Normally, when writing reviews, I use an abundance of “amazing” and “fantastic”, but this book deserves a better word. Maybe by the end of the review, I’ll find it.
****Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for a chance to review this title ahead of its release date.
Gut-wrenching, magnificent…familiar. Just a few words to describe Kyrie McCauley’s IF THESE WINGS COULD FLY. This book follows Leighton and her two younger sisters as they live through an abusive father and their complacent mother. It’s Leighton’s last year of high school, so she grapples with escaping her house for college, as well as the guilt of leaving her two sisters behind in a house that seems to fall apart around them. Amidst all of this, a strange influx of crows begins to appear in the town. As the boiling pot of her home begins to pour over, the population of crows soars, almost coincidentally. Woven together, we see a small town that turns a blind eye to those in need; children caught in the realization that their father could finally tip past the breaking point at any moment and destroy their lives forever.
To touch upon a few things…
The theme of domestic violence in the home was all too real, especially having lived through some of it myself so some scenes struck such a chord with me. It’s true that, as children, to cope with such scary things we turn to fantasy and our imaginations and hoping that something outside the realm of the real world would come and save us, and sometimes realizing that maybe nobody was coming at all.
When coming to the love interest part of the story, I was afraid he’d come in as the savior, as most books tend to make the male character’s. But Liam was not a savior. He was no even the rock that held Leighton up. He was just there for her, which is a good place to be.
MAGICAL REALISM. That is all.
Oh, did I mention I read this book in one sitting?
This is one of those books that every teen should read that may be in a situation of crisis. It’s so real and so gorgeously written. This book is a lullaby for hope. I still didn’t find that one word to describe IF THESE WINGS COULD FLY, but I don’t know, maybe the five-star rating and my glowing review will speak for itself.
Welcome to the blog tour for SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID, a heartbreaking novel about love and loss from author Candace Ganger. I’ll start with the synopsis and go from there. The book releases September 24th 2019. I gave it five stars.
Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go
Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.
Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the
sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret
anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the
things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to
navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments
in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in
the way he, or she, expects.
Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.
What I love about books like these is the voices are so sharp and poignant that they cannot help but resonate with me. This is not a cookie cutter contemporary. This story deals with mental illness, suicide, and life after loss. We go into both Dew and Naima’s heads as they both cope with their losses in their own ways.
Dew had a way of seeing the good in the world. He was open to therapy and new ideas. Whereas Naima was a little harder to get through to. The author showed us the two spectrum of coping and she did it so well. Both POV’s were gut wrenching. Being a military wife myself, I understand the anger and sadness when a loved one goes away to war, and this is most likely why this book resonated with me the way it did. I am so happy to be part of this tour and that I got to read this amazing book. I cannot wait to see what Candace has for us in the future.
Gangers author note seriously just made me cry:
Hello, dear reader.
I think it should be known that, while Six Goodbyes is a work of fiction, I share the many characteristics, fears, and pains, in both the delicacy of Dew, and the confused ferocity in Naima. Please let this brief note serve as a trigger warning in regards to mental illness; self-care is of the utmost importance. And while I hope Six Goodbyes provides insight for those who don’t empa- thize, or comfort for those that do, I also understand everyone reacts differently.
Dew’s social anxiety is something I, and many others, struggle with. We carry on with our days and pretend it’s not as hard as it feels inside. Others can’t quite see how much it hurts but we so wish they could. Naima is the most visceral interpretation of all of my diagnosed disorders combined. Her obsessive-compulsive dis- order (OCD) and related tics, her intrusive thoughts, her utterly devastating and isolating depression, her generalized anxiety dis- order (GAD), which makes her so closed off from the world, and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from losing the biggest portion of her identity—those are all pieces of me. Very big pieces. They don’t define me, but it would be misleading if I didn’t ad- mit they sometimes, mostly do. I’m imperfectly complicated like Naima. And though I’ve written extensively on both my mental illnesses and living biracial, between two worlds—never enough of one or the other; always only half of something and never whole or satiated—I often still feel misunderstood. Hopefully Dew and Naima’s stories will provide a little insight as to what it’s like inside their heads, and inside mine.
Both Dew and Naima want to hold on to the roots that have
grounded them in their familiar, safe spaces. But once their meta- phorical trees are cut, and all the leaves shielding them from their pains have fallen and faded away, not even photosynthesis could bring them back to life. Those roots, Naima and Dew feel, will die off, and everything they had in their lives before will, too. There are many of you out there who feel the exact same way, but I assure you, Dew and Naima will find their way— they will grow new roots that flourish—and you, my darlings, will, too.
Thank you for reading, and may Six Goodbyes serve as per- mission to speak your truths—the good and the painful.
Here’s to another six airplanes for you to wish upon.
About the Author: Candace Ganger is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family. Twitter: @candylandgang + @WednesdayBooks Link to retailers: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250116246
Although there were some things I did not like about the book, I still had a good time reading it. It’s chock-full of discussion topics and would be great for a schoolroom.
The book follows Lena and Campbell, as they escape a football game’s massive fight that has escalated rather quickly. Lena is obsessed with finding her boyfriend, while Campbell switches between waiting for a teacher to give her a ride and hoofing it with Lena. As they do navigate the city, things begin to take a turn for the worse as they encounter danger, prejudices, and devastation at every turn.
The story moves rather quickly, which I love. But I wonder if that was why I had a hard time connecting with the characters. Lena, for one, is the rudest, most self-obsessed person and she’s unapologetic for it. She continuously degrades Campbell, who is timid. Now, the racial tension in the story is evident, but the rift in race between Lena and Campbell seems very one-sided, and I don’t feel the characters truly learned anything from each other.
Thank you to Edelweiss and publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date. Please note that this may contain slight spoilers.
I resent that it took me so long to finish this despite it being amazing. Life got me by and was nothing to do with the book itself. Moving from Italy back to the States has been a whirlwind. Regardless of all the boxes everywhere, I had this gem of a book to keep me sane.
Marie Lu surprised us all with the news that she was publishing a historical YA about none other than the Mozart siblings. I have only ever read the Legend series, and while I was not a fan, this one GOT ME. The writing….omg the writing. Lu has truly shined in this one. I’ve watched the evolution of writers and their works (Leigh Bardugo, for example) and while it makes me happy to see them flourish, THE KINGDOM OF BACK is a masterpiece of the craft. Sorry, Leigh.
KINGDOM OF BACK follows the Mozart children as they tour Europe playing for royalty alike. In a world where it’s forbidden for women to compose, older sibling, Nannerl has to hide her music while their father pays closer attention to the much younger Wolferl. Nannerl feels that she may be forgotten in life. With her brother’s talent nourished by the world, she was born into, she is suddenly vulnerable to a mysterious visitor who claims to be from another land. In exchange for her help regaining his kingdom, he will grant Nannerly wish of never being forgotten by the world. But soon, things take a more sinister turn, and Nannerl begins to wonder how badly the consequences of her actions will affect her family.
Lu character development is strikingly astonishing, but also patient. Nannerl is such an engrossing character, even more so when you remind yourself that she existed in the world. The story is tragic in the sense that Nannerl’s only wish is to be remembered by the world, and as you read, you recognize that not only is she not remembered for her work, but not many many people know she even existed. The tension between the real world and The Kingdom of Back leak into each other making both world frightening, and heartbreaking.
Marie’s writing was a joy to read. I was truly blown away by this one.
Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to review this title.
Well, this was a big fat NOPE.
Ok so, the story was unique. Three girls are chosen as maidens for their ruler. In this case, the ruler is dying. Therefore, the three girls will die with him, which is a huge honor apparently. Healer Kammani’s sister is chosen, and Nanaea is all gung ho about it. But sister is like, nah, you aren’t dying today, sis, and takes her father’s place as a healer to keep the ruler from dying, thus saving her sister.
I think what frustrated me the most was that the story started really promising. The premise is unique, and I think I was expecting something creepier than what it was. By the second quarter, it began to turn into your cookie-cutter YA fantasy with an unlikeable protagonist who makes questionable decisions. Kammani did not have a distinct personality. She’s just a typical YA heroine who wants you to think she’s smart but instead makes you roll your eyes at the things she does for plot’s sake. I wasn’t feeling it.
The love interest was another negative aspect for me. As in, there WAS NO LOVE INTEREST. Though the plot set us up for one, maybe two, nothing comes out of it. There is no payoff. Maybe if I felt some tingles, I would have enjoyed this part a bit more. Instead, I felt numb to it every time he came “on screen.”
The writing was fine. Some dialogue was hard to follow, and some phrases seemed out of place. The twist was no so much a twist. I was truly hoping for someone I did not suspect, but alas.
GRAVEMAIDENS could have been the twisted and dark tale I thought it was. Instead, I won’t remember it come tomorrow.
Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for the auto-approval. It makes me feel so cool in the book review world.
So, let me first say a few things about this book before getting in the nitty-gritty.
A missing girl
Inner (and outer?) demons
There’s a thin line between what is real, and what is not in this book. When Skye’s little sister Diedre goes missing, her entire family life goes into an uproar. With several small clues, Skye discovers that the imaginary worlds her sister created may have come to life, and with a vengeance. To get her sister back, she must complete specific tasks that include spilling her innermost secrets and coming to terms with her demons. Underneath the missing girl plot is a story of violence and inner demons that are just as scary as real ones. If, you know, demons were real, and you believe in that sort of thing. Or you could only imagine that dude from Legend with the horns. Inner turmoil can be just as horrifying as seeing that guy come around a corner on a dark, abandoned street. I digress.
But with all that, I found myself wondering if I missed something. Much was not explained, and maybe left up to interpretation? I was waiting for some big reveal, maybe Skye as an unreliable narrator would have been sweet.
This was a real creepy, atmospheric read. Amenlinda’s writing is subtle, and not overly flowery, with enough to give you a sense of panic and fear. Skye, as an MC, had her faults, and some of her actions had me scratching my head. That with the sense that nobody learned a damn thing by the end of the story. Maybe I look too deep into things, but I like my stories to at least have something that the MC’s learned. Maybe Skye learned not to take her sister for granted. Perhaps it was something as simple as Diedre just wanting to be in her fantasy world forever, which brings me to the mental illness aspect of this book. It’s treated kinda flippantly with, “Maybe she needs to see a therapist.” Parents don’t seem to care. By the end, they still don’t. I know. It just felt sort of wobbly.
All in all, I did enjoy the book’s first half. I couldn’t put it down. But things took a nosedive after that. The story shifted so quickly and drastically, I felt jarred which made my rating fall. 3.5
Warnings: animal death, violence, and mental illness.
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for a chance to review this title ahead of its release date.
So, you’d think my love of Adam Silvera would excuse a little bit of the shortcomings of this book, but alas.
Brighton and Emil grew up in a world protected by Spell Walkers-superheroes who guard the people against spectors and other baddies. All his life, Brighton wished to become a celestial and join the ongoing war. But instead of Brighton, it was Emil who suddenly came into power after a fight on a train. But even though it was his brother now in the heart of the fray, Brighton still did his part with his popular social media accounts where he tried to paint the Spellwalkers as the good guys most people don’t see them as.
This started as a solid book. Two brothers, tight as my pants after a big dinner, and some magical folk with crazy powers, phoenixes, hydrae…I mean, come on. But probably about a quarter in I began to drop slowly off that high, and I just felt kind of BLAH. I got past much of the Steelheart vibes, and the lack of character personalities, and hoped the plot would make up for it. It did not.
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved ALL of Adam’s books. They gut-punched me, had me skipping meals to keep on reading, and broke my bank account for different editions (Thank you Book Depository) This one lacked the heart I’m used to in his books. It felt empty, and a tad cookie cutter for my taste.
I hated that I didn’t fall in love with this book as much as I planned to. My expectations might have been too high. It was a decent read, but certainly not mind-blowing as the cover suggests.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.
I was initially drawn to this book because the premise is not one I have read before. Therefore, I was intrigued. I was surprised to read it through and discover that it wasn’t your typical “dying teen girl” novel. Not at all.
This book centers around Simone, who is an HIV positive teenager, who navigates high school, her sexuality, and dating while trying to keep her condition a secret. She’s a first-time theater director for her school’s performance of RENT and a musical buff. When she meets Miles, she enters the world of dating, all while dodging a mysterious person who threatens to out her condition if she doesn’t stop seeing Miles. With gay dads, a broken-ish family life, that with being adopted and a person of color, she still powers through life. Her secret could be exposed, but is that something good or something bad?
I loved Simone’s voice. As someone with limited education about HIV, and musicals, I have to say I learned a few things from reading this. Simone takes her health seriously, and she protects herself at all costs, and I think that is something admirable. She is a good example for teens reading this story. The plot moved smoothly, and all the characters, side, and main were distinct.
Some of the things that irked me, such as the eye-rolling, went away quickly when I reminded myself that I am reading about teenagers. What do you expect? Also, some plot points needed expanding on. The book could have had a higher word count, and I would have been OK with it if it solved these minor things.
I didn’t know until I started to write this review and I researched the author, that Camryn is only a teen, which hypes me up so much about this book. One, because she is young, but she is so talented, and two, that I know she is going to be around for a long time and I am excited to read everything she has to offer the world.
Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.
Contrary to what many of you are posting, this book has only one POV with Larkin. It is written in the third person.
EIGHT WILL FALL follows Larkin who, as an Empath, is suppressed by the queen of her kingdom, along with others like her. She and her brother are forced to work the mines to survive. Larkin has a bit of a temper (for good reason) and one day she uses magic against an unfair shopkeeper. She and her brother are arrested and thrown into prison. Queen Melay then makes it known that she is choosing seven inmates (and a guide) to go down into the mines and see if the rumors of a returned dark lord are true or not. Each chosen Empath have a family member held back as leverage, thus making their choice an easy one. Once down in the caves, they encounter terrifying creatures, long-dead cultists, and the truth about themselves and how far they will go to save the ones they love and bring justice to their kingdom.
What I liked:
I loved the world-building in this story. It was fresh and not so complicated that it was hard to follow. I was sucked right in. The creep factor hit me like a brick wall in a WHOA sort of way as I wasn’t expecting it. BUT I love gore done right, and this was done right. I felt like I was in the movie The Descent, which terrified me and I watched, like, five times, because I’m a sucker for punishment.
The magic system was cool. I don’t remember many books with magic like this.
What I didn’t like:
Hmmmm. Not much, but maybe that I didn’t truly connect with all the characters as much as I hoped. That is what knocked it down a star, but honestly, it didn’t affect the story as a whole. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Read if you like:
A strong heroine
Good vs Evil
Stand-alone books (as far as I know)
Thank you to Edelweiss for having the glitch of the century and allowing me to yank this book to download for my own greedy hands.
**THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS. Sort of. **
A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was one of my favorite books of 2019. I couldn’t put that book down and when I was done, I kept walking by my bookshelf admiring it. It gave us a great protagonist with Harper, a complicated king in Rhen, and a broody man of Grey. It had everything. Unfortunately, this one did not live up to the first book.
Before you get all, this-is-not-the-first-it’s-a-sequel-and-doesn’t-have-to-be-the-same, hear me out. The book opens with Harper’s POV, and that is all we get out of her. Whomp whomp. Then we get to Grey and I happy squeal. But Grey’s character seemed off. He was smiling and talkative, and didn’t seem like the Grey we knew and loved. Next, we have a new character in Lia Mara, daughter of the Shallow queen whom we met in the first book. She’s OK, I guess. So, the whole novel is Lia and Grey. No Rhen, (until the very end) and no Harper save for the opening chapter.
OK, so the story follows Grey in his attempt to thwart Emberfall from knowing he’s the rightful heir. Lia is there to show us that her mother is as cruel as we thought, and along with Jacob (Harper’s bro), Noah (Jake’s boyfriend), and a new character Tycho, they journey to make alliances. All the while, falling love, being angsty, and mostly depressed.
I’ll go into what bothered me most, besides Grey’s character 360. Harper. She stood by while some horrible things happened. SHE STOOD BY. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you,” is what she says. I read that as, “I’m sorry I DIDN’T help you.” As strong as a character as she was, I wanted more out of her, and her supposed love for Rhen felt so…wrong. I kind of hate her now.
That brings me to Rhen AND WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU? He wasn’t my favorite, to begin with, but he took my dislike to a whole new level. So, I hate him too.
Without Harper or Rhen (and how boring Grey became) the story dragged on and on. Lia Mara was a yawn. The only redeeming character was probably the human-like creature who accompanies them on their journey. The story lost its heart, and it lost its direction. I was waiting for the fierceness, but all of it fell flat. I’m pretty sure the next book will answer a lot of questions and make me feel better about the things that happened, but until then I shall scream like a spoiled child who’s ice-cream cone just fell onto the pavement.