Review + Chapter 1 Excerpt + Giveaway: F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher

My Thoughts

Tarryn Fisher delivers the unexpected—a love story that is both aching and tender, witty and romantic—but not without lacing the narrative with her singular style that readers have come to love.

4halfstars

Synopsis

Fuck LoveHelena Conway has fallen in love.

Unwillingly.

Unwittingly.

But not unprovoked. Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.

It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend. Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.

Until she doesn’t.

My Review

“You are supposed to be with me.”

Tarryn Fisher delves into contemporary romance once again, but not without stamping it with her own singular style. F*ck Love is a story of destiny and determination, heartache and love, timing and choices. We see a different side of Tarryn, with more wit, tenderness and effervescence imbued into the narrative, making the novel compulsively readable and enjoyable. There were so many things I loved, everything from her fresh and funny chapter hashtags to the protagonist’s life-centering Harry Potter references (who doesn’t relate to that?!). A portion of the story also takes place in Port Townsend, Washington, and the setting felt very vivid and immersive, giving the story an added sense of connection.

This story felt more plot driven than some of her previous work without losing the feels and character intrigue. In fact, I really loved our protagonist, Helena, who was very much relatable even as she struggled to do the right thing and understand both her sense of self and her emotions.

The novel unravels when in a dream Helena Conway experiences a slice of life that could be… would be… should be? She leaps into a life she never expected, with a man she never imagined, getting an unexpected taste of happiness. The issue is that man is not her boyfriend, but rather, her best friend’s boyfriend. Worse yet, her life is tethered to another man and her best friend Della, seems to think her boyfriend Kit is to propose soon.

“I was just a flat line until he came along. And maybe now I’m hurting. But isn’t that what love is supposed to do? Make you feel, make you brave, make you look at yourself more carefully?”

Helena spins into an emotional frenzy she can’t control, examining her life, her ambitions, her heart. She ends up falling for the man of her dreams, someone who is not hers to love.

“Fuck fear, and fuck Kit, and fuck love. I don’t need any of that muggle shit.”

The plot moves quickly as destiny’s ill-timed plays vexed these star-crossed lovers in a will they/won’t they/should they situation. I couldn’t help but fall for Helena and Kit, for the possibility of Helena and Kit’s happily ever after, but fate continued to throw more complication into the mix.

“We have something, Helena. In another life, it would have been a beautiful something.”

I never know what to expect in Tarryn Fisher’s books and so as I read, I wasn’t sure how the story would close, but I’ll reveal that it certainly concludes with some twists that made my heart ache, all the while pounding with anticipation. Friendships, relationships, choices and chance get thematically explored in a book that is most definitely a love story. F*uck Love expresses another side of Tarryn and I hope we see more of it in the future. This is a book many will love, just I have.

Chapter 1

#wtf

“You are supposed to be with me.”

What words are these? They startle me, and at first I think I’ve heard him wrong. He’s leaning across the table while our significant others are twenty feet away, waiting in line for our food.

“You and me,” he says. “Not us and them.”

I blink at him before I realize he’s making a joke. I laugh and go back to looking at my magazine. Actually, it’s not really a magazine. It’s a math journal, because I’m super cool like that.

“Helena…” I don’t look up right away. I’m afraid to. If I look up and see that he’s not joking, everything will change.

“Helena.” He reaches out and touches my hand. I jump, pull back. My chair makes a horrid scraping sound, and Neil looks over. I pretend that I dropped something and reach under the table. Under the table are our shoes and legs. There is a blue crayon lying at my feet; I pick it up and resurface.

Neil is at the front of the line ordering our food, and my best friend’s boyfriend is waiting for my response, his eyes heavy with burden.

“Are you drunk?” I hiss. “What the fuck?”

“No,” he says. Though he doesn’t look so sure. For the first time, I notice the scruff on his face. The skin around his eyes is sallow. He’s going through something, maybe? Life is being bullshit.

“If this is a joke, you’re making me really uncomfortable,” I tell him. “Della is right there. What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I only have ten minutes, Helena.” His eyes move to the blue crayon, which is resting between our hands.

“Ten minutes for what? You’re sweating,” I say. “Did you take something, are you on the crack?” What type of drugs make you sweat like that? Crack? Heroine?

I want Neil and Della to come back. I want everything to go back to normal. I spin around to see where they are.

“Helena…”

“Stop saying my name like that.” My voice shakes. I make to stand up, but he grabs the crayon, then my hand.

“I don’t have much time. Let me show you.”

He’s sitting very still, but his eyes remind me of a cornered animal: frightened, panicked, bright. I’ve never seen that look on his face, but since Della’s only been dating him for a few months, it’s a moot point. I don’t really know this guy. He could be a druggie for all I know. He turns my hand over so it’s palm up, and I let him. I don’t know why, but I do.

He places the crayon in my palm and closes my fist around it.

“You have to say it out loud,” he says. “Show me, Kit.”

“Say it, Helena. Please. I’m afraid of what will happen if you don’t.”

Because he looks so afraid, I say it.

“Show me, Kit.” And then, “Should I know what this is?”  

“No one should,” he says. And then everything goes black.

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Review: Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

My Thoughts

Brilliantly dark, twisted and provocative.
It’s a compelling psychological thriller whose exploration of love and hopelessness make the story impossible to forget.

4stars

Synopsis

marrow coverIn the Bone there is a house.

In the house there is a girl.

In the girl there is a darkness.

Margo is not like other girls. She lives in a derelict neighborhood called the Bone, in a cursed house, with her cursed mother, who hasn’t spoken to her in over two years. She lives her days feeling invisible. It’s not until she develops a friendship with her wheelchair-bound neighbor, Judah Grant, that things begin to change. When neighborhood girl, seven-year-old Neveah Anthony, goes missing, Judah sets out to help Margo uncover what happened to her.

What Margo finds changes her, and with a new perspective on life, she’s determined to find evil and punish it–targeting rapists and child molesters, one by one.

But hunting evil is dangerous, and Margo risks losing everything, including her own soul.

My Review

“I believe in loneliness so deep and profound it has a physical presence. I believe in choices—hard ones that people in charge seldom seem to get right. I believe that everyone needs something: a woman’s touch, companionship, money, forgiveness. And to acquire those things a person will accumulate as much sin as they need to.”

There is just something about Tarryn Fisher’s writing.  It’s both chillingly stoic and brimming with emotion. It’s poetic and piercing, sinister and alluring, enlivening the dark and buried parts of her character’s souls. Similar to Mud Vein, Fisher delivers an introspective and grisly psychological thriller, but not only in terms of its nefariousness, but also in terms of the human conditions it explores. Specifically,  we see how the core of a person can bruise, morph and twist due to the circumstances of their upbringing… to the people who pass on their own shortcomings… their hopelessness… their blood and marrow.

We meet Margo, who lives in a dilapidated shack she calls “the eating house” in place called the Bone. The Bone represents the dejection, hunger (literal and emotional), fear and sadness that consumes the people who live there. It’s the demoralizing acceptance that life will likely not get any better than the scraps of stale food, the suffusing smell of mold and urine, the drugs, the whoring or perhaps most importantly, the lack of love. It’s a rot that consumes generation after generation and Margo knows this all too well with a mother whose vacant eyes never even glance her way. With a life that seems invisible and derelict. With a father who she does not know.

“The Bone is in our marrow. It’s complacency and fear handed down from generation to generation.”

But one day, her neighbor’s confidence sparks a conversation that awakens something dormant inside. Judah Grant is beautiful, strong and… bound to a wheelchair. Yet he is everything that is good and hopeful, and with one conversation, Margo has found someone who sees her for the first time in years.

“I’ll save you, if you save me.”

Her happiness is short-lived, however, when a little girl she knew well, Neveah, goes missing, and the dark reality of the Bone eats at her, sparking a rage which had been inside her all along.

“I understand sadness, and so I trust it. We are meant to feel sadness, if only to protect us from the brief spiels of happiness. Darkness is all I’ll ever know; maybe the key is to make poetry out of it.”

Margo’s marrow flexes and twists as she takes control of her life, determined to be more than what the eating house and the Bone and her mother and father dictate. Determined to help those that didn’t have it in them to save themselves. She seeks to eradicate the evil around her.

“I can’t stay the way I am. I don’t remember what it’s like to be free. To be wide open without fear. I need something to break me.”

I found it fascinating that Margo seems deceptively detached, when it’s really that she feels so much and so intensely that she needs control to reign in what surges inside. While this is not a romance, love is ever present, whether it’s the absence or abundance of it. Admittedly, the story lagged at times and I think it was because so much of it was internal monologue, experiencing Margo in all her dynamic glory. It also seemed to match the pace of her own transformation.

I think that Margo found her way to be free of her past, to have control over her emotions, to find retribution poetically, in a way that felt meaningful. Perhaps her vigilante tendencies were her own way of finding love…. of feeling… of finding purpose. But would she lose her soul and sanity in the process? Would fate finally end her deadly machinations?

In expected Tarryn Fisher style, the story brilliantly blurs the line between wrong and right, sanity and psychosis. It takes us for a ride and just when we think that we know how the rest of the story unfurls, she throws surprises our way to further challenge and wrench our emotions. If you’re looking to get lost in a story that is suspenseful, reflective, gritty, thrilling and provocative, Marrow will not lead you astray.

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Review: Never Never (#1, Never Never) by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

My Thoughts

A chilling, captivating thriller.
Hoover and Fisher have combined their unique talents to deliver a deliciously twisted tale of deceit, love and friendship that keeps you guessing long after the heart-stopping end.

4 four stars

Synopsis

never never coverBest friends since they could walk.
In love since they were fourteen.
Complete strangers since this morning.

He’ll do anything to remember.
She’ll do anything to forget.

 

 

 

 

My Review

Check your preconceptions at the door, readers. This is a different—and exciting—Colleen Hoover/Tarryn Fisher experience. Never Never is a story that defies a specific category. It’s romantic, suspenseful, witty, edgy, mysterious and even creepy. I loved it!!! It has a supernatural twist that fuels the intriguing crux of the novel, sparking endless possibilities to conjure in one’s mind. Chapters alternate protagonist point-of-views as we piece together what’s happening in a book that starts with a blank.

“How odd to be made of flesh, balanced on bone, and filled with a soul you’ve never met.”

Charlie and Silas have been friends since they were young, together since they were teenagers and now they’re strangers.

“I look at her, she’s the girl I supposedly make love to. The girl I’ve apparently made love to for a while. The girl I apparently still love. I just wish I could remember …”

The book’s mysterious circumstances begin to unveil, as Silas and Charlie’s story takes shape. The plot-driven approach peppers fragments of who they are slowly, as they react to situations and each other. I won’t divulge too much information, as it’s best to experience this story blindly, but I’ll share that their tale is twisted and unusual.  Not only that, there are shocking truths that change everything, and nothing is at it seems.  And these truths… they’re mere glimpses of what’s to come and it makes the story feel more sinister.

The story moves quickly and concludes with a totally heart-stopping, leave-me-breathless, oh-my-godding kind of ending. It was brilliant and it totally rocked. I promise that like me, you’ll be more than ready to devour the next book in this compelling new series. Ready to unravel this mystery to the core. Ready to embrace what is sure to be more chilling… more thrilling… more spellbinding.

Overall, it was a wonderfully suspenseful, addictive book. I was happy to see these two differently styled authors come together to push the boundaries of their individual comfort zones, and the result is definitely something to gush over. They’ve given us a page turner of a story we are sure to remember.

He’ll do anything to remember.
She’ll do anything to forget.

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Reading Order and Links

This is the first book in a continuing series. Three books expected.

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Review: Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

My Thoughts

One of the best books I’ve ever read.
Powerful. Introspective. Suspenseful. Gripping. Heartbreaking.
An emotional powerhouse perfectly crafted and brilliantly written.

6stars

Synopsis

MudVein coverWhen reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken.

If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat…and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.

 

 

My Review

“It’s your darkness that pulls me in. Your mud vein. But sometimes having a mud vein will kill you.”

I experienced this book, alone, in a quiet house on a rainy day, which I felt was ominously appropriate. A dark, cold day listening to the melodic spattering of rain as the words from this story battered my thoughts more forcefully. Gripped me. I was immediately taken. Held captive myself, by the raw power of this book. The trickling of information, clues, truths, secrets, all half-exposed, half-shrouded as the story unfurled. It’s difficult to convey what this story is about, but I think the best, most succinct word I can use is truth.

This is a story about truth.

The truth we seek to uncover. The truth beneath the pain. The truth we bury deep inside and are too blind to see. And finally, the truth we find … often times, too late.

“This is a game, and if I want to get out, I have to find the truth.”

Senna awakes to a real-life nightmare.  She finds herself imprisoned without chains, but locked up in a cabin encased by snow, trapped with a person from her past who ignites old feelings she meant to keep dormant.  Unclear clues taunt all around them. The game is ingeniously staged for them to figure out. There are many facets to this story, ribbons of the plot untwining gradually, and during this part of the book, I found myself caught up in the suspense of their situation. I found myself observing and deliberating, elements twisting and clicking into place. Waiting. Watching for the nuances of their environment, clues hidden in the subtext of words and hiding in plain sight.

“Who will live and who will die? It’s the worst form of torture a person can imagine — the wait to die.”

But the more I worked to decipher the mystery, the more I found myself intrigued by the enigma that is Senna.  I was lost in her, unraveling her complexities to better understand her essence. She defies normal, reveling in the anti-current of society. She’s a writer. An artist. She takes in the world through a different lens. She’s also one of the most tragic characters of which I’ve read. Pain has defined her. Abandonment has shaped her. She destroys before she can be destroyed. But the more I tried to untangle, the more I wondered whether perhaps I was trying to uncover something that already laid bare. To me, she was both exceedingly vulnerable and entirely shielded. She’s worked so hard to smother the sum of her painful experiences that she lives behind the haze of a thin veil, obscuring her emotions.  There’s only been one person who’s been able to lift the fog and see right through her.

“She can’t see the landscape anymore. It’s all painted in her grief.”

(Florence and The Machine, Landscape)

Dr. Isaac Asterholder. This is the man she finds in the cabin … the man from her past … the man she pushed away. He met Senna in a moment of chaos and vulnerability, in the raging aftermath of pain. He forced his way into her life, helping her in a way no one had before.

“Isaac was a stranger and he had seen more of my wounds than anyone else. Not because I chose him… He was just always there. That’s what scared me.”

We are transported back to a time where we can better understand Senna and Isaac and the charged dynamic between them. Isaac pushed through all the walls that Senna erected, but he never pushed too far, just far enough to make progress. He was her lifeline at a time her life seemed to permanently dim. Senna’s way of dealing with life was seeing what happened as an indisputable fact. Something she just had to deal with. She was broken. Disfigured by fate and circumstance. She didn’t relent to the pain, but she saw herself as permanently scarred. Isaac was selfless, fixated on healing those broken parts of her he could, bringing color, feeling and intensity to a life painted white, stark and cold. A person from Senna’s past said that she was a “daughter of winter” and I think if she personified winter, then Isaac was someone who thrived in the cold uncertainty of the season. He was a fixer who understood more about her wounds and her silence than anyone else. He carried her pain as his own.

“He kissed me with color, with drumbeat, and a surgeon’s precision. He kissed me with who he was, the sum of his life — and it was all encompassing. I wondered what I kissed him with since I was only broken parts.”

Nevertheless, peering into their past didn’t change reality. They were now two people with lives that had long diverged, suddenly so tangled again by a situation they never expected. Trying to survive a looming danger, an anonymous culprit, the pangs of hunger and the insanity of time, was enough to break open the floodgates, bringing a deluge of emotions that Senna had worked so hard to suppress.

“Being stuck on love was a real bitch to cure. Like cancer, I think. Just when you think you’re over it, it comes back.”

What happens in the cabin and the events that lead up to it are for you to experience. These characters are just brilliantly written, each on their own journey to find their truth. As a writer, Senna needed “simplicity to create complexity,” but I think that she was so lost in her own complexity that she couldn’t see the simple truth in front of her.  She was paralyzed by fear – of so many things – but also to feel so much and have it all be brutally taken away. Because Isaac was all feeling. He flooded her senses. And Senna was afraid to feel. Feeling meant being tethered to someone, beholden to something she couldn’t control.

“There is a string that connects us that is not visible to the eye… Maybe every person has more than one soul they are connected to, and all over the world there are these invisible strings…. Maybe the chances that you’ll find each and every one of your soulmates is slim. But sometimes you’re lucky enough to stumble across one. And you feel a tug. And it’s not so much a choice to love them through their flaws and through your differences, but rather you love them without even trying. You love their flaws.”

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Absolutely and undeniably brilliantly written. The syntax. The word choices. The layers and sub-layers of meaning make it impossible to not get mesmerized by the story.  To me, it felt like a multisensory experience. As if I were walking into a literary butterfly den, not knowing whether to get lost in the beauty of the colorful patterns, or entranced by the soft sounds fluttering in the distance, or be flooded by the smell of the environment around you. I felt my way through this book. I was captivated by all the elements coming together so perfectly. Powerfully. It honestly just blew me away. Is this a romance? No. It’s a novel that defies genre. It’s fiction, suspense, romance, mystery all woven together to create an unforgettable story about discovering the darkest, muddiest, well-buried truths within ourselves… the kind of truth that fills a life with meaning and ultimately sets you free.

“You’ve been silent your whole life. You were silent when we met, silent when you suffered. Silent when life kept hitting you… I tried to move you. It didn’t work. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t move me. I heard everything you didn’t say. I heard it so loudly that I couldn’t shut if off. Your silence, Senna, I hear it so loudly.”

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About Tarryn
Tarryn Fisher Author PicI am a real life villain, truly. I drink sick amounts of Starbucks. Most of the time my hair smells like coffee. I was born in South Africa, and lived there for most of my childhood. I moved to Seattle just for the rain. Rome is my favorite place in the world so far, Paris comes in at a close second. I read and write more than I sleep. When I was eleven, I wrote an entire novel about runaway orphans, using only purple ink. I am addicted to Florence and the Machine and will travel to see concerts. I love scary movies and giraffes. I spend way too much time on Facebook. Meet you there?…
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