The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

the girl the sea gave back

official blurb
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.

my blurb!
A story told in two points of view about two tribes at war with each other after a prolonged time of peace.

Remember me ranting and raving about Sky in the Deep?  Well this is the second book in that series.  Technically I think it is a standalone novel but I personally think they overlap enough that Sky in the Deep needs to be read first. When I saw this book was coming out, I requested it like crazy.  I’m so happy to have been gifted a physical copy from the publisher!  Like Sky in the Deep, this book features some graphic war scenes – reader beware! Ready to hop into the review? Let’s do it!

arc review

3 out of 5

what i liked
This book ended on a real high note for me.  The war scenes are well written and fast paced.  They wrap you up in the pace and leave you feverishly turning the pages.  I enjoyed the last bit of the book a lot.  This sentiment reminded me a lot of the Red Queen series, where most of the book you’re not loving it and the end is so good that you end up rating the book a lot higher than you thought you would.
I loved getting a glimpse back to my old friends lives! And by friends I mean the characters previously written in Sky in the Deep.  Fictional friends totally count as friends!
One of the main narrators is Halvard- it’s great to see where he is now, and his interactions with the other members of his tribe.  It is also really interesting to learn about what was happening in this world of theirs with other tribes during the time period of Sky in the Deep!
This might be a silly pro, but honestly the cover of this book is unreal.  It’s so well designed, and there are different textures. You just feel cool carrying it around.  It almost makes you want to read it longer so more people can see you reading it.

what i didn't like
There were some errors while reading that made some sentences confusing.  Because this is an advanced readers copy, this shouldn’t be held against the overall rating of the book, so I didn’t factor that in.  I mean, I’m mentioning it because I should-  but I’m hopeful that all of it will be corrected before printing.
In the beginning of the book I had a really hard time keeping track of the characters.  This was crazy to me because I just read Sky in the Deep. There was a character named Espen and I was thinking…  should I know who that is? Who is that?!
The best word I can describe for the tone of the first 2/3 of the book is…messy.  It’s told in dual POVs, which isn’t a big deal- I read a lot of those.  But it also time hops.  Present day. Then 11 years ago. Then present day. Then three years ago.  Then present day.  Then 7 years ago.  …See what I mean?  It just didn’t work as well as it should’ve.  World building still needed to happen because two additional tribes were introduced but the time jumps took away from the world building.
There is a large plot point about Tova, our other main character, being hated. It was touched on numerous times and when I finished the book- I still thought that plot line fell flat for me.  It didn’t make sense to me this intense hatred and the reasoning behind it.  The responsibility that Tova takes personally for this hatred never correlated for me.
There’s some insta-love in this book.  I’m not a fan of insta-love personally, so this is a negative for me.  The characters were supposed to be pulled together by fate.  I wasn’t feeling it myself.
I sighed a lot while reading this book. I know- I’m telling you, most of the way through reading it- I was going to rate it 2 stars!  (That’s how much the last bits of the books paid off!)
The things I adored about Elyn in Sky in the Deep were missing from this one.  Tova and Elyn were so different from each other.  So was Halvard.  So this viking/warrior vibe that I adored in the first book – was not present in this one.  Tova literally begs not to be killed and curls up in a ball, covering her head for protection.  I’m not expecting the characters to be the same, for sure.  But this was one of my favorite aspects of Sky in the Deep, so it was disappointingly lacking in this book.
Ready for my last gripe?  The cover of this book is epic.  I mean I LOVE it. But alas, it was misleading.  Tova has her arrows taken away very early on. I made a note that at page 238- we have barely encountered her with her arrows.  I felt like she was gonna be a little more like Legolas with the cover of the book…and that just wasn’t the case.

while reading you should
Do: sign up for a self defense class.  Why not feel empowered?!
Listen: What I believe from the Wonder Woman soundtrack
Drink: water- something about fighting scenes makes me want to stay hydrated

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Harry Potter (#1) and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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official blurb
Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry. Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

my blurb!
An eleven year old boy finds out that he can do magic and gets to go to a new school to study it.

So this was a reread- or in my case a re-listen.  I have always listened  to the Harry Potter books. Yes you read that correctly, me- a huge Harry Potter fan, I have not actually physically flipped pages of an HP book.  I listen to Jim Dale’s many voices to make the story come alive.  And it is…magical.

5 out of 5

 

This is REQUIRED READING FOR FANTASY LOVERS.  Let me reiterate that.  If you don’t like fantasy books, you probably won’t like this book.  If you don’t like middle school age books, you probably won’t like this book.

what i liked
Ron is an MVP! I didn’t remember how much I really liked Ron. His humor is really funny throughout the book. I definitely laughed out loud multiple times.
I’ll always have a soft spot for Neville Longbottom, there’s just something about him that I adore! It could be because of the actor who plays him and what he looks like. Just saying. But really Neville is my favorite.
The world building is done very well! I seriously loved every scene with the Dursleys in it. She does so well writing them so that you can’t help but hate them! But you also love reading about them!
Funny story about listening to the audio books is that I don’t know how to spell a lot of the words in Harry Potter and I didn’t actually know that Voldemort had a “t” at the end of his name! I did eventually pick up a book and read his name and was shocked, because Jim Dale the reader of the audiobooks does not pronounce the T.
Upon listening to the book this time around, I noticed that Hermione’s skin color is never mentioned and this time I pictured her being black because of the description of her features and her hair. Of course I’ll always imagine Emma Watson but it was interesting that my mind chose somebody else this time around!
It really makes magic seem normal and that’s the best possible compliment I could give to JK Rowling. I sometimes didn’t even notice that this is a fantasy book because it seems so real!
Another thing the book does so well is to actually capture the ages of the characters. The snide remarks and the annoyance about teachers… the way that Harry refuses to call Professor Snape by the title of Professor and just called him Snape haha! The line at the very end of the book really captures Harry’s age and his wiliness! (Sidenote- isn’t wiliness the best word ever? I need to use it more often!)

what i didn't like
There’s a little cheesiness involved in this book regarding the ending and how Harry is able to defeat the bad guy.  I think it should be noted, but honestly I didn’t mind it that much.  These books are done so well and I’m so happy to finally be reviewing them!

while reading you should
Listen: to this book on audiobook.  I mean, you can read them it’s true.  But seriously Jim Dale is a master at his craft! I’ve listened to almost every audiobook he’s ever read!
Do: Get some harry potter swag. There are so many things to buy that are HP themed, the options are endless!
Watch:  The first Harry Potter movie!

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

sky in the deep

Wow, this book. I got this in an Owlcrate box (the only Owlcrate I’ve ever gotten) and it was signed and proceeded to sit on my bookshelf for a full year! I kept seeing different reviews for it that were positive but I still never picked it up!  Truth be told, I was burnt out on fantasy books after a few bad ones.  Even after reading Six of Crows, I still wasn’t ready to hop onto the fantasy bandwagon again.  But alas, I entered into another book slump.  Where nothing piqued my interest to read, and nothing was getting anywhere near 5 stars.  I decided to reach for this book one night.  24 hours later I was finished with it and singing its praises.  Without further ado, here is my review of Sky In The Deep!

official blurb
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.

my blurb!
A Viking warrior is captured by the last person whom she expected to take her.  She is willing to do anything to escape and go home.  And I mean anything. (Graphic violence depicted).

5 out of 5

 

what i liked
This book is REQUIRED READING FOR FANTASY LOVERS.  I’m not joking when I say, as soon as I finished this book, I called my sister and told her to stop whatever she was doing and read it!  I did the same thing for my husband. They both loved it.
If I was ever going to write a novel, this is what I want to write.  This book is just so empowering to read about a female badass heroine! This girl is not waiting for someone to come save her, she’s going to maim, kill and destroy to free herself from her bondage.  This book features fierce men and women fighting side by side!  A lot of readers might read it and not even think about that aspect (which is fine!) but they’ll be subconsciously getting that message and it is SO COOL!
Young wrote complicated and loving families.  Seriously, I know these characters and I am still with them.  They are my fictional friends and family!  (Am I obsessed?  Okay maybe slightly. But I dare you to read this and not be obsessed!)
I shipped this couple hard.  What does that mean? It means I was rooting for the duo in this book. I was hollering for them (I mean…silently in my head, but still…) and craving their scenes!
When the book was finished- it ended perfectly.  It left me wanting more but still completely satisfied with the ending.  It was AMAZING!
I also wanted to note that the characters have names that didn’t come easily for me to pronounce.  You know that I hate that.  But it was so fitting for this world and culture that Young built.  I think it all aided in the world building.  I mentioned that I was pretty sure I was pronouncing them wrong in my head (Ginny Weasley anybody?) but I was committed to the pronunciation after finishing the book (I may have done roughly 200 instagram stories about this book already).  Anyways, Adrienne Young herself responded and said she has a pronunciation guide on her website!  I’ve linked it so you don’t have the same issues I had. (While you’re there, check out these other fun things she links- like her pinterest board of inspiration for Sky In The Deep, and her Spotify playlist!)
I loved this book SO much that I read the acknowledgments.  Not just that, but I finished this book and had to be somewhere. When I got back home, I picked the book back up to read the acknowledgments.  That is how much I loved Adrienne Young’s writing.  Also, just as a shout out to her amazing acknowledgments – it definitely made me want to figure out an acknowledgement day where everyone does that for their own personal lives.  I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we could just casually give our Oscar’s speech without ever winning an Oscar?  I know… what a dream.  Don’t worry I’m working on it.
I’m sure you’re already feeling pretty confident that this book is for you, but if you’re not I have some tips for you.  If you liked Nina and Matthais from the Six of Crows duology, you’ll like this book.  If you liked Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, you’ll like this book.  If you liked the Carve The Mark duology by Veronica Roth, you’ll like this book.  If you like fantasy books, you’ll like this book. If you like books, you’ll like this book.  (Did I take it one too far there?  I tend to do that…)

Also wanted to note that a NEW paperback version of this book JUST came out and it has a bonus chapter from Fiske’s point of view.  (Yes I am accepting this book donation to my personal library). And if that wasn’t enough to get you amped up, a SECOND book in this same universe is coming out soon! It’s called The Girl The Sea Gave Back and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

while reading you should
Eat: Fish… that you caught yourself. (I went too far with that one again didn’t I?)
Do: Take a self-defense class and feel inspired!
Listen: To the Spotify playlist that the author created

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The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia #7) by C.S. Lewis

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official blurb
A false Aslan is roaming Narnia, commanding everyone to work for the cruel Calormenes. Can Eustace and Jill find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land? The last battle is the greatest of all and the final struggle between good and evil

my blurb!
The final book in the Narnia series. Join the characters from all of the previous books as they face the greatest evil in Narnia yet.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
Wow this book was CRAZY.  It was my favorite of the whole series.  But wow, this one was dark.  The plot in this one moved quickly.  While I still had a lot of the same issues in this book that I did with the others, I think by this point in the series, I have looked past those shortcomings a bit more for this book.  The plot in this one was a bit confusing but in the end when they explained it all- it’s a really fun “woah!” moment.  I also felt like this book moved along quickly compared to some of the previous ones (I’m looking at you The Horse and His Boy!).  One of my favorite parts about this whole book was the discussion I was able to have with my friends who participated in this series long buddy read with me.  There is a CRAZY (and I mean “WHAT?! CLIVE! WHAT DID YOU DO?! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WROTE THAT!) plot point that happens in this book.  I mean, theologically (if you’re reading these books as an allegory) it was great to discuss!  I know this is confusing if you haven’t read the book- but I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  If you’ve read it and you know what I’m talking about- comment and talk to me about this crazy ending!

what i didn't like
This book was DARK.  I am imagining that, similar to the Harry Potter series, you’re supposed to start reading these at a certain age and read them as you’re growing up. Because this last book is really dark if you think of it as specifically a kids book.   There is a strong palpable sense of hopelessness when you read it.  You actually  encounter a demon, or a (note the lowercase) god in this one- named Tash.  It is violent and has some graphic scenes.  These aren’t huge negatives for me- but I noted this under the negative column in case you were thinking about quickly reading through the whole series with young kids.
Honestly, the biggest negative in this book (because, really this one was quite good) is the way it’s written.  The older english just simply didn’t agree with me.

Can you believe I finally read and reviewed the entire Narnia series?! I’m glad to have finally done it because I feel like these are wildly treasured books, especially in the Christian circle.  They weren’t beloved for me and some books were completely hit or miss.  Overall, for my personal reading style, I would love to read an updated (abridged?) version of these because very regularly I would read a whole monologue and then Google the book+chapter to find a good breakdown of what that portion was trying to say.  I don’t think all readers will have this issue, but I will say that two out of the three people involved in the buddy read had this conclusion.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia #5) by C.S. Lewis

voyage of the dawn treader

 

official blurb
Lucy and Edmund, with their dreadful cousin Eustace, get magically pulled into a painting of a ship at sea. That ship is the Dawn Treader, and on board is Caspian, King of Narnia. He and his companions, including Reepicheep, the valiant warrior mouse, are searching for seven lost lords of Narnia, and their voyage will take them to the edge of the world. Their adventures include being captured by slave traders, a much-too-close encounter with a dragon, and visits to many enchanted islands, including the place where dreams come true.

my blurb!
Some of our favorite characters are taken back to the magical land of Narnia.

3.75 our of 5

what i liked
This book was all over the map!  Okay, if you’ve read this book I just made a joke there, If you haven’t… trust me, it was funny.  The characters in this adventure are traveling all over the realm that contains Aslan’s homeland as well as Narnia (and many other places!)
As I was reading about Caspien interacting with Lucy I found myself totally shipping them.  Have I been reading too many romance novels?  Maybe.
The big highlight of this book is Clive’s (C.S. Lewis) ability to keep redeeming characters in his adventures! I don’t know how he does it, but he just keeps on doing it!
This was by far the most random book in the series.  There is no antagonist in this book.  It is super weird.  But also kind of fun to read.  Each chapter holds a different tale.

what i didn't like
Okay Eustace sucks.  I know, I know, I have beef with one character in every one of these books. But Clive can write some of the most annoying characters out there!  You read it and you just keep saying “Are you serious right now?!”  I mean, (kind of a spoiler but not really) Eustace eats a dragon.  If that doesn’t seem weird to you, trust me, it’s super weird when you read about it.
The sexism that is woven throughout these books is still going strong in this one.
At the end of this book they explain exactly WHY the four children came to Narnia to begin with.  I literally screamed at the book “THAT’S WHY?!”

There are some heavier elements in this book- including being sold into slavery.  This isn’t something I disliked- but wanted to mention because people do tend to market these as children’s books. Again, the sexism and slavery could easily go over a kids head and I am reading these books as a 30-year-old.  But these aspects did surprise me so I feel they need to be mentioned?  Did that sound like a posh English sentence or what?! I am totally channeling Clive right now.

while reading you should
Drink: Water.  You never know when you’ll be sucked into a long journey and need to be hydrated just in case! (A bookworm’s version of survivalist prepping is drinking water in case you’re summoned by Narnia)
Listen to: The Planet Earth Soundtrack
Watch: This movie!  Did you know they made two Narnia movies?  This was the second one that they made!

happy eating

The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia #6) by C.S. Lewis

silver chair.PNG

official blurb
Jill and Eustace must rescue the Prince from the evil Witch. NARNIA…where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell…and where the adventure begins. Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved.

my blurb!
Eustace and Jill go on some adventures in Narnia.

3.75 our of 5

what i didn't like
Okay – it’s possible that I just don’t jive with Clive’s character development, because the same old same old for this book. One character who I find unbelievably annoying (Jill).  Check. Sexism. Check. Eating a large animal that grosses me out. Check.  There is a LOT of evil encountered in this book. It was so noticeable to me, a big shift.  And the characters are pretty casual about it.  It was kind of weird to me. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Well, if you read it for the time period…”  I’ve heard that precisely 1000 times while reading this series. But hey, it’s okay that I didn’t love this series and you did!  I’m glad to have finally read them and that counts for something in my book!  Also, my book taste is better than yours.  Just kidding! (Kind of).

what i liked
My big takeaway from this book is the power of dreams.  I don’t want to give any spoilers at all – and I won’t! But I really did love this aspect of this one.  Overall chapter 11 was really good! I know- I’m singling out an entire chapter!  I made a note in my book journal about how much I liked this chapter!  What can I say? It stood out!   Another very random thing I liked about this book was the name of the character Puddlegum.  It brought me humor every time I read it.

Whew, can you believe I only have one other Narnia book to review?!  Let’s hop to it!  Plenty of books to read and review ahead of me and I am personally ready to be done talking about Narnia!  But prepare yourself because the seventh book was bonkers.

happy eating

Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia #4) by C.S. Lewis

prince caspian

4 out of 5

official blurb
The four Pevensies help Caspian battle Miraz and ascend his rightful throne. Narnia… the land between the lamp-post and the castle of Cair Paravel, where animals talk, where magical things happen… and where adventure begins. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the dreary train station (by Susan’s own magic horn) to return to the land of Narnia—the land where they had ruled as kings and queens and where their help is desperately needed.

my blurb!
The siblings are back in Narnia after being summoned mysteriously.

what i liked
I really liked this book! This is the kind of book I was expecting when I started this series!
MAJOR shout out to Edmond, who in my mind is now the VIP of this series.  I know, I know, I hated him in LWW but he has redeemed himself greatly in my eyes.  And let me tell you, that rarely happens for me. Once I dislike a character, I’m committed to the act.  So props to Clive for some good writing.
I really liked the addition of Caspian- I loved seeing the siblings in Narnia again.

what i didn't like
The end of this book. Hmmmm.  Part of it was just a plot point that I didn’t appreciate.  If you’ve read it, you know that I’m talking about.  Rude, Clive! Rude!
The other aspect was that there was this super confusing greek/roman god section that had me so lost.  Upon researching, I realize that to the kids of the era, this would have made sense.  To 30 yr old, college educated me, it made little to no sense.

Overall, this book made me happy to be reading this series at all!  Which was a good feeling because after finishing THAHB, I was ready to quit this series.  Onto book #5!

while reading you should
Do: Sit by the fire and stay warm
Eat: A nice heart stew.
Listen to: The Planet Earth Soundrack

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