Book Reviews · Edelweiss+ · New Releases

Book review: Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

Red Hood

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling/Feminism

Plot: You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked.

And the wolf is angry.

Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.

Opinion: 

 

 

I stumbled to me feet and took off running.

Well, dear, he chased, and I am sure you know where this story goes. It’s your story, too, after all.

I ran, and he chased, and soon I became aware that it was no longer a man who followed me – it was a beast, a wolf.”

who’s afraid of the big bad wolf

i am afraid

of everything.”

Bisou Martel ran from the car to escape the bloody scene before her. The drops of blood running from his chin, mortifying her beyond repair. She wanted nothing more than to disappear, to vanish, so she ran into the woods. But the woods weren’t safe that night, especially for Bisou. For she was different now, and the wolf could smell it in the air. Could taste it in the turning leaves and the trickle of fear mixing with her sweat. So he prowled towards her, inch by inch, wanting to claim what was surely his. Bisou was scared, but she was also different now. So she steps out of the woods, but the wolf doesn’t.

There is only one way to kill a wolf, dear heart.

Quickly.”

This isn’t a fluffy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. The maiden is not a princess, the wolf is not a prince, and grandmother isn’t sitting in bed twiddling her thumbs. Red Hood is one of the most raw retellings I have come across. It’s unhinging how forceful it pushes your comfort zone into submission and forces you to eradicate those tainted ideas instilled in us of how a female should act at. It will force women to shed every frightened sense of modesty that they grip to their bodies like a towel, and give readers a new insight into the meaning of wolf and prey.

Strange how a thing can strengthen one person and weaken another.”

Bisou lives with her grandmother and has been for since she was a child. Throughout the story there are hints at the trauma and mysteries surrounding her mother and their separation, and why her father isn’t in the picture either. The author blends poetry into the story as a glimpse into her mother’s past and her feelings, and it also gives Bisou a voice while she fights to gain control of what is happening in her town. Why boys are turning up dead, and if she has anything to do with it.

I was alone

in the ghost room

waiting for it to end

alone

hoping he wouldn’t find me

he came

and blew down everything

the moon was made of blood

your bed was full of blood

when he touched you

with his fists and fangs

he could have kept you safe

but he didn’t want to.”

But let’s get real about this.

This book is going to make you uncomfortable. It wouldn’t be an Elana K. Arnold book if it didn’t. But it’s okay if it does, and it’s to be expected. Our culture has been raising women in a world where they should feel shame for their bodies. For not being pretty enough, sweet enough, interesting enough. We are made to feel unworthy, unclean. Taught to take up less space, make less noise, need less and be less. So that is why you will be uncomfortable reading this. Because Elana just did everything society didn’t want her to do.

She made a group of strong, intelligent, driven, fierce and vocal women. Who pry and push their way towards their goals, damning the consequences. She gave their bodies truth. Showcasing them like the beautiful vessels they are. Full of awkward limbs, colors, textures and sizes. But best of all, she talked about that one special thing that makes women feel dirty. The one thing that men have made them hide and feel ashamed for – their periods.

Yeah, I said it.

PERIODS.

In this story, the men and boys who wish harm to women – both physically and sexually – turn into wolves, lurking and stalking their prey. But Bisou, like her grandmother, is bestowed with a certain special sense or ability upon her first bleedingPERIOD. I can’t say more without giving all the key elements away, but just know, this book is going to talk about periods and you’re just going to have to embrace it.

Because the layers of messages that this author weaves throughout this tale is so inspiring and beautiful. She wants you to embrace your body, to love this squishy and unique form that you have grown into and gotten to know your entire life. This flesh, bone and blood that is YOURS and yours alone. The frame that holds your heart, hopes and dreams…and the foundation of what holds you up. The author wants you to look at YOU, and feel good. To feel at home and to love it there. To feel safe, comfortable and happy that THIS BODY is YOURS!

“…now – here – you are your body.”

But the other HUGE aspects of this story are the toxic masculinity, the fear that women face on a day to day basis, and the unjust expectations and labels that are placed upon women and not men. How women are held to a higher standard in how the act and dress, being labeled a slut or said she was “asking for it” if she does not stick within those straight lines she is pushed into. And how men are able to dress and act how they please, with little to no consequences and zero labels following them around like a shameful reminder.

Later I learned that she had a bad reputation – she was a drinker, they said, and had a liking for short skirts and halter tops. She liked men, they said – emphasis on “men”, not boys.

Nothing was said of the fact that “men” obviously liked her, too.”

This book sheds light on a lot of REALLY important topics that NEED to be talked about. Rape, harassment, abuse and unfair labels. As the story progresses we see Bisou and her female friends start out quiet and docile, and end up being forces of nature. They find their voices and fight tooth and nail for one another and themselves. I found it to be empowering and an incredibly unique way to approach these issues. I really recommend it to everyone to read, because we need to stop shying away from topics and face them head on.

I can break things

I can make things, too.

I stand

On two strong legs

I kill

With two strong hands

I bleed

From one strong womb

I wish

With one red heart

That you could see me now.”

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

Not me. Fuck the wolf.”

4-5-stars

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

What Kind of Girl

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health/Abuse

Plot: Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

Opinion:

*sigh*

This one is heavy.

No self-respecting girl would stay with a guy who hit her.”

What Kind of Girl is more than just a domestic violence story.

It’s about two best friends who are both going through extremely trying times in their lives, but don’t reach out to each other for support. It’s about the expectations put on a person by their parents and peers, the assumptions that are made from onlookers, how trauma can drive a person towards self-harm, and the importance of mental health.

I need you to come with me. I need you to say you’re too worried about me to let me go. I need you to stay that you’ll love me whether I change the world or not.”

This book is told by Maya and Junie, two teenagers who are best friends but find themselves suffering alone. Maya is struggling with the repercussions of telling her principle that her boyfriend Mike had been hitting her, as the entire school divides itself and chooses sides. For Maya, the situation is just as confusing to her as it is to others. On the outside, her relationship with Mike seemed perfect, and most days, even she thought so. Mike is the responsible and stellar student, the track star. He is popular and nice to everyone around him, which makes it so hard for students to believe that he was abusing his girlfriend. Throughout the story Maya professes her love for Mike, how sweetly he treated her and how he didn’t want him to get in trouble for fear of him being expelled and losing his scholarship.

It’s hard to believe he would ever do what he’s accused of doing. And if he did, maybe he didn’t mean it. Maybe it was an accident. Or maybe it was justified, somehow.”

Maya always saw herself as a girl who would stick up for herself and immediately tell someone if she was being abused, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen like that. A lot of times victims stay in their relationships because they think that it could have been an accident, that their partner didn’t mean to hurt them, that they just got angry and lost control for a second. But other times it goes deeper. Manipulation plays a huge role. The abuser will not always be the screaming and violent character that is usually portrayed. Some abusers take the opposite approach. Soothing voices, promises of love and respect, ignoring the fact that they have hurt their partner, and learning how to control with their words.

Now, when I think about it, the bracelet reminds me of a handcuff.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing in Maya’s life that is causing her harm. She is bulimic and uses purging as a way to stay in control. Though she is a beautiful girl inside and out, she see’s herself as needing to be thinner or better. Her thoughts on when to eat, when she can throw up, how much food she has consumed takes over her thoughts and places her in an even more isolating place than she already was. To see how her bulimia and abuse were intertwined broke my heart, and all I wanted to do was give her a hug and tell her she wasn’t alone.

His fingers wrap around my upper arm. Sometimes he held me there instead of holding hands, and I’d see extra flesh in between his fingers. I don’t remember if I noticed that before or after I started throwing up.”

The other half of this story is told by Junie, Maya’s best friend. Junie is yet another beautiful girl who struggles with her own demons. She suffers from OCD and panic attacks, intrusive thoughts that leave her dissecting conversations and putting herself down, and cuts herself in order to finally quiet her mind and be still. Junie fights to be the strong and self-assured woman that her parents believe and want her to be. Their high expectations of her to be an activist, to stand up for what is right and make a change, weighs on her greatly. Whether it is her parents, her girlfriend or her peers, Junie feels she must be a leader and shouldn’t have issues like OCD. She sees these things as immense weaknesses and the reason for why she thinks nobody wants her.

So I went deeper again, like I thought maybe I could cut out the bad parts, the lonely parts, the needy parts. The parts that were sad about being alone. The parts that explained why I was alone in the first place.”

This is my second story by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, and it was just as amazing as the first book I read by her – A Danger to Herself and Others. This author knows how to talk about real mental health issues, and display them in a way that is equally beautiful and heart-achingly sorrowful. It’s as if she reaches inside a person’s mind, body and soul, extracts their fears and quirks, and displays them like she’s lived and breathed every aspect of who they are. Her writing and expertise on mental health is superb and she gives a voice to so many people who are struggling or feel lost.

As I suspected it would be, this story was beautiful. It is a gentle portrayal of some very serious topics that so many of us have been affected by, whether it be personally or through a friend or loved one. This author makes these characters so realistic-they have flaws that compliment their stunning attributes and voices that want to speak but just don’t know how. Yes, this book is about mental health and abuse, but it’s also about finding self-love and the importance of friendship. About reaching out when something is wrong, and not worrying about how other’s will look at you or judge you.

We may suffer alone, but we survive together”

-Aly Raisman

4-5-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books

Binding of Bindings #34: 10 Chilling Reads from 2019

10 books that will make you want to shed your own skin, cut out your own heart, and cry until the pain and truth of a cold reality escapes you.
These books are going to hit you where it hurts and leave you so cold, you’re burning hot.

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~*10 Chilling Reads from 2019*~

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1. The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

The Cold is in Her Bones.jpg

This is a Medusa retelling that is strange, eerie and weirdly sentimental. It has been months since I read it, but I am still blissfully disturbed by it.

The Cold Is in Her Bones tells the story of Milla as she spends her days doing chores and never leaving her home, despite her wishes to wander freely. But when the arrival of a family comes to live beside her home, she meets the first girl her own age that tells her of a curse. The curse comes to young women in the village, and is one of demonic possession.

This isn’t going to be the story you’re expecting, and I really recommend it to anyone that wants something different. Because it is VERY different. It touches on themes of kindness, not judging others, friendship and loyalty. It is a STRANGE story, but one that is so original and unique.

(See my review here)

 

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

A Danger to Herself and Others.jpg

THIS. STORY. IS. EVERYTHING.

You’re going to assume this book is going to go down a certain path, but you’re going to be dead wrong. The turn it takes is shocking and heart-shattering, but also so beautiful and soul-touching.

A Danger to Herself and Others is about a girl who finds herself placed in an institution after an accident that happened with her roommate during a summer program. Hannah is a very focused student and only wants to return to her life, so she does everything in her power to prove to the staff that she is completely sane and can go home.

*sigh*

Just thinking about this book makes me need to take a deep breath.

Your soul wants you to read this.

(See my review here)

 

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

Girls with Sharp Sticks.jpg

I just received an ARC of book two (Girls with Razor Hearts) in the mail from Simon & Schuster, and guys…it is taking all of my self-control not to devour it right now. It doesn’t release until March 17, 2020, so I need to wait a little bit. But I am seriously struggling.

Innovations Academy is an all-girl boarding school where math and science courses are non-existent, and growing beautiful gardens and being obedient is at the top of everyone’s to-do list. The girls of Innovation Academy are sweet, docile and humble creatures. Or…are they?

I literally cannot say more, but just know…Girls with Sharp Sticks is the most beautiful and sorrowful feminist Sci-fi/Fantasy ever.

(See my review here)

 

4. The Best Lies by Sara Lyu
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

The Best Lies.jpg

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

you’ve come to the right place.

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

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

It tells the tale of Remy Tsai as she recounts how her best friend Elise killed her boyfriend Jack. It’s a twisted web of intense love and loneliness, and one that I have been begging everyone to read.

(See my review here)

 

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

Wilder Girls

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

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

Wanting your heart to lurch and your skin to shift?

Read this.

Wilder Girls is the hauntingly beautiful and soul-dismantling feminist horror that you need. A virus breaks out at a private school located on an island, leaving the inhabitants to fend for themselves as the Tox takes hold of them. With each breakout comes a new torture for each girl. From bruising from the inside out, second spines and hearts, and a silver scaled hand to skin lesions and bubbles that grow worse by the day.

These girls are walking nightmares, but they look at each other with a dizzying amount of love and respect.

(See my review here)

 

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

The SUrface Breaks 2

“…I sewed my own mouth shut in the hopes that a boy I barely knew could kiss it open again.”

The Surface Breaks is a Little Mermaid feminist re-imagining, and it’s going to shatter your soul into pieces.

My poor heart, is still breaking in two and filling over the brim from the sadness and strength I got from this book! This rendition is dark, gritty, and gets real AF. This isn’t a fluffy twist on mermaids and young love. It hits you where it hurts, yanks those heartstrings, and makes you rethink how much of yourself you are willing to shred apart in the name of love.

“’And the pain?’” I ask. ‘Will that go away?’

‘Oh no,’ she replies. ‘But women are meant to suffer.’”

(See my review here)

 

7. The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Religion-Cults

The Liar's Daughter.jpg

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.”

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. 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.

The Liar’s Daughter is the story of Piper’s time in a cult. It is sad and upsetting, but it focuses on a survivors experience. The confusion, anger, sadness and betrayal that comes from learning the truth.

All I ask before you read this, is don’t look at the book description. It gives away the entire plot, and it angers me to no end.

If you want to experience the true sorrow of this story, just open it and start reading.

(See my review here)

 

8. Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Re-Imagining

Love, Heather

Love, Heather is a book I read in October and loved, but still haven’t written a review for. Ugh…I know.

It’s about two girls (Stevie and Dee) who enact revenge on the bullies of their high school by playing a few pranks, and 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. But as things start to spiral out of control, and Dee begins to take things too far, Stevie fights to get out before it takes her under.

This is a Heathers re-imagining and it is SO GOOD!

 

9. I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

I Know You Remember

I participated in a Spooky Reads Campaign that Random House hosted in October, and my book to read and review was I Know You Remember.

I tells the story of Ruthie Hayden moving back to Anchorage, Alaska and seeking out her former best friend Zahra. But when she returns, she finds that Zahra is missing and everyone suspects foul-play. Ruthie takes it upon herself to go searching for his best friend and to bring home the only person who ever truly understood her.

This book, is twisted and so damn good. My mouth dropped open, and stayed open, as I sat in my reading spot wondering wtf I just read and how I didn’t see that ending coming.

(See my review here and a few mood boards and my dream casting)

 

10. Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Mystery/Historical Fiction

Songs from the Deep

For fans of The Wicked Deep and sirens – you’re going to love Songs from the Deep.

The story centers on an island that is plagued by fear of the sirens that lurk in the waters. As children, islanders are taught to never go into the ocean, but Moira Alexander has always had a deep fascination for the frightening beauties of the deep. When a boy turns up dead on shore and the sirens are blamed, she takes it upon herself to find the true culprit.

This is a totally Gothic and eerie Tim Burton-esque tale that is dripping in mystery. It’s as creepy as it is beautiful, and a book I wish was series instead of a stand-alone.

(See my review here)

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Stay Witchy ❤

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Books · JKS Communications · New Releases · Reviews · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #28: August Book Wrap-up

Look August
It was fun and all.
We had some good times, some bad times.
But, like, I just can’t anymore.

 

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~* August Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. Terrible Lizard: A Memoir of My Time in the Police Dinosaur Unit by Doug Goodman

Terrible Lizard

Terrible Lizard is an Urban Fantasy that tells the tale of former law enforcement officer, Oak Jones, who spent 7 years in the Police Dinosaur Unit. This fantastic book is a collection of memories and action-packed moments that Oak experienced alongside his partner Banshee, a velociraptor with a tumultuous past.

I have read a lot of books by Doug Goodman, and each time I am more and more impressed with his attention to detail and superb storytelling. This book is suitable for ALL ages, so feel free to read it on your own or with your little dino-loving munchkins.

4-5-stars

(Click here to see my review)

 

2. Forsaken Wrath (The Scorpio Files, Book 1) by Alexander Ferrick

Forsaken Wrath

Forsaken Wrath is the first book in the adventure short story series called The Scorpio Files. It centers on the tales of fortune hunters Nick Reed, known as Scorpio, and Bartimaeus as they embark on an adventure around the world that will lead them to treasures and deep history.

If you were a big fan of National Treasure, The Da Vinci Code or even Pitfall (a game that was released on Atari, but revamped for Wii) then you will absolutely love this book. The writing is excellent, and it kept my attention for its entire 70 pages!

I’m honestly hoping these turn into full-length books, because I NEED!

5-stars

(Click here to see my review)

 

3. The Surface Breaks by Luoise O’Neill

The SUrface Breaks 2

Guys!

THIS one.

My poor heart, is still breaking in two and filling over the brim from the sadness and strength I got from this book!

The Surface Breaks is a feminist re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, and it is EVERYTHING that you, your mother, your sister, brother, father, daughter and son need!

The amount of quotes I inserted in my review for this book was…slightly embarrassing, and honestly, I could have just written a review in quotes. Because I highlighted that many, and it was that good.

This rendition is dark, gritty, and gets real AF. This isn’t a fluffy twist on mermaids and young love. It hits you where it hurts, yanks those heartstrings, and makes you rethink how much of yourself you are willing the shred apart in the name of love.

If you do anything after reading this post, buy this book.

5-stars

(Click here to see my review)

 

4. The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

The First gIrl Child.jpg

Okay, my review for this isn’t up yet.

So I’ll be brief.

THIS is a newly released Adult Fantasy about a kingdom that becomes cursed to no longer bear daughters, after a chieftain denies his unborn child.

The First Girl Child tells the story of Bayr of Saylok, a bastard son of a cruel chieftain and the woman who cursed the Kingdom, and a daughter named Alba that was born 7 years after the curse went into effect. Bayr is blessed with in-human strength, and has been tasked with protecting Alba and acting as her guardian.

This book was NOT what I was expecting, but I’m not mad about it at all! THIS WAS SO GOOD! The writing, the story-building, the characters, descriptions, EVERYTHING was perfection!

I will have my review posted this weekend or early next week, so look out for it!

 

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So honestly, yea, my August was a little slow. I have been in a distracted slump and finding it hard to read, but I’m back on it.

I have 100 books to read this year, and I am NOT very far, so I have to get it into gear like…yesterday!

Stay Witchy, my loves!

 

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

Book Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

The SUrface Breaks 2

 

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling/Feminism

Plot: Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

Opinion:

“’How much you are prepared to give up for one you know so little.’”

This isn’t The Little Mermaid tale you know and love.

It’s dark.

It’s painful.

It’s every hurt, wound and fear in your soul that you’ve been unable to express in words.

This book is for the girls who need to know their worth.

For the women who need reminding.

For the boys who must learn to be gentle.

And the men who need to be shown.

 

“A Woman’s no can so easily be turned into a yes by men who do not want to listen.”

 

These waters are dark and deep, so tread carefully.

 

“Either I am silent above the surface, or I spend the rest of my life screaming for mercy down here, the water muffling my cries.”

Gaia knows what it means to live in silence. To listen and obey her father, the Sea King, for his word is law and he is generous. To only speak when spoken to, to keep her tail and physique in pristine condition, and to never deny the wants of a man. But what Gaia truly yearns for is to know why her mother left them for the human world. What it is like above the surface, and how to escape her arranged marriage to a brutal man who looks at her with dominance and greed in his eyes.  As her fifteenth birthday nears, like all mermaids, Gaia will have the chance to break the surface and glimpse at what resides above the water. But when her desires to be free of her tail and to escape her future turns to desperation, she makes a deal that will change her life forever.

“Muireann of the Green Sea cursed me with wanderlust and a thirst for dry air that could not be quenched.”

The Surface Breaks is the heartbreaking feminist re-imagining that I have been needing all year. It beautifully details the sorrows, desperation and fear that women feel on a regular basis. That they are less than, that they are only wanted for their looks, and that they must strip themselves bare in order to be pleasing, worthy or loved. It portrays the life of a young girl and her sisters who have been taught that they are decoration for the pleasure of men, and that their desires are wrong and unnatural if they do not fit into the opinions of men that have been made into law.

“Please don’t touch me, I want to say, but I know that a woman’s body may always be touched if so desired. I am blessed to attract such attention. Everyone says it, so it must be true.”

Gaia is a sweet, gentle, innocent and delicate young girl who yearns to understand why her mother abandoned her. Just like Ariel, she is deeply attracted to the human world by the trinkets and baubles that she has been able to collect on the ocean floor. Her father tells the girls that their mother was weak and gave into her obsession to reside with the humans, and it resulted in her eventual death and capture at their hands.

It was incredibly difficult experiencing Gaia’s sadness and feelings of hopelessness as she went through the motions of her life. She is one of several sisters who are forced to be subservient, to attain a certain level of constant beauty and appeal, and who are married off by the desires and convenience of their father.

“I am the diamond in my father’s crown, and he is determined to wear me as such.”

This book has a dark and nauseating undertone that is necessary to the story, but still very hard to sit with. Gaia is betrothed to a man who is beyond creepy, inappropriate and vile. He treats her as if she is nothing but a doll that has been made for his pleasure and amusement, and she has no say in the matter. I felt suffocated and sick watching her character be treated so horribly. This book touches on some VERY serious themes that may be disturbing for some, so be weary. After all, Gaia was ONLY TWELVE when her father arranged her marriage to a man in his 60’s!

“His lips against my check, too close to my mouth. It is as if he wants to peel my skin away from my body and taste it on his tongue.”

“The nausea might subside when we are bonded”

But the theme of Gaia and the women in The Surface Breaks having zero control over their own lives is a constant! If a mermaid isn’t pretty, thin or appealing enough to the Sea King or any men in the kingdom, they are banished. Gaia is forced to give up her voice in order to be near the man she loves, and the Rusalka girls are treated as vile creatures hell-bent on bringing out destruction. The despair that these beautiful women feel is screaming through these pages, trying desperately to be heard. My heart was aching throughout this read, and I still feel a sense of loss and anger as I sit here typing away.

“’And the pain?’” I ask. ‘Will that go away?’

‘Oh no,’ she replies. ‘But women are meant to suffer.’”

The romance in this story is also an unconventional one. It has honestly left me feeling hopeless for romance in real life, and just reinforces my opinion that book boyfriends are the ONLY boyfriends you should EVER allow in your home. Because the feelings and relationship that Gaia has with Oliver will be able to resonate with EVERY female. That feeling of giving everything about yourself away to gain the attention of a boy. How we so quickly and easily shred, distort and disfigure ourselves in order to feel a glimpse of love from another.

“…I sewed my own mouth shut in the hopes that a boy I barely knew could kiss it open again.”

“All the things that I have ignored about this man in order to make the narrative of true love and destiny fit. I tried to make him as perfect as I needed him to be.”

I am so blown away by the love and intent that was put into this book. Every sentence is purposeful, every feeling, detailed and poetically written. I had SO many emotions racing through me while reading! I wanted nothing more than to reach into my kindle and wrap my arms around these girls. To protect them and tell them it will be okay…even when sometimes, it wouldn’t be okay. This book REALLY hits home and strikes hard.

To be honest, I could probably write this review with only quotes that I highlighted from this book, and that would be reason enough for you to want to buy it immediately. It is a beautiful and distressing tale, but it is a tale with an immensely important message. To know your worth and to stand up for yourself. To care for one another. To treat women with respect. To not shed who you are for the pleasure of another.

Please read this.

“’A woman needs to be strong to survive.’”

 

5-stars

 

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

Binding of Bindings #25: My Top 10 Anticipated August Book Releases

I know mother said to never drink the Kool-aid.
Don’t give in to peer pressure.
And to never leave that drink unattended.
But trust me, okay?
You definitely want this Kool-aid.

 

It will only hurt your TBR a little.

 

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~* My 10 Anticipated August Book Releases *~

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1. Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay
Release Date: August 1, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

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Just like Goth Barbie is my favorite…so is Asylum Alice.

At 15, Alice will do anything to leave the asylum that she was placed in for her “delusions” of a white rabbit and a place called Wonderland. Her ticket out is an experimental procedure, but cold feet are her undoing, so she escapes back to Wonderland…only to be forced to serve the Queen of Hearts.

Ever Alice sounds like it is going to be grittier and WAY less innocent than the original.

 

2. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

House of Salt and Sorrows

I know I won’t shut up about this….but can you really blame me?

A retelling of the childhood tale 12 Dancing Princesses, House of Salt and Sorrows takes the classic into a sinister form.

Annaleigh lives in a manor by the sea with her once 12 sisters, father and stepmother. But four of the sisters have died by supposed accidents, though the villagers believe it to be a curse on the family. So when Annaleigh finds that her sisters have been sneaking out at night to go dancing, she can’t help but think that this may be a connection to the deaths of her sisters.

 

3. Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: YA/Contemporary

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Hello Girls is like the Thelma and Louise tale for the YA diehards. Full of feminist power and middle fingers to controlling men!

This story follows two young women, Winona and Lucille, who are both forced to live under the hands of the controlling and toxic men in their lives. Fed up and ready to escape, the girls set off for their new lives – in a stolen convertible.

I am so proud of 2019 and the authors in it for producing so many amazing feminist stories! This one is going to punch you right in the feels and empower your gorgeous self, all at once.

 

4. Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

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Let’s Call It a Doomsday is a YA story about Mental Health and the world ending.

Ellis Kimball is a doomsday prepper, and she is prepared for any and every scenario when the world comes to an end. But what she wasn’t prepared for, was Hannah Marks entering her life. But as their friendship grows and they work to determined when doomsday is coming, Ellis begins to find out that Hannah isn’t who she thinks she is…and life might not be either.

 

5. Remember Me by Chelsea Bobulski
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: YA/Horror

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The Horror book of the Month!

Because you know I couldn’t go without slipping at least one into the mix.

Remember Me follows Nell Martin as she arrives at the Winslow Grand Hotel where, naturally, strange things begin to happen. Soon Nell is thrust between the past and present, and reliving horrific memories from 1905 of a murder. Now Nell and a mysterious bellboy are forced to go through the traumatic events to break a curse that has imprisoned them both.

 

6. Beasts of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga, Book 1) by Jill Criswell
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy

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Beasts of the Frozen Sun is a mythology inspired YA Fantasy about a girl blessed by the Gods with the ability to see into one’s soul, and a boy from enemy lands, the Frozen Sun.

Aillira was a god-gifted mortal whose love affair brought about a war between Gods and men. Lira is a descendant of Aillira, and has been raised to loathe the existence of the inhabitants from the Frozen Sun. But when a young warrior washes up on her shores, she is able to see that he is different from his fellow man.

Basically this sounds like a Tristan and Isolde tale…and I’m already sobbing onto my keyboard in anticipation!

 

7. Midnight Beauties (Grim Lovelies, Book 2) by Megan Shepard
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy

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This is the sequel to Grim Lovelies, and one that I am super stoked to read! Though I haven’t even read the first book yet (don’t judge me, okay?) I just ordered it on Amazon and I have an ARC of Midnight Beauties ready to go!

*Grim Lovelies is on sale at Amazon right now – $5.63 for the HARDCOVER!

I know.

Here: Amazon.com – Grim Lovelies

You’re welcome.

The duology follows Anouk who is a Beastie, an animal that was enchanted into a human. It is set in a world of witches, goblins and tons of magic. Anouk is one of 5 Beasties that serve the witch that turned them, Mada Vittora, and are all forbidden to leave the mansion at any time.

The books document how Anouk fights to free herself, and her friends, from the enchantment they were forced under. All while going up against powerful Royals and magical creatures.

8. The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Genre: Adult/Fantasy/Romance

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The First Girl Child is an Adult Fantasy about a Kingdom that was cursed to no longer bear daughters.

Bayr of Saylok is the bastard son of a cruel chieftain and the woman who cursed his Kingdom. Born with inhuman strength and a fierceness like no other, Bayr might be the only hope of the curse being broken. But his role in protecting Alba, the first daughter born in two decades, will put both their lives in jeopardy. Because they are the only hope of breaking the curse on Saylok.

I have a feeling this is going to be a STEAMY read…and I’m ready.

Bring it on Amy Harmon!!

 

9. All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Genre: YA/Mystery/Contemporary

All the bad Apples

LOOK AT THIS COVER!!!

If this cover doesn’t COMPLETELY draw you in, then the author of this book should! She wrote The Accident Season, which I am OBSESSED with, so naturally I am losing my marbles over this release!

All the Bad Apples is about the disappearance of Deena‘s mysterious sister Mandy. Distraught and surprised of her absence, their family struggles to cope with the loss of their daughter and sister. But when letter from Mandy suddenly start to show up, Deena learns that her family might be cursed and that bad luck has been passed down through generations.

 

10. Crown of Coral and Pearl (Book 1) by Mara Rutherford
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Genre: YA/Mystery

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This beautiful cover encases a fantastical tale about a kingdom called Ilara whose princes marry beautiful maidens from the village of Varenia…but not every marriage has a happy ending.

Crown of Coral and Pearl follows Nor who lives in Varenia with her identical twin sister, Zadie. At a young age Nor was in an accident that left her scarred, so in turn, her sister became the eligible maiden to marry the Crown Prince when the time came. But when Zadie is injured and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place, she realizes her new life with the Prince isn’t quite what it seems.

 

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As always my lovelies, stay witchy

Or…Vampire-y.

 

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

Book Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder Girls

 

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

Genre: YA/Horror/LGBT/Mystery

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

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

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

Opinion:

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

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

This book will make your skin shift,

your toes coil,

and your breath hurt.

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

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

So make sure you’re listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s beauty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

5-stars

 

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