Review: The Dark Divide

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The Dark Divide by: Danika Stone

My Rating: 3 Stars

Waterton is a town with dark secrets, and after a summer of murder and mayhem, American ex-pat, Rich Evans, knows exactly how far people will go to hide them. Jobless after the fiery destruction of the hotel he once managed, Rich is charged with arson. Only one person, local mechanic Louise “Lou” Newman, believes in his innocence. But even Lou’s love and support can’t dispel the darkness that’s spreading through the community. Dead animals appear on porches, strangers threaten the safety of the locals, and a fingerprint from the fire is linked to a decades-old murder.

The lonely border town has a new danger: a murderer willing to do anything to protect a web of secrets that links them to the arson.

As the risk of jail or death increases, Rich turns to Lou for guidance and she finds herself in an impossible position. Lou has her own secrets! Does she protect the border town where she grew up, or side with the man she loves… even if it means she can never tell him the truth about herself?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Animal deaths and gruesome murders.

I received this Arc via the author in exchange for an honest review and in participation of the Sunday Street Team. I was pretty excited to hear that Edge of Wild was getting a sequel. I didn’t hesitate to participate in the street team. I am glad to say that I liked The Dark Divide!

The Dark Divide begins with a prologue set in 1970 in Ohio. A student who was protesting for the Vietnam war is shot by a police officer. In the first chapter readers are told that Rich is going on trial for his hotel, which was burned to the ground in Edge of Wild. After a few chapters in it is revealed that the trial will proceed.

On Sadie and Jim’s (police officers) end they receive word from the Ohio police department that the unidentifiable finger print from the hotel break-in is linked to the prologue murder. After that student was murdered a fellow classmate at the time shot the police officer. And no one has been able to find the person. Waterton has yet another murderer in their midst.

The Dark Divide was a fun and twisty book! It is written in third person from various different characters’ points of views. There are emails and police documents. Also flashback’s and Lou’s visions. The Dark Divide takes place in 1999.

The trial was a lot of fun to read about! I was desperately awaiting an answer. I enjoyed Rich’s lawyer and long time friend Stu. He actually knew his stuff. Lou also played a big part in the trial. As did some of the townspeople.

Lou and Rich’s conflict’s about their relationship was well done! Lou has to try and mentally prepare herself to tell Rich some truths about herself. I enjoyed reading about Lou’s character development. And when Lou did tell Rich the truth, at first he was baffled. But then came around to support her.

Rich was under quite a bit of stress throughout the book. Which made it frustrating to read about his character. Although I did grow to like him towards the end. His character development was suburb!

The townspeople were definitely better in this installment. They were actually much nicer towards Rich and way more welcoming! Rich developed some friendships with a few of them. Which was nice to read about.

The mystery wasn’t as strong as it was in Edge of Wild. Nonetheless it was well done and pretty twisty. And yet again completely unpredictable. Some of the questions in Edge of Wild are answered. Jeff Chan makes an appearance. 

There is a new character that comes in, which rocks the townspeople’s relationships. His name is Alistair a movie maker who comes to Waterton searching for the ‘truth’. Alistair’s character does play a huge role in Lou’s story arc and character development.

The backstory regarding Lou’s visions was fun to read about. Alistair also has visions and the two may have known each other in an another life. The mythology behind it and Lou’s mother was really well done! I also liked how their is an expansion regarding Lou’s abilities. You find out that she can do much more than in Edge of Wild

Another towns-person comes in (was on vacation) Levi. He has a lot of hostility towards Rich and Alistair. Levi has some unfinished history regarding Lou’s mother. He was somewhere in between frustrating and interesting to read about. 

I really appreciated that the Japanese internment camps were brought up! Stone did an excellent job bringing it up and making it apart of the story. It was important to some characters’ arcs.

I had a few problems with it. The Dark Divide suffered a bit of middle book syndrome. It wasn’t as strong as Edge of Wild. I really don’t know what to make off the big reveal about Susan Varley. It was definitely not as ground breaking as the reveals in Edge of Wild. Alistair was utterly frustrating to read about! While his point of view was well done, I really really didn’t like him.

Overall I liked The Dark Divide. I will definitely be reading the last book. I highly recommend it. 

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Review: Waters of Salt and Sin

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Waters of Salt and Sin by: Alisha Klapheke

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

A dangerous romance, a stolen sister, and the mythical treasure that could change everything.

The first in the Uncommon World series, Waters of Salt and Sin combines the epic setting of Game of Thrones with the humor and romance of Pirates of the Caribbean. Perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir and Sarah J. Maas.

To save her sister from starvation and hold on to her relationship with Calev–the high-caste friend she secretly loves–Kinneret sets out for a lost island of silver. But when a madman enslaves her sister, Kinneret must make a deal with the local ruler: Help the leader find the island and secure the ruler’s place in history. In return, the leader’s fighting sailors will rescue her sister.

Using Salt Magic to navigate cursed waters, Kinneret and Calev struggle to hide their taboo, caste-breaking feelings for one another, knowing if the ruler witnesses the attraction, she’ll cancel the agreement. But when Calev makes a terrible mistake, Kinneret must choose between the life of her only remaining family member and saving the boy she loves from a traitor’s death.

*Note: This book is clean, but spicy kissing abounds.
*Appropriate for 13 and up

Beware spoilers ahead!

Disclaimer: I received an E-ARC via the author. Apart of the street team. This review is based on the final version.

I heard about Waters of Salt and Sin on twitter. The author’s twitter post about her book came up along with the prequel. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the prequel. Naturally I the next installment. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I read Waters of Salt and Sin so long ago that I don’t really remember the beginning too well. During a job Kinneret takes a huge risk to get some money. This actually results in her sister being taken as a slave. An old family friend tells Kinneret about the treasure and gives her the information to go and get it. In order to get her Avi back, Kinneret makes a deal with their queen in exchange for Avi’s safe return.

Waters of Salt and Sin really surprised me! It is narrated in first person in Kinneret’s point of view. The world was vivid and the magic system unique! I’ve never read about Salt witches before. The Caste system was explained in a lot of detail. A very brutal and cold world. It was easy to imagine myself amongst the characters.

The characters were fantastic! My favourite was Oron. I loved the relationship between the sisters! It was well written and relatable. When Avi is taken as a slave Kinneret doesn’t stop until she can find her. It was realistic. The treasure hunt was a lot of fun to read about! There were obstacles, monsters, and a lot of plan changing.

Kinneret and Calev’s relationship was great! I loved how well the forbidden romance was done. They went through a lot together and supported each other all the way. Especially when Calev killed their queen (he was taken over by a ghost). I was pretty happy when they were able to remain together.

The last part of Waters of Salt and Sin was so intense! I was on the edge hoping for a happy ending. Luckily enough it came and there was a really sweet ending.

My only problem was that there were times when things came easy to the characters. Despite their struggles and living in a cruel world that’s what it felt like here and there.

Overall I enjoyed Waters of Salt and Sin! Highly recommend.  

Review: Freeks

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Freeks by: Amanda Hocking

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the blog tour. I had heard about this book through Netgalley. I was scrolling one day and came across this book. It sounded good and some of my friends were reading it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!

The book is written in first person all in Mara’s point of view. Before every chapter there is a picture of a tarot card with the date and the year. This book does take place in the eighties.

The book begins with Mara and the circus traveling to their newest location. Mara’s mother and her boyfriend Gideon have a bad feeling about this location but they need the money. One of their former members lives in said town and promised them a good deal.

Mara would love the idea of living a normal life. While she likes her family on the circus, she would like to stay in one place and maybe start a family of her own. Whenever Mara reaches a new town she explores it the night before any of their performances.

While exploring the town and taking in all the houses Mara runs into this girl dragging her drunk boyfriend. Mara offers to help said girl. Later the girl invites Mara into the party where Mara meets the girl’s brother Gabe. She is instantly attracted to Gabe and spends the night with him.

The next day Mara’s mother is asking her whether she has seen one of their members and her roommate Blossom (I think that’s her name). Mara has not. This is actually quiet normal for Blossom to disappear and come back again. Which is why Mara doesn’t worry about her. On the other hand Mara’s mother has weird vibes about the town and sends Mara and Gideon to inform the police. Informing the police doesn’t really go anywhere but at least Mara’s mother is appeased.

As the book continues weird things start to happen to the circus crew. A majority of their powers aren’t working properly. More people have gone missing. Something seems to be only targeting and killing the circus crew, specifically those who are the most powerful. Mara actually starts having these nightmares about a woman screaming something at her in another language. And the town is just giving off weird vibes. The town thus far has do nothing to help. It’s up to Mara, the circus crew, and Gabe to figure out what’s going on.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to except about this book. I had heard about Amanda Hocking before but have never actually read any of her other books. I was kind of surprised that I enjoyed this!

I really liked basically all of the characters! Mara’s voice felt real to me and I understood her longing to live a normal life. I have actually forgotten all but three characters names, so I don’t remember Mara’s friend’s names. Which sucks but is also not surprising seeing as I read this back in October 2016 and didn’t take any notes. I apologize in advance for any confusions.

I liked the relationship Mara had with her mother. It wasn’t complicated but instead the pair were quiet close. Mara and Gideon had a good relationship as well. Now you would think that they’d have an awkward relationship seeing as he is dating her mom, but surprisingly they were close as well. Gideon genuinely cared for Mara and all of the other performers.

The powers were really cool to read about! I actually didn’t hear about some of the powers so that was nice. Mara’s mother could predict the future using tarot cards and allowing the spirits to speak to her. This did have a negative affect on her physically and mentally. This was the same with all of their powers. I found this to be very original as I have never read about paranormal powers having negative effects on the people themselves.

Mara’s friends were nice and they all had a good relationship with one-another. Mara also becomes friends with Gabe’s sister whom I loved. As for Mara and Gabe’s romance it was very quick. It wasn’t insta-love so much as insta-attraction. Normally I don’t like reading about rushed romances, but I didn’t mind it in this book. I really liked Gabe so maybe that’s why I let it slide. There is an LGBTQIA romance as well. Both the characters are already dating before the book takes place so you didn’t get to see their romance develop.

The setting was fantastic! This was my first eighties book and it certainly won’t be my last. I also felt I was walking right next to Mara as she took in the town and described the circus and some of the places she went to.

I did not see any of the plot points coming! I found it very original and entertaining to read about. Note this book is more focused on the characters and the setting. It’s a decent pace but not a whole lot happens right away.

I only had one problem with this. In the beginning I found that not much happened in the book (which I mentioned above). It took awhile for some of the characters to go missing and for the circus to realize that there was something up with the town. After some time I got used to it. I started to get sucked in because I really enjoyed reading about the characters.

Overall this was a good standalone! I recommend this to anyone looking for a character driven standalone. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author.  

Review: The Lie Tree

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The Lie Tree by: Frances Hardinge

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF 

I heard about this book through a GR friend’s review. It sounded interesting and I was happy to see that it was coming in my library. Unfortunately I didn’t like.

The book begins with Faith’s family traveling. Faith’s little brother asks why they are traveling and their mother says that it’s for their father’s work. When her brother mentions that they never needed to come for their father’s traveling. Their mother responds that this is a vacation for them.

Their mother then tells Faith that she’s happy that Faith hasn’t asked any questions. Faith is bursting with questions. She has the same questions as her brother and more. But as a Lady she is not supposed to ask any questions just do as she is told.

Faith claims that her stomach is hurting and goes for a walk. Faith then takes an about turn and listens in on a conversation with her uncle and father. Her father mentions that he is not happy that he had to come here. Her uncle then replies that they didn’t have a choice. The public believe that her father is a fraud and they would’ve all suffered.

The reason I didn’t finish this is because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t care that Faith’s father was supposedly a cheat. I had no interest in continuing further. I’ve rated it 2 stars because the premise sounds interesting and the writing style was well done.

Overall I had no interest in this book. I still recommend it to fans of murder mystery with a hint of paranormal.  

Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

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How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by: Sarah Strohmeyer

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl’s summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they’ve hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she’s assigned to serve “The Queen”-Fairyland’s boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe’s job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Last year I had read the authors book Smart Girls Get What They Want and fell in love with the story and the characters! I was quite happy to see that How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True was in my library. While I didn’t like it as much I was hoping to I still enjoyed it!

The book begins with a prologue. Zoe is walking the Queen’s dog Tinker Bell. Tink has managed to run off and Zoe is attempting to find her. Zoe crosses into a forbidden area and gets stuck in quicksand. With Tink nowhere in sight and with Zoe sinking she has no idea what to do. Then one of the princes comes to her rescue. Zoe can’t tell which one of the princes because she has her back to him. The prince comments that Zoe is stuck but he can’t help her because she’ll tell the Queen and he’ll get disqualified. Zoe promises not to tell the Queen and that if he helps her she’s in his debt. He manages to find Tink and saves Zoe. When Zoe turns around to thank him, he’s gone.

We are then taken to the first chapter in which Jess and Zoe are on their way to Fairyland. Their quite excited for their summer! A year and a half ago Zoe’s mother passed away. She died of some sort of cancer. Jess (Zoe’s cousin) was there for Zoe. Unlike Zoe’s boyfriend at the time who wanted to dump her at the funeral but didn’t because his parents told him not to.

Over time Zoe started noticing changes in Jess as well. When Zoe asked what was going on Jess said that her parents lost their job. And they’ve blown through her college fund. So now she can’t go to that arts school she wanted to go in. Jess feels to guilty to ask her parents to work out a way to send her to college. The advantage of getting the internship at Fairyland is the Dream and Do Grant. A girl and a boy will win $25,ooo. Zoe is hoping that Jess will win and she intends to help her in any way she can.

When they reach Fairyland they are told by the interns that there internship starts tomorrow. A guy announces all the cast members. Jess gets Red Riding Hood 2. But Zoe’s role is not announced. She tells as much to Andy and he mentions that she is a Lady-In-Waiting assigned to work with the Queen. The way he mentions this scares Zoe. Andy gives her a list of what to do and what not to do. Then sends her off to meet the Queen. Upon meeting the Queen Zoe is surprised because she is not all that bad. The Queen gives Zoe a list of instructions and sends her on her way.

I was definitely expecting more out of this but nonetheless I enjoyed it! This book is written in first person in Zoe’s point of view. And it takes place within the summer.

I liked reading about Zoe and Jess’s relationship! I loved how close they were and how much they supported each other. Fairlyand was fun to read about. I actually felt like I was there! I liked how it’s mentioned that Zoe saw a grief therapist and it was mentioned in a positive light. Reading about her therapist was interesting and sometimes you were told about their conversations. I also liked the relationship between the Queen and Zoe. The Queen wasn’t all that bad. She just had a very long list of likes.

When the synopsis mentions the ‘cutthroat’ competition it was very accurate. It felt like the only reason half of the people were there was because of the Dream and Do Grant. Yes I understand winning money would be really cool. But what about the experience? They got to dress up as fairy tale characters and entertain little kids. That sounds like fun to me.

I enjoyed reading about Zoe’s growth. I felt that in the beginning she wasn’t as confident until she started working for the Queen. It was also nice how she found a way to move on with her life after her mother’s death.

The romance was well done!  It was slow burn. Zoe and Ian started out as friends and then became something more. I liked how it didn’t  take away from the plot. And when Ian found out about Zoe’s mom he didn’t force himself on her. He was willing to give her time and space to figure everything out.

There was the mystery of the about the mysterious prince that saved Zoe and some other things at Fairyland. I suppose now that I think about it the prince was kind of obvious. The twist at the end was unpredictable. I so didn’t see that coming. I liked that ending and the name really fits that book quite well.

I only had two problems with How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True. I was expecting the Queen to be a lot worse. I thought that she would treat Zoe terribly but she didn’t. I also would’ve liked to read about the other characters a bit more. A lot of this book was Zoe doing some ridiculous things for the Queen. For example walking Tink at dawn. Nonetheless I still enjoyed it!

Overall this was a cute book! I recommend this to fans of the author and contemporary fans.

Review: The Secret to Letting Go

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The Secret to Letting Go by: Katherine Fleet

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

One summer can change everything…

Haunted with guilt after his girlfriend’s death, Daniel Hudson has no interest in committing to anyone. At the end of the summer, he’ll be leaving Florida for a new start in college. If only he could avoid the mysterious new girl in town, who seems every bit as naive and eccentric as she looks. Trouble is, she’s hard to ignore, with her beautiful piercing eyes, pitiful-looking dog, and unsettling tendency of finding trouble.

Clover Scott lived her whole life off the grid and arrives on the Gulf coast in search of her grandparents. She never expected to nearly drown, or get caught in a hurricane, or fall in love with the boy who rescues her. Now, she has a chance to rewrite her life’s story, to finally fit in somewhere, but Daniel wants answers about her past. When the police start asking questions about the disappearance of her parents, she must make a choice: go to jail or confess her secrets—even if they might destroy her chance at a happily-ever-after.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book through Twitter. At the time I didn’t think much of it. About a month later I read the synopsis and the reviews. The synopsis was interesting but there were several mixed reviews. After some contemplating I decided to read it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Daniel working in his fathers shop. A girl who has just entered the shop catches his eye. She lingers in the golf section and seeing that she needs needs help he assists her. Eventually she asks him to show her some camp stoves. The girl can’t afford any of them. As she is about to leave Daniel stops her and mentions that his family has an old one that isn’t being used and he can lend it to her. They agree to meet at the beach the next day. The girl introduces herself as Clover.

For whatever reason Daniel can’t seem to get Clover out of his head. He’s not really sure what to expect when he meets her the next day. But for once he was able to pass Grace’s house without noticing. As Daniel gets ready to go to the beach he mentally prepares himself for meeting Clover. At the beach he meets some of his friends and they surf for a bit. He sees Clover talking to his sister Amelia and meets up with them.

The three of them introduce each other without Clover realizing that Amelia and Daniel are siblings. Clover then explains Amelia that she meet Daniel at the shop and how he agreed to give her his camp stove. And in exchange Clover has brought some preservatives. Just as she’s about to give the preservatives she drops it. When she runs to get it she gets caught in a high tide and goes under.

Daniel jumps in after her and manages to pull her up. The ER is called and everyone is fine. When the paramedics see Clover she refuses to got to the hospital. Daniel agrees to drop her off and to keep an eye on her during the ride. Clover remains silent during the car ride. She points to a house and gets out of the car. She promises Daniel that she will be fine. Daniel watches her leave. Out of some paranoia Daniel follows Clover. Much to his surprise Clover doesn’t go into her house but walks in the other direction.

This book was exactly what I was expecting. A fairly short heavy read with a huge emphasis on family. This book is written in first person and switches between Clover and Daniel’s point of view. There are some flashbacks here-and-there. The writing style was good. Clover and Daniel had distinct voices.

Two years prior to the book Daniel’s girlfriend Grace died. Since then Daniel hasn’t exactly dated anyone. Or gotten close to people. He has a in strings attached relationship with Morgan. When Clover comes into his life he’s surprised that he likes her and wants to get to know her more. Throughout the book Daniel continues to be surprised by Clover and realizes what he wants in life. I loved how well Daniel’s voice was written! Very realistic. 

Two years ago something terrible happened to Clover. She’s come to Daniel’s town to look for her grandparents. Upon arriving her car broke down so she couldn’t go any further. When she meets Daniel and he saves her life twice she develops feelings for him. Feelings that she’s never had before and doesn’t quite understand. Throughout the book Clover learns and experiences new things. She realizes that she can no longer hold on to her past and works to move on. Just like Daniel she goes after what she wants from life. I adored reading about Clover! Her voice reminded me of Lara Jean. She was so sweet and a delight to read about. 

I loved the emphasis on family relationships! Especially Amelia and Daniel! There aren’t a lot of books with well done brother and sister relationships. While Clover’s family remains a secret for most of the book it was nice reading about her interactions with Daniel’s family. Especially Ginny Daniel’s grandmother.

Amelia and Clover’s relationship was adorable and sweet to read about! It’s nice to read about female friendship. Most of Daniel’s friends don’t come in the book. The one friend that does come is Sam the sheriff’s son. It was nice to read about Sam and Daniel.

The mystery surrounding Clover’s past was a bit predictable after reading a few flashbacks. I didn’t guess a 100% correct but for the most part I was right. Nonetheless it was still heartbreaking to read about. It’s so sad to think that many people go through the same thing. The mystery surrounding Daniel’s girlfriends was revealed early on. Again this was just as upsetting.

The romance in this book was odd. It wasn’t insta-love more like intsa-attraction. This was done on purpose though. While Clover and Daniel are together they really grow. They realize that they need to work things out with themselves and kept in contact. I liked how their relationship was handled.

Personally I had no problems with The Secret to Letting Go. It just felt like a three star. Note there is abuse in this book. It is slightly dramatic and for most people the romance was off-putting. Also most people didn’t like the switch in point of view. The point of view switch isn’t predictable. I got used to it but not everyone will. If any of these things bother you I would suggest reading another book.

Overall this was a good book! I will definitely be keeping a lookout for this author. I recommend it to contemporary fans.   

Review: The Way Back to You

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The Way Back to You by: Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way.

Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.

Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.

Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.

As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they’re barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.

With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her…and to each other.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book through GR. I was hesitant about read it. But when I read the sample I was sold. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Ashlyn’s mother’s note to the organ recipients. We are then taken to the first chapter which is in Cloudy’s point of view. It’s been four months since Ashlyn died in a bike accident. It’s been pretty hard on Cloudy as she was Ashlyn’s best friend. Today her school is having a cheer thing going on. Her little sister Zoe has successfully forced her way into Cloudy’s life by becoming cheer captain. Before getting ready to perform Cloudy turns around to talk to Ashlyn. But then remembers that Ashlyn is dead. She escapes to get water.

She runs into Matty her ex-boyfriend and Kyle’s cousin. The two talk for a bit then Kyle comes. Cloudy says hello to him and he replies then he leaves. Cloudy asks Matty how Kyle has been. Matty replies that Kyle has been alright and that he’ll be making a speech for the baseball tryouts. Once the cheerleaders have done their thing the announcements begin. Much to Cloudy’s surprise Kyle ditches the assembly and Matty makes the announcement.

We are then taken to Kyle’s point of view. Today is Kyle and Ashlyn’s one year anniversary. Had Ashlyn been alive she would’ve found some way to celebrate. But she’s gone and Kyle’s on his own. From all the movies that Kyle has watched the characters go to Church and find some great sign. So far the Church he’s currently sitting in is the fourth Church. Thus far there haven’t been any signs of sorts.

While listening to some music Kyle hears a commotion. Much to his surprise he finds Matty with one of the cheerleaders. Realizing that no such sign has come he, Matty, and the cheerleader leave. Outside they find a kitten in Kyle’s car engine. Said kitten is known for curling up and sleeping in warm car engines. When Kyle gets a good look at the kitten he realizes that the kitten has the same eye color as Ashlyn. Kyle thinks that this the sign he is looking for and takes the kitten to his home.

Zoe and Cloudy’s parents are cruising to Mexico. They were in dire need of a vacation so they decided to take it. For dinner Zoe and Cloudy are going over to Ashlyn’s house where her parents will make them dinner. Cloudy is not looking forward to going. She doesn’t think that she’ll be able to bear it. The inevitable comes and they have dinner with Ashlyn’s family. Ashlyn’s mother mentions that she has been in contact with three of the organ recipients. She also mentions that one of them will be having a wedding but they won’t be able to go.

Cloudy feels likes she’s been suffocated. Ashlyn’s mother mentions that she left something in her husbands office. Cloudy offers to get it wanting more than anything to escape this conversation. She gets the paper Ashlyn’s mother wants. While picking up the paper her hand slips and the computer screen comes to life. The email with the wedding invitation is open. Cloudy decides to print all the emails hoping that they’ll give her some closure.

Back home Cloudy decides to go over to Kyle’s house and show him the emails. She’s hoping that by reading them he’ll be at peace and closer to closure. Zoe catches her and Cloudy explains that she printed the emails in hopes that Kyle would feel better. Zoe mentions that the recipients have probably met each other and that they don’t live far. Cloudy decides to visit them with Kyle.

I honestly did not expect to enjoy it this much! I was predicating a 3 star rating. The book is divided into parts based on where Cloudy and Kyle road trip to. The point of view switches between Cloudy and Kyle and is written in first person.

Kyle has no idea what to do about the fact that Ashlyn’s dead. He doesn’t believe in God so he has a hard time believing people when they that Ashlyn is in a better place. It’s pretty obvious that Kyle’s a mess. At some point he decides to quit baseball because he doesn’t see any point to it. His father and cousin are very supportive of him and do help whenever they can. Despite the support from his family there are times where he misses his mother who ditched him years ago. When he comes across the kitten whom he names Arm (after Ashlyn’s initials) his life starts to improve. Throughout the whole book he starts to open up to Cloudy about Ashlyn. He starts to become more open about everything and is happy in his own skin.

Cloudy is managing to hold up. Only because she bottles up all the pain. Mostly to obtain a perfect reputation so that she can show others that she’s moved on with her life. Anytime any mention of Ashlyn comes up she shuts other people out and switches the subject. When the road trip takes place Cloudy doesn’t tell Kyle the real reason she’s road tripping. She’s quite secretive and she does lie a lot. Unlike Kyle, Cloudy is very guarded and won’t really talk about herself. Throughout the book she grows quite a bit. At some point she decides to work on really moving on with her friends and family. She grows very attached to Arm. And her relationships with her sister Zoe and her friend Jade improve. She also has Matty in her life who is also very supportive.

The journey to see the organ recipients was well done! It was so interesting to read about the journey and the recipients. While they didn’t really do any sight seeing I enjoyed reading about the road trip!

The pain all the characters felt was realistic. The characters were fun to read about and they were realistic. The character development and their relationships was beautiful to read about! I actually liked all the characters. 

The romance is slow burn. Cloudy and Kyle do have a bit of history aside from Ashlyn. When they start taking their journey their is a lot of tension between the two of them. Which came from a misunderstanding. Throughout the book they become closer to each other. And do start developing feelings for each other. I liked how their feelings for each other doesn’t happen right away but rather towards the end of the book.

I had only one problem with The Way Back to You. Towards the middle when Cloudy and Kyle took a break I felt that it started to drag a bit. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t take a break but I did start to become bored. Luckily the book starts to pick up again. 

Overall this was a really good book! I recommend it to contemporary fans.