Binding of Bindings · Book Promo

Binding of Bindings : 10 YA Books with Unique Concepts

Wanna get weird?

 

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~* 10 YA Books with Unique Concepts *~

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1. Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace, Book 1) by Kathryn Purdie
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Bone Criers Moon

Bone Crier’s Moon is the perfect way to kick off this ‘Unique Concepts‘ post, especially because it’s about a tribe of women who kill their soulmates so they can ferry souls across the gates of Heaven and Hell.

The women are called Leurress and their purpose is to guide the Chained and Unchained to the gates they belong to. In order to become a ferrier, each Leurress has to acquire three Grace Bones from animals they hunt and kill themselves. The “Graces” they receive from the animal – like the speed of a rabbit, the sight of a hawk, the stamina of…something – become abilities they then posses as long as they wear the bones.

Once they acquire all three bones, they must complete the final ritual. Using the sacred Bone Flute that opens the gates on ferrying night, the Leurress must play the flute and lure her soulmate to a bridge…and kill him.

(See my review here)

 

2. Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Dooms Day Preppers (I told you it was a genre now)

Last girls

I just read Last Girls last week, and it was fantastic. It’s a story of three sisters who live on a compound with other Dooms Day Preppers, where they train in hand to hand combat, hunting, survival skills, making bombs…you name it.

But there’s a story within this story, and it is epic.

The Juniper sisters are the “weird sisters” wherever they go. Honey is the responsible older sister whose job is to keep her sisters in line and together. Birdie is the middle sister who does what she wants, when she wants. She is the brash and fiery sister. Blue, the youngest, has cobalt blue hair and is the calm that holds the girls together. She also has a tendency to say odd little prophetic sentences at all times of the day and night.

(See my review here)

 

3. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

All your Twisted Secrets

All Your Twisted Secrets:

SAW meets THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

Six seniors are locked in a room with a bomb, a syringe and a note instructing them to pick one person to kill. Before time is up, they must choose one person to inject with the lethal liquid, or they all die.

And Oh. My. Shit. is that ending going to blow your mind.

(See my review here)

 

4. The Hazel Wood series by Melissa Albert
Genre: YA/Fantasy

I personally thought the first book in this series was better, but the concept is still kickass.

It has all the twisted Grimm’s Brothers vibes you could want, and instead of it being a book of bubbly fairy tales and happy endings, it’s very much like a Once Upon a Time version where everything is actually quite fucked up.

The Hazel Wood is an estate where writer Althea Proserpine lives, and where she writes the haunting stories set in an eerie world called The Hinterland. Alice has never read the stories her grandmother wrote, and instead has been outrunning bad luck with her mother for years. But when her mother suddenly disappears, Alice is forced to find her grandmother, becomes it seems that her mother has been taken to a place that wasn’t supposed to be real – The Hinterland.

The world building is so cool, and the fairy tales are jacked up, so naturally I loved it. The Night Country was meh because it turns into more of an Urban Fantasy, but the world building was still amazing.

(See my reviews for The Hazel Wood here and The Night Country here)

 

5. A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

A Danger to Herself and Others

THIS book.

What a psychological whirlwind this was.

It’s about a girl who is institutionalized for something that happened at school with one of her friends. She claims she didn’t do it and knows that she just has to prove that she is sane so they will let her go home.

But the truth of what happened is so unexpected and so heart-clenching...

…it was immediately one of my new favorite books, and still is.

READ THIS.

(See my review here)

 

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

Red Hood

Red Hood is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, but so different and bizarre that you’ll be saying “wtf” while grinning from ear to ear.

This is a straight-up feminist retelling. And when I say feminist, I mean

FEMINIST.

It dives deep into those womanly hardships of feeling unclean, unimportant, unsafe and unworthy. It is unhinging how gritty and purely raw this story is, and the author doesn’t hold back at all.

In this story, men and boys who wish to hurt women are the wolves. But our main character Bisou, and her grandmother, are bestowed with a special gift that allows them to sense the wolves and kill them. But the real magic about this book, is that the shining star of it is PERIODS.

Yeah. I’m not kidding.

(See my review here)

 

7. The Door to January by Gillian French
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery

The Door to January

The Door to January is a really interesting YA Paranormal/Mystery combo in that it has elements of spirits, murder, a fantasy door to the past, and very serious trauma.

It is about a girl named Natalie who went through a very traumatic experience in the woods two years prior to the reader meeting her. Now, after her family had moved away, Natalie keeps experiencing dreams of a door in a house she thinks is from back home. So when she ventures back to her hometown, and she and her cousin investigate the old house, spirits start to communicate with her.

 

This book is bursting with multiple plots and is completely unique.

(See my review here)

 

8. The Life of Death by Lucy Booth
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

The Life of Death

Ugh. What a whirlwind this story was!

The Life of Death is just like it sounds, it’s about the life of death – or the “Grim Reaper“.

As a woman is about to be hung for accusations of being a witch, she is visited in her cell by HIM. He offers her a deal, a chance at a life after death as death itself. And so she accepts.

And so for the next 500 years Elizabeth acts as death, guiding souls across the threshold. But in their dying moments, Elizabeth takes on the face and memories of a loved one that the dying most desires to see. She guides them along with love and compassion.

But when Elizabeth comes across a man whose wife she just helped cross over, she is suddenly struck by love and wants out. So HE gives her a task: HE will assign her five lives that she must take, and then she will be free.

And this is where things get fucked up and sad.

(See my review here)

 

9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Fantasy

The Ten Thousand Doors of january

What a lovely and fantastical story this is!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is all about doors to other worlds, bad men trying to destroy the doors and keep the beautiful secrets inside for themselves, and a young woman trying to get to her father. It’s a tale of EPIC romance, and a coming-of-age fantasy period-piece that NEEDS to be a movie NOW!

Probably one of the best stories I have read in my lifetime, for its exquisite writing and amazing plot.

Just go buy it.

(See my review here)

 

10. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Genre: YA/Horror/Mystery/LGBT

Wilder Girls

I know a lot of you have seen this one and read it already, but it deserves a spot on this list for it’s astounding yet horrific uniqueness.

Wilder Girls is the feminist Lord of the Flies that you didn’t know you needed. And as I said in my review:

This book will make your skin shift.

Though this is in the Horror category, and is definitely creepy, it isn’t a scary story. It’s creepy in the sense of science fiction in that a school for girls has been infected with a virus they call The Tox. And the Tox effects each girl differently when the flare-ups hit them – from seconds spines and hearts, scales growing on the hands or face to lesions or skin bubbling. The story tracks how the girls live among one another trying to survive, and then figuring out how to escape once the government stops sending them aid.

But the best part of this book is the unflinching unity between these girls who look like monstrous creatures, but have respect towards one another and don’t even bat an eye to one another over physical abnormalities.

Now THAT is an enviable world to live in.

(See my review here)

 

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Stay Witchy

 

 

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Book Promo · Cover Reveal

Lyrics & Curses (Cursed Hearts, Book 1) by Candace Robinson

Book Title: Lyrics & Curses
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Series: Cursed Hearts
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Authors: Candace Robinson
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Release Date: November 10, 2020
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~.:* Cover Reveal *:.~

I have paired up with author Candace Robinson to reveal the cover of the first book in her newest series!

THIS is the gorgeous cover for the upcoming release of Book 1 in the Cursed Hearts series – Lyrics and Curses! It is an YA Fantasy brimming with fantastical creatures and 1980 nostalgia.

It’s Stranger Things meets Pretty in Pink, set in the vibrant 80s and bursting with bright colors and secret curses. It’s a perfect blend of music and fantasy, and it is sure to be epic!

~Click here to add it to your Goodreads shelf!~

~Synopsis below~

Lyrics and Curses

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Book Synopsis

Lark Espinoza could get lost in her music—and she’s not so sure anyone in her family would even care to find her. Her trendy, party-loving twin sister and her mother-come-lately Beth, who’s suddenly sworn off men and onto homemaking, don’t understand her love of cassette tapes, her loathing of the pop scene, or her standoffish personality. For outcast Lark, nothing feels as much like a real home as working at Bubble’s Oddities store and trying to attract the attention of the cute guy who works at the Vinyl shop next door—the same one she traded lyrical notes with in class.

Auden Ellis silences the incessant questions in his own head with a steady stream of beats. Despite the unconditional love of his aunt-turned-mother, he can’t quit thinking about the loss of his parents—or the possibility he might end up afflicted with his father’s issues. Despite his connection with lyric-loving Lark, Auden keeps her at arm’s length because letting her in might mean giving her a peek into something dangerous.

When two strangers arrive in town, one carrying a mysterious, dark object and the other playing an eerie flute tune, Lark and Auden find that their painful pasts have enmeshed them in a cursed future. Now, they must come to terms with their budding attraction while helping each other challenge the reflection they see in the mirror. If they fail, they’ll be trapped for eternity in a place beyond reality.

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Social Media Tags:
Instagram: @literarydust
Website: https://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @literarydust
Goodreads: Candace Robinson

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #45: My Top 10 Anticipated May 2020 Book Releases

Yeah, I know it’s May 9th already and I know some of these have already released.

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~* My Top 10 Anticipated May 2020 Book Releases *~

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1. Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Doomsday Preppers

Last girls

Is ‘Doomsday Preppers‘ even a genre?

I’m a liiiiiiittle late to starting this, considering I got an ARC, but I was moving across state lines okay?

Give a lady a break!

Last Girls centers on three sisters who live on a secret compound in the woods of Washington, working and training along fellow doomsday preppers. They grow their own food, train in tactical combat, learn survival skills and always look out for one another. But when a threat from inside the compound threatens their safety, their prepping suddenly becomes reality.

2. The Betrothed (Book 1) by Kiera Cass
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

The Betrothed

Our girl Kiera Cass is BACK with another whimsical, royalty romance!!

If you guys loved The Selection series like I did, then reading this is obviously going to be a no-brainer for us, right?!

The Betrothed is the opposite of the classic trope of:

Commoner meets Prince-It’s love at first sight!-Commoner becomes PrincessYAY, Happily Ever After”

This tale is about a young woman named Lady Hollis Brite (so fancy) who has been vying for the King’s attention, like all other courtiers, for years. So when the King declares his love for Hollis, she is surprised but thrilled.

But her new life as Queen isn’t all ballgowns, tall wigs and cake.

And when she meets a commoner that can see into her soul…well, you know where this is going.

3. The Iron King (The Iron Fey, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa
Original Release Date: January 19, 2010
Rerelease Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy – Fae/Romance

The Iron King

The Iron King has been on my TBR for SO LONG, so I’m using this 10th Anniversary rerelease as an excuse to actually read it.

And I just read the synopsis again and…can you say Cruel Prince vibes?

*cough* uhh…Holly Black?

Meghan Chase is almost sixteen and she has never felt quite right. When she was just six, her father disappeared without a trace, and now ten years later, her brother also vanishes. After learning that she is the secret daughter of a faery king who is in the midst of a brutal war, and with a young and cold prince catching her eye, Meghan fights to get her brother back.

4. The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel
Release Date: …??? UHHHHH????
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Sexual and Domestic

The Sky is Mins

Uhm…What the actual release date?

Explain me this:

Netgalley Release Date as of October 2019: May 12, 2020

Goodreads Release Date: February 2020

Netgalley updated Release Date: July 14, 2021

Oh, okay.

The Sky is Mine is going to be a painful one, so buckle in but don’t act surprised.

You know I love heart lacerations.

This is a story about a daughter and a mother who are quietly fighting their own issues of abuse. Seventeen-year-old Lizzie has been abandoned by her bestfriend and a boy is threatening to release pictures of her. But while she quietly suffers, her mother is also fighting battles with Lizzie’s abusive stepfather.

This is a book about two women who are silenced and learn to find their voices, and I am 100% here for it.

5. Storm & Fury (Harbinger, Book 1) by Jennifer Armentrout
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Genre: YA/Romance/Fantasy-Demons & Shapeshifters/Paranormal-Ghosts

Storm and Fury

My bookstagram friend Chivon@C_Booksncoffee is downright obsessed with Jennifer Armentrout.

I can’t even begin to explain the lengthy, detailed, passionate and hilarious Bookstagram stories this girl posts, ranting and raving about Jennifer Armentrout and her AMAZING characters and AMAZING books. So naturally, this is all over my radar.

Storm and Fury has gargoyles, demons, spirits and a badass female lead. Trinity Marrow is going blind but she has the ability to communicate with spirits from beyond the veil. But since her power is enshrouded in a dangerous and mysterious secret, she lives on a compound that is guarded by gargoyles called Wardens in order to be protected by demons that hunt her.

Then a guy comes along, and I’m sure he’s hot, and I’m sure he helps her slay some shit, but we all know she is the one that will be doing the epic demon murking and Hell ass kicking.

6. A Light in the Dusk (Charlie Travesty, Book 2) by Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal-Vampires

A Light in the Dark

A Light in the Dusk is book 2 in the Charlie Travesty series, and you can thank the all-holy blood suckers and these two authors for releasing these books back, to back, to BACK!

Since book 1, A Whisper in the Dark, JUST came out last week, I’m not going to give away the synopsis for book 2. I’m just going to give a synopsis of book 1 so that you can come be addicted with me, and then we can walk off into the misty cemetery dusk-set together. ❤

As a Princess of the royal family of Vampires that rules over a city where humans are enslaved to the hierarchy that is the immortal, Charlotte Travesty is about to embark on the Awakening – where a vampire wakes and their eye color decides which cast they will move to. But when Charlie awakens, she is banished from her home and slapped with slavery tattoos – for she is half human.

HELLO Underworld vibes.

7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
Release Date: May 15, 2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

What Lies Between Us

I came across What Lies Between Us on a whim, and though I am completely concerned and worried about reading it, I have to have it.

It’s a Suspense/Mystery/Thriller that has been reviewed with such phrases like “What the fuck did I just read?” and “Never going to look at a mother/daughter relationship the same again” or “Considered me damaged“.

Did somebody say…damaged?

In this twisted tale, every other night Nina and Maggie have dinner together…but when dinner is over, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic and CHAINS her BACK UP. Because apparently, the things that Maggie inflicted on Nina are unforgivable.

8. The Ballad of Songsbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, Book 0) by Suzanne Collins
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Genre: YA/Science Fiction/Dystopia

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Oh…

So this is about…President Snow

…as a young boy…?

9. A Memory in the Flame (Charlie Travesty, Book 3) by Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal-Vampires

Memory in the Flame

Ahhhhhhhh shiiiiiit!

Yes! You read that correctly.

Jessi Elliot and Kelsey Sutton are releasing two installments of the same series in the SAME MONTH! A Memory in the Flame is book three in the Charlie Travesty series, and don’t worry. I’m still not giving away spoilers.

But here’s another Underworld gif to put you back in the mood.

10. Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Of Silver and Shadow

Of Silver and Shadow is a my favorite kind of Fantasy tale.

One of royalty, magic wielders, rebellion and murderous female leads.

Set in a city where magic is outlawed, Ren makes a living as a petty thief and pit fighting while also trying to cover up the fact that she is a silver wielder. But when a rebel leader discovers her secret, he convinces her to join his cause to overthrow the King.

But while Ren and the rebels try to make their way across the castle walls, a group of brutal warriors who fight in the name of the King have a bet going to find the rebel leader in order to become the King’s right hand.

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Stay Witchy

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Binding of Bindings · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #42: March 2020 Book Wrap-up

I may be slightly behind in posting my March Book Wrap-up
…but come on. It’s practically the apocalypse around here.
So.

 

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~* March 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. Frozen Beauty by Lex Hillyer
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery

Frozen Beauty

Definitely not my most favorite read of March, but also not the worst.

Frozen Beauty had all the promise in the world to be a dreary and eerie, femi-powered contemporary mystery laced in sorrow and sadness. But instead it was just a bit…

It centers on the Malloy sisters and the strange and sudden death of the eldest, who is found half-naked and frozen to death. The sisters thought they knew everything about one another, but as they begin digging into what really happened… the secrets start to unravel. 

I wanted to love this, especially because of that cover art, but I just didn’t care for it much. I was able to get through it quickly and easily, but the characters just felt so BLAH. The ending was a bit predictable, and there was some weird/awkward insta-love that happened that I don’t even need to get into.

3 Stars

(See my review here)

 

2. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

All Your Twisted Secrets

THIS BOOK!

WOW!

All Your Twisted Secrets is a YA blend of The Breakfast Club and Saw. Six teens are invited to a scholarship dinner in a banquet room, where they are locked inside. On the table are three items: a syringe filled with a liquid, a bomb with a countdown clock, and a note indicating that they must pick a person to killor they all die.

Yeah. I know.

But just when I thought I had this little beauty figured out

Oh yeah. Epic.

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

3. All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

All the Pretty Things

….

…there’s just not a lot to say here.

All the Pretty Things STARTED as a mystery set at an amusement park where an employee/well-known kid in town dies. It had a little bit of the Adventureland vibes that I was hoping for, but what it turned into was just…

…it’s not good.

If you like reading books where your face is scrunched up the whole time like this:

Then yeah, be my guest. And enjoy that father.

He’s a real gem.

2.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

4. Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Sparrow

Beautiful.

Sorrowful.

Stunning.

Sparrow is a YA twist on Black Swan that will surely cause tears to flow down your precious cheeks. It is about a ballerina who finds herself in an abusive relationship, and and shows the what lays broken on the ground after things go too far.

Books on abusive and manipulative behavior are so important and I am a big advocate for them, especially when they showcase different forms of abuse. But what makes this story truly important, is the fact that it doesn’t just show our main characters POV and how she is affected. It sheds light on the emotional toll it takes on her family, friends and those close to her.

It is beautiful, and though there were some parts that I found unnecessary to the story, it is a book worth reading.

4 Stars

(See my review here)

 

5. Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Sharp Sticks

I have been ranting about this AMAZING book for a year!

Every chance I get I am recommending it to my bookstagram girlfriends and begging them to read it! And since the sequel to it released in March, I decided to reread it to get a refresher before starting my ARC! Girls with Sharp Sticks is a YA Feminist tale with a twist that will blow your mind, while simultaneously making your heart rip itself apart because your feelings will be feeling FEELINGS.

It’s about a group of girls who attend Innovations Academy. Here they are bred to be obedient, to listen to the male figures in their life (because they know best) and to stay as beautiful as possible. If the girls misbehave, they are redirected and given therapy immediately, until they have been…realigned.

The story is about the girls waking up from their fog, and realizing that the place they are in does not have their best interests at heart.

5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

6. Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Razor Hearts

I had SUCH high hopes for the second book to Girls with Sharp Sticks, and I devoured Girls with Razor Hearts in such a short time. But it wasn’t because it was amazing and held my attention to the point that I couldn’t eat or sleep without knowing what would happen.

No…it was more like I kept reading in the hopes that SOMETHING would happen. But nothing really did. It was just a bit of a blah read next to the first book where the author focused way too much on shoving toxic patriarchy down my throat. This sequel just felt like preaching. It felt forced and didn’t have the same flow and heart behind it’s message as it did before.

The story just lost its way a bit here, and I am hoping that it will come back around in the next book. This seemed more like a “buffer book” or a stepping stone to set up for the next installment, so fingers crossed that it improves!

3.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Thorn (Dauntless Path, Book 1) by Intisar Khanani
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling – The Goose Girl

Thorn

THORN!

Ah, what a GEM of a retelling!

I know I’m not the only one that has been overjoyed with these countless fairy tale retellings coming out, so when I saw Thorn I knew I had to have it. And after reading Bloodleaf last year and not liking it, I was hoping that this Goose Girl retelling would be better.

And ohhhhhh child, it SO was!

You know the story: A Princess is married off to a Prince in another kingdom, and upon traveling there, her handmaid steals her body and poses as her, which forces the real Princess into a new life as a goose girl.

In this rendition, the same happens and so much more! The story keeps the atmospheric old-timey feel to it and spins in a layer of eeriness that perfectly blends with the poetic nature of the tale. It was a fantastic read and one I was fairly surprised by, because though I was hoping this would be a win, I had my doubts

But here I am, DYING for the next book!

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

8. House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, Book 1) by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: New Adult/Fantasy/Romance

House of Earth and Blood

Only 60 pages in and SJM had me, and everyone else, like

And then we get a little farther and it’s a whole lot of

A ton of

And then back to

Beyond. Epic.

5 Stars

 

9. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary

All the Places Ivve Cried in Public

As I said above, a book that focuses on the several other types of abuse and manipulation that go on, are stories that need to be read.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public is in the style of Thirteen Reasons Why where a girl recounts the pivotal moments that lead to the end of her relationship with her boyfriend. They are all moments that she has cried, either from joy, despair, or confusion. But each place, and each moment is a clue into how they broke up and what happened between them.

This story was like a punch in the gut for me, because so many aspects of it were familiar or sparked a memory. For those of us who have experienced relationships like this, and for those who haven’t, the importance and reminder to look for signs of hurtful and manipulative behavior needs to be shown. This book does just that.

Every teenager needs to read this.

3.5 Stars

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

 

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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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Book Reviews · Netgalley · New Releases · Upcoming Releases

Book Review: All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault

All the pretty things

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s, via Netgalley for an honest review. 

Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: For Ivy, summer means roller-coaster season, spinning cotton candy at the Fabuland amusement park, and hanging out with her best friend, Morgan. But this summer is different.

One morning, Morgan finds a dead body. It’s their former classmate and coworker Ethan. To make matters worse, Morgan is taken to a hospital psych ward only days later, and she’s not saying much–not even to Ivy.

The police claim that Ethan simply took a bad fall, but Ivy isn’t convinced and realizes it’s up to her to get answers. What she finds is unsettling–it’s clear that some people aren’t being honest about Ethan’s last night at Fabuland. Including Morgan. And the more secrets Ivy uncovers, the closer she gets to unraveling dark truths that will change her life forever.

Opinion:

Wow.

I mean…

…what the actual f**k?

There were about a dozen different ways I saw this story going, but the way it DID go?

Wow.

This lovely little tale is told by Ivy, the daughter of the owner of the Fabuland amusement park. After her grandparents had successfully opened multiple chains of their popular doughnut shop, her father decided to think bigger and purchased Fabuland. Now Ivy works every summer at the park in the cotton candy booth, surrounded by smells of fried food and the screams of terrified and joyous park-goers zipping by on roller coasters. It is usually always a summer to remember, and this summer is no different. While out of town with her mother, Ivy gets a call that a well-known young man and Fabuland employee, Ethan, had been found dead. The police suspect that he had fallen off the train trestle in a nearby park on his walk home, but when Ivy’s best friend Morgan alludes that something more shocking may have happened, Ivy begins digging for answers.

Who doesn’t love an amusement park and a little murder, right? The smell of freshly popped kettle corn, fried dough, and colorful cotton candy mixed with elated screaming from a roller-coaster drowning out the real screams of someone being killed?!

*Drip. Drip. Drip.*

Is that rain I feel coming down?!

Nope! It’s the blood draining from a body!

No.

That’s not how this story goes at all.

“Sometimes I wonder if you’re scared of the wrong things.”

All the Pretty Things was NOTHING like I expected. Even more than halfway through the book I was assuming it was going to turn out one way, and then it veered off the tracks and plummeted into a crowd of chaos and epicly wretched confessions. I wasn’t blindsided per se, I was just…left completely speechless. But even after I sat there in my super uncomfortable chair with my mouth a little agape from shock, and slightly hinged to the side from disgust, I knew I was going to have trouble expressing my feelings on this one.

*Sigh*

Here goes.

Ivy is seventeen. She seems chill, seems responsible, and seems patient as hell with a dad like that. But that’s pretty much all I know about her. Yeah, no s**t. That’s about it. Sure, I knew her parents were divorced, and that her brother didn’t come back from college that summer to work at Fabuland, like he normally did. And okay yes, I also knew her best friend Morgan was the one who found Ethan’s body in the park (YUHIKES). But apart from that, the girl really doesn’t have much of a personality or any scheme of emotions other than blasé and MORE BLASÉ.

I’m almost offended on Kristen Stewart’s behalf for me even putting this Kristen Stewart gif in here, as if I’m assuming Kristen Stewart has no personality.

Which I’m not

I just really needed a gif of a girl in a carnival.

But the point is this: Ivy is a little bit dull, and honestly, it’s okay that she is for most of the book. But by the time that shocking ending came around, I NEEDED the girl to give me SOMETHING! But instead, she had BARELY. ANY. REACTION. to what had just happened. All I got was a little bit of shocked realization, her going to get closure from a friend, and a confirmation of some past childhood memories from her even more under-developed mother. Suffice it to say, the characters in this book are about as interesting as cardboard. They are developed just enough to be passable in a story, but you never make a connection to anyone or end up caring about their well-being. There’s no substance, no feeling and no emotion.

But what I really need to talk about, is Ivy’s father.

“I always knew you wanted to stay small.

Just a small person, I guess.”

The guy is a jackass and had me cringing five pages in. He is written in such an awkward way that doesn’t seem at all intentional, and every time he had a “scene” my face smooshed itself up into this formation of disgust, annoyance and perma-confusion. It was like the author was trying to make him cool and witty, but was failing miserably at it. He’s just that type of person that has so many personalities but can’t seem to pick one to run with. And I kid you not, the entire page of notes I have written for this book is all about her dad and my feelings on him from beginning till end, and that’s all!

Here, let me show you:

Ivy’s dad is legit f***ing creepy and disgusting.

He just drooled over a twenty-year-olds ass…nice.

He is super annoying and all over the place.

He legit just called his employee a dumbass. Twice.

So. Much. Crude. S**t.

Okay this guys is seriously so f***ing creepy, I can’t stand him.

What an asshat.

His offhand comments are so random and weird, it makes me super uncomfortable.

IS THIS GUY EVEN A PERSON?!?

 

 

Oh.

Look. I know this review probably doesn’t make a lick of sense to you, but don’t worry. I don’t even know what I just read. Which is upsetting, because it’s not like this is a horrible book by any means. It was just…strange. The characters felt thrown together, the premise was not even the actual premise because it was just a cloak and dagger show for what the real premise was, and the ending didn’t give me enough clarity or leave me feeling like it was securely tied up. I think the only thing that saved this book for me was that it was set in an amusement park, and I was so curious to figure out how Ethan died.

But at least there were some good quotes.

“It had been here from this perspective the whole time – creaking away in the background, behind all the good-natured screaming. I’d always heard it, humming along in the distance, day in and day out.

I was just afraid to open my eyes and look.”

 

2.5 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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