Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the e-galley!
Arthurian myths are my jam. They are so much my jam that I have been writing a YA reimagining for the last two years (I’m going to finish it, I swear). That is why I was iffy to read this mostly because I was bitter that somebody got a King Arthur retelling out before me and also because I was scared that it was similar to what I was writing and I would be soooooooo sad and if I published mine people would be all, ehhh she copied Kiersten White. Wow, rambling over.
This book was great. It follows, “Guinevere, the daughter of Merlin, who is sent to protect King Arthur. Theirs is not a marriage of love, but a necessity. Guinevere has magic, which has been banned from Camelot alongside Merlin, so she has to hide it. After a while, we find out the truth of why she’s been sent to Camelot, as well as discovering her feelings for Arthur, and his nephew, the dark and mysteriously hot Mordred.
GAH. Ok, so I flew through this book because my Netgalley approval happened four days before the book’s release. There were some aspects that I loved, which were sweet cinnamon roll Arthur and Darkling-like Mordred. The city of Camelot was a dream, and I simply loved being in this world! There were also things that could have been a bit fleshed out, such as Guinevere’s past. I could have also used some signs of the times, such as clothing and food that went with the setting and period. I also felt a bit cheated at the end. I had so many questions from the beginning that never got answered, and now I have to wait a whole year for the next book. BOOOO BUT THAT TWIST THOUGH.
Let me touch upon the romance. I LOVED IT ALL: the sweet moments and the secret looks. I WAS DYING. I need some fanart of Mordred because I have this unhealthy obsession with bad boys that kiss like wild animals, and I CANNOT HELP IT. The fact that these romantic aspects were sorta slow burned also delighted me. There is no insta-love, and the female friendships are spot on amazing.
I pretty much adored this book, and I vowed to hold back on my book box subscriptions for the rest of the year, but I may have to renew a particular one to get this book.
So, I was doing this thing where I read nothing but spooky stuff for October, and let me tell you something. Reading nothing but horror and thrillers can make your brain all weird. So, I needed a break. This book checked off everything I loved in a romance, so here’s my glowing review.
Isabel has rheumatoid arthritis, and she meets Sasha, who has Gauchers disease. Together, they form Sick Girl and Sick Boy, and they are the best couple in the entire universe. Seriously, the way their romance bloomed was so incredible that when there were those bouts of bad tension between them, I seriously feared for how much I would cry if anything happened to these cinnamon rolls.
Isabel has questions column in her school’s newspaper, and these breaks in the story were a delight to read. I found myself laughing out loud at Isabel’s humor. She is seriously one of the best protagonists not only for her strength but because she feels so deeply about the abandonment of her mother and the absence of her hardworking father.
And SASHA! AHHHHH He is a total book boyfriend material. He is stoic yet unafraid to show his feelings. I mean, the boy naps like a cat and he WILL NAP WITH YOU ALL DAY and lie around and do nothing but be near you and if that isn’t just the perfect relationship, I don’t know what is.
I learned a ton about these two diseases and how debilitating it can be. I had thyroid cancer and had to have mine removed in 2005 so I can relate to Isabel’s fears of people seeing her “faking” her illness, just because people aren’t able to see how she suffers on the outside. You constantly look at others who are way sicker and feel as though you have no right to feel the way you do, and sometimes these emotions drown you.
Isabel and Sasha navigate these feelings together and learn to support each other without trying to change each other. This book was an absolute breath of fresh air from all those sick kid books. I wish I could succumb to amnesia just for a day so I could read this book all over again.
How many of you want a demon-filled, Seven Samurai/anime/manga/Miyazaki inspired fantasy? If less than all of you don’t raise your hands, I’m coming over there and slapping some sense into you. You don’t know what you want, so let me tell you.
SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS is about our girl Kira, who is one of those strong and confident heroines, as she battles demons who attack her shrine in modern-day Japan looking for an ancient artifact. Alongside, Shiro, who s half fox and half boy mind you, they discover that the only way to beat the demon-lord and find the missing pieces of an ancient sword, they must enlist the help of seven shinigami (death gods) to aid the impending war.
This book read like I was watching an anime. The demons and ghosts that only Kira can see, as well as the fantastically grotesque monsters, were something out of a Miyazaki flick. There were absolutely no dull points I can think of. Every page was magical. If you have been following my reviews, when a book reminds me of Miyazaki, you can expect five stars. I’m just that easy to please.
The romance took a backseat, which was nice. Kira had a head on her shoulders and was not easily thrown aside against those who thought her weak. She relied heavily on those she loved and used their power to strengthen her. I love heroines who are goal-oriented, who have heart and emotions, and who are not afraid to take chances, and that is Kira rolled up in one neat package. We need more like her. Please.
I feel the one thing this book was lacking was food. When I think Miyazaki not only do I think of magic but of the delicious food the animation studio loves to makes us drool over. This was just my WANT, and it did not affect the rating. Clearly.
If you want a book rooted in Japanese culture and mythology and filled with an homage to Seven Samurai, this is your book.
I’ll go right into it and tell you the things I liked:
This book smacks you in the face, right off the bat. We’re introduced to Amora, a princess who does some crazy stuff and ends up on a ship with a pirate who is strangely intriguing in a Nikolai Lantsov kind of way when he does that thing to what’s her face but is still charming AF. Amora is neat as a character because she’s powerful, yet sensitive, and knows herself enough to know what’s right and what’s wrong and how to go about making things right and all that. Side characters were a major plus, especially Fennick…poor cinnamon roll. He just had the hardest of times.
THE THINGS THAT DID NOT MESH WITH ME:
The world-building confused me as it reminded me a whole lot of different worlds that have already been done, but all smashed up into one. I sort of couldn’t get a grip on what sort of book it was. Quirky fantasy, dark in your face violent fantasy or what.
Amora was also up and down for me. It turns out she’s just the typical princess character we see in most YA books. That is not to say she wasn’t a great character, because she was. I like fierce women in literature. I love princesses who go after what they want and not settle for what their parents, kingdom, society, etc., want. She was just familiar to me, and nothing truly stood out about her.
The story dived about the time when the antagonist arrived, and I found myself skimming. The reveals weren’t too surprising, save for pretty cool one.
All in all, I relished the journey, and I’ll probably buy the book for the cover alone. To have on my shelf, and hope to have someday a cover for one of my books that looks this delicious.
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.