Depression Is

I am utterly exhausted.

It turns out that masking your emotions and keeping up a good impression is an immense amount of work. I am not equipped to continue to act as though I am not completely and utterly lost.

But that’s what depression is, right?

Depression isn’t sadness or anger that manifests as sleeping through days only to wake up more sad and angry.
Depression is waking up and smiling when someone asks her how things are going.
Depression is “can’t complain” and “oh you, know, same old stuff” so that the person she’s talking to isn’t obligated to actually listen to her crippling sadness.

Depression is deleting that facebook status, text message or tweet so that people don’t read it and assume she’s fishing for attention.
Depression is being terrified of posting the emotional blog post meant to cope with emotion because the last one made it’s way to her boss.
Depression is not admitting the depths of her torment so that she don’t scare people into making her situation worse when they realize the reality of her present thoughts.
Depression is holding on to her pain and fucked up thought process so that she doesn’t burden someone else’s mind with her already unbearable load.
Depression shares the lyrics, poems and words she hopes you’ll see reflect her pain on the inside but then says “oh I just liked them” when you ask why she shared them.

Depression looks like smiles and laughter and sarcasm attending parties or lunch dates, when she’d rather cry and stare at the wall.
Depression is not getting offended when her friends tell her that she’ll “never get a date with confidence like that” or “maybe if you weren’t so cynical all the time someone would want to be with you”.
Depression is blindly allowing people to tell her, “you’re amazing” after they just criticized her personality, because pointing out the contradiction would be “negative”. Depression is taking pictures of other people so that she doesn’t ever have to be in them.
Depression wishes she had more pictures with the people she loves.
Depression is going to the event where everyone will ask her to talk about her life she hates and chatting with everyone.
Depression cracks the joke before you find time to pity her.

Depression cries herself to sleep at night, desperately wishing someone cared about her enough to want to hold her.
Depression goes to bed alone every night still believing in love and celebrating the joy their friends find in one another.
Depression avoids looking into mirrors to see the outward appearance that the world deems unattractive but smiles graciously when you tell her “you’re so pretty when you try”.
Depression pretends like “trying” to be more fit/active/pretty is annoying so it feels intentional when you’re not getting the more polished version.
Depression lets you find her dates on tinder even though the thought of someone meeting her face to face and running from her appearance leaves her feeling empty and ashamed.

Depression works tirelessly to be positive and uplifting for those around her because someone always has it worse.
Depression has to pretend your unintentional comments haven’t left her feeling envious and upstaged.
Depression needs to “stop” and “love herself” otherwise no one else will.
Depression can’t answer the question “how are you” honestly without ruining her chances at finding love, success or new friendships.
Depression has a million reasons to smile and be grateful, but can’t seem to reach them even on the best days.

Depression will go to sleep alone and wait to see who reads/comments on her posts but still not fully comprehend being loved and cared for.
Depression can’t show her face to you because nothing so ugly and worthless should take up your time.
Depression can’t let you see what she really looks like when she’s broken.
Depression doesn’t trust you not to walk away when she does.

Depression is exhausting, and I am drained.

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Sky in the Deep

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Title: Sky in the Deep
Author:
Adrienne Young
Hardcover:
 352 pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books (April 24, 2018)
Rating: 5/5

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.”

If you’re a fan of fierce AF female lead characters you absolutely HAVE to read this book! Adrienne Young has gifted this world with a gripping story rooted in family and honor that features characters you’re sure to love.

Eelyn is a 17-year-old (because this is YA) Aksa Viking devoted to her father and her tribe. Wielding an axe, this girl is a total badass alongside her best friend as they go into battle against the Riki. Eelyn never expected to see her brother, long-since dead from his last battle, fighting alongside her enemy. Eelyn follows her brother, leading to her capture by the Riki, and is then faced with the challenge of surviving in an enemy tribe while learning the truth of her brothers betrayal.

Eelyn is the character every girl wishes they could be – she’s fierce, she’s loyal, she’s beautiful, she can kick your ass and she’s unbelievably stubborn. Young does a phenomenal job developing her into this complex character as she battles her desire to return home and hatred for the Riki against her internally caring nature and love for family. Young’s writing will have you rooting for Eelyn to escape while you are simultaneously pining for her to remain with Fiske, our handsome love interest.

The world is rich with Viking culture; battle, spiritual guides and rituals, and some all-to-real violence that paints a vivid picture of the dangers our main character faces as she is thrown into an enemy camp. Young balances honesty to culture with gripping story telling that leaves readers completely immersed in this violent and captivating world. Young does a fantastic job weaving in romantic and family subplots that enhance the storyline rather than feel out of place or overused.

At it’s core, this story is about defying the odds and unity. Eelyn starts the novel as a character hell bent on proving herself in battle and destroying her enemy. Along the way, Eelyn sees that both the Aska and the Riki share a common enemy and must work to unite the tribes to work together, overcoming generations of hatred.

I absolutely loved this book and it’s a must read for anyone who loves YA novels that feature complex and fierce lead characters without a lot of frill and excessive emphasis on the romantic subplot. You get all the feels AND all the action. It’s a win-win and definitely a five star read!

The Traitor’s Game

 

 

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Title: The Traitor’s Game
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Page Numbers: 405
Source ISBN:
 1338045377
Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (February 27, 2018)
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well — and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.

The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what — and who — it is they’re fighting for.

Jennifer A. Nielsen introduces us to an unforgettable new heroine in this epic tale of treachery and intrigue, love and deceit.”

This novel was one of my most highly anticipated of 2018’s releases and I’m so thrilled to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate it’s release! Scholastic was kind enough to send me a copy for review so I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you!

This novel is packed with the classic elements of a great fantasy tale – mysterious family secrets, unknown family bloodlines, a prophecy depicting the future of a nation of people, an evil overlord taking power by force and an epic battle to find the one thing that could save them all. If you love fantasy that mixes in magical elements into the everyday world, you will love this story.

Antora is a place that is filled with secret magical beings, capable of manipulating elements depending on the level of their specific power and abilities. Lord Endrick is an evil ruler who is determined to eradicate all of those with magic in order to keep it all for himself. This story in many ways reminded me of the dynamic we see throughout the Grishaverse when it comes to siphoning the powers of the Grisha, each gifted with magic that falls within different categories. Ironically enough, much of what takes away from this novel is the same thing that, for me, took away from the story in Bardugo’s novels — the romance.

Nielsen has an incredibly captivating story that is filled with mysteries and twists that will keep readers on the edge as they discover how the prophecy will be fulfilled and who can wield the Olden Blade to save Antora. This content is where the novel shines, as Nielsen has woven characters throughout the novel giving small tidbits of information scattered throughout the story that ultimately come together for the large reveal at the end that will have readers quickly turning the pages for more. For me, what takes away from this portion of the novel is the way in which our romance develops between our main characters.

Romantic sub-plots have come to be second nature in epic fantasy tales but they can sometimes distract from the overall feel of the novel, in my opinion. Our main characters shared a traumatic childhood past, only to grow to hate one another as adults. Though it is clear from the beginning that they dislike each other, it takes a total of 3 seconds for our male hero to begin questioning his feelings for Kestra. Much of this is done through an internal dialogue that aims to be sarcastic and quippy, but in my opinion comes across as predictable and a bit corny. In many ways, the internal questioning of feelings from Simon and Kestra follow a dialogue style that isn’t consistent with the rest of the novel and made it difficult to look past. It was actually very difficult to make it through the first 100 pages of the story because so much of the content focused on their conflicting feelings with one another while not revealing much content.

After that, the writing seems to find itself again and readers are less distracted by the romantic sub-plot and are catapulted into a dangerous game of secrets, lies and betrayal. The second half of the novel totally changed my outlook on the book and guaranteed that I’ll pursue reading the second installment. Characters like Darrow and Gerald enhanced the story for me and helped me to invest in the overarching goal of saving Antora from Lord Endrick. What I appreciate is that even though we know Lord Endrick is bad, it is still unclear what path Kestra will take in order to save the people of Antora. Divided into three sub-groups who all have different beliefs of the world, Kestra is faced with finding not only her path, but her place among this world and her new responsibilities.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I was excited to see it take hold of me after while. It’s a relatively quick read and I think fantasy lovers of the Grisha world will find this to be a captivating new land to discover and explore.

Twins

What do you see when you look at me?

Sometimes I wonder what people would say at my funeral.
Is that weird?
Probably.

You see, I’m too scared to know the truth of this world I live in.
I wonder what would people say if there was nothing left to fear, no moments left to change the course of our lives, no self-esteem left to protect.

Can you see the girl inside
broken and bruised but still struggling to survive?
The girl disgusted by her anger,
tormented by her lack of self-control
exhausted with holding on each day
wanting desperately to let go
to embrace the easy way out, for once
to rest for just a moment
to put down her responsibilities and just live.

Or do you see her twin?
The sarcastic heroine always there to put a smile on someone’s face
The determined worker who pushes to finish the job
even when others have gone home
The confident and stubborn will that fears nothing and no one
the warrior who won’t back down
the winner who gets back up
the daughter who always shows up.

I’d wager most of the world sees my twin
a bright and shining spirit even amidst her muddled, messy life.
But inside still lives the bruised and tired sister
a mere shadow on the side of the light you see burn so brightly in her smile.
She’s harder to find
more difficult to talk to
and impossible to believe in.

I wonder who’d remember her when the other girl is gone.
I wonder what things people would say if they knew there wasn’t another day.

I’m made up of two parts, you see
and I sometimes worry that I’ll one day leave this world never knowing which twin the world saw
Never knowing what people wished they had said.

I worry more that if I asked right now,
you’d see the broken, bruised shadow

And still say nothing.

Ghost

My heart is a ghost.
It haunts my dreams with visions of things past and those yet to come.
I chase my ghost in my dream, longing to know the face of my nightmare but I only find memories of you and dreams I know will never come true.

Years go by and still I search, plagued by fitful dreams of loneliness.
Loneliness has left me longing to meet my ghost once more because at least then I wouldn’t be so alone.

Dawn comes and reality sinks in, it’s weight crushing my chest.
My heart shatters again as I realize for what feels like the millionth time that..

My heart is a ghost.
You haunt my dreams each night because you are my heart.

But you are gone.

2 AM

It’s 2 AM and the air seems to shift.

Silence with us has grown comfortable but there’s always a change the longer we sit on this old, green couch.
The light from your laptop illuminates your face as we talk from across the cushions and I can’t imagine any place on earth feels more like home than this.
I shift casually closer to you as the night progresses, hoping you don’t notice.

I know you notice.

You shift too – not closer, but down into yourself as though you know you’re vulnerable and may say too much.
Your hood goes up around your face and your chest curves in as though it’s become too heavy, filled with the weight of a thousand unspoken thoughts.

You laugh.

Not your usual, cocky and animated laugh – a child-like giggle followed by a groan as you seem to hold yourself together.
I smile at you and roll my eyes asking the question I already know the answer to, hoping maybe this time you’ll say something different.

You don’t.

You smile again turning your head away and inch down more, closer and more vulnerable as you try to hide from the world.
Lonely and frustrated, you’ll ask me the question you always do and my heart will shatter but I stay on that couch because I can’t break apart so close to you.

What if our broken pieces got mixed together? Touched? Leaned on each other?

I laugh, I joke, I feign annoance as I tell you again the words you long to hear from someone else.
It’s 3AM now and you’re leaning closer or at least not moving away.
I’ve crossed the miles of couch that separated us at midnight and I can feel the buzz in the air, the tangible shift of tension.

I swear you can hear my heart beating.

I turn to my left and you turn to your right.
You grin the way you always do, reveling in your attempts to feign arrogance but I can see so far into the depths of who you are that I know if I got any closer I might actually drown with you.

You grin again and my heart swells.

I could lean closer, stroke your hair like I’ve done before, raise my eyebrows at your grin and challenge the boundaries of the electric air surrounding us.
You could move away or tell me to go, but neither of us dare to act on what we could.

It’s been 2 hours since I said I should go home.

It’s 4AM and we’re drifting to sleep so I get up and leave, immediately woken to the harsh snap of reality as the air changes back in the room.
I start my car. I arrive home. I go to bed.

Tomorrow I won’t wait for the shift before I leave.

The shift will make me stay.
Your grin will make me stay.
Your laugh will make me stay.
Your eyes will make me stay.

I spend years trying to walk away before that shift.
We change each year but somehow that couch is always the same.
The air in that room knows us and always pulls us back.
But time is cruel and soon we move to different couches in different states with different air.

It’s 2AM and I can’t sleep, but no one is here on this couch.

It’s 2AM and my mind can’t stop thinking of the groan that reminded me I had someone to talk to.

It’s 2AM and the glow from my phone stings my eyes and feels too harsh.

It’s 2AM and my chest aches from the hollow depths longing to be filled by that devilish grin.

It’s 2AM and I sink in my chair and look to my left but no eyes greet me.

 

The air in the room does not shift.

A Poison Dark and Drowning

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Title: A Poison Dark and Drowning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 4/5

The magicians want her to lead.
The sorcerers want her to lie.
The demons want her blood.”

Cue intense trailer music! In all seriousness, this book is a formidable sequel to it’s predecessor and definitely continues to impress and shock readers. We see young Neville, I mean Henrietta, (read my review of book one to get that joke) in the aftermath of her defeat of Korozoth, living as a sorcerer (technically sorceress, I suppose, but I don’t think they ever refer to her that way in the book) and adjusting to life after training. The war on the demons continues, Rook gets worse by the day and Henrietta still carries that damn world on her shoulder.

I found this book to be very interesting with a lot more depth than the first. I enjoyed getting to know family secrets, more about the prophecy and the origins of how this war against demons began. I honestly wanted to give this a 5 star rating but I just cannot do that in good conscious because of the romantic subplots!

Okay look — I know that 16 year olds are hormonal little monsters but why did we have to introduce ANOTHER romantic sub-plot into an already overplayed love triangle scenario? We’ve got boring mcshadows, sassy mccharming and now we throw in brooding mcmiserable into the mix? Ugh. Like, can Henrietta just live for a second? Girl is trying to save all of London from horrific demons who plan to destroy everything all while dealing with a horrible family history realization and now she’s got a man telling her “oh hey… you’re gonna be with me” as though she would ever agree to that crap. Witch, please. (Also — if I thought this reminded me of the Mortal Instruments before, it’s basically Clary/Simon/Jace/Sebastian with different names and less incest…maybe…I’m still not convinced that Henrietta isn’t tied to the Blackwood family in some way — also Blackwood is literally the name of a family in TMI…. okay I’m done.)

Though I understand her connection to Rook, it seemed like their relationship really progresses out of nowhere, as well. They went from awkward, friend-zone flirting to unyielding love and adoration in a hot minute. Meanwhile, Henrietta is getting her flirt on with literally everyone while Rook is ya know, becoming a horrific demon monster. It was hard not to be frustrated with her blatant neglect when it came to Rook’s condition and when everything goes down at Eliza’s party, I seriously was ready to stab her myself after what poor Magnus endures because of her stupidity.

Overlooking the irritations I have with the above paragraph, this book was filled with a lot of awesome mystery and backstory that gave more meaning to the impending doom surrounding London. As I said before, the tropes in this book are not something readers haven’t seen before, but I think this author does a good job of taking ideas readers have seen (and loved) from other book and making them their own within the world and narrative of this story.

The introduction of Maria is perhaps the best part of the whole book and is definitely the most intriguing mystery left unanswered at the end. Maria reminds me of Amren from ACOMAF in that she’s mysterious with secrets of her own, but is resourceful and able to fend for herself. She’s a loyal ally and someone who chooses words carefully. She’s not experiencing the dramatics of being a 16 year old caught in a love nest, but she has just as much riding on this whole war as everyone else, yet remains a calm and strong force throughout.

As we learn more about the prophecy, I think this story is going to end differently than readers will assume. Comparing again, you get Voldemort vibes with the whole “the girl and women two in one, one must die to unite the three” situation but I don’t think that’s going to play out as black and white as it seems. Admittedly, the prophecy has been pretty literal up to this point so what do I know.

Again, this book is great and it’s done well. It’s hard for me not to compare it to Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments because honestly it’s so similar in so many ways, but it definitely is enthralling and worth your time to read. I loved those other stories so I can’t knock it for having elements that remind me of those books. I’m hoping I’ll see a lot more originality in the next books and get surprised a lot more than I did in this one, but no matter what, this author knows how to write a fantasy that will appeal to her readers and give them what they crave.