Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Top Ten Words in Titles of YA Genre Fiction I Have Read

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Okay, so as I was planning for this I started thinking about all the words who tend to repeat in YA Fantasy books. And as soon as I opened the floodgates the responses really started flowing. I know we all know those titles. They're "Noun of Noun and Noun."

So instead of having a list of like thirty words I decided to do a little experiment and see which words I have read the most titles. So here is that list and some of the books.



Shadow: 10
Star/Stars: 9
Queen: 7
King: 7
Bone: 7


Crown: 5
Midnight: 5
Daughter: 4
Blood: 4
Sky: 4

What books made your list? Or should I say keywords. Did we have any of the same? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: Not If I Save You First by Allky Carter

Title: Not If I Save You First
Written by: Ally Carter
Published: March 27, 2018 by Scholastic

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

I love Ally Carter's books. I haven't read all of them but every book I have read I really enjoyed. She's great at writing YA books with elements of mysteries and thrillers without really being either. I was excited for her next book because it sounded like a great read that was just that. And I was not disappointed by it.

One of the things that I think Ally Carter does so well is characterization, and I loved the characters in this book. The book alternates perspectives between Maddie and Logan. Maddie is a bit of a girly girl who is living in Alaska with her dad. I love that she balanced her love of lip gloss and cuticle care with chopping wood and gutting fish. She was tough and resourceful while being a teenage girl. I was rooting for her from the very beginning. Logan took a little while to warm up to. He was kind of a cliché child of famous people acting out for no good reason. But when push came to shove, Logan was smart, kind, and resilient. Logan had great development throughout the book and I was rooting for him by the end. Both characters were great apart and together. I really got invested in their story of survival.

And that's exactly what this book was, it was a story of survival. I don't know why but I was not expecting that at all. I was expecting this to be a book full of action and adventure though and that's exactly what I got. I love a good plot that has been so engaged in a book that I can read a solid 50 pages without batting an eye and that's what happened here. It's a short and easy read that you won't want to put down. There were daring escapes, near death experiences, and plenty of moments that had me on the edge of my seat. But like I said, this was a survival story. So much of the plot of this book was not only about surviving the kidnapping but also just surviving, which I really enjoyed.

A lot of that survival had to do with the setting of this book. I have read a few books now set in Alaska and it is definitely a great place to set a contemporary read. For one thing it is a really unique setting. You don't get a lot of books set there, and I liked that. But it's also a harsh and forgiving place that isn't for the fait of heart. It makes for really interesting characters who are forced to deal with a lot of adversity. It also makes for a setting that perfectly lends itself well to a dramatic and tense read.

I do however wish there was more to the mystery of the book. I know it wasn't a mystery, it wasn't a political thriller, but it also kind of was. Or at least it could have been. I wish we got to delve a little deeper into those elements of the story. The were a part of it to a smaller degree and I feel like if you are going for a potential international incident you should go for it, you know. But that's probably just a bit of personal preference because I like my mystery to be a big part of the book and that wasn't what happened here.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. It had great characters, an exciting plot, and a fascinating setting. I wish it had more of an intense mystery but the book was still action-packed and full of adventure.

I give Not If I Save You Fist by Ally Carter 9 out of 10 stars


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of adventure stories. It was a great survival story.  If you are looking for a contemporary read with elements of action and adventure then check it out.

Have you read Not If I Save You First? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Sky in the Deep Blog Tour: Interview with Author Adrienne Young

Title: Sky in the Deep Written by: Adrienne Young
Published: April 24, 2018 by Wednesday Books (St Martin's)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: OND 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.


Interview

1. What inspired SKY IN THE DEEP? How did the idea and Eelyn come to you?

The sibling betrayal was definitely the first inspiration for this story. I was driving in the pouring rain on this country road and that first scene just hit me - Eelyn, seeing her brother on the battlefield after thinking that he was dead for five years. I pulled over on the side of the road and scribbled a million notes on an old envelope. I was immediately hooked to the idea and I wanted to know what had happened. I started writing that first chapter and I just never stopped.

2. What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest thing you had to research for this book?

I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

3. What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?

Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

4. What was your hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

I really didn’t struggle to get this story on the page the way I have with other books so I really don’t know what the hardest scene to write was. But the easiest was the first chapter. I wrote itso fast and it just clicked in so perfectly.

5. Do you have a soundtrack for SKY IN THE DEEP? Can you share a couple songs? What would Eelyn’s favorite song be?

Yes! Music plays a HUGE role in my writing process and I have a playlist for every project. The ones I probably listened to the most while drafting SKY are To the Hills by Laurel, Bare by Wildes, and Rise Up – Reprise by Foxes. But a link to the whole playlist is on my site!

6. What books have inspired you to write? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

The ones that inspired me to write are nothing like my books. One of the most influential ones for me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because the human element is so beautiful and the author explores so many things in that book that really took my breath away. I wanted to write stories that went deep like that, but I love fantasy so I try to it within that realm.

7. Any advice on querying? Or writing advice for aspiring writers?

Querying – do not just sign with any agent who will take you. Make a dream agent list of qualified agents who have good reputations and make consistent sales. Query them. If they don’t bite, then write another book that they might want. Believe me when I say it is worth waiting for the right agent!

8. Any details about the companion novel?

I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it soon because I am really excited about it!

9. If you were trapped on a desserted island, what dessert would you island be made of?  

Food. Because I love food. And because I think starving to death would be like the worst way to die ever.


About the Author

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.


I hope you enjoyed learning more about Adrienne and Sky in the Deep. If you missed my review of the book, which was posted on Monday you can check that out HERE. Spoiler alert... I loved it. I definitely recommend you check it out. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Audiobook Review: Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Title: Defy the Worlds
Series: Defy the Stars #2
Written by: Claudia Gray
Published: April 3, 2018 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: This is the thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars from the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline.

An outcast from her home -- Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people...if only she wasn't flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate -- On the run to avoid his depraved creator's clutches, Abel believes he's said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them...or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi's capture by the very person he's trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield's master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider where--and with whom--we truly belong.


I was late to the party on reading the first book in this series and I wish I had read it sooner because it was a fantastic science fiction adventure. So when the second book came out, I didn't want to delay too long before diving back into this world. And I was not disappointed. This is another brilliant and engaging science fiction read from a master of the genre.

One of the things I was most excited about with this book was catching back in with the characters. I seriously loved the characters in the first book and I felt invested in their struggles. In the first book you really get to know Noemi and Abel so in this book we are able to just see them in action. An unfortunate side effect of that was that there wasn't really much character development here. But that was okay because I really do love these characters. Noemi is fearless and dedicated to saving her world and people who have been mistreated. That will always be a character that I love. But Abel is the more interesting one. He's so complex and interesting. How can an android with a soul not be complex.

The heart of this book too is their relationship. Usually I am not onboard for this kind of relationship but Claudia Gray has done such an amazing job with it. It's a great slowburn, so slow in fact that they spent most of the book apart and I kept hoping that they would find one another and get back together. They are so fun together. They have great back and make an amazing team. It's the foundation for a good relationship and I am actually interested in seeing where it goes.

I am also super interested in seeing where the plot of this book goes. The plot in this one was a lot more complicated. There is a lot going on and it didn't really all come together until towards the end of the book. Throughout the story there were tons of surprises and lots of action and adventure. There were daring escapes through space, exploration of unknown planets, battles on a spaceship, and lots more. The plot really built to an exciting climax with a completely mean cliffhanger. I cannot wait to see how it all ends in a final book in the series. But it was a bit slow at the beginning. There was a lot that still needed to be revealed and set up, which is fine, but I wish it got down to business sooner.

But I was okay with learning more about this world because it's a very interesting world in this book. In this book we got to explore more of the setting of the book by visiting Gensis. I loved seeing this element of the book and learning about and seeing that location. It was so different than the other planets. Speaking of planets, this world really has that the classic hard sci-fi thing going for it with spaceships, androids, new planets and any number of exciting science based elements. It has a Battlestar Galatica vibe which I am completely here for. Plus it has Claudia Gray's trademark way of incorporating a lot of science without overwhelming the reader with details. It could definitely fallen down that path but it didn't.

I really enjoyed this book it was an action-packed read with a fascinating world and complex characters. I have loved every YA science fiction book I have read by Claudia Gray. She really knows how to write a great story.

I give Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray 9 out of 10 stars


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I definitely recommend this book to fans of science fiction. It's a fun explration into the genre with great characters and an interesting world.

Have you read Defy the Worlds? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Like to Reread But I Probably Won't Have Time

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

So last week as I was going through my list of books read trying to figure out which ones I didn't want to reread, I realized that there is a solid list of books that I want to reread but probably won't just because I don't have time. I wish I had unlimited opportunity to read, but I don't so I have to prioritize books that I haven't read yet. So today I thought I would share that list of books with you.


1.) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I was killing some time at the airport recently and with the movie for this book coming out they had a ton of paperbacks for this one. I don't own a copy so I bought it and now I really want to reread it. I want to reread even more after seeing the movie.

2.) Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
I have reread the first two books in this series but not this one. I tend not to reread last books. But I loved this series and I would like to reread it. If Apocalypse Guard ever comes out I may reread it but until then I just don't have time.

3.) The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
This is one of my all-time favorite books. It's the book that inspired me to start this blog. I bought my sister a copy last Christmas and it made me want to reread. I actually want to listen to the audiobook because it's narrated by Jeremy Irons.

4.) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
I am soooo excited for this movie and I want to reread before seeing it. I love this series so much and I want the movie to be amazing. I also want it to be good enough for there to be more movies because my favorite character is introduced in the second book.


5.) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
This is a really fantastic but really amazing series. I would like to reread the original trilogy and the new series when the final book in that one comes out but I'm going to be honest, I probably won't do that. I know I should but that's a lot of books.

6.) The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
With King of Scars coming out next year, I would really like to reread the original series to refresh my memory on what happened and also get me some Nikolai to prepare. I do really like the audiobook narrator so maybe I'll listen.

7.) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater
Speaking of really liking the audiobook narrator. Steve West, amiright? I mean Fiona Hardingham too but also Steve West. I'd like to give this one another listen but I don't think I will have the time. Props to people who do that every year.

8.) The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon
I really like this series and I would love to reread because there is always so much time between releases. But the thing is, I don't like the audiobook narrator and because of that I probably won't reread it.


9.) The Diviners by Libba Bray
The main thing from stopping from rereading this one is the fact that the books are so long. The audio narrator is pretty good and I would like to reread them before the final book in the series comes out (whenever that is) but it's a serious commitment.

10.) The Great Library series by Rachel Caine
So I reread the first book in the series before the second one came out but I didn't reread the second when the third one did. Now we're looking at a fourth and then a fifth book and I really should reread. Will I? I don't know. Maybe.

11.) The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman
I loved this series. I have been wanting to reread it for some time now. I think it would be great to listen to the audiobooks. But I have not taken the time for that and I'm starting to think I never will.

12.) Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
This is another series that I want to reread before the spinoff comes out, and another amazing series that I would like to experience again. But the narrator for the first book SUCKS and I don't know if I can get through it so I can get to the second.

There you have it, all the books I would like to reread but I probably won't have time to reread. Some because they are long series, and others just because I am prioritizing new releases. What books would you like to reread if you had time? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, April 16, 2018

ARC Review: Sky In the Deep by Adrienne Young

Title: Sky in the Deep
Written by: Adrienne Young
Published: April 24, 2018 by Wednesday Books (St Martin's)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: OND 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.


*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

This book was seriously so fantastic! I had wanted to read it since I first learn about it, because it’s so Up my alley, and I am so glad it lived up to my expectations. It was a badass, thrilling, enthralling read and I loved it.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the world. I have been wanting both oks about Vikings, or inspired by Vikings, for years now and this is the first one I’ve read which I think did it right. The author managed to capture the spirit of Vikings while still making something wholly unique. You could feel the inspiration in the culture of the book. It’s an intense and barbaric culture with battle-hardened warriors. But you also see it in their religion and stories. It felt totally immersive and fascinating.

But the setting also perfectly lent itself to a thrilling fantasy plot. You guys know me, I am a plot junkie. I want a book full of action and suspense that keeps me on the edge of my seat. This book completely did that. There were thrilling battle scenes, more quite moments of uncertainty and fear, there was external conflict and internal conflict, there were big bads and smaller enemies. There was definitely a lot going on here but it all worked together to craft a fantastic plot that really built to an exciting conclusion. I seriously did not want to put it down. I breezed through this book and I loved that about it. I needed a book like this.

The characters too really blew me away. This book very easily could have taken a very cliche path, but it didn’t. The characters were complex and had a lot of depth. First we have our main character of Eelyn. She’s a kickass female warrior, which I love, but she was also incredibly vulnerable. Throughout the book she doesn’t always win and there are times where she lets her emotions affect her in a very real way. I loved that about her. I love that she can kill someone on the battlefield and cry herself to sleep. It made her so real and so raw at times. She felt everything and you felt it with her. All of this really made Eelyn a very compelling protagonist.

But the real heart of this story is about family. It is about doing anything for your family and the people you love. It’s about finding family in the most unlikely of sources. This too could have been really cliche but it never went that far. It gave the book depth and heart. Speaking of heart, I also kind of liked the romance here. I don’t even know how to describe it. It wasn’t quite a hate to love thing, nor was it instalove. It leaned more toward the former though. Either way, it was a good slowburn in that it was one of those romances where I didn’t even know I shipped it until something happened that melted my otherwise frozen heart.

My only criticism is with the synopsis. I know I’m just nick-picking here but I really hate when the synopsis of a book gives a lot away. I understand you want to capture people’s interest but I think you can do that without revealing three-quarters of the plot. It takes all the mystery out of a book when the synopsis tells you what to expect. And I knew exactly what to expect. I knew exactly what was going to happen. I wish the book would have keep something from me at least.

All in all this was an amazing read. It had everything I wanted and more. There was a fascinating world, a thrilling plot that kept me on the edge of my seat, complex and likable characters, and a lot of heart and depth. I have been looking forward to this book for probably a year and it was so worth it. It’s amazing.

I give Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young 9.5 out of 10 stars


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! This book was amazing. I seriously loved it. If you are a fan of YA fantasies or are just looking for a thrilling book Everyone should read it. When it comes out next week, get yourself a copy.

Have you read Sky in the Deep? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thnaks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, April 13, 2018

ARC Review: In Her Skin by Kim Savage

Title: In Her Skin
Written by: Kim Savage
Published: April 17, 2018 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest scam of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I am always game to try a new YA mystery and/or thriller. I had heard good things about this author so when I had the opportunity to join the blog tour for this one I thought I would take advantage of my desire to read the author and give it a try. This was a really unique thriller and I did enjoy it but it wasn't one that blew me away.

One of the things that I did love about this book is the tension. When you are reading a thriller this is definitely what you want, you want to be thrilled. You want a book that is tense and leave you curious and questioning. That's exactly what this book did. It kept you wondering what was going to happen next, when the other shoe was going to drop, and when the con was all going to go south. Because of that I kept reading in the hopes of something crazy and intense happening. It kept me engaged and reading because of that.

That being said, the plot here was not exactly what I was hoping for. It was interesting and it did keep me curious, but it never really delivered on any of the anticipation for me. I think my biggest frustration what the plot however was that it was so basic. This is a short read, which is fine, but I wanted more depth. I've read some short reads that were jam-packed but this wasn't one of them. The tension was there but my mind was spinning with all kinds of possibilities and none of them came true. When it did reach the conclusion for me things just kind of fizzled out. There were some big reveals early in the book but they didn't quite have the weight that I was hoping for. But this was probably my fault because of the way I was imagining things. I should have just experienced the book instead of imagining the possibilities.

As far as the characters go, however, they were really interesting and complex. Our main character in this book is Jolene. Jolene is a con artist and therefore not the kind of character who you think that you would sympathize with, but Savage does a great job of making her likable. She has a bit of a tragic past and is the kind of character who you want to see settled and happy. But maybe I like Jo so much because all the other characters were so odious. The Lovecrafts definitely had secrets and I kept keeping them at arms length. They were definitely odious though, especially Temple, and honestly that is one of the things that made them likable and interesting.

All in al this was an interesting and engaging read. It was a fast and unique mystery that had a lot of really good tension even if the plot didn't exactly blow me away.

I give In Her Skin by Kim Savage 8.5 out of 10 stars


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. This was a good read but not a super complex mystery. If you are a big fan of YA thrillers and you want something to blow your mind you will not find that here. But if you are looking for a fast and tense read check this out.

Have you read In Her Skin? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!