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Book Review: A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, ABRAMS Kids, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Plot: In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .

Opinion:

WHEW! Listen up guys, because this is one book that NEEDS to be noted and fawned over.

“It draws you in. You twist your mind into new shapes. You start to understand Caverna…and you fall in love with her. Imagine the most beautiful woman in the world, but with tunnels as her long, tangled, snake-like hair. Her skin is dappled in traplantern gold and velvety black, like a tropical frog. Her eyes are cavern lagoons, bottomless and full of hunger. When she smiles, she has diamonds and sapphires for teeth, thousands of them, needle-thin.”

-The Kleptomancer, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell’s story begins at the young age of five, when she is found by Cheesemaker Grandible after falling into a vat of his curdling Neverfell milk. After rescuing her and taking one look at the young girl, Grandible notices the differences in the young child, covers her face with a mask, takes her in and appoints her as his apprentice. After some seven years later, Neverfell is accustomed to her life as a cheesemaker. But unable to remove her mask around other people or to leave the cheese tunnels, she finds herself fighting a curiosity about what lays beyond. Soon Neverfell’s opportunity to leave the tunnels presents itself, and she gets her first look at the world that she has been hidden from. But her freedom is short lived when her mask falls from her face, and what lies beneath is shown to the people of Caverna. Neverfell, unlike the residents of Caverna, is able to make expressions on her own without having to be taught. As word travels of Neverfell, she becomes sold to the highest bidder. Caverna is flushed with experts in dangerous and strange delicacies, and murder is just another game for the members of the court. Pushed into a world where Neverfell finds trust in the wrong people, she struggles to find a way to protect herself and to recover the memories that she feels may be lost forever. But most importantly, to find a way out of Caverna.

Caverna. Woah. This place is seriously vicious guys. Do you remember reading The Hunger Games and being introduced to the strange people in the capitol? These people were insane and followed bizarre fashion trends that made them both appealing and frightening. Trust me when I say, the capitol has NOTHING on the court in Caverna. These people are PSYCHOTIC. They create wines that have minds and temperaments of their own, cheeses that can explode upon a slight bump, and strange foods that have creatures trapped inside gelatin. Not only do they spend all of their free time trying to poison rival families or hire assassins, but they are unable to make facial expressions on their own. The higher up in society and the better-off you are, the more “Faces” you are able to buy for yourself. People of a lower faction usually are unable to have 1 to 3 faces, depending on their job titles.

How to prepare the perfect Cardlespray Wine:

“One hundred and three years…The grapes spoil if they are exposed to loud noises, so they are tended by a silent order of monks, and all the local birds are killed. The fruit can be harvested only at night during the new moon, and must be crushed by the feet of orphans. The barrels are stored deep in the earth, and only the softest, sweetest music is played to them, continually, for over a century. And after all this, the Wine is fit to be drunk…unless somebody throws it over a table.”

-The Grand Steward, A Face Like Glass

Neverfell finds herself caught right in the middle of the chaos that is Caverna. The people of the court are all trying to get her hands on her for personal benefit, she cannot remember her past, and there is a strange person labeled “the Kleptomancer” running around Caverna stealing incredible objects with no apparent motive. I felt so horrible for young Neverfell throughout this story, and it was honestly staring to feel like something out of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Her innocence started to become her downfall, and it was heartbreaking to see her trust in so many people that proved to be using her in a game much larger than her. Her character grows a great deal in this story however, and I really enjoyed who she becomes. She still has her morals and good intentions, but acquires a cunning and righteous personality by the end of the story. Not only does Neverfell work to help herself be free of Caverna, but she fights to free those who have no voice at all.

The writing in this story is AMAZING, and I can’t wait to start reading other books by Frances Hardinge. She writes with an amazing creative and descriptive style, and it almost feels like poetry after a while. She PERFECTLY set the scene for Caverna as being a dark and curious place, one that can both thrill and kill a person. I thought the entire idea for having a civilization underground was amazing, but one where the characters aren’t able to make their own facial expressions? GENIUS! I seriously couldn’t get enough of this story, and I am wishing it was a full-blown 20 book series. This is one of those stories you wish would make it to the big screen because of how dazzling it looks in your head, but one you fear they will completely ruin…like they usually do.

All in all, I LOVE this story! I have nothing negative to say, not one thing. I can’t help but give this book 5 stars, which I hope will lead to many of you going and purchasing this story RIGHT AWAY. It is the perfect amount of fantasy and science-fiction, and a great read that will twist your mind into two. This book is suitable for all ages, but the youngest I would say is Teens because the writing could get a little confusing for a younger audience.

5-stars

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Book Review: The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

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Amazon.com – The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Non-Fiction

Plot: I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi’s jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was…well, it was something else.

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”

Opinion:

WOW.

When I say WOW, I mean…Holy S*** WOW.

I have to say guys, I wasn’t expecting this story to turn out like that at all. A few months ago I was looking through the new books on Netgalley, found this story and immediately requested it. I had heard about these types of camps and institutions years ago, but I have never looked into them that deeply. This story follows Cyndy Etler as she recounts her adolescence and her time in a “tough love” style rehabilitation camp.

At the young age of fourteen, Cyndy is thrown into a boarding school by her mother, or so she thinks. Cyndy quickly realizes that her new home is called Straight Inc., and it is actually a drug rehabilitation center for youths. From her first moments stepping inside Straight, Cyndy begins to realize that the methods used in the facility are far from normal. From being dragged down hallways by her pant loops, group meetings where teenagers wave their arms around erratically chanting, and frightening moments of being broken down by her peers…Cyndy has to decide how she is going to survive in this program.

So let’s first begin with how SERIOUSLY BIZARRE these programs are. Cyndy explains the more than frightening and psychologically damaging rules and things that went on at Straight, and I am still in shock. Kids are lead around by the back of their pants, forced to believe they have drug problems even if they don’t, screamed at and put down by their peers, and encouraged to report each other in order to get ahead in the program. The rules that the program instills is even more absurd. If you lean on the back of your chair in group, a peer will roughly drag their first down your spine to remind you to keep your back straight. As a newcomer, Cyndy wasn’t allowed to look or speak to any boys, and she was monitored at all times…even in the bathroom.

I think the oddest aspect of this program for me was what they called “motivating”. “Motivating” entails all these kids to be sitting in plastic chairs, boys and girls separated on either side of the room. Basically what happens is they flail their arms around above their heads, jerking and screaming about. Cyndy describes this process as a way to motivate each other to want to share your experiences, but admits that many of the kids “motivate” so hard so that they won’t be called on. Once called on, the kids are expected to stand up and admit a story from their past…but in most cases these kids are forced to make something up in order to impress the staff. If you mess up or do something wrong, you are confronted. This is where a peer may run up to you and start screaming in your face, or even psychically harm you.

The list truly goes on and on with all of the strange things these kids were forced to do, and from the outside this program made it look like they were only using tough love and peer pressure techniques to get these kids off drugs (see the below video). Cyndy expresses that it took her years to get “back to normal” after all of the psychological abuse and brainwashing that she went through at Straight. She wrote her story in a way that it felt like the reader was actually with her at fourteen, listening to her describe the horrors that became her life. Her writing style becomes a little confusing when she starts to describe “THE BEAST” or her group when she is first introduced to the “motivating” technique. It got me a little jumbled up, but as I continued to read her writing started to feel like a horrifically beautiful style of poetry which I really began to enjoy.

Honestly, EVERYONE needs to read this. For parents who are thinking of giving this to their kids to read, please keep in mind that there is a bit of sexual abuse that happens in the beginning of the story. That aside, this is a tale that anyone would be enthralled by. As soon as I finished this book I immediately started researching Straight Inc. and other programs like it. This is a disturbing story that will make your heart droop, but it is a MUST read! GO GET THIS!! You will not be disappointed.

 

For more information and personal stories on Straight Inc., check out SurvivingStraightInc.com

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Private (Book 1) by Kate Brian

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Amazon.com – Private (Book 1) by Kate Brian

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Genre: Young Adult/Fiction

Plot: Tradition, Honor, Excellence…and secrets so dark they’re almost invisible

Fifteen-year-old Reed Brennan wins a scholarship to Easton Academy — the golden ticket away from her pill-popping mother and run-of-the-mill suburban life. But when she arrives on the beautiful, tradition-steeped campus of Easton, everyone is just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more gorgeous, and a lot wealthier than she ever thought possible. Reed realizes that even though she has been accepted to Easton, Easton has not accepted her. She feels like she’s on the outside, looking in.

Until she meets the Billings Girls.

They are the most beautiful, intelligent, and intensely confident girls on campus. And they know it. They hold all the power in a world where power is fleeting but means everything. Reed vows to do whatever it takes to be accepted into their inner circle.

Reed uses every part of herself — the good, the bad, the beautiful — to get closer to the Billings Girls. She quickly discovers that inside their secret parties and mountains of attitude, hanging in their designer clothing-packed closets the Billings Girls have skeletons. And they’ll do anything to keep their secrets private.

Opinion: OoOoOo…it’s starting to feel like high school again! I started reading this series when I was in high school, and my oh my was I HOOKED. I recently found this series again and figured I would relive the overly dramatic and pretentious characters that make up this wonderfully snooty tale. It’s the story we all know and love, a scholarship girl comes to a prestigious academy and chases after the rich and popular preps that inhabit it…and don’t forget the scandals!

Reed Brennan has just been accepted at Easton Academy on scholarship, and the chance to get away from her family couldn’t have come sooner. Coming from Pennsylvania and from a family that just barely makes it financially, Reed is about to enter a world where money and power is everything. Soon after her arrival at Easton, Reed comes face to face with the elite “Billing Girls” who have the entire campus wrapped around their fingers. Unfortunately for Reed, her first impression with the girls is anything but positive, and she finds herself in the firing range of the girls tormenting and dangerous requests. Determined to make a place for herself and enter Billings, Reed goes to extreme lengths to become accepted.

So let’s start with Reed, our wonderful main character. To me she feels…how shall I put this…desperate? I am constantly rolling my eyes at this girl for allowing this HORRIBLE girls to treat her like they do. They are VICIOUS. Though she did stick up for herself once or twice, the reader will constantly find her cowering down to Noelle and the rest of the Billings girls. Though when I do think back to what it was like in high school, I can understand her actions to a point. The need to be accepted among your peers, especially females, is crazy. Plus if Reed can infiltrate Billings, she will then have the world at her finger tips.

As Reed becomes consumed in the upscale lifestyle and mysterious Billing girls, she is also enraptured by the gorgeous Thomas. Thomas is surrounded by the popular crowd but it doesn’t take him long to start chasing after Reed. Thomas has a wonderful “bad boy” feeling about him, so it is no wonder that this is the first male character that us female readers will fall in love with. What becomes of their relationship is shocking, and this is where our story will truly pick up and start to become dark and twisted.

This series is PACKED with scandals and dirty little secrets. Think gossip girl, but at a boarding school where everyone just gossips to each other. Most of the characters in this story come from a lot of money and have family members that had previously attended Easton, making many of these characters “legacies”. With such money and power surrounding our main character Reed, it’s obvious that there is bound to be some trouble afoot. I guarantee that you guys will FLY though this Series. I am already on book 6 and I still can’t put these down. Though I would have LOVED to do a review of each book, which just doesn’t seem possible with how quickly I am devouring this series again.

4-stars

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Book Review: Ill Will by Dan Chaon

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Amazon.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

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Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Adult/Mature Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Plot:We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Opinion: WHEW! What a whirlwind that story was! After becoming introduced to The Girl on the Train, I have been in a frenzy trying to find similar books. I came across Ill Will on Netgalley and HAD to give it a go. Let me tell you readers, I have so many STRONG and INSANE emotions rushing through me right now…I barely know where to start! This book is like a bad mushroom trip that feels WAY too real.

Thirty years ago, Dustin and his cousins woke up to find their parents brutally murdered in their home. Already flushed with loss at a young age, a life sentence is handed down on Dustin’s adopted brother Rusty who is blamed for the crimes. Now years later with children of his own, Dustin works as a psychologist in Cleveland. Soon a call from Dustin’s cousin brings panic into his life, as he is told that Rusty’s sentence has been thrown out and he is being released. Now Dustin begins to reflect back on the night that changed his life forever, and whether he and his cousins were right about testifying against Rusty and blaming him for the murders. All the while, a staggering number of male college students being found dead is making headlines. Though the police call the strange occurrences “accidental drownings”, Dustin’s new patient feels otherwise and suspects foul play. Could there be a link to this madness, or is Dustin slowly falling down a rabbit hole?

This is a truly interesting and dark story. There are tons of misleading twists and shocking occurrences, and the characters are truly gritty. Dustin is our main character and the reader follows him as he relives moments from his past, while also dealing with his present. One day Dustin gets a call from his cousin who tells him that Rusty, his adopted brother and the person who took the fall for the murders, is being released from prison. He is told that new DNA results were discovered which proves that Rusty couldn’t have murdered his new family. This brings a panic into Dustin’s life because now he is unsure if Rusty was the culprit of the crime, or if he was just blamed because of the things he had done in his past.

As Dustin reflects on his past growing up with Rusty, I was…how should I say this…COMPLETELY f***ing disturbed. There is some SERIOUSLY dark and grimy things that go on between these boys. Rusty can be described as a tough and hardheaded boy at an early age, and grows into a metal loving hooligan that likes talking about satanic rituals and even goes as far as sacrificing small rabbits. Dustin is a young an impressionable boy, and sees Rusty as his knight in shining armor. He proves to be a more than gullible child, and will allow his mind to be overturned by suggestions and hints by his older cousins and Rusty. In each flashback that these characters take the reader in, we are given glimpses of each characters flaws as a child and reasons why they could or couldn’t have been the ones to murder their family.

Another huge part of this story is Dustin and his patient Aqil. Aqil is a former police officer who has more than an obsessive and compulsive personality. He becomes fascinated by the mass amounts of local drownings of college males, and brings it upon himself to start investigating. As Aqil attends sessions with Dustin, Dustin starts to get wrapped up in the ideas and theories that Aqil presents him. Soon he finds himself spending all of his time with Aqil and latched onto the idea that there is a murderer on the loose killing these boys. The end result for these murders is truly…SHOCKING. I was so blindsided when this portion of the story was SOMEWHAT answered. Yes, in this book you will find that the author likes to leave you guessing.

For me though, I think the ending is where this story really shines. At first I wasn’t too keen on the fact that the ending didn’t completely tie everything together. I ended the book and thought to myself WAIT, what happened?? As it has now been a few days since I have finished the book, I have a different feeling towards the ending. I actually enjoy the fact of where the author took it, because there are so many actual cases where things end up in that fashion. I think I have a pretty decent idea of what could have happened, and I think you guys will too if you give this read a go. But honestly, the best part is knowing that you have no idea what actually happened. So touché Dan Chaon, touché. All in all, I am only giving this 3 stars because this book took me a LONG time to get through and because I was rather uncomfortable for most of the read. I prefer a thriller that THRILLS me, not a story that makes my skin crawl and forces me to put it down. It is an interesting story, but I could have done without all the in-depth sexual scenes.

3-stars

 

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Book Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

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Genre: Young Adult/Teen/Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal

Plot: Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

Opinion:

This book sings to my dark and wistful little soul, and I just can’t get enough of it.

It is always so hard to find a YA story that has a little bit of everything in it. I love a story that touches on fantasy and paranormal aspects, but is packed with sorrowful pain and whispered little secrets. This story has everything I crave tucked into its beautiful pages. This story needs to be read, trust me.

For as long as they can remember, Cara and her family have been falling into unexplained accidents at a certain time of the year. Most seasons result in deep cuts and countless bruises, but some seasons end in the death of loved ones. As another accident season comes near, Cara starts to notice the disappearance of a girl from school, Elsie. When Cara begins to question her teachers and classmates about the quiet girl, nobody seems to remember her or know anything about her. But what is even stranger, is that Cara starts to notice that Elsie is in every single one of her pictures. As Cara, her sister Alice, her stepbrother Sam, and her best friend Bea begin to search for Elsie, they also start to realize that each one of them has deep and hidden secrets that they keep from one another. As the season moves forward they start to learn that the accident season isn’t all that it seems, and that their secrets are about to come forward.

This book has been compared to We Were Liars, and I definitely see a resemblance. A group of teenagers who are lost and angst-ridden, and who have countless secrets drowning them. This story follows Cara, but also her family members and her best friend. They are subjected to countless accidents during the accident season, and it keeps the reader on edge. I found it interesting that these characters take such precautions during the accident season, in that they wear protective clothing and have padded their entire home. Though Cara and her siblings are meant to be extra careful during October, the reader will still find them doing reckless things which I loved. It lets the reader know that these characters are extremely human and still seek thrills and trouble, and I found myself smirking at the ridiculous things they would do.

There are two specific elements of this story that I am infatuated with. The first being the way the author has entwined such creative fantastical and paranormal themes into the pages. The entire book has a dark and spooky theme, which makes it a perfect read for around the Halloween season. These characters are constantly running into each other’s imaginations, where they get lost in magic and beasts. Cara has visions of seeing the four of them looking as they truly should: Bea as a mermaid, Alice as the Earth, Sam as character from a silent film, and herself as a fairy. Bea sees herself as a witch and looks to her tarot cards for answers, and speaks of ghosts and witches and werewolves. These aspects of the story gives the actual events that happen a dreamlike feel for the reader, almost as if to say “Is what you think is real, actually happening? Or is it all in your imagination?” Can you say WOAH?

The second thing that I adore about this book is how the author has played with secrets. Instead of it being known from the beginning that these characters are keeping secrets, the idea of secrets is presented to the reader in a poetic way. At their school, there is a typewriter and a box where students may come and type secrets anonymously. At the end of the year, these secrets are strung up on clotheslines around the school, for everyone to see and share. The author throws the idea of secrets into the readers face so quickly, that they become blinded by the fact that the main characters will have severe secrets of their own that they are hiding. All I kept thinking about was WHY the accident season was happening and WHO Elise was.

Although some things were not fully answered in black in white in this story, I think it is one of those reads that can be left for interpretation. I was pleasantly blindsided by a HUGE secret that came forward at the end of this read. In NO WAY did I see that coming, and I am so happy that this author could shock me in such a way! All in all, I am in love with this book. These characters felt real and flawed, almost as if they were real kids that I had spent time with. The imagination and poetic nature of the story is what pulled me in and kept me reading, and I had SO much trouble putting this story down. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants a DIFFERENT YA story that will get them thinking. This is definitely going to be a book that I reread for years.

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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Amazon.com – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Diversion Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Teen/YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was murdered in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives, and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

Opinion:

AHHHHH! THIS book! THIS FREAKING BOOK!

You are probably thinking to yourself Wow, WHAT about this book. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK! I have been searching high and low for a specific genre of story to read for WEEKS now. A story that will make my heart hurt and my stomach flip due to eloquent and depressing sentences. You know the kind of story I am talking about. The sort of tale that doesn’t just make you sorrowful, but a story that makes you MAKE yourself sorrowful because you don’t want to stop feeling what the characters feel.

Well, this story comes pretty close to that.

Call it a gift or a curse, but ever since Ivy was a child she knew when the people around her were going to die. The ability to see a countdown of each person’s remaining time over their heads has proved to be most difficult for Ivy, especially when her own death has been approaching quickly over the past few months. After the murder of her best friend, Ivy falls into a downward spiral as she realizes that she can’t save the people she loves. But the need to find out the truth about what happened begins to consume her, and soon Ivy finds herself on the trail to figuring out who the murderer is. As Ivy’s last weeks begin to draw near, she fights to live her final days instead of just watching them tick by.

I can’t express enough how much I loved the concept for this story. Ivy is forced to watch the people around her die as their life clock comes to an end, while feeling helpless the entire time because she has no way to save them. I felt like I had a truly strong connection to this character. She is a loner at school and made to feel like an outcast because of events from her past, but she has a snarky attitude and is quick to fire off amazing zingers. When first introduced to Ivy, the reader quickly learns that there is a sense that she has already given up in life. With the death of her best friend being so recent and her own clock only being a few months before ending, Ivy has an overwhelming sense of despair and sorrow engulfing her. She has nobody close to her that she can talk to, and her family is very distant and wrapped up in their own lives.

As the story progresses, Ivy starts to become obsessed with finding out who killed her friend and why. In regards to the mystery aspect of this story, I was pretty surprised to figure out who it was. I had about one or two main suspects that I thought had definitely done it, but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong. The point where this story starts to get truly heart wrenching, apart from the already depressing events, is when the reader learns about Myers. Myers is the ex-boyfriend of Ivy, and let’s just say that relationship ended horribly on a night when everything else shattered Ivy’s world. I found that this author EXCELS when she is describing a sorrowful or dark moment. Not many authors know how to capture a feeling in words, and I thought Kelsey Sutton did a great job of it. This story is riddled with amazing descriptions of sadness and regret, and I adored every single minute of it.

Even after he’s gone I let my fingers linger on the glass, until the cold creeps under my skin and into my bones. Maybe if it goes deep enough, it will numb everything.

As numb as death.”

-Ivy

Overall, this was a TRULY wonderful read. I was hooked the entire time and felt connected to the characters and the story throughout the read. I am excited to see what else this author has done. If her writing is as good as this in all of her stories, then she is going to become a favorite of mine quickly. I recommend his to all ages, but primarily Teen and YA readers. It has a strong message of finding acceptance and living your life to the fullest, which I think anyone can relate to.

4-5-stars

 

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Book Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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Blood Rose Rebellion is available for Pre-order, and will be available on March 28, 2017. Please see the links below:

Amazon.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Goodreads.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Barnesandnoble.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Bookdepository.com – Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Opinion: As soon as I requested this book on Netgalley.com, I had my fingers crossed for DAYS in the hopes that I would be accepted to read and review it. After seeing quite a bit of hype about the release of this book on Goodreads and Bookstagram, I read the description and immediately felt the gut-wrenching yearning to get my hands on an ARC copy! Not only did I get that ARC copy, but I became absolutely enthralled as soon as I started reading.

In Anna Arden’s world, the high society figures referred to as Luminate wield magic and power.  Anna, even though her family is of high society and nobility, was pronounced barren at her Confirmation at the age of eight. But one thing Anna can do is unintentionally break the spells that others cast, which is exactly what she does on the most important night for her sister. Without knowing what to do with her, Anna’s family sends her off to Hungary with her grandmother. In the hopes that Anna will return a proper and civilized lady, Anna sets off to a new life. But things in Hungary turn from bad to worse as a rebel tracks Anna down, begging her to use her ability to break spells to destroy the binding – which restricts the use of magic to only Luminate. Soon Anna finds herself stuck in the middle of a rebellion, unsure which side to stand with and against.

Sometimes with such a hyped up book, I worry that once I start reading I will lose interest or it won’t be as amazing as everyone claims. I can happily admit that this story turned out to be WONDERFUL! I loved the imagery that the author used, especially how she turned our world into a place with magic and strange creatures. The idea that Anna is barren and cannot wield magic like the rest of her family and fellow Luminate jump-starts the quest for Anna to find out who or WHAT she is. The reader follows Anna through different countries where she meets people of different walks of life, and becomes entangled in wanting to assist the rebels in Hungary. Anna finds herself in a compromising position: help break the binding and let magic be free to anyone that possesses the ability, or to side with her fellow Luminate and let magic be “given” to nobility and those “deserving”.

I personally liked the character of Anna, but I felt that she lacked a bit of substance. I didn’t quite make a connection to her and to the emotions that the author was trying to portray…as a matter of fact, I don’t really recall making a strong connection with any of the characters. I felt curious about what might happen to them and hoped that they wouldn’t die, but I wasn’t too chocked up about it when some of them actually did die. The relationship between Anna and Gábor starts out cold and prickly but soon turns into the romance of this book. Because Anna is Luminate and Gábor is Romani (gypsy), their love is forbidden and would be frowned upon. I found it interesting that at the end of the story, their relationship suddenly doesn’t seem to be THAT forbidden. This felt rushed and thrown together to me. What will her parents say?? Where were they?

This story has a very unique blend of historical and fantastical elements. The characters do a lot of traveling in the world, which obviously brings the use of different languages. After Anna travels to Hungary, the language barriers start to rise. There is A LOT of words that get thrown around that most of us won’t be knowing, so it makes reading a little confusing. I was getting lost at times when Gábor would say “gadzhe” or when the names of a castle or town would be said. Little did I know that there was a glossary of the words and of Luminate orders in the back of the book… *sigh*.

Those tiny things aside, I loved this story and where the author took it. Though the ending felt a little rushed to me, I think that such an extravagant story is always going to be hard to wrap up into one book. I am VERY excited to read book 2 when it is released and to see where the author is going to take Anna. I really recommend this story to anyone that loves a YA story that involves fantasy and adventure!

4-stars

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