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Book Review: The Lady Raven by Rebecca Henry

The Lady Raven

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

Genre: Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: In The Lady Raven, Rebecca Henry tells the tale of Zezolla, a little princess abandoned by her father into the hands of her evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters. A familiar fairy tale you may think but all is not as it appears. The reader is soon drawn into a web of witchcraft, lies and deceit, and gradually realizes that this is no typical fairy tale but a dark and macabre take on one. Zezolla is treated with the utmost cruelty, neglected and vilified, and left to live in the damp cellars of the castle. The only friends Zezolla has are her beloved raven and her pet wolf. Her only comfort lies in the loyalty of the creatures of the forest and her mother’s hazel tree. Will Zezolla have the power to escape her torment and ultimately save herself from the unscrupulous clutches of the king? The Lady Raven is a compelling tale and one that is not for the faint-hearted.

Opinion:

Fridays are for dark retellings, murder and deceit.

In this twisted tale there are more than just stepmothers to defeat.

Vile stepsisters and wicked, forceful Kings,

Have a chance to be defeated with the help of paws and wings.

With a Princess clad in black and magic scorching through her veins,

A Queen must arise to break free from her chains.

I love a fairy tale retelling, especially one that flips the story from cheery to morbid.

But what I love even more, is a story of a Goth Princess Witch.

Rebecca Henry got our Princess’s name wrong though,

because this is DEFINITELY written about me.

Princess Zezolla lead a life of happiness and bliss with her parents in their castle. A life with a doting father and a mother that showered her in love and affection. At least until her mother was drowned at the hands of her father. Now Zezolla’s life is one doused in sorrow and cruelty. Countless deaths and misfortunes follow the Princess as she grows into a young woman, with only her Raven and her magic to keep her company. Forced into the cellars of her castle by her stepmother and her daughters to live for years, the only solace Zezolla can find is through the woods and its creatures. But the bloodshed in Zezolla’s life has only just begun, and to survive, she must trust in her magic and her guardians.

Zezolla is the witchy Princess that my childhood heart has always wanted!

This girl is sweet, caring, compassionate and loving to everyone and everything around her-even those who treat her horribly. After the death of her mother, she falls into a state of mourning that takes hold of her life and leaves her lonely and neglected. Her father, after being betrayed by his wife and then drowning her, becomes a nonexistent parent to Zezolla, only focusing his efforts on securing a new wife and improving his status. And so begins the onslaught of stepmothers that will enter Zeolla’s life, leaving a trail of cruelty and vile behavior in their wake.

It seems to be a theme in this retelling for characters to begin as somewhat decent beings, and then turn rather drastically into monstrous versions of themselves. It was so saddening to watch Zezolla lean towards so many figures in her life that she loved and respected, only for them to turn on her and wish for her demise. But another huge theme was the act of characters attempting to have ownership or control over our little Cinderella girl. She was constantly being thrust into the hands of those who either wanted her for gain or to be a slave that they could torture. This poor girl is beaten, betrayed, manipulated, verbally abused and treated like an object constantly.+

“You have witnessed man’s true desire…to own a woman.”

But before you think that she is totally helpless, don’t. Zezolla is a fierce and witty character with extraordinary abilities. She has a deep understanding of the Earth and the animals, and has extremely dedicated companions by way of a raven and a wolf. These two creatures steal and kill in order to protect their Princess, and to be completely honest, it is badass and ruthless! There is SO much blood being spilled in this story, but don’t fret, it isn’t graphic at all and won’t keep you up at night.

 

What I really enjoyed about this story as well, is the romance. It is a bit unexpected and not a huge part of the story…which I really LOVE! Look, I adore my fantasy romances just like the next YA obsessive out there. But what I adore even more, is a story where a female isn’t waiting in the damn shadows for a man to rescue her and fight her battles. I crave that feminine strength and power in books, and Rebecca delivered.

Overall, I am really impressed with this dark Cinderella retelling. The pace is quick, and this book covers a TON of ground in just 180 pages. It completely sucked me in and left me feeling a bit dismayed that it was over, because all I wanted was to stay with Zezolla. I would gladly welcome a series of The Lady Raven, or even a dark retelling of EVERY princess (hint hint, Rebecca). I definitely recommend this gritty and gothic fairy tale to those of you who are looking for a new retelling or a spooky read for October!

4-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: The Sound of Blue by Michael Duda

The Sound of Blue1

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

Genre: Short Stories/Science Fiction

Plot: Aliens exist everywhere. They are android. They hide within the mind. They live on other planets. And they can even travel the universe using technology far beyond our understanding.

Markey VI, an android on an orbiting space station, assists an artificial intelligence. David, the A.I., ponders the question of humanity’s fate. The ultimate question is, “Should life be returned to Earth?” The answer is known as the Singular Conclusion. But the answer’s impact reaches far deeper into Markey VI’s electronic components and programmed logic than could be anticipated. And the android’s final moments bring it closer to humanity itself.

David Grayson volunteered for a project called, ‘Threading.’ Unfortunately, Threading slowly alters David’s mind. And it affects the other two subjects. But in what way? After the final test goes wrong, David unleashes a powerful ability capable of distorting time.

Shiran accuses Abian of murdering her husband. She claims that Abian tells lies about the events leading to the death. She also keeps a secret that could reveal the truth. When Abian uncovers Shiran’s secret, Shiran discovers that there is more to her simple village life than she first believed.

It’s a futuristic version of 1930s Chicago. Named Chicago VI, the shielded space city exists somewhere at the far edge of the Oberon Galaxy. And all space cities connect by jump trains, faster-than-light machines. Bobby and his dog, Mister Pleats, barely make ends meet at Chicago VI’s jump train station. But when Bobby meets an alien Xenoarchaeologist, he’ll discover that there’s more possibilities in the galaxy than shining shoes.

The Sound of Blue takes you on four journeys of alien discovery. A journey just out of atmospheric reach. To a mysterious planet and at the far end of a galaxy. And into the mind where superhuman powers wait to be untapped.

Opinion:

“In a galaxy so vast, what really is home?”

You’d think that after reading my fifth book by Michael Duda, I’d cease to be amazed at how his mind works.

But alas, here I am.

Still dumbfounded and astounded by his brain.

Michael Duda is able to take the most mundane facts that we know as humans, about our society and ourselves, and reshape them into poetic tales of beauty and darkness. He is able to transport the reader into future and sideways dimensional settings that exude immense wonder and deep horrors. I am always left feeling nostalgic and unhinged by Duda’s writings. It’s like he has dipped his fingers into my brain, found the innocence and fears, and gingerly extracted them and wove them onto paper.

Now if you have an unhealthy addiction to science fiction that can both excite and terrify you, then you will love this collection of short stories.

The first is called The Sound of Blue. Immediately the reader is skyrocketed into the ever-popular idea (or probability) that Artificial Intelligence and robots will take over the world, eradicating humankind from existence. This story follows dialogue between David, an A.I., and Markey VI, an android. David is attempting to discern if humans will be able to return to Earth, while also delving into the idea of what it means to be human.

It is a quick story, but one that made me pause after reading to reflect on what it means to be human. As per usual, Duda started this book off with a bang that immediately had a sense of anxious wonder creeping inside me. It is the most sorrowful and delicate of these four stories, and one I could imagine being a closing scene for an epic sci-fi movie.

The second short story is Last of Lasts and immediately reminded me of the Netflix show Maniac. It is about three people who are in dire need of money, so they agree to participate in a series of experiments. The story is told through the eyes of David as he is thrust back into another test of the “threading”; one that puts the other two subject’s lives at risk as the scientists look for a specific outcome. It is one of the longer stories, but one that will keep you hooked as you try to figure out what the hell is going on. It is also probably the most fantastical of the bunch, but as always, one that has legs and could easily be turned into a full series.

The third story is Waking from an Eternal Sleep. The inhabitants of a village look to those called the Unmarked Ones for guidance and insight into events and their lives. But when Shiran’s husband is suddenly killed by a fellow villager named Abian, she demands to know why and that he be put to death. But the reasoning behind her husband’s death is much bigger than what she could ever fathom. Naturally, in Duda form, I am left wanting more and MORE of this tale. ALWAYS with the cliffhangers

The fourth short story is Jump Trains and Simultaneity and my favorite kind of science fiction fable! It is set in an old-timey futuristic world that can only be described as the 1930s meets Cyberpunk 2077. If you are like me and are obsessed with Sci-fi like Altered Carbon, Blade Runner or Mute, then you will without a doubt love this. Bobby lives in one of the many cities called space cities, which are connected by jump trains. He is a homeless and sweet kid working as a shoe shiner, until he meets Theodore Rattletrap, an alien who studies extraterrestrial cultures.

THIS short story is the one I NEED to be turned into a full novel, then a Netflix show. It is phenomenal and fantastical, and the one that threw my imagination into overdrive. I couldn’t help but be completely invested in Bobby’s well-being, because he is a genuinely innocent character. Duda ensured that I had a decent level of skepticism for Theodore Rattletrap the entire time, and even now, I’m not too sure about him. This is by far my favorite story of the collection.

Unsurprisingly, I am obsessed with this new book by Michael Duda.

I have been hounding him for some time now to please write a novel before I wither away into dust and fly off into the wind, and he is! But in the meantime, I highly suggest you guys read Stars in the Winter Sky, and a few of his other short story collections under his other pen name M. Duda: Bedtime for Seneca, A Cat Will Play, Deny the Father.

5-stars

 

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Binding of Bindings #31: My Top 10 Anticipated October Book Releases

Something Wicked this way comes.

You know who it is, you’ve been waiting all year!
It’s the Twisted.
The Ghostly.
The eerie Daughter of Darkness and the gloomy Son of Spooky.

 

 

It’s OCTOBER!

 

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~* My 10 Anticipated October Book Releases *~

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1. Angel Mage by Garth Nix
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy

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Some of you may know Garth Nix, some may not.

He is the author of the Abhorsen series, Sabriel, and has made a name for himself in the YA Fantasy genre.

Angel Mage is a historical styled fantasy with heavy influence from The Three Musketeers. Set in a world that is largely controlled by angelic magic, Liliath seeks to be reunited with her lost love, the archangel of Ystara, by forcing four Sarancians to fulfill her destiny.

It basically sounds like an epic fantasy adventure of four against one, I am here for it COMPLETELY!

 

2. Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal

Resurrection Girls

Resurrection Girls is one of those books I see and go-

was this written specifically for me?

It follows Olivia Foster, a young girl who is still reeling from the death of her younger brother. But when Kara Hallas moves in across the street, Olivia is immediately enamored with her free spirit and strange hobby of writing to men on death row. So Olivia joins Kara, and together, they write as the Resurrection Girls.

This sounds like it’s going to be one of those “they aren’t who they seem” styles of books, but I am REALLY curious to see where this fantasy/paranormal element comes in to play.

But who am I kidding?

I’m just here for the morbid tone.

 

3. Shadow Frost (Book 1) by Coco Ma
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Shadow Frost

Shadow Frost is about a girl named Asterin, Princess of Axaria, who vows to slay a demon that is terrorizing her kingdom. With the help of her friends, they set off to kill the beast in question, but discover startling information in the process. But an assassination attempt against Asterin has been planned, and a series of lies begin to come to light as they fight for survival.

Magic, a princess, demon beasts?!

Sign me up!

 

4. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Fantasy/Horror

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My Horror pick of the month, and you’ll know exactly why!

The Twisted Ones is about a young woman named Mouse who begins cleaning out her grandmother’s home after her death. What she thinks at first is just a bunch of useless junk, she soon finds that not everything in this house can be brushed off so easily.

Mouse uncovers a journal of strange writings by her step-grandfather, and soon begins to experience the strange and unusual events that she assumed was the musings of an insane man. 

This novel is said to read like The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show

HOW? I don’t know, but I NEED!

 

5. The Good Luck Girls (Book 1) by Charlotte Nicole Davis
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

The Good Luck Girls

So I JUST received this beauty in the mail from the amazing and wonderful Andrea @andreajanel_reads , and I cannot wait to start reading this Westworld meets The Hadmaid’s Tale fantasy!

The Good Luck Girls is the story of five young women who were forced into prostitution houses and called Good Luck Girls. When one of the girls ends up killing her client, the girls devise a plan to escape and find freedom.

This sounds like a Wild Wild West meets Sucker Punch meets The Accident Season, and I’m just over here like

 

6. I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

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I LOVE a thriller that blindsides the ever-living shit out of me, and I am hoping I Know You Remember does just that!

When Ruthie’s once best friend Zahra suddenly vanishes from a party, she makes it her mission to find out what happened. But as Ruthie begins to dig deeper into the life of the girl she once knew, she soon discovers Zahra is far from the introverted and artistic person she was as a child. Zahra is popular and a young woman of many secrets, and Ruthie is about to fall into them.

7. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Genre: YA/Sci-fi/Dytopian

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THIS book is the Sci-fi/Dystopian novel I have been waiting for ALL YEAR!

Set in a world where girls are banished until the age of sixteen and told their skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac that lures men in and throws women into a jealous rage, Tierney James dreams of a better life. A life where the girls don’t rage against one another, and work to tear each other down.

The Grace Year is dripping in feminist vibes like Wilder Girls and Girls with Sharp Sticks. It is a world where women are shoved down and fight against one another to survive in a society that only wants to push them down farther. 

I cannot express how long I have been waiting for this release.

I am so ready to highlight every word in this book.

Bring it on.

8. Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Genre: YA/Contemporary

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Love, Heather is about two girls who enact revenge on the bullies of their high school by playing a few pranks, signing them with Love, Heather. But what starts out as innocent retaliation, quickly turns into a violent mess as students start to join in by pulling their own vicious pranks. As everything turns dark, the girls fight to take back control of what they started.

I am a HUGE fan of the Heathers movie, and if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do before reading this book!

 

9. Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy

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Gravemaidens follows Kammani, a young healer who fights to save her sister from her impending death.

When the ruler of Alu becomes ill, sacred maidens are picked to walk with the dying ruler into the afterlife. It is an honorable position, but one that Kammani only sees as an execution. So when her sister Nanaea is chosen as one of the Gravemaidens, she sneaks into the palace and attempts to heal the ruler. But the secrets of the palace are dangerous, and more than just her sister’s life may be in danger.

 

10. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Release Date: October 31, 2019
Genre: YA/Middle Grade/Fantasy

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I LOVE Francis Hardinge books!!!

Not only does she come up with some truly amazing and unique ideas, but the detail and character building in each of her stories is FANTASTIC!

I mean yes, I wish she would write a more Mature YA or even an Adult book, but I am more than happy with these beautiful middle grade tales!

Deeplight is set in a fantastical world called Myriad, a place once terrorized by powerful gods that come from the depths of the ocean, until one day they vanished. Since then, the remains of these gods are traded and highly sought after. For Hark and Jelt, scavenging for “godware” is their life, and they soon set out on an expedition that will change their lives forever.

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books

Book Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

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Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot: Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Opinion:

This book is in no way, at all, by ANY means, similar to Veronica Mars or William Shakespeare.  

To the person who wrote this book description, did you even read this book?

I was really hoping this book was going to be like open-heart surgery: a precise slice between 2 to 4 inches, an intricate unweaving of my measly little “feelingstrings and an eventual severe, yet purposeful, yanking on my heart like it was a sled delivering presents on Christmas eve.

Unfortunately,

I didn’t feel much at all.

I had so many readers recommend this book to me after I read The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, because I was wailing and shrieking about it for months afterwards – and to be honest, I still am. I waited months to actually read this because I knew I would have to set a night aside and really prepare myself for the roller coaster of emotions I was about to feel! With my tissues, tea and emergency cookies on standby- I dove in!

But what I got was…blah.

I am obviously not one of those readers that gives a book a stellar review just because it touches on an important issue. I respect the author for giving sexual assault victims a voice, and for trying to show another version of how the victims and their loved ones are affected by truly terrible crimes like this. I found a lot of positives in this story by way of strong friendships and fierce loyalty, the confusion of how/what to feel when you’ve been assaulted but cannot remember, and the various ways that one’s peers and community reacts.

But I think what really made it hard for me to connect to this story, was the lack of depth in this story. Exit is a “shallow end” version of YA Contemporary/Coming-of-age fiction about rape. It gives you the characters and the facts of what happened before and after the assault, but it only just brushes the surface of the emotional significance that comes with such a horrific crime.

The main character felt very one-dimensional and stiff. She didn’t seem to EVER feel much of anything about what happened to her, and was more worried about her cheer team then the fact that she was raped…? I’m all for moving on and not letting things get you down, but come on! This girl is a teenager. A hormonal, emotional, hard-to-think-rationally teenager! How is she so put together and mature about this situation the ENTIRE book? It feels like lazy writing. Instead of the author really getting in touch with the emotional trauma and how Hermione was coping with the events, she barely stuck a toe into the water and simply told the reader emotions rather than presented them.

There wasn’t anything really special about this book, and I kept finding myself waiting for a big moment of TRUE emotion that unfortunately never ended up coming. The only true gem of this story was Hermione’s best friend Polly. Polly is a really well-crafted, beautiful, strong and detailed character! She is the strength and rock in Hermione’s life, and apparently the only one that is stricken with the events that take place. I almost wish Exit would have focused more on Polly and HER views on the situation as she helped her friend through her assault. It would have been a different viewpoint, and maybe would have given me the feeling and truth that I was looking for.

I think this book would be more suitable for a younger audience, due to its non-graphic and modest approach. I think this could be a decent introductory story to sexual assault if Speak or The Way I Used to Be seemed a little too heavy. But for me, I was left feeling a little empty and unsatisfied with this book.

2-5-stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Edelweiss+ · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Binding of Bindings #30: 10 Badass Female Leads…

Murder, revenge, plotting, espionage, manipulation and sarcasm.
These ladies just don’t give a f**k.

 

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~* 10 Badass Female Leads…

That Will Kill You in Your Sleep *~

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1. Fortuna Sworn (Book 1) by K.J. Sutton
Genre: Fantasy/Romance

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We’re starting this “Badass Bitch” list off with a true nightmare:

Fortuna Sworn.

Fortuna is literally a Nightmare – a creature whose face shifts and transforms in order to accommodate the onlookers tastes, but who can reach into your mind to find your fears, and make you think they are now reality.

Twisted, right?!

Not only is this lady FIERCE and lethal, but she says demented things like this:

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

This Adult Fantasy is by the amazing Kelsey Sutton who has written a ton of fantastic YA novels, but this is her first adult Fantasy and it is hot, HOT, HOT! If you like a Fae story that shows off the evil side of those intoxicating creatures, then read this. It has ACOTAR and The Folk of the Air vibes ALL over it!

(See my review here)

 

2. Alarum (Walking Shadows, Book 1) by Talis Jones
Genre: YA/Dystopian/Sci-fi

Alarum

Flinch, Vizsla, Kid, Fury.

All one person, and ALL total badassery!

Fury is the epitome of a ruthless, strong, sassy, resilient and dangerous woman. From being sold as a slave into a new world after the collapse of the United States, she is thrust into a simple lifestyle: kill or be killed. This tale tracks her childhood in a slave camp, her time working for a brutal family, and her transition into lawless renegade.

This lady is the shit!

Plus, Alarum will most likely make you cry…so that’s a plus.

(See my review here)

 

3. Serpent & Dove (Book 1) by Shelby Mahurin
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

Serpent and Dove

No list is complete without a Witch to spice things up, right?!

Allow me to introduce the one and only, both incredible and crude, yet arrogant and hilarious, Louise le Blanc.

Look, a woman that will scream a pub song called “Big Tiddy Liddy” at the top of her lungs is a winner in my book. But throw in some SERIOUS Witch heritage, insane abilities, and murderous tendencies…then I will just turn to jello.

Serpent & Dove is a newly released YA Fantasy about Witches vs Church. Our main character is forced into marrying a guard of the church, even though he is unaware that she is actually a Witch and is VERY good at gutting people.

A Witch marrying a Witch Hunter.

Romance.

(See my review here)

 

4. Glitter (Book 1) by Aprilynne Pike
Genre: YA/Historical Fantasy/Dystopian

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Versailles, ball gowns and royals, high-tech automation and a courtier selling makeup with drugs in it?

Get it, girl!

Glitter doesn’t seem to be a super well-known series, and I am wondering WHY?! It has everything us YA book lovers need! Romance, scandal, an asshole young king and a leading female who just wants to take those bastards down…one jar of rouge at a time!

It’s a Historical Fantasy with a Science Fiction twist and it is SUPREMELY amazing!

 

(See my review here)

 

5. 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

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Drownings, scandals, near decapitationsOH MY!!

13 Minutes is a slinky little YA Contemporary Thriller that will have you mumbling “wtf” while also grinning from ear to ear. I really can’t say who the badass is in this without giving EVERYTHING away, but just know…it’s delightful

It follows Natasha as she wakes up in the hospital after being washed up on an embankment. Nobody knows how she got there, and worst of all, she can’t remember anything. Natasha links up with her friends and a former friend to find out what really happened, and the truth is…shocking.

But just know this, these girls are twisted.

(See my review here)

 

6. With Malice by Eileen Cook
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Thriller/Mystery

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Want to be completely blindsided, infuriated AND appreciative of the truly devious acts of women?

You’ve come to the right place.

With Malice is exactly as the title describes: Malicious.

It is another story about a girl waking up in the hospital not remembering what happened to her. Slowly it becomes revealed that she was involved in a car accident, and there was someone else involved.

There are some serious Amanda Knox trial vibes going on here, and involves some cutthroat behavior by a female that I just can’t help but slow-clap for. This book has a twist and an ending that will make you just

(See my review here)

 

7. The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling/Feminism

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You know what I love?

A feminist retelling of men being drowned for treating women like they’re nothing.

The Surface Breaks showcases a mermaid named Gaia who starts out as a meek and subservient daughter of the Sea King, but swiftly turns into a truly glorious character hellbent on standing up for herself and her sisters.

It’s a darker version to the original Little Mermaid tale you know, but one that NEEDS to be read!

(See my review here)

 

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

Wilder Girls

I am obsessed with this book, and even more obsessed with the female characters that grace its pages!

Wilder Girls is a YA Horror/Mystery filled with a collection of girls who are as freakish as they are resilient. These girls will claw at each other for food and kill you on the spot, but their hearts are filled with immense love and loyalty for one another.

This breathtaking and eerie story is about a school on an island that has been quarantined after a Tox infiltrates their walls. The girls are mutated and dying, and it is downright DARK! But oh so good.

(See my review here)

 

9. Darkness of Light (Book 1) by Stacey Marie Brown
Genre: New Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance

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Looking for another Celaena Sardothien and Rowan Whitethorn to swoon over?

Okay, technically this isn’t like TOG at all, but it’s Fantasy, it’s hot and I just love a female who can fight alongside some fantastical creatures!

Darkness of Light is an Adult Fantasy series filled with demons, fae, goblins and dark dwellers. This series is exciting and soooo romantic, but most importantly, it gives you a female lead who is SO saucy and fierce!

I am planning on reading it again this weekend, so jump on the train with me and let’s all just drool over this series together!

(See my review here)

 

10. Killing November (Book 1) by Adriana Mather
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller/Contemporary

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Killing November is not high on my list of favorite books…at all, but it IS stuffed full and exploding with various characters who are all passionate about one thing:

Killing. ❤

Academy Absconditi is a school for assassins and spies in training. Classes range from poisons, knife throwing and plain old manipulation. So in this case, there is a whole host of badass females who will kill you in your sleepliterally.

(See my review here)

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of january

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

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Opinion:

“…the Door seemed to be murmuring in a soft, clattering language made of wood rot and peeling paint. I reached toward it again, hesitated, and then-

I opened the Door, and stepped through.”

January Scaller has been under the care of Mr. Locke, a wealthy and highly prominent figure, for as long as she can remember. With her father under his employment and traveling all over the world in order to track down hidden and rare artifacts, January is left in the mansion where is expected to be a good girl. But with only strict nursemaids and colleagues of Mr. Locke to keep January company, she finds solace in her books and her vivid imagination. As January grows, confined to the walls of her wealthy yet lonely lifestyle, she searchs anyhwere she can for something or someone to fill her empty void. It isn’t until she stumbles upon a strange book about magical doors and a lost love that January finally begins to find new meaning in her life, while also learning how far from mundane her history truly is.

“Sometimes I was so lonely I thought I might wither into ash and drift away on the next errant breeze.

Sometimes I felt like an item in Mr. Locke’s collection labeledJanuary Scaller, 57 inches, bronze; purpose unknown.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a YA Historical Fantasy about a girl searching for a way out of the life that has been forced upon her. At a young age she is put into the care of Mr. Locke, a man with insurmountable wealth and a love for rare artifacts. He employs her father to travel around the world in search of these items for him, while he houses and cares for January from child to teenager. Set in the early 1900s, January is expected to act like a proper lady. To have proper etiquette, learn the necessary studies and skills that make up an accomplished woman, and to remain silent. To be a good girl.

“Be a good girl.

To hell with being good.”

While we watch January grow from a young girl to a young woman, the loneliness and isolation that she feels is deafening. She is mostly ignored by the men and women that come and go from Mr. Locke’s house for parties, her nursemaid is strict and unrelenting, and the only semi-friend she has is a delivery boy by the name of Samuel. Though January has a deep love for books and and vivid imagination, she is taught from a young age to not waste her time and energy on such silly ideas. It was so tragic to watch her spirit be broken by these people who seem to care for her, but you’re never really sure if they actually do. But maybe the most tragic aspects of this story, is January’s relationship with her father.

…there was just something about the shape of him in the doorway that made me dizzy with anger. Maybe because he smelled like jungles and steamships and adventures, like shadowed caves and unseen wonders, and my world was so ferociously mundane. Or maybe just because I’d been locked away and he hadn’t been there to open the door.”

For a good portion of the book, I was unsure of the relationship they had and when her father had the time to spend with his only daughter. It turns out, he didn’t spend much time with her at all. He completely left her in the care of Mr. Locke while he flounced around the world, forgetting birthdays and barely writing to her. Naturally, Mr Locke becomes her stand-in father figure, and at first he seems to be a stern and cold man, but someone who cares for January and who has a witty yet dry sense of humor.

That is until he locks her in her room for weeks on end, in order to rid her of her imagination.

You don’t really know how fragile and fleeting your own voice is until you watch a rich man take it away as easily as signing a bank loan.”

So this story took a little while to get going, because there is a TON of buildup and backstory that needs to take place before the actual fantasy can begin. I was having some trouble staying focused during the first 20% of this read, but once January starts to figure things out and begins…unlocking things, it really gets going. And when I say it gets going, it REALLY gets going! The amount of creativity and imagination it took to write this book is on full display, and the author does a fantastic job of making you feel as if anything is possible. The writing is elegant and descriptive, the characters well-developed and alluring, and the plot is…breathtaking!

I dreamed in gold and indigo.”

For a time in this story, the reader is taken back and forth between the present with January, and the past that is written in her mysterious book that she finds in the bottom of a chest. It is the beautiful and tragic story of a man and a woman, from two different worlds, who search for years trying to find a way back to one another. They travel around the world searching for thousands of doors that lead to various places of beauty and treachery, all to find a door of sea that will bring them back together. It is romantic and bleak, hopeful and gentle. This author has a way of opening little doors in your heart, while simultaneously setting them all on fire and burning them to the ground.

But another wonderful aspect of this intricate story, are the lovable and brave characters that are littered throughout its pages. Samuel, a young man who is a constant in January’s life who is always there when she needs someone the most. Bad, a scrappy and devilish dog who is fiercely loyal to January, and only January. And Jane, her new nursemaid that begins as stoic and reserved, but turns out to be a TRULY fierce and badass woman. These characters bring out the best in January, and show her another side to humans that she didn’t see a lot of growing up. They fight to protect her and keep her safe, and volunteer without question to follow her into danger.

I closed my eyes against the weight of guilt settling on my shoulders, heard the clock of claws and the scuff of worn shoes as Samuel and Bad approached. They settled on either side of me, warm and constant as a pair of suns.”

As a whole, I really liked this story and thought it was unique and a book I could truly get lost in. It felt exciting and sparked the notion in me that seems to be so easily forgotten – that anything is possible. Though I struggled a little at the beginning to stay focused, once I got about 20-30% in, I was hooked and loving every aspect of it. I cannot wait to see what else this author writes, and if it’s as good as this, I will be a lifelong fan!

4-stars

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Book Review: The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson

The Liar's Daughter

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Holiday House Publishing, Inc., via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Religion/Mystery

Plot: Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn’t know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

With a woman They claim is her real mother–a woman They say Father stole her from.

But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.

Opinion:

The window is no more than two feet wide and maybe half a foot tall. I can’t squeeze through it. It’s meant to let in sunlight, not hope.”

This is the story of a girls path to self-discovery.

The weaving of lies into truth.

The voices that are battered into ones brain so a person ceases to think for themselves.

It is the story of a life lost, a life gained, and the art of creating a world of both.

Piper has one dream: to make her Father proud and to finally be initiated into the Community as an adult. She has spent her entire life breathing in his teachings and doing anything in her power to make him proud. She is the perfect sibling, ensuring all the littles are well cared for and that everyone acts their best. Because the Outside world is toxic, and they are humanities only chance at survival. She knows the government seeks to control its people with pharmaceutical drugs and lies, pumping bodies full of toxins in order to keep them spending money. But Piper knows the truth. That all They do is lie, and that Father knows best. Because Father is a prophet, and Mother and Father would never lead her astray. They love her, and everything they do is to keep their family safe.

The Community is Truth.

The Community is Loyalty.

The Community will keep you safe.

The Liar’s Daughter takes the reader to “before” and “after” Pipers time living at the community. The “before” portrays memories of what she calls home, a small house near a lake and an abandoned amusement park. Piper describes this place as if it’s heaven on earth. The peacefulness, beauty and sense of freedom. She is a girl of great gratitude and happiness for what she has, and the family she is blessed with.

But when we go to the “after”, it is Piper in present time after being taken out of the community. She is unable to discern delusions from reality, or memories from hallucinations. She is in a state of confusion, a haze of sadness and anger for being ripped from her parents and siblings. She believes she is being held against her will, kidnapped and held captive. She is fearful of what being on the Outside will do to her body and health. She refers to her new family as They and Them-those who mean her harm and feed her lies.

These people must’ve gotten into my head somehow, altered my memories.

What else could explain what’s happening?”

My love for Piper goes deep, because I was on this ride of discovery with her. I felt her confusion, her pain, her anger for being ripped from those she loves. Every day in the present is a time of mourning for her, and a search to figure out how to escape and run back to Mother and Father. I couldn’t help but share in the injustice of the situation with her. How dare these people rip her away from her siblings, her life of freedom. She was happy where she was, even if those on the Outside see it differently.

How does it feel? I want to ask. To have everything that’s precious to you taken away?”

It may seem strange to hear that I see any sort of an injustice for a girl to be returned to a home she was taken from first. To see her ripped from a family that brainwashed her, that gave her barely enough food. But that is where things get tricky, isn’t it? Piper only remembered her life at the Community, and she fiercely loved those around her. Is it the best thing for her to be ripped from those people, and thrust back into the arms of people who are now strangers to her? In the long run, maybe. But watching her try to piece her life together. Her own thoughts, her own emotions…it was hard to witness.

I want to be seen.”

It takes true talent to write the leader of a cult in a way where the reader is able to understand JUST how alluring he is. He is sensible, his arguments have just cause, and he makes you want to leave your cellphone behind and live a life off the grid. This is one of the first fiction stories about a cult I have read that really captures the essence of how enticing and pragmatic a cult leader can be. They weave promises into lies masquerading as truths, and everything feels and sounds so real and possible, until you realize it isn’t.

Monsters don’t have empathy. They have sharp claws and teeth that thirst for blood.”

This story turned out to be a delicate and sorrowful tale, but ultimately, one of hope and recovery. Piper is a gentle character who has so much love in her heart, and only wants to make people proud of her. She wants to be seen and acknowledged, to be loved and adored. I really appreciated the author shedding light on how Piper’s time in the Community affected those around her. It twisted the knife that was already protruding from my stomach, and then gave it a little extra shake when you begin to see the truth of what happened to her and her family. This is an amazing book that I think everyone should read. If this topic is usually sensitive to you, I do want to express that it doesn’t go into anything graphic and it isn’t a dark and evil book. It is a truly beautiful and delicate tale, and I highly suggest it be devoured.

“Last Warning. Do Not Stand Up.”

4-5-stars

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