Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review // Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

This review was originally posted to No BS Book Reviews.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published by HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Pages: 416

My Rating: ★★★☆ (3.5 Stars)

Synopsis: Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

// I received an eARC of Three Dark Crowns from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. //

“Three Black Witches are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends.”

While it took me a while to get a grasp on the world of Three Dark Crowns, the world-building was ultimately what kept me turning the page. With Three Dark Crowns, Kendare Blake has crafted a world of intriguing and deadly women—women who are loyal, brutal, and complex; women who make men tremble when they speak—and I enjoyed it immensely.

Three Dark Crowns is the story of three sisters—triplets—fighting for the right to be called Queen. And, to become Queen, one must kill the others. It’s not as harsh as it sounds; the sisters are raised separately, never really knowing one another, and taught to consider each other as enemies. They each live in different parts of the same land and, as such, each sister has her own world and storyline. And, surprisingly, they all have something likable about their characters (so good luck choosing one to root for).

First, there is Mirabella, the Elemental. She is able to control the wind, fire, and weather. Of the three sisters, she is the most magically gifted, the strongest. But, she is emotionally weak. She has dreams and fond memories of her sisters and, as such, no desire to kill them. But, the rumors of her power have her marked as the next Queen and those who have invested their time and energy into seeing her crowned refuse the prospect of any other outcome. Living in a world of punishing priestesses and savage sacrifices, Mirabella is caught between what she wants and what her people demand.

Second, there is Arsinoe. Character wise, she is my favorite of the sisters—she’s fierce and fiery, “meaner than any bear.” In my opinion, her character is more developed than the other sisters, who dull in comparison. Arsinoe is supposed to be a Naturalist, someone who can control nature and a “familiar” (an animal symbolic of a naturalist’s power and energy, kind of like a Patronus). Arsinoe’s friend Jules, who is considered to be one of the strongest naturalists, has a mountain lion as a familiar. Arsinoe isn’t sure what her familiar is because her powers haven’t exactly kicked in yet, making her the weakest of her three sisters.

Finally, there is Katharine, the Poisoner. As a poisoner, Katharine should have an affinity for the strongest toxins. But, like Arsinoe, Katharine’s powers are weak. While she has developed an immunity to some poisons (as she has been poked and prodded with them for years), she still has trouble withstanding them. However, she can mix up a mean, deadly tonic with no problem—this is how she plans to kill her sisters. Katharine’s poisonous world is my favorite. She was raised by a family of unforgiving poisoners who season their food and sweeten their drinks with the deadliest of herbs. They kill their prisoners with poison—the worse the deed, the worse the death sentence. But, in spite of living in such a severe world, Katharine remains kind-hearted.

There are many secondary characters in Three Dark Crowns—love interests, friends, family members—who add to the complexity of the world. Relationships overlap and intertwine, weaving a thick web that I am excited to explore in the second installment of this fantasy series. However, I will say that there were some secondary perspectives that I could have done without and traded in for more development of the main characters.

Three Dark Crowns has it dark moments, but I would have liked to see a little more drama and a little more blood. But, being that this is the first book in a series, I am willing to ignore the lack of enthralling excitement because worldbuilding and story establishment are essential. My romance quota was met, though—there was more than enough lovey dovey-ness (but not so much that it was overwhelming).

My main qualm with Three Dark Crowns is the writing. The story is told in third person with multiple character perspectives (which I’m used to). But, it’s also told in present tense, which was hard for me to get into. I think that the tense and the story’s formal tone makes it difficult in the beginning for readers to connect with the story and characters.

Overall, I really liked Three Dark Crowns. I loved the story and the feminist world. I’m excited to see who becomes Queen. (Right now, I’m rooting for Arsinoe because I love a good underdog story.) I’m looking forward to seeing some character development and exciting action/drama in the future. I would recommend this to fantasy lovers who enjoy a slower-paced story that builds to a gripping end.

This one gets three and half dark and deadly stars from me!

“Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen.
Two to devour,
And one to be queen.”

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Month-In-Review // The Sunday of Summer

Let's skip that whole "where has the year gone?" bit and talk about the fact that

it's almost fall, y'all.

My favorite season is almost upon us. We just have to get through the snoozefest that is September...

September is a weird month. It always feels kind of limbo-ish. The weather is inconsistent. For those in school, you have to readjust to having a schedule and try to remember how to use your brain to "think critically" and all that jazz. Labor Day is kind of cool, I guess, cause no work. But, other than that, September has always been pretty lackluster to me. It's probably my least favorite month. Wow, I am being super pessimistic right now. How can I expect September to treat me well if I'm being so negative about it?

But, I digress. August was a really good month for me, personal life and reading life wise. Sit back and let me tell you all about it:

Books I Acquired

I have been trying to cut back on my book buying, but I admit it's been hard. I pre-ordered some things. First, I ordered Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. (Honestly, did you guys expect any less?) This fifth installment of the Throne of Glass series is one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. I also picked up The Throne of Glass Coloring Book because why not? I love adult coloring books, so there was no way I wasn't picking up a coloring book with illustrations from one of my all-time favorite series. I also pre-ordered The Keeper's Vow by Francina Simone. I learned about this one through Francina's BookTube channel, which offers invaluable advice to writers about developing your skills and learning to tell better stories. She also posts great book reviews. I love her channel -- she's blunt and honest as hell. You could probably learn a thing or two from her, so subscribe!

I also bought an e-book copy of Born Sinner by S.L. Jennings after hearing about it on Jacqueline's BookTube channel, Jbooklover. After reading A Court of Mist and Fury, I've been in the mood for some paranormal New Adult, and Born Sinner seems to fit the bill. I'm excited to read it and share my thoughts with you all.

What I Read & What I'm Reading

In the month of August I read:

I am not exactly sure how or why I ended up reading five books at once but... Yeah, I'm currently reading five books:

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely // Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay // The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) by Erika Johansen // The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee // The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy) by Marie Rutkoski

And, considering that Empire of Storms comes out NEXT WEEK (!!!), I'll probably be picking up Queen of Shadows for a reread very soon. So many books, so little time.

What I Wrote

I managed to type up some of my thoughts this past month...

Month-In-Review // It's Over? Ju-Lying!

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!

My Fictional Bookish Girl Squad

Book Review // This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

I also wrote 5,000 words of my YA Fantasy WIP which is kind of a big deal for me. 5,000 words isn't really a lot. But, I am the type of writer who plots and plots and plots and never gets around to writing. But, in August, I did write. BOOM!

Also, I never really talk about my writing and I want to change that. I've always been incredibly self-conscious and self-doubting about writing (as if I need permission to be a writer). And, I want to get out of that mindset because I know that it won't help me become a better writer. I am going to try to do some fun writing tags and memes in the future to share my story premise and characters with you all. I mean, ya know, if you'd be interested ;)

What I Watched & Listened To

I am pretty much still binge-watching Grey's Anatomy so that I can be caught up in time for Season 13 this fall. I'm currently on Season 11 (and I'm currently an emotional wreck. Why didn't anyone tell me this show was so damn emotional?)

I watched Misty Copeland's documentary A Ballerina's Tale because she fascinates me. (Also for writing research.) But, I loved it!

Music-wise, I've been listening to a lot of Ruelle, Jake Miller, and X Ambassadors. Story time: Almost two years ago, I saw X Ambassadors in concert at a super small venue and they were so close. It was one of the best concert experiences I've ever had and I'm dying to see them live again.

Seriously...Wake Me Up When September Ends.

  1. How did August treat ya?
  2. What did you read?  Watch? 
  3. Do you write? Let's talk about writing. If you're like me and don't want to talk about writing out in the open, add me on social media and send me a message! (Let's exchange ideas or just rant about how hard writing is. And, not tryna brag, but I think I'd make a great beta reader. Just sayin.)
  4. What are you looking forward to in September?

Talk to you all soonish!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review // This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This review was originally posted to No BS Book Reviews.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Published by Greenwillow Books
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Pages: 427

My Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
// I received an Advanced Ready Copy of This Savage Song from Greenwillow Books in exchange for an honest review. //

“Monsters, monsters big and small,
They're gonna come and eat you all..."

I loved every chilling note of This Savage Song. The story is dark and monstrous, yet honest and emotional as hell. Schwab’s writing is poetic, if not musical. The formatting is clever; the story is broken into a prelude, four verses, and an elegy so that it’s actually a song. And, the world of Verity–where violent acts beget monsters and war slowly brews–is unique and well-built. But, what I really want to talk about are the characters because they are the beating heart of this eerie tale.

There’s August (my favorite), a monster with a tortured soul. He’s not human, but he looks it and he wants to be. He’s kind and caring (I honestly wanted to hug him so many times). He plays the violin. He has a serious thirst for knowledge. He could probably get away with pretending to be human if it weren’t for the fact that he was born from violence and feasts on the shadowy souls of sinners for sustenance. His character arc is about self-acceptance, about him coming to terms with his monstrous nature. And, it’s a tragically beautiful journey to witness.

“August wasn’t human.
He wasn’t made of flesh and bone, or starlight.
He was made of

Kate, a knife-wielding, fire-starting badass, is just as tortured as August and has struggles of her own. She’s haunted by vivid memories of her mother’s death, which was ruled a suicide, and fighting for her father’s love and approval. Her father, Callum Harker, oversees the monsters of V-City and offers protection from the creatures to people who live in his territory–for a price, of course. He’s a powerful, dirty businessman, and Kate is constantly striving to prove to him that she is strong enough to carry the Harker name.

Alone, Kate and August are two complex, well-developed characters who are each battling their own demons. But, put them together and the story becomes deeper, more real, 10x more emotional. (It’s important to note that there is no romance in This Savage Song. Admittedly, I was a little wary about that fact going into the story, because I love me some love. But, Kate and August work great together as friends. And, it was honestly very refreshing not having to read about teenage angst and butterflies and all that jazz.) I loved reading Kate and August’s interactions, especially at the start of the story when they first meet. Their conversations are vague–both of them keeping secrets from each other and telling half-truths–but also heavy and light-hearted at the same time. When they were together, there was tension and suspense, there were similarities and contradictions, and there were so many damn feelings. And, I loved all of it. Kate and August are one and the same, yet so inherently different. I really like how Schwab uses their relationship to examine the relationship between monster and human. Things get interesting because she consistently blurs the line between the two, making readers wonder: “What does it mean to be good? What does it mean to be evil?”

“Good and bad were weak words. Monsters didn’t care about intentions or ideals.”

The supporting characters (specifically, August and Kate’s families) are really awesome, too! This story definitely wouldn’t work without them because the family dynamics shape the main characters. The familial relationships are complicated and realistic, which I loved because all happy families are alike” and that’s just plain boring. There’s some tension between August and his brother, Leo. And, of course, there are problems between Kate and her father. What I found most interesting about the families was that, although August is the monster, he has the loving, protective family. They even have an adorable kitty named Allegro. And Kate, on the other hand, has a dead mother and a father who is human but might as well be a monster. Again, Schwab plays with that idea that “plenty of humans are monstrous, and plenty of monsters know how to play at being human.”

This Savage Song is a great read–no one writes dark and twisty tales as well as Victoria Schwab. The story is full of action and surprises, and it’s heavy on the feels. It has melody and exceptionally written characters. Overall, This Savage Song is a frightening take on our modern world.
This one gets five savagely bright stars. I recommend you read it with the lights on. ;)

“The world was made of savage music…”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Fictional Bookish Girl Squad

Oh, hi!

I hope that August has been treating you all well.

The inspiration for today's post comes from YouTube. When I saw Sanne of booksandquills' "Fictional Bookish Girl Squad" video, I knew it was something that I wanted to do here on Girl Writes Reviews. (You should all subscribe to Sanne's channel, by the way. She's always posting fun and insightful bookish videos!)

I had fun putting this post together! I really had to search through my reading reserve to find answers for these questions. I looked back on some of my favorite books that I read years ago, which only made me want to pick them up again in the near future. But, in writing this post, I discovered that I've read a lot of books about incredibly cool and badass chicks.

Introducing My Fictional Bookish Girl Squad...

// Someone who will force you to go out when you want to stay in //

Maddy from Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (who will be portrayed by Amandla Stenberg in the upcoming film adaptation). Seeing that she spent the majority of her life locked away in her house, allergic to the outside world, I think that Maddy would be that friend who pulls the covers off of you and forces you to get off your ass and get dressed.
She'd be all about Carpe-ing the Diem.

// Someone who will have your back //

This one was the easiest choice. Of course, I'm going with Celaena from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I mean, I'd be crazy not to, right? No one fucks with Celaena or the people she loves.

// Someone who will help you move //

Lia from The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson. In The Kiss of Deception, Lia performs the ultimate move--she flees her kingdom on her wedding day. And, she makes a pretty decent living for herself afterward. She'd be in charge of helping me get all my crap together to move and in charge of finding me a place to live and work.

// Someone who you can share your problems with, a listening ear //

Kestrel from The Winner's Curse. As a spy, Kestrel has a good ear and she's incredibly observant and perceptive. Aside from being a good listener, she's someone who values honesty. I think she'd be the friend that I'd vent all of my feelings to and turn to for honest advice.

// Someone to gossip with //

The expert weaver of tales--Shazi from The Wrath and The Dawn.
As someone who tells tales that make even the Caliph of Khorasan stop and listen, I'm sure that Shazi would not only have the best gossip but also tell it to you in the most spellbinding of ways.

// Someone to go on holiday with // 

Marguerite from A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray because she can jump to other universes. That sounds infinitely more intriguing than just lounging on a beach somewhere.

// Someone to hang out with quietly //

Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. One of the main reasons why I loved Fangirl was because I could identify with Cath so much. She was pretty much me during my first year of college: introvert-ish, spending way too much time in my room, absolutely dreading trips to the dining hall. Cath and I are kindred spirits and I think we'd get along well. We'd hang out quietly together all the time.

Who would you include in your Fictional Bookish Girl Squad?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!

Hey wassup hello!

I was tagged to do the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag by Brandi of Brandi Janee's Bookshelf (Her Blog // Her BookTube Channel). Thanks for tagging me, Brandi!

We have obviously moved well past the mid-year mark, so why am I doing this tag? Because, this blog post has been sitting in my drafts for a while now (like, a couple of months) and I am finally finding the time to post it! But, I also really enjoyed doing this tag because it made me stop and think about how my year of reading has been going so far, what I still need to read, and what I want to pick up. So far this year, I haven't read nearly as many books as I had hoped I would have read by now (I am just starting to hit my reading stride). So, please bear with me if there's some repetition in this tag.

Without further ado...

Best Book You've Read So Far In 2016
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman is definitely one of my 2016 favorites. It's a swoony historical-ish romance that I gobbled up. It was the first book I read this year and the perfect way for me to start 2016. When I first finished Blackhearts, it hadn't yet been determined if there would be a sequel, but the book left off on SUCH a cliffhanger that I was dying for more. Luckily, my prayers were answered--Blacksouls is set to release in April 2017!

Best Sequel You've Read So Far In 2016

Definitely A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I can't even go into this right now. I looooooooove this book so much and I can't wait to share my review with you all. Ugh, Sarah's slayed me again, you guys. Aside from the fact that Sarah J. Maas is my favorite author and I love all of her books, I also picked ACOMAF for this category because it's the ONLY sequel I've read so far this year.

New Release You Haven't Read Yet But Want To
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. Although I have yet to read the final installment of The Winner's Trilogy, I can easily say that this is my favorite YA Fantasy Trilogy. It has political intrigue and well-developed characters with complex dynamics and emotions. I don't know why I haven't picked up The Winner's Kiss yet. It's been sitting on my shelf collecting dust. But, now that I'm out of that horrid reading slump I was in for the past few months or so, I can feel myself getting into a serious fantasy kick. I'm probably going to re-read The Winner's Curse and The Winner's Crime and just binge this series in one sitting. It's definitely next on my TBR list.

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year
I feel like my choice for this is pretty obvious: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas, of course! I'm so freaking excited for this book! Words cannot even describe the anticipation building in my head and heart for this next installment. (I'm also excited for the Throne of Glass coloring book that's set to release on the same day! I love adult coloring books, but this one is going to be one that I truly cherish.) I can't wait to find out what happens with Aelin and her court/merry band of misfits, and Manon and her badass girl gang or Iron Teeth Witches.

Biggest Disappointment 
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. Yeah, I wasn't feeling this book at all. I didn't really have any expectations for it, but it was still such a disappointment. It's possible that I'm just completely done with dystopian stories, but I didn't really like the world of Flawed. It felt like something I'd read a dozen times before. And, the main character was just kind of bland. Such a travesty, because I really wanted to like this one.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Month-In-Review // It's Over? Ju-Lying!

I can't believe it's August. I refuse to believe it's August.

2016 is officially The Year of Magic Tricks because I swear it has just vanished right before my eyes. I feel like we say that every year, "Wow, where has the year gone?" Maybe it's just an effect of getting older? Nonetheless, no matter how much time slowed down, I'd never have enough time to read and acquire all of the books I want. But anyway...

July was a pretty chill month. It was The Month I Got My Reading Groove Back.

Here are the deets:

Books I Acquired

So many! As you can see in the picture to the right, I picked up a few books from Barnes & Noble. I call this my Feminist Trifecta Mini-Haul: milk and honey by Rupi Kaur, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I bought an e-book of Smut by Karina Halle.

I received a bunch of gorgeous ARCs to review for No BS Book Reviews: The Thousandth Floor by Katharin McGee, Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven, Kids of Appetite by David Arnold, and The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles.

I may have also stolen a copy of Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon from my aunt's house when she wasn't looking. I'll give it back, I promise. (Insert smiling devil emoji here.)

What I Read & What I'm Reading

July was a really good reading month for me. I read:

 milk and honey by Rupi Kaur | This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab | Too Late by Colleen Hoover | Smut by Karina Halle | The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry.

I also stumbled upon some interesting reads on the internet:

'Guest Review: When We Was Fierce' by Jenn Baker for Crazy Quilts Blog | 'An Apartheid of the Imagination' by Justina Ireland for Story Magazine | “I AIN’T SORRY”: 17 THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T APOLOGIZE FOR IN YOUR 20’S by Kiara Collins for Blavity

I am currently reading way too many books. First, I'm rereading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I'm doing a buddy read with Brandi from Brandi Janee's Bookshelf (Her Blog // Her BookTube Channel). We both really needed some motivation to pick up ACOTAR again, so we've been encouraging each other. I'm so glad I decided to reread ACOTAR because I think I love it even more than I did the first time around. And now I'm so EXCITED to pick up A Court of Mist and Fury which has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust for months.  

I'm also reading All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

What I Watched & Listened To

Aside from watching way too much Grey's Anatomy, I got to catch up on Season 2 of Jane The Virgin. If you don't watch this show, I highly recommend you do something about that. Gina Rodriguez is brilliant (and stunningly gorgeous). The show is hilarious and smart and diverse. I literally binge-watched an entire season of this show in less than 2 days. It's that good.

I've listened to a little bit of everything. Reggae (in preparation for a concert), Country (in preparation for a concert). But, I have really been loving Chance The Rapper's latest album Coloring Book, as well as Bryson Tiller, Bibi Bourelly, and Birdy's Beautiful Lies. My music is honestly all over the place. But, I have a go-to playlist that I listen to pretty much every day. It's on Spotify and it's called 'Femme Fatale' -- it's a playlist that I've been curating for quite some time now. It's filled with feel good music that I listen to when I'm getting ready to go out, when I'm blogging or browsing the web, when I'm cleaning and cooking, etc. All of the artists in the playlists are women, hence the title ;)

Where Has The Year Gone?

  1. How did July treat ya?
  2. What did you read?  Watch?  Write? Listen to?
  3. What are you looking forward to in August?

Talk to you all next month!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review // We Were Never Here by Jennifer Gilmore

This review was originally posted to No BS Book Reviews.

We Were Never Here by Jennifer Gilmore

Published by HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: In this exquisitely written, emotionally charged young adult debut, Jennifer Gilmore explores the bond that is formed between a hospitalized girl and the secretly troubled boy she falls in love with.

Did you know your entire life can change in an instant?

For sixteen-year-old Lizzie Stoller that moment is when she collapses, out of the blue. The next thing she knows she’s in a hospital with an illness she’s never heard of.

But that isn’t the only life-changing moment for Lizzie. The other is when Connor and his dog, Verlaine, walk into her hospital room. Lizzie has never connected with anyone the way she does with the handsome, teenage volunteer. However, the more time she spends with him, and the deeper in love she falls, the more she realizes that Connor has secrets and a deep pain of his own . . . and that while being with him has the power to make Lizzie forget about her illness, being with her might tear Connor apart.
// I received a finished copy of We Were Never Here from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. //

“Let’s pretend we’re not here… Let’s pretend we were never here.”

Coming off of a serious Grey’s Anatomy binge-watch session, I was more than excited to pick up a book with some medical drama and sappy romance. We Were Never Here didn’t exactly deliver in the romance department but the story was honest and emotional. (And, Lizzie could be kind of Cristina Yang-like at times.)

I definitely wasn’t expecting We Were Never Here to give me The Fault In Our Stars level feels. But, I was expecting something. I didn’t want Lizzie and Connor’s love to move mountains, but I wanted it to move me. Alas, there was nothing steamy or dreamy about this love story. There wasn’t any real chemistry between Connor and Lizzie. There was a lot of Lizzie pining for Connor, waiting for him to call and waiting for him to write. And there was a little of them spending time together doing cutesie things. But, even the moments that were supposed to be sweet and romantic for them came off as forced and awkward. Their love didn’t give me any feels. Hell, I’m not sure it gave them any feels.

“…Why is it always the girl waiting for the boy to tell her she’s beautiful? Connor is lovely everywhere. I imagine even his blood is sun-kissed and wind blown. And, it seems like he might need to know that, too.”

And, let’s talk a little more about Lizzie, shall we? It’s not often that I read a story where I dislike the protagonist. But, Lizzie was one of those rare cases. I wanted to connect with her character and, in the beginning, I kind of did. Lizzie loves Birdy (as do I) and she has a pet turtle (I have two!). So, I thought she would be likable enough. But, there were moments where I found her to be unreasonably mean and rude. I mean, it’s understandable that coming out of a major surgery and having to deal with a lifelong illness was a struggle for her, so she had a right to be pissed at the world. But, she was just unnecessarily cruel to her friends and people who were interested in her wellbeing. And, on top of her meanness, there’s the fact that she kind of bored me. I found myself wishing that this story was told from Connor or Stella B’s perspectives, and not just Lizzie’s. Many people are going to read this book and dislike Connor, but I found his character’s quiet suffering intriguing and I would have liked to learn more about him and see the story’s events through his eyes. And, the same could be said for Stella B. The secondary characters seemed more interesting and complicated than our main character, but we never really get their full stories, only glimpses through Lizzie’s eyes. And, coming from Lizzie’s perspective, they were flat. 

I liked the story’s meaning and it’s insights on visible and invisible illness, forcing readers to think about how physical and mental illness are perceived. Physical illness can be visible. Sometimes it can be fixed, the bad parts cut out. But, mental illness can be invisible and it can be impossible to just cut out the bad parts. I think the story thoroughly explores those ideas and presented an insightful perspective on illness.

“I think, when I look back, this is a story about two people who never thought they could be loved back. And this is the story of those two people loving each other back and back and back.”

Overall, We Were Never Here is a thought-provoking, bittersweet story about recovery and healing. It’s not a thrill ride. Nor is it the greatest love story ever told. But, it is very real and meaningful. I didn’t absolutely hate it, but I wasn’t completely in love with it either. However, I think that there will be others who thoroughly enjoy it and find that they picked it up just when they needed it the most.