Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Reviews: In Truth and Ashes by Nicole Luiken

in truth and ashes nicole luikenthrough fire and seaGoodreads/Amazon/UK/CA/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/Entangled

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There is one True World, and then there are the four mirror worlds: fire, water, air, and stone. And each has a magic of its own…

In the Fire World, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm’s most powerful lords. She’s hot-blooded—able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods. But she has another gift…the ability to Call her twin “Otherselves” on other worlds.

Holly resides in the Water World—our world. When she’s called by Leah from the Fire World, she nearly drowns. Suddenly the world Holly thought she knew is filled with secrets, magic…and deadly peril.

For a malevolent force seeks to destroy the mirror worlds. And as Leah and Holly are swept up in the tides of chaos and danger, they have only one choice to save the mirror worlds—to shatter every rule they’ve ever known…

review4/5 Stars

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

Through Fire and Sea is a multidimensional thrill ride. Worlds based on elements, traveling through mirrors, and meeting “otherselves” through the glass, Through Fire & Sea is a gripping epic that’s as refreshing as it is inventive.

PROS:

  • The world-building is astounding. Everything is intricately plotted and flows seamlessly together. The diversity between worlds is genius. Details in abundance. You can picture everything from scenery to secondary characters. The worlds are drastically different, it almost feels as though you’re travelling through time. It’s adventurous, lively, and keeps you guessing from start to finish.
  • There’s an interesting blend of creation myth, gods & goddesses, and science fiction. The volcanoes are temperamental and have distinct personalities. Personification at its finest. The link between elemental power and emotions is spell-binding. When the volcano mourns, lava flows and sulfur suffocates, when the sea weeps, waves rise to tsunami level. Just wow. 
  • Leah is a feisty, fiery beauty. She’s inquisitive, calculating, and emotional. She risks everything and puts lives on the line to save the world and at the same time, she’s got a beautiful, compassionate heart. Leah yearns for the affection of her father, the duke, but as a bastard she’s used as a pawn in a political game that leaves her emotions reeling. Leah struggles to balance what is right with pleasing her father. Leah is smart, she pushes through her insecurities to hone in on her skills and is pretty BA at everything she does. Leah embraces her hot-blooded nature and uses her elemental skills to battle the ultimate villain, a destroyer of worlds. Even though Leah has several reasons to give up, she pushes through and comes out stronger. 
  • Gideon and Leah are perfect together. Their interactions are natural and full of understanding. Leah tames his hysteria and Gideon calms her soul. It’s sweet and heartwarming watching their love grow. 
  • Holly feels a magnetic pull towards Ryan. Their connection is instantaneous and full of heat. Holly refuses to give up on Ryan despite everything they go through with Ryan’s rising stardom. Their relationship is imperfect and incredibly real (apart from the paranormal aspects).
  • Qeturah is a force to be reckoned with, a serious villain. She’s consistently steps ahead of everyone and her end game is a mystery that is impossible to crack. Qeturah wants to wreak havoc on the universe and she makes a good job of it. 
  • THAT ENDING. I will be waiting not so patiently for the next book because holy hot mess. The world is in danger and those most equipped for saving it are in no position to do so. 

CONS:

  • Secondary characters were unlikable and fairly predictable. Both worlds had a snotty mean girl and absentee parents that were forgettable. 
  • Holly’s character lacked the development Leah’s had. Her likes and dislikes fell into the background for what was expected of her and how the world perceived her. I wondered what Holly wanted to be, her dreams and aspirations. It seemed everything was related to someone else’s desires or happiness. 

amid windGoodreads/Amazon/UK/CA/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/Entangled

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There is one True World, and then there are the four Mirror Worlds: Fire, Water, Air, and Stone.

Audrey and Dorotea are “otherselves”—twin copies of each other who live on different Mirror Worlds.

On Air, Audrey has the ability to communicate with wind spirits. As war looms, she’s torn between loyalty to her country and her feelings for a roguish phantom who may be a dangerous spy.

Blackouts and earthquakes threaten the few remaining humans on Stone, who have been forced to live underground. To save her injured sister, Dorotea breaks taboo and releases an imprisoned gargoyle. Brooding, sensitive Jasper makes her wonder if gargoyles aretruly traitors, as she’s always been told.

Unbeknownst to them, they both face the same enemy—an evil sorceress bent on shattering all the Mirror Worlds.

review4/5 Stars

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

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You like strong female protagonists. 
  • You’re into world building.
  • Books that span genres excite you.

Amid Wind and Stone is a brilliant continuation of the Otherselves series. At first, I was a little hesitant to dive in because I loved the first two girls in Through Fire and Sea so much but OMG was I surprised. The romance feels as fresh as the quirky storyline and creative as the characters. 

PROS:

  • Audrey.Man that little minx. I love her to pieces. She’s ballsy and a total feminist. She loathes the female expectations and pressures of her upper-class life. Think Victorian/Steampunk. If you’re a Jane Austen fan, forget about it, this girl is PERFECT for you. Audrey is brave, fierce; she doesn’t let anything get in the way of her passions and dreams. She gets in trouble, sneaks around, takes risks, and does what so many are scared to, she lives, fully and vibrantly. She jumps through the air and rides the wind, she dresses up as boys to join the military, I mean, seriously, what is not to love about her? On top of that, she is cheeky, funny, and full of heart. 
  • Phantom.Playful, flirty, forward, and oh-so-swoon-worthy. He’s an invisible knight in shining armor with questionable behavior and secrets. There’s something about him that’s dangerous and thrilling that will make you fall hard. The vulnerable side…is there anything sexier than a guy who opens up and puts his fears and heart on full display? 
  • Phantom and Audrey. Sweet, teasing, addictive flirtation. I wanted whole books on this relationship.
  • Dorotea’s story is a little different but provocative, pervasive, and so relevant. Dorotea’s story is about indoctrination, the teachings of our parents, and how prejudice is spread without knowing the full story. Dorotea has powerful beliefs but they’re rooted in lies. This makes her mean sometimes and hardheaded. At first, it’s hard to get behind her, she seems needlessly cruel but once you understand her reasoning, it’s easy to see where that’s coming from. Underneath the prejudice is just a girl who loves beyond everything. She grows on you.
  • Jasper.Holy hotness. Think Beauty and the Beast. The way he burrows through rock and transforms. Give me more of that. Jasper challenges Dorotea, makes her step outside herself and it’s like a revelation.❤

CONS:

  • The climax was a bit of a letdown. For so long (if you’ve been eagerly anticipating revenge since book 1 like I have) we’ve waited for the reckoning, the moment when Qeturah would have to answer for her devious behavior and horrendous crimes and when it happens, it was abrupt and unsettling but something…I guess the processing by Leah and the others, wasn’t where it could have been to pack that emotional sucker punch. 
  • The feels weren’t as pronounced as in book 1. I didn’t have the same emotional connection to characters. 

in truth and ashesGoodreads/B&N/Amazon/Kobo

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What she can’t remember could ruin her life.

The Mirror Worlds are but dull reflections of the True World, where magic and technology blend together…

On the True World, Belinda Loring has known from childhood that she must Bond with the son of another noble First Family. Uniting the families ensures hers will hold onto its powerful position, and so she’s always pushed down the tender feelings she has for her best friend—gorgeous, steadfast Demian, who isn’t noble.

But when the ceremonial magic goes disastrously wrong, Belinda becomes a national disgrace. Scorned as Broken, she turns to Demian for help getting revenge on the man who ruined her: the radical Malachi.

But the seeds of Malachi’s murderous plans lie buried in Belinda’s past, in the dark days of her kidnapping—a period of which she has no memory. And Demian may hold the key to recovering all that she’s lost—and saving the worlds.

review3.5/5 Stars 

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

In Truth and Ashes is full of unexpected twists, complex relationships, and an epic fantasy world. With memorable characters, romance, and multiple worlds to keep you ensnared, it’s a magical and exhilarating read. 

PROS:

  • I love Leah and Gideon’s story arc. From the beginning, I was completed consumed by their ill-fated romance. It’s complex, dangerous, full of fire and respect and learning each other. And the adrenaline. It’s fantastic. When I saw Leah pop up in this book, I prayed she’s have a huge roll and she does. Her love story gets even more emotional and chaotic. My heart broke for her. You can feel every ounce of her sadness and desperation, her pain…it’s brutal and beautiful and OMG I needed them to be okay because if they weren’t there was no such thing as happy endings. That scene at the end, the last one with Leah, be still my little black heart because heavy, dreamy sigh. Whoever said they didn’t like long-winded, straight from the heart confessions, is full of it. 
  • Belinda is not at all what I expected. From the previous books I assumed she was this snobby, cold, robot of a girl, but that is so not the case. Her back story is epic and mysterious and terrifying. She struggles with fierce loyalty to her family and trusting her heart. She’s brave, takes huge risks, and will do anything to save the world. She’s a full on heroine who is far from perfect, takes a few hits, and makes terrible assumptions, but she definitely redeems herself. 
  • Demian and Belinda. It’s sweet, playful, and who doesn’t love a sexy artist who is dynamite with his hands? His past is dark, complicated, and full of secrets that make him both endearing and magnetic. And those kisses ❤
  • The ending was shocking. I never saw it coming. I never expected it to end the way it did and it’s insanely creative the way it’s done. 

CONS:

  • If you hoping to see Holly, Audrey, and Dorotea, there parts are so fleeting and minimal that you almost forget they were there at all. I missed Audrey’s daredevil attitude and her saucy wit. I yearned for Dorotea’s heart and determination. I felt nostalgic and at a loss at some points without them. On the plus side, that means they were totally wonderful characters in the previous books and left a great impression, plus we finally got to see Belinda. On the minus side, it felt like the story was incomplete without them. As a final book (or what reads like one at least) I expected a more solid goodbye and it felt rushed to the conclusion. 
  • The fight seemed to go on forever because there were so many non-fights that dragged and were resolved in a too-simple fashion. Yes, people have elemental powers, but the struggle…until the last bit of the book (for Belinda and Demian) was a little soft. 

authornicole-luikenWebsite/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age 13 and never stopped.

She is the author of nine published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequels Silver Eyes and Angels Eyes, Frost, Unlocking the Doors, The Catalyst, Escape to the Overworld, Dreamfire and the sequel Dreamline. Through Fire & Sea, book one of Otherselves, and Amid Wind & Stone, book two of Otherselves, are her most recent releases. She also has an adult thriller, Running on Instinct, under the name N.M. Luiken and a fantasy romance series, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith.

Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing.

Excerpt

Nightmare

Fire World

Leah wept in her sleep. And dreamed:

She was a dragon, floating on an orange sea of molten rock. Far above her was a hole like an eye, the Volcano Lord Thunderhead’s caldera. At first, the heat felt pleasant, soaking away the lingering chill of death, but then it increased in intensity as the magma invaded every nerve and lit them each on fire. She screamed through her ruined throat and convulsed—

Leah bolted upright and found herself in the Aerie, the top room of Qeturah’s Tower. She must have fallen asleep on Gideon’s bed.

She was shaking, her heart trying to beat its way out of her chest. Her skin felt clammy. What a terrible, awful nightmare.

One whole side of the Aerie opened out onto a large natural stone balcony. Outside, the sun silhouetted Thunderhead’s steep-sided black cone against the red sky. Thin trails of lava trickled down his sides as he erupted again.

The Volcano Lord grieved for the loss of his son, just as Leah grieved.

Leah had met Gideon here in this very room. He’d been feverish, and she’d been spying for her father, Duke Ruben, trying to prove that the evil sorceress Qeturah had something to do with the dragon attacks on their valley. Only, by the time she found out Gideon shape-shifted into the dragon at night and his mother Qeturah used a magic amulet to control him, Leah had already fallen in love with Gideon, and turning him in had been unthinkable.

But in the end, she’d been unable to protect him from her father. Duke Ruben’s army had shot the dragon down with a huge crossbow, and Gideon had died. And his death had signaled the beginning of the end of Fire World.

Gideon’s father, Thunderhead, had erupted and killed Duke Ruben and three other dukes. Their deaths, in turn, had sent the Volcano Lords linked to them into a mindless fury, and they’d all exploded. Those not killed in the eruptions would likely starve in the next year, since falling ash had blighted all the crops.

And Leah could barely bring herself to care.

Gideon was dead. Duke Ruben, her father, whom she’d alternately feared and wanted to please, was dead. Likely so were Jehannah, her half-sister, and her mother, Beulah. Her childhood home was destroyed.

Leah had spent all her time since the cataclysm struggling to stop Qeturah. But now Qeturah was dead, too. And Leah had no purpose.

Oh, the war hadn’t ended: Qeturah had had a mentor named Malachi who had supported her. He was still out there, no doubt still scheming to shatter the other Mirror Worlds, but Leah had run out of energy to fight. Let someone else take him down, someone from the True World.

Malachi wasn’t her problem.

Leah would just stay here with her memories. Alone.

Only the thought of the nightmare returning kept her from sleeping the rest of the day away.

Other Stops on the Tour 

January 2nd

For Love of Books4 – Spotlight Post

YA Book Madness – Review Book #3

January 3rd

RoloPoloBookBlog – Spotlight Post

January 4th

Queekie Girl Reads – Guest Post

January 5th

YaReads – Author Interview

Sizzling Hot Books – Review Book #1

January 6th

The Book Beacon – Review Book #3

Pearls Cast Before A McPig – Spotlight Post

January 7th
Just One More Chapter – Spotlight Post

January 8th

Roxy’s Book Reviews – Spotlight Post

January 9th

Mythical Books – Author Interview

The Crafty Engineer’s Bookshelf- Review Book #3- Review Book #3

January 10th

Captivated Reading – Guest Post

January 11th

Crossroad Reviews – Spotlight Post

Splashes Into Books – Review Book #3

January 12th

YA Book Divas – Guest Post

January 13th

Sleeps on Tables – Spotlight Post

Home of Writing – Review Book #2

January 14th

Verbosity Reviews – Review Book #1

January 15th

Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Interview

Magical reading, 

Jordan

 

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Review Tour: Something More Series Box Set by Danielle Pearl

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This box set is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and contains three amazing new adult books that you need to read NOW!

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Amazon US | Amazon UK

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It’s the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That’s what I’m counting on.

A year ago, Aurora “Rory” Pine was just a normal teenage girl – just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.

But this isn’t a year ago.

Rory is broken, and suffering from a new debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that’s easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There’s a witness – and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly can’t ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory’s past won’t just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they’re lucky – love. This is not a flowery romance – not for the faint of heart.

review

5/5 Stars 

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

+++This book does contain triggers- sexual, physical, and psychological abuse as well as MATURE content

Normal is the kind of book that opens your heart, examines its parts and then stomps all over it only to put it back together again, better than before. It’s feels overload. The flashback scenes are gut-wrenching, horrifying, the sort of paralyzing trauma that leaves you breathless in sheer fear and trembling with tears. Rory’s suffering is incredibly moving and heartbreaking. Every remembered incident is an open wound and your heart will bleed right along with her. Grab your tissues. Lots of them. 

The violence is graphic and brutal. The details physically are coupled with Rory’s internal dialogue. Her thoughts are she was in the moment are scattered and conflicted as she tries to process the reality of her situation and to understand how something so horrific can happen. Some scenes may have you averting your eyes or skimming. It’s hard to read because it is emotional chaos. The scenes in the car, omg, and the locker room. I’d never been so scared for a character in my life. The terror will consume you and open doors to understanding.

When you get to the back of the book, there’s an explanation of the inspiration behind this novel. Danielle Pearl said she wanted to write a book about abuse that is not black and white but the perfect shade of gray. Pearl exceeded by expectations. There are times when you want to be mad at Rory, that you want to shake her and scream for her to get out of there but her thought process will have you pausing, rethinking. Rory’s mentality, her youth and inexperience are highlighted and very believable. For a girl who was just coming into her sexuality and unsure of what it means to have a boyfriend let alone a sexual relationship, her innocence and confusion really challenge the notion that everything is black and white. Rory doesn’t know, she feels alone, diminished, and broken with no one to talk to because she has been taught to feel shame. My heart broke for Rory and the rage was intense. Every time I hear the justification for assault as someone was asking for it incites my fury. It’s ridiculous and Rory epitomizes how this notion sinks under the skin, making girl question whether or not rape is their fault. Also, the excuse for cheating as “I have needs.” UGHHHHH.

Rory’s anxiety, her triggers, her life-preserver of just knowing her pills are there if she needs help are accurate and insightful portrayals of PTSD. That Rory should have to feel paralyzed to be alone in a room with a male, that she has to constantly adjust her life so as to not aggravate her triggers is unfair and honest. Every ounce of uncertainty and how it comes over her in sudden waves of fear granted more psychological understanding of a character than I’ve experienced.

Rory is brave. Her courage is an inspiration and made of awe. That she, knowing the possible consequences and the Golden status of her abuser, had it in her to make a report is powerful to read. Despite everything she’s suffered and her severe psychological and physical scars, she took a stand to save herself. Rory is that character that forces you to think, to feel, and experience. She’s the kind of character that will leave you all over the place, bogged down with emotion. Rory is a tiny broken bird, thirsting to disappear into the background but when she shines, she’s a phoenix. Rory is resilient in body and spirit, she’s an example of hope that everyone should read.

Sam is a lesson in patience and compassion. He cradles and soothes Rory. He understands her on a deep level that transcends his years and his playboy attitude. He gets it. His own story is sad and violent, he struggles with control but realizes that he is a better person, that overcoming is an everyday challenge. 

Sam and Rory together are therapeutic. They’re a wonder couple. They have their challenges, every day is a little better when their together and in each other’s arms they can move on from the past that haunts them. They’re playful and real, they share their secrets and feel safe with each other. It’s beautiful and a little tragic but the kind of love that speaks of forever.

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Rory and Sam fell in love in NORMAL, and we all fell in love right along with them. Now see it all unfold through Sam’s eyes, and learn just how the new girl with anxiety issues stole the heart of the gorgeous heartthrob, and turned his world upside down.

You already heard the story. The one of how Rory and I fell in love, supposedly, even if she couldn’t handle it in the end. You know how it all went.

Or you think you do.

You only know her side. But I have my own point of view, and even Rory couldn’t know my thoughts in those few months it took for her to go from being a stranger to my whole entire world.

Every moment is permanently ingrained in my memory. In my goddamned soul. From the moment I stumbled upon the girl panicking outside of calculus – the one with the tight little body, the angelic face, and the fierce attitude – to the night she abandoned me in Miami. It was the sum of those moments that changed me irrevocably.

Our story isn’t over. I won’t let it be. But this, this is what happened so far, the way I saw it.

I’m Cap. Or Sam, to Rory. And this is my story.

review

4/5 Stars

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

From the first page of this series, I’ve been hooked. I love everything about Rory and Sam, their complex relationship, the past trauma, how they heal each other’s wounds and see how strong they truly are just by being loved. It’s beautiful, uplifting, heartbreaking, everything you could ever want in a story and so so so important. The Something More series deals with crucial issues that are not voiced enough, that people look away from rather than take action against like domestic abuse and rape. In many ways, when we do hear these stories, they’re from one side, or maybe two, the victim and the attacker, but what about the people who are there after, those who love and cherish those who have been hurt so deeply? ReCap is that other story. The powerful and life-changing POV of those who fall madly in love with someone who has been abused and the everyday struggles that come up.

Sam is…I mean, he’s amazing. That word somehow seems less. Sam is empathetic, strong, fierce, protective, and soul-crushingly, swoon-inducing, devoted to Rory. He sees her scars and worships at the altar of her strength. Rory is something holy and angelic to him. No matter how broken she sees herself, she’s the epitome of perfect to Sam because she has overcome so much.

It’s intense reading Sam’s emotions as he watches Rory fight for control of her PTSD. The thoughts that race through his mind, his struggle to understand, and the way he beats himself up when he makes mistakes are incredibly raw and honest. The fine line between treating her like she’s fragile and comforting her is hard to master and Sam makes tons of mistakes. 

It’s all the things you don’t think about that are brought to your attention in this book. The way we take things for granted, like casual touching, or grabbing someone when you want to get their attention. It’s eye-opening to witness how things we brush off can trigger someone who has been through trauma. 

How Sam sees Rory. It’s like seeing the sun for the first time. That bright, almost startling brightness, the magic of its beauty, the way it warms and occasionally burns, but brings so much comfort. That is what Sam feels every time he looks at Rory, like he’s awake for the first time. The emotions are off the charts, almost too much. I might be a little in love with Sam. 

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After the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for her and Sam, love means letting go.

Can two people hopelessly in love with one another ever revert back into just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam know for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have.

As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.

review

5/5 Stars

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

+++A few words about genre and context: Okay can be classified as Mature YA or early New Adult. In both cases it is a drama, romance, and contemporary. It does contain mature themes that are better suited for older YA so 18ish+. The content deals with issues of domestic and sexual abuse.Contains triggers. 

It’s taken me a while to write this review not because I was busy or lazy but because I had so much to say and this review was harder to write than others. When I first read NORMAL, I was absolutely stunned and impressed with Danielle Pearl’s voice. The way she captured the anxiety, the terror, and just how debilitating living with PTSD is on a daily basis was precise, accurate and showcased a substantial amount of research and understanding. Generally when people think of PTSD, I think they assume soldiers. PTSD has many faces and many levels of distress. Danielle Pearl does an amazing job informing the reader of the little things, the tiny day-to-day activities that those who do not suffer from PTSD don’t think about and sheds light on the strength it takes to endure when anxiety and memory strike. OKAY is a continuation of Rory and Sam’s romance and hones in more on self acceptance, learning to love in the face of a traumatic series of sexual abuse, and discovering that no matter how dark and horrendous the past can be, hope is as resilient as the human spirit. 

I appreciate so many things about what Danielle Pearl has done with this series: her endeavour to write about sexual assault from a gray area, to address ignorant assumptions about sexual violence and whether or not it can be okay. It’s never okay and no girl is “asking for it” despite what she wears or how beautiful she is. I think it’s crucial to address this mentality that is somehow drilled into people from a young age. The idea of dressing promiscuously as a gateway or okay for sexual assault. Where did this concept come from? Asking for it? The guilt, the questioning, the deliberation that women have to go through before throwing on clothes. Every aspect of care and thought so that she not look too tempting, that she not tease the men with too much cleavage or leg because they have no restraint. How is that acceptable or okay? OKAY made me question how I view sexual assault and the grounds on which abuse is determined. The argument that short skirts and flirting is justification is weak at best but even Rory questioned whether she was at fault, if she was indeed asking for it? How many girls go through this after assault? How many don’t report it because they believe they did something wrong? Danielle Pearl asks hard questions that we as humans need to address and ask more of.

Rory’s insecurities are real and relatable. Having never been in a non-abusive relationship, she doesn’t know what is expected or how she should behave, she also doesn’t feel worthy of love and it is devastating. Rory’s emotions are a chaotic mess of longing and memory, she’s haunted and doesn’t know if she’s capable of love after her abuse. Sometimes Rory makes decisions and interprets things in ways that seem foreign or strange to me but Danielle Pearl clearly outlines Rory’s thought process so that you see where she’s coming from. Rory is terrified of a future where she’s have to open her heart and share her body and because of this fear she pushes Sam away. I think what makes Rory so compelling is that she’s a survivor. It’s not that she’s super confident or smart, she’s not perfect, she’s scarred and weighed down by her past but she’s REAL. Her beauty shines through her brokeness and though occasionally emotionally fragile because of her PTSD she has a lot of fight in her when she lets it show.

Secondary relationships became a major plot element this time around. In the first book, one of my critiques was that friendships were almost an afterthought. In OKAY relationships between the main characters and their parents and the protagonists and their friends were complex and grew as the story progressed. Sam’s relationship with his father was gripping. All of Sam’s animosity, his violence and anger stems from his horrendous feelings towards his father. The therapeutic interactions between them allowed for Sam to understand, to open his mind, and forgive, not fully but he’s on his way. 

Sam’s feelings for Rory are transcendent, pure, heavenly. You feel every ounce of his attraction and respect towards her. From the way she looks, to her tiny mannerisms, and even when she’s throwing him off, he knows when to give her space. Sam’s anger is explosive, deep-seeded, and volatile, but the memory of his father’s actions ground him. Knowing that he is just as vulnerable and attached as Rory added another level to their relationship. 

The romantic scenes between Sam and Rory are molten hot bouts of ecstasy and carnal heat one moment and perfect love and mutual understanding the next. They care about each other’s happiness and that attentiveness intensifies their already steamy romance. 

The off and on, push and shove of Sam and Rory’s romance/friendship was infuriating. I understood Rory’s interpretation but I couldn’t get past the fact that out of everything Sam had done for her, the adoration and comfort he had shown her that she would believe she was better off without him or that he didn’t love her. It just didn’t make sense. 

author1177095_origDanielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best-selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and ever-supportive husband, who–luckily–doesn’t mind sharing her with an array of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young Adult and New Adult Contemporary Romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and cupcakes, and not in moderation.

 

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Life changing reading, 

Jordan

New Adult/Adult Reviews

Hi all,

This is just a brief announcement of what is coming up this week. I have a research paper on the ICTY and implementation of genocide charges which is taking up a massive amount of my review time. However, I have several blog tours and giveaways scheduled for this week. The majority of these reviews are NA or Adult. Don’t worry, I will definitely include new release YA in between the NA. I have received so many requests lately and oddly enough, most of them have been for adult fiction. Go figure. But I’m happy to review anything really and hope that all of you are open to exploring this world of adult fiction with me while I review a genre I haven’t touched in years. Just don’t think that I’ve given up on YA because that is NOT the case. My love of YA knows no bounds and I have a bunch of YA reviews and reveals in the works for you. If you guys have any requests or suggestions, feel free to comment or contact me in one of the options under contact info at the top of the blog.

As always, happy reading friends,

-BB

The DNF Pile

As avid book readers we’re no strangers to categorizing and putting things into nice little piles. We all have our TBR, our TBReviewed, and various subcategories that we create on Goodreads to help give us the semblance of sanity and/or order. But the dirty secret, the black sheep in the corner is the DNF(did not finish) pile. We don’t like to talk about it, we don’t like to think about it, and in fact, every time we’re forced to put a new book into that pile our hearts break into a billion itsy bitsy pieces and the guilt, THE GUILT could damn near destroy us.

Everyone assumes the DNF pile is bad, that the books in there are trash, riddled with grammatical errors, typos, and boring, stereotypical characters and plots filled with holes. Here’s my confession:

The truth is, the books in my DNF pile are not typically any of those adjectives above but simply did not resonate with me. The DNF, I would argue, is extremely personal. It’s not about the book, it’s about the special connection that seeps deep beneath your skin, spreads through your body warming your heart and touching your soul. Just because something is in a friend’s DNF pile doesn’t mean that it sucks and you shouldn’t try it or that you should throw the book away, in fact, I suggest that you put the book aside and try it at a later date.

As a reader, you know as well as I that sometimes you’re just not ready for a specific book, sometimes extenuating circumstances in your life can make you feel so intensely towards a book that you immediately dismiss it. It may be that you tried, read to your cut-off page limit* and just couldn’t read anymore. It might be that a certain character or plot element really disgusts you or pushes your buttons and for some people that is enough.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to place a book in my DNF pile and with a heavy heart I did so today. I read, and I pondered, and I tried my hardest but this book just did not work for me. I was unprepared for the twisted hurt that invaded by thoughts and the nauseated feeling I got as I cast the book aside. THIS IS NOT OKAY. As a blogger and general lover of books, it nearly literally makes me sick to put a book aside but the thought that I can go back to it and later and maybe, just maybe I’ll fall in love gives me hope.

We’re all different people with a kaleidoscope of emotions and likes, dislikes, preferences. Don’t let the DNF pile consume you. If you read a review and see a book that you think sounds fantastic on a DNF pile, take that with a grain of salt. Ultimately, you as the wonderfully unique person you are decide what to love and whether a book is valuable to you.

I look at my DNF pile as a land of misplaced toys or second chances, something to revisit at a later date and find again. Try it, I bet you’ll feel better.

***Mine is page 50, if I can’t get into the book, I’m done.

Keep reading, have a great weekend,

-BB

Facebook Group

Hi everyone,

For those of you who are more inclined to be on Facebook than WordPress or if you would like to have an additional reminder of reviews or posts in your feed, join the newly created Facebook group for this blog!

YA Book Madness Facebook Group

A new review will be out a little later today on Abby McDonald’s The Anti-Prom and maybe a bonus review of Lizzy Ford’s Dark Summer so check back later, I’ll keep you posted.

For now, pleasant reading book lovers and check out the Facebook group. If you have any suggestions or something you would like to see on this blog or in the FB group just shoot me and email or a message on FB. For those contacts just click the contact tab on the main page.

-BB

Upcoming Reviews

Hi everyone,

I’m so sorry about the lag in reviews, the holidays were particularly chaotic this year back at home and I barely had internet access to stay connected. On the plus side, I read a massive amount of books and can’t wait to post my reviews.

Here they are:

  • Dare You To-Katie McGarry

 

 

 

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  • Teardrop-Lauren Kate

 

 

 

 

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  • Opal-Jennifer L. Armentrout

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  • Unbreakable-Kami Garcia

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  • The Chaos of the Stars-Kiersten White

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  • Shadows-Jennifer L. Armentrout

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  • The Anti-Prom-Abby McDonald

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  • The Lying Game Series-Sara Shepard

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  • Origin-Jennifer L. Armentrout

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  • Duplicity-Nikki Jefford

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4/18

As per the poll in my last post, you guys voted to have a New Adult day and I’m definitely going to give you one weekly. I’ll update you later on that.

Happy reading,

-BB

My Personal Shades of YA Challenge

Pink:

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Glimmerglass- Jenna Black

Red (ish):

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Anna Dressed in Blood- Kendare Blake
Graceling- Kristin Cashore
Scarlet- Marissa Meyer
Period 8- Chris Crutcher
The Scorpio Races- Maggie Stiefvater
Reached- Ally Condie
Confessions of a Murder Suspect- James Patterson

Green:

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Ascend- Amanda Hocking
Crewel- Gennifer Albin

Blue:

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•Torn- Amanda Hocking
•iBoy- Kevin Brooks
The Raven Boys- Maggie Stiefvater
The Rising- Kelley Armstrong
Daughter of Smoke and Bone- Laini Taylor

Purple:

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A Want so Wicked- Suzanne Young
Changeling- Philippa Gregory

Grey:

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•Clockwork Angel- Cassandra Clare

Black:

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•Sweet Peril- Wendy Higgins
•Heist Society- Ally Carter
•The Lying Game- Sara Shepard
•Fateful- Claudia Gray
•Fury- Elizabeth Miles
•Nevermore- Kelly Creagh
•The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer- Michelle Hodkin
•Bewitching- Alex Flinn

18/26 Completed

-BB