ARC Review: My Dark Vanessa, written by Kate Elizabeth Russell

ARC Review: My Dark Vanessa, written by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Hi everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing My Dark Vanessa and while it has been on my list of 2020 releases to look out for, the book was too dark for me to review it in depth. This book deals with topics such as child grooming and sexual abuse so be prepared before you dive into it.

Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Publication date: March 10th, 2020 
Publisher: Harper Collins/ Fourth Estate
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction, Adult
Buy: Book DepositoryWordery 

Synopsis:

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.
2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

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– My Thoughts –

My Dark Vanessa is one of the most uncomfortable reads I’ve had the pleasure of reading. A sentence I never thought I’d utter.

We read the book from Vanessa(the protagonist)’s perspective where she doesn’t see herself as a victim at first. The entirety of the book has scenes that made me throw the book and rush outside to try and control my emotions; to remind that while the situations are hardly fictional but the story I was reading is.

The story alternates between 2008 and 2017 and we see how Vanessa is groomed and then raped by her teacher Jacob Strane. The battle Vanessa has with the realisation that she has been abused rather than anything else is described so painfully well that it gets under your skin. You grow up reading horror stories about mythical monsters and ghosts and whatnots but the real monsters are ones right in front of us, entangled in our daily lives. Teachers like Jacob Strane and other figures you probably see on the news and some you don’t see.

The book goes on for long, too long when it wasn’t really needed. Sometimes the lines would blur and it felt as if the sex scenes were romanticized. Besides those grievances, there were similarities to Lolita and #MeToo; another piece of reality would slap you in the face when you see how the people close to Vanessa responded to her.

Overall, I don’t whether to “recommend” it. If my friends ask for a recommendation, I don’t know if I’ll blurt out My Dark Vanessa as the first answer. This novel is dark and claustrophobic starring a real-life monster that will make you want to tear said monster from limb-to-limb. For a debut novel, if I were still rating, I’d rate My Dark Vanessa a solid 4/5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!


– About the Author 

Kate Elizabeth Russell was born and raised in eastern Maine. She holds an MFA from Indiana University and a PhD from the University of Kansas. My Dark Vanessa is her first novel.

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Thank you for reading! Do you read books that are out of your comfort zone? Will you read My Dark Vanessa? If you’ve already read it, then I’d love to know what you thought as well! 

Blog Tour: Conviction, written by Denise Mina (Review + GIVEAWAY)

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in the blog tour for Conviction by Denise Mina! Conviction is out now and this highly anticipated novel has been selected as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, as a book of the year by The Times, Observer and Telegraph and as one of the Guardian’s books of the month.

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Conviction, written by Denise Mina (Review + GIVEAWAY)”

Blog Tour: Night Spinner, written by Addie Thorley (Review + GIVEAWAY)

Bookstagram & Creative Blog Tour: Break The Fall, written by Jennifer Iacopelli

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in the blog tour for NIGHT SPINNER by Addie Thorley hosted by FFBC! It is described as, “A must-read for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, transforming The Hunchback of Notre Dame into a powerful tundra-inspired epic.

Night Spinner by Addie Thorley


Night Spinner(Night Spinner #1) by Addie Thorley

Publication date: February 11th, 2020 
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Pages: 400
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Buy: Book DepositoryWordery 

Synopsis:

Before the massacre at Nariin, Enebish was one of the greatest warriors in the Sky King’s Imperial Army: a rare and dangerous Night Spinner, blessed with the ability to control the threads of darkness. Now, she is known as Enebish the Destroyer―a monster and murderer, banished to a monastery for losing control of her power and annihilating a merchant caravan.
Guilt stricken and scarred, Enebish tries to be grateful for her sanctuary, until her adoptive sister, Imperial Army commander Ghoa, returns from the war front with a tantalizing offer. If Enebish can capture the notorious criminal, Temujin, whose band of rebels has been seizing army supply wagons, not only will her crimes be pardoned, she will be reinstated as a warrior.

Enebish eagerly accepts. But as she hunts Temujin across the tundra, she discovers the tides of war have shifted, and the supplies he’s stealing are the only thing keeping thousands of shepherds from starving. Torn between duty and conscience, Enebish must decide whether to put her trust in the charismatic rebel or her beloved sister. No matter who she chooses, an even greater enemy is advancing, ready to bring the empire to its knees.

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– My Thoughts –

I’m still me beneath these scars. I’m still a girl beneath the monster.”

Night Spinner is a YA fantasy inspired by The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was not what attracted me to the book at first. The ability of the character to control darkness is one magic I have yet to read in a fantasy so I was naturally intrigued.

Enebish, our protagonist, is an ex-soldier living at a monastery now after she allegedly lost control of her powers and killed an entire caravan of merchants. She’s both physically and mentally disfigured, has no hope left until her adopted sister Ghoa comes along offering her the chance to gain freedom. However, it comes with a high price: Enebish has to work with the rebels as a spy. The only one on her side is her friend Serik who believes in her with all his heart.

“I want to claw these thoughts from my head, but, like parasites, they’ve already burrowed too deep.”

What I didn’t like was how naïve the character acted at times though and I didn’t like the first half of the book. I loved Enebish’s character development and my heart really broke for her when we came to the ultimate twist in the story. Ghoa and Temujin were two other side characters who I was genuinely excited for. Both of these morally grey characters were someone Enebish was glad to follow(after some persuasion, for one) and in the end, you end up either hating or loving them.

Be humble, for you are made of Earth.

Be noble, for you are made of Stars.”

I loved the magic system here and I would love to see how other powers work in the upcoming book(/s). I also loved that meddling gods and their children are present in this story as well. The story also has little romance and plenty of political intrigue so for those craving these elements in a fantasy book, you won’t be disappointed

Overall, I would recommend this if you’d like to read about a fantasy about a country in war and a girl trying to save it without losing herself. Although there are some similarities to The Hunchback.., I don’t know if it’d be right to call it a retelling.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review and to FFBC for including me in the blog tour!


– Giveaway – 

Win one hardcover of Night Spinner. Enter here. Open to US/CAN residents only! Ends on February 25th, 2020

Click this link to see the entire Tour Schedule. Make sure to visit the rest of the tour stops to get more chances to win!


– About the Author –

Addie Thorley is the author of An Affair of Poisons, a YA historical fantasy, which was chosen as a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and is a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee. Her forthcoming novel, Night Spinner, will be released on February 11, 2020. She spent her childhood playing soccer, riding horses, and scribbling stories. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in journalism, Addie decided “hard news” didn’t contain enough magic and kissing, so she flung herself into the land of fiction and never looked back. She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and wolf dog. When she’s not writing she can be found gallivanting in the woods or galloping around the barn where she works as a horse trainer and exercise rider. Follow her on:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

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Thank you for reading! Do you think you’ll read Night Spinner? If you’ve already read it, then I’d love to know what you thought as well! 

Bookstagram & Creative Blog Tour: Break The Fall, written by Jennifer Iacopelli (Review + INT’L GIVEAWAY)

Bookstagram & Creative Blog Tour: Break The Fall, written by Jennifer Iacopelli

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in the bookstagram & creative blog tour for BREAK THE FALL by Jennifer Iacopelli hosted by MTMC Tours! Break the Fall is a fiercely told survivorship YA Contemporary novel about one girl’s determination to push her body to win gold at the Olympics, and the power of uniting as women to speak out. Publishing on February 18th, 2020 from Razorbill and February 20th, 2020 from Hodder Children’s (UK).

Continue reading “Bookstagram & Creative Blog Tour: Break The Fall, written by Jennifer Iacopelli (Review + INT’L GIVEAWAY)”

February releases of 2020 I’m excited for, and so should you

Hi everyone! I know that it’s what..7th of February so it’s way too late for this list but I still wanted to write up a list of February releases I’m excited about, which can also double as a February TBR list. To find new releases, I use Edelweiss, Netgalley and Goodreads, but I didn’t have to search this time around as I already had my list ready because of some awesome publishers

Disclaimer:The buy links included are affiliate links and I’ll get a small commission if you buy from the outlets.
February releases of 2020 that I'm anticipating, and so should you
Continue reading “February releases of 2020 I’m excited for, and so should you”