Review: Broken Heart by Tammy Faith

brokenGoodreads/AmazonsynI met Cris when I was five years old. He was my brother’s best friend. We started out as friends and eventually evolved to first kiss, first crush, first love. First everything.

I was an innocent little girl. Stupid. Naive. Cris and I promised each other forever.

Right then, we didn’t know that promises were so hard to keep. I was corrupted, each piece of me smashed against my foolish and childish wishes. Who would have thought that my boyfriend would become the vivid incarnation of my own personal demon?

Crisanto Tauli and Phoebe Stephen were happy.

Until that day.

The day she can’t seem to remember, and he can’t seem to forget. The day that she, ruled by her fears, left him. The day that she broke both of their hearts.

Now she has to face him, and her secrets, once again.

TRIGGER WARNING! DUE TO MATURE CONTENT, THIS BOOK IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR READERS UNDER THE AGE OF 18.teaserbroken teaserbroken tease

review

3.5/5 Stars

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

CONTAINS TRIGGERS & Mature Content: rape 

PROS:

  • This is not only a story of heartbreaking recovery and love, but a coming of age story as well. Phoebe grows exponentially, she becomes confident in herself, her sexuality, and finds her worth as a person. At the same time, she’s mature enough to realize that she’s too dependent on her boyfriend and needs time to become who she’s destined to be (though this doesn’t last too long). Phoebe’s pain is palpable and raw, her memories of the incident are haunting and terrible. The words her rapist whispered to her stayed with me for days. 
  • Depictions of therapy and coping mechanism post-trauma are spot on and inspirational. They grant hope and show just how hard working through PTSD is, no matter how far you’ve come, there will always be triggers and memories. 
  • Cris and Phoebe’s romance is playful and sometimes extremely serious. It’s made of rough patches, and bitter fights, of pushing each other away and running back with open arms. There are tears, and pain, and oh so much happiness. They are a shining example of overcoming all obstacles for the one you love. 
  • Phoebe’s interactions with Giselle were hilarious. They show her spunky, sarcastic side and you get a true picture of their friendship. 

CONS:

  • Interesting side note: I’m from Florida, where this is set, and attended FSU, so I was excited that part of the story was set where I went to university…but there was ZERO description. Nothing. Like not even mention of local bars or buildings or even the name of the football stadium where the MAIN CHARACTER played football. This took away from the story. It’s not the only section that lacks description to make the story seem more real, more colorful, instead of a whole bunch of telling. The most description was actually of the sexual assault and sex scenes, which kind of displaced the whole story. 
  • The story digressed as it went. Instead of development, towards the end it became a whole slew of sex scenes, so many that it lost the magic of their romance and felt a little monotonous. 
  • The pacing was off. Some moments that felt like they should have been extended were too short. There are leaps in time that are a bit confusing and will take you some time to adjust. The story goes from high school almost to the end of college. 

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

Read on, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Modern Monsters-Kelley York

51Cjs50IYjL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: June 2, 2015

cooltext1889161239 copyVic Howard never wanted to go to the party. He’s the Invisible Guy at school, a special kind of hell for quiet, nice guys. But because his best friend is as popular as Vic is ignored, he went…

And wished he hadn’t.

Because something happened to a girl that night. Something terrible, unimaginable, and Callie Wheeler’s life will never be the same. Plus, now Callie has told the police that Vic is responsible. Suddenly, Invisible Vic is painfully visible, on trial both literally, with the police, and figuratively, with the angry kids at school. As the whispers and violence escalate, he becomes determined to clear his name, even if it means an uneasy alliance with Callie’s best friend, the beautiful but aloof Autumn Dixon.

But as Autumn and Vic slowly peel back the layers of what happened at the party, they realize that while the truth can set Vic free, it can also shatter everything he thought he knew about his life…

cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

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

+++Triggers: Deals with subjects of rape and suicide. While not explicit/graphic, discussed throughout. 

Modern Monsters is a thought-provoking glimpse into the life of the accused. Kelley York succinctly delves into the psyche of the accused and the reactions of those around him. Hurt, confusion, trauma, and fierce determination reign in this unexpected and extremely relevant story.

PROS:

  • Vic is unlike any male protagonist I’ve read and it’s a good thing. So often we’re presented with guys that are popular, bad boys, oozing sex appeal, or nerdy, Vic is none of those things. I LOVED that Vic was unsure. He didn’t have a particular hobby or goals about what he wants to do with his life, he’s confused and still figuring it out. I think a lot of people are and because of that Vic is incredibly real. He’s not suave or reclusive, he’s in-between and it’s perfect. When he talks to Autumn, he’s scared, shy, and yeah, he has no clue how to interpret girls, it’s adorable and intensely endearing. Vic is a great guy. Compassionate, kind, and all he wants is to feel cared about-loved. It’s heartbreaking how disconnected he feels from his classmates and even more so, how hurt he feels by his mom’s rejection. The pain is potent and raw, you’ll want to shake some sense into his mother, how can she not see what an amazing guy he is?
  • Autumn is the best friend anyone would love to have. She’s quirky, sarcastic, fiercely protective, and a tad violent. She loves with everything and she brings a lightness and determination to the story. She’s like a bloodhound sniffing out the perpetrators. The gentle way she handles Vic is sweet and soft, she protects him despite her doubts. 
  • When we hear about sex crimes, things as horrific and disquieting as rape, we often are consumed with the plight of the victim and hunting down the guilty part-for justice. But what about the accused? It’s reality that not everyone blacklisted and marked as the culprit actually is. It’s important to consider the accused and their perspective. Vic, in this case, was wrongly accused and his suffering and harassment are brutal. He doesn’t deserve the dirty looks, the beatings, the comments but he deals. Kelley York does a fantastic job making the story about the victim without making her the protagonist and really makes you question the role of indirect victims. 

CONS:

  • The pacing was sporadic. The whole first section of the book sort of drifted by in a steady languid pace and the end was one reveal after the other before cutting off. It felt rushed, like there was a lot more to be said and characters didn’t work all the way through their feelings. 
  • For a girl who all out hated and physically attacked Vic, who was so sure of his guilt, the turn around is unbelievable and way too fast. It’s obvious that Autumn is desperate to find her best friend’s rapist but to flip so quickly and trust the guy she decked in the face, it just didn’t make sense. 
  • Brett and Vic’s friendship is tentative and parasitic at best. It’s kind of toxic for Vic. While he is supportive, he never pushes Vic to find his niche, he drags him to places he doesn’t want to go, and for so called best friends, their interactions feel off, the warmth and connection aren’t there. 

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

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Review: Normal-Danielle Pearl

 

girl laying in the grass, looking down, she is very sad and depressedGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks/Kobo/Smashwords

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 11, 2014

cooltext1790897456 copyIt’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 now suffering from a 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 couldn’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.

cooltext1790896132 copy5/5 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

PROS:

  • 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.

CONS:

  • The cover is not something that would make me pick it up.

cooltext1790891142 copy??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????cooltext1790890114 copyHe is a walking trigger for me. Gorgeous. My God is he gorgeous. And gorgeous guys in high school are assholes. Especially jocks. And judging by his physique, that’s exactly what he is. He’s tall. Built. Six plus feet of lean muscle… athletic. Something I’d have found incredibly attractive a year ago.

Now, all I can think is how easy it would be for him to overpower me.

No matter how many self-defense classes I take, I’m still just an average height, slight figured girl. No match against him. No match against any man really.

Suddenly all I register is the desolately empty hallway, the absence of any other souls. The fact that there are over a thousand people in this building, including thirty or so just on the opposite side of the door he just exited, is completely and utterly lost on me.

My pulse races again, ten times worse than before. I gape at him in shocked panic, but can’t catch my breath enough to speak. My hand reaches for the front pocket of my backpack again, but this time for the zipper. I can’t get a grip on it, my fingers shake too much. My gaze makes its way up this stranger’s frighteningly powerful body, up past a chiseled jaw, and lips so full and soft looking they are in total contrast to his masculine bone structure. My gaze inexorably continues its path past a straight nose framed by perfectly defined cheek bones, and lock on his eyes.

The sneer I expect is missing. He’s not looking at me like I’m a crazy weirdo – though I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ve become – instead, he’s watching me with genuine concern. His eyes are the deepest blue, like a midnight sky, and his brow is creased with worry.

And the strangest thing happens. As we keep eye contact, I start to calm. I breathe in, and out. In, and out. I am still panicking, but I can breathe, and my fingers stop shaking enough to get a grip on the zipper pull. I look down to unzip the pocket and grab the bottle, but as soon as our eye contact is broken, I can’t remember what calmed me in the first place and start breathing hard again. My chest constricts. The bottle tumbles from my trembling fingers and rolls a few feet away. Before I can scramble to pick it up, he does it first.

I freeze, waiting for him to hand me my medication, but he pauses, and reads the label. His brow furrows again in concern, or consternation, and as he reluctantly hands me the bottle, I can feel him judging me. But I don’t care yet. I can’t. I need to calm down. I need a pill. I twist open the lid and look up and down the hall and silently thank God when I see a water fountain. I force myself the thirty or so feet to it, pop the pill, take a drink, and then lean back against the wall and close my eyes, waiting for the magic to take effect.

Slowly, the pressure in my chest alleviates. My breathing starts to even out, and though my mind is a bit cloudy – the whole reason I want to stop taking the pills in the first place – the attack is passing. A few more moments and I’ll be able to open my eyes, maybe even venture into math class.

“Better?”

My eyelids fly open. I hadn’t realized he was still here, let alone followed me to the water fountain.

“Fine. Like I said,” I mutter ungratefully. He furrows his brow and hesitates and I wonder why he’s even still here. For a split second, even calmed by modern medicine, I worry he might want to hurt me, and I swallow nervously and hold my breath.

“Why don’t I know you, Aurora?” he asks casually, as if he didn’t just witness me breaking down in the hallway.

“Rory,” I correct, before I realize he just called me by name. “Wait. How do you know my name?” My tone makes me sound paranoid, and the irony is that had I not just ingested anti-anxiety medication, just the idea of this tall, ruggedly beautiful boy knowing something about me I hadn’t offered him would have sent me spiraling into another attack. But I took the pill. I caved. So I can come across like a relatively normal person, at least for now.

“It was on your… um… bottle,” he replies.

I look down, mortified. Vaguely I wonder if he knows what Alprazolam is prescribed for, even though he obviously just witnessed my attack. I’m thankful the bottle says the generic name, and not just Xanax, which teens generally recognize. Some even take it for fun, which doesn’t make sense to me. There is nothing fun about any of it.

“So why don’t I know you, Rory?”

“I’m new,” I practically whisper.

“I see. Well, welcome to Port Wood. I’m Sam. Sam Caplan.”

“Nice to meet you,” I breathe, still without looking up.

“So, can I, like, walk you to the nurse’s office or something?”

Now I look up. “No. Like I said, I’m fine. I just need to get to class.” I turn and start to walk back toward room 313 when another student comes barreling down the hall. I pause and step back toward the wall, out of his way.

“Cap! What’s up? I’m late as fuck!” he announces to explain why he’s taking the halls like a bat out of hell. However, as soon as his gaze skates over me he comes skidding to a stop. “Well, hi there.” His eyebrows rise with interest and he rakes my entire body with his gaze, he doesn’t even try to hide it.

I take another automatic step back and fold my arms protectively over my middle. I tell myself that he’s just flirting. It’s harmless. It’s normal.

But I’m not normal.

I’m so glad I’m medicated right now.

Sam seems to sense my unease and steps in front of me, practically shielding me from someone who is obviously his friend. His friend’s brows draw together as he looks at Sam, clearly confused at his stance, as am I.

“Sorry, Tuck, we’re late too, gotta get to class,” Sam explains as he gently takes my hand and leads me back towards calculus. I’m momentarily stunned by his touch. A strange man taking hold of my hand should have freaked me out, even medicated. But his touch was somehow… comforting.

“Uh, okay. Catch you later, I guess,” Tuck calls out and resumes his jog down the hall in the opposite direction.

As soon as he’s gone I yank my hand back, ignoring the fact that a part of me doesn’t want to.

“Sorry,” Sam offers.

I just shrug in response.

“He’s harmless. Tuck. Tucker. He’s just a flirt.”

“Whatever. It’s fine. I’m-“

“You’re fine. I got it.”

I look up at him. Back into those eyes. Big mistake. I start to feel guilty. It appears that I’ve grown so accustomed to being the victim that I can’t even recognize when someone is trying to help me. Great. Now I’m a bitch. “I’m sorry,” I mutter.

“Whatever, it’s cool. You in my class? Calc?” he gestures to the door to 313.

I nod.

“Cool, let’s go.”

“Didn’t you… weren’t you headed somewhere?” I ask. After all, he must have had somewhere he’d needed to go – before he got sidetracked by the new girl having an episode in the hallway. Sam chuckles and it’s a lighthearted, genuinely sweet sound. The kind of laugh that instantly puts you at ease, that intimates sincerity and warmth. I’m surprised by how it affects me.

“Nah. I just get bored in calculus sometimes and ask for a bathroom pass.” He shrugs and opens the door for me.

I go in ahead of him and to my surprise, he grabs the form out of my hand and slams it on the teacher’s desk. “New student,” he murmurs, as if it’s the most ordinary thing in the world and then takes a seat in the second row.

The teacher barely looks up as he directs me to take a seat, which I do – as far back as I can – and the few students who look up, mostly girls, look only at Sam. And I can’t blame them.

And just like that, I’m back to being invisible.

cooltext1790891890 copyFacebook/Smashwords/Twitter

Danielle Pearl is a novelist focusing on the New Adult genre. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two delicious little boys, and has been writing since she could hold a pencil. Danielle is a book addict and spends every free moment consuming as many novels as humanly possible. She grew up on Long Island with her parents, twin brother, and younger brother and sister who are also twins. She is the eldest granddaughter of Zus Bielski, famous for leading the Bielski Partisans who saved over 1,200 Jewish men, women, & children in Nazi occupied Poland. Her grandparents and family were featured in the 2010 film Defiance, starring Liev Schreiber, who played Danielle’s grandfather, Daniel Craig, and Jamie Bell, and was directed by Edward Zwick.

 

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Happy reading,

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ARC Review Blitz: Breakdown-Amanda Lance

BreakdownRBBreakdownGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/Kobo/iBooks

Breakdown (Crash Into Me, #1) by Amanda Lance

REVIEW BLITZ

October 6-10 2014

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour.

“‘Remember how you said I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for you to call me?’ I smiled faintly, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well, I just want you to know that I’d do a lot more than that for you. If you needed me to I’d die holding my breath for you.’ Despite the overwhelming flattery I swallowed hard and shook my head. ‘You can’t do that, stupid. Your body would automatically start breathing again once you passed out.’ He laughed ‘I know that. What I mean is-I’d grow old, get all shriveled up and die. I’d stop racing, driving and even start taking the bus before I ever gave up on you, Jumper.'”

cooltext1712921505 copyCharlotte Ferro is about to jump.

Yet nothing ruins a perfectly good suicide attempt worse than a handsome do-gooder. After William O’Reilly convinces her to take one last ride with him, Charlotte finds herself forgetting about her own problems and enjoying a world of which she never dreamed.

Now addicted to the rush of fast cars and cool criminals, Charlotte finds herself leaning less towards the ledge and more toward the arms of her savior. But with reasons of his own for keeping Charlotte safe from herself, William is reluctant to involve her in his criminal undertakings. Will his career choice keep them apart? Will Charlotte’s painful past?

cooltext1719331023 copy4/5 Stars

PROS:

  • There are many profound, uplifting, and emotionally raw elements to this amazing story. The messages of hope and faith were some of the strongest. The shift from the reckless and melancholy abandon in the beginning to the happiness towards the end really showcased how it only takes one act of kindness, a little bit of caring and letting someone knew that they’re valuable, that they’re worth it to change everything. In an instant, Charlotte’s sadness diminished with the playful words of s stranger and in less than an hour, she began to see that despite her crappy life, her abuse, and her feelings of hopelessness, that there is light and laughter buried beneath all the bad. 
  • Charlotte’s solitude is an aching, all-consuming entity, leaching the life out of her. Her obsession with ways to die, her calculated planning and methodology for her suicide conflicts with her thoughts. As much as Charlotte wants to end her pain, she is plagued by thoughts of others because she is a good person. Even when deciding the time to off herself, she needed to make sure it was when her parents would find out together, that she landed in a spot so as not to injure anyone in oncoming traffic, and even parked her car away to not inconvenience the police. Everything is timed and plotted and while she has all of these thoughts on how to make the situation better for others, she has so little value for herself that it never even occurs to her that her death would cripple her parents emotionally or that it would affect anyone else. The depression is like a knife to the chest and incredibly well written. Every ounce of agony and stagnancy is reflected in Charlotte’s thoughts, her mannerisms, and how she views the world. It’s heartbreaking to read and though as the reader, we don’t know for sure what put her in this state, her raggedly emotional downward spiral is real enough not to question the severity of her suffering.
  • Charlotte is made of sarcasm and creativity. Her quips are snarky and fun, always inventive, and the way she mocks and toys with William is hilarious. For someone as introspective and depressed as Charlotte, she’s spunky, confident, and sassy when comfortable and she lets her guard down. Charlotte gets lost in her baking, she loves experimenting with recipes and finds true joy in cooking. It’s through the combination of baking and William that she finds her voice and figures out what she wants to do with her life. It’s marvelous seeing how much Charlotte grows and is reborn in such a short time. The adrenaline and self-destructiveness combine into an explosive source of crazy for Charlotte. The scene with the fire was a little much and hinted at how mentally unstable Charlotte was at the time. Occasionally, Charlotte is really insecure, especially around men. All she wants is for people to like her, to notice and appreciate her and doesn’t know how to behave in a crowd.
  • William is delightfully humorous and genuine. He cares about people and is just a pure, great guy. He has a past that’s a little seedy and maybe a lot illegal but he’s kind-hearted and protective. He looks out for his friends and tells it like it is. William doesn’t BS or beat around the bush, he brings up tough subjects and asks questions that might be difficult but need to be put out there. He’s flirty, compassionate and the way he teases Charlotte (Jumper) will make your heart beat a little faster. The text messages were adorable and the way he makes Charlotte light up inside is enough to make any red blooded girl fall, hard. 
  • Chemistry. Oodles of it. It’s not the hot, hyper-sexualized angst but a slow burning passion.
  • The secondary characters are quirky, eclectic balls of energy. Eggs, Cosmo, and Frenchie are unique and surprisingly down to earth considering their professions as drag racers and strippers. Frenchie is such a svelte, saucy little lady. Between her pink hair and animal print corsets, she brings Charlotte out of her shell and helps her recognize just how sexy she is.
  • The glimpse into the culture of the drag racing world and chop shops were fascinating. Seeing the social relationships, how the clothing and cliques reflected positions in the overall rankings, the handicaps for poorly maintained cars, and the planning to get away with these illegal races was awesome. 

CONS:

  • There were a few typos and tense issues. 
  • I was torn between appreciating the vagueness of what actually put Charlotte on the path to suicide and what actually happened to William’s sister and loathing the lack of details. The situations, as horrible and tragic in both cases as they are, were merely mentioned one or two times with no real exploration into the emotional impact. Discussing these traumas would have strengthened the emotional connection between the reader and characters.
  • Sometimes just a line can inspire fury or irk you enough to reevaluate views on a particular character. How Charlotte views men is to be expected. Seeing them as betrayers, vile, violent and despicable creatures is okay after what she’s been through and it’s understandable how hard it is for her to trust but her expectations sexually about men really brought home how messed up it is how some people view sex. Mini-rant: getting confused and insecure when sleeping with someone for the first time or several times is fine, but feeling obligated to do something because men have “needs” is ridiculous. It drives me crazy that men having “needs” is simultaneously an excuse and a source of anxiety and pressure. Charlotte’s internal dialogue regarding these issues made me doubt her feelings towards William, or that she was ready to experience something like love or even lust yet.

cooltext1718229341 copyAmanda

Twitter/Facebook/Website

A native of New Jersey and lifelong nerd, Amanda Lance recently completed her Master in Liberal Arts at Thomas Edison State College after her BA in English Literature and AFA in creative writing. As an avid reader of all genres, some of her favorite authors include Hemingway, Marquis de Sade, Stevenson, Bukowski and Radcliffe.

When she isn’t writing or reading, Amanda can found indulging in film noir or hiking with her other half and their extremely spoiled dog. She is obsessively working on her next book and trying to tame her caffeine addiction.

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

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Lost Review: Throwaway Girl by Kristine Scarrow

 

18851343Goodreads/Amazon

 

“We are ‘throwaway girls,’ kids that are too old to be cute and cuddled, too set in our ways, and too old to be saved because the damage has already been done. But to each other we are sponges, soaking up every bit of love and praise we can find. We’re warriors of our pasts, searching for the part of ourselves that want to grow into something more than we’ve been told we’ll ever be. We long to be accepted and loved so we create the only family we’ve got.”

***

“I run the shard up and down my arms, making my body as broken as my spirit. I imagine myself dead, lying in a pool of blood in the dark, damp stairwell and cry even harder.” 

syn

Andy Burton knows a thing or two about survival. Since she was removed from her mother’s home and placed in foster care when she was nine, she’s had to deal with abuse, hunger, and homelessness.

But now that she’s eighteen, she’s about to leave Haywood House, the group home for girls where she’s lived for the past four years, and the closest thing to a real home she’s ever known.

Will Andy be able to carve out a better life for herself and find the happiness she is searching for?

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Dundurn.

***Contains graphic scenes of abuse, mutilation, and rape. May not be appropriate for some readers. Upper YA.

Throwaway Girl is an incredibly raw and piercing emotional journey into the psyche of a beautiful young girl, broken but undefeated, recovering from the scars of her past. A collision of the past and the present, Throwaway Girl reads almost like a diary, full of poignant memories of loss, abuse, and the struggle of the human spirit to overcome life’s horrors. An achingly brutal and realistic look into child abuse, self-mutilation, and dangerous coping mechanisms, Throwaway Girl empowers the and awakens a sense bittersweet sorrow and admiration for Andy.

Throwaway Girl is a gritty, dark, and introspective journey into the heart of the most twisted and prevalent injustices in our society. The things we look away from because they seem too overwhelming, like we can’t make a difference, that it’s too much, these are the very things that we need to stand up for. Those children who are beaten and broken by their loved ones, who live on the streets, who have no one and are shown “love” in the most violent, horrific, and sickening ways, they’re everywhere and they’re growing in number. Throwaway Girl is harsh and eye-opening. It shows a reality that is mean and cruel and threatens to destroy so many people. 

There are many subjects and scenes in this story that are graphic, violent, and mature. For a YA audience, this may be too adult for some readers. However, these subjects are a part of our world and happen every single day. The number of people who have been sexually assaulted is 1 in 4 in the United States. AND that’s the number reported. Awareness is crucial. 

Andy is strength embodied, though she doesn’t know it. She fights hard against her circumstances. No matter how hard she’s hit, how many people take from her things that are precious and steal her sense of safety, she bounces back and comes out stronger and more determined. Sometimes, Andy doesn’t know how to cope and she lives in pain, anguish, and distancing herself from reality-much like an out of body experience. Her world is devoid of happiness, it’s bleak and brutal, and made of those who want to damage her for their own selfish reasons. Andy may have her downs, she may feel suicidal, broken, and defeated, but she never ever gives up on her dreams. The moment she discovers the therapeutic value of writing is like a revelation-it’s absolutely beautiful and written so well. 

Emotions are off the chart. You’ll feel everything. Love, elation, despair, depression, betrayal, and a need for safety so poignant that it feels as if you’re living the emotions as they happen. It’s powerful.

The love story was a serendipitous event that’s sudden and becomes a little like a plot filler. It’s glossed over and while the build up is talked about, it’s summarized, without any true scenes.

The discovery of her mother after ten years have passed is not traumatic or even psychologically explored. It’s just there, from one scene to the next with no effect on Andy’s character growth. It’s there and then gone, this should have been a pivotal moment for Andy, one that spiraled into deep emotional reflection and processing and it’s disregarded. The transition from this scene to the next is abrupt and feels as through an entire plot point was completely forgotten or even ignored.

Andy’s healing process is mentioned but barely. How Andy made such a dramatic change and recovered emotionally is left out altogether except for a fleeting mention of therapy at the Haywood House. By not including this it takes away from Andy’s character growth and makes it seem as though magically she’s okay after everything she went through.

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

Compelling reading, 

Jordan

Book Blitz & Review: Branded-Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

4/5 Stars

Branded (Sinners, #1)-Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki 

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Plot:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

—via Goodreads

Branded is like a black hole, it sucks you in, slowly drawing you into its darkness until you’re unable to escape. As sinister as that sounds, it’s really fitting for this book. From the first page I was drawn in, unable to the put the book down. I needed to know the truth, what happened to Lexi to create so much inhibiting fear and trauma. I couldn’t stop and if it wasn’t for grad school, I probably wouldn’t have. Branded is that gritty, horrifying dose of corruption, power, and devastation that have been missing from the literary world for a while. It’s unbelievably wicked, cruel, and full of shadowed maliciousness that will haunt and touch your heart. Lexi is beautifully damaged and yet so tragically powerful. Her life story made me so angry and sickened, but her spirit, her will to fight, and to find some sort of happiness in a world of such epic destruction and injustice is uplifting and fused with hope against near certain death. I don’t consider this YA because of the themes and graphic violence but it’s not quite NA either. 

PROS:

  • The story is compelling. The details, the sheer plotting of the Hole, the magnitude of the corruption and the nauseating way that people are treated like garbage and branded like cattle is described in such precise and colorful language that you can’t help but become wrapped up in the disgusting and disquieting world of the Hole.
  • Fear is a strong part of Branded and resonates throughout. There is an aura of expectation, a sense of foreboding that something terrible and deadly can and will happen any second. The slimy way the guard’s eyes rake the bodies of the women, that there’s no lock on their power, the careless way they beat, torture, and take lives without conscience is heart-stopping and frightening beyond words. The treatment of women as objects to be used and abused with no consequences, I’ve never been more scared for a character than I was for Lexi. It’s the sort of bated-breath, edge of your seat, biting your nails, and unsettled stomach genuine fear. If you have anxiety, I’m warning you right now, some scenes in this book are hard to read through and even harder to process. These are the type of scenes that stick with you. Branded does deal with rape, sexual assault, and abuse.
  • Lexi’s letter. My heart broke for her. Her abuse is a black cloud over the story that is always present but until you get to the truth, it’s all guess-work and while there is some eluding to the incidents, nothing can prepare you for the real details. That letter. It was poignant, emotional and so insanely devastating. Lexi poured her soul into that letter, opened her trauma up to the light and hoped that Cole wouldn’t be disgusted with her or view her as broken or soiled. That took some serious guts and Lexi’s transition from the battered, terrified girl who starts the story to the courageous, determined, caring girl who ends the story is a lesson is character growth. Her transformation is therapeutic and inspiring, you’ll feel so proud of how far she comes. Lexi is a character that you can’t help but become invested in.
  • Alyssa. This girl. As a secondary character, she is compelling. Her story is beyond interesting, it’s magnetic and heartbreaking. I would love her story as a novella. This really showcases the lack of medical attention or supplies in the hospital. When there are too many people and not enough that care. Her life is bittersweet and her spirit is pure, innocent incarnate and the light that comes from her is just so touching. Her story is a small one but reaches beyond the sphere of the book.
  • The secondary characters are well-developed and each has a story that is unique and adds another layer to the humanity that is so lacking in the Hole. This book is a beautiful portrait of the struggle of man to overcome, to fight destiny, and to triumph in the face of evil.
  • Cole is a middle ground character. As the love interest, he’s hot, he’s compassionate but the chemistry between Lexi and Cole was stifled, partly because he’s a soldier, it’s forbidden and to give in would mean death and torture, but also because the story is told from Lexi’s perspective, her doubts are oppressive and she can’t see Cole’s attraction clearly.
  • Zeus the dog. Most of the comedy in Branded revolves around Zeus and his slobbering laziness. Zeus is adorable, fiercely protective, and brings out the happiness in the main characters when it seems as if the darkness is about to take over.

CONS:

  • The first 75% of the book is addictive, it’s full of sadness, grime, and absolute chaos. It’s action packed and incredibly descriptive. The blood and gore, the bullets, the sickness, the terror is all there in all its truthful hideousness. After this point in the book, things start to go downhill. While it’s still infused will all of those elements of immorality and gloom, the story starts to slump. The emotion in the first section of the book is not as profound or searching and it becomes more telling than showing.
  • Cole. Near the dreaded 75% mark, Cole and Lexi’s relationship becomes bland. It’s composed of bold statements and declarations of love that seem like just words without the sentiment or truth to back them up. It’s as if suddenly, their love is this grand, all-consuming thing and it just didn’t add up. Cole’s dialogue really became possessive and too love-infused, if that makes sense. It took away some of the authenticity.

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Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

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Is a registered nurse with a passion for novels, the beaches of St. John, and her Philadelphia Phillies. A talented singer, Abi loves to go running and spend lots of time with her family. She currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, triplet daughters and two very spoiled dogs.

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Missy Kalicicki

Received her bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in 2003. She married, had two boys and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Aside from reading and writing, her interests include running and mixed martial arts. She also remains an avid Cleveland sports fan.

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My reactions.

If you enjoyed any of the following, check this out. Keep in mind these are loose suggestions, I haven’t read anything like this: 

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Pleasant, happy reading,

-BB