The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Publication Date: May 4th 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Source: eARC from the author
Link to the authorhttp://julia-ember.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

RATING: 3.5

BUZZWORDS:

Mermaids, Vikings, LGBTQ, Kings, Love, Fate, Loki

THOUGHTS:

If you love unique retellings of classic fairy tales, this story is for you! Page after page I was delighted at the way Julia Ember spun her version of The Little Mermaid. I love retellings that have the bare bones of the story but take on a whole new life around that structure and that’s what she did.

Our main character is Ersel and she lives a very different life from the mermaid we all know and love. She lives in the frigid waters of the ice shelf and she is not the daughter of the king, who is cruel and manipulative, but like Ariel, she is fascinated by humans. In her world, every female is valued for her fertility, but Ersel dreams of a life of adventure and free will. When it’s discovered that Ersel is one of the most fertile females in many years she begins to see that freedom slip away and takes extreme measures, making a deal with a trickster god, to secure her future. But everyone knows that when you make a deal with a god, things dont always go as planned. Will Ersel be able to best the trickster and discover the secret that the king has been hiding in the cold dark waters?

I really enjoyed this retelling and found it hard to put down. At 230 pages it was a quick read and I didn’t feel that it needed to be longer, all the necessary components were there and it wrapped up quite nicely. There were a few parts of the story that felt rushed, a little ‘too easy’ for our protagonist, but overall the pacing and the flow felt right. I struggled to connect with the main character though, or any of the characters for that matter. I think they could have been more complex and mood/atmosphere of the story could have been stronger. Those two elements would have pulled me in a little more and I would have cared more about the outcome. I think what made the story engaging was how unique it was, even though I didn’t connect to the characters, I couldn’t wait to see how the author would interpret the story next, it was full of twists and surprises. It definitely kept me on my toes and I found that impressive in just 230 pages. And there was diversity, I can’t speak to how well it was represented, but I loved it! The romance came up short though, I loved the characters as individuals but I didn’t feel the chemistry between them as I was reading. Seriously, I could read a whole story just on Ragna, she is so sassy and tough as nails! Lastly, I just want to say how much I love the way the main character came to love and accept all forms of herself, and her love interest did as well which I think is important. That self-acceptance was something I didn’t think about until a few days after I finished reading but might have been the thing that left the most lasting impression. It’s such an important message for young readers and Julia has always written characters that don’t fit society’s idea of the classic heroine. You know the one I mean, she’s a size 2 wearing high heels and her shirt is still perfectly white after defeating the bad guy? Yeah, you won’t find her here and I think we need more stories about kick-ass girls that young readers can actually relate to.

A huge thank you to Julia Ember for providing me with a copy of The Seafarers Kiss for review!

 

Girl Out Of Water by Laura Silverman

Girl Out Of Water by Laura Silverman

Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Genre: Contemporary
Source: eARC from Netgalley
Link to the authorhttp://laurasilvermanlovesbooks.tumblr.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

RATING: 4 Stars

BUZZ WORDS:

Summer, Surfing, Tacos, Romance

THOUGHTS:

Girl Out of Water drops the reader right into a day at the beach shared by a tight-knit group of friends. Have I mentioned how much I love stories about friendships?? The dialogue between everyone really drove this story for me. Anise is so sassy and confident! The family dynamic was also just so raw and real and heart warming. There was so sugar or gloss on this, just a real story, about a real girl, facing real problems and making real mistakes. Anise our main characters is a girl who knows what she wants and what her plans are, so when her father tell her she’ll be spending her summer in a different state she is unprepared for the upheaval. People who have to step outside their comfort zones and thrive there are some of my favorite stories. The characters Anise meets in Nebraska and the relationships formed is really the heart of this story and I loved each and every one of them. Lincoln was one of my favorites. He didn’t tick the typical YA teen boy boxes and I can’t thank Silverman enough for that. He wasn’t broody or a bad boy. He never pushed Anise outside her comfort zone, but gave her opportunities to take the leap herself. I love love loved him. He was not just a supporting character for ANise but stood on his own and shined! All of the characters were REAL and FLAWED and DIVERSE, and I think teens need to read about more characters like these! This would be an excellent summer read and the focus of the story was different from any contemporary I’ve ever read. The conflicts the main character had to deal with and the deep-seated issues she had been struggling with her whole life were unlike the typical YA teen struggles. I also loved Silverman’s writing, it was just the right amount of descriptive that I felt like I was right there with Anise. The setting, as well as her emotions, came right off the page. What the writing lacked at times were momentum and risk, some parts dragged a little and there weren’t enough fireworks so to speak. (excluding the literal fireworks at the end of course). But, I didn’t feel that those two negatives stopped me from wanting to pick the book back up and find out how it would conclude.

This would be an excellent summer read and the focus of the story was different from any contemporary I’ve ever read. The conflicts the main character had to deal with and the deep-seated issues she had been struggling with her whole life were unlike the typical YA teen struggles. I also loved Silverman’s writing, it was just the right amount of descriptive that I felt like I was right there with Anise. The setting, as well as her emotions, came right off the page. What the writing lacked at times were momentum and risk, some parts dragged a little and I was rarely surprised by and outcome, everything always turned out okay. But, I didn’t feel that those two things stopped me from wanting to pick the book back up and find out how it would conclude.

What I really didn’t like:

I found Anise to be very cocky and narrow-minded in the beginning and it was very off-putting.

I’m not a fan of the cover, I don’t think it captured the essence of the story, except for the blurb that’s spot on.

The ending lost a lot of momentum, and almost felt hurried like maybe the author wasn’t sure how to wrap things up. Some things were breezed over and wrapped up too easily while others needed more closure. This was the weakest part of the story in my opinion and I felt like I was left hanging. I read the eARC so I didn’t know when I was close to being finished and was very surprised when I “turned” the last page to find the story over.

 

 

The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrustskie

The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrustskie

Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Soure: eARC from Netgalley
Link to the author: http://skrutskie.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Favorite Quote:
“Today isn’t just about saving the NeoPacific. It’s about proving why it’s ours in the first place.”

Thoughts:

You can read my review of Emily Skrutskie’s first book The Abyss Surrounds Us here.

This is the conclusion to the duet and overall I was pleased with it as a wrap up of the story. I would love to see more books in this world though, it’s so fun and original. I love the water, always have, couple that with monster training, sci-fi, genetics and a messy love story and I swear Skrutskie wrote this just for me.

Warning: there are spoilers ahead!

The Abyss Surrounds Us ended with a bang. A lot of things were left up in the air and unresolved, I think it’s sequel did a good job of answering a lot of my questions and wrapping things up. I especially liked the reconciliation Cas had with her family and previous life as a reckoner trainer. I liked that it didn’t clean up perfectly, it isn’t a long book and for everything to have resolved would have been unrealistic.  Life is messy and things don’t work out the way we think they will and Skrutskie captures that on her pages.

I wasn’t sure where the story would take our main character after the first book but it followed a logical and interesting extension of the original plot. Cas faced a lot of internal struggle, figuring out where she belonged and how to come to terms with her choices. That struggle was reflected on a larger scale in a conflict that effected everyone who lived on the NeoPacific. The pirates were the “bad guys” when Cas lived on shore. In book two she ends up seeing the ocean she has always loved in a very different way, as one of those pirates. She discovers that the morally gray area in life is a lot larger than she ever thought. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that I had as deep of a connection with Cas in the second book. She was dealing with these heavy emotions and conflicts, but I didn’t feel like there we explored them before the story was wrapped up and over. There was also a lot less action, I didn’t feel a lot of excitement and anticipation until the very end. Everything leading up to that felt very laid back and dialogue heavy. I enjoyed it but it didn’t have me turning the pages till the wee hours if you know what I mean. (Who am I kidding you’re reading a book blog, of course, you know what I mean) I also saw right through some of the authors foreshadowing. I really hate when I can predict things too far in advance – Cas having to face a monkey monster (Simioid) in the end? Hinted at very early on. There also wasn’t enough Bao! I really missed all the training from book one, it wasn’t necessary for the second book but everything about Bao’s return felt too rushed.

The romance though, that was great. It was a little more like a tug O war game than a romance, and often that back and forth really annoys me but this was different. Cas and Swift weren’t being petty and dramatic like you often see in YA romance, there were real, hard issues coming between them. The were drawn together over and over by a strong connection but struggled to leave the hurt and the history behind them. I could feel the turmoil and their anguish and to me, if I’m feeling what they’re feeling, that’s some great writing. I loved these two and I was so happy with their ending. I like to think they’re out on the ocean somewhere, a little bit pirate and a little bit monster trainer, saving the NeoPacific and butting heads. LOL.

I will say that the writing style and the voice felt consistent in both books which is very important to me. And while the first three-quarters of the book might have been less than action packed I was invested in the characters enough that I had to know what happened. Skrutskie writes fabulous characters, so flawed and real, you can’t help but love them and want to see them happy. These books will always remain on my favorites shelf for that reason. This finale may not be everything I had hoped but I will never stop being thankful to Skrutskie for sharing her monster-trainer-turned-pirate with us.

A big thank you to NetGalley for this review copy of The Edge of the Abyss!

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by Newt Scamander

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by Newt Scamander

Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Source: Review Copy From Raincoast Books

RATING: 4 Stars

THOUGHTS:

I didn’t read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it was first released. I’ve never really enjoyed companions novels, and my mediocre experience of Beetle the Bard last year only cemented that feeling. However, this book brought me all the warm, fuzzy, nostalgia I had hoped for in a Harry Potter companion book.

I adore Newt’s margin notes and footnotes throughout, little details like that can really win me over in a big way. The illustrations were fantastic (pun intended) as well, they look like what you’d expected to find in a wizards textbook. I only wish there were one for each of the interesting beasts described. Personally, my favorites are the dragons (was there any doubt), the Occamy, the Mooncalves, and the Puffskein. Judging by my love of muggle animals I think I would have been a lot like Newt had I been born a wizard.

MY FAVOURITE BEAST:

OCCAMY

Classification: XXXX

“The Occamy is found in the Far East and India. A plumed two-legged winged creature with a serpentine body, the Occamy may reach a length of fifteen feet. It feeds mainly on rats and birds, though it has been known to carry off monkeys. The Occamy is aggressive to all who approach it, particularly in defense of its eggs, whose shells are made of the purest, softest silver.” (Page 66)

How awesome would it be to carry this guy around in your pocket? Or your suitcase of course. I just love that they grow to their required space. I think I am particularly smitten with the Occamy because it reminds me not only of Harry Potter but a little of The Neverending story as well. Both were a big part of my childhood.

Which is your favorite beast?

Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor

Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor

Publication Date: April 4th 2017
Genre: Contemporary
Soure: ARC from Raincoast Books
Link to the authorhttps://whitneytaylorbooks.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

RATING: ☆☆☆☆

BUZZ WORDS FROM THE SYNOPSIS:

humorous, depression, Twizzler-chomping, pregnant, re-write the rules

 

THOUGHTS:

I don’t feel that I can review this book in my usual format or critique it for the usual criteria. My reading experience can’t be summed up that way, so I’m going to try something different.

  • I really, honestly enjoyed Definition of Indefinable Things and I think others will too, but I don’t think it will be for everyone. The voices on these pages are so strong and so distinct that they will deeply resonate with the right people.
  • My descriptions aren’t going to do her justice but I can’t wait to read more by Whitney Taylor, and that says something.
  • I laughed often, and for me, that’s always the sign of a good book.
  • There are a lot of parentheses, and I loved them.
  • Reggie’s story is awkward, messy, raw, and beautiful – just like life. That’s why it was so great because it was written like a real experience, organically and without a hard beginning or end. I think it stirred up all my feelings because I could relate to each character in some way. My struggles with depression have never been like Reggie’s but I could still see myself in her and I think others will as well.
  • I’m not a teen anymore but all the stuff about lives intersecting in surprising ways and accepting that we can’t fit life into neat, little, manageable boxes – is still relevant to me now. So don’t write it off as another high school-teen-drama-contemporary! (I’m bad for that)
  • I said I wasn’t going to touch on the regular criteria but for those of you that just need to know… The pace was right, the characters developed over time, and it was only predictable in the way that life itself is predictable. (ie. life is ironic and the universe has a sense of humor, or if it can go wrong it will)
  • Taylors writing is in a league of its own, and I’m going to finish off this review by sharing some of my favorite passages. If they don’t convince you to read this book, nothing I say will.

“It may have just been in my head, but I felt like I was third-wheeling it hard. Like, as hard a girl on New Year’s Eve who watches her friends make out as she drinks tequila and plots what size apartment to rent to fit all twelve of her cats”

“I looked away right as more lighting exploded, rosy hues kissing the gray. The flashes were like light bulbs across the atmosphere, like the gods were paparazzi taking pictures of the lost and broken little humans wandering aimlessly beneath their thumbs”

“How does anyone know they’re depressed? You feel equally alive and dead and have no idea how that’s even possible. And everything around you doesn’t seem so full anymore. And you can’t tell if the world is empty or you are. That’s how I knew. I realized it wasn’t the world that was empty”

And there’s a beautiful part at the bottom of page 225 but I’ll let you find it yourself, it was my favorite. There are many more I’d love to share because they made me laugh or resonated with me but I don’t want to spoil the whole experience for you. How about this, if you read it send me a message and let’s talk about our favorite moments.

Thank you to Raincoast Books for the opportunity to read a book I know I will be thinking about for some time.