Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: Forsaken Wrath (The Scorpio Files, Book 1) by Alexander Ferrick

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Alex Ferrick, for an honest review.

Genre: Adult/YA/Adventure/Short Story

Plot: In a world, where men are judged by their profession, there are few like the fortune hunter. These steely men of fantasy search the globe in pursuit of lost treasures, which have been forgotten by time.

Among fortune hunters, there is none quite like Nick Reed, a man called Scorpio.

My name is Bartimaeus… I am the partner, and friend, of Nick Reed. I have compiled for you this account of how I first came to meet the man called Scorpio, and of our first perilous adventure together.

Opinion:

This book is perfect for fans of National Treasure, The Da Vinci Code, or even Pitfall! – a game that came out on Atari in the early 80’s but has since been revamped on Wii (seriously, so good). Forsaken Wrath is book 1 in the Scorpio Files series that centers on the tales of fortune hunters Nick Reed, known as Scorpio, and Bartimaeus.

A former Navy Seal and excellent marksmen, Scorpio spends his time hunting down the lost relics made famous by history books. When Bartimaeus seeks him out to acquire his assistance on a job that his father had dedicated his life to researching, the two embark on an adventure around the world to find three gates that will lead them to treasures beyond their wildest dreams.

This is my first read by author Alexander Ferrick, and I am honestly blown away by his storytelling and creative abilities. He possesses an ease in his writing that feels so flawless and effortless. This young author has a knack for weaving tales that draw you in and keep you hooked, and for dreaming up characters with various backgrounds and unique personalities.

Each character has a meaningful amount of detail and explanation into who they are and what they stand for that is perfect for this short story. There is a man named Doc who is an eccentric genius, Gabriella who is a master of prosthetics and makeup, Nick Reed who was a decorated Navy Seal and sniper, and a cruel and sadistic man of equal lethal abilities named M’Kembe Oro.

Honestly, the only bad thing I have to say about this book is that it is under 70 pages long. I was so glued to this tale that I read it WAY too quickly, and am more than upset that it is over. I can’t wait to see where Alex takes this story in the next installment, and I am hoping that he turns this book and this series into full length novels. Because it’s THAT good.

5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Terrible Lizard: A Memoir of My Time in the Police Dinosaur Unit

Terrible Lizard

 

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the author, Doug Goodman, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Urban Fantasy

Plot: If you can train a chicken, you can train a dinosaur.

Or so Oak Jones thought. He’s wanted on the Police Dinosaur Unit all his life. Now that he’s in, he’s discovered that training a Police Working Velociraptor is a lot harder than he ever imagined. And if he thought training would be difficult, living with a Velociraptor is a whole new level of fun. Banshee can clear a six-foot fence like it was nothing, and he has a love for eating the neighborhood cats, which is putting Oak on the outs with his next-door neighbor, Christy Dao.

But there is a reason for everything, and when Oak discovers why Banshee struggles, it breaks his heart.

Terrible Lizard is a funny and endearing look at life with Banshee, a great working dinosaur, but one terrible lizard.

Opinion:

Move over Jurassic Park and Jurassic World.

There’s a new dinosaur tale in town.

Oak Jones has been obsessed with dinosaurs since he was a kid. With his classmates nicknaming him “Din-Oak” and “Oakasaurus”, he knew that the Police Dinosaur Unit would be his true calling. So he worked is way into Houston PD, and spent 7 of his 10 years in law enforcement in the Dinosaur Unit. But his journey to becoming a dinosaur handler was rocky, especially when it came to training his assigned velociraptor named Banshee – who had a tumultuous past and a pension for giving the cold shoulder. But once Oak learned more about Banshee, the two begin to embark on an adventure of hunting down criminals and forming an unbreakable friendship.

Guys.

This book is SO great.

It’s cute, fun, lighthearted, witty, comical, creative, entertaining and even gets a little dark! But only a little. 😉 The entire story is broken up into tales of Oak’s entry into the Houston Police Dinosaur Unit, his training, and the seven years he spent as an active member alongside his partner and velociraptor, Banshee. The book is obviously a work of fiction, but it is set in present times and closely mirrors how our world is now…except with a few dinosaurs roaming around and chasing after bad guys.

As always, author Doug Goodman executes this fantastical tale flawlessly by blending fact with fiction by way of research and his creative imagination. This book is filled with SO many amazing moments that had me giggling and blissfully enjoying every page! From a kleptomaniac dinosaur and dinosaur smuggling, to the PDU officers instructing their handlers to train a chicken to dance by way of positive reinforcement. This book is absolutely random, but everything you didn’t even know you wanted in an Urban Fantasy. The characters are relatable, likable and have a nice mixture of sarcasm coating their dialogue. I found it so easy to immerse myself in Oak’s stories of hunting down bad guys and training Banshee, and was completely impressed by the amount of inventive little tales that were shared.  

Oak is a great character to tell this story, and I’m glad he did. He is sarcastic, funny, charming and just a good guy all around. His character exudes such a fierce loyalty and love for dinosaurs, and when Banshee and him FINALLY start to warm up to each other…*sigh*. It’s just a magical little moment okay?

Just. Magical.

It never ceases to amaze me how thoughtful this author is when writing. He ensures that literally every reader will be able to form some kind of connection to the story or characters, and he does so in such a fun way. He talks about Pokemon Go, creates a backstory for dinosaurs that are trained in China, explains the civilian interactions with police trained dinosaurs and how people react to seeing them, and there is even a dinosaur named Chris Pratt.

I mean, come on.

Genius.

If you have read my previous reviews of Doug’s books, mainly his Zombie Dog series, then you will know how much I love gushing over the resources and real-life experience he entwines into each of his books. His time spent in Search and Rescue and his dedication to spreading the word of “dog working alongside man” really shines through in Terrible Lizard. The relationship between Oak and Banshee reminded me of the fierce bond and mutual respect that Angie and Murder (Cadaver Dog) share., and honestly…it took all I had not to shed a few tears thinking about that lovely duo.

*sigh*

Anyways, this is an Urban Fantasy tale that is suitable for all ages. I think it was originally intended for a YA/Adult audience…but the author knew a child might be inclined to pick up a book with a dinosaur on the cover, so he made sure the book was kid friendly. And it is! Thought there were some grammatical errors throughout the book, it was not enough to become distracting or deter the reader from the story as a whole. It’s a quick read that will have you fully consumed and entertained until the last page. If you are looking for a book that is a little different, packed with creativity, and wanting to read something with a light-hearted mood – read this!

Because who doesn’t want to read about klepto dinosaurs?

Silly people. That’s who.

4-5-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Fortuna Sworn by K. J. Sutton

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, K.J. Sutton, for an honest review. 

Genre: Adult/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Romance

Plot: We were meant to be seductive. We were designed to lure humans in.

Fortuna Sworn is the last of her kind.

Her brother disappeared two years ago, leaving her with no family or species to speak of. She hides among humans, spending her days working at a bar and her nights searching for him. The bleak pattern goes on and on… until she catches the eye of a powerful faerie.

He makes no attempt to hide that he desires Fortuna. And in exchange for her, he offers something irresistible. So Fortuna reluctantly leaves her safe existence behind to step back into a world of creatures and power.

It soon becomes clear that she may not have bargained with her heart, but her very life.

Opinion:

Like the nightmares that came at night, we were meant to be seductive. We were designed to lure our victims in. Then, when it was too late to draw back, we struck.”

This book is a nightmare beckoning you into the shadows of your fears and insecurities.

It sings promises of love and protection into your all too innocent ears, reaches a tender hand of surety out into the open space between you, and just as your fingertips meet…

just as you begin to taste the sweetness of heartfelt completion

it drags you down, down, down.

Into the recesses of sorrow, lies, heartbreak and death.

Until you’re nothing more a than mermaid trapped in a puddle, in a lonely decimated forest.

You’re a Nightmare.”

Fortuna Sworn is one of the fallen, a collection and species of various creatures descended from angels with intriguing abilities. But Fortuna is the last of The Nightmare’s – a creature of intoxicating beauty whose face shifts and transforms to accommodate the onlooker’s tastes. A creature that can reach into your mind with a gentle caress, find the fears that lay delicately in the folds of your thoughts, and turn them into a horrifying reality. But when Fortuna is captured by two goblins who intend to sell her to the highest bidder, she is freed by a strange faerie that offers her a deal she can’t refuse. He knows where her brother is, who disappeared two years prior, and he can take her to where he is being held if she agrees to just one thing: to be his mate.

Where do I even start with this book?

It…

*sigh*

it pains me.

I love and hate it. It makes me happy and sad, thrilled and disgusted, excited and revolted. I have so many feelings and thoughts on this book. About the questions that are left unanswered. About the characters I THOUGHT I knew, but obviously don’t know at all. About the direction I assumed this story was going, until the trap door opened up beneath my feet and swallowed me whole. But there is one single feeling that stands high above all of this.

Pure obsession.

Because I, am obsessed.

There is SO much happening in this story, and I barely even know which direction to turn to first. The Unseelie Court is the epicenter of the turmoil in this tale, and the Fae in this book are not the sweet and caring creatures we have come to love from Sarah J. Maas books. These are Holly Black level Fae. Twisted, dark, deviant and 100% psychotic! They love to get inside your head and jumble your inhibitions, to see you writhe in pain. They kill each other, own slaves, and even have sex in the middle of the damn throne room during parties!!

Oh no lassies.

This is NOT your fluffy little Fae tale.

But absolute horrors and atrocities aside, the real confusion of this book starts and ends with the lovely Fae male that Fortuna becomes mated to: Collith. He is…pure sex in earthling form? Can I say that on here…? He is mysterious, brooding, regal, rough and goddamn drool-worthy. Things get heated between Fortuna and Collith, and I don’t just mean Fortuna’s temper. It’s going to get steamy, and it’s going to get intense. But remember, no leading Fae male would be ever be complete without him contradicting EVERY single thing he says with questionable actions, vague answers and secrets on top of secrets on top of SECRETS. . So go forth, my child. Fall for this dreamy, tall, dark and handsome Fae male that stalks women until they mate him. Be my guest.

And enjoy the whole in your chest later on, okay?

It’s your funeral, I’m just always dressed for it.

With every lash, I lost more than skin and blood. I lost the potential to someday love my mate.”

But of course, the true gem of this stomach pain inducing book is Fortuna. She is a fiery, snarky, sarcastic and saucy woman who my dark little heart can only PRAY to resemble one day. This woman is badass incarnate and would have ZERO problems sinking her claws into your face while she takes a trip into hell, and drags you down with her. From the very start of the book she proves to be an intelligent and ruthless character, but also incredibly human. She is both powerful and unique, but she is also so relatable and heartfelt in everything she does. She is confident and tough, as well as sensitive and compassionate.

I adored Fortuna and every deliciously horrifying comment that dripped from her lips like sweet wine.

For a terrible moment, I considered snapping my brother’s neck.”

Though I wholeheartedly am ravaged by this book, I do wish it was a bit longer and more drawn out. I felt like the trials Fortuna had undergone were a bit rushed, and therefor her emotions towards what she was forced to do and endure weren’t focused on as much as I would have liked. What can I say? I like to see characters in immense suffering. I also would have preferred more time with her and Collith to see if their relationship would grow/evolve/crumble, but I guess that is what book two is for…right?

As this is Kelsey Sutton’s first Adult book, I am positively impressed and not at all surprised at her abilities to make me lose my mind over another one of her books. Fortuna Sworn is an addicting and vile book that you need to get your spindly hands on NOW.

 

 

4-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder Girls

 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s – Delacorte Press, via NetGalley for an honest review. 

Genre: YA/Horror/LGBT/Mystery

Plot: It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

Opinion:

“My other eye’s dead, gone dark in a flare-up. Lid fused shut, something growing underneath.

It’s like that with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.”

This book will make your skin shift,

your toes coil,

and your breath hurt.

With every page it slowly peels away layers of your heart while simultaneously sewing those pieces back together; until you’re left with nothing, but this mismatched, lumpy, irregular beating organ lost inside your chest that you aren’t even sure is yours anymore.

There is a rawness and truth hidden in these beautifully writhing words.

So make sure you’re listening.

“…and I miss the way the wind steals your breath like it never belonged to you in the first place.”

A year and a half ago, the Tox infiltrated their island. It crept its way through the trees and animals, tickled the locks on the gates and doors. It sighed through the ventilation like a whisper after lights out, and it took a hold of every girl with a beating heart and a smile. The Navy said they were looking for a cure. That there is still hope, they just needed more time. But the girls at Raxter don’t have time. The Tox is ripping them apart one by one, making them turn on one another, or worse, making them turn on themselves. But Hetty, Byatt and Resse have each other. And as long as they stick together, they can survive anything.

Unless the next flare-up shreds them from the inside and turns their bodies black.

“About three months into the Tox, they came back from the woods with their names torn out of their heads. The Tox took what they were, took everything except how to hold a knife. It made them stick each other in the main hall during dinner, made them watch themselves bleed dry.”

This book took my body through a mess of psychological and physical torment. My stomach is still writhing around and trying to jump out of my throat, and I’m honestly more than a little concerned that something might be crawling around inside me now. Wilder Girls…is wild. Rory Power has taken the typical “virus outbreak” story and dipped it in a drum barrel of mental terrorism to give you a tale of graceful misery and unorthodox beauty.

Because that is exactly what this toxic storm of starvation, terror, and savagery is.

It’s beauty.

“His skin peels off like strips of paper, gathering under my nails, soft and pulpy.”

These sweet, innocent and delicate young girls are trapped in an asylum that keeps them cut-off from the rest of existence. Their once normal lives have been drowned; washed away by an outbreak that leaves behind unpredictable flare-ups that leave the girls in a state of physical insanity. Bruising from the inside out, second spines and hearts, a silver scaled hand, skin lesions and bubbles. Each girl is a walking nightmare. A grotesque and brutal version of their former selves. But what makes these girls truly breathtaking and beautiful, is that they look at one another without judgement.

Each girl is wild, untamed and ferocious. They are monstrous creatures with brave hearts and convictions. They go to physical blows over scraps of food, but protect one another with a passion and savagery that is…enviable. These girls push through their bleak existence to find love and comfort in one another. It’s a story of strength and iron-will. Of yearning and love that doesn’t need to be explained. These girls aren’t pushed into categories and stigmas, they just ARE.

“Reese and Byatt, they’re mine and I’m theirs.”

The three main girls are Hetty, Byatt and Reese. The story mainly unfolds by the voice of Hetty, but flips over to Byatt’s viewpoint occasionally as it progresses. Hetty and Byatt are extremely close, to the point of near obsession for Hetty. She wants to be everything that Byatt needs, and credits Byatt for being the one to show her who she really is. But somehow, this obsession doesn’t feel poisonous or harmful. It feels loving, respectful and protective.

“Byatt was the one who put the bones in my body.”

The romance in this story is slight, but it is absolutely heartfelt and soft. It isn’t lustful or forced, and it doesn’t take away from the plot. To be honest, it’s one of the only truly good feeling moments in Wilder Girls. The sweetness of it is quick and will be gone before you know it, so enjoy that moment while it lasts. Because this book isn’t going to lull you into blissful dreams.  

“My back arches, eyes slamming open. Thrashing against the straps pinning me, throwing my weight from side to side. Paretta, at the foot of my gurney, saying my name, but she’s the one who did this to me. I scream.”

 

This is a horror story, and it is indeed horrific. It is eerie, creepy and doused in a gloom so thick you can barely focus your eyes. It made me cringe. It made me disgusted. It made me keep the lights an hour after I finished the book. But most of all, it created a pit in my stomach that I still can’t seem to shake. And honestly, that is all I ever want from a book.

For it to leave my body in a state of confusion.

“…I start to know what the rope is for. But I don’t do anything. I sit so my legs are tucked under me. I watch the Tox go to work. On his knees. A rope into a noose. His eyes never close. His grip never changes. He is pulling right until the end.”

5-stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Books · Reviews · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #23: June Book Wrap-Up

There it goes…
Off into the sunset, out with the tide, out like a firecracker.
We had been waiting so long for its arrival, were so happy to see it here, but now it’s gone again.
Snuffed out for another year.
June.

 

WAIT.
No…not that June!
This June.

The happy one.
Well…anyways…

 

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~* June Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
2. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I LOVED The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, which I read at the end of May.

So naturally I sprinted into June on the wispies of young love, murder and supernatural powersMORE than ready to continue smirking and swooning uncontrollably.

And it was wonderful..

Apart from those shameful moments of Mara turning herself into an Afghan and spewing silly notions like “I was his“.

Honey, you aren’t a rug.

Get control of yourself.

But the series turned out to be wonderful. Even if it did go in a completely RANDOM science fiction direction that I was not expecting. Some of the romance fizzled out a little near the end too, but I still devoured these books like my life depended on it.

 

3. The Haunted by Denielle Vega

The Haunted

I received The Haunted in a Goodreads Giveaway (shockingly) and was SO excited to get my black painted finger nails all over it!

Danielle Vega is the author of that oober super popular horror series called The Merciless, which I FULLY recommend you go read if you like blindsides and a little paranormal torment in your life.

The Haunted was a classic haunting story about a girl who moves to a new town with her family after a traumatic experience with her ex-boyfriend. But their new house is legendary to the inhabitants of this small-town, and various stories of murders and strange happenings are brought to light.

I liked this book. But did I LOVE it? Eh.

It was a super quick read, and one that will grab your attention and keep you hooked. I just felt the ending was a bit rushed and that it could have been longer.

I was definitely left wanting MORE!

(See my review here)

 

4. My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

My Real Name is Hanna

Ready to get your heart ripped out of your chest?

My Real Name is Hanna begins in May of 1941 in Ukraine at the height of Adolf Hitler’s reign. The book documents Hanna and her families journey into hiding as the Germans attempt to make Ukraine “Jew Free”.

It is a work of fiction, but based off a holocaust survivor named Esther Stermer and her extended family along with four other families who survived by hiding in caves for over 500 days.

This book is heavy. This book is devastating.

But it’s begging to be read.

My last thought, before I say the Shema, is of the young mother Jacob told us about, while he choked on his own tears-a mother who smothered her own child in her winter coat before the shot came, so the child would not feel the bullet.”

(See my review here)

 

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
(Again)

A court of thorns and roses

Okay…

…so maybe it IS the fourth time I’ve read this.

But you can’t blame me!

This book is…this SERIES is…

…it’s…

IT’S EVERYTHING!

In my defense, however, this reread is due to my lovely friend Tove (@fadingfairytale). She had NEVER read it and I have been on her case about starting the series for MONTHS. So she finally started it and MY OH MY, she loved it. OF COURSE!

My other friend Tabz (@literary_consumer) even joined our read, and now it’s turning into a hilarious slew of Instagram stories and even…something else 😉 (hint hint)

If you also haven’t read this series (cauldron forbid) then you MUST! NOWWW!!!!

It an amazing Fantasy Romance series packed with Fae, battles, curses, swoon-worthy high lords, love, heartache and badass females!

Just read it.

 

6. The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

The Best Lies

If you’re looking for a book that will leave you feeling lost, confused, unsure of your current relationships, angry, sad and utterly devastated

…you’ve come to the right place.

The Best Lies is about toxic relationships, mental health, obsessive behaviors, manipulation, family dynamics, love, friendship and lies. It is a mystery/thriller but really, it should be categorized in the Allow me to rip your heart out through your eye sockets genre.

This is one of the BEST books I have read in 2019.

Sure the plot sounds simple and straight forward, but it isn’t. This book is complex. There are layers upon layers of intricate stitches, barely visible weaves sewn into the story, minute details and mannerisms applied to each character.

And all of it is so beautifully put together to make this GIANT quilt of…despairing love.

If you don’t read any of these other books, at least read this one.

(See my review here)

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Edelweiss+ · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

The Best Lies

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

Told in alternating timelines, Thelma and Louise meets Gone Girl in this twisted psychological thriller about the dark side of obsessive friendship.

Opinion:

“Jack’s blood is on my face and in my hair, on my arms and under my fingernails. There was so much, the paramedics had rushed to me, checking for signs of trauma, but they couldn’t see the hole in my heart.

My name is Remy.

I am seventeen years old.

This won’t last forever.”

If you’re looking for a book that will leave you feeling lost, confused, unsure of your current relationships, angry, sad and utterly devastated

…you’ve come to the right place.

The Best Lies is a book that literally any and every person can relate to.

Whether it touches the angst in your stomach for never experiencing a friendship so true and heartfelt; tickles the sadness in your heart for lost love or flicks awake the inner child slumbering deep inside you that can relate to the dire need for someone – this book is going to rip your feelings out through your eyeballs and leave you so full, you’ll be empty.

“I am pain and pain is me.”

First off, this book isn’t going to be what you think. Even from the quotes I have inserted throughout this review, you are going to be making assumptions as where this story will go. And most likely, you’re going to be wrong. This book is about toxic relationships, mental health, obsessive behaviors, manipulation, family dynamics, love, friendship and of course…lies. It is beautiful and tragic, and embodies innocence so fiercely that you can’t help but weep for every character.

“I am alone now as I was then.”

Remy Tsai is a straight-edged and somewhat reserved character. From the beginning I saw the patterns of how Remy would envelop herself into her relationships with friends or boyfriends. She gave every part of herself up and quickly latched onto them if they said something nice to her, and then fully looked to them to fill her with happiness and love. I found her character to be a lost soul, looking for others to tell her who she is or how she should feel about herself and the world. For me, Remy embodies a typical teenager. Desperately trying to discover who they are through the people they surround themselves with. Hoping they will be remembered, loved and needed by others.

 

When Remy first meets Elise, it is in a moment of deep rejection and sadness for her. She has just been dumped and is feeling alone and unwanted. But then Elise is there. Reaching out a hand and whisking her off into a spontaneous night of adventure and mischief. And so begins their fierce friendship of love, truths, lies and painfully raw emotions.

“Elise was electricity. I was the night. She banished the darkness, she lit me up.”

Elise is an electrifying, exciting, daring and fierce character. She is strong and courageous, stands up for herself and others, and sees herself as a vigilante put on Earth to right every wrong. She is intoxicating and beautiful. She is a character we would all love to be friends with, and even love to BE. For Remy, being around Elise was like breathing in sunlight or Heaven’s air. Elise made her feel safe, wanted, important and necessary. Which is everything that Remy never felt in life.

“Elise liked that I needed protection, and I liked that she wanted to protect me. We needed each other, we chose each other, and there was power in that.”

Both of the girls also have difficult family lives they fight to keep hidden from the rest of the world. Remy’s parents are involved in an emotionally abusive relationship that involves nightly screaming matches, adultery and the continuous act of her father leaving their family, only to return again in a few days. Elise was abandoned by her mother at a young age and left with an absent and angry father. Both girls find camaraderie and solace in each other, and use each other as lifelines to survive each day in their own personal Hells.

“’I need you, Remy,’ she said softly. What she was saying: I love you. After a moment I said, ‘I need you, too.’”

But this isn’t just a story of strength between two friends, or family dysfunction. It is also a story of obsession and need. I can’t go too into detail without giving away all the best parts, but this story definitely takes a turn into a space of deep darkness and sorrow. The relationships and friendships that once felt uplifting and whole, begin to crumble. The common theme for many of these characters was their overwhelming need to be NEEDED. It leaves you feeling irritated because they can’t find love for themselves and have to seek it out in others. But it also leaves you aching because you know EXACTLY what that need feels like. To be wanted and accepted by others.

“She wasn’t magical. She was magic itself and I was completely under her spell.”

Obviously, this story ends tragically. Remy’s boyfriend is killed by her best friend and it is…devastating. But the reason behind WHY he is killed, is really why you want to read this story. It is intricate, well-developed, dripping in emotional turmoil, and embodies every feeling a teenager can have.

But just remember.

This isn’t a happy story.

It will hurt you, and you will feel lost afterwards. Just as I do now.

So tread carefully.  

“A night tech comes into the room. ‘Are you okay?’ he asks. I answer honestly. ‘I don’t know.’”

 

 

5-stars.

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

My Real Name is Hanna.jpg

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Tara Lynn Masih, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/WWII-Holocaust

Plot: Inspired by real Holocaust events, this poignant, award-winning debut novel is a powerful coming-of-age story that will resonate with fans of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray.

Hanna Slivka is on the cusp of fourteen when Hitler’s army crosses the border into Soviet-occupied Ukraine. Soon, the Gestapo closes in, determined to make the shtetele she lives in “free of Jews.” Until the German occupation, Hanna spent her time exploring Kwasova with her younger siblings, admiring the drawings of the handsome Leon Stadnick, and helping her neighbor dye decorative pysanky eggs. But now she, Leon, and their families are forced to flee and hide in the forest outside their shtetele—and then in the dark caves beneath the rolling meadows, rumored to harbor evil spirits. Underground, they battle sickness and starvation, while the hunt continues above. When Hanna’s father disappears, suddenly it’s up to Hanna to find him—and to find a way to keep the rest of her family, and friends, alive.

Sparse, resonant, and lyrical, weaving in tales of Jewish and Ukrainian folklore, My Real Name Is Hanna celebrates the sustaining bonds of family, the beauty of a helping hand, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Opinion:

“My last thought, before I say the Shema, is of the young mother Jacob told us about, while he choked on his own tears-a mother who smothered her own child in her winter coat before the shot came, so the child would not feel the bullet”

A book hasn’t left me speechless in a while…

But here I am…

speechless.

This book will ignite a fire in your bones and put an ache in your heart.

It is a beautiful, devastating and horrific story, but a story of one light that is incapable of being extinguished.  

A light that burns so fiercely with conviction, resilience, hope and determination.

That light is the Slivka family.

My Real Name is Hanna is set in a small Ukrainian village called Kwasova where the reader is introduced to fourteen-year-old Hanna in May of 1941 at the height of Adolf Hitler’s reign. She describes the drastic changes to her town, the way neighbors and villagers begin to shun her family, and the non-Jewish children who throw stones at her siblings. How countless signs paint the Jewish people to be disease ridden with lice and infection, and that they should be eradicated from the Earth. As the Germans attempt to make Ukraine “Jew Free”, Hanna and her family are forced to flee their home into the forest. For two years they hide with other families in first a small shelter, and then underground caves for thirteen months.

 “We leave on the first cloudy night, so the moon won’t betray our fleeing figures.”

It is never easy reading the terrifying experiences that millions were subjected to during WWII. But it is especially difficult living those moments with a character you cherish so deeply, as they experience each second of terror, confusion and fear. Hanna is everything I could ever hope to become in life. She is brave, unyielding, and hopeful. She is a force that sees the beauty and kindness in the world, even when the same world seems so set on ripping her to pieces.

She exudes a strength that is almost unfathomable for a girl so young. She is impossible not to love as she portrays such compassion and care to her family members, and the families that run with them. But reading about Hanna was exhausting. It put a cloud over my already blue head, cut my air supply in half, and made my stomach flutter with anxiousness.

Reading this book is like holding Hanna’s hand as she is forced to live in darkness; starving and scared. All you can do is sit in silence, and hope that she lives.

“For she was in a black dungeon…for she was in a cage…She had been in that cage a long time now, but now long enough to break her spirit.”

Where reality really set in for me, is when the families arrive at the caves. Their plan is to live underground, in the hopes that they won’t be found and that they can survive until the war ends. Though this story was incredibly sad up until this point, my stomach didn’t actually drop to the floor until Hanna began crawling inside. To say this moment is heavy, would be a completely inappropriate and horrid description of the situation.

It isn’t heavy.

It’s devastation.

But with each moment of bleakness and suffering, there are tokens of brightness littering this story as well. Countless people assist the families in finding shelter and food, there are meaningful stories shared during their days in hiding, and a tree that is a symbol of their hope and salvation. The writing is superbly done, and the voice of Hanna is captured beautifully by the author. She is youthful and views her surroundings with a tint of innocence, but knows the seriousness of the situation she and her family are in. She is an old soul full of wisdom and strength, and you can’t help but look up to her.

Though these characters are fictional and created by the author, the Slivka family is based on real-life survivor Esther Stermer, her extended family and four other families who survived WWII by hiding in caves for over 500 days. My Name is Hanna is an incredibly important story that NEEDS to be shared with all ages. In a world where there is so much hate and lack of communication and listening, this book will will serve as a reminder that we are all human and deserve the same amount of decency.

Please read this. It’s important.

“I am jealous of how quickly they forget”.

5-stars

 

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