What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum- a 5/5 Star Review!

Have you ever loved a book so much that every time you see the cover of it you just sigh happily?  Perhaps even swoon?  That is my current state with What to Say Next by the very talented Julie Buxbaum.  She has a way of hitting a reader right in the feels.  I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I felt a wide range of emotions.  I had this similar reaction with her previous book Tell Me Three Things (which I also highly recommend-see my Goodreads review: here ).  Also, there was a big plot twist that was unexpected and essentially had me locked into the book, racing along until the perfect ending.

This was a great book that dives into the tumultuous waters of high school drama and then the riptide of loneliness catches you and makes sure you stay.  It made me feel the grief, loneliness, and hope that the main characters, Kit and David, felt.  These two were opposites in many ways, yet each of them have their worlds flipped upside down, which brings them together.  It is a fresh reminder of the discomfort of finding yourself at the brink of adulthood.  It abuses the heart, really, as it is heart-wrenching at times, yet you feel your heart swelling at other times.   All in all, a must-read that is different from other YA romance novels in that it presents an exceptional approach of mixing humor with grief to the common struggle of finding yourself.

I enjoyed that there were unique attributes about the characters that set them apart from the general population in the book, particularly David’s Asperger Syndrome attributes.  I cannot say whether or not these features were accurate, however, I do enjoy the respectful and charming way of which his character was developed.  I would recommend this for any reader high school age and older who is a fan of innocent romance and deep situations.  I would also recommend this book for readers who are fans of math and science as David’s narrative is heavy in those fields.  On the other hand, it was not so heavy that those who are not strong in the math and science fields (including yours truly) could not follow along.

For those who may be offended: there was foul language, brief violence, infidelity, bullying, alcohol use, brief mention of drug use, and an overarching theme of grief.

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The Waking Land by Callie Bates- a 2/5 Star Review

It was a great start but quickly lost stamina for me. There were a lot of characters that I could not keep track of as well as inconsistencies with the personality of the main character, Lady Elanna Valtai. She was confused yet she was certain. She was loyal to the King that raised her like a daughter yet barely fought for her best friend. She was defiant and stubborn with everyone except the (conveniently handsome) sorcerer Jahan. I understand that she was supposed to be immature as she is a young teenager who is just now discovering that her whole life was a lie. However, her character was too erratic for me to be able to enjoy. I gave it two weeks to try to finish and I still cannot bring myself to, so I am moving on and marking it as a DNF at 31%.

Please note: an electronic copy was generously provided for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker- a 5/5 Star (Life Changing) Review!

Cass and Emma Tanner are the famous sisters that mysteriously disappeared three years ago. Now, only Cass has returned. What happened to Emma? That’s exactly what Dr. Abby Winter is going to find out. What she has discovered in the last three years since the girls vanished and her investigation begun is one thing: nothing is what it seems. Dr. Abby Winter knows firsthand how traumatizing it can be to have a childhood ruled by a narcissistic mother. That is what got her into this line of work in the first place. But can she keep her past from clouding her judgement in the present?

I loved this book and found it masterfully created. Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger that made me as a reader want to read “just one more chapter” for several chapters. It was told in alternating perspectives between Cass and Abby (Dr. Winter) which I thought enhanced the story as it gave deeper perspective into both characters as well as gave different views on the supporting characters.

To be more personal than I have been in any of my previous reviews, I cannot explain well enough to give it justice just how immensely tied to this book I was. I had to put it down some chapters because it related too well to my childhood with a narcissistic mother that too much of it in one sitting could be overwhelming. Fortunately, I were raised mostly by my (selfless, hilarious, and dedicated) father so I did not have the damages quite as bad as these girls, but the scars are still there. Time does not actually heal all wounds. Some scars will always remain, even if they are hidden just under the surface.

There are variances with every family and experience with any personality disorder. Yet there were pages and pages that I kept highlighting and excitedly screaming out “YES! Exactly!”. It was fascinating to see what I experienced play out in a fictional tale. The quote that I had to read over and over because it was accurate, relatable, and glaringly honest was:

“Mrs. Martin had never been punished for anything she had ever done. She was a master illusionist. Even people trained to see, even people looking for exactly what was there to be seen, could still not see”.

I am immensely pleased that Wendy Walker had the courage and skill to take this topic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and create a story that is masterful regardless of if a reader has had an experience with it. There has only been one other book that I have read on this topic several years ago, Dr. Karyl McBride’s Will I Ever Be Good Enough?. This book was nonfiction and absolutely changed my life because it put the facts of Narcissistic Mothers in my face and helped me learn how to cope and live my own life. If you are someone who has gone through an experience with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, particularly with a Narcissistic mother, I highly recommend both Will I Ever Be Good Enough? and Emma in the Night. You should also know that you are not alone!

I would also recommend this book for those readers who are fans of surprise twists as there are several. Furthermore, the ending is unexpected, twisted, and genius.

For those who may be offended: there was foul language, sexually explicit scenarios, drug use, alcohol use, infidelity, incest, and child abuse.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.