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Mini-reviews: The Astonishing Color of After + Sky in the Deep

pub 3/20/18 by Little Brown Books
for Young Readers
Young Adult - Magical Realism
Received from pub via Netgalley
In the aftermath of her mother's suicide, Leigh Chen Sanders is certain her mother has become a bird guiding her to travel to Taiwan for the first time in her life. She follows that instinct determined to not only find the bird but also learn about her heritage. She gets exposed to her Asian heritage, meets her maternal grandparents and uncovers secrets that changes what she thought she knew about her family. Most importantly of all, this wild journey filled with magical realism allows her to understand her mother better and along the way, herself too. She begins to face her overwhelming grief as she looks back on the depression that that's plagued her mom for so long and the moments leading up to her death. Including a kiss shared with her best friend Axel, that she hasn't fully faced either. It's an introspective novel but there's an urgency to her Leigh's chase that kept the story going. I was moved by the author's prose, Leigh's love of color to describe her feelings and the relationship she formed with her grandparents. I just think I wanted more though? As much as I enjoy magical realism, there always seems to be a wall for me because I have to suspend my disbelief and juggle it with the "real" parts of it. Whereas with full out fantasy, I'm able to just be immersed in all the fantastical elements and let go, so to speak.

Do I recommend? I do! Especially if you love magical realism. And like I said, the writing is beautiful and touches on grief in a very unique way.


pub 4/24/18 by Wednesday Books
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received ARC from pub
I feel so lucky that the majority of my 2018 reads have been incredible and you can add Sky in the Deep to that list of awesomeness. Wow. I knew I was going to read this as soon as I heard the words: young adult, fantasy and Vikings but I actually went in without any expectations and I got exactly what I didn’t know I wanted. We’re introduced to Eelyn as she rushes into the battle with her father and her clansman, the Aska, against their enemies, the Riki. They’ve battled each other for centuries but then she sees something that stops her in her tracks: her brother Iri who she saw die five years ago in battle. When she’s taken by the Riki, the reunion with her brother is bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter). Everything she thought she knew gets turns upside down and even more so as she lives among the Riki. Despite her desperation to return home, she can’t ignore the lives in front of her, especially when they’re attacked by a ruthless clan that most believe to be a legend. Despite the warrior spirits running through all their veins, this story is about so much more than fighting. Eelyn (who I adored) viewed life in such a black and white way and this experience forces her to open her eyes and see the world differently. She starts to trust Fiske, the son of the family who’s taken her in (it’s more complicated than that) as they realize that their clans need to band together and realize they can’t ignore what’s growing between them (!!). It’s about the bonds of family, loyalty, faith and love and I enjoyed every page of it.

Do I recommend? Yes! This is an excellent debut novel from Young and I can’t wait to read more from her!

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