Binding of Bindings · Wrap-Up

Binding of Bindings #42: March 2020 Book Wrap-up

I may be slightly behind in posting my March Book Wrap-up
…but come on. It’s practically the apocalypse around here.
So.

 

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~* March 2020 Book Wrap-Up *~

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1. Frozen Beauty by Lex Hillyer
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery

Frozen Beauty

Definitely not my most favorite read of March, but also not the worst.

Frozen Beauty had all the promise in the world to be a dreary and eerie, femi-powered contemporary mystery laced in sorrow and sadness. But instead it was just a bit…

It centers on the Malloy sisters and the strange and sudden death of the eldest, who is found half-naked and frozen to death. The sisters thought they knew everything about one another, but as they begin digging into what really happened… the secrets start to unravel. 

I wanted to love this, especially because of that cover art, but I just didn’t care for it much. I was able to get through it quickly and easily, but the characters just felt so BLAH. The ending was a bit predictable, and there was some weird/awkward insta-love that happened that I don’t even need to get into.

3 Stars

(See my review here)

 

2. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

All Your Twisted Secrets

THIS BOOK!

WOW!

All Your Twisted Secrets is a YA blend of The Breakfast Club and Saw. Six teens are invited to a scholarship dinner in a banquet room, where they are locked inside. On the table are three items: a syringe filled with a liquid, a bomb with a countdown clock, and a note indicating that they must pick a person to killor they all die.

Yeah. I know.

But just when I thought I had this little beauty figured out

Oh yeah. Epic.

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

3. All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

All the Pretty Things

….

…there’s just not a lot to say here.

All the Pretty Things STARTED as a mystery set at an amusement park where an employee/well-known kid in town dies. It had a little bit of the Adventureland vibes that I was hoping for, but what it turned into was just…

…it’s not good.

If you like reading books where your face is scrunched up the whole time like this:

Then yeah, be my guest. And enjoy that father.

He’s a real gem.

2.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

4. Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Sparrow

Beautiful.

Sorrowful.

Stunning.

Sparrow is a YA twist on Black Swan that will surely cause tears to flow down your precious cheeks. It is about a ballerina who finds herself in an abusive relationship, and and shows the what lays broken on the ground after things go too far.

Books on abusive and manipulative behavior are so important and I am a big advocate for them, especially when they showcase different forms of abuse. But what makes this story truly important, is the fact that it doesn’t just show our main characters POV and how she is affected. It sheds light on the emotional toll it takes on her family, friends and those close to her.

It is beautiful, and though there were some parts that I found unnecessary to the story, it is a book worth reading.

4 Stars

(See my review here)

 

5. Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Sharp Sticks

I have been ranting about this AMAZING book for a year!

Every chance I get I am recommending it to my bookstagram girlfriends and begging them to read it! And since the sequel to it released in March, I decided to reread it to get a refresher before starting my ARC! Girls with Sharp Sticks is a YA Feminist tale with a twist that will blow your mind, while simultaneously making your heart rip itself apart because your feelings will be feeling FEELINGS.

It’s about a group of girls who attend Innovations Academy. Here they are bred to be obedient, to listen to the male figures in their life (because they know best) and to stay as beautiful as possible. If the girls misbehave, they are redirected and given therapy immediately, until they have been…realigned.

The story is about the girls waking up from their fog, and realizing that the place they are in does not have their best interests at heart.

5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

6. Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Razor Hearts

I had SUCH high hopes for the second book to Girls with Sharp Sticks, and I devoured Girls with Razor Hearts in such a short time. But it wasn’t because it was amazing and held my attention to the point that I couldn’t eat or sleep without knowing what would happen.

No…it was more like I kept reading in the hopes that SOMETHING would happen. But nothing really did. It was just a bit of a blah read next to the first book where the author focused way too much on shoving toxic patriarchy down my throat. This sequel just felt like preaching. It felt forced and didn’t have the same flow and heart behind it’s message as it did before.

The story just lost its way a bit here, and I am hoping that it will come back around in the next book. This seemed more like a “buffer book” or a stepping stone to set up for the next installment, so fingers crossed that it improves!

3.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

7. Thorn (Dauntless Path, Book 1) by Intisar Khanani
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling – The Goose Girl

Thorn

THORN!

Ah, what a GEM of a retelling!

I know I’m not the only one that has been overjoyed with these countless fairy tale retellings coming out, so when I saw Thorn I knew I had to have it. And after reading Bloodleaf last year and not liking it, I was hoping that this Goose Girl retelling would be better.

And ohhhhhh child, it SO was!

You know the story: A Princess is married off to a Prince in another kingdom, and upon traveling there, her handmaid steals her body and poses as her, which forces the real Princess into a new life as a goose girl.

In this rendition, the same happens and so much more! The story keeps the atmospheric old-timey feel to it and spins in a layer of eeriness that perfectly blends with the poetic nature of the tale. It was a fantastic read and one I was fairly surprised by, because though I was hoping this would be a win, I had my doubts

But here I am, DYING for the next book!

4.5 Stars

(See my review here)

 

8. House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, Book 1) by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: New Adult/Fantasy/Romance

House of Earth and Blood

Only 60 pages in and SJM had me, and everyone else, like

And then we get a little farther and it’s a whole lot of

A ton of

And then back to

Beyond. Epic.

5 Stars

 

9. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
Genre: YA/Contemporary

All the Places Ivve Cried in Public

As I said above, a book that focuses on the several other types of abuse and manipulation that go on, are stories that need to be read.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public is in the style of Thirteen Reasons Why where a girl recounts the pivotal moments that lead to the end of her relationship with her boyfriend. They are all moments that she has cried, either from joy, despair, or confusion. But each place, and each moment is a clue into how they broke up and what happened between them.

This story was like a punch in the gut for me, because so many aspects of it were familiar or sparked a memory. For those of us who have experienced relationships like this, and for those who haven’t, the importance and reminder to look for signs of hurtful and manipulative behavior needs to be shown. This book does just that.

Every teenager needs to read this.

3.5 Stars

 

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Stay Witchy ❤

 

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Book Reviews · New Releases · Simon and Schuster

Book Review: Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, Book 2) by Suzanne Young

Girls with Razor Hearts

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster – SimonTeen, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Plot: Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Opinion:

The Caregiver.

The Doll.

The Educator.

The Seductress.

The Companion.

The Rebel.

…the corporation created us to replace the girls in society who they couldn’t control.”

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We were programmed to be obedient, but then we woke up.”

The girls have finally escaped Innovations Academy, along with the possessive and cruel men who promised to protect them. Having been bred to be obedient, subservient and to idolize men, the girls have finally awoken. They are no longer docile and afraid. They have found their sharp sticks, and they have procured their razor hearts. But what they didn’t expect upon leaving Innovations Academy, was that the outside world wasn’t going to be as welcoming and beautiful as they hoped. As the girls try to heal their bodies and hearts, they are pushed to find an investor in the academy that might be their ticket to tearing it all down. Though they have each other and immense love in their hearts, they soon realize that bad men weren’t just confined to the walls of the academy. That darkness lurks around every corner, in repulsive behavior and peer pressure. So the girls do what they do best…they fight.

Girls with kind Razor Hearts

Open your eyes, my father said.

The day I was born.

You will be sweet, he promised threatened

You will be beautiful

You will obey fight back

And then he I told me myself

Above all

You will have a kind razor heart

For that, they will love fear you

They will protect revere you

They will keep run from you

Because you belong to them no one

So be a girl to make them proud afraid

Girls with Razor Hearts is the second book in the amazing feminist sci-fi series, Girls with Sharp Sticks (see my review here). After learning the truth behind their pasts, and what really went on at Innovations, the girls are on the outside with a mission to take the corporation down and to save the girls they left behind. But as they try to navigate this new world, they are still tracked down by people close to the academy – like Leandra, the headmaster’s wife who is also like them, and Winston Weeks, a prominent figure in the company. Leandra says she also wants to take the corporation down but needs the girls to find the top secret investors who are keeping Innovations afloat. Unsure of who to trust, the girls go along with Leandra’s plan while also searching for a way to free their girls.

I scream in my head when I see the scalpel in her hand. She brings it to the center of my chest and slices me down the middle. Then she reaches inside and pulls out a heart of razor blades.”

Girls with Sharp Sticks shredded my heart and made me ache for unbreakable female companionship.

It gave me hope and filled my heart, instantly making me love and care for these beautiful, spirited girls. And in Girls with Razor Hearts, I was happy to find that these girls were just as loving and compassionate as before. Their bond with one another is a fierce gentleness that I have sadly never experienced before. It is so pure and untouchable by darkness. No matter what, these girls look out for each other and their best interests. They only want the best for one another – to be loved, respected, accepted and free. Mena, Sydney, Marcella, Brynn and Annalise are each unique and have traits that show pieces of their hearts. Their sharp minds, their tenacity, their nurturing nature and unwavering resilience. No matter what befalls these girls, their loyalty to each other can never be broken.

The other girls are my strength, and I theirs. Together, we’re powerful.”

The plot in this second installment takes a drastic turn into a world that unfortunately closely mirrors our own. As the girls search for the son of an investor in a private school across the country, they realize the behaviors of the men from Innovations wasn’t just secluded to their former academy. They quickly become subjected to the cruel nature of boys who have been given too much power. Boys who take and abuse, and continue to without consequences or fear of being told on. The girls are put down and ridiculed while others look on, afraid to step in, and they are forced to play a game with the boys so they don’t make it worse for themselves.

I’m sick of faking nice as a way to avoid violence, avoid menace.

Girls have to play nice or face the consequences.”

The behaviors from these boys is appalling and disgusting, but unfortunately, it isn’t something we as females have never experienced before. Suzanne Young has put the patriarchy under a blinding spotlight that shows the darkness and prejudices that are very true, even in today’s culture. It is sad and heartbreaking to see, but even more so because of the realistic nature of it all.

But while the message behind this book is extremely important, I feel like the story as a whole has slightly suffered due to unrelenting preaching that fills these pages.

I am a feminist to my core, but there is a point when a message becomes so repetitive that it becomes preaching. By the time I got halfway through this book, I felt like the disdain for the behaviors of men was being shoved down my throat. This series started out as a poetic tale that held important truths that were being discovered by beautiful souls, but it has turned into 390 pages of why men need to be taken down. In some cases the author says that men need to be taught, but then a few pages later it is being conveyed that they need to be destroyed. I am all for a book that educates and shines a light on the horrors that women face, but I don’t want the entire plot to be overshadowed completely. But that is what happened.

In Girls with Sharp Sticks, the reader is shown the fear and confusion that the girls face. It is raw and breaks down the realities and expectations that society places on girls, but it is delivered in innocence and sweetness. It felt so pure and honest, with an effortless nature that sang to my soul and stung my eyes with pride. But Girls with Razor Hearts seems to have lost that gentle ease. It felt forced, jagged and slightly aggressive in it’s voice. Instead of showing me the trauma that plagues the girls, I was told.

There were a lot of words and not enough feeling.

Though I am not as impressed with book two as I was with book one, I have high hopes that book three will tie things together and go back to the series’s roots. There was still a lot of thrilling and exciting things that happened in this sequel, with the return of characters and the introduction of new ones. But I feel like this might be the stepping stone to the next installment, and I am very interested to see where Suzanne Young takes this. This was a great sequel, but I really want to feel a bit more from book three

3.5 Stars

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books

Binding of Bindings #34: 10 Chilling Reads from 2019

10 books that will make you want to shed your own skin, cut out your own heart, and cry until the pain and truth of a cold reality escapes you.
These books are going to hit you where it hurts and leave you so cold, you’re burning hot.

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~*10 Chilling Reads from 2019*~

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1. The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling

The Cold is in Her Bones.jpg

This is a Medusa retelling that is strange, eerie and weirdly sentimental. It has been months since I read it, but I am still blissfully disturbed by it.

The Cold Is in Her Bones tells the story of Milla as she spends her days doing chores and never leaving her home, despite her wishes to wander freely. But when the arrival of a family comes to live beside her home, she meets the first girl her own age that tells her of a curse. The curse comes to young women in the village, and is one of demonic possession.

This isn’t going to be the story you’re expecting, and I really recommend it to anyone that wants something different. Because it is VERY different. It touches on themes of kindness, not judging others, friendship and loyalty. It is a STRANGE story, but one that is so original and unique.

(See my review here)

 

2. A Danger to Herself and Other by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mental Health

A Danger to Herself and Others.jpg

THIS. STORY. IS. EVERYTHING.

You’re going to assume this book is going to go down a certain path, but you’re going to be dead wrong. The turn it takes is shocking and heart-shattering, but also so beautiful and soul-touching.

A Danger to Herself and Others is about a girl who finds herself placed in an institution after an accident that happened with her roommate during a summer program. Hannah is a very focused student and only wants to return to her life, so she does everything in her power to prove to the staff that she is completely sane and can go home.

*sigh*

Just thinking about this book makes me need to take a deep breath.

Your soul wants you to read this.

(See my review here)

 

3. Girls with Sharp Sticks (Book 1) by Suzanne Young
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Sci-Fi/Feminism

Girls with Sharp Sticks.jpg

I just received an ARC of book two (Girls with Razor Hearts) in the mail from Simon & Schuster, and guys…it is taking all of my self-control not to devour it right now. It doesn’t release until March 17, 2020, so I need to wait a little bit. But I am seriously struggling.

Innovations Academy is an all-girl boarding school where math and science courses are non-existent, and growing beautiful gardens and being obedient is at the top of everyone’s to-do list. The girls of Innovation Academy are sweet, docile and humble creatures. Or…are they?

I literally cannot say more, but just know…Girls with Sharp Sticks is the most beautiful and sorrowful feminist Sci-fi/Fantasy ever.

(See my review here)

 

4. The Best Lies by Sara Lyu
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

The Best Lies.jpg

If you’re looking for a book that will leave you feeling lost, confused, unsure of your current relationships, angry, sad and utterly devastated

you’ve come to the right place.

The Best Lies is about toxic relationships, mental health, obsessive behaviors, manipulation, family dynamics, love, friendship and lies. It is a mystery/thriller but really, it should be categorized in the “Allow me to rip your heart out through your eye sockets“ genre.

This is one of the BEST books I have read in 2019.

It tells the tale of Remy Tsai as she recounts how her best friend Elise killed her boyfriend Jack. It’s a twisted web of intense love and loneliness, and one that I have been begging everyone to read.

(See my review here)

 

5. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Genre: YA/Mystery/Horror/LGBT

Wilder Girls

“My other eye’s dead, gone dark in a flare-up. Lid fused shut, something growing underneath.

It’s like that with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.”

Wanting your heart to lurch and your skin to shift?

Read this.

Wilder Girls is the hauntingly beautiful and soul-dismantling feminist horror that you need. A virus breaks out at a private school located on an island, leaving the inhabitants to fend for themselves as the Tox takes hold of them. With each breakout comes a new torture for each girl. From bruising from the inside out, second spines and hearts, and a silver scaled hand to skin lesions and bubbles that grow worse by the day.

These girls are walking nightmares, but they look at each other with a dizzying amount of love and respect.

(See my review here)

 

6. The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Retelling/Feminism

The SUrface Breaks 2

“…I sewed my own mouth shut in the hopes that a boy I barely knew could kiss it open again.”

The Surface Breaks is a Little Mermaid feminist re-imagining, and it’s going to shatter your soul into pieces.

My poor heart, is still breaking in two and filling over the brim from the sadness and strength I got from this book! This rendition is dark, gritty, and gets real AF. This isn’t a fluffy twist on mermaids and young love. It hits you where it hurts, yanks those heartstrings, and makes you rethink how much of yourself you are willing to shred apart in the name of love.

“’And the pain?’” I ask. ‘Will that go away?’

‘Oh no,’ she replies. ‘But women are meant to suffer.’”

(See my review here)

 

7. The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Religion-Cults

The Liar's Daughter.jpg

The window is no more than two feet wide and maybe half a foot tall. I can’t squeeze through it. It’s meant to let in sunlight, not hope.”

Piper has one dream: to make her Father proud and to finally be initiated into the community as an adult. She has spent her entire life breathing in his teachings and doing anything in her power to make him proud. The outside world is toxic, and they are humanities only chance at survival. She knows the government seeks to control its people with pharmaceutical drugs and lies, pumping bodies full of toxins in order to keep them spending money. But Piper knows the truth.

The Liar’s Daughter is the story of Piper’s time in a cult. It is sad and upsetting, but it focuses on a survivors experience. The confusion, anger, sadness and betrayal that comes from learning the truth.

All I ask before you read this, is don’t look at the book description. It gives away the entire plot, and it angers me to no end.

If you want to experience the true sorrow of this story, just open it and start reading.

(See my review here)

 

8. Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Re-Imagining

Love, Heather

Love, Heather is a book I read in October and loved, but still haven’t written a review for. Ugh…I know.

It’s about two girls (Stevie and Dee) who enact revenge on the bullies of their high school by playing a few pranks, and signing them with Love, Heather. But what starts out as innocent retaliation, quickly turns into a violent mess as students start to join in by pulling their own vicious pranks. But as things start to spiral out of control, and Dee begins to take things too far, Stevie fights to get out before it takes her under.

This is a Heathers re-imagining and it is SO GOOD!

 

9. I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

I Know You Remember

I participated in a Spooky Reads Campaign that Random House hosted in October, and my book to read and review was I Know You Remember.

I tells the story of Ruthie Hayden moving back to Anchorage, Alaska and seeking out her former best friend Zahra. But when she returns, she finds that Zahra is missing and everyone suspects foul-play. Ruthie takes it upon herself to go searching for his best friend and to bring home the only person who ever truly understood her.

This book, is twisted and so damn good. My mouth dropped open, and stayed open, as I sat in my reading spot wondering wtf I just read and how I didn’t see that ending coming.

(See my review here and a few mood boards and my dream casting)

 

10. Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Mystery/Historical Fiction

Songs from the Deep

For fans of The Wicked Deep and sirens – you’re going to love Songs from the Deep.

The story centers on an island that is plagued by fear of the sirens that lurk in the waters. As children, islanders are taught to never go into the ocean, but Moira Alexander has always had a deep fascination for the frightening beauties of the deep. When a boy turns up dead on shore and the sirens are blamed, she takes it upon herself to find the true culprit.

This is a totally Gothic and eerie Tim Burton-esque tale that is dripping in mystery. It’s as creepy as it is beautiful, and a book I wish was series instead of a stand-alone.

(See my review here)

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Stay Witchy ❤

 

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