Review: Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

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Goodreads | Amazon

Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian desert. It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets. Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can’t give them. As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you..

Since this book has been released, it’s been on my TBR. I adored Wing Jones, and have been keeping an eye on this author ever since. Thank you to Tavi for buying Only Love Can Break Your Heart for me off my wishlist!

Reiko is a heartbroken teenager who is dealing with the tragic loss of her sister. When she finds an unexpected friend in Seth, her world is turned upside down and she is forced to face her grief.

I wasn’t disappointed by this book, and I was drawn in from the first page. There was a certain level of comfort that came from Webber’s beautiful, poetic descriptions of the desert, and I found myself loving the locations as much as Reiko herself. Webber left me feeling like I was being enveloped in warmth every time I picked up this novel.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart explores topics in depth that I’ve hardly seen in YA, and found very interesting. This covered subjects such as grief, family, friendships and most importantly for me, social hierarchy. Social hierarchy is often not discussed in YA, especially from the viewpoint of those at the top of the social ladder. However, Reiko is unashamedly one of those people, and reading about her viewpoints were fascinating.

I had a love/hate relationship with Reiko throughout this book, unfortunately. Due to her attitude, she made many mistakes and some decisions which I frowned upon and found hard to relate to. I unfortunately felt the same about Seth as the book progressed, which left me feeling somehow betrayed. However, Reiko went through a lot of self development throughout the book and I left feeling reassured by the way she matures.

Overall, this book had compelling characters, a beautiful location and heart-wrenching plot line. Although I had problems with the characters at times, I would highly recommend this lovely story.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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ARC Review: Pixie Pushes On by Tamara Bundy

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Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

Pixie’s defenses are up, and it’s no wonder. She’s been uprooted, the chickens seem to have it in for her, and now her beloved sister, Charlotte, has been stricken with polio and whisked away into quarantine. So it’s not surprising Pixie lashes out. But her habit of making snap judgements–and giving her classmates nicknames like “Rotten Ricky” and “Big-Mouth Berta”–hasn’t won her any friends. At least life on the farm is getting better with the delivery of its newest resident–a runt baby lamb. Raising Buster takes patience and understanding–and this slowing down helps Pixie put things in better perspective. So too does paying attention to her neighbors, and finding that with the war on she’s not the only one missing someone. As Pixie pushes past her own pain to become a bigger person, she’s finally able to make friends; and to laugh about the fact that it is in places where she least expected it.

This was such a sweet middle grade book I sped through in a couple of sittings. I was grabbed by the premise, the gorgeous cover and the idea of having a book set on a farm in the 1940’s. It was such a cute read and I loved Pixie. She made me chuckle with her way of addressing her peers, calling them names and standing up for herself. She seemed like a plucky girl who is in the process of learning a lot about life, family and friends.

The cast of characters was broad and interesting to see all aspects of life over three generations, as Pixie lived with her dad and grandparents on the farm. Her sister is suffering from polio and being taken cared of in a hospital, which was such a heartfelt and sad storyline between the two sisters. I loved the depth this aspect of the story added to Pixie’s world, and the guilt she carried around believing she played a part in her sisters illness.

The farm was such a nice setting for this story, and gave Pixie her own battles to face as the story progressed. As she learned more about herself, the book tackled problems I didn’t expect, such as Pixie and her relationship to the farm animals.

Overall, this was a very sweet middle grade book which explored some deep and emotional situations and subjects.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

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Goodreads | Amazon

Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry.
Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

This book is a reminder of how powerful words can be. A reminder of how they can make you cry, make you smile, and make you feel so much less alone. I’m lucky enough that I have never been through what Amelie went through in this book, but I have been in many similar places to her. I have cried in public. And I know how it feels when love doesn’t make you happy anymore.

Amelie’s story is such a powerful one and is unfortunately true of many women (and men) all over the world. Her relationship with Reese includes the most basic forms of manipulation and emotional abuse, which gradually strip her from her confidence and happiness.

‘It’s such a simple torture – the silent treatment. As basic as tripping someone over or pulling their chair out before they sit down. And yet it’s so very effective.’

Amelie can be a frustrating narrator at times as she is constantly making decisions that make you want to scream at her…but that’s kind of the point. She’s young, and manipulated against her better judgement. I know what it’s like to be young and in love, and I couldn’t be angry at Amelie for the choices she made. Talking of, I need to write a small warning into this post. It hit me hard, even though I haven’t experienced the vast majority of what Amelie did. It was still an incredibly painful and hard hitting read, which will stay with me forever.

Both Amelie, Reese and the other characters in this story are incredibly well written and developed. I feel like Bourne knew her characters inside out and this came across at all times. The only part I’m regretful about is feeling like I could have known Alfie (Amelie’s ex) better going into this story. Just a few more scenes with him may have helped me fully sympathise with what Amelie was leaving behind when she moved at the beginning of the book. Reese is especially well developed, and Bourne did an excellent job of writing his character so we felt exactly how Amelie did about him, through all of the love, charisma, hurt and anger.

The plot meant this book flew past. I love the switches between past and present, as it was a constant reminder of how all of these past events had made Amelie feel in the present day. It allowed the book to be just that little more hard hitting and effective.

‘When someone has the willpower to pretend you’re not there, it nullifies you. How do you fight against that humiliation?’

This was definitely my favourite of Bourne’s books so far, and I can really see how she’s developed as a writer. Amelie is now a young narrator to me, but I still felt all of the hurt and emotion that she did.

Above all, this book feels important. It’s one of those I can’t help but want to push into the hands of other young women out there, to understand that it’s normal to feel unhappy, it’s good to trust your gut and it’s okay to reach out and ask for help. It’s okay to cry in public.

CW: sexual and emotional abuse, PTSD.

★★★★★  
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Birthday Book Haul

Hi readers! It was my birthday a couple of days ago (I turned 20), and I was so lucky to receive some gorgeous presents which included these books. I thought I’d give you guys a little wrap-up of the books I was given.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Courtney brought me a few really special books that she knows I’ve wanted for so long. I never had a hardback copy of Crooked Kingdom to match my copy of Six of Crows, so she gifted me this one just in time to meet Leigh Bardugo next week!

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Goodreads | Amazon

She also gave me this beautiful American edition of the collectors Throne of Glass. It comes in a slipcase and has pride of place displayed on the top of my bookcase!

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Goodreads | Amazon

My lovely friend Tavi brought me this book and the following from my Amazon wishlist! I’m so excited and appreciative of these beauties. I’ve wanted to pick up Autoboyography since it’s release, and I’ve heard so many good things about it!

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Goodreads | Amazon

I’ve wanted to read this since release, as I adored Wing Jones! I’m so excited to read more from this wonderful author.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Would you believe this book has been on my TBR since pretty much I started my Goodreads account 4 years ago? I can’t wait to get around to it.

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This is another book I’ve heard so much about and sounds like something I’d really enjoy. All of these books are one’s I can’t wait for! Thank you Tavi 🙂

-Beth

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Review: Letters To the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

I sped through this book! Thank you to Brigid Kemmerer for finally getting me back into reading. I was so drawn into this emotional, intriguing contemporary that I read it over a couple of days and enjoyed it so much.

Declan and Juliet were both beautifully emotional and complex. They had their own backstories which were widely different from one another but both as heartbreaking. This worked so well and meant I sped through the book, flicking between the characters and their stories. The alternate chapters made the pages fly by, and seeing the story from both of their points of view was so interesting.

‘One day isn’t your whole life.’

With Declan being a young offender, I wondered if I would take so well to his story. But as it turns out, I quickly sympathised with him, and this became more intense as the story progressed. Juliet’s story broke my heart, and I found her so relatable on a personal level as her mother’s career and her own hobby were both photography. Her love for photography gave Juliet so much depth.

I found this novel was treading a fine line with anonymity, and could have gone very wrong in some ways. However, Kemmerer handled the subject incredibly well, and my worries were only fleeting. Unfortunately, I did have one concern throughout the entire novel, which was miscommunication between the characters. Later in the novel, I felt as though Juliet and Declan could have been communicating on a much better level, and it did begin to frustrate me.

‘A day is just a day.’

Overall, this is a contemporary with a twist. It’s tense, dark, emotional and beautiful. The characters are flawed but easy to sympathise with, and I’m sad to leave them behind.

★★★★ 
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (#1) by Brigid Kemmerer

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Goodreads | Amazon

Fall in love, break the curse.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

As always, I can’t believe it took me so long to get round to reading this book. It may have taken me a while to read it, but as a friend put it, I savoured this book rather than rushed through it. And it was still worth it in the end.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it had just the right balance for me of being a retelling and being original. The fairytale aspect was only a small part of the story, which left room for so much more.

‘We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals.’

This world felt so real and beautiful to me, and I pictured it as Hyrule in Breath of the Wild funnily enough. The characters were all great for their own reasons, especially Harper. We don’t have enough strong female protagonists, and having a disabled main character with Cerebral Palsy is so rare, especially in fantasy. Having not got a disability myself, I can’t talk about the accuracy of the writing from her point of view, but I really admired her all the same.

Rhen wasn’t my favourite character, but I grew to know and love him all the same. Reading about him was fascinating, as he turned out to be a different person as the book progressed, but his progression felt entirely natural.

Even though it took me a while to get through, when I did manage to sit down and read, the pages seemed to fly by. So it definitely wasn’t a problem with the pacing, but instead with my situation in the past month!

‘The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.’

Unfortunately I’m not giving this book a full 5 stars, purely because I didn’t feel quite as drawn in as I’d have liked to. Although my pacing was partly to do with my own situation, I also feel like I could have been more drawn into the story and made to want to pick it up.

★★★★ 
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #103

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi all! I have a few weeks of Stacking the Shelves to catch up on, and this one is focused on book signings. I have a few signings coming up in the next couple of weeks and I’ve been buying a few books in preparation!

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Goodreads | Amazon

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

This is my current read and I’m so excited to read another Brigid Kemmerer book as I’ve been enjoying them so much!

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Goodreads | Amazon

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.
Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.
When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

Talking of, I was lucky enough to read Call It What You Want as an ARC on Netgalley a while ago, and I loved it. I decided to pick up a physical copy to get signed.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.
But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.
He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.
She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

I’ve been considering buying this book for a long time, and I’m so glad to finally have the chance to meet the author and get my beautiful copy signed!

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Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry.
Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

I’ve been so intrigued by this book, so when I booked a ticket for her tour, I knew I wanted to pick it up. However, I’m kind of dreading reading it, as I know it’ll make me cry.

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Goodreads | Amazon

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.
Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.
But this Halloween is different?Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.
Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if instead of moping they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .
What if their last shift was an adventure? 

This is the only book on this list that unfortunately I won’t be able to get signed, so it’s a good job it is already! I pre-ordered this signed edition from Waterstones a while ago and I adored it. I’m hoping to write a proper review with photos later in the week!

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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