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BOOK REVIEW – Black Iris by Leah Raeder

BOOK REVIEW – Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She’s going to show them all.

Review:

Black Iris was poetically beautiful.  From the way that the writing was intoxicating and a simple sentence could be woven with such beauty and grace.  To the message that the story delivered that was heartfelt and needed.  Even the way the relationship between Laney and Blythe would transfer from alluring to sexy.  Those elements were all perfect.  Unfortunately, I struggled.  A lot.  The darkness that was radiating from the pages was too intense for me.  I felt as though I was drowning from all of the pain.

Laney is looking for a fresh start.  Between having a mother that killed herself, to being taunted and tortured through high school, it is more than needed.  Upon meeting two new people, Blythe and Armin, she might have finally found her new beginning.  But a shadow from her past is looming back in her life, and everything is about to become a tangled mess.

Laney was dark, damaged, bitter and at times it felt as though she was trying to destroy herself.  To make herself become a blur in her own mind.  I tried my hardest, but struggled to feel a connection to her.  But while I struggled feeling that connection, I understood why she was that way.  Between the atrocities with her mother and the horrific way she was treated and suffered through high-school, it was impossible not to choke on her pain.  To not feel it cutting through you like a knife.  It was a constant that never faded, and could never be forgotten.  It was a part of who she was, whether she wanted it there or not.  Her actions at times, were unforgivable when she would use and manipulate people.  But at the same point, how could she not go down that path?

The light in this book for me was Blythe.  She was a good friend to Laney, and she would stand up and protect her.  The sexual chemistry between the two of them leaped off of the pages.  What they felt was real.  What they felt was intense.  I enjoyed the moments when it was just the two of them and Armin wasn’t around.  Because in all honestly, I just didn’t get him.  I never once felt a connection between him and Laney or even Blythe for that matter.  So of course I didn’t want him to be with Layne.  It’s probably horrible to say, but I kept waiting for him to disappear so she could delve into that connection she had with Blythe. Unfortunately for me, the moments of light were too fleeting.  After a quick glimpse, I would be dragged back down.  Whether it was the flashbacks with Zoeller or something else, it made me sick to my stomach for what she had to endure in life.  It was emotionally heartbreaking to watch so many events take place and not have enough joy to compensate for it all.  I know, believe me I know that life can be wretched.  Honestly, wretched is too kind of a word sometimes.  But personally speaking, I need more lightness then darkness in the books I read.  If even for an infinitesimal amount.  I tried my hardest, but I just couldn’t find that here between the drugs, lies, betrayal and revenge.

I always go into a book, keeping my fingers crossed that it will be next favorite read.  And it pains me that I couldn’t even get close to that with Black Iris.  But, I am happy the way certain things were handled, no matter how dark and twisted they were.  I enjoyed the relationship between Blythe and Laney.  And I loved the way the sentences were woven so poetically.  But, between the drug abuse, sorrow, hatred and revenge that permeated from the pages constantly, I struggled for air.  I kept getting lost in how everything was doused in depression.  Sadly, those feelings outweighed any other thoughts I had, and I just couldn’t get past it.

*ARC kindly provided by Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

BOOK REVIEW: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

BOOK REVIEW: Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Todaybestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

I am not the heroine of this story.

Wellllll….here we go. If anyone follows my reviews, even a little, they know I hardly ever rate below a three. Hell, I hardly rate a three. Even less frequently do I rate a book a one-I mean, like, twice….in the last two years. So, to say I am shocked at my visceral reaction to this story is an understatement. I expected, at worst, maybe some indifference.


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Maybe a little bit of dislike. But I never ever EVER expected to hate this story so much. I didn’t expect to hate this story at all. And I am so so so sooo sorry….but I loathed this book to the bottom of my soul.

I respect this author’s voice and her journey, but I just couldn’t respect the content of this particular work. Not because of the narrator’s choice of whom to love, but because of her actions and how she spoke.

I don’t smile. When I show teeth, it’s to bite.

How much better of a person are you, really, than those who wronged you if you seek revenge in the most vile ways possible? How are you being any better of a person? This is fiction, sure. I know that. But, the whole time, I felt dragged down, depressed and oh so heavy as I read each and every page. Everything the narrator did made me feel so full of sadness that it became this deep, guttural emotion that I couldn’t contain. I would snarl, I would glare, I became angrier and angrier…and felt heavier and heavier. I was in a swirling inferno of rage with each page that passed as I learned more about our ‘unreliable narrator.’

That’s the real poison, truth. Keep that shit inside and you’ll see. You’ll wither and die.

But the worst thing of all? As we were finding everything out, piece by piece, bit by bit, we were supposed to begin to identify with the main character (I think?), to feel for her, but the more I began to learn about Laney, the more I began to feel for the enemies. Yes, what they did was deplorable, unforgivable, but what she begins doing almost feels worse to me. I grew this deep rooted connection with the God damn villains, with the people I despised, if only because I couldn’t stand to see what this girl was doing to them…and herself.

Maybe the only person who could understand a villain was another villain.

In a lot of ways, well, about 90% of them, this story was about sexual discovery and being who you are. I respected that from page one. But, and this is where it gets very very difficult to explain without pissing people off, I did feel that it was the WHOLE story. Let me explain: In Unteachable, Raeder’s other hit novel, Maisie had SOME of the same problems as well, including sexual prowess. But, aside from not being ridiculed in front of the whole school like Laney was, Maisie’s voice didn’t center around sex. It wasn’t all she thought about. In this story, I felt like we were drowned in Laney’s sexual desires, which is okay, but that’s all I really felt there was, for a long while. And by the time we got to the meat, the unraveling of the mystery, I was mildly heavily disgusted with the main character’s actions. Not just sexually, but with everything. It wasn’t about boy or girl, or girl and girl, or girl boy girl, for me. It was that sex and drugs were constant, every page variables in this story, and that wasn’t necessarily what I signed up for. I knew there would be scenes I was uncomfortable with, but I didn’t know how deeply the character’s affliction or fascination was. I’m okay with erotic books, sometimes, but I wish I’d have known just how erotically charged the WHOLE story would be.

Strength is not in the body, it’s in the mind. It doesn’t lie in flexing your muscles and crushing those who oppose you. It lies in being the last one standing. By any means. At any cost.

The characters. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never disliked a main character so deeply in my whole life. I make it a job to love or respect the MC’s in a story because I picked up their book, this is their story. I even loved Jorg from The Broken Empire series and he was an evil little shit. The truth is, I never have disliked, or hated, in Laney’s case, an MC so strongly before, if at all. And I really really think that speaks volumes. I felt more obsession, savagery, and possessive jealousy than any love in this story, and that makes me so sad because I know so many others found that solace for this deeply controversial story.

Oh, and if this bothers you, even a little (not me, since I was warned)…
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Then I suggest you don’t read this story.

That’s not to say everything turned me off in this book. I have always really adored Raeder’s writing style. It’s very poetic and beautiful and you feel swept up in her words. When you pick up a Leah Raeder novel, you know the writing is going to blow you away. At times, only for this story, I did feel a little bombarded with the descriptions, overwhelmed even, but the writing was still beautiful and it really completed the voice that the author wanted to convey. I really do enjoy her writing and I loved her previous work, so I didn’t want to discount that.

The sky looked like layered sherbet, creamy peach melting into raspberry and blueberry, shading the world in soft, milky tones. The sun was an eye-smarting bead of white light trembling at the horizon.

Okay. Well. There you go. I’m the type of person who really doesn’t like to make waves and worries constantly about what people will think of me when I rate badly. But, there’s literally no nice way to say you disliked a book that you are rating one star. There’s no way to mince your words because that one star says it all in flashing neon lights: This story wasn’t for me. No matter which way you slice it, I didn’t find much to identify with. I can only hope others find this story a great comfort and a wonderful read-it just wasn’t for me.

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HOLY SHIT! I GOT THE ARC. I can’t believe it ! This is epic.

Wow.

That is all.

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW – Unteachable by Leah Raeder

BOOK REVIEW – Unteachable by Leah RaederUnteachable by Leah Raeder
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

What a hot and steamy read!

When I first started this book, I didn’t know what to expect. The forbidden love scenario has been so overplayed lately that it’s becoming difficult to decipher one title from the next-but Unteachable had something that made it glow fluorescent among all these other dim works: Passion and raw, gritty writing. There are many times when an author will take a risk and write with an unusual style, thus either making the story stand out or fall flat on it’s face. In Unteachable, it immediately draws your attention on the first page, piquing your curiosity, encouraging you to read more…even if you don’t know how you feel about it. Soon you’re waist deep in the story and so far gone without even realizing it. You don’t know where all the time has gone, but you just don’t care. That’s the mark of a good author.

Mr. Wilke says I’m both cynical and wordly for my age. I choose to take them both as compliments.

Maise is a straight shooter. She says what she feels and isn’t ashamed to do so. Brought up in the most unfortunate of circumstances, Maise has always had to fend for herself and was forced to grow up at an early age. Who wouldn’t be cynical when one older man after the other made passes at you after screwing around with drugs and your mother-in no particular order. Life hasn’t been fair, so why should she?

I’m not going to do the whole rollercoaster/falling in love metaphor. I didn’t fall in love with him up there. Maybe I fell in love with the idea of love, but I’m a teenage girl. This morning I fell in love with raspberry jam and a puppy in a tiny raincoat. I’m not exactly Earth’s top authority on the subject.

When the opportunity for a real chance at something…special presents itself, Maise panics and runs the other way. Little does she know that she is running from fate, a moment where two people who are irreparably broken find each other in an attempt to face their fears. Funny, they are both running from their fears, but by meeting each other and participating in a secret love affair, they are staring their fears right in the face. They just don’t know it yet.

Somewhere in the universe, two hearts reached out and connected.

I loved Evan. Mr. Wilke. Whatever you want to call him. He was so sweet, kind, vulnerable, and caring. He’s not perfect-far from it, but he has embraced his imperfections and molded himself into a beautiful, nerdy man worthy of love. The entire book he treats Maise with nothing but respect, and I loved him for it. Everything he said was worth highlighting. Even his naughty whispered nothings in her ear lol.

All of this came from one night. If I hadn’t gone to the carnival, you would’ve looked at me like any other student when I walked into your class. And that made my heart ache, too-the thought of how much happiness lay scattered across the universe, unrealized, in fragments, waiting for the right twist of fate to bring it together.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the deep meaning hidden throughout. Sure, there was grit rubbed into each and every page, but between the grime, there was almost always something beautiful hidden between the lines. I stopped to think on this last quote, because I feel that way every day-what if I hadn’t done this? Would I even be here right now? What would I be doing? So, to say I enjoyed the dialogue would be an understatement.

Without further ado, I will explain my rating. I couldn’t plausibly give this book a 5, because in reality, while I enjoyed this story immensely, I did get a little depressed for a good portion in the middle. I felt heavy from the outside circumstances suffocating Maise and Evan’s little world, and I felt like I wanted to run to the fridge and grab a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough and stuff my feelings into a hole until the ache went away. There was a lot of good in the story: like Evan’s sweetness, Maise’s brutality in this harsh world, Wesley in general-he was a friend that Maise needed desperately. There was also a lot of bad: her mother, the betrayal that was sure to come from someone, the heaviness of a hidden love affair…secrets can swallow you whole. But none of the dreariness in this story should deter someone from reading it-it’s the negativity in the story that pushes for something beautiful to unfold, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with rising from the ashes.

So, overall, such a fun, unexpected read. I would recommend it to everyone around me. Suit up for rude and crude-but the absolute best kind.

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