Book Reviews

Book Review: A Whisper in the Dark by Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the authors, Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton, for an honest review. 

Genre: Adult/Fantasy/Romance/paranormal-Vampires

Plot: A city ruled by vampires. A disgraced princess. A world underground.

Charlotte Travesty lives in a world of comfort. Glittering nightclubs, a lavish mansion, and a staff of humans at her beck and call. Being a royal vampire means her future is secured—all she has to do is get through the Awakening, an ancient ceremony every vampire experiences when they come of age.

But when her Awakening arrives at last, everything changes in one terrifying instant.

Cast from her home and rejected by the royal family, Charlie is forced into a life of fear and brutality. Where creatures called weepers live below the city, kept at bay by an unlucky sector of fighters enslaved by the very king who cast her out. Charlie now finds herself among the ranks.

She soon learns that weepers aren’t all she needs to fear in her new life. Other workers are dying in the tunnels below ground. Charlie knows that if she’s going to survive, she must form alliances with the very humans that despise her. But will she win their trust in time? Or will she die in the very darkness she was born to rule?

For fans of Sarah J. Maas’s Crescent City and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, A Whisper in the Dark is the first volume in the Charlie Travesty serial.

Opinion:

“The crown rests beside me – it must have fallen off while I slept.”

A quick introduction to a new Adult Fantasy series that are bringing the Vamps back with a vengeance!

I LOVE anything by Kelsey Sutton, so of course when I found out she was working on a series of novellas with an author I hadn’t had the pleasure of knowing about, I was SOLD. And in true K.J. Sutton fashion, she literally gives ZERO information ahead of time about what she is writing, and then just displays it in all it’s glory on release day, on a platter of gold and blood. ❤

This first installment of the Charlie Travesty series was AMAZING! I was hooked from the first page until the last, immediately in love with our leading vamp Charlie, and obsessed with the world. I absolutely love a dystopian styled fantasy, especially one where Vampires rule over humans, and one where a royalfalls from grace“.

In this vampire world, the Awakening is the moment when a vampire comes into who they are. Each eye color dictates where a vampire will reside and what their interests will be. Charlie, being an artist, hopes to wake with emerald eyes that will take her into Sul, the quarter for artists and writers. But when she wakes, her eye color shows the true proof of who Charlie really is.

I am so impressed with how easily this story flowed. Usually when you get a book written by two or more authors, there is a disconnect between the writing styles or the switch in voices in painfully obvious. And being such a HUGE K.J. Sutton fan, I figured I’d easily be able to tell which parts were written or influenced by Kelsey.

Well. Color me wrong AF.

You would NEVER guess this was written by two different people! The melding of these two creative minds is impeccable, and the story and world they created was addicting as hell. And even though I’m not a big novella reader, I really found myself preferring this pacing. It gets to the point, but not in a rushed way. I honestly had no problems at all with this book, and all I want is to read everything else these two beautiful writers put onto paper.

5 Stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #47: My Top 10 Anticipated June 2020 Book Releases

 

It’s almost June.
Get those jeans high and tight ladies and gents, there are some EPIC upcoming releases.

 

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~* My Top 10 Anticipated June 2020 Book Releases *~

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1. Again Again by E. Lockhart
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

Again Again

Again Again has the most vague description, and the most guarded reviews ever, and all they do is make me want this even more.

From what I can gather, it’s the story of a girl being able to experience moments over and over, and trying things differently each time. Either changing her reactions, her decisions, or what she says and does.

Basically it’s this:

You know how you think back on all those situations wishing you said something wittier? Or stood up for yourself? Or were more compassionate?

Well that is what this story is about, and apparently, it’s powerful.

 

2. The House Guest by Mark Edwards
Release Date: June 3, 2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Psychological

The Guest House

A psychowomanstalkerstranger?!

The House Guest is about a couple who begin house-sitting a home for the summer in New York. But when a woman named Eden shows up on their doorstep claiming to be a friend of the owners, the couple decides to trust her.

And with her charming personality and gorgeous looks, it’s hard not to!

But this wouldn’t be a good story if our girl wasn’t just a liiiiiitlllleee bit unhinged.

 

3. The Boundless (The Beholder, Book 2) by Anna Bright
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

The Boundless

The Boundless is book 2 in The Beholder series…which…no…I haven’t read yet…

But I have it ready to read before the release date of The Boundless nears!

The Beholder is a tale with both Cinderella and The Odyssey elements that follows a princess as she sets off across the Atlantic to find a suitor, after being brutally rejected by a childhood friend. It’s a tale of adventure, romance and gallivanting across the sea and I am SO ready!

 

4. The Anti-Virginity Pact by Katie Wismer
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary

The Anti-virginity Pact

The Anti-Virginity Pact.

If that title doesn’t make you want to read it, I don’t know what will.

A preacher’s daughter who is an atheist.

With a pact to lose her virginity by the end of her senior year.

Meredith has gone through her high school years silent and shy, but when she writes out a pact to herself that she MUST lose her virginity by the end of the year and a fellow student gets a hold of it, her is no longer invisible.

She begins being bullied in school and even when she meets a boy who doesn’t know of her goal, the pact threatens to bring in all crumbling down.

 

5. The Kinder Poison (Book 1) by Natalie Mae
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

The Kinder Poison

THIS is one I just stumbled across today and I am wondering why the hell I hadn’t seen it until now?!

It’s like The Hunger Games had a love child with every fantasy tale I’ve ever loved, and I just want to puke I’m so excited.

The Kinder Poison is set in a world where magical abilities seem to decide rank. As a Whisperer to animals, Orkena is forced to work in the royal stables until her magic dries out. But when a ruler invokes the Crossing in order to decide which one of his heirs will take the throne, everything changes.

It’s a death-defying race across the desert where an heir must kill someone as a sacrifice at the end, and unfortunately, Orkena is presented as tribute.

 

6. Seasons of the Storm (Book 1) by Elle Cosimano
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Seasons of the Storm

I got THIS little hottie from Edelweiss+ and YES I did click on it for the cover, but I requested for the plootttttt.

Seasons. KILLING. Seasons!

Seasons of the Storm follows Jack Sommers, who was given the choice to live forever or die. He chose life, but he was then forced to become Winter and act as the physical embodiment of the season.

But the seasons aren’t a casual breeze or gentle snowfall, every year he must hunt down the season that went before him, and kill them.

Summer kills Spring.

Autumn kills Summer.

Winter kills Autumn.

Spring kills Winter.

Also…why did the author give him the last name of Sommers if he’s mister Winter…?

 

7. Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Sisters of Sword and Song

If there’s a scorpion on the cover, your girl needs it.

Sisters of Sword and Song has another little Hunger Games vibe, but more in the sense of sisters volunteering for sisters.

It has been eight years since sisters Evadne and Halcyon (FFS, these names) have been together, as Halcyon has been away serving in the Queen’s army. But when she returns earlier than expected, her sister learns that she is on the run and being charged with murder.

As Halcyon’s punishment is brought down upon her, Eva volunteers as tribute…*cough*…wait…volunteers as tribute to take part of her sister’s sentence. But what the girls are sentenced to is apparently

 

8. I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

I killed zoe spanos

SO excited for this murder/mystery thriller I got from Netgalley!

I Killed Zoe Spanos is about two teens who become linked after one confesses to murder, and the other fights to reveal the truth.

Anna Cicconi is in the Hamptons for a Summer nanny job, but when she arrives, she finds that the community is in uproar after the disappearance of a local girl named Zoe Spanos. And what is odd, is Anna has a striking resemblance to Zoe, so the residents are more than unhinged to see her walking around.

But two months later, Zoe’s body is found, and Anna is charged with manslaughter after confessing.

 

9. Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Genre: Science-Fiction/Dystopian

Blue Ticket

I know Dystopian novels have kind of gone by the waste-side in recent years as YA Fantasy took over, but for me, this type of eerie Uptopian/Dystopian book is ALL I EVER WANT!

Blue Ticket will be my first Sophie Mackintosh read (thanks Edelweiss+), but from the reviews I’m seeing, it won’t be my last.

It’s set in a world of a Lottery deciding the fate of a woman.

 

Upon a woman’s first bleeding, she has the chance of becoming a Blue Ticket woman or a White Ticket woman. The White Ticket grants you marriage and children, while the Blue Ticket grants career and freedom.

“You are relieved of the terrible burned of choice.”

When Calla, who has a Blue Ticket, begins to question her fate and her desires as she becomes pregnant, and wonders if the Lottery truly knows what is best for her.

 

10. Goddess in the Machine (Book 1) by Lora Beth Johnson
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Genre: YA/Science-Fiction

Goddess in the Machine

There is currently a giveaway for this on Goodreads, so go enter!!

Goddess in the Machine is all about cryonic slumber, waking up in the year 3102 and the descendants of a girl’s family and friends thinking she’s a deity.

Andra knows she is no deity, but goes along with the charade as she tries to figure out what has happened to the world in the thousand years that she was asleep. But for an exiled bastard prince named Zhade

all he wants is to get his hands on Andra in the hopes that she will be the key to giving him the throne he desires.

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Promo

Book Review: Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Of Silver and Shadow

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flux – North Star Editions, via Netgalley for an honest review. 

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Rebellion

Plot: Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

Opinion:

Of Silver and Shadow had a lot going right for it.

A story of rebellion with unique and diverse characters, a plot with twists and surprises lurking in shadowed alleyways, a rugged world built on oppression and fear, and a female lead with a liking towards thievery and pit fights.

But with all the good that this story was – enthralling, exciting, fresh – there were too many holes, forced moments and fumbling for it to really be a winner in my eyes.

“Manners are nothing more than a polite form of dishonesty.”

This is your basic YA Fantasy story of a group of rebels attempting to overthrow a cruel and power-obsessed King. For a century, the use of magic in the form of silver wielding has been outlawed and forbidden by anyone but the royal family. In fear of losing their royal status, King Tallis ensured that only the Lyandor family would have the right to possess magic.  So he ordered the capture of those who possessed the gift of silver magic, and killed them all.

“They writhed, eyes and noses glowing, heads thrown back and silver spilling out of wide mouths as they tried to scream, but couldn’t.”

This started off strong with the introduction of our ruthless and badass female heroine, Ren. I knew from the description that I was going to take an immediate liking to her, and I did, but there was just something…missing. She has SERIOUS Celaena Sardothian vibes, with a smart mouth and ferocious skills that always keep her one step ahead of her opponents. She is arrogant, stubborn, brash and sarcastic. Truly a gem. But the connection that I should have made with her from the beginning never seemed to come.

“She held her chin as if bearing the weight of a crown.”

What quickly becomes a theme for the characters in this book is their two-dimensional nature. Sure, they have physical traits that set them apart and personalities that make them differ from one another. But “who they are” and “what they’re about” is mostly told to the reader, with very little evidence or examples being shown. I felt that there were too many descriptions of their personalities, traits and flaws rather than there being a chance for me to draw my own conclusions about each person.

I wanted to figure out on my own why Ren kept people at a distance and why she was always so mean. I wanted to learn in due time just how cruel the king and his son Heath were, and the lengths they would go to in order to stay in power. I wanted that slow-burn romance with tentative flicks of the eyes, the feather-light brushing of hands during strategy talks or playful banter. But there wasn’t much of that at all. And with that painfully obvious romance between Ren and Darek, it all felt forced and rushed with zero chemistry between them.

The King and Heath were described as being truly horrible beings who cared only for power and ruling. But they don’t come across that way at all. Their dialogue doesn’t express pure menace or cruelty. Heath is even supposed to be more vicious than his father, but the way he spoke and his mannerisms made him come off as thoughtful and vulnerable. Even how the King expressed his disgust for his sons came off like an offhanded jab. Like when I’m shoving cookies into my face on a Tuesday afternoon and my friend is looking at me in horror and says ‘Bruh, you disgust me’. Bit aggressive, but not pure malice.

About the only two characters that were convincing were two soldiers of the King’s Children.

“No one really talked about what happened when a King’s Child lost their finesse with a weapon and their body began to final, but everyone knew. The king worked his children until they outlived their usefulness, and when their aim was no longer true and their sword shook in their hands, he sent them to an early grave.”

Adley and Lesa are two badass broads, but Lesa is who really steals the show…and as the supporting actress to Adley! She has a softness to her that is girly and delicate, with a scary fierceness and a twisted love for torture and bloodshed. Their relationship is EVERYTHING I was needing from Ren and Darek. Caring, strong, fierce, sweet and well-rounded. But unfortunately, this story doesn’t wholly center on them. and unfortunately, I feel like they barely got an ending!

I think what my main issue is that very little aspects of this story felt organic. Big plot points are revealed by characters just sort of walking into the answers, and even the revealing of these secrets and twists were blasé. But please hear me when I say, this isn’t a bad book by any means. I was hooked into it and loved the plot and story as a whole. I just felt like it could have been great, when it was just pretty good. Maybe it’s because I compare everything to an SJM books now, who knows? But part of me wishes this story was split into two books, and part of me disagrees because there wasn’t THAT much happening. I just wanted more explanation on the magic, more of what went into planning the rebellion and MORE from Ren.

I’m on the fence about this one, but I’m interested to read something else by this author to see if it was just this book or my mood getting in the way of me loving it.

3 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the Publisher, Rock the Boat (Oneworld Publications), via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Sexual and Domestic

Plot: No one has ever asked Izzy what she wants. She’s about to change all that…

In a house adept at sweeping problems under the carpet, seventeen-year-old Izzy feels silenced. As her safety grows uncertain, Izzy know three things for sure. She knows not to tell her mother that Jacob Mansfield has been threatening to spread those kinds of photos around college. She knows to quiet the grief that she’s been abandoned by her best friend Grace. And, seeing her mother conceal the truth of her stepdad’s control, Izzy also knows not to mention how her heart splinters and her stomach churns whenever he enters a room.

When the flimsy fabric of their life starts to unravel, Izzy and her mum must find their way out of the silence and use the power in their voices to rediscover their worth.

For fans of Sara Barnard, Louise O’Neill and E. Lockhart, The Sky is Mine is a powerful exploration of rape culture and domestic abuse, and a moving story of women learning to love themselves enough to demand to be heard.

Opinion:

Then he lets out this laugh that’s like a puff of disgust and says something like ‘gotcha’ before the blast of cool air lets me know I’m still here, on the wrong side of the door, having been coaxed in by the surprise of Jacob’s smile.”

Because this is what happens to girls like me with boys like Jacob. This is what we deserve. And I fall deeper and deeper into the well, away from the sun and the moon, where embers of whatever my voice could have been are immediately starved of air.”

 

If I thought it would make any difference, I would scream.”

 

Izzy doesn’t know where her voice went. Why her lips stay shut when Jacob is near, why she allows his hands to touch her skin. She doesn’t want it to happen, she wants it to stop. But Jacob is dangling shame over her head and Izzy is all too familiar with the tricks of men. How he twists his words and so easily takes her power. To say nothing is almost easier. To just bear the weight of the ugliness and keep moving forward. That’s what her mother does with Daniel, her stepdad. She keeps her mouth shut, her head down, and falls in line. But the loneliness that Izzy’s secrets bring are weighing her down. She can’t talk to her mother, who is just as silenced as she, and her best friend Grace is too preoccupied with her new girlfriend. So Izzy has to deal with it alone. Unless, she can find a way out.

‘I should go,’ I say, but my words are an echo and his room is a cave with its closed curtains and the bedside lamp suddenly switched off by his swift fingers, which somehow turn to fire in the dark, spreading wild across my body so I can no longer tell which bit of him is where because the whole of Jacob is on me, against me, burning itself into me as my echo presses into what might be his chest but could be his shoulder.

Whatever piece of him is so close to my mouth, it melts my ability to speak, any words I try to summon seeping into a wet patch of nothing on his shirt.”

I’d disappear if I could, but I can’t.”

I have never highlighted so many quotes in a book, in my life. But the quantity of these highlights, though very large, doesn’t even compare to the quality and punch they pack. Amy Beashel has reached into the heart of so many young girls and women and extracted those feeling of loneliness, fear, regret, shame, self-loathing, anger and sadness. She took the ugliness that we have all felt, and sometimes still feel, and she has screamed it through black ink on thin pieces of paper. This book is powerful. It hurts, it hits an all too familiar nerve, and it leaves an ache in your gut. It is something so many of us have felt, and something so many of us have always been afraid of.

‘You were gone, Izzy.’

‘No more than you or Jacob or any of your other mates.’

‘Isn’t the same for us though, is it?’”

This isn’t a lighthearted story. It’s about sexual abuse and rape. About domestic abuse, manipulation and control. It’s about a daughter who is going through hell in the confines of a boy’s bedroom, and a mother who suffers in her own home, while her daughter watches. It is pure heartbreak and sorrow, and this author captures it in a way that feels all too real.

Everything just kind of gives in.

I shouldn’t be here.”

Izzy’s character feels so true and authentic. A girl who knows she doesn’t want the things that are happening to her to be happening, but is unable to speak up. And as the reader follows her into her memories of the party, and into the bedroom of a boy that is blackmailing her, we begin to realize how and why that is. The relationship between her mother and her stepdad is volatile and and confusing, as is her own relationship with her stepfather, Daniel. So many controlling phrases said with smiles, or harsh japes delivered with an upbeat tone. And even a lingering of Daniel’s hand on her back for a second too long, or a look down towards her chest. It is no wonder that Izzy says nothing, because that is exactly what her mother does.

…and me looking at my thighs in the mirror wondering how all those other girls do it. Fall out of hate with their bodies, I mean.

‘You’re beautiful’, Mum whispers when Daniel leaves the kitchen, but her voice is too much like tissue paper to wrap me up in anything that feels like safety or strength or truth.”

The abuse that Izzy’s mother endures through her marriage is easily frustrating as you read. Her timid behavior, the way she says nothing when Daniel talks down to Izzy, or the way she refuses to speak with Izzy when Izzy attempts to reach out to her. It is painful to watch, but unfortunately, it mirrors so many true relationships of how a woman will hold on, even if it’s hurting her. I was angry that her mother would stay and not get Izzy out of that house, or that she wasn’t more observant to how Daniel behaved around around her daughter…but I imagine that is the point, isn’t it? To spark an anger in the reader, because these situations are all too real and and equally emotionally confusing.

And how the behavior of her mother intertwines with how Izzy treats her own relationships and situations is…devastating. There were tears constantly in my eyes and a sickness in my stomach as Izzy describes her despair. Her loneliness and fear, or how she goes along with a boy’s request because she feels she has no other options.

My chest and my belly turning from chalky mass to scarlet mass in the rush of the water, which, no matter how high I turn the dial on the shower, still can’t shift the stickiness of Jacob’s hands and mouth and his tongue that slicked those words: ‘Relax, Izzy. It’ll be so much better if you just fucking relax.’

Cos those words, they’re as wedged as the earplugs I’ve used on the worst kinds of nights when Daniel’s done what he’s done, and he’s left, and Mum’s crying is as quiet as she can make it, but for all her effort, that sinking weep of hers seeps through the walls like blood on toilet paper.”



But what really stands out to me about this story, is the imperfections and unsavory characteristics. Of how not everything turns out perfectly. Of how some things improve and change, but how the trauma molds these two women. How it shifts their mother daughter relationship and jumbles it up into a ball of confusion and assumptions about how the other had been feeling. The author so beautifully displayed how Izzy saw things from her perspective, and then how her mother saw them and what was going through her head. But even so, the theme of this story is their silence and how they learn to find their voices.

…she doesn’t even try, just sits there as I work on being a rock, dry and deserted, pulling back the tears and filing my mouth with biscuits so it doesn’t accidentally fill with words.”

There is a romance aspect that comes to Izzy, and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure it was necessary or that I even wanted it to be there. I wanted Izzy to find self-worth and strength on her own or with her mother. And though she does in some ways, the fact that part of it came from a boy sort of…rubs me the wrong way. Izzy’s best friend Grace on the other hand, is everything I wanted and needed. Grace is so sure, so herself…it’s astounding. She is her own body and her own soul, and it was the most beautiful thing to witness, especially as she builds Izzy up and forces her to see her own beauty.

‘You’re fuckin’ perfect. Look at us,’ she says, dragging me to the mirror, ‘we both are.’”

This book was so sad and beautiful, I am so glad I found it. I always gravitate towards stories like this, but the last few I have read were less than impressive. Thankfully, Amy Beashel has blown me away and made my entire demeanor deflate from sadness. Which I know sounds bad, but I love when a book does this to me. Bravo Amy.

‘Would you like to talk to me about what happened?’ she asks.

‘Yes,’ I say.

And the word is an expanding universe. Any my voice?

Well, My voice is the goddamn Big Bang.”

 

4.5 Stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo

Binding of Bindings : 10 YA Books with Unique Concepts

Wanna get weird?

 

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~* 10 YA Books with Unique Concepts *~

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1. Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace, Book 1) by Kathryn Purdie
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Bone Criers Moon

Bone Crier’s Moon is the perfect way to kick off this ‘Unique Concepts‘ post, especially because it’s about a tribe of women who kill their soulmates so they can ferry souls across the gates of Heaven and Hell.

The women are called Leurress and their purpose is to guide the Chained and Unchained to the gates they belong to. In order to become a ferrier, each Leurress has to acquire three Grace Bones from animals they hunt and kill themselves. The “Graces” they receive from the animal – like the speed of a rabbit, the sight of a hawk, the stamina of…something – become abilities they then posses as long as they wear the bones.

Once they acquire all three bones, they must complete the final ritual. Using the sacred Bone Flute that opens the gates on ferrying night, the Leurress must play the flute and lure her soulmate to a bridge…and kill him.

(See my review here)

 

2. Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Dooms Day Preppers (I told you it was a genre now)

Last girls

I just read Last Girls last week, and it was fantastic. It’s a story of three sisters who live on a compound with other Dooms Day Preppers, where they train in hand to hand combat, hunting, survival skills, making bombs…you name it.

But there’s a story within this story, and it is epic.

The Juniper sisters are the “weird sisters” wherever they go. Honey is the responsible older sister whose job is to keep her sisters in line and together. Birdie is the middle sister who does what she wants, when she wants. She is the brash and fiery sister. Blue, the youngest, has cobalt blue hair and is the calm that holds the girls together. She also has a tendency to say odd little prophetic sentences at all times of the day and night.

(See my review here)

 

3. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

All your Twisted Secrets

All Your Twisted Secrets:

SAW meets THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

Six seniors are locked in a room with a bomb, a syringe and a note instructing them to pick one person to kill. Before time is up, they must choose one person to inject with the lethal liquid, or they all die.

And Oh. My. Shit. is that ending going to blow your mind.

(See my review here)

 

4. The Hazel Wood series by Melissa Albert
Genre: YA/Fantasy

I personally thought the first book in this series was better, but the concept is still kickass.

It has all the twisted Grimm’s Brothers vibes you could want, and instead of it being a book of bubbly fairy tales and happy endings, it’s very much like a Once Upon a Time version where everything is actually quite fucked up.

The Hazel Wood is an estate where writer Althea Proserpine lives, and where she writes the haunting stories set in an eerie world called The Hinterland. Alice has never read the stories her grandmother wrote, and instead has been outrunning bad luck with her mother for years. But when her mother suddenly disappears, Alice is forced to find her grandmother, becomes it seems that her mother has been taken to a place that wasn’t supposed to be real – The Hinterland.

The world building is so cool, and the fairy tales are jacked up, so naturally I loved it. The Night Country was meh because it turns into more of an Urban Fantasy, but the world building was still amazing.

(See my reviews for The Hazel Wood here and The Night Country here)

 

5. A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

A Danger to Herself and Others

THIS book.

What a psychological whirlwind this was.

It’s about a girl who is institutionalized for something that happened at school with one of her friends. She claims she didn’t do it and knows that she just has to prove that she is sane so they will let her go home.

But the truth of what happened is so unexpected and so heart-clenching...

…it was immediately one of my new favorite books, and still is.

READ THIS.

(See my review here)

 

6. Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Red Hood

Red Hood is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, but so different and bizarre that you’ll be saying “wtf” while grinning from ear to ear.

This is a straight-up feminist retelling. And when I say feminist, I mean

FEMINIST.

It dives deep into those womanly hardships of feeling unclean, unimportant, unsafe and unworthy. It is unhinging how gritty and purely raw this story is, and the author doesn’t hold back at all.

In this story, men and boys who wish to hurt women are the wolves. But our main character Bisou, and her grandmother, are bestowed with a special gift that allows them to sense the wolves and kill them. But the real magic about this book, is that the shining star of it is PERIODS.

Yeah. I’m not kidding.

(See my review here)

 

7. The Door to January by Gillian French
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery

The Door to January

The Door to January is a really interesting YA Paranormal/Mystery combo in that it has elements of spirits, murder, a fantasy door to the past, and very serious trauma.

It is about a girl named Natalie who went through a very traumatic experience in the woods two years prior to the reader meeting her. Now, after her family had moved away, Natalie keeps experiencing dreams of a door in a house she thinks is from back home. So when she ventures back to her hometown, and she and her cousin investigate the old house, spirits start to communicate with her.

 

This book is bursting with multiple plots and is completely unique.

(See my review here)

 

8. The Life of Death by Lucy Booth
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

The Life of Death

Ugh. What a whirlwind this story was!

The Life of Death is just like it sounds, it’s about the life of death – or the “Grim Reaper“.

As a woman is about to be hung for accusations of being a witch, she is visited in her cell by HIM. He offers her a deal, a chance at a life after death as death itself. And so she accepts.

And so for the next 500 years Elizabeth acts as death, guiding souls across the threshold. But in their dying moments, Elizabeth takes on the face and memories of a loved one that the dying most desires to see. She guides them along with love and compassion.

But when Elizabeth comes across a man whose wife she just helped cross over, she is suddenly struck by love and wants out. So HE gives her a task: HE will assign her five lives that she must take, and then she will be free.

And this is where things get fucked up and sad.

(See my review here)

 

9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Fantasy

The Ten Thousand Doors of january

What a lovely and fantastical story this is!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is all about doors to other worlds, bad men trying to destroy the doors and keep the beautiful secrets inside for themselves, and a young woman trying to get to her father. It’s a tale of EPIC romance, and a coming-of-age fantasy period-piece that NEEDS to be a movie NOW!

Probably one of the best stories I have read in my lifetime, for its exquisite writing and amazing plot.

Just go buy it.

(See my review here)

 

10. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Genre: YA/Horror/Mystery/LGBT

Wilder Girls

I know a lot of you have seen this one and read it already, but it deserves a spot on this list for it’s astounding yet horrific uniqueness.

Wilder Girls is the feminist Lord of the Flies that you didn’t know you needed. And as I said in my review:

This book will make your skin shift.

Though this is in the Horror category, and is definitely creepy, it isn’t a scary story. It’s creepy in the sense of science fiction in that a school for girls has been infected with a virus they call The Tox. And the Tox effects each girl differently when the flare-ups hit them – from seconds spines and hearts, scales growing on the hands or face to lesions or skin bubbling. The story tracks how the girls live among one another trying to survive, and then figuring out how to escape once the government stops sending them aid.

But the best part of this book is the unflinching unity between these girls who look like monstrous creatures, but have respect towards one another and don’t even bat an eye to one another over physical abnormalities.

Now THAT is an enviable world to live in.

(See my review here)

 

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Stay Witchy

 

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky


Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the Publisher, Macmillan-Tor/Forge via Netgalley for an honest review.
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Dooms Day Preppers (It’s a genre now)
Plot:

No one knows how the world will end.
On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.
Prepare for every situation.
But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:
Nowhere is safe.

Opinion:

Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb?

-Pink Floyd

“Preparedness is the root of prepping.”

Sisters Honey, Birdie and Blue know they’re weird. Unlike regular teenagers who worry about school dances, dating and shopping, the Juniper sisters are more versed in survival skills and tactical combat. For years they have been moving around with their mother Alice, never without their EDC bags or each other. But after settling in Washington and working and training along fellow doomsday preppers on a secret compound in the outskirts of town, things for the Juniper sisters are getting…strange. After a mission set by the compound leader goes wrong, one of the boys from the compound is forced to go out on his own as punishment. But what really happened that day on the mission is the real question, and why the mission was ordered in the first place. Suddenly life isn’t all government conspiracies and stock-piling food. While trying to keep their prepper identities secret, they soon realize the truth is much more toxic than they ever expected.

‘Why did we ever come here?’

‘To find our way home,’ Blue says.”

I think this is my new favorite book of 2020. I mean sure, nothing can really beat the gut-punch and epic fantastical emotion show that was HOEAB, but for me…Last Girls comes damn close.

Maybe it’s just the conspirator in me, or the slight hope for an apocalypse so I can run around the world mostly scared, yet completely badass in my combat boots, unpractical black jeans, ripped shirts and unnaturally large knives strapped to my legs. But in truth, it’s probably the fact that I am a sucker for badass females that can take care of themselves – ESPECIALLY in the woods with a bow or a rifle. And that is exactly what the Juniper sisters are. BAD. ASS. They’re fiesty, they’re sharp and witty, they are experts in weaponry and hunting and can lay you on your back in .25 seconds. They are teenagers who posses the innocence of young women, but also carry a wisdom and complete sense of comfort as to who they are. They are thoughtful, tactful and at ease in their bodies. I adore them.

We can handle them.

My sisters and I can handle anything.”

The girls live on a compound with a bunch of other preppers. Men and women, boys and girls. The compound is separated into two two sections: The Burrow, where the men reside with the weapons and artillery, and The Nest, where the women reside and grow food for the compound and tend to the animals. Every day the girls are required to take care of the animals that are used for food, to train with the rest of the compound, and to remember the most vital rule of all:

The first rule of prep club is you don’t talk about prep club.”

The compound is ultra strict about keeping the prepper business on the DL, and anyone caught violating their rules or putting their fellow preppers at risk are swiftly dealt with and banished. This lifestyle is all the juniper sisters have ever known, and it’s almost like they were made for it. So even though they are always labeled the Weird Sisters at whatever school they end up attending, they also are quite aware that if a disaster ever hit, they would definitely be the last ones standing.

“If I be waspish, best beware my sting.”

HONEY

Honey is the oldest Juniper sister and tasked with the responsibility of keeping her sisters in line and ensuring they always stay together. She is compassionate and strong, fierce yet approachable, thoughtful and definitely acts as the mother hen. The story is told by her and seen through her eyes, which I think was the perfect choice for a voice for this story. She is the balance of her two sisters. A piece of Blue’s calm and a piece of Birdie’s brash nature. She is the glue and the rational authority for her sisters, always thinking ahead and making sure they are safe.

“…a look that rides the line between aloof and ready for battle.”

BIRDIE

Now Birdie…she’s my girl. I connected with her SO much, even though she’s still a bit of a mystery. She has the Fury/Amren vibes of cool and carefree murder in her eyes, and a sassy mouth like Aelin and Bryce. She fully lives up to her name in the sense that she flies out the door on a whim, doing what she pleases and when. She acts before thinking and refuses to be told what to do, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t an excellent prepper. Because she is. She is just as dedicated to her lifestyle as her sisters, but she likes to bend the rules more. She is the strength and unwavering determination of the sisters.

“A calm blue sea with hair to match…”

BLUE

Blue is also my favorite! So yeah, okay…I love them all. But Blue is perfection! She is the youngest Juniper and is an enigma of cool, calm and collected at all times. She is unwavering in her thoughtfulness and passive nature, and is always spouting odd prophecy-like sentences that even make her sisters look at her strangely. But of course, that was why I was obsessed with her. Well, and the cobalt blue hair. Blue is so sweet and loving, definitely the heart of the sisters.

So foul and fair a day I have not seen.”

But this story has so much MORE of an underlying purpose weaved within it, but I of course can’t say a damn thing about it because OHMYGAH, it’s so good. By the end of the book I had tears forming, and when Birdie flies at someone near the end…well. I just about broke down and started happy weeping. How this tale comes together is really crafty and sly, and I loved how slowly everything was revealed. It broke me a little, in a good way, and I am still oohing and ahhing about the beauty of it all. And to make the story EVEN BETTER, the writing in it was fantastic! The sarcastic jokes, ironic Hunger Games references and witty banter between Honey and her classmate Remy was so enjoyable. I was highlighting SO MUCH while reading because I couldn’t get enough of these personalities.

There are a few romantic notions in this tale, but I really liked that it didn’t encompass the story or overpower the real plot. It added to the characters by bringing a necessary softness and realistic nature to them. It helped make the girls feel like actual teenagers, rather than gun-toting soldiers looking for a fight.

Overall, I loved this book. I want it to become a movie, I want to play Birdie, no I cannot act, but I have that “f**k you” look ready and the hair to match, so bring it on. Read this book. Get into the culty/Dooms Day/Apocalypse/prepper lifestyle with me and let’s go be weird together.

Currently taking applications for my other Juniper sisters.

5 Stars

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Book Promo · Cover Reveal

Lyrics & Curses (Cursed Hearts, Book 1) by Candace Robinson

Book Title: Lyrics & Curses
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Series: Cursed Hearts
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Authors: Candace Robinson
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Release Date: November 10, 2020
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~.:* Cover Reveal *:.~

I have paired up with author Candace Robinson to reveal the cover of the first book in her newest series!

THIS is the gorgeous cover for the upcoming release of Book 1 in the Cursed Hearts series – Lyrics and Curses! It is an YA Fantasy brimming with fantastical creatures and 1980 nostalgia.

It’s Stranger Things meets Pretty in Pink, set in the vibrant 80s and bursting with bright colors and secret curses. It’s a perfect blend of music and fantasy, and it is sure to be epic!

~Click here to add it to your Goodreads shelf!~

~Synopsis below~

Lyrics and Curses

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Book Synopsis

Lark Espinoza could get lost in her music—and she’s not so sure anyone in her family would even care to find her. Her trendy, party-loving twin sister and her mother-come-lately Beth, who’s suddenly sworn off men and onto homemaking, don’t understand her love of cassette tapes, her loathing of the pop scene, or her standoffish personality. For outcast Lark, nothing feels as much like a real home as working at Bubble’s Oddities store and trying to attract the attention of the cute guy who works at the Vinyl shop next door—the same one she traded lyrical notes with in class.

Auden Ellis silences the incessant questions in his own head with a steady stream of beats. Despite the unconditional love of his aunt-turned-mother, he can’t quit thinking about the loss of his parents—or the possibility he might end up afflicted with his father’s issues. Despite his connection with lyric-loving Lark, Auden keeps her at arm’s length because letting her in might mean giving her a peek into something dangerous.

When two strangers arrive in town, one carrying a mysterious, dark object and the other playing an eerie flute tune, Lark and Auden find that their painful pasts have enmeshed them in a cursed future. Now, they must come to terms with their budding attraction while helping each other challenge the reflection they see in the mirror. If they fail, they’ll be trapped for eternity in a place beyond reality.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @literarydust
Website: https://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @literarydust
Goodreads: Candace Robinson

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