Thursday, November 7, 2019

Review Thursday: Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn

Hello, everyone!  I'm back for a brief moment with a review of a book I recently read and absolutely loved.  Enjoy!

Standalone to date

"Olivia Foster hasn’t felt alive since her little brother drowned in the backyard pool three years ago. Then Kara Hallas moves in across the street with her mother and grandmother, and Olivia is immediately drawn to these three generations of women. Kara is particularly intoxicating, so much so that Olivia not only comes to accept Kara's morbid habit of writing to men on death row, she helps her do it. They sign their letters as the Resurrection Girls.

But as Kara’s friendship pulls Olivia out of the dark fog she’s been living in, Olivia realizes that a different kind of darkness taints the otherwise lively Hallas women—an impulse that is strange, magical, and possibly deadly."

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Thank you to the author, Ava Morgyn, for gifting me with an ARC copy of Resurrection Girls.  All opinions expressed are my own.

I loved this.  So much.  It's been a while since a book has made me think twice and subverts all manners of expectations.  Trigger warnings for death of a child, drug overdose, addiction, and murder.

1.  The characters.  This book follows Olivia, a 16-year-old girl living in the suburbs with her mother and father.  The story kicks off with new neighbors (Kara, the daughter, Rhea, the mother, and Sybil, the grandmother) moving in across the street who turn out to be a little removed from 'normal'.  We also have a bit of a love interest in the other teenage character, Prescott, who also lives right down the street.  The three teenagers (Olivia, Kara, and Prescott) form their own little cadre as the book progresses which really showcased each of their personalities.  Olivia, the somewhat shy risk-taker, Kara, bold and reckless, and Prescott, measured and seemingly perfect.  Seeing them all interact together was really interesting and, like I said, showcased their personalities marvelously.  By the end especially, I felt so connected with Olivia and felt her devastation with her.  Sparing a moment for Kara, what a character!  She definitely brings some weirdness to the story (more about this later) and pushes along scenes that otherwise might drag.  Prescott is a little more flat in the I'm-perfect-but-not-really-because-everyone-has-high-expectations kind of way.

"We kept breathing and talking and eating and beating. But we stopped living the day Robby died."

2.  The plot.  Essentially, without getting into too many spoilers, when Kara's family moves into the neighborhood and Kara begins to hang out with Olivia, the train really gets rolling.  Kara writes letters to men on death row (she says it's for money but honestly, do we really believe her?) and Olivia, who has been dealing with the death of her brother (she played a key role in his death), is drawn to this part of Kara.  It brings on this whole discussion of the types of death in our society and who is worthy of life and who we are allowed to murder as a society which I found intriguing.  There are so many different layers of mystery that are continually uncovered.  Why did Prescott pull away from Olivia?  Why is Olivia's mom bedridden?  Where does Olivia's father go after work?  Why is Kara's family so strange?  All of these questions are answered to varying degrees at varying points and they all build on each other.  You can tell the author thought everything through carefully and orchestrated each scene and each plotline to reveal something important for the rest.  There's also a bit of magical realism related to Kara and while normally I tend to dislike magical realism, I felt it really worked here.  There's a scene near the end (for those who have read it, think birth) that was a stretch for me but otherwise, I think it worked very well.

"We all died that day, in the pool in the yard. We were buried, and filled in, and covered up, and forgotten. We were lost. And we've been dead ever since."

3.  The romance I'll warn y'all right now, there is a love triangle in this!  There are so many polarizing feelings about love triangles and generally, I fall more on the I-like-them-if-they're-done-well category.  They can be great tension builders and fantastic ways to get characters into different situations.  I do think this love triangle was a little unnecessary.  Olivia is a teenager and most teenagers are preoccupied with love but honestly, there was so many other interesting things happening it just felt like something else.  It did add an interesting layer to their cadre moments but overall, I don't think it adds a ton.  However, it is twisted slightly as there's kind of two happening with one of the characters.  I'll leave it there because nobody likes spoilers!  Bottom line, this is really up to personal taste and for me, it was nice, but not the best.

"I think anyone is capable of love, but broken people love in broken ways."

4.  The themes.  I feel like I need to do a section on this because OH MY GOODNESS SO MANY.  Legitimately.  This is a good thing, don't worry.  Some authors have a tendency to smash you over the head with the 'moral of the story' and that isn't happening here.  There are so many small conversations happening over the course of the book that really add up to something truly lovely.  As I mentioned above, there's the conversation about death and who, as a society, we've deemed okay to murder.  There's also a discussion of grief and the stages of grief and how the world sees you when you're grieving.  A little thread of self-ownership and accepting yourself and your life also makes an appearance.  Overall, this was my absolute favorite part.

"Olivia would shrink from truth, from the pain of knowing. But a Resurrection Girl shrank from nothing."

5.  The writing.  All I have to say here is beautiful.  Just gorgeous.  I highlighted so many quotes throughout that I couldn't possibly include all of them.  Personally, I love a bit of poetry and this author employed some of the techniques common in poetry that really make the prose flow and sound especially beautiful when read aloud.

"And I wondered what made risk takers so attractive to the rest of us. Was it that we knew they could be ripped from our presence at any moment, an unfortunate victim of karma finally catching up with them?"

The Final Verdict:
A fascinating conversation about life, death, and grief, wrapped up in magical realism.
4.5 stars

Meet the Author:
Ava Morgyn is a long-time avid reader and writer of young adult fiction. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, and now lives in Houston—city with the most rain, best food, and worst traffic—with her family. When she isn’t at her laptop spinning darkly hypnotic tales, she can be found making fairy houses, talking to her crystals and plants, hunting for delicious new vegan recipes, or bothering her dog. She also blogs regularly about the devastating journey of child loss at

Her novel, Resurrection Girls (Albert Whitman), releases fall 2019.


Monday, September 23, 2019

Guest Post: On Writing by S.M. Beiko

Hello all!  I'm back!  Sort of.  I'm just as busy as I was last semester (see my last update) but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to publish this guest post written by S.M. Beiko, author of The Brilliant Dark.  I'll still be active on social media (Twitter especially and a little Instagram) but I'll be keeping a relatively lower profile until December and January.  But anyway, enough about me!  I hope y'all enjoy this guest post; I certainly did.

Most recently, S.M. Beiko is the author of The Realms of Ancient series.

Scion of the Fox (#1)

"As the winter ice begins to thaw, the fury of a demon builds - all because one girl couldn't stay dead . . .

Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student - dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) - but she's uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind.  Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit names Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly.  A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay.  Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox."

Children of the Bloodlands (#2)

"The dazzling second book in S.M. Beiko’s Realms of Ancient series

Three months after the battle of Zabor, the five friends that came together to defeat her have been separated. Burdened with the Calamity Stone she acquired in Scion of the Fox, Roan has gone to Scotland to retrace her grandmother’s steps in an attempt to stop further evil from entering the world.

Meanwhile, a wicked monster called Seela has risen from the ashy Bloodlands and is wreaking havoc on the world while children in Edinburgh are afflicted by a strange plague; Eli travels to Seoul to face judgment and is nearly murdered; Natti endures a taxing journey with two polar bears; Phae tries desperately to obtain the key to the Underworld; and Barton joins a Family-wide coalition as the last defense against an enemy that will stop at nothing to undo Ancient’s influence on Earth — before there is no longer an Earth to fight for.

Darkness, death, and the ancient powers that shape the world will collide as our heroes discover that some children collapse under their dark inheritance, and those that don’t are haunted by blood."

The Brilliant Dark (#3)

"The highly anticipated final installment in Beiko's thrilling YA fantasy trilogy.

It's been seven years since the Denziens, an unseen people with elemental powers, were unmasked, and seven years since Roan Harken and Eli Rathgar disappeared into the Brilliant Dark.

Marked by Darklings and Death alike, Saskia is a mechanically minded Mundane, raised by Barton and Phae on daring stories about Roan Harken.  But the world Roan left behind is in turmoil.  The Darklings now hang in the sky as a threatening black moon, and with the order-maintaining Elemental Task Guard looking to get rid of all Denziens before they rebel, Saskia's only option is to go into the Brilliant Dark and bring Roan back.

But nothing is every that simple.

The Brilliant Dark is the final, thrilling chapter in this series about gods, monsters, and the people who must decide if they're willing to pay the ultimate price to protect the family they found . . . in a world that may not be worthy of saving."

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Review Wednesday: Wild Rose by Lucy Winton (#1)

Amazon (available with Kindle Unlimited)  Goodreads
Roses #1

"Milly Costello has lived in the walled city of Redcross for two years. She wants nothing more than to get out - but when the mysterious Wolf-Lords arrive, she may get her wish in a way she doesn't expect.

And that's to say nothing of the secret she and her friends are keeping..."

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Release Day Excerpt: Gloved Heart by Charlotte Brentwood (#2)

Three years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood.  Lo and behold, she is now releasing second book in that same universe.  I'll be reviewing this in a few short weeks so watch out for that post.  Without further ado, let's get into it!

Gloved Heart

Released: April 20th, 2019
Series: Hearts of Amberley #2
Publisher: Self-published
Rating: TBD

Goodreads  Amazon (available on Kindle Unlimited)

Blurb: Can she ever trust again?

Amy Miller is struggling to come to terms with her new life as a mother, while being a reluctant guest in a rigid gentry household.  A victim of abuse, she is determined to never trust a man again.

Henry Russell has loved Amy for as long as he can remember, but his family want nothing to do with her.  A chance encounter with Amy rekindles a friendship which might save both of them.

The discovery of a secret which holds the key to Amy's past will change them both forever, and jeopardise any chance they have for happiness.  Can Henry show Amy that true love will give her everything she could ever need?

Monday, April 8, 2019

GIVEAWAY, Review, and Interview Monday: Dance With Me by A.M. Heath (#1)

Today is release day for A.M. Heath's newest release!  I'm the first stop on the blog tour along with Debbie and Loretta (see the full tour schedule here).  Below, you'll find my review, author interview, and giveaway!  Other books I've reviewed by A.M. Heath include:

Throughout the duration of the tour, A.M. Heath's original series, the Ancient Words Series (see my reviews linked above), will be discounted!  You'll even be able to get the first book for free on Amazon!

Without further ado, let's get into the latest release!


Art of Love #1

"Will a new partnership tear their worlds apart … or will it be the piece they never knew was missing?

In 1959, Arleen Thatcher and Neil Fox are fierce competitors on the dance floor, so they’re the least likely pair to enter a televised competition together. But when rivaling studio owners decide to team up, the two will find a partnership they never thought possible.
Arleen’s reputation around town is reason enough for Neil to keep his distance from his new partner. But as Neil gets to know Arleen, he discovers a side of her few others have seen, one of dark family secrets and carefully-constructed facades.
God’s plan for their partnership may involve more than a single dance; it may be the key to the healing Arleen so desperately needs.

The Art of Love series is compiled of stand-alone novels where the characters tell their own stories and love means so much more than passion."

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

An Update: The Fall of Blue Eye Books (only temporarily!) and the Role of Priorities and Compensation

Hello!  Yes, I'm still here and I hope to continue to be here for a long time.  However, I think I'm long overdue for a little life update (mostly to put at ease all the authors and bloggers that have emailed me and my own inner SpongeBob that's running around setting filing cabinets on fire).

My Spongebob's Brain Theory - Bikini Bottom - SpongeBuddy ...

So without further ado, let's get personal.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Blog Tour (Review & Giveaway) Monday: The Accident by A.M. Heath

You can find the other stops on the tour here!

Other books I've reviewed by A.M. Heath:

Standalone to date

"Can a wrong number bring true love or only heartache?

Ashlyn Conner’s life is spiraling out of control. She's already lost her father, and now that her mom is battling thyroid cancer, she fears being orphaned at fifteen. When a friendly stranger texts the wrong number, Ashlyn finds a confidant she didn’t realize she needed. The more Ashlyn gets to know Chris Knowles, the more she’s convinced he could be the caring husband and loving father the Conner women so desperately need.

If only she’d been honest and hadn’t made him believe he was texting her mother, Danielle.

When the truth comes out, will she lose her friendship with Chris and damage her relationship with her mother? Or can God make something beautiful out of her lie?

Told through text messages and Ashlyn’s journal entries, The Accident is a heartwarming, family-centered story."

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