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Skyward ~ Brandon Sanderson

January 7, 2019

Genre: Young Adult/SciFi/Fantasy

Publisher: Delacorte Press

ISBN: 9780399555770

528 pages

Source: Amazon

The daughter of a coward, a sentient space ship, and a talking slug all walk into a story…

Ok, it’s not the start of a really weirds joke, though it kind of sounds like one.

It’s actually the set up for Brandon Sanderson’s latest novel, Skyward.

16 year old Spensa, has dreamed of taking to the skies with the elite fighter pilots since she could open her eyes. The only problem is that she has lived in her father’s questionable shadow for almost as long. There were some questionable circumstances that lead to her father’s death when she was little, leading her entire family to be shunned as cowards and Spensa’s subsequent maltreatment by most of the flight school.

Nevertheless, she is granted an opportunity to contend for a spot on the elite team, making friends and enemies along the way. Determined to make a name for herself and, in doing so, clear her father’s name, Spensa white knuckles her way through cadet training, despite a few strong forces working tirelessly to stop her.

Skyward has the action and intensity of Star Wars with a sprinkling of Jim Henson’s darker (think Labyrinth, not Sesame Street) knack for bringing random items and beings to life. Sanderson has a way of weaving delicate emotional threads into a tapestry already thick with fast-paced sky racing and witty banter.

This was my first Brandon Sanderson book, though I was pleased to find that he has a pretty deep collection of well-loved sci-fi to explore. From what I can tell, Skyward is just the tip of the iceberg. Onward, we go into the collection!


The Library of Lost and Found ~ Phaedra Patrick 

January 7, 2019

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Genre: Adult Fiction

Publisher: Park Row

ISBN: 9780778369356

352 pages

Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Martha Storm is everyone’s go-to girl but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. In fact, it’s not glamorous at all. She is the older sister of successful and polished, Lillian, a working and married mother of two who takes life entirely too seriously for Martha’s taste.

Lillian, along with most of the people who know Martha, takes full advantage of her older sister’s kindness, using her as a book procurer, babysitter, and seamstress, with nothing so much as a “thank you” in return.

Martha is a dreamer of adventures, rather than a doer but when a mysterious book containing a sliver of her past falls into her lap, everything changes.

The Library of Lost and Found is a sweet little book, though it has some pretty dark and uncomfortable parts. The book is dotted with flashbacks in the point of view of Martha’s mom which where the hardest parts to read, for me. Her parents’ marriage, specifically her father’s treatment of her mother, was incredibly toxic and emotionally abusive which explained a good deal of why Martha grew up to be the run down people pleaser we met at the start of the book.

Once I understood the backstory, I enjoyed the book far more, though I still found myself getting wildly irritated with how often people pushed Martha around (as well as how often she allowed it).

It’s a peaceful little book but do be warned of the rougher emotional parts.

Thank you to Netgalley and Park Row (Harlequin) Books for the ARC. The book comes out March 26th, 2019.

Sunday Wrap Up

January 6, 2019

Well, babes, the first week of the year has been a wild one, so far!

I started the year on the top of a mountain, skiing in Montana with my favorite folks and ended it at a much more reasonable elevation (and temperature), gearing back up for the last semester of grad school.

I have no real resolutions for 2019 but I do have some goals. Goal and priority number one? Finishing my MSW!

I can not believe I am really almost in the home stretch. In four short months, I will be packing up my academic career (unless I foolishly decide to go back and get my PhD. Don’t let me do that!) and walking into The Real World. I’m not nervous. I’m not! I swear it! Ok, maybe I’m a little nervous.

My other goals include reading 150 books (it was 106/100 for 2018), reading one classic a month, and reading outside of my comfort zone (so, more contemporary, romance, mystery). though, we all know my favorite will always be YA fantasy and slightly fantastical history.

Let me know what you’ve got planned for the year ahead, reading or otherwise!

Falling Kingdoms ~ Morgan Rhodes 

January 6, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 9781595145857
448 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

“Power. It has always been a strong motivator for some. A quest for power – for ultimate power – is the reason behind most evils the world has witnessed.”

It took me a while to start this series. I have a hard time embracing series and books that have become wildly popular because I’ve been burned before (I see you, Caraval).

Falling Kingdoms didn’t disappoint, though.

The story is told through three different viewpoints, three different young people from three different kingdoms, hence the title.

As with so many fantasy stories, Falling Kingdoms exists as an allegory for our own human behavior, weaving in three distinct experiences into one, mirroring modern day politics, humanity, love, and destruction.

The destitute and desperate, run down Paelsia has been on a steep decline for generations, giving birth to scrappy revolutionary, Jonas. His path crosses Cleo, a sheltered, pampered princess from the ragingly successful (and very well hated) throne of Auranos. Through their short but unfortunately violent interaction, a chain of events spirals outward, catching Prince Magnus (of the deeply religious but somewhat sidelined kingdom of Limeros) in its wake.

As the book rolls forward, the three young leaders intersect and volley, creating their own alliances and conflicts quite under their parents’ noses.

The characters go in and out of being likable, which is somewhat understandable. They’re all stressed and they fall into one of two categories: privileged royal kids or rundown village kids who have lost everything. I tried to give everyone a little grace but there were still moments in which I got frustrated.

Still, the young adults are far more lovable than their older counterparts and all seem to question the mass amounts of backstabbing and bloodshed.

I’m so excited to see what the rest of the series holds. I’m going to try to pace myself because there are still more books to be published and I’ve burned myself before, ripping through series before the finale has hit.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #1) ~ Theodora Goss

January 4, 2019

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Saga Press

ISBN: 9781481466509

416 pages

Source: Simon and Schuster/Audible

What if the daughters of every gothic monster and monster-making fictional character banded together?

Oh, yes. This is the dreamy culmination of the last few months (and moreso a lifetime) or my obsession with Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, and Penny Dreadful. Add in Holmes, Watson, and Doctor Moreau, and you’ve got this magical little romp through somewhat magical, altogether horrifying, Victorian England.

The daughters and created children of literature’s most scandalous science experiments gather together like so many scifi snowflakes, rumbling down the historical hill that is the time-honored literary tradition of chasing the perpetrator of the Whitechapple murders, eventually snowballing into a fantastically wild ride.

It’s one of those stories that left me breathless, at once both appreciative of its art and also jealous that I wasn’t the one to write it. The attention to literary and historical detail made my heart sing and also prompted me to scoot off to the library to collect every one of the mentioned classics. It’s never a bad time to reread my old favorites.

The second book, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewomen, came out this past summer and I am, as I’m typing this, slipping on my shoes so I can scoot over to the bookstore and start that one, right quick.

As a side note: This was my first audiobook which made the whole thing a little bit harder to follow (I learned, or rather confirmed, during this process that I don’t do well with fiction on audio) but the story itself was solid enough to hold my attention.

Evie: An Autobiography ~ Geneva Lemon

January 3, 2019

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Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

ISBN: 9781457566783

86 pages

Source: Netgalley

I don’t read a lot of memoirs so I didn’t know what to expect from Evie.

What I found turned out to be a raw, honest, heartbreaking piece of identity from a woman who took myriad, messy pieces life handed to her, weaving them into a tapestry of strength and self love.

Though it’s a tough read in parts (as most personal stories are), it was well worth the read. My social worker heart was fluttering from beginning to end, thanks to the books volley from domestic violence to racism to self-discovery.

Geneva Lemon has a clear cut and succinct way of writing the most horrible and most beautiful moments, turning pain and loss into art.

I’m honestly surprised that the book, itself, was so short as there is quite a full life tucked into its pages.

I live my life, personally and professionally, listening to the hardest parts of people’s stories. There is something healing for both the teller and the listener, when the tough stuff is shared. This book was no different and I’m grateful for that.

A Pack of Blood and Lies ~ Olivia Wildenstein 

January 3, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Twig Publishing

ISBN: 9781948463157

292 pages

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

“You’ve set your expectations on an unreasonable goal. Women don’t lead packs of men; it’s emasculating.”

No one has quite as much baggage as 17 year old Ness. Her family issues straddle the line of dysfunctional humans and even less stable werewolves.

Pack of Blood and Lies was a lot grittier and nuanced than I anticipated from a coming of age werewolf story. It was far more Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver than anything Stephanie Meyers’s Twilight ever cooked up.

With a strong feminist backbone and a lot of intense focus on twisted family dynamics, the story quickly nestled its way into my heart from the beginning.

It’s far from a run of the mill, campy werewolf story, carrying its fair share of domestic violence, sexual assault, and toxic masculinity fueled bloodshed.

However, those darker elements are dealt with through a thoughtful and honest lens, making what would otherwise be difficult to read topics real and relatable.

There is a lot of plot and character development laid out in a fairly short book but knowing that this was the first in a longer series allowed me to sit back and enjoy the initial building, knowing that there would be more to come. I’m definitely excited for the rest of the series and glad I was able to read this one, early.