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! 

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”

a Slytherin romance recommendation | ARC Review: The Shadows Between Us, written by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Publication date: February 25th, 2020 
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

– My Thoughts –

“They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.

And they never will.” 

The Shadows Between Us starts with the trope, “boy you might be hot and all, but imma still kill you as it suits me” but it quickly turned to “oh noooo.. boy you’re THE brooding hero of my fanfic dreams..how in the f-ing hell can I kill you”.

Alessandra, the second daughter of a nobleman, started off as an ambitious heroine. It seems that she has everything, riches to freedom to do whatever she wants but Alessandra knows that as a woman she has to marry someone eventually. Alessandra shocks her father when she tells him she’ll marry the Shadow King. Alessandra is confident that the King won’t be able to help himself and fall for her. When he does, Alessandra is going to kill him and rule the kingdom in his place. Of course, things don’t go her way. For starters, there are others in line ahead to kill the king.

I won’t say I didn’t enjoy the book because I loved every bit of it. There are pretty great moments( some of which I’ve included above) like Alessandra’s sense of humor, her passion for designing clothes, female friendships, moments of female empowerment, great banter and Demodocus of course! I was intrigued by the Shadow King too; not the King part but the “Shadow” part. The pacing was decent as well as I had finished reading it in two days. I loved the twist at the end as well. I couldn’t predict the villain until before two pages of the revelation but it was anticlimactic.

Now let’s talk about what I didn’t like. To me, it seemed like Alessandra quickly forgot about her plans. I didn’t like the Alessandra that we got to see after she joined the royal household. I also wanted to see her in the role of Royal Tailor or something..since there are paragraphs detailing her love for designing. There was also minimal worldbuilding so I’d advise you to steer clear of this if you prefer detailed world-building.

Overall, I would recommend this book. I think if you enjoyed The Cruel Prince, you might enjoy this! If you like anti-heroes, stabby romance, a character-driven fantasy that prioritizes romance, then go buy or borrow this YA fantasy when it hits the shelves on 25th February!

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


– About the Author –

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia Levenseller now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing and is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing OVERWATCH, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Thank you for reading! Will you add The Shadows Between Us to your tbr? Have you read any of the author’s previous books? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

Anticipated 2020 book releases on my list | a post after 27365535 years

Hi everyone! It does feel more than a million years since I last posted on here. I’ve been writing blog post ideas but never could I get my fingers to type up one. Will I do better at posting in 2020? Who knows..but I’ll try my hardest. While I was away from blogging, I was posting on Instagram so follow me, if you’re there!

I had a list of 2020 releases written up but I lost it, so I had to compile another one and uhh..this is not a Top Ten list as that is way too much pressure for me.. SO, here are some book releases I’m eagerly awaiting and this is only Part I!

Without any further ado, here are some Book Releases I’m Anticipating in 2020..

Book Releases I'm anticipating in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books on my Summer '19 TBR

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery 

Give me a combination of an own-voices Indian fantasy + knock-me-dead gorgeous cover and watch me how fast I add it to my tbr. It’s about the daughter of a star and a mortal. Sheetal, who needs the help of a full star like her mother to save her injured father.
“Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets a rich landscape of Hindu mythology and celestial intrigue in this sparkling YA fantasy debut.”

Evie Dunmore

A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery 

Bringing Down the Duke‘s one of my favourite books of 2019 and when I read a sneak-peek of the next book in this extraordinary series, I had to have it(but of course, I have to wait until SEPTEMBER!!)

A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart so Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery 

Since I loved A Curse so Dark and Lonely (where I think Grey should have totally ended up with Rhen), I didn’t think twice about adding AHSFAB to my tbr.

The Gravity of us by Phil stamper

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery 

This is a contemporary YA set around NASA’s first mission to Mars. Cal’s a a successful social media journalist who’s father is on the mission along with another “Astrokid” Leon’s parent.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibańez

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

Gorgeous cover and an own voices Latinx fantasy described as, A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.? Count me in!

The Silence of Bones by June Hur

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

A YA historical fiction set during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea? Say no more!

Of Curses and Kisses(St. Rosetta’s Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the first novel in a brand-new series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.” Even though I haven’t read any of Sandhya Menon’s books yet, I’ve heard good things and the synopsis makes me hopeful that it’s going to really good!

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected. I’ve heard a lot of chatter about this YA romance on Twitter(irony) and I’ve got an eARC too!

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed

Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.
I’m both excited and anxious about this book!


Thank you for reading! What about you? Do you have any of these books in your TBR? If you have some other books on your anticipated lists, then let me know in the comments below!

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