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

Book Review: The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Will and the Wilds

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, 47North, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: Enna knows to fear the mystings that roam the wildwood near her home. When one tries to kill her to obtain an enchanted stone, Enna takes a huge risk: fighting back with a mysting of her own.

Maekallus’s help isn’t free. His price? A kiss. One with the power to steal her soul. But their deal leaves Maekallus bound to the mortal realm, which begins eating him alive. Only Enna’s kiss, given willingly, can save him from immediate destruction. It’s a temporary salvation for Maekallus and a lingering doom for Enna. Part of her soul now burns bright inside Maekallus, making him feel for the first time.

Enna shares Maekallus’s suffering, but her small sacrifice won’t last long. If she and Maekallus can’t break the spell binding him to the mortal realm, Maekallus will be consumed completely—and Enna’s soul with him.

Opinion:

The strong prey on the weak, it has always been so. The setting is just happenstance.”

A species called mystings have been wandering the human realm and the wildwood near Enna’s village for years. They lurk through the darkness of the trees, killing and consuming those left unprotected or caught unawares. But Enna has always been kept safe by a charm on her wrist that warns of a mystings proximity-a charm her father stole from the monster realm. So when her home is suddenly attacked by not one, but two goblers, Enna is forced into the wildwood to summon a mysting in the hopes of striking a deal. She has heard that some mystings may be persuaded into work by mortals, and Enna hopes that a mysting will kill the creatures that seem to be hunting her. But the deal Enna makes will cost her more than she planned on bargaining with, and her soul might not be the only thing up for shattering.

Mystings should never be trusted. Ever.”

The Will and The Wilds is set in a much earlier period where horses are the primary use of transportation, food is traded in a market of a small village and talk of witchcraft is either whispered about or scoffed at. Enna and her father are practically shunned by their fellow villagers due to Enna’s fascination with the mystings that plague their world, and because her father experiences frequent lapses in his memories. Though there have been reports and sightings of mystings in the wildwood near their village, many villagers assume that they do not exist or think they have left. But Enna knows full well they are still very close and prowling the woods.

The day that Enna was born, some seventeen years ago, her father and mother were attacked by a species of mysting that delights in consuming humans. With Enna still in the womb, and her mother being horribly eaten alive (ugh, I know), Enna’s father is forced to cut her out of his wife and flee. Her father then finds a way into the monster realm (where the mystings originate from) and steals a charm from a powerful creature, which he brings back to Enna and gifts to her for protection. The charm that has hung on her wrist ever since warns of a nearby mysting. With this charm, several herbs and rituals to keep mystings at bay, and a journal that has been passed down in her family which holds vital information about the monster realm and its creatures, Enna is able to keep herself and her father safe. Until, of course, their home is attacked.  From her journal, Enna learns that sometimes mystings will make a bargain with humans if a summoning circle is cast. So naturally, the poor dear casts the circle.   

“Some of the intelligent species of mysting are tricksters-these are creatures more interested in toying with mortals than feasting upon them. However, do not let that fact convince you they are docile, for often a trickster will claim something far more valuable than flesh.”

Enter: Maekallus.

Devilish mysting creature with a razor-sharp tail, a horn sword and the kiss that will do more than just take a girls breath away

…it’ll take her soul too. ❤

Maekallus is a type of mysting called a Narval, who consume human souls with a kiss. After a deal between Enna and Maekallus turns south, and Maekallus is bound to the mortal realm with his body slowly decaying into a bubbly black tar, Enna makes the decision to willingly kiss him in order to save him. But what would normally leave a human completely soulless, somehow, only a piece of Enna’s soul is given to Maekallus.

“The mortal realm will devour a mysting’s body. The monster realm will destroy a human’s mind.”

This story is such a fantastical and beautiful tale. It blends two of my favorite genres (Fantasy and Historical Fiction) into an old-timey tale where portals to realms are opened, and a human becomes bound to a monster. It has a slight Beauty and the Beast romance mixed with a Grimm fairy tale darkness. Instead of angels and demons, it’s demons and humans, and it is totally swoon-worthy! The romance doesn’t overpower this wonderful plot by making it an eye-roll fest full of forced physical contact or stomach roiling one-liners. It feels natural and purposeful, and fully adds to the story that the author tells.

“It’s nothing like Tennith’s kiss. There’s desperation in the movement of his lips. They’re rough, but in a different way. Tennith was much warmer.

Maekallus is like kissing the twilight.”

There is a slight love triangle that happens, but trust me, it is so inconsequential to the big picture and it actually adds an amusing scene to the story that I was LOVING. I found Enna to be a very proper, strong, loyal and good-hearted character who is incredibly selfless. On more than one occasion she is willing to sacrifice herself for someone else, and she exudes a determination and strength that is to be envied. Maekallus is…mysterious. As a mysting he doesn’t have a soul, so he does not understand human emotions like fear, sadness, happiness, love or regret. He finds amusement in toying with humans and delights in consuming a soul to feel the short-lived traces of their emotions.

Though I fully enjoyed this story and read it in a day, I did find that there was a lot of moments that were either left unexplained or just weren’t tied up properly. The world-building wasn’t really there, the explanation of how a portal from the monster realm opened into the human world was vague, and scenes that didn’t center on Maekallus and Enna were left off to the side without a second glance. There was a lot of exciting moments that kept me hooked throughout the read, but I do wish there was more emphasis put on descriptions and extra history/research on the mystings in proximity to humans. But with that said, I also don’t think it takes away from the story at all. The writing is beautiful and eloquent, the dialogue is a fantastic representation of the times and the story as a whole is truly beyond creative. It was a perfect blend of fantasy, romance, sweetness and darkness.

4-stars

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

Book Review: Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry

Echoes Between Us

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance/Mental Health-Addiction/Paranormal-Ghosts

Plot: Veronica sees ghosts. More specifically, her mother’s ghost. The afterimages of blinding migraines caused by the brain tumor that keeps her on the fringes and consumes her whole life haunt her, even as she wonders if it’s something more…

Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but his adrenaline addiction draws him to Veronica.

A girl with nothing to live for and a boy with everything to lose–can they conquer their demons together?

Opinion:

If you feel like crying, you’ve come to the right place.

“The only reason people come to live in this small town is to hide or die.”

Veronica has always been labeled as the weird girl in school. Surrounded by her group of misfit boys, and always doing the opposite of what is to be expected, rumors and cruel words have always found their way to her ears. But Veronica doesn’t care what the popular kids think of her. She has amazing and supportive friends, and a dad who loves her more than anything. Only, she hasn’t been completely honest with her father. Dealing with piercing migraines from a brain tumor and talking to the ghost of her dead mother obviously isn’t normal, but she fears her father wouldn’t understand. If she could just find a way to tell him her secret, everything would be okay. That’s when Sawyer enters the picture. Sawyer is friends with the popular kids who have always teased Veronica, or otherwise pretending she doesn’t exist. But Sawyer’s life isn’t nearly as perfect as he lets on. He has an adrenaline addiction that pushes him to the edge of cliffs, and is expected to be the man of the house for his mother and sister. So when the two pair up for a senior project hunting ghosts, they begin to realize a haunting can be more than just a spirit not wanting to leave.

This isn’t a ghost story.

But then again, it kind of is.

Just hear me when I say, it’s only a small part of what this story is really about. And let me tell you – this story is saying A LOT. For the past two days I have been smiling so fiercely I want to slap myself, and crying so much that I keep randomly saying “oh honey” out loud, which for some reason only makes me cry more. This book is evil. If you would like to go through a roller-coaster of emotions where halfway into reading you question if you should be put into an insane asylum, because your behavior of high-highs and low-lows are extremely questionable and alarming: then you should totally read this. Because that is obviously what the author wants from all of us.

To smile beautifully while endless tears flow down our gorgeous faces.

Well congratulations Katie McGarry, I’m officially a mess.

Where to I even start? This book, completely touched my heart. It touches on so many important themes like addiction, co-dependency, mental health, sickness, and self-punishment. I came into this book expecting a fluffy tale where two teens fall in love and everything turns out all sparkly and perfect. But thankfully, this book isn’t like that. It’s realistic. It portrays the lives of two teens who are so incredibly different, but in so many ways, the same. They both carry burdens on their shoulders that I can’t even fathom dealing with at their age, but they have a resilience that makes my head spin. These teens feel deeply, think deeply. They are so introspective and honest about their struggles and hurts, and they look fear in the face and smile at it.

I…

*sigh*

…I f***ing love this book.

The characters, the message, the plot, the romance, the ghost stories, the diary entries.

EVERYTHING.

One of my favorite characters is obviously Veronica. She has all the snarky attitude of one Veronica Mars (we all know and love) but also this immense and alluring uniqueness that makes you drawn to her. She is considered the “weird kid” at her school because of the many things she does that aren’t the social norm. She decides holidays at random times of the year, even going as far as decorating her locker for Thanksgiving in July or dressing up in a costume for Halloween in January. She has a badass style of colorful striped tights, ripped shirts, combat boots and mini skirts. She is spunky and fearless, witty and positive. She is one of the sweetest characters I have come across in all my reading, and I simply adore her. Even though we get to know her so well while reading, I still find her completely mysterious.

Sawyer is the opposite of Veronica. He is SO hard on himself. He is constantly putting himself down for not being perfect, for not being the “man” of the house – a role his father unfairly placed on his shoulders at the age of eleven. He is such a lost young man and is in so much pain, and it was so sad seeing him struggle while having no one to turn to. I connected with him the most due to his tendency to never think he is good enough, or to always assume he should be doing better than he is. He is a compassionate, intelligent and fearless character. He is an amazing big brother to his adorable little sister Lucy (omg, she is too cute!) and a fantastic role-model. He does so much growing in this story, it’s amazing to witness.

The friends of both of these characters also play an incredibly huge role, and have given the reader that much more insight into who Veronica and Sawyer are. Veronica is surrounded by friends who are also social outcasts, but ones I wish I had in my life. The love and care for her so fiercely, it brings needle sharp pains to my eyes. They have a closeness and respect for one another that runs deep, and everything flows so easy between them. But Sawyer also have friends that stand right beside him and support him fully. The way the author created these characters is beautiful. Each person in this story has flaws and struggles, but their incredibly special personalities shine through so easily. It’s so hard not to love each and every one of them.

But the real treat here, is obviously the romance.

“‘You’re crazy aren’t you?’ I say.

“Yes. Now let’s jump.”

Guys, protect your hearts.

Because this one feels so good it physically hurts.

“Soft fingers, a delicate touch and my entire body sparks to life. As if I had been in darkness-the world was black and white-and then the flip was switched into color.”

My gut is literally in pain right now from all of these feels. My eyes are puffy from crying, my hair disheveled from anxiously running my hands through it, and my overall demeanor is both elated and crushed. This romance is everything I have been wanting. It is breathtakingly beautiful and fragile. It makes my lip quiver just thinking about the gentleness and innocence. This is one of the most mature relationships I have EVER witnessed, especially for two teenagers. They are so raw with their thoughts and feelings towards one another and about their lives. From the very beginning they lay everything out on the table, being truthful and upfront about their past and present. They make me hopeful that true soul-crushing love outside of YA fiction is actually possible. Because that is all any of us really want, right? To have a fiercely blinding romance knife stuck into our chests?

But characters and romance aside, there is a lot happening in this book, and it’s perfect. Veronica has a brain tumor, and the way it debilitates her is…depressing to say the least. Sawyer has an addiction to anything that will give him an adrenaline rush, and mostly it’s in the form of jumping off cliffs. Sawyers family issues are deep, with his father basically deserting them and his mother allowing Sawyer to take the brunt of the responsibility of parenting his sister. These two teens have been through a lot in their short lives, and that trauma shapes the struggles they go through in this story. It gets so SO sad, but it’s worth the read.

Read this on a Friday or Saturday night in.

You’ve been warned.

4-5-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #37: 2019 Book Wrap-Up

2019 was a whirlwind,
full of murder, lies and romantic delights.
Some characters acted regal, and some started fights.
There were cults, secret societies, and courts of tricks and schemes,
there were proper young ladies, hushed voices, and bloodcurdling screams.
Some plots were gentle, some plots were vexing,
some plots were filled with rebellion, and some with magic and hexing.
There were retellings of classics and introductions to new tales,
with characters who crushed our souls and threw our lives off the rails.
But with each new book and world read in 2019,
You can bet 2020 will be anything but serene.

 

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~* 2019 Book Wrap-Up *~

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5-stars

the wicked kingThe GiverEnchanteea danger to herself and othersA court of thorns and rosesa court of mist and furyA court of wings and ruinYesterday I Was The MoonAs DirectedGirls with Sharp SticksWhite RoseStars in the Winter SkySmoke and KeyZombie DogThe Life of DeathThrone of GlassCrown of MidnightMy Real Name is HannaThe Best LiesWilder GirlsForsaken WrathThe SUrface Breaks 2The First gIrl ChildThe Lady RogueSerpent and DoveThe Sound of Blue1Songs from the DeepA Violet FireVanished 1Vanished 2

 

 

 

4-5-stars

AlarumThe Unbecoming of Mara DyerTerrible LizardThe Liar's DaughterLove, HeatherI Know You RememberThe Door to JanuaryGood Girls Lie

 

 

4-stars

the cruel princeThe Cold is in Her BonesThe Trutch ABout AliceThe Evolution of Mara DyerThe Retribution of Mara DyerThe Hauntedperf5.000x8.000.inddThe Ten Thousand Doors of januaryThings we know by heartThe Lady RavenThe Cemetery BoysThe Lies They TellMissing you

 

 

3-5-stars

Evenfall

 

 

3-stars

BloodleafKilling NovemberStolenThe Last to Die

 

 

2-5-stars

Immortal GirlsDream Keeperwe set the dark on fireExit

 

2-stars

Alice WanderlandDrowning

 

UNRATED/DNF

The UnrepentantThe Memory ThiefDamsel

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As Always, Stay Witchy

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #36: December 2019 Book Wrap-Up

The time of year where we all come together to spread joy, love and happiness!
Tree decorating, gift giving, romance, friendship, smiles and laughs.
December.
What a blessing.

 

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~* December 2019 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, Book 3) by Holly Black

Queen of Nothing

The Queen of Nothing.

One of the most highly anticipated releases of 2019, and the ending to a series that almost literally incinerated our hearts into ashes.

But with all the hype for this release, and with the EPIC and BEYOND BRUTAL ending to book two – The Wicked King – the stakes for this book were high AF.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the conclusion I was looking for.

Everyone just seemed too nice. Cardan was no longer the cruel prince OR the wicked king. Jude was still a firecracker, but her blood-lust wasn’t up to par and WAY too many characters who should have been gutted remained alive. Sure, we all love a happy ending. But in true Holly Black fashion, I just wanted my hopes and desires to be ripped out from under me, and I wanted to land in a deep hole of depression.

It was good, but it was just missing the brutality I was expecting.

3-5-stars

(See my review here)

 

2. A Violet Fire (Vampires in Avignon, Book 1) by Kelsey Quick

A Violet Fire

Vampires.

They’re baaaaaaack.

I think most of us can agree that the Paranormal Vampire genre got a little tired after it was shoved down our throats over and over. But with A Violet Fire comes a YA Paranormal/Fantasy about ruthless vamps that I just had NO idea I needed!

It is set in a world called Cain, where Vampires have been ruling for centuries and humans are bred to serve as blood supply units, servants, or breeders. Wavorly is one of the few humans born and raised outside of vampire rule before her inevitable capture, and she has a fiery hatred for their kind. After countless escape attempts, her day of judgment comes where her blood is tested by her master to see if she qualifies a position as a live-in servant and supply unit.

Somehow, despite her complete lack of bowing to “the man” and simply not giving a shit, she is accepted. What’s weirder is she is requested regularly by her master, and suddenly…things begin to shift.

It’s a romance yes, but it is also an epic web of lies and deception and I JUST NEED BOOK TWO RIGHT NOW, OKAY?!

5-stars

(See my full review here)

 

3. The Lies They Tell by Gillian French

The Lies They Tell

December also turned out to be a Gillian French month, go figure.

And to start it off, I began the YA Thriller all about rich kids, manipulation, murder and confusing flirtations!

The Lies They Tell centers on the sudden and haunting death of a prominent family, with only the eldest son surviving. After they were killed in their beds and their home was set on fire, the story begins the following summer.

It documents Pearl’s time working at the Tenney’s Harbor Country Club as a server to the rich and dismissive families of the elite. As a lower-class working townie, Pearl is well–aware of the divide between the summer crowd and those who reside year-round. The summer boys come from extreme wealth, and they have reputations for starting flings with townie girls and discarding them by the end of summer.

This book is a classic tale of influence, privilege and murder. I was hooked from the first page and was blown away by how perfectly the author was able to capture the awkward encounters and social expectations that come with being a teen. 

This book kicks ass.

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

4. The Door to January by Gillian French

The Door to January

My second Gillian French book on the month, and another great and imaginative tale.

It is about a girl who has been having nightmares where voices call her to a house of frost and a door that leads to – where? To find out, Natalie goes back to Bernier, Maine – the place she and her family moved away from after a traumatic event in the woods two years prior.

The Door to January was surprisingly dark. I knew I was going to get a story of secrets and mystery, but the themes were actually painfully realistic and gritty. It’s a really nice blend of real-life and slight paranormal fantasy, and I could totally see it being a fantastic film…well…

Maybe an independent film, so Hollywood doesn’t ruin it.

4-5-stars

(See my review here)

 

5. Vanished: When Lightning Strikes/Code Name Cassandra (1-800-Where-R-You, Books 1 and 2) by Meg Cabot

Vanished 1.jpg

December ALSO turned out to be the month where I re-read a most beloved and favorite series of mine – 1-800-Where-R-You.

I usually read this series once a year, so I had to get it before 2019 was up!

The entire series is about a teenage girl named Jess Mastriani who is struck by lightning and suddenly able to find missing people. By looking at a photo of a missing person, after going to sleep, she wakes up and knows the exact location of where they are.

Vanished is books one and two of the series. The reader is introduced to the badass, spunky, tomboy spitfire Jess as she begins locating missing kids. The FBI learns about her abilities, recruits her to find some bad guys, and basically the shit just hits the fan.

Oh, and her love interest is a guy named Rob that totally wants her but is into that whole “I ride a motorcycle so I’m super cool and aloof” vibe.

He’s pretty dreamy.

 

6. Vanished: Safe House/Sanctuary (1-800-Where-R-You, Books 3 and 4) by Meg Cabot

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I just realized this edition of books three and four is also called Vanished?

Stupid.

But what isn’t stupid, is these two books! This is about the time where the series gets a little darker and touches on some more…gritty themes.

In book three a girl at Jess’s school is found dead, and everyone blames Jess for not saving her. In Jess’s defense though, she told everyone she lost her ability because the FBI was so on her ass AND she was out of town.

Like, what’s a girl to do?

In book four, the son of a new family in Jess’s neighborhood is found dead in a corn field, which leads to a dangerous and despicable militia group. She is still trying to keep a low- profile with the FBI, and of course, nothing works out exactly how she plans.

And don’t worry, Rob is still there being all mysterious and alluring.

 

7. Missing You (1-800-Where-R-You, Book 5) by Meg Cabot

Missing you.jpg

Missing you is the FINAL book in the 1-800-Where-R-You series, and….*sigh* I’m just so sad about it.

In this installment, Jess is a little older and has done some maturing. After agreeing to work with the FBI again, Jess was sent oversees to help capture terrorists alongside the US military. But the sudden loss of her abilities leads her to pursue a new life in New York at Juliard.

This book is obviously bittersweet because it is the end to a story I love and characters I absolutely adore. Jess has lost herself in the war, and she isn’t the spunky and ferocious girl we know from previous stories. But, as one would expect, everything turns out wonderful and SO good in the end.

And oh yeah, Rob is there.

 

8. Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

Good Girls Lie

My final book for December was Good Girls Lie, and it was sinfully good.

It’s a Mystery/Thriller that reminds me of the Private series by Kate Brian, where a girl finds herself in a private boarding school for daughters of the rich and influential.

After the unexpected deaths of her scion father and mother, Ash Carr arrives at Goode – a private college preparatory school for teenage daughters of the elite. As she struggles to adapt to the rigorous and high-level academics, she finds herself surrounded by even more death after her roommate suddenly dies.

This book is a TRIP. There are twists within twists that make up a web of lies so tangled, you’re going to wonder who you even are.

I just love a boarding school thriller.

4-5-stars

(See my review here)

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley

Book Review: The Life of Death by Lucy Booth

The Life of Death.jpg

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

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: One soul. One pact with the Devil. One chance at love.

Elizabeth Murray has been condemned to burn at the stake. As she awaits her fate, a strange, handsome man visits her cell. He offers her a deal: her soul in return for immortality, but what he offers is not a normal life. To survive Elizabeth must become Death itself.

Elizabeth must ease the passing of all those who die, appearing at the point of death and using her compassion to guide them over the threshold. She accepts and, for 500 years, whirls from one death to the next, never stopping to think of the life she never lived. Until one day, everything changes. She – Death – falls in love.

Desperate to escape the terms of her deal, she summons the man who saved her. He agrees to release her on one condition: that she gives him five lives. These five lives she must take herself, each one more difficult and painful than the last.

Opinion:

I am the woman you most want to see in those final seconds you live on this earth. I have been wives, daughters, best friends. I have been a beloved nurse, a primary school teacher. Your first love. I am the ultimate mother.

I am Death.”

Death is not the hooded figure you’ve heard about in stories. Death does not lurk in the shadows with a sadistic twinkle in it’s hollow skull, awaiting bloodshed and cruelty. Death does not take a life out of selfishness or evil. Death is a woman, and she only comes when she is called. She comes to those who are reaching their life’s end, to be a guide into their afterlife, wherever that may be. And for the last 500 years, Lizzie has been Death. She has been a familiar and loving face to those who are nearing their end, and she takes pride in helping others. But when Lizzie comes across a man named Tom, she is stricken with a love she never thought she’d have. Desperate to end her time as Death and to be able to have a life with Tom, He agrees to release her from her contract on one condition: she must kill five people of His choosing.

In 1590, I sold my soul to the Devil.”

After being accused of witchcraft, Elizabeth Murray is sentenced to be burnt at the stake. But as she awaits her impending doom in the dungeons, she is visited by Him – the Devil. He comes to her with an offer. He promises her, in exchange for her soul and complete ownership over her, she can “live” as Death. Naturally, she makes the deal. And so, for 500 years, Lizzie lives as Death. Constantly moving around the world, guiding souls across the veil between the living and the dead. She only comes when needed, as a means of comfort to the soul that is dying to ensure they go in peace and happiness. She does not take the lives she guides into Death, she only arrives as a servant in the circle of life.

Lives are given to me – I never take them. Never.”

This depiction of Death always takes the form of a woman, but her face changes to match the wants of the person dying. Whether someone wants to see their mother, sister, daughter, or aunt, Death becomes them. She is given the memories of the woman she becomes, and speaks with the person as they begin to enter the afterlife. But what is really interesting, is that some people are able to actually see Death for who she is, and keep her at arms length. Of course when this happens, it is utterly depressing to witness because those people go into a totally hysteria and shock as they realize what is happening to them. But Death has a job to do, and she does it well. She is a woman of a billion faces.

This is no place for a woman, I’ve heard it said.

I’ve never seen a place a woman was more needed.”

This is honestly one of the coolest and most unique stories I have ever come across. The outlook on death that this author possessed was truly special. She gave death a gentle and feminine quality that makes you feel comfortable with its presence. It is delicate and sweet, rather than a cold and fearful entity that we all seem to shrink away from. This author gives the reader an intimate introduction to an idea of death that almost brings peace and quiet. It is sensitive, caring, heart-achingly beautiful and truly one of a kind.

It is so seldom that a book can reach into my soul with such ferocity and gentleness.

But this book did that.

It crushed me.

This entire story feels like a poem written just for me. Like the author knew I would need this, and I am confident that I am not the only person who will feel this. The Life of Death is a love song, a sonnet. A message in a bottle that has traveled through storms of anger and eerie calm, only to wash up at the feet of its desired recipient. The writing is so descriptive and perfect. I was lost in this story, feeling waves upon waves of emotions for Lizzie and these fleeting characters.

It’s breathtaking.

But as soon as I began to see that this story was one of beauty and acceptance of death, the author drove a knife into my heart and cut the ties on the dam that was holding my tears in. DEVASTATION. Unending, literal, soul-crushing, weep-worthy devastation. And all I can say is, why? WHY?! Why did you fill me up with so much love and assurance, and then just cut me at the knees and leave me in a pool of my own despair?? Couldn’t we just let this be a story of happiness and good fortune?

Of course we couldn’t, this is the story of Death, after all. And in all reality, this isn’t the bright and happy story that I am making it out to be. It is a dark and gritty tale once Lizzie begins killing the people that He decides upon. Because each of these people are innocents. They aren’t supposed to die, but they must in order for Lizzie to be released from her contract with the Devil. And the worst part? Lizzie has to use other people to do the killings. So not only is she taking the lives that the Devil tells her to take, but she is also forever altering the lives of those she takes control of to do the deed.

This isn’t a fluffy tale.

It’s a tale about Death.

But even so, I can’t help but hold it close to my heart as a book that I will forever think fondly of. It’s just beautiful, in all of its depressing and dark glory. I highly recommend it to any reader that is looking for something truly different from the normal stories currently out there. It will give you a whole new outlook on death, and honestly, its for the best.

Fade to black.”

5-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · New Releases · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #35: My Top 10 Anticipated January 2020 Book Releases

Dear 2019,
It’s been real. It’s been fun.
But I can’t say it’s been real fun.

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~* My 10 Anticipated January 2020 Book Releases *~

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1. The Gray Chamber (True Colors) by Grace Hitchcock
Release Date: January 1, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/True Crime

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Let’s start 2020 off with some historical fiction and true crime, shall we?

The Gray Chamber is one of many stories in the True Colors collection. The books are written by a number of different authors, but all center on one thing: Historical Romances and American Crime.

*puuuurrrr*

This little gem is set in New York in 1887, in a sweet little lunatic asylum where all the women are dutifully cared for and not put there by powerful men who tire of them. *cough*

It is the story of how Edyth Foster is thrown into a women’s Insane Asylum by her uncle, who is in control of her vast inheritance until her 25th birthday. So just days before she is to gain full rights to her father’s fortune, her uncle commits her, planning to leave her there to rot. Whilst inside, Edyth meets a woman who claims to be an undercover journalist hellbent on getting the true story of what goes on in the institute.

P.S. Have I told you guys that I, myself, was written into a novel about an Insane Asylum? It’s true. I’m a poor little lass, committed by my husband for being “too sad” after a miscarriage. What a guy, right? Read it here: Whispers of Bedlam Asylum

 

2. A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, Book 2) by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

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A Heart So Fierce and Broken is the second installment to the ever popular Beauty and the Beast retelling – A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but comes from the POV of Grey.

Now, I STILL have not even read A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but in my defense – work is getting in the way! I have it waiting patiently for me on my shelf, staring at me every time I have a different book in my hands. But soon…SOON!

I have already read a few reviews on Goodreads and there are quite a bit of conflicting opinions, which makes me want to read it even more!

 

3. One of Us Is Next (One of Us Is Lying, Book 2) by Karen M. McManus
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

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I’m going to just say it: this is yet another sequel to a book I haven’t read yet, and it’s not going to be the last.

One of Us is Next is the sequel to One of Us is Lying, a hugely popular YA Mystery/Thriller about five teens who walk into detention, with only four walking out. It’s The Breakfast Club meets murder mystery, and it has STELLAR reviews from readers.

One of Us is Next centers on Bronwyn’s sister and two new characters. It’s a Truth or Dare app game that gets dangerous quickly, and the teens are completely on their own when it comes to survival.

 

4. The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, Book 2) by Melissa Albert
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

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The Night Country is the sequel to The Hazel Wood, and yes, another series I haven’t started. But, once I finish my current read, I am jumping into The Hazel Wood and then my ARC of The Night Country!!

The Hazel Wood is about a girl named Alice and her mother who are constantly trying to outrun their bad luck. But when her mother is abducted by a man who claims to originate from Hinterland, things turn curious. Hinterland is the supernatural setting for each of her grandmother’s dark fairy tale stories, which have gained quite the cult following. Alice enlists the help of a classmate named Ellery Finch, who also happens to be a fan of the stories.

In The Night Country, Alice and Ellery dive back into the magical world that has found its way into New York City. New characters and dark scenarios make up this little beauty, and I cannot wait to get started!

 

5. Scavenge the Stars (Book 1) by Tara Sim
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

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Retelling Time!!!!

Scavenge the Stars is a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo and the first book in a planned duology. It claims to be for fans of SJM, Sabaa Tahir and Leigh Bardugo…so yes, my interest has been captured.

In Moray, children are forced to bear the debts accumulated by their parents in the event of their death. For seven years, Amaya Chandra has been working to pay off her debts after being sold to a debtor ship. Her only goal is to enact revenge against the man who shattered her world. But when she rescues a stranger from drowning, she realizes it may cost her in the long run.

Gambling, rich elitists and a badass female with a desire to kill?

I’m game.

 

6. Just Breathe by Cammie McGovern
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Health-Mental Health

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Grab the tissues, I think this one is going to make us weep.

David Sheinman has everything. He’s popular, senior class president and well-liked by his peers. But he also has cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that attacks the lungs and digestive system. Jamie Turner is unlike David. After her father’s suicide and a lack of friends to reach out to, she is caught in a deep depression which soon becomes unmanageable for her.

Just Breathe is the story of how David and Jamie’s worlds collide at the hospital, where an unlikely friendship and support system is formed. If this doesn’t give me Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl or The Fault in Our Stars vibes…I’ll just have to cry harder.

 

7. Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Beneath the Haunting Sea, Book 2) by Joanna Ruth Meter
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

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Beyond the Shadowed Earth is the sequel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, but it is a book that can be read without reading the first. So basically, it’s totally fine that this is yet another series I haven’t started.

In Beneath the Haunting Sea, Sixteen-year-old Talia and her mother are exiled from the Emperor’s court to a distant sea-side estate after her rival seizes power. On the voyage across the Northern Sea, Talia begins to hear something beneath the waves, calling to her. When she arrives at her estate of exile, she meets a boy who also claims to hear the music of the ocean.

Dun. Dun. Dun

However, in Beyond the Shadowed Earth, we are given an entirely different plot and lead character, but set in the same fantastical world.

Eda has dreams of becoming empress, and will do anything to get what she wants. So she makes a deal with the gods by bargaining away the soul of her best friend in order to attain power. Years later when he friend dies, she becomes overcome with guilt for what she had done. So she sets off to find the god that she made the deal with, in the hopes of reversing it.

 

8. Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

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Hello young love!

Please break my heart.

But is this also a Paranormal/Fantasy?!

Echoes Between Us is the story of a girl who surrounded by loss, and a boy with a bright future.

Since the death of her mother, Veronica has been seeing the ghost of her mother with every piercing migraine that consumes her. Suffering from a brain tumor, which is the exact way her mother died, Veronica is beginning to feel as if she may be going crazy. But when Sawyer enters her life, things begin to change. Sawyer is popular and has a bright future ahead, with a life that seems perfect. But as the two become closer, they both realize that not everything one sees on the surface is reality.

 

9. Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Magical Realism

Follow Me to Ground

Follow Me to Ground promises to be weird AF, and I am all sorts of here for it.

Ada and her father have been blessed with the ability to heal illnesses, and they do so for local villagers by cracking open their damaged bodies and burying them in a dirt that revives them…or something. Ada then falls in love with a man that her father disapproves of and…that’s basically all I know.

The description says Ada is a being both more and less than human“, and I’m just like…

Wtf does that even mean?!

Give it to me.

 

10. Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani
Release Date: January 28, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Seven Deadly Shadows

THIS one, is going to be epic.

Seven Deadly Shadows is about a girl named Kira, who battles demons who attack her shrine in search of an ancient artifact. With the help of Shiro, a half fox/half boy, they learn that the only way to defeat a demon-lord and find said missing artifact, is to enlist the help of seven death gods.

I mean…

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Stay Witchy

 

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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Harlequin – Mira, via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: Mature YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

Opinion:

Goode perches like a gargoyle above the city’s small downtown…It is quiet, dignified, isolated. As are the girls who attend the school; serious, studious. Good. Goode girls are always good. They go on to great things.”

After the unexpected deaths of her scion father and mother, Ash Carr arrives at Goode – a private college preparatory school for teenage daughters of the elite. Goode breeds exceptional ladies who go on to top schools, and who become leaders in their industries. As a sophomore, Ash is quickly thrust into the strange dynamics of these powerful and privileged girls. Keeping up with the honor code of the school and high intensity academics is one thing, but navigating the ways of her classmates is an entirely different game. But things for Ash have never been easy, so why should her time at Goode be any different. After the sudden death of her roommate turns Goode upside down, Ash fights to keep her name cleared of any involvement. But things are beginning to unravel, and no secret is safe, not even hers.

I love a good murder mystery/thriller, but a murder mystery in a private school of privileged girls? Psh. Cancel my evening and clear my schedule, because I am THERE! One series that has been a personal favorite of mine for years is Private by Kate Brian. It’s a YA drama-fest of secrets, lies, murder, backstabbing, secret societies and boatloads of privilege. Needless to say, when I came across Good Girls Lie, I needed it in my hands immediately.

And it was all I could have asked for

and then some.

This book is oozing with secrets made of manipulation that have been dipped in lies, doused in deception, coated with blindsides, and sprinkled with levels upon levels of twists. Think you know where this is going? Think again. Think it’s over? THINK AGAIN! J.T. Ellison keeps the reader drowning in psychological torment until the very last page. So much so, that you’ll even find yourself reading the acknowledgments just to get a deeper look inside the head of this author.

I was unimaginably hooked on this story and the character of Ash. I needed to know her deep dark secrets, and the secrets of all these strange girls at Goode. Because they aren’t just rich girls thrust into a top school because their daddy knows a guy. Oh no. These girls are brilliant, border-line geniuses in their fields. Whether it is art, business, computers or writing – these girls excel in every subject. They are cunning and devious, sure, but also surprisingly honest and mostly decent to one another. And yeah, they’re a little crazy, but that’s to be expected.

It’s a bit like entering a prison, only here, the inmates are upstanding teens with daddy issues.”

Goode is the typical private bordering school that we have seen and read about. There are the popular head girls who rule over the school, secret societies and hazing, and a whole lot of sneaky things going on in the shadows. But the real star of this story is Ash Carr and her journey to Goode. Before her father suddenly dies of a drug overdose, and her mother commits suicide shortly after finding his body, Ash is told that she will be attending Goode in two months time. But after the death of her parents, and with her inheritance tied up until her twenty-fifth birthday, Ash is granted a scholarship into Goode by the dean of the school.

But naturally, Ash’s past is much more complex than one could ever guess.

They say her name, an unbroken chain of accusation and misery.”

Ash.

Ash.

Ash.

Ash is such an interesting character to have tell this story. My initial reaction upon learning that she is harboring a dark secret made me watch her closely, but her character is so intricately created that you forget to look at her as anything but a teenager. She keeps to herself at school, doesn’t make any quick and strong relationships with any of the other girls, and simply focuses on her studies and staying under the radar. She is the embodiment of a girl who has seen tragedy and hurt throughout her life, and I felt such a sense of sadness for her. But naturally, there are instances throughout this story that makes you question her and the motives of every single girl around her.

Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

I have been reading a TON of thrillers lately, so I had a pretty good idea of where this was going. But NOT AT ALL to the extent that it went! Every time I made a conclusion on how this book would end, something would happen that would force me to rethink everything. And even when I finally got all the answers, ANOTHER blindside was waiting for me! This is the kind of thriller I have been needing. One that makes my face hurt while giving me a weird sense of envy that I was never shipped off to a boarding school and tapped into a secret society.

Woe is me.

As a whole, I loved Good Girls Lie. Why yes, there were a bit of unnecessary PG-13 (R?) rated scenes that I didn’t see any point to. And yes, the constant drastic age differences in these romantic relationships did make me slightly uncomfortable. But, what is life, right? All in all, this is a really addicting story about secrets and the need for freedom. It’s sad, it’s dark and it is even a bit sweetsort of. My only true qualm is that this is a stand-alone, when all I really want is about ten more of these books.

“Mmm. Death tastes so good.”

4-5-stars

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