Review: How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy

9780738747453I love stories told in alternate writing styles. When you read as much and for as many years as I have, you gotta mix things up from time to time! Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it does. In this case, it’s a bit of the first but much of the latter.

Rhea’s had a rough life by anyone’s standards. Her mom dies before she can hardly remember her, a tragic accident causes the loss of her arm, her dad drinks too much, she’s struggling with her sexual identity…the list goes on and on. When her dad dies and she’s sent to live with an aunt she hardly knows, it’s just too much. So she runs away, fleeing to New York City? Why New York? Because that’s where she feels closest to her mother, where she can immerse herself in her mom’s past as she tries to come to grips with her loss.

She copes by writing letters to her mom. Letters that she’ll never send, of course. Letters that she’s been writing since she was a little girl, way before her life went so far off course. She writes about her grief over her dad’s death. She writes about her confusion and pain over being gay. She writes about living on the streets and all that encompasses. And as she digs deeper into her mom’s past, she writes about buried secrets from long ago.

This is how the story is told. Each chapter is a letter in itself. It works for the most part. The story is easy to follow, and the narrative of Rhea’s letters are plausible and heart-tugging at the same time. The only fault I can find is that, towards the end, they seem to be a bit long-winded and drawn out more than is necessary. But still, a great story!


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Review: Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah

Of-Scars-and-StardustHidden deep within the cornfields of of Ohio, the wolves are waiting for you. They’ll hunt you down with their eerie yellow eyes and tear you apart with their sharp, glistening fangs. If you look closely, you may be lucky (or unlucky) enough to catch a glimpse of gray fur streaking by in a blur. So stay inside at night and lock your doors. And whatever you do, don’t wear the color periwinkle or anything cherry-scented. These are the two things guaranteed to draw them to you in an instant.

This is the story that’s been passed down for years in rural Amble. It’s the story Claire and her friends have passed around, some believing in the legend more than others. But when a young girl goes missing and just traces of blood are left behind, what other explanation could there be? Surely it’s better to believe that wild beasts are responsible rather than the human kind. Now Claire begins to see the wolves everywhere. She’s sure they’re watching her. And when tragedy strikes her younger sister, Ella, Claire escapes to New York where she hopes to become lost in the crowd. Nightmares have a way of following us, however, and Claire finds herself returning to her hometown to confront her fears, both real and imaginary.

This debut YA novel from Andrea Hannah is creepy on so many different levels. It’s got that spooky campfire story feel to it, with a scary tale that will keep you up at night. There’s the psychologically thrilling fear that comes from so many twists and turns that keep you guessing from one page to the next. And then there’s the aftershock as you sit and reflect, trying to digest exactly what just happened. There isn’t a happy ending where everything is tied up in a neat little package with a pretty bow on top. But this is one story that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it!


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Review: Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell

Sweet Unrest finalWhat a thrill it was to receive this as an ARC months before the release date. I’d been eyeing it for several weeks after I added it to my wish list, so of course I had to jump right in when I got it.

I have to start off by saying that the cover is one of the most beautiful introductions to a story I’ve seen in awhile. Simple and understated but so elegant and indicative of the story.

The story centers on Lucy, a teenager who has been dragged against her will to an old plantation outside of New Orleans when her dad takes on a new job. She’s determined to just ride out the summer until she can return to Chicago. Through a combination of dreams and encounters with a mysterious stranger, she begins to uncover secrets both old and new. Although parts of the story take place in the distant past, much of the danger is very much set in Lucy’s present day world.

I have a weakness for stories set in Louisiana and New Orleans in particular so this one was right up my alley. It’s a ghost story and love story wrapped up in one but, have no fear about it being too scary or gruesome. And although the story centers on the dark and spiritual world of voodoo, much of the scary stuff is left to the reader’s imagination. It’s simply a beautiful tale, reminiscent of legends passed down over time. An excellent debut novel from an exciting new author!


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Review: Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Words-and-Their-Meanings-5I really enjoyed this first book from Kate Bassett. The story centers on Anna, a teenager who is having trouble getting over the death of her beloved uncle a year earlier. She copes by doing daily “coffin yoga”, channeling her inner Patti Smith through both her dress and hairstyle, and writing favorite Patti quotes on her arm every day.

Her family is concerned, to put it mildly, but they have turmoil of their own to cope with. Little sis Bea likes to hide in random places, mom and dad are divorced and dad has a new wife/baby on the way, and Gramps is suddenly on the verge of death himself. Anna’s circle of friends is very small, basically her best friend since early childhood, Nat. Complicating things is the introduction of Mateo, who definitely catches Anna’s eye and rocks her world, almost to the point of being normal.

This is a difficult book to fully describe other than to say that it’s quite an unusual young adult/coming of age book. There’s a love story, but that’s not the central element. It’s more about friendship, family, love gained and lost, and moving on. Five stars for me!


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