December 21, 2018

Abbreviations #74 | Imagine Us Happy, The Lying Woods + Girl on a Wire

{trigger warnings: depression, mental illness, cutting} Stella, who is navigating her own life with depression, is determined to survive her junior year, tune out her parents’ arguments and hang out with her two best friends. But everything changes when she meets Kevin, who understands her in a way that no one else has. Their relationship quickly becomes all-consuming, and Stella soon finds herself spinning out of control. Now, I read the entirety of Imagine Us Happy while I was on a road trip, and that was an interesting experience because it’s a very weighty read. It wasn’t easy to read about what Stella is going through, her thoughts, her feelings and her experiences, but it felt raw and authentic and I think that was supposed to be the point. I also appreciated the narrative choice of going back and forth between the present and the past, because it built up the tension and kept me reading. While it wasn’t easy to read and while I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as enjoyable, I thought Imagine Us Happy was a solid read.

Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu | Publisher: Harlequin Teen | Publication Date: October 23, 2018 | Source: e-galley downloaded from NetGalley (Thanks!)

I’ll be completely transparent with you, friends: the entire reason that I decided to read The Lying Woods was because of my friend Kristin (who constantly champions Elston’s other novel This Is Our Story). She convinced me that it should be my next read on a quiet Friday night, and I’m glad she did because I ended up binge reading the entire novel in one sitting. The Lying Woods is about Owen Foster who discovers that his lifestyle has been funded by stolen money. His father has stolen money from the many residents of the small town that are employed by his company, and left the entire town suffering the consequences. Owen moves back to his hometown for his senior year, navigating the fallout of his father’s choices, the way the town treats both him and his mother and trying to figure out what actually happened. Now, I somehow thought that this one was going to be more mystery/thriller, but it’s actually more of a contemporary with a bit of mystery thrown in. It took me more than a couple of chapters to get into this one, but once I was in, I was in. It was compelling, and I really wanted to know what would happen next. And man, Ashley Elston really knows how to lay out the pieces of a puzzle in a way that readers won’t easily pick up on but will definitely recognize once everything falls into place, and I totally admired that. I’m really glad I read The Lying Woods, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Ashley Elston.

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | Publication Date: November 13, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

I’ve only read a few novels set at the circus, and I’m pleased to add Girl on a Wire to that list. At its heart, it’s a cross between a Nancy Drew novel and Romeo & Juliet… set at the circus. Jules Maroni is determined for her family of circus performers to regain their former glory, and sets about getting them hired by the Cirque American, even though the Garcias, their longtime rivals, are employed by the same circus. But there’s someone determined to sabotage their chances, and Jules is determined to figure out the truth… no matter how dangerous it might get. Girl on a Wire was a quick read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The circus aspects were fascinating, particularly the focus on the tightrope walkers, acrobats and horses. The mystery held my attention, with its bits of magic and familial history threaded throughout. The romance was easy for me to root for, as I enjoyed the couple a lot (though I wish there was a little more time spent on it). It was definitely a surprise, in a good way, and I'm glad I finally decided to read it.

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond | Series: Cirque American #1 | Publisher: Skyscape | Publication Date: October 1, 2014 | Source: Owned the Kindle book


  1. I'm still so happy you enjoyed The Lying Woods<3 That was the best night of texts as you were debating sleeping or continuing reading!

  2. I have not truly heard about any of these books until now, ack, but you have made me so curious about all three :D So glad they were all mostly pretty amazing. <3 As always, stunning reviews Alexa :) I hope you are having the most awesome Christmas time. <3


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