Tag: Netgalley

May ARCs

May ARCs

I feel like my ARC pile gets bigger each month instead of smaller… It’s funny how the opposite tends to happen of what my intentions are. I keep pledging that I’ll request NO MORE ARCs for a while, yet, I keep receiving them. Anyways, May […]

eARC Review: No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens

eARC Review: No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens

David Galloway can’t die. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. No Less Days Author: Amanda G. Stevens Publication Date: May 1, 2018 Publisher: Shiloh Run Press Page Count: 320 Format: eARC Genre: Christian Fiction, Speculative Fiction Cover Artist: — My Rating: ★★★ What happens to a […]

State of the ARC: April

State of the ARC: April

Wow, May is already here.

Does anyone else feel like 2018 is absolutely flying? Maybe it’s because I’m counting down to June. Either way, I really can’t believe it’s already May! Before I get into this, let’s recap what State of the ARC is all about!

The State of the ARC Meme is hosted by AvalinahsBooks. Go check out her website for further information if you’d like to join! It’s a great way to get some motivation to tackle those old ARCs that have been bogging down your TBR piles.

Rules of State of the ARC:

  • Mention that you’re linking up with State of the ARC @ AvalinahsBooks, which is a fun way to share ARC progress, challenges, wins, woes and mishaps.
  • Include the link to this post, or the current State of the ARC post. You can use the State of the ARC image Evelina created (found on her website.)
  • Be sure to visit all the other people in the link-up and comment.
  • Most importantly – have fun!

State of the ARC has a Goodreads group, called ARCs Anonymous. Join it here.


Compared to last month’s post, my numbers seem a bit worse, according to the graph. While my numbers continue increasing, I feel quite accomplished this past month. How? You ask? WELL! My overall feedback ratios have increased on all fronts! There were a few ARCs that I ended up contacting the publisher about, stating that I won’t be reviewing them because they were sequels…and I hadn’t realized that at the time I requested them. Reading all of these series is far too time consuming!

My current feedback ratios:

Netgalley: 60%

Edelweiss: 42%

Author: 50%

Publisher: 40%

Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to writing those reviews that have been sitting a while. I actually ended up adding to the list ;( Either way, I was able to read and review a total of 4 ARCs. 

Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

2 books I emailed the publisher back on because they were sequels. One I couldn’t read and review because the copy I had access to wasn’t working. Lastly, one was a DNF which I technically reviewed in May, so I’ll include that in next month’s post. Netgalley recently changed their feedback portion and have a specific selection now for DNFs. So, that’s how I have a total of 8 “reviewed” reads. At least it ups the ratios, right? 😛

I also had set some goals in April that I…didn’t complete. They were:

  • Complete all unwritten ARC reviews. Currently, I have 5 waiting to be written.
    • Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith – DONE
    • Solomon’s Ring by Mary Jennifer Payne
    • The Rogue Queen by Emily R. King
    • The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
    • A School of Dragons by Amy Wolf
  • Complete reading and reviewing all ARCs for April. I have 6 total. (I’ll post which these are in a separate blog post.) – 2 left to read and review
  • Complete reading and reviewing all ARC requests from Publishers. I have 1 review to write, and 1 ARC to read to get my feedback ratio to 100% – I didn’t even touch these
  • If I am able to complete these tasks before the end of April, my goal is to complete reading and reviewing May ARCs as well. I currently have 6. – This didn’t happen.
  • Also, I’m on an ARC requesting BAN for the next few months, until I can get these numbers under control! – Also, didn’t happen. 

So, since I drastically failed these goals, I still would like to try and set goals for each month to keep motivating me to move forward with ARCs!

May Goals:

  • Read and review all May ARCs before release dates. I now have 8 total.
    • Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
    • No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens
    • Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel
    • The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer
    • Onyx & Ivory by Mondee Arnett
    • Ride On by Gwen Cole
    • The Bone Roses by Katheryn Lee Martin
    • Bright Burns the Night by Sara B. Larson
  • Read and review all June ARCs. I only have one.
    • My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand
  • Complete all unwritten ARC reviews.
    • Solomon’s Ring by Mary Jennifer Payne
    • The Rogue Queen by Emily R. King
    • The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
    • A School of Dragons by Amy Wolf
    • Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol
I’m going to leave it at that because that’s quite a bit. I’d like to keep them somewhat reachable. 

How did you do this month?
Were you able to keep up with your ARCs?
What are some of your ARC reading goals for this next month?

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Release Day, May 1, 2018! In the beginning, there was silence. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Song of Blood & Stone Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1Author: L. PenelopePublication Date: May 1, 2018Publisher: St. Martin’s PressPage Count: 384Format: eARCGenre: Young Adult, Fantasy, RomanceCover Artist: —My Rating: Since […]

Blog Tour and Author Interview: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Blog Tour and Author Interview: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone Earthsinger Chronicles: Book One By L. Penelope Synopsis From the very first pages of her debut, L. Penelope delivers as a new force in the fantasy genre. The first book in the historical fantasy Earthsinger series was originally self-published, earning […]

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Release Day April 24, 2018!

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Sky In The Deep

Author: Adrienne Young
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count: 352
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★½

Eeyln is no stranger to battle. She’s been trained her entire life to defend herself, her family, and her clan against their rivals; the Riki. The Riki and Aska clans meet in battle every five years–a bloody tradition which began with the gods Thora and Sigr themselves. Each time, the battle claims many lives–including Eelyn’s brother, Iri. 

Or so she thought.

In the midst of yet another skirmish with the RIki, Eelyn happens upon her deceased brother. Thinking the Aska god, Sigr, sent her his spirit to defend her, everyone concludes that Eelyn was in Sigr’s favor. Eelyn, however, thinks otherwise. Unable to let the thought go that her long-lost brother may actually still be alive, Eelyn stalks the Riki, only to discover a painful truth. Not only that, but she is captured and taken as a slave by the Riki.

Unable to cope with the newfound knowledge that Iri still lives, but lives and fights with the enemy, Eelyn must discover empathy within herself in order to understand how her brother could end up across enemy lines. Through her own trials, Eelyn realizes that life isn’t always as it seems, and life can change within the blink of an eye.

Sky in the DeepSky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

For a story with such a simple plot, Sky In The Deep still had a way of grabbing my attention. When I say simple, I mean that there aren’t numerous elements to remember, info dumps of world-building, or a multitude of characters to get to know. I also mean “simple” in a sense that there really is only one or two main focuses for the characters throughout the entire story. Because Sky In The Deep wasn’t overwhelmingly complex, it was easy to follow, direct, and made for a quick, yet engaging read.

I will say that I had hoped for more of the fantasy aspect to kick in (because this is considered to be a fantasy and not historical fiction) but it still had an interesting plot. The characters are the key and central focus and are what drives the story forward.

World Building

Not a large amount of detail is given on the actual location that this story takes place. The landscape shifts from a common battlefield between the fjords and the hills/mountains where the two warring tribes of the Aska and Riki reside. The climate resembles that of Northern European territory. A heavy winter season is present for the majority, if not all, of the story, and works against the main character at times. Basic political systems rule the tribes present in Sky In The Deep. Resembling an “eye for an eye” mentality, if someone wrongs another, it’s up to the people involved to settle the matter–as shone with Fiske and Thorpe.

This is supposed to be a Viking-influenced story. Considering that fact and historical evidence, the Viking age was between 800 – 1066 AD, so this is probably around the time frame that this plot is set. The lifestyles of the people are primitive and resemble that of earlier societal establishments. Comparing this book to actual Viking history is a bit of a stretch. While yes, there are definite parallels, its not like a historical fiction, where the lifestyles are described in depth and widely developed.

Three tribes or people groups are identified: the Aska, Riki, and Herja. Little information is given about the Herja, where they live, their motivations, etc., except for their cruel practices and human sacrifices they perform to their god (which remains unnamed.)

“What had started as a quarrel between the gods turned into the hunger for revenge–a blood feud. Every five years, we lost those we loved. And we spent the next five years counting the days to the moment we could make the Riki pay for our pain.”

The Aska and Riki both worship a different god. Sigr, the god of the Aska, is known as the god of the fjord. In Old Norse translations, Sigr means “victory” but shares no resemblance to any actual Norse gods.

“She’d tell the story of the Riki god Thora, who erupted from the mountain in fire and the flames that had come down to the fjord. Sigr had risen up from the sea to protect his people and every five years, we went back to battle to defend his honor, bound by the blood feud between us.”

Likewise, Thora, the god of the Riki, isn’t well defined. While it’s said that she “erupted from a mountain in fire,” it is unclear whether she is god of volcanoes, mountains, or even thunder? Thora is the female counterpart to Thor, the god of thunder in Norse mythology. However, it’s unclear what she is supposed to represent here. More information on these details would have really helped with boosting the fantasy aspect of the story, as it remained rather lacking in the department.

Both the Aska and the Riki have the same structural beliefs. When they die, they believe they travel to a heaven-like realm, referred to as Hylli (meaning “favor” in Old Norse), or Solbjørg (meaning “house of salvation” in Old Norse) depending on which tribe one was a part of. Once there, the dead are reunited with loved ones that had passed on before them. I’m mentioning this because it too, plays a large role in the plot. Eelyn, believing her brother Iri to be dead along with their mother, looks towards the day when they will be reunited. She and her father pray to idols of the two so that their souls may find their way in the afterlife. Death, in general, is a common occurrence within these tribes, as they are pit against one another every five years.

Pacing & Readability

I found Sky in the Deep easy to read. Moderately paced, the characters guide the reader through a shorter text, making the passage of time seem fluid and effortless.

Point-Of-View & Characters

The story is told from the perspective of Eelyn, the main character. This strong seventeen-year-old has grown up training for, and knowing battle. Understanding at a young age that life is tough, she’s adapted to understand and accept tragedy when it befalls her. Though, it doesn’t make it any less easy. After losing both her mother and older brother in clan wars and raids, she holds dear to her father and best friend Myra. However, when confronted by the ghost of her dead brother, she begins to second guess herself and everything that she believes she knows.

“I tried to remember who I was. Strong. Brave. Fierce. Sure. I tried to summon her to me–that Eelyn who would choose her people over anything else. I searched for her within myself, but she was different now. I was different. And it was something that was already done. Something I couldn’t change.”

Myra, Eelyn’s best friend and “sister” lost majority of her family at a young age. Because of that, her and Eelyn understand each other well. The two share a strong bond, and exemplify a beautiful image of friendship with how they support one another.

Both Iri and Fiske felt like similar characters. While they obviously played different roles, they didn’t feel as significant as they should have. I felt that their characters were underwhelming and underdeveloped. Similar to Eelyn and Myra’s friendship, I did appreciate how they too, represented a deep friendship and “brotherhood” together.

The main antagonists are the Riki (towards the beginning) and Herja clans to the Askas. To Eelyn, her own perspective and discriminations are also antagonists.

Major Themes

⇒ Betrayal

“Feeling that lighting strike in my soul. That Iri was alive. And not just alive. He’d betrayed us. All of us. The boy I’d shared my childhood with. The boy I’d fought side by side with. He was worse than any enemy. And the blood we shared was now poison in my veins.”

Betrayal is by far the biggest theme throughout Sky in the Deep. Believing her brother dead, Eelyn is dumbfounded when she comes across what she thought was her deceased brother on the battlefield. When she realizes that he’s fighting for the enemy tribe, the Riki, she follows him, but is captured and taken to be a slave with the Riki.

Not knowing how to handle his betrayal, Eelyn works through a series of emotions, trying to understand how he could do such a thing. Which leads into the next theme.

⇒ Survival/Death

Survival is the primary focus of everyone in this story. Life is harsh, battles are frequent, and the threat of the ruthless Herja constantly plague the minds of the characters.

Five years prior, Iri was thought to have been killed on the battlefield by the Riki. His body was found, but left. When the Riki returned to bring one of their own home for burial, they found both he and Iri were still alive. The Riki insisted that he be brought back and cared for, and he eventually was adopted into the clan. There, he found love, which became his reason for not returning to the Aska. Love, and the fact that his family probably wouldn’t take him back if he has returned after converting to following the foreign God, Thora, kept him with the Riki. Learning how accept where Iri now is, as well as her shameful status as a slave to the Riki, leads directly into the next theme.

⇒ Redemption

”We find things, just as we lose things, Eelyn. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.”

For the Aska, it’s literally damning to become a slave. Once one assumed the title, they were no longer able to traverse the afterlife to be with their family after they pass away. When the Riki made Eelyn into one, she became immensely ashamed of her position. Also fearful to return to the Aska to expose the shame onto her father, Eelyn contemplated on returned at all.

It was during this time that she realized why Iri never returned to the Aska. His position, too, would bring shame to his family. It took Eelyn to experience a similar situation herself before she could understand her brother’s “betrayal” and the truth behind it. Not only that, she had to confront her own prejudices against the Riki in order to convince them and the Aska to fight together against the Herja.

⇒ Equality

While there is some credit to give in this area, I also want to point out a few things. Sky in the Deep has been highly esteemed among Young Adult readers for its strong female lead and the “equality” shown between men and women. However, slavery is very much a part of daily life in these tribes, and the fact that Eelyn is nearly raped, I fail to see this equality. If everyone wants to get caught up only in the fact that women fight alongside men in battle instead of being sheltered from it, I think they are missing the bigger picture.

While Viking women were known for their grit, life for a women during that period was also very difficult. Just because they were active warriors for their people didn’t eliminate all threats from others. Again, Eelyn is nearly raped…what does that say about “equality?” It shows that not everyone had the same definition of the word. I also think that because of Eelyn’s position–being the sister to Iri, and a love interest to Fiske–saved her from subjugation to treatment that otherwise would have been dealt to her when she was enslaved. Personally, I don’t think the theme of equality between men and women is actually portrayed as strongly in this story as people may think.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The themes and messages.
⇒ The origins for the tale.
⇒ There’s no swearing!
⇒ Even though it wasn’t well defined, I liked the setting and atmosphere that this story took place in.
⇒ Again, although it wasn’t focused deeply upon, I liked the culture this was set in. It stood out as its rather unique in this aspect.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ The overall lack of the appearance of fantasy. It read as a historical fiction with a few twists. But personally, I didn’t think it fit well into the fantasy genre.
⇒ The gore and torture scenes.
⇒ Incompleteness in some aspects of the world-building.

Overall, I thought this was a good read. While I had some issues with the world-building feeling incomplete, I appreciated Eelyn’s character and watching the transformation she went through. Sky In The Dark has strong messages about redemption, and setting aside differences in order to work together.

Vulgarity: None!
Sexual content: Mainly kissing. There is a scene where a Riki character nearly tries to rape Eelyn. There is also reference towards Eelyn and another character having sexual relations.
Violence: Quite a bit, including some gore and torture scenes.

View all my reviews

1. What inspired SKY IN THE DEEP? How did the idea and Eelyn come to you? Do you have any
favorite Viking stories?

The sibling betrayal was definitely the first inspiration for this story. I was driving in the pouring rain on
this country road and that first scene just hit me – Eelyn, seeing her brother on the battlefield after
thinking that he was dead for five years. I pulled over on the side of the road and scribbled a million
notes on an old envelope. I was immediately hooked to the idea and I wanted to know what had
happened. I started writing that first chapter and I just never stopped.

2. What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did
you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest
thing you had to research for this book?

I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of
it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology
as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so
studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real
way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an
expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

3. What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?

Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up
for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could
mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind
of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

4. What was your hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

I really didn’t struggle to get this story on the page the way I have with other books so I really don’t
know what the hardest scene to write was. But the easiest was the first chapter. I wrote it so fast and it
just clicked in so perfectly.

5. Which of your characters are you the most like? Who was your favorite to write?

Eelyn! We have so much in common and she really inspires me. But I think Halvard was the most fun to
write. I really, really love him.

6. Do you have a soundtrack for SKY IN THE DEEP? Can you share a couple songs? What would
Eelyn’s favorite song be?

Yes! Music plays a HUGE role in my writing process and I have a playlist for every project. The ones I
probably listened to the most while drafting SKY are To the Hills by Laurel, Bare by Wildes, and Rise Up –
Reprise by Foxes. But a link to the whole playlist is on my site!

7. What books have inspired you to write? What books are you looking forward to reading this
year?

The ones that inspired me to write are nothing like my books. One of the most influential ones for me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because the human element is so beautiful and the author explores so many things in that book that really took my breath away. I wanted to write stories that went deep like that, but I love fantasy so I try to it within that realm.

8. Any advice on querying? Or writing advice for aspiring writers?

Querying – do not just sign with any agent who will take you. Make a dream agent list of qualified agents
who have good reputations and make consistent sales. Query them. If they don’t bite, then write
another book that they might want. Believe me when I say it is worth waiting for the right agent!


9. Any details about the companion novel?


I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it
soon because I am really excited about it!

Adrienne Young

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.

April ARCs

April ARCs

Yeah, it’s almost May… But I thought I’d still share which ARCs I have to read and review for this month! I’ve read most of them and have been pretty impressed with the releases this month. However, since this post is quite late, I’ll keep […]

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

Six months alone in the labyrinth has made her strong. But the search for the exit means gambling on an old ‘friend’ and going against everything she’s been taught to survive. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Children of Daedala Series: Children of Icarus #2 Author: […]

State of the ARC: March

State of the ARC: March

The time has come for another State of the ARC monthly wrap up...

Lately, I’ve been dreading these posts, and for good reason too. I’ve just not been as motivated to read lately as I normally am. That, and I’m caught in a tug-of-war with wanting to read backlist books as well. 

So, in order to give myself a bit of a break (and to actually make some progress with my ARCs) I’m going to be setting some goals for the next few months in order to get my feedback ratios way up, and my overdue ARCs way down. 

But, before I do that, I’ll share my current stats for the month of March and heading into April. 


In case you haven’t heard of this; the State of the ARC Meme is hosted by AvalinahsBooks. Go check out her website for further information if you’d like to join! It’s a great way to get some motivation to tackle those old ARCs that have been bogging down your TBR piles.

Rules of State of the ARC:

  • Mention that you’re linking up with State of the ARC @ AvalinahsBooks, which is a fun way to share ARC progress, challenges, wins, woes and mishaps.
  • Include the link to this post, or the current State of the ARC post. You can use the State of the ARC image Evelina created (found on her website.)
  • Be sure to visit all the other people in the link-up and comment.
  • Most importantly – have fun!

State of the ARC has a Goodreads groups ARCs Anonymous. Join it here.


My stats haven’t changed much since February. My overall feedback ratios are as follows:

Netgalley: 56%

Edelweiss: 39%

Author: 46%

Publisher: 25%

While I was able to get some old reviews written, as well as some upcoming ARCs read and reviewed, I’m still behind. I was only able to read and/or write reviews for past ARC reads for 4 books this month. They were:

Dragons of Dark by Ava Richardson

Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Of Sand and Storm by Amber Argyle

Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey & Krystal Wade  

This is where my goals for this-coming month come into play. In April, I will (and the key word is will):

  • Complete all unwritten ARC reviews. Currently, I have 5 waiting to be written.
    • Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith
    • Solomon’s Ring by Mary Jennifer Payne
    • The Rogue Queen by Emily R. King
    • The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
    • A School of Dragons by Amy Wolf
  • Complete reading and reviewing all ARCs for April. I have 6 total. (I’ll post which these are in a separate blog post.) 
  • Complete reading and reviewing all ARC requests from Publishers. I have 1 review to write, and 1 ARC to read to get my feedback ratio to 100%.
  • If I am able to complete these tasks before the end of April, my goal is to complete reading and reviewing May ARCs as well. I currently have 6.
  • Also, I’m on an ARC requesting BAN for the next few months, until I can get these numbers under control! 

I only received one new ARC this past month, so that wasn’t too bad. 

So now that you know my goals for this-coming month, what are your own?
Are there any specific ARCs that seem to be haunting your TBR pile?
Good luck to everyone participating in this Meme!

eARC Review: Dragons of Dark by Ava Richardson

eARC Review: Dragons of Dark by Ava Richardson

As both dragons and Riders struggle to return to the ways of old, from before the land fell into darkness, the evil king undermines their every move with spies and sabotage. Bower knows their efforts are doomed without a final assault against the palace, but […]

eARC Review: Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen

eARC Review: Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands. Partial synopsis provided […]

eARC Review: Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey & Krystal Wade

eARC Review: Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey & Krystal Wade

Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Our Dark Stars

Author: Audrey Grey & Krystal Wade
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Blaze Publishing, LLC.
Page Count: 316
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Cover Artist: Molly Phipps
My Rating: ★★

Will and his crew aboard the Odysseus come across a strange object floating out in space. Hoping to get a good payout and a good reputation back, the crew risk their lives in order to bring the vessel onto the ship. When they successfully do, the metallic object appears to be no more than junk. Will, a Flesher-turned-Mock (human turned into a droid), was a captain in the queen’s guard, When he failed to shoot down an Alliance ship which had then escaped, he was demoted and is threatened with remaining and Endor (a droid that cannot shift into an upgraded body) and therefore having a long-life cut short.

 

The plot shifts back one hundred years to Talia, who is preparing for the night when she will be sold to Prince Cassius as his future wife. She wants to be a pilot, but that isn’t considered to be a position for a future Sovereign. Her harsh grandmother reminds her that she has no future other than becoming  a wife to a Thorassian. When she is introduced to her betrothed, Cassius, she realizes why she is being sold into this union: her family has accrued a bad rep with their tolerance of Mocks–a term used for human-like droids. Mocks gained a bad reputation when a virus spread that overwrote their system and allowed them to defy orders of humans. Talia’s Mock and best friend Ailat, is made an example of at the celebration by Cassius, and is revealed to carry the same virus. Ailat flees, and becomes a wanted criminal. Talia searches for Ailat, but is then forced to leave the planet. Shortly after takeoff, her ship is attacked by rebel Mocks. Her family forces her into an escape pod, where she enters a deep sleep.

 

The story converges to the same time frame when Talia wakes up and exits the escape pod that was brought aboard the Odysseus. Unaware that one hundred years have passed, Talia knows enough to keep her identity a secret, and tells the crew of the Odysseus that she is Ailat. Will, suspicious of her sincerity, eventually discovers that her true identity is in fact, the long-lost Starchaser princess. Initially unaware of its significance, both Will and Talia learn about how much everything has changed in a century. Talia, previously knowing Mocks as second to humans, learns that now humans are second to Mocks. Will also realizes that some of his origins as a human have stuck with him, even after his transformation into a Mock, which causes him to accept the truth about himself and the fact that he is a hybrid.

 

The Starchaser dynasty is known only by few, as the current queen took great lengths to wipe the history from the people’s common knowledge. Talia’s existence becomes known to one of Will’s former comrades, when then alerts the queen. A bounty is put on Talia for anyone who can bring her in. When Talia discovers who the Mock-queen is, the situation becomes all-the-more dire.

Our Dark StarsOur Dark Stars by Audrey Grey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

”Never forget that, Talia. You are a Starchaser, descendant of the first explorers.”

I almost DNF’d this read at a little under halfway through. I decided to stick with it because the plot became more complicated right at the moments I thought I was going to call it quits. While certain traits were intriguing, in the end, the book was too predictable and lacked the individuality I was hoping for.


World Building

Our Dark Stars is set in outer space, in various settings. It varies between onboard spaceships, and travels from planet to planet, following in the wake of the characters. The story jumps between 3731 AD and 3631 AD, then remains in 3731 for the remainder of the book.

Society is comprised of a mixture of humans and droids–the droids having different variations within their category (i.e. Ender, Permanent) signifying their ability to jump from one body to another, essentially living forever. Everything is very scientifically inclined, as no religions are identified.


Pacing & Readability

The pacing remains steady and rather fast. The only instances it lulled was when Talia first awoke on the Odysseus. Otherwise, it was an easy and quick to read.


Point-Of-View & Characters

The point-of-view not only shifts between Will and Talia’s characters, it also shifts between past and present time frames. Will Perrault is one of the main characters but starts out as an antagonist to Talia. With the relations between Fleshers and Mocks being strained for years, the two don’t know what to think of one another until the truth is uncovered.

”But don’t forget what your kind did. When I found you tossed into the mines like a piece of trash, skull split open, you were half-dead. That’s what the fleshers did to you. They’re savage, cruel beasts. It was us who took you in, who made you one of our own to save your life.”

Will’s character holds the most complexity, as his human and droid counterparts are constantly warring against one another. This aspect comes out more and more as the plot moves on, and he begins to develop feelings for Talia. He constantly tries to deny his human origins and emotions, trying to prove that he is a Mock. It is through Will that his rag-tag diverse crew of scavengers, including Lux, Leo, Jane, and Dorian are introduced.

Talia Starchaser grew up in a life of privilege. The next in line to the Starchaser dynasty, the princess is made into a makeshift scape-goat for the Starchaser family to patch up their reputation with the rest of the royals. Her abusive grandmother makes Talia’s position very clear and is part of the reason why Talia decides to betray her best friend, even though she doesn’t want to. Talia’s character acts privileged, and this is clear when she meets Will and his crew. It is a trait that makes her rather unlikeable, as she comes across as snobby.


Major Themes

⇒ Diversity

Diversity plays a large role in the casting specifically in race and sexual orientation. In general, the plot rotates around the idea of station-reversal between the Fleshers and Mocks, ultimately driving them to work with one another in the end.

⇒ “What goes around comes back around.”

This was the aspect of this book that I disliked the most. The way this book ended was so disappointing. I was hoping for the moment for reconciliation between Ailat and Talia, but it never happens. Ailat’s character becomes unredeemable, which I don’t think is a great message to enlist. Yes, Talia did Ailat wrong. In turn, Ailat did Talia wrong as well by killing the rest of her family. Talia still went through lengths to find Ailat after the incident at the gathering. While what happened to Ailat after she became a fugitive was tragic, she never gave Talia the chance to explain her side. Both parties were are fault here. Yet, neither of them fully humbled themselves before the other in order to understand and forgive, resulting in this “payback” mentality (mostly seen from Ailat’s character.) It made the ending feel incomplete and somewhat unjust for me. I get that this is Sci-Fi, and disagreements are often settled by battles, but I hoped for more from these characters.


Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The layout of the book, and how it alternated point-of-views between Talia and Will in the different eras.
⇒ While the romance between Will and Talia is obvious (immediately when he says that Talia isn’t his “type” I knew they’d end up together), it managed to be realistic and not over-the-top. It didn’t take away from the main focus of the plot and helped to give further incentive to the characters’ decisions.
⇒ Will’s character overall, mainly with how he is both a Mock and a Flesher.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ This book felt like any other Young Adult Sci-Fi. There wasn’t anything that set it apart.
⇒ The brashness of some of the characters, and the overall sexually-charged interactions. Personally, this aspect made this another reason why this may be a read more appropriate for the New Adult genre.
⇒ The “what goes around comes back around” mentality. Payback over reconciliation.

Overall, Our Dark Stars didn’t really impress me. While there were some elements that I enjoyed, there was nothing that made it distinguishable from its genre. It felt like a mix of Heart of Iron with a dash of The Hunger Games towards the end.

Vulgarity: Moderate. I counted 50 words total.
Sexual content: While there’s nothing explicit, some characters were crude with making sexual remarks. There’s also a scene in a strip club, and mention of brothels and escorts.
Violence: Mild-moderate.

View all my reviews

March ARCs

March ARCs

Oh hey, March. Seeing how we are already a week in, I should probably get my post up for what ARCs I have for this month! I’ll be playing some catch-up from February as well, because I overloaded with ARCs for such a short month. […]

State of the ARC: February

State of the ARC: February

Well, there goes February… I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m not happy with my progress this past month. While I did a LOT of work on improving my posts, Bookstagram account, Pinterest boards, and so on, my blogging and book reviews […]

eARC Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

eARC Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Release day February 27, 2018!

Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. 

Book: Tess of the Road

Author: Rachel Hartman

Publication Date: February 27, 2018

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Page Count: 544

Format: eARC

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Cover Artist:

My Rating: No Rating – DNF

Tess of the RoadTess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

DNFing at 30%

”If Tess pretended she was married hard enough, could she fool herself into having a baby?”

I can confidently say that I have given Rachel Hartman a second chance with reading this book, hoping for the best. I read Seraphina in 2017 and ended up DNFing it. Unfortunately, I’m finding myself in the same boat with Tess of the Road. While the writing is well-composed and encompassing, I just didn’t like the main character Tessie, or the way in which the plot was headed.

Tessie Dombegh is the main character. At a young age, her curiosity got her into rough waters with her mother. Holding onto her past mistakes, she becomes rather spiteful towards others, making her a very unlikeable character to follow.

”I don’t envy you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” said Tess, not lying exactly. It wasn’t envy so much as self-pity. Did that make her “all right” or not?

When her twin sister Jean is proposed to, Tess tries to hide her jealousy of her sister’s position. However, her true feelings bubbling beneath the surface pour out at her sister’s wedding, when out of her drunkenness, she starts a fight.

From this point on, I simply lacked interest in the plot. With the main character being so unlikeable, I fail to see a reason to move on.

Another point to mention is that there is a lot of focus on sex, in a very tactless way.

”Is it true what they say, that the saar are slow to warm up, but once they get going they burn hot as the sun?”

Sorry, but I don’t think this is a necessary addition to a YA novel. If anything, this book reads more like an adult fantasy novel due to its content. This is where the book crossed a line for me. Tess’ obsession with the topic was just off-putting.

Vulgarity: While there wasn’t a lot, (I counted six up until the point of stopping) the overall mannerisms of the characters were vulgar.
Sexual content: There isn’t anything explicit, but this topic is constantly being discussed between characters.
Violence: Minimal.

Since this is a DNF read, I will not be assigning a star-review.

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