Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Abbreviations #59 | Ice Wolves, Emergency Contact + Beyond a Darkened Shore

Anders and Rayna are twins who rely solely on each other to survive life on the streets of Vallen. But when an unfortunate incident reveals that the twins are capable of transforming into a scorch dragon and an ice wolf, two races that are sworn enemies, it throws into question everything they've ever known. When Rayna is chased away from their home, Anders enlists at Ulfar Academy to train as an ice wolf and find a way to rescue his sister. Honestly, the entire premise of Ice Wolves is great! I loved the idea of two warring races with very different elemental abilities, and loved even more the idea of this family being divided by the revelation of their other identities. Kaufman has written a solid series starter with her debut solo middle grade novel. I enjoyed meeting Anders, Rayna and the rest of these characters, and look forward to seeing more of their development. And while there were definitely recognizable tropes, I still found the story a fun read overall! I'm curious to see how things play out as the series goes on, and will definitely check out the sequel.

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman | Series: Elementals #1 | Publisher: Harper Collins | Publication Date: March 27, 2018 | Source: e-galley from Edelweiss (Thanks!)



Emergency Contact was a novel that I'm ultimately able to report worked for me as a reader. I was already interested because of the promise of a Korean-American main character, and intrigued even more by the premise. Even though I went into it expecting to like it, I don't think I could have foreseen how invested I'd become in Penny, Sam and their relationship. Essentially, this is the story of two young adults who end up developing a relationship through text after a chance encounter makes them each other's 'emergency contact'. It's got a lot more depth to it than that, particularly considering each individual's history and character. And it really worked for me! I meant to set it down since I was reading before bed, but wound up picking it back up after half an hour and reading into the wee hours of the night because I needed to know what would happen next. Now, while it turned out to be my cup of tea, I'm pretty confident in being able to say that Emergency Contact might not work for every reader. It's got a distinctive voice and narrative style, and a reader's reaction to the initial chapters will pretty much determine whether or not it's a story for them. Still, I liked it. I liked that it was complicated and messy; I loved that the characters were portrayed in a way that felt raw and honest. If you're intrigued by anything I've mentioned, do try checking it out for yourself!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi | Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: March 27, 2018 | Source: Hardcover received from the publisher (Thanks!)



There were quite a few reasons that I wanted to pick up Beyond a Darkened Shore, namely the promise of Norse mythology, Irish mythology, a historical setting and a quest story format. Unfortunately, it didn't quite end up being my cup of tea in the end despite all of these elements being very much present. The novel, which is about an Irish princess who is determined to save her country (and the rest of the known world) from a giant threat... even if that means teaming up with one of her enemies, is overall an alright read. It does include copious amounts of all the things I was looking forward to encountering. But the execution just fell short for me. The characters felt a touch underdeveloped, the pacing was a little rough at times, and I just could not get behind the romance that develops. I did finish this one, true, but it's ultimately just another average read for me.

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leakes | Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Date: April 10, 2018 | Source: e-galley downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

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