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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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

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

The Night Country

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.

With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home…

Opinion:

‘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.’”

After escaping The Hinterland and her story, Alice is back in New York with her mother, just trying to make a new life for herself away from the magic and fairy tales. But after time paces, Alice finds herself drawn back to the ex-stories of The Hinterland as random murders begin targeting those who have escaped. With no explanation as to why, Alice tries to hunt down the culprit. While worlds away, Finch is in the Hinterland and it is tearing itself apart. With so many stories leaving, black spots and wastelands begin consuming what is left of the magical and eerie world. As he looks for a way out, and possibly a way back to his world, Alice and Finch’s paths come closer and closer together to crossing again.

Little mouse

Scratch scratch

Hasten to your home

Lock and latch, do up the catch

And pray that you’re alone

Little spider

Twitch twitch

Run to steal the gate

Weave and sew, stitch stitch

Pray it’s not too late.

Alice is back, and things are as creepy as ever.

So it has been two years since Alice returned to the human world (is that what it’s called?) and she has turned her life into one of productive normalcy. She spends time with her mother Ella, works at a quirky bookstore and hangs out with her best friend Sophia. Well, technically Sophia is Hinterland and had that whole fun tale about stalking Death (you go, girl) but you get the idea-Alice has turned a new leaf. Gone is the angry, murderous, black-eyed frost princess! Or…so we think.

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

In this installment, Alice is having difficulty completely forsaking her Hinterland side. As much as she wishes to leave that side of her life in the past, for her sake and Ella’s’, Hinterland seems to seek her out wherever she goes. Suddenly random murders begin happening, with each victim having a limb missing from their bodies. A left hand, a right hand, left foot, right foot, eyes. Oh yeah. Super fluffy stuff, huh? But what makes everything ten times worse, is that the killings begin to resemble traits from Alice’s old abilities of frost.

Dun Dun Dun.

Alice is a bit more tame in The Night Country, but we get to see some of her old side spark back to life as well. I’m not going to lie, I do miss the old sassy and fairly angry Alice who wanted to scratch everyone’s eyes out, but this version is nice…if you like that “tame and reformed” type of thing. Basically the entire book follows Alice as she struggles with her identity and tries not to get killed. Sinister creatures from Hinterland now run rampant through New York, toying with humans and going unseen. But no matter what Alice does, she can never escape Hinterland. Because she IS Hinterland.


Though there are Hinterland creatures where Alice is, we really don’t get to witness a lot of the magical and strange imagination that comes from that world. Thankfully, the story flips over to Finch and we get to partake in his world jumping. As Hinterland starts to crumble, and people begin to panic to find a way out, Finch meets a traveler who promises to help him get back to his world after they do a bit of world jumping. He agrees, and THIS is where we really get to see the creative side of this author again.

There were patches of sky where the stars moved like living fireworks, creeks where girls with corpse-colored skin and dirty hair sang like bullfrogs and watched him through hungry eyes.”

I am still so impressed with how the author comes up with tales within a tale, and ties everything together so flawlessly. It is so much fun picturing these worlds and strange creatures in my mind. A place of huge walls of books that contain thousands of stories, and gadgets like a pen that sends messages right to the desired recipient or a mirror that would show you what your true love was looking at. The world building through each door is so creative and wondrous, and all I want is to see these stories come to life in movies!

Without giving too much away, I’d have to say this was a very enjoyable sequel to The Hazel Wood. Though Urban Fantasy isn’t really my thing, which is more what this book falls under, I found it to be a great story but not as addicting as the first book. Don’t get me wrong though, it was full of eerie and creepy happenings and I was loving the dark atmosphere that New York found itself in. It was twisted and murderous, which I love. But, I still think The Hazel Wood was my favorite of the two because it was like diving straight into a fairy tale.

I’ll leave you with this gem:

I’d opened my eyes and found Finch standing in front of me, looking at me like I was a door, too.

The kind he wanted to walk through.”

4-stars

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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

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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 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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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

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

Good Girls Lie.jpg

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

Book Review: A Violet Fire (Vampires in Avignon, Book 1) by Kelsey Quick

A Violet Fire

 

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal-Vampires

Plot: In the Vampire Stratocracy of Cain, human blood is scarce. For centuries, councils have sought to assuage the blood shortage by enslaving and breeding humans, turning them into profitable supply units for the rich and the abled.

Today, eighteen-year-old Wavorly Sterling is officially a supply unit, bound to serve her blood willingly to her master for the rest of her life. One of only few humans that was not bred in Cain, Wavorly knows freedom better than anyone, and she is determined to escape the clutches of her oppressors, even if by the hands of death.

But surprises lay beyond every certainty, and within every doubt. Where Wavorly’s hatred for both vampires and her enslavement once flowed free as blood, it merely trickles as she grows to admire her reserved, yet receptive master and savior, Anton Zein.

Although warmed by comforts never felt before, danger still lurks in the castle, and a prophecy calls from beyond the walls of a lavender gate—concealing the horrific secrets lodged between handsome smirks and cinereous eyes. It will take everything within Wavorly to face her fears and her doubts; to harness the truth of her past despite what that means for her future. The only question is, will she?

Set in a richly detailed world of fantasy, A Violet Fire is a gripping journey filled with passion, betrayal, lies, and the encouragement we all need to take a stand for our freedom—no matter the cost.

Opinion:

 

Oh.

My.

Nocturnal Nights.

It’s official.

My heart is broken, my feminine energy is bristling, and vampires are back with a bloodthirsty vengeance.

The world has been dominated by vampires for centuries now. In Cain, Humans are bred to serve vampires in whatever form necessary – as blood supply units, servants, or breeders. They are instructed in special schools in how to best serve their immortal masters, through meekness and subservience. But for Wavorly, one of the few humans who were born and raised outside of vampire rule before her inevitable capture, she would rather die than be a slave to a vampire. After countless escape attempts, her day of judgment has finally come: to see if her blood will qualify her a spot in her master’s household as a live-in servant and supply unit. Somehow Wavorly is accepted into Zein’s home, despite her insubordination and unabashed hatred for his ownership over her. But as time goes on, Wavorly wonders if the vampire who brought her to Cain isn’t the monster she believes him to be. And maybe he sees her as more than just a blood supply.

A Violet Fire has given me a book hangover from Hell, and it’s unclear if I’m going to make it.

Send help.

Finally.

An addicting YA Vamp Fantasy untainted by glittering blood-lusters and a female protagonist who lacks self-worth and looks to a man for breath.

This, is true living corpse bliss.

This book is the vampire Handmaid’s Tale I didn’t know I needed, and it is packed and layered with beautiful writing, witty and sharp dialogue and a plot that will make you weak at the knees. I am HOOKED by this story-line, and for good reason! Like The Handmaid’s Tale, this world is suffering from a distinct decline in human life, which is the main source of survival for vampires. Though some parts of this world give more respect to human life, Cain, much like Gilead, is the hub of humans enslaved to work as servants, blood supply units and breeders.

When a human comes of age, they are brought before their master at the Distribution Ceremony where their blood is sampled. If their blood is accepted, they are brought to their masters home to be used as a supply unit when needed. The brainwashed humans who were born and bred in Cain are raised to believe their life mission is to look pretty, be submissive and to strive for the honor of having their blood sucked out of them.

Dreamy, isn’t it?

But the kicker here is this: quality of blood is improved by quality of life and happiness. So naturally that means our sassy, foul-mouthed, and all-around pissed off gem Wavorly has got to have some top-shelf vital fluids right?

My blood should be the foulest thing to ever touch his lips.”

Swoon!

Wavorly is the definition of a strong, fierce, “gives no shits” female lead! We first meet her as she is attempting another escape from Cain the day before the Distribution Ceremony, and immediately we learn that she is not a damsel in distress sitting around twirling her hair around her finger. She wants nothing more than to be free of her enslavement to Zein, who swore to protect her when he “saved” her from a rouge vampire when she was a child, and to search for other humans off the grid. Though she is forced into becoming a supply unit for Zein, she does so with a sharp tongue and zero remorse for her rash actions.

Girl. Is. Fierce.

While you’ve been staring at yourself in the mirror all your life, I’ve been training myself on how to best ruin your reflection.”

But where this story gets even more interesting is when we get to see more of Zein.

He is one of five of the most powerful and ruthless vampires in Cain, and has a long and bloody history on the battlefield and just…in general. He is said to be cruel and sadistic with zero regard for human life, but as time goes on, our girl begins to see a less murdery version of this mysterious immortal.

Now don’t worry, I’m not going into any more detail beyond that, but my oh my guys, Zein is giving me all the Lestat meets Rowan (TOG) vibes and I am dying. DYING. He’s vague, he’s angry, and he’s got sharp looks that will make your blood run cold and sizzle all at once. But in true form of my questionable taste in men, I am swooning over this vampires’ hot and cold demeanor. It has been a solid 24 hours since I finished A Violet Fire and I am STILL questioning my stance on him! I love him. I hate him. I‘d die for him. I’d die to stab him in the face.

It’s all very confusing.

“…his eyes return to their mysterious gray and appear to be lost in a sea I can’t even begin to navigate.”

I could go on for days about this book and the immense torture that I am experiencing due to this cliffhanger, but I must stop for fear that I am going to spill all the secrets just so I’m not the only one writhing in pain. This is so much more than just a possible vampire romance. It’s dripping in feminist vibes, has an epic and mysterious plot where a prophecy speaks of a human savior, and makes you question your feelings right alongside Wavorly. I am so obsessed with this book, I have already started reading it again just to find details that I’ve missed!

Do yourself a favor, buy this.

5-stars

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