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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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2013 End of the Year Book Survey

2013 End of Year Book Survey

Happy New Year’s Eve!

So much has happened in 2013! I’ve read tons of books (although I didn’t reach my goal of 80), moved to South Carolina, began work at a new school, went to Europe, celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary (!!), among so many other things! Thank you to all the BookTasty friends out there who helped make 2013 a wonderful year! Since this is a book blog, we’re going to take some time to reminisce on the books I read in 2o13 with the annual End of the Year Book Survey!

Relating to Books!

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Apparently, 2013 was the year of fantasy for me because my 5 favorite books were ALL fantasy! In 2013 I loved:The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

  • Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
  • The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I really thought I’d adore The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater so much more than I did. It took me forever to finish it because I just couldn’t get into it. I should have just put it down and not finished it, but I felt so bad because I loved The Raven Boys (book 1).

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

I had seen Icefall by Matthew Kirby sitting on the shelves in my Media Center for a LONG time. I always looked at it and then put it back down, never thinking it sounded really interesting. Well, I finally read it because it is on the 2013-2014 SC Junior Book Award List and lo and behold I REALLY LIKED IT!

 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

I definitely recommended The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson to the most people this year!

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Hands down Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series! I love fact that it is a mash-up of fantasy, steampunk, and mystery genres! Seriously, these books are so refreshing and fun, they’re my favorite!

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth RossI really enjoyed “meeting” three new debut authors this year. Elizabeth Ross (Belle Epoque), Rachel Hartman (Seraphina), and Alex Lidell (The Cadet of Tildor) are all authors whose future work will definitely be on my radar!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I don’t know if it was the best “out of my comfort zone” book or if I’m listing it because it was the only one I read that was out of my comfort zone…but I’m listing If I Stay by Gayle Forman. This was a 100% pure CRYING book. I generally do not do crying books. I didn’t love it, but it was out of my comfort zone.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

I seriously could not put down Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys! I was absolutely riveted from the start!

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Honestly? I don’t know…it’s rare that I re-read books (unless it is Pride & Prejudice which I have read three times).

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

Most definitely the covers for Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series. Aren’t these covers just breathtaking?! I want to wear the gowns!

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Is it cheating if I choose three? They kind of come together in a pack so I’m including them as one: Ronan, Gansey, and Adam…The Raven Boys! Although I wasn’t a fan of The Dream Thieves, I really liked book one, The Raven Boys. These three boys together are all pretty awesome in their own ways, but they also have magic among them!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys was just so moving I have to give it this title. The subject matter and Sepetys writing wove together to create a haunting story full of beauty, pain and hope.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

This is a tough question. As much as I hate to say it (ducks from internet wrath about to come at me) Paper Towns by John Green just may have been the book that impacted me the most. Although this story was entertaining, it was not in any way a favorite of mine. I didn’t hate it, but it did leave me thinking a lot about relationships, selfishness, and pain. I think that Margo Roth Spiegelman may be one of my least favorite characters ever written, but she did make me think about things, so she has that going for her.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

With the movie releasing this past November, my Husband and I listened to the audiobook of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and neither of us could believe that it had taken us that long to actually read it!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

Lions of Little Rock

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

Longest: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare with 570 pages

Shortest: The Humming Room by Ellen Potter with 192 pages

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Definitely The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson! I was dying to talk to my friend Mandi about a certain someone and specific scenes, but she hasn’t made it past book one yet! Get reading Mandi!! We have lots to discuss!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Okay so we all know romantic is the type of relationship I’m going with here. The smouldering relationship between Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversIolanthe Seabourne and Prince Titus VII, in The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, was by far one of my favorites of 2013! I can’t wait for the other books in this trilogy! Another favorite was the romance between Ismae Rienne and Gavriel Duval in Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers! And let’s not forget Elise and Hector from The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson!

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I used to read a lot of Philippa Gregory novels in college, but hadn’t been excited about any of her recent titles until I saw Changeling, her foray into YA, at my school Book Fair! I bought it and read it in like a week. I had forgotten how quick and enthralling her books are!

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

I’m pretty sure Delirium by Lauren Oliver had been recommended to me by about fifteen students in less than a week’s time. I figured it was time to read it! I liked books one and two but was disappointed in book three.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

No questions asked, I was completely in love with fantasy in 2013!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Okay, definitely Prince Titus VII from The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas! He reminds me a a little of Will Herondale with his cocky swagger!

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

I didn’t read as many debuts as I wanted to this year, but I think my favorites was definitely The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell, and Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross. I can’t pick just one!

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Oh most definitely the most vivid world was found in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School books, Etiquette & Espionage and Curtsies & Conspiracies. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I want to live in this fantasy steampunk world she has created! I want to play with all the cool gadgets and wear all the pretty Victorian gowns. Also I want a mechanimal named Bumbersnoot!

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Probably Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card because my Husband and I listened to it together and now we have all these hilarious (to us) inside jokes from the book that come up frequently!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

So this is a short list because I strive to keep my distance from books that want to make me cry. If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys were the two I allowed into my reading list this year. This is all we shall ever say of the crying…let’s never speak of this again.

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

I think Icefall by Matthew Kirby got overlooked whenever it was released. How could have not known about such a gem of a book until now?!

Relating to the Book Blogging Life

(optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013? 

Okay, so for sure Jessica B. from Books a True Story! She and I met on Twitter and we decided to create a new monthly meme called Reading Queue! It has been really fun and helpful to organize my reading plans and Jessica has been super friendly and sweet!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013? 

Oh I think the books I loved the best get the best reviews…so let’s go with my review for Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger! I was definitely fangirling, but I believe I had a right to be!

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

I had a lot of fun with my Escapism or Emotion? post over the summer. I loved hearing form people with differing opinions on why they read. It was enlightening to consider a reader’s reasons for reading and remembering that we all have out own preferences when reading.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?YALL Fest2013

GUYS! In November I went to YALL Fest in Charleston, SC for the first time ever! AND. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Seriously, I have been a bad book blogger the past two months, but I will post a highlight post from YALL Fest. I had such a good time mingling with “my people” and showing love to some impressive books and authors!

5. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?

Definitely starting Reading Queue with Jessica B.! You should check it out and participate with us!

6. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular post of 2013 with a whopping 82 views (haha) was my April New Releases post which posted on March 26, 2013.

7. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Definitely my regular reviews. I know it’s been a while since I posted one, but they just don’t get as much love as weekly memes do, which makes me a little sad.

8.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Okay, so in regards to my regular Goodreads Reading Goal for 2013, I have failed miserably! haha Seriously, though my goal was to read 80 books this past year and I only made it to 53 books for 2013. Oh well…53 is still a lot of books!

I did do a fab job with my 2013 YA Audiobook Challenge coming in at 35 audiobooks finished in 2013! This was 5 more audiobooks than 2012! WHOOT!

However, I didn’t succeed at my 2013 Debut Author Challenge. I only manged to read 6 of the 12 I had planned on finishing. Oh well! Of the 6 I did read, I discovered some awesome authors who I will definitely be seeking out in the future!

Regarding Looking Ahead to 2014

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?United we Spy by Ally Carter

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for sure! Also United We Spy by Ally Carter!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

Oh Lord! I haven’t even begun to think about my most anticipated releases for 2014.

  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • The One by Kiera Cass
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Bajaj3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I think Alienated by Melissa Landers sounds like it could be a really fun read as does Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj!

 4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?The One by Kiera Cass

The One by Kiera Cass! I really just love this fun series and can’t wait to see how Cass wraps it all up.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

I did a really good job with keeping my blogging schedule organized during the first 3/4s of 2013.  I want to start 2014 organized and continue it through the end of the year. I already bought my 2014 blog planner, so I’m off to a good start!

May 2014 be filled with love, joy and really good reads!

 

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Reading Queue: December

The Reading QueueWelcome to my December Reading Queue!

The Reading Queue is a monthly meme, hosted by Book Tasty (hi there!) and Books: A true story , where we share our reading plans  for the month. You can hop to other blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you! Or you can ask for people to vote on what you should read next if you can’t decide. Please feel free to contact me in the comments if you’d like to join and/or if you have questions!

Each month I love getting the chance to visit the other blogs who participate, it’s just fun to see what everyone else is reading!

How I Did Last Month

Okay, so November turned out to be pretty crazy what with all the traveling through Europe I did!

Belgium 2013

Here we are in Bruges! (Max, me, Greg the Husband, and Steve)

So, I only made it to four books and only two of them were on my original November Reading Queue. And here they are!

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (audiobook)

I absolutely adored this fantasy!

Icefall by Matthew J. KirbyIcefall by Matthew J. Kirby

This was such a surprise for me! I did not expect to enjoy this one as much as I did!

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (print)

So, I really, really thought this was a great ending to the series! I can’t wait for the Divergent movie!

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail CarrigerCurtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Seriously, this series is hands down one of my favorite newish series right now. I can’t even begin to explain to you how much I love these books.

My December Reading Queue

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie StandifordThe Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon CameronThe Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Runaway King by Jennifer A. NeilsenThe Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Okay! Well, these are my reading plans for the upcoming month.  What are you planning to read during December? Have you read any of the titles on my Reading Queue? Do you have any suggestions on which I should start with?

If you’re interested in joining up, add your Reading Queue post to the linky below! We’re happy to have you!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

Hello!

Welcome back BookTasty friends for our weekly Top Ten Tuesday meme (hosted by The Broke and Bookish). Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is focused on covers we wish we could redesign. In general I am not that critical of covers, but sometimes there are some that just irk me. Most likely there are more than 10, but the ones mentioned below are some that just seem to stand out to me for whatever reason. The frustrating thing is that some of these are books I really, really enjoy!

City of Bones by Cassandra ClareCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I just feel like there are just too many nipples with light radiating from them on this cover.

Wild Things by Clay CarmichaelWild Things by Clay Carmichael

This is a really nice little book, but the cover is just so boring.

Marie Antoinette Serial Killer by Kate AlendarMarie Antoinette Serial Killer by Kate Alender

It’s just too garish.

The Two Princessess of Bamarre by Gail Carson LevineThe Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

It looks a little too 1980s.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen JohnsonThirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

I’m just not a fan of the way this girl is standing. It looks awkward.

Finale by Becca FitzpatrickThe Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick

Someone please draw a shirt on Patch.

Such a Rush by Jennifer EcholsSuch a Rush by Jennifer Echols

I’m just not a fan of the hair in the face I guess.

Icefall by Matthew J. KirbyIcefall by Matthew J. Kirby

I’m finally reading this book (and enjoying it!), but the cover totally prevented me reading it for a LONG time.

Starters by Lissa PriceStarters by Lissa Price

This creepy cover is seriously all that is keeping me from reading it.

Alienated by Melissa LandersAlienated by Melissa Landers

I really would like to read this book because it sounds fun (and it’s not released until 2014), but this cover has just too much going on.

How do you feel about these covers? Are there any that you’d like to redesign as well?

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August New Releases

Hi there!

Whoa! Can you believe it’s almost August already?!

In about two weeks I’ll be starting up the school year at my new school!

Well, each month tons of new books are born! I always like to check out what’s new so let’s take a look at twelve new releases for August that caught my eye.

Gated by Amy Christine ParkerGated by Amy Christine Parker (Aug. 6) YA

Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom AnglebergerThe Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet by Tom Angleberger (Aug. 6) MG

The Enchantress Returns by Christ Colfer

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer (Aug. 6) MG

North of Nowhere by Liz KesslerNorth of Nowhere by Liz Kessler (Aug. 6) MG

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve TucholkeBetween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke (Aug. 15) YA

Fire with Fire by Jenny Han Sibohan VivianFire with Fire by Jenny Han & Sibohan Vivian (Aug. 13) YA

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle (Aug. 20) YA

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen HarringtonSure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington (Aug. 20) MG

My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush by Laura Toffler-CorrieMy Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush by Laura Toffler-Corrie (Aug. 20) MG/YA

The Crown of Midnight by Sarah J MaasThe Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Aug. 27) YA

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae CarsonThe Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (Aug. 27) YA

The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J KirbyThe Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby (Aug. 27) MG