What’s Ashley Reading?: Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater and Morgan Beem

First line: Plants have long been underestimated.

Summary: Walker and Alec Holland are twin brothers who are nothing alike but are still inseparable. Walker loves to be the center of attention while Alec is more quiet and reserved. Their last summer before college is spent in a rural town with their cousins. While Walker makes friends and parties, Alec spends his time working on a science experiment that starts to affect the swamp outside of town.

My Thoughts: This is a DC Comics reimagining of the origin story of Swamp Thing. Author Maggie Stiefvater works with illustrator, Morgan Beem to create a new beginning for one of their classic villains. I liked how they included science and information about plants into the story. It does a little teaching while also entertaining. I wasn’t completely sold on the art work but near the end as the swamp and its creatures started to appear I came to like it more. I am not familiar with the character Swamp Thing but I did enjoy this. It is a fast story from one of my favorite YA authors.

I got to watch an interview with the author, illustrator and moderator (Laini Taylor – another fantastic YA author) via Watermarks Books. It was great to listen to them talk about their work and how they developed the book. If you would like to see their conversation it can be found on Watermark’s Facebook page.

FYI: This is a graphic novel.

Rachel’s Recommendations: This Is Where It Ends

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

First Line: The starter gun shatters the silence, releasing the runners from their blocks.

Summary: At 10:05 am gunshots ring out. Within a span of 54 minutes four students must come face to face with the possibility of death; their hopes and dreams could be over in a single second. Anything can happen. Anyone can live and anyone can die. Who would do this? Why would they do this? And who will survive the next 54 minutes?

My Thoughts: I have mixed reviews about this books. While it does offer some intense scenery, I felt like the author didn’t really dive deep into the psychology as to why this student felt the need to commit such a violent act. Yes, there was some reasoning explained, but I felt like as a whole there could’ve been more offered to the character of Tyler, the shooter.

There were certain parts of the book that kept me reading due the intense nature of a school shooter and the desire to know why, but there were other parts where I became frustrated with the characters who were trying to survive the dangerous situation that they were forced upon. School shootings are such a deep and tragic event that you have to bring the right amount emotion writing about it in a fiction setting.

I wish that the author would’ve dedicated a little more time with the character development as well. I lacked a certain amount of emotion with the characters and didn’t really feel as bonded to them. I would give this book a 3 out of 5.

Trigger Warnings: mass shootings, violence, death, sexual assault, and some language

What’s Ashley Reading?: Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

First line: We must, by law, keep a record of the innocents we kill.

Summary: Society has finally learned to conquer death. The world is no longer starving, dying from disease or dying in general. However, one small problem remains. Overpopulation. The solution is the Scythedom. Scythes are people who are chosen and trained to take human lives in order to keep the population of Earth to a manageable level.

When Citra and Rowan are chosen by Honorable Scythe Faraday as his apprentices they are less than thrilled. Life as a scythe is one of isolation and loneliness not to mention death. As their training commences they learn that there is more to the Scythedom than they originally knew including some darker secrets at its core.

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved and devoured this book! It was recommended to me by one of the booksellers at Watermark Books. I finally bought myself a copy because I could not wait for the library one to come back in. I am so happy that I did. It was fast, fun and crazy. So many different twists and turns. I loved the characters. The world is fascinating. Shusterman did a great job of creating a real Utopia but also bringing in some very dark themes as well. As soon as I finished it I immediately downloaded the digital copy from Sunflower eLibrary. If you need something to suck you in from the very beginning then this is that book!

FYI: Lots of death and violence but I don’t think it is over the top. It would be hard to avoid this topic in a book all about bringers of death.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Shadows Between Us

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

First line: They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.

Summary: Alessandra is the youngest daughter of an earl. She has spent her life sequestered from the world until her sister marries but she has a plan to gain ultimate power for herself. First she is going to get the attention of the Shadow King. Second she will make him fall in love with her and marry her. And finally she is going to kill the king and take over his kingdom.

My Thoughts: Ever since reading Tricia Levenseller’s first book, Daughter of the Pirate King, I have been hooked. It was a fast read and lots of fun! Each book since has been the same. I highly anticipate each new release. When I saw that Netgalley had an ARC of The Shadows Between Us I requested it immediately.

This is my favorite book of her so far. This is being called a Slytherin romance and that 100% describes it. I loved each of the main characters. They were both not good people but they are unashamed of it too. They know it and do not apologize for their faults. From the very first page the story takes off. Alessandra is wickedly charming and cunning. Kallias is dark, moody and brutal. But there are characters with lighter sides that add a little fluff which is refreshing too.

I loved the whole premise of the Shadow King. The magic and the way it works is brilliant. This author has a wonderful imagination and can bring her worlds to life. I could easily picture Kallias and his shadows. The details of the outfits were stunning. I wish I could read this again for the first time. I am so sad I have to wait another year for a new book by Levenseller.

FYI: This is a standalone young adult novel.