The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk is a gripping, beautiful story of life and love after loss. This book is both heart-breakingly sad and hopeful at the same time, with so many wonderful characters you immediately fall in love with. If you like strong and emotional reads, give this book a chance. You won’t regret it!
This beautifully written story follows three teens who are dealing with the loss of a loved one either through accident, illness or suicide. I love all the amazingly diverse and well developed characters - Autumn, Sasha and Logan - and how we get to know each of them individually and their lives and relationships. The story goes on from Autumn’s grief over her best friend Tavia’s sudden death, to Sasha who’s lost her twin sister in leukemia, and finally to Logan, whose guilt over the horrible things he said when breaking up with his boyfriend is eating him alive after Bram’s unexpectedly committed suicide.
But there is so much more than dealing with grief in this story. Autumn is also struggling with her confusion on her emotions towards Tavia’s brother and with dealing with her other school friends, when the glue that connected her to them is gone. Sasha on the other hand is struggling with herself, now being ‘twinless’ and having panic attacks. And Logan is acting out, no longer able to write music like he used to and drinking too much to silence the voice telling him it was his fault that Bram died.
My heart went out for each of them, in a way it was so heart-breakingly hard to read this book, with all the characters going through so much and learning as they go how to find themselves again, but making so many mistakes and having such hard times. But then things started to overlap and from the middle of the book forward, these seemingly individual struggles met and found their ways to healing through music, in such a hopeful and beautiful, metaphorically way via the band that sort of had died with the lost ones and now rose again to spread love and joy.
I also have to say something about the side characters, as there were so many wonderful persons in this book. I loved Dante and the fragile love story between him and Autumn that was so lined with grief and guilt.
All in all, I absolutely adored this book! I don’t remember the last time, if ever, I’ve read a story so full of sorrow and sadness, but also full of hope and joy of life. It’s the type of story that breaks your heart and mends it at the same time. It’s a story that has everything; loss, pain, grief, confusion, anger and regret, but also beauty, love, friendship and happiness. And so much diversity and LGBTQ awareness! The characters were amazing, the plot was so on point and fulfilling to read. Despite all sadness, I felt hopeful and comforted at the end.
If you like strong and emotional reads, you should definitely give this book a chance. You won’t regret it!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Ashley Woodfolk
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. is a sweet, happy, and relatable feels-good book.
I loved Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda so much that I wanted to stay in her wonderful universe and read all her other books at once. I really, really liked The Upside too, but not quite as much as Simon vs. Still, The Upside is an amazing character-driven cute and relatable story about sisterhood, family, body image, and first love. And Simon himself does a couple of appearances in this book too! As does Abby and Nick. The crossovers from Simon vs. were so wonderful, it made me so happy and warm at heart, that I could recommend this book for that reason alone! Besides of course the fact that this book in itself is an amazing and touching novel about reaching outside of your comfort zone. And with my favorite literature parents ever!
In brief, the story revolves around 17-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso, She is a bit on the larger side and has never dated or kissed any guy, despite her 26 crushes, since her fear of rejection and low self-esteem keeps her from taking chances in her life. Her twin sister, Cassie, on the other hand is Molly’s totally opposite; bold, courageous and popular. She’s had many hookups, but not any serious relationships. But in the beginning of the book, Cassie meets her first real girlfriend, Mina, which changes the twin dynamic and in a way pushes Molly to open up a bit more, just in time for crush number 27, Mina’s cool hipster friend Will. At the same time however, Molly meets co-worker Reid, who is a Tolkien fan and the kind of guy who wears nerdy t-shirts, but who Molly likes more than expected.
With Molly trying to figure which of the boys she’s into and if she should dare to put herself out there and make herself vulnerable, there are some really fun plot twists and realistic teenager situations. Especially the struggle between choosing the boy Molly herself actually likes the most and the one that seems ideal to everyone else. Overall, this book has some of the most realistic portrayals of teenagers I’ve ever read in a YA book; they drink, they talk about sex, they lie and make stupid decisions, they are selfish and immature and wonderful and adorable and freak out about stuff. What I didn’t like so much after a while though was how pushy and selfish Cassie acted when pushing a crush on Molly without caring about her wishes or feelings. There were also times when reading the book that I got a bit annoyed at Molly’s indecisiveness. Luckily though, Cassie did end up being nicer and Molly did make a decision (the right one too!) by the end, so the book ended in a funny and fluffy, give-you-all-the-feels kind of read.
What I loved most about this book was the diversity and inclusivity. There’s Molly with an underrepresented body type without making excuses for it and with anxiety issues, there’s the twin sister who’s into girls, they have two moms, Patty and Nadine, and the twins themselves are sperm-donor babies. Patty and Nadine are such a lovely couple and amazing mothers (seriously, I’d love for them to adopt me…) and their wedding was one of the best things in the book. I really loved all of the family dynamic in this book, it felt so real and warm.
All in all, this is a wonderful book! Even though I didn’t love it as much as Simon vs. it’s a sweet, relatable, fast-paced and touching book, with awesome characters and dynamics, that I highly recommend.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Becky Albertalli
I am so honored to be part of the Not Like Everyone Else Blog Tour and so happy and excited to be able to spread the word about my fellow author and friend, Jenn Garey’s new release: Not Like Everyone Else! This book is such an addictive mystery that will keep you hooked and wildly guessing all the way to the very end!
Wow! I was not at all prepared for the intensity, suspense and shocking plot twists, my heart is still racing from reading this book!
Not Like Everything Else is an addictive mystery story that keeps you at the edge of your seat all the way until the unexpected end. It’s something of a psychological thriller with multiple stories and two, very different, POVs. It’s a book that gives you the chills and makes your heart ache for the main character Ryan. While reading I felt like I wanted to hug Ryan and protect her from all the bad things in the world, at the same time as I wanted to kick a certain somebody’s ass.
In the book we get to follow teenager Ryan, who has dissociative amnesia and who has recently escaped from an abusive relationship. Throughout the story, you get glimpses to the things Ryan has experienced, but the author is so skilled in her writing of the story that you are never quite sure what has really happened and what Ryan just believes has happened. There were even times when I almost doubted that Ryan had been abused or if she’d been the abuser in her last relationship…
What really makes this book so special is the second POV, besides Ryan, which belongs to the murderer. These cold-blooded monologues really creeped me out and made me so eager to find out who he or she was. They also added to the fast pace of this book and made it totally unputdownable. I had such an urge to identify this cruel and sick person, but I was so fooled! I thought I had it all figured out several times, but every time I was proven wrong. Honestly, I never once suspected the person it turned out to be, to be the one having done those wicked, evil things. A fun fact is that the author actually did not know herself who the killer was until the end, which very well explains why it was so difficult to guess it right…
Besides Ryan and her ex boyfriend, Corey, the other main characters are Elliot and Harper.
**Minor spoiler alert: It made me so happy when Ryan found Elliot and dared to follow her feelings, despite how badly her last relationship had ended. The romance was so cute and low-key, I really liked that and how realistic it felt. **
The only thing I didn’t really like in this book was the friendship between Ryan and Harper. Mostly because I didn’t really like Harper. And neither did Ryan I think, it felt more like they hang out with each other because they were both alone that summer, than because they really enjoyed it. But Harper did stand up for Ryan in a wonderful way in the end, so I guess I eventually took to liking her a bit more after all…
And the ending… oh my gosh! The last part of the book was so intense and the ending so shocking! For real. I did not see it coming at all. It almost made me want to re-read the book right away, to see how the author could fool me so completely…
Overall, I love this book! It’s a great, addictive and creepy (in a good way!) mystery that will keep you on your toes and keep you hooked and wildly guessing all the way to the very end. 4.5 glowing stars!
Find out more about Jennifer and her books on her amazing blog: Bound to Writing
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas, is the eagerly awaited fourth book in the ACOTAR series. It’s so good to be back in the world of Velaris, High Courts, Feyre and Rhys again, but this short novella felt mostly like a teaser, just leaving you wanting more...
I was a bit late getting my copy of the book, so when I started reading it I had already read quite a lot of mixed reviews, so I was very aware that this book was not as widely loved as the previous ones. But I really did like it a lot more than expected! It was so good to be back in the beautiful world that Sarah J Maas has created and to catch up with all of the fave characters like Feyre, Rhys, Cassian, Azriel and Mor again.
In the book we got to see the aftermath of the war in Velaris and the rebuilding of the city as well as some insights to the next installment, but mostly it was a novella focusing on the inner circle preparing and then celebrating the Winter Solstice. There were also some new potential romances and some slow developments of the romances we have already begun to see, but I’d (of course) love to get so much more of that!
The book is told in alternating points of view, which was a new take that I really liked! It’s mainly told in first person by Feyre and Rhysand, but there are some chapters that are told in third person by Cassian and Mor, which made it much more interesting and added to the understanding of what they had been and was going through. There really is so much more to explore from the other members of the inner circle, especially Azriel! I’m so curious about his shadows. I also liked reading about Tamlin, even though it was mostly depressing. I have a feeling his situation is going to change soon.
This book was so short it only took me a few hours to read it. In a way I would rather have waited for a “full” book instead of this novella, but on the other hand, I’m always happy to get into the ACOTAR-world and to get anything new to read… There are some things I did not like though: all the focus on getting Solstice presents made the story drag a bit, and the relationship between Feyre and Rhys was beginning to feel a bit like an old married couple spending too much time working and talking about doing it, but never really getting it on… But besides those minor reservations, it was a really fun and great read. Not near as good as ACOMAF, but still definitely good enough for me to eagerly await the next book in the series! (Especially after reading the sneak peek of the next book, it really got me intrigued!)
Find out more about the books and the author here: Sarah J Maas
My reading tips this week is a book that has everything you can ask for of a fantasy, AND SO MUCH MORE, the brilliant Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. This is such a moving story, with a strong female lead and intense feelings; pain, heartbreak, friendship and love. Plus magic and epic adventures.
Since this is a debut novel, I think we are all watching a giant break-through and that this book will be the most talked-about book this year, with Tomi Adeyemi as the new rising author star. This book is already so hyped, and for a very good reason. You should definitely believe the hype, this book is as amazing as everyone says it is! It’s one of the absolute best YA fantasy books I’ve ever read.
The world building is amazing; so rich and colorful and vibrant. And completely unique. And the plot is all action and about finding magical objects as it should be in a fantasy. Basically, the story is about fighting evil and bringing back magic, with each of the characters going on their own journey (literally as they race to get to the magic items needed for the resurrection of the Orishan gods before it’s too late, and metaphorically as they grow up and explore so much about themselves and their backgrounds throughout the story).
The writing style is also really different, with the three POvs; Zélie, Amari, and Inan. I love Zélie so much. She is so fierce and headstrong, but at the same time struggling with grief and fear. Amari is the spoilt and naïve princess, who follows her heart and fights for what is right. Her character development must be one of the best ever written. And then there’s Inan. To be honest I don’t really know what I think of him. My feelings for him changed all through the book; from sympathy for him being so misguided to just anger for the choices he makes to feeling bad for him. But all in all, I loved the characters and their development.
I absolutely adore the magic system in this story, and loved the visuals. I also really appreciate that this is a book with a deeper meaning. When writing the book, Tomi Adeyemi drew inspiration from both West African mythology and the Black Lives Matter movement. So, although this book is a fantasy, there were so many things you could read in between the lines, like the references to modern society and racial injustice, as well as to West African traditions, and all the other things that make this story so diverse and complex and amazing.
Find out more about this book and the author here: Tomi Adeyemi