eARC Review – The Map From Here to There

Title: The Map From Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2)

Author: Emery Lord

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

368 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions. 

Review

**Thank you to Bloomsbury YA, Netgalley, and Emery Lord for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In the second installment of Paige’s story, you get to see how her senior year of high school goes after everything that happened with Max. Paige is going through the age old struggle of trying to balance school, her future career, and a boyfriend. No matter what she does, one starts to fall and she can’t bear to see it be her boyfriend. Mix in mental health issues causing severe anxiety to flare up – it’s a roller coaster ride of a year. Of course, she’s got her friends, but for how long? Who knows where everyone will end up at the end of the year and she is terrified of making the wrong choice.

I was super into the first book, The Start of Me and You. Watching Max and Paige’s friendship and relationship blossom was beautiful, and so reminiscent of high school. I was less invested in the second book, because I don’t feel like it really WENT anywhere. Things happened for sure – ups and downs, twists and turns. Paige puts herself out there in ways she didn’t in the first book and grew up a ton. But it also came with some sacrifice and sadness as well.

I was not a fan of the ending. I almost felt like I read that whole book for… nothing? The ending doesn’t really explain what happens or what Paige chooses – which is a pet peeve of mine for books. If you love a cliffhanger ending that leaves it up to you to decide what happens – I highly recommend. That just isn’t my favorite writing style and I wanted oh so much more from my fave guy and and gal.

This duo is so beautifully written though. I love how LGBTQIA and mental health themes were added into the second book, because it’s important to remember that these issues will affect teenagers. It also provided some good character definition for the characters who were affected.

Overall, a good ending to Paige’s story, but I wish it didn’t have to end. I’d read a play by play of Paige and Max’s relationship for the next ten years if I could.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – The Wickerlight

Title: The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt #2)

Author: Mary Watson

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: November 26th, 2019

416 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In this lush, magical thriller for fans of the Raven Cycle and The Hazel Wood, one girl’s murder investigation leads her into an ancient magical war.

It’s been two months since Zara’s sister Laila was found lifeless on the village green of the small Irish town Kilshamble, not a mark on her. Vicious rumors circle that she died of an overdose or committed suicide–but an autopsy finds no evidence.

Zara believes somebody must know what happened, and she throws herself headfirst into an investigation. But retracing her sister’s footsteps takes her to David, a member of an ancient magical faction called the judges. The judges are in the midst of an ancient feud with another faction called the augurs, and Zara quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous, twisted game. And if she isn’t careful on the path she’s treading, she could end up with the same fate as Laila.

Riveting, atmospheric, and full of dangerous magic, this lyrical novel set in the world of The Wren Hunt is perfect for readers of Maggie Stiefvater and Melissa Albert.

Review

**Thank you to Bloomsbury YA, Netgalley, and Mary Watson for providing me this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Wickerlight picks up where The Wren Hunt picks up, just not focused on Wren and Tarc. This book focuses on Zara, who’s sister was found dead during Wren’s ritual to turn into the flower woman in the first book, and David, Wren’s tormentor. You get a peek behind the curtains into David’s motivations and desires, and it helps turn him a bit into a redeemable character (but only barely). The Wickerlight continues the theme of being confusing and having a host of irredeemable characters. Zara works to learn more about her sister’s death, while dealing with her family life crumbling around her. David is trying to become the most respected warrior judge, and get away from his Dad’s influence.

I was surprised to see that this was not a continuation of Wren’s story, because I really did not feel like the first book wrapped everything up in Wren’s story. It was disorienting and took me some time to catch up to Zara’s story. Zara and David are still both irredeemable characters, if you thought that theme would change with book two, you were mistaken. The judges and augurs all make terrible decisions and hate each other for a reason that is fairly superfluous. They also have no regard for non-gifted people, as Zara’s life and state of mind is constantly tampered with and threatened during this book.

This duology was not for me. Mary Watson’s writing is gorgeous and flowing, but I could not get past the character’s flaws. It’s hard for me to connect with a book if I can’t find common ground with at least one character. I don’t expect every character to be a saint, but I need one who is redeemable. If you love books that are beautifully written with a bunch of irredeemable characters running around rural Ireland, check out this duology!

Keep in mind, this review and release is for the US edition. The UK edition has already been released.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – The Wren Hunt

Title: The Wren Hunt (The Wren Hunt #1)

Author: Mary Watson

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication date: February 8th, 2018

432 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

Review

There would be consequences, I knew that. There were always consequences, usually teeny tiny consequences that you hardly noticed. But the small things added up over time, until eventually they formed one big thing that could crush you beneath its weight.

Mary watson, the wren hunt

The Wren Hunt is the start of a duology following Wren, a young augur about to take an internship wit a house of judges, in order to try and steal a map from them. Set in Ireland, The Wren Hunt posits two gifted groups; judges and augurs. Judges are able to commune with nature and augurs have different abilities centered around understanding patterns and being able to manipulate the world around them. The two sides are constantly at war, and the judges are winning. Wren must tip the scales back into the augurs favor before it is too late, or does the universe have a different plan in store for her?

Whew, this book was A LOT. I spent most of it very confused, and am actually still pretty confused. The book starts of with Wren being chased through the woods by a group of young judges, which apparently happens every year. Apparently the only reason this occurs is because her name is Wren and they must hunt the Wren. Seriously, already it started off weird. Also, I feel like I never got a good explanation for why this happened EVERY YEAR on the same day. But I digress. The events of the book are confusing.

If you like a book where the characters are likable and have redeeming qualities, this book will not fulfill that desire. Even the seemingly great characters end up being terrible, and the MC is no better. I spent most of the book internally yelling at Wren for her actions, and frankly I did the same for most of the supporting characters as well. In a war between augurs and judges, no one plays fair.

I will say, this book had a magnificent plot twist towards the end that I DID NOT see coming in the slightest. I felt more convinced after that that The Wren Hunt was worth my time reading. I picked it up because I was approved for the sequel, The Wickerlight, on Netgalley and I really do NOT like to DNF books. The twist was able to move this book into a solid 3 star book for me.

Lastly, the cover is gorgeous. Simple. Classic. Fitting. The Wickerlight cover matches in style, if not color. I am a fan of a good, simple cover sometimes. YA books lately have been KILLING it with these amazing, colorful, detailed covers – but sometimes I appreciate sleek and simple. The romance is okay – I’d classify it as a slow burn, lovers to enemies romance trope which is not even in my top five of romance tropes. But hey, if you like those, check this book out!

Overall, a mid range book for me. The writing is beautiful and mysterious (which leads it to be confusing), and I enjoyed that it was set in Ireland.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Call It What You Want

Title: Call It What You Want

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA/Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

384 pages

5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

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…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Review

Hello book friends! Back again with another eARC review 🙂 Special shoutout to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books for sending me this galley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Guys, I am obsessed with this book, I quite literally read it all in one day. Once I started, I just couldn’t put it down. I would die for Rob and Maegan and will stand in the way of anyone hurting them!!

CIWYW was such a cute, contemporary novel. This is the first title I’ve read by Brigid Kemmerer (I do own A Curse So Dark and Lonely but have yet to pick it up) and I am impressed. She officially has a fan for life. I read so many YA Fantasy novels that I forget how much I enjoy a good, contemporary novel. This book is written from two perspectives – Rob and Maegan’s. This is nice because you get a slice of the story from both points of views and in their own voices.

So let’s start off with the characters. I am a sucker for some lonely, messed up characters!! Rob and Maegan are struggling with very real, and very personal problems while trying to survive their senior year of high school. They are learning to navigate life as social rejects. Rob’s dad embezzled many in the town out of a whopping 7 million buckos and Maegan cheated on the SAT’s, which ended up invalidating 100 students scores. Both of them are hurting and have resulting trust issues of others from the backlash of their peers. They are thrown together to do a math project and neither of them are happy about it, they both would prefer to be alone. Rob and Maegan quickly learn to lean on each other, and begin to explore the idea of having close friends again.

There is a love story between two characters, an LGBTQIA character (no love story for him womp womp), and some sneaky Robin Hood themes. It begs the question – is it wrong to steal if you are using the items for good and not evil? It is a theme that is highly explored, and is an interesting concept.

Frankly, I loved CIWYW and have preordered a copy as a result of reading this. The love story is SO well done – reading Rob’s point of view was so important. The topic of respecting woman is brought up at one point, and Brigid did such a good job of presenting a teenage, male character that was interested physically in the girl – but acted (and thought) with nothing but respect for her wishes and comfort levels in intimate situations. It was honestly a breath of fresh air in a time when this topic is difficult to navigate.

Upon finishing CIWYW I almost immediately went back to reread a few scenes that stood out of me (okay, the romantic scenes – I’m a sucker, alright?!) and this is a huge sign for me that it is a five star read. The fact that I wanted to go back to relive big moments doesn’t happen with every title I pick up. Frankly, my sole gripe about this book is that there isn’t a follow up book to go with it! I need more Rob and Maegan!

In conclusion, pick this one up if you like a good high school romance, Robin Hood, real teenage angst and issues, and some well built characters. This would be a great beach read for the summer!

Enjoy, book friends!