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review 2017-06-09 11:52
Review: Letters to the Lost
Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This was a gutwrencher of a book. I could only read it in short spurts because the emotional upheaval was so deep.

 

The novel tells the story of Juliet and Declan, both of whom are dealing with tough losses, both as results of tragic car accidents. Declan lost his younger sister, Juliet lost her mother.

 

 Declan appears to be your typical YA bad boy. Darkly good looking, grumpy yet possibly a lot smarter than everyone thinks he is. He’s sullied by a bad reputation. Whereas Juliet is a typical high school good girl. She has a run in with Declan in the halls one morning and accidentally spills her coffee on him running to class. However, when a teacher comes in a finds him moaning about it and yelling at her, he’s the one who’s carted off to detention.

 

Juliet has been spending a lot of time at the cemetery where her mother is buried and leaves her letters. Declan has community service with the grounds keeper at the same cemetery and one day he finds the unsigned letter Juliet has left her mother. And responds to it. Leading to a letter writing exchange without names. Where both parties explore their grief and guilt over their own losses and start to talk to each other in a way they can’t open up to anyone else.

 

The grief poured into the letters is raw and unflinching, mixing of guilt, anger and responsibility. Juliet and Declan are able to explore feelings they have never admitted to anyone else before, it’s much easier to talk to someone anonymous than admit these feelings their closest friends. The letters eventually become emails.

 

Yet in real life whenever Juliet and Declan have run-ins with each other, it’s unpleasant. They rub each other the wrong way. Yet keep finding themselves running into each other. He helps her out several times. And sometimes some of the things anonymous Declan says in his letters resonate deeply with Juliet, particularly when he talks about how unfair it is that with a bad reputation that wasn’t his fault he’s blamed automatically even when things aren’t his fault. This makes her start to try to open up.

 

Both have tough home situations, Juliet’s dad is trying but kind of absent and checked out. Juliet’s mom was a renowned photographer who was often out of the country in dangerous places. War zones and such. There’s a very hard hitting scene at the front of the book where Juliet’s dad asks her if he can sell her mom’s camera equipment to her mother’s agent, and Juliet falls to pieces. It’s tough to read and absolutely heart breaking.

 

While Declan’s mother is equally passive. His father is in jail after the accident that killed Declan’s sister, and his mom has since  gone through a patch of bad relationships and finally married a snotty man who has taken an instant disliking to Declan (bad reputation at fault again) and automatically assumes the worst. They argue a lot and Declan’s mom just won’t step in to defend her son.

 

Though Declan doesn’t help himself with an equally pissy attitude. Though it’s clear he loves his mom he’s obviously frustrated by her at the same time. His support system comes from his best friend Rev and his family. Who are all awesome.

 

Juliet and Declan keep finding themselves thrown together and start realising who the person they’re writing to might be. Which shocks both of them. But their feelings for each other are growing deeper and deeper despite their equal reluctance to admit the truth and open up to each other for real. Both find themselves dealing with some home truths in their own home lives which shock them to their cores.

 

It’s kind of obvious what’s going to happen in the romance department, but even you the way the story is written makes the reader want to get these two together. (Or it certainly did for me).

 

Beautifully written with some incredible characters. I loved it so much I bought a finished copy as well.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-03-28 20:26
Letters to the Lost/Brigid Kemmerer
Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

 

I didn’t find this to be a particularly outstanding YA but it was very sweet and an easy read.

 

The book is predictable in the typical manner of YA romances, though it did have some depth to it. I enjoyed hearing the way that Juliet and Declan challenged each other’s stereotypes and found the way they grew as a result to be heartwarming. Though it does follow the good girl goes for bad guy archetype, it did so enjoyably.

 

The strongest point of this was really their parents—Declan’s relationship with his stepfather evolved in a thoughtful way and their interactions felt extremely real. Similarly, Juliet’s dealing with her grief over her mother and the decisions she had made was insightful. These aspects really made the book a strong read.

 

If you’re looking for an easy read, this is a good choice.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-01-26 00:00
Thicker Than Water
Thicker Than Water - Brigid Kemmerer This review was originally posted on Bookish Things & More

Quickie


This is one of those books that's really hard to review.  Not because I didn't love it because I did. But because you can't really say much without giving anything away.

Thicker than Water is a book I would love to read again for the first time so I could feel the suspense and mystery again from the beginning.

The characters are amazing.  They come from two different backgrounds, but somehow find each other.  Charlotte is a rule follower and does everything her family says because they are pretty overbearing.  Thomas is dark, broody, and keeps finding himself in trouble.

The plot is twisted and will have you constantly trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

So, basically, get this book and read it! It's great, dark, suspenseful, and will have you hooked from the beginning.
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review 2016-01-14 21:24
Loneliness: a funny disease.
Thicker Than Water - Brigid Kemmerer

What I love best about Brigid Kemmerer books are that they aren’t written to be heavy. The subject matter may be serious, but there’s still always a lightness to the writing that makes them a joy to read. Despite the characters going through something awful the writing makes you feel like it’s okay to laugh and even creates moments and dialogue where laughing is even appropriate.

When I started Thicker Than Water the story was so weighted that I worried I wouldn’t get back to feeling light despite the strife, because this book was definitely harsh. Thomas is all alone, and he’s dealing with a lot and hurt is coming from just about everyone around him. He’s ostracized, abused, insulted, and all around treated like garbage. As the reader you believe that all of that is completely unfounded, because Thomas didn’t actually hurt anyone. It made me, the reader, very angry. It wasn’t only when Thomas had to interact with these a-holes either, it was also any time he wasn’t around and they were talking about him. It felt like there wasn’t anyone in town, outside of Charlotte and occasionally Stan, that found any compassion at all for him. He didn’t just lose his mother. He lived through a trauma. PTSD, people. Of course he’s angry and lashing out!

Luckily, though, I did find the lighter side of the story and it was all thanks to Charlotte’s best friend Nicole, who became a buffer between Thomas and Charlotte. She brought in the funnies when it was sorely needed. It was almost as though once Nicole showed them how to relax around each other Charlotte and Thomas started making me laugh, too.

The only complaint about this book that I’d have is that I think the story is too similar to Kemmerer’s previous series, The Elementals. In that series a group of brothers lost their parents and were attempting to live in a town where they were distrusted and bullied. Just like in Thicker Than Water there was an added supernatural aspect that impacted the plot. If she had ended this book by suggesting that Thomas was a long lost Merrick half-brother I wouldn’t have been shocked. Actually, I probably would have loved it because then it would have made sense that the stories were so similar and it would also have given Thomas a support system, because at least the Merrick’s had that.

All in all a good read by an author I can count on. I’m already ready for more.

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For this and other reviews, please visit Badass Book reviews!

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review 2016-01-06 16:51
WOW!!
Thicker Than Water - Brigid Kemmerer

My Initial Reaction :
HUH!???
No way no way! WTH?
You can't do this! You can't leave me hanging like THAT!
Is there another book? When is it coming out??

Okay okay. Let me calm down. I mean this is me freaking out because I want MORE.
This has Kemmerer written all over it: Fabulous Character building, interesting paranormal side track and the feels.... yeah THE FEELS... seriously don't ask me how she does it, but she does get exactly the reaction she wants from me, every freakn time. Maybe she is a bit like Tom? creepy really. Or maybe she is really good at writing? Well, she is a magician with words that's for sure.
And yet again the plot? There is so little we have been given. So so so little. And though the end is not technically a cliffy- it leaves you hanging. I just know I want more. Wait that's not right. I NEED MORE...

 

Now that I did have a while to think about it and calm down, there are two things that still stand out:

  • First: I want need more! I can't wait to get my hands on the next book- there will be another book right? Because if not... it would be rather an unsatisfying experience, actually.




  • Second: This has Kemmerer's MO written all over it. So if you a fan; you going to love this.  



This is well written. Just like one would expect from Kemmerer. It's a total rollercoaster of emotions. She made me gasp and had me devastated with the flick of her pen. She is queen of the Feels and Thicker Than Water just cemented this. Absolutely.

What it however also confirmed? She writes character driven novels. Not a bad thing by all means. The plot is just like in her previous books- rather on the thin side. If I would have to write a summary of the plot- I could do it in 3 sentences flat. Not an issue for me. I love character driven novels. The had several twists and turns but not many took me by surprise. I anticipated them. Still doesn't mean I didn't react. I knew that it was coming, but I still was devastated, excited or whatever rise Kemmerer wanted, which is why I liked this so much.

Kemmerer totally excels in character building. In fact the characters are so complex, I found myself surprised by some of them, rather than their actions. Kemmerer had me thinking I mapped out who is who only to change the ballgame halfway through. It made me reassess everything. I mean EVERYTHING. And that? Is feakn' amazing!
As I said, I want more. I want to know where they go from here. I need to work out who really is a villain, who is actually a victim- who is ok.. There is so much grey here, I still am working it all out.
While I found Thomas quite difficult to connect to- all that anger and confusion for the first bit of the book, I ended up totally feeling with him. I was distraught for him. I totally got where he was and why he was doing what he was doing. Not only that, I agree with his actions at the end.
Charlotte is strong, surprisingly so. And I adored her from the beginning. Then I found myself being worried that it was all a ruse, hoping she wasn't wrong. Felt her heartbreak and her hopes.
I want more of Charlotte and Thomas, but not only them. I feel there are so many stories behind her brothers, her family... Just like I said, Kemmerer wove complex surprising characters- not just the two MCs but also each and everyone in the support cast. I understood where Charlotte's family was coming from.

The world building is an amazing backdrop to the entire thing. It's neat and very clever. Sorta in the same token as Kemmerer's previous series. So paranormal elements that are interesting. But we've been given just bits and pieces- so I feel like I only got an idea behind something immense. I want more. But it's not like I didn't get enough. Kemmerer did a good job at giving me the scraps at the right moment, opening the paranormal aspects just when it was needed... Simply: Brilliant.

The only little warning to caution: This doesn't end in a total cliffy but it's open ended. I need more closure. Hence my utter hope that there will be several more books...

Another awesome book- hopefully series- by the master of character-driven awesomeness!
Absolute MUST READ!

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