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Book Review: Accidental by Alex Richards

Accidental

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Bloomsbury, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot: Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she’s being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.

Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna’s father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that’s not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn’t kill Mandy–it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.

Now Johanna has to sort through it all–the return of her absentee father, her grandparents’ lies, her part in her mother’s death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?

In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.

Opinion:

“๐‘จ๐’๐’ ๐’˜๐’†๐’†๐’Œ ๐’๐’๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘จ๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’๐’• ๐’๐’‚๐’˜๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’‘๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’š ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’…. ๐‘พ๐’†๐’Š๐’“๐’… ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’–๐’”๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’„๐’† ๐’Š๐’• ๐’–๐’‘ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† – ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’–๐’ˆ๐’†, ๐’…๐’–๐’“๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’… ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‘๐’‚๐’•๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’”๐’Ž.
.
๐‘ฐ ๐’˜๐’๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’ˆ๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’…๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’†๐’๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’˜๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’ˆ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‡๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’“ ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Š๐’“ ๐’…๐’‚๐’–๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’†๐’“.”

“๐‘ฉ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’•๐’˜๐’Š๐’„๐’† ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’š๐’๐’–’๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Š๐’•๐’–๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’.”

Johanna has been raised by her grandparents for most of her life, due to her father bailing and her mother dying in a car accident when she was almost three. But at sixteen, Johanna feels like she’s beginning to forget her mother entirely and it doesn’t help that her grandparents refuse to talk about her. But life for Johanna isn’t so bad. She has two amazing best friends who are more like sisters, and the new kid at school seems to have his eye on her. But when Jo gets a letter in the mail from her father who is wishing to reconnect, her seemingly ordinary life implodes. With her father’s sudden reappearance in her life comes the truth of her childhood and the real cause of death of her mother. Because it wasn’t a car accident that killed Johanna’s mother…

…it was her.

Deep breath, baby angels.

It’s a heavy hitter.

“๐‘พ๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” ๐’‡๐’๐’š ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐‘น๐’๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“๐’•’๐’” ๐’Ž๐’๐’–๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’๐’ƒ ๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’“๐’๐’๐’Ž ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’•๐’”. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š’๐’“๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’‚๐’“ ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” – ๐’…๐’Š๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” – ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’๐’๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’‡๐’Š๐’• ๐’•๐’๐’ˆ๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’š ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’–๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’…. ๐‘ฐ๐’•’๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’•๐’๐’“๐’š ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’Ž๐’† ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’Ž๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’“ ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’† ๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’๐’†๐’ ๐’–๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’†, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’—๐’Š๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’”๐’†๐’†๐’Ž๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ๐’†๐’ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’๐’”๐’†.”

The gun control topic is a controversial one, and with this being a book that centers around gun violence, be prepared for moments that may differ from your personal opinions. But for those of you who are weary that this will be a “preachy” YA Contemporary, rest assured that both sides to this debate are represented and it’s dealt with in a delicate manner that doesn’t take away from what this story really is – a coming-of-age tale about trauma, forgiveness, growth and self-love.

Accidental is an emotional and surreal story that centers on how common it is for children to come across easily accessible guns in their homes. At two and a half, while her father was out of town, Johanna and her mother were taking a nap when Johanna awakens and begins to wander. She finds her father’s gun under her parent’s bed, and ends up pulling the trigger and shooting her mother in the chest – killing her.

But upon the reader meeting Johanna, we learn that she has no idea of what took place when she was a toddler. At sixteen, Jo is a typical teenager living in Santa Fe and going to a prestigious high school. She has two quirky, spirited and vivacious best friends and she spends her time sewing her own clothes and slinging sassy comebacks at idiotic guys in her class. She’s a lively and charismatic character from the start, describing the pains of living with her very religious grandparents, but also expressing a deep love for them both.

But the ease in Jo’s life quickly changes with the reemergence of her estranged father, and his confession of Jo and Amanda’s truth.

“๐‘ป๐’˜๐’ ๐’„๐’š๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’๐’”, ๐’„๐’“๐’‚๐’”๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’“๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’‚๐’• –

๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!
๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!
๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!”

The reason this story packs such a punch, is because the situation could have happened to any of us. It was incredibly easy to slide into Jo’s shoes and understand the confusion, sadness, regret, hurt, horror and anger she felt when the truth of her mother was revealed. How devastating it is when something so horrible can become your reality, and the hurt that comes with it when you don’t have a support system at home to guide you through it.

“๐‘บ๐’, ๐’Š๐’๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’‚๐’…, ๐‘ฐ ๐’ˆ๐’. ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’”๐’‚๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’…๐’ƒ๐’š๐’†, ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’•๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐‘ฐ’๐’๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‰๐’๐’Ž๐’†. ๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’š ๐’”๐’‘๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’„๐’‚๐’“, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‰๐’๐’๐’† ๐’•๐’Š๐’Ž๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’•๐’๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฎ๐’“๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’๐’š ๐’๐’†๐’• ๐’Ž๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‡๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’†.”

 

When Jo reveals to her grandparents that she knows the truth about her mother, they still refuse to speak about it. They brush it under the rug, preferring silence and forced indifference. And though it is shocking that they lied to her about how her mother died…I don’t blame them for the decision they made in protecting her.

But the way they handle Jo’s trauma and their own is…suffocating.

There are no pictures on the walls or in photo albums of Jo’s mother. None of her mementos are displayed and she is never brought up or talked about. So Jo is left feeling as if she cannot speak about this woman she has so much love for, but is starting to forget. This woman she so desperately craves was in her life and guiding her through her teenage years.

This woman who she believes she murdered.

“๐‘ฏ๐’† ๐’”๐’„๐’๐’๐’‘๐’” ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’๐’…๐’š ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’‰๐’Š๐’Ž, ๐’•๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’”๐’•. ๐‘บ๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’“ ๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’“ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’†๐’‚๐’„๐’‰ ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’•. ๐‘ถ๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’‚๐’๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.”

Thankfully, Jo has two epic best friends that I wish upon all wishes and stars that I could have in my life.

“๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“ ๐’„๐’๐’Š๐’„๐’Œ๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’–๐’•. ๐‘ป๐’˜๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’•๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’†๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’• ๐’•๐’Š๐’‘๐’•๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’“๐’๐’๐’Ž, ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’๐’…๐’š ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘ซ๐’‚๐’Š๐’”๐’š ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’‡๐’–๐’Ž๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž. ๐‘ณ๐’†๐’‚๐’‰ ๐’„๐’–๐’“๐’๐’” ๐’–๐’‘ ๐’๐’ ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’†, ๐‘ฎ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“. ๐‘บ๐’˜๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’Ž, ๐’”๐’Œ๐’Š๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’…. ๐‘ด๐’š ๐’•๐’“๐’–๐’”๐’•๐’š ๐‘น๐’๐’•๐’•๐’˜๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’…๐’๐’’๐’• ๐’”๐’‚๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ.”

These girls are the rocks that keep Jo from slipping down a river of depression and deep self-loathing. They are fiercely loyal and understanding, go out of their way to ensure that their friend is cared for and heard, and refuse to leave her side. Their love for one another had me hardcore tearing up and cooing throughout the story. These two girls make this story.

“๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’’๐’–๐’†๐’†๐’›๐’† ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’†๐’š๐’†๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’–๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐’๐’‘๐’†๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’‘ ๐’Š๐’๐’‰๐’‚๐’๐’†, ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’„๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‚ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’-๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’†๐’… ๐’„๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’†๐’• ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“. ๐‘ฌ๐’—๐’†๐’ ๐‘ด๐’Š๐’๐’’๐’” ๐’„๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’—๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’†.”

“๐‘ด๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐’‰๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’๐’“๐’š.”

Another big character in this story is Milo – the new boy in school and Jo’s new boyfriend. Their romance is sweet and their chemistry is sizzling, but more importantly, Milo is another person in Jo’s life that she can lean on for support. Though he doesn’t have as big a role as Leah and Gabby, and his personality doesn’t shine through as much as the girls, his own troubles with his father gives a level of understanding to Milo and Jo that can’t be emulated. And no matter how dark Jo’s life gets, Milo is always there to help her see the light.

“๐‘ฐ๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’‡๐’–๐’, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’๐’‡ ๐’…๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†๐’… ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’…๐’”.”

“๐‘ต๐’๐’• ๐’…๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†๐’…,” ๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‰๐’Š๐’”๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”. “๐‘ฑ๐’–๐’”๐’• ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’….”

For the first half of this book, the reader watches Jo slowly spiral into anger and a sort of manic state as she tries to cope with her past. And at sixteen, it’s not exactly easy to have control over your emotions. But the person Jo turns into in the second half of the book was irritating. She was aggressive and constantly throwing tantrums, stomping her foot and having explosive reactions to the littlest things. Of course, this does feel authentic to a young teenager going through some serious trauma – but it was still exhausting and a turn-off.

And how Johanna works towards getting a mural painted at her school to shed light on gun violence was also…cringey. By this point Jo is full-blown immature and slightly ridiculous, so it was a bit harder to get through. And though this was a gut-flipping story, I was really wanting more emotion from Jo because I didn’t feel like I got a true sense of the chaos that was brewing inside her. She had huge reactions and panic attacks, but I wanted more description into how hurt and lost she felt inside.

But the real driving force in this story is obviously gun safety, but also self-acceptance and the need to work through trauma.

When Jo’s father renters her life, he brings a few secrets with him that he slowly reveals along the way, and they’re tragic. It broke my heart how Jo was constantly let down by these really big parental figures in her life. But, imagine it. Not only are you the cause for your mother dying, but you are also the spitting image of a daughter and lover that has been lost. Nothing about this situation is easier or less horrible for anyone involved.

Accidental is a powerful and heartbreaking story, but a necessary one.

No matter what stance you take on this topic, trust me when I say, you need to read this.

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–, ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’…๐’…๐’. ๐‘ฉ๐’š๐’†.”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–, ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’…๐’…๐’.”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–.”

 

4.5 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl Serpent

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flatiron Books, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, itโ€™s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brotherโ€™s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if sheโ€™s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isnโ€™t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Opinion:

“I am both the Sleeping Beauty and the enchanted castle; the princess drowses in the castle of flesh.”

-Angela Carter, Vampirella

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a heavily Persian influenced mythology retelling with elements from classic fairy tales like “Sleeping Beauty“, “Rapunzel” and โ€œRappacciniโ€™s Daughter.โ€ It tells the story of a young Princess who was cursed with the touch of poison after her birth, and has since been hidden away in one of her family’s castles to keep her ailment secret. But when the royal family returns to her castle for the season, they bring with them a captured div – a demon who tried to kill the princess’s brother – whom they are keeping locked in the dungeons. For Princess Soraya, this is her only chance to find a way out of the curse that has caused her to live a life without human contact. But Soraya quickly learns that nothing is given for free, and consequences weigh heavily.

“There was and there was not.”

 

This unique retelling has been at the top of my TBR list for months. I originally found it on Goodreads while in one of a 3-hour book pit of browsing and knew it was going to be a top read of 2020. And though this story started out great, with rich culture spilling through the pages and a luscious world wrought with magic and danger, I felt myself begin to drift about 25% in.

It was an enjoyable read, but I was expecting an extra emotional punch and a little more excitement.

I hate to say it, but I was a bit bored for the middle and end of this book. I have been having trouble with YA Fantasy lately, so maybe it’s just me, but I just wasn’t as invested in the story as I wanted to be. I think a big part of this could be that the story went in a direction I wasn’t initially expecting it to. I guess I was expecting a “Throne of Glass” meets “Ash Princess“, and got more of a “Damsel” vibe that I wasn’t really feeling.

Soraya was an intriguing character at first, but her ‘doe in headlights‘ act started to get old pretty quickly. It bothered me how fine she was with her family practically shunning her and shoving her into a castle like Quasimodo, barely visiting her or even trying to communicate with her. I wanted her to show some semblance of anger or a grudge for her treatment, but it seemed innocence and being too trusting were her only major driving traits.

I also wanted her poisonous curse to be portrayed a bit darker.

Obviously this story is going to be written how the author wants and with their own preference to overall lightness or darkness in terms of overall theme, but I was hoping this was going to be a grittier and more raw tale. I wanted to really dive into the way this curse made Soraya feel. How the solitude and isolation has contributed to her personality and thoughts, and what flaws it causes her to develop. Yes, the girl is naive. But this book left her feeling like a Disney princess, rather than a relatable female who has been thrust into horrible circumstances.

The romance is a love triangle, and it was sweet and exciting in parts, but the original start between Soraya and Azad was…odd. I have a really hard time with insta-love and insta-intimacy. Upon their first actual meeting Azad basically professes his love and is shockingly not at all freaked out that one touch from Soraya will kill him instantly. He starts touching her hair (how did you know that her hair wasn’t also poisonous?!) and basically tells her how he’s always imaged being/rescuing/marrying her…? And Soraya instantly meets him halfway. What? This just felt so unbelievable for me.

I think the best part of this book is the world building and nod to Persian culture. Though this world isn’t as crazy outlandish and complex as some other YA Fantasies, it is perfectly detailed and the Arabian styled setting is described beautifully. Though of course more would have been so appreciated, the amount given is perfect for the reader to visualize and enjoy the tale.

By the end of Girl, Serpent, Thorn I was pleased with what happened, but I did find it a bit boring and somewhat predictable. I think I was just expecting a different story than what I got. It seems the majority of readers really loved this, so I would definitely read it and come to your own conclusion.

3 Stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo

Binding of Bindings # : 11 YA Contemporary Books That’ll Hurt

These are all heavy AF YA Contemporary stories that will hurt like hell, but need to be read.
This entire post comes with a trigger warning, and has elements of the following:
Abusesexual, domestic/physical, verbal, manipulation, control; Mental Healthbrain injuries, suicide, schizophrenia, anger/impulse control issues, Radical Religion, Kidnapping, Brainwashing, Incest (Yeah I know, it’s fine), Bullying, Self-harm, Attempted Murder, Survival, Death.
These are all beautiful and haunting books that have huge, unwavering voices.
Each book is packed with heavy material, and some may be hard to get through, but each has a powerful message of awareness, personal strength and vital information.
Please take care when you read and put the needs of yourself first.
This content can be triggering, so tread lightly.

 

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National Suicide Prevention/Crisis Hotline: 800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or TEXT: LOVEIS to 22522
Domestic Violence Website: https://www.thehotline.org/

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Stay safe, strong and keep those heads up, you beautiful babes โค

 

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~* 11 YA Contemporary Books That’ll Hurt *~

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1. The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Sexual/Self-Harm

The Way I Used To Be

When someone asks me for a book recommendation, it’s always this.

Always. Always. Always.

This.

The Way I Used to Be wrecked me beyond words.

I vividly remember the Friday night I started it, and every moment until the wee hours of Saturday morning where I sat on my floor in silence with tears running down my face.

This book hurt me more than any other YA Contemporary book I have ever read, and it’s because of how authentic, ugly and raw it is. It’s about how a girl copes with being raped at a party. The days, weeks and months after and what she does to herself and those around her in her grief and shame.

 

Amber Smith DOES NOT dress this shit up in a pretty bow and box. It’s a fucked up book of pure emotion, and it HAS to be at the top of your reading list.

You’ll be thanking me through your tears at 2am.

 

2. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Romance/Abuse-Domestic

Dreamland

My second most recommended book, and one of three sets of books that I read every year.

And I mean every year.

Dreamland is also the only Sarah Dessen book I really give two fondues about as well, probably due to the fact that it isn’t as “summery” and “sun-shiney” as the rest of her work.

It is about a girl named Caitlin who starts dating a guy named Rogerson. Rogerson is a total hottie package. Tall and mysterious, a bit brooding, quiet with an intense stare that strips you raw.

You know the type.

The kind you’d let do some truly awful shit to you, just to get those little moments of pure and intense snippets of “trueunaffected love.

Dreamland is painful and complicated. It shows the intricacies of an abusive relationship, of how easy it can be to stay in one, and how confusing it is when your emotions are wrapped up so tightly.

It’s a book EVERY girl should read as a pre-teen.

Know your worth.

 

 

3. A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmal
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Mental-Health

A Danger to Herself and Others

If you’d like to be completely mind-fucked while you cry, then A Danger to Herself and Others is for you.

This book got me HOOKED on Alyssa B. Sheinmel.

I don’t care what this woman writes, I will read it all. Everything, all of it, forever, until I die.

Her ability to familiarize the reader with Mental Health and show it in a dauntingly close-up, yet sincere and tender way, is true beauty. She can give you insight to the confusion and insanity that is somehow so precious and striking.

A Danger to Herself and Others is about a young woman named Hannah who is institutionalized after an accident involving her roommate at a summer program. Hannah knows that her being there is just a formality and that they will realize soon that she is innocent, she just has to persuade the staff that she is fine.

But of course…that’s only the surface of this story.

And damn is it a deep story.

(See my review here)

 

4. The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
Genre/Trigger: YA/Retelling/Feminism

โ€œA Womanโ€™s no can so easily be turned into a yes by men who do not want to listen.โ€

Not 100% contemporary, but it holds the same powerful punch as any of these other books do.

If you are looking for powerfully feminist reads, add Louise O’Neill to the top of your list and never look back.

This lady knows what she’s doing.

The Surface Breaks is a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid, and I am STILL shocked that this isn’t more well-known or praised.

It follows the tale we know fairly closely, but Louise has a way of highlighting all those little moments we seemed to ignore as kids.

This is not a sweet story of true love.

Our little mermaid is not surrounded by love, she is not gifted love, and she is treated in such a way that is…all too familiar to a lot of us. It is a tale of women not having a choice. Of women giving their voice up for love, and that choice being abused. It’s a story of possession, greed, pain and heartbreak.

โ€œEither I am silent above the surface, or I spend the rest of my life screaming for mercy down here, the water muffling my cries.โ€

*sigh*

Just read it.

(See my review here)

 

5. The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Religion

The Liar's Daughter

โ€œHow does it feel? I want to ask. To have everything that’s precious to you taken away?โ€

In a perfect world, the publisher would not have given the entire plot and beauty of this story away in the description, but alas, they do not have my flare for dramatics and torturing suspense…or apparently any decency.ย 

The Liar’s Daughter is one of those books that you need to just read, without knowing much about the plot. In fact, it would have been 1000% better than the 100 times amazing it already is, if I had read it not knowing what it was about.

Therefore, humor me.

Please, do not look this plot up. Just trust me when I say, the book will blow you away.

It is about a girl who lives with her family on a compound in the forest. She adores her father and wishes to make him proud, to show how strong and capable she is, and her siblings bring her more joy than anything else. They all thrive in the wilderness away from societal distractions and obligations. They are happy.

Until she is taken from her family and brought to the home of a new family.

This story is about how Piper gets her bearings after being taken.

This. Writing. Is. Flawless.

The author makes the reader feel just as lost, scared, confused and distrustful of others as Piper is. It’s a mind jumble, an emotional roller-coaster and a creatively woven tale that will have you beyond hooked. You will both love and hate these characters, trust them and be suspicious of them.

It, is wild.

(Do not read my review, just read the book)

 

6. How I live Now by Meg Rosoff
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Romance/Sci-Fi-Dystopian

How I live now

โ€œI was dying, of course, but then we all are. Every day, in perfect increments.โ€

โ€œStaying alive was what we did to pass the time.โ€

If you haven’t read this book, or seen this beautiful movie starring Saoirse Ronan and George Mackay, then you need to prioritize your life and get it together.

How I Live Now is a tale of survival, love and finding your way back home.

Daisy is fifteen and sent from the states to England to stay with her cousins for the Summer. Not soon after arriving, London is attacked and bombed, and a war begins. Suddenly the kids, now without adult supervision, have to figure out how to survive on their own.

This book is…wow.

It’s a realistically beautiful and frightening story of what it means to stay alive in a world that has flipped into chaos. These young people are wild, free, strong, thoughtful, sharp and inquisitive. They have unflinching grit and unwavering hearts, and they deal with some insanely heavy shit at such young ages.

So read the book, don’t get weirded out by the romanceit’s fine, basque in the brilliance, and then watch the movie.

Shed some tears, have a good Friday night in.

You’re welcome.

(See my review here)

 

7. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Romance/Abuse-Manipulation/Sexual

The Places Ive cried in public

Alright, back to the really heavy shit.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public

Sounds cheery, doesn’t it?

This is a story about a girl who is beyond distraught over her breakup with a boy. We follow her as she lives in the present and visits each place around town where her ex-boyfriend had made her cry, which eventually builds up to the real reason of why they split.

This book is on this list because it will make you crazy upset, but mostly because of the form of abuse that is represented. A lot of times, deep manipulation and mental abuse aren’t represented in books as much as physical violence, even though it is just as common and accompanies domestic abuse.

 

Mental and Emotional Abuse isn’t talked about a lot, but Holly Bourne wanted to talk about it.

This book hit me so hard in the gut because of how painfully relatable and realistic it is. It feels like a legitimate and authentic account of emotional abuse, how conflicting your thoughts and feelings are towards your abuser, and how easy it is to tell yourself you’re overreacting.

 

8. Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Physical/Domestic/Attempted Murder

Sparrow

โ€œAffliction is enamored of thy parts, and thou art wedded to calamityโ€

-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Sparrow is one of those delicate and fragile tales that sticks with you and makes you ache every time you think about it.

It poses the question of ‘Can you fight?‘ and if so, ‘how long?

Sparrow is about a girl named Savannah RoseSparrow. She is a ballerina with the death of her mother looming over her shoulders, even though years have passed. Sparrow was always taught to stay strong, to stay quiet, and to keep things to herself. But the growing aggression and physical nature from her boyfriend is growing, and one night, it goes too far.

Sparrow also has different forms of abuse represented, and they pack in punch in this eerily dark contemporary that is like Speak meets Black Swan.

I highlighted most of this book because damn do these sentences and descriptions cut into your soul. This story highlights how Sparrow’s unfortunate present connects with her childhood and the relationship she had with her mother.

This book dives deep into a dark hole of depression and sorrow, so please be mindful of your mental state before reading. But when you do feel ready, read this.

You might find some strength in it.

โ€œโ€˜What is the haunted name, the secret name of your deepest self?โ€™

“And I answer, ‘Sorrow'”.

(See my review here)

 

9. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health-Brain Injury

The One Memory of Flora Banks

Let’s bring things up a little, shall we?

Here is a nice break from all this bleaknessThe One Memory of Flora Banks.

Now THIS, is a unique and creative story.

When Flora Banks was ten years old, the part of her brain that stores new memories was damaged during a surgery to remove a tumor. Now Flora has no short-term memory, and throughout the day her brain can resent itself multiple times. To cope, Flora has countless post-it notes in her bags to remind her of who she is, what she is doing and anything important that she wants to remember. She has writing all over her hands and arms and relies heavily on her best-friend and parents to help remind her of…everything.

But then Flora kisses her best-friends boyfriend, and miraculously, the memory sticks.

This book is epic.

There is immense adventure in these pages, with a representation of beautiful and kind souls littered throughout. It shines such a bright, happy and thoughtful light on Mental Health and the limitations that society puts on a person.

It is heartbreaking, yes, but it is one of the most rewarding YA Contemporaries I have read in a long time.

 

10. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Suicide/Bullying/Abuse-Sexual/Self-Harm/Mental Health

13

We’re almost there, stay with me.

Thirteen Reasons Why

I know there’s a show an all, but who cares about that.

This book took over my teenage life. Never had I experienced a story of this emotional magnitude and thought-provoking ingenuity, and I probably never will again. This should be required reading in EVERY. SINGLE. SCHOOL.

If you don’t know it, it’s about a girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide. Before her death, she records the events/reasons that lead up to her decision on cassette tapes, and then sends it off to the first person that contributed to the spiral.

Each tape has a reason or event, and each one focuses on someone in particular. The crazy part is that the tapes are sent to each person mentioned in them, and they are directed to send the tapes on to the person mentioned after them, or else a copy of the tapes will be leaked.

WILD.

Thirteen Reasons Why was my first taste of suicide in YA Contemporary, and it is one that I will never forget. The message is powerful, the events are beyond emotional and the concept in general is phenomenal.

 

11. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Sexual/Bullying

This post wouldn’t be complete without Speak.

If you somehow haven’t read this book, you need to RIGHT NOW.

Melinda is a freshmen in high school and a complete outcast. She was popular and had a group of great friends, but that was before the end-of-summer party that she ruined by calling the cops. Speak slowly unravels what happened at that party that caused Melinda to call the cops, and how her school and home life has changed for her.

It’s a really deep and powerful story of rape and bullying, and the fear that young girls have to come forward and tell someone. You will cry, you will hurt, and all you’ll want to do is give Melinda a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay.

 

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As always, Stay Witchy and take care of yourselves โค

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: The Anti-Virginity Pact by Katie Wismer

The AntiVirginity Pact

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me via Netgalley for an honest review.ย 

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot:

Preachersโ€™ daughters arenโ€™t supposed to be atheists. Theyโ€™re also not supposed to make pacts to lose their virginity by the end of the year, but high school senior Meredith Beaumont is sick of letting other people tell her who to be.

Spending the last four years as Mute Mare, the girl so shy just thinking about boys could trigger panic attacks, Meredith knows exactly what itโ€™s like to be invisible. But when a vindictive mean girl gets her manicured claws on the anti-virginity pact and spreads it around the schoolโ€”with Mareโ€™s signature at the bottomโ€”Mareโ€™s not so invisible anymore. She just wishes she was.

Now the girls mutter โ€œslutโ€ as they pass her in the hall, and the boys are lined up to help complete her checklist. When she meets a guy who knows nothing of the pact, their budding romance quickly transforms from a way to get her first time over with to a genuine connection. But when the pact threatens to destroy her new relationship and the fragile foundation of her seemingly perfect family, Mare has to decide whatโ€™s more important: fixing her reputation and pleasing her parents, or standing up for the person she wants to be.

Opinion:

“For the record, I don’t normally have a predisposition for making bad decisions.”

Cause girl,

yeah you do.

The Anti-Virginity Pact is a YA Contemporary about two senior girls who make a pact to lose their virginity before the end of high school. As the closet-atheist daughter of a preacher, Meredith’s anxiety has always made her shy and kept her in the shadows. Wanting to finally gain experiences, she and her best friend sign a contract to lose their virginity. But when the pact gets leaked and the entire school sees that Mute Mare signed it, she is suddenly descended upon by every guy in school who wants a turn.

This had so much potential to be an emotional, gut-wrenching, femi-empowering YA about familial expectations and self-exploration. It could have showcased the overwhelming guilt and obligation we feel to please our parents, and how our own wants and desires can be obliterated in doing so. Or put a blinding spotlight on rape culture, bullying and the endless double standards that exist in our society. Or the crippling fear and physical ailments that come with extreme anxiety. The panic, shortness of breath, feelings of drowning or being buried alive. The sheer peril that one experiences.

It had all the potential in the world to be deep, beautiful, raw and authentic.

But instead of my heartstrings being yanked and my tear ducts overflowing, I felt

not much of anything.

The Anti-Virginity Pact has a fairly slow start that continues until about halfway, where it switches gears drastically and becomes a book with zero direction. The first 55% actually wasn’t bad, even though the banter between Meredith and her best friend was a little eye-roll inducing, I was enjoying the slow buildup.

Meredith is a senior in high school and the daughter of a preacher. But for years, Mare had began rejecting the idea of religion and now considers herself an atheist, unbeknownst to her family. Due to growing up in a highly religious family and also having severe anxiety, Mare has always kept to herself – blending into the wallpaper and speaking to few people. So when her best friend Jo suggests a pact to lose their virginity by the end of high school, as a means to experience everything they missed out on (sex, parties, sports) she signs her name on the dotted line. And then the girls go about picking the lucky guys, and of course…

one of them HAS to be a teacher.

Honestly, this angle didn’t bother me that much, probably because of the countless YA Thrillers I’ve binged. But the execution of this trope was odd. It’s a lot of Jo swooning over their teacher and expressing plans on how to seduce him, Mare telling Jo it’s a horrible idea, and then Jo stomping her foot because Mare isn’t jumping for joy and celebrating her wanting to SEDUCE A TEACHER.

But honestly, this and Mare’s anxiety are about the most and only emotional follow-through in this entire book. Every time a BIG moment happened (because yeah, there’s a lot of them shoved in here) Mare and Jo just brush over it and move onto the next tragedy. Moments that would cause a person to break down in sobs, scream at the sky and start shattering things are let go with a “this is shitty or this sucks”, and thrown away. And it’s not like they are being brave or strong and can just handle what’s being thrown at them.

It’s that all that happens in this story are “hot topic explosions.

One explosion detonates, and before it can be dealt with or dissected, three more explosions go off, making it a ticking time-bomb of craziness that keeps falling from the sky in the most unrealistic way possible.

In a Middle Grade book, the story is set up to have the “and then, and then, and then” format to keep the young reader’s attention. That is exactly how this book is formatted. It’s a series of dramatic and controversial topics smashed together, without proper time and care being spent on each tragedy. Religion, bullying, sexuality, rape, anxiety, animal abuse, religious camps. It’s all here. But instead of each issue adding to the story or making an impact on the reader, it made it inauthentic and ridiculous. As if any detailed description and emotional focus would deter the author from checking off the mention of these “hot topic” issues.

I just couldn’t handle how Mare could experience crippling anxiety, and it being described in such a relatable and clear way, but then not having any strong reaction to the BIG situations that happen at the party, with Sam or with her parents. Mare’s life literally implodes, and instead of there being even a SINGLE moment of her having a reaction to it, her character is more concerned with talking to Sam about ignoring his phone calls.

Am I in 7th grade again?

But the WORST moment for me in this story, was the allude to a rape that…wasn’t a rape? Or…was it? I’m still not even sure. But the fact that I don’t even know, leaves such a bad taste in my mouth for how this was even done.

Firstly, it was ONE paragraph. And it wasn’t even a long paragraph. But I reread it about 15 times trying to figure out what actually happened, and honestly, I still have no idea. And with how the incident is then brought up, with Mare’s reaction to it being the same as if she was talking about what kind of sandwich she would like to have for lunch…well.

I just don’t even have words.

But just like every other moment of trauma in this story, the main character brushes it under the rug because I guess she’s just a robot.

Bottom line, don’t waste your time with this.ย 

1.5 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: The Boundless (The Beholder, Book 2) by Anna Bright

The Boundless

(See my review for Book 1 – The Beholder, here)

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, HarperTeen, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.ย 

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: When Selah found true love with Prince Torden of Norway, she never imagined sheโ€™d have to leave him behind. All because the Beholderโ€™s true mission was a secret Selahโ€™s crew didnโ€™t trust her to keep: transporting weapons to the rebels fighting against the brutal tsarytsya, whose shadow looms over their next port of Shvartsvalโ€™d. A place Selah hoped sheโ€™d never go.

But gone is the girl who departed Potomac filled with fear. With a stockpile of weapons belowdecks and her heart hanging in the balance, Selah is determined to see the Beholderโ€™s quest to its end.

Opinion:

Assuming you read my review of The Beholder (book 1), you will have quickly realized how much I was LIVING and BREATHING for this world.

The messy romances, the adventure, court politics and gowns, propriety, sensibility, duty, folklore and fairy tales

AMAZING!

But when I was knee-deep in The Boundless and sloshing around in enemy territory with a very odd tension/competition dynamic, and a heroine that seems to have blossomed into a badass over night, I was just a bit…

…well…

Le sigh.

After being rushed out of Norway and back onto The Beholder, Selah and the crew are forced to continue the tour to find Selah a husband. But the next stop on the list is the one place they have all been dreading since they embarked on their journey – Shvartsvalโ€™d. Within the territories of the Imperiya Yotne and the feared tsarytsya, whom they refer to as Baba Yaga, dangers are lurking around every corner and their moves are closely monitored. The crew plans to get in and get out as quickly as possible, but with Lang having trouble contacting the rebels to unload their weapons, Selah must take matters into her own hands. But even after having to leave the boy she fell in love with, and a confusing romantic spark growing, Selah knows that one wrong move could bring her entire world crumbling down.

This wasn’t horrible by any means, but it was just a little too dull and I was rolling my eyes a liiiiiittle too much.

The intense and emotional roller coaster I was on in The Beholder didn’t cross over into The Boundless, by any means. In the first book, I had practically ever other sentence highlighted, I was overwhelmed with feelings and dazzled by the constant misleading directions the author threw me into. I was smiling like an idiot one moment, squealing like a schoolgirl the next, and gasping like a nun at the sheer audacity and turmoil ensuing. But with The Boundless, I was left feeling like the author missed the mark.

In comparison with book one, these are pretty different books. The Beholder focused on the Selah’s stepmother shipping her off to various countries and eligible Prince’s, so it was very much a Bachelorette styled story that felt like The Selection series, with pirate-like vibes. There was court politics, wooing, and romance. But in The Boundless, the story shifts focus more towards the rebellion and the Imperiya Yotne – the “bad guys” of this tale.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a rebellion series and the shift in the focus isn’t what is irking me about this installment. It’s that the shift between YA Romance to YA Fantasy-Rebellion-Badass Female Lead felt…bumpy? In book one, Selah is SO new to being courted. She had only one crush her entire life, and she had never even kissed the guy. So obviously our girl is shy, awkward, innocent and sort of fumbling through what is expected of her. She has no idea what she’s doing, is too trusting of those around her, and seems to just rush headfirst into every emotional situation.

So when we get to The Boundless, it’s like she suddenly just figured everything out and is now wholly confident, strong, brash, forceful and a master schemer?

I know, I know.

“Those experiences helped her unlock her potential.”

Maybe so, but the transition just didn’t feel organic, and I think it’s because there wasn’t enough focus on building Selah’s character. These books are LONG and there is a lot that happens, but what I was really needing was some extra attention put towards molding Selah so that we, the readers, could actually form a strong connection with her.

After reading book 1, I didn’t completely love Selah but I felt like I had a good understanding of who she was. But now? I can’t really stand her. Her strength felt forced, her wit and quick-thinking seem to have appeared out of nowhere, and she suddenly knows how to put her emotional entanglements aside and focus on taking a dictator down?

Her “I’ll do it myselfattitude wasn’t consistent with who the author had been writing about. In one instance Selah just takes charge and says she doesn’t need anyone. But then she is always waiting to be saved. Waiting for “you know who” to come and save her. Well, which is it? Are you wanting to be saved, or are you doing your own saving?

And speaking of emotional entanglements

Wtf was going on with that weird little almost, but not quite, love triangle?

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’m going to keep the details on the DL, but I will say this: it felt like the author was trying to emulate a Bella-Edward-Jacob situation, but the execution was just weird and left my face all scrunched up and stuck in a state of annoyed confusion. There was no connection between Selah and “he who must not be named“. In The Beholder, I was hardcore panicking about them getting together, especially after I fell in drooly love with the “you know who” guy. But the fear of it going the way I didn’t want was exciting, and he had an allure and bad-boy/NAGC/mystery sort of aura about him.

But in The Boundless, I just wanted to smack him.

Their relationship got competitive and made even less sense than before, and I was hating every second of it. He was NOT a desirable character in this sequel, and I found their banter and interactions totally strange. THANKFULLY, things turned out how I hoped. But even so, those romantic reunions were so anti-climactic. I wanted to be punched in the face with emotion, not gently handed my wishes on a silver platter by a butler.

Like c’mon, make me beg for it!

Anyways. Once again the names of places and people’s names were confusing and I had a horrid time trying to connect things. I was hoping that was going to be ironed out in this sequel, but it wasn’t. But I am pleased with the book’s outcome and the added levels of intricacies that the author wove in. I just wish there would have been more of this type of plot in the first so that there could have been a seamless transition between the books, but even so, it works.

One of my favorite aspects of this series has been the blending of this new fantasy story with a few other classic fairy tales. We had mentions of The Odyssey, similar elements to Cinderella, and the obvious comparison of Baba Yaga. In Boundless, we get a few extra tales as well. There are a few Little Red Riding Hood mentions, but my favorite was the ode to the The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This gave the story intrigue, mystery and a means to connect certain plot points.

Overall, I liked it, but I definitely didn’t love The Boundless as much as I loved The Beholder. I was riding high on swoon clouds in book 1, and sitting in an even-paced horse and carriage in book two. It was a great story that had a ton of exciting adventure and turmoil happening, and even blended in some new fairy tales that readers will recognize. I guess I just wasn’t ready for the switch in story style, and was expecting a bit more focus and attention on the romance.ย 

3 Stars

 

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