Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Audiobook review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Book Summary
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Flo's Review
Okay. This is an interesting case. I finished it and I was just...twisted up about it? Like, I finished it a few days ago and I'm still thinking about it. But I can't necessarily say that I loved it. It was a brutal and intense story, but it does stick with you. 

There is obviously so much commentary to be had on the roles of women in society, and how all the things a women is supposed to be are often contradictory. There's the idea of quiet rebellion -- the power behind it, and the slow, but important, impact. And, of course, the discussion about how women compete with each other when we should be lifting each other up. I listened to the audiobook, and the end of the audiobook had a brief interview with the girl who read the audiobook and the author. Both of them were crying throughout, and both of them had good things to say. 

The Grace Year is going to be a movie, and I can't even imagine! I don't know if I can watch it! It was that gruesome. But am I glad I read it? Yeah, I am. I've seen a lot of reviews by people who did not like the ending, and I actually did like it. I'm all into what's implied for the characters and the future.

I know this is a weird review, folks. I can't ... I don't know that my thoughts on it? I mean, I'm still here thinking about, but I can't pin down one concrete thing to say? Have you read it? What did you think??

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Book review: Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Book Summary
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher's chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog -- donning the moniker Technician -- to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner's tyrannical laws.

Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner's son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father's respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father's elusive affection is worth chasing at all.

Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner's secrets at any cost -- even if it means betraying her own heart.

When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic -- before the Commissioner ends them first.

Flo's Review
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with this book. Sci-Fi is not a genre I usually read, but every once in awhile I get hooked by an interesting premise and expand my reading universe. (See what I did there?! Lol). When I read the synopsis for Tarnished, it gripped me and I wanted it. 

This book didn't disappoint and I'm so glad it didn't! The pacing was incredible. I had a deadline for getting this review done, so I'd given in to the fact that I'd need to spend the majority of the day reading to meet this goal. But it ended up being a chore by no means. Even if I didn't have to get the review done today, I would have still kept reading. I would think that I needed to put the book down and take a break, then I would just keep turning the pages. I would think that I was taking a break at the end of a chapter, but guess what? I wasn't! I kept going.

Tarnished had three narrators, and I really liked all three of their voices. Thor did a good job of making them distinct. Often with books that are written by the same person that have multiple POVs, the characters sound the same, because the writer is the same. That wasn't the case here. Nathaniel, Anna, and Eliza remained true to their own voices throughout. 

Nathaniel. Needs a hug. Come here, Nathaniel, let me give you a hug. Of the three, I think he had the hardest journey of self discovery. His growth, the decisions he makes, are honest and true to where his character is at each point in the story. He went a long way from the beginning to the end, and the reader felt allll his pain.

Eliza was just interesting to read because of her training. How she was trained affected her every move and was fascinating to read about. Then, oh, a little more than halfway through Thor dropped something on the reader, and I'm all, "Wha!?!!" While Nathaniel had the biggest journey of self growth in the story, Eliza, too, moved quite a bit. 

I felt least connected to Anna, because her tunnel-vision passion is something I could not relate to. But, of course, you can see why she was the way she was.

The slowly growing romance was great! I love me some romantic tension, and Tarnished brought it! The only thing that gives me pause is the end. The "whole story" comes out in typical fashion, but without enough context. I don't feel like I truly understand how the "villain" came to be the way they were. How did their past, motivations lead them to what they did? Perhaps a novella a la Marissa Meyer's Fairest is in order.

Tarnished Are the Stars publishes October 15th from Scholastic, and if you enjoy sci-fi, romance, queer rep, an engaging story, and intriguing characters, then definitely pick it up!

I received this ARC as part of Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Audiobook review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

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.

Flo's Review
What a pleasant surprise this book was! I've been wanting to read Sky in the Deep ever since I heard about it, but it never quite made it all the way up the TBR pile. Then a good friend gifted me with the beautiful hardcover copy of this one, and I decided to give it a read before YALLFEST. I listened to the audiobook and it flew by! It was only about 8 or 9 hours, which is my sweet spot for audiobooks. (After that, I really have to like the story because they start to seem too long to me at that point.) I felt like I started and finished this within a few days. But the pacing also contributed. The story started off with a mystery, with a question, and just went full in from there on out.

I am happy to report that even though this is a companion novel to Sky in the Deep, you don't have to read that one first to fully understand this one at all. I never did get to read Sky -- though I definitely will now! -- and the only reason I figured out that the two books were related is because I went poking around for information about this book on Goodreads. I wanted to emphasize that point because I think it's fantastic. I have been caught before by "It's a companion, but you don't have to to have read the original series" and then I've tried the book and been completely lost. Not the case here. This stood alone perfectly and made me excited to go back and read the other one.

Tova was a great character. There was just something about her that drew me in as a reader. She blames herself for a lot of the deaths in the book, and even as I was thinking she was right, it didn't make me dislike her at all. And naturally Tolvard (excuse me if I'm spelling any one's names wrong) was bae. I'd even consider living on the fjord for him. But then I wouldn't because let's be real -- that just sounds cold!

Likeable characters that you're rooting for, nonstop action, fantastic pacing, the joy of being a standalone -- all of these qualities endeared me to this book. It's definitely one I would recommend.