If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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Title: 
An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson

Publication date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

About the Book:

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. 

LINKS:   Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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An Enchantment of Ravens is one of the most beautiful and whimsical debuts I have read in 2017. Written in first-person narrative, the story wraps you in a decor of words submerged in vivid and embellishing descriptions. Margaret Rogerson’s prose of faerie lore is as wistful and rich as the season of autumn. As some of you might know, Autumn is a magical season for me. When fall approaches, I find the aura of the season to be lively and energetic; for me, fall is filled with change, restoration, and reawakening. And subsequently, Rogerson’s debut novel encompasses this enlivenment.

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In An Enchantment of Ravens, Rogerson provides a longing and detailed scope of the dangerous fairy folk and their world. Their rules and enforced traditions are tested by the skillful human, Isobel (the main character), who is a notable painter. Isobel is highly-praised for her portraits, which are adored and prized by the fairy court. Often Rogerson’s tome focuses on the seriousness of the fair ones, but she also provides Isobel, and other characters, the opportunity to sneakily assert derailed humor throughout the chapters. I loved that these hilarious quirks regularly begged for a crooked grin and a mischievous side-eye directed at the faeries and their strict rules. 

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Additionally, in An Enchantment of Ravens, Rogerson has created two of the most vigorously spirited characters that I loved swooning over. When they first meet, Isobel and Rook have immediate chemistry, and not to give too much away, but this is not an instant-love story. Instead their relationship begins with a bewitching encounter that slowly burns and then ignites. Isobel is cautious but daring. She’s stubborn, fierce, and now one of my most beloved, confident heroines. Rook is adorable, serious, and cordial. But what I love most of all about Rook is that he is the epitome of autumn: warm, brooding, and comforting. I found the repartee and banter between these two characters to be intense and passionate. Even if a potential relationship between these two characters would break the Good Law among the fair folk, I was rooting for them the entire time.

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In the end, An Enchantment of Ravens is a well-paced story that focuses on the importance of family and daring societal traditions. As previously stated, I loved Rogerson’s florid detailing that flows throughout the pages. She litters the pages with full and vibrant warm colors, earthy smells, and a hint of magic that consumes my autumn-loving soul. Fall is approaching, and if you are looking for the perfect book to read while you curl up in a cozy blanket and sip warm apple cider, I highly recommend that you also have An Enchantment of Ravens opened in your hands. 


My Rating:
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NOTE: Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and Simon & Schuster/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Please note that all graphics and photographs were created by me. All quotes are from the an advanced reader’s edition of the novel and are subject to change upon publication.

 

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If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

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Title:
Moxie
Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Publication date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Feminism

About the Book:

An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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WHOA! You guys, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu is so powerful, straight-forward, and the type of book we need in this fist-gripping-teeth-clenching year that we call 2017. I’m not going to lie, I came into this book for a feminist read AND I left the book invigorated, energized, and ready to take on the world. 

Moxie‘s main character, Viv is relate-able on so many levels. She is a good student that never falls out of line and always does what she is told. But she also has a knack for being an alert listener and keen observer. I love that she turns to music for escapism and courage. I love that her mom is her role model. And what I really liked about Viv’s character is how determined and courageous she is, even if she is cautious and over-analyzes all her choices and decisions (because who does not do this?). Viv is stealthy, determined, fiesty, funny, and overall, a kickass character.

And I cannot forget about one of my favorite Moxie characters, Seth. As Viv’s crush and a guy that treats her with respect, I was silently shouting in my head, “this is what a male feminist looks like.” His actions and words never fail to positively impact the book and Viv, herself. Seth is still trying to understand the world around him and he knows he has a lot to learn when it comes to feminism. I love that he opens up his mind and world to question authority, male privilege, and social viewpoints. Seth is not perfect but he never fails to take the steps to understand social injustices–he observes, questions, and reacts. 

In Moxie, Mathieu’s words not only heighten the awareness of sexism, sexual harassment, and rape in a high school setting, but she also provides a outlet for her female characters to  speak out about injustice, take charge, and push against those who downplay equality and social rights. Moxie is more than a “feminist” book. It is a story about maturity, making hard choices, and discovering who you and how you would act in certain situations. This book is equal parts funny and inspiring and awesome and empowering. It is definitely a book that you do not want to pass over this year (or ever).

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

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Title:
Blackhearts 
Author:
Nicole Castroman

Publication date: February 9, 2016
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

About the Book:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay. 

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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I went into Blackhearts without reading the synopsis. All I knew was that this book was “pirate” themed and I was looking for some ARRRMAZING scenes (hahaha…see what I did there?). To my surprise, after finishing the book, discussing it with the book club I’m in, and then reading the author’s note, I discovered that Blackhearts is a retelling of Blackbeard–a notorious pirate who I had briefly studied in school. Also, to a greater surprise, I did not think this book was very “pirate-y” but that did not stop me from loving it. 

First off, I was a major fan of the slow burn romance that brews in Blackhearts. Not only was a huge fan of the romantic intentions that develop between the main characters, but I love that this relationship is based on the love for books and storytelling, hopes for adventure, and a passion to fall in love with someone based on strength, courage, heart, trust, and ferocity. I won’t give too much away on the relationship that I adored in this book, but I’m telling you, you will LOVE it and you will want to pick up the next book immediately. I need smoochies and I need a happily ever after ending…NOW! They deserve it!

Blackhearts is a fun and unique book. From the first page I was hooked, and the last chapter left me yearning for more of Anne and Teach’s story. The book is told in dual points-of-view, which allows the story to unfold in different perspectives that focus not only on a developing relationship, but also a story focused on challenging social status, race, and gender differences. I loved the diversity littered throughout the pages, and the multiple perspectives add a layer of heartwarming scenes, captivating dialogue, and great desire of wanderlust. Of course the ending comes too soon, but luckily, I immediately bought the sequel Blacksouls and I cannot wait to read it this weekend. 

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

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Title:
Letters to the Lost
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Letters to the Lost

Where do I start with this amazing book? Letters to the Lost is a book about loss, grief, and unexpected friendships. We live in a world where we are always grasping for that chance of hope and happiness, but we are often overshadowed by the sudden windstorm of death. And instead of being forever lost in grief, Brigid Kemmerer’s book portrays a path of dealing with loss and creating new friendships, while also holding on to cherished memories.

In Letters to the Lost, Kemmerer’s characters experience grief and emptiness after the deaths of close family members, but by the happenstance of letters left at a cemetery, these characters form an unexpected bond through their vulnerable and heartbreaking words. But through misty eyes, I liked that their emotions steadily evolve and elate through a blind connection. What they believe to be just words written on paper turn out to mean the world to each other. 

As one of the main characters, Juliet, a current high school student, realistically portrays the emotional struggles of losing a parent. And in order to deal with her grief, she writes letters to her mother and leaves them at her grave site. But as the synopsis points out, the letters do not remain unread. This is when Declan, a fellow high school student, who is working his community service hours at a local cemetery, finds Juliet’s letters and begins responding to her. 

The mystery of writing letters to an unknown person under the umbrella of anonymity can feel frustrating, maddening, but also satisfying. By Juliet and Declan keeping their identities secret from each other, they do not feel physically exposed; they do not have to hide their honest feelings or the hurt that comes from the reality of death. Instead of bottling up their grief, both characters use their letters as an outlet to be loose cannons of emotional verbiage. I liked that this outlet opens them up to a unique way of healing, acceptance, and finally gripping to hope. 

One of the unique messages that I took away from Letters to the Lost is that the book challenges the characters to see beyond stereotypes. Stereotypes usually distort our views of people, especially in high school. We often think we know a person just by their physical appearance or what others have told us about them. Similar to many high school experiences, Julie and Declan have stereotyped each other and their classmates. But at the end of this book, they notice that these preconceived notions are just fabrications. They are then left to acknowledge that the only person they truly know is themselves and sometimes that is even ever changing.

If you are ever in the mood for a book that portrays the distress of loss and grief with the progression of finding conciliation and peace, I highly recommend Letters to the Lost. This book is full of emotions–pain and sadness–but it also contains a message of hope, discovering ways to cope with loss, and finding friends in the unlikely places.

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s a Rave: ROAR by Cora Carmack

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Title: 
ROAR

Author: Cora Carmack
Publication date: June 13, 2017
Publisher:  Scholastic
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy,Romance

About the Book:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble|  The Book Depository


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***Warning: This review contains some spoilers. ***

Wow, ROAR is the high fantasy young adult book that I did not know I had been yearning for. Everything from the elaborately described world and clothing all the way to the unique Stormling magic had me hooked. And OHMYGOD, do not get me started on the well-developed and fantastically written characters. With every page scorched with complex characters and enthralling scenes, I highly recommend that you pick up ROAR and prepare yourself for an action-packed journey that follows a heroine worthy of all the praise.

In regards to Roar, our main character, she is not set up as the literary snowflake: a character that is special and is destined to save the world. Honestly, she is a princess that knows she is supposed to hold an innate, ancestral power. She knows that she is supposed to have the gift of a Stormling, allowing her the ability to protect her kingdom from the wreck of storms, but for some reason her powers have remained dormant. Roar is often depicted as innocent and inexperienced, but she is also feisty and headstrong. I really liked that she initiates and holds strong to the idea that she must work hard and go beyond the palace walls to understand her powers (or lack of). Instead of waiting for her powers to come to her, she goes out to find them. YES *air fist pump*!!! 

In reference to the romance aspect of ROAR, I was deeply in swoons and sighs. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Roar and Locke, a character who has the gift of Stormling magic but was not born with it. Locke gives Roar hope that she can awaken her innate power, but more importantly I like that he challenges her mentally, physically, emotionally, and magically. One of my favorite parts of watching their friendship grow is that they are both stubborn characters, so of course, I fell in love with their banter and arguments. And as this fantastical story unfolds, their friendship also starts to twist into something new.

At the beginning of ROAR, I thought there was a love triangle brewing, but thankfully that theory is washed away. But I still wasn’t 100% on board for a feisty friendship to twist into a romantic relationship. Do not get me wrong, I love stories that encompass romance and hot, swoony scenes, but once these two characters, Roar and Locke, become something more than friends, their chemistry became irritatingly fluffy. Locke’s ability to challenge Roar slowly fades and I honestly was not a fan that once the kissing scenes start, he begins to coddle and become overly protective of Roar. UGH, no! Yes, she is often portrayed as vulnerable, but come on Locke, Roar is not defenseless;  she is bold and fierce–there is lightning in her heart and she is ready to strike.

Not only are the main characters well-developed, but the side characters are also unforgettable. Roar is surrounded by all walks of life. And on her journey of discovery, she is given the chance to befriend a group of unique and crazy bandits: a witch, a trickster, and a stealthy spy, to name a few. These individuals challenge Roar and give her an outlet to explore the world outside the palace walls with a new lens. 

Another raving part that I liked about ROAR is the ending. Usually fantasy books end in a gut-wrenching cliffhanger; instead, ROAR ends with hope and a swift glance at an upcoming battle. AHHH!!! So if you are ready for one of the most well-thought out series littered with secrets waiting to be uncovered,  a book with the strongest storms to battle along with many twists and turns, I highly recommend ROAR as your next read. Prepare yourself for an addicting read of perilous magic, steamy kissing scenes, and a group of outlaws worth cheering for. 


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Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website www.coracarmack.com.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest Goodreads

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and TOR Teen for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex Approximately

Have you ever read a book that is so swoony and adorable that it makes your stomach ache? Well, Alex, Approximately is one of those books that gave me butterflies from all it’s cute and adorable moments. I loved its “You’ve Got Mail” mysterious identity vibe and all the swoony banter. There is also a slight hate/love relationship that brews and it is the best developing relationship I have read in a long time. 

One of my favorite things about Jenn Bennett’s books is how realistic she writes her characters. The two main characters in Alex, Approximately, Bailey “Mink” and Porter “Alex,” are both awkward, smart, hilarious, and they both own up to their own unique style. I love that Bailey not only adores classic movies, just like Porter, but she also leaves her house with the best hair and outfits that mirror the style of Lana Turner. Porter is one of the most straightforward and headstrong characters I have read; I loved how honest and confident he is throughout the story. And the playful repartee and chemistry between these two characters will have you happily sighing while your cheeks ache from all your smiling. 

What I liked most about Alex, Approximately is that the story is so heartwarming and knee-weakening. I am a huge fan that the characters did not come off too angsty. Instead these characters, and their destined chance to meet, is flirtatious and bold. Once again Bennett has written a romantic story that I cannot wait to pick up again, so I can re-experience all the laughs, swoons, and sexy sarcasm that overpowers this book. 

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

about the book - Alex

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Title:
Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

SYNOPSIS:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository

About the author Pearl Thief

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Jenn Bennett is an artist and RITA-nominated author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series (Kindling the Moon) and the Roaring Twenties romance series, including Bitter Spirits, which was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014 and winner of RT Book Reviews Paranormal Romance Book of the Year, and Grave Phantoms—which was awarded RT’s May Seal of Excellence for 2015. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, (aka Night Owls in the U.K.) is her first YA contemporary romance. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two evil pugs.

Website | Twitter |Goodreads | FacebookInstagram | Tumblr

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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Title:
The Names They Gave Us

Author: Emery Lord
Publication date: May 16, 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: e-ARC from Netgalley; physical ARC blogger exchange

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of Emery Lord

When summer hits, my “READ ALL THE CONTEMPORARY BOOKS” alarm goes off. From there I’m in the world of swoons, tears, laughter, and sometimes heartache. And when I want to read the most realistic and heart-fulfilling contemporary book, I always turn to the QUEEN OF CONTEMPORARY WRITERS, Emery Lord. Emery Lord is one of my favorite contemporary authors, at least in my top three, so suck it (Pam Beasley quote there, sorry, I had to do it). And once again Emery’s words have made my eyes water, my heart ache, and my soul feel like it needs a giant hug. So friends and fellow book lovers, I’m going to tell you this now, Emery Lord’s The Names They Gave Us is going to put you on an emotional, reading roller coaster but luckily there is the comfort of campfires and s’mores to warm up the pages. 

One of my favorite parts about reading Emery’s books are how relatable her characters are. Once again she has created a main character, Lucy, who is realistically flawed and easy to connect with.  Throughout The Names They Gave Us, Lucy questions her motives and choices when it comes to awkward, stressful, and guarded social situations. As the daughter of a preacher, she questions God but at the same feels shameful with her intentions. Although it’s heartbreaking to a see Lucy struggle throughout the pages, it is also reassuring to see a character encounter and confront the unfair realities of life. 

I don’t want to give too much away from this book’s plot, because I honestly think, everyone will come into this book with differing world views and then leave this book with a different emotional contemplation. The Names They Gave Us is not a “cancer” book, but the novel does bring in the emotional charge that comes with cancer: a brutal black hole that inevitably swallows up happiness and light. The solidity of cancer tests the main character’s willpower, her faith, her family, her friends, and her future. In The Names They Gave Us, cancer is the driving force that sets the main character on a new path: a path that brings her to a summer camp which helps her meet a diverse group of people, adapt to new beginnings, and a new perspective on life.

At camp, Lucy is able to “people watch,” ponder and observe past lives and choices, and contemplate her own future. Overall, this novel is an emotional package about self-discovery, forming meaningful friendships, and finding ways to emotionally cope and face difficult situations. In The Names They Gave Us, Emery writes with such raw passion and puts so much courage and sincerity in her characters; in the end, she has created a story about honesty, compassion, forgiveness, and fully living. 

In The Names They Gave Us, there’s a part where the young camp counselors gather around a campfire and discuss their highs and lows of the week. So I thought I would break the rest of my review down into the high and lows of the book. The highs are my most beloved topics that the Emery Lord touches on and lows are self-explanatory.  

high ampfire talk

Biracial relationships.
Teen pregnancy.
Lucy and Henry Morris Jones IV
Stories within stories.
“Posy and the Dreaming Tree”

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cancer sucks
Cancer Sucks!
CANCER SUCKS!
CANCER REALLY SUCKS!
CANCER REALLY, REALLY SUCKS!!!

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NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury  for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.