“I was jealous of how he watched Hazel, drinking in her music like water and tasting how she dissolved herself in it like a sugar cube.” – Lovely War (Aphrodite)
Lovely War by Julie Berry was everything I’d hoped for and more. (Thanks for the recommendation, Deanna!) The ebook edition was right at 470 pages but the chapters were tiny snippets and quick scenes – meaning, it felt like a fast read. The book is essentially a love story which takes place during WWI but is told from multiple points-of-view of Greek gods/goddesses (primarily Aphrodite). Throughout the tale, the reader meets Ares, Hephaestus, Apollo, and Hades and hears how each of them touch the couple/s in retrospect. The writing was lush and romantic. There was war, music, mental health awareness, racial elements, history, and death/grief. Each Olympian brought to the table another layer of personality and gave the story a well-rounded and beautiful edge.
The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young was a must-read after I inhaled Young’s Sky in the Deep and ADORED it. This second installment picks up roughly 10 years later in the same world, with some of the original characters at the foundation but with several new additions as well. The nitty-gritty of the story is similar to the first: *two warring clans, *two young adults growing into positions of power through hardship, and a *pantheon of gods/goddesses in each culture, saturating each of their feelings on war. DISCLAIMER: Maybe this a tad unfair but TGtSGB felt more like a debut novel that SitD to me. What I remember loving most about SitD is two things: (1) super fast pace and (2) a visceral, gut wrenching (borderline painful) reaction to Young’s writing. That being said, TGtSGB definitely felt slower – however, if the whole book matched the final 30%, it would’ve been easily a (5) star rating from me. Overall, still a solid YA fantasy read and I remain a devoted Young fan.
“Life up here may be simple but it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. Water runs out; pipes freeze; engines won’t start; it’s dark for eighteen, nineteen hours a day, for months. Even longer in the far north. Up here it’s about having enough food to eat, and enough heat to stay alive through the winter. It’s about survival, and enjoying the company of the people that surround us. It’s not about whose house is the biggest, or who has the nicest clothes, or the most money. We support each other because we’re all in this together.” – The Simple Wild (Jonah)
The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker had me stepping out of my comfort zone and reading more along the contemporary lines. This is a romance at it’s center but I loved all the additional elements of the story: rural Alaska, a well-developed character arc for the MC, sarcastic humor, slow-burn, and emotional kick. Essentially, Calla (the female MC) leaves her life in Toronto to travel to Alaska and reconnect with her (mostly absentee) father while he faces a cancer diagnosis. I loved the fact that, not only was the romance “enemies to friends to lovers” but so was my reading-relationship with Calla. I REALLY disliked her in the beginning. By the end? I was crying real tears for her. The secondary characters added comic relief and diversity into a heavy story. There was good chemistry in the romance – no forced dialogue and the build up felt real. Lastly, Alaska was the perfect setting to highlight how different the characters all were and to show end-growth. Such a good book! Headed to purchase #2 as we speak.