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review 2018-04-21 23:07
Gorgeous, fierce YA historic fiction
Sky in the Deep - Adrienne Young

Disclaimer: reviewing uncorrected pre-publication galley via NetGalley

 

This was an awesome read. To be honest, I decided to review it because it was getting so much prelaunch hype, but I kinda thought I wouldn't be the target audience. I really just couldn't care less about Vikings, and so much of the marketing around it emphasizes that element.

 

If you're in the same camp, not to worry. Sky in the Deep is incredibly well-done and tells an exciting, high-stakes story with a fierce multi-dimensional main character who goes through an incredible character arc and journey. I don't think it's positioned as fantasy, but to me, it felt as much like fantasy as historical fiction.

 

Eelyn is a warrior, and the book opens with her totally eviscerating guys in battle. Which . . . I wasn't that into. I think I was afraid she was going to be really flat, like some implausible, too-perfect super-warrior, but she becomes more of a sympathetic character pretty quickly because her dead brother shows up to the battle. So maybe she's crazy or in shock, but then he shows up again--and when she chases him, she gets captured by the enemy.

 

Eelyn lives by a sort of warriors' code and puts honour above all, so being taken captive and forced into slavery by the group they're perpetually feuding with is nearly grounds for suicide. However, this isn't really the story of Eelyn the Viking superhero shutting down the old-world slave trade. It's way more nuanced than that.

 

I really appreciated the slow development that shows how someone with a rigid view of the world could come to understand others and challenge her own beliefs and those of her family/community. The slow-burn romance wasn't bad either~~

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what else Adrienne Young has in store for us. This was a beautiful, powerful debut about a girl who's not only a wicked-strong warrior, but has the strength to learn, grow, and love others despite the cost.

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review 2018-04-19 13:19
The Family Gathering - Robyn Carr

I am a Robyn Carr fan.   When I pick up one of her books I know that I am going to find a good romance story with wonderful, realistic characters.    The Family Gathering is exactly that and more.   I found a book with an amazingly unique and fun family, a storyline that I lost myself in, and a series that I am looking forward to more from.  

 

The Family Gathering is a book with a lot going on.    The main story is Dakota’s return to Sullivan’s Crossing and his trying to find his new normal.     He has to adjust to having family around, having friends, and living a civilian life.   In addition to Dakota’s story, the reader gets to catch up with his siblings and where they are in their lives.    There were a few times that I felt like I was lost in the secondary stories and there was too much going on.  

 

While there are tough subjects touched on within this story such as divorce, stalking, adoption, and mental illness this is a romance story.   If you love a good story as much as I do pick up this book and meet the wonderful people of Sullivan Crossing.  

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review 2018-04-18 16:38
The Family Next Door
The Family Next Door - Sally Hepworth
She kept the pram moving constantly otherwise her 8-week-old daughter, Mia cried. Essie wanted to cry too. Today would be the day when it just got to be too much, the day when Essie decided it wasn’t worth it. Essie strolled Mia to the park in her pram where she sat on a bench keeping the pram moving while taking in the scene around her. Essie decided that she wanted some tea, so she walked to the coffee shop, enjoyed two cups of tea and headed home. Essie’s mom was coming up the walk and inquired about Mia’s whereabouts. Yes, Essie had left her at the park. It was a simple statement, nothing extortionary about it, nothing seemed out-of-place until Essie’s mother took charge of the situation.
 
Luckily Essie was diagnosed with post-partum depression and no harm was done to Mia the day her mother left her in the park. Years have passed, the family has grown and grandmother has now moved next door to the family in this quaint neighborhood.
 
Everyone seems to know each other in this family-occupied neighborhood yet they are not close friends. Essie would love to have some close friends but nothing has materialized yet. When a single woman moves in across the street, her appearance sends a ripple through the area. Her life brings surprises to the neighborhood which was once calm and tranquil. It seems that many individuals on this street had something hidden in their closet that they wanted to keep locked up but since Isabelle’s appearance, the doors have been swung open and secrets are coming out. It’s funny how one person can affect so many.
 
I really enjoyed this novel as I felt it was a story that kept building in intensity as the story continued. I loved how there were different stories occurring at different levels of intensity as I read. I had a feeling that something unique was going to transpire in this novel but I didn’t expect what the novel delivered. There were characters that I liked and some that I didn’t but in all, it was a fantastic mix. What a great novel and I’m glad that I read it.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

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review 2018-04-17 18:29
How to awaken the heart: an instruction manual
How to Love the Empty Air - Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

My pals over at Wunderkind PR sent me a copy of today's book and asked that I give an honest review. Spoiler alert: I said yes. :-)

 

How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a collection of poetry which primarily focuses on her relationship with her mother (also a writer) and the grief she experienced after her death. Please don't think it's all doom and gloom and buckets of tears (although there is that too) because she also delves into the pockets of happiness that can be found amidst the overwhelming sadness of losing someone so dear. Cristin speaks to that part of the heart that is attuned to the people in our lives who get us so completely that even the idea that they might not be there pulls the air from one's lungs. From her poem "O Laughter" comes this gem: Sometimes the pain bursts out of me like a flock of starlings. Perfection! If I had to express this book in graph form it would be a steep incline immediately followed by a steep decline and finished off with a steady incline that disappears off the side of the page. Simply put, this is an absolutely lovely little book with beautiful prose and if it doesn't stir your heart I wonder if you even have one. 10/10

 

PS I'd also like to note that 1. I loved the finish on this book. It's like that velvety feeling that some books have and it was an absolute treat to hold it. 2. I enjoyed Cristin's book so much that I'm actively looking to read her other works (including a nonfiction book).

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-04-15 23:08
Love, Nina
Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life - Nina Stibbe

I picked up this book because I watched the series based on it on Netflix the other week and really liked it - probably because of the cast (Helena Bonham Carter played Mary-Kay Wilmers).

 

The book, however, was a different story. For some reason the story works on tv, but in epistolary novel format reads like a mildly amusing but gratingly inconsequential run down of stories that try to re-imagine Willy Russell's Educating Rita (but set in London) with added name-dropping of the London literati. 

 

I'll give Stibbe's other books a miss.

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