What You Need to Know About Sadie by Courtney Summers

 

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Thanks to Wednesday Books/Macmillan for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

SYNPOSIS

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

CONTENT WARNINGS 

Pedophilia
Child sex abuse/rape
Substance abuse
Death of a loved one/grief
Poverty
Ableism (challenged in text)


I finished Sadie the other day and I’m glad to say that I gave it 5 stars!! There’s so much about this book that I think makes it one of the most memorable reads I’ve read this year and I’m here to tell you some things you should about Sadie and why you should read it!

1. Sadie is about a missing girl (Sadie) on the hunt for her sister’s killer

2. It has a unique format told from both Sadie’s POV in the past and in the present time, in the form of a true crime podcast named The Girls! The way its used to push the narrative is amazing.

3. The complex and nuanced relationships between the two sisters is so well done

4. A realistic depiction of small-town life and how a community can be shaken after a traumatic event

5. Sadie herself has a stutter and also has the best does-not-give-a-fuck attitude.

6. Sadie is pansexual!!! Also the host of the podcast West McCray is also confirmed as gay!

7. Talks about poverty and those who are affected by it

8. Deals with heavy and traumatic topics in a nuanced way

9. A gripping and tragic tale of girls and the people who use, take advantage, and overlook them in world and how the media sensationalizes missing girls

10. This a very dark story with several twists that will keep you at night like I did hoping that Sadie will avenge her sister and find what she is looking for before it’s too late

11. You can listen to the actual podcast, The Girls, right here!  The Girls Podcast

12.  It’s a New York Times bestseller!!!

13. If you are a fan of true crime podcasts like Serial and a fan of books like The Female of the Species and other Courtney Summer’s books that tackle the patriarchy, you’ll enjoy Sadie!

14. It’s OUT NOW!!!

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Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black – Review

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This eARC was provided by TorTeen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Content Warning: Violence; death

Spoilers AHEAD!!

3 Stars

Girl at the Grave is a murder-mystery combined with historical fiction that has plenty of intrigue, angst, and Gothic elements that kept me engaged throughout most of the book due to its main character and atmosphere but was overshadowed but its heavy focus on the romance instead of the murder mystery.

What I Liked

+ The main character, Valentine Deluca is a clever and thoughtful protagonist seeking justice for those who are innocent including herself. She is has so much agency in this and I appreciated seeing that in a historical fiction where most female characters don’t get written that way. I mostly enjoyed this because of her, even when she made mistakes.

+ The author nailed the small town life perfectly, and the way the history of the citizens of Feavers Crossing was intertwined within the narrative.

What I Didn’t Like

– The love triangle and the romance, which took over a better part of the middle of the story, took away from the suspense and build-up of the murder-mystery elements.

– One of the love interests, I felt lacked development and I just didn’t have enough. Also his change of character felt so drastic that it felt unnatural in my opinion.

Overall I felt the story was more concerned with the romance between Valentine/Rowan than the actual murder mystery, which was pretty disappointing.

– There’s also the questionable mentally disabled representation for the character of Birdy, who is a an adult woman who may possibly be on the autistic spectrum and/or is developmentally challenged. She is killed off and is never really mentioned again until towards the later part of the book. I CANNOT speak for this representation and I would advise those seek an #ownvoices review for this aspect of the book.*

*This is the only review I’ve found so far that talks about the issue of Birdy and her death.


My Verdict:

There’s many layers and surprises to this one that I think is worth checking out if you’re interested in reading a historical fiction with a romance and murder mystery. Personally, while I didn’t love it, I think I would still recommend this because I know some people will probably like this, but you should go in knowing its major issues and flaws.

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake // Review

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DISCLAIMERS

  • Please read my Rating System before reading this review

  • SPOILER TALK

  • Content Warning for following: parental neglect, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, mention of sexual assault, character posting another character’s private messages online without consent, contains sex scenes


SYNOPSIS

All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.


If you’re looking for a bittersweet and emotional summer romance read, this is the book for you!

WHY I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK

+ Deals With Toxic Parent/Child Relationships in a Nuanced Way

One of the main parts of HTMAW, is the complicated dynamic between Grace and her mother, Maggie. Maggie is an alcoholic and by the end of this story, may also have a mental disorder. Maggie is a flawed human being who does try her best, but still puts a lot of emotional labor onto Grace. She tends to put Grace in a lot of dangerous and harmful situations such as taking her to a club and moving her to stranger’s houses. She is also emotionally manipulative towards Grace, which leads to Grace’s ambivalent feelings concerning her mother.

This was one of the hardest things for me to read, because I can understand the imbalance and toxic-ness of a parent/child relationship where the parent is emotionally abusive. I felt the struggle that Grace felt in deciding to make her own decisions and to move on from her parent and to understand that its okay to remove yourself from an person like that, even though you may still love them.

+ F/F Romance

My main reason for reading this one, because I haven’t read many books about F/F romances. Grace and Eva have an adorable, slow-burn romance. I appreciate that they get to know each other first, and also connect emotionally. There’s also a sex scene in this which I appreciated so much.

Eva is also a very well developed love interest. She is her own character that has an arc as well, with dealing with the death of her mother, her first relationship with a girl, and also her deciding to realize her dream of being a dancer.

They both support each other and understand what it means to lose happiness but to also regain happiness.

Also they are still together at the end of this book, so it’s a happy ending for a gay couple!! YAY!

+ Grief

“Sadness is awkward. Grief is awkward. A missing mother is awkward, no matter what form that missing takes. And no one likes awkward. No one knows what to do with it unless you’re the person used to receiving all those averted gazes.”

Both Grace and Eva miss their mothers in different ways but both feel a similar pain and sadness about their mothers. I’ve felt those feelings before and its hurts. To get kind of personal here, again, I recently lost an important member of my family and their passing away has not only affected me but my whole family. Now we are focused on learning how to move on and get used to the fact that they are gone. Reading this after it happened made me feel better in some ways.

The way that Ashley Herring Blake writes about how the girls deal with their grief was so emotional and real for me. I related more so to Eva’s approach, by avoiding people and coloring in her adult coloring book.

+ Platonic M/F Friendship

I absolutely ADORED Grace’s friendship with her best friend, Luca. I love that they didn’t have any unrequited feelings between either of them and it was so refreshing. They were both very supportive of each other and even though they did have a minor falling out, they both made up and apologized and continued to support each other. He also supports her sexuality and doesn’t make her feel uncomfortable.

Luca himself is a really wonderfully funny and adorable guy. I feel like he’s a great example of a male character done right. While he does have his moments, I feel like he’s very much against the grain of the numerous toxic masculine characters that unfortunately is in a lot of YA.

+ The Bi REP + Sexuality 

“For a long time, when I was a little younger, I thought that was how every girl saw other girls— this mix between beauty and awe and curiosity, a thin layer of lust just underneath. Took until I was fourteen to realize that no, the way I thought about other girls was a little different.”

Grace identifies as bisexual in this and I loved when I saw it on the pages. I know that not everyone is comfortable with labeling, but sometimes seeing someone like Grace say that she is bisexual means so much. Most of my favorite quotes from HTMAW are about Grace and her bisexuality.

I also appreciated the masturbation scene because its a perfectly normal thing and it should be normalized in YA.

+ Writing & Tone

While I can appreciate very flowery and vivid writing, I enjoyed Ashley Herring Blake’s simplistic but also emotionally-packed writing. The tone of this felt great too, because its this mix of, emotional and

+ Moving On & Self-Care

By the end, Grace decides to make herself a happier and healthier person.

Just a minor thing to add was the way the characters found ways to take care of themselves, such as Grace hanging out with Luca and eating pizza fries (I want some of those btw), Grace playing her piano, Eva coloring in her coloring book. Just those little things to treat yourself is so nice to see.


FAVORITE QUOTES


NEXT TO READ BY ASHLEY HERRING BLAKE

GIRL MADE OF STARS

AVAILABLE NOW

girl made of stars

SYNOPSIS

“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.


Thanks for reading! Comment down below some of your favorite F/F romances or just any LGBTQAIP+ book with a MC that you think I should add to my TBR.

Sav

june favorites (non-book related)

MUSIC:

ALBUMS:

Lorde – Melodrama (RATING: 9/10) – lorde is definitely one of my fave female artists of modern pop music and this album proved it. this album!!! everything about Melodrama is just so beautiful and melancholy and bittersweet and passionate. i live for this sad girl at a party vibe. all the songs were so emotional and powerful. i will always cherish her first album Pure Heroine as iconic and symbolic representation of my teen years, Melodrama has taken the place of the sound of my sad young adult years trying to live my life. FAVE SONGS: Green Light, Homemade Dynamite, The Louvre, Liability, Supercut, Perfect Places 

SZA – Ctrl (RATING: 8/10) – so i’ll be honest, i’m still listening to this album and i don’t have an official opinion on it yet. but for the most part i can say this album is filled with pleasant bops and anthems. i had not heard of sza before she was featured on a rihanna song from her album, ANTI called Consideration (which i also love). FAVE SONGS: Love Galore, Drew Barrymore, Prom, Broken Clocks

SONGS:

Never Been Wrong – Waxahatchee
Skim – TORRES
Little of Your Love – HAIM
Want You Back – HAIM
Location – Khalid
On + Off – Maggie Rogers 

MOVIES:

Wonder Woman – What more can I say? I know so many people love this movie and I can fully agree that this movie was brilliant! I’m so glad to finally see one of the most iconic female superheroes (honestly just one of the most iconic superhero in general) in her own movie. Also done in the most brilliant way possible. I was also happy that this movie was directed by a female directer (Patty Jenkins). Honestly we need more women making and writing films for women and young girls. Go see this movie! RATING: 9/10

SHOWS:

Better Call Saul (Season 3)  – HOLY SHIT. this season ended off with one of the darkest moments on this series so far. if you haven’t started this show, i suggest you start now. tif you haven’t heard of it, this is the spin-off of breaking bad. this show proves that spin-offs don’t have to be a cheap way for the creators to make more money off an existing product. this show is just as clever and smart as breaking bad was. s3 especially was a game change for the characters. the action was picked up. the drama rose and tensions were higher than ever. RATING: 9/10 

Fargo (Season 3) – this season has definitely been the show’s most divisive yet. a lot of risks where taken with the narrative and characters this year that may have either made or break this season. IMO, this season has given me a lot of mixed feelings. i loved the first two seasons and i did thoroughly enjoy and have a lot of fun watching this one, i just cannot compare it as favorably to the first two. even though the first two seasons have their own flaws, i found myself picking out more criticisms of this season than the last two. but i still can’t say that this was a bad season. I enjoyed Ewan McGregor as Emmitt and Ray Stussy. I LOVED Carrie Coon and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Deputy Gloria Burgle and Nikki Swango, both whom I was rooting for the whole sesaon. David Thewlis aka Remus Lupin plays the main villain, VM Varga. He definitely deserves an Emmy nom this year, alongside Carrie Coon and MEW. Also Michael Stuhlbarg as Sy Feltz better get an Emmy nom for his brilliant performance. While I felt the characters were on-par with the usual Fargo-esque quirks tied together with the brilliant writing and cinematography. I think the overall story and plot felt a little…meh. A common criticism I noticed on Twitter for this season was that it was slow and only picked up in episode 8 when a character from S1 returned and I have to agree. Overall, I still love this show, being one of the best written shows on TV right now and I hope there will be more seasons despite the rumors that the show’s creator, Noah Hawley wants to end it to work on Legion and other projects. 😦 RATING: 8/10

Preacher (Season 2) CURRENTLY AIRING ON AMC – i was planning on talking about this when the season came to a close but i have to say that i’m already LOVING this season, especially much more than its first. this show is weird af and its just so much fun to watch these characters and this pretty f*cked up world. i can’t wait to see what unfolds this trio. tulip is still a badass lady who owns my heart, cassidy is hilarious and weird as usual, and jesse is just doing his best on his mission to find GOD.  i’m not rating it now since there’s only been 2 episodes. i can safely say that i am enjoying what i’ve seen thus far. 🙂

so that’s what i’ve liked in june, be prepared for a july favorites at the end of month and ciao!

Thanks, 

sav