining how the magic worked for Shalia and other Elementae and it wasn’t just there. Some books it seems that they throw the magic into the story without actually thinking it through. But the elemental magic here was so beautifully interwoven with Shalia and her story that I almost wish I was an Elementae too.
  3. Journey: While this book is just the start of the journey for Shalia, I feel that these first steps are just the beginning in what is going to be a wild story. The journey here is not only a physical journey for Shalia but also an emotional one. Moving away from family and the only people she has known in her life can’t be easy. But she also is experiencing marriage and taking an emotional journey that in the end is a darker one than I expected at first when I started the book. It is an important story to be told especially in today’s times but I think Gaughen did a great job taking us through the good and bad times of Shalia’s journey of finding peace for her people and herself.

Overall I gave this book 5/5 stars for a great start to what I am sure will be an awesome series about one women’s journey to find peace for her family, friends, and her people, no matter if they are like her or not. I definitely recommend picking this book up for sure! Such a good read and one that you will fly through!

arika

Emily here! I also read this book and I have a few things to add about this FANTASTIC book. My star rating is the same as Arika’s, and my reactions are definitely similar (because I am so ready for more)! This is the first fantasy in a long time that I picked up and found myself completely entranced with the world. Should be no shock that AC Gaughen was the one to help me find some much needed fantasy (FAVORITE AUTHOR ALERT). So, what 3 reasons would I give you for reading this book…

  1. A story about an overcomer. Shalia is not dealt an easy hand. She is forced into a marriage to a man she doesn’t know and she finds herself in some tough situations. People try to take advantage of her, they knock her down, they abuse her. As the Queen she is a target constantly, and all the while trying to do something for this land she knows nothing about. Her body changes, her mind changes, everything changes and honestly…I would be overwhelmed. Even with all of these issues she continues to fight her fight. She doesn’t let these issues drag her down and keep her away from her goals and her purpose. She is the overcomer I needed to read about.
  2. Girl Power! Ok, let’s be real…Shalia is kind of a badass. As I have already said, she doesn’t let her life drag her down. But the strength and courage that she shows when she faces challenges…unreal. This doesn’t mean that you never see her slip or falter. This doesn’t mean that you don’t see her doubt. It means that you see her take those feelings and use it for a better purpose. She is strong. She is courageous. She is a fighter for her people. She never ever forgets what truly matters.
  3. A fantastic world with some dark truths. I was head over heels in love with this world. When I was reading it I was going through some things (and still am going through said things) and it was the escape I needed. I was transported to the Bonelands and beyond. I was among these people. I swam in the lake, I ran through the desert. It was a world I truly fell in love with. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have bad moments. Oh my gosh there are so many real world moments in here (abuse, etc) that I was not expecting at all. Many times this book took a turn much darker than I was anticipating. But because of the main character, because of her support, I continued to believe in this world and to fall for it.

All in all, I loved this story. I don’t know what it is about Gaughen’s writing that gets me, but she so does and I was immediately there and never wanting to leave. If you are looking for another strong ass female to add to your TBR, make it Shalia. Get lost in this world just like we did.

emily

 

Book Talk: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

the hazel woodSeventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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*I was given a ARC of this book from the publisher/netgalley in exchanged for an honest review*

3/5 Stars ★★★☆☆

After reading The Hazel Wood, I couldn’t quite decide if I really liked it or if it was just another book I have read. Don’t get me wrong…there are some great things about this book but I wasn’t absolutely blown away by the story. So for this post I decided to write out a few of likes and dislikes for the book and I hope it can help you decide as a reader if you might want to give this book a chance. It comes out tomorrow: January 30, 2018.

Likes:

  • I enjoyed Alice and her line of thoughts. She was a good main character and was definitely self sufficient. She had that feel to her that she was used to stuff going to crap but she could deal with it. I never felt annoyed with her like I do some main characters…but sometimes it seemed she was totally unobservant.
  •  The Hinterland world. Wow this world was interesting! I enjoyed the different fairytales that were introduced. They were mysterious and a whole different type of story compared to our everyday fairytales. I also liked how they were a little darker then most and the fact that there was a whole other dimension where these stories were played out. I really enjoyed the story when it dealt with the Hinterland and I would read another book in the series if it dealt just with the Hinterland.

Dislikes:

  • How long it took to actually get to the fairytale part of the story. I felt like most of the book we as readers were just trying to get to the Hinterland and when we finally got there, the book was almost over. I picked up the book because of this mysterious new fairytales and I almost thought we weren’t going to get there and that there were just flashes of this mysterious land. I was just a little disappointed that most of the story wasn’t in the Hinterland. It felt like to me it was more of a young adult book instead of fantasy.
  • Ellery Finch. I wasn’t really impressed that much with Ellery Finch. I guess I was looking for a bigger character in Ellery. I was really hoping he would be more of either a best friend or love interest but he just seemed a little off most of the story. Maybe that is what the author was going for but in the end, he didn’t make a good impression on me.

Why you might want to pick it up tomorrow: The actual Hinterland was really interesting and the new fairytales were really fun to learn about. As I have said before, if the next book in the series was more about the Hinterland I would more than likely read it. If you like more young adult and just a little bit of fantasy content then this is the book for you.

arika

 

 

Let’s talk about…Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

I must be on a roll this year. I have actually drafted blog posts (that I haven’t actually published yet, but hey…drafted). I have been longing to read (I have just given up on watching whatever my husband is right now as we hunker down to both save money and avoid the cold and have been diving into my current reads). I actually finished a book and…I loved every minute of it.

This book has my heart. It had me laughing, crying, and cheering alongside the characters as they worked to overcome obstacles. It made me feel every single feel. It made me ache and made me excited at the same time. The book…Kids of Appetite by David Arnold.

33516292Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

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NOTE: I am very nervous that I will not accurately be able to get all of my feelings out coherently. I also worry that my words just won’t be enough to convey how much love I have for this book. So note, I wanted to hug this book over and over again after I finished it. It has moved onto my favorite shelf. I am so excited to be new to the David Arnold fan club.

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The journey begins in a police station as Vic and Mad are giving statements about the murder of Mad’s uncle. Throughout the story we not only listen to the statements that they give, but we go back to the events of the past 8 days and uncover what happens and just who the Kids of Appetite are. I loved the setup of this book. I think it was great that it bounced back and forth so that you would only get a little information about the past before jumping in to the police station. It left you trying to fill in some blanks as far as if these two were guilty, or if their friends were. I felt that these police station scenes really helped set the tone of who Vic and Mad are, and what they are to each other. Though I rolled my eyes a little bit at the way that they talk (I just don’t know a single teenager with that kind of vocabulary), I found myself fully invested in their story and what was going to happen to them.

So…what are some amazing things about this book?

  1. The writing! I absolutely loved the writing. There are so many quotes that had me feeling all of the feels (and sobbing like a baby). I have finally, 16 years after experiencing it myself, found a description of what it feels like to find out a family member has cancer and what it’s like to watch them fight the battle that can end so quickly. Some of my favorite quotes…
  2. I found something I could relate to in each character. Vic lost his father to cancer and is watching his mother move forward from her intense grieving period in life. She is dating and just not who he remembers. I can relate to his struggles as he battles grief and the guilt that not everything is as clear as it once was. Baz and Zuz are refugees, and though I am not a refugee myself I have worked with a handful. Hearing the story of how they came to America in the book really hit me because it’s so much like what some of the students I have worked have gone through to get here. I have felt lost and alone and unsure where to go next, like many of these kids.
  3. I loved watching their relationships grow and deepen. As each character finds out more about the other you can see their relationships change, but for the better. They continue to gain and deeper understanding of each other, and see the things each person has gone through that no one that age should ever see. These terrible events brought them together and created a bond that I haven’t ever really known with anyone. Honestly, this story was about how your friends can become family.
  4. I loved all the characters. I honestly can’t pick a favorite one. Each one broughy their own selves to the story, and their backgrounds helped continue to move the plot along. They started off a bit unsure, and throughout the story they grew and matured. They weren’t perfect. They disagreed, argued, and had to have some space from one another. They made assumptions that they shouldn’t have made. But in the end, they made their relationships with each other the most important part, and there’s something to value in that.

Kids of Appetite was an emotional journey that really reminded me of a more modern take on Mad’s favorite book, The Outsiders. Parents were pretty much nonexistent and they were forced to grow up further than what their ages imply. From start to finish, I was totally hooked. I found myself really caring for the characters, to the point where I would comment on things out loud.

i-love-it

I am honestly so thankful I found this book and glad that it was my first book of 2018. I cannot wait to read David Arnold’s other book, because if it’s anything like this one…well, then I will need to redo my favorites bookshelf.

emily