Cover Image: The Salt in Our Blood

The Salt in Our Blood

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Member Reviews

After her grandmother's sudden death, Cat is forced to reconnect with her estranged mother and move in with her in New Orleans. It is there that she learns of a family secret that her grandmother kept hidden - a secret sibling she was never told about. 

I really really wanted to love this book, but I frequently found that it just left me underwhelmed at every turn. The writing style is decent, but the story starts to lose steam and becomes less engaging. The characters are decently developed, but the plot could have used more depth. There were topics mentioned that were not fully explored, and characters introduced that were not utilized to their full potential. I did appreciate that this was a lens into what it’s like to live with someone with a mental health condition like bipolar, but it felt like a lukewarm dive into it, when I was hoping for more. 

The story idea has potential, but the execution of the plot and the way certain parts unfold was not as satisfying as I would have liked. Despite this, I still managed to finish the book. Cat is an okay character, as is Mary, whose backstory is moderately interesting if not moderately  traumatizing. The portrayal of Mary's bipolar disorder is difficult to read at times, and may not be well-received by some readers. It may appear to some that the problem with Mary is her bipolar disorder, which I don’t think was the intended message.

In terms of the romance in the book, I did not find Daniel to be a particularly attractive character, and I was not convinced that there was chemistry between him and Cat. I was hoping to be charmed by him, but it just never happened. Overall, this was an okay story with potential, but it just left me wanting more in an unsatisfying kind of way.
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3.75 stars rounded up. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

17 year old Cat lives with her grandmother, Moony, and doesn't have the best relationship with her mother. Mary, Cat's mother, has bipolar disorder and is a bit of a wild card. When Mooney passes, Cat is made to live with her mother which isn't the most ideal situation. Upon cleaning out Moony's room, she stumbles upon an old tarot deck. When the characters from the cards start infiltrating her dreams, they send Cat on a mission to better understand her mother and herself. What will she uncover? And will she find a connection with her mother, or is it better to just move on at 18?

I fully admit that I do not have anyone in my life diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That being said, I found the way the author wrote Mary to be jarring, but in all honesty that's how I feel someone with said disorder (when not seeking proper treatment) would make me feel. Hot and cold, fire and ice in a flash of emotions. It was a peek into what I would imagine Cat went through, but again have had very little exposure and education, but I'm willing to learn. I really enjoyed the plot, the magical twists, and the way Cat really came into her own. I feel for Mary and what she went through, and can only hope she will continue on her path to healing. The pacing of the story got a bit stale from 20% to about 50%, but once the story got it's hooks back in it was hard to put down.

3.75 stars as the twist was a bit predictable if not overdone in today's literature. Also, simply due to the fact that I can't see myself rereading this in the future. Recommended for readers 15+ due to adult themes.
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I love witchy stories. Unfortunately, this one felt more like an idea for a story than an actual story. It feels like it was written linearly. I probably should have paid a little closer attention to the trigger warnings as this book definitely touches on some subjects close to my heart. It wasn't necessarily bad, it just wasn't for me.
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I was giving a E-ARC for an honest review of this book. This book does contain a character with a mental health disorder. It could potentially be triggering to some individuals. 

* Review Contains potential spoilers.

The story follows Cat after she suffers the loss of her grandmother. She is forced to call the only family she has left. Although her relationship with her mother is strained. The story shows Cat trying to understand her mother and her past. He mother is very private and not forthcoming with her life and past. The story describes the stress and chaos of living with a family member with mental illness. I think she did a great job at explaining the feelings associated with this experience. I personally lived with a mental ill parent growing up and it was difficult at times. I experienced many emotions as a teenager and young adult. I didn't accept or understand my parent till my early 20's. 

Overall it was a good read and I totally was not expecting the development of the story. Would recommend you read the book.
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I love anything witchy and tarot related and was so excited to get this book for a review. I highly recommend this read!
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Ava Morgyn begins her debut novel with abundant problems for seventeen-year-old Cat when her adored grandmother dies. Ten years before, her unstable mother had dumped Cat off with the grandmother with nothing but a deck of tarot cards – minus one. Now, her mother returns, taking only enough time to determine that the college fund Cat’s grandmother had promised her does not exist and to put the house on the market before she heads to New Orleans with Cat in tow. 

In New Orleans, Cat must become the mature one in the relationship as she tries to sort out the real and the unreal with her mother’s bipolar disorder and the eccentricity of the city itself. Dark family history shows up first in a picture she discovers of her mother with a baby that is not her and then in a newspaper clipping from generations past. Strange characters haunt her dreams and reappear in the daytime until she begins to wonder if the family heritage of madness has become her own. Answers seem to lie in finding the missing tarot card. Her friend Daniel contributes a stable influence and helps her look for the card and sort out relationships as Cat learns her beloved grandmother wasn’t all that she seemed. 

Normally, magical realism isn’t my first choice for settling down with a good book, but I make an exception for this one. I had to check if I remembered correctly that it was listed as young adult fare. I would label it as crossover as a good read for both adults and teens. My one word of advice is that if you begin the book, dusting and dirty dishes will need to wait until you are finished. If dinner must be cooked, just stir the pot with one hand and hold the book with the other.
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What a unique read! Pretty much set any book in New Orleans and I’m going to want to read it. The Salt in Our Blood started off really strongly and pulled me in with its atmospheric storytelling. It dragged a little bit starting about 50 percent through but finished off strongly. It has a lot of sensitive topics, including rape, pedophilia, oppressive religion, childhood trauma, suicide, and mental health issues. I can’t exactly speak to whether the representation of bipolar disorder, psychosis, and mania are accurate. The tarot card characters were interesting but the way they were presented could be confusing at times. All in all, a decent read.
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TW: mental illness (bipolar disorder, depression, mania), suicide attempt, miscarriage/stillbirth, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, alcoholism, emotional abuse, manipulation, toxic relationships, death, grief.

In addition to the aforementioned warning, I would just like to reiterate that this novel could be particularly triggering to any with mental illness or a history of emotional or sexual abuse, rape, or miscarriage.

That being said, I still adored The Salt In Our Blood by Ava Morgyn. Morgyn's writing is simultaneously gritty and lyrical, emotional and pragmatic, magical and mysterious. This particular story is almost entirely character-based. While there are some very tense moments of action, the story revolves around the MC's personal journey of discovery.

Thrust into the very moment she discovers her grandmother dead, we follow Cat as she is forced to confront her mother and the dark past that binds them. I have no experience with bipolar disorder, so my knowledge remains limited, but I imagine the ups and downs of this story are meant to mimic the highs and lows associated with it. I found myself fluctuating between tense anxiety and calm understanding with every turn of the page. As Cat struggles to get her bearings in her new normal, she is plagued by characters that are oddly reminiscent of the tarot deck her mother gave her. I thought the tarot characters were a unique twist, but ultimately served little purpose in furthering the plot. However, it does provide just enough mysticism that we start to question the reliability of our MC, her own self-doubt reflecting the sentiment. 

I enjoyed the way Cat's journey slowly unraveled the mystery that is her family history. Each piece of the puzzle proved that people are not always who we think they are. My biggest takeaway from this book is to remember that each of us are fighting different battles and you never know what someone else is going though. If you're looking for a book to tug on your heartstrings and take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, I recommend taking a chance on The Salt In Our Blood.

Thank you to Ava Morgyn, Albert Whitman & Co, and NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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What we have here is a situation where I have a bit of The Mixed Feelings™. At the start of the book, I wholly felt for Cat. She's found her grandmother, who basically raised her, dead. As if that isn't bad enough, she now has to live with her mostly absent mom, which certainly can't be easy. So yeah, I was definitely sympathetic. But then some things rubbed me the wrong way, so we're just going to have to break it all down.

What I Liked:

►Like I said, I was very drawn to Cat and her story initially. Like, she seems so lonely, even before Moony (her name for her grandma) dies. Not a lot of friends who'll even know or care that she's gone, and now she's got to go to a new city with a mother who's practically a stranger. It is a lot, and I couldn't help but feel for her!

►New Orleans! I love that city so much. And I think the author did a good job of getting the vibe of the city. I loved the setting, especially since there was a tarot card story, and a bit of ghost lore and such.

►I adored Daniel and his family. Frankly, I could use a book about those guys!
►I was definitely invested in the stories of both Cat and her mom. Frankly, I may have been more invested in Mary's story than Cat's,  but they were pretty intertwined anyway of course.

What I Didn't:

►The way Cat talked about her mom's bipolar disorder was... messy, at best. This is really my biggest issue (by far) with the book. Look, I get that Cat is a kid and likely has all kinds of misconceptions about both her mother and living with bipolar disorder.  But she never truly gets to a point where she learns more about said misconceptions, hence my feelings. Like- had this been used as a learning experience, I'd have been completely on board. But that doesn't really happen. I suppose to some extent Cat does learn some aspects of it- that you don't "catch" bipolar from a troubling life event, and is a bit more understanding, but not enough for me tbh. Cat treats her mom pretty horribly, and keeps nosing into her early life to find "reasons" that Mary is dealing with bipolar. That... isn't how that works. She also sees Mary as some kind of irrevocably broken human being just because she happens to have a mental illness. Cat then unleashes a ton of Mary's past trauma on Mary. I get wanting to know what is up with things you may uncover about a parent's past, but Cat doesn't handle it particularly sensitively.

Bottom Line: A good story that pulled at my heartstrings, and while I think the author had the right intentions, I believe that the representation of Mary's bipolar disorder/past trauma could have been handled a bit better.
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TW: Suicide, irresponsible bipolar disorder representation, sexual assault, alcoholism, death, emotional and sexual abuse

Raing: 2.5/5 Stars

I got this novel as an ARC from Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I honestly don't know where to start with this book. I guess I'll start with the summary like I usually do. Catia wakes up one morning to find her grandmother and primary caretaker Moony dead. As a minor, Catia must now be taken in by her mother Mary, which she has a strained relationship with due to her mother's bipolar disorder. Her mom moves Catia to New Orleans, where her mom has a profession as a tarot reader, and goes through a journey to discover more about her mother and about herself.

At first, I was extremely excited for this book. I am trying to learn more about reading tarot cards, so the initial concept had me super excited to see more about symbolism and where the author would take it. There were some really interesting takes on it throughout the novel, which I thought was really interesting but at times felt like it fell a bit flat.

The rest of the story, however, was definitely not well-executed.

One of the big things we learn is that Cat's mother has bipolar disorder, and as such as created such a giant divide between Cat and her mom. However, the amount of times I have read Cat refer to her mom's disorder as a "disease" and an "illness" has enraged me beyond all words. At some part of the novel, Cat says the equivalent of "If there is my mom before bipolar disorder, maybe there is my mom after bipolar disorder," which heavily insinuates that bipolar disorder is something that can be cured. Even at the very end, when we are supposed to be seeing Cat grow and develop in understanding her mom's disorder, she still refers to it as an illness! She says she has grown to accept that it's a part of her family's history, but how can you do that if you still call it an illness and place a negative stereotype on bipolar disorder and, as a result, all mental health issues?

Another issue that is NOT handled well at all is the topic of sexual assault and survivor's trauma. Cat spends a majority of the novel trying to uncover her mother's mysterious past, but as a result ends up causing severe lashback for her mom as a survivor of sexual assault. It extremely aggravated me that there were several signs of Cat's mom being a survivor, but she kept digging and forcing that trauma to surface until her mother has to take matters in her own hands, which I do not want to get into. It made me really hate Cat as a character.

In the author's note of the novel, Ava Morgyn states that she herself has dealt with suicidal thoughts, and personally I think that the matter of suicidal thoughts was handled okay. It wasn't the best rep I've seen, but also not the worst. However, I really wish more research had been done on the proper treatment of bipolar disorder.

There was the brief hint of a romance plotline with Daniel, and I wish we saw more of his family. However, he did say one line near the middle of the book when Cat is spilling her story about her mother and the disorder she has. Here, Daniel says "Helping a cute girl untangle her sordid family history? Maybe if I do a good enough job you'll think about sticking around." It did not sit well with me as it seemed like he just wanted to get in Cat's pants.

I was so infuriated by this book that I just want to scream at the author. This book had so much potential and it was completely wasted. I do not condone improper use and representation of mental health and the extreme flaws in this novel have completely ruined it for me. If I would have known all this before going to a bookstore, I would refuse to pick it up.
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Oof. Not for me.

I reread the blurb after I read the book and there are not trigger warnings. There most definitely should be: child loss, sexual abuse, pedophilia, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, child abandonment, suicide.

So going into this, I thought this would be a story with some witchy happenings with tarot cards in New Orleans as a family uncovers secrets about each other. In a way, sure, that happened. But it's really not what the book was about at all.

This book is about the relationship between a mother and daughter after the daughter spends most of her life living with grandma. Grandma has just died as the book starts so mom (who is bipolar) and daughter are going to live together again. While they're living together and trying to build some sort of relationship, daughter finds things out about mom and tries to pinpoint a catalyst for her disorder.

That last sentence is what gets me. Full disclosure, I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder before and then it was changed to chronic depression. A change in diagnosis doesn't change the fact that I know how it feels to live with that label. There's no "reason" for it. It just is. And digging into someone's past and uncovering dirt that sent them over the edge probably isn't the best way to reach them.

Other than that, I felt like the writing was a bit disjointed and I almost felt played during the book. I signed on for spooky tarot cards in New Orleans and ended up reading about a family dealing with some heavy triggers and some odd mental health rep. I don't know. It was an interesting idea and I didn't hate it, but it definitely wasn't for me.
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I was so, so excited to read this when I requested it! Tarot cards and mysterious happenings in New Orleans? Sounds amazing! Once I started reading I thought it was going to turn out great, because there was some beautiful narration going on. However, as the book went on I felt uninterested in where the plot began to go. Areas I wanted to be explored went unexplored and the main character just couldn't seem to capture my empathy. I have a feeling this is more of me a problem, but I was unable to finish reading this. I'm very sad that this wasn't what I was hoping for, but thank you for the opportunity to read it anyway!
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I would rate this book 3 stars, it was good but not amazing. It was interesting enough to keep my interest and I loved the New Orleans setting. The cover is beautiful and draws you in, giving the book an overall mysterious and eerie vibe. The main character Cat is determined and complex and and finds herself facing a new kind of life after her grandmother passes. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about mysteries and complicated family dynamics. 3 stars!
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Salt in our Blood
I was provided an eARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

After the death of her grandmother, Cat is forced to live with the mother that abandoned her as a child. As she unravels the trauma that may have led to Mary’s mental illness, she discovers a family history that is tied to a deck of tarot cards. I had mixed feelings about Ava Morgyn’s book.

Pros: I loved the setting and descriptions of New Orleans. So atmospheric. I was invested in the characters from the beginning. 
Cons: It felt like Morgyn tried to do too much in one book. There were too many plotlines. It felt like a series that was crammed in to one book. I wish she had chosen one and given it the time necessary.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4
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TW: Suicide, alcoholism, death, irresponsible bipolar representation 
"I still can't sort where her naturally larger-than-life personality ends, and the bipolar disorder begins." 
This story has the groundwork for a fantastical, supernatural tale, with familial curses and generations of mediums. We are given these scary characters who come up out of nowhere and resemble the tarot deck characters. We are given the foundation for a history of religious trauma, a priest who took things too far, and a girl who just wants to find the answers. All of this is given to us, which would create a memorable and exciting story- and none of it is used in the manner you would expect. This book took all of those opportunities and tossed them aside in exchange for villainizing bipolar disorder. 

Mary experienced something traumatizing, and this has heightened her bipolar disorder as a teen. Instead of getting the necessary help, she drops Cat off at her grandmother's and continues living untreated. Cat only recalls her mother as an abusive rollercoaster, without a single ounce of empathy for her mother. This was frustrating because Cat is regularly educating us, the reader, on what bipolar is. It seems that despite all of the research this character has done, she has not found it in her to give a single fuck about her mother in a way that would have helped them both. Cat's abandonment issues should not necessarily be dismissed. She was lied to and tricked by her grandmother about her own mother's state. Living with an untreated bipolar person is not easy, and I'm not going to pretend that it is. 

It's difficult for me to get my thoughts down on why this book was so troubling. I am a bipolar person. I have what's called bipolar type II. It is considered the "less severe" bipolar disorder in that I experience more depressive episodes and less severe manic episodes. There is a lesser-known bipolar disorder subset that is known as "Rapid-Cycling." This disorder generally occurs when there has been no treatment for bipolar. Additionally, rapid-cycling is most commonly periods of more depressive episodes than manic episodes. 
This book made me feel wrong and irresponsible for having it. It's hard to trigger me, even harder to make me feel bad for having a mental illness (or several). This book made me feel sick at my stomach for having bipolar and being untreated at some point. I give you all of this information to remind you that people with bipolar are…people. Often, people who have bipolar that present themselves later in life went through something extremely traumatizing. I address rapid cycling bipolar because it isn't clarified that Mary is experiencing this until 90% of the book. Cat takes all this time to show us how well educated she is on bipolar but doesn't even bother to tell us her mother's diagnosis. This shows, to me, that perhaps our author hasn't done enough research on mental illness to write about it. The part that hurts most is that at no point is bipolar written helpfully or kindly. It is perpetually treated like a negative and harmful thing. As if it is Mary's fault that she was not given the opportunities for better treatment. 
Putting these critiques aside, although they are reason enough for my low rating, this book wasn't good. The romance felt half-hearted, and the characters are flat. This fantastic paranormal world is built around us in the always interesting New Orleans, and our author just half uses all of the aspects.
Genuinely, why even have all of these aspects and interesting tarot characters (which are the only interesting characters in the book) and just not use them? This book frustrated me to no end, not just because of the problematic representation of mental illness but also because of its lack of using the world it built.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book had a great plot, and the setting was stunning, but the characters seemed like you could either love them, hate them, or somehow feel both simultaneously, and the book would have had a lot more impact if there was a bit more of a grey area in between those feelings. One of the things that must have been hard to write about this book is that everyone has a different experience with these conditions and issues that the author included. While I don't have any personal connection with these topics, I think it's good that the author at least attempted to shed some light on the matters mentioned. Overall, this was a good book, but it would have ended more enjoyably if some more of the questions, in the end, could have been answered. I recommend this if you like dark fiction or a mixture of realistic fiction and fantasy.
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I had an enjoyable time reading this and it held my attention the entire way through that I finished it within the day! I enjoyed every page and thought that the plot/story was very unique. Would recommend to anyone!
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