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Don’t Pass It Up: Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

Hi!

Have you ever postponed reading a book because you thought you knew what it was about and you were just certain you weren’t interested?  I have on a few occasions. I had this experience with Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, but in the end I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. It is a fantastic story!

Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her Icefall by Matthew J. Kirbybrother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye? Can Solveig and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a kingdom?

Seriously, this book was a huge surprise to me. I have no idea why I thought this wouldn’t appeal to me…maybe it was the cover? Not sure. But honestly, why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome of a book this is?!?!

First of all Icefall reminded me of a fairy tale. Yes, it has some magical elements to it, but I think it felt fairy tale-like to me because I have almost no knowledge of the Nordic setting or culture. Medieval Nordic culture is so far from anything I’m familiar with that it just felt like it was laced with magic. It was so interesting to see glimpses of the daily life in a winter hall like the class structure, the story telling, even down to the wild behavior of the Viking Berserkers. I think the mix of learning about a different culture and Kirby’s amazing story telling skills worked together to make this book completely engrossing. I only put it down because I actually had life responsibilities (like work haha).

The King’s middle daughter, Solveig, is our unlikely heroine and Icefall is her coming-of-age story. In the beginning, Solveig is haunted by her father’s disregard for her. She is not her beautiful sister, or her “future king” little brother. Solveig believes that she is of no true importance and craves her father’s approval and attention. But as she is caught up in the midst of an atmosphere of danger, distrust, and treachery Solveig begins to come into her own and even realizes that she has gifts and strengths that are, in fact, important. She is a character painted beautifully and with much detail.

Additionally, Kirby’s entire cast of characters are so multifaceted that anyone can be the traitor and the reader really is left to discover the truth as Solveig does. The complexity of the characters is impressive as we learn, like Solvieg that even those who commit the worst of crimes have real motives and real strengths and real faults. Not every thing or everyone is painted black and white and Solveig learns to see the gray areas, as in any quality coming-of-age story. Ahhh! I want to give examples here but can’t because I’d give so much away!

Please don’t make the mistake of passing this book over, like I almost did. It is a well told middle grades historical mystery that anyone who enjoying a well crafted story will enjoy. Also, listening to the audiobook is a great choice that I highly recommend, as the narrator’s voice is so lyrical and only adds to Icefall’s themes of storytelling.

Author: Matthew J. Kirby

Publisher: Scholastic Audio (October 1, 2011)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 9 hours and 18 minutes

Narrator(s): Jenna Lamia (she is awesome)

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Icefall

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Waiting on Wednesday: Landry Park

Happy Hump Day!

As usual, it’s time for Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine).  Each week this event gives bloggers the opportunity to talk about an upcoming new release that is on our radar.

When a book is touted as “Downton Abbey meets The Selection”, I’m all in. According to the blurb on Goodreads.com Landry Park by Bethany Hagen is the love child of Downton Abbey and The Selection.

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline LLandry Park by Bethany Hagenandry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won’t allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty – her family and the estate she loves dearly – and desire.

Ohhh I so hope this one turns out to be as fun of a read as it sounds! I get simultaneously nervous and excited when a book is compared to another favorite of mine. So fingers crossed that Landry Park, which is scheduled for release on February 4, doesn’t let me down!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would Never Switch Places With

Hello!

Welcome back for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday!

You know how sometimes you finish a book and you just wish you could trade places with the main character and live their charmed life for a little while?  Well, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and Bookish) is about the opposite of that! This list is all about those “Characters I Would Not Want to Switch Places With”. The lives of the characters on my list are not charmed, and are in fact, pretty terrifying. Are you ready?

Nick and Allie from The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman. I hope and pray that Everlost is is not Everlost by Neal Shustermanreal because this place freaked me out so much when I read these books. There is just so much creepiness that happens in Everlost that I think I’d rather just sink into the Earth rather than tough it out with the Afterlights.

Aria from from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  Aria undergoes some major character growth while traveling through “the Deathshop” with Perry, but the dangers she encounters while there are not something I’d want to mess with. First you have these terrible ether storms, then you have the cannabalistic Croven with their sinister jinge bells, and dweller society that isn’t as safe as it first appears. No thank you!

Any person living in one of the Panem districts from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This one is obviously easy. Why would I ever trade places with anyone from any of the districts when you have to live in constant fear of The Hunger Games?! Not only is there the fear that you might get chosen as tribute, but think about all the other people afraid for their children?! And even if you’re lucky enough to never get chosen, you still have to live in a world where killing kids is entertainment.

Anyone in a Soviet work camp from Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. This is really a hard one to talk about because Between Shades of Gray is based on actual events. Thousands of people (men, women, and children) were forced into Soviet work camps and lost their lives during Stalin’s cleansing of the Baltic region. Sepetys’ writing is beautifully haunting and you get good understanding for the horrors these people experienced. I debated adding this one to the list, but this story and setting still stick with me months after reading it and reminds me to be thankful.

Ender Wiggins from Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Ender’s life kind sucks. He thinks he’s in charge of his life, but the whole time someone else is pulling the strings purposefully testing him and making things difficult to bear. Not my idea of fun!

May from May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. May thinks she is going to work for this nice young married May B. by Caroline Starr Rosecouple as their housemaid only to be abandoned in a snow covered prairie homestead with winter coming in full force. May has to struggle to survive all alone and no one knows she needs help. Talk about feeling helpless!

Sam from In Too Deep by Amanda Grace. The amount of guilt Sam experiences due to the choices she makes is just overwhelming while reading this book. I’ve gotten myself into bad situations where the guilt just slowly eats away at your insides and I never want to go through that again! So, no. I will not be trading places with Sam.

Pippa from the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. I can’t say much about this without things becoming majorly spoilery so I won’t got any further. Just know that I wouldn’t switch places with her for anything.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie BabbittThe Tuck family from Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. The poor Tuck family never got a choice in the whole eternal life question; it happened to them with out them even knowing it. I even can’t imagine knowing you are forced to live eternally and you had no say in the matter.

Thomas and The Gladers in The Maze Runner series. A life of hardship and fear forced on you by a government stuck in a desperate situation. Nope. I would have never made it out of the tunnel in the second book because those orbs are so terrifying, not to mention “the cranks”. I can’t even…

All of the books mentioned above were great reads, I just have no desire to trade places with the characters! haha So, what characters would you never trade places with?

 

 

 

 

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A Brand New BookTasty!

Hello!

Welcome to the brand new BookTasty site! I’m so excited that the day has finally come!

Excited Dog

All the old content is here and, as of today, all the new content will be posted here as well. Also, later this week I’ll be hosting a celebratory Moving Day Giveaway to make sure to check back!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new design! Feel free to share in the comment section below!

 

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When It’s a Struggle: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Hi there everyone!

You know how you read the first book in a series, love it and crave the next book. Sometimes you get that second book and it’s awesome. You enjoyed it just as much as the first. And then sometimes you The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvaterget to the next book and find that you’re struggling a bit. It’s just not what you were hoping for.  It’s a bit of a let down, really.

Well folks, that is what happened to me recently with The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the second book on her Raven Cycle series and I found myself having a difficult time getting through it.

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

When The Raven Boys first came out I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but then I read the book and I ended up loving Stiefvater’s unique take on the paranormal genre. It was a really enthralling read! So, naturally you’d expect me to be excited about book two, which I totally was. However, when I started reading The Dream Thieves I just couldn’t get into it. I’d read like five pages, then pick up my phone.  I’d spend two minutes reading and ask my husband a question. Distraction over distraction just kept coming up and in the end it took me about two months to actually finish this book! Was it me or the story itself? I don’t know for sure, perhaps it was a mix of the two? All I knew was that something was wrong!

In the end I think I was just bored. It seemed like the luster of Stiefvater’s creative paranormal story kind of became dull. By book two, the qualities that originally made the story unique just became a little ho-hum. So much of the story focused on Ronan trying to figure out his dreams, which don’t get me wrong are really cool, but it felt like the story just ran really, really slow. It’s almost like nothing happened for a large portion of the book! I just wanted to know more about Blue and her “curse”, and Gansey’s search for Cabeswater, but all I got was Ronan’s moodiness on full blast. The only parts of the book that were really interesting to me were all the scenes with The Gray Man. He was mysterious and his scenes were always wrought with tension because he is so dangerous and I never knew if I could trust him or not. These were the pages I turned with anticipation, in contrast to all the others that left me feeling “blah”.

Is it possible that I just wasn’t in the mood for The Dream Thieves when I read it? Yes. Is it possible that this book just wasn’t as interesting as book one? Yes. I strongly believe both factors played a role in my struggle with this book. All in all I was disappointed with the whole experience, but I know that others absolutely adored this book, so if you really read The Raven Boys and enjoyed it, go ahead and give The Dream Thieves a try. Hopefully you’d finish it in less than the two months it took me! haha

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press (September 1, 2013)

Format: Kindle

Length: 439 pages

Series: Second book in The Raven Cycle series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys #2) (Raven Cycle)

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Again! Again! 2014 YA Audiobook Challenge

Who else likes audiobooks?

I do! A lot!

For the past two years I’ve participated in the YA Audiobook Challenge hosted by Jen at  Book and a Latte.

2014 YA Audiobook ChallengeThis is my favorite bookish challenge because I seriously LOVE audiobooks. Just ask my husband! I always have one going and I listen while driving, running, folding laundry etc… My husband knows I’m listening to a particularly good audiobook if I offer to do the dishes (it’s the chore I dislike the most!). hahaha

Last year I reached the “Rocking Out” level of the challenge because I was literally one audiobook short of my goal of 36. One! Ugghhhh The shame! hahaha If you’re interested, can see my 2013 YA Audiobook Challege Wrap Up here. I listened to so many awesome books in 2013!

This year I am participating again (of course!!!), and am shooting for the “Head Bang’n levelOver the course of 2014 I need to listen to 36+ audiobooks and review at least 24 of them.

I know I got this!

If you like audiobooks and young adult fiction, you should join us! Check out the Challenge Info Page to find out more and sign up.

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I Even Funnier Giveaway Winner Announcement

Hello!

You’ll remember my giveaway post for James Pattersons’ I Funny and I Even Funnier books? Yeah that was all the way back in late December! OOPS!  I’m just now getting around to announcing the winner officially.  Sorry about that guys…sometimes life just gets in the way.

Well, let’s get to it! The winner of the giveaway was:

Lonni G. from San Jose, CA!!!

I Danss

Yay! I was so excited to be able to send Lonni her bookish winnings! And I hope that Lonni did her happy dance when she got her package in the mail! Yes, even though I kept forgetting to post the winner announcement, I did already send the books to her.  I hope she enjoys them and gets to share them with some awesome teen readers!

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this giveaway and a very special  thank you to the awesome people at Little, Brown Books for making this giveaway possible!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Stolen Songbird

Welcome back BookTasty Friends!

Well, let’s talk  about an upcoming new release that I’m waiting for! This week’s Waiting on Wednesday title is Stolen Songbird, a debut, by Danielle L. Jensen.

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensenenough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity. But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Goodreads is describing Stolen Songbird as a book for fantasy lovers who enjoyed titles like Seraphina and Graceling, which I totally did. To compare a book to those fantasy giants is a pretty big deal. Hopefully, this one will live up to such high claims!

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of YA fantasy, so I’m definitely going to give Stolen Songbird a go and I hope it ends up being as good as the summary makes it sound! We do have to wait until the April 1 release date though!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Reading Wish List

Howdy!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) theme is centered around the idea of a reading wish list. I supposed we all have them, but I’ve been finding it a little challenging to put my wish list to words. Maybe I just want too much?! haha

Boarding School books. There is just something fun about students living away from home in a boarding school. ReadingGirl2

Lighthearted steampunk. I think I just want more people to write books like Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series.

Historical fiction/romance set in Colonial America. I want to read more about life in the colonies (before the war) and I want some kissing mixed in!

First Ladies as Teens. Haha This sounds really lame but I’d be interested in a YA or MG series that fictionalizes the teen years of some of the early first ladies. Maybe this would end up being too much like the American Girl books, but I think it’d be fun!

Jane Austen retellings. More creative YA or MG retellings of Jane Austen’s novels please!

Fairy Tale retellings. I know they’re all out there, but as Ariel said, “I want more!”

Short stories about the previous tributes in The Hunger Games. Wouldn’t that be a cool short story collection?  Little snapshots into the lives of some of the previous tributes? Very cool.

Reading GirlYA Amish Fiction. Ahh! I don’t know what I’d do if there were more YA Amish mash-up novels. I might not be able to handle it.

Upstairs/downstairs plots. One of the most interesting things about shows like Downton Abbey is the relationship between the people upstairs with those who work downstairs. I’d love to see all the intricacies of these two groups living their lives under the same roof written well.

So, I can only think of nine things I’d want on my reading wish list. Seriously, I’ve been staring at the screen and thinking about this for over twenty minutes. If I can’t think of a tenth after twenty minutes it is time to stop!

What is on your Reading Wish List?  I’m very interested to see what everyone else has on their lists, so please go ahead and share in the comments below!

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Hands Down! Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Hi!

I’m pretty sure that Gail Carriger is in on a conspiracy to make me want all of her books. My favorite new series of 2013 was her Finishing School series, hands down! You can read my review of book one, Etiquette & Espionage here. I may have done more gushing that I should have but if you’ve read it then you’ll understand!

Because of this love for the first book, I was incredibly excited when the awesome people at Hachette Audio offered Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carrigerthe audiobook of Carriger’s second book, Curtsies & Conspiracies for review I had to take them up on their offer! (Thank you!)

Sophronia’s first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won’t Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot–one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

Guys. Seriously. THAT COVER!

I’ve said it before. It’s like Carriger has a secret window into my little book lovers’ heart and knows exactly what I want to read about. Her opulent steampunk world is exactly where I want to spend my afternoons and evenings. This setting is just so well-imagined and there is so much depth yet to be explored that it reminds me a lot of the wizarding world that J.K. Rowling creates in the Harry Potter series. It’s richness promises more books, which makes me incredibly giddy just thinking about it!

Curtsies and Conspiracies picks up at the start of Sophronia’s second semester at Madame Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality with the girls’ sixth month review underway. While the first book is full of nothing but fun, this second book starts to bring a little more seriousness with it. For example, Sophronia’s group of friends are all fighting and a spectacular weekend in London is dulled by threat of a dangerous evil plot. Even the lessons the lessons the students’ are learning begin to take a turn for the dark. This step towards the serious actually reminds me a lot of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series (which I ALSO LOVE!) because Sophronia’s world is beginning to open up and the stakes are getting higher. Don’t think that Carriger’s signature wit and humor are missing in all this newly found seriousness, however, because they are still there!

We have the beginnings of a serious love triangle here, ladies! I don’t mind a bit of a triangle so it makes me happy to see Sophronia struggle with her growing feelings toward two boys; one of which would be socially uplifting and the other which may be frowned upon for numerous reasons. I do think both boys are not exactly as they seem however…there are hints of things to come hidden in their actions and words!

Not only are these potential love interests well written and interesting, but Carriger’s cast of supporting characters are just as captivating as they were in book one. My favorites are Sophronia’s friends, of course.  Dimity, Sidheag and Agatha are so warm, loving, and fun that I want them to be real so I could hang out with them! I love how each one of them brings something different to the table and the way in which they all challenge one another to step out of comfort zones. They’re exactly the type of friends I’d want if I were a boarding student in a flying dirigible spy school for young ladies.

All in all, Curtsies and Conspiracies was on my favorites of 2013 list for a reason. If you haven’t already given the Finishing School series a chance, then make sure you do! You won’t be disappointed I promise! I also highly recommend this series on audio; it is hands down a fabulous listen!

Also…have you seen this book trailer?! I don’t know how I missed it until now, but I think it is absolutely brilliant!

Author: Gail Carriger

Publisher: Hachette Audio (Little, Brown) (November 5, 2013)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 9 hours and 30 minutes

Narrator(s): Moira Quirk

Series: Second in the Finishing School series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School)