Book Reviews

Book Review: The Beholder (Book 1) by Anna Bright

The Beholder

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Opinion:

What is this…sensation blossoming inside me?

*claws at face and chest*

It’s…

It’s unBEARable!

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“You tend to gardens and fields with the women and to the stock with the men. That makes you one of the people. That does not make you their leader.”

As Seneschal-elect of Potomac, and daughter to the current leader, Selah will soon have the responsibility of her country of Potomac resting on her shoulders. And being Eighteen she is expected to marry, to present a strong and united front as she leads her people. But when Selah extends an offer of marriage to Peter, a boy she has always yearned for from afar, and he rejects her proposal, her step-mother and the council take matters into their own hands. She is forced to travel across the Atlantic by ship with a crew of misfits, stopping in several countries and courting the eligible Princes, each for two weeks, in the hopes of proposals. Heartbroken, embarrassed, and only agreeing out of duty, Selah and her crew set off. But the royalty Selah meets is far from what she could have expected, and countless secrets and games are lurking around every corner.

“I didn’t want his proposal. I didn’t want to be a princess. I was never born to wear a crown.”

“Do not waste your efforts on good-for-nothing boys. Do not cast your pearls before swine.

“You are everything you ought to be.

When I started The Beholder…I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it would be that great. I had been debating purchasing it since it released a year ago, and every time I was about to buy it, I found myself not able to. The reviews from other readers have been super conflicting, some sprinkled in praise and others feeling luke-warm, but I was especially weary that it would be dull or completely lacking.

Well.

Curse me for second-guessing myself because…

This was everything.

“No mortal wounds, perhaps, but the scars these boys had left me would remain.

“The weight of the chaos was going to flatten me.”

This isn’t just a YA Fantasy retelling with a few Cinderella and Odyssey elements. And honestly, even calling it a Fantasy is a bit of a stretch. This world is a mix of fictional and real places. Europe plays a huge role, but peppered throughout are fictional countries and cities – like the one our dear heroine hails from. Also sprinkled within these pages are countless folklore and fairy-tales from all over the world, and each lends a hand to the plot and the direction our main character is thrust towards.

“. . . and if ye will listen but a little I will tell it you with tongue As I have heard it told, In a story brave and strong, In a loyal book of old, In the land it has been long.” —Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Selah is a sweet and a fairly dainty young woman with a great work ethic, and someone who is easily likeable. She is wrapped in innocence and her eyes bubble over with hope and sincerity for those around her, even when their eyes unfortunately do not. Upon the first few chapters, you are instantly heartbroken for her already. Not only is she woefully rejected by a boy she has loved from afar since she was a wee lass, but it is done so in front of EVERYONE. And THEN, to make matters worse, the fate of her love-life is discussed and decided by council members and her evil stepmother – “smother”, Alessandra.

And oh my sh, is this woman a piece of work.

“If Alessandra came down and caught me crying in the dark, she’d lean into my weakness, press on my bruises in front of the others until they thought me as spineless as she did.

If an author want’s me to feel heartbroken within the first 30 pages of a book, all you have to do is make a young girl feel entirely alone, while her sickly father stands by and does nothing.

Shatter me, why don’t you.

But this is just the beginning of heartbreak in The Beholder.

It was kind of him to pretend I wasn’t drowning.

I don’t even know how to describe the amount of sorrow I was feeling alongside Selah as she experienced betrayal after betrayal. Here is this beautiful soul, thrust into a duty of having to flaunt herself in front of princes and impress them enough to be offered proposals, all in the hopes of returning to her country to care for her sick father…and in the midst of being completely rejected! I felt her embarrassment, her loneliness and every wave of uncertainty that rolled through her. She is a shy introvert who just wants love. Not a title, a crown or a prince as a husband.

“He’d left me burning brighter than the candles.

Now I just felt burned.”

The Beholder is the name of the ship that Selah voyages on to meet her suitors, and the crew running it are a smattering of beautiful souls with various ethnic backgrounds, ages, and personalities. The author gives you just enough information and dialogue from them to instill a sense of trust and comfortably, but also withholds enough to keep you constantly wondering. Though I was a little surprised at how quickly these crew members become protective of Selah, I also found it entirely endearing.

“I imagined having a job onboard the Beholder, instead of being a job myself. Imagined being one of their friends, instead of cargo.”

And even though these crew members are fiercely loyal to Selah and always put her protection first, the reader quickly learns that there is something more going on when Selah isn’t looking. Most mysterious of all, is our dear Captain Lang. A VERY young captain in his early twenties (and dashing, I might add) riddled with secrets and complete intrigue. And even now, I am STILL wondering about this guy! With overly concerned glances and notions towards Selah, a tuck of hair behind an ear here, or an accidental lacing of fingers there…suffice it to say, I was being thrown in a million directions wondering WHO THE LOVE INTEREST IS!!!

“Would I ever learn what seeds he sowed that bloomed in bruises on his cheeks?”

Speaking of love interests

If there were ever a story to bloat me with so much love, and just as quickly drop my heart to the floor through my stomach

…it would be this one.

“You are making a mistake.”

“You are making a mistake.”

“You are making a mistake.”

How do I even explain the sheer mind messery that the love in The Beholder invokes? It is twisted, quick, fleeting, meddlesome, loaded, passionate, dark, light, achingly sweet and crushingly wretched. There are games layered in secrets layered in maneuvers and countermoves. Selah is a pawn in so many maps and boards, it’s devastating to witness. Her unwavering trust in people is endearing, yet wholly painful. Her desire to forgive and forgive is admirable, and the way she propels herself onward is empowering. The girl launches herself at the chance of love and being loved, and it makes me both happy and sad.

“My heart was a lit candle, a forest fire, a burning star. Doomed, but smiling.”

But her fear and lack of confidence in herself is truly the most sorrowful of all.

“I realized I’d been waiting for this moment, this inevitable point when he would look at me—soft, scared, unremarkable—and see that he could do better.”

I so SO badly want to dive into the romance angle, but I will spill all the beans of everything, and the unraveling of this story is just too good for me to do that to you. Just know that this is going to be an emotional whirlwind if you’re ready for it, and if you can understand/tolerate quick love.

But let me just say this: the siblings of Asling Fortress make my heart sing.

On another note, the world building.

There is a LOT of world building explaining in this, and let me not be the first to say, it’s damn confusing. Never have I encountered so many names that I didn’t even attempt to sound out. Call me lazy, but geez…those jumbles of letters were daunting. So in terms of making sense of the world – what was real and what wasn’t – yeah, I was pretty little lost. There was an excessive unloading of fictional names and places that I could not make sense of, try as I might. And even the land of Imperiya Yotne (that’s…the land, right?) which acts as “the villainbarely made much sense to me. All I know is there is something about the tsarytsya, they’re evil, and some mutterings of Baba Yaga – an old Russian folklore, sort of like the Boogeyman

“When Baba Yaga locks the door, Children pass thereby no more.”

“Baba Yaga’s land, there is no safety.”

So in that regard, I had to knock a star down. Because if this world and the cities/countries were cleaned up a bit, this book would be stellar. I am hoping book two, The Boundless, will really cut these loose strings and sew up some holes in terms of the setting and the story of the Tsarytsdafjfbdsf…you know, the bad place.

I am now already devouring The Boundless in anticipation for it’s release on Tuesday, June 9th. But I am still pretty early into it. So…

Pray for me.

“What fortune was mine.”

4 Stars

 

 

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Additional quotes I loved, because there were just too many.

“I was struck suddenly with the feeling of desperately needing to ask him a question and at the same time not being sure exactly what it was I needed to ask—the feeling that the question didn’t matter, so long as the answer came from him.”

“He is so very handsome, and we are so very, very unwise.”

“‘It’s not what you look like, it’s how you see,’ she used to always say, and she believed someone who didn’t read only ever saw through their own eyes.”

“We were doomed, but I was smiling.”

“‘I just wish you’d told me when it was just the two of us’

‘It never was just the two of us.'”

“No one knows how many years he has, Seneschal-elect. Life is short and death is certain.”

“So every moment I am aboveground and not below it, I want to feel the difference. We’ll all be in our graves soon enough.”

“I will fight, if I have to. But if I have to break another’s body, I deserve at least to feel his suffering in my own arm. I think the powerful would love less the fruits of violence if they had to deal it out by hand.”

 

 

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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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