April Wrap-Up and May TBR



Books of the Month

Bekka
Alexia



Books Read 


Ash Princess🌟🌟🌟🌟
Ella Enchanted 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Alanna: The First Adventure 🌟🌟🌟🌟
I Hate Everyone But You 🌟🌟
Lies You Never Told Me 🌟🌟🌟
Sky in the Deep🌟🌟🌟🌟
White Rabbit🌟🌟
Leah on the Offbeat🌟🌟🌟🌟







April TBR 

Bekka


 1. All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor. I have been so excited about this since the moment I learned it existed. Stories about the line between fiction and truth blurring absolutely fascinate me. I've only ever seen them in movies though so I'm pumped about it being in book form now.

2. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. This is 100% on my top list of most anticipated 2018 releases. Literally everything about this speaks to me, especially that glorious cover.

3. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand. This doesn't come out until October but the moment it was on my Kindle, I started reading it. I hope it lives up to all the hype I've built for it in my head haha.

4. Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi. I haven't read a sad contemporary in a while and they used to be what I always reached for. This one is about an abusive romantic relationship and it sounds like it's right up my alley.

5. Tell Me No Lies by A.V. Geiger. I was left STUNNED by the ending of the first book so of course you know I need to figure out what happened. I haven't actually seen many positive things so far but I really hope I can be the outlier.

Alexia


1. And She Was by Jessica Verdi. I am a die hard Verdi fan, but for some reason I had no idea she had a new book coming out until recently. Fast forward to now and I have an eARC of it waiting on my Kindle.

2. Sadie by Courtney Summers. I am still in a state of shock that I actually GOT an eARC of Sadie. I requested it, but was honestly not sure if I was going to get it. I am super excited about this book.

3. A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo. I've been obsessed with this cover & the synopsis forever. I had a little extra money in April, so I bought this book along with a few others. I cannot wait to dive into this book.

4. People Like Us by Dana Mele. This book was one of my most anticipated books this year. So when I didn't get an early copy of it, I put it on my list to buy when I had the money. I was able to buy it in March and I'm SO EXCITED for it.

5. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. I've been waiting FOREVER for more of Colbert's words and I knew when the book arrived in March that I wouldn't be able to hold off on reading it for long. Well, May will definitely be the month I dive into this book and I cannot wait.



Are any of our books on your May TBR?

April Beat the Backlist Wrap Up


It's time again for me to post my monthly update for the backlist books reading challenge hosted by Novel Knight. Oh man, this month has sucked for all types of reading. Both frontlist AND backlist. I'm actually embarrassed to put this months progress...lack of progress actually, up. I really, REALLY hope things improve next month, but I am having a heart procedure done this coming Tuesday, so a lot is up in the air right now.

Read: None

DNF: 0

Currently Reading: 
Wild Beauty
Mask of Shadows

If you are doing this challenge, how did April go for you?

Alexia's April Book Haul


Hi guys! 

I don't know if any of you remember, but I was supposed to have a heart procedure done 8 days ago. Well that didn't happen because one of the doctors had to go to Taiwan for a funeral. So the new date is this coming Tuesday, yup, May 1st. Everything is gonna be played by ear blogging & reading wise for awhile, but I hope to get back to it SOON. At least I've got some great books to look forward to because reading this month has been ABYSMAL. Massively disappointed in my reading for the month of April.

eARCs for Review
And She Was by Jessica Verdi
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong
What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand
Four Three Two One by Courtney Stevens
Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Purchased
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

How was your April?

Book Review: Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Book Title: Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on May 22nd, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟
A gripping, relentless, and timely new novel from critically acclaimed author of Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson, about the complex mystery of one teenage girl’s disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth.

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?


Review: I fell head over heels in love with Allegedly last year, so I couldn't wait to read Jackson's newest release. I originally didn't even have it on my schedule for March, but when a fellow blogger raved about it, I asked her if I should move it to my March TBR and she told me I should. So I did. I don't generally do things other people tell me to, but I trust this blogger's opinion and she knows me & my tastes.

Quite honestly, I struggled with this one at first. I was prepared to feel sympathy for Claudia and anger at Monday who seemed to have vanished from Claudia's life, but I couldn't feel those things. Claudia drove me absolutely bananas and I kept wanting her to stop clinging to Monday. I actually felt sorrier for Monday because she had a bad home life and she had a needy clingy best friend. I understood Monday just a bit more than I understood Claudia. I had been in Monday's shoes with the clingy best friend and it was not easy at all and I always felt frustrated with her because I never felt like I could do my own thing. So to have Monday just vanish from Claudia's life sounds harsh, but I would have given anything to be able to do that.

Claudia was desperate to be anywhere that Monday was going to be and that extended to high school. Monday wanted to go to Banneker, so of course Claudia wanted to go there. Even if that meant continuing to cheat on her assignments. Now, I'm not gonna say I never cheated on an assignment, because I did and I fully admit it, but the way Claudia went about it and for as long as she went about it, drove me insane. All because of Monday.

"We aint gonna get into Banneker if they put you in the stupid people class." Monday

So Monday wasn't really a good friend to Claudia either, and that pissed me off. Instead of supporting her, she was both enabling and belittling her. Claudia had learning problems and to see her struggling so much just stabbed me in the feels. I know too many people who struggled with learning problems for me not to be affected.

Claudia's obsession with Monday drove me bonkers. Wait, did I say that already? Oooops. Anyway, she wanted to do everything Monday did. Even wanted to do homeschooling because that's what she heard Monday was doing, At least her mom had a good head on her shoulders.

"If Monday jumped off a bridge, would you want to do that too?" Claudia's mom

Claudia also seemed really obsessed with Monday's siblings, especially her two younger siblings, Tuesday and August. A big part of it was probably that Claudia was an only child and her mother had gone through multiple miscarriages. Definitely sad, but like Monday said,

"He's not your brother." Monday

All of Claudia's eggs seemed to be in one basket, Monday's and just like it drove me bonkers, it was clear that it was starting to drive her parents bonkers too. It was also bugging Monday's older sister, April who had some truth bombs to launch onto Claudia on several different nights.

There were two sides to Monday's mom, Patti: There was the side that everyone outside the house saw, and there was the side that only people she allowed into her house, saw. On the outside, she seemed like a decent woman, one who wanted to interfere in a family's private business because there was clear abuse in the home. She was so convinced the abused woman was going to be killed and Claudia's mother could not convince her otherwise. But on the inside, she was a mean woman who really didn't seem to care too much about her kids. Always yelling & hurting them in different ways.

I loved Michael. He seemed like a good guy, someone Claudia definitely needed in the wake of Monday's disappearance. He cared about her and he was concerned about her. He was just a genuinely good guy. It didn't hurt that her parents liked him too. Michael fixed stuff around her house that her parents hadn't made a priority to fix. He too, launched some truth bombs on Claudia, albeit in a much nicer way.

"That don't mean she's your friend too, Claudia."  Michael

And he was right. Just because Monday was her friend, that didn't mean April was also her friend.

We didn't really learn the truth until about 80% of the way through the book and I just remember my heart shattering into a billion pieces. We didn't get just one devastating truth, we got several and then we knew the web of lies that were concocted in order to hide the devastating truth.

Final thoughts: This book started out a bit rocky, but it ended up wrecking me, probably beyond repair.

Top Ten Tuesday: Frequently Used Words in YA Titles


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl.This week we're talking about frequently used words in YA titles.

Alexia's Picks

1. Girl. Especially in a fantasy book, there's almost always the word Girl in there. It's maddening and it drives me absolutely insane. I almost never see the word Boy in a book title.

2. Fire. This is another one I see in fantasy books a lot. Fire is often equated with fantasy books for some weird reason. Fire could symbolize a lot of things, but generally, it's seen in fantasy books only.

3. Heart. I've seen this one in both fantasy and contemporary. There's different connotations for this one word depending on the genre of book that it is. Sometimes the word conveys strength & toughness. Sometimes it conveys softeness and not as much strength.

4. Love. I see this one in fluffy contemporaries. I don't read a lot of fluffy contemporaries, but the ones that I do read or at least know of, often have this four letter word in there a LOT.

5. Secrets. This is actually one of those "buzzwords" that makes me pick up a book. If I see it in the synopsis, I usually pick it up or at the very least, make a note of it so I can pick it up at another time.

6. Summer. Another word that's usually connected wit the fluffier books. Every once and awhile we get a book set in or around the summer that's a bit angsty, but not all that often.

7. Life. There's a lot of this word in YA books. Generally that's because these characters are going through some kind of transition in their lives. Or there's something going on in their lives that's changing everything.

8. Blood. Another word that's seen primarily in fantasy novels, although sometimes in contemporary books as well.

9. Beautiful. Especially in a book with romance in it, this word is used a lot and it drives me absolutely bonkers. There are ways to describe a girl without using that word. Or if you have to use it, just don't use it so much.

10. Blue. Either as a color or as a nickname, I see this word mentioned a lot. I didn't realize it until I started working on this post. Seriously, authors use different colors & nicknames.

Do you agree with any of my picks?

Book Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Published by HMH on May 15th, 2018
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
"I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that."

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara's friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn't help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

I'm writing this review in January and I don't know if I'll be recovered by the time this review goes up. This book absolutely gutted me. Like I was sobbing in my bed at midnight, hoping I wouldn't wake anyone up. This book was incredibly difficult for me to read for multiple reasons. One: I was a victim of sexual assault twice. One by a classmate in high school & once in my early 20's by a man I had known since I was six. Two: My brother is Owen's age and while he does have his issues, I couldn't imagine him ever hurting a girl and the idea that he could twisted my stomach into knots As a sister this book raised so many questions for me. As a victim of sexual assault, it raised even more questions. My heart ached for Hannah & for Mara. I could see myself in both of their positions. The way Mara's family automatically believed Owen's version of the story bothered me. I couldn't believe that they thought Hannah would make something like this up. I understand wanting to believe your son & brother would never hurt anyone, but blind loyalty is insane. I sure don't think I would be able to blindly trust that my brother didn't do this. It would be incredibly hard, but I think my loyalty would align with the victim And for the most part, that's where Mara's loyalty stayed. That caused some problems with her once close family. Her mother, in particular refused to believe that Owen could have done this horrible thing. Her father actually seemed to be a lot more neutral on the subject. Owen held steadfast in his innocence. I wasn't surprised by that, but it did make me angry. I wanted Owen to admit his crime. Hannah deserved that. His family deserved that. Yet, he kept his mouth shut.
"So...what do we do?" Mara 
"What do you mean?" 
Mom 
"I mean what do we do? What's going to happen to Owen? And Hannah...we can't just not listen to her. You've always said we have to listen to girls no matter-" 
Mara 
"He's ours Mara. He's my son. And we love him. That's what we do." 
Mom
I wasn't sure how Mara's ex was going to play into all of this, but it turned out she was also friends with Hannah. I was so excited that Mara was bisexual. I love that we're finally getting a lot more bisexual representation in YA. I've only been out for about ten years, but I had known for at least 4 years prior to that. But more on Charlie later. I loved that Mara held meetings and did a monthly newspaper called Empower. I would have loved to have been a part of that in school. Her plans to challenge the sexist dress code go out the window when Hannah makes her accusation. I know I touched on this earlier, but the waves of responses after Hannah tells people what happened made me so angry. Most of them were on Team Owen, which means they thought she was lying about what happened. When a girl gets raped society says:
"Oh, well look at what she's wearing." 
"She's had sex before, so it's not rape."
 
"She's slept with him before, so it's not rape."
 
"She shouldn't have been drinking."
 
"She can't change her mind halfway through."
Among other despicable things. When a guy is accused of rape, the responses are quite different.
"He's a good kid."
"He's an athlete." 
"He's from a good family."
 
"He's well liked."
 
"There's no way he did this."
Notice something about the stark contrast? Yeah a fuck-ton of slut shaming is what the girls-the VICTIMS have to deal with. And people still wonder why women don't come forward. It's because of this. Because of the refusal to believe them and the treatment of those who do report. Charlie was awesome. I loved the hell out of her from nearly the beginning. Sure she and Mara had a complicated history, but they were still able to be friends, although there was jealousy & akwardness when it came to Charlie's new girlfriend and later on, Alex, the boy Mara was sort of seeing. And by sort of, I mean Alex and Mara were kinda using each other for comfort. See, Alex was Owen's best friend, and he was struggling with the idea that his friend could have done this. Anyway, back to Charlie. I think this was the first book I've read with a non-binary character. There absolutely needs to be more. I loved the conversation Charlie and Mara had about her preferred pronouns. I found that conversation incredibly relevant as I have had to have that conversation more than once. I would never want to insult someone by using the incorrect pronoun. My distaste for Owen only grew as the book went on. The obvious disrespect he had for women, even his own sister, made me ragey.
"There's no way I'm letting my sister go to school like that." Owen 
"I'm sorry...Let me?" 
Mara 
"Yeah, let you. You think I want everyone in school staring at your...at your...Who are you supposed to be, slutty school girl?" 
Owen
My heart broke even more for Mara after this conversation. I felt sick to my stomach at the way Owen was treating her just because of the clothes she chose to wear. Disgustingly, this is how women & girls are treated in our society. Instead of feeling disgusted by what happens to them, people just blame the assault on what the girls were wearing. Final thoughts: Read this beautiful book, let your heart break and marvel at the strength of victims.

Sunday Street Team: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young


Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Published by Wednesday Books on April 24th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis
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.

Book Information


Review

I really wasn't sure what to expect with this book. After all, I had never read a book like this or even close to it. I desperately wanted to love it, even though fantasy is not my go-to genre. It looked interesting enough for me to at LEAST give it a shot. Holy hell, I am SO glad I did!

I love when fantasy books open with an action scene. It always pulls me right in and I love that feeling. It makes me excited to keep reading, excited to visualize the action sequences, visualize the characters within these sequences. I loved getting an early look at Eelyn and her strength, both physical & mental. It's not often that we get such an early look at the fierceness of women warriors.

It's hard to keep up intensity in a book like this, but Young does a great job of it. She manages to keep the intensity going without making the reader feel like it's "too much" Yes, this book is gory. Yes, this book is bloody, but oh man did it surprise me in the BEST way. You all know I don't have a problems with gore in books, but I kept hearing that it was gory, and I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to handle it. Spoiler alert: I was fine.

With fantasy books, I worry about the problem of info dumping, basically when the author dumps WAY too much information on the reader too soon & too fast. So I was worried about that with this book. Thankfully there was no info dumping with this book. Again, Young did a great job at giving us information about the Riki, the Aska and probably the deadliest group, the Herja.

Final thoughts: If you love fantasy, read this book. If fantasy is not your thing, still read this book.

Author Information

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.
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Giveaway

Tour Schedule
4/1 Tour Stops
Review  - Flyleaf Chronicles
Guest Post - A Backwards Story

4/8  Tour Stops

4/15  Tour Stops
Review - Hopeful Reads
Review - Aimee, Always

4/22 Tour Stops
Interview - Bookstacks Amber

4/29 Tour Stops
Guest Post - Sarcasm and Lemons
Interview - Tween 2 Teen Books


Blog Tour: Sky in the Deept by Adrienne Young


I recently had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and thought it was fantastic. I loved the world and the mythology and of course, the focus on family. There were bloody battles and warrior women and everything about Eelyn. You can see all my thoughts on my review, here. Today I'm sharing an excerpt of this awesome Norse-inspired story!



Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Published by Wednesday Books on April 24th, 2018
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads

🌟🌟🌟🌟
OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. 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, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.



Excerpt

“I saw him. I saw Iri.”
He wrapped the torn cloth around my arm, tying it tight. “What are you talking about?”
I pushed his hands from me, crying. “Listen to me! Iri was
here! I saw him!”
His hands finally stilled, confusion lighting in his eyes. “I was fighting a man. He was about to . . .” I shuddered,
remembering how close to death I’d come—closer than I’d ever been. “Iri came out of the fog and saved me. He was with the Riki.” I stood, taking his hand and pulling him toward the tree line. “We have to find him!”
But my father stood like a stone tucked into the earth. His face turned up toward the sky, his eyes blinking against the sunlight.
“Do you hear me? Iri’s alive!” I shouted, holding my arm against my body to calm the violent throbbing around the gash.
His eyes landed on me again, tears gathered at the cor- ners like little white flames. “Sigr. He sent Iri’s soul to save you, Eelyn.”
“What? No.”
“Iri’s made it to SΓ³lbjΗ«rg.” His words were frightening and delicate, betraying a tenderness my father never showed. He stepped forward, looking down into my eyes with a smile. “Sigr has favored you, Eelyn.”
MΓ½ra stood behind him, her green eyes wide beneath her unraveling auburn braids.
“But—” I choked. “I saw him.”
“You did.” A single tear rolled down my father’s rough cheek and disappeared into his beard. He pulled me into him, wrapping his arms around me, and I closed my eyes, the pain in my arm so great now that I could hardly feel my hand.
I blinked, trying to understand. I had seen him. He was
there.
“We will make a sacrifice tonight.” He let me go before he pressed his hands to my face again. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream for me like that. You scared me, svΓ‘ss.” A laugh was buried deep in his chest.
“I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I just . . . I thought . . .”
He waited for me to meet his eyes again. “His soul is at peace. Your brother saved your life today. Be happy.” He clapped a hand against my good arm, nearly knocking me down.
I wiped at my wet cheeks with the palm of my hand, turn- ing from the faces that were still watching me. There were very few times I’d cried in front of my clansmen. It made me feel small. Weak, like the early winter grass beneath our boots.
I sniffed back the tears, piecing my face back together as my father nodded in approval. It was what he had taught me—to be strong. To steel myself. He turned back to the field, getting to work, and I followed with MΓ½ra, trying to smooth my ragged breath. To hush the waves crashing in my head. We walked toward our camp, collecting the weapons of fallen Aska warriors along the way. I watched my father from the corner of my eye, still unable to shake Iri’s face from my mind.
My feet stopped at the edge of a puddle and I looked at my reflection. Dirt spattered across my angled face and neck. Blood dried in long, golden braids. Eyes a frozen blue, like Iri’s. I sucked in a breath, looking up to the thin white clouds brushed across the sky to keep another tear from falling.
“Here,” MΓ½ra called to me from where she was crouched over an Aska woman. She was lying on her side, eyes open and arms extended like she was reaching for us.
I carefully unbuckled her belt and scabbard, piling them with the others before I started on the armor vest. “Did you know her?”
“A little.” MΓ½ra reached down to close the woman’s eyes with her fingertips. She gently brushed the hair back from her face before she began, the words coming softly. “Aska, you have reached your journey’s end.”
In the next breath, I joined with her, saying the ritual words we knew by heart. “We ask Sigr to accept your soul into SΓ³lbjΗ«rg, where the long line of our people hold torches on the shadowed path.”
My voice faded, letting MΓ½ra speak first. “Take my love to my father and my sister. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”
I closed my eyes as the prayer found a familiar place on my tongue. “Take my love to my mother and my brother. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”
I swallowed down the lump in my throat before I opened my eyes and looked down into the woman’s peaceful face one more time. I hadn’t been able to say the words over Iri’s body the way I had when my mother died, but Sigr had taken him anyway.
“Have you ever seen something like that before?” I whis- pered. “Something that wasn’t real?”
MΓ½ra blinked. “It was real. Iri’s soul is real.”
“But he was older—a man. He spoke to me. He touched
me, MΓ½ra.”
She stood, shifting an armful of axes up onto her shoul- der. “I was there that day, Eelyn. Iri died. I saw it with my own eyes. That was real.” It was the same battle that took MΓ½ra’s sister. We’d been friends before that day, but we hadn’t really needed each other until then.
I remembered it so clearly—the picture of him like a re- flection on ice. Iri’s lifeless body at the bottom of the trench. Lying across the perfect white snow, blood seeping out around him in a melted pool. I could still see his blond hair fanned out around his head, his empty eyes wide open and staring into nothing.
“I know.”
MΓ½ra reached up, squeezing my shoulder. “Then you know it wasn’t Iri—not his flesh.”
I nodded, swallowing hard. I prayed for Iri’s soul every day. If Sigr had sent him to protect me, he really was in SΓ³lbjΗ«rg—our people’s final sunset. “I knew he would make it.” I breathed through the tightness in my throat.
“We all did.” A small smile lifted on her lips.
I looked back down to the woman lying between us. We would leave her as she was—as she died—with honor. Like we did with all our fallen warriors.
Like we’d left Iri.
“Was he as handsome as he was before?” MΓ½ra’s smile turned wry as her eyes flickered back up to meet mine.
“He was beautiful,” I whispered.



About the Author

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Break a Slump

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl.
This week we're discussing books that can break a slump.


Alexia's Picks
1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.
I think I've talked about this book more than enough, but it's a book that I literally can't stop talking about. I was in a bit of a mood when I picked it up the first time, so I set it down for awhile. When I picked it up the second time, I just fell in love with all of it.

2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed.
This book made me stabby, bit it was a book that was an improvement over the two previous books I had read & subsequently DNFed.

3. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig.
Such. A. Good. Book. I was in a weird reading mood for awhile before I read this one. I kept picking books up & then putting them down a short time later. This book was a game changer.

4. Frostblood by Elly Blake.
I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed this one. It was a welcome change from the subpar books I was also reading.

5. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake.
Another book that made me stabby, but it also turned my reading around. Of course, I struggled picking up any book after this one.

6. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson.
I was so nervous about this book because I had high hopes for it. I had just finished a book that had disappointed me and I was reluctant to pick up this one because I really didn't want to be disappointed again.

7. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
I was in a massive book slump when I picked this one up, and before I knew it, I flew through this book and the next book in the series. Love when that happens.

8. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.
I started reading this one around Halloween last year and it was the PERFECT time to dive in. I had been reading a bunch of good books around this time and then started & stopped several books before picking this one up.

9. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.
Historical fiction is kinda a hit or miss for me. This one was a definite hit. I read it during our readathon a few years back and I was going into it really nervous, but hopeful.

10. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay.
This book was one of the first books to break me out of my slump when I was still a newbie at book blogging. It was & still is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.

Did any of my picks pull you out of a reading slump?

Book Review: White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
Published by: Feiwel & Friends on April 24th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2

Synopsis: 
Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to "talk." Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.


Review:
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I was expecting to really enjoy it, just like I did Roehrig's debut. I was expecting a crazy-pants storyline that offered lots of "what the hell" moments. So, in those respects, I got exactly what I was expecting. I really enjoyed this book and it had an insanely crazy storyline. I didn't remember at what point, but I remember saying (and tweeting) that "I wanted to live inside Roehrig's head because it had to be wild in there for him to come up with this level of mind-fuckery"


Because there was a whole lot of insanity in this book. From April, Rufus's half sister to Hayden, Rufus's half brother, to Rufus's ex, Sebastian and all the other players in between them. Fox, Peyton, Race, Arlo, Lars, Lia, Isabel & Peter. This book had it all. Romance, mystery, complicated families, the whole shebang. Finally someone else had pretty close to my level of complicated family. Complex families are my jam and Rufus, his mom, April & Hayden and their parents finally gave me a family that resembles my own.

I don't know of a lot of people who would willingly drive all over the place at night for their ex, including myself. So either Sebastian has no backbone or I'm a jerk. I'm leaning towards the latter now that I think about it. Sebastian clearly wanted to make things right between Rufus and himself and I admired him for that. Especially when we got some backstory to their relationship. I did enjoy their romance, but the romance in Roehrig's debut, Last Seen Leaving, was my favorite of the two.

I was curious about why Rufus was so willing to clear April's name too. It just didn't make sense to me. They didn't really know each other all that well and April has a full brother that she could go to for help. Never mind that Hayden is a psychopath...actually, that's probably why April went to Rufus instead. That and she had something Rufus desperately needed. That same something ended up being tripled once a certain other person became involved.

I don't think I've ever read a book that took place in one night. Or maybe I have and I just cannot remember? I love unique storytelling and the whole "everything happened in one night" is one of those underused ways of storytelling. There needs to be more of these.

Final thoughts: This book was equally as good as Roehrig's debut, despite me not liking the romance quite as much. If you like dark contemporaries, then you need to pick this one up. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books We Like But Won't Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl
This week we're talking about books we really liked but probably won't be rereading




bekka's picks

 1. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. In order for me to reread contemporary (esp contemporary romances) I need a kick in the teeth kind of emotional experience. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this book, however, it didn't bring it quite that much. But I love it and highly recommend it.

2. With Malice by Eileen Cook. So this is a YA thriller where the main character is a suspect in her best friend's death while on vacation or internation travel of some kind. I liked it. I just really enjoy reading thrillers! However, I think Dangerous Girls did this particular case way better and if I want to reread something like it, I'll just read the original.

3. Bloodline by Claudia Gray. I loved getting to read supplemental Star Wars content. It was a lot of fun to be in Leia's head and see the way the Senate works. Unlike the movies, though, reading through this once made me feel like I got enough out of it. I don't feel like there was enough to dissect and interpret like there is in the movies. 

4. Fairest by Marissa Meyer. Okay, so, I know I'm in the minorty, but I did like this one. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, but I appreciated it. It gave up background on Levana. That said, while I would and will reread the rest of this series, Fairest, not so much. It's just too brutal and horrifying for me to subject myself to again. 

5. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. I read this in like two sittings in a frenzied Maas-stan haze. I still loved this series and just soaked it all in, rolling with whatever she threw at us. I want to preserve that feeling. Because I hated, HATED, EoS. And I don't want to hate things that are important to me, you know? So I won't be rereading it because I do not want to acknowledge the flaws lol.

alexia's picks 

1. Damage Done by Amanda Panitch. It just pains me to put this one on the list, but I doubt I'll ever reread it simply because I'll always remember the insane twist at the end. It kills me that one of my all time favorite bookswill have to be a one time read thanks to the insanity inside it.

2. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley. Same as above. Things unfold gradually with this book, but one of the biggest bombshells in this book come near the end and I remember what it was and I don't think I can reread it knowing thetwists and turns.

3. This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp. I don't ever want to sob so hard while reading again and I know rereading this book would render me
devoid of tears and sitting in the fetal position. This book...well it shattered my heart.

4. Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz. This book andit's sequel will always be one of the most terrifying duologies I've ever read. I don't think rereading it would give me the same terrifying experience as it did the first time.

5. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. I managed to remain unspoiled for this book and while I loved it, I don't think I could reread it knowing what I know about the ending. My memory is too freaking good.



Have you read any of these books?

Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura Sebastian
Published by Delacorte BfYR on April 24th, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she's not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who's been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart's sister, Cress.

Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become queen.

That. Was. Awesome.

Ash Princess was exactly the book I was looking for when I picked it up. It's been so long since I've read a YA fantasy with princes and princesses, swords, court intrique, and things of that nature. It's a favorite subgenre of mine and it felt like coming home every time I picked it up again. The blurb promises vengeance and complicated relationships and boy does it deliver. I just love when a book says it's going to be something and it just IS. If you're looking for a high stakes magical adventure, look no further.

First thing's first, I took an immediate liking to Theo. She has many faces - Lady Thora, the Ash Princess who cows to the Kalovaxia conquerers; Queen Theodosia, her mother's daughter and the hope of her people; and simply Theo, the girl underneath both of those outer layers, with hopes and wishes and feelings all her own. I think it's incredibly difficult to write a character who slips into this different personas, but Sebastian did so masterfully. The inner turmoil Theo puts herself through just to survive a single day in the Kaiser's court is palpable, and she struggles each time she has to use a different identity. But she does it, because she's strong and she's angry and if she wants to succeed, she doesn't have a choice. That's another thing I really love about Theo: she makes the hard decisions. It takes her an understandably long time to get to that conclusion, but she will do what she needs to do. I've heard her be called a Slytherin and honestly I've never heard anything truer in my life. She is cunning, she is resourceful, and she is ambitious.

I also really, really enjoyed Crescentia, or Cress, Theo's closest "friend." Of course, Theo can't actually trust a Kalovaxian, especially the daughter of a the man who murdered Theo's mother. But Cress has been the only one to show her kindness in the decade that Theo has been prisoner. I thought Cress was one of the more interesting characters because while the others had very clear motivations and goals, Cress kept her plans close. She comes off as a vapid, spoiled brat, but it soon becomes clear that she's much more than that. She is another Slytherin through-and-through. There are THINGS that happen to Cress late in the book that make me so, soooo excited to see what she gets up to in the sequel. Plus, I loved how the author played this trope of two friends in a rivalry over a boy. It could be looked at as an easy trope to pit two girls against one another, but nothing is as simple as it seems with Cress or with Theo.

I also thought this world was incredibly interesting. The Kalovaxians are almost a nomadic people, except instead of just staying on the move, the take hold of other countries, wipe out their people and their resources, and then move onto the next unsuspecting country. There's no true Kalovaxia anymore, which I found intriguing. There's not even a Kalovaxian throne; the kaiser uses Theo's throne throughout the book, living in the Asrtean palace,  using Astrean food, clothing, etc. I haven't seen a group of truly monstrous people like this, and I can't deny that I found them frightening. Theo obviously did not get out of the palace often, but she saw enough people to hear whispers of other foreign lands, both free and under the Kaiser's tyranny, that I know there's a vast and rich world out there that I can't wait to explore further.

Astrea was the first nation the Kalovaxian's have conquered to have any magic. And I loved the magic system. There are gems, which act as sort of conduits for elemental magic. But only those blessed by the gods, who have completed years of worship and devotion in the gem mines, may use the magic. If you are not blessed, and spend too much time in the mines, you will go mad. If you use the magic without being blessed, you are committing the ultimate blasphemy and will not be received in the afterlife. This made things hard on Theo who has an obvious calling to multiple different elements. Using this magic would obviously make it much easier for her to accomplish her goals, but doing so puts her immortal soul at risk.

Thematically, there is so much explored in Ash Princess. There is a clear, racial divide among the Astreans and the Kalovaxians - and, from what I gather, every nation the Kalovaxian's have conquered. This opens up discussions of racism, slavery, and cultural appropriation. I thought the author did a wonderful job of clearly explaining those theories through actual actions the characters do, through different scenes in the book, instead of just dumping into the readers' laps. Of course, blanket trigger warnings abound for the corporal punishment, the slavery, and the capture of people of color.

I just thought Ash Princess was great. Maybe it could have gone deeper and darker in some places, and it does rely on tropes (but in a fun way, not in a lazy way.) But I was gripped from the very first page. Laura Sebastian has a gift for putting you on the edge of your seat; I felt real anxiety reading this because I loved the characters and knew how horrible and cruel the villain could be. In a moment it could all come crashing down with the most dire of consequences. Looking for a fun, exciting YA fantasy with deeper themes that apply to our real world? Read Ash Princess; you will not be disappointed.