Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson

Together We Caught Fire

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

Plot: What happens when the boy you want most becomes the one person you can’t have?

Lane Jamison’s life is turned upside down the week before her senior year when her father introduces her to his new fiancée: mother of Grey McIntyre, Lane’s secret, longtime crush. Now with Grey living in Lane’s house, there’s only a thin wall separating their rooms, making it harder and harder to deny their growing mutual attraction—an attraction made all the more forbidden by Grey’s long-term girlfriend Sadie Hall, who also happens to be Lane’s friend

Torn between her feelings for Grey and her friendship with Sadie—not to mention her desire to keep the peace at home—Lane befriends Sadie’s older brother, Connor, the black sheep of the strict, evangelical Hall family. Connor, a metal working artist who is all sharp edges, challenges Lane in ways no one else ever has. As the two become closer and start to open up about the traumas in their respective pasts, Lane begins to question her conviction that Connor is just a distraction.

Tensions come to a head after a tragic incident at a party, forcing Lane to untangle her feelings for both boys and face the truth of what—and who—she wants, in this gripping and stunningly romantic debut novel.

Opinion:

How many nights would I lie awake, listening through the thin wall of my bedroom for the sleep-jagged edge of his breath? This boy, so long unreachable-the core of everything I’d wanted, mangled and reassembled into a cosmic joke.”

Mood Board 2

I have always gravitated towards books that will punch a hole through my gut and make my heart feel like its weeping. A book that forgoes dancing around truths by ripping back the layers that mask humanity from what it really is-a tangle of limbs and whispered promises, lines being washed away and expectations discarded in a wind. Pure emotion and action that is flawed, gritty and raw. A story that could incite the same anger, sadness, regret, shame, sorrow, hope, love, fear and recklessness in me, as it does its characters. If a book can do that to me…well.

There’s just no unfeeling that, is there?

I was not prepared for the onslaught of emotion that hit me like a freight train while reading Together We Caught Fire. I, as I assume so many other readers have and will, expected this to be a fluffy contemporary about forbidden love. About a girl who pines for someone she can’t have, but eventually gets. But to say that this is just a love story between two people who want things they shouldn’t, would be a huge disservice to the lives these characters live. It’s a story of trauma, pain and sorrow. Where these young people are thrown into depths they can barely stay afloat in, frantically thrashing their way towards one another, while simultaneously helping and threatening to drag each other down beneath the surface.

From the very first page you are thrust into these tumultuous and vibrant lives. Lane-the girl who has loved her new step-brother from afar, Grey-the step-brother in love who also sees another, Sadie-a girlfriend deep in her faith and future, and Connor-a lost boy who consumes chaos. I fell in love with these teens so quickly, due to the harshly realistic actions and feelings they possessed. They were wild and reckless, but also levelheaded and compassionate. I felt such a strong connection to Lane in particular, and to that anger and fire that was constantly eating her alive. That sadness that makes her reach towards people shyly, wanting love and respect, but retreats immediately and slams up a wall of brick because she would much rather not feel at all. “A girl who picked sensation over feeling.” She is fierce and calm, angry and sweet, a bubble of light and a pit of sorrow.

Mood Board 1

When Lane was at the age of five her mother committed suicide, and Lane was the one to find her. Even several years later, she has horribly vivid and frightening nightmares of her mother almost nightly. Seeing her in various states of pain and horror. Though she has an incredibly supportive and accepting father, Lane was still unable to fully heal from her mother’s death. This book dives incredibly deep into the roller-coaster that Lane finds herself on as she deals with this new family that has entered her life, and a love that she is forced to push down and ignore.

I looked up and lost my way, drawn to him with that familiar sickening swoosh. A pitiful tide, held fast in the grip of the moon.”

Which brings us to Grey. He’s one of the most unique male characters I have comes across in YA. Sure he’s good looking, smart and respectful. But he’s also Pagan! A young fictional male that practices?! I was shocked, but deeply thrilled. At first I really loved Grey and found him to be a desirable character, and I could easily see why our leading lady was head over heels for him. But as the story progresses, my opinion of him quickly changes when it comes to how he begins treating Lane. To put it nicely, he becomes a complete ass. He is in love with his girlfriend while fighting the growing attraction and connection between him and Lane. He is confused, frustrated and unsure of what he wants. But when Lane begins to show interest in something other than him, he completely flips and begins throwing tantrums. Stomping his feet and sneering because he wants the shiny new toy to himself.

But don’t worry, our girl Lane knows how to dish it.

I wanted to puke again. I wanted to scream at him and slap his face, kiss him until the world burned down. Dare him to ever call me cold again, once everything we’d known was ash.”

I wanted to flatten his soul.”

In this story, the reader gets more than just a tale of love. Lane becomes friends with Connor, the brother of the girl that is dating Grey. When Connor was a young teen he was kicked out of his home for being gay, and had spent the next few years living on the streets. Now he lives in a warehouse for artists, spending his days as a metal worker. Not only do Connor and Lane begin to bond over their love for art, as Lane crochets, but they have pasts that are troublesome and hard to bear. Connor pushes Lane outside her comfort zone, helping her to confront her fears and to move past the debilitating triggers caused by her mothers suicide. He’s a rough-edged, snarky, confident and breathtaking character. It was impossible not to love every aspect of him.

The romance is obviously a huge aspect of this story, and it is incredibly beautiful and raw. It put an ache in my chest and a sharp pain behind my eyes. It was a tender, rough, electric connection laid bare. It was shocking and left me slightly unhinged, wondering how I didn’t see it coming. Every time I assumed it would go a specific way, it twisted and went in a completely different direction. This love has no rhyme or reason and was poetically unapologetic. These two souls entwined to fill the holes in one another that had left them gaping since they were children. Being an anchor for the other to release their pain and sadness. But as swoon-worthy and magnetic as it was, it was also a pit of destruction and tears.

How had I thought we could end in anything but ruin?”

This book wholeheartedly swept me away into this world of love and darkness. It was more than just a Contemporary Romance, it’s THE Contemporary Romance. It was starry-eyed and dramatic. Sloppy and poetic. But it wasn’t just a teenage relationship story. It was about a girl who had been dealt some serious life-altering shit on a platter at the age of five, and had been trying desperately to crawl out of the hole that it had thrust her in. Together We Caught Fire is a story of loss and forgiveness. How a girl fights through her hardships just to find a shred of herself that she can love.

It wasn’t about them at all, and never had been.”

If you do anything in 2020, ensure it’s that you read this. The part of you that loves being fulfilled while simultaneously shattered, is begging for it.

5-stars

 

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~* Dream Casting *~

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Lane

Emily Browning is one of my absolute favorite female actors, and I couldn’t imagine anyone better to play Lane. She has the look on innocence and sweetness, but has that uncanny ability to flip a switch and become enraged with emotion.

 

Sadie

Sadie has to have that southern “Girl Next Door”, girly, wholesome, vibrant, bubbly look to her. I think Rita Volk’s look is perfect for the beautiful Sadie.

 

Grey

Raf Miller feels like a shockingly perfect fit for Grey. Not only does Grey need to be gorgeous, which Raf is, but he needs to give a little of that “Homecoming King” vibe with a little edge of mystery.

 

Connor

A no-brainer. Lucky Blue Smith is Connor in a pretty package of devastating gorgeousness and rough-edged allure. He knows he’s stunning, but also possesses that level of assured awkwardness that is Connor.

 

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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 · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #39: January 2020 Book Wrap-up

The first month of 2020 came and went.

It was lovely. It was glorious.

It was downright spectacular.

But now it needs to make way for February.

So, January, I think it’s time you…

 

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~* January 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood, Book 1) by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood

My first read of 2020 started off with The Hazel Wood, and honestly, what better way to dive into 2020?!

It’s a dark YA Fantasy that’s like a blend between Once Upon a Time and The Brothers Grimm. It’s a fairy tale inside a fairy tale, but it isn’t full of happy princesses and helpful creatures. It’s downright haunting, and you KNOW I was loving every second of it!

After Alice’s mother is taken, she is forced to seek out the one women her mother has forbade her from talking about or to – her grandmother, Althea Proserpine. Althea is a writer of strange and unusual fairy tales set in a place called The Hinterland, and had been holing herself up in her manor called The Hazel Wood for years. Alice begins seeking her out in order to find her mother, but the truth she uncovers is more than she could have imagined.

“My love he wooed me

My love he slew me

My love he buried my bones

His love he married

His love I buried

My love now wanders alone.”

5-stars

(See my review here)

 

2. The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, Book 2) by Melissa Albert

The Night Country

So of course my second read of 2020 was my ARC of The Night Country, the sequel to The Hazel Wood.

The Night Country still has the creep factor from The Hazel Wood, but it’s cranked up a notch. Not only is the book split between Finch traveling through strange and mysterious worlds and Alice, but Alice is dealing with some SERIOUSLY dark shit. There’s a struggle between two halves of who she is-one dark and one light-and in this installment, she really comes into her own.

“‘Look at me,’ I told him. ‘Look at your destruction.’”

Though I wasn’t as in love with this installment as I was with the first, due to it being more of an Urban Fantasy, I still enjoyed the creepy nature and getting to know more about these amazing characters. But even so, I just about died from happiness when THIS went down:

“‘You still think you live in a world where girls will lie down for you and show you their throats.’”

“‘Now lie down, and show me your throat.’”

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

3. Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry

Echoes Between Us

As I said in my review,

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

Echoes Between Us is about a girl who experiences piercing migraines from a brain tumor, and speaks to the ghost of her mother. Veronica is the “weird girl” in school and hangs with a collection of misfits, and they’re honestly the damn coolest. Sawyer is the popular, attractive, “perfect guy” at her school who ends up moving with his family into the unit below Veronica and her dad.

Obviously a love blossoms, but…*sigh*…this book gets real AF and touches on some sensitive topics. It’s a depiction of two teens who go through separate events in their lives that forces them to grow up quickly, but also gives them a really mature and beautiful outlook on life. The two bond over these aspects of their lives, and…it’s just wonderful.

“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.”

4-5-stars

(See my review here)

 

4. Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, Book 1) by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits

So after reading Echoes Between Us, I decided I needed more Katie McGarry in my life and bought Pushing the Limits

It seems that this author loves to create stories that center on two charterers who are VASTLY different, but both have serious issues that they are fighting to overcome. This story is about Echo, a girl with “freakyscars on her arms but little recollection of how she received them, and a boy named Noah, a foster kid with a reputation for being a bit of a player.

This was a heavy one.

Noah lost his parents in a fire and was separated from his younger brothers through foster care, while Echo knows that a very traumatic event happened to her that included her mother, but she can’t exactly remember the events. Needless to say, this one hurts the heart in more ways then one. But these two characters are SO amazing on their own and even together. I LOVED them!

4-stars

 

5. Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Beneath the Haunting Sea, Book 2) by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Beyond the Shadowed Earth

My first DNF of 2020.

That didn’t take long, did it?

But with the new year I decided that I will not be wasting my time by forcing myself to read books I either hate or just can’t get into. There are WAY too many amazing books in the world and I am done with making myself suffer through pages that make my eyes droop.

Beyond the Shadowed Earth isn’t bad. I was just bored to tears.

It started off decently and grabbed my interest, but the lack of connection with the characters, the way the main lead, Eda, would stomp her foot and throw childlike tantrums, and the weird insta-love was just rubbing me the wrong way. I felt nothing for this book, it was just words on a page and I couldn’t do it.

 

6. The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Will and the Wilds

Thankfully The Will and the Wilds didn’t slow my roll!

This YA Fantasy Romance was WONDERFUL! It’s a historical fantasy, set in a time where you have to walk to market to sell your goods and get supplies, ride a horse, go to another city to access their library…you know what I mean.

THIS is about these creatures called mystings who have come to roam the wildwood, a forest near where our heroine, Enna, lives. Mystings are demon-like monsters, some enjoy eating humans while others prefer to toy with them.

Enna’s house gets attacked by two goblers (a type of mysting, obvi) so she goes out to the wildwood to summon a mysting and “hire” it to track the gobler who had gotten away, and kill it. Long story short, the mysting she summons is Narval-a being who survives off the consumption of souls. Somehow he gets Enna to kiss him, which relinquishes part of her soul over to him, and so ensues a whole chaotic mess of romance and soul snatching.

4-stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits, Book 1.5) by Katie McGarry

Breaking the Rules

Another Katie McGarry book, but also the sequel to Pushing the Limits.

As you read above, I really loved Echo and Noah and how their tragic lives intertwined. So I immediately bought Breaking the Rules and continued to read about their issues, love and overall struggles.

But GODDAMN, this book was literally a story of two people fighting about any and everything they could POSSIBLY fight about. That was literally my Goodreads review of it:

Breaking the Rules:

A book about two young people fighting.

Seriously. That’s all I wrote.

But I didn’t hate it, I actually gave it 3 stars and finished it. It was just a lot of arguing and me yelling at my book for them to shut up and stop worrying about inconsequential shit, but to be fair…they had a lot of these arguments because of their pasts. So, in all fairness, I guess it makes sense. But geez, my sensitive soul just can’t take that much bickering.

3-stars

 

8. The Gray Chamber (True Colors series) by Grace Hitchcock

The Gray Chamber

The Gray Chamber!

A Historical Fiction/American Crime story set in 1887 about a woman who is thrown in an insane asylum so that her uncle can steal her fortune!

One thing I may love just as much as a cult, is an asylum.

Edyth is an eccentric young woman who isn’t your typical lady out in society. She fences alongside men, doesn’t wear corsets and big fancy gowns, and rides her velocipede rather than taking a carriage like a civilized woman.

So her dear uncle calls in some doctors from Blackwell Island, the local Insane Asylum, and has her committed.

Oh yeah, it’s a good one. I really enjoyed the first part of the story, but Edyth did start to bother me while she was in the asylum with all her “don’t you know who I am” talk and expecting someone to come do her hair…? What? The ending also dragged on longer than it needed to, being spread out through multiple chapters when it could have been tied up in one.

3-stars

(See my review here)

 

9. What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Release Date: February 4, 2020

What Kind of Girl

I have not posted my review of this BEAUTY of a story yet, but I will have it posted this weekend!

What Kind of Girl is about a girl who comes to school with a black eye, goes to her principle, and tells her that her boyfriend has been hitting her.

What ensues is a school divided. Those thinking it odd that she didn’t go to the police, wondering why she waited so long to tell if it’s true, and not believing their popular and sweet classmate could do such a thing vs. those who wish to rally for his immediate expulsion.

This is my second story by Alyssa B. Sheinmal, 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 both beautiful and scary. It seems like she reaches inside a persons soul and mind, extracts their fears and quirks, and displays them like she’s experienced every aspect of them.

*sigh*…it hurts so good.

Read it.

(review to come)

 

10. Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson
Release Date: February 4, 2020

Together We Caught Fire

“I wanted to scream at him and slap his face, kiss him until the world burned down. Dare him to call me cold again, once everything we’d known was ash.”

(review to come)

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

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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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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou

Love, Heather

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

Plot: What you see isn’t always what you get.

Stevie never meant for things to go this far. When she and Dee–defiant, bold, indestructible Dee–started all this, there was a purpose to their acts of vengeance: to put the bullies of Woepine High School back in their place. And three months ago, Stevie believed they deserved it. Once her best friend turned on her, the rest of the school followed. Stevie was alone and unprotected with a target on her back. Online, it was worse.

It was Dee’s idea to get them all back with a few clever pranks, signing each act Love, Heather–an homage to her favorite 80’s revenge flick. Despite herself, Stevie can’t help getting caught up in the payback, reveling in every minute of suffering. And for a while, it works: it seems the meek have inherited the school.

But when anonymous students begin joining in, punishing perceived slights with increasingly violent ferocity, the line between villain and vigilante begins to blur. As friends turn on each other and the administration scrambles to regain control, it becomes clear: whatever Dee and Stevie started has gained a mind–and teeth–of its own. And when it finally swallows them whole, one will reemerge changed, with a plan for one final, terrifying act of revenge.

Opinion:

The high school cafeteria. The great leveler of high school movies. It’s where the entire mass of beauties and weirdos come together to eat and do so much more: try to fit in, wish lunch would end, laugh with friends or stare at people they have crushes on. It is universally different and the same…”

Nothing really seems to be happening, but everything matters.”

Things at Woepine high school have gotten out of control. What started as a few harmless pranks to get back at few bullies and ruthless popular kids, quickly turned into a full-on war where anyone could be next. It wasn’t just the Haves vs. the Have Nots anymore, anyone can be a target and anyone could be taken down. But things weren’t supposed to go this far. Dee said that they just needed to be taught a lesson. That once they knew what it felt like to be cast aside and stepped on, that it would end. But Dee took things too far, and Stevie let her. But when Stevie finally becomes the target of a callous prank at a party, it is everyone who will feel the force of this final act of revenge.

No one will tell. No one says anything.

I didn’t do anything, they’re thinking.

They did everything.

They did nothing.”

This Heathers re-imagining shares a theme with the 1988 film of taking down bullies and giving them a taste of their own medicine, but that’s where the similarities end. Love, Heather is a gritty story about the complicated workings of teenage life in high school, and what drives a human to unspeakable acts when threatened or cast out by their peers. It touches on incredibly important issues of bullying, rape culture, social media witch hunts and the effects of social isolation. I came into this story expecting a lighthearted contemporary packed with drama and some epic payback, but what I got was a punch to the gut and a wicked threat to my tear ducts.

The only thing this school has ever made me feel is different. Weird. A Freak. I tried to fit in, and then I tried to change that place, and neither worked. And so, I’ll do things my way. I am an artist. A Maker. I’m not like anyone else. I am different.”

For most of this book, I was reveling in the creative pranks that went from juvenile to borderline felony-worthy. I love an underdog story. One where a quiet or less socially-inclined individual (or individuals) rises up to put an arrogant bully in their place. To show them what it feels like to have their physical and spiritual identity shredded to pieces because it doesn’t fit into a specific social construct. It’s a feeling most of us can identify with and have experienced, so naturally, I love when the “Weirdo” or “loner” rises up.

But let me tell you, this book goes from “Tuesday afternoon read” to “sitting in your room alone, staring off into the darkness for hours contemplating your feelings” really quickly.

Throughout the story there are little hints as to how our main character, Stevie, feels about her friends and her home life. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mother, who she feels is a close friend to her. They would spend so much time together watching movies and talking, and when her mother suddenly gets a new boyfriend, Stevie is brushed to the side. At home, she feels forgotten and isolated. Gone are her coveted mother-daughter moments of bonding. But to make matters worse, Stevie’s best friend turns on her as well. Lottie and her go from being inseparable, to barely speaking, in yet another case of Stevie being left behind. Lottie is inducted into a crowd of more popular kids, but they deem Stevie to be less than worthy of a position among them. They begin to bully Stevie, and Lottie sits back and does nothing to defend her friend. Stevie is left alone with no one to turn to, and no one to have her back.

I try to be myself, but no one wants that.”

But when Dee enters the picture, everything changes. Dee is everything that Stevie isn’t. She is sure of herself and her beliefs. Her convictions are strongly rooted inside her and she speaks her mind. She is fearless, strong, assured, alluring and infectious. And she sees Stevie and takes her under her wing, giving her a hand to hold onto. A voice to speak through and a friend to confide in.

I hid from you, but you found me.”

She gives Stevie the confidence to take charge and make a difference in her life, and so together, they begin the “Love, Heather” movement: a series of pranks that are left with a message saying “Love, Heather”, to those who have hurt others or deserve a little payback. And just as fast, other kids in the school begin adopting the signature and performing their own acts of rebellion against the people who have wronged them. Eventually, the entire school is flipped upside down and nobody is safe.

It feels like this author dipped their hands into my heart and head and pulled out every spec of heartbreak, fear and social guideline that I ever found myself in. Laurie Petrou perfectly showcases the strange nuances in teenage life. The pressure to feel included and seen by your peers. The irrational importance of high school etiquette of what to say, think, and wear. She highlights the minuscule things we would latch onto and obsess over – a strategically placed period in a text or seeing someone from your school and pretending you don’t know each other. The struggles to fit in and the awkward encounters in this story feel so real and raw, and it left me feeling anxious with flashbacks from my own experiences in high school.

Even if you have never seen or heard of the movie Heathers, I beg you to read this book. Give it to a teenager or a sibling, or just read it yourself and basque in the memories of how torturous teenage life was. But above all, remember this message and speak up when others are being bullied.

Sometimes all someone needs is a knowledge that they matter.

4-5-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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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

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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

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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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