Thank you NetGalley and Delacorte Press for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: Ever since Margot was born, it's been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot's questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that's not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it's not what she bargained for.
Margot's mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what's still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there's poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she's there, she might never escape. (Amazon)
A book lover often has a difficult time reading the books that they're interested in. Just when the opportunity arrives to finally dive into that story you've been wanting to read for months, about five other books release and you once again fall behind. That's why, despite the popularity of Wilder Girls last year, I never had the chance to enjoy it. Seeing a new and upcoming release from Rory Power seemed like the perfect opportunity to become acquainted with her imagination.
The writing itself is very good. There are no hiccups, no floundering about, and it flows smoothly. Rory Power gets to the point that she wants to make without beating around the bush. I really wanted to enjoy this story, however, and sometimes we want something so strongly that it slips away.
While the writing is straightforward, the pace was not. The novel took so long getting to the meat of the plot that I got slightly bored along the way. I didn't really connect with any characters except our lead, something that is at times the case often when a book is written in first-person. I felt for Margot and her plight. That's one thing that can be said for this book: you feel the desperation, frustration, and need coming off this young woman to have the love and family that she has wanted her whole life. It screams out through the pages.
Was the true horror and mystery of it all worth it when it finally arrived, however? Yes, it absolutely was. There is something sickening, twisted and disturbing about the history behind the horror of Margot's family. And for that, this book is well worth the read. That something so seemingly small would make me feel as uncomfortable as it did, speaks well for the way that the author unfolds it into the rest of the writing. But it arrived quite late, and developed far too fast for me to properly enjoy.
Burn Our Bodies Down has a Stephen King-esque vibe that hit me more than once, and I've noticed that other readers have felt the same. It's this nagging little thing at the back of your head that you notice here and there and can't let go of. I appreciated it, even if the whole of it fell a little more off the mark than I'd hoped. There's merit to this novel, I just wish that more of those daunting details which pop up near the end and made me uneasy—while making everything charged and fraught with terrible possibility—had been delivered a little more starkly from the start.
Thank you to Ana Huang for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: One year, two opposites, and a love that will blindside and, ultimately, shatter them.
She’s an aspiring interior designer who dreams of falling in love.
He’s an ex-football star who thinks love is a con.
She’s a virgin, and he doesn’t do virgins.
He’s cocky, infuriating, and not her type.
She wants the fairytale.
He wants freedom.
Blake and Farrah shouldn’t have fallen for each other the way they did: totally, completely, and irrevocably.
Because they’re studying abroad in Shanghai, and they only have one year.
Because forces at home threaten to rip them apart, even if they don’t know it yet.
And because, eventually, they must face the most heartbreaking lesson they’ll ever learn: sometimes, even the greatest love can’t conquer all. (Amazon)
If We Ever Meet Again is the story of what happens when life surprises us and we open ourselves up to something different from what we thought we wanted.
This story was sweet and heartwarming, with two very likable characters. Though I found Farrah and Blake's first meeting a little fast in happening and ever so slightly hurried, it was still charming. Their quick zings and ability to take each other lightly despite their attraction for one another was very relatable and drew me in as a reader. If nothing else, they made me smile. Though their story does not come to a (temporary) close in the best of terms, it's bittersweet, and does hold hope.
One of my favorite parts about the book were the rich descriptions of its setting. The scene between our two leads at the Great Wall of China was breathtaking, and though it had to do about their connection more so than the place, it was so easy to picture them there with history surrounding them. That scene, by the way, was the first time that this novel made me feel truly emotional—it was great to see two people who, up to this point were mostly bickering and bantering with one another, show vulnerability.
Between Farrah and Blake's friends, the cozy bond that they all have formed together, and the adventures that they take, If We Ever Meet Again was endearing. It's very much about not just the romantic relationships, but those in general.
It's the perfect time to do this Book Tag, and I wasn't expecting how some of these turned out, but that is one of the reasons why I enjoy these types of posts so much. I borrowed these questions from BookswithEmilyFox's YouTube video >HERE< and enjoyed learning her own answers as much as I did discovering mine.
Best book you’ve read so far in 2020. Maggie Stiefvater's Call Down the Hawk. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020, it did not disappoint, and I am eager to get my hands on the second book. I need more Ronan and Adam in my life!
Best sequel you've read so far in 2020. One of Us Is Next by Karen McManus. Karen McManus writes books that, to me, feel like comfort reads from the moment that I pick them up until the second that I finish. That's a treasured sensation to experience in relation to a story.
New release you haven't read yet, but want to. Most of the books that I still desperately want to still read in 2020 haven't released yet. However, more and more, I find myself intrigued to read The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin. There's one to look forward to.
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. I found out about this book when the year had already begun, which is different from my other eagerly awaited books of 2020 since I knew about those since last year. But the moment that I learned about it, I knew it was a story for me.
Biggest disappointment. The Sisters Grimm by Menna Van Praag. The premise for this book promised everything that I would usually enjoy in a retelling, especially since it dealt with fairytales. But it was dull and lengthier than it needed to be, lacking the magic I hoped it'd have.
Biggest surprise. The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant. The audience seems divided on this one, but I absolutely adored it. Kester Grant took me on a dark and deep tunnel along the tale of Les Miserables all the while shaping the world that she'd created around this classic. To say that I am curious to find out how she continues from where this first book in the series left off is an understatement.
Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you) This is a difficult one to answer, because I've enjoyed quite a few books by new authors for me this year. But, among them, Kate McLaughlin stands out with her debut of What Unbreakable Looks Like. This emotional, heartbreaking story is written in such a simple yet powerful way that it can't help but stick with you. Even months after I read it, I still think about it from time to time.
Newest fictional crush. Declan from Stiefvater's Call Down the Hawk did something to me this year. Which shocked me, because he's such a sanctimonious ass in previous books from this world. But the true crush came in the form of Sarah J. Maas' Hunt from House of Earth and Blood. That was certainly a tasty morsel, even if I get the beginnings of anxiety thinking of what might potentially happen to him.
Newest favourite character. I'm tempted to name Stevie Bell, even though I met her previous to this year from the Truly Devious trilogy. However, though the book is not as well known (yet), I adored Anne Bonny from Meg Caddy's Devil's Ballast. Yes, I know she was a real person and not a fictional character, but she was fictionalized in order to be part of this novel. So, she'll do. That is one strong woman I would've looked up to, pirate or not.
Book that made you cry. Again, Kate McLaughlin's What Unbreakable Looks Like. The tears flowed silently but truthfully.
Book that made you happy. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle. I don't usually read romances lately unless there's a side-story to them (or unless the romance is the side-story), but this book was a delight to read. It brought more smiles and laughs to me than most other novels have lately.
Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received) The UK tour edition of Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood. Which, infuriatingly, never made it to me. My delivery service canceled the order and returned the book to Waterstones because they couldn't “find my residence.” So, I had the pleasure of buying the book, but never had it in my hands. It still stings.
What books do you need to read by the end of the year? Sooooo many that it makes me want to hide under the bed and not come out unless food beckons. Honestly, I have over 20 ARCs waiting to be read, more are on the way, and I'm not even taking into account the other many books that I wait to see released. That's the joy of reading, though: you never run out of material to explore.
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTeen for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept.
Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.
But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.
In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing. (Amazon)
I came across Ghost Wood Song and I was soon lost. I am absolutely and easily smitten by a pretty cover, it will turn my head every single time, and this is one gorgeous cover. How could I resist finding out more about the book?
But then... Wait now, this is a Gothic story with a Southern twist? Well, I'm sold.
Only a few chapters into this novel, and I was hooked. At the center of this tale is Shady Grove (a name I adored from the get-go), whose father has died a few years prior; she now seeks his special fiddle after her brother gets into enough trouble to warrant her need to become involved. This fiddle, she believes, holds the answer to helping her older sibling, especially since it raised ghosts for her daddy until the day he himself passed from this world.
That alone should be interesting, but what I most loved about this book—and what drew me in time and time again—was how well Erica Waters allows the reader to become lost in the haunting and rural setting. With its surrounding forests, lakes and old houses, creeping vegetation and nearby whispers, you see ghosts at every corner. It was so easy to sink into the story and follow along with Shady and her friends while she raised ghosts and fought to keep herself alive.
Unfortunately, I think it's those same characters who made my love at first sight falter a few times. It's not that they're a weak cast. They're charming. Shady is smart and kind, protective and easy of manner unless you speak ill or go after someone she loves. But the rest kept mostly to the surface. It was as if, lest they were needed to make a point to the story, they were tucked away in the background. Even during scenes in which there were more than two characters present, it was not rare to notice that besides the two who were mainly in conversation, the others would be forgotten in narrative. It's not a huge detriment to the story, and alongside Shady, Frank and Jesse are intriguing because they're part of the big mystery behind everything going on. But I wanted the others to have a pull from me as well.
The pacing is fast, and you don't have much time to become bored with any goings on. There were some scenes that lacked the nostalgia and eerie notes that echoed throughout, which pulled away from total immersion on and off. Don't get me wrong, not every single instance needed to be full of spirits, and cold spots, and scary footsteps in the middle of the night. Yet, now and again, the dreary atmosphere with which the novel began, would slip before catching itself right before going over completely. Once that happened, it wasn't difficult to get sucked back in.
Ghost Wood Song is a charming story despite the sadness of its premise. The family bond portrayed is strong, and hopeful—it's inspiring. There are a few darkly atmospheric moments that are no less meaningful for being expected, and the inclusion of music added a layer that was as gripping as I expected it to be. It certainly prompted me to learn some new music that I likely wouldn't have come across on my own.
That's always a great day: when a book offers you a novel thing to enjoy in life.