ARC Review: How It Ends by Catherine Lo

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There are two sides to every story.

It’s friends-at-first-sight for Jessie and Annie, proving the old adage that opposites attract. Shy, anxious Jessie would give anything to have Annie’s beauty and confidence. And Annie thinks Jessie has the perfect life, with her close-knit family and killer grades. They’re BFFs…until suddenly they’re not.

Told through alternating points of view, How It Ends is a wildly fast but deeply moving read about a friendship in crisis. Set against a tumultuous sophomore year of bullying, boys and backstabbing, the novel shows what can happen when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers

+++Triggers for some adult situations and choices that may make some uncomfortable

How It Ends is a brutally honest look at the many ways that friendships can fall apart. Growing up, growing into your own skin, and learning who you want to be can sometimes sever even the oldest and best friendships. Annie and Jess learn the harsh realities of high school, keeping secrets, and the sacrifices made to fit in. 

PROS:

  • Annie and Jess are opposites and yet startlingly the same. They both have insecurities and issues. Not everything is what it appears on the surface. Annie cannot see her own beauty, she doubts her worth, and Jess feels the same after years of bullying and shaming from people she once considered her friends. This parallel is spot on. It is the epitome of opposite attract. They make each other better, when they’re focused on their friendship, it’s when things expand that everything starts to fall apart. This is a story of friendship, how hard you have to fight when you’re being pulled in 100 different directions, and what losing a friend can do to you both emotionally and psychologically. It hurts to share a best friend. Especially if they make up your whole world. It can feel like a loss, crippling and painful, How It Ends explores those feelings. 
  • The alternating POVs are eye-opening. You get to see how each girl views their friendship, the events that happen, and their position in the high school food chain. Each girl has a strong voice. They hold their own and will have you either rooting for them or wanting to shake some sense into them. 
  • This story deals with relevant teen issues like sex, drinking, partying, bullying, and anxiety. For some, every single time they step into that cafeteria, they feel like an outsider, they shrink away inside themselves and pray that they will remain invisible. That’s no way to live and no one should feel that way. How It Ends does an amazing job getting to the heart of those fears. Every deep breath, every cringe, the hyperventilating, the terror, the way words are phrased to avoid confrontation, it’s like the act of existing is a test. That is spot on throughout. 

CONS:

  • Annie is hard to sympathize with or like. From the first pages it only takes a chapter or two in her POV for her to do a total 180. It’s like she only sees what she wants to and conveniently forgets everything else. She doesn’t give in, she’s stubborn in the worst way, and it takes something really terrible to get her to wake up and face reality. 
  • Some things didn’t make sense. It felt like things were thrown in at the last minute. 
  • The mean girls were typical. The high school scenes were a little cliché. There wasn’t a great balance in terms of their friendship. It made one look more guilty than the other and like a terrible friend, though they both made harsh judgments, assumptions, and mistakes. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

 

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ARC Review: Riverkeep by Martin Stewart

9781101998298_Riverkeep_HC_CvLib.inddGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

synThe Danék is a wild, treacherous river, and the Fobisher family has tended it for generations—clearing it of ice and weed, making sure boats can get through, and fishing corpses from its bleak depths. Wulliam’s father, the current Riverkeep, is proud of this work. Wull dreads it. And in one week, when he comes of age, he will have to take over.

Then the unthinkable happens. While recovering a drowned man, Wull’s father is pulled under—and when he emerges, he is no longer himself. A dark spirit possesses him, devouring him from the inside. In an instant, Wull is Riverkeep. And he must care for his father, too.

When he hears that a cure for his father lurks in the belly of a great sea-dwelling beast known as the mormorach, he embarks on an epic journey down the river that his family has so long protected—but never explored. Along the way, he faces death in any number of ways, meets people and creatures touched by magic and madness and alchemy, and finds courage he never knew he possessed.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift via Penguin’s First to Read 

Riverkeep is a dark and gritty surprise.

Intense, it drags you down into its dark depths and introduces you to unlikely monsters that can be found within ourselves and our surroundings. Full of lore, an unconventional protagonist, and sweeping imagery, it will hold you captive until the last page.

A little slow to start, it takes a bit to get into the story, but once you do, it’s a continuous adventure.

Wull in bumbling, uncertain, and makes mistakes. Despite his intriguing and slightly disturbing profession, he’s surprisingly normal and easy to relate to. Everyone can recognize that primal need to impress their parents and the fierce love you have for them despite their flaws (though in Wull’s case, it’s way more intense and complicated than that). No matter how hard he tries, it seems like he’s destined for failure and can’t live up to his father’s image. It’s funny and a little heartbreaking, but Wull finds his own strengths and takes risks when he needs to.

The self-discovery is poignant.

The Scottish lore creatures. Wow. Crazy violent and oh so interesting. At first, it’s hard to know what they are and what exactly is being referred to. The preludes to each chapter introduce the creatures but initially you’re grasping for straws to figure out just what these beasts are and where they came from.

The atmosphere and mood are immense and consuming. The world building intricate and extensive. The story is a coming of age in a way that honors epic tales like Gilgamesh and Beowulf without the politics.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Epic Reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz: Someone I Used to Know by Tessa Marie

Someone I Used to Know30812413Amazon/Goodreads

synCharlotte was not looking forward to Spring Break. No technology and a boy she can’t stand. But when she realizes the boy is actually a hot guy now, and wants to hang out with her (!) she cant help but think this break may turn into something pretty awesome. But, is he harboring a secret that will challenge their budding relationship?

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Tessa Marie aka Theresa Paolo lives in the same town she grew up in on Long Island, NY with her long time boyfriend and their fish. Her debut novel (NEVER) AGAIN, a NA romance, released in Fall 2013 with Berkley (Penguin). (ONCE) AGAIN will release this summer. She is also the coauthor of the Amazon bestseller KING SIZED BEDS AND HAPPY TRAILS and BEACH SIDE BEDS AND SANDY PATHS, a YA contemporary series. She has a hard time accepting the fact she’s nearing thirty, and uses her characters to relive the best and worst years of her life. She put her love of writing on hold while she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Dowling College. When she’s not writing, she’s behind a camera, reading, or can be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Romantic reading, 

Jordan