Goodreads Choice Awards 2016

The semifinal round for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 has started and I just wanted to take this moment to write about and highlight some favourites. Obviously you can only vote for one, but I hope you find some new reads. I’m only sharing the categories and books I’m interested in, but make sure you check out all 20 categories and vote here. Voting ends in three days (November 13).

Best Historical Fiction:

I haven’t read any of these but have heard good things so they’re all on my TBR shelf.

Best Fantasy:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is one of my favourite novels so I couldn’t not vote for its sequel A Gathering of Shadows. City of Blades and Cursed Child are also on my TBR shelf.

Best Poetry:

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I haven’t read The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace but have heard so many good things about it. I’m a huge fan of the author’s book blog.

 

Best Debut Goodreads Author:

I loved Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton and have heard really good things about The Girl from Everywhere, The Reader and The Star Touched Queen! I personally voted for The Girl from Everywhere so I hope you vote for that one too, but the rest are great choices.

Best Young Adult Fiction:

There’s a lot more good books in this category but I couldn’t fit them all, so I’m highlighting the ones I really, really want to read. I voted for The Female of the Species, in case you were wondering hint hint 😉

Best Young Adult Fantasy:

So this category has a lot of good books and a lot of NYT Bestselling, big name authors. I’m really proud of Julie Eshbaugh, her debut Ivory and Bone made it among authors like Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard. I was talking to Jodi Meadows on twitter, the author of My Lady Jane and The Orphan Queen (really good duology!) and she was really surprised to see My Lady Jane had made it into the semifinals. Even though ACOMAF was technically my favourite book, I decided to vote for My Lady Jane because I knew a lot of people would be voting for SJM.

I’d love to hear what books you voted for or if any of your favourite books made it to this round.

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Book Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

24790901The Abyss Surrounds Us

Emily Skrutskie

4/5 stars

Release Date: February 8, 2016

Publisher: Flux

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Review:

I absolutely loved The Abyss Surrounds Us. It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Pacific Rim. Skrutskie combines some of my favourite things to create this non-stop, action packed, female lead debut novel. I seriously couldn’t get enough of it!

The protagonist, Cassandra Leung has been around Reckoners – genetically modified sea monsters – her entire life. Cas is a really likeable character, I could relate to her almost immediately and once I started the novel I couldn’t stop. Cas is about to go on her first solo mission when the novel starts, so we as the reader get the behind-the-scenes look when it comes to creating and training Reckoners. Skrutskie is really great with character development, especially when it comes to Cas. She opens up to the reader, to Swift – another great character – and to herself.

Going into this, I thought it was fantasy but it delves more into sci-fi. This was a pleasant surprise because I love these types of books. Cas lives in a post-apocalyptic world, the borders of North America having changed. We don’t have an exact time period of how far off into the future this takes place, but there is some explanation into why countries became smaller – it’s better suited to handle and govern its people. In this day and age piracy has run rampant so governments and companies have created Reckoners, genetically engineered sea monsters, to protect important cargo and passenger ships.

Skrutskie is really good when it comes to world building – this world isn’t so different from ours in that we focus on the story and not the history behind it. I had questions – which are mostly answered – but it didn’t deter from the plot. Modern-day pirates and genetically engineered animals are things we can readily imagine – they’re familiar elements. I do feel the world building could have been expanded on a bit more. That’s my favourite element, so I always want more. For example, there are floating cities which are dependent on piracy. These cities literally float on the water and go wherever the ocean currents take them. I wished we could have seen more of that, they seem like a really interesting aspect.

I loved characters like Santa Elena, a pirate queen with a badass story to tell. Each character has their own story, their own worth. However, I didn’t feel like we got enough time with secondary characters. The Abyss Surrounds Us is largely focused on Cas and Swift.

Santa Elena has gotten her hands on a Reckoner and tasks Cas with training him. Named Bao, he’s a terrapoid which is like this giant turtle with claws. Minus the scary I-could-eat-you parts, I wanted my own Bao – I just loved everything-Reckoner. Skrutskie really impressed me when it came to them.

If you love pirates, sea monsters and diverse characters, this is the book for you. I’m really impressed with Skrutskie’s debut and I cannot wait to read her next book. When it comes to writing fiction, Skrutskie is talented. We can expect outstanding work from her in the future.

The Tsar’s Guard Parade: Art Inspired by The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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Hello and welcome to my stop on The Tsar’s Guard Parade! I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. I’ve been highly anticipating this upcoming YA fantasy novel and I hope you are too! I mean, just look at that cover 😍

CrownsGame hc cTitle: THE CROWN’S GAME

Author: Evelyn Skye

Release Date: May 17th, 2016

Pages: 416

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

Along with books and reading, art is a big part of my life so I decided to create some art inspired by The Crown’s Game. I loving being inspired by books and seeing other people’s fanart because everyone’s interpretation of the book is different.

crownsgameart

Since I haven’t read the book, I decided to leave the main characters, Vika and Nikolai as silhouettes (mostly) – I have an idea of what they’re like from the synopsis, but their personalities and ambitions are for the most part a mystery. That of course makes me all the more interested in the book – I want to read and find out more about these characters. The background behind the two is slightly transparent because their destinies aren’t yet set in stone – there can only be one Imperial Enchanter, the reader needs to find out who. I’m a big fan of world-building when it comes to fantasy so that encompasses the majority of the work. I’m excited to read Skye’s book and find out more about her world. Thanks for reading my post and be sure to check out the other blog tour stops as well as the giveaway below.


About the Author: 
Evelyn Skye head shot high resEvelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at http://www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram

 

Giveaway:

One winner will win an ARC of The Crown’s Game, open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

View all the members of the Tsar’s Guard here!