Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Astrid Notes by Taryn Bashford

Firstly, I want to say thank you to MacMillan Australia, for sending me a review copy of this title and inviting me to be a part of a release tour. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this title and am greatful for the opportunity!

This review is a little spoilery, if you haven’t read The Astrid Notes yet I reccommend popping over to my spoiler free, GoodReads review HERE.

The Astrid Notes - Taryn Bashford

 

The Astrid Notes by Taryn Bashfordd

4/5 Stars

Published  July 23rd 2019 by Pan Australia

GoodReads

 

 

 

Initially, I am blown away by the cover, it immediately draws you in, it is inviting yet full of mystery and intensity.

From the first page, you are thrown into the thick of it. I am enjoying the pacing and the way that Bashford is giving us all of the information we need, without dumping it all. I definitely fee, as though I am in the hotel room with the band.

Is it okay to be crying for characters you have only just met. Page 5, I am looking at you. What an abrupt, shocking thing, I feel for Jacob, this is going to have a lasting impression and I only hope he makes it through.

I am loving that this book is set in Australia. I knew that the author Taryn Bashford, was Australian, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting the book to be set in Australia too. It was an awesome surprise! I am loving all of the amazing Aussie titles being released lately!

I can’t help but to feel sorry for Astrid. All she wants is answers about her mum and to be seen as her own person. To be able to step out from behind her mothers shadow, for her dad to see her as Astrid, not Veronika. I can’t imagine what that must be like, but I’d say it would be exhausting, pretending to love something for the benefit of someone else.

Astrid gave up everything so that her father could teach her to sing. She is home-schooled, has no friends and no desire to sing opera anymore. I truly hope that she gets her truth and can finally break free of her cage.

I am loving the almost lyrical way that this book is written, it flows from one scene to the next with such fluidity. The characters interact so genuinely, they feel like people you know, not characters in a book. That human quality is what makes this book so much more amazing.

Astrid and Jacob complement each other so perfectly. Not just in their lives, both having experienced tremendous loss, but also in their home lives and musical aspirations. There is a gorgeous symmetry to their differences.

Musically I can only imagine the perfection that they would sound like together, I wish there were recordings I could listen to as I read, but my imagination is doing a pretty good job so far.

The writing style in this book is incredible. It has a way of captivating you, making you emotionally invest in it’s characters, it takes hold and refuses to let go.

I am hoping for a happy ending for them both, I don’t think either one can take another loss or heartbreak, each is sitting on the edge of their breaking point.

What a life changing revelation. Poor Astrid’s life is about to turn upside down. Everything that she thought she knew is wrong. Her father has been lying to her, her entire life, letting her believe that she killed her mother. I don’t know how Astrid is going to come back from this one.

I  admire the strength that Jacob gives to Astrid. Astrid is already so full of courage and honesty, but she lacks the bravery to speak up, this is where Jacob influences her, gives her the courage that she needs to be able to voice her opinion, worries and desires.

 

The Astrid Notes is a book that comes along every so often, a book that takes you by the hand and makes its way into your heart. It pairs beautifully broken characters with a writing style that will have you head over heels in an instant. Bashford has created a setting, so perfectly matched for these characters, it is so easy for the reader to be transported into the world of opera singing, training, short drives to the beach and studio-come-apartments.

Bashford writes with such honesty, her characters feel real and sincere. As though they have lain their truths bare on the page for us to feel with them. This title focuses on so many issues, some more common, other not, but there will be something in here that each and every reader can relate to.

 

Have you read The Astrid Notes? Thoughts?

Sincerely,

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst & Paula Garner

Firstly, I want to say a huge, Thank you, to Walker Books Australia. I am so grateful for each title I have been sent to review. Walker Books is such a fantastic Australian company, so friendly and accommodating. So, Thank you, so much for giving me the chance to read such diverse books, review them and to promote your company in the process.

This review may get a little spoilery, so here is your warning. If you haven’t read this book, please don’t keep reading, click THIS link, to my GoodReads, where you will find a spoiler free review.

 

download

 

Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst & Paula Garner

Published April 16th 2019 by Candlewick Press

4/5 Stars

GoodReads

Book Depository

 

My first impressions of this book is that the cover is stunning, it is a book that feels inviting, no matter your age or genre preference. The colours are soothing and the galaxy and title suggest something to do with the stars, maybe space themed?

I found this book a little slow to start, I struggled with the writing style and the language feels clunky. Teens using large and complex words doesn’t seem to fit. But the more you read, the more you grow accustomed to the writing style and it starts to flow.

I’m really starting to connect with Sam and Zoe, they are such complex characters, each with their own burdons. You instantly feel a connection with them when you start to see their friendship bloom. They are the perfect companions for eachother, both knowing what it is like to give yourself 100% over to the care of another person, to avoid truly being you, in order for that other person to thrive. To give up so much, so that you can focus on helping someone else get better. These girls are so strong.

I am in awe of Zoe. So much. Zoe looks after her disabled brother with so much passion and love. She looks after him day after day and yes, she gets tired, but she never complains, she comes home from school early to make sure she is there to help. She knows what he likes, which songs, which food, what his sounds and gestures mean. I work with children with learning disabilities, I know the drain it can have physically and mentally, and to see Zoe, so utterly passionate, each and every day, about caring for her brother, fills me with admiration and respect.

Starworld and Startalk, finally, we see what the title is all about! I am a little weirded out by it, I;m not going to lie. But I understand its importance.

I think that, as much as their Startalk is a way for them to escape their too-hard lives, it will eventually implode. There is too much riding on it, staying the same, staying as something fun and carefree, almost as though there is no room for a real friendship outside of the world that they are creating. Se wee this in that Zoe is pushing for a normal friendship, normal texting but Sam constantly reverts back to the Startalk, it is almost as if she is afraid Zoe won’t like her outside of their special world.

Wow, Zoe has some judgemental friends. Yes, we as humans can be very judgy, but to put down people, things, food etc, that makes yout friends happy, is just spiteful. Putting down others, to make yourself feel better, is never okay. It is no wonder that Cammie is the only one of Zoe’s friends who know, truly, what is going on in her life. Cammie, seems the most sincere and caring of Zoe’s friends.

Oh, it happened. I knew it would happen and now my heart is breaking for Sam. Somehow, Zoe’s friends have seen their Startalk, their dreamy world and they are teasing Sam about it. I don’t know if Zoe showed them or what happened, but they know and Sam is devastated. It may seem small, but this will completely break Sam, I doubt that she will trust Zoe again, or anyone else for that matter. She put so much faith and trust in Zoe, in their private little world and now it is out in the open for everyone to see and judge. Just what Sam couldn’t bear to happen.

A kiss.  I wasn’t entirely expecting a kiss. There has been gentle sub-text hinting towards Sam being attracted to females, but I didn’t think it would escalate into a kiss, when Sam, herself doesn’t really seem like she is ready for it. But oh wow, I can only imagine the devastation Sam will be feeling, The rejection alone, or more imajined rejection is going to debilitate her. I hope this isn’t the end of Zoe and Sam. The end of Starworld.

This situation with Sam’s feelings for Zoe, growing at such a rate of knots, is, although took me by surprise, it was also what I was afraid of. Yes Starworld, for Sam was the same as it was for Zoe. An escape from their real lives, somewhere where they made up the rules, they could change what was happening, it was fun and an adventure, a ‘safe haven’ is what Zoe calls it. But I think for Sam, it was a little more than that. It gave her  the chance to impress, she almost saw Zoe as a damsel in distress and painted her in that light, within Starworld, in order to be able to save her.

I can see so much of Sam’s mum, in Sam. I mean her disorder, Sam is slowly picking up her mum’s ticks and habits, which makes OCD so much more scary. I think we all write it off as someone who needs to be clean and neat all of the time, not someone who is controlled by fear that if they don’t do certain things, a certain number of times or a certain way, that the world will end. Literally. I love that we get to see how Sam is learning or inheriting, her mum’s ways, that OCD can be a learned behaviour, even though you think you are supporting someone who is living with it, you could be enabling or making it worse.

While we are on the subject of mothers, I want to touch on Zoe’s. She is such a selfless woman. She is going through so much of her own, cancer in partial remission, isn’t a walk in the park. But does she dwell on it? No, she takes it in her stride and motivates herself to give more to her children. All of her energies are put into helping Zoe and Jonah, not once does she complain. She even goes as far as supporting Zoe to find her birth parents, because if the cancer takes her, she wants Zoe to be able to find more family to support her through her mothers’ loss. This woman is a saint and we don’t deserve her!

Zoe has such a huge influence on Sam’s life. On giving her the confidence to grow, to speak up and to be who she is. Without Zoe, I don’t think Sam would have gone to London, or flirted with the barmaid, or faced her mother about her illness. Zoe have her courage to be herself, to recognise that she, as a person, is enough, that she matters.

Even through their friendship doesn’t end on the warmest of notes, the residual, mutual benefit from their friendship is incredible. You can feel it in the way that they are always thinking of each other in key times in their lives away at college, how each one has imprinted a part of themselves, onto the other.

 

This book is filled with complex and strong women. There is such a powerful feeling of women supporting women, and I think that is so important in YA fiction. It covers so many different subjects that are so rarely touched on in Young Adult fiction. From OCD through to Divorce, there is something that each and every reader can relate to. This book is a mine-field of emotional attacks and you will feel each and every blast. This book has presented readers with a world filled with emotion, friendship, bravery and strength. A world of imagination and believing in yourself.  Colthurst and Garner have written incredible characters, characters that I know, will stick with me for a long time.

The ending gives me hope that maybe, one day,  when the girls are in their twenties, Zoe and Sam, might revisit Starworld and their friendship. At the moment in their lives, they are content, learning and growing. But there is always room for one more adventure.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Price Guide to the Occult By Leslye Walton

Before I start, I want to thank Walker Books Australia for sending me out a review copy of this book! I am so grateful for the opportunity to read and review and work with Australian companies!

This HERE is your disclaimer, telling you that this review does, indeed, contain SPOILERS. So, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, please stop reading now. Why not head to my GoodReads account and read my spoiler free review, HERE!

 

39727785.jpg

 

The Price Guide To The Occult by Leslye Walton

4/5 Stars

Published September 6th 2018 by Walker Books

GoodReads

Book Depository

 

 

 

This book is dark and gritty, something that I love in a novel. I love that the magical lore in this book is different to that of any other I have read too, although I would love some more back story.

I particularly like how the Blackburn family has been on the island forever, for eight generations, that their magic bestows ‘burdens’ upon each daughter, suited to their personalities. But what gets me the most is that poor Nor, she thinks she is evil, that she is darkness and all things black magic, because she is the first one since Rona, to possess more than one ‘burden’. Or so she first thought.

I love Nor’s ‘burden’ I wish I had it! The ability to hear the thoughts of animals and plants!? Amazing! I have always been drawn to flora and fauna, finding their company preferable to that of people, so that particular magic, would suit me just fine! We have also seen Nor being able to heal, which is kind of a kick in the guts for her, because she, herself has so many scars that need healing and she can’t heal herself.

This book was particularly slow to start, it took me 90 pages, to really be invested in the plot. I think because the pacing is quite slow at the beginning of the book, it makes it feel like a chore to read, but I’m glad I kept with it, it is picking up now.

I am a little scared about what is going to happen next. The animals and tourists are fleeing the island, and usually that means something bad is going to happen. Something of a massive magnitude. I am also scared because this book seems to have a lot of blood magic in it, so this bad that is coming, must have something to do with blood magic. Everything I have read about blood magic is never good.

I hope we learn more about Gage as the book continues, his family definitely knows something about Nor, more than Nor does and I want to know what it is!

I also want to know what the heck is with these light green fern tattoos!? I realise that they are to do with Nor’s mother, Fern. But why is she doing this, reaching out and influencing them, making them follow her wholeheartedly. What does she have planned?

So, it turns out that Nor is a kick ass, powerful witch! With the powers from the original Blackburn witch herself. It only took most of the townsfolk to be killed, her friends to be maimed, the wild life to flee the island and her to be involved in a love triangle, for her to see it, but hey. Amazing!

The bit that gets me is, that it was love that saved her. Her mother was going on and on and on about being the thing that darkness itself feared, but she couldn’t have been more wrong. Darkness fears light, it fears love, so when Nor came along, against her mother, she was willing to sacrifice herself for her friends, her family and the island, she realised that the darkness feared her. She realised that death and she were long lost pals and that no darkness could be deeper and darker than that living inside her own skin. So, in the end Nor one out.

That being said, it was a rather underwhelming demise to Fern. The all-powerful witch… I was expecting more? I understand that in her lust for power, the blood letting and murder she had taken part in, finally destroyed her from the inside out, the black magic being too much for her human body to handle, so by the time she came to be facing Nor, she was a shadow of her former self. But she just blew away in the wind? Her whole life and story line were surrounded in blood and darkness and she just blew away, piece by piece, in the wind? I’m sorry, but no. That is not how a powerful dark witch dies…

I also feel the need to touch on mentioning the love triangle, that I knew was coming. Apparently, all YA titles need a love triangle, and it kills me! Poor Reed is going to miss out, I have a feeling that Gage will be the winner in the fight for Nor’s heart… I do hope it is Reed though. Not that I have a ‘team’ but I just think that for once, the good guy should get some luck? Maybe Nor will stay with Reed, but have the Blackburn curse, make her spend three days with Gage to create the next Blackburn daughter. Wouldn’t that be a turn of events!

Anyway, I have 11 pages left to go, so I shall return once I’m done!

I knew it! Poor Reed gets shafted because the danger of Nor’s life is too much. Poor Reed, boys in this situation rarely get to make their mind up about whether they think the risk is too much, they just get told, heartbroken and left. Ugh, I knew she would end up with Gage… Also not complaining, but I am complaining… Gage and Nor do have an undeniable chemistry and witty banter, something that Reed and Nor didn’t have. I think Reed and Nor was bred out of their need to be wanted, to be seen. To have someone believe solely in them, to be in their corner. Reed gave Nor her own strength, he gave her courage and love; the one thing that Nor hadn’t received from a boy/man before.

What!? I am shook! Nor doesn’t end up with either of her love interests! Leslye Walton, I am impressed at your ruthlessness!

Well, the ending wasn’t at all like I was expecting, in fact it was open ended in a way that I hope there isn’t another book? I enjoyed this one, but it is perfect as a stand alone, another book isn’t needed.

In the end we see witches in general being hunted and interrogated by the police because of Fern’s fame and misfortune. Because of the terrors that Fern created, the witches, tarot readers, mystics and healers of the world are now under scrutiny and attack. This isn’t how I thought this book would end, naturally I thought something may come of it, but I thought Nor would revamp the shop and give tarot readings or be a physical lie detector, you know? Make a honest living from her talents, but that dream wasn’t to be. Instead she now has to live in fear of the thing that makes her and her family who they are…

This book is well written, although slow paced, it did manage to hook me within the first three chapters. It is slow to start, but it is worth hanging in there, to learn about this magical island and it’s witches.

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

This book came to me as a complete surprise from MacMillan Australia, and I am so excited! It is my first book from MacMillan and I can’t wait to jump into it! It does have a blogging review embargo on it so this review, obviously has been posted after the 26th of February, even though I wrote this a while ago.

As always, here is the disclaimer telling you that this post does contain SPOILERS! So if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, I suggest you look away now, click THIS link which takes you to my spoiler-free GoodReads review!

 

download28629

 

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guilaume

Publishes in March 2019 by Pan MacMillan

Book Depository

GoodReads

 

 

Well, firstly let me say, I am so so soooo excited that this book is by an Aussie author and that is it set in Australia and is about Australian people. I can relate to this book on so many levels. This is the book that I wanted to write when I was in high school, written from the point of view and voice of young adults, wanting to be someone that they aren’t, and too scared to be who they really are. I can see this book being a masterpiece of coming of age and accepting who you are, being proud of who you are.

I did find the voice to be quite young, but then again, she is 15/16 so it makes sense. But I am loving the writing style and the voice of Maisie, she is funny and vibrant and brutally honest (with her journal anyway). I’m not too sure about Anna, she seems to want the best for Maisie, as most best friends do, but it feels a little fake? As though she is saying what she thinks she has to say, not what she wants to?

Hello new female character! You are so much fun! I love how free-spirited Leila is! What a breath of fresh air, I think she will be great for Maisie, maybe get some of her inner monologue out, into conversation!

Ooh, so we have just found out that Maisie is a slightly bigger girl, I rarely see size when I am reading, so to be told that Maisie feels insecure about her body as it is on the bigger size is a great piece of information. It makes the book make a little more sense, as to why she is so jealous of Anna and her perfect body and #hotgirl status. I can feel this book becoming a body positivity bible and I am so ready!

Yaaas Maisie! We are 150ish pages in and finally Maisie has turned the corner. She is beautiful, funny and worth people’s time and now that she has realised that, I can’t wait to see what she can achieve!

Also woohoo Maisie and Beamer! I love their fling, It will totally turn into a relationship, it has the feels of Lara-Jean and Peter Kavinsky written all over it. It is so incredibly obvious that Beamer really likes Maisie, and has since the beginning of the book, but Maisie was too blindsided by how she thought she felt for Sebastian and by her own body image that she couldn’t see Beamer. And woah was she missing out, the moment when you can tell there is a shift in Maisie is when she starts to tell us about Beamer, up until the pool party Beamer doesn’t really get a description, he is just a super annoying boy who isn’t Sebastian, but woahh, now we know he is tall, broad and muscular. Why did you not like him Maisie! Who doesn’t like a bit of banter! I can’t wait to see what this blossoms into, I think they are well suited.

Also this whole beauty pageant thing, is giving me Dumplin’ vibes. Body positivity for the win. I understand why Maisie didn’t want to enter, not just because of her own self-image, but to live up to the expectations of her mother and that her sister won it previously, does add some pressure. But I am so proud of her for listening to Leila and entering! I think that there is also much more to her sister and their relationship than meets the eye. I think her sister is also experiencing some image issues, trying to work out who she is but is so used to everyone expecting her to be perfect that she doesn’t really know what to do anymore.

This book deals with so many aspects of family life, of growing up and of finding yourself, it is incredible. We have body image issues, divorce, relationships, gay/queer relationships, friendship dilemmas, family dilemmas, the list could go on. I just love that it is so diverse in its content! That is isn’t completely about the plus size girl, doing things that traditionally, only skinny girls would do.

Okay, so I just finished this book, but before I go into my end of book review, can I just say, yes things tied up neatly and were presented with a bow. Yes Maisie kicked serious pageant butt and eventually realised that she actually did like Beamer. But it was the final page that really stole the show. It was laugh-out-loud funny, just what this book needed to finish with.

This book was great, I am so grateful to MacMillan for sending it to me to review. I had a blast reading it. It is honest and raw and looks at so many different aspects of growing up. It is well written and fast paced, the pages keep turning faster and faster until there are no pages left and you wish there were more. I love that this is an Australian book, I find it makes the characters easier to relate to because they go to places I go to and speak like I speak and use slangs that I use. I loved that about this book, and I think that is what made me like it so much. Yes, this book has some similarities to other popular novels such as Dumplin, but this took on a world of its own. I adore how it was written in diary entries, not only did it give the reader a much clearer sense of how the protagonist was feeling and why she was doing what she was doing, but it made it easier to read. It broke up the intense moments and also intensified the moments that usually would have been overlooked.

So, as you can see, I am definitely a fan of this book. It is both light-hearted but also incredibly thought provoking, one quote in particular stuck with me:

“You don’t think Eva is brave for going to the beach in a bikini do you? Or anyone else? That’s what you wear to the beach. A bikini. The idea of wearing one is a brave act just because you aren’t a stick figure is kind of fucked up.” Bess Page 220

This book is a wakeup call to all of the teenage and twenty something girls out there that have been smacked in the face with tiny models on their tv’s and magazines all of their lives, and think that in order to be respected and to matter, that they need to be skinny and eat certain things and if they don’t fit that mould, then they can’t wear certain clothes or go to certain places. This book is made for girls who feel that way. Love who you are, you are you for a reason! Wear that Bikini, eat that cake, get the hair cut!

This book is a must read for 2019 and sums up the change that the world needs to see!

Thanks for reading.

Julie.

 

Ps. Seriously, read this book…

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Only A Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

I was lucky enough to be approved for an ARC of this title, from both the amazing author Katie McGarry and NetGalley. I accepted the ARC in exchange for an honest review, which is what you are reading now! As always, here is the disclaimer, this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest looking away now, or head over to my GoodReads HERE for a look at my spoiler-free review!

39863269.jpg

Only A Breath Apart – Katie McGarry

Published January 22nd 2019 by Tor Teen

4/5 Stars

Book Depository

GoodReads

I wasn’t sure that I would like this book, after reading the first chapter, but that is because they are written from the points of view of the main characters, when they were seven and eight years old. They were hard to read, not because of the content, but because of the characters age. But once I got into chapter 3, Scarlett’s chapter, I was immediately reminded of how amazing Katie McGarry’s writing is and I became captivated.

I am intrigued by the idea of ‘the land’ and how it protects people, how it allows them to see things, to talk with angels. I can’t wait to learn more about that aspect of this book.

I feel that before I get too far into this post, I need to say that this book deals with some rather intense things. These things are physical and psychological abuse, victimization, all within the family setting. So if you have any issues relating to the above aspects, I would advise not continuing on with reading this post or with reading the book. The father in this book is quite intense and it can be uncomfortable to read.

I am about 30% in and I am enjoying it. I feel that this book may be a little more intense than McGarry’s previous works. The intensity of Scarlett’s father is incredible. To the point where it is hard to read the scenes where they are interacting. The tension between them fills the air like water, making it hard to breathe and to read. He is such an intense man, in general. I can sort of understand where his controlling obsession comes from, losing his sister when she went off to college has driven him crazy with worry that something will happen to his daughter, if he doesn’t keep her safe, only he is killing her, smothering her with each demand he makes, with each verbal attack.

He put a tracking app on her phone without her knowing, he won’t let her go to the college that offers the course she wants to do because he can’t control her if she is in Kentucky. He won’t allow her to gt a job, because he wants her to focus on school, even though she is a straight a student, set to graduate early. And he sure as heck doesn’t want her spending time with Jesse. He never has. This relationship is so toxic, not just Scarlett and her father, but her mother and father as well. This is where I feel the most uneasy within this story. Watching her mother take the abuse, verbal and physical and justify it, making it seem okay, when it clearly isn’t. I totally understand that McGarry is trying to shed some light on family violence, but I wasn’t ready for the magnitude of it within this book.

Let’s talk about Jesse. What an interesting young man. Finally we get some insight into why he pushed Scarlett away. It wasn’t because of anything she had said or done, it was because of the family curse. There is folklore that Lachlins are cursed, the people that they love will all die around them, and it has been happening all of Jesse’s life. So rather than risk Scarlett’s life, he pushes her away. It is so easy to see how much he cares for her, no matter how horrible she is to him, he just wants to help her. To see her happy and to succeed.

Jesse is in a bit of a pickle though. I can’t imagine being 17, having no family left and wanting to take over a farm. Taking on the responsibility of the farm as well as finishing school, and all of the growing up that comes with being 17. It is actually hard to see him as being that young. He comes off as being much older, more like 25. But I think that is the point, for us to see him as mature, as wise and knowledgeable about the choices he is making. And it all goes back to how his mum told him to never leave the land. Jesse even talks of how he can’t breathe, but walking on his land takes the pain away. I am still waiting to learn more about the folklore and magic of the land.

I am worried that Jesse and Scarlett are going to fix their friendship… relationship? And then Scarlett is going to think that Jesse only started working to patch things up because he needs her to vote for him to keep the farm. And even though in the start, I think that is exactly the reason that he started talking to her again, he loves her.

Crisis averted, he told her about needing her vote and Scarlett took it in her stride, she didn’t flinch. She knows as much as he does that he belongs on that land. It is as much a part of him as he is of it.

So finally, Jesse and Scarlett have finally kissed, it just felt like it was meant to be, it felt right for the story too. He gives her a strength that she needed to make it through her home life. He lets her be her true self, no judgement, no pressures, just kindness, honesty and love. I love their connection with the land, how they can feel it breathing, feel its movements and its power. I’m also enjoying the spiritual element, I was hoping that there was a little more of it throughout the book, but it is cool that there is a psychic element included with the talk of curses and magic in the earth.

I am about 70% in and I am so worried that something terrible is coming. This is because, nothing remotely chaotic has happened yet. It has all been back story and context building, it has been amazing. And all amazing things must come to an end, in fiction anyway. I am so scared that something other than Jesse and Scarlett is going to pull them apart, that Jesse will lose the farm and Scarlett may lose her family.

Okay wow. This guy is an arsehole. He is actually charging Jesse with kidnapping… what the heck. He can’t even stop for a second to listen to his daughter long enough to see how she is feeling or what she wants, because he is so obsessed with control that he can’t imagine that she would do something like, get in a car with a boy, of her own free will. This man is scary. I am sitting here, almost too scared to read the next few chapters, I can’t see how this will play out. I do feel like it was a little cliché having the policeman find Jesse and Scarlett kissing in his truck, with their tops off. It did have a feel of every other teenage movie or book, but seriously, leave Scarlett to have one tiny piece of happiness that is her own!

Holy horse apples, it isn’t Scarlett who has a vote on the tribunal for Jesse’s land. It is her arsehole father! The same abusive man who got Jesse locked up for ‘kidnapping’ Scarlett, the same man who refuses Scarlett to have a life outside of what he can control. My hopes for Jesse to get his dreams are fading. I can only hope for some form of miracle turnaround. But I don’t like the chances.

Glory is such an underrated character. She is the glue that is holding the town together. She knows everyone’s secrets, she knows everyone’s truths, but all she wants it for justice and happiness to prevail. She is honest, clever, witty and smart. She is mystic, untamable and just as wanting of love and acceptance as Scarlett is. I wish we had more time with Glory, or even better yet, a whole book about her, growing up and finding herself. That is something I’d be into!

Sooo Jesse definitely isn’t going to be keeping his land, unless he wants to break Scarlett’s heart, there is no way for him to stay on it. But maybe change is what he needs. A push in a new direction?

It is so close to being the end of this book and it is so unlike so many other books I’ve read lately. Even though ends are starting to tie up, they are also messy and sewn up with a thread that catches and leaves gaping holes in the fabric. It isn’t one of those stories that everything is neat and tidy, and I really like that about it. The whole story has been intense and messy, so if it had a traditional YA ending, I think it would have felt fake and made the whole story seem less than it really is.

I feel a little thwarted by Jesse leaving now. After all of that trauma and hassle with Scarlett and her family, overcoming their differences and their own traumas, he just decides to up and leave her, when she needs him the most, when they can finally start their own life together. I understand that everyone needs time for personal growth, but this is one that I am not for. Boo Jesse. You suck mate. Ughh and he is saying the ageless excuse, I am doing this for us. Mate, I was in your corner, until now. I can’t put my finger on what exactly is irking me the most about this, can I call it a plot twist? It just feels wrong, Jesse is explaining it so well, but it feels wrong on so many levels. I just can’t work it out in my head. Yes I get he needs to leave, to see what life is like away from the land, but I assumed he would just move to Kentucky with Scarlett and maybe take some classes at the college while he was there? Not leave.

Okay so of course my anger was pre-mature apparently. Jesse somehow got into the University of Ketucky fo the agriculture programme… So now it is all happily ever after for Jesse and Scarlett.. I get Jesse had to go away to work on a farm and to learn how to do things with the councils and stuff, but it was a rather dramatic side-step. I feel like it was unnecessary. He could have gotten some help from somewhere else? I feel like their magical fairy tale ending is slightly tainted now. Him leaving just put a sour taste in my mouth?

I did love this book though. It is different to so many other YA titles out there at the moment. Their story is deep, traumatic and filled with the desire to be wanted, accepted and loved. I forgot how easy McGarry’s writing style is to read, the scenes are free-flowing, they stream from one moment into the next, there is no choppy change-overs. The characters are all complementary and add something to the book. There are no characters that are there for useless filling, they all give something to the story. I think my favourite element to this book is the inclusion of the connection to the land that Jesse has. The way that he has a deep, natural connection, to know what is wrong with it and how to fix it. The way he is in tune with the earth.

I knew nothing about this book, going in. Katie McGarry is an auto-buy author for me, so I just knew I had to read it. I do wish I had read the synopsis before reading, I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the book, but it is a fantastic read. As always McGarry has created characters that feel as though you have known them, your whole life. They are deep, multi-dimensional and feel real. They make you feel for them, want the best for them. Even if you can see that their motives may not be pure.

I ended up devouring this book in one day, in one sitting. It takes over and doesn’t let you go until you have read all that there is to read!

Definitely pop a comment below if you have read this book! Let’s chat!

Thanks for reading!

Julie