book reviews

Sky in the Deep

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Rating: XXX

Published: March 26th 2019 by Titan Books (First published April 24th 2018)

“We find things, just as we lose things. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.”

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.

I was gifted this early finished copy in exchange for an honest review by Titan Books. I had decided to take a bit of a break from fantasy books lately it seemed to be more of a fantasy-style book with historical fiction elements, not to mention that I was lured in by the axe-wielding heroine, the promise of an action-packed start and a possibility for mystery.

I really enjoyed pretty much all of the fight scenes throughout this book, particularly as an opening scene. The battles are interesting and I love the description of different fighting tactics, especially when Eelyn fights alongside her best friend. The middle of the book felt a little dry to me in comparison and unfortunately fairly predictable. I think the predictability, however,  might be more to do with the large number of fantasy books I’ve read in the past year that all follow quite similar storylines more than there being anything hugely wrong with the book itself.

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Despite the writing feeling a little clunky I think some of the relationships were fairly well written, especially the conflicted way Eeyln feel about her brother which I felt was a particularly strong point as well as some of the other more complicated relationships that become established over time. That being said I found the couldn’t stand the romance element. I’m not sure if this stems from how predictable it felt for me in that as soon as these two characters met I knew they would be the “love interests” or if the slow burn that I usually love, especially when compared to a lot of the “insta-love” in YA was just too slow and lacked the emotional depth or intensity that I usually attribute to a enemies to lovers situation (which is usually my favourite trope). Whatever the case, it just didn’t click for me on an emotional level and the love interest was probably one of my least favourite characters.

This has been a tough book to try and review because although it’s something I personally didn’t enjoy hugely I know there are a lot of people out there who, maybe coming into this a little fresher and possibly with different expectations who would really enjoy this book and looking at all of the great reviews its had since it’s original non-UK release it is a book well loved by many, I just feel this one wasn’t for me but am still grateful to have read it none the less.

Have you read Sky in the Deep? If so how did you find it? If you’ve been reading my blog for some time you’ll know that I love a good bookish discussion!

Author, Adrienne Young has another book coming out September 3rd called, “The Girl the Sea gave back” that I will certainly be trying out after my big ole sci-fi binge coming up.

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

To Kill a Kingdom – Review

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To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo 

Rating: XXXXX

Published: March 6th 2018 by Hot Key Books
(I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

“I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.”

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I’d heard of “To Kill A Kingdom” in passing a few times on Instagram, a few online friends and other bloggers had received hard copies from the publisher etc but I hadn’t paid it much mind, seeing the tentacles on the cover and assuming sea monster story. WRONG. It caught my eye again while browsing for a new read on Net Galley and after finally reading the synopsis for myself knew that I needed to get hold of this book. I like swimming, I like mermaids but I also like kick ass female characters and not too much silly romance (not all romance is silly but some can feel a little gag inducing). Mermaids weren’t often the center of much ass kicking but sirens however…now we’re talking! Reading this synopsis I imagine a much more blood soaked retelling of The Little mermaid and smoosh that request button so hard. Suffice to say the moment my request was approved I squeaked, did a little dance and shut myself in my room with my kindle and a packet of biscuits.

The start of this book is blood thirsty, dark and is certainly not pulling any punches, I love a good book that can get my adrenaline going from the start and reel me in. From the beginning the Siren’s side of things is often blood soaked and raw, even the way they treat each other, these scenes are often so tense with the promise of savagery and violence that I devoured them up with reckless abandon, hungry for more.  We see this story from the Prince’s point of view as well which provided a good insight and needed information as well as another interesting perspective and dynamic. That and he, his pirate crew and his ship “The Saad” are absolutely brilliant and just as important characters as Lira herself.  The Over all the plot is good, fun and mostly exciting, even if some of the excitement comes from intrigue instead of purely action (there is plenty of both though!). It did however feel a little short to me and that everything at the end happened so fast that I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. I think this might possibly  be because of the fact it’s a standalone book which is sadly a rare commodity these days. That and I devoured the last half of this book in a day or so which made it felt like the end appeared rather quickly – this is purely my own fault though.

The writing felt easy flowing and kept the pace going at the right moments and then beautiful and descriptive when needed. There’s nothing I hate more then a tense or action filled scene caught up with too many words that aren’t needed, thankfully that isn’t the case here. I will say I found the POV changes a little jarring and they probably could have done with being labelled so I knew who I was reading as sometimes I would get a paragraph or so into a chapter before realising who’s side of the story I’m reading. It wasn’t the end of the world though and after a while I reasoned it was a good example of how similar Lira and Elain  really are if I can’t tell at first glance who’s narrative I’m reading.

I really enjoyed Lira’s character progression, although it takes a fairly obvious route there’s much more to it, the same could be said for Elain, although his is a little more standard both character arc’s feel fairly natural as do the connections they make and conclusions they come to which is a breath of fresh air from some of the books I’ve been reading lately. It’s not until after when I tried to list their characteristics that I truly realise how similar Lira and Elain mirror each other, they’re both sassy as hell and this means that a lot of their banter is brilliant and quick witted. If nothing else had sold me on this book that alone would have kept me reading, it was done so well.

“They’re insane and wonderful.” Elain himself finds the best way to describe his crew. Although the crew is fairly big we get a few main characters and personalities to focus on, I particularly loved the relationship between Kye and Madrid who are a couple and click so well while not being too much, they give me serious Zoe and Wash vibes (Firefly) and are total relationship goals. Each named character feels genuine and fleshed out, whether that be by description, dialogue or inferred from the environment. It makes them easy to read and imagine.

There is a romance in this which like the character progression I feel is fairly obvious but in the same way is different from a lot of the standard romance troupes we see in YA at the moment. Lira never loses sight of the end game and her goals. I’m so pleased to see a heroine not completely lose her head (or fins) for a love interest. Not once does this fierce, passionate creature become overly simpery or compromised in an uncharacteristic way and I’m all about that. There is one little scene that felt a bit strange and out of nowhere which I wasn’t keen on but it was fast rectified with a similar and much better connected moment later on so I can forgive it.

Overall this book was super enjoyable and covered a lot of bases for me. It was fast paced, fantasy based, just the right amount of romance and some of my favorite types of characters. Also pirates…did I mention pirates? I couldn’t put my finger on an exact rating for this, torn between XXXX and XXXXX as I enjoyed the heck out of this book and will certainly be recommending it to everyone I can as well as buying the finished edition when it releases but the XXXXX rating is often reserved for feels destroyers which this wasn’t quite for me but is nether the less a great book. Therefore I shall award my first XXXX/X rating to “Kill a Kingdom” it was well earned.

You can pre-order this book at Book Depository, Amazon or Waterstones and you can add it to your Goodreads here.