Review: All Things New by Lauren Miller

all things new -lauren millerJessa has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels.

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world, perfect for fans of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

4 Drink Me Potions

**All Things New comes out August 1, 2017**

Thank you NetGalley and Three Saints Press for this copy in exchange for an honest review


What if we could see how people are on the inside, the real, invisible truth, literally painted on their faces? Some people would look hideous, like Dorian (Gray). Awfulness telegraphed as ugliness in paint. But most of us would probably just look damaged. Broken in places. Bruised and cut and scarred.

Lauren Miller is a master of crafting ideas into stories that portray truths that we can all relate to. I’ve been a fan of both of her previous works, Parallel and Free to Fall. So with fairly high expectations, her latest work All Things New managed to still surprise me (in a delightful way) with the depth of the newest truth displayed in a beautiful YA story.

Jessa (what a beautiful name!) has anxiety. Not your run-of-the-mill stress. But a true anxiety disorder that affects daily living. I loved having her as the main character. I myself know what it feels like to have panic attacks, but the absolute emotion evoked in Jessa’s feelings when she was stressed gave me a glimpse of what it would be like when this kinda anxiety lived under the surface all the time. Her anxiety and fear defined her. She could try to hide all this mess inside of her as best as she could, but anything hidden deep down is going to be disastrous when they explode out into the visible light. And with her accident, now there were more problems added to her plate: hallucinating bruises and scars on other people’s faces.

The one thing that made me drop my rating a little was the little bit of slowness in the beginning. From the synopsis, we all know that the bruises and scars she sees on other people may be a representation of bruises to their inner self, to their soul. However, Jessa doesn’t get to that conclusion for a long time. It’s just another thing she’s deeply ashamed about herself, adding to the fear and another thing she has to hide from those who care about her.

But beyond this little thing, all else was AMAZING. Period.

There weren’t many secondary characters that really mattered in this story. The two people we get to know are twins, Marshall and Hannah.

Hannah wasn’t simply just Jessa’s “new friend”. She can’t be so simply defined. She wasn’t so two-dimensional. Hannah was broken inside herself. It may not have been so easily seen, as we all go through life trying to hide what we suffer on the inside, but going through this story, it wasn’t just a story of Jessa learning to deal with her mess, but the same went for Hannah. I loved that there was more focus on Hannah than other novels would put the effort into “the friend” character. Even if we didn’t relate to Jessa, maybe we could relate to Hannah’s type of problems. I know I could. Academic stress and being the twin less focused on by the parents. Different things stress different individuals, but this novel showcases the unity in learning to deal with our individual problems.

As for Marshall, he’s not just “the boyfriend”. He’s not just the twin with a physical hole in his heart. He’s good-natured and always looked at the bright side. He was one factor in pushing Jessa to deal with her problems instead of avoiding them. He’s not the only one, as life doesn’t always necessarily revolve around a magical solution in our significant others. But they can be at least one powerful motivator.

At the end of the day, All Things New demonstrated poignant ideas such as soul and mind, seeing the visible and the invisible in others’ lives, and the bruises we carry inside. Lauren Miller has done it again, and if you like stories that make you think with hints of hope and love weaved throughout, her stories are something you need to read.

Overall Recommendation:
All Things New tackles a difficult idea of symbolic bruises on our souls from the various stresses in our lives, becoming visible to our protagonist Jessa who herself has a lot of issues to deal with inside. While this story centres on this young woman’s journey in facing the scars she has – both physical and emotional – it also deals with influences of family, love and support groups for those with mental health illnesses. In the YA genre, all works of Lauren Miller’s is outstanding but All Things New is definitely recommended.

Have you read any other good books that deal with mental health in a similar way?

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1

lady midnight -cassandra clareIn a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

4 Drink Me Potions

Lady Midnight is basically all that you could ever ask for from Cassandra Clare. She never seems to do any wrong after all books she’s produced in this Shadowhunter world of hers.

What can I say about this novel that could possibly be different from all the other raving reviews out there?

I guess I will keep it simple.

1) Imaginative
This world continues to grow, drawing back old and familiar characters while developing new ones that may not have been all that well known. The characters are still so unique, particularly our main protagonist pairing, Julian and Emma. They’re not Jace and Clary, or Will and Tessa. They’re as real as they are, and getting to know them has been so much fun within these 700 pages.

2) Keeps-you-on-your-toes
Clare is amazing at bringing in all these plot elements together in such a beautiful manner that you can’t help but be enthralled as it all unravels and we discover the crazy things happening along with the protagonists. I honestly did not guess who the main “villain” was until quite near the end, and the minor red herrings deliciously threw me off for a bit.

3) Magical-with-a-hint-of-fairy
What’s a world without some magic? With warlocks and the return of Mark Blackthorn, there is no limits on the magical elements within this book.

4) Romantic
The gorgeous build up to a different kinda of relationship between parabatai Emma and Julian was amazing. I always feel like there are no words to describe them. It’s not some instalove, as they’ve known each other forever literally. But it’s also rediscovering each other in this sense as well. I’ve always been a lover of forbidden love stories (as long as no one dies – yes, I’m looking at you, Romeo & Juliet).

5) About-a-family
At the heart of this novel (and I’m sure the whole series) is the Blackthorn family. Whether you’re born by blood as a Blackthorn or not, Clare has demonstrated what the bonds of love would do (or rather, how far it would go for someone you consider family). It’s not some cheesy Vin Diesel voice saying “we’re family” kinda moments, but it’s implied in there, especially in all that Julian does.

There really isn’t much more I can say to sum this up. It’s been an experience reading this book – albeit slowly due to work – but it allowed me to savour it more. Cassandra Clare’s world honestly has attracted so many people all over the world for a reason. Join in if you haven’t already.

Overall Recommendation:
Well, whoop, what can I say that most people don’t feel already? 5 words. Imaginative, suspenseful, magical, romantic and family. That is what you get in any Cassandra Clare book, but particularly highlighted in Lady Midnight. Go out and get your copy if you haven’t already. As the back cover blurb keeps reminding me, “find out what 50 million readers are raving about”.

What’s your favourite Cassandra Clare book/series? Fan or foe of her works?

My June 2017 Top Picks

With the summer months arriving on our doorsteps, it’s the best time for all sorts of entertainment to release their beloved books. And I’m not just talking about movies. There are some lovely books out there that have hit or are about to hit your bookstores, right in time for summer vacation (if you have one, that is).

So without further ado, here is my top picks of newly released books to read this month (and which I would read myself too if I wasn’t stuck in a cubicle for 40 hours a week…).

  1. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab our dark duet -victoria schwab

If you’ve read the first book in this series, or my review of This Savage Song here, then you’d be absolutely raving about this sequel. I was so hoping to be able to get an ARC for it like I did for its predecessor, but alas the publishers must know that this book would do well even without the additional publicity of prereleased reviews.

This book continues the adventures of Kate Harker, a girl who sometimes can be as ruthless as the monsters she hunts in her world, and August Flynn, a monster who wishes he could be more like a normal boy.

2. Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead midnight jewel -richelle mead

Not everyone enjoyed the historical fantasy novel that seemed to mirror more of the great Gold Rush era in America than a fantastical story the synopsis may have portrayed. But nonetheless, I enjoyed the first novel, The Glittering Court, through the eyes of one girl. You can check out my review for that book here.

Now, in this companion/sequel, it would be interesting to see how the same timeline of events unfolded through another girl’s eyes. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea exactly, but you’ll definitely see this book pop up on this blog sooner rather than later. Already on hold for it!

3. Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneaudividing eden -joelle charbonneau

Although her Testing trilogy has been on my TBR for so very long, I promise you, this novel in her latest series is quite intriguing. With twins Carys and Andreus pitted against each other in a war for the throne amidst secrets in the court, it’s a game of who-can-you-trust. Honestly, this was an interesting start to a new series, and I’m half disappointed that I read it early ’cause now the wait is longer for the sequel!

You can read my review of Dividing Eden here (if I haven’t convinced you yet from this extremely short blurb above…).

4. Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Andersonmidnight at the electric -jodi lynn anderson

Across 3 time periods. With 3 girls. This was a hidden masterpiece. 3 girls’ stories intersect and connect in ways you wouldn’t be able to imagine. With one overarching story connecting all the little components of the other 2 stories in the form of a journal or letters, this novel may not be an epic fantasy but it stands on its own as something profound and unforgettable in today’s YA world.

You can read my review for this novel here. Trust me, it’s amazing! The feels~

5. The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth Maythe fallen kingdom -elizabeth may

It seems June isn’t just a time for new series and sequels, but also long awaited conclusions to epic fantasies. The Falconer followed by The Vanishing Throne was an interesting series set in Edinburgh, Scotland where the fae walk amongst the humans there. Due to a tragedy (of course), our heroine Aileana was pushed into a world hidden from ordinary eyes and became a fighter against all that was evil.

This 3rd and last book continues her journey against the fae that have taken over the world she has known, and ultimately took back the guy she had fallen for without meaning to. If that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will. Action and romance go hand in hand!

So those were my top 5 picks. No, Andge, you may say. They’re not very typical “summer” reads. Why yes, I do notice that. But I will write up a YA contemporary top picks either this month or later so don’t you worry about that.

What you can look forward to in the meantime that will pop up a lot sooner on this blog?

Reviews of:
-Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
-All Things New by Lauren Miller
-Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
-Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry
-Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

And of course, a June 2017 book haul! 🙂 ‘Cause I’ve definitely been buying books.

If I get enough likes for this, I might even put up a Edelweiss/Netgalley haul as well. Been wallowing in some interesting books lately that I sneakily read at work *shhh no one tell my boss – they don’t know I’m a book addict*.

Well, that is all for now. Peace out (y)