Review: Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer

Review: Call It What You Want – Brigid KemmererCall It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury YA
Published: June 25, 2019
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four-stars

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship...

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’ve been a fan of Brigid Kemmerer since I opened Letters to the Lost and read it in one day. There is something about the way that Brigid writes, not only romance but the friendship aspect as well. She also writes the best boy characters! Anyway, when I heard about Call It What You Want I was beyond thrilled to get a new contemporary from her. And I can happily say it hit the spot for the most part and I was happy to be on the journey with these characters.

Call It What You Want is the story of Rob and Maegan, two high school students that are in for a tougher year than they ever expected. Maegan has always been known to be the good girl that does the right thing until she has a serious lapse in judgment and makes a terrible mistake, and now is avoided at school like the plague. Rob, on the other hand, didn’t do anything personally, but his father did. His father got caught embezzling from half the town and Rob is left dealing with the repercussions, on top of taking care of his dad after his failed suicide attempt. When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a project these two outcasts start to learn something about themselves and start on a new kind of journey together. But not everything is as it seems.

Once again I loved the boy Brigid created. Rob was hands-down my favorite thing in Call It What You Want. He was so broken and in such a bad place. He had his whole life upended and was navigating a path he never saw coming. He broke my heart with how alone he felt. And he was so angry. Angry enough to make some really bad decisions that he would justify even knowing he was doing the wrong thing. But underneath all of that, he was just a scared kid. Maegan, on the other hand, had a terrible lapse in judgment and made a mistake that cost a lot of people. She was under pressure and did something she shouldn’t and was paying the price. I hated how she just accepted that people should treat her the way they did because of what she did. It made me sad to see her just accept it. In the end, I liked how these two interacted together. I like how they learned and grew by being around one another when no one else really wanted to be there for them.

I enjoyed Call It What You Want a lot. It had some really good, strong parts. There were also some parts that I just wanted more of and I didn’t get it. I think because of that I didn’t have as strong of an emotional connection as I did to Letters to the Lost and More Than We Can Tell. But with that said, it still packed a punch and made me grateful Brigid shares her talent as an author with us. Pick this one up for sure!

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Barely Have the Words (2)

I was looking at some of my 5 star reads, some read almost 3 years ago, that I still need to review. I realized there are some books I love so much I’m not sure I will ever be able to put into words how I really felt about them so welcome to my new feature, Barely Have the Words. I can’t adequately review this books since “READ IT” doesn’t really tell you how it made me feel, but this is my start:

Barely Have the Words (2)Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: April 4, 2017
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five-stars

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In 2017 I opened Letters to the Lost, a book I hadn’t heard much about, and didn’t close it until I finished all 391 pages. And since then I have not been able to accurately describe how Declan and Juliet’s story made me feel.  Simply put and the only adjective I can think of that is fitting for this story is beautiful, and that still feel inadequate. It was an emotional read from start to finish. Declan and Juliet were dealing with so much pain and heartache but they found each other and found an unexpected kindred soul. This was my first Brigid Kemmerer book and it is the book that made me a fan for life.

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Barely Have the Words (2)More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury Children's
Published: March 6, 2018
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five-stars

*While this book exists in the same universe as Letters to the Lost, it is a standalone title.*

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay...until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

How could Brigid Kemmerer make me more a fan? Easy, she gave me Rev’s story (which I read a few months after Letters to the Lost) and punched me in the feels. Another one I devoured in one glorious day that still hasn’t left me. As a massive fan of the romance in a book to me More Than We Can Tell is more about Rev and Declan’s AMAZING friendship and what they will endure for each other. I mean the romance was excellent too, but Rev and Declan is where it is at. Other than that I am at a complete loss on how to explain just how amazing this book was and everything that was worth loving in it.

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Barely Have the Words (2)Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Published by Bloomsbury
Published: January 30, 2018
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four-half-stars

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A.C. Gaughen writes something shocking in a book every time and I’m still surprised. She seriously gets me in the feels always and I’m here for it. Annie manages to write characters that are so intriguing you can’t help but get invested in them and I don’t really know what else to say or how to accurately describe my love for this series starter. Honestly this book was amazing and left me dying to know what was to come for these people I grew to care about.

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Barely Have the Words (2)Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen
Published by Bloomsbury YA
Published: January 22, 2019
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five-stars

Stolen from her family as a child, Aspasia has clawed her way up the ranks of Cyrus's black market empire to captain her own trading vessel--and she risks it all every time she uses her powerful magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can.

But Cyrus is close to uncovering her secrets--not only that Aspasia is an air Elementa with the ability to sail her ship through the sky, but that she is also searching for her lost family. And if Aspasia can’t find her younger siblings before Cyrus does, she will never be able to break free.

Armed with her loyal crew full of Elementae and a new recruit who controls an intriguing power, Aspasia finds herself in the center of a brewing war that spans every inch of the ocean, and her power alone may not be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

If I thought I loved Reign the Earth it was nothing compared to the love I ended up having for Imprison the Sky. A.C. Gaughen came back to this world and took it up a notch. The complexity to Aspasia endeared her to me from the start. She was doing something that wasn’t 100% moral to the naked eye but she was doing what she could to not cross a line she couldn’t get back from, all while trying to find/save her family. I felt a lot of emotion reading this book as I got to know Asp and her crew and the good she had in her. And the love interest was top notch! Just another book I loved so much I can’t manage to find the words to describe. All I know is I desperately want to read about the other two elements!

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These ‘reviews’ don’t do the books justice, but I have no other way to describe them. In the end I leave you with…READ THEM!

What books to you love and can’t review because you love them so much?

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Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid KemmererA Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury YA
Published: January 29, 2019
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five-stars

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.
Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.


Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Back in March 2017 I opened a book called Letters to the Lost and I didn’t close it until it was finished. I wouldn’t stop until all 391 pages were done and I had let Brigid Kemmerer thoroughly break my heart. That was also the day I fell in love with her writing. So when I heard about A Curse So Dark and Lonely, a book that is a retelling of my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, I was so there for it. Two readings of it later, I am COMPLETELY IN LOVE, love beyond measure, with this book and these characters.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is about Harper, a girl who is ‘transported’ from her home in DC to the kingdom of Emberfall. Having no idea why she was taken she confronts Rhen and Grey, her captors and soon finds out that Emberfall is cursed. Wanting to get back to her family Harper makes a deal to help Rhen and Emberfall rebuild their trust in one another and their trust in the Royals. But as Harper gets herself deeper and deeper into their story she learns there is so much more going on and starts to feel less like a prisoner and more like a person that belongs there even though her heart is with her family in DC.

My explanation of the story honestly doesn’t do it justice. It really is hard to explain just how amazing this story actually is. It is filled with flawed people and action and love and heartbreak. It has monsters and royalty and evil witches. It has sweet, heartfelt moments, moments of sadness, and moments WHEN CAN I HAVE MORE?! It truly hits all the marks and you won’t want to put it down. You will be left hugging the book and never wanting to let go. Rhen, Grey and Harper will steal your heart and you will gladly give it to them.

I don’t want to give anything away so I’m being as vague as possible. All I can say is you need to read A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I promise you will be happy you did. It is just that good!

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More Than We Can Tell Blog Tour: Television Male Friendship (+ a giveaway)

Today I’m a stop on the blog tour for Brigid Kemmerer’s newest book, More Than We Can Tell. More Than We Can Tell(MTWCT) is a companion book to Brigid’s book Letters to the Lost, which came out last year. It feature Rev, a character we met in Letters, that is Declan’s best friend. This friendship is something that really stood out to me when I read both books, even more so in MTWCT. It is the foundation of these boys, and a really strong part of the narrative.

When I signed up for the blog tour I started thinking about other strong male relationships I have seen on TV that are close to Declan and Rev level. I came up with 5, the last one the closest in my opinion:

Dawson and Pacey – Dawson’s Creek

Dawson and Pacey had an interesting friendship. They grew up together and had always been in each other’s lives. They new each other very well, but they were also complete opposites. And like some friendship, they grew apart after a while because they were going in different directions and wanted different things. And of course there was a girl. A girl that came between them, but also brought them back together.

 

Brandon and Dylan – Beverly Hills, 90210

Brandon and Dylan also had a very interesting friendship. They couldn’t have been anymore opposite of each other. Brandon was the good guy from Minnesota while Dylan was the bad boy from Beverly Hills. On paper they had nothing in common. The tended to fight over the same girls, live two different lives, and get themselves into awkward situations. But when all was said and done they had each other’s backs and none of that other stuff ended up mattering.

 

Cory and Shawn – Boy Meets World

There has never been a stronger relationship on TV than that of Cory and Shawn’s. It was one of those rare shows where the audience saw them boys as kids that grew into men. They weathered a lot of things, but they were 100% ALWAYS there for each other, even when they had one of their rare fights or when one refused to listen to the other. They had a bond that would not and could not be broken. They were brothers and not just friends.

 

 

Joey and Chandler – Friends

Oh Joey and Chandler. The funny friends and the roommates. These guys were POLAR opposites. Complete and total opposites, but they worked and had a friendship that couldn’t be broken. Not even by cheating and a box on Thanksgiving (if you have seen the show you know what I’m talking about). They had friendship bracelets and a weird cool guy handshake. They got on each other’s nerves but still had each ither’s back when they went through a hard time. Unlike the other friendships this one was formed in adulthood and but it seemed like they knew each other forever.

 

Seth and Ryan – The O.C.

This friendship is probably one that resembles Rev and Declan the most. Like Rev, Ryan has had a harder life. Both ended up in situations, living with families, that were not like anything they experiences before. But like Rev was given Declan, Ryan was given Seth. They were given family for life, someone to ALWAYS be by your side even when it didn’t make sense why they were friends.

 

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More Than We Can Tell Blog Tour: Television Male Friendship (+ a giveaway)More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury Children's
Published: March 6th 2018
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

*While this book exists in the same universe as Letters to the Lost, it is a standalone title.*

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay...until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

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About Brigid Kemmerer

BRIGID KEMMERER is author of LETTERS TO THE LOST (Bloomsbury; April 4, 2017), a dark, contemporary Young Adult romance; THICKER THAN WATER (Kensington, December 29, 2015), a New Adult paranormal mystery with elements of romance; and the YALSA-nominated Elemental series of five Young Adult novels and three e-novellas which Kirkus Reviews calls “refreshingly human paranormal romance” and School Library Journal describes as “a new take on the supernatural genre.” She lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and four sons.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 17, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Huge thanks to Bloomsbury for bringing this series into my life and for having me on the blog tour!

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New to You (4): Sarah Reviews Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Sarah from What Sarah Read. I was really excited she signed up and wanted to read Letters to the Lost. You will see in her review that Gail and I have been telling her to read it for a long time. Check out her review below and find out! (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (4): Sarah Reviews Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer {+ a giveaway}Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: April 4th 2017
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

About a year or so ago I started hearing some buzz about an upcoming new release called “Letters to the Lost” and I was immediately intrigued. More specifically, Andi and Gail were raving about the book and how amazing it was (they both read it in one day), so I KNEW I had to add it to my TBR shelf. I added my copy to the pile of books on my nightstand and it just sat there…and sat there…and sat there. For almost a year. Even after I continued to hear amazing things about it from many other friends, I never got around to grabbing it off the shelf to actually read it. I look back at all those months I wasted and wonder why I was such a fool. How could I have waiting SO long to read such an amazing book? I will be eternally grateful to Andi for hosting this feature and finally giving me that push to read “Letters to the Lost”.

I absolutely loved the dynamic between the main characters, Juliet and Declan. The good girl and the bad boy trope is in full effect, but in a totally unique and refreshing way. These two get to know each other before they even meet each other and I absolutely loved how the relationship between them unfolds with plenty of twists, turns and bumps along the way. The chemistry that Juliet and Declan have is undeniable and I couldn’t get enough of the letters they shared back and forth. Their relationship was messy, complicated and not at all your standard boy meets girl love story. They were perfectly imperfect. For all the differences between them, the letters they wrote showed that they had more in common then they ever could have imagined. They bonded over their grief and their feelings of isolation, and even without ever meeting, they confided their deepest emotions in each other. The feels are SO STRONG in this book and I loved every minute of it.

All that being said, I think the thing I loved the most about this book was how the author refused to fall back on labels and assumptions, and instead challenged them. In ways both obvious and those more subtle, Kemmerer shows us that you can never really know what is going on in someone’s life and that you shouldn’t always jump to conclusions. “Letters to the Lost” has some shocking secrets and twists I never saw coming and I was completely invested in the story. Give me a book about friendship, emotions, family dynamics, self-discovery and, yes, falling in love…and I’m a very happy reader. This one had it all!

Oh, and I know this review is supposed to be about “Letters to the Lost”, but I can’t end my obsessive fangirling without mentioning the companion novel coming out next month, “More Than We Can Tell”. It’s technically not a sequel but does take place in the same “universe” and features one of my favorite characters from Letters, Declan’s best friend Rev. As hard as it may be to believe, I actually loved it more than Letters…and that is saying a LOT! It’s even more heart-breaking and complicated and I cried my eyes out several times. If that’s not a reason to pre-order I don’t know what is.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 3, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Sarah for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved Letters to the Lost AND More Than We Can Tell. Really such a fantastic companion series!

Have you read Letters to the Lost yet? If so what about the companion?

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