Mini Book Reviews !

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

This is such a haunting novel. It follows a white family as they begin their vacation at an Airbnb, when suddenly the owners of the house show up—an elderly Black couple. The book is about family, trust, and humanity, in a way.

I went into this novel pretty blind, knowing only that it was gaining a lot of momentum in the book community.

The beginning is wonderfully done and had sucked me in immediately. The world opens up slowly, and the plot unravels piece by piece. It is truly chilling. It is a dark and atmospheric book, but the thrilling elements to it added another dimension. But more than that, it is uncanny. It felt familiar in a strange way, almost like déjà vu. I had goosebumps at times because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

The book also has very timely discussions surrounding race and class, which alone are worth reading the book for.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

This book was such a treat! I had no expectations going into it, I was just on the lookout for some new historical fiction books to read. I am so glad I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this (in audiobook format, thank you Netgalley).

This dual timeline novel was so atmospheric. The trick to these stories is that both plotlines need to be interesting—and they were! I adored reading about Nella & Eliza as much as Caroline.

It reminded me a bit of The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. Not only do we have a hidden, women-run shop in both stories, we also have the arrival of a newcomer who asks for a job! If you enjoyed McKay’s book, this one will be right up your alley. The plot similarities end there, though because Penner’s novel was very unique; I don’t think I’ve read anything like it before.

I was definitely at the edge of my seat as the novel began to unfold. The storytelling was wonderful, and Penner will be on my radar for sure!

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

This book absolutely broke me. Like, I sobbed. A lot. But it was so beautifully written, everyone needs to read it.

This book made me feel so many emotions: anger, frustration, sadness, and love. It brings to light so many important issues surrounding child abuse and neglect, and as someone who is working in this industry right now, it breaks my heart.

It’s definitely really hard to read at times, so be aware (many trigger warnings in this one as well—child abuse, slut shaming, homophobia, death, murder, PTSD, and more).

I read it in a matter of days because of how fast-paced it was, and it had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

I’ve already placed holds on Allegedly and Grown, also by Jackson, because I need to read even more by her!

I loved these books, but I’d love to know what your thoughts were if you read them! Did you feel the same way as me?

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon / Review

You may not remember, but I read Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon a few months ago, and I absolutely adored it. I was so excited to get an early copy of her debut adult book, The Ex Talk!

Luckily, I loved it just as much.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

My Thoughts:

This was such a fun book because it took two common tropes—enemies to lovers + fake dating—but turned them upside down! In this case, it was actually an enemies to lovers + fake exes story, which isn’t something I’d ever read before.

It was fresh and funny, and I was so entertained the entire time by it.

The characters were each so witty and had their own distinct personalities, which is why I enjoyed the book so much. I think characters are the most important pieces to any type of story because it’s what makes the audience care about the rest of the elements (like plot, world, magic, etc.). And Rachel does a phenomenal job of creating realistic characters that are fun to read about!

I also really enjoyed the radio/podcasting element to this story! As a communication student, I’ve learned about the world of radio before, but this really brought it to life for me. I think a writer is great at what they do if they can make you interested in something you’ve never really care about before. For example, the directors, producers, and writers behind The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix made millions of people watch an entire show about the game of chess. It made me so excited by it that I even began teaching myself chess!

The Ex Talk did that for me with radio. I think the behind-the-scenes of it all was so fascinating, and it was useful to read about since I just started my own podcast as well!

Finally, the plot was great. There were some parts that I think could have been slowed down a little bit, but overall I had such a great time with this book.

If you are an adult romance fan, this is a great book to pick up! Even if you’re not much of an adult reader, I think this is a good book to help you get into the world of adult books because it’s light and not too hardcore.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

This book comes out on January 26th, so be sure to add it to your TBR if you’re interested or preorder it now!

Have you read this or any of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s other books?

Please Pick Me Blog Tour / Poetry Review

Hello everyone! I hope you are having an amazing week so far!

Today I am exciting to be taking part in a blog tour for Please Pick Me by Reina Regina with Caffeine Book Tours! Thank you so much to Shealea for allowing me to take part!

Goodreads Synopsis

In a garden of a thousand other volumes, my little yellow book with its earnest plea and hopeful flowers on the cover sits waiting for you to pick it up. It’s got a heart it wants to give away.

These haikus, poems, and prose pieces are about

the miracle of being wanted back by someone we want,
the desperation of hoping they’ll fight harder when they waver,
the rawness of seeking reassurance that we are loved as we are, and
the tenderness we feel when we’re sending love out to others

—all those moments when we are making our need to be accepted plain and praying, please pick me.

This book was born after twenty-six years of learning that it’s okay to want to be wanted, that vulnerability is merely throwing open the gateway to honest connections, and that fighting to be loved the way you deserve is bravery and not weakness.

I hope you open it. I hope it invites you to be open too.

My Review

This poetry collection had me from the foreword. Reading those words from the author made me feel so connected to the poems before I even read them because I understood where the words were coming from. I knew I would be able to relate, and I did.

I really loved the longer poems in this collection. They were full of metaphors and vivid imagery, and I felt like the outside world didn’t exist when I was reading this. Some of my favorites are “date a boy who draws,” “sepsis,” and “care instructions.”

The parts that I couldn’t necessarily relate to in a literal sense, I still felt deeply connected to. I think that really shows that the author has a way with words!

Unfortunately, a few of the shorter poems didn’t resonate with me as much and they felt a bit more cliche.

That one fault aside, this was exactly the poetry collection I needed. It hit home in ways I never knew a book could, and it felt like some part that I’ve kept hidden inside me was finally able to come out.

if you are saying
“don’t ask me to choose
between you and her”
and you are notsaying
“I will choose you
no matter what”
then isit not quite clear
what your answer will be?

{ logically, not me}

Reina Regina

Also, the illustrations in this were so so beautiful. They really completed the collection.

Overall, this is a story for people who want to be chosen. About people who feel like they give so much love but do not get it in return. It’s for the people who just want to feel special and seen and appreciated. It was raw, honest, and beautifully written.

This short book is perfect for anyone looking to read a quick poetry collection that’s emotional and will hit you hard!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Do you read poetry? What are some of your favorite collections?

Don’t forget to check out this book if you’re interested in purchasing it—It’s out now!

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard / Review

Many of you know that I am not a huge fantasy reader. I tend to stick to contemporaries anywhere from romances to thrillers to literary fiction.

However, I do enjoy a fantasy every now and then to break up my reading. I first heard of An Unkindness of Magicians a couple of years ago from Merphy Napier, who is a booktuber I really like! She mentioned that it was an adult standalone fantasy, and that peaked my interest for sure.

I’ve had it on my TBR for a while now, so I’m so happy that I finally got to it!

Goodreads Synopsis

There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.

Review

The Good:
  • The magic- I really enjoyed the magic system in this book. It was a lot darker than I had expected, but that made me love it even more. It was just really intricate in the way that it worked, especially once one of the twists was revealed.
  • Plot- As I mentioned, this book was a lot darker than I originally thought it would be, but it was oh so good. I really like any books with magical competitions, and this reminded me a bit of The Night Circus. I liked that there were a lot of hidden agendas for everything, and each chapter gave us a little bit more. And that ending? It absolutely destroyed me. Take that as you will.
  • The writing- I also liked the writing style of this book. It was easy to follow, but filled with very beautiful prose. There were quite a few quotes that really stood out to me from it, which is part of how I judge a book’s writing.

“Magic, at its heart, starts with sacrifice. You have to give up something to get something, and because magic is big, with all that it allows you access to, what you give up has to be big. It has to be meaningful.”

The Bad:
  • Character- I felt like the characters were lacking complexity for me. I love character driven novels, but this one was not the best at making me connect to the cast. There are a lot of characters introduced in the beginning, and I felt like they did not distinguish themselves enough. I got a bit lost and actually started the audiobook over when I was 3 chapters in because of that. However, once you got to know who each person was, I started to enjoy the story more.
  • Action- This was a slower moving story, which is something I tend to prefer. With this one, though, I wish that some of the challenges were described with more detail. I feel like they really could have been fleshed out to be more intense and action-packed. Those scenes were really underwhelming for me, which is unfortunate because I really liked the magic system and would have wanted to see more of it.
Overall:

This was a really solid, enjoyable read. I would definitely pick up more from this author in the future, and I’m really happy I read this one!

Rating: 4 stars

I would love to know if you’ve read this one and what your thoughts were! I don’t see nearly enough people talking about this book (or the author in general).

I’m also in need of more recs similar to this one, so if you have any, send them may way!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo // Review

I finally read it. After owning a copy of the book since release week (roughly a year ago from now), I finally picked up the book and read it!

And I’m so glad I did.

Ninth House was everything I was looking for. I know that it’s gotten many mixed reviews, and it’s definitely not a book for everyone, but I thought it was phenomenal.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

My Review:

Where do I even begin? First off, I went in with very few expectations for this book. I didn’t know much about it going into it, so it was really a pleasant surprise all the way through.

The book starts off very slow, and for the most part, it continued on with a slow pace for the majority of the story. That’s not to say that it was boring or lacking action, though. Quite the opposite actually. This book was full of mystery, murder, and morally grey characters. The entire time I was trying to figure out what was going to happen alongside our main character Galaxy “Alex” Stern.

Speaking of Alex, she is not a warm and kind character in the slightest. From the start, she is portrayed as cold and calculating, but I loved that about her. She had her guard up a lot, but once we found out why, you really start to feel for her.

Another character I loved was Pammie, or Dawes. We see her more towards the second half of the book, but she made a huge impression on me. She is quite the opposite of Alex, but the two made a great pair!

I also really loved learning more about Darlington. Although we do not see too much of him, he is central to the story.

The storyline was also so compelling. I didn’t want to put the book down, but at the same time, I needed to process certain scenes. Reading about the magic and the secret societies was really fascinating to me. I do wish we got to learn a little bit more about them and see more of the characters outside of Lethe. I’m hoping this gets fleshed out more in the next book!

The writing was also incredible. I loved the way we switched between timelines. It worked really well for this story, and it aided in many of the plot twists and shocking surprises we see.

Just a fair warning, this book is dark. Very dark. That is part of what drew me to it, but I know that not everyone is able to read books like this. It is gory and graphic, so proceed with caution.

TW: drug use, overdose, addiction, detailed rape (not romanticized, but pretty graphic), murder, gore, sexual assault, racism, and more that I may have forgotten.

All in all, I think this was a really solid adult debut from Bardugo. I am so excited to see where the second book goes!

I have now read all of Bardugo’s books (aside from her novella), and she is easily one of my favorite authors. The funny part is, it took me so long to finally pick up her books—it wasn’t until last year that I read Shadow and Bone, and I just finished SoC & CK this year!

That being said, she has pulled me in time and time again, and I will forever be reading her books.

If you’ve read this book, let me know what your thoughts were on it!

The Switch by Beth O’Leary Review

I think I may have found a new favorite book of 2020…

I was approved for an ARC of The Switch by Beth O’Leary on Netgalley a few weeks ago, and I sort of requested it on a whim. Netgalley has just recently added audiobooks to its website, and I wanted to know how it would work. I saw that this one was available, so I got it.

I am so glad that I did.

Beth O’Leary is the author of The Flatshare, which you may have heard of. EVERYONE was gushing about it last year, though I still haven’t read it. Now, I definitely will.

Anyway, let’s talk about The Switch!

Goodreads Synopsis:

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

My Review:

The first word that pops into my head when I think of this book is “fun.” It was just such an enjoyable experience. I loved the way this story was told: alternating points of view from our 20-something, work-obsessed main character Leena, and her newly divorced grandmother, Eileen, who is looking for some fun.

First off, Eileen was an amazing character. She was such a BADASS. After getting out of her long time marriage that she realized she was really unhappy in, she decides to give online dating a try with the help of her Leena and her friends. She was also super funny, and I was entertained by all of her chapters. It was interesting to read from the perspective of someone so much older than me, but definitely in a good way.

Leena, on the other hand, is someone who likes to occupy herself with work and doesn’t know how to slow down. Going away from the city and into the countryside allowed her a chance to reconnect with her mother and properly grieve the death of her sister. She had some ups and downs along the way (some of which made me a little frustrated), but I could understand where she was coming from. She felt really real to me, which is the most important aspect of characters to me in any novel.

The plot was also really joyous. There is a grumpy old neighbor, a funny neighborhood ‘watch’ group, a dog who I fell in love with, and more. The cast of characters were all really great, and the story was so light-hearted.

I know I keep saying that this book was really joyous, but there were certainly many heavier topics discussed in it as well (TW for death of a family member, grief, depression, and more). What I really liked about this book was that it had depth to it without being heavy. The story wasn’t about the sad parts, but more so about the characters getting passed these things.

This book definitely got me out of my slump, as it was a really fast-paced story. The audiobook narration was also so wonderful. I highly recommend picking this book up if you are looking for something happy and hopeful.

Have you read this book? Or have you read The Flatshare? Let me know in the comments!

Where Dreams Descend Blog Tour // Review

Hello and welcome to another review post! Today I am sharing my thoughts on the debut novel ‘Where Dreams Descend’ by Janella Angeles! Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for sending me an ARC of this to review!*

The book comes out TODAY, the day you are reading this, so check it out if you are interested!

*All opinions are my own!

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Review:

So to start off, I just want to say the aesthetics of this book? Phenomenal. The synopsis was SO intriguing to me as someone who loves stories about magicians/circuses (The Night Circus, Caraval- both favorites of mine). This book is supposed to be inspired by Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera, both of which I know nothing about (oops 🙊). BUT, if those are things you are interested in, this book might be right up your alley!

I definitely think a lot of people are going to absolutely adore this book. From the minute I saw the cover art, I knew the story was going to be dreamy.

I think the best way for me to share my thoughts of this book are through pros and cons, so it’s easier to understand! Let’s start off with the good.

Things I LOVED:

  • The atmosphere: The beginning of this book is very ominous. The reader is filled with tons of questions right off the bat. A few chapters in, we are transported to a new location and it was really well described. I was so curious the entire time about what this place was, and I was itching to learn more!
  • The feminism: Our main character, Kallia, is strong and fierce. Female magicians are not welcomed in the world she lives in, so Kallia is put at a disadvantage right from the start of the magic competition. BUT, she does not get intimidated by the men who are clearly trying to sabotage her performances, and she does not quit. She stands up to them the entire time, which I admired a lot.
  • The plot twists: There were quite a few plot twists in this story that I did not see coming (maybe if you are familiar with PotO or MR you wouldn’t be as surprised), and it really added to my enjoyment. I adore plot twists in books- without them, I feel like stories are much too bland.
  • The ending: My favorite part of this story, and what probably ended up saving the book for me, was the ending. It leaves off at just the right part- I want to know what happens next and I can’t wait to read the second book now. This is a duology, and the second installment will be released next year!

Things I DIDN’T LOVE:

  • The writing: This story felt quite choppy in a few places, and it didn’t always make sense to me. I was getting lost by it. It felt like it was strung together a little awkwardly, especially at parts where the POV changed. I don’t know if this was due to the e-ARC formatting, or if it was done purposefully, but it threw me off a bit. I think it needed a few more editing passes to feel completely finished.
  • The middle: This book was very slow-paced, and I think it could have been shortened quite a bit. This is saying a lot, coming from me, a person who loves slow-paced books with lots of description. This one was just too slow. I feel like the book focused a little too much on having beautiful prose instead of explaining the plot. There needs to be a good balance of the two!
  • The character and story development: On top of that, the characters didn’t feel fully developed to me, either. Also, I feel like too many things were left unexplained. The magic system could have been so interesting, but instead, I was left really confused by it- especially the mirrors (you’ll understand after reading it). I’m hoping that all will be explained in the next book, which is what I’m really holding out hope for.
  • The romance: There is a love triangle in this story, though I don’t fully understand it, either. It felt a little forced, in my opinion, and again, I feel as though it needed some more development. I think in book two it will be explored more, and if Kallia ends up with who I hope she does, then this could turn into something I like!

All in all, I think this duology has a lot of potential, and many others have adored this story, so it is worth checking out if the synopsis interests you!

My rating: 3/5 stars

Have you read this book? Are you planning to? Let me know all of your thoughts in the comments!

Again, thank you so much to Wednesday books for providing me with an ARC.

The Black Madonna of Derby Review // Blog Tour

Hello and welcome to my surprise bonus post for the week! Today I am so excited to be doing a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources for The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska*. Thank you so much to Rachel for having me on :)

*All opinions are my own!

Synopsis:

During and after the Second World War, 200,000 Poles were given leave to remain in the UK as thanks for their help during the conflict-this book is a fictional account of just one of those families.Set during the 1960s and1970s,The Black Madonna of Derby traces the story of the Baran family living in a provincial town in England. Their seemingly ordinary existence hides secrets of past betrayal, madness, and tragedy.

The story focuses on three generations: the elderly grandmother whose proud Polish patriotism hides dark events from the past that affect the present, the mother whose tries to meld her past life in war-torn Poland and Germany with her new life in England and the granddaughter who lives a double life culturally and linguistically-Polish at home and English outside.

The swinging sixties in London is vividly recreated, as is the hardship of life under communism in thePoland of that time. This book is unique in that there are no other novels dealing with the story of second generation Poles in the UK. It is a story that deserves to be told, a story of a group of people who have had little attention in the literature. Listen to what they have to say.

Review:

I don’t usually gravitate toward historical works, but when I saw that this one was about a Polish family, I knew I had to check it out! As someone whose entire family was born in Poland, and who attended Polish school for 12 or so years, I definitely wanted to read about that perspective because I actually haven’t read any fiction books with Polish main characters (that I know of).

Immediately, there was so much that I recognized. From the food, to the Polish words, to the kids attending Polish school, among other things! I also loved that it was a multigenerational story, and so we got to see a bit of everyone’s history. It was so fascinating to learn!

One fault that I had with the book was that it took me a little while to get into. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and I was getting a bit confused here and there. However, about an hour into the audiobook, I finally felt comfortable with everyone, and could differentiate the storylines.

Once I was fully immersed in this story, I did not want to put it down. I related to each of the characters in different ways, and it almost felt like I was a part of their family myself. This book was filled with tons of twists and turns- there were a lot of things that I didn’t see coming. This story was so layered and filled with history and pain and hurt.

It was honestly one of the most emotional reads of the year for me, and I will be thinking about it for a really long time, I can already tell!

My only other issue was with the narrator- I felt like she didn’t really do the book justice, as it felt a little too bland at times that should have been read with more enthusiasm. Also, some of her pronunciation of the Polish words or names wasn’t too great, so I wish that a Polish narrator had been chosen.

Final Thoughts:

This book truly deserves a piece of my heart and will be living in my mind rent free. I loved it.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

If you want to purchase the book for yourself, you can do so here!

What is your nationality or ethnicity? Have you ever read any books with characters with the same background as you?

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon // ARC Review

Rachel Lynn Solomon’s book ‘Our Year of Maybe’ has popped up frequently on my Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Goodreads, and it’s been on my TBR for so long because of that. I had never actually read one of her books, though. Until last month.

And now I need to read the rest of her books immediately!

Today Tonight Tomorrow was a PHENOMENAL book. I ate up the story in a matter of two days because it was just so engaging and f u n.

Ok, before I gush about this book even more, let me tell you what it’s about…

Goodreads Synopsis:

Today, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

Review:

First, let’s talk characters- Rowan Roth is smart, loves to read and write, and has a bit of a self-sabotaging personality trait. She was so relatable to me as someone with very similar interests and school habits to her. Sometimes her thoughts were so frustrating because you wanted to just shake her and tell her its okay to honest with yourself. But I definitely enjoyed her character arc. She made mistakes but she learned from them and actively worked to fix them in the end.

Neil McNair was equally as entertaining. He had his own unique quirks (like wearing suits to school everyday) which I really enjoyed reading about. More importantly, we learn so much about him and his personal life. Throughout the book, we get to uncover so many different layers of him, and it made me want to give him the biggest hug.

Overall, I think the characters were done really well.

As far as plot, I thought it was so much fun. Basically, the book takes place over the span of 24 hours, so it is very fast-paced. I was flying through it, as I mentioned earlier. Basically, we follow Rowan and Neil as they team up to win a game of senior scavenger hunt. I think the timeline aspect of this was really well-done. It didn’t feel like it was being dragged on just to fill up space. Each page had a purpose and it moved the story along. I will say, some parts of it were a little predictable, but that’s something I don’t mind (unless I’m reading a mystery/thriller).

The book tackles topics such as antisemitism, violence and a parent in jail, poverty, sex-positivity, and so much more. I am in awe at how much depth and rawness there is in this story. Rachel was able to convey so much in such a short period of time. In addition to those topics, the story also captures my feelings of leaving high school so well- it’s scary, it’s hard, it’s sad. But it also means you are moving onto something new.

I also really enjoyed the setting of Seattle, too. Though I have never been to Washington, it has always been a bucket list trip for me. This book shows us so many different parts of the city in great detail— it almost felt like I had been there myself.

There was also mixed media scattered throughout the story- a checklist, text messages, emails, flyers, etc. This added a little something to the story, and it made me love it even more.

If you couldn’t tell already, I gave this book a 5/5 stars!

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop gushing about this story. Please, please, please pick it up– it comes out one week from today!

If you have read it, please tell me what your thoughts were!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power / ARC Review

Wilder Girls by Rory Power was one of my favorite reads of 2019. I devoured that book because it had such gorgeous writing and the atmosphere was everything I ever dreamed of. Of course, when I heard that Rory was coming out with another book, it instantly made it onto my most anticipated release of the year list!

I was beyond grateful when my lovely friend Olivia (Stories for Coffee) sent me her ARC copy.

This book did not disappoint!

Burn Our Bodies Down

Goodreads 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.

TW: verbal and physical abuse, death, murder, and possibly more.

Review:

After reading Wilder Girls last year, I knew that Rory was not about to give us a quick and easy read. I was very well prepared for a rollercoaster of a story, and that is exactly what you get from Burn Our Bodies Down!

When this book opens up, you have no idea what road you are going to go on. All we know of our main character, Margot, and her current life is that her mother is very toxic and abusive, and Margot is willing to do anything to get out of that situation. She is desperate for love and a family.

So, when she finds a connection to her grandmother buried deep within her mother’s belongings from her past, Margot jumps at the chance to escape the years of neglect and torment she’s suffered.

But, when she gets to Phalene, she is thrown into much more than she ever expected.

Burn Our Bodies Down Review

I think what appealed most to me about this book was just how eerie it was the entire time. I truly felt like I was watching a horror movie. It is full of suspense and plot twists. It was paced perfectly- the chapters are short and quick, but the prose was still incredible, and the tone of the story was very somber.

But more than that, it was such a tragic story, too. Margot was a really well-developed character with so many different sides to her. We can see how her upbringing has affected her, through the constant battle she has inside of her mind. Both her mother and her grandmother also have such interesting and intricate histories, and I really enjoyed learning about the complicated lives of the Nielsen family.

I will admit, for the first half of this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to give it 5 stars or 2. The reader has no idea what is going on throughout the majority of the book; we are completely out of the loop just as Margot is. At first, this was frustrating to me because I was worried that we would get the same unresolved ending as Wilder Girls (and while I loved that about her debut novel, I did not want to get the same ending in this one).

Luckily, we got the perfect ending for this story! I realized that the beauty of this book is that you are not supposed to understand what’s happening— And that’s okay. All will be revealed eventually.

This novel was truly a work of art, and I could go on about it for days.

If you are looking for a dark, twisted, but beautiful story, this one is for you!

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If you want to read this book, be sure to preorder it! It comes out on July 7th, and trust me, you don’t want to skip out on this one!!

Have you read Rory Power’s ‘Wilder Girls’ (or maybe this one)?

Jessica