Release Day Review – What The Flower Says Of Death by Danielle Koste

Title: What The Flower Says Of Death  wtfsod

Author: Danielle Koste

Demographic: Young Adult

Genres and themes: paranormal, romance, death and suicide, family and relationships

Release Date: September 25th 2018

TRIGGER WARNING – Both this post and the book itself discuss both suicide and self harm openly.

Synopsis – ‘Violet Holt has already met Death once.

After a failed suicide attempt, she finds herself dumped by her callous mother on the doorstep of her family’s desolate oceanside estate. With only the company of her estranged grandmother, comatose grandfather, and the monsters in her head, at least there was no one to interfere with her plans to try again on her eighteenth birthday.

No one, except maybe Jack: a skeleton of a boy who says he’s there to rake her grandmother’s leaves, yet seems more experienced at stalking than grounds-keeping. She knows he’s keeping a secret behind his gentle smiles and aloofness, but it’s difficult for Violet to be put off by his untimely thin-air appearances when figuring out the mystery of his true identity makes for such a good distraction.

Violet’s trauma is deeper than the wound on her wrist though, and it cannot be simply whisked away in a whirlwind of guessing games and pleasant gestures. She struggles to reconnect with her grandmother, find forgiveness for her mother, and closure with her grandfather’s dire condition, all while battling the strain of it all on her family. Even with a flicker of something hopeful blossoming within herself, Violet knows her birthday plans must be inevitable.

Death wouldn’t be there for her if it wasn’t.’

ladybird

My Thoughts…

 ‘…limited cast of characters all playing such a heavy role.’

Violet, the female protagonist of What The Flower Says Of Death (WTFSOD) has significantly more depth to her than most of the leading ladies in YA. She’s dealing with one of the most difficult battles that anyone will ever have to face and living in a cold reality where the people she cares most about feel just out of reach. Even as the story progresses and the relationships strengthen or fall apart, she’s always slightly too scared of what they could mean for her in the long term to ever fully commit to what’s happening in the moment. I will be talking about what this book meant to me personally  a little later on in this post, but as someone who has tackled her own battle with suicide, I’ve never seen a character written so closely to how I was feeling throughout that. Violet was cool, distant, kind and strangely idealistic at times but Danielle never failed to keep on writing a ‘real’ person. Typically I’ve found that when authors attempt to write about such a heavy issue, the characters often begin to fall into stereotypes but no one in this book ever did. Most importantly to me, every single character helped move the book forward in some way and were vital to the story because of that. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a novel that has such a limited cast of characters all playing such a heavy role.

Jack, the male protagonist was deliciously mysterious and intriguingly reminiscent of a classic novel style love interest. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a genuinely romantic character in YA. He was effortlessly written in that sense (in every sense!), and I dare you to not fall in love with him as you’re reading. Without the addition of spoilers, may I just say…that whole entire Christmas decoration scene though. *insert heart eyes emoji*

Violet’s mother and grandmother were oddly my favourite characters. Their relationship was a prime example of what can happen if you make mistakes as a parent and just how much that can affect not only the relationship with your child, but also how your child will turn out. Because of issues they had in the past together, everything has spiralled and has created a domino effect that played a huge part in why Violet is suicidal. I’m not sitting here primarily blaming her mother for everything, of course I’m not. There’s a lot of different and vital things that lead to someone even considering suicide, but WTFSOD has shown the impact bad familial relationships can have on a person in such an emotionally stirring way. Both Violet’s mother and grandmother undergo a lot of character development to get them to where they are at the end point of the book but I’m so glad they got there.

‘You will sob like you have never sobbed before..’

I’m going to be completely honest here (as I always am in my posts), and say that WTFSOD had the potential to be TOO bleak. It’s not an easy subject to read about in the slightest. However I found it to be an oddly comforting and cosy read. If you are planning on picking this up, it’s definitely a great choice now that the weather is getting colder and the blankets are coming out.

As a reader, we are given early insight (if you use your common sense of course) into what Jack’s big secret is, but Violet doesn’t find out for quite a while. I felt this worked perfectly and automatically made the pacing flow properly. To me, this was very much a book that had a beginning, middle and end. All very obvious and integral to the story.

The ending of this book was sad. That kind of earth shattering, gut wrenching, howl crying sad. But it was perfect. Any other ending would not have made sense to me, and it’s almost like every single character has the part they played in the story revealed. Like I’ve said, everyone is there for a reason and everything becomes clear in the last couple of chapters. But be warned. You will sob like you have never sobbed before.

‘…every ‘taboo’ is out in the open’

This is without a doubt an unapologetic look at what it is to be suicidal and as someone who has been suicidal before it was the most accurate portrayal I have ever read. I know that everything is all relative and everyone deals with things differently, but I can’t quite believe how much this mirrored my own life.

Just like Violet, I used to set myself ‘suicide dates’. A day in which if my life hadn’t changed for the better before then, I would attempt to kill myself on. These tended to be on my birthdays. Most notably my eighteenth and twenty first.

I also appreciated how Violet would be feeling happier but her mind would flicker slightly to how something could aid in killing herself or how she felt conflicted when she felt happy because her ‘date’ had been set.

The relationship she has with her mother was like looking at a reflection of my mother and I. Thankfully this relationship has improved drastically in recent years but my mum didn’t have the slightest clue how to help me with my self harming and suicidal thoughts. It was a pretty toxic environment for a while and I moved in with my boyfriend mostly to get away.

WTFSOD doesn’t shy away from anything, every ‘taboo’ is out in the open and I think people need to realise that not all familial relationships are good and you can take yourself away from that situation if you need to.

And to conclude…

Overall, What The Flower Says Of Death is one of the highlights of the year. It’s quite simply a masterpiece and I strongly urge you to buy yourself a copy. Magical realism at it’s finest.

I gave it a five out of five! 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

BUY IT NOW

Ebook!

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Paperback!

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble / Indigo / Book Depository / Adlibris

About the Author

daniellekoste.jpgDanielle Koste is a born and raised Canadian, but currently lives with her significant other in the equally snowy and cold Stockholm, Sweden. While working a day job and learning the language of the locals, she spends her free time honing the craft she’s always had a passion for.

When procrastinating, Danielle likes to enjoy other forms of rich story-telling, besides the obvious abundance of novels filling up her apartment and Kindle. Movies, music, and video games are among her favorite time-wasters.

Website / Goodreads / Patreon / Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

A massive thank you to Stark at Random Melon Reads for introducing me to this phenomenal book.

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Sounds Like Sunday #1

Other than my blatantly obvious obsession with books, I also have other passions in life. And music is definitely high up there on that list of things. So, I thought to myself this morning, why not start a weekly post on my blog all about my love of music? Now here we are and I’m ready to give you a list of my favourite songs this week. I have had them on heavy rotation and still can’t get enough of them.

These are in no particular order and I do have VERY varied music taste, so just beware! Only kidding! Kind of…

Given that this is the first week, I’ve actually decided to go fairly easy on your ears and not include any songs that feature screaming vocals or a southern drawl but believe me, there will be at some point!

Please find below a list of ten YouTube videos featuring my chosen songs. If you would rather use Spotify, there is a link at the bottom of this post which contains all of the audio there too.

Happy listening!

   1. You’ve Got Your Whole Life Ahead Of You Baby by IDER

    2. Hemisphere by elegant slims

      3. “99” by Barns Courtney

     4. Sweet But Psycho by Ava Max

     5. Turn by The Wombats

    6. Mantra by Bring Me The Horizon

    7. Limo Song by Jack River

     8. Eighteen by Pale Waves

     9. Miracle by CHVRCHES

     10. Loyal To Me by Nina Nesbitt

Please check out the Spotify playlist down below to add the songs to your own, or simply follow mine!

I’m currently in the process of creating a whole new bunch of personal playlists which means my account is currently very bare on there but I’d love it if you followed me if you have an account of your own.

As always, thank you for reading – and listening – to this post. Comment down below which songs you liked and those you didn’t! What have you been playing on repeat this week?

matildasignoff

Issues with the book community

I’ve been unsure if I should even post this blog discussion because I genuinely don’t want to start any disagreements or controversy, but a few of my friends and fellow bloggers are getting really disheartened by some issues within the book community, and they’ve even said that they feel like giving up with their blog because of it. I am not okay with that. Not in the slightest.

Now, I know I’m pretty much a nobody. I have a decent following on Twitter and a moderate following on my blog itself, but I want you to put that aside for now and not focus on my statistics or who I am. I just want you to focus on some of the issues that I think we’re dealing with as a community.

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My first issue is…

Self important blog hopping

When I first joined Twitter and started up my blog, one of the things I got told all the time was that to be successful, I needed to blog hop – meaning that I needed to go around commenting and liking other bloggers posts simply because I needed them to respond and do the same back to mine. This was explained to me dozens of times.

Safe to say, I was not okay with it at all.

Why are we under the impression that to be successful within this community, we have to reciprocate with comments and likes? Why is it considered rude to receive a comment and then not go and comment on a post that fellow blogger has written. It’s not.

It’s almost like we’re playing a game.

‘163878TheReader has liked 32 of my posts and commented on all of those too, but I’ve commented on and liked 33 of their posts so I think they’re an asshole and I’m no longer going to engage with their blog.’

*163878TheReader likes your post*

*163878TheReader commented on your post* Haha that’s cool. Great post!

‘Oh okay, all is forgiven! Let’s see what they’ve posted lately on their site’ 

10001 things I thought about candy corn by 163878TheReader

Well…I don’t have any interest in candy corn so I’ll just skim to the end and comment something that relates so she’ll think I did. That’s so supportive right? I’m like the best blogger ever.’

It would be easy to think that this isn’t a real thing that people do. Believe me, I was in shock when I was included in discussions about this. But it’s true, and it’s happening with more people than you would think. It’s such a shame that some bloggers value statistics and popularity over being a nice, supportive person.

I was hoping that this was just an issue I faced alone and fell in with the wrong creators, but I’ve spoken to a few other bloggers and they’ve had the same issues too but with different people.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this is that I don’t think we should be reading things with the intention of commenting and liking posts. Read the content you’re genuinely interested in reading. Comment if you have something to add, and like only if you genuinely liked the post. Most importantly don’t feel like your work is valued solely on how many comments you’re receiving back. It’s not. You’re worth more than that.

If you receive a comment or like from me, know that it’s because I genuinely really liked your post.

DISCLAIMER – I am well aware that blog hopping doesn’t always mean this, and it can just mean to go and have a look at other peoples blogs.

I’m also not saying not to reply or like comments on your blog. Of course you should totally engage with your readers!

Anyway, moving onto the next subject which is….

The God complex of bigger creators within the book community

This sort of ties in with the blog hopping discussion because typically the people that are initiating all of that are the bigger creators. When I first started out, I saw a lot of support groups for newbies and I joined a few. Some of them were really helpful. Others however seemed to act as more of an ego boost for the blogger in charge. We weren’t allowed to disagree with said creators, we weren’t allowed to do things slightly differently, we weren’t allowed to do anything that strayed from these bloggers thoughts on what your blog should be. And if you did do any of that, you could guarantee that you were put on the outside of the group and ignored by them for the rest of your blogging life.

Now, it’s not just these insanely condescending support groups that this happens with but also the little cliques on social media. There are certain accounts who I see regularly ignore comments from smaller creators, yet always reply to those they are friends with. Even if the comment from the smaller creator was more relevant or interesting.

I don’t think we should ignore anyone. I understand that some comments do not warrant a reply, but there’s always a like button. Just clicking that means you’ve noticed and appreciated this persons comment. If you don’t, it’s easy to make someone feel invisible and undervalued.

Obviously, if you’re someone like Hailey LeBlanc or Zoe Herdt, I completely understand why you can’t reply to everyone. I also understand why you wouldn’t want to read everyone’s comments because when you’re even partially famous, I imagine they’re not always nice to read. But I’m talking about people with like 4,000 followers. Those who have slightly more success than the rest of us. Ignoring the people who are most likely making them successful is really not the best way to go.

THIS is the primary reason I get from friends in the blogging community when they say they feel disheartened. They feel like they don’t matter. And they do. All of us do.

DISCLAIMER – Not all support groups are condescending. Some of them are actually really helpful!

Now onto something a little bit different, which is…

The lack of importance when it comes to male creators

My boyfriend John from Books & Fables is the main reason I am discussing this part of the blogging community. He’s a YA reader, he’s a passionate and excellent writer and he’s a genuinely nice person. I helped him create his blog back in January but he only gathered up the confidence to write his first post a few months ago because of one reason in particular.

Where are all the male book bloggers?

They’ve gone away, that’s where.

John saw me try and make a name for myself within this community and we also both saw a lot of male bloggers try and do the same thing. So why am I still here and they’re not? Because most of us aren’t interested in what they have to say. They have the same standards and writing quality on their blogs as we do, but for some reason, we don’t invite them into this world. There are a few exceptions, but I’m sick and tired of constantly seeing male bloggers give up because they think we don’t care about them.

Unless said person is not a nice person, we should be supporting everyone. Regardless of gender.

Maybe this isn’t an intentional thing that we do but I can count on both hands how many male bloggers are left from the ones I saw start up at the beginning of the year. It’s definitely something I think we could all work on.

Greedy wishes and unrealistic expectations

First up, I thought the Bookish Wish phase on Twitter was incredible. Gifting a book to people with no hints of the materialistic and self important traits humans often possess – it was a truly beautiful thing… while it lasted. Because there are always people out there that can turn something lovely into a complete and utter shit storm.

Bookworms were making lists of books they wanted that spread across five different pages, others were causing uproar because they wanted a hardback and got offered a paperback, and then people who had originally been gifting in the first place were getting angry that no one was gifting them a book back?

Woah. Shame on you if you did any of that because that’s not what this community should be about. It all ended up being a massive disappointment. You took away the kindness and replaced it with greed. It was horrible to watch.

It also made me dislike some people who I originally really did like. Which leads me to my next subject. Unrealistic expectations.

We are a community of thousands of people. We all have a similar passion in life. That does not mean to say that we’ll all get on with each other. It is actually really okay to not like a different book blogger. This may all be online, but it is reality and there’s no way you’ll like everyone. You don’t have to go around faking it. If you want to unfollow someone on Twitter because they’ve posted something horrible and you don’t agree with it, go ahead. No one’s going to gang up on you for standing up for what you believe in.

Obviously, don’t go around causing drama that needn’t have been caused but a simple unfollow is absolutely fine, or if you think an issue could be resolved, go and speak to that person.

We all seem to pretending that the book community is a wholesome and pure thing. It’s not. It’s majorly fractured. It’s real. Let’s stop walking on eggshells and start calling things out. I want to blog. I want to write about books and I want to engage with my readers. I also really want to see that from others.

What I don’t want to see are bloggers using other people to get where they want to go. And I want to see us stop putting so much importance on statistics and whether or not we’re popular enough to be approved for ARCS. Start caring more about your content and let that be what makes you happy.

I myself have statistic goals, but it’s not the end of the world if they’re not as high as you would like.

Be a real person, be honest and have fun. Because that’s all that matters.

ladybird

Please, please comment down below because in all honesty I have been terrified of posting this, but I really needed to get it off my chest. Do you have any issues you’d like to share? Do you agree or disagree with what I said?

Thank you for reading!

matildasignoff

August 2018 Wrap-Up

I don’t know about you but August was a pretty shitty month for me. I felt like I was getting kicked while I was down over and over again. But it’s finally finished, and I’m welcoming September with open arms. I didn’t do too well with my reading this month, but my personal life was falling apart so given the circumstances, I’m pretty happy with how I did.

I realise that I haven’t been reviewing books AT ALL recently, so I will give you a quick view of my thoughts on each book as we go along.

Book One – Open Road Summer by Emery Lord.

This story follows a young girl named Reagan O’Neill as she embarks on a trip across the USA with her best friend – country music megastar and American sweetheart, Lilah Montgomery. This is Lilah’s first headlining tour, and it all seems to be running smoothly until a counterfeit photo leaks to the press and threatens to ruin not only the show, but her whole career. Enter ex-boyband member Matt Finch – her publicity team’s attempt at creating a distraction. Sure, he may be Lilah’s fake boyfriend and all, but that doesn’t mean Reagan can’t fall for him, does it?  

Open Road Summer was exactly what I had anticipated before diving into it. A sugary sweet contemporary that was almost identical to an episode of Nashville. Lilah Montgomery felt like she was based on Taylor Swift pre-1989, and her friendship with the protagonist Reagan, reminded me so much of Taylor’s friendship with Abigail. Ignore all of this if you’ve never been a die hard Taylor Swift fan before. OpenRoadSummer

If I’m being completely honest, there wasn’t much of a plot and I did feel myself getting bored about halfway through. I loved Matt and Lilah but Reagan came across as really unlikable. She was constantly miserable, and yes, she did have a lot of issues but I don’t think she was a very realistic character. In fact she almost came across as a caricature of someone with depression at times. I suffer with my mental health, so I know what it’s like to be down all the time – but something about this representation didn’t sit well with me. 

Overall I did enjoy reading this but it was very forgettable. I gave it a 3/5 – 🍁🍁🍁

Book Two – A Court Of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court Of Wings and Ruin sees Feyre return to the Spring court undercover in an attempt to gather as much information as she can about Tamlin’s treachery and the imminent invasion that has the potential to change Prythian forever.

I put off reading this series for so long, only to fall in love with almost every aspect of it. Especially this particular book. I often find that trilogies, especially within YA, follow the same formula. Book one – sets up the whole story and introduces relationship prospects and typically hints at an impending life-changing war. Book two – often sees the main protagonist lose themselves and become a much colder, harder person because they have been chosen to lead the sudden rebellion that they accidentally caused. Book three – features mostly scenes set during the war/rebellion that was hinted at from the first chapter of the first book. acwar

For this reason, I was dreading the third novel. I am not a fan of war scenes in books at all. I find them frightfully dull, often because they’ve been written with such detail that they take up a third of the story. I needn’t have worried because despite there still being an aspect of that, there were so many other things happening at the same time that it didn’t even start to feel boring.

The main protagonists stayed true to themselves and we finally got to see a lot more of the more minor characters. The High Lords and the Archeron sisters were my personal favourites – as well as the Suriel and the oddly adorable Bryaxis.

There’s not a whole lot more I can say regarding this book because simply put, I loved every second of it.

No surprise here, but I gave it a 5/5 – 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Book Three – My (Secret) YouTube Life by Charlotte Seager

YouTuber LilyLoves seems to have it all. The perfect boyfriend. The perfect clothes. The perfect make-up and the perfect job. Melissa, a sixteen year old girl, has a far more ordinary life and loves to watch Lily’s videos for hours, fantasising about being her and having millions of followers. But is LilyLoves quite as perfect as she appears online and what lengths will Melissa go to, simply to be adored by everyone like her favourite YouTuber?

This was SO frustrating. The synopsis on the back cover didn’t really give me a lot to go on, so I just kind of assumed this was going to be an intense thriller about the perils of fame and beauty. Maybe á la Black Swan. mysecret

But no, unfortunately, this didn’t reach the heights it could have. The idea the author was going with could have made a really interesting story, but ultimately, this felt like a novel written for YA readers that would appeal more towards those of around 10-12. There’s nothing wrong in that of course, but it really didn’t read like a Young Adult novel so I was really disappointed.

The book itself was split into two POV’s. Lily and Melissa’s. I genuinely liked the chapters detailing the difficulties that Lily was facing, but I failed to make any sort of connection at all with Melissa. I presume we were meant to feel sorry for her, even like we could relate maybe? But she came across as a bit psychotic and not in a good way.

I know a lot of people have really enjoyed this, but it was definitely not for me. I sped through it in under three hours though, so it was at least mildly entertaining if nothing else.

The last few chapters actually felt like the point of the novel was finally realised but in the end, it just took a weird detour trying to get to it, so for that reason I gave it a 3/5 – 🍁🍁🍁

Book Four – In Paris With You by Clémentine Beauvais

In Paris With You is a novel told in the form of poetry. It follows Tatiana and Eugene after they bump into each other on the Paris metro, ten years after their last meeting. What happened in their last summer together, and will they ever be lovers after all they have been through?

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I still have yet to actually decide whether or not I liked this. It was certainly different and I really did like the eccentricity of it but I don’t know whether something was lost in translation as this is translated from French, or if it is just a bit..meh. Don’t get me wrong, this was filled with humorous lines and quotable sentences but I don’t think it clicked with me.

I would still highly recommend it for people who like the unusual and appreciate French humour but given I am fluent in the language, I think maybe I’d rather go and read the original and see how it compares.

Overall it was a pretty, angst filled poetry novel with a lot of French charm but I think maybe I wasn’t the write reader for it. I gave it a 3/5  – 🍁🍁🍁

Books Four, Five & Six – The Princess Diaries, Take Two and Third Time Lucky by Meg Cabot

Mia Thermopolis is an awkward fourteen year old girl. She’s incredibly tall, sucks at algebra and can never get her hair to sit right. Oh and her mum is now dating her algebra teacher too which of course makes her a downright freak and perfect target for high school bullies. That is until the day she finds out she’s the heir to the throne of a small European country called Genovia and she has to continue living her normal life, pass algebra AND learn how to run a country and act like a princess. Whew.

I picked these up a few weeks ago now because I loved the series as a teen and wanted to see if they still held up. Truth is, I don’t think they do. Maybe it’s because back in the noughties Meg Cabot felt like the Queen of YA, and in all honesty, after reading these back, they read so much more like middle grade. They’re incredibly immature and I’m really struggling to reconnect with Mia as a protagonist. She’s okay and all but I can’t seem to look past how immature she comes across. 51wf-Fs3CQL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

Michael Moscovitz is still a sweetheart of course and definitely the highlight of these books, but even their relationship comes across as stiff and awkward.  Also Mia’s grandmother is no Julie Andrews – and there I said it. The movie is a billion times better and I can’t let go of that when I’m reading these novels. For once I consider the movie to be inherently better, and whilst I’ll continue reading this series, I’m kind of gutted.

Overall they’re okay and I’m enjoying the pop culture references but they’re just not that entertaining for a twenty two year old. I rated the first a 4/5 but the other two a 3/5 – 🍁🍁🍁

ladybird

So, that was my August wrap-up. I read six books and whilst they were enjoyable, my favourite was without a doubt A Court Of Wings and Ruin!

Thank you for reading! Please let me know how you did with your reading in August! If you’ve written a blog post, feel free to link it down below and I’ll check it out!

matildasignoff