Book Promo · Book Reviews

Book Review: Aetherstorm (Songs of Sarin, Book 1) by Alexander Ferrick

Aetherstorm

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

Genre: High Fantasy

Plot: What is the Aetherstorm?

They said it was a tournament to discover the mightiest warrior in the land, but it is far more…

To the Demons, it is a chance to reclaim their former glory…

To a Prince, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of the crown…

To a Rebel, it is a chance at freedom…

To an Orphan, it is a chance at justice… or vengeance…

…What is the Aetherstorm?

The Aetherstorm is a trap.

When demons disguised as elves begin inviting the citizens of Sarin to a fighting tournament, Prince Maronir takes it upon himself to go there in secret and discover what the demons are up to.

Along the way, a botched assassination attempt forces Maronir to join Luca and Garron, two human orphans who are also going to the tournament to find the man who killed their adoptive father and mentor.

As the prince and his new friends journey across Sarin, he finds himself confronted by the harsh reality of his kingdom, and learns that the greatest tests of kingship happen far from the battlefield.

Will those lessons matter after the demons true plans are revealed? Time will tell…

Opinion:

“Come and prove yourself…”

“…join the Aetherstorm.”

A world where humans are practically extinct and subject of tales told to elven children in order to keep them in line?

Demons, Dwarves, Cyclopes, Magic?

An epic battle arena that’s like The Gladiator on mage crack?

Aetherstorm is my second read by Alex Ferrick, and color me completely unsurprised – this kicked ass. It’s the first in the Songs of Sarin series set in a fantastical world where magic is called Aether, demons have been unleashed upon the planes, and elves and dwarves are the dominant species. This is PACKED with detail and world-building so exquisite, I can hardly fathom how on earth so much epicness could possibly be shoved into just 123 pages.

It must be

This book, like any true fantasy should, has a cast of wonderfully diverse and badass characters who carry the reader to the end on a tidal wave of slick remarks and deadly battling. There is an Elven Prince whose bloodline is tied deeply into Aether magic in order to control the demons that have spilled into their world, two humans – one a mage, and another just simply a badass, a dwarf blacksmith, and a *gasp* could it be?! A HYBRID elf/dawrf female who puts them all to shame?!

“In time you will learn, my friend, that the worst monsters are beautiful.”

I usually get a bit daunted by High Fantasy stories. With the confusing names, types of magical systems, countless species and conflict…it can be hard to keep up. But with Aetherstorm, you will NOT have that problem. This author is an expert at flawlessly expressing a really in-depth and creative world in a form that anyone can follow. It is straight-forward and addicting, but has layers of truly creative content screaming from its pages.

But what never ceases to amaze me about Alex, is how his mind seeps into endless nooks and crannies of creativity and pulls out truly unique, original ideas for stories. In less than 150 pages the reader is blessed with SO MUCH. Like each generation of royalty being eternally imprisoned on thrones for harnessing the Aetheroot magic to contain the demonic presence. Or a world where Evles and Dwarves are superior, and humans are practically extinct and woven into scary stories told to misbehaving magical children.

There are battles. There is bloodshed. There are acts of revenge, trickery, ruthless killings and vile creatures. But there are also moments of justice and compassion. It’s a thrilling adventure story that has no time for pausing and will make it impossible for you to put it down. This was a fantastic fantasy tale that had me hooked and wishing for more. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series!

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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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #45: My Top 10 Anticipated May 2020 Book Releases

Yeah, I know it’s May 9th already and I know some of these have already released.

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

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1. Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Doomsday Preppers

Last girls

Is ‘Doomsday Preppers‘ even a genre?

I’m a liiiiiiittle late to starting this, considering I got an ARC, but I was moving across state lines okay?

Give a lady a break!

Last Girls centers on three sisters who live on a secret compound in the woods of Washington, working and training along fellow doomsday preppers. They grow their own food, train in tactical combat, learn survival skills and always look out for one another. But when a threat from inside the compound threatens their safety, their prepping suddenly becomes reality.

2. The Betrothed (Book 1) by Kiera Cass
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

The Betrothed

Our girl Kiera Cass is BACK with another whimsical, royalty romance!!

If you guys loved The Selection series like I did, then reading this is obviously going to be a no-brainer for us, right?!

The Betrothed is the opposite of the classic trope of:

Commoner meets Prince-It’s love at first sight!-Commoner becomes PrincessYAY, Happily Ever After”

This tale is about a young woman named Lady Hollis Brite (so fancy) who has been vying for the King’s attention, like all other courtiers, for years. So when the King declares his love for Hollis, she is surprised but thrilled.

But her new life as Queen isn’t all ballgowns, tall wigs and cake.

And when she meets a commoner that can see into her soul…well, you know where this is going.

3. The Iron King (The Iron Fey, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa
Original Release Date: January 19, 2010
Rerelease Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy – Fae/Romance

The Iron King

The Iron King has been on my TBR for SO LONG, so I’m using this 10th Anniversary rerelease as an excuse to actually read it.

And I just read the synopsis again and…can you say Cruel Prince vibes?

*cough* uhh…Holly Black?

Meghan Chase is almost sixteen and she has never felt quite right. When she was just six, her father disappeared without a trace, and now ten years later, her brother also vanishes. After learning that she is the secret daughter of a faery king who is in the midst of a brutal war, and with a young and cold prince catching her eye, Meghan fights to get her brother back.

4. The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel
Release Date: …??? UHHHHH????
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Sexual and Domestic

The Sky is Mins

Uhm…What the actual release date?

Explain me this:

Netgalley Release Date as of October 2019: May 12, 2020

Goodreads Release Date: February 2020

Netgalley updated Release Date: July 14, 2021

Oh, okay.

The Sky is Mine is going to be a painful one, so buckle in but don’t act surprised.

You know I love heart lacerations.

This is a story about a daughter and a mother who are quietly fighting their own issues of abuse. Seventeen-year-old Lizzie has been abandoned by her bestfriend and a boy is threatening to release pictures of her. But while she quietly suffers, her mother is also fighting battles with Lizzie’s abusive stepfather.

This is a book about two women who are silenced and learn to find their voices, and I am 100% here for it.

5. Storm & Fury (Harbinger, Book 1) by Jennifer Armentrout
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Genre: YA/Romance/Fantasy-Demons & Shapeshifters/Paranormal-Ghosts

Storm and Fury

My bookstagram friend Chivon@C_Booksncoffee is downright obsessed with Jennifer Armentrout.

I can’t even begin to explain the lengthy, detailed, passionate and hilarious Bookstagram stories this girl posts, ranting and raving about Jennifer Armentrout and her AMAZING characters and AMAZING books. So naturally, this is all over my radar.

Storm and Fury has gargoyles, demons, spirits and a badass female lead. Trinity Marrow is going blind but she has the ability to communicate with spirits from beyond the veil. But since her power is enshrouded in a dangerous and mysterious secret, she lives on a compound that is guarded by gargoyles called Wardens in order to be protected by demons that hunt her.

Then a guy comes along, and I’m sure he’s hot, and I’m sure he helps her slay some shit, but we all know she is the one that will be doing the epic demon murking and Hell ass kicking.

6. A Light in the Dusk (Charlie Travesty, Book 2) by Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal-Vampires

A Light in the Dark

A Light in the Dusk is book 2 in the Charlie Travesty series, and you can thank the all-holy blood suckers and these two authors for releasing these books back, to back, to BACK!

Since book 1, A Whisper in the Dark, JUST came out last week, I’m not going to give away the synopsis for book 2. I’m just going to give a synopsis of book 1 so that you can come be addicted with me, and then we can walk off into the misty cemetery dusk-set together. ❤

As a Princess of the royal family of Vampires that rules over a city where humans are enslaved to the hierarchy that is the immortal, Charlotte Travesty is about to embark on the Awakening – where a vampire wakes and their eye color decides which cast they will move to. But when Charlie awakens, she is banished from her home and slapped with slavery tattoos – for she is half human.

HELLO Underworld vibes.

7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
Release Date: May 15, 2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

What Lies Between Us

I came across What Lies Between Us on a whim, and though I am completely concerned and worried about reading it, I have to have it.

It’s a Suspense/Mystery/Thriller that has been reviewed with such phrases like “What the fuck did I just read?” and “Never going to look at a mother/daughter relationship the same again” or “Considered me damaged“.

Did somebody say…damaged?

In this twisted tale, every other night Nina and Maggie have dinner together…but when dinner is over, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic and CHAINS her BACK UP. Because apparently, the things that Maggie inflicted on Nina are unforgivable.

8. The Ballad of Songsbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, Book 0) by Suzanne Collins
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Genre: YA/Science Fiction/Dystopia

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Oh…

So this is about…President Snow

…as a young boy…?

9. A Memory in the Flame (Charlie Travesty, Book 3) by Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal-Vampires

Memory in the Flame

Ahhhhhhhh shiiiiiit!

Yes! You read that correctly.

Jessi Elliot and Kelsey Sutton are releasing two installments of the same series in the SAME MONTH! A Memory in the Flame is book three in the Charlie Travesty series, and don’t worry. I’m still not giving away spoilers.

But here’s another Underworld gif to put you back in the mood.

10. Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Of Silver and Shadow

Of Silver and Shadow is a my favorite kind of Fantasy tale.

One of royalty, magic wielders, rebellion and murderous female leads.

Set in a city where magic is outlawed, Ren makes a living as a petty thief and pit fighting while also trying to cover up the fact that she is a silver wielder. But when a rebel leader discovers her secret, he convinces her to join his cause to overthrow the King.

But while Ren and the rebels try to make their way across the castle walls, a group of brutal warriors who fight in the name of the King have a bet going to find the rebel leader in order to become the King’s right hand.

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Stay Witchy

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Binding of Bindings · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #42: March 2020 Book Wrap-up

I may be slightly behind in posting my March Book Wrap-up
…but come on. It’s practically the apocalypse around here.
So.

 

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~* March 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. Frozen Beauty by Lex Hillyer
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery

Frozen Beauty

Definitely not my most favorite read of March, but also not the worst.

Frozen Beauty had all the promise in the world to be a dreary and eerie, femi-powered contemporary mystery laced in sorrow and sadness. But instead it was just a bit…

It centers on the Malloy sisters and the strange and sudden death of the eldest, who is found half-naked and frozen to death. The sisters thought they knew everything about one another, but as they begin digging into what really happened… the secrets start to unravel. 

I wanted to love this, especially because of that cover art, but I just didn’t care for it much. I was able to get through it quickly and easily, but the characters just felt so BLAH. The ending was a bit predictable, and there was some weird/awkward insta-love that happened that I don’t even need to get into.

3 Stars

(See my review here)

 

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

All Your Twisted Secrets

THIS BOOK!

WOW!

All Your Twisted Secrets is a YA blend of The Breakfast Club and Saw. Six teens are invited to a scholarship dinner in a banquet room, where they are locked inside. On the table are three items: a syringe filled with a liquid, a bomb with a countdown clock, and a note indicating that they must pick a person to killor they all die.

Yeah. I know.

But just when I thought I had this little beauty figured out

Oh yeah. Epic.

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

3. All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

All the Pretty Things

….

…there’s just not a lot to say here.

All the Pretty Things STARTED as a mystery set at an amusement park where an employee/well-known kid in town dies. It had a little bit of the Adventureland vibes that I was hoping for, but what it turned into was just…

…it’s not good.

If you like reading books where your face is scrunched up the whole time like this:

Then yeah, be my guest. And enjoy that father.

He’s a real gem.

2.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

4. Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Sparrow

Beautiful.

Sorrowful.

Stunning.

Sparrow is a YA twist on Black Swan that will surely cause tears to flow down your precious cheeks. It is about a ballerina who finds herself in an abusive relationship, and and shows the what lays broken on the ground after things go too far.

Books on abusive and manipulative behavior are so important and I am a big advocate for them, especially when they showcase different forms of abuse. But what makes this story truly important, is the fact that it doesn’t just show our main characters POV and how she is affected. It sheds light on the emotional toll it takes on her family, friends and those close to her.

It is beautiful, and though there were some parts that I found unnecessary to the story, it is a book worth reading.

4 Stars

(See my review here)

 

5. Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Sharp Sticks

I have been ranting about this AMAZING book for a year!

Every chance I get I am recommending it to my bookstagram girlfriends and begging them to read it! And since the sequel to it released in March, I decided to reread it to get a refresher before starting my ARC! Girls with Sharp Sticks is a YA Feminist tale with a twist that will blow your mind, while simultaneously making your heart rip itself apart because your feelings will be feeling FEELINGS.

It’s about a group of girls who attend Innovations Academy. Here they are bred to be obedient, to listen to the male figures in their life (because they know best) and to stay as beautiful as possible. If the girls misbehave, they are redirected and given therapy immediately, until they have been…realigned.

The story is about the girls waking up from their fog, and realizing that the place they are in does not have their best interests at heart.

5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

6. Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Razor Hearts

I had SUCH high hopes for the second book to Girls with Sharp Sticks, and I devoured Girls with Razor Hearts in such a short time. But it wasn’t because it was amazing and held my attention to the point that I couldn’t eat or sleep without knowing what would happen.

No…it was more like I kept reading in the hopes that SOMETHING would happen. But nothing really did. It was just a bit of a blah read next to the first book where the author focused way too much on shoving toxic patriarchy down my throat. This sequel just felt like preaching. It felt forced and didn’t have the same flow and heart behind it’s message as it did before.

The story just lost its way a bit here, and I am hoping that it will come back around in the next book. This seemed more like a “buffer book” or a stepping stone to set up for the next installment, so fingers crossed that it improves!

3.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Thorn (Dauntless Path, Book 1) by Intisar Khanani
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling – The Goose Girl

Thorn

THORN!

Ah, what a GEM of a retelling!

I know I’m not the only one that has been overjoyed with these countless fairy tale retellings coming out, so when I saw Thorn I knew I had to have it. And after reading Bloodleaf last year and not liking it, I was hoping that this Goose Girl retelling would be better.

And ohhhhhh child, it SO was!

You know the story: A Princess is married off to a Prince in another kingdom, and upon traveling there, her handmaid steals her body and poses as her, which forces the real Princess into a new life as a goose girl.

In this rendition, the same happens and so much more! The story keeps the atmospheric old-timey feel to it and spins in a layer of eeriness that perfectly blends with the poetic nature of the tale. It was a fantastic read and one I was fairly surprised by, because though I was hoping this would be a win, I had my doubts

But here I am, DYING for the next book!

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

8. House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, Book 1) by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: New Adult/Fantasy/Romance

House of Earth and Blood

Only 60 pages in and SJM had me, and everyone else, like

And then we get a little farther and it’s a whole lot of

A ton of

And then back to

Beyond. Epic.

5 Stars

 

9. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary

All the Places Ivve Cried in Public

As I said above, a book that focuses on the several other types of abuse and manipulation that go on, are stories that need to be read.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public is in the style of Thirteen Reasons Why where a girl recounts the pivotal moments that lead to the end of her relationship with her boyfriend. They are all moments that she has cried, either from joy, despair, or confusion. But each place, and each moment is a clue into how they broke up and what happened between them.

This story was like a punch in the gut for me, because so many aspects of it were familiar or sparked a memory. For those of us who have experienced relationships like this, and for those who haven’t, the importance and reminder to look for signs of hurtful and manipulative behavior needs to be shown. This book does just that.

Every teenager needs to read this.

3.5 Stars

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

 

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Book Reviews · New Releases · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 2) by Suzanne Young

Girls with Razor Hearts

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

Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Plot: Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Opinion:

The Caregiver.

The Doll.

The Educator.

The Seductress.

The Companion.

The Rebel.

…the corporation created us to replace the girls in society who they couldn’t control.”

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We were programmed to be obedient, but then we woke up.”

The girls have finally escaped Innovations Academy, along with the possessive and cruel men who promised to protect them. Having been bred to be obedient, subservient and to idolize men, the girls have finally awoken. They are no longer docile and afraid. They have found their sharp sticks, and they have procured their razor hearts. But what they didn’t expect upon leaving Innovations Academy, was that the outside world wasn’t going to be as welcoming and beautiful as they hoped. As the girls try to heal their bodies and hearts, they are pushed to find an investor in the academy that might be their ticket to tearing it all down. Though they have each other and immense love in their hearts, they soon realize that bad men weren’t just confined to the walls of the academy. That darkness lurks around every corner, in repulsive behavior and peer pressure. So the girls do what they do best…they fight.

Girls with kind Razor Hearts

Open your eyes, my father said.

The day I was born.

You will be sweet, he promised threatened

You will be beautiful

You will obey fight back

And then he I told me myself

Above all

You will have a kind razor heart

For that, they will love fear you

They will protect revere you

They will keep run from you

Because you belong to them no one

So be a girl to make them proud afraid

Girls with Razor Hearts is the second book in the amazing feminist sci-fi series, Girls with Sharp Sticks (see my review here). After learning the truth behind their pasts, and what really went on at Innovations, the girls are on the outside with a mission to take the corporation down and to save the girls they left behind. But as they try to navigate this new world, they are still tracked down by people close to the academy – like Leandra, the headmaster’s wife who is also like them, and Winston Weeks, a prominent figure in the company. Leandra says she also wants to take the corporation down but needs the girls to find the top secret investors who are keeping Innovations afloat. Unsure of who to trust, the girls go along with Leandra’s plan while also searching for a way to free their girls.

I scream in my head when I see the scalpel in her hand. She brings it to the center of my chest and slices me down the middle. Then she reaches inside and pulls out a heart of razor blades.”

Girls with Sharp Sticks shredded my heart and made me ache for unbreakable female companionship.

It gave me hope and filled my heart, instantly making me love and care for these beautiful, spirited girls. And in Girls with Razor Hearts, I was happy to find that these girls were just as loving and compassionate as before. Their bond with one another is a fierce gentleness that I have sadly never experienced before. It is so pure and untouchable by darkness. No matter what, these girls look out for each other and their best interests. They only want the best for one another – to be loved, respected, accepted and free. Mena, Sydney, Marcella, Brynn and Annalise are each unique and have traits that show pieces of their hearts. Their sharp minds, their tenacity, their nurturing nature and unwavering resilience. No matter what befalls these girls, their loyalty to each other can never be broken.

The other girls are my strength, and I theirs. Together, we’re powerful.”

The plot in this second installment takes a drastic turn into a world that unfortunately closely mirrors our own. As the girls search for the son of an investor in a private school across the country, they realize the behaviors of the men from Innovations wasn’t just secluded to their former academy. They quickly become subjected to the cruel nature of boys who have been given too much power. Boys who take and abuse, and continue to without consequences or fear of being told on. The girls are put down and ridiculed while others look on, afraid to step in, and they are forced to play a game with the boys so they don’t make it worse for themselves.

I’m sick of faking nice as a way to avoid violence, avoid menace.

Girls have to play nice or face the consequences.”

The behaviors from these boys is appalling and disgusting, but unfortunately, it isn’t something we as females have never experienced before. Suzanne Young has put the patriarchy under a blinding spotlight that shows the darkness and prejudices that are very true, even in today’s culture. It is sad and heartbreaking to see, but even more so because of the realistic nature of it all.

But while the message behind this book is extremely important, I feel like the story as a whole has slightly suffered due to unrelenting preaching that fills these pages.

I am a feminist to my core, but there is a point when a message becomes so repetitive that it becomes preaching. By the time I got halfway through this book, I felt like the disdain for the behaviors of men was being shoved down my throat. This series started out as a poetic tale that held important truths that were being discovered by beautiful souls, but it has turned into 390 pages of why men need to be taken down. In some cases the author says that men need to be taught, but then a few pages later it is being conveyed that they need to be destroyed. I am all for a book that educates and shines a light on the horrors that women face, but I don’t want the entire plot to be overshadowed completely. But that is what happened.

In Girls with Sharp Sticks, the reader is shown the fear and confusion that the girls face. It is raw and breaks down the realities and expectations that society places on girls, but it is delivered in innocence and sweetness. It felt so pure and honest, with an effortless nature that sang to my soul and stung my eyes with pride. But Girls with Razor Hearts seems to have lost that gentle ease. It felt forced, jagged and slightly aggressive in it’s voice. Instead of showing me the trauma that plagues the girls, I was told.

There were a lot of words and not enough feeling.

Though I am not as impressed with book two as I was with book one, I have high hopes that book three will tie things together and go back to the series’s roots. There was still a lot of thrilling and exciting things that happened in this sequel, with the return of characters and the introduction of new ones. But I feel like this might be the stepping stone to the next installment, and I am very interested to see where Suzanne Young takes this. This was a great sequel, but I really want to feel a bit more from book three

3.5 Stars

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