Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press) for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own.

IT PAINS ME THAT I DIDN’T LOVE THIS.

I found myself scanning by the end. This let me down compared to Sky in the Deep (a favorite of mine last year). I’m trying to break it down so here are some bullet points:

What I did like:

  • I liked having Halvard as the protagonist. Since he’s up and coming as the next clan leader it was a good perspective. He learned and experienced a lot to help him better serve his people. I found him fierce and easy to cheer for. I wanted things to work out for him.
  • Tova. I really enjoyed her character.
  • The strong focus on family bonds. This was a highlight in SITD too. A favorite part is the fierce loyalty they feel for one another and trying to protect what sense of peace they have.
  • Realllll obsessed with the cover.
  • It’s a really quick read! Even when I started scanning (which wasn’t until after the halfway mark) I noticed how fast I was flying through it. The chapters are short and the writing has a whimsical style to it.
  • How clean the book is. I love a book that doesn’t have excessive amounts of language or romance. This hit those marks well (regardless of what I thought overall). It’s a clear YA book.

What I didn’t like:

  • That we hardly got to see Tova. She may have been a POV, but we hardly learned anything about her until the last few pages.
  • There is no romance (which I’m only noting as an issue because other reviews highlight it, but I did not see it). I stand by that sentence. Tova & Halvard don’t even have a full conversation with each other until so deep into the book there isn’t time to form chemistry. The kiss at the end came out of nowhere for me.
  • A lot of side characters (especially on the Svell’s side) who had no history. So they were supposed to be seen as bad, but I wasn’t invested in them.
  • It was missing depth and development for the plot in general. As I mentioned above, we barely know anything about the Svell (and Tova’s clan – the Kyrr). Everyone is thrown together without much of a story.

Okay, I think I have broken it down enough. While this wasn’t quite for me, it could be for you! There was definitely some highlights, I just overall had some issues.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: a lot, clans warring, arrows, knives, swords, axes, murder

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Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2019!

Whoa, things got crazy this month. I read 21 books! I can’t even believe it myself. It’s the dead of summer and I have been able to pick up a lot of reads and had a great month. I am happy I got through so many because August is a big month for new releases on my radar.


  • The Beholder (The Beholder #1) by Anna Bright
  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
  • Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce
  • Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho
  • Recursion by Blake Crouch
  • When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (RTC – ☆☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young [ARC] (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • The Traitor’s Kingdom (The Traitor’s Circle #3) by Erin Beaty (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) [REREAD] (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) by Rick Riordan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) by Tamora Pierce (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Fire Falling (Air Awakens #2) by Elise Kova (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire #3) by Michael J. Sullivan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3) by Tamora Pierce (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Save the Date by Morgan Matson (RTC – ☆☆)
  • The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)

Some of my favorites from this month were: The Traitor’s Kingdom, The Winner’s Curse, Fire Falling, & All Your Perfects!

My least favorites this month were: The Beholder, Recursion, and Save the Date.

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Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor’s Kingdom (The Traitor’s Circle) by Erin Beaty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 400 pages
Author: Erin Beaty
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Unlikely alliances are forged and trust is shattered in the stunning conclusion to The Traitor’s Trilogy.

A new queen under threat. 
An ambassador with a desperate scheme. 
Two kingdoms with everything to lose.

Once a spy and counselor to the throne, Sage Fowler has secured victory for her kingdom at a terrible cost. Now an ambassador representing Demora, Sage is about to face her greatest challenge to avoid a war with a rival kingdom.

After an assassination attempt destroys the chance for peace, Sage and her fiancé Major Alex Quinn risk a dangerous plot to reveal the culprit. But the stakes are higher than ever, and in the game of traitors, betrayal is the only certainty.

A FANTASTIC HAPPY-ENDING FILLED CONCLUSION.

OH HOW I LOVED THIS SERIES.

I question why it took me so long to get to this. I had heard mixed things, but should have trusted my gut. After I picked it up I never looked back. Perk of waiting so long? I barely had to wait to have all three books in my hands. A top series of 2019.

Sage went on an amazing character journey. I love that she realized her faults and choices had caused harm to her friends. She was able to apologize and actually become a better person for it.

The only tiny issue I had was how much Clare annoyed me. I could not handle her woe is me style and thought she was going to be a downfall to the plot. LUCKILY, things highly improved on this front and I loved how her story came to an end and thought it made sense for her and Sage’s relationship.

ALEX AND SAGE. One of my new OTPs. UGH HOW I LOVE THEM. They infuriated me a lot less in this book, but I distinctly had a moment of being reallllll angry with Alex, WHY DUDE. But, hot dang, did he recover with fireworks. Their quiet moments WERE MY EVERYTHING. Typing this review makes me want to reread this book purely for their interactions. Oh, how I love them so.

A lot more drama and actual plot progression here too. It was easy to flip pages, and slowly read, savoring all of the moments this book had to give. I loved how much more intrigue this book had. There was less battle and more focus on the politics (and this change was done well). It kept me on my toes, when even I was pretty sure I knew who was behind everything there was still so much more to explain! I was interested in this as much as I was making sure Sage & Alex got the happy ending THEY DESERVED DANG IT.

Lots of female power in this too. Sage and her friends, Lani, Clare, and Queen Zoraya are a force to be reckoned with and I like that their subplot allowed a lot more insight into all of their lives. I learned more about them and their journey which had me really invested in them getting happy endings too (OHEMGEE the very end *shrieks with joy at how cute that scene was*).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: a little light language
  • Romance: kisses, a few tasteful little detailed FTB scenes
  • Violence: arrows, murder, swords, fire
  • Trigger warnings: PTSD (from an extreme burn), mentions of past drug dependence

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Book Review

Book Review: Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2  
Audience: Young adult fantasy/magical realism
Length: 429 pages
Author: Kat Cho
Publisher: G.P. Putnam
Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

A BIT DIFFERENT THAN I THOUGHT.

I was stoked to read this because the premise made it sound like we were dealing with an immortal cross of a fox/human that was wickedly good. What I received was a little less than that.

Instead this was mostly a high school romance story, and way more magical realism than it was fantasy. Since we were in present day Korea though, this definitely didn’t need any crazy fantasy world-building. It’s a mega city with delicious food.

Yes, food. That is what made my mouth water multiple times. So much so that at midnight one night when I was reading, I stopped, pulled up Pinterest and began to pin a hundred Korean recipes. We’ve had most of them since writing this, and they were delicious.

The romance was a cute-y, low stakes, not too fast (but not slow burn) high school saga. It developed over a few months and I was behind it. I liked where Miyoung and Jihoon were going. The crux of the whole plot wasn’t as strong as I was hoping. The reasoning for their initial conflict didn’t hit me in the heart strings like I think it meant too.

My biggest issue was the epilogue. IT DID NOT NEED THE EPILOGUE. WHY WOULD YOU CONTINUE A STORY WITHIN THE EPILOGUE WHEN IT WAS FINE THE WAY IT WAS? I don’t get it, and am now confused by the whole thing. I’ll have to see what the next book is about before making any final decisions.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult magical realism (I guess kind of fantasy?)
  • No language (double points for this)
  • Romance: some kisses, they do spend the night together but only sleeping
  • Violence: a handful of murders
  • Trigger warnings: physical child abuse

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Book Review

Book Review: Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 274 pages
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 1st, 1983
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.

MY FIRST TAMORA PIERCE BOOK.

This book was less than 300 pages, so truly a quick read. I enjoyed it, but it also wasn’t world-shattering for me.

I really liked the coming of age story for Alanna. This book spans a few years of her life as she grows up pretending to be her brother so she can become a knight. She goes through a lot of growing pains that I could relate to and appreciated the addition of.

I had a hard time staying fully interested in the story. A lot was happening…and not happening all at once. The villains weren’t fully formed and weren’t in the book long enough for me to actually hate. They flitted through and I was like oh wait…what was that about?

What I am most excited about are the hints of the romance I must see in the future. It seems like it’s forming on solid ground, the guy is sweet and growing up in his own way. I think there’s a lot that could happen here and I am excited to know what happens between them.

There’s definitely inklings of what will happen in future installments and I am still interested in pursing them. It’s nice to have a break from big fantasies for something on a much smaller scale. I’m happy I finally picked this up!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: swords, poison, sickness

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Book Review

Book Review: The Beholder (The Beholder #1) by Anna Bright

Rating: ☆☆☆  
Audience:Young adult fantasy
Length: 435 pages
Author: Anna Bright
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

I ONLY HAVE ONE QUESTION: WHERE AM I?

I will first start off by saying: this is a story with multiple love interests. About the only time I can handle it is when I no beforehand and can then decide if I’m okay with it (i.e. The Selection Series). Since this was a buddy read and it did sound pretty good I was cool with the love triangle/square happenings.

What I was not okay with was the world-building. I can say that I’ve read quite a bit over my life and never have I been more confused about the world then when when I was reading this. Talking to my friend I kept messaging her with a shouted: WHERE AM I? over and over again. They’re mentions of Greek mythology (Odysseus and Homer), mentions of other story time characters (Hansel & Gretel), but the world appears to be spread out as it is in 2019 (referring to continents and general countries). We have to take ships everywhere, no cell phones, but there appears to be the occasional radio? I could keep going y’all. Trust me, it’s insane how odd ball this all was.

If you look past the world-building and to the story, you will be okay with what you see. Selah starts off as a pushover and scared of her own shadow. A bunch of woe is me crap that I really needed her to drop, ASAP. By the end of the book she did get a little better. Made a few choices that are interesting and I’m not sure where they’ll take us in book two, but none-the-less, at least her character was more appealing by the end.

The love interests all have their own game plans. I’m currently #teamtorden. He’s the Norse-ish god of my dreams. The others we either haven’t gotten to yet or didn’t spend much time with them. The book seemed a bit rushed and I thought she needed more than two weeks at each location to get a feel for the other person. This caused me to have a hard time loving anyone because I felt like I didn’t even know them enough to love them.

There were two other small things that were odd and bothered me. One being, Selah referring to her Father as DADDY THE ENTIRE TIME. She’s 18, I’m sorry, but I think that’s weird *shrugs*. The other thing was the Marvel rip-off. The characters in one of the lands were CLEARLY taken from them, so much that I was taken out of the story because all I could picture was the movies.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some chaste kisses
  • Violence: poison, mentions of losing a loved one, but really pretty tame

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Book Review

Book Review: The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy (mythology)
Length: 279 pages
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release Date: April 1st, 2006
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan’s amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a “half blood” whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan’s series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment.

In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book’s drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.

STILL GOOD.

This definitely felt like a filler book for a series. That was my only main issue with it. Since nothing plot wise really happens for a bit it was another summer with another problem. Problem was solved and that was it!

Now, the ending did leave a lot more open for book three. I think it will definitely pick up for the rest of the series.

I am still loving all of these characters and LOVE Percy & Annabeth. They are absolutely fantastic. I love that their youth shines through, but they are also bold, intelligent and really try to choose the best option. They are easy to enjoy and cheer on as they go through battle after battle.

I don’t really have much else to add, it was a good book. I definitely enjoyed it, just not a lot to expound on. I can’t wait to keep this going!

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle grade/Young adult fantasy + mythology
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: physical, swords, magical

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