Book Reviews · Edelweiss+ · New Releases

Book Review: Thorn (Dauntless Path, Book 1) by Intisar Khanani

Thorn

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, HarperTeen & Hot Key Books, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling-The Goose Girl

Plot: A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

Opinion:

 

 

‘You are neither goose girl no veria, but something better than them both.’

‘You are mistaken,’ I say, the words bitter on my tongue.

‘I am nothing.’”

Alyrra is no stranger to cruelty and being looked down upon, even if she is Princess. Though her honesty may be seen as a virtue to some, in the eyes of court and her mother, it is her biggest weakness and downfall. After outing a courtier named Valka for stealing and trying to blame it on a servant, Alyrra has had to endure the consequences of her compulsion to tell the truth, through her mother’s sneers and the concealed beatings by her brother. So it is a slight reprieve when an arrangement of marriage is made between the kingdoms of Princess Alyrra and Prince Kestrin,promising safe haven from the family that despises her. But along the journey to her betrothed, Valka enacts revenge on Alyrra and makes a deal with a sorceress that switches their skin. Now Alyrra must navigate a new life as a goose girl, a drastic change from her life of nobility, but one she finds comfort in. But accepting her new life means forsaking her old one, and the obligations that came with it.

This is how you survive: one breath to the next, refusing each thought as it comes to you. This is how you get through the worst of things.”

This, was beautiful.

If there is one thing I love in a retelling, it’s when the author can effortlessly redesign a tale into one that still holds the atmospheric characteristics that blessed the original. This story feels like a classic old-timey and eerie fairy tale passed on through generations. It doesn’t feel like a fluffed new-age YA retelling stuffed with love triangles and whimpering teens. It’s characters are mature for their age, as most were in a time of traveling by horse and serving royalty, and their development isn’t rushed. They are thoughtfully revealed to the reader over time, allowing us to get to know who they are through their actions rather than a few words of their strength or demeanor. They have wit, charm, flaws, strengths, emotions and deep convictions. It reads like a classic fairy tale spun with YA Fantasy, and is laced with a rough purity much like a Jane Austen novel.

The geese are spread about the pasture, snapping up grass and tasty bugs, or dipping into the water. It is as if nothing has happened, as if the pasture exists out of time and none of the violence or illness I have seen can touch it. There is a wordless sort of hope in this field that bears me up.”

When I started reading this book, my only hope was that it would at least be better than the last Goose Girl retelling I read (Bloodleaf). The last one was…less than impressive so I figured we could only go up from there. And my word, did we go up. Thorn was a perfect re-imagining of the original story. It had many elements that mirrored The Goose Girl, but enough changes that it really created a descriptive and well-imagined full-length tale that I loved every second of. There was a perfect mix of seriousness and witty sentences littered throughout that made me fall in love with Alyrra, especially when she brings dark humor into her unfortunate predicaments.

At least the stream is too shallow for her to drown me in.”

Alyrra, called Thorn through most of the book, starts out meek and quiet due to how she was treated in her own kingdom. But as the story progresses, we watch her find her voice and the confidence to stand up for what she believes in. She blossoms into a sure and just woman who is impossible to dislike, especially next to that monster of a girl, Valka. I loved seeing her stand up to Valka every time they were forced to share the same air space, and the way she accepted this betrayal was beyond regal.

And I will make sure it fails if you betray the oaths of allegiance you took on when you stole my skin.”

Do you argue for the lives of men who cloak cruelty in the guise of justice?”

The overall theme of this tale is justice. What one will do to find it, and what it looks like to each person. For some it is revenge, for some it is mercy. But in Thorn, it is the driving force for this entire book and the decisions these characters make. It takes precedence over everything, even the romance. Though I usually love a romance (I mean come on, who doesn’t), the lack of one in Thorn is actually totally okay with me. There is a hint towards it and a little nudge as something that may come, but the lack of one was really fitting for this story and the times. Plus, there is going to be a sequel, so you know it will be picked back up in the next installment.

This is easily one of my new favorite retellings. It was written impeccably, had an even and well-paced flow throughout, and the characters were wonderfully crafted. Though I do wish to know more about Kestrin, I am expecting to learn more about him in book two. I cannot wait to see where the author takes this series!

4.5 Stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #43: My Top 5 Anticipated April 2020 Book Releases

getting to you?
Don’t fret, my child.
April has releases that’ll keep those precious jeans high and tight.
But no…it’s not a video game.
Books, my friends. Books.

 

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~* My Top 5 Anticipated April 2020 Book Releases *~

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

1. Chosen Ones (Chosen Ones, Book 1) by Veronica Roth
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi

Chosen Ones

A thrilling new fantasy by Veronica Roth (author of Divergent), Chosen Ones is about five young people who had been tasked with destroying the “dark oneten years ago. They completed their mission and went on to live mostly normal lives. But then on the day they were to celebrate their victory from all those years ago, one of the five has a premonition that darkness is coming back.

My only hope is that there will be a character like Klaus from Umbrella Academy. Because he is positively everything.

 

2. The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary

The Lucky Ones

OF COURSE I’m going to include a book that will most likely have me flooding my apartment with tears.

Like, who do you think I am??

The Luck y Ones is the story of two teens lives that come together after living through the same horrific experience.

Eleven months ago, May’s twin brother was shot and killed at their school during a shooting where she was the only one to walk out of the band room alive. Unable to cope with the loss and the trauma of that day, she struggles to move on.

Zach, whose mom defended the shooter, has lost all of his friends except for one. Everyone quickly cut him off after his mother voiced her opinions, and now Zach is a social pariah. But as much as Zach wants to disappear, his best friend keeps him from losing it completely.

Then one night, May and Zach meet and they learn how to survive their past together.

 

3. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Genre: YA/Middle Grade/Fantasy

Deeplight

I LOVE Frances Hardinge’s brain!

This lady comes up with some of the COOLEST book premises I have ever heard, and I don’t even care if they are middle grade ones…like this.

Deeplight is a re-release (originally came out in October 2019) but I want to read it just as much! It’s set in a fantastical world called Myriad, a place once terrorized by powerful gods that come from the depths of the ocean, until one day they vanished. Since then, the remains of these gods are traded and highly sought after. For Hark and Jelt, scavenging for “godware” is their life, and they soon set out on an expedition that will change their lives forever.

 

4. The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel
Release Date: April 17, 2020
Genre: Fiction

The Memories We Bury

I had mentioned this book in my last Bindings post as a newly gifted ARC, so naturally I am going to mention it again as it comes out in April!

The Memories We Bury is about a bond that forms between a new mother and her elderly neighbor. It highlights the motherly habits and traits that both Lizzie and her neighbor Morag have learned through personal experiences, but it also dives into how that relationship and the relationship between Lizzie and her husband changes.

That’s basically all I know about this book. But knowing this author, I know it’s going to be an emotional doozy wrought with raw human nature that isn’t always pretty. I’m expecting some sinister and twisted stuff!

 

5. A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary

A breath too late

This is currently available to request on both Netgalley and Edelweiss+…though for some reason my requests are still pending

A Breath Too Late is about seventeen-year-old Lizzie who dies by suicide, but is still able to linger in her home and around her friends observing and watching what she has left behind. She is not able to communicate with anyone, or interfere with the living in any way. Instead, she must experience the ramifications of her choice.

I have read the reviews of this on Goodreads, and man oh man…it’s definitely going to be a heart smasher. But you know me, I’m ready AF.

 

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Stay Witchy

Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson

Sparrow

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot: There are two kinds of people on the planet. Hunters and prey
I thought I would be safe after my mother died. I thought I could stop searching for new places to hide. But you can’t escape what you are, what you’ve always been.
My name is Savannah Darcy Rose.
And I am still prey.

Though Savannah Rose―Sparrow to her friends and family―is a gifted ballerina, her real talent is keeping secrets. Schooled in silence by her long-dead mother, Sparrow has always believed that her lifelong creed―“I’m not the kind of girl who tells”―will make her just like everyone else: Normal. Happy. Safe. But in the aftermath of a brutal assault by her seemingly perfect boyfriend Tristan, Sparrow must finally find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past, or lose herself forever….

Opinion:

Affliction is enamored of thy parts, and thou art wedded to calamity”

-William Shakespeare, Romero and Juliet

‘What is the haunted name, the secret name of your deepest self?’

And I answer, ‘Sorrow.’”

Sparrow lives and breathes ballet. Working with her ballet company and training for their rendition of Swan Lake for the Winter Gala has been a dream come true, and she couldn’t ask for a better partner than her childhood friend Lucas. And when she literally runs into a beautiful boy from her class, Tristan King, a heated romance sparks between the two that is both addicting and fierce. But sometimes Tristan isn’t always the boy she fell in love with, sometimes he changes. A quick flash of eyes like black holes and soft features that sharpen into granite have become Sparrow’s waking nightmare. But Tristan isn’t the only darkness that surrounds her in pirouettes. The death of her mother consumes her, wakes her in the night and follows her like an entity feeding from her soul. Sparrow is drowning.

The earth tilts beneath me. My hand falls into the rushing water, blood spooling out from my fingers, dark ribbons in the moonlight stream. The stars flare and disappear. I float away on a sea of mercies.”

I try hard to breathe, and then I remember.

Dead girls can’t breathe.”

Wow.

This was a heavy hitter.

I haven’t highlighted sentences and paragraphs like this in a book since…well, maybe ever. Practically my entire kindle edition of Sparrow is yellow. And if that doesn’t express the immense haunting beauty that this book is, well, allow me to elaborate.

Sparrow is the story of a girl falling into darkness.

A swan princess becoming the Black Swan.

Sparrow is dedicated, charming, spirited and loving. She pours every ounce of hurt and emotion into her dancing, and it is the only time she can breathe and speak with her heart without screaming. When we first meet her, her infectious and fun personality shines through immediately. She is a typical teenage girl who laughs, acts silly, goes to school and gossips with friends. She is living out her dreams of dancing as Odette in the Swan Lake, and she is thriving. But when she begins her relationship with Tristan, everything shifts.

Count the houses. Count the streetlights.

Count the minutes until Tristan turns back into the boy I love.”

The beginning of their relationship begins and goes by fast, skipping ahead to three months before I even realized what was happening. It started out like an insta-love relationship and I was a little put off, but as the story progresses you realize there is a reason for why it was written like this. It is told in some chapters by Sparrow, and some by Lucas. Through each of their eyes you see different versions of each scenario, how Sparrow sees things, and how Lucas is viewing the reality.

It’s almost a relief when he hits me.

Everything comes back to me, all of it. I remember to tighten my body so I won’t fall, how to pull up, just like in ballet, every muscle taut and prepared. I know how to protect my face, where to hold my arms to keep the first, the strongest blows from reaching the softest parts of my body.”

To say that it was easy to read Sparrow’s journey would be an outright lie. It was so painful witnessing the abuse that Tristan rained down on her. The mood swings, his possessive nature, and how he would so ruthlessly talk down to Sparrow as if she didn’t matter. His cruelty and darkness towards her was frightening. He would scream hateful comments at her, demeaning her and calling her worthless or a slut. His anger was volatile and sudden, a tsunami engulfing a peaceful beach.

If only he’d look at me, give me a smile, tell me with his eyes that I’m forgiven, that he loves me, that we are okay.

If only I could forget his hand on my throat, the pressure of his fingers, the fury of his eyes.”

But what was worse, was Sparrow’s unflinching love and loyalty for this monster. She was enamored with him when he was sweet, when he treated her with affection and promised her love and the world. She so easily brushed aside his temper and rage, and refused to admit that his hitting her and abusing her was actually his choice. And even when her friends questioned his treatment of her, she was adamant about defending him and refusing to open up. Sparrow is like a steel door, chained and bolted. Everything stays hidden and locked away, and she deals with everything alone.

This is my fault, my fault, my fault. He loves me. He loves me so much. He tells me all the time. This will pass. We’ll be fine. He’ll feel terrible in a few minutes, and there will be apologies and tears and promises and kisses.

I will forgive him, because I love him.”

It was heartbreaking to have to sit and watch her fall away into nothing, until it was too late.

The Swan Queen is dead.”

What I love about this story is how seamlessly everything connects. Throughout the story Sparrow has dreams and memories of her mother that come up, more and more often as her relationship with Tristan builds and she begins to fade away. With her mother dying when she was a young girl, the unresolved emotions from her passing has now found it’s way into Sparrow’s every day life. Her mother begins to consume her thoughts, emotions and reactions. She quickly finds herself in a dark space that she can’t find her way out of, and the past that they shared begins to shed light on who she has become.

I promise, Mama. I’ll be quiet. I’ll be good.

I am not the kind of girl who tells.”

There is a turning point in this story when Tristan goes too far, and it is…devastating. The aftermath of what Sparrow becomes, a shell of herself now filled with anger and rage, was one of the hardest things I’ve read. My heart broke a thousand times over as I witnessed the pain and betrayal that this poor girl suffered, and the atrocities of how Tristan is dealt with. Sparrow becomes unrecognizable and defeated. It was like every ounce of light was sucked out of her soul, and all that was left was pitch black nothingness.

I’m the Black Swan.

Curses swirl in my blood. Wickedness is buried in my bones, bound to make everyone who loves me suffer. I’m a black hole, a night without stars, drawing pain and grief and heartbreak to me like a magnet. Destined to make no one happy ever.

I am my mother’s daughter.”

“He told me once that he could hear what people were thinking in the silent spaces between their spoken words. That he could tell what someone was feeling just by looking into their eyes. So I wonder, as I have so many times since I was small, why he couldn’t see the terror in my eyes.”

Though Lucas plays a big part in giving us an important outside look and perspective on Sparrow, I think his side story was a tad unnecessary and I found myself slightly skipping through them. I think the story would have benefited if it went into less detail about what he was doing at his grandmother’s house, and really dove deeper into Sparrow and the aftermath of Tristan. It felt like some parts of her story were rushed over, while Lucas was given a lot more development and focus. Which was confusing to me.

But what was important about his book apart from Sparrow’s experience, was how her abuse affected those around her. So many times the friends and loved ones are forgotten in traumatic experiences. They also go through the hurt and pain alongside the victim, so I was glad to see this story gave them a voice as well. Overall, this story was beyond beautiful. It was a poetic tale of abuse and trauma that got extremely dark and raw. I highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys getting their heart shredded, or just wants to read a book that will actually make you feel something.

All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At the end of everything, a fish dive.”

4 Stars

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Book Reviews · Edelweiss+ · New Releases · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

All your Twisted Secrets

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

Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

Opinion:

The Queen Bee.

The Jock.

The Brains.

The Stoner.

The Loner.

& The Orchestra Geek.

It’s The Breakfast Club meets Saw!

And DAMN is it epic.

What they all assumed was a scholarship dinner with the mayor at one of the local restaurants, quickly turns into a game of survival against the clock. Six seniors are locked in a banquet room with no way out, and forced to play a sadistic game. Upon being locked in the room, the teams discover a bomb, a syringe filled with a lethal liquid, and a note instructing them to pick one person to kill within the hour, or they all die. Frightened and unsure if the game is real or not, the teens try to find a way out as the clock starts ticking down. But why would someone throw them all in a room together, wanting someone to die? Who is the common enemy? As the hour goes by and they become frantic, their morals and judgments are put to the test, as well as their pasts. The real question isn’t about who has to die, it’s about what you will do to survive.

It was do or die time.”

HOLY. SHIT.

I did NOT see that coming!

I came into this expecting a fluffy whodoneit with a little teenage angst, maybe some bully/slutshaming, a few screaming matches and possibly a flying fist or two. But what I got instead, was so much more than that. With a collection of teens that resembles the cast of The Breakfast Club (with an orchestra geek) set in modern times, and a Clue-esque murder mystery styled game that has all the horrific appeal of Saw, it was bound to get a little wild. The high stakes of only having an hour, being stuck in a blistering hot room with people you know but also despise, and then having to choose who to kill or risk exploding?!

The thing about being trapped in a room with five other people, a bomb, and a syringe of lethal poison is that at some point, shit’s going down.”

And down that shit went.

The story is told by Amber PrescottOrchestra Geek extraordinaire. From the beginning she comes off as a level-headed, conscientious and plain ol’ teenage girl. She has a passion for music that takes president in her life, as she hopes to one day score movies in Hollywood like Danny Elfman. She is dating The JockRobbie, who is a baseball star and again, proves to be a truly nice guy despite his popularity and dashing good looks. The Queen BeeSasha is of course gorgeous, intelligent, and has her toe in practically every aspect of their high school. She has big aspirations and is a go-getter, but also rumored to be a bit nasty towards her peers. DiegoThe Brains, is exactly what you’d expect. Super smart and inquisitive, and he has a history with Amber that has now evolved into something complicated, to say the least. Scott is The Stoner who is rumored to sell drugs, do drugs and be an all-around pretty doped up guy. And lastly is PriyaThe Loner. The former best friend of Amber, Priya is a super quiet girl who keeps to herself while practicing magic tricks and sleight of hand.

The story flips between the present, where the teens are trapped in the room and the clock is ticking down, to different moments in the past year. Each “flashback chapter” gives a piece of insight into the relationships between these characters – the good and the bad. The reader learns how their lives are connected, the things that each of them has done to affect one another, and why they have all ended up in this room together. At first the teens start out assuming they are being pranked. But when the doors are bolted, their cell phones have no signal, and they can’t escape through the barred windows, they begin to worry that maybe it isn’t just a practical joke after all.

No matter how frantically you claw at rationality, how desperately you cling to common decency, you eventually give in to your basic instinct to survive.”

This book is a web of lies, and I LOVED. EVERY. SECOND. OF. IT. I was hooked like Popeye on spinach, like Homer Simpson to doughnuts and beer. This story sunk its claws into my skull and refused to let me look away until the very last page. Not like I’d want to! I devoured this book and drank up every tiny detail the author left dripping on each page. The characters felt so incredibly authentic and developed, the plot had countless twists and turns that made me so unclear of who could have been behind it, and the amount of truly important topics this author included was executed perfectly!

Bullying, peerpressure, suicide, gun violence, drug abuse and societal and parental expectations are huge themes to the story. Each character’s backstory has been affected by one or more of these issues and it brings a raw realism to this YA tale. It made connecting with each character effortless because these are all issues, experiences and feelings that so many of us can relate to. And the best part is that each issue was weaved into the story in a very natural way. A lot of times when an author wants to include THIS many hot topics, it feels forced and rubs me the wrong way. But Diana Urban did an amazing job of blending each one into the story like a damn professional.

I really wish I could unleash and give away every secret to this sneakily crafted work of fiction but I won’t ruin it for you guys. Even if it does pain me to keep my mouth shut about it! This book just blew my mind and I loved how sucked into it I got. It’s a twisted web of lies, deceit, manipulation, trauma, regret, anger and vengeance. It was phenomenal. So buy it and buckle in buttercup, cause it’s about to get CRAZY!

Now you all know who you really are.”

4.5 Stars

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Edelweiss+ · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer

Frozen Beauty

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery

Plot: Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….

No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.

Opinion:

“…it’s your life, your being alive. It was supposed to be yours.

But then, one day, it isn’t.”

“Secrets. Secrets.”

The Malloy sisters are well-known in Devil’s Lake for their contrasting personalities and unique beauty. They are thick as thieves and have always shared a close bond with each other, and their neighbor and best friend Boyd. But the three sisters also have secrets. Deep, dark and lovely secrets that they keep hidden from one another. And it isn’t until the eldest sister, Kit, is found half-naked and frozen to death, that the secrets finally start to unravel. And when Lilly comes forward with information about seeing Boyd and Kit out in the snow that very night, arguing and kissing, Boyd is taken into custody. But Tessa can’t believe that Boyd, their best friend and her crush, could hurt any of them. So she begins to dig deeper, but what the sisters uncover is more twisted than anything they could have imagined…

“Lilly: the unpredictable one, the selfish one, the baby of the family – all brawl and tears and flash and fire…

Kit: the good girl, the oldest, the one to whom everyone turned in a time of crisis.

Tessa: known for tripping on her own feet, a clumsy shadow in Kit’s wake. Not a shadow…but a negative, all bleached out and odd to look at.”

Frozen Beauty is a beautifully written story about the relationships between three sisters in close age to one another, but who are vastly different in looks and personalities. It portrays the competitive nature between the girls, the yearning to be seen, the desire to be confided in, and the secrets that each of them kept hidden – unsure if they could share them with each other. The sisters love one another deeply and spend a lot of their time together, along with Boyd, but the distances between them are vast once the layers begin to fall away.

This story is told between the two remaining sisters, Lily and Tessa, as they begin to navigate a life without their older sister Kit. The story flips back and forth between the days leading up to Kit’s death, and present time. So as we get to know these two sisters, it is quickly shown how different the girls are and how much they actually keep their lives separate from one another. Tessa is in the same grade as their neighbor Boyd, who is like a brother to the girls, and she is kind of quirky and nerdy but in a relaxed cool kind of way. Lilly, however, is a spunky fifteen-year-old who is the typical young teenage girlobsessed with clothes, loves attention, and is drastically trying to make herself seem older. But Lilly is also beyond hilarious and drops curse words like a seasoned vet, and I loved her for every sassy sentence she delivered.

But the real story centers on Kit, and the WHY and HOW of her sudden death.

“That early Saturday morning, only two days later, Kit’s body would be found, bruised and frozen, in the back of Boyd’s truck.”

Early on in the book, there is a “before” scene of when Lilly sneaks out of her friend’s house after waking up and seeing her friend is no longer there. She sneaks out onto the road when she sees headlights, and comes upon her sister and Boyd arguing in the snow, and eventually kissing. Not wanting to intrude, Lilly goes back to her friend’s house…but finds out the next day that her sister never ends up leaving that spot. So she goes to police and tells them that Boyd was there that night, and that he must have had something to do with it.

“A cry of guilt –

A wolf in the forest of falsehoods that we built.

And now, winter whispers: deny, deny,

Silencing me with its little white lies.

I open my mouth and it fills with snow.

The end’s a blur – I can’t see where to go.”

Secrets obviously play a huge role in this story, and not just between the sisters. EVERY character seems to be dealing with some heavy stuff or hiding a dark secret. Lilly’s best friends are no exception. One is shrinking into thin air and drowning in oversized clothing to compensate for her frail frame, while the girls don’t even mention anything about it. And the other girl begins acting frazzled and says the most indecipherable sentences and phrasesI swear, my brain was in overload trying to figure out what was going on!

As far as suspects go…this author really lays out the possibilities for you! She introduces countless characters who act vague, spout cryptic statements and just act incredibly suspicious. Boyd, who has grown up with the Malloy sisters and acts as their protector, comes off as this great guy at first but it’s not hard to be swayed into a corner of believing him to be obsessive over the girls. Then there is Patrick. A mysterious, new bad boy with rumors of violence and criminal activity following him through the school halls.

But how this story actually turns out was…well, it was alright. My mind wasn’t blown or anything, but it was still a twisty tale that I couldn’t figure out until the end. I definitely didn’t see THAT coming, but it wasn’t the kind of surprise that had me gasping for air and wanting to scream dramatically. Another story I had read last year had a similar outcome, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t as satisfied with the ending as I could have been.

I think I was expecting a bit more from this story. At times the writing was really beautiful and poetic, but other times it felt very forced and awkward. Dialogue was where things would get a little cringey for me, like when the author tries making Patrick seem like this super mysterious and cool guy…but just ends up making him look like he can’t form a sentence? There was a lot of odd comparisons that didn’t make sense, and the connections to the characters just wasn’t really there. I was wanting to get gut-punched with emotions and loss from Kit’s death, but I found myself in a state of not really caring for her at all.

It was a decent story and a good mystery, but I wanted a little more substance and feeling. However, I do like the themes of how secrets can both strengthen and ruin a bond, and the emphasis on sisterly dynamics. I think the author perfectly captured the essence and intricacies that make up the bonds of sisterhood. There is competition, fighting, envy and being left out. But there is also a deep and unbreakable love, and a compassion for one another that is deeply rooted.

I came for the mystery, but I stayed for the sistership.

“And sisters are the hardest – they are mirrors of you; they are competition, opponents in everything…They’re a reflection of your best and worst self, and yet strangers always on the brink of going their separate ways and leaving you, or being left by you – a shadow in the doorway, falling across the carpet. A hug that lasts the length it takes to snap a photo, before it turns into a shove.

They have the power to undo you. And, maybe, to save you.

That’s a terrifying kind of love…”

3 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · Edelweiss+ · New Releases

Book Review: Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Criers Moon

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: Bone Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Opinion:

“On that new moon – like every new moon – the Leurress need to summon the dead from their graves and ferry their souls past the Gate of the Beyond.”

The dead must be ferried, my mother told me as I prepared for my rite of passage, or they’ll wander the land of the living and wreak devastation.”

The Bone Crier’s are a tribe of women called Leurress whose soul purpose is to ferry souls to the Gates of the Beyond. They must lead the unchained to the gates of Heaven, and the chained to the gates of the Underworld. But in order to become a Ferrier, each Leurress must first acquire three Grace Bones from an animal that she has hunted and killed herself. The most desired graces are from animals with extreme speed, powerful senses of smell and hearing, or immense strength. Once a Leurress binds the grace bone with their blood, there is only one ritual left – she must use the sacred bone flute, which also opens the gates on ferrying night, and play a song to lure her soulmate to a bridge, and kill them. But the boy that Ailesse lures to the bridge on her ritual night isn’t what she bargained for, as he plans to kill her to avenge his father’s death.

Ailesse is the daughter of the matron of the Leurress, and has been named heir. As such, she feels the need to prove herself to her mother and the women around her. We first meet her as she and her best friend, Sabine, begin to hunt a shark so that Ailesse may acquire her third grace bone. She is a determined and strong lead character who is not easily shaken or driven to defeat, and her tenacity is shown from page one. She desperately wants to become a Ferrier, as is her life’s purpose, and shows both excitement and longing to complete her final ritual…which involves killing her soulmate.

Her best friend, however, is quite unlike Ailesse. Sabine is just a little younger than her and is indeed a Leuress as well, but has no desire to kill any animal or an innocent person. She is a gentle soul who has an unflinching devotion and love for her friend, but she refuses to harm any innocent creature. She expresses sorrow and uneasiness for the rituals the Leuress go through with in order to ferry the dead, but she is fully supportive of Ailesse and helps her complete her tasks.

Far be it from me to deny anyone the chance to watch you slaughter the man of your dreams.”

Obviously a story about witchy women who kill their soulmates, gain powers from animal bones and ferry the dead into the afterlife is enough of an epic read. But add a little revenge, romance, betrayal and a kickass setting and you’ve got one amazing fantasy.

The story flips between three main characters: Ailesse, Sabine and Bastien. Bastien is a young man who, as a child, witnessed his father being killed by a bone crier. Ever since, Bastien has been planning his revenge on the Bone Crier’s for taking his father and leaving him an orphan living on the streets as a thief. For years he has been training to be able to compete against the Bone Crier’s and their otherworldly powers, and he does so alongside two other orphans whose father was also killed by a Bone Crier.

His powerful desire for revenge is a grace of its own.”

Bastien is a formidable love interest and makes things in this story interesting, but I didn’t get as much substance from his character as I wanted. And to be quite honest, I didn’t get enough substance from any of these characters. I feel that Sabine was developed the most in terms of personality and emotions shining through, but she is only a supporting role next to Ailesse, who is the female lead. I found Ailesse to be strong and a complete badass, but I only ever felt that we were brushing the surface with her. I didn’t feel a strong connection or love for her at all, or for Bastien for that matter. By the end of the read my favorite characters were Sabine, with her unshakable determination and loyalty, and Marcel (Bastien’s friend) with his quirky personality and carefree attitude.

Oh, and the mysterious owl.

Obviously the romance in this tale is between Ailesse and Bastien, soulmates who are never supposed to be together…right? Well no YA Fantasy is EVER complete without a little twist and an epic cliffhanger to leave you wanting more, and of course that is EXACTLY what this author gave us. But my question is this, will this love stand the test of time? The test of the stars and gods?? Well I don’t know. I’m waiting on book 2 just like you are! But there is something to be said about a forbidden love and two characters who desperately DON’T want to be attached to each other. That’s how all great romances start, right? Just ask SJM, she’ll tell you! Give them blinding hatred, threats of murder and a a few below the belt insults and we’ve got some serious LOVE.

All I smell is Ailesse. Earth, fields, flowers. Everything green and alive. A twisted trick of her magic. I have to remember what she really is.

Darkness. Decay. Death.”

But of course, the romance isn’t the only aspect of this tale. It’s an epic fantasy packed with magic, a setting of ethereal beauty and the catacombs of France, and a whole shitload of dead just praying to wreak havoc on the living. I really enjoyed every part of the world-building, the idea of intertwining the frightening and sad history of the very real underground grave in France, and the themes of bridges linking mates and guiding souls beyond. But as much as I loved all of these parts, the rest of the story just didn’t quite measure up. There were a lot of days that just went by as characters hid out in the catacombs, Sabine was constantly hunting for Ailesse, and it was all just kind of…a lot of waiting around?

I think the story could have been either condensed or seasoned with a bit more prominent scenes. It wasn’t exactly slow, but there just wasn’t enough happening to keep me fully invested…which is why I ended up putting the book down a lot and getting distracted way more than usual. It was a good start to the series and I feel like book 1 was just an introduction for what is to come, so I’m still invested and ready to continue the books. But just know, if you’re expecting epic mind-blowing, you might not get it from this first installment. But all in all, it was a good story with an impressive premise.

3-stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Wrap-up

Binding of Bindings #41: February 2020 Book Wrap-up

Do…do you hear that?
Someone’s knocking
And its name is MARCH!

 

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~* February 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Genre: YA/Dystopia/Romance

How I live Now

“I was dying, of course, but then we all are. Every day, in perfect increments.”

“Staying alive was what we did to pass the time.”

This book…Ugh!

I love it.

I had first found out about this book after watching the movie (2013) and for some reason didn’t realize it was a book. I have watched the movie COUNTLESS times, so I knew it was about time I actually sat down and read the original tale.

How I Live Now is a story of how five cousins live after the world falls into war and they are forced to fend for themselves. It is told by our main character, Daisy, a girl from New York that is shipped out to stay with her cousins in the countryside of England. What starts out as days of ultimate freedom and zero adult supervision where the teens are free to do what they want, quickly changes when they are separated and forced into different camps for their protection.

It’s a story about war, about fighting to get back to those you call family, and it’s also about a forbidden love that blooms between Daisy and her cousin Edmond.

Yeah, I know how it sounds. Just trust me, you need to read it.

(See my review here)

5-stars

 

2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, Book 1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

I had heard SO much about A Curse So Dark and Lonely all over bookstagram and through other bloggers, and I had a copy, but I had just never gotten around to reading it!

So in anticipation for the release of book 2, my good friend Shannon at Reads & Reels (Bookstagram: @shanannigans_of_readsandreels) and I did a buddy read! And let me tell you, we DEVOURED it!

It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in modern times about a prince in a land called Emberfall who has been cursed to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over and OVER until he can get a sweet little lass to fall in love with him. Enter: Harper. Our feisty little heroine is taken to Emberfall, against her will of course, and so ensues a tale of princely wooing and a REALLY smoldery/attractive guard named Grey

4-stars

 

3. A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, Book 2) by Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

A Heart so Fierce and Broken

So naturally, as soon as we finished ACSDAL, we annihilated A Heart So Fierce and Broken!

In this installment, our poor baby Grey is gone from the palace, his googly eyes with Harper is ceased, and he is basically hiding. Why, you may ask? I’m not telling you! READ ACSDAL!

But anyways, though I wasn’t AS in love with this as I was book 2, it was still a great book. I loved that it followed Grey instead of Harper this time, but I was also upset that Harper’s character was kinda thrown off to the side. Like hello, I liked that broad.

But it’s fine, cause Grey is life and I am all about him!!

4-stars

 

4. Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Red Hood

This is NOT your typical Little Red Riding Hood retelling.

It’s uncomfortable, gritty and gives a painfully realistic look into how a lot of women are treated, viewed and labeled.

Red Hood is one of the most raw retellings I have come across. It’s unhinging how forceful it pushes your comfort zone into submission and forces you to eradicate those tainted ideas instilled in us of how a female should act at. It’s a story of female empowerment, sisterhood, and loving the body that you call home.

And also about boys/men who turn into wolves when they want to harm a woman.

And periods.

(See my review here)

4-5-stars

 

5. Fortuna Sworn (Book 1) by K.J. Sutton
Genre: Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal

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If you guys have been with me for a few years, you know I just love my girl Kelsey Sutton! She’s an indie author who primarily writes YA with SUPER wild and creative topics like Gardenia: a girl who can see “countdown clocks” above everyone’s head that shows when they will die or Smoke and Key: set in a place called “Under” that is neither Heaven nor Hell, and is beneath one’s grave where souls wander and are named after the possession they carry into death, like Smoke or Key.

Well Fortuna Sworn is her FIRST Adult Fantasy series, under the pseudonym K.J. Sutton. I first read this last year after Kelsey sent me a copy (I just about DIED I fangirled so hard) and let me tell you, it was UhMazing.

Check it:

Fortuna Sworn is one of the Fallensupernatural creatures descended from angels. But she is also one of the last of her kind, Nightmare’s – a creature of intoxicating beauty whose face shifts and transforms to accommodate the onlooker’s tastes. A creature that can reach into your mind with a gentle caress, find the fears that lay delicately in the folds of your thoughts, and turn them into a horrifying reality.

But when Fortuna is captured by two goblins who intend to sell her to the highest bidder, she is freed by a strange faerie that offers her a deal she can’t refuse. He knows where her brother is, who disappeared two years prior, and he can take her to where he is being held if she agrees to just one thing: to be his mate.

It’s loaded with dark faeries, twisted games, manipulation, and guys…it is HOT!

(See my review here)

4-stars

 

6. Restless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, Book 2) by K.J. Sutton
Genre: Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal

Restless SLumber

OH.MY.SHIT.

This series and this author are going to KILL ME!!!!!!!

If you want your heart ripped out of your chest, read this. If you like having your brain constantly messed with and want to feel completely unsure of who you’re rooting for, read this. If YOU, like staring off into space for 45 minutes after reading a book….READ THIS!

I…I have no words.

Kelsey Sutton is a beautiful monster.

(See my review here)

5-stars

 

7. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Feminism

Asking For It

I have wanted this book for SO long guys. SO LONG!

You know I can’t help myself when it comes to books that will make me crumble, but I especially can’t help myself when said books are feminist fiction. It’s like a nicely aged bottle of heroin, I just want it and I want it now.

Asking For It is about a girl named Emma O’Donovan who wakes up on her porch after a party with little memory of the night before, or how she got home. After messaging the boys she recalled being with, and getting no reply in return, Emma soon finds out there explicit pictures and videos of her online from the night before.

Hoping that everything will go away and not wanting it to become an issue, Emma claims that she was in on it all and the boys are innocent. But as time goes on, Emma’s feelings on the night changes, and everyone has an opinion on what happened.

*Sigh*…this one hit the feels.

(My review will be up tomorrow 2/29)

 

8. One Foot in the Grave (The Mortician’s Daughter, Book 1) by C.C. Hunter
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal-Ghosts

One foot in the Grave

I’m sure most of you, like me, had read the Shadow Falls series by C.C. Hunter and loved it. A camp for supernatural teens with murder and romance? Perfection!

So when I saw that she had released another YA Fantasy/Paranormal series about the daughter of a MORTICIAN *happy squeal* I just knew I had to read it! One Foot in the Grave was about how ghosts follow Riley Smith’s father home from the morgue in search of her, asking for help.

And going into it, I totally expected the mushy forbidden romance and the dramatic teenage angst riddled banter between characters. I was ready for a hot ghost boy, a girl with some home issues and a little murder/mystery to spice up my week.

But UGH! I’m surprised my eyes don’t have a permanent twitch to them due to the constant eye-rolls and half-lidded cringes that were racking through my body while reading.

Definitely targeted for the pre-teen rather than the young adult.

2-5-stars

 

9. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Genre: YA/Contemporary

The One Memory of Flora Banks

So I am currently demolishing The One Memory of Flora Banks and it is SO good, guys!!

Flora Banks developed anterograde amnesia when she was 10 after having a tumor removed from her brain. She can remember everything up to the surgery, but now at 17, she has trouble retaining any information/people/places. She relies on her best friend Riley who she knew before her surgery, and writes messages on her arms and leaves post-it notes everywhere of things she needs to remember.

But one night she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, and she can remember it.

I am fully expecting this to end in a really sad and heartbreaking way, because I’m less than 100 pages in and I am already wanting to snatch Flora up and give her a hug! The author completely captures the confusion of Flora’s situation and the struggle to lead a normal life.

But I suspect foul play from everyone! I swear, if someone hurts her, I am tearing the world apart.

(Keep a look out for my review)

 

10. Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace, Book 1) by Kathryn Purdie
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Bone Criers Moon

I am also currently in the middle of Bone Crier’s Moon which releases March 3rd, and it is amazing so far!

Here’s the scoop if you didn’t see my last Bindings post: There’s this group/family of women called Leurress who are tasked with escorting the dead by ferry to the Heavens or the Underworld. But in order to have the strength and power to do this, they must acquire threegrace bones” that they must take from animals they kill themselves. From these bones the Leurress are given the graces (powers) of the animals, such as their strength, speed, sight, etc.

Once the Leurress has all her grace bones, she THEN has to lure her “amoure” with a bone flute. Once she snags them, she either has to kill them OR she can stay with them for a year, and THEN kill them.

Obsessed.

(Review to come!)

 

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Stay Witchy

 

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