Monday, September 5, 2016

The Homecoming by Stacie Ramey

Standalone. Sourcebooks Fire (Nov. 1, 2016) NetGalley
Forced to return to his estranged family, John discovers how hard it is to truly go home.

It's been a year since John lost his girlfriend, Leah, to suicide. Living with his uncle keeps his mind from the tragedy and his screwed up family-until he gets into trouble and a judge sends him back home. With a neglectful mother and abusive brother, John's homecoming is far from happy.

As he tries to navigate and repair the relationships he abandoned years ago, Emily, the girl next door, is the only bright spot. She's sweet and smart and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. But tragedy isn't far away, and John must soon face an impossible decision: save his family or save himself.

John is angry. Angry at the accident that changed his brother. Angry at his mother who kicked him out. Angry at himself for not saving the one he loves. This anger inside of him has led him to make choices even he knows were a mistake. He had it good with his uncle. Now he gets to come home years later to a home and a place with only bad memories. At least he gets to play lacrosse, spend time with his little sister, Livy, who he loves so much, and the girl next door isn't too bad. The plan is to get in and get out. As soon as his parole is lifted he's out of there and on his way to California. Will he let people in or leave them behind?

The Homecoming is a companion book to The Sister Pact by the same author. John gives you glimpses of the past with him and Leah, his girlfriend who killed herself, so I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not reading the other story. 

Reasonably, John is very intense and furious at the world. Not only is he dealing with the pain of losing the person he loves, he has to go home to the madness he created. His mother and him have a rocky relationship so he has to contend with that as well as his brother Ryan. Ryan was in an accident and he has to be taken care of by his mother. He's very aggressive as well. It took me a while to read and see that it's not his fault. He has more of a handicap that I could have imagined. Reading the flashbacks of him and John is making me tear up already because you get to see who he was. Even though he was a bit mean to his younger brother, I still felt their connection. I wish he could have gotten better, but that was just not possible...

The girl next door, Emily, seems like the perfect person at first. I really like her good girl personality and her ability to be able to joke around John while simultaneously be there for him. She can be tough on him but he needs it. I didn't really get the full affect of her "trouble" in the past. I felt like there should have been more elaboration on that. 

All in all, I enjoyed John's personality; I felt for him. I enjoyed the cast of characters, the family dynamic being reshaped, and most of all what the story was all about - forgiving others and yourself after a tragedy.

Get tissues for this one, I got tired of crying my eyes out and needed to watch and read something happy because it could get intense!

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for letting me read and review The Homecoming in exchange for an honest review!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges

Standalone. Kensington (August 30th, 2016) NetGalley
Natalie Roman isn’t much for the spotlight. But performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a stately old theatre in Savannah, Georgia, beats sitting alone replaying mistakes made in Athens. Fairy queens and magic on stage, maybe a few scary stories backstage. And no one in the cast knows her backstory.
 Except for Lucas—he was in the psych ward, too. He won’t even meet her eye. But Nat doesn’t need him. She’s making friends with girls, girls who like horror movies and Ouija boards, who can hide their liquor in Coke bottles and laugh at the theater’s ghosts. Natalie can keep up. She can adapt. And if she skips her meds once or twice so they don’t interfere with her partying, it won’t be a problem. She just needs to keep her wits about her.
 Honest, nuanced, and bittersweet, The Form of Things Unknown explores the shadows that haunt even the truest hearts . . . and the sparks that set them free.

Natalie just wants to be normal, but with her diagnosis of schizophrenia after the incident last year, that's unlikely to happen. Her brother, David, won't let her live her life as a hermit upstairs in the attic all summer long so he gets her to tag along and accidentally audition for A Midsummer's Night Dream. There she comes across Lucas, who she remembers from her stay at Winter Oaks. He doesn't seem very happy to see her but that's fine with her; she just will focus on her new friends, Starla and Raine. As she tries to be more sociable like her doctor and parent's tell her to, she starts getting reckless and starts skipping her meds. Because what's one day without her meds? She'll just take them tomorrow.

I expected more out of The Form of Things Unknown than I received. I recently reviewed another book with a boy who had schizophrenia and I felt the emotions more with that one. Here, I honestly don't know if she had a mental illness or if drugs and certain events make her think she does. I couldn't see where the doctors could have said she had schizophrenia especially after the reveal in the end which really took out a large part of why I wanted to read this story.

The story takes place in the town of her grandmother who has schizophrenia as well. The family moved into her house to take care of her after her husband died. It was a really tough time for all of them especially when she acted like they were the enemy. I thought it would have been great if the story elaborated more on what it meant to have that fear of passing on a mental illness like schizophrenia. It was only mentioned once as a side note.

Titania Sleeping Illustrated by Arthur Rackham
The main problems for me were probably the pacing and the writing. I think there wasn't much time for me to get to know Natalie before the incident. I also felt like the way the story was told was a bit off. I couldn't feel anything for these characters. It was just a story without the substance I needed. Lucas, is a great source of this. Lucas actually was very interesting. As soon as I found out why he was at Winter Oaks I wanted to know more. I wanted to know why he was always frowning at Natalie. On top of that, he was such a great brother to his little sister so I wanted to get to know his character more. (Do you sense a theme?) When I finally got to know him there was a point where Natalie started thinking of him as someone she could potentially be with, and the way she imagined herself with him was way too forward and soon. The both of them just didn't work right with me when they became closer. 

Another really big part of the story other than Natalie dealing with her mental illness, is her acting in A Midsummer's Night Dream. She was cast as Titania and becomes really close with Lucas, Raine, and Starla that way. Her brother, David, is also in the play. He's there for Colton who he has a major crush on. (A weird thing with David is that he hasn't come out. And the way the mother acts when she hears something about it was so awkward and weird.) Natalie starts partying with her new friends at night as they search for the ghost she starts to see signs of everywhere in the theater. I liked the plot of the story. I enjoyed reading about the characters learning their lines and practicing their parts. Those were the best moments.

Natalie makes bad decisions right away which makes sense based on her past. I would have thought she would have stopped all those bad habits but people make mistakes. I always felt bad for Natalie when she would put herself down. Most of it was because she wanted to be normal but the anxieties she had are what everyone has like people talking about her or feeling like she wasn't good enough. I liked Natalie and the various characters especially Lucas but to a point. The way the story was going along and written always threw me off to what have could have been a great read. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington for providing me with The Form of Things Unknown in exchange for an honest review!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

August 2016 Monthly Recap

I haven't been the most consistent blogger this year for some reason. Last semester was very difficult for me but I'm surprised that it took so long to really come back. I do stop from time to time. But I always come back because this is my favorite hobby other than reading. I have not stopped reading though. I have read about 130+ books including rereads. I'm pretty happy that I was still able to enjoy so many wonderful books. 

Books Read

Blog Plans

I plan to read the Complete Grimm's Fairy tales which I'll be reviewing in pieces this month. I also want to get lot of old and new books reviewed in full on the blog so there will be a lot of that. I plan on taking part in the discussions from my challenge I've neglected so much but there have been so many other who've done so well like Sue and Amanda from Orendi at Legendi! I also want to figure out what books I've completed for each challenge.

First Book of the Month

How was your Summer?
What are you planning to read this September?