Featured Slider

Book Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Published by HMH on May 15th, 2018
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
"I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that."

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara's friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn't help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

I'm writing this review in January and I don't know if I'll be recovered by the time this review goes up. This book absolutely gutted me. Like I was sobbing in my bed at midnight, hoping I wouldn't wake anyone up. This book was incredibly difficult for me to read for multiple reasons. One: I was a victim of sexual assault twice. One by a classmate in high school & once in my early 20's by a man I had known since I was six. Two: My brother is Owen's age and while he does have his issues, I couldn't imagine him ever hurting a girl and the idea that he could twisted my stomach into knots As a sister this book raised so many questions for me. As a victim of sexual assault, it raised even more questions. My heart ached for Hannah & for Mara. I could see myself in both of their positions. The way Mara's family automatically believed Owen's version of the story bothered me. I couldn't believe that they thought Hannah would make something like this up. I understand wanting to believe your son & brother would never hurt anyone, but blind loyalty is insane. I sure don't think I would be able to blindly trust that my brother didn't do this. It would be incredibly hard, but I think my loyalty would align with the victim And for the most part, that's where Mara's loyalty stayed. That caused some problems with her once close family. Her mother, in particular refused to believe that Owen could have done this horrible thing. Her father actually seemed to be a lot more neutral on the subject. Owen held steadfast in his innocence. I wasn't surprised by that, but it did make me angry. I wanted Owen to admit his crime. Hannah deserved that. His family deserved that. Yet, he kept his mouth shut.
"So...what do we do?" Mara 
"What do you mean?" 
Mom 
"I mean what do we do? What's going to happen to Owen? And Hannah...we can't just not listen to her. You've always said we have to listen to girls no matter-" 
Mara 
"He's ours Mara. He's my son. And we love him. That's what we do." 
Mom
I wasn't sure how Mara's ex was going to play into all of this, but it turned out she was also friends with Hannah. I was so excited that Mara was bisexual. I love that we're finally getting a lot more bisexual representation in YA. I've only been out for about ten years, but I had known for at least 4 years prior to that. But more on Charlie later. I loved that Mara held meetings and did a monthly newspaper called Empower. I would have loved to have been a part of that in school. Her plans to challenge the sexist dress code go out the window when Hannah makes her accusation. I know I touched on this earlier, but the waves of responses after Hannah tells people what happened made me so angry. Most of them were on Team Owen, which means they thought she was lying about what happened. When a girl gets raped society says:
"Oh, well look at what she's wearing." 
"She's had sex before, so it's not rape."
 
"She's slept with him before, so it's not rape."
 
"She shouldn't have been drinking."
 
"She can't change her mind halfway through."
Among other despicable things. When a guy is accused of rape, the responses are quite different.
"He's a good kid."
"He's an athlete." 
"He's from a good family."
 
"He's well liked."
 
"There's no way he did this."
Notice something about the stark contrast? Yeah a fuck-ton of slut shaming is what the girls-the VICTIMS have to deal with. And people still wonder why women don't come forward. It's because of this. Because of the refusal to believe them and the treatment of those who do report. Charlie was awesome. I loved the hell out of her from nearly the beginning. Sure she and Mara had a complicated history, but they were still able to be friends, although there was jealousy & akwardness when it came to Charlie's new girlfriend and later on, Alex, the boy Mara was sort of seeing. And by sort of, I mean Alex and Mara were kinda using each other for comfort. See, Alex was Owen's best friend, and he was struggling with the idea that his friend could have done this. Anyway, back to Charlie. I think this was the first book I've read with a non-binary character. There absolutely needs to be more. I loved the conversation Charlie and Mara had about her preferred pronouns. I found that conversation incredibly relevant as I have had to have that conversation more than once. I would never want to insult someone by using the incorrect pronoun. My distaste for Owen only grew as the book went on. The obvious disrespect he had for women, even his own sister, made me ragey.
"There's no way I'm letting my sister go to school like that." Owen 
"I'm sorry...Let me?" 
Mara 
"Yeah, let you. You think I want everyone in school staring at your...at your...Who are you supposed to be, slutty school girl?" 
Owen
My heart broke even more for Mara after this conversation. I felt sick to my stomach at the way Owen was treating her just because of the clothes she chose to wear. Disgustingly, this is how women & girls are treated in our society. Instead of feeling disgusted by what happens to them, people just blame the assault on what the girls were wearing. Final thoughts: Read this beautiful book, let your heart break and marvel at the strength of victims.

Sunday Street Team: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young


Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Published by Wednesday Books on April 24th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Eelyn’s world is war. Raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen in a generations-old blood feud against the Riki, her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki if she wants to make it back to the fjord after the thaw. But when she begins to see herself in the people she’s been taught to hate, the world Eelyn once knew begins to crumble. And after the village is raided by a ruthless clan many believe to be a myth, Eelyn is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who has tried more than once to kill her. Together, they must end the blood feud between their clans or watch their people be slaughtered.
A lush, Viking-age inspired fantasy about loyalty, forgiveness, and the definition of family.

Book Information


Review

I really wasn't sure what to expect with this book. After all, I had never read a book like this or even close to it. I desperately wanted to love it, even though fantasy is not my go-to genre. It looked interesting enough for me to at LEAST give it a shot. Holy hell, I am SO glad I did!

I love when fantasy books open with an action scene. It always pulls me right in and I love that feeling. It makes me excited to keep reading, excited to visualize the action sequences, visualize the characters within these sequences. I loved getting an early look at Eelyn and her strength, both physical & mental. It's not often that we get such an early look at the fierceness of women warriors.

It's hard to keep up intensity in a book like this, but Young does a great job of it. She manages to keep the intensity going without making the reader feel like it's "too much" Yes, this book is gory. Yes, this book is bloody, but oh man did it surprise me in the BEST way. You all know I don't have a problems with gore in books, but I kept hearing that it was gory, and I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to handle it. Spoiler alert: I was fine.

With fantasy books, I worry about the problem of info dumping, basically when the author dumps WAY too much information on the reader too soon & too fast. So I was worried about that with this book. Thankfully there was no info dumping with this book. Again, Young did a great job at giving us information about the Riki, the Aska and probably the deadliest group, the Herja.

Final thoughts: If you love fantasy, read this book. If fantasy is not your thing, still read this book.

Author Information

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.
Facebook

Giveaway

Tour Schedule
4/1 Tour Stops
Review  - Flyleaf Chronicles
Guest Post - A Backwards Story

4/8  Tour Stops

4/15  Tour Stops
Review - Hopeful Reads
Review - Aimee, Always

4/22 Tour Stops
Interview - Bookstacks Amber

4/29 Tour Stops
Guest Post - Sarcasm and Lemons
Interview - Tween 2 Teen Books


Blog Tour: Sky in the Deept by Adrienne Young


I recently had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and thought it was fantastic. I loved the world and the mythology and of course, the focus on family. There were bloody battles and warrior women and everything about Eelyn. You can see all my thoughts on my review, here. Today I'm sharing an excerpt of this awesome Norse-inspired story!



Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Published by Wednesday Books on April 24th, 2018
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads

🌟🌟🌟🌟
OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

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.



Excerpt

“I saw him. I saw Iri.”
He wrapped the torn cloth around my arm, tying it tight. “What are you talking about?”
I pushed his hands from me, crying. “Listen to me! Iri was
here! I saw him!”
His hands finally stilled, confusion lighting in his eyes. “I was fighting a man. He was about to . . .” I shuddered,
remembering how close to death I’d come—closer than I’d ever been. “Iri came out of the fog and saved me. He was with the Riki.” I stood, taking his hand and pulling him toward the tree line. “We have to find him!”
But my father stood like a stone tucked into the earth. His face turned up toward the sky, his eyes blinking against the sunlight.
“Do you hear me? Iri’s alive!” I shouted, holding my arm against my body to calm the violent throbbing around the gash.
His eyes landed on me again, tears gathered at the cor- ners like little white flames. “Sigr. He sent Iri’s soul to save you, Eelyn.”
“What? No.”
“Iri’s made it to Sólbjǫrg.” His words were frightening and delicate, betraying a tenderness my father never showed. He stepped forward, looking down into my eyes with a smile. “Sigr has favored you, Eelyn.”
Mýra stood behind him, her green eyes wide beneath her unraveling auburn braids.
“But—” I choked. “I saw him.”
“You did.” A single tear rolled down my father’s rough cheek and disappeared into his beard. He pulled me into him, wrapping his arms around me, and I closed my eyes, the pain in my arm so great now that I could hardly feel my hand.
I blinked, trying to understand. I had seen him. He was
there.
“We will make a sacrifice tonight.” He let me go before he pressed his hands to my face again. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream for me like that. You scared me, sváss.” A laugh was buried deep in his chest.
“I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I just . . . I thought . . .”
He waited for me to meet his eyes again. “His soul is at peace. Your brother saved your life today. Be happy.” He clapped a hand against my good arm, nearly knocking me down.
I wiped at my wet cheeks with the palm of my hand, turn- ing from the faces that were still watching me. There were very few times I’d cried in front of my clansmen. It made me feel small. Weak, like the early winter grass beneath our boots.
I sniffed back the tears, piecing my face back together as my father nodded in approval. It was what he had taught me—to be strong. To steel myself. He turned back to the field, getting to work, and I followed with Mýra, trying to smooth my ragged breath. To hush the waves crashing in my head. We walked toward our camp, collecting the weapons of fallen Aska warriors along the way. I watched my father from the corner of my eye, still unable to shake Iri’s face from my mind.
My feet stopped at the edge of a puddle and I looked at my reflection. Dirt spattered across my angled face and neck. Blood dried in long, golden braids. Eyes a frozen blue, like Iri’s. I sucked in a breath, looking up to the thin white clouds brushed across the sky to keep another tear from falling.
“Here,” Mýra called to me from where she was crouched over an Aska woman. She was lying on her side, eyes open and arms extended like she was reaching for us.
I carefully unbuckled her belt and scabbard, piling them with the others before I started on the armor vest. “Did you know her?”
“A little.” Mýra reached down to close the woman’s eyes with her fingertips. She gently brushed the hair back from her face before she began, the words coming softly. “Aska, you have reached your journey’s end.”
In the next breath, I joined with her, saying the ritual words we knew by heart. “We ask Sigr to accept your soul into Sólbjǫrg, where the long line of our people hold torches on the shadowed path.”
My voice faded, letting Mýra speak first. “Take my love to my father and my sister. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”
I closed my eyes as the prayer found a familiar place on my tongue. “Take my love to my mother and my brother. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”
I swallowed down the lump in my throat before I opened my eyes and looked down into the woman’s peaceful face one more time. I hadn’t been able to say the words over Iri’s body the way I had when my mother died, but Sigr had taken him anyway.
“Have you ever seen something like that before?” I whis- pered. “Something that wasn’t real?”
Mýra blinked. “It was real. Iri’s soul is real.”
“But he was older—a man. He spoke to me. He touched
me, Mýra.”
She stood, shifting an armful of axes up onto her shoul- der. “I was there that day, Eelyn. Iri died. I saw it with my own eyes. That was real.” It was the same battle that took Mýra’s sister. We’d been friends before that day, but we hadn’t really needed each other until then.
I remembered it so clearly—the picture of him like a re- flection on ice. Iri’s lifeless body at the bottom of the trench. Lying across the perfect white snow, blood seeping out around him in a melted pool. I could still see his blond hair fanned out around his head, his empty eyes wide open and staring into nothing.
“I know.”
Mýra reached up, squeezing my shoulder. “Then you know it wasn’t Iri—not his flesh.”
I nodded, swallowing hard. I prayed for Iri’s soul every day. If Sigr had sent him to protect me, he really was in Sólbjǫrg—our people’s final sunset. “I knew he would make it.” I breathed through the tightness in my throat.
“We all did.” A small smile lifted on her lips.
I looked back down to the woman lying between us. We would leave her as she was—as she died—with honor. Like we did with all our fallen warriors.
Like we’d left Iri.
“Was he as handsome as he was before?” Mýra’s smile turned wry as her eyes flickered back up to meet mine.
“He was beautiful,” I whispered.



About the Author

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

Website  | Twitter | Facebook
Instagram  | Pinterest