"I'm not saying no to you.."
"More like to the sane voice in my head telling me there are a hundred reasons why this is a terrible idea, and only one that makes it right."
I don't read much in the way of standard romance or 'love stories,' so when I came across this title and it happened to center around a culture that is near and dear to my heart, I decided to give it a shot. I try not to limit myself by avoiding any particular genre, but admittedly this is just one that doesn't get my attention easily.
'Island Affair' by Priscilla Oliveras is a very modern tale about a social media influencer named Sara who has had her share of difficulties. Recovering from an eating disorder as her career is starting to really take off, she heads down to Key West for a family vacation following a health scare with one of her parents.
Things with her siblings are complicated at best. They're already hugely successful, having followed in their parents footsteps, which makes her a bit of an outcast. Not only did she not go into the family business, she's also the only one without a settled life and family. She spends a lot of time on the outside looking in.
When her boyfriend tells her he isn't coming, she feels like she's going to be the disappointment again..
Lucky for her, she manages to score a last minute stand-in. A sexy firefighter named Luis Navarro overhears her argument with her boyfriend and asks if he can help. Unfortunately for him.. helping comes by the way of a pretend relationship.
"The sane part of him that had been thinking maybe she'd reevaluate her offer over lunch and together they'd come up with a Plan B shriveled up like the potted plant his mami had saved off his back porch last week. He'd been ready to toss the plant in the trash, but his mom balked. Something about it needing water, food, and conversation. Silly him, he thought he'd bought a fern, not a metaphor for a date."
Luis is absolutely the best character in the book. I love him. I adore him. He deserves everything. He's warm and funny, conflicted and intense. All the things that can make a character irresistible to me.
Coming from a big Cuban family, Luis is a local. Like Sara's family, there's a family business.. but in his case, that's firefighting. Also like Sara's family, there's a deep divide. A fissure born between Luis and his youngest brother that he won't discuss and completely refuses to mend.
He's a mostly soft-spoken, strong, steady guy. Despite the painful betrayal he keeps locked away, he's got a serious savior complex. Even the locals call him Saint Navarro.
Wow.. is he lovely though. He's patient and kind. He doesn't push sensitive topics. Mostly he just let's people get to where they need to be on their own pace.. with a little help along the way. Oh.. he might nudge.. but he doesn't push.
"I don't know how the three of us manage to fit in your truck.."
"You, me, and your ego."
"I'll be here all week. Maybe you can catch my show."
"Ha, I'm in your show, sweetheart. All the...What did you call me? Oh yeah, all the hunky parts."
Looking back.. I did like Sara most of the time, despite the character being a bit of a Barbie wrapped in a cliche. She's inherently a good person at least.. and she's fallible. She's also willing to own her mistakes, which you've got to respect.
It was enjoyable watching them try to navigate the untruths while also trying to avoid people who knew him in the area.. because that was impossible.. and left them quite the balancing act.
What I loved about the story though was that regardless of the imperfections in them.. they seemed really good for each other. Both Luis and Sara grew and benefitted from the other's presence.. and even with the lies they were telling.. their good intentions were so genuine.
If you're looking for a light romantic story with a good sense of humor, you'll enjoy this book. There are a couple of tear-jerking moments, but that just gave the story broader depth.
Zinnia – Age Nine
Tucking my unicorn comforter under my chin, I come to a big decision.
Naptime is for losers.
I may only be nine—well, almost ten—but I know one thing: there are way too many rules for dragon princesses like me. For starters, we’re supposed to take naps every bleeding afternoon. No way. Napping is for babies. That’s why I’m sneaking out today to see my best friend, LT.
Twisting under my covers, I check out my bedroom. There are pink curtains, white furniture, and the royal crest of Furonium over the door. My parents rule all the dragon shifters, so that crest-thingy hangs everywhere. My sisters, Kaps and Huntress, lie in their bunk beds across the room. So you know, my family stays in human form most of the time. No dragon caves for us, thank you very much. Those places have bats.
Squinting, I look at my sisters more closely. Are they really out of it? Can I sneak away? Like always, Kaps lays half-off the top bunk. Wisps of brown hair hang over her mouth, blowing in and out with her snores. I shake my head.
Even asleep, my twin is noisy.
Meanwhile, Huntress rests curled up on her side. Her shoulders rise and fall silently. Huntress never lets out a sound, even when she’s snoozing.
That settles it.
Both my sisters are totally zonked.
Time to go.
"There's no hiding from life, just as there is no hiding from death."
'Seven Endless Forests' by April Genevieve Tucholke is a standalone companion to a 2018 title called 'The Boneless Mercies.' It's an interesting retelling of the legend of King Arthur.. melded with distinctly Norse influences, though here they're called the Vorse, and featuring a strong female lead instead of Arthur.
A destructive plague wipes out most of Torvi's family. Only she and her sister Morgunn survive. When Morgunn is stolen away by a Fremish wolf-priest who bears the name Uther, our main character begins her quest to save the only family she has left.
Joined by a magic wielding, shaven-skulled druid named Gyda who seeks a mythical sword lodged in a cursed tree, the two quickly stumble across a group roaming artists called the Butcher Bards. The group already on a quest of their own, accompanies the two girls.
"I put my palm to chest and pressed in, as if I could hold the shards of my heart together by sheer force."
Along their path, they meet many more unique groups. Sea witches, mystical Drakes who trade in magic readings and young men, a mysterious black tower in a forest corrupted by dark spells, a pack of bold Vorseland Quicks.. archers that hunt the wolves, Fremish wizards who deal only in trades that may be too costly, rogue Jade Fell children, and even a Pig Witch converge with them here and there. There's much more that I haven't mentioned, plenty of difficult trials and unexpected turns.
Each magic system is relatively distinctive, though the author doesn't go into them too deeply. The scenes of conflict are vividly described and memorable. There is love and loss, joy and tragedy, and Tucholke is not afraid to kill a character.. so be prepared. The adventure is grand.. they travel for weeks, there's extensive character and story development, and a lot to experience before you reach the end.
"Quick moves, quiet blades--this is the way of the Bards."
The writer is gifted. In the early pages when the plague kills those around Torvi, while we never really meet the boy she's in love with.. as he's already dead, she does such a good job of conveying the longing and sense of loss the Vorse girl feels for him, I found myself saddened at his passing too. In the small ways she remembers him.. honors him.. it feels like we've met him.. and I could feel the hole in her life he left behind.
While not everything I hoped for happened in the novel, the decisions the author made still felt right. My hopes were based on the emotions she created in me during the read and she's a bit fearless in not always giving into those hopes she must know we have.
"You are part of our family now. Our success is your success. We are one."
I loved the way she wove the Norse legends and mythologies together with the King Arthur tales. It felt original and elegant. The female characters were strong, but not overdone to the point they felt more like caricatures of strength. Their doubts and weaknesses.. their missteps.. felt natural.
If you enjoy medieval tales, Norse mythology, Vikings, Druids, and classic magic.. this book is for you. I enjoyed it so much, I'll be seeking out other titles from Tucholke in future.
That's what I get now when I re-read the synopsis for 'These Women' by Ivy Pochoda.
When I first came across this story, I was certainly intrigued. In life, I've said tearful goodbyes to my share of 'the lost,' which is how I see the many I feel are sadly overlooked. As is true with the characters in this book, the lost can come from any demographic.. from any lifestyle.. from any past or future. Tragedy doesn't pick and choose.. deciding on some mystical idea of a deserving few. That's a uniquely human trait. To see the worst occur and blame the victims.
Told from the perspective of several women, this shifting narrative gives the reader a glimpse of what it's like to walk in each woman's proverbial shoes. Outwardly, it tells a story about a gruesome string of murders spanning two decades, and those whose lives are rocked by them.
It doesn't cease with the victimization of the murders, but rather expands to include the unstated victims as well. Those orbiting the women who are killed.. family, friends, neighbors, police.. even the murderer and their circle of influence.
Inwardly, it's about much more. It's about the minimalization of women. Not just in death, but in life and not in an overblown, sensationalistic way either.. though, that's here too. In the little things.. like the way sometimes it's assumed our perspective just isn't true. In the ways not only outsiders can push us down, but sometimes those we see as friends.. who opt instead to leverage us for their benefit. Though it's not just a women's issue, the act of tearing each other down, isn't exclusive to us. In my personal experience, it can at least seem like we do it much more than men.
I was deeply moved by each of these stories, the misrepresentations, the misunderstandings, the darkness you can see coming a mile away.. but can't seem to move out of. And that's what it's like in some cases. I had a friend in junior high.. who was often out on her own with other kids in her situation. Her parents were more involved in themselves than her. Despite appearances, to a degree I suppose that was the case for all of them, but her details I knew well.
She had a warm, wonderful nature. When she wasn't at school or hanging out with friends, she actually volunteered at an animal shelter. When she and her friends were hurt and she died, there was of course an outpouring of grief, but there was also a lot of finger pointing going on. To me, it's never "their own fault" that something horrible happens. Some lifestyles may put people at higher risk simply because of accessibility, but that doesn't mean they're to blame.
Pochoda did an amazing job of taking these separate threads and slowly, methodically twining them together. Each woman's journey seemed to circle an unseen and magnetic core, spiraling ever closer both to that center and to one another, and the inevitable collision was grand.
Admittedly, I definitely saw the reveal coming early on, but it also never felt important. The killer didn't feel like the motivation for the story at all. The women did. And their stories were the journey.. the best part. I never felt short-changed because I knew who was going to be responsible. I wanted to understand how we were going to get there. I wanted to know why.
What's captured so beautifully in this novel, are the emotional effects of circumstance. Trauma and loss, of course.. but also the slow death of dreams, the peek beneath the illusions crafted around us, the lies we tell ourselves and other people, and the preconceived notions we might have.. walking into any situation.
The novel is gripping and I didn't want to put it down. Ivy Pochoda is an author to watch and I highly recommend you pick up her book if you like mystery, drama, or suspense. 'These Women' is easily one of the best books I've read this year. I look forward to seeing much more from her.
"One dress. Five rules."
'Crown of Gold' by Isabella August is a wonderful little prequel novella, Book 0 in the Faerie Lords Series, that takes place just prior to 'Crown of Frost' and gives us a glimpse of some of the characters we'll come to know there. It also gives us a little overview as to the structure of alliances and where the battle lines are drawn amongst the Lords.
Though we do see some familiar faces.. Pallid Valentine, the Lady of Illusions, Lord Blackfrost.. not everyone is quite the way they'll become yet.
This story focuses on the Lady's Warlock, Ezra, and a human investigator named Nicole. Ezra, known in fae circles simply as Wraith, strikes a deal with Nicole in hopes of getting her help to steal a valuable prisoner from the Lord of Coins during a dangerous ball in his neighboring realm. If they succeed, the soul he sold to the Lady years before, will be his once more.. freeing him to live an untethered mortal life again.
If they fail.. well, they'll probably both be dead and none of it will matter much at all.
As can be expected from the pair of writers who work under the single pseudonym, August's tale.. while brief, is no less vibrant.
"Breakfast is god...........
I'm here to worship."
So this is where you go on Sundays, is it?"
Ezra is a lovely character, cool on the surface.. though this seems as much to be a common survival instinct in the fae lands. Beyond that casual exterior, lies a great deal of warmth and sweetness that's as obvious in his affectations as his words. He's formal and positively adorable, but he's definitely capable of some snark and I loved every minute of it.
Nicole is on the sarcastic side. She's funny though. She's someone you can see yourself hanging out with, as long as the people you hang out with are also prone to having itchy trigger fingers and trust issues. She's very likeable and even when she's fretting about whether or not she's trusting the wrong person, she draws back from her personal experiences with them and tries to give the benefit of the doubt. Things haven't always been great, but she means well.
The protagonists, the creepy Lord of Coins and his Warlock, Midas.. are just as richly textured. Immediately, I didn't like either of them. The writer always has a way of presenting them even before you get to know them, that just raises your hackles. You're just like.. okay.. this one feels like bad news.
Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"I suspect that list to be vanishingly short."
You can't have a fae story without some unexpected complications and August always does a fantastic job of complicating the characters' lives. I enjoyed watching Nicole work out how to handle things as they came up, she thinks well on her feet and that's a trait I have to assume she shares with the writers who shaped her.
I'm thoroughly absorbed in this world they've created. I love the idea of the Hedge which sits in the center of their world bordering the various realms, affected by each wherever it comes up against them, and with dangers all its own. I love the way each Lord's realm is distinctly different, from their magic and how it works to the look and feel of the realm itself.
Since there's a fifth book on the way, I'm going to have to hustle and get caught up. Books 2-4 await and I don't want to miss a thing!
WANT TO TRY OUT 'CROWN OF GOLD' AND SEE WHY I LOVE THIS SERIES AND THIS AUTHOR DUO SO MUCH? HEAD OVER TO THE WEBSITE AND SIGN-UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER TO GET YOUR COPY NOW!
[TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on 'Alpha Erased' blog tour brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours, Ink Monster Books, and Aileen Erin!
I've been wanting to read 'Alpha Erased (Alpha Girls Book 9)' by Aileen Erin for months. Literally since the cover was unveiled, it grabbed my attention and the synopsis sounded incredibly tense.
According to the blurb, the story is about Tessa, a twenty-one year old girl who's part witch and part werewolf, but 100% the unofficial leader of a supernatural alliance known as 'The 13.'
The group basically spends their nights fighting off everything bad-- vampires, fey, demons, you name it. Initially, that's where we find them, waking up to a battle. But after the end of what seems to be more of a minor skirmish, she gets a desperate call from her brother, Axel. Then she, her mate Dastien, and a couple others go tearing off to try to save him.
Faced with an impossible choice, Tessa sacrifices herself to save those she loves. Dastien hears her urgent plea for him to save her brother and then their bond goes dark. Absolutely silent. She's gone and there's no sign of her kidnappers.
"I didn't know how or when, but I would find her. If not in this life, then I'd find her in death."
Unable to hear her or feel her along their connection, nearly half of the book focuses on the quest to locate her. Considering a lengthy amount of time passes in the story, this makes sense, but it's also a bit dull to read. Mostly pages filled with self-loathing and self-pity on her mate's part, though it's understandable, along with the process of trying to seek out answers.. it just dragged a bit.
With all the chasing around they had to do, I think it could have been really interesting. The book is definitely padded though. Erin loves to repeat herself. In some cases, I know what she was doing. She was trying to show Dastien obsessing over what he could have done differently and what might yet happen. In other cases, it was literally restating parts of phrases in reverse.
"She'd just disappeared as if she never existed.
But she did."
"The night seemed to go on forever, but it didn't."
"She looked like a stranger staring at me, but she wasn't."
It'd be easy enough to excuse once or twice, but it's a frequently occurring problem for me throughout the book. I found myself gritting my teeth with each additional occurrence.
That's not to say the book is bad, it really isn't. Her structure is fine and from a conceptual aspect it's quite interesting.
When Dastien is finally reunited with Tessa, there's no recognition of him in her eyes. He can't feel her magic or her wolf beneath the surface either. It's as if everything about her has been removed or locked away.
Once these two meet up again, near the halfway mark in the novel.. that's where the story begins to evolve. Watching him struggle with how to help her, how to keep her safe.. that kept my focus. The magic involved to change Tessa like that was unique. I enjoyed the creativity Erin showed in making that work.
There were some good quotes too. Some funny moments and supporting characters with lots of potential. Van, one of the fey helping them, and Samantha.. a magic user, were both integral in helping me connect to the story.
"Right. So, maybe don't growl at me. Or at least don't bite me, okay? I've got enough problems to worry about without being all furry and s***."
Admittedly, for a USA Bestselling author on the ninth book in a series, it wasn't exactly what I'd hoped for. I'd like to see her expand on her descriptive writing and get outside her character's heads a bit, but it still moved me. Dastien's suffering was hard to watch at times, but I'm glad I was there to bear witness.
"I've always loved this volatile quality that magic has. This ability to create meaning and defy meaning. To be real and not real. That's how it feels when you're waiting for your life to start and yet somehow, impossibly, having to live it at the same time." -- Andrew Eliopulos
It's strange, give me a book and tell me there's a sorcerer in it.. and I'm all about it. Normally though, if instead you swap that word out for magician, I'm going to reflexively just make a face and hesitate. I don't know why.
In my head a magician is a performer and while I enjoy a good magic show as much as the next person, I really don't usually want to read a book or watch a film about it. There have been exceptions, of course. Both The Prestige and The Illusionist were great films and I loved them, but I'm hard pressed to think of a single book until this year that has labeled magic wielders as magicians, that I've actually been interested enough to read.
That being said, since I've gone back to reviewing.. and this time with books, I've required myself to keep an open mind.. to try concepts I might normally skip when my reading time is more limited.
'The Fascinators' by Andrew Eliopulos is a story about 'magickers' that I didn't even bat an eye at before deciding I needed to read it. From the synopsis alone, I knew I had to go on this adventure. There's something even about the cover that for me radiated late summer/early fall friendships and an 'us against the world' feeling. It made me think of Breakfast Club and Goonies.. even Stranger Things a little bit.
"If you've ever cast a spell alone in your room in the dark, wishing you were somewhere--or someone--else, this book is for you." -- Andrew Eliopulos (Dedication)
Sam, our protagonist, lives in a small town where pretty much everything marks you as an outcast. Magic, religious beliefs, sexual preferences.. anything that doesn't align with the majority of the community is frowned upon. He's got two best friends, James and Delia, that he's counting on to see him through his senior year.
Though the three teens have been friends for ages, early on the group starts to splinter. Sam is having confusing feelings for James, Delia is finding their amateur magic club disappointing, and new elements are at play.. causing rifts between them.
Turns out that over the summer, James also got mixed up with some shady magic users and that's making everyone's lives difficult too. Difficulties that even magic can't fix.
"(His mom always countered that his relationship with James was less like a fire and more like Schrodinger's cat, and Sam was just afraid to open the box to find out whether it was alive or dead.)"
I have to tell you, Sam is just the sweetest boy. He's tormented by his feelings and by the pressure of not fitting in.. even in places where that was never the case for him before. I found myself genuinely hoping for him to find love and happiness.
Dynamically, the group evolves quite a lot from the start to the finish of the novel and though I wasn't always pleased with the actions of every character, I felt satisfied with the results of their choices. I enjoyed watching them evolve. Their dialogue feels very natural, in some cases it's filled with easy banter and in others, the discomfort is like a physical thing between them. The funny moments really stand out, they're not rare.. but they are fabulous.
"Mary Ellen's has the best biscuits and gravy you have ever eaten or will ever eat. It's like gravy soup with biscuit croutons. It's like a gravy landslide over biscuit city."
"I'm not sure you're convincing me by comparing the food to a natural disaster."
"It's like a natural disaster that's making way for a better civilization."
"Wow, Sam. Didn't peg you for a kill-all-humans type, but I guess we all have our dark sides."
The magic itself, is fairly wide-ranging.. though most of what we see is elemental in nature, magic also surprisingly, doesn't play that much of a role in the scenes. It's a major part of the story, but the scenes are really all about the group and how the magic they use changes their circumstances and their core beings.
Honestly, I can easily say I loved this book. It's fun, but not too light-hearted. The relationships are warm, but imperfect. And even the parents vary from dismissive and narrow-minded to supportive and loving. I feel like it's easy to see the paths each character is set on and how they become who they are.
What a great story..
Lyrics & Curses
"Ty is a natural leader and a brilliant tactician, but according to his sister, he "wouldn't know fun if it invaded his planet."
Bear with me, this is going to be an unusually personal review.
Binge reading isn't something I do a lot of. Sure, I might push myself through a book in a day, but largely that's to meet a deadline. I'm good about staying on schedule, fitting personal reads in where I have time.. patiently waiting to get to that title I owe no obligation to, but simply.. even sometimes desperately.. want to read.
Hear me out though. Look at that face. Those eyes. Even the wound. I've been seeing it everywhere for months as the buzz for 'Aurora Burning' by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff continued to build to a fever pitch. But, I digress.
Initially, I didn't think I was interested. I read the synopsis, which came across as pretty tongue-in-cheek. I felt like it was a group I didn't really care to learn about and some kind of space drama I wasn't really intrigued by at all, which isn't to say I don't like sci-fi or fantasy hybrids. I do actually, quite a lot.
Of course, I'm on Twitter and I browse my notifications from various book industry members.. and so, I've followed Kristoff for ages. Not because I'd ever read anything he was involved in, but rather.. because I liked the way he spoke to people. To his fans. How he spoke for people. For friends and people he felt deserved more respect. Though again, I really only saw glimpses here and there and regretfully, hadn't paid as much attention as I now know I should have.
Last week I even caught him on an Instagram Q&A, discovering he's incredibly charming, pretty brilliant himself, and even funnier on video than in text. I haven't gotten to know much about Kaufman yet, but they write so seamlessly together, I'm eager to learn.
In my defense, the last several years have been very rough ones for me. I drifted away from doing almost all the things I loved, even reading. I missed the moments where many of my now favorite writers were emerging on the scene. I picked up 'Nevernight' as a cover-buy not long after it came out, it just drew me in visually and it sounded amazing. Yet, still to this day I haven't read it. I will though. As my schedule evens out, I intend to be reading a lot more from both Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.
"The Pull is more than words.
Love is a drop in the ocean of what I feel for her.
Love is a single sun in a heaven full of stars."
A few weeks ago, with Kal's face haunting my thoughts as I tried to do other things, I finally gave in. I took the first step. I went to Amazon, clicked that little 'Look Inside' option, and read the available pages from Aurora Rising. Immediately, I was hooked. I fell for Kal from the moment he appeared in the hall. I fell for Cat's smart mouth and aggressively physical nature, both of which were things I could relate to. I fell for pretty boy Tyler with his savior syndrome.. and the aloof intellects of Fin and Zila.. even the sarcastic twin sister. My heart went out to Auri.
Just a few pages of story from these authors and I was utterly lost. It wasn't the Hadfield that was adrift. It was me. I didn't get to finish that book, as obligations were in the way, but I will.. and soon. Still.. desperately I bought both of the Aurora Cycle novels.. and tried to be patient. I tried to focus on my tasks at hand, as I always do. To keep my head down and work diligently, to earn the time to read what I genuinely wanted to read.
Yeah.. that lasted exactly three days. It's a good thing I wasn't the one being interrogated.. because I am weak. Three days of working my deadlines before I tossed everything to the opposite end of my desk and began to read 'Aurora Burning.'
Here I am though. Adrift again. I feel raw. All of my insides are on my outside. At least the nerves.. and they're all screaming.. because they didn't just want to put us through the proverbial ringer, they wanted to leave us there at the end. Which is, exactly what they did. They left us hanging there.. wounded and hoping for relief.. with no real certainty we'll get it. Not after what happened in the past.
The book is brilliant. It's bloody, it's beautiful, it's sweet, and it's brutal. Sometimes, all at once.
"I know my friends, and they are few. But those few I have, I would die for."
Though I hadn't finished the first book, it was easy to pick up the second. Kaufman and Kristoff sprinkled in just enough necessary information in from its predecessor that I was able to hit the ground running. The major plot points were reminisced in a cohesive way with the current story, so that it flowed naturally.
I read this one straight through. When I couldn't keep my eyes open, I took power naps.. but I kept going. Why? Because I couldn't.. or.. wouldn't put it down. Squad 312 couldn't just walk away for awhile. How could I?
An ancient evil has been waiting, biding it's time. That's the gist of the theme. No one really knows about it but the 312 and they're not in the best position to be stopping it with everyone after them, even their own. That doesn't stop them from trying though. They don't know the meaning of the word 'quit.' And honestly, that's part of what I love about them so much. The team just has so much heart.
Auri is the only hope they have of defeating the evil that is waiting for its chance to consume everything.. and Squal 312 is her only hope of surviving to get that far. If she can't learn to master her powers, the galaxy is done. Over.
There are scenes I will never forget. Some tragic, some funny. (Oh.. that mesh top, bondage pants, and glaring Syldrathi. Amirite?)
"The practice fell out of vogue in the twenty-second century, after Terrans discovered in the twentieth that it killed you!"
"It took them two hundred years to stop doing it?"
"Isn't that insane?" "Honestly, doesn't that sound like a species that would benefit from some kind of benevolent machine overlord?"
Kaufman and Kristoff did a beautiful job of managing the pace, letting that crescendo swell as things grew more intense. The dialogue IS a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in a way that makes sense. The banter of a team that has grown so close, they're really all like siblings. They know each other's likes and dislikes, their quirks, and sometimes they say or do things just to irritate each other.
Late in the story, there's a moment for me that was more devastating than the others. A moment I felt everyone was sort of overreacting, and ignoring what they knew deep down, for an ideal. As if, everything that had come before no longer counted. And in the suffering of that moment and those to follow, I was crushed under the weight of this story.
I loved that though. These two authors can break my heart and soul to pieces again any day. And, if this book is any indication.. they probably will. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.. and "thank the Maker".. there WILL be a book three.
[TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on 'The Dark In-Between' blog tour brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours, Swoon Reads, and Elizabeth Hrib!
"...how could he know what the darkest parts of her grief looked and sounded like?"
'The Dark In-Between' by debuting author Elizabeth Hrib which follows the path of a sixteen year old accident survivor, Casey Everett, as she struggles to adapt to the changes it has wrought on her life.
Reconciling the loss of her best friend Liddy proves difficult, especially as the eyes of those around her either purposely avoid meeting her own or look on her with pity. It isn't easy it seems, becoming known as the one who survived even with the unwavering support of her other best friend and childhood crush, Evan or her aunt Karen.
Her reality seemingly affected by dark shadowy scenes, whispering voices calling her name, and her friend's screams.. she's left reeling. Then the unthinkable happens. She sees a boy fall from the sky. A fallen named Red, sent to Earth to earn his wings back by guiding her through Limbo where Liddy will remain trapped unless they can lead her out.
"..Ancient Egypt, the undead, a hilarious sidekick, a librarian who kicks ass..."
"Is this movie why you wanted to be a librarian when you were ten?"
"Maybe. I also wanted to be able to summon the dead after watching it all summer, so there's that."
I'm a sucker for a fallen angel story, sue me. I'll pick up a book with that trope nearly every time, though that doesn't mean I'll enjoy it. I still probably want to read it and see.
In this case, the story is an unorthodox one. The idea of humans and fallen guides popping in and out of Limbo to save souls.. even one specific soul.. isn't something I've come across much. As a freshman effort, it's not bad. The story is put together cleanly, there's logical progression, character development, and reveals here and there.
Though I wasn't particularly fond of Casey and couldn't relate to the reasons the characters around her seemed to like her so much, Evan had an amusingly sarcastic wit and Red certainly had emotional moments which were very moving. The two boys absolutely made it easier for me to stay interested in the book, as I wanted to know what was going to happen to them.. how things would come out. For better or worse.
"What is this..."
"..it's a friendly conversation between two people who aren't friends because one of them is a supernatural creature of mythical origin."
Limbo itself was of interesting design. I won't give you detail and ruin it for you. I'll only say the concept of how it might appear and what might be happening there was creative.
No fallen story would be complete without some heavy hitting Archangel mythos and I really liked the way the guardian design was written. I loved the transitions when invoking them and the idea of how and why they exist the ways they do. The conflict was worrisome at times and that's as it should be.
I will say, the Limbo sequences at times felt a little more like a tour than a storytelling path in such that they read more akin to formulaic sequences. I wasn't wild about that, but the scenes were intriguing, visual, and sometimes moving as well.
All in all, it was a pretty solid story. The author has a lot of room to grow and seems to have the building blocks to improve with. It's worth a read.
The Dark In-Between