It’s been a while since I’ve read a good dystopian and knowing how much I enjoyed Love, Rosie, I jumped at the chance to get my paws on Cecelia Ahern’s young adult debut, Flawed.

Our main character, Celestine, lives in a world where making a wrong decision can lead to you being branded ‘flawed’ and becoming a second class citizen. I really liked this concept, and it was well thought out, there was history, and it was explained clearly and in a fair bit of detail throughout the book, which really helped to pull me into the book.

The idea got me thinking as well, and I thought it was interesting that Cecelia included a case extremely similar to that of Ashya King and his parents. (If you’re unaware of that case; Ashya’s parents took him out of hospital when the NHS couldn’t provide what his parents thought was a safer form of treatment. They fled the country to Spain, where they were arrested and questioned. Thankfully, Ashya received the treatment his parents wanted him to and he made a recovery.) Including a case that was so big (in the UK at least) made the ‘flawed’ system more understandable, and more ridiculous; it was a pretty clever way to get the reader to feel outrage towards the system.

In general, I think there was a lot of the way that the Flawed were treated is applicable to society nowadays, where certain groups of people are still treated like second class citizens.

I saw a few comments on Goodreads that Celestine is bland or dull. I agree that at the beginning of the book she is fairly dull, because she’s someone that follows the rules. But as the book progresses, she got more and more interesting and I couldn’t help but feel for her. It was Celestine that kept me gripped to the book and turning the pages rapidly, so that I could find out what happened next.

Finding original dystopian novels is hard because they all follow a very similar format, but I don’t think that makes a book bad. It’s fairly clear from the first few chapters what will end up happening, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable for me, because I was so sucked in. I finished Flawed in the space of three days, which isn’t super fast for me, but I was working during those three days, so I fit reading Flawed in wherever I could.

The secondary characters were well developed as well, and I enjoyed seeing changes in her mother and Pia especially. (That’s right, a young adult novel with good parents who are actually present!) Judge Crevan was a truly vile character whom I absolutely hated – think of the way Dolores Umbridge makes you feel and you’ll know how I felt about him.

The problem I had with Flawed was the ending. I remember getting to the 70% mark and thinking, “hmmm, there’s not much time for something big to happen and get it wrapped up in the next 30%,” and I was absolutely right, because nothing really happened or was resolved.

Flawed ends on a big cliffhanger (nothing wrong with that), but nothing big has actually happened or been resolved by the end, which left me feeling pretty deflated after being so into it. It would be like The Hunger Games ending when Katniss gets into the area, or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ending before Harry, Ron, and Hermoine go through the trapdoor.

I understand that it’s the first book in a series but it doesn’t really stand up on it’s own, which I felt quite let down by.

All in all, Flawed was an enjoyable read and I really got into the world and behind the movement that’s clearly going to try and shake things up, but the ending and lack of resolution was a bit of a let down.

What’s the last book you read?

*I received a free copy of Flawed in exchange for an honest review.

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Flawed Book Cover Flawed
Flawed
Cecelia Ahern
Young adult, dystopian
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
April 5th, 2016
eBook
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.

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Crush Eve Ainsworth

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how contemporary young adult should be done. It is everything I wanted in a contemporary YA novel and more.

Crush Eve Ainsworth blog tour I’m not normally one for comparing authors and novels, but Crush felt like Jacqueline Wilson had decided to write a young adult novel. I’m not sure how much that name will mean to non-UK readers, so here’s a little explanation: Wilson is a really popular British author who writes about big issues such as bullying, divorce, adoption, and mental illness for kids / middle grade readers.

Before we go any further, you should know that Crush details an abusive relationship, bullying and revenge porn. It’s pretty realistic and raw, so it was a tough read at points.

Our main character, Anna, has been having a hard time since her Mum left home and she’s ended up assuming the role of mum. Her Dad is taking it out on her, while her younger brother can do no wrong. When Will shows an interest in Anna, she is overjoyed to have an escape and someone who seems to understand.

From the get go, I couldn’t help but wish Anna the best and hoped she’d get the love, attention, and happiness that she deserves. I felt her anger that her Mum had left, I felt her happiness when she first got with Will, and I felt how overwhelming everything was as things went downhill.

There was a point in Crush, where Anna is about to snap; she’s had enough of everything and I felt like I could have snapped myself because I was so sucked into what she was feeling.

What I also liked is that we get to understand where Will is coming from. There’s a reason why he’s so controlling and abusive. While it doesn’t make it right, it was interesting to see his point of view and understand why someone might act that way.

As I mentioned earlier on, Crush also deals with revenge porn. It’s nothing new in schools, but with it being in the news quite a lot the past year or two, it was good to see it brought up and dealt with in a book. I love a good fluffy book, but books that deal with real problems that consume young people’s lives are so important to me.

If a book like Crush can help someone understand that the relationship they’re in is wrong, that they’re being treated wrong, that they need help, that they’re being bullied, or that what someone is doing to them is wrong – that can only be a good thing.

At 288 pages long and being as gripping as it is, it didn’t take me long to get through it at all.

I cannot recommend Crush enough; if you want a consuming, hard-hitting young adult contemporary, look no further than Crush.

Crush - Eve Ainsworth book rating: new favourite

*I received a free copy of Crush in exchange for an honest review. As awesome as free books are (seriously awesome), it does not sway my opinion. I CANNOT BE BOUGHT!

Do you like books that deal with difficult topics?

Crush Book Cover Crush
Eve Ainsworth
Young adult, contemporary,
Scholastic
3rd March, 2016
Paperback
288

Love hurts ... but should it hurt this much? Reeling from her mum's sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He's handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He's also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends, her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna's world is closing in. But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control... Eve Ainsworth's gripping second novel is a pitch-perfect exploration of love at its most powerful, addictive and destructive.

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Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell paperback

How does Rainbow Rowell do it? How does she pack so much awesome and detail into so few pages? I’m convinced she’s a wizard / witch.

Kindred Spirits is a 62-page release from Rainbow Rowell especially for World Book Day 2016. It seems that it’s currently exclusive to the UK, though I’m sure I saw her say somewhere (I can’t remember if it was Twitter, or an interview) that it will be released elsewhere next year.

I apologise if you do not live in the UK because I’m going to do a whole load of fangirling and you’re probably going to hate me. Sorry, but fangirling about Rainbow Rowell’s books about fangirls is what I do.

Elena is a Star Wars fangirl, and Kindred Spirits is set in the line outside a cinema in Omaha as she queues for four days to see the latest Star Wars movie.

I’m pretty late to the Star Wars party. I saw the latest film last December, but I haven’t seen the rest of them in their entirety (shhh, don’t tell anyone) but it doesn’t matter. Whether you’ve seen them all or none of them, you can still enjoy Kindred Spirits to it’s fullest. The spirit of the book is really about being passionate about something and sharing that passion – which I’m sure we can all relate to.

On top of that, there’s a lot of fangirling and bonding with strangers over a mutual love of something – which I’m sure many of us can relate to.

We’re quickly sucked into Elena’s world; she’s well developed and has a good back story, as do the other characters. HOW does Rainbow Rowell manage to create such a detailed character in the space of 62 pages?

The only bad thing I can think to say about Kindred Spirits is that it’s not a full story. I honestly feel like this could be turned into a full-length novel where we find out what happens next – because I would love to know what happens next, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Perhaps if we all ask Rainbow really nicely, it will happen. Isn’t that how Carry On came about?

In short, I adored Kindred Spirits and I’d definitely recommend it. If you like any of Rainbow’s other books, you’re sure to enjoy this just as much as the rest.

I should note that there’s a snippet of Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard at the back, after Kindred Spirits so while you might see it listed as being 96 pages long, only 62 pages is actually Kindred Spirits.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell - book rating new favourite

 

World Book Day Memories

Since Kindred Spirits was released for World Book Day 2016, I wanted to talk about fond memories of WBD. Who doesn’t remember the excitement of deciding what you’d be?

My favourite WBD memory was when I was about 5 or 6 years old, and I went as Tigger. My Mum painted a bright orange onesie with tiger stripes and made me a tail with a big spring in it. I loved it – I feel like there is a photo of it somewhere, but I couldn’t find it.

Please, tell me about your World Book Day memories.

Kindred Spirits Book Cover Kindred Spirits
Rainbow Rowell
Young adult, contemporary, novella,
Paperback

Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.'
'Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?'
'Maybe.'

If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels. Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On, and is part of a handful of selected short reads specially produced for World Book Day.

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February round up and March to be read

Time for a bookish roundup! I finished five books in February, and most of them were absolutely glorious.

 

February roundup

Tell The Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

This was January’s pick for The Olive Fox Book Club, and I wasn’t overly-thrilled with it, so it took me until the start of February to finish it off. I felt that I couldn’t connect to the characters very well, which meant the whole thing fell quite flat and I didn’t particularly care what happened.

 

Did I Mention I Need You – Estelle Maskame*

Oh, yes, this was good. Did I Mention I Need You helped me get my bookish mojo back.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in the series, Did I Mention I Love You, but all my niggles about that book were not present in this book. I flat out loved it, I’m hooked on the characters and I cannot wait to see what happens in the third book because I neeeeeeed to know what happens with Eden and Tyler.

 

The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky (Review on The Olive Fox)

This is one of those books I’ve heard about for years but I’ve always put off reading due to all the hype. When it was chosen as February’s read for The Olive Fox Book Club I was given no choice and had to pick it up. And I’m so glad I did.

It’s been a long time since I started and finished a book in a day – I think Anna and the French Kiss was the last time it happened. I cracked it open first thing in the morning, took it to lunch to read while waiting for my friends, came home and refused to move until I’d reached the end.

I loved the way it was written purely through letters, though I kinda want to know who Charlie was writing too.

 

Crush – Eve Ainsworth*

Much like Perks, Crush was a really gripping read. The characters were well-developed, interesting, and there was quite an important message about domestic abuse. It felt very realistic, and reminded me of a more grown up version of the Jacqueline Wilson novels I used to love as a kid.

 

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting – Holly Bourne

Whoa, this took me a long time to finish. I started The Manifesto on How to be Interesting in November, and it took me until last week to finish it. It’s not really the fault of the book.

It was pretty interesting, and I liked the idea behind it of the main character trying to infiltrate the popular group at school and discovering that guess what they’re actually people too! I liked the premise, there were a lot of good messages in it, but there was something that didn’t quite keep me gripped enough to finish it off faster.

 

March to be read

I set a goal of reading 70 books in 2016, and I’m falling a little behind on that goal so I really need to up my game.

Allegiant Collector’s Edition – Veronica Roth

This is another book that’s taken me a while to finish but I know exactly why; I don’t want to have to re-read the end again. I’ve bribed myself though, and told myself that I cannot read all the extra bits in this until I’ve finished the story – ONWARDS!

 

Glass Sword – Victoria Aveyard

Recently, I was naughty and I bought Glass Sword even though I don’t need it. I probably don’t even need to buy any more books this year, and I’d have enough on my TBR shelf to keep me going, that’s without even thinking about the ARCs. I bought Glass Sword because I keep seeing it on Instagram, and it looks so pretty.

So, I’m making myself read it in March because then I won’t feel so bad about buying it.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling

With The Cursed Child coming out in the summer, I want to re-read the series again. For me, the Chamber of Secrets has always been the book I’ve thought of as my least favourite but every time I read it I always think “HOW COULD I THINK THIS IS MY LEAST FAVOURITE? I LOVE ITTTTT!

 

What have you read recently, and what’s on your TBR list?

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6 books I have on pre-order

Don’t you just hate that feeling of finishing a book and knowing you have to wait months before you can find out what happens next? That’s been happening to me a lot recently. 

When I pre-ordered The Cursed Child the other day, I realised that I’d got six books on pre-order in total. SIX BOOKS ON PRE-ORDER! That has never happened before. It seems that there are so many books coming out this year that I just cannot wait to get my hands on.

Warning: I’ma mention the word ‘love’ a hella lot in this blog posts. Sorry, not sorry.

 

Kindred Spirits – Rainbow Rowell | February 25th, 2016

Kindred Spirits is a 96-page release for World Book Day 2016 that follows Star Wars fangirl Elena as she queues up to watch the latest Star Wars film.

I absolutely adore Rainbow’s writing; her characters are so detailed and real. I always finish her books feeling like I actually know the characters. She is an autobuy author for me.

After reading and loving Fangirl, I’m looking forward to see what she might do with a Star Wars fangirl.

 

The Glittering Court – Richelle Mead | April 5th, 2016

This has been described as a mix between Elizabethan and frontier worlds; what is not to love about that? The Glittering Court is a kind of finishing school for for ‘impoverished girls’ – you guys know how I feel about books that involve boarding schools. (I’m just assuming it’s a boarding school here.)

I’ve read and enjoyed the first three Vampire Academy books, so I’m sure that I’ll enjoy this.

 

The Crown (The Selection #5) – Kiera Cass | May 3rd, 2016

This is the second book in The Selection reboot (fifth book overall), and I WANT TO READ IT RIGHT NOW! The cliffhanger at the end of The Heir was cruel and I need to know what happens next.

A lot of people seemed to find Eadlyn irritating, but I quite liked her; it was nice to read a character who was unashamedly imperfect.

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany | July 31st, 2016

I’m not sure I even need to say a lot about this.

The play has been advertised as ‘the eighth installment’ in the series, but I’m going to try not to think about the book like that since it isn’t actually a novel, it’s a copy of the script that will be used when the play is first shown later this year. That said, I’ve been waiting to find out what happened to Harry, Ron and Hermoine for years, so I’m sure I’ll love it.

 

The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3) – Marie Lu | October 11th, 2016

With each book I read by Marie Lu, I fall in love with her even more. When I didn’t think she could beat the Legend series, she released The Young Elites. When I didn’t think that could be beaten, I fell harder for The Rose Society.

Her world building is so wonderful; she creates these wonderful and elaborate places, that you just sink into like a cosy bed at the end of a long, hard day.

The Rose Society took a very dark turn and I’m looking forward to seeing how the series comes to an end.

 

Aerie (Magonia #2) – Maria Dahvana Headley | November 3rd, 2016

I almost hyperventilated when I saw how stunning the cover for Aerie is. LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS! I have fangirled about Magonia enough on my blog, Twitter, and Instagram for you to know that it is one of my favourite books, so I am on tenterhooks to get my paws on Aerie and hold it in my hands. And love it, and date it. I’m definitely going to date it – where shall I take it? Is Nando’s too informal? What shall I wear?

Magonia was one of those books that stood alone solidly, but I am desperate to return to the world of Magonia and find out what happens next. Every time I hear Bird Set Free by Sia I can’t help but think about Magonia – I’ve had to remove it from my Spotify playlists because I keep thinking about Magonia and I don’t think it’s wise to be quite that distracted when driving.

 

Have you got any books on pre-order?

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Did I Mention I Need You - Estelle Maskame

Yes! That’s what I’m talking about; I got my reading mojo back and really sunk my teeth into Did I Mention I Need You?

Towards the end of last year I read Did I Mention I Love You; the first book in the DIMLY series. You may remember that I had mixed feelings about the book because I really liked the main characters, but had some other niggles. However, I’m pleased to report that I flat out loved Did I Mention I Need You and my previous annoyances are no longer.

We pick up a year after the end of DIMILY (I know I could copy and paste, but I’m being lazy and abbreviating) and Eden is excited about the prospect of heading to New York for a few weeks because:

  • A: it’s New-freaking-York (I doubt that’s correct use of hyphens)
  • B: Tyler is living there

From the get go, you know there’s only one way this is going to go:

  1. Eden will cheat on Dean, and Eden and Tyler will get back together
  2. The whole stepsiblings thing will be an issue (a non-issue for me)
  3. Family and friends will probably find out

Aaaaand that’s exactly what happens. DIMINY was never going to be anything but predictable due to the storyline, but that doesn’t make it a bad story at all. Don’t get me wrong, a predictable book can be a bad book, but that just wasn’t the case here. Estelle Maskame sucked me into Eden and Tyler’s lives and I feel like I actually know both of them. I am unequivocally hooked on their lives.

It was nice to explore New York through Eden’s eyes, and it’s made me really want to go back. I must also add that my shoe-envy over Eden’s white Converse finally gave me something to spend a gift card on. (Thank you Estelle, you terrible enabler, you.)

Some characters from the first book make an appearance, though no where near as much as in the first book. We also meet two new characters, who I really grew to love and I think they’re stronger and more interesting supporting characters than the supporting characters were in the first book.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler for me to tell you that Eden and Tyler end up getting back together, and there are mixed reactions to their relationship when people find out. Of course, Dean is less than thrilled and despite that I couldn’t help but want Tyler and Eden to be happy.

For me, the step sibling thing hasn’t really been an issue because they weren’t raised together and don’t live together as siblings. Of course, both in real life and in the book, there are mixed reactions to that and it was interesting to see how it unfolded.

And the ending. THE ENDING! Estelle is a cruel lady. I re-read it a couple of times because I couldn’t believe what happened. I need to know when the third book is coming out because it is one of the cruellest cliffhangers I have ever encountered.

Did I Mention I Need You is exactly what I needed after the past couple of books I read didn’t really do much for me. Estelle had me hooked from the first page and I kept turning the page to find out what would happen next. It was one of those books that you groan about having to put down, and end up thinking about the characters in between reading and after you’ve read the final word.

In short: A gripping forbidden romance-fueled angst-fest set in New York.

What was the last book you read that had you absolutely hooked?

*I received a free copy of Did I Mention I Need You in exchange for an honest review – this does not affect my opinion and I would never fangirl about something I didn’t honestly enjoy.

Did I Mention I Need You - Estelle Maskame book rating - new favourite

 

Did I Mention I Need You Book Cover Did I Mention I Need You
Did I Mention I Love You
Estelle Maskame
Young adult, contemporary, romance

It's been a year since eighteen-year-old Eden Munro last saw Tyler Bruce: her stepbrother… and her secret love. Although they called time on their forbidden relationship for the sake of their family, Eden can't help but feel excited when Tyler invites her to join him in New York City for the summer.

Anyway, Eden is happy with her boyfriend Dean, and surely Tyler has moved on too. But as they spend a long, hot summer in the excitement of the city that never sleeps, it soon becomes obvious that they aren't over each other. But can they resist temptation?

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All The Rage - Courtney Summers book review

I cannot get enough of authors pushing the boat with heavy topics in young adult, and I wanted to read All The Rage as soon as I read the description.

Trigger warning: All The Rage discusses rape and sexual assault.

All The Rage follows the story of our protagonist, Romy, who is trying to deal with the aftermath of being raped. She has become an outcast from her friendship group, is regularly bullied, and it’s quickly clear that no one believes that she was raped.

The blurb focuses heavily on her attack and a link to a girl who goes missing, but the blurb is quite a poor representation of the book. I do take blurbs with a pinch of salt because their job is to pull you in, but I went into All The Rage expecting one thing and got something very different.

For starters, the attacker, who is referenced in the blurb, is only mentioned in passing in the actual book. I was expecting that maybe they were at school together and she might have to deal with that, but nope. I also thought that maybe we would see a lot more of a back and forth between people who didn’t believe her (as her attacker is labelled a ‘golden boy’), but that didn’t happen either.

I must admit that the timeline baffled me to begin with. It jumps back and forth quite confusingly (despite being labelled…) and I found it a little tricky to figure out what was happening and when. On top of that, despite the horrible things Romy was going through and having to deal with, I didn’t connect with her.

Now, I have two thoughts about why that might be:

  • I just didn’t connect with Romy
  • Romy has been through an extremely difficult time and has become very withdrawn, so maybe that’s the whole point of why I couldn’t connect?

I should have felt angry that Romy was the victim of a horrific attack and victim blaming. My blood should have been boiling because her attacker got away with it. I wanted to feel for her so badly, but it just didn’t happened. Believe me when I say I tried.

Additionally, some of her actions didn’t make sense to me and felt a little forced as a way to add something into the plot. Again, I feel like this could also be due to her mental state but I’m not entirely convinced that that’s why.

The pacing wasn’t bad, though it felt a little slow at times, but the plot didn’t do much for me as a whole; I didn’t ever feel that I could really figure out what the focus was on. A former friend going missing seemed like a bit of a distraction and I felt that the ‘resolution’ was very rushed and not particularly satisfactory for me.

In general, it felt quite directionless the majority of the time and perhaps that was the whole point, but if it was it wasn’t made clear enough. I would have preferred the book to focus on Romy coming to terms with what happened and people finally believing her.

On paper, All The Rage should have been a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I like reading about difficult topics and as Louise O’Neill proved to me in Only Ever Yours, a book about dark topics doesn’t need a happy ending, or to be nice to read in any way, to be gripping or powerful.

I’ve said mostly negative things about this book so far, but I cannot deny that it did keep me gripped. Though, some of that was me waiting to see when this book would live up to the blurb. Courtney’s writing style was beautiful also, very poetic at times.

“You know all the ways you can kill a girl?
God, there are so many.”

I also really liked the relationship between Romy, her mother and stepfather, and her boyfriend. That gave me an insight into what it must be like for parents to feel so helpless when their child is suffering. The relationship with her boyfriend made me think about something I’d never really thought about before; how do you move forward and have a relationship after going through something like that? I commend Courtney for opening my eyes there.

Now, it does seem that I’m not in the vast majority with this book because there are so many four and five star reviews for All The Rage on Goodreads. It was definitely one of those books where I read the reviews and asked myself if I was reading the same book as everyone else.

With all of the above said, I’m not going to tell you not to read it because you might read it and love it. I also think it’s really important to read about heavy topics that open our eyes to other people’s experiences and give us some kind of understanding of what it’s like to go through something like this.

I see victim blaming being challenged more and more and I think books like this can go a long way towards helping people understand what it’s like to not only have to deal with sexual assault, but to then have people think you’re a liar and / or blame you for it.

*I received a copy of All The Rage in exchange for an honest review. As nice as free books are, it does not affect my opinion of a book at all because you guys are too awesome for me to lie.

Rating for All The Rage by Courtney Summers - Meh

All The Rage Book Cover All The Rage
Courtney Summers
Young adult, contemporary
Pan Macmillan
January 28th, 2016
eBook

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous.But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

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