Review: More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

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“If someone harasses you online, you can have them blocked-but they can reappear in seconds, pretending to be someone else. Over and over again. Anonymously.”

“We all push sometimes, just to make sure someone is on the other side, pushing back.”

“He says the internet makes too many people loud, and too many people silent, but the loud people are all we hear. We have to ask questions to hear the silent people.”

synvia Goodreads

*While this book exists in the same universe as Letters to the Lost, it is a standalone title.*

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

review

5 Stars 

+++Trigger warning for: child abuse, assault, cyberbullying 

***Some of the content is a little mature. There is some crude language that might not be suitable for lower YA.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I am not big on contemporaries. Something about straight drama usually grates on me, but last year, when I read Letters to the Lost, I was completely smitten with the characters and sucked into the story. While the book itself had some problematic parts, it was one of my top reads of 2017. As much as I loved Letters to the Lost, More Than We Can Tell is even better. 

 

WHAT’S TO LOVE:

REV FLETCHER. 

REV FLETCHER.

REV FLETCHER. 

But seriously, Rev Fletcher. It’s always the quiet ones. Outwardly dark, broody, knicknamed the Grim Reaper because of his tendancies to wear black hoodies and avoid socializing. Beneath that hoodie is a world of hurt and memories that are so horrific that you’ll want to cry for his loss of innocence. The scars on his heart are as deep as the scars that riddle his body. All he wanted was to be loved and what he got was a crazed, religious fanatic of a father who took punishment for sins to a whole, sickening new level. Rev’s voice is strong. His internal struggle is heart-wrenching and honest. He struggles between fears of becoming his father to fear of disappointing him. The tug-o-war is real and raw. The emotions are a lot to process as a reader and his character voice is so authentic that you want to reach out an help him, as if he were a friend. Yet, despite all the pain, Rev is a genuinely kind person, a great friend, and surprisingly flirty. There are times in the book were the swoon is out of this world. 

There were moments in this book where I thought, how is it possible for my heart to be so full for characters who don’t even exist in real life?

The plot. The pacing. The romance.

Emma Blue is a BA coding girl who made her own computer RPG. She’s outspoken, yet shy, she hides behind her computer screen and idolizes her father. She thinks that sexism in gaming is just something girls have to face, but takes steps to manage the trolls. Emma is compassionate, she gets Rev to open up and trust her, and yet, she completely oblivious in all her other relationships. Despite her headstrong, stubborness, she is still likable and you want to see a happy ending for her. 

This book deals with heavy subjects like child abuse, molestation, cyberbullying and assault. These are all very real, very traumatic things that happen on a daily basis that are hard to read about. They’re presented in a way that is not too graphic, but emotionally very powerful. 

The secondary characters were the main characters in Letters to the Lost and their stories, though more subtle still evolved and were just as interesting. 

ALL THE FEELS.

QUESTIONABLE/SO-SO ELEMENTS: 

Even if you need closure, NEVER EVER agree to meet your former abuser at a random address alone. 

Although we live in a tech savvy, social media-centric world, don’t randomly give out your location to someone you met online or worse, agree to meet them and immediately get in the car with them, alone. NO NO NO NO NO. People can be whoever they want on the internet. Be smart. 

Finally, read this book. 

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

Read on,

Jordan

ARC #Review: Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

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Fans of More Happy Than Not, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, andIt’s Kind of a Funny Story will cheer for Adam as he struggles with schizophrenia in this brilliantly honest and unexpectedly funny debut.

Adam has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He sees and hears people who aren’t there: Rebecca, a beautiful girl who understands him; the Mob Boss, who harasses him; and Jason, the naked guy who’s unfailingly polite. It should be easy to separate the real from the not real, but Adam can’t.

Still, there’s hope. As Adam starts fresh at a new school, he begins a drug trial that helps him ignore his visions. Suddenly everything seems possible, even love. When he meets Maya, a fiercely intelligent girl, he desperately wants to be the great guy that she thinks he is. But then the miracle drug begins to fail, and Adam will do anything to keep Maya from discovering his secret.

review3/5 Stars 

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

The best way to describe my feelings towards this book is to shrug. This is a solid 3 star read. As much as I wanted to fall in love with this story of a boy dealing with mental illness as he fell in love with his dream girl, I couldn’t connect. Since I finished reading, I’ve struggled with how to put into words why that connection was missing and it comes down to the plot, or lack there of, or maybe just the whole mundane, guy has secret, clichéd bullies, truth comes out, romance. It was all too familiar. And what irked me even further was the title. It’s catchy, it’s clever, it is barely in the story and while there could have been a serious, philosophical moment with the words, it fell flat, despite attempts to tie it in. And on top of that, it made the plot feel thrown together and nowhere near as cohesive or smooth as it could have been, but perhaps that was the point. 

Here’s what I liked: 

  • I’m not a doctor. What I know about schizophrenia is pretty much the tripe, false portrayals in horror films or TV shows that make it seem like a dangerous, and deadly sickness that turns people into serial killers or something. It’s horrible, inaccurate, and even discussed throughout the story. Especially in relation to Sandy Hook. After the shooting, which happened during the timeline of this book, schizophrenia became something to be scared of. Knowing someone with the mental illness made people panic or at the very least feel apprehensive and on guard. Adam reflects on that and it’s a huge part of why he never confides in his friends about his schizophrenia, because he doesn’t want the looks, the doubts, the slow backing away and dissolution of friendships that has happened to him before out of fear. This is poignant and heartbreaking and a reality that needs to be called out and questioned. The stigma around mental illness and how it is perceived needs to be a discussion and unfortunately, like other timely issues, it is not. How schizophrenia is portrayed in the story may or may not be 100% accurate, the author does put a note in the back of the book addressing this, which I appreciated. Adam’s hallucinations are each unique and reflect parts of himself that he’s not in tune with, parts that he’s scared of or tries to hide and they speak to him, try to guide him through hard choices and situations. They pop in and out of the story. They’re memorable, but fleeting, and some are more solid than others. Adam’s emotions and voice were strong. They were all over the place, but he was honest, his voice never wavered, and at times his letters were like a confession to himself. 
  • The structure. I think this is the only book I’ve read where the entire story is told through journal entries to a therapist. Because of the style, it’s introspective, reflective, and full of genuine voice. You really get a feel for who Adam is, what he’s going through, and his humor about the whole situation. 
  • Love doesn’t save the day. So many times illness or some perceived flaw is solved simply by falling in love. It’s become a dangerous trope. I liked that at the end of this story, nothing was really resolved or fixed because mental illness is not something that magically disappears because feelings trump everything. Drugs can help manage, but they fail, they lose effectiveness, and sometimes the side effects are life threatening. Maya is great for Adam, don’t get me wrong. She listens to him. She befriends him when he felt so alone and scared on his journey and she sticks by him when things get weird. What more could you ask for? 

Here’s what didn’t work for me:

  • The pacing, the plot. I was bored and what’s weird is that I shouldn’t have been. So many scenes were of your run of the mill, everyday life and while Adam’s perception and snarky comments were entertaining, the incidents themselves were not. 
  • The enemy. The popular kids. The hot guy. So overdone and while there is some redemption it just didn’t do justice to the story. It was all too predictable. You could see that plot point coming from the moment you met the popular guy with connections because that’s always the choice. I was hoping for something more unexpected because of the subject matter but I guess the popular kids will always be evil bullies. 
  • I wasn’t sold on Maya or Dwight. They were just…sort of there. Dwight especially has few scenes and while those scenes do give you a better picture of him, it feels like filler. For Maya…the emotions were, and this could definitely be because of the style, lacking. Because everything is told from Adam’s POV, how Maya really feels like seen through his gaze and it makes her feel aloof.

Keep reading,

Jordan

 

 

Exclusive Interview with Victoria Scott on Violet Grenade

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Release Date: May 16, 2017

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DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

int

YABM: Violet Grenade is a little different than your other books, what inspired this story? 

Victoria: I kept thinking about girls who get attacked, and what it would look like if someone targeted a girl who was capable of killing a man. How glorious that scene would be to watch in a movie. This idea of a small girl with a deadly secret wouldn’t leave my mind until I put her on paper. 

YABM: How would you describe Violet Grenade to a reader in 3 or less sentences? 

Victoria: I’d simply say it’s a story about manipulation, revenge, damaged characters, and love found in unlikely places. Oh, and multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

YABM: What do you want the reader to take away from Violet Grenade?

Victoria: Always, always…entertainment. I never seek to achieve anything besides giving readers an escape from reality. What they find outside of that is unique to their own journey and experiences.

YABM: Give me a brief rundown of Madam Karina’s Home for Burgeoning Entertainers? What is it like?


Victoria: The girls who live there are sorted by silk flowers they wear on their dresses or blouses. It ranks them, and signifies how much of their earnings they actually keep. Those flowers keep the girls competitive. And of course it’s symbolic of losing a certain something. *wink*

YABM: Is there any romance brewing between characters?

Victoria: Oh, yes. Domino and Cain have chemistry, but mostly they share past wounds.

YABM: Which character would be most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Victoria: Cain. Those zombies wouldn’t stand a chance.

YABM: How do you balance home, life, and writing (and your adorable little girl)?

Victoria: With great difficulty! Even as I finish this interview I’m thinking how I didn’t get enough time with my little girl tonight. Le sigh.

YABM: What would you tell aspiring writers? What’s your best advice for completing that draft?

Victoria: To just power through! Trust me, we all think our first drafts stink. If you do too, then you just might be a published author one day. Ha!

authorVictoria Scott Author Photo copyWebsite/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Goodreads

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her most recent release, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from across the world. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.

Check back closer to release date for my review. 

As always, happy reading!

Jordan

 

New Cover Reveal & Contest: A Raven’s Touch by Linda Bloodworth

A Raven's Touch by Linda BloodworthGet It Here!

The cover was created by Amanda Walker. Feel free to ask her questions about her pre-made covers. Linda says she is fantastic to work with, honest, and super friendly. She also offers PA services, so do check her out.

synBullied through high school, seventeen-year-old Justice St. Michaels is grateful for the help of her best friend Moira O’Fhey. Together they’re just managing to scrape through the nightmare they call high school. Between Justice’s bizarre body changes and being involved in explosive school fights, things are going from bad to worse. Darien Raventhorn arrives on the scene only to add fuel to an already burning question—has Justice been living a lie her whole life? Thrust into an unwanted revenge mission Justice must avenge a family death, embrace her birthright, and slay a demon before all Hell breaks loose.

authorLinda Bloodworth loves chips, like really, ketchup to be exact. Ketchup chips are only found in Canada. Lucky for Linda she lives in Toronto with her husband and three fur babies. In between writing, debating for hours about the Oxford comma, and the misunderstood semi colon, Linda enjoys camping and getting away from the city on day trips.

Here’s the only picture that Linda will allow:
linda-hair

CONTEST TIME!! – THIS IS A 2 PART CONTEST

HOW TO ENTER: 
1. Post a screen shot of your confirmation order for A Raven’s Touch in the comment section on Linda’s BLOG: https://lindabloodworth.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/cover-reveal-a-ravens-touch-linda-bloodworth-contest
It doesn’t matter when you’ve purchased the book now or before.

2. Subscribe to her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bLecmr. PLEASE MAKE SURE SHE CAN IDENTIFY YOU. Your screen shot + sign up name should be the same. You MUST approve the subscription email you receive.

PRIZE:
A $3 Amazon Gift Card!

TIMING:
Linda will randomly pick the winner Oct. 23 @ 10 AM ET.

Thank you so much everyone! Linda can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Please leave a review on Amazon or any other retailer. Your review is INCREDIBLY important and helps Linda out as an author. Let the contest begin!

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Review: Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

pearlGoodreads/Amazon

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Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me.

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author 

Pearl is a tale of overcoming, self discovery, and learning to cope when life is too much. 

The story starts out strong. It’s a compelling, gritty, no holds barred look into a toxic family situation rife with drugs, abuse, and hopelessness. The story is real. It’s a situation that happens everyday, but so many ignore, look away, and certainly don’t talk about it. The portrayal of addiction and the secondary consequences of drug use like abuse, bullying, danger, homelessness, etc., are on full display and told with an honesty that transcends the fact that the story is fiction. It’s almost like a diary of a lost, terrified girl whose whole world is lived in her mother’s shadow. 

As the story progresses into Pearl’s stay at the private school and summer school, the story kind of slows and flits in and out of focus. There’s a drug-filled haze and depression coupled with romance and attempts to find herself. Regardless, it loses a bit of that dark, honest magic of the first section. 

Pearl is tainted by her mother. She loves her, she can’t help it. No matter how much her mother lashes out at her, messes up, and puts them in dire situations, Pearl remembers the moments when she knew her mother cared for her equally as much as the hateful comments. Pearl is not her mother, but everyone sees her as a messed up teen who is destined to get into trouble just like her mother. Everyone expects her to fail, there’s no faith and because she doesn’t have that direct or even indirect support, every single day is a struggle to stay focused and on the straight and narrow. Pearl is lost. She’s never had a role model really and doesn’t know how to be confident or even okay with herself. This opportunity at school is like a lifesaver that opens her up to discovery of the girl she buried within herself years ago. 

I was torn about the art teacher. He’s super pushy and mean. It’s borderline abusive the way he yells at the students. At the same time, he pushes them to a new level of talent. I wasn’t sold. This seemed toxic. While he had faith in Pearl when others did not, it was not a great example of a positive source of encouragement. 

Secondary characters are intriguing and interesting. You’ll want to know them. They’re far from perfect, in fact, many of them are downright jerks, but they’re themselves through and through. Sorel is a character to be remembered for sure. 

There are many mature subjects like drugs, sex, addiction, and abuse. This is MATURE YA.

The romance wasn’t for me. It faded in and out. It was random. The emotion was playful, yet subtle, until it was über sexual. While Grant did make Pearl feel beautiful and like she was worth something for the first time in her life, he was judgemental and pushed her away when she needed him. He didn’t listen, he assumed, and while there were reasons, he knew her well enough to give her a chance. 

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

Read on, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

The Bad Decisions Playlist_hresGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

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Sixteen-year-old Austin is always messing up and then joking his way out of tough spots. The sudden appearance of his allegedly dead father, who happens to be the very-much-alive rock star Shane Tyler, stops him cold.

Austin—a talented musician himself—is sucked into his newfound father’s alluring music-biz orbit, pulling his true love, Josephine, along with him.

None of Austin’s previous bad decisions, resulting in broken instruments, broken hearts, and broken dreams, can top this one.

Witty, audacious, and taking adolescence to the max, Austin is dragged kicking and screaming toward adulthood in this hilarious, heart-wrenching YA novel.

review

3/5 Stars

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

The Bad Decisions Playlist is an eclectic mix of coming of age, self discovery, and romance. 

PROS:

  • Austin lives a life of spontaneity and bad choices. He’s constantly getting himself in trouble and is so recklessly fearless that he gets into the worst situations. He’s headstrong, foolish, and there are definitely times where you’ll want to shake some sense into him because he can be pretty idiotic. Austin is sort of addictive, kind of like rubbernecking when you drive by an accident on a highway. You know it might be something bad, in Austin’s case that he might be doing something ridiculously stupid and pointless, but you have to see. The more Austin throws himself into precarious situations, the more you want to know how he’s going to get out of it alive. It’s crazy, but somehow enthralling. It’s a love-hate relationship with his characters, for sure. 
  • There’s a great balance of comic relief and serious subjects, like parents getting remarried, abuse, relationships, and being reunited with a parent that abandoned you. 
  • The most profound and crushing part of the story is hope vs. reality. Austin has built his father up on a pedestal. He wants to believe in him, he has to. He’s like a musical god to him and everything he does, Austin wants nothing more but approval and praise from the father that left him as a child. The hope, it’s like a puppy staring out a window begging to be loved. It’s heartbreaking, that moment when you’re blindsided by the truth. You ignore what’s in front of you because you want to believe the best in people and then you’re slapped in the face by reality. The greatest lesson is that there’s good and bad in everyone. You will be disappointed in your parents. No one is perfect, and seeing someone’s flaws can help you form a better understanding and relationship with them, or it might not. That’s the harsh reality. 

CONS:

  • A serious case of instalove that makes hardly any sense. For someone who is so into building a relationship, not letting anyone in until she’s sure, Josephine jumps right on in. It conflicted with her character.
  • The chemistry was random and muted. Barely visible at all. The awkwardness was something else. There’s so much space between Josephine and Austin, and they’re worlds apart mentally, that it’s pretty shocking that they can stand each other enough to do anything. Austin pretty much moons over her from the moment he met her and it makes ZERO sense. 
  •  Austin’s so-called best friends make an appearance once or twice in the entire book. They’re mentioned and then fade out. There’s this kind of fleeting, wishy-washy development for most secondary characters besides Austin, his love interest, and his bully. 

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

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

THE BAD DECISIONS PLAYLISTThe Bad Decisions Playlist_hresAmazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Goodreads

Pub. Date: August 2, 2016

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Austin, 16, a self-described screwup, finds out that his father isn’t dead. He’s alive, and moreover he’s Shane Tyler, a famous singer/guitarist/song writer—Austin’s dream for himself. But Shane is battling his own demons, and Austin must figure out how to grow up on his own terms.

authMichael

Michael Rubens is the author of The Sheriff of Yrnameer and Sons of the 613. He was a producer for several years for the Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and has written and produced for CNN, Oxygen, the Travel Channel and other networks. It’s theoretically possible that you saw him as the host of Eclipse Chasers: Ghana on the Travel Channel. He was also, for a very brief period, the World’s Least Effective Bouncer. He lives with his wife and daughter in Brooklyn, New York, and feels that the practice of writing one’s bio in the third person is somewhat questionable.

He is represented by John Silbersack at Trident Media Group.

WebsiteTwitter 

giveaway

3 winners will receive a hardcover of THE BAD DECISIONS PLAYLIST! US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CHECK OUT THE OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR 

8/1/2016- YA Book Madness- Promo

8/2/2016- Curling Up With A Good Book- Guest Post

8/3/2016- Here’s to Happy Endings- Review

8/4/2016- Books and Ladders- Excerpt

8/5/2016- Riddle’s Reviews- Review

Epic reading, 

Jordan

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

 

Review: My Soul to Keep by Jackie Sonnenberg

my soul to keepGoodreads/Amazon

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Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take…

When thirteen-year-old Sky Monroe arrives at her new boarding school, all she can think about is death and connecting with the afterlife. Soon she discovers her school’s spirituality group called Guardians of Light—and they have a secret.
The Guardians of Light can speak with the dead…

When Mitchell Brooks, the teacher and leader of the group, reveals this unnerving secret to Sky—though this is exactly what she believed she wanted—she learns the organization is rapidly becoming a cult. Now she’s concerned she and her friend Damien will not be permitted to walk away.

Danger and death lurk around every corner…

The campus house, where Sky resides, is haunted, and the spirits have their own agenda. December 21, 2012 threatens the end of the world, and Mitchell and the spirits have special plans in store. They just might bring Sky closer to the afterlife—and possibly beyond—than she ever imagined.

Sky is looking for a connection to the afterlife, but what she finds may be more than she bargained for…because what lies after life is death.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author

PROS:

  • From the beginning of the story, it’s hard to tell what it will become, a cult situation, something paranormal, something ghostly, magical, hexing, who knows. The mystery of The Guardians of the Light propels the story forward, though it’s a fight when nothing much happens, you KNOW something is coming, something dark. There are subtle clues here and there that create a sinister vibe that suggests the Guardians aren’t the love and light community that they seem. The cult atmosphere is gripping and chilling. The way they parrot and how deeply they believe in the Light is enough to scare anyone. 
  • Towards the later half of the book, seriously creepy, haunting, and downright terrifying things happen. They’re graphic, grotesque, and will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering if Sky will live to see the end of the book. Read with the lights on…er…or not. 
  • Sky’s devotion and conviction are admirable. She just wants to believe in something and get a greater spiritual understanding that will bring her closer to her father. Only in the Guardian group does she feel safe, at home, and like she belongs. It’s her safe haven and that comfort is almost enough for her to overlook their sketchy behavior. Through the companionship she finds with the Guardians, she gains confidence and learns to fight for her beliefs. While she may be misguided, she learns and questions, she takes risks, and opens her mind to the possibilities of the supernatural. 

CONS:

  • Pacing is fairly slow. Nothing really happens until well into the story. It almost reads like a diary entry of daily mundane activities. 
  • Sky is initially creeped out by The Guardians of the Light, but them becomes obsessed. It’s like a light switch flipped on without any real explanation. The sudden change of heart is hard to understand. The loss of her father is prominent in the story but somehow the reader seems to be looking at it from a distance. Sky is searching for something to help her through her grief and to make her feel closer to the father she lost, but the leap from totally turned off by them to extreme lifestyle change was fast and felt off. Too much too soon. 
  • The mean girls, the gossip, the cattiness, the petty jealousy were typical and a distraction that took away from the overall story. The romantic elements were light and sporadic. It’s there, it’s not, it doesn’t feel as authentic or emotional as it could have. It felt like a random insertion instead of something that was building up. The pieces were there, they just weren’t connected. 

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

Scary reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

may queenGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

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Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

review
3/5 Stars
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers
+++Some scenes are MATURE
           I was dying to read this book. It been on my TBR forever. So when I got the ARC, well… to say I was excited would be a major understatement. Unfortunately, the more I read, the less intrigued I felt. This is one of those sad perfect premise, poor execution stories for me. 
          The May Queen Murders has several awesome things going for it. The captivating and insanely interesting subcultures and interactions between the people who live in the trailer parks and the Glen people. There is so much detail that you feel the tensions and embrace the wonder that happens in the Ozarks. There’s a deep layer of superstition and prejudice. A dark foreboding and wonderful sense of deep-seeded belief. The stories of what brings bad luck, the herbs needs to bless the house, tying strings around the wrist for protection, it’s fascinating and draws you in. You’ll want to know more and engage in this magical world. Ivy is made of the Glen and these beliefs are a part of what makes her whole. Her convictions are so strong, it kind of pushes her further away from everyone. The history is pervasive and hypnotizing. 
          Ivy’s relationship with Heather is complex, but full of unwavering devotion and love. Ivy is on the threshold of maturity and Heather has hurdled forward without her. Ivy is childish, young, inexperienced, and their relationship shows that crippling fear and loss that best friends feel when one is moving at a faster pace, separating them, and they might just leave the other behind. Sometimes there’s no hope of catching up. Ivy is heartbroken and Heather is over Ivy’s clingy behavior. She follows her around like a duck. This was real and honest and a diverse depiction of friendship.
          The romance was weird and awkward. Parts were fairly graphic and mature. There’s not much development, it suddenly is. I honestly didn’t feel an ounce of chemistry between them. I felt more of flare up towards Milo and August than Rook. 
          Secondary characters were barely a blip in the story. There were MANY I wanted to know more about. Milo, and Violet’s sister. Her horrific bullying situation. That’s a story I would have liked to hear more about to get a full picture of the animosity within the area. 
          The pacing was slow. Like turtle’s pace slow. For the majority of the book, apart from the mini stories about the former May Queen murderer, NOTHING happened but angst and drama. It was hard to push through. About 75% of the way through, things got a little more interesting. After the first murder, it escalated to the creepy and sadistic in a blink. 
          Plot twist. I did not see that coming. It was convoluted and epic. You’ll have NO CLUE. It was like being splashed in the face with cold water, jolting. Parts near the end, the climax are gory and terrifying. The blood and sadism. Well, let’s just say nightmares are in your immediate future. 
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Creepy reading, 

Jordan