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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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Fantasy Love: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Well hello there friends!

Are you ready for some fantasy love?! I hope so because I seriously have some major fantasy love going on and the audiobook of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson just rocked my world!

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonBut she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.

You guys! This book! I honestly have been reluctant to write this review because I just didn’t know how to explain how fabulous it is. It really, really is fabulous. And to think, it had been sitting on my self so long without me realizing how much I’d love it!

To be honest though, I did feel a little out of the loop at first. It seemed like we just got thrown into Elisa’s story with little to no context and we had to learn the context as we were going. I felt lost like I knew nothing about her culture or kingdom to ground myself in the story. It soon became clear that this would all come along as the story progresses. Once Elisa travels to Brisadulce this context starts to come into focus a little more and the plot really picks up.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Elisa either. However I quickly grew to love her, which is almost what I think was supposed to happen. I think the way I felt about Elisa mirrored how she felt about herself. She wasn’t sure if she liked herself or not. She was kind of just going through life doing the motions and as Elisa starts to figure out how she feels about herself, we as readers do too. She may just be one of my favorite heroines in YA now! Carson’s supporting characters were bright and vivid too, especially Humberto, Cosme and Lord Hector (le sigh…).

One of my favorite things about The Girl of Fire and Thorns was the religion aspect of things. Elisa’s faith and religion was such a huge part of who she was and there was just so much detail in Elisa’s religion that it’s just integral to the story as a whole. Total world building.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a great start to a fantasy series that I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the books (I first wrote this review in August I have since read all three books!!!!) If you’re a fan of fantasy and romance you absolutely must read this series!

To make things even more awesome I’ll be seeing Rae Carson in November at YA’LL Fest in Charleston on November 9th! I can’t wait to meet her!

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Greenwillow, Recorded Books (September 20, 2011)

Format: audiobook

Length: 12 hours and 9 minutes

Narrator(s): Jennifer Ikeda

Series: Fire and Thorns series, book 1

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Princess in the Opal Mask

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny LundquistHello there and Happy Wednesday!

Each week I participate in Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that creates a venue for specifically sharing upcoming books that we’re excited about.

Today I’m waiting on The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist!

Every Fairy-Tale Ending Has a Price. . . .
Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria’s royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face–including Wilha herself.

When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face . . . with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks.

If you’ve been following BookTasty you’ve probably picked up that I am having a major love affair with fantasy and I want to be a princess. Yes. It’s true. I’m a huge nerd! haha Nerdiness aside, I really want this book in my hands, like right now! Fantasy always floats my bookish boat and The Princess in the Opal Mask sounds like a great fantasy read. Plus, do you see that super ethereal cover? It’s stunning and I can’t take my eyes off of it.

The Princess in the Opal Mask is scheduled for release in only a few short weeks. October 22 to be exact, so we fantasy nerds don’t have long to wait!

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I Felt So Much Love: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Hi guys!

Can you get any better than fairy tale retellings?! I don’t think so! They’re my favorite genre and I can’t get enough of them!  Espeically, if they’re retellings of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, my favorite fairy tale. Well, that just so happens to be exactly why I felt so much love for Entwined by Heather Dixon!

Entwined by Heather DixonAzalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it’s taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation. Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest. But there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

When I first saw this book at my school book fair a while back I was knew it had to one day be mine. Look at the gorgeousness of this cover! It screams “READ ME CHRISTINA!” Entwined‘s cover is the quintessential Christina book cover…a girl in a gorgeous gown. I know it’s so girly and silly, but chances are if your cover has a girl in a beautiful gown, I’m going to enjoy it!

Have I mentioned that I loved this book? I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was fabulous. Her voices were just enough and not over done, which can be hard to do. She was pretty soothing with that accent!

What can be difficult in retellings of The Twelve Dancing Princesses is making all twelve of those sisters standout. I’ve read some versions of this fairy tale, where the sisters are kind of just lumped into little groups. I didn’t feel like the younger sisters were just two-dimensional paper characters in Entwined. I felt like Dixon nicely fleshed out each sister well and I could see glimpses of their individual personalities shine .

Throughout the entire story, I was soooo flipping mad at The King! I mean I know I’m supposed to be, but I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him! I kept mentally yelling, “Dude, I know you’re grieving…but seriously, you can’t just emotionally and physically abandon your TWELVE daughters! They need you in this darkest time!” But I guess if he did what I wanted him to do, we wouldn’t have a story now would we?! See? The authors always know best!

And how about Mr. Creeper…I mean Mr. Keeper?! Creepy McCreeperton to the core! His character was absolutely exactly what it should be…charming, scary and ever so manipulative. Actually, there was so much in this story that reminded me of a feminist lit class I took in college where we looked at abusive relationships in fairy tales, and oh would Mr. Keeper be an interesting one to discuss! But anywhoo…let’s not forget about all the talk of the stitching and soul keeping (no spoilers but you’ll get it if you read it) was enough to give me nightmares had I actually dwelled on it!

 I’m a major sucker for fairy tale romances and there was some good romance in Entwined! So, yes…I thought this book was awesome and think that you should read it, especially if you’re in the mood for a good old fashion fairy tale retelling!

Author: Heather Dixon

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (March 29, 2011)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 11 hours and 50 mins

Narrator(s): Mandy Williams

Series: standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Entwined

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Waiting on Wednesday: Princess of the Silver Woods

Bonjour!

Happy Wednesday to you!  As you probably know Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It was created as a place to spotlight upcoming titles that we’re excited about.

This week I am pretty excited about Jessica Day George’s third installment in the Twelve Dancing Princesses series, Princess of the Silver Woods.

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor’s twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day Georgeneighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it’s not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

I’ve actually only read the first book in the series (Princess of the Midnight Ball) and have yet to read Princess of Glass (book two), but I’m hoping that the release of Princess of the Silver Woods coming soon I’ll actually make time for book two! Jessica Day George is one of the best middle grades fairy talei-sh authors out there and I’m excited to read ANYTHING new by her!

What are you waiting on this week?

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The Siren’s Song: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Sometimes a book comes along that just makes you smile.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs is one of those books. Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

I’ve had my eye on this book for about a year now since I first bought it for my Media Center. My girls at school check it out pretty frequently and I was always drawn to this pretty, colorful cover! Was it a siren song luring me to this book?!

Thanks to the generous people at the Harper Collins Audio department, I finally got the chance to read…er….listen to Forgive My Fins (THANK YOU SO MUCH!). This was my first mermaid book and what can I say? I absolutely LOVED this book; it’s light, quick and just plain fun. So, yeah I really enjoyed this whole mermaid thing. What little girl doesn’t pretend to be a mermaid when she’s little and in the pool? I did! I’d hook one of those pool rings around my ankles (which looking back probably wasn’t too safe) and swim around like I had one tailfin, instead of legs!

Lily is the kind of girl you’d like to have as your friend. She’s sweet, loyal, and quirky, if not a little oblivious. She is your average teenage girl in her insecurity and boy obsessiveness which makes her an appealing main character. Quince Fletcher reminds me of a little boy who relentlessly teases the girl he thinks is pretty because he doesn’t know how to tell her about his feelings. He throws balled-up paper at her and annoys Lily to no end, but you can tell right away that Quince is sweet and caring. Le sigh…I had a boy like that once upon a time. My Quince, was a boy named Willie in 5th grade who used to sharpen his pencil and then poke my shoulder or arm with it as he walked back to his desk. It took me years to realize he had a crush on me. But I digress…

Is Forgive My Fins predictable? Yes. Do I care? No way! The plot thickens when a case of mistaken identity leads to a rather crucial kiss. Childs packs the story in with hilariously corny and sweet mermaid-ish puns, which I enjoyed and think added to the whole feel of the story.

I did read this book as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge. Emily Bauer, the audiobook narrator, although not the same person, reminded me a lot of the narrator of the Gallagher Girl series, whom I love! Her voice was perky and cute, in the right ways, although I do wish her boy voices sounded a little older (they tended to sound younger).

So, in the end Forgive My Fins a light and enjoyable fast read that I highly recommend to middle grade readers and up who are in the mood for a quick and fun romance that just makes you smile.

Author: Tera Lynn Childs

Publisher: Harper Audio

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hours and 39 minutes

Narrator(s): Emily Bauer

Series: First in the Fins series.

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Forgive My Fins

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Book Trailer of the Week: The Selection

Happy Friday!

It is 100% true that on Friday mornings I sing “This is How We Do It” by Montel Jordan  to myself as I get ready for work.  “Its Friday night and I feel alright…” Yup. Pretty much every Friday.

Well, Fridays also mean that its time for another Book Trailer of the Week!  This week’s featured book trailer is for The Selection by Kiera Class, The Selection by Kiera Cassa new Young Adult dystopian romance. Just look at that lovely cover!

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.  But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Sounds pretty interesting huh?!  Well, here’s the book trailer!