gone

my heart is an iron safe, rusted and sealed shut to keep the demons out, to keep you out.
they say if you love something, let it go;
is that why every move you make pushes me fifteen, sixteen, seventeen steps away from you?
i don’t think so. i think that you don’t care yet, you don’t realize:

i’m getting out of here. and once i’m gone, i’m never coming back.

so you can sit there and cackle and think “i’ve got her”
and keep pretending that you don’t need me.

because when i get to eighteen steps, i’ll disappear from your senses.
you won’t see me, you won’t hear from me, you won’t touch me.

so enjoy the power while you still have it. revel in it, roll in it.
because when i’m gone, we’ll see who really needs who.

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The Young Elites by Marie Lu

81JbgVO-5sLNovel: The Young Elites by Marie Lu | Goodreads
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I fell in love with Marie Lu’s fast-paced and thrilling writing style in the Legend trilogy. So when I heard she was writing a new series from the point of view of a VILLAIN I was beyond excited. And when I finally got my hands on this novel, I was not disappointed.

The Young Elites is told mainly from our main character Adelina’s perspective, with chapters from Enzo and Teren inserted sporadically throughout. Adelina is a teenage girl with special powers due to the disease that sweeped her nation when she was a child. Because she is considered “damaged goods,” her dad agrees to sell her to a creepy married man who wants to use her as his whore. Having no desire to become an enslaved prostitute (surprising right?), Adelina runs away from home. Unfortunately, she is almost immediately captured by the royal Inquisition and sentenced to death. She is timely rescued by the Dagger Society, an elite sect of Young Elites (everyone with powers) that is actively trying to dismantle the corrupt monarchy. That’s where the story takes off and I don’t want to say anymore for fear of spoiling you!

I really liked this book. Really, really, really liked it. It was very unpredictable for me because I’ve read few to no books written from the POV of a villain. And what made this book even more intriguing and complex is that I didn’t always think Adelina was a villain. In fact, I wasn’t convinced until the very end. She’s suffered immense pain and abuse, and deep down she is incredibly wounded. She aspires to be good, despite her deficiencies. Like all humans, she has good and bad in her and her choices are what make her good or evil. It was absolutely fantastic to watch her character development (or should I say downward spiral) and she was like no other character I’d read before. I found her relatable and refreshing, and I really enjoyed her narration. Plus, she has an awesome name!

The other two POVs, Teren and Enzo, were excellent additions to the novel’s storyline because the reader gets to see each of their true motives that otherwise may have remained hidden. There are subplots, there’s mystery, there’s corruption and these male perspectives allow the reader to dig deeper into this world. Speaking of el mundo, the world-building in this novel was effective and well done. Another tidbit I’d like to throw in is that WHILE THE PREMISE MAY LEAD SOME READERS TO THINK THERE IS A LOVE TRIANGLE, THERE. IS. NOT. I REPEAT: THERE IS NOT. There is hardly any romance in this novel; it is mostly kick-ass and wonderfully evil. Adelina and Enzo do share some angst for each other but it is short-lived and I respected that. Also, there are several expected and several unexpected plot twists in this novel that will result in the following scenario: your book will be across the room because you threw it in shock, your tear ducts will kick into action, and you will have to bend over to pick your jaw up off the floor. Not that any of that happened to me…

Marie Lu really didn’t do anything by the books here. A young adult novel told from a rising female villain’s POV and two non-love interest male POVs with barely any romance and a storyline that deals with real life issues set in a dystopian fantasy world that contains TONS AND TONS OF PLOT TWISTS? I want more! In each character, Marie Lu shows us that every human has a mix of good and bad within them, no matter how they appear to be externally. Character development- or perhaps character “uncovering” is a more appropriate term- was huge. The characters are like onions and as you read, you peel them layer by layer. The plot of the book was also interesting; I’d say the story is led by individual characters but is also, to an extent, plot-driven.

I truly loved and admired The Young Elites. It was one of my favorite 2014 books and I anxiously await the release of its sequel! Hop on this bandwagon now… You’ll never look back!

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

6a00d83451af1569e20111688d8706970c-800wiNovel: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson | Goodreads
Release Date: March 19th, 2009
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Also Posted On: Lit Up Review

“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Let me start this off with a trigger warning: Wintergirls is most definitely a triggering book for anyone who has ever lived with an eating disorder. That being said, it is a truly fantastic novel that deals with several heavy issues. Lia, the protagonist, is a high school girl who suffers from anorexia nervosa and other disordered eating and exercise habits. She has low self-esteem (obviously) and a rough relationship with her divorced parents. Her best friend just died from bulimia. The girl’s got a lot going on.

Lia lives with her dad, stepmom, and little step-sister and avoids contact with her mother. She’s never been the best at anything in her life: she’s not top of her class, not the prettiest girl in town, not the most athletic. So Lia decides to be the skinniest- she can do that, right? She makes a pact with her best friend Cassie to become as skinny as possible. This decision quickly spirals for both girls into full-blown eating disorders, which are mental illnesses that cause extreme physical detriment. Cassie goes the bulimic route, while Lia becomes anorexic. As time goes on and both girls shed more and more weight, Lia and Cassie become increasingly competitive until they finally have a falling-out. So when Lia receives 33 phone calls in the dead of night from her ex-best-friend, she ignores them. The next day, Cassie is found dead. From there, the novel unfolds.

Lia continues to starve herself, to cut herself, and to put up an “I’m recovering” front. Yet as she nears closer and closer to the end, to the edge, to the final lost pound before she falls into utter oblivion, Lia begins to see Cassie everywhere. Cassie haunts her thoughts and dreams, taunting her, pulling her toward death so they can reunite. And as Lia floats in and out of doctors’ offices, rehab, and consciousness, she uncovers a startling truth: she wants to live. Through immense bravery and many faulty steps, Lia begins to put her past behind her and recover, one pound and one positive thought at a time.

Anderson’s poetic writing style makes this novel a standout regardless of its subject matter. Filled with cross-outs, journal entries, and layered metaphors, Lia’s story is woven in a haunting, achingly beautiful way. Readers will be jarred by the way Anderson makes Lia’s thought processes make sense. For example, if Lia is eating 300 calories a day, exercising for six hours, and throwing up what she’s eaten, the reader will understand why. He or she will think “wow this is insane, this is crazy, but I understand it.” Anderson so completely gets the mindset of an anorexic, and she embodies it within the story so effectively that the reader is forced to get it as well, no matter how insane and illogical the reasoning is. Wintergirls truly exposes an anorexic’s mentality to the reader and it is terrifying. But it’s well done and is a truthful portrayal of the reality of eating disorders; there is no glamorization of the disease. I think it’s important that stories like this are told.

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Lia’s journey through starvation, self-harm, and slow recovery is exceptionally heart-wrenching and powerful. In this poignant novel, Lia learns that she is worth her mother’s love, worth her sister’s adoration, worth her father’s and stepmother’s time. But most importantly, Lia discovers that she is valuable simply because she is Lia. I highly recommend Wintergirls to anyone capable of handling the content; it will change every preconception you’ve ever had about eating disorders.

A Very Exciting Announcement

Today I’m here to share a very exciting announcement (as indicated by the title of this post). If you read my February wrap up post, then you may already know what it is. But if not, I won’t hold out on you!

I was chosen to be a Lit Up Review contributor. 

In January, I applied to become a contributor for Lit Up Review (LUR), a teen book blog run “by teens for teens.” Just over a week ago, I received an email letting me know I’d been selected along with a handful of other teen bloggers. As a contributor, I’ll be writing and posting book reviews on LUR once or twice a month. And I’ll be participating in other fun bookish things like the Spotlight Book Club (this month’s pick is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven). Never fear though- anything I post on LUR will most likely be posted here on Gemrene as well. 

My first review will go up this Thursday and I couldn’t be more excited. I just wanted to announce my new role officially before I start posting reviews on LUR. I’m looking forward to working with all the new contributors as well as with the LUR writers. Thanks for stopping by!

My Contributor Bio | Spotlight Book Club Goodreads group 

February Wrap Up/March TBR

Hellooooo. Today I’m going to discuss what I read in February and what I want to read in March. Remember in my January wrap up that I said I wanted to read five books per month? Well already in 2015 I have failed that goal.

February was a rough month for me, reading and otherwise. I felt bogged down with schoolwork, SAT prep, and extracurriculars for the majority of the month (if I have time later today I’d like to write another post about all of that). Therefore, reading was sidelined and even though I did read sporadically I only got a few chapters or so into several books. But without further ado, here is what I “read” in February.

February Reads

1. I’m technically in the middle of Cress by Marissa Meyer, but haven’t read any of it since I began it in January. It’s the third book in a sci-fi, dystopian fairytale retelling series and while I love the series and this book so far, it felt too big and chaotic to get into in February.

2. I began Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta because in January I was on a high fantasy kick. It’s taking awhile to get into, but it’s beautifully written and I am enjoying it so far. However, I made less progress than I wanted to because the stress and craziness of this month left me yearning for quick, easy reads.

3. I continued reading Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan for the first half of the month. I was reading a story before bed whenever I didn’t have a novel I was in the middle of in January and it was nice to feel like I was still reading by continuing the trend in February. However, once again I put it down because sleep became more rare and thus more precious as the month went on.

4. I began God Loves Ugly by Christa Black, which is a nonfiction book I included in my 2015 TBR post. It is wonderful and I think it’s a book that every girl should read. Again, following the trend of this month, I did not finish it.

5. I began AND FINISHED(!!!!!!!) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. We’re reading this in my English class and I fell in love with it immediately so I read ahead and completed it. This novel is definitely a new addition to my all time favorites list and I already want to reread it.

6. I read my first Hemingway piece this month and I’m excited to read more. I read (and completed! though it’s only three pages) Ernest Hemingway’s short story, Hills Like White Elephants. It’s public domain, so you can read it here. I recommend using SparkNotes or another analysis to help discern the piece’s meaning.

So, as pathetic as it is, that is all I read (or attempted to read) in February. Now, on a more optimistic note, here is what I aspire to read in March.

March TBR

1. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
My friend Grace over at Words Like Silver hosts a Teen Classics Book Club at a local place every month and I have been a really, really bad member the past few months. I haven’t finished the chosen book since November and I need to get back on track! This novel is our March pick, and after getting a tiny taste of Hemingway in February, I’m looking forward to reading it.

2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
In case you didn’t know, I was selected to be a routine contributor for Lit Up Review, a book blog run by a group of teens for other teens (but anyone who loves YA will love it!). They host a spotlight book club every month and this contemporary romance that deals with suicide is the pick for March. It’s already being made into a movie with Elle Fanning and is said to be reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars.

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

3. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
I watch a lot of BookTubers (YouTubers who dedicate their channels to books) and they all RAVE about the Mistborn trilogy. I’ve never read anything by Brandon Sanderson but I’ve heard nothing but good things about his work and all of his books get high ratings on Goodreads. This is a high fantasy series that I am dying to finally get into in March!

I know, I know, my reading goal is five books a month but I only listed three. That’s because I want to give myself some room to mood read. I may want to finish up the books I began in January/February. I may want to read more contemporaries or maybe more high fantasy. I have a shelved, ongoing TBR list, a stack of library books, and several new releases that I might want to pick and choose from. So I haven’t decided what other 2+ books I’ll read in March, but hopefully I will meet my reading goal this month.

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear what you read in February or what you’re planning to read in March!

xx. Martha