Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (*Spoilers*)

I’m not feeling that well today so bear with me. That being said, here we go;

Letters to the Lost Synopsis:

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.

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (April 4, 2017)
  • Language: English

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I received Letters to the Lost out of the generous heart of Brigid Kemmerer after we had talked back and forth about her book. I talked to her over twitter about how I couldn’t wait to read it due to how cathartic I think it might be for me given it’s synopsis surrounding a teenage girl having lost her mother at a very young age. For the both of them. I was given an ARC to Netgalley but then about a week or so later I was sent an early hard copy that was signed by Brigid herself.
I, truly, can’t describe how touched I was to receive something like this. I have been given other book copies from authors before but nothing that meant so much to me as this did. Those feelings only became more overwhelming as I read and finished LTTL.

I know most book reviews are supposed to give a general look at the book and praise it. Make you want to read it and so on. But LTTL was different for me. I wasn’t wrong when I said this book would be cathartic for me. I knew going into it that there was a very large chance I would have a hard time getting through it, the words would stir feelings in me that I hadn’t dealt with on my own, I could even potentially cry. Which I did. It’s because of this that I am grateful for Letters to the Lost. I’m not saying to completely healed me of the grief over the loss of my mother some 18 years ago, but the words and thought processes in this book has given me a chance to look at my decisions and grief, itself, a different way.

For that I say Thank You, Brigid Kemmerer. You’ve done more for me in one book than most therapists have done in a few hundred sessions. I’ll always volunteer as tribute to read your books and back your stories 100% because of this. Letters to the Lost will forever stay on my list of Favorite and Re-Readable books. There aren’t many of those.


 

Let me start by saying I gave Letters to the Lost 4 stars. Now that’s not to say it isn’t deserving of of five. It is. The four is my own personal issues with the book itself. They’re minor, however, but in the end they sort of add up to take away one full star.

Note: There are spoilers in this post, so stop now if you haven’t read this book. It’s too good of a read to spoil!!

Letter to the Lost is a plot I haven’t seen done before. It’s about two lost teens wrapped in their own teenage crap on top of personal tragedies that are weighing them down. Almost to the point of destruction. But they communicate through hand written letters left in a cemetery all while not knowing who the other is.

That being said, one of the main issues I had was how long it took for ‘The Dark’ and ‘Cemetery Girl’ to figure out who each other were. There were so many opportunities for Juliet to be, forgive me, not BLONDE and just put two and two together and realize DECLAN IS ‘The Dark’. Almost to the point I wanted to throw the book. Half of that was frustration, half of that was I wanted them together because when Declan isn’t being a self-destructive jerk he really is a book-boyfriend I want for myself!

A second point is Rev. I LOVE Rev. He was a little creepy at first but once he got more lines and you got to know his home life a bit more he opened up to be a very interesting character. So interesting I WANTED MORE. Now, I know Brigid is making a book JUST for Rev, but had I not known that I would have been upset because I believe it’s Rev and his past history that really grounds Declan a lot of time. Thus it would have been nice to have more on him so you could join in on that bond with Rev and Declan to love their duo even more.

Declan’s step-father was a third, and the most irritating, point for me. He and Declan were such a toxic mix of anger and spite and rejection their scenes were hard to read for me because I’ve been in a family situation that was similar. Declan couldn’t do ANYTHING right! I wanted to punch the guy in the face!! But even after knowing everything Declan did in his past and living, practically, in a car shop for his dad, who is gone now, his damn step-father still wouldn’t let him help at first. Like What. The. Hell. Man?! Get off your damn high horse! On top of that, his sudden turn around and suddenly they’re having a calm heart to heart and he’s wanting to be a family man?! At first I thought it was a rouse, and while I was glad Declan was getting to say what was finally needing to say, the turn around in the dad seemed a little rushed. But I was also glad it was happening? So I’m sort of 50-50 on that whole thing?

There was a twist towards the end with Juliet and concerning her mother that really.. threw me. Honestly, it didn’t sit well with me or the pit of my stomach after I finished the book. It was one of the reasons I had to give myself a day or so to sit with the book before I wrote this and gave a truly honest review. While I understand it was for drama purposes and for Juliet to truly have an outstanding moment to relieve her grief and figure things out, I feel like another plot somehow might have worked better. I’m not the writer so I couldn’t tell what to replace it with, but I feel like I felt the pain that Juliet did and it hurt me. Which may be had been the point all along. It just felt painful for me like Juliet going through it. Awkward even.

My favorite thing I am grateful for, however, is how Brigid handled the romance. Through out the whole book the romance was there but it was more of a back burner situation. Which only made you want to have the MC’s get together that much more. It was handled so well and so beautifully that I wish more authors wrote like that. Have it there, hovering, but not the main focus but then it happens anyway in a way that’s.. more realistic. It was wonderful to read because you rooted for Declan and Juliet so much.

Letters to the Lost has a lot of ups and downs, happiness and frustrations. It sticks in my brain and makes me feel like there’s hope at the end of the tragic moments that happen in life. Brigid Kemmerer is an amazing writer and I can’t wait to see what else she brings to the table. I know I’ll be first in line for the arcs and the day of releases.

Letters to the Lost releases April 4th, 2017.

The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia Review

The Lovely Reckless
Author: Kami Garcia

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250079195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250079190

Seventeen year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad―an undercover cop. She transfers to public school in the Downs, where fistfights in the halls don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him…and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

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“Your own heart will race with each page turn of this heart-stopping star-crossed love story.”

This could not be anymore true! This book is not a boring read by any means, what so ever! Kami Garcia blew me out of the water with The Lovely Reckless. I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up and the action really started to get going.

I mean who doesn’t love a book about street racing? Fast cars and sexy men and women? SIGN ME UP!

The first thing that really spoke out for me was Frankie. She is not a boring character to have in your head as you’re going about her life in the book. Frankie isn’t whining about typical crap. She’s had a very traumatic experience and she’s dealing with it the way a girl her age would. Rebellion, personality change, complete melt downs, and losing who she is while trying to remember it’s okay to be upset.
Having gone through something traumatic myself at a young age I think parents forget that while they just want their kids to get better, they don’t understand we can’t just be okay the next day. Trauma takes time. My experience wasn’t as scary as Frankie’s but today it still scars me as, unlike the MC, I wasn’t able to handle mine any other way than to sit and suffer due to my age. But I connected with Frankie in a lot of ways because I sympathized with her mood swings, her friends and family pushing her to get help and wanting her to be a different person. I got her.

Can we talk about Marco? Holy. Hell. That’s really all I have to say! LOL! Hot Tamale! Yeah. I love him so much! Mostly in the way that, yes, he was.. gorgeously hot, but he was SO FLAWED. You don’t get that often in Y.A. At least, not in the way that every time you turned the page there was more to Marco’s story that was being revealed. It just kept you hooked until you knew Marco inside and out. You knew his story, the characters involved and that surrounded him that some were already in play and others that weren’t. You wanted to be there for him. You wanted him, in more ways than one! *wink!* And you wanted to help him. His family. His friends. There was no part of him that didn’t make you want to be involved with him. Yes, there were even times I wanted to smack the crap out of him. Which is good. Because it means Kami wrote a very good, well rounded, real person. Because no one is perfect. (Which is why I think I hate trashy romances. The men seem to.. perfect. Blegh). Marco is complex and really moves the story along beautifully as the love interest and one of the main components of the plot.

Another fantastic part of this story is the morality. Yes, there are some questionable themes but they’re handled with such maturity that I applaud the author. Whether it was a sexual nature (minimal as an issue, I assure you), or right versus wrong in enthics of doing the wrong things for the right reasons, this book made you think.

The side characters are all well constructed, full of fault, but loyal to the bone people. Lex, Able, Cruz, the Chief, even gross Deacon Kelley, and the parents. There’s so much going on that I could sit here for ages and go on about each character but I think that would spoil a lot of the books side plots. And there’s a few tied in so well that there’s always something going on while not taking your mind off the main going on.

Cruz for the win as BFF, though! 😉

However, I wish daddy dearest had a bit more of a talking to from Tyson but you’ll get there and understand what I mean! Grrr! Stubborn parents!

Anyway, The Lovely Reckless is… so far my favorite 2017 read. It came out Oct 4th of 2016 but I had, only, just been able to get a chance to read it. Which I apologize to Kami since I had been given an arc of it some time ago. I deeply regret waiting because this book rocked my freaking world. I seriously hope we see Marco and Frankie again. Even if it’s just in a tiny side story she drums up.

Please buy a copy if you love street car racing, complex characters, and restarts in life. You won’t regret it, I guarantee it!

Victories, Nano, & an olde time Review

First, let me say CONGRATULATIONS TO MY HOME TOWN CUBBIES BRINGING HOME THE WORLD SERIES AFTER 108 YEARS! It’s about freakin’ time, boys! Let’s keep it going and do it again! Take a play from the Blackhawks play book!

Second, it’s November which means NanoWrimo time is here again. Yes, I have a book in mind. Or, at least, a start of one. Characters are playing around in the ol’ brain. Will I complete it? Hardly. Will I give it a huge shot? Hopefully, provided my family doesn’t.. bother me or embarrass me or something of the distraction sort that causes myself to tank. That’s not even Anxiety talking! It’s just computer location and I have a hard time expressing myself, even in written word, with someone around. Especially if they’re walking behind me at constant paces or constantly asking me ‘What are you doing?’. I would tell you if I wanted you to know.

So we’ll see how that goes. Wish me luck, will you? 

That being said and novel writing month rearing it’s ugly head it’s because of Nano that reminds me of my favorite books. One series sticking out the most that I never got a chance to review as I read them before I even realized there was a book reviewing world. While their books and movies have long come to a close their story continually brings me back to them even in my worst of times. I may not read their books or watch their movies constantly like crazed fans I know but pictures or mentions, tattoos or role play I do with a friend online still brings me great joy. In fact, I have many a book tattoo based on this series planned whenever I can figure out my life and working plans. 

The series I brag about is The Twilight Saga. 

*waits for inevitable whiny groans*

Yes, I know most don’t enjoy it and would like this saga to go away into the darkness they think it deserves. No, I’m not one of those delusional types that doesn’t realize that YES, IT HAS IT’S ISSUES. I’m a grown woman. Bedroom stalking is weird, I’m aware, among other things. Let me cut in and remind you, it’s a paranormal, NOT REAL series. However, as a reader and reviewer, hear me out and let me get through this before you judge MY reasoning for enjoying this series so much. Even for as old as I am now (31, I was in my early 20s when I started it.)

Book: Twilight
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance, paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication date: October 5, 2005

Synopsis: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.

I first saw the first book in my sisters elementary Scholastic Book Week sales magazine. The cover drew me in and the synopsis caught me last. I thought it was going to be a quick read so while I had some baby sitting money I went to Borders (RIP *Tear*) and grabbed the first book. I had no idea what the Twilight Saga was or how large each book from the first-on was going to be. I was SURPRISED at how large Twilight was.
I was equally surprised I fell in love with it as immediately as I did, let alone that I finished it in three days. That’s a record for me. I never read anything but text books in high school. I HATED reading as a kid. I just didn’t have the imagination for it. Twilight jump kicked my book -OBSESSION-. 

Given where I live now I had no other thing to do BUT read. If I wanted entertainment I had to make my own and Twilight started an obsession I didn’t know I had with in me.

Twilight embodied something so important for me. It was so different unlike anything I had read before. The situation of the vampires and how they lived, their lore with the vampire overlords The Volturi, their eating habits, their skin etc. So much was so different that I knew Twilight was a series I needed in my life. 

What first drew me in was the paranormal aspect. I was born and raised by a hair brained mother, as Bella called Renee, but in a very different way. My mother loved vampires, wizards, dragons, and anything else paranormal. So when she died in 1999 of cancer and I was finally able to… process what had happened I realized I didn’t really have much of her to hold on to at all. No specific item or anything of that keep sake sort. It wasn’t until I found Twilight that it struck me I had even lost any interest for anything paranormal. And I LOVED Vampires. She raised me on them. I used to watch Dark Shadows as a kid for fun!
So when Twilight came about and I picked up the first book only to swallow it in three days the next thing I know I’m picking up New Moon. But then I notice I’m also reading Moon Called by Patricia Briggs which is mainly an upfront Werewolf series. I’m searching for books left and right of all paranormal kinds. It was as if Twilight had woken me up and reconnected me with my mother again. I had that shared connection with her again. It started to piece me back together in the depression and anxiety that, while I still suffer greatly, was the darkest hole I had ever been in my life. I was no longer that person. Twilight made me feel better. 

The next pull of the Twilight saga wasn’t so much, for me, the epic romance itself. It’s just that she handled the romance in a way that meant a lot to me and my morals and still does ten years later. While contemporary reads are meant to take the realistic and hormonal situations and portray them as they often play out in real life, Stephenie eloquently handled that man/woman desire until the Bella and Edward were married in book four (Is that really a spoiler now? lol). This all happening in one human and one heightened sense, vampire, blood lusty way. The way she handled the heavy handed romance, which I’ve been burned on before by being over baring in other books, was just elegance. True first time feelings. Experiences. Despite the bruising vampire strength, of course! LOL! Stephenie did something that was very important to me in my younger years. It gave me a sense that waiting for the right person was alright. Being who I am and what my values were was completely okay. 

New Moon really stuck with me. The biggest part being when Edward left Bella and the heart break felt like she was being ripped apart into a million pieces. While, in the real world, it’s not healthy to wallow over a boy in such a deep depression like that both in book and movie these scenes resonated with me because I’ve been there. I’ve felt a love that deep for 6 years and it was pulled out from under me over a holiday and it left a deep scar. He didn’t come back like Edward did but I know that pain of wanting to scream over nightmares, lay in bed, sob, not go to school or out. New Moon was a powerful book for me and, surprisingly, it helped piece me back together because it was nice to know a character could feel what I felt and then take me on a journey I needed to go on.

Eclipse was my favorite book but then upon movie releases then re-read I’ve determined Breaking Dawn is my favorite now! 😉

Of course the action sequences were amazingly fun! The fact that the problems never ended but all made sense. Between the trio of the nomads, or the humans having to stay in the dark, the vampire army making their way from Seattle to Forks, then finally the wolves becoming truly involved as the main enemy. Having to cross that line and possibly take one humans life to save the rest of the town. Even the chance of having to kill an infant! An innocent, nearly. There were so many twists and turns over who the next enemy could be it was fun to see where the story took you. 

I got into the saga late but I jumped into the bandwagon like I had always been there. 

  • I did the 5 movie marathon at AMC for the premiere of BD pt2 to be one of the firsts to see it. 
  • I have all the sound tracks.
  • The Illustrated Guides.
  • Name the merchandise I probably have it.
  • Friends got me a signed Eclipse book from Forever Twilight in Forks 2015.
  • Multiple copies of the books (both hardcover and paperback) and Life & Death: Twilight Reimagined.
  • Multiple copies of the movies including the FOREVER bluray dvd set & the extended set.
  • Shirts.
  • Hoodies.
  • Posters.
  • Postcards from different movie locations.

My love for this series is insane but I believe Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga saved my life. I was spiraling and Twilight revitalized me and gave me something to look forward to. It branched my love for books. My collection of books and fandoms is.. enormous now.

If I could talk to Stephenie Meyer once I’d love to just tell her thank you. Let her know what she did for me despite her being finished with Vampires. That I’m not one of those over obsessed (and frankly SCARY) fans but I’m a fan of hers because she did something extraordinary for me. 

I’ve wanted to do a review of the Twilight Saga and it’s meaning to me since the beginning of time. It’s only been now that I’ve been able to think about how to put down words of the emotions I’ve felt. Chances are I might add to this later as I’m sure I’m missing things.

I hope, one day, I can write something as amazing as she, Suzanne Collins, Leigh Bardugo, Garth Nix, and so on where I bring joy with my written word.

 

(C) to the person whose pic I used above.

How To Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather

Publication date: 07/26/16

Publisher: Knopf/Random House

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Supernatural, YA Fantast, YA Paranormal

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.


 

There are.. no words to describe the feelings that overwhelmed me when I finished this book.

How To Hang A Witch is both a history lesson and paranormal joy ride. Adriana Mather takes her real life family history and puts such a spin on things I was sucked in by the first few pages.

The first feeling I had while reading this book was that I HAVE to visit Salem, Massachusetts some day. Not only to find out more about the Mathers, see the sights, but to bring this book with me and take pictures for Adriana as a mini book tour.

Secondly, I didn’t want this book to end. It wasn’t your typical.. YA. To me, anyway. This read had all the perfect parts for my perfect read.

-The right, light, but well timed romance.

-Paranormal of the right intensity.

-Twists I had NO IDEA were coming.

-Cheeky boys with the correct type of teenage attitude that weren’t straight out jerks.

-An enemy(s) and plot of believability.

HTHAW is just the perfect example of how to write and debut as a new author. I can not stress how much I will enjoy supporting Adriana from here on out.

Lastly, when I finished reading I was filled with dread. Left with this… hole in my chest. Not because the book left me unsatisfied, no, but because the read was over! This was one of the few times I felt as if I lost some very good friends. As if the characters actually said goodbye to me. Yes, of course, I know I can re-read the book once more to bring them back but I think right this moment I may need time to get over my book hang over.

Please, if you get a chance, pick up How To Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather. It is very much worth your time. You will not be disappointed.