Binding of Bindings · Book Wrap-up

Binding of Bindings #49: July 2020 Book Wrap-up

I’m not going to lie…
the reading game has been tough AF lately.
It’s been month after month of no desire to read, less than thrilling books when I do read, and the relentless drooping of my eyelids when skimming lines.
But finally, it’s as if something has pulled me from the depths of my cookie over-eating, refusals to workout, and dark hole of The End of the F***ing World reruns, and has chosen to give me a gift
A new lease on life and a love for books about murder, stalkings and cannibalism.

 

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~* July 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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I know we’re halfway into August.

Just let it happen.

 

1. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling/LGBT

Girl Serpent

Okay so this one obviously isn’t about cannibalism or stalking, but you’ll notice that as this list goes on, it starts to take a dramatic shift from YA Fantasy to literal cannibalism.

What can I say?

The heart wants what the heart wants.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was pretty mehhhhhh. It’s a mix retelling of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and some other fairytale called Rappaccini’s Daughter. It’s about a Princess who is cursed with the touch of poison, and is forced into solitude so that the royals can keep her secret hidden…and so she doesn’t, you know…

kill someone with a poke.

What I had hoped would be an epic tale of sorrow and isolation of a Princess, and a slow-burn love interest where they both know they can’t have one another…was more like eye-rolling insta-love and too many instances where they could get around touching each other.

Meh. Not my jam.

3 Stars

(See my review here)

 

2. Accidental by Alex Richards
Genre: YA/Contemporary

Accidental

โ€œ๐‘ฉ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’•๐’˜๐’Š๐’„๐’† ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’š๐’๐’–โ€™๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Š๐’•๐’–๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’.โ€

Ugh. This book.

Accidental is a tear-inducer and makes your teenage self want to crawl under your blankies and wail like a wounded antelope.

It’s the story of a teenage girl who has been living with her grandparents since she was a young girl, when her mother was killed in a car accident and her father bailed. But the reemergence of her father brings secrets to the surface, and this one being that Johanna’s mother didn’t actually die in a car accident.

She was killed by a gunshot wound, and Johanna was the one that pulled the trigger.

It’s about how Johanna comes to terms with something she did as a very young child. An event that she doesn’t remember, but one that changes her life forever. She is thrust into guilt for killing her mother, for taking away the only daughter her grandparents had, and for being the reason that they had to take her in.

This character goes through some serious pits of self-loathing…and damn if I wasn’t living for every second of it.

Obviously gun control is the big theme here, but don’t worry. BOTH sides of this debate are represented.

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

3. Seasons of the Storm (Book 1) by Elle Cosimano
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Seasons of the Storm

I read this in early July and I still haven’t reviewed it.

Does that tell you anything?

The plot for this book is SICK, which is the whole reason I requested it.

Seasons of the Storm is about seasons being embodied by people, and each time it becomes a new season, the coming season has to KILL the current season in order for their time to start.

Summer kills Spring.

Autumn kills Summer.

Winter kills Autumn.

Spring kills Winter.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t WOW at all.

It’s a story that has multiple characters that the reader has a chance to connect with and become invested in, but instead of their stories and personalities shining through, all we really get is that annoying trope of every pair coupling off.

The main plot is these “seasons” wanting to escape and live a life outside of this world they were brought into. Where there are constantly killing or being killed.

But their escape is rushed, and everything after their escape from the facility was soooooo BORING.

It was like a bad Maze Runner.

2.5 Stars

 

4. The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

The Summer I Drowned

Another book from early July that I have yet to review.

I haven’t decided on a rating for this book yet, and probably won’t until my review. But I will say this…

The Summer I Drowned was a bit forgettable, but still pretty attention grabbing.

It’s not a bad book by any means though!

It’s about a girl who comes back to her hometown after being away for five years. When she was a kid, she fell off a cliff’s edge and into the ocean where she almost drowned. Once a huge swimmer and lover of the water, now Olivia has a deep fear of going anywhere near it.

After countless years of therapy, she decides that going back to her hometown for the Summer (where it all happened) would be great for her healing process.

But when she arrives back, expecting her old friendships to be exactly the same, she realizes that she isn’t the only one who has changed.

The conclusion is actually quite creative and interesting, and definitely unexpected. It makes you question what you read and the main character, which is really all we want in a mystery/thriller isn’t it? But when it comes to that romance? UGH.

Gag me.

 

5. The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn
Genre: Adult/Horror/Thriller

The Shuddering

A Blizzard and cabin in the woods?

Check.

Group of adults focused entirely too much on themselves?

Check.

Wendigo-like creatures spraying red across the serene snowy landscape, butchering human bodies and expertly planning how they will get their prey?

Check.

The Shuddering is basically a fucked-up version of Until Dawn, but in book form and without Rami Malek.

*sad face*

It was the first pick in my newest book club:

If You Like Cannibalism.

Cute, right?

Five adults go out to a cabin as a last get-together before one of them moves to another country. But while there, in the dead of winter, they all start to get picked off.

One by one.

Your typical horror, right?

How one of these characters gets killed is sooooo beyond fucked. Beyond twisted, BEYOND DEMENTED…but oh so good.

5 Stars

 

6. I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

I killed zoe spanos

I Killed Zoe Spanos was another great YA mystery/thriller that I can add to my list of books that were just done right.

The story centers on the disappearance of a girl named Zoe Spanos, who vanished on New Year’s Eve from the Hamptons without a trace. The following summer, a girl named Anna Cicconi arrives in the Hamptons for a job as a nanny, and as a way to take a break from the partying she was doing in Brooklyn.

But when Anna arrives and begins to learn about the disappearance of this girl Zoe, she also learns how eerily similar the too look. It’s not long before Anna obsessively begins finding out more on this missing girl, and eventually…

…she ends up confessing to murdering her.

The story flips back between the summer when Anna arrives, and to a few months after her confession. But a local refuses to believe Anna is responsible for Zoe’s death, so she takes it upon her self to find answers.

Seriously, what a trip.

I had suspicions about where this would go, and some were correct. But where it actually ended up? I didn’t foresee that. And to be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the ending because it felt a little too forced and unbelievable, and I wanted things between certain characters to be tied up.

But overall, a solid mystery.

4 Stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Genre: Adult/Thriller/Mystery

Our Kind of Cruelty

OKAY.

On to the good shit

Stalkers.

July’s pick for the Psycho Sloth Book Club was Our Kind of Cruelty, and I seem to be one of the only people in the group who actually liked it.

If you don’t know about the Psycho Sloths – we all fell in love with Joe Goldberg from YOU and his stalkery yet totally justifiable means of murdering people who just aren’t good influences on the women he loves.

We love his passion. His dedication. His heart and soul!

And especially that Penn Badgley plays him in the show.

He’s a lover, not a killer.

Anyways, now the book club has turned into a stalker extravaganza!

Enter: Mike Hayes.

Mike is a sexy man with a great bod, a successful job and an unflinching loyalty and love for his girlfriend Verity. He works long hours to provide for her, built their dream home and keeps it the way she likes and always thinks of her first.

The only problem is that Verity is engaged to someone else.

Woe is Mike.

But the reason Mike continues to pursue Verity is because he thinks they are still playing Crave – a game they made up when they were dating where Verity would enter a club alone, and when a guy came up to hit on her, Mike would intervene and then they’d get all hot and heavy.

This isn’t just a tale of loving from afar though. This shit gets WILD.

Even now, I am so unsure of what the truth is. Is Mike crazy? Or is Verity just a bitch? I DON’T KNOW! But I will say this…

…I’m just trying to find my Crave partner.

4 Stars

 

8. Brother by Ania Ahlborn
Genre: Adult/Horror/Thriller

Brother

Hey,

Literally, the best for last.

This book means EVERYTHING to me, okay?

EVERYTHING!

It was the SECOND book in one month for the If You Like Cannibalism Book Club, and lemme tell you hooooney

So. Much. Cannibalism.

I feel complete. Almost whole.

As if I have been waiting my entire life for this fucked up, brutal and demented way of thinking that flows through Ania Ahlborn’s beautiful head.

She is the horror goddess.

Brother is about a sweet family of cannibals who live in the outskirts of Appalachia, some time in the 70’s. They lure cute, young strawberry blondes onto their property where they torture and kill them, and then eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But this story is SO much more than that. It follows main character Michael Morrow, who has never wanted to hurt people the way his mother and brother Reb seem to. He doesn’t get enjoyment out of his tasks of chasing the girls down when they escape, or chopping up their bodies. But when you’re a Morrow, it’s kill or be killed.

Any author who can make me love a character who is mentally unhinged and/or does horrible things has all of my respect. Ania Ahlborn is 100%, without a doubt, my new favorite author. She thrusts so much humanity and unrelenting hopelessness into her stories, and has made my skin crawl while putting the hugest smile on my face.

Read this, and everything else she writes.

5 Stars

 

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Stay Witchy โค

 

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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,ย  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?ย 

Opinion:

“๐‘พ๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐๐จ ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“, ๐‘จ๐’๐’๐’‚?”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’“. ๐‘ฐ๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’ˆ๐’“๐’‚๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’…๐’–๐’๐’, ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’‚๐’ ๐’๐’๐’… ๐’„๐’‚๐’“ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‘๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’• ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’ ๐’๐’‡๐’‡. ๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’Œ๐’๐’†๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’๐’Œ, ๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’”๐’–๐’“๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’…๐’๐’˜๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’†. ๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’… ๐’Š๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•, ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’‘ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’˜๐’†๐’• ๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’”๐’• ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’†๐’Œ๐’”.

๐‘ด๐’๐’”๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‚๐’๐’, ๐‘ฐ ๐’“๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’Š๐’๐’•, ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐’Š๐’• ๐’„๐’“๐’–๐’”๐’‰๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‚๐’Š๐’“ ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’๐’–๐’๐’ˆ๐’”.”

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.

“๐‘ด๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ฐ ๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’Š๐’•’๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’”๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‰๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’๐’•๐’†๐’…. ๐‘ด๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ฐ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’•๐’“๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’ ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•.”

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.

“๐‘ด๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•?” ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’†๐’•๐’†๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’† ๐’“๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’” ๐‘จ๐’๐’๐’‚’๐’” ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ ๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“.

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.

“๐‘ฐ๐’ ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’† ๐’”๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’š. ๐‘จ๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’… ๐’…๐’๐’๐’†. ๐‘ฐ๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’‚๐’ ๐’‚๐’„๐’„๐’Š๐’…๐’†๐’๐’•, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’•…

๐‘ฐ ๐‘ฒ๐’Š๐’๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’๐’๐’† ๐‘บ๐’‘๐’‚๐’๐’๐’”.”

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.

“๐’€๐’๐’– ๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’ˆ๐’,” ๐‘ช๐’‚๐’…๐’†๐’ ๐’”๐’‚๐’š๐’” ๐’‚๐’” ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’‚๐’๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’š ๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’…๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“, ๐’“๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’š ๐’•๐’ ๐’๐’†๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’† ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’“๐’†๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’. ๐‘ด๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ท๐’‚๐’Š๐’”๐’๐’†๐’š ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‘๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐ข๐ฌ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’–๐’๐’•๐’†๐’…. ๐‘ต๐’๐’• ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’†๐’‚๐’…, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’š ๐’”๐’†๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’๐’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.

“๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’ƒ๐’๐’š ๐’Š๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’†๐’“, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’๐’Š๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’Ž๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’• ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’†๐’† ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’†๐’” ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’•๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’…๐’‚๐’“๐’Œ๐’†๐’”๐’• ๐’”๐’†๐’„๐’“๐’†๐’•๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’…๐’†๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’”๐’• ๐’‡๐’†๐’‚๐’“๐’” ๐’๐’‚๐’Š๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’‚๐’Š๐’“.”

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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Bloomsbury · Book Promo · Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: Accidental by Alex Richards

Accidental

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

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Plot: Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she’s being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.

Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna’s father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that’s not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn’t kill Mandy–it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.

Now Johanna has to sort through it all–the return of her absentee father, her grandparents’ lies, her part in her mother’s death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?

In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.

Opinion:

“๐‘จ๐’๐’ ๐’˜๐’†๐’†๐’Œ ๐’๐’๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘จ๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’Š๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’๐’• ๐’๐’‚๐’˜๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’‘๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’š ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’…. ๐‘พ๐’†๐’Š๐’“๐’… ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“ ๐’–๐’”๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’„๐’† ๐’Š๐’• ๐’–๐’‘ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“๐’† – ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’–๐’ˆ๐’†, ๐’…๐’–๐’“๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’… ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‘๐’‚๐’•๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’”๐’Ž.
.
๐‘ฐ ๐’˜๐’๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’ˆ๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’…๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’†๐’๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’˜๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’‡๐’๐’‚๐’ˆ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‡๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’“ ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’๐’†๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Š๐’“ ๐’…๐’‚๐’–๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’†๐’“.”

“๐‘ฉ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’•๐’˜๐’Š๐’„๐’† ๐’Š๐’‡ ๐’š๐’๐’–’๐’“๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’‘๐’‘๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’‰๐’๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Š๐’•๐’–๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’.”

Johanna has been raised by her grandparents for most of her life, due to her father bailing and her mother dying in a car accident when she was almost three. But at sixteen, Johanna feels like she’s beginning to forget her mother entirely and it doesn’t help that her grandparents refuse to talk about her. But life for Johanna isn’t so bad. She has two amazing best friends who are more like sisters, and the new kid at school seems to have his eye on her. But when Jo gets a letter in the mail from her father who is wishing to reconnect, her seemingly ordinary life implodes. With her father’s sudden reappearance in her life comes the truth of her childhood and the real cause of death of her mother. Because it wasn’t a car accident that killed Johanna’s mother…

…it was her.

Deep breath, baby angels.

It’s a heavy hitter.

“๐‘พ๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” ๐’‡๐’๐’š ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐‘น๐’๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“๐’•’๐’” ๐’Ž๐’๐’–๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’๐’ƒ ๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’“๐’๐’๐’Ž ๐’๐’Š๐’Œ๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’•๐’”. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’†๐’š’๐’“๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’‚๐’“ ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” – ๐’…๐’Š๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’…๐’” – ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐’๐’๐’๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’‡๐’Š๐’• ๐’•๐’๐’ˆ๐’†๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’˜๐’‚๐’š ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’–๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’…. ๐‘ฐ๐’•’๐’” ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’•๐’๐’“๐’š ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’Ž๐’† ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’Ž๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’“ ๐’”๐’๐’Ž๐’† ๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’๐’†๐’ ๐’–๐’๐’Š๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’†, ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’—๐’Š๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’”๐’†๐’†๐’Ž๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ๐’†๐’ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’๐’”๐’†.”

The gun control topic is a controversial one, and with this being a book that centers around gun violence, be prepared for moments that may differ from your personal opinions. But for those of you who are weary that this will be a “preachy” YA Contemporary, rest assured that both sides to this debate are represented and it’s dealt with in a delicate manner that doesn’t take away from what this story really is – a coming-of-age tale about trauma, forgiveness, growth and self-love.

Accidental is an emotional and surreal story that centers on how common it is for children to come across easily accessible guns in their homes. At two and a half, while her father was out of town, Johanna and her mother were taking a nap when Johanna awakens and begins to wander. She finds her father’s gun under her parent’s bed, and ends up pulling the trigger and shooting her mother in the chest – killing her.

But upon the reader meeting Johanna, we learn that she has no idea of what took place when she was a toddler. At sixteen, Jo is a typical teenager living in Santa Fe and going to a prestigious high school. She has two quirky, spirited and vivacious best friends and she spends her time sewing her own clothes and slinging sassy comebacks at idiotic guys in her class. She’s a lively and charismatic character from the start, describing the pains of living with her very religious grandparents, but also expressing a deep love for them both.

But the ease in Jo’s life quickly changes with the reemergence of her estranged father, and his confession of Jo and Amanda’s truth.

“๐‘ป๐’˜๐’ ๐’„๐’š๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’๐’”, ๐’„๐’“๐’‚๐’”๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’ ๐’“๐’†๐’‘๐’†๐’‚๐’• –

๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!
๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!
๐‘ญ๐‘จ๐‘ป๐‘ฏ๐‘ฌ๐‘น!”

The reason this story packs such a punch, is because the situation could have happened to any of us. It was incredibly easy to slide into Jo’s shoes and understand the confusion, sadness, regret, hurt, horror and anger she felt when the truth of her mother was revealed. How devastating it is when something so horrible can become your reality, and the hurt that comes with it when you don’t have a support system at home to guide you through it.

“๐‘บ๐’, ๐’Š๐’๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’‚๐’…, ๐‘ฐ ๐’ˆ๐’. ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’”๐’‚๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’…๐’ƒ๐’š๐’†, ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’•๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐‘ฐ’๐’๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‰๐’๐’Ž๐’†. ๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’š ๐’”๐’‘๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’„๐’‚๐’“, ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‰๐’๐’๐’† ๐’•๐’Š๐’Ž๐’† ๐’•๐’“๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’•๐’๐’ ๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฎ๐’“๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’๐’š ๐’๐’†๐’• ๐’Ž๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’„๐’• ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’š๐’ƒ๐’† ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’˜๐’๐’“๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‡๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’†.”

 

When Jo reveals to her grandparents that she knows the truth about her mother, they still refuse to speak about it. They brush it under the rug, preferring silence and forced indifference. And though it is shocking that they lied to her about how her mother died…I don’t blame them for the decision they made in protecting her.

But the way they handle Jo’s trauma and their own is…suffocating.

There are no pictures on the walls or in photo albums of Jo’s mother. None of her mementos are displayed and she is never brought up or talked about. So Jo is left feeling as if she cannot speak about this woman she has so much love for, but is starting to forget. This woman she so desperately craves was in her life and guiding her through her teenage years.

This woman who she believes she murdered.

“๐‘ฏ๐’† ๐’”๐’„๐’๐’๐’‘๐’” ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’๐’…๐’š ๐’•๐’๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’… ๐’‰๐’Š๐’Ž, ๐’•๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’”๐’•. ๐‘บ๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’“ ๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’“ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’†๐’‚๐’„๐’‰ ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’ƒ๐’–-๐’ƒ๐’–๐’Ž ๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’๐’”๐’‰๐’๐’•. ๐‘ถ๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“ ๐’‚๐’๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.

๐‘ฉ๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ.”

Thankfully, Jo has two epic best friends that I wish upon all wishes and stars that I could have in my life.

“๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“ ๐’„๐’๐’Š๐’„๐’Œ๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’–๐’•. ๐‘ป๐’˜๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’•๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’†๐’•๐’” ๐’๐’‡ ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’• ๐’•๐’Š๐’‘๐’•๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’„๐’“๐’๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’“๐’๐’๐’Ž, ๐’Ž๐’‚๐’๐’ˆ๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’๐’…๐’š ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘ซ๐’‚๐’Š๐’”๐’š ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’‡๐’–๐’Ž๐’† ๐’˜๐’‚๐’‡๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž. ๐‘ณ๐’†๐’‚๐’‰ ๐’„๐’–๐’“๐’๐’” ๐’–๐’‘ ๐’๐’ ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’๐’‡ ๐’Ž๐’†, ๐‘ฎ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’ƒ๐’š ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’“. ๐‘บ๐’˜๐’†๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’˜๐’‚๐’“๐’Ž, ๐’”๐’Œ๐’Š๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’๐’…. ๐‘ด๐’š ๐’•๐’“๐’–๐’”๐’•๐’š ๐‘น๐’๐’•๐’•๐’˜๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’…๐’๐’’๐’• ๐’”๐’‚๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’š๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ.”

These girls are the rocks that keep Jo from slipping down a river of depression and deep self-loathing. They are fiercely loyal and understanding, go out of their way to ensure that their friend is cared for and heard, and refuse to leave her side. Their love for one another had me hardcore tearing up and cooing throughout the story. These two girls make this story.

“๐‘ฐ ๐’”๐’’๐’–๐’†๐’†๐’›๐’† ๐’Ž๐’š ๐’†๐’š๐’†๐’” ๐’”๐’‰๐’–๐’• ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’ ๐’๐’‘๐’†๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Ž ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’‚ ๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’‘ ๐’Š๐’๐’‰๐’‚๐’๐’†, ๐’๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’„๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‚ ๐’ˆ๐’–๐’-๐’”๐’‰๐’‚๐’‘๐’†๐’… ๐’„๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’Œ ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’๐’”๐’†๐’• ๐’…๐’๐’๐’“. ๐‘ฌ๐’—๐’†๐’ ๐‘ด๐’Š๐’๐’’๐’” ๐’„๐’†๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Œ๐’๐’๐’˜๐’” ๐’˜๐’‰๐’‚๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’—๐’† ๐’…๐’๐’๐’†.”

“๐‘ด๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐’‰๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’๐’“๐’š.”

Another big character in this story is Milo – the new boy in school and Jo’s new boyfriend. Their romance is sweet and their chemistry is sizzling, but more importantly, Milo is another person in Jo’s life that she can lean on for support. Though he doesn’t have as big a role as Leah and Gabby, and his personality doesn’t shine through as much as the girls, his own troubles with his father gives a level of understanding to Milo and Jo that can’t be emulated. And no matter how dark Jo’s life gets, Milo is always there to help her see the light.

“๐‘ฐ๐’• ๐’˜๐’‚๐’” ๐’‡๐’–๐’, ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’• ๐‘ฐ’๐’Ž ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’๐’‡ ๐’…๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†๐’… ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’…๐’”.”

“๐‘ต๐’๐’• ๐’…๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’†๐’…,” ๐’‰๐’† ๐’˜๐’‰๐’Š๐’”๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”. “๐‘ฑ๐’–๐’”๐’• ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’….”

For the first half of this book, the reader watches Jo slowly spiral into anger and a sort of manic state as she tries to cope with her past. And at sixteen, it’s not exactly easy to have control over your emotions. But the person Jo turns into in the second half of the book was irritating. She was aggressive and constantly throwing tantrums, stomping her foot and having explosive reactions to the littlest things. Of course, this does feel authentic to a young teenager going through some serious trauma – but it was still exhausting and a turn-off.

And how Johanna works towards getting a mural painted at her school to shed light on gun violence was also…cringey. By this point Jo is full-blown immature and slightly ridiculous, so it was a bit harder to get through. And though this was a gut-flipping story, I was really wanting more emotion from Jo because I didn’t feel like I got a true sense of the chaos that was brewing inside her. She had huge reactions and panic attacks, but I wanted more description into how hurt and lost she felt inside.

But the real driving force in this story is obviously gun safety, but also self-acceptance and the need to work through trauma.

When Jo’s father renters her life, he brings a few secrets with him that he slowly reveals along the way, and they’re tragic. It broke my heart how Jo was constantly let down by these really big parental figures in her life. But, imagine it. Not only are you the cause for your mother dying, but you are also the spitting image of a daughter and lover that has been lost. Nothing about this situation is easier or less horrible for anyone involved.

Accidental is a powerful and heartbreaking story, but a necessary one.

No matter what stance you take on this topic, trust me when I say, you need to read this.

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–, ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’…๐’…๐’. ๐‘ฉ๐’š๐’†.”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–, ๐’Œ๐’Š๐’…๐’…๐’.”

“๐‘ฐ ๐’๐’๐’—๐’† ๐’š๐’๐’–.”

 

4.5 Stars

 

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Book Reviews · New Releases

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl Serpent

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

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

Plot: There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, itโ€™s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brotherโ€™s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if sheโ€™s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isnโ€™t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Opinion:

“I am both the Sleeping Beauty and the enchanted castle; the princess drowses in the castle of flesh.”

-Angela Carter, Vampirella

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a heavily Persian influenced mythology retelling with elements from classic fairy tales like “Sleeping Beauty“, “Rapunzel” and โ€œRappacciniโ€™s Daughter.โ€ It tells the story of a young Princess who was cursed with the touch of poison after her birth, and has since been hidden away in one of her family’s castles to keep her ailment secret. But when the royal family returns to her castle for the season, they bring with them a captured div – a demon who tried to kill the princess’s brother – whom they are keeping locked in the dungeons. For Princess Soraya, this is her only chance to find a way out of the curse that has caused her to live a life without human contact. But Soraya quickly learns that nothing is given for free, and consequences weigh heavily.

“There was and there was not.”

 

This unique retelling has been at the top of my TBR list for months. I originally found it on Goodreads while in one of a 3-hour book pit of browsing and knew it was going to be a top read of 2020. And though this story started out great, with rich culture spilling through the pages and a luscious world wrought with magic and danger, I felt myself begin to drift about 25% in.

It was an enjoyable read, but I was expecting an extra emotional punch and a little more excitement.

I hate to say it, but I was a bit bored for the middle and end of this book. I have been having trouble with YA Fantasy lately, so maybe it’s just me, but I just wasn’t as invested in the story as I wanted to be. I think a big part of this could be that the story went in a direction I wasn’t initially expecting it to. I guess I was expecting a “Throne of Glass” meets “Ash Princess“, and got more of a “Damsel” vibe that I wasn’t really feeling.

Soraya was an intriguing character at first, but her ‘doe in headlights‘ act started to get old pretty quickly. It bothered me how fine she was with her family practically shunning her and shoving her into a castle like Quasimodo, barely visiting her or even trying to communicate with her. I wanted her to show some semblance of anger or a grudge for her treatment, but it seemed innocence and being too trusting were her only major driving traits.

I also wanted her poisonous curse to be portrayed a bit darker.

Obviously this story is going to be written how the author wants and with their own preference to overall lightness or darkness in terms of overall theme, but I was hoping this was going to be a grittier and more raw tale. I wanted to really dive into the way this curse made Soraya feel. How the solitude and isolation has contributed to her personality and thoughts, and what flaws it causes her to develop. Yes, the girl is naive. But this book left her feeling like a Disney princess, rather than a relatable female who has been thrust into horrible circumstances.

The romance is a love triangle, and it was sweet and exciting in parts, but the original start between Soraya and Azad was…odd. I have a really hard time with insta-love and insta-intimacy. Upon their first actual meeting Azad basically professes his love and is shockingly not at all freaked out that one touch from Soraya will kill him instantly. He starts touching her hair (how did you know that her hair wasn’t also poisonous?!) and basically tells her how he’s always imaged being/rescuing/marrying her…? And Soraya instantly meets him halfway. What? This just felt so unbelievable for me.

I think the best part of this book is the world building and nod to Persian culture. Though this world isn’t as crazy outlandish and complex as some other YA Fantasies, it is perfectly detailed and the Arabian styled setting is described beautifully. Though of course more would have been so appreciated, the amount given is perfect for the reader to visualize and enjoy the tale.

By the end of Girl, Serpent, Thorn I was pleased with what happened, but I did find it a bit boring and somewhat predictable. I think I was just expecting a different story than what I got. It seems the majority of readers really loved this, so I would definitely read it and come to your own conclusion.

3 Stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo

Binding of Bindings #48 : 11 YA Contemporary Books That’ll Hurt

These are all heavy AF YA Contemporary stories that will hurt like hell, but need to be read.
This entire post comes with a trigger warning, and has elements of the following:
Abusesexual, domestic/physical, verbal, manipulation, control; Mental Healthbrain injuries, suicide, schizophrenia, anger/impulse control issues, Radical Religion, Kidnapping, Brainwashing, Incest (Yeah I know, it’s fine), Bullying, Self-harm, Attempted Murder, Survival, Death.
These are all beautiful and haunting books that have huge, unwavering voices.
Each book is packed with heavy material, and some may be hard to get through, but each has a powerful message of awareness, personal strength and vital information.
Please take care when you read and put the needs of yourself first.
This content can be triggering, so tread lightly.

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

National Suicide Prevention/Crisis Hotline: 800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or TEXT: LOVEIS to 22522
Domestic Violence Website: https://www.thehotline.org/

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

Stay safe, strong and keep those heads up, you beautiful babes โค

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

~* 11 YA Contemporary Books That’ll Hurt *~

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

1. The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Sexual/Self-Harm

The Way I Used To Be

When someone asks me for a book recommendation, it’s always this.

Always. Always. Always.

This.

The Way I Used to Be wrecked me beyond words.

I vividly remember the Friday night I started it, and every moment until the wee hours of Saturday morning where I sat on my floor in silence with tears running down my face.

This book hurt me more than any other YA Contemporary book I have ever read, and it’s because of how authentic, ugly and raw it is. It’s about how a girl copes with being raped at a party. The days, weeks and months after and what she does to herself and those around her in her grief and shame.

Amber Smith DOES NOT dress this shit up in a pretty bow and box. It’s a fucked up book of pure emotion, and it HAS to be at the top of your reading list.

You’ll be thanking me through your tears at 2am.

2. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Romance/Abuse-Domestic

Dreamland

My second most recommended book, and one of three sets of books that I read every year.

And I mean every year.

Dreamland is also the only Sarah Dessen book I really give two fondues about as well, probably due to the fact that it isn’t as “summery” and “sun-shiney” as the rest of her work.

It is about a girl named Caitlin who starts dating a guy named Rogerson. Rogerson is a total hottie package. Tall and mysterious, a bit brooding, quiet with an intense stare that strips you raw.

You know the type.

The kind you’d let do some truly awful shit to you, just to get those little moments of pure and intense snippets of “trueunaffected love.

Dreamland is painful and complicated. It shows the intricacies of an abusive relationship, of how easy it can be to stay in one, and how confusing it is when your emotions are wrapped up so tightly.

It’s a book EVERY girl should read as a pre-teen.

Know your worth.

3. A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmal
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Mental-Health

A Danger to Herself and Others

If you’d like to be completely mind-fucked while you cry, then A Danger to Herself and Others is for you.

This book got me HOOKED on Alyssa B. Sheinmel.

I don’t care what this woman writes, I will read it all. Everything, all of it, forever, until I die.

Her ability to familiarize the reader with Mental Health and show it in a dauntingly close-up, yet sincere and tender way, is true beauty. She can give you insight to the confusion and insanity that is somehow so precious and striking.

A Danger to Herself and Others is about a young woman named Hannah who is institutionalized after an accident involving her roommate at a summer program. Hannah knows that her being there is just a formality and that they will realize soon that she is innocent, she just has to persuade the staff that she is fine.

But of course…that’s only the surface of this story.

And damn is it a deep story.

(See my review here)

4. The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
Genre/Trigger: YA/Retelling/Feminism

โ€œA Womanโ€™s no can so easily be turned into a yes by men who do not want to listen.โ€

Not 100% contemporary, but it holds the same powerful punch as any of these other books do.

If you are looking for powerfully feminist reads, add Louise O’Neill to the top of your list and never look back.

This lady knows what she’s doing.

The Surface Breaks is a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid, and I am STILL shocked that this isn’t more well-known or praised.

It follows the tale we know fairly closely, but Louise has a way of highlighting all those little moments we seemed to ignore as kids.

This is not a sweet story of true love.

Our little mermaid is not surrounded by love, she is not gifted love, and she is treated in such a way that is…all too familiar to a lot of us. It is a tale of women not having a choice. Of women giving their voice up for love, and that choice being abused. It’s a story of possession, greed, pain and heartbreak.

โ€œEither I am silent above the surface, or I spend the rest of my life screaming for mercy down here, the water muffling my cries.โ€

*sigh*

Just read it.

(See my review here)

5. The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Religion

The Liar's Daughter

โ€œHow does it feel? I want to ask. To have everything that’s precious to you taken away?โ€

In a perfect world, the publisher would not have given the entire plot and beauty of this story away in the description, but alas, they do not have my flare for dramatics and torturing suspense…or apparently any decency.ย 

The Liar’s Daughter is one of those books that you need to just read, without knowing much about the plot. In fact, it would have been 1000% better than the 100 times amazing it already is, if I had read it not knowing what it was about.

Therefore, humor me.

Please, do not look this plot up. Just trust me when I say, the book will blow you away.

It is about a girl who lives with her family on a compound in the forest. She adores her father and wishes to make him proud, to show how strong and capable she is, and her siblings bring her more joy than anything else. They all thrive in the wilderness away from societal distractions and obligations. They are happy.

Until she is taken from her family and brought to the home of a new family.

This story is about how Piper gets her bearings after being taken.

This. Writing. Is. Flawless.

The author makes the reader feel just as lost, scared, confused and distrustful of others as Piper is. It’s a mind jumble, an emotional roller-coaster and a creatively woven tale that will have you beyond hooked. You will both love and hate these characters, trust them and be suspicious of them.

It, is wild.

(Do not read my review, just read the book)

6. How I live Now by Meg Rosoff
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Romance/Sci-Fi-Dystopian

How I live now

โ€œI was dying, of course, but then we all are. Every day, in perfect increments.โ€

โ€œStaying alive was what we did to pass the time.โ€

If you haven’t read this book, or seen this beautiful movie starring Saoirse Ronan and George Mackay, then you need to prioritize your life and get it together.

How I Live Now is a tale of survival, love and finding your way back home.

Daisy is fifteen and sent from the states to England to stay with her cousins for the Summer. Not soon after arriving, London is attacked and bombed, and a war begins. Suddenly the kids, now without adult supervision, have to figure out how to survive on their own.

This book is…wow.

It’s a realistically beautiful and frightening story of what it means to stay alive in a world that has flipped into chaos. These young people are wild, free, strong, thoughtful, sharp and inquisitive. They have unflinching grit and unwavering hearts, and they deal with some insanely heavy shit at such young ages.

So read the book, don’t get weirded out by the romanceit’s fine, basque in the brilliance, and then watch the movie.

Shed some tears, have a good Friday night in.

You’re welcome.

(See my review here)

7. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Romance/Abuse-Manipulation/Sexual

The Places Ive cried in public

Alright, back to the really heavy shit.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public

Sounds cheery, doesn’t it?

This is a story about a girl who is beyond distraught over her breakup with a boy. We follow her as she lives in the present and visits each place around town where her ex-boyfriend had made her cry, which eventually builds up to the real reason of why they split.

This book is on this list because it will make you crazy upset, but mostly because of the form of abuse that is represented. A lot of times, deep manipulation and mental abuse aren’t represented in books as much as physical violence, even though it is just as common and accompanies domestic abuse.

Mental and Emotional Abuse isn’t talked about a lot, but Holly Bourne wanted to talk about it.

This book hit me so hard in the gut because of how painfully relatable and realistic it is. It feels like a legitimate and authentic account of emotional abuse, how conflicting your thoughts and feelings are towards your abuser, and how easy it is to tell yourself you’re overreacting.

8. Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Physical/Domestic/Attempted Murder

Sparrow

โ€œAffliction is enamored of thy parts, and thou art wedded to calamityโ€

-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Sparrow is one of those delicate and fragile tales that sticks with you and makes you ache every time you think about it.

It poses the question of ‘Can you fight?‘ and if so, ‘how long?

Sparrow is about a girl named Savannah RoseSparrow. She is a ballerina with the death of her mother looming over her shoulders, even though years have passed. Sparrow was always taught to stay strong, to stay quiet, and to keep things to herself. But the growing aggression and physical nature from her boyfriend is growing, and one night, it goes too far.

Sparrow also has different forms of abuse represented, and they pack in punch in this eerily dark contemporary that is like Speak meets Black Swan.

I highlighted most of this book because damn do these sentences and descriptions cut into your soul. This story highlights how Sparrow’s unfortunate present connects with her childhood and the relationship she had with her mother.

This book dives deep into a dark hole of depression and sorrow, so please be mindful of your mental state before reading. But when you do feel ready, read this.

You might find some strength in it.

โ€œโ€˜What is the haunted name, the secret name of your deepest self?โ€™

“And I answer, ‘Sorrow'”.

(See my review here)

9. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health-Brain Injury

The One Memory of Flora Banks

Let’s bring things up a little, shall we?

Here is a nice break from all this bleaknessThe One Memory of Flora Banks.

Now THIS, is a unique and creative story.

When Flora Banks was ten years old, the part of her brain that stores new memories was damaged during a surgery to remove a tumor. Now Flora has no short-term memory, and throughout the day her brain can resent itself multiple times. To cope, Flora has countless post-it notes in her bags to remind her of who she is, what she is doing and anything important that she wants to remember. She has writing all over her hands and arms and relies heavily on her best-friend and parents to help remind her of…everything.

But then Flora kisses her best-friends boyfriend, and miraculously, the memory sticks.

This book is epic.

There is immense adventure in these pages, with a representation of beautiful and kind souls littered throughout. It shines such a bright, happy and thoughtful light on Mental Health and the limitations that society puts on a person.

It is heartbreaking, yes, but it is one of the most rewarding YA Contemporaries I have read in a long time.

10. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Suicide/Bullying/Abuse-Sexual/Self-Harm/Mental Health

13

We’re almost there, stay with me.

Thirteen Reasons Why

I know there’s a show an all, but who cares about that.

This book took over my teenage life. Never had I experienced a story of this emotional magnitude and thought-provoking ingenuity, and I probably never will again. This should be required reading in EVERY. SINGLE. SCHOOL.

If you don’t know it, it’s about a girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide. Before her death, she records the events/reasons that lead up to her decision on cassette tapes, and then sends it off to the first person that contributed to the spiral.

Each tape has a reason or event, and each one focuses on someone in particular. The crazy part is that the tapes are sent to each person mentioned in them, and they are directed to send the tapes on to the person mentioned after them, or else a copy of the tapes will be leaked.

WILD.

Thirteen Reasons Why was my first taste of suicide in YA Contemporary, and it is one that I will never forget. The message is powerful, the events are beyond emotional and the concept in general is phenomenal.

11. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre/Trigger: YA/Contemporary/Abuse-Sexual/Bullying

This post wouldn’t be complete without Speak.

If you somehow haven’t read this book, you need to RIGHT NOW.

Melinda is a freshmen in high school and a complete outcast. She was popular and had a group of great friends, but that was before the end-of-summer party that she ruined by calling the cops. Speak slowly unravels what happened at that party that caused Melinda to call the cops, and how her school and home life has changed for her.

It’s a really deep and powerful story of rape and bullying, and the fear that young girls have to come forward and tell someone. You will cry, you will hurt, and all you’ll want to do is give Melinda a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay.

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As always, Stay Witchy and take care of yourselves โค

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