Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

IMG_0099Hermione is at the top of the high school food chain. She’s popular, she’s dating one of the hottest guys in grade 12, and she’s a cheerleader. And in a small town where the sports teams repeatedly lose, cheerleading is a big deal. She’s ready to have the best senior year ever, until someone slips something in her drink at camp. The next thing she knows she’s waking up in a hospital bed and her best friend delivers the bad news–she was raped. Now Hermione has a new label. Instead of “queen bee” or “cheerleader co-captain” she’s “that raped girl”. And in a small town, that’s a label that’s going to stick.

This is not my typical book. I usually steer clear of anything that deals with tough issues that are going to make me sad. I appreciate that that kind of thing is available, but I am not usually in the mood to read that kind of thing. That being said, this book felt too important to pass up. This is not like anything I’ve ever had to deal with, but Johnston does such a good job making Hermione likable and it almost feels like her group of friends is also your group of friends too.

I loved that Johnston made this story feel real. It could be really easy to have characters react in predictably Hollywood ways, but I feel like each character had a raw and honest reaction to Hermione’s sexual assault including Hermione herself. I love that she had so many supporting people surrounding her from her parents, to her best friend Polly, to her teammates, to her coach. In an author’s note at the end, Johnston recognizes that in this way she did write about an ideal situation where the victim has a lot of support and cooperative and respectful police officers involved in the investigation–she notes that this is not usually the case. However, she does say that she purposefully gave Hermione a Polly (who is AWESOME by the way) and that she believes there is a Polly out there for all victims of sexual assault.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book but just be conscious that it deals with a really heavy topic and may not be suitable for younger readers. That being said, the relationship between Hermione and Polly is one of the best I’ve ever read and in the end the main feeling I get from this book isn’t sadness, but triumph.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate. A couple of scenes with brief, strong language.
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Violence: Mild
Sexual Content: Heavy. Due to the overall subject matter, but not explicit.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best books of 2015


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

I’m going to narrow the field to the top ten books that I read that were published in 2015. Links are to my reviews

1) Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

“These were the names she whispered in the dark.
These were the pieces she brought back into place.
These were the wolves she rode to war.”

2) Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

“But it’s terrifying to realise how much of your world is wrapped up in loving another person”

3) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”

4) Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

“Believe me, I have looked this up, and the roots of fate and faith are not the same. Nonetheless, I picked up my wicker suitcase to follow Herman the German into the Old Faithful Inn.”

5) Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger

“What we find in a dog is what we bring to a dog.”

6) Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

“I didn’t go there looking for you. I went looking for me.” My voice is soft, low, and shaky. “But now, here you are, and somehow, in finding you, I think I’ve found myself.”

7) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

“In any moment, there were so many chances for paths to cross and people to clash, come together, or do any number of things in between. It was amazing we could live at all, knowing all that could occur purely by chance.”

8) A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

“To make the right decision you must understand both paths before you,” he said quietly. “You must know your demons before you know whether to follow them.”

9) A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

“I do fear him,” I said, which was close to the truth. “I fear him as I fear the desert sun and poisonous snakes. They are all part of the life I live. But the sun gives light, and snakes will feed a caravan if they are caught and cooked.”

10) The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E Pearson

“Three more days. That’s what Sven always told me. When you think you’re at the end of your rope, give it three more days. And then another three. Sometimes you’ll find the rope is longer than you thought.”

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston [ARC]

She knew that Lo-Melkhiin would come to her village for a bride, and she knew he would choose her sister. She also knew that she must not let that happen–she couldn’t bear to see her sister’s fire smothered by this monster. She takes her sister’s place and so her journey begins.

I LOVED THIS BOOK. First of all, fairy tale retellings athousandnights_cvrare always just awesome (except for when they’re unfortunately not). I was a little apprehensive about this book since the Aladdin retelling that I tried not long ago from this same publisher was not good. And by not good, I mean NOT GOOD. As soon as I started reading, however, it was obvious that this book was really something else. We never know the main character’s name. In fact, I think we only learn three names the whole book and all of them are men. I’m not sure if that’s some social commentary or what…but it kind of makes things a little easier. Instead of just calling people by their names, we get descriptions of people (even people we’ve already met) and it really helps to keep track of characters.

I love this main character. She’s so strong and confident and has good values. She draws her strength from her friends and family back home who have made her into a smallgod and are praying to and for her. I don’t want to give too much away, but as a woman, I just felt very empowered while I was reading this book.

The plot could be perceived as slow moving, but I loved that it let me get into the pace of the qasr and I felt like I was sinking into the story. I also liked that I legitimately could not tell where the plot was going or what would happen next. The only thing that I didn’t like, was that we didn’t really get to know the real Lo-Melkhiin that well. If we had, I think the ending would have felt more real and genuine, but it’s definitely something that I was okay with. Overall, I thought this was a great, fresh retelling of the classic tale and would definitely recommend it.

Disclaimer: I haven’t read The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh so I’m not sure how it compares to that.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: None
Violence: Moderate. Fighting scenes, but not a lot of gore.
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. Characters drink wine and mead.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.