Sky in the Deep – Spoiler Free ARC Review

Sky in the Deep

By Adrienne Young

 

Details:

Title: Sky in the Deep


Author: Adrienne Young


Date of Publication: April 24th, 2018


Publisher: Wednesday Books

 

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of Sky in the Deep in exchange for my honest feedback.

Summary:

            Seventeen-year-old Eelyn’s world is war. Raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen in a generations-old blood feud against the Riki, 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 if she wants to make it back to the fjord after the thaw. But when she begins to see herself in the people she’s been taught to hate, the world Eelyn once knew begins to crumble. And after the village is raided by a ruthless clan many believe to be a myth, Eelyn is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who has tried more than once to kill her. Together, they must end the blood feud between their clans or watch their people be slaughtered.

A lush, Viking-age inspired fantasy about loyalty, forgiveness, and the definition of family. (Goodreads Summary)

 

My Review 

           As a massive fan of the Vikings TV show as well as the history of the vikings in general, I was looking forward to Sky in the Deep from the moment I read its description on Goodreads, and I did not leave this book disappointed. I managed to finish it in one sitting, and am already dying to get my hands on Young’s next novel.

            I don’t often get to read YA historical fiction/fantasy stories, so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on Sky in the Deep.  Young manages to build a lush, wonderful world while following what we know of the vikings from history. The story itself had me hooked in from the very first moment with an epic battle scene to start the story off. While reading it, each chapter seems to flow into the next, leaving you wanting more until you reach the very end. It’s both brutal and violent, while also managing to be a touching story about family and loyalty. I especially love the description Young includes in her fighting scenes; she never holds anything back and allows for there to be blood and gore. I don’t want to say too much about the plot in fear of spoiling it, but Young does a fantastic job in pacing her story so it doesn’t feel rushed, letting things occur naturally. Sky in the Deep is truly an incredible Viking inspired story that will not only make your pulse race with adrenaline, but also cause you to appreciate those you have in your life.

            A badass story has to have some badass characters, and Young certainly delivers in that category. Our main character, Eelyn, is a piece of work and I absolutely love her. She is a fierce warrior who loves ferociously, and will do anything to protect those she loves. I loved how we got to see her develop throughout the story from an Aska who hates the Riki with every fiber of her being, to living and fighting amongst them. Fiske, her love interest, is the strong, silent type. He and Eelyn don’t start off on the right foot, but we see them grow together, bringing out the best in one another. Young did a fantastic job in not letting the romance take over the story. Instead, the romance sneaks up on you when you least expect it, and actually adds to the story as a whole. Aside from the two main characters, there are also several other well written characters with tons of personality such as Inge, Halvard, Runa, Iri, Myra, and so many more! I can’t discuss everything I loved about every single one of them without spoiling things–or making this review about five thousand pages long–but I feel I need to mention how Young doesn’t skip out on the character development of any of the side characters as well. I’ve truly finished this book with several new favorite characters who will stay with me for years to come.

                In conclusion, I give Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young four and a half out of five stars for being an exciting, action packed piece of YA historical fiction, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new book to read–but especially to anyone who enjoys the history of the vikings. I can’t wait to see what else Adrienne Young comes out with in the future.

If you would like to purchase Sky in the Deep

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Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy – Book Review

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

By Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman

WARNING: Spoilers for City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

 

Details:


Title: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy


Author: Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman 


Page Count: 672


Publisher: Margaret K. McElderly Books

 

 

Summary:

After being stripped of his memories in City of Heavenly Fire, Simon Lewis goes back to being a normal mundane who knows nothing about the hidden world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders he was once a part of. He remembers he was once friends with Clary, and somehow dated Isabelle Lightwood, but has no idea what happened between them all. Every time he faces his old friends, Simon feels as if he’s letting everyone down by not being the man they knew and loved.

With the re-opening of the Shadowhunter Academy, Simon decides throws himself back into the world of demons and monsters by training to become a Shadowhunter in hope of finding himself again. The Academy is basically a functioning ruin with many, many problems as all the new students are bound to discover, but for Simon it is his chance to bring back who he once was. With a mixture of old favorites as well as several new characters, exciting adventures are bound to occur in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy.

My Review:  

          I was somewhat cautious going into Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy because Cassandra Clare was not the only author, but I must say I was relieved to find that almost every story had a similar voice to Clare’s past works. There were ten stories in total, and I’d be lying if I said I loved them all equally–some were better than others. Each story followed Simon throughout his time at the Academy and built up to the final story with their own separate arcs. I particularly loved how a majority of the stories offered flashbacks to characters that readers previously met in The Infernal Devices. I felt like the anthology really connected and added something to the Shadowhunter world as a whole rather than being a separate, stand alone collection. My personal favorite from the collection is the final story, “Angels Twice Descending”, because I loved how it combined aspects of all of the stories as well as the twist at the end in which Simon must face  a tragedy which follows Clare’s trend of ripping out and stomping on the hearts of all of her readers. I also have to give an honorary mention to “The Whitechapel Field” because it was about Jack the Ripper, a Shadowhunter world version of Jack the Ripper! My least favorite was probably “The Lost Herondale” because I kind of spoiled myself by reading Lady Midnight before Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which revealed who the lost Herondale is, and it is not as interesting to me as the other stories, but I like how Catarina was more prominent in it than she is in the other stories. I believe all the stories flowed well together, and it really makes me want to read the other Shadowhunter anthology, The Bane Chronicles.

One particular thing I believe the authors of Tales from the Shadowhunter academy did well is blend the old characters with fresh new faces. Sure, I loved how my old favorites like Magnus, Alec, Jace, Izzy, Clary, and etc. showed back up, but I really loved a majority of the new characters introduced to us at the academy. There’s two main groups at the academy: those with shadowhunter blood, and mundanes who are training to be worthy of becoming shadowhunters by drinking from the Mortal Cup. My personal favorites from the mundane group are George Lovelace and Marisol Garza. I loved George from the very first story when he and Simon are freaking out over a rat in their room, and I came to love Marisol throughout the story because I found she had some of the best character development. My favorite from the Shadowhunter group has to be Beatriz Mendoza because, unlike the rest of her group, she does not look down upon downworlders or the mundanes who are at the academy. Instead, she stands behind them and defends them. My least favorite of the new characters has to be Jon Cartwright–not because his character is terribly written–but because he’s pretty much a terrible person until the last two stories. I’m really glad that Clare chose to continue Simon’s story in this anthology because he really got the short end of the stick in City of Heavenly Fire. We get to see the ‘new’ Simon develop throughout the story and go from being confused about his place in the world, to forging his own path without his past holding him back. All in all I was pleased with the characters, both old and new, throughout the novellas, and I can’t wait to see more of them in future novels.

 

               In conclusion, I give Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy four out of five stars for being a delightful addition to The Shadowhunter Chronicles as well as introducing several new characters I have grown to love. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Cassandra Clare’s work, as long as they have read the entirety of The Mortal Instruments series as well as The Infernal Devices trilogy.

If you would like to purchase Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

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Frostblood by Elly Blake – Book Review

Frostblood

By Elly Blake

 Details:


Title: Frostblood


Author: Elly Blake


Page Count: 320


Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

 

 

Summary:

            In a world ruled by a ruthless frost king, Firebloods grow rarer and rarer every day, making Ruby Otrera’s gift extra special. She’s spent her entire life trying to learn how to conceal her powers, but after she is discovered by the king’s men who murder her mother in front of her, Ruby finds herself rotting in prison, waiting for the executioner to take her.

            Rescued by two mysterious Frostbloods, Ruby finds herself thrust into a world where her powers are the key in a rebel plan to overthrow the king and bring the world together again. They train her on how to properly use her powers, and she grows stronger. However, before they deem Ruby ready for her mission, she is once again captured by the king’s men, and forced to compete in the King’s tournament, where she must fight to the death to survive. It’s now up to her alone to destroy the evil man who took everything from her and her people. 

 

My Review:  

           I had Frostblood sitting on my self for quite a while with no real urge to read it, but for some reason I was drawn to it about a week ago, and I was unable to put it down once I picked it up.

         I enjoyed Frostblood and found the story compelling, although a bit cliché. It shares several common elements with books like The Red Queen, Throne of Glass, etc., but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The struggle between two different ‘races,’ the frostbloods and the firebloods in this case, is a bit played out in YA, but I thought that Blake did a fantastic job in providing a history to show what caused animosity between the two groups. I actually believe this helped redeem the story overall. Though the book is rather cliche, there is no denying it is well written and that the cliches such as prophecies and tournaments to become the king’s champion did add something to the story rather than just be there to be there; they helped advance the story towards the climax rather than act as the climax itself. The story itself is very fast paced and easy to follow; the first few chapters had me completely sucked in, and I actually managed to finish Frostblood in one sitting. Even though I found parts of the novel to be very predictable, Blake includes a multitude of plots twists I did not see coming–especially at the end, and if I had any less self control I would have thrown my book across the room. Despite feeling like I’ve already read this book at times, I overall enjoyed the plot and am excited to pick up the next in the series.

            As previously stated, I believe Blake giving a detailed history of Tempesia and its people helps redeem the story from being too cliche. She does a fantastic job in describing the land, the people, and how the country has changed throughout history. One particular thing I enjoyed was when Ruby and Arcus compared the frostblood and fireblood histories of how the war between the two began. It gave an introspective view on how the people view each other which helps the reader understand how deeply the hatred between the two runs. We are also given tales of a frostblood king and a fireblood queen, which shows that despite the hatred, the two can work together and bring peace to the nation. Overall, I believe Blake’s addition of the histories of Tempesia added a certain quality to Frostblood which most YA fantasies lack.

            Without a doubt, the characters are the driving forces of this novel. Ruby, the fierce protagonist, Arcus, the brooding rebel with a secret, Brother Thistle, the kind monk offering her aid and asylum, and King Rasmus, the despicable villain. Admittedly, the characters do follow certain YA tropes, but less so than the story. I found myself truly enjoying Ruby and her spitfire personality. She is not afraid to speak her mind, and finds herself in a dark place after her mother’s murder. She always has a witty comeback, and allows her emotions to run wild. Ruby’s love interest, Arcus, is almost her opposite. Arcus is a brooding frostblood who’s afraid to open up to anyone. While I liked their characters separately, I felt like there relationship followed the trope of hate to love (I found their relationship closely mirrored Aelin and Rowan from Throne of Glass), as well as a little bit of insta-love. Things are made very interesting between the two by Rasmus though after Ruby is taken by the king’s men. Rasmus is the epitome of evil; he lives for chaos and does not care who gets hurt along the way. I found most–if not all–scenes with him very interesting and to be some of my favorites. I think that Blake does a fantastic job with characterization throughout Frostblood despite following some common tropes.

 

                In conclusion, I give Frostblood by Elly Blake three and a half out of five stars for being a fun, although somewhat cliche, YA fantasy read. I recommend this to anyone just starting to read YA, or any hardcore YA fans who won’t mind that it shares some common themes with other mainstream YA books.

If you would like to purchase Frostblood

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Amazon

-CG

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