Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

This is such an overdue review because I read this one last year, but here it finally goes! I was pretty excited when I got Places No One Knows in the mail because I've heard tons and tons of good things about Brenna Yovanoff's books, and most of them are on my TBR. I've actually read her debut The Replacement a while back...long story short, I can't remember what happens in it, but I remember not liking it. Anyway, I'm a big believer of giving authors multiple chances, and I'm glad I did! I enjoyed this one, and while the pacing was slightly slower than what I expected (maybe to capture the dream-like atmosphere?), it was still a fascinating read.

There are two Waverleys. One is well groomed, academically unparalleled, reasonably attractive, and runs the cross-country country course at Basset in under eighteen minutes. Sixteen point five on a good day.
      The other is a secret.
      Secret Waverly is the one who never sleeps.
–p. 4, paperback

I was kind of expecting more about the whole dreamwalker aspect, but it wasn't a central part of the book. I guess Places No One Knows takes a magical realism stance, and we as readers just have to accept that this happens. Anyway, instead of focusing on the supernatural element of the story, it instead focused on the relationship between Waverly and Marshall, which I thought was an interesting approach. I personally would have liked to see more of the paranormal-side of the story explored, but I guess it makes for a pretty unique meet-cute?

A big plus point for the book, despite not delving too much into the whole "I dreamed about you and appeared in your room" aspect, was the characters. Brenna Yovanoff's prose flowed really well, and the characters that came with it were well rounded and fleshed-out. The focus on the interactions between Waverly and Marshall was, as I've mentioned, quite interesting, but I just wish there was something a bit more. I do like a slightly dark and edgy contemporary, but there was a little teeny bit missing from the plot that I would have liked there. Character exploration was amazing though, and you could see where these people were coming from. Autumn was great too, and reading about her connection with these two really solidified the plot. 

Excellently written and captivating from start to finish, Places No One Knows draws you into this surreal, dreamlike world with very real characters and issues, and hits you with a rollercoaster of emotions. I will absolutely be reading more of Brenna Yovanoff's books, because if they're anything like this one, I'm definitely in for a treat.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Julia at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

  • Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson ● Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 183

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape. 

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

Goodreads ● June 13, 2017

First of all–THAT COVER. Absolutely. Gorgeous. Secondly, every time I see the title, I get "Bad Romance" stuck in my head (not complaining!). Anyway, I'm really looking forward to reading this one, because while it does sound like a dark contemporary, it sounds like an important book, too. I actually haven't read anything by Heather Demetrios yet, and all her books are on my TBR list...maybe this one will be the first?

What are you waiting on?

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

Release Date: June 30, 2016
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one—and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net. 

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom... But at what price?

When I received Paper Butterflies in the mail, I was excited for two reasons. The first? THIS GIRL GOT HER REVIEW OF SEED INTO THE BOOK! Look!!!
I was over the moon when I found out about it and was so excited when I finally saw it in physical form! Anyway, other than that, the second reason was because I really loved Seed (read my review). I'm still hoping there's a sequel, but I was definitely eager to read Paper Butterflies. So after months of putting it off, I finally buckled down and read Lisa Heathfield's second book.

This book wrecked me.

Paper Butterflies was both beautiful and absolutely devastating. By the end of the book my heart was probably in a million little pieces.

Kathleen puts another slice on my plate. I look up at her and she nods at me. Maybe this is the day she changes. Maybe she'll put her arms round me and say she really does love me and she's sorry. I smile back. A little bit of the grit in my heart feels like it's floating away.
           I eat my cake, the chocolate filling my mouth. Megan stares at me, but I don't care. Kathleen can love me too.
           I run my fingers along the crumbs on my plate, smudging dropped bits of chocolate cream.
           'More?' Kathleen asks.
           I laugh slightly. 'I need to leave space for a sandwich.'
           'But the cake isn't finished.' Just like that, the look is back.
–p. 18, paperback

This is a story of abuse, and the way our main character June is treated by her stepmother, stepsister and classmates is heartbreaking. Children can be so cruel, but holy crap, the way her horrific stepmother goes about abusing her? I had to put the book down for a break a quarter way through because it was honestly too much for me. It definitely highlights the importance of real-life issues being represented in young adult novels, or any book in general. The story, however, was so gripping that I picked it back up after collecting my thoughts and read it the whole way through.

I liked the alternating chapters of 'Before' and 'After' as it added to the mystery of how it all ends. The 'Before' story also jumps through year after year, which I thought was pretty cool, because we see how June grows, and how her friendship with Blister blooms into something. Oh, Blister. Blister and his family were the shining beacons of hope in this novel, honestly. The chapters about June and Blister and the rest of the Wick family were the little breaks of relief in this sad, dark story. I loved all the family members, and the relationship between June and Blister was just so adorable that it could make you momentarily forget about the horrible way that June is treated at home.

A dark, melancholic buzz speckled with spots of tormented sunshine that burgeons and turns on itself, slamming readers with an unpredictable twist, Lisa Heathfield's Paper Butterflies does not disappoint. I loved this book so much, and recommend it with all my heart. An important read for teens and adults alike, you don't want to miss this one.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ 

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

Release Date: October 11, 2016
Illustrated by: Levi Pinfold
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rated: MG 11+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

I really loved The Madman's Daughter series by Megan Shepherd, so when I heard that she was writing a middle grade novel I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately due to busy times, getting to this book took a while, but I finally did it and I devoured it in two hours. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill has the same magical and imaginative tones as Shepherd's other books, and I was enthralled by this bittersweet tale.

One thing Megan Shepherd does really well in her books is establish the historical setting and build the world around it. I always fall in love with her descriptions and this was no exception. What I enjoyed most about this was that the information came in bits and pieces, as we're viewing this through the eyes of the child. I didn't know from the synopsis that this was set during the second world war, or that our main character Emmaline is in a house in the countryside, with other children who have–as she calls it–"still waters," also known as tuberculosis. The details were so well put and that was a strong point for the book.

I loved the characters. Emmaline, the other children in the house, Anna, the nuns, Thomas–from our protagonist's point of view, I liked that she gives them little descriptors and quirks that make it so easy to picture them. However, I definitely did not expect this book to touch on heavier topics, such as the war and loss. Most of the characters featured are sick children, yes, but wow–this book had a lot of depth to it, which I appreciated, and instead of glossing over the details, it's depicted in a way that allows a younger reader to understand what's going on without being ploughed down by a dark atmosphere.

What I did feel was lacking a little bit, however, was the part about the horses. Gorgeous descriptions, yes. But there was sort of no explanation for anything, which I guess makes sense since it's coming from Emmaline's point of view and we have no idea whether the horses are real or not–even with the ending–but the plot that involved the horses seemed sort of sidelined. I enjoyed the other bits of the story more, but I was just very confused when it came to this magical horse business as Foxfire appears. I feel like it might have been a way to explore the real-life issues surrounding Emmaline, as well as give some sort of insight into her backstory, but otherwise I felt like it wasn't adding too much to the story. The illustrations were beautiful though, and I really want to see what the finished book is like so I can take in more of them, as so many of mine were missing!

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill–what can I say? An emotional ride, this book was both lovely and heartbreaking to read, and I highly recommend this one to readers of all ages. Megan Shepherd knows her craft very well, with vivid descriptions that pull you in, a small mystery that keeps you in suspense, and, of course, horses.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Cassie at Random House Children's Books for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett ● Goodreads
  • Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian ● Goodreads