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
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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.

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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On My Radar – More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer (14)

If you couldn’t tell by lack of blog posts I was on staycation last week and I decided to put my blog on vacation for the week too. It was a nice break to just sit back and not have to do anything. I had hoped to get some reading done but I’m not going to lie, it didn’t really happen. I started 2 books and DNFed one and have only read 25% of another. I had big plans for reading but instead I met up with friends and watched a lot of Hotel Hell and Kitchen Nightmares. What’s a kid to do.

There was one other book though that I did read and I read it in a 5 hour time span. I honestly don’t think I have ever read a book that quickly so it was definitely a first for me. But once I started on it I couldn’t stop. It broke my heart in a million ways and I cried a lot reading it but it was one of the best books I have read in a while. Sadly this book isn’t out until March but I want it to be on your radar and I want it to be on it now. What book is it you ask?

On My Radar – More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer (14)More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury Children's
Published: March 6th 2018
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From the author of Letters to the Lost comes a heart-wrenching story of two teens with big secrets and a love that could set them free.

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 have had the privileges of reading both Letters to the Lost and More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer this year and they have both blown me away. They are both such emotionally uplifting books that will hurt but in the best of ways. I HIGHLY recommend reading this companion couple. I don’t think you will be sorry.

Have you read Letters to the Lost?

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Review: The Names They Gave Us – Emery Lord

Review: The Names They Gave Us – Emery LordThe Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: May 16th 2017
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five-stars

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

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord's storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life's biggest challenges.

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.

Sometimes you read a book and you just don’t even know what to say about it. It is pretty much perfect in all the ways that surprise you yet don’t surprise you at all. It will make you feel things as you read, make you cry, make you laugh, make you swoon. That is what The Names They Gave Us did to me. In typically Emery Lord fashion I was blown away by this book’s beauty and realness.

I’m not really sure how to describe what I felt and loved about this book. First and foremost I feel like I should say that this is what you would call a “cancer book” or even a “religion book”. Sure those are huge parts of Lucy’s story, parts of who Lucy is, but I don’t think those are the two things that end up defining her. What ends up defining Lucy is Lucy. She decides to open her mind and heart to new experiences and to new people. And Lucy decides it is okay to not trust in her faith, to be angry at the hand she has been dealt. To me that is really what The Names They Gave Us is all about, finding out who you are and want to be and being okay with it. Don’t get me wrong, Lucy’s mother having cancer is a major part of this story and truly broke my heart for Lucy, but that is just the beginning of her story. With the help of a new camp, new friends and a boy to mend her broken heart a new, stronger Lucy is born and that is the heart of the whole story. Well that and the friends Lucy makes

Lucy’s friends at the new camp are truly amazing and inspiring. They are all dealing with something whether it is anxiety or illness or abuse. They all have some kind of baggage but they also don’t carry that baggage alone. They let each other help and they rely on one another for support. It is the definition of a true friendship. And they willing, okay, some more than others, take Lucy into their fold which is something she needed desperately without even knowing it.  And this isn’t even talking about the beauty that is Henry and what he adds to the change in Lucy. Gah. I’m smiling just thinking about Lucy and Henry.

Truth, I’m not convinced Emery Lord is human. Okay well I know she is because I have met her, but still. The Names They Gave Us is Emery’s 4th book (I’ve been a massive fan since Open Road Summer) and her 4th book to completely blow me away. Every time I read a book by her I think her next one can’t be better and then I read the next one. It’s unfathomable yet she manages to do it every time. There is something just so magical about her books. I swear if you are not a fan yet you will be as soon as you read something with her name on it. Make sure you add The Names They Gave Us to your TBR.

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Blog Tour: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas [Location Scout & Giveaway]

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Since Alexa got me hooked on the Throne of Glass series (rught around the time Heir of Fire was released) I have been lucky enough to be a member of the #MaasThirteen and have taken part in the blog tours to support the books (you can find my Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows posts HERE and HERE). Well Empire of Storms is no different. With a new book I’m back with my stop on the Maas Thirteen blog tour.

First let me start with a disclaimer. I have not finished the book yet. I have been reading it since it came out but I’m about 36% (more now) finished. There are 2 reasons for this. 1) I read fantasy, especially Sarah, slow. I don’t want to miss everything and I like to take everything in and not have distractions. 2) I have a busy September on my hands so reading time has been cut down but I seriously can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, on to my post.

I thought about what to do for this post and I was stumped at first, but then it came to me, a Location Scout. Much like the last book I am going to focus on locations, but only one this time. This time I am focusing on a new place (well not new if you read the novellas) that is a pretty big piece of the first 3rd of Empire of Storms. I am focusing on Skull’s Bay, home of the Pirate Lord Rolfe.

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Skull’s Bay at night

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Skull’s Bay During the Day

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The Tavern

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Rolfe’s office

*all pictures found on Pinterest. Click on the picture for link to websites they were on.

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Blog Tour: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas [Location Scout & Giveaway]Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: September 6th 2016
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The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

Amazon || Target || Barnes and Noble || IndieBound || Book Depository || WHSmith || Kobo || iBooks || Audible

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About Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

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Tour Schedule

September 7 – Katie @ Polished Page-Turners
September 8 – Steph @ No BS Book Reviews
September 9 – Sarah @ What Sarah Read
September 12 – Kelly @ Belle of the Literati
September 13 – Louisse @ The Soul Sisters
September 14 – Gillian @ Writer of Wrongs
September 15 – Andi @ Andi’s ABCs
September 16 – Gina @ Behind the Pages
September 19 – Jaz @ Fiction in Fiction in Fiction
September 20 – Mel @ The Daily Prophecy
September 21 – Betty @ Book Rock Betty
September 22 – Rachel @ Hello Chelly
September 23 – Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books

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GIVEAWAY (OPEN INTERNATIONALLY)
PRIZE: One signed copy of Empire of Storms, one Throne of Glass tote bag, one set of lip balms (Dorian, Chaol, Rowan) & one Celaena soap (c/o Behind the Pages) & Throne of Glass buttons (c/o ThroneofGlassPH

 

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Backlog Review: Soulprint – Megan Miranda

Backlog Review: Soulprint – Megan MirandaSoulprint by Megan Miranda
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: February 3rd 2015
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four-half-stars

Seventeen-year-old Alina Chase has spent her entire life imprisoned on a secluded island―not for a crime she committed in this lifetime, but one done by her past self. Her very soul is like a fingerprint, carried from one life to the next―and Alina is sick of being guilty.

Aided by three teens with their own ulterior motives, Alina manages to escape. Although she's not sure she can trust any of them, she soon finds herself drawn to Cameron, the most enigmatic and alluring of the trio. But when she uncovers clues from her past life, secrets begin to unravel and Alina must figure out whether she's more than the soul she inherited, or if she's fated to repeat history.

This stunning "new world" romance from acclaimed author Megan Miranda will leave readers wondering how far they would go to escape the past.

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 was really pleasantly surprised by Soulprint. I mean I loved Miranda’s other two books I’ve read, Fractured and Vengeance, and knew I wanted to read Soulprint. But I just didn’t expect to be as enthralled by it as I was. Quite honestly it was very inventive and something I have never read before. And I didn’t expect it to go down the way it did at all.

Soulprint is about Alina Chase, a 17 year old girl that has been contained because of her soul. You see, Alina lives in a world where souls are repurposed as someone else when the body dies. And unfortunately Alina has been cursed with the soul that once belonged to June Calahan, a famous criminal. She is told she isn’t being imprisoned for crimes she never committed but being kept under lock and key for her own safety. Determined to escape and be free Alina doesn’t even bat an eye when she is given the opportunity to escape with the help of 3 other teens. But now that she is out Alina realizes so much more is at stake than her freedom. Not knowing who to trust Alina begins fighting for not only herself but for June.

What I really liked about Soulprint was its unique premise. Reincarnation isn’t a new concept. It has been around for ages. But Miranda used it in a way that made it new and fresh. I liked the idea that you can trace where your soul has come from, its routes and how that is both a good thing and a dangerous thing. That is what really intrigued me about Soulprint. It was a bit like The Program and Unleashed mixed into one and I loved that.

I also really liked Alina. My heart went out to her. She was being blamed for something that she had no control over. She was ostracized for having the soul of someone that looked like a terrible person on the outside but that people never really knew. Alina paid for the sins of a crime she didn’t commit. All she wanted was freedom and she couldn’t have it. I felt for her. That is not a life I would ever want to live.

All in all I really enjoyed Soulprint. It was pretty fast paced and a readable narrative that keeps you involved in the story. It makes you really think while you read and makes you wonder. You easily get involved in the lives of these characters and want to see how things work out and if Alina can ever really be free from a crime that wasn’t hers. I would recommend checking this one out for sure.

 

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