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Book Review: The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

Book Title & Author: The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason
Published by: Soho Teen on February 19th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.

I'll be honest. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. The synopsis made the book sound like an Alexia book, but I had been burned recently by another book that sounded like an Alexia book. This book looked like it had a LOT of things to love about it, but I was still nervous. But I picked it up one August morning and it took me about 24 hours from start to finish.

Books about sisters are some of my favorite things and that's probably because I have a very strained relationship with my own half sisters. I crave reading books about sisters who actually grew up in the same house, had the same parents and knew each other better than anyone else knew them. And that's how I felt reading this book. Harley knew her sister, Audrey better than anyone else did. But I know she hadn't expected to find Audrey hooking up with her boyfriend one night.

Books about cheating have become easier for me to read over the last few years, since I was cheated on. I don't think I could have read this book three years ago. It would have been too much for me and it would have felt like a sledgehammer hitting me over and over again. Now I am in a much better place in regards to the subject of cheating. I didn't mind reading about cheating in this book. Probably because I could not stand Harley's boyfriend.

What I wasn't expecting was so much talk about addiction & alcoholism. I knew it was going to be a theme in this book, but I wasn't prepared for how much of a theme. The subject of addiction is a tough one for me as my family has been battling this issue with my 17 year old brother for over 2 years. I was worried I wouldn't be able to handle it. I was worried it was going to be too much. But the way Mason wrote about addiction and rehab and all the other things that go along with those things, hit me in a way I didn't expect. She seemed to truly understand what it was like living in the body of an addict as well as loving someone who was an addict.

As much as I loved the dynamic between Audrey & Harley, it was Harley's romance with longtime neighbor, Raf, that really got me excited. Romance doesn't usually get me all giddy & excited, but Harley & Raf just made me happy and really, really hopeful. 

I was a little nervous about Harley jumping from budding alcoholic Mike to full fledged addict Raf, but the guys had different stances on their problems. Mike was so firmly in denial about his problems with alcohol that it made me want to punch him. But Raf knew he had a problem and he was actively working on himself and what he wanted for his future.

Final thoughts: Pick up this beautiful book next month when lands on shelves of your nearest bookstore.

Book Review: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

Book Title & Author: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire on February 5th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Synopsis: Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape… 

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there's been a mistake. She didn't need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn't a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

I was really curious about this book just based off the synopsis alone. I have a weird fascination with mental health institutions. I was definitely hopeful that I would enjoy this book, but considering I've DNFed a previous book by this author, I was also very apprehensive. That feeling did not last long as I was hooked almost immediately. Love that feeling! 

2019 is going to be an amazing year for YA. I'm writing this review in September and I've already read 3 2019 books and all of them have been awesome & have exceeded my expectations. Immediately upon picking up this book, my brain started to question things and I questioned things throughout the entire book. Was it really an accident? Was Hannah really as smart as she was portrayed? And what about her parents? Were they really as disinterested in her as they appeared to be? And the most important & broadest question: What the hell was going on?

Hannah struck me as very odd. Especially when it came to her talking about Agnes & Jonah. She seemed to have every excuses in the book about her betraying her friend for a boy. I struggled to feel anything but contempt for her. How could she rationalize what she and Jonah were doing to Agnes? See, told you there were questions all through this book. I love books that have me questioning everything at every little turn.

Hannah was labeled "A danger to herself and others" on the paperwork when she was admitted into the institution, which of course lead me to believe that they didn't believe the incident was an accident. Because of her label, Hannah was allowed no privileges. She was in solitary confinement and the only time she seemed to have people in her room was when the doctor, Lightfoot, Hannah called her, came into the room. The doctor was usually accompanied by a man named Stephen. Honestly, I kept expecting Hannah to explode and rage out on Stephen.

And then there was Lucy. She was fascinating for more than one reason. I found her as captivating as Hannah, but I didn't feel nearly the amount of contempt for her as I felt for Hannah. Lucy was there for her own reasons, reasons I suspected early on. She didn't seem afraid of Hannah, which struck me as odd. Maybe she didn't know the reason Hannah was there.

This book was so creepy and captivating. It actually reminded me a lot of Girl, Interrupted, which I loved. A book like this has to be character heavy, which this one was. I wanted just a bit more character development for all of them. I wanted more specifically for Hannah's parents, who seemed very child-centered at first, but then as certain things unfolded, I realized they were pretty distant parents.

Final thoughts: If you want a book where you'll be questioning everything, all the time, pick this book up next month.

Most Anticipated: January 2019

Most Anticipated is a feature wherein I talk about new releases. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, just the titles I'm most excited about. Guys, January is going to be awesome! So many sequels, follow-up novels, and more!

The Girl King by Mimi Yu [Goodreads]
Sisters, war, ambition, betrayal. Why are you hitting all my buzzwords at once? One of my best friends read this and LOVED it so I know it's going to be amazing. And I really, really like the cover.

The Wicked King by Holly Black [Goodreads]
I haven't actually read The Cruel Prince yet (although, I'm writing this October so maybe by the time it goes up, I will!) But that doesn't mean it's okay to exclude this from the list. Any new Holly Black title is going to excite me.

Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner [Goodreads]
If you read Unearthed then YOU KNOW about that crazy ass ending. I need to know what happens and I need to know now!!

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire [Goodreads]
I love this series so much. I didn't think the 3rd was the Best Ever, but that doesn't matter. When I heard the world was going to be expanded, I basically literally jumped for joy. The writing, the world, the characters, the premise--everything about this series is amazing.

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon [Goodreads]
I didn't even look at the blurb before snagging this arc and adding it to this list. I loved Solomon's debut to absolute pieces. It was just so authentic and realistic, the portrayal of surviving teenage girlhood and the beautiful and diverse representations of the Jewish faith and culture. I can't wait for more from this author.

The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale [Goodreads]
This is a Medusa retelling!!! MEDUSA. How often do you see THAT? I simply CANNOT WAIT.

Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh [Goodreads]
Finally! I read an early copy of the first book so I've been waiting a while for this release. I am very interested in what's going to happen next, and I kind of feel an f/f/f love triangle brewing which makes me very excited.

Come Find Me by Megan Miranda [Goodreads]
I've enjoyed all the Megan Miranda books I've read so far, so I have high hopes for this. It sounds SO creepy, with weird alien messages and missing people. I hope it lives up!

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne [Goodreads]
If you haven't read The Hating Game yet, what the heck are you waiting for? It's one of my all-time favorite romance novels. I didn't even need to check the blurb or anything before I pre-ordered this. I am sooooooo hype.

What new releases are coming in January are you most excited to read?