Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases

Book Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I killed Zoe Spanos

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing,Β  via Netgalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?Β 

Opinion:

“𝑾𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝐝𝐨 π’šπ’π’– π’“π’†π’Žπ’†π’Žπ’ƒπ’†π’“, 𝑨𝒏𝒏𝒂?”

“𝑰 π’“π’†π’Žπ’†π’Žπ’ƒπ’†π’“ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’˜π’‚π’•π’†π’“. 𝑰𝒕 π’˜π’‚π’” π’ˆπ’“π’‚π’š 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒅𝒖𝒍𝒍, π’π’Šπ’Œπ’† 𝒂𝒏 𝒐𝒍𝒅 𝒄𝒂𝒓 π’˜π’Šπ’•π’‰ π’‘π’‚π’Šπ’π’• π’˜π’π’“π’ 𝒐𝒇𝒇. 𝑰 π’“π’†π’Žπ’†π’Žπ’ƒπ’†π’“ π’Œπ’π’†π’†π’π’Šπ’π’ˆ 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’ƒπ’‚π’π’Œ, π’”π’•π’‚π’“π’Šπ’π’ˆ 𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒂𝒄𝒓𝒐𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒉𝒆 π’˜π’‚π’” π’…π’π’˜π’ 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆. 𝑰 π’“π’†π’Žπ’†π’Žπ’ƒπ’†π’“ π’‰π’π’˜ 𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒅 π’Šπ’• π’˜π’‚π’” 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 π’π’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’•, π’‰π’π’˜ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’˜π’Šπ’π’… π’˜π’‚π’” 𝒔𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒑 𝒂𝒏𝒅 π’˜π’†π’• π’‚π’ˆπ’‚π’Šπ’π’”π’• π’Žπ’š π’„π’‰π’†π’†π’Œπ’”.

𝑴𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒂𝒍𝒍, 𝑰 π’“π’†π’Žπ’†π’Žπ’ƒπ’†π’“ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’ˆπ’–π’Šπ’π’•, π’‰π’π’˜ π’Šπ’• 𝒄𝒓𝒖𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’‚π’Šπ’“ 𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒐𝒇 π’Žπ’š π’π’–π’π’ˆπ’”.”

Damn.

What a whirlwind of wild this little beauty turned out to be.

I Killed Zoe Spanos is told from two POVsAnna Cicconi, the main lead and prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of Zoe after a shocking confession, and Martina Green, a friend of Zoe’s younger sister with aspiring journalistic dreams and a promise to find out what really happened. The story flips between the present and two months prior, before Anna confesses to killing Zoe. It documents Anna’s time in the Hamptons working as a nanny for the summer for a prominent family, how she discovers and learns about the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, and how she eventually confesses to killing her.

Confused?

As you should be.

“π‘΄π’‚π’šπ’ƒπ’† 𝑰 π’•π’‰π’π’–π’ˆπ’‰π’• π’Šπ’•’𝒔 π’˜π’‰π’‚π’• 𝒔𝒉𝒆 π’˜π’π’–π’π’… 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 π’˜π’‚π’π’•π’†π’…. π‘΄π’‚π’šπ’ƒπ’† 𝑰 π’˜π’‚π’” π’•π’“π’šπ’Šπ’π’ˆ 𝒕𝒐 π’Žπ’‚π’Œπ’† π’•π’‰π’Šπ’π’ˆπ’” π’“π’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’•.”

Anna is from Bay Ridge in Brooklyn where she has spent way too much time drinking heavily and taking party favors, in the hopes that her mother might pay attention to her. But Anna wants to change. She wants a break from the relentless fog and partying, so she takes a summer job in the Hamptons. But upon arriving to this new place, she learns of the odd disappearance of a girl named Zoe Spanos. On New Years Eve, Zoe vanished without a trace. With little clues as to what had happened to her, and even less motive for foul play.

But what Anna quickly learns upon arriving in the Hamptons, is that she bares a striking and eerie resemblance to Zoe. Some would say, an almost identical resemblance.

“π‘΄π’‚π’Œπ’† π’•π’‰π’Šπ’π’ˆπ’” π’“π’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’•?” 𝑻𝒉𝒆 π’…π’†π’•π’†π’„π’•π’Šπ’—π’† 𝒓𝒆𝒑𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒔 𝑨𝒏𝒏𝒂’𝒔 π’˜π’π’“π’…π’” π’ƒπ’‚π’„π’Œ 𝒕𝒐 𝒉𝒆𝒓.

And as Anna begins to learn more about Zoe through locals who mistake her for the missing girl, friends and news articles, Anna begins to fall deeper and deeper into the intricacies and mysteries surrounding the case. And to a point where secrets, truth, lies and blurred lines begin to reveal themselves.

“𝑰𝒏 π’”π’π’Žπ’† π’”π’Žπ’‚π’π’ π’˜π’‚π’š. 𝑨𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 π’˜π’‰π’‚π’• 𝑰’𝒅 𝒅𝒐𝒏𝒆. 𝑰𝒕 π’˜π’‚π’” 𝒂𝒏 π’‚π’„π’„π’Šπ’…π’†π’π’•, 𝒃𝒖𝒕…

𝑰 π‘²π’Šπ’π’π’†π’… 𝒁𝒐𝒆 𝑺𝒑𝒂𝒏𝒐𝒔.”

This shit gets a liiiiiittle crazy.

From the beginning, Anna starts dropping little hints about her life back home. It consists of a lot of partying and activities that fuzzy up the mind, and gives the reader an overwhelming sense that she is running from something. Murder, you say?! Hmmm…maybe so. But what’s really interesting about Anna’s character is that you never really get a solid read on her. She’s a bit of an enigma shrouded in hazy darkness, and it seems as if only the top few layers of her are pulled away. She’s like an onion…you know the saying.

But what really started to intrigue me about Anna, besides her need to leave her past behaviors behind, was her constant forgetfulness.

Here is a girl who obviously isn’t a hardcore drug user, and sure…she seems to have a bit of a pull towards the bottles of alcohol that she notices, but nothing to suggest she has a serious problem with substances. Which is the only reason I was coming up with for why she would be forgetting things randomly, to the point where the little girl she was nannying was constantly reminding her of conversations and clearly exasperated for having to do so. Obviously there’s a rhyme and a reason for this odd behavior, but the way it is executed had me swooning.

Kit Frick was meant to write mystery thrillers. She knows how to create an eerie yet familiar personality in a character that feels authentic, but has ever so slightly had sprinkles of slight paranoia and hysteria woven in to make the reader question the sanity of the MC. And not only does she make the reader both trust and question Anna, but she adds in other multiple characters that feel innocent and guilty all at once.

“𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 π’ˆπ’,” π‘ͺ𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒏 π’”π’‚π’šπ’” 𝒂𝒔 𝑰’π’Ž π’‚π’π’“π’†π’‚π’…π’š π’•π’–π’“π’π’Šπ’π’ˆ π’•π’π’˜π’‚π’“π’…π’” 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒐𝒐𝒓, π’“π’†π’‚π’…π’š 𝒕𝒐 𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒗𝒆 π‘Ύπ’Šπ’π’…π’†π’“π’Žπ’†π’“π’† 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒏. π‘΄π’‚π’šπ’ƒπ’† π‘·π’‚π’Šπ’”π’π’†π’š π’˜π’‚π’” π’“π’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’•. π‘»π’‰π’Šπ’” 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝐒𝐬 𝒉𝒂𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒅. 𝑡𝒐𝒕 π’ƒπ’š 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒂𝒅, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 π’ƒπ’š 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’‡π’π’Šπ’π’•π’š 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’π’Šπ’—π’Šπ’π’ˆ.”

I’ll be honest, I had no idea who in the hell the murderer was until the murderer was actually revealed. And even then, I didn’t believe it. There are SO MANY characters who are perfect suspects and have clear motives. SO MANY characters who act strangely and suspiciously. Who seem to always be covering things up or sweeping clues into a rolled up rug and throwing it into the ocean.

Its all.

Very.

Suspish.

But isn’t that what we love? To be hit at the knees and have a bag pulled over our heads? And in true murder mystery form, we get to play detective alongside the characters. Throughout the story the POV switches over to Martina Green and her podcasts episode transcripts where she is trying to find out what happened to Zoe. She discusses police reports, insider information from the family, possible suspects, and even points the finger at the boyfriend.

Because it’s always the boyfriend.

“π‘»π’‰π’Šπ’” π’ƒπ’π’š π’Šπ’” 𝒂 π’”π’•π’“π’‚π’π’ˆπ’†π’“, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒂 π’”π’π’Šπ’‘π’‘π’†π’“π’š π’Žπ’π’Žπ’†π’π’• 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒔𝒆𝒆 𝒐𝒖𝒓 π’π’Šπ’—π’†π’” π’Šπ’π’•π’†π’“π’•π’˜π’Šπ’π’Šπ’π’ˆ, 𝒐𝒖𝒓 π’…π’‚π’“π’Œπ’†π’”π’• 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒅𝒆𝒆𝒑𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒇𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒔 π’π’‚π’Šπ’… 𝒃𝒂𝒓𝒆 π’Šπ’ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’”π’•π’Šπ’π’ π’π’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’• π’‚π’Šπ’“.”

Though of course, nothing is ever as it seems, is it?

And without giving anything away, I just need to comment on the ending. Sure I was totally blindsided, but do I realllyyyyyy believe that ending?

Meh.

It’s questionable.

I felt like some conversations and relationships weren’t tied up. I wanted a convo between the murderer and…a prominent character to take place, but it didn’t. I wanted to see the TRUE feelings and thoughts of the murderer, but all I got was the confession and facts. But then again…that is the most authentic way to end a story like this, isn’t it? When do we ever really get the full details on murders and heinous crimes?

Maybe if it involves Ed Kemper, but he’s a unicorn.

Anyways.

This mystery kicked ass and finally got me out of my reading slump. It may be because there was murder in it, which seems to be my happy place lately (don’t you fucking judge me) and the only genre to keep me interested. But I will say, that little situation with Star and the conclusion of that was a bit…anti-climatic, no? Like realllyyy? That’s how that ties up? With a slapped on band-aid and a shrug?

Oh okay.

 

4 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · New Releases · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 2) by Suzanne Young

Girls with Razor Hearts

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

Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Plot: Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each otherβ€”and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughtsβ€”a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their pastβ€”and freedom for the girls still at Innovationsβ€”they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Opinion:

The Caregiver.

The Doll.

The Educator.

The Seductress.

The Companion.

The Rebel.

β€œ…the corporation created us to replace the girls in society who they couldn’t control.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

β€œWe were programmed to be obedient, but then we woke up.”

The girls have finally escaped Innovations Academy, along with the possessive and cruel men who promised to protect them. Having been bred to be obedient, subservient and to idolize men, the girls have finally awoken. They are no longer docile and afraid. They have found their sharp sticks, and they have procured their razor hearts. But what they didn’t expect upon leaving Innovations Academy, was that the outside world wasn’t going to be as welcoming and beautiful as they hoped. As the girls try to heal their bodies and hearts, they are pushed to find an investor in the academy that might be their ticket to tearing it all down. Though they have each other and immense love in their hearts, they soon realize that bad men weren’t just confined to the walls of the academy. That darkness lurks around every corner, in repulsive behavior and peer pressure. So the girls do what they do best…they fight.

Girls with kind Razor Hearts

Open your eyes, my father said.

The day I was born.

You will be sweet, he promised threatened

You will be beautiful

You will obey fight back

And then he I told me myself

Above all

You will have a kind razor heart

For that, they will love fear you

They will protect revere you

They will keep run from you

Because you belong to them no one

So be a girl to make them proud afraid

Girls with Razor Hearts is the second book in the amazing feminist sci-fi series, Girls with Sharp Sticks (see my review here). After learning the truth behind their pasts, and what really went on at Innovations, the girls are on the outside with a mission to take the corporation down and to save the girls they left behind. But as they try to navigate this new world, they are still tracked down by people close to the academy – like Leandra, the headmaster’s wife who is also like them, and Winston Weeks, a prominent figure in the company. Leandra says she also wants to take the corporation down but needs the girls to find the top secret investors who are keeping Innovations afloat. Unsure of who to trust, the girls go along with Leandra’s plan while also searching for a way to free their girls.

β€œI scream in my head when I see the scalpel in her hand. She brings it to the center of my chest and slices me down the middle. Then she reaches inside and pulls out a heart of razor blades.”

Girls with Sharp Sticks shredded my heart and made me ache for unbreakable female companionship.

It gave me hope and filled my heart, instantly making me love and care for these beautiful, spirited girls. And in Girls with Razor Hearts, I was happy to find that these girls were just as loving and compassionate as before. Their bond with one another is a fierce gentleness that I have sadly never experienced before. It is so pure and untouchable by darkness. No matter what, these girls look out for each other and their best interests. They only want the best for one another – to be loved, respected, accepted and free. Mena, Sydney, Marcella, Brynn and Annalise are each unique and have traits that show pieces of their hearts. Their sharp minds, their tenacity, their nurturing nature and unwavering resilience. No matter what befalls these girls, their loyalty to each other can never be broken.

β€œThe other girls are my strength, and I theirs. Together, we’re powerful.”

The plot in this second installment takes a drastic turn into a world that unfortunately closely mirrors our own. As the girls search for the son of an investor in a private school across the country, they realize the behaviors of the men from Innovations wasn’t just secluded to their former academy. They quickly become subjected to the cruel nature of boys who have been given too much power. Boys who take and abuse, and continue to without consequences or fear of being told on. The girls are put down and ridiculed while others look on, afraid to step in, and they are forced to play a game with the boys so they don’t make it worse for themselves.

β€œI’m sick of faking nice as a way to avoid violence, avoid menace.

Girls have to play nice or face the consequences.”

The behaviors from these boys is appalling and disgusting, but unfortunately, it isn’t something we as females have never experienced before. Suzanne Young has put the patriarchy under a blinding spotlight that shows the darkness and prejudices that are very true, even in today’s culture. It is sad and heartbreaking to see, but even more so because of the realistic nature of it all.

But while the message behind this book is extremely important, I feel like the story as a whole has slightly suffered due to unrelenting preaching that fills these pages.

I am a feminist to my core, but there is a point when a message becomes so repetitive that it becomes preaching. By the time I got halfway through this book, I felt like the disdain for the behaviors of men was being shoved down my throat. This series started out as a poetic tale that held important truths that were being discovered by beautiful souls, but it has turned into 390 pages of why men need to be taken down. In some cases the author says that men need to be taught, but then a few pages later it is being conveyed that they need to be destroyed. I am all for a book that educates and shines a light on the horrors that women face, but I don’t want the entire plot to be overshadowed completely. But that is what happened.

In Girls with Sharp Sticks, the reader is shown the fear and confusion that the girls face. It is raw and breaks down the realities and expectations that society places on girls, but it is delivered in innocence and sweetness. It felt so pure and honest, with an effortless nature that sang to my soul and stung my eyes with pride. But Girls with Razor Hearts seems to have lost that gentle ease. It felt forced, jagged and slightly aggressive in it’s voice. Instead of showing me the trauma that plagues the girls, I was told.

There were a lot of words and not enough feeling.

Though I am not as impressed with book two as I was with book one, I have high hopes that book three will tie things together and go back to the series’s roots. There was still a lot of thrilling and exciting things that happened in this sequel, with the return of characters and the introduction of new ones. But I feel like this might be the stepping stone to the next installment, and I am very interested to see where Suzanne Young takes this. This was a great sequel, but I really want to feel a bit more from book three.Β 

3.5 Stars

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Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Simon and Schuster

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

Together We Caught Fire

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

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

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

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

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

Opinion:

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

Mood Board 2

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

There’s just no unfeeling that, is there?

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

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

Mood Board 1

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

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

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

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

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

β€œI wanted to flatten his soul.”

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

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

β€œHow had I thought we could end in anything but ruin?”

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

β€œIt wasn’t about them at all, and never had been.”

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

5-stars

 

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~* Dream Casting *~

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Lane

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

 

Sadie

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

 

Grey

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

 

Connor

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

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #38: My Top 7 Anticipated February 2020 Book Releases

Why have a Top Ten when you can have a Top Seven?

 

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~* My 7 Anticipated February 2020 Book Releases *~

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1. What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

What Kind of Girl

If Alyssa B. Sheinmel writes something, I read it.

After she totally set my heart on fire with A Danger to Herself and Others, and made me weep to extinguish the flames, I have become a loyal reader of her mental health stories.

What Kind of Girl is about a girl who goes to her principal with a bruise on her face, expressing how her boyfriend hit her. But her fellow students don’t know what to believe. They find it odd that she went to the principal instead of the police, and that she stayed with her boyfriend even though he was hitting her.

This story is about the divide between a student body as they seek answers.

And in true Alyssa Sheinmel fashion, I just KNOW this is going to hurt me.

 

2. Malice by Pintip Dunn
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Science Fiction

Malice

Time travel and the threat of mass murder?! Hell to the Yes.

Malice is a Sci-fi thriller about a girl named Alice who is contacted by her future self (Older SelfOS) and told that a student at her school will grow up to wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

Apparently it’s filled to the brim with twists and blindsides, and there’s even a lovely romance to look forward to.

 

3. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (Book 1) by Holly Jackson
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

A Good Girls Guide to Murder

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was already released in 2019, but it looks like it’s getting a re-release in anticipation for the release of it’s sequelGood Girl, Bad Blood.

Five years ago a girl named Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh, before killing himself. It seemed to be a closed case, but now as a senior at the same high school the two teens attended, Pip can’t shake the feeling that there was more to the famous tragedy that plagued her town.

As she dives deeper into the secrets surrounding the strange case, Pip quickly learns that there is someone in her town who doesn’t want her to know the truth.

Did somebody say….

Veronica Mars?!

 

4. All the Stars and Teeth (Book 1) by Adalyn Grace
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Adventure/Pirates

All the Stars and teeth

Said to be for fans of SJM and Stephanie Garber, this series is packed with magic, adventure, mermaids and PIRATES!

All the Stars and Teeth is set in a world where seven islands represent that seven types of magic that a person is able to practice. Once a person chooses which form of magic they wish to study and master, they are then sent to that specific island.

But as the Princess of of Arida, Amora is expected to be a wielder of her Islands magic, Soul magic-the ability to read someones soul. But when she is tested to ensure she can handle the magic, she fails and is forced to flee. She then finds herself amid a pirate ship after striking a deal with a man named Bastian who claims he can help her reclaim her lost magic.

There seems to be A LOT to this story, and I am so excited to read it and get lost in this magical world.

 

5. Ember Queen (Ash Princess, Book 3) by Laura Sebastian
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Ember Queen

The third and FINAL book in the Ash Princess trilogy!

For those of who who haven’t even started Ash Princess yet, it’s about Princess Theodosia as she is forced to live in the kingdom of the Kaiser who wiped out her ENTIRE kingdom when she was just a wee lass. She is forced to pretend to have forsaken her people, but really, girl is just waiting for the opportune moment to kick some ass.

(See my review for Ash Princess here)

In Ember Queen, she is free and has a rebel army following her in her quest to take down the new enemy: the new Kaiserin. With Prinz SΓΈren as her hostage, she fights to prevail over the girl who she once considered family.

 

6. Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson
Release Date: February 11, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

Together We Caught Fire

I am SUPER excited about this release, which I am starting this weekend!

A big thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me an ARC of this little beauty, because it looks like it’s going to do a little heart ripping, and a little heart mending ❀

Together We Caught Fire is a tale of forbidden love.

Lane Jamison has had a crush on Grey McIntyre for longer than she cares to admit. But seeing as how he is dating her friend Sadie Hall, she knows them being together isn’t possible. But when her father suddenly announces that he is engaged, she finds out that his soon to be wife is the mother of none other than Grey McIntyre.

So when Grey and his mother move in, there is no denying the attraction building between Lane and Grey. But knowing that her feelings are forbidden, Lane turns to Sadie’s older brother Connor in the hopes of a distraction and a way to move on.

So ensues a tangle of emotions, a girl torn between two guys, and a whole bunch of messiness in between!

 

7. The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

The Shadows Between Us

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

In The Shadows Between Us, Alessandra is trying to kill the Shadow King in order to take the throne for herself. Though nobody really knows the true extent of the power that he possesses, Alessandra isn’t the only one plotting his murder. As multiple attempts on the Kings life are taken, Alessandra finds herself keeping him alive until he can make her his Queen.

But in true YA Fantasy/Romance fashion, nothing EVER goes as planned.

 

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Stay Witchy ❀

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Reviews · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

Songs from the Deep.jpg

 

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster, for an honest review.Β 

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Mystery

Plot: A girl searches for a killer on an island where deadly sirens lurk just beneath the waves in this gripping, atmospheric debut novel.

The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too lateβ€”for humans and sirens alike.

Opinion:

β€œA flash of silver under sea, when siren song hath taken me.

Absent of color, absent of light, absent of all that I knew in life.

Bolt the latch and watch the waves, pray sirens do not take me tonight.”

The inhabitants of Twillengyle island know the dangers that lurk below the surface of the waters. They are taught as children to be fearful of the harbor, to wear iron at all times, and to never go into the ocean. But the fascination of sirens brings yearly tourists to the island, which always ends in a death or three. But this year, an islander is found dead on the shore. A young boy with his throat slit clean. The police deem the cause to be an attack from the sirens, but Moira Alexander disagrees. Moira has always been enraptured by the sirens, just like her father, and believes the death of this boy is due to foul play. She enlists the help of the light keeper, Jude Osric to help track down the true killer. But Moira has no leads, and is finding it difficult to trust anyone. But she must act quickly, before the bodies start piling up.

Allow me to introduce to you, my newest eerie fantasy of 2019.

Move over The Wicked Deep!

There’s a new creepy island in town with deadly beings in the water, and a meddlesome female lead to make you swoon!

 

β€œPlaying for the sirens fills a dark and hollow yearning, a cavernous desire I’ve no other way to appease.”

The setting for this enchanting read is an island called Twillengyle, and my oh my, am I obsessed with it! It is oddly alluring island masked in fog and mystery, beckoning outsiders forward with a chilled bony finger. It whispers secrets on the wind, rains fear on its sandy beaches and coaxes sailors to the docks and out into the blue.

It gives me Sleepy Hollow tingles and caresses of Sparrow curses, but these waters aren’t filled with ghostly spirits enacting revenge. In this tale, songs flutter through the waves from the dark depths of the unknown, luring the souls foolish enough to walk unprotected. The sirens keep an alertness about the island and apprehension in the air, but it is the islanders who keep the darkest secrets.

β€œTwillengyle is a place to be embraced with one arm, with a dagger ready in the other hand. To be charmed by its magic is not the same as becoming its fool, Moira. Remember that.”

As soon as I began reading Songs from the Deep, I was hooked. I devoured this beauty in five hours, and all I can think is I need more. The writing was beautiful and eerie, and the historical fiction of the tale brought the creep factor up a notch. Each character was introduced in a manor where you can’t tell if they are good or evil, sincere or manipulative, like something straight out of a Stephen King novel. Who to trust, who to fear? Honestly, I’m not even sure I could tell you! The old-fashioned dialogue brings about an air of propriety and polite interactions, but mix that with a couple slit throats and you’ve got blood coating the sandy shores.

β€œNow I’ll have his blood on the soles of my boots.”

If you, like me, love a meddlesome girl, then you will surely adore our Moira Alexander. She is strength in a petticoat, authority in stockings, and a fiercely skillful young lady. Moira is a character who knows exactly who she is and what she believes in, and wouldn’t think twice about apologizing for either. She has strong morals and opinions, which she has no shame in voicing, but she does so in a regal and sophisticated way. As a child, Moira followed in her father’s footsteps of having a keen interest and love for the sirens. So much so, that she spends her days sitting on the cliffs playing songs on her violin to the creatures below.

Β β€œWhen she disappears beneath the waves, I feel pinned to the moment. I replay it like a song, over and over, until it’s familiar as a heartbeat.”

But like all the islanders of Twillengyle, Moira has secrets of her own, and this one involves her former best friend and the love-interest of this haunting story: Jude Osric.

β€œOn one dark bough, I curse my efforts to drain our friendship bloodless, when neither of us desired the ax.”

Jude is the epitome of good-natured and sweetness! So many times in YA Fantasy we have a bad boy character with secrets, regrets, a mournful past of death and dark hair with gray eyes. Well…the secrets and mournful past of death is still there, but you see where I’m going with this. Jude is kind and honest. He has an innocence etched into his bones that even the loneliness of his lighthouse can’t extinguish. He is an upstanding gent, an endearing friend and he’s just… pure goodness. This is one male love interest I could jump into the ocean for.

But obviously, the real treat of this story is the plot.

This siren story is one you need to buy now and devour. I know so many of you have been in an endless hangover from The Wicked Deep, and this is the cure! Not only is it a fantastic mystery full of twists and turns that keep you guessing until the end, but it ends on a note that makes you feel eerily complete. If a book was ever written for my soul, it would be this. This world, these characters, and the mysteries of the waters speak to my very being. If I could crawl into these pages, my heart would have finally reached bliss.

β€œDisquiet makes a home inside my heart.”

5-stars

 

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