Review: Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

deadoverheelsDead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 16th, 2016

Publisher: Frith Books

Pages: 38 pages

Source: Author

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.

After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?

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*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I really enjoyed reading this story. It is a creative, inventive, and truly captivating tale that pulled me in from page one and took me completely by surprise. This is one of those stories that keeps you wanting more—the sort that will make you voraciously tear through it, and really packs a punch.

Despite the fact that it is short in length, the plot and its characters are completely fleshed out and multidimensional. This is a story that will stick with you long after reaching the end. From the mysterious situation that the two main characters find themselves in all the way until the shocking conclusion, Braun hooks her readers and fluidly pulls them into every page.

In this story, we follow our main character, Veronica, as she finds true love under the most peculiar of circumstances. After an unexpectedly deep connection occurs between her and her new beau, Sebastian, they soon learn just how unbelievably deep it actually goes. The two share very many similarities, the main one being their painful pasts—each one has lost a parent at a young age. But just as quickly as their relationship blooms, they are forced to quite literally face the ghosts of their pasts and relive a true nightmare. And when their individual histories play out before them, their love is put to the test as renewed pain threatens to break them apart.

There is so much packed into such a short amount of time, and Braun expertly unfolds a compelling and detailed plot within the length limitations. It is fast-paced and exciting, full of twists and turns, and without a single dull moment. Her writing style flows well and is easy to get swept up in.

This was unlike any story I’ve read before, and I applaud Braun on her originality in creating such an intriguing supernatural mystery. Her characters are relatable and likeable right from the beginning, and the full arc of their relationship ends in a shocking and unexpected conclusion. Filled with romance and humor, darkness and tragedy, this novella will keep readers on the edges of their seats and craving more, even after the final page.

4.5 TARDISes

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Review: Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid

pretendwearelovelyPretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: July 18th, 2017

Publisher: Tin House Books

Pages: 284 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Consuming and big-hearted, Noley Reid’s Pretend We Are Lovely details a summer in the life of the Sobel family in 1980s Blacksburg, Virginia, seven years after the tragic and suspicious death of a son and sibling.

Francie Sobel dresses in tennis skirts and ankle socks and weighs her allotted grams of carrots and iceberg lettuce. Semi-estranged husband Tate prefers a packed fridge and secret doughnuts. Daughters Enid, ten, and Vivvy, thirteen, are subtler versions of their parents, measuring their summer vacation by meals eaten or skipped. But at summer’s end, secrets both old and new come to the surface and Francie disappears, leaving the family teetering on the brink.?

Without their mother’s regimental love, and witnessing their father flounder in his new position of authority, the girls must navigate their way through middle school, find comfort in each other, and learn the difference between food and nourishment.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Pretend We Are Lovely is one of those novels that really makes you think—both during and after—but where the real impact of the plot and themes within it hits you a little while after you have turned the final page. After you’ve let it simmer in your mind for some time. This is a story that revolves around hunger and nourishment of both the body and soul. And behind the façade of food and hunger, starving and eating, the true needs of this family shine through the cracks. It is a perfect warm, summer day read, whose pages will fly by quickly, but will simultaneously strike the reader with the surprising depth and heaviness of the subject matter.

This story follows a few months in the lives of the four members of the Sobel family. Mother Francie is struggling to deal with a great loss as well as the mental and emotional scars that come with it. Thirteen-year-old Vivvy and ten-year-old Enid are dealing with their own coming of age and new place in the world, all while attempting to cope with their struggling family life and their mother’s overbearing rules, primarily about food. Father Tate is trying his best to hold his family—and all of their lives—together as Franice begins to spiral out of control, further cracking the household’s foundation.

I’ll admit when I first started, I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to end up enjoying this novel. It took me a little while to really get into it, but as soon as I did, I was fully captivated. This story is full of broken and lost, but deeply and utterly beautiful souls. They are surprisingly loveable and incredibly easy to connect with. Each one has their own distinctive voice and personality, and I found that they were very realistically portrayed. Reid demonstrated remarkable insight and skill in her creation of this fractured family.

The element of food and hunger becomes very prominent as we begin to get to know each of the characters and the dynamic of the household. They all harbor a hunger for something more on an emotional level that masks itself in a battle with their eating or dieting behaviors. And these battles manifest uniquely in each person. Vivvy and Enid each look to a different parent for cues on how to treat food. Enid follows her father’s habits of carefree eating while Vivvy mimics her mother’s struggle with food and obsessive dieting.

The relationships and constant instability of the foundation of this family was incredibly poignant. We watch Enid and Vivvy coming of age and learning to deal with many of the harsh realities of life. Francie and Tate are drifting further and further away from one another, and Tate is struggling to hold the family together as best he can for the sake of his daughters. Vivvy’s and Enid’s relationship with each other was my particular favorite to watch as it changes with the highs and lows of growing up. Tate’s love for his daughters was another one of my favorite aspects of this novel.

The writing style used in this novel might not be a hit with everyone. The perspective alternates frequently between each of the four members of the Sobel family, so the reader gets an intimate look at everyone’s perspective on the events of the plot. I found it quite interesting to see the shift in the behaviors and outlooks of the all of the characters, but it can be a bit confusing at times. There is quite a bit of jumping about, and this can make the plot a little tricky to follow. However, once I started to get used to it and became more aware of each character’s personality, it flowed a lot smoother.

The other aspect of the writing to note is the almost stream of consciousness-like style that Reid uses. For me personally, it really worked well and I enjoyed the tone that it set. It truly feels as if we as readers are intimately following the lives of a realistic family, and that brings so much depth into the novel and the messages it sends. However, I realize that, though it adds a great deal to the realism of the plot and characters, it can be somewhat of a difficult writing style to follow—so there are definite pros and cons to it for the reader.

It reads just the way a person’s train of thought would go, but that can also make things feel a bit disjointed. On top of that, the constant shift in perspective takes a little while to get fully immersed in, especially prior to really knowing the family. As a whole though, I ended up loving the format in which Reid wrote this novel. There were a lot more pros that out-weighed many of the minor cons in the style, and she completely sucked me in.

Overall, this was the big-hearted and consuming read it promised to be. Reid beautifully set the painful, destructive, yet loving atmosphere of a family in turmoil. I felt like I really connected with everyone, and found that I truly cared about each and every one of them. I experienced the hurt they both felt and inflicted, but also the small moments of caring, love and hope. Every emotion was tangible and I was completely wrapped up in their lives. The bittersweet final few chapters particularly stood out from the rest, and they are the ones that held onto me the longest.

4.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Leave This Song Behind by Teen Ink

leavethissongbehindLeave This Song Behind by Various

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: April 26th, 2016

Publisher: HCI

Pages: 216 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This was a poetry collection that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. It is a wonderful and broad compendium of some of the fantastic teenage voices in the literary world. Full of beautiful prose and sentiment, these poems were stunningly thought-provoking and held such meaning and depth. It definitely shows the true power and significance of the written word, particularly that which comes from the mind of a young person. Each poem is so poignant and pure, which shows the beauty of the young mind. The writers have allowed themselves to enter the depths of their mind and soul, and bravely expressed what lies there.

I absolutely love how much Teen Ink encourages young people to express themselves and find their voices. Poetry—and writing in general, really—was something that helped me a great deal during my teenage years once I discovered it. It was a way to get my feelings out when I felt like I had no other option. And I always felt very thankful to be in a situation where I had a lot of support and reassurance from the people in my life in regards to my pursuit of writing. It is wonderful to see that there are some great resources to give teenagers this much needed support. I truly enjoyed my reading experience. This is an important and highly inspiring collection of words that I hope many people will read.

4.0 TARDISes

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