ARC Review: Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta

bad bloodGoodreads/B&N/Amazon/iBooks

syn

A girl discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender and Natasha Preston.

All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin.

Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.

review3/5 Stars

***I recieved this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Delacorte Press

+++Contains what may be considered triggers for graphic self-mutilation/cutting 

It’s taken me a while to write this review because I still tilt my head and squint at this book. It’s not at all what I expected. It feels like a bunch of ideas mashed up together and flattened to make a solid picture, but really it’s a Monet close up. Good grief, I’m rambling. Simply, a whole slew of story arcs and ideas are strewn together and they don’t quite fit. It feels messy and random. I honestly have no idea how it went from something so serious and heartbreaking like self-mutilation/harm to compulsive blood magic but alright. I’m perplexed. Not to say that this wasn’t an enjoyable read. It absolutely was. 

The book begins with Heather, who is recovering after being committed for cutting. She is granted permission to go on her annual summer trip to Scotland and the majority of the story takes place there. What I liked about Heather’s story and this book in general, was the descriptive and emotionally compelling exploration of what Heather feels when she gets the urge to cut. Her struggle to understand why she harms herself, her fear, her shame, and her desperation to hide it from even her closest friends. Getting into her head space was enlightening and helped to understand the many motivations and reasoning behind self-harm. 

What threw me for a loop was the dreams/visions. There’s this ghostly, haunting vibe which is pretty cool and carries throughout. But if you’re like me, you’ll spend the entire book trying to figure out what this has to do with anything. And then the witchcraft happens. I just…I feel like the author couldn’t decide on what she wanted this book to be. Or maybe this was the plan all along, it’s not as seamless as it could be, it’s jumbled and flips from one thing to another. Then throw romance in there. 

To say some scenes are jarring would be an understatement. Sometimes they’re downright insane. Like out of your mind, how could you ever think that was a good idea, crazy. You might feel the urge to scream at the book or avert your eyes. Plus, vague-booking here, but NO THAT IS NO WAY EVER FORGIVABLE. Not even remotely.

The romance is dreamy. In some ways, I feel like had this book been about Heather’s self-harm and the romance, or just one or the other, it would have been more engaging. Heather and Robby are playful and flirty. They’re discovering attraction when before they only saw each other as friends. It’s sweet and Robby makes the cutest little songs on the spot. He’s seriously adorable. And the kilt. 

Primrose and Prudence’s story, when you get to it, it awesome. It’s full of revenge, jealously, heartbreak, and the worst betrayals. I wish there had been more of that. 

Overall, this was an interesting read.

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

Haunting reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

under-roseGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.

Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.

review

3.5/5 Stars

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

This book. I’m still reeling. What a whirlwind. Norah suffers from a heavy and debilitating combination of agoraphobia and OCD, that effectively makes her housebound. Her mind runs a mile a minute with scenarios that rival 1,000 Ways to Die. Things that the average person would never think of, statistics, all merge into a fatalistic and fearful main character. 

Where do I even begin? The author and the main character share their mental illnesses so the writer is painting her experience vividly and with authority. You can feel it in every thought, every action, the way Norah’s mind expands and she closes in on herself. It’s heartbreaking, terrifying, and absolutely puts you in the character’s shoes. Every fear, every anxiety is magnified and coupled with her OCD quirks that won’t allow her to step outside of her comfort zone and there’s no telling what will set off her spiral into fear and depression. Norah tries hard to control everything to alleviate her fears and when she can’t, she turns to self harm. Those moments are especially poignant. Many times her self-loathing, frustration, and anger with her illness pours off the page. She hates that she can’t be normal. At first Norah is hard to sympathize with because her OCD and agoraphobia is so pronounced. As someone who doesn’t suffer from these illnesses, you’ll think, why can’t she just get over? What’s the big deal? You might even get a little annoyed. But as the story progresses, you get it. 100%. You understand that Norah has no choice, that she struggles and fights and her mind overwhelms her. And it’s gut-wrenching what she goes through, how every little action consumes her and forces her to act a certain way despite what her heart years for. I mean, wow. 

The story is basically Norah opening herself up to new experiences, facing her insecurities through baby steps, and learning to hope for a future where she won’t be limited, where she will have the freedom to embrace her dreams of travel and dating like a “normal” girl. Under Rose-Tainted Skies straddles a fine line and where I think it might face some critique fire is in terms of romanticizing mental illness. Many times, a guy or girl will come in and suddenly they’re the miraculous cure, and IMO if love can help, I’m all for it, but lately readers have objected to that sort of cure-all at the site of a hot guy. Luke, to me, is a spark that ignites her, he lights her up and makes her dream again-he’s a catalyst not a savior. Norah still makes choices, heck yes she has a huge crush because the guy is smoking hot, awkward, and so understanding, but he by no means swoops in and saves her, she fights and makes choices and slowly copes-she’s not cured because that’s totally unrealistic. This is a real, gritty picture of mental illness and how it wreaks havoc on every aspect of the individual’s life. 

What I felt the story was missing was more encounters with Norah’s mother, and her therapist. They both are strong women that have a huge presence in Norah’s life and while you get that impression and there are short scenes, I would have loved to see more of the cute interactions with Norah and her mom, and maybe a bit more on what Norah was like before her accident. 

The pacing was so-so, but fit for contemporary. There’s definitely a build up in feelings, curiosity, and yearning. The twist near the end was unexpected, but worked well. 

Luke and Norah together are made of awkward and silly and smiles and sometimes walking on eggshells, but it’s worth it just to see Norah overcome and work through her illness. They’re so cute together and so weird. Totally endearing and it’s really refreshing that all the instalust and love that have been permeating YA lately is not present. 

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

Insightful reading,

Jordan

Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

women-in-wallsGoodreads/Kobo/B&N/Amazon/iBooks

syn

Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

review

3/5 Stars

+++Contains graphic violence, grotesque imagery, self-inflicted mutilation, and scenes that could be disturbing to some readers. 

I loved Daughters Unto Devils so when I saw The Women in the Walls I was gleeful. It felt like a lovely early Christmas present for my horror-obsessed little heart. Then I started reading. I waited. And waited. And waited some more for something to happen and finally it did, but it took ages. The pacing is slow. So much so that the tension doesn’t build like it should. Scenes that should have sucked all the air out of the room with the sheer creepiness of what was going on fell flat and missed their mark entirely in some places. 

The setting didn’t quite fit with the story. The Women in the Walls read like a Gothic novel, but was set (I’m assuming because of a few-very few-references) in present time. There were so many details that were left out. It bugged me that I had no clue how old the main characters were. All we know is that they are not legal adults. I was at a loss for what Lucy looked like. Descriptions of people were sparse. Apart from Lucy’s habit of self-mutilation, we really know nothing about her hobbies, her interests, her friendships, nothing. There are measly references to her mother, and some moderately detailed memories of her and Penelope, but that’s it. Lucy’s closeness to Margaret was stressed throughout, but there are no flashbacks, no nostalgia, and certainly no friendly interactions as the story evolves. If anything, they look like enemies. It’s hard to invest in their relationship when it felt as though it was never there to begin with. 

What Amy Lukavics excels at is those spine-tingling, chilling images that are blunt and brutal and made of nightmares. The horror is grotesque, packs a punch, and so bizarre that it takes a second for it to process and then, boom. I said this about Daughters Unto Devils as well, this would make a fantastic scary movie. Some statements are disturbing on levels that sink their teeth into you and keep going, gnawing at your thoughts. I can’t get them out of my head and that shows you how powerful those scenes are. 

The ending. The bulk of the horror happens in the last 15 or so percent of the book. What gets you is the anticipation. You know something terrible is coming. Something so bad that you persevere and wade through the slowness. Will it be paranormal? Will it be bloody? Will Lucy make it to the end of the book? What happened? All of these questions nag and plague and will drive you mad with need. I had to know. I pushed and fought and when I got there…

Holy plot twist. That’s some next level horror. The clues are minimal. You might expect it a little, but the full extent of what happens-never. 

That finale. The gore is enough to keep you awake for days. Read it with the lights on. You were warned. 

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

Hypnotic reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: A Song For Us-Teresa Mummert

3.5/5 Stars

A Song For Us (White Trash Trilogy, #3)-Teresa Mummert

*This book was originally titled White Trash Love Song just to clear up any confusion presented by the Goodreads cover image.

**I was gifted this title in exchange for an honest review from Gallery Books via NetGalley.

***For my YA crowd, this is an adult book and does contain adult language and content.

a-song-for-us-by-teresa-mummertAmazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Goodreads

My next breath whispered her name and my heart beat to the sound of our song. I was completely and un-fucking-believably in love with her. 

***

I’ve always heard that before you seek revenge you should dig two graves. This was mine. A place where I was locked away with my own thoughts that threatened to drive me insane. A place where I was forced to watch life pass me by and all I had were memories to cling to.

cooltext1552738522 copy

In this highly anticipated follow-up to White Trash Damaged, Cass and Tucker have finally found their happily ever after, but can Eric, the band’s brooding drummer, ever let go of his past and find love?

From a small-town boy with fantasies of superstardom to rock star on tour with the suddenly famous band Damaged, Eric’s life has not been an easy journey. Now he struggles to let go of his past of physical abuse, a past that still haunts him. His anger is causing him to spiral out of control and he risks losing everything he has worked so hard for.

Only one person has ever gotten him to open up about his past: Sarah, the lead singer of Filth, the opening act on their first national tour—a fellow rocker with a confident façade that masks her own painful secrets. But their bands’ rocky past and Sarah’s tumultuous relationship with her bandmate and boyfriend Derek force her to keep Eric at a distance. As their friendship begins to grow into something more, Eric has to find a way to let go of his tortured past, or it could jeopardize his only chance for a happy future…

-via Goodreads


cooltext1552739517 copy

  • A Song For Us is a heartbreaking journey into the souls of two kindred spirits both sucker punched by terrible life circumstances. They find in each other someone who understands on that deep, poignant level where their pain is coming from and channel that emotional thunder into beautiful music. The aching and yearning for love and companionship is incredibly real and laced with sorrow and a hopefulness that will have you pulling for a happy ending.
  • Sarah’s story is one of brokeness and a desperate desire to escape. Her downward spiral into depression, her memories of the past, the abuse and terror, the pain and horror at what she went through is an open wound, burying down into your heart. The descriptions, her coping mechanisms, the way she loses herself to the music as a form of therapy and a way to protect herself is beyond moving, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions that will open eyes and really put you in her frame of mind. Sarah is an amazing woman. She has overcome so much and made an image for herself that makes her feel empowered and safe. Her past is what guides her life choices and not always in the best of ways. Sarah’s fierce grip on what she believes is love is heartbreaking, all she hopes for is to be cared for, to be warmed in love and happiness and will do anything to keep that illusion up, even if it means overlooking things. A particular scene that resonated and encompassed Sarah’s conflicting personalities, the Sarah of the past and the new Sarah, was in the sex scenes. Sarah’s disconnectedness, her need to hide in her mind, lost to Free Bird was the most tragic and gut-wrenching scene I’ve ever read. Grab the tissues. Seriously, you’ll thank me.
  • Mummert has a knack for capturing the hidden emotions, the root ones that we try to mask, and the moment of realization, when the character finally faces their past and lets it all out is overwhelming. The raw and brutally honest portrayal of emotions and fears at face value is amazing, opening the characters up and really showing the reader their demons.
  • E and Sarah. The chemistry is not a sexual attraction but a soul-touching, feel it in your bones connection. Their love is pure, based on understanding that doesn’t require words just a meeting of the hearts and a soft glance. They force each other to face their fears, to confront the source and know that they’ll be there for each other to fall apart. It’s beautiful, transcendent, and a love that’s not typically found in a lot of romance lately.
  • E is an enigma. He’s hard on the outside and a compassionate, understanding lover on the inside. He constantly worries about Sarah, looks out for her welfare, and yearns to show her the love that she’s never had. His jealousy is violent and self-deprecating. His anger over Sarah’s rejection for a guy that treats her so badly is not uncalled for but he balances this with his willingness to sacrifice his feelings for her happiness. He’s sweet one minute and a fiery, fists flying beast in another. His past is just as devastating as Sarah’s. It’s their suffering that brought them together and strengthens their bond. E is so real. You get right into his head.
  • The shifting character perspectives are flawless.
  • A Song For Us deals with many heavy subjects such as suicide, self-inflicted violence/mutilation, child abuse, sexual abuse, and death. In terms of how these subjects were treated, the emotions are intensely present, the characters work through these memories and actively try to move forward in a positive light. There’s no sugar-coating and I for one, truly respect that. However, the cutting and mutilation weren’t really addressed in a way that suggested means of aid or help with dealing but just examined. Some sort of after-care or wellness should have been discussed.

cooltext1552740461 copy

  • Some of the language was very repetitive and phrases were repeated over and over in consecutive sentences.
  • The story starts out a little slow. After the introductory mystery of how exactly E got in his horrible predicament, it takes a while for the story to start rolling and any real emotional twists to develop.
  • E and Sarah are really frustrating, their internal dialogues are wonderfully raw and open but they lack courage and conviction. They complain about their love lives and feelings constantly but don’t confess those feelings and wonder why nothing happens. What’s worse is that they can’t seem to understand why there’s no result when the effort wasn’t put in to make their feelings known.
  • The secondary characters, apart from two of the love interests were largely undeveloped and left alone. Their contribution to the plot was pretty minimal and the plot itself was short and sweet, taking place in the span of a few weeks.
  • Sarah’s time in therapy was short and felt unresolved. The healing process was glossed over and far too short to be believable or foster any sense of security in her overall recovery.

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

2079348416056408gravity-by-shayne-mcclendon12901365

Happy weekend, keep reading,

cooltext1532217430 copy