Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway, and Review: Lost Girls



Lost Girls, by Merrie Destefano
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.

Purchase Links:
Amazon.com  | B&N iBooks | Kobo
Amazon.com.au Amazon.com/uk | Amazon.ca 


Chapter One

I remember last night perfectly.

I know what we ate for dinner. I know my little brother didn’t do his homework. I know Dad drove me to my ballet lessons, then waited for me in the Starbucks across the street.

I know that, later in the evening, I fell asleep when I was supposed to be studying geometry, my earbuds in while I listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album.

That was my yesterday.

The problem is, everyone, from my parents to my teachers to the police, says that stuff didn’t happen yesterday.

It happened last year.

I went to sleep with music playing, curled up on my bed, and wrapped in the afghan Grams knitted for me when she was on chemo.

I woke up in a ditch, half-buried in a pile of leaves. I was shivering and wet, a soft rain falling, icy drops hitting me in the face and running down my neck. Trees towered overhead, black branches scratching the sky, wind howling, and from somewhere nearby came the muted sounds of traffic.

I sat up, confused and scared, grogginess giving way to an intense adrenaline rush.

Then I screamed, louder than I thought I could. The sound ripped out of my lungs and wouldn’t stop; it went on and on until I thought I would collapse because I knew I couldn’t breathe and scream at the same time. And then—when I was sure I would fall forward, bent over at the waist, my lungs empty and spots dancing before my eyes—then I found some way to yell

again. At first my shouts were primal and there were no words, just terror and pain and a black pit in my stomach that wouldn’t allow me to have conscious thoughts.

I began to cry the same thing, over and over.

“Help! Somebody help me!”

I tried to stand, but the gully was so slanted that I kept falling back to my knees, every stumble forcing me to become aware of another injury—the raw skin on my wrists and ankles, covered with dried blood and stinging with each drop of rain; the muscles in my legs sore and weak, like I’d been running for days; the soles of my feet aching, my tennis shoes ripped and stained with mud.

I stretched out my arms, latching onto tree roots to gain my balance, and I pulled myself up the incline, foot by foot. Fingers now coated with mud, I perched on the edge of a highway, nearly blinded by headlights whenever a car sped past.

There I stood, waving my arms and screaming again, not knowing that my hair was matted or that there was blood and dirt on my clothes or that my photo had been on the news for the past two weeks.

Lost girl. Disappeared on her way home from school. Anyone with information, please contact the Santa Madre police department.

Two cars drove past, headlights splashing me with brilliant light. I hadn’t realized until now that the sun tipped on the edge of the world, ready to disappear, or that twilight shadows were already stretching across the horizon. Great pockets of violet darkness yawned between each pair of lights that hurtled toward me, greedy fingers of darkness that wanted me to tumble back into that gully and remain hidden.

Please, somebody stop and help me.

I was screaming again and some sort of weird survival panic took over.

I walked into the middle of the two-lane southbound road and stood there.

Go ahead, run me over. I dare you.

Wait, what was I doing?

Several cars spun to a stop, skidding sideways, tires squealing, metal crashing metal and rubber burning. The old me, the girl who fell asleep listening to Taylor sing about a broken heart, never would have done this. What was wrong with me?

My heart thundered in my chest, but I refused to move, even when the wreckage screeched closer and closer, fenders crunching, bumpers twisting, windshields shattering. I stared all the passengers in the eye, glancing from one face to the next, coolly noting that none of them were hurt—nothing beyond a bump or a bruise.

You. Will. Stop. And. Help. Me.

Still the wreckage surged forward. I merely lifted one hand, palm up, signaling for them to stop. Like I was a traffic cop or something.

Everything finally slid to a stop, a few feet away from me.

Tears coursed down my cheeks and I began to shake uncontrollably. I sank to my knees, truly myself again. Frightened and alone and lost.

“Help me,” I begged, then buried my face in my hands.

Car doors opened: a strange cacophony of voices tumbled out, some yelling, some speaking in hushed tones.

“What’s going on?”

“Is that the missing girl from the news?”

“9-1-1, we have an emergency here—”

“Honey, you’re gonna be okay, don’t worry—”

An elderly woman with white hair and bright, pink lipstick pulled me close and draped her coat over me. When I glanced up I saw blood on her forehead, but she didn’t seem worried about herself. She smiled down at me, her face a map of connected wrinkles.

“We’re gonna get you home to your parents,” she said. “Do you want to call them?” She handed me her cell phone, but my fingers were shaking too much to dial. I told her the number and she punched it in, waiting while it rang. When a voice answered on the other end, the white-haired woman said, “I have someone who wants to talk to you.” Then she handed me the phone.

“Hello? Who is this?” It was my mom, a frantic tone in her voice that brought fresh tears to my eyes.

My words came out shaky, with long pauses between.


Neither one of us could talk, not for a long time, because we were both crying. Then she finally whispered my name, like it was a magical word that could change the world.

“Rachel? Rachel, baby, where are you?”

I looked around. “I don’t know.”

“You’re on the 39, just north of Azusa,” the white-haired woman told me.

Flashing lights spun in the distance and sirens blared. An ambulance and a fire truck and two police cars were headed toward us. I blinked at the brightness, shielding my eyes with one hand.

“Rachel? Are you still there?” It was my father’s voice now, calling me back to the cell phone.

I pressed it against my ear. “Daddy?”

“Honey, when the ambulance gets there, you get inside and you stay there. Do you hear me? Don’t get in a car with anyone else!”

“I will—I mean, I won’t. I’ll go with the paramedics.” My teeth were chattering and I was shivering so much I could hardly hold the phone. I think I may have started talking gibberish, half-sentences with little meaning. I remember saying something about my geometry test and worrying that I wouldn’t make it to class tomorrow and I may have mentioned something about my biology class, too, because Dad interrupted me.

“Rachel, are you talking about the class you took with Miss Wallace?”

“Yeah. She always gives exams on Wednesday.”

There was a long silence. I wondered if we had gotten cut off. Meanwhile, the ambulance doors opened and someone wheeled a stretcher toward me.

“Honey, you had geometry with Miss Wallace last year. When you were a sophomore.”

I frowned. “But I’m a sophomore now.”

“Baby girl, you’re a junior. Don’t worry about it. All this will get straightened out when you get home—”

I dropped the phone. My hands were shaking too much to hold it. I glanced down at my hands, at the chipped red nail polish. But I hadn’t been wearing nail polish last night and I never use this color. I turned my hands over and discovered a tattoo on my inner wrist.

A tattoo?

Always and forever. That’s what it said. But there was no redness or swelling. I didn’t get this tattoo anytime recently.

The paramedics helped me onto the stretcher, and then the world was rushing past me, rain falling on my face, people staring down at me as the stretcher wheeled by, the air thick with the smell of oil and gasoline and burned rubber. Then another smell came suddenly and violently—a memory.

A thick, cloying scent of pine and cedar.

My stomach lurched and I couldn’t stop.

I started screaming again.

Check out the TOUR SCHEDULE here!

Giveaway Information:

Blog Tour: All prizes listed below will be given to one prize winner.
Prizes listed are for a US winner only; if an International winner is chosen, the prize will be a $50 Amazon gift card.
• 1 – Kindle Fire Tablet, black: 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, with the Alexa cloud-based voice
service—just press and ask.
• 1 – digital Kindle copy of LOST GIRLS
• 1 – Pack of 14 vintage-style Swan Lake postcards
• 1 – pr. Black Swan earrings, handmade by author
• 1 – “Always” temporary tattoo

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author:


CURRENTLY A FULL-TIME NOVELIST and magazine editor, Merrie Destefano’s next novel, LOST GIRLS, releases on January 3, 2017. Her other novels include AFTERLIFE and FEAST, both published by HarperCollins, and FATHOM, which was self-published. The editor of Victorian Homes magazine, she has also been the editor of American Farmhouse Style, Vintage Gardens, and Zombies magazine, and was the founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine.

With 20 years experience in publishing, she worked for a variety of publishing/broadcasting companies that include Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, and PJS Publications (now Primedia). Besides editing and writing, her background includes print buying, writing/producing radio promos, directing photo shoots, developing new products, writing jacket copy for books, creating sales media packets and organizing direct mail campaigns.

Born in the Midwest, she currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

Website |Twitter |Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | Blog

Quick Reasons: life ruiner alert!; this book swept me up in a tidal wave of emotion, and refused to let go; awesome use of unreliable narrator; the mystery and intrigue was so beautifully-written and complex; this is a race head-first toward an explosive ending, and I adored every second of it; I need more of Merrie Destefano’s writing in my life

Huge thanks to Merrie Destefano, Entangled: Teen, Netgalley, and the crew at Chapter by Chapter for granting me free access to a digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.


After TWO MONTHS of no 5 Penguin reads…I’m closing out 2016 with a very high note. It’s New Years Eve for another hour, penguins (or at least, it is for another hour where I’m living now), and I’ve just closed the page on this read…and let me tell you, it was QUITE the whirlwind journey. I started this read this afternoon, thinking I’d get partway through it as this review goes live next week on my blog…and found myself instead finishing it off in one sitting. And OH, my heartstrings. This book? This book is life-ruiner material, and it RUINED me.


So let’s talk nitty gritty, yes? I promise, I’m going to do my VERY VERY best to stray away from the icky spoilers territory…hopefully I can manage to convey how much I enjoyed this book, and the reasons why, without dropping some huge spoiler bomb or other. Hopefully. So…characters first, yes? Rachel is possibly one of the BEST, most effectively-written characters suffering from memory loss I’ve encountered in books in recent years. While I know this is a bit of a cliche trope…Merrie Destefano handles it so beautifully and makes it SO realistic, you’ll find yourself racing toward the answers instead of feeling bogged down by what little you actually know.


The focus on relationships throughout is also astounding and deliciously done. There’s a thin line between trust and paranoia that gets played on throughout this read, especially in Rachel’s case. She is, for all intents and purposes, the perfect unreliable narrator–and that makes it so easy for readers to both be enthralled by her, while also side-eyeing her. I give HUGE kudos to Merrie Destefano for managing this so beautifully; humans are complex and confusing creatures even on our best days, so adding in memory loss and internal conflicts only heightened such vast emotions.


I was blown away by the complexity of this read, penguins. Rachel–and her relationships with those around her–goes through so many shifts and changes, so many trials and tribulations, you’ll find yourself biting your nails, sitting on the edge of your seat, needing the answers as much as being scared of them. And the ending! The ending was just… I have to admit, I didn’t see where the plot was going until we were already on the downhill track and racing fast to the crashing point. This book surprised me–immensely. That’s not such an easy thing to do, in my world.

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I am just… Speechless, might be the closest way to explain how this book left me after the close. Merrie Destefano explored some heavy-handed, important subjects (which I won’t get into, because SPOOOOOILERS, people) and wrote a complex, beautifully engaging whirlwind of emotions and life-ruination. I definitely recommend this to lovers of contemporary novels with huge bite, strong-willed characters who know how to keep fighting, and life-ruining reads that will leave them thinking, “woah.” THIS is one book you don’t want to miss out on in 2017; pick it up, and let the fight for survival begin!




Happy Book Birthday, Lost Girls!


Lost GirlsYesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.

Purchase Links:
Amazon.com  | B&N iBooks | Kobo
Amazon.com.au Amazon.com/uk | Amazon.ca 


Other Things Going On:

Lost Girls Blog TourDon’t miss the blog tour organized by Chapter by Chapter to learn more about the author and Lost Girls!
The Swoony Boys of Suspense: Merrie Destefano shares some of her fave male characters from tv shows and movies that kept her on the edge of her seat…whether or not they are examples of the suspense genre.
Lost Girls Teaser Tuesday: Check out this teaser from Lost Girls and feel free to spread the word with your friends and followers.
Swoon Sunday with Dylan McCarthy: Did you find Dylan as swoonworthy as we did? Read this exclusive interview with him here now!
Live Book Launch at Mysterious Galaxy Books: Live in San Diego, CA? Merrie Destefano is doing a live signing event and book launch at Mysterious Galaxy on Saturday, January 7th at 2pm with Sara Wolf, author of Love Me Never and Forget Me Always, and Rachel A. Marks, author of Darkness Brutal.
( The address and phone number for Mysterious Galaxy:

5943 Balboa Ave. Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92111
858.268.4747 )

Later This Week / Month:
  • Glitter Mag – Author Crush Interview: This will be going live on Friday!
  • Additional Guest Posts & Features: On TeenReads.com, YA Books Central, Ever After Romance, The Librarian Talks, and more!
  • Merrie Destefano in Conversation with Victoria Scott!: Later this month – date / time TBD – we’re going to be having a live discussion between Merrie and Victoria Scott about their books Lost Girls and Violet Grenade. You don’t want to miss it!



Untitled Beauty: This is a Hard Read…But SO Super Important


Untitled Beauty (Somewhere-in-Between #1)

Eleven. A name. A title. A sentence passed. If you aren’t a Beauty, you’re less than a person. You’re a commodity known as a Potential… and you only have so many chances to qualify as a human being.

In her seventeen years, Eleven has seen the best and worst in humanity. She’s been passed around and abused by the bad. She’s hoped and dreamed for the good. And she’s despaired for the hand she’s been dealt. Now she’s been purchased by a wealthy man who has the ability to improve her life and help her become a Beauty – if she can put up with his erratic and controlling personality for long enough, that is. Complicating things is the appearance of a stunningly beautiful young man with amethyst eyes who treats Eleven to the rarest form of attention for a Potential: kindness.

Does Eleven trust her powerful owner to help her escape this life of servitude and enslavement, or does she gamble everything on the enigmatic young man who seems to offer her more than she could ever imagine possible?

Somewhere-in-Between #1
151 Pages
Expected Publication Date: October 13th, 2016
Get a copy here!

Quick Reasons: LIFE. RUINER.; C.E. Wilson tackles her most challenging, disturbing subject matter yet; warning: mature readers only, this book handles very sensitive subjects; realistic, emotionally-charged plot; characters that tug at your heartstrings, that disgust you, that perplex you, that enrage you; every facet of human nature and emotion is touched upon in this book

A very HUGE thank you, as always, to C.E. Wilson for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.


I feel I need to start with the most important bit of this review first for this book: trigger warning! The plot contains and touches upon very sensitive subject matter, including: human trafficking; slavery; physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; physical and emotional degradation; and violent, traumatizing scenes. If you are a sensitive reader and are triggered by any of the above, PLEASE take this into consideration. I had quite a bit of trouble with some of the scenes, myself, and I am not as easily triggered as others. Please stay safe, penguins!

That being said. OH. MY. GOOD GRACIOUS PENGUINS! I have read several of C.E. Wilson’s works in the recent past, and have so so enjoyed how unique and inventive her ideas are. She always, ALWAYS layers a real-world issue (prejudice being a key one in her books) with a more abstract, often fantastical world-building. This helps both to soften and enhance the subjects she has chosen with such delicate care. BUT THIS BOOK. This book is raw, and gorgeously crafted. This book is hard to read, penguins–the subject matter is just so brutal. I mean basically, it’s human trafficking reimagined and molded to fit the world being built within these pages. It’s terrifying, and it’s plausible, and I struggled so hard with my emotions while feeling compelled to keep reading.

I did not step out of my comfort zone for this book; this book pushed me off the cliff and dove down after me. Were this book a parachute, it would have taunted me during the fall: “I can save you…but it’s going to hurt a little bit, too.” These characters are vibrantly alive…and realistically traumatized. Their emotions are raw, seeping from the pages to settle like an aura over every word, every sentence. The prose refuses to take prisoners, instead promising a sea of broken, sobbing readers left numb in its wake.


This book is, above all, the most painful…and the most IMPORTANT…novel C.E. Wilson’s put out so far, in my opinion. The subject matter is approached with sensitivity and handled with care, crafted to both break readers and leave them thinking, leave them scarred, leave them changed. If you’ve promised to step outside your reading comfort zone at least once this year, you might consider picking this book up! I definitely recommend to mature readers; those seeking powerful and poignant reads; and lovers of real-world subjects with slightly abstract world-building. C.E. Wilson continues to take me by surprise; I cannot WAIT to see what she does next!


Every Heart a Doorway: Darkly Atmospheric, Creatively Woven


Every Heart a Doorway

Goodreads Rating: 3.93 Stars
173 Pages
Tor.com Publishing
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Get a copy here!

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Quick Reasons: I am SCREECHING right now!; this is sort of like The Nightmare Before Christmas meets Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children…and I ADORED it!; creeptastic, gorgeous, addictively detailed prose; entertaining, quirky, exciting characters; this story is SO unique; an awesome spin on the idea of “make believe,” “the imagination,” or “Neverland”

Mini upfront note: I listened to this on audiobook, and HIGHLY recommend it! My hats off to Cynthia Hopkins for an awesome and entertaining narration! Seriously, this audiobook is well-worth the listen!


Guys, I have to be honest here: I am SUPER glad I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children before diving into this one. Why? Because if I’d read THIS awesome adventure first, I’d have been even more disappointed by Miss Peregrine’s. (though let’s be honest, it is sort of funny that I went from one book about orphans to a completely different, yet slightly similar, one)

Let me just try to find some semblance of order in my thoughts and get them down.

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First things first: This book was DARK. And I don’t mean dark in the sense that it sometimes talks about mature or sensitive topics (though it does this, too). I mean dark in the sense that from beginning to end, the atmosphere, the mood, the PLOT is thick like sludge and almost too heavy to trudge through. This is not a lollipops and raindrops story, kids–this book takes the challenge of “imaginary” and molds it, twists it, turns it into something real. Something we, as readers, can reach out and touch. Something solid.


Also–THE DIVERSITY! I went into this book expecting something quirky at best, something like Miss Peregrine’s at worst. I went into this read not sure how to feel, or what to think……. And found something epic waiting for me. The MC? Is asexual. There’s a transgender character. And these are not the only two. Diversity BREATHES throughout this read, and does it so naturally, you’ll wonder why more books can’t do the same. It’s not forced; it’s not awkward. It’s sensitively and maturely done, and I just… Gah. GAAAAAH!

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The characters are quirky and well-written. I was immediately drawn into the story…and held absolutely enthralled until the very end. I haven’t read a book so enchanting in several weeks, guys–this book literally took me out of the real world while still, somehow, bringing real world issues into its pages. Even the characters with the smallest roles, play HUGE parts in this book, each voice individualized and totally unique from the others.


And, of course, the prose. The prose is absolutely stunning. There were so, SO many moments I caught myself practically drooling over Seanan McGuire’s writing. It’s atmospheric, deliciously detailed, and breath-taking. Abstract and poetic…but realistic enough to WORK in the grand scheme. Each of my five senses were at turns engaged and shut off depending on the chapter, the situation, the characters… There is so much more than just words being imparted in this story, and I adored every moment.

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I just… I can’t EVEN with my words right now. I am blown away. I am shattered. I am totally adding Seanan McGuire to my “insta-buy” list from this one book alone, because PENGUINS, I adore her writing. This book is dark, morbidly humorous, and SO unique–and officially at the tippy top of my “favorite reads” list from this year. I highly recommend picking this up if you love The Night Circus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and creatively atmospheric reads. Pick this book up, guys–it is a MUST read!


The Cresswell Plot: Someone, PLEASE, Put Dad in a Straightjacket


The Cresswell Plot

Goodreads Rating: 3.48 Stars
272 Pages
Disney-Hyperion Publishing
Expected Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Get a copy here!

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

– – – – –

Quick Reasons: OHMAHGOSH, ohmahgosh, this book is insanely intense; I took a huge step out of my comfort zone for this read—and am so glad I did!; lots of plot twists and moments that caught me off-guard; lots of pretty, “makes you think” moments; the prose is beautiful and well-done; the characters are vibrant and unique; the plot is action-packed and full of mystery from the beginning; THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!

Huge thanks go out to Eliza Wass, Disney-Hyperion Publishing, and Netgalley for access to the eARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered my opinions or review of this book.

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I have to start this review by stating the (maybe) obvious: I took a large step out of my comfort zone for this book, and I am so so glad that I did!

The writing, first and foremost, is absolutely gorgeous. Poetic, with moments of wise insight scattered throughout—moments that reach into a reader’s heart and tug at the most secret, deepest parts of them, the parts they don’t even realize they have. More than that, though, is how beautifully Eliza Wass layered the pieces of this story. The plot is action-packed from the get-go, building on the drama and the mystery until readers feel like they’re bound to either blow up the book or blow up themselves. The frustration—to KNOW, to understand, to see behind the veil—is very real for this read.

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This is a much more mature read than I was expecting, going in. I’m not sure why exactly, but I was under the impression, at the beginning of this journey, that Castley was MUCH younger than she actually is. It wasn’t until she explicitly stated her age that I realized this book was determined to surprise me—in more than one way! I think the biggest reason behind this, though, is the way she acts and thinks during the first few pages. She comes off much more innocent, much more “pure,” than an almost-17 year old. Of course, I’m sure part of this is her father—and the way they’ve all been raised.

The ending sort of caught me by surprise. I felt as if I blinked and missed out on the “closure.” It leaves off on sort of a weird note, too—brought back full-circle, but sort of rushed through. I expected the characters to have scars, to be stiff and awkward, to not be healed. After the trauma of… well, their entire lives, I expected the ending to be harsher. Instead, it felt formal and disconnected—as if the author wasn’t quite sure, herself, what the future held for the characters, and therefore chose to skip over any trauma they might otherwise show. It was weird, and is the only part of this read that sits wrong with me. I guess I was expecting more pain from them, in the end, and was disappointed not to get it. Which sounds a bit off-kilter and insane of me, thinking about it now.

On that note, however, I have some warnings for potential future readers: there IS abuse. There is bullying (though not much?), there is violence, there is murder. There is a lot of religion at play throughout, both actual and personal; there is talk of dying or committing suicide to “get to God.” If any of this is a trigger for you, please be careful if you decide to go into this book.

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Regardless, this is a breath-taking, life-changing, thought-altering read. The world will be just a bit more shady, just a smidge more dangerous, from here out for me. I definitely recommend this to those interested in obsessive religions, dark contemporary novels, and flawed characters who find their spunk—and themselves—during the journey. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring from Eliza Wass. She just leaped to the top of my “to watch out for” list!


Top Ten Tuesday (#20)



This week’s theme: Top 10 of My Recent 5-PENGUIN Reads

Find their latest post here!

Top Ten of My Recent 5 star PENGUIN Reads

Plus a small glimpse at WHY they got 5 penguins from me.

A Monster Calls

oh PENGUINS, this book hurt!; I understand why so many people cry while reading, I almost did myself; beautiful prose; lots of nods to oral narratives/origin stories; the voices are clear and haunting; the “reveal” at the end wasn’t quite what I was expecting; this book broke me so hard

The Forbidden Wish

an inventive retelling…with a slight character twist; THIS is the story of Aladdin I’ve been dying to read for years (without knowing it, of course); awesome, emotionally-charged action and a heady, over-the-moon sort of love; poetic, beautiful prose; so many twists and creative additions to genie/jinn lore; I LOVED this book!

The Cresswell Plot

OHMAHGOSH, ohmahgosh, this book is insanely intense; I took a huge step out of my comfort zone for this read—and am so glad I did!; lots of plot twists and moments that caught me off-guard; lots of pretty, “makes you think” moments; the prose is beautiful and well-done; the characters are vibrant and unique; the plot is action-packed and full of mystery from the beginning; THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)

lyrical, beautiful prose; TONS of character growth and wise-reaching moments; the whimsy in this read is FANTASTIC; the characters are well-rounded and entertaining; the plot is action-packed and fast; there was one huge plot-twist I didn’t see coming; overall, plot twists were not an integral part of this read; the descriptions are poetic and easy-to-imagine


Natalia Jaster, you’ve broken me again!; this is an awesome, inventive, beautiful retelling; the characters are quirky, flawed in all the right ways, and well-rounded; the love story is gorgeously paced; the mystery and flair for drama throughout lends a ton of action and adventure to the plot; this read is a TON of fun

Symptoms of Being Human

good god this book!; realistic, endearing, believable characters; lots of angst, drama, and confusion; delicious ambiguity; yet another book that will change your view of the world; this novel is SO IMPORTANT; well-written, sensitive, and amazing

The Love That Split the World

strong story-telling; huge nods to oral narratives and origin/creation stories; OMG, the 91% mark!; gut-wrenching, can’t-catch-your-breath, want-to-throw-your-Kindle revelations; huge personality, unique twists, quirky and awesome characters; diverse read

The Gracekeepers

lyrical, poignant writing; an intriguing, unique sort of dystopia; imaginative, vivid world-building and imagery; heavy, emotional prose; unexpected, surprising twists; small snippets of a lot of different perspectives woven into the two main ones—and it works; endearing, complex characters; lots to love in this read

Grayling's Song

spunky characters; a plot twist I didn’t see coming; dark, atmospheric, and gorgeous writing; entertaining, often laugh-out-loud scenes coupled with huge adventure and action


life ruiner; diverse read; the prose is poetic and gorgeous; endearing, adorable, snarky characters; this read tackles a heavy-handed, emotional subject with sensitivity and care; realistic romance, very human situations/reactions; this book breaks you apart and puts you back together again a different reader

And that’s it!

Have you guys read any of these?  Do you agree or disagree with my rating for them?  Let me know you thoughts!  Also, feel free to link me to your own TTT in the comments.

Until next time, happy book-ing!

New Sig