Monday, September 18, 2017

Alone by Cyn Balog

Cover art courtesy of Goodreads
WHAT A RUSH. This book was insane! Alone by Cyn Balog follows Seda, her 4 siblings, and her mother. The family lives in a secluded mansion at the top of a hill, which Seda's mother had inherited and originally set out to refurbish and sell. The kicker here is that the mansion was previously a murder mystery inn, with props, hidden passageways, and secrets lurking around every corner, and now Seda's mother is thinking of keeping it and living there...permanently.

One snowy night, a few stranded teenagers show up seeking shelter, and Seda tries her best to turn them away, knowing things about herself and the house that mean danger for the group. But she fails, and soon the group, along with Seda and her siblings, are immersed in a murder mystery scavenger hunt that soon turns deadly.

I absolutely adored this book. It was a great blend of The Shining and Halloween, with a little Friday the 13th mixed in. It was fast-paced and thrilling, with a creepy, gripping plot that wouldn't let me put it down. And what a plot twist! I never would have seen that ending coming in a million years, and I love that it wasn't predictable. Seda was an incredibly fascinating, albeit twisted, character, and her awkward interactions with others were spot on. The murder mystery premise was great, as were the vivid descriptions of this creepy old house. And without spoilers (you'll know what I mean when you read it) OMG THE FREEZER!

My biggest complaint was that too much time was spent leading up to the murder mystery scavenger hunt, and not enough time on the hunt itself. Also, as much as I loved the ending something about it seemed a little too unrealistic for me. It was incredibly graphic as well (which I don't mind at all), but if you're squeamish this might not be the book for you. But overall, this was a great thriller with a phenomenal cast of characters and a plot that's to die for...literally.

Alone by Cyn Balog hits shelves on November 7, 2017!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A huge thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an ARC of this book!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Cover art courtesy of Goodreads
I chose Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips as my August Book of the Month with high hopes. It follows Joan and her son Lincoln as they get trapped in a zoo at night during a shoot out and have to figure out a way to survive. Hiding in an empty porcupine enclosure, they narrowly avoid the shooters, then later are united with some other lone survivors to await rescue.

Unfortunately, this book left much to be desired. I haven't felt this strongly about a book negatively (that I finished anyway) in a long time. First, it's unrealistic. The son Lincoln is supposed to be 4 years old, but the vocabulary he uses is insane (the kid actually uses the words vile and assassination in sentences). Smart or not, it completely contradicts the immaturity that Lincoln shows throughout the book. Secondly, the main character Joan REALLY bothered me. I'm not sure if she was just stupid or what, but her actions throughout the entire incident were horrible. She yelled at the girl who tried to save her by bringing her into a safe hiding spot. She went to the FULLY ILLUMINATED snack machines to get snacks for her son (who while he has the vocabulary of an SAT student, can't stand being hungry without screaming). The whole time I really disliked both Joan and her son, which is not something you want to feel about the main characters of a book. Third, this entire book only spanned about 3 hours of time, and I think trying to drag this story out into a full length novel was unnecessary. It could have been a great short story or novella, but it spent way too much time on virtually nothing to fill length. And the ending? Totally anticlimactic and SUPER ambiguous with a lot of questions still remaining. 

What I will say about this book was that the writing was great, and the overall idea behind the plot was incredible. I also liked how you got multiple points of view, even though it primarily followed Joan. The cover art for the book was beautiful, even though that doesn't count for much. I think Phillips did a good job addressing a really challenging topic: young boys feeling hurt by the world looking to do some damage as revenge. I imagine writing in the point of view of the shooters for those few sections of the book were incredibly challenging, and even though I was disappointed in this book overall, some of those scenes really made my spine tingle.

You win some, you lose some, and unfortunately this book was a loss for me. It seemed marketed as a thriller but was really more about the mother/son relationship, which left me disappointed. I am still giving it 2.5 stars, because I think some people might really enjoy it, and overall the premise was good.

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards

Cover art courtesy of Goodreads
*lets out a sigh* So this book. It's taken me a while to really think about what to say about this book, because I don't know if I liked it or not. And I'm not sure I fully understood everything that was happening either. Is that good? Is that bad? No idea. But I'll try my best to give you my spoiler-free review anyway.

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards is a YA novel that follows Theo and Paige, two teenagers seemingly bound together by a lifelong friendship, a terrible accident, and a bridge. When you pick up this book, at first glance it may seem like horror, but it was so much more than that, and it was scary for unexpected reasons. That's because Theo and Paige both have mental disorders. Theo has ODD and ADHD and Paige is crippled by anxiety. Throughout the story these conditions dramatically impact the course of the plot as Theo and Paige get wrapped up in their illnesses, each other, and what is happening to them.

After a traumatic accident at a local bridge, Paige and Theo spend the summer apart, with Paige in a summer science program and Theo working construction with his uncle. Mysteriously, the two are drawn back to one another as flashbacks from that fateful night begin to haunt them. Voices,  strange items, and danger become more prevalent the nearer they are to the bridge (where Theo has a construction project and Paige is testing water samples). These paranormal happenings draw the couple together again while simultaneously tearing them apart, culminating in an event that will end it all for good.

I enjoyed how this book was split into the point of view of both Paige and Theo, and it was a quick read that kept me on-edge the entire time. The ending was a little anticlimactic, so I was disappointed by that. And I'm still not completely sure which parts were actually paranormal vs which parts were mental health related. In addition, I had some unanswered questions about two of the minor characters, Melanie and Gabriel. I think I may need to reread this one to really put my finger on how I feel about it overall.

I will add that I LOVED this book as an advocate for the importance of mental health and caring for yourself. Seeing the characters (Paige especially) struggle with their conditions helps the reader understand what life is like for someone with a mental illness. As a diagnosed sufferer of anxiety myself (although not nearly as crippling as Paige), it was nice to see the truth represented of how anxiety can make anything seem like the truth, no matter how far-fetched or unrealistic it may seem to an outsider.

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards hits shelves on October 3, 2017!

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for an advance copy of this book to review!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis

Cover art courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a die hard Stevie Nicks-aholic. I gobble up info on Stevie like it's going out of style, and even have a crescent moon tattoo on my wrist dedicated to the original Sister of the Moon. I was lucky enough to see her live a few months ago, and have never been the same. This is why when I had the opportunity to have early access to the newest Stevie biography I jumped at the chance to absorb even more information on this musical queen.

Gold Dust Woman by Stephen Davis is yet another unauthorized biography on Stevie, but it is filled with so many wonderful quotes and stories that there's really no way to tell. She has reportedly said in the past she would write an autobiography of her own, but has since nixed the idea due to not wanting to expose and hurt those around her. I went into this biography expecting to know most of the information already as a self-proclaimed Stevie addict, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn things I hadn't known before, and to get more detail on some of the things I did already know.

Like your typical biography, it starts with Stevie (or Teedie as her friends and family called her) as a child, detailing how she came to discover music (through her grandfather) and the early years of the soon to be rock goddess. There it moved on to her meeting Lindsey (Buckingham that is) and embarking on a career she couldn't have imagined in a million years. Through her time with Fleetwood Mac (the good, the bad, and the ugly) to her self-discovery as a solo artist in her own right, to battles with drugs and exes, Gold Dust Woman gives great insight into the life and mind of Stevie, up until this past year.

I loved many things about this book. First, it didn't read like a typical biography in the sense that it was fast-paced and easy to get through. Normally nonfiction in general is harder to read, with an abundance of details that make it difficult to wade through, but this was different and I flew through this book (the subject matter definitely helped with that as well!). I liked how it tied current events into Stevie's life, like Kennedy's election and Hurricane Katrina, and how all of these things impacted her both personally and musically. 

In addition, it gave so much more depth and detail in relation to the band dynamic of Fleetwood Mac than I'd ever seen before. I had no idea how much they walked all over her, and I was proud to see the parts in her life where she finally started to assert herself and exercise her star-power as the cash cow of the band. I was also shocked to find out some of the details that Gold Dust Woman revealed about Lindsey and how he treated Stevie (and the band). I have always been one of those to promote the great Stevie/Lindsey love affair, but after learning more about it I'm glad that Stevie was able to escape the control and abuse that came with a relationship with Lindsey. And finally, I loved the detail that Davis went into on Stevie's relationship with Joe Walsh. Of all her boyfriends over the years, I didn't realize until now how much Joe really meant to her, and that he truly was her one great love.

Overall this biography was a phenomenal read. Gold Dust Woman by Stephen Davis paints the life of Stevie Nicks as glamorous, if not difficult, and her well fought-for (and well-deserved) fame as something to be admired. In the man's world of music, Stevie was able to fight and claw her way to the top with a raw talent and drive that proved she had what it takes to earn (and maintain) her celebrity status. This book further solidified my love of Stevie Nicks and her ambition, and reminded me once again, in Stevie's own words, to continue to "walk like a queen."

Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis hits shelves on November 21, 2017.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing me an advance copy to review! All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thoughts About Classics

Let's talk about classics. Books like The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, and Great Expectations have long survived the test of time. They're the subject of many a high school English class, and as such are typically touted as books that people hate because they were "forced to read them." But why?
Why do people appreciate classics when they are read voluntarily but would alternately hate the exact same book if it was read for an assignment?

I've read many a classic, both back in school and voluntarily, and I think this all boils down to the fact that we don't really understand them. Classics are hard to read, simple as that, and because of that being forced to read them makes them seem even worse. The language is different, cultures and traditions are different, and it's hard for us to relate to the characters simply because we can't relate to their time period. Because of these things, we have to focus a lot harder while reading to understand what is going on and really grasp the concepts and the story line.

But I don't think it has to be this way. I love SO many classics, and I try to read a new one every month or two, not only to experience more books but to educate myself and learn. You can't go into reading a classic and expect it to be like picking up something like Harry Potter...you have to be mentally prepared for it. But if we start looking at classics for what they are, I think we can really learn to enjoy them and get more out of the overall reading experience.

Not into classics? Here are a few of my favorites for you to try that are easy to read, for either the writing itself, the length, or an amazing story that just sucks you in!
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • It's short and the writing is easy to read, plus the story is incredible!
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    • Another short one with an easily-relatable story!
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    • Short and an INSANE story!
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    • Ok, so this one is long as hell and hard to read, but the plot makes it worth it!
And here are some classics I have on my TBR because they look amazing:
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
What are your thoughts on classics, and do you have any favorites?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 2017 TBR

I can't believe it's September already! Where has the year gone?! I have to say, I'm so happy that fall is here! I love everything about the fall: the cooler temps, the festivals, the holidays, and pumpkin everything! Plus this fall, I'm getting married! Only 33 days left until the big day and I'm SO excited! Hopefully with all the last minute tasks, I can still get a lot of reading done this month. Here's my somewhat ambitious TBR list for September:

  • Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
  • Gold Dust Woman by Stephen Davis
  • Girl Logic by Iliza Shlesinger
  • The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan
  • Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Fingers crossed I get to all these exciting reads this month!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017 Wrap Up

Hey everyone! Sorry I've been missing for the last week or so, I had a last minute medical emergency and ended up having to have surgery. Luckily I'll be fine, but the important thing here is recapping August's reads! This month I completed 10 books (and started but DNF 2 more). Here are the titles and my brief ratings, as always let me know if you would like to see full reviews of any of these I haven't yet posted!


Did not finish:
*ARC courtesy of either Edelweiss+ or Netgalley in collaboration with the publisher

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Warcross by Marie Lu

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I have been in such a streak of great books lately! This one was definitely no exception. Warcross by Marie Lu follows Emika Chen, a teenager who is used to making her living as a bounty hunter capturing wanted gamblers. But one day, her tech-savvy personality goes too far and she hacks into the championship game of Warcross, a virtual reality game that has taken over the world using augmented reality glasses to transform everything around you. 

This attracts the attention of Hideo Tanaka, the young techie who created the world of Warcross, and he flies her to Tokyo to assist in hunting down a hacker who appears to be tampering with the game. As Emika plays undercover as a member of one of the Warcross championship teams, she gets in deeper than she might have expected, with both Hideo and her assignment. Soon things start to escalate as lives are at stake and suspicion abounds. Does the mysterious hacker win and execute his plan? Is everyone safe? And are people's motives really what they seem?

Without any spoilers, I can say that this book was fantastic and definitely took an interesting turn! It was full of action, and even a little romance, and was thrilling from the first page to the last. The visuals that Marie Lu created through her writing were fascinating, and I keep picturing an amazing neon universe with unrivaled technology and creativity, and I just want to be a part of it! I've never read anything by Marie Lu, but based on this book I just want to go devour everything she's ever written! I've heard this is similar to Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline, but since I have yet to read that I can't really comment.

Warcross really made me want to be a badass like Emika, and it definitely made me more curious about technology. I can tell this will be a book that sticks with me for a while, which is always my favorite type of book! Warcross by Marie Lu hits shelves on September 12th!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

An e-copy of this book was provided to me by Edelweiss+ and G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review, but this book really was 5 stars-awesome!


Monday, August 21, 2017

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Ok, WOW. This book was way heavier than I was expecting, but definitely in a good way. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera follows two teenage boys, Rufus and Mateo, as they live out their last day together. In this world, you know when you’re going to die. That’s because a company called Death-Cast calls you in the middle of the night on your last day. They don’t tell you exactly when or how you will die, just that you will die in the next 24 hours. And weirdly enough, the world seems okay with this. There are numerous apps and websites dedicated to chronicling people’s last day, and various companies with offerings for what they call Deckers (those on deck to die). Mateo and Rufus find each other through one of these apps, Last Friend, and decide to spend their final day together.

Mateo has always been introverted and scared to really live his life, while Rufus has lived but has really been hardened since his parents and sister died. Together, they learn to overcome their weaknesses and really take advantage of each other’s strengths. From virtual skydiving to visiting a cemetery (where Mateo actually sees his own grave being dug…how creepy is that?!), they spend their last day with each other and their best friends, truly trying to make the most of the time they have left. Mateo finally lets loose and truly lives his last day, while Rufus finds the closure and peace has been looking for, and they both find love in one another.

I kept having to put this book down, not because it was boring or hard to read (I read it in a few hours I was so hooked), but because it really made me think. What would I do if I got a call from Death-Cast telling me I had a day or less to live? Would I be happy with how I lived my life thus far? The take-away from this book was really fantastic: to appreciate those you love and to make the best use of your life while you have it, because we never know when that last day may be for us, and unlike the characters in the book, we won’t even get a warning.

This book was phenomenal. I love books that have a lesson to take away, and this one definitely did. Rufus and Mateo were wonderfully developed characters that were easy to love. There were even a few side stories of other characters thrown in for good measure, which I really enjoyed.  My only complaint was the ending, which to me left a major thing unanswered, although I *think* I can guess what happens (for spoiler’s sake I won’t share my theory here).  This was definitely one of the best books I’ve read all year, and I will 100% be getting a copy the second it comes out. They  Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera hits shelves on September 5, 2017.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


An e-copy of this book was provided to me by Edelweiss+ and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review, although this review is 100% honest and I really did adore this book!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Lauras by Sara Taylor

The Lauras by Sara Taylor is a combination coming of age/travel tale of young Alex and Alex's mother. Having abandoned Alex's father, the mother takes the two all over the country tying up loose ends, doing things like paying back debts, kidnapping a girl controlled by a religious cult family, and scattering ashes. Throughout the story, Alex struggles with identity, sexuality, and a desire for home.

While the premise of this novel was interesting, there were a few things I just didn't like. First, you never knew whether Alex was a girl or a boy. While I understand that this was trying to help better explain gender fluidity, it made it hard to understand certain parts of the story, without at least knowing the sex that Alex was born as. The part where Alex's classmates tried to ambush Alex to determine a gender was heartbreaking, and it really helped me understand some of the things that those who don't identify with a gender have to deal with on a daily basis.

The other, and way more major, thing I just couldn't get behind is that this book really didn't have a plot. They just went from place to place doing different things, but it never really ended. Now again, I can see that this might have been intentional, but I just don't like books that don't give me closure when they're finished. Where did Alex end up?? Did Alex's mom tie up all the loose ends she needed to?

And lastly, the title wasn't very related in my opinion. Yes, Alex's mom tells the story of a few friends she knew named Laura, and one of them is where she ends up at the end of the book, but they didn't seem to have a big enough impact on things to warrant naming the book after them.

Sadly, I had to struggle to finish this. There just wasn't anything exciting or grabbing about the story or the characters. 


Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Book Sacrifice Tag

While this is a blog rather than a BookTube channel, I love the tags done on BookTube and wanted to jump in myself in blog form. I wanted to start off with the Book Sacrifice tag, created by Ariel Bissett. Take a look at her video, then scroll down for my answers!



1) An Over-Hyped book: HA this is easy, as it's currently #1 on my over-hyped hate list. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. Everyone raves about this book, but as you already know based on my earlier unpopular opinion post, I couldn't stand it (or even finish it for that matter). Zombies, you're going down.

2) A Sequel: Typically sequels are a letdown for me, with both books and movies. One that comes to mind immediately is The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett. I absolutely adored The Nightmare Affair and was excited to jump into this one, but it paled in comparison, and I couldn't even finish it, let alone move on to the third book The Nightmare Charade. Such a letdown. I would totally sacrifice this book to protect my hair.

3) A Classic: There were a few I could have chosen here, but overall I do enjoy most classics. I would have to go with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It was long and confusing and the characters were weird (but not in a good way) and overall I could not wait for this book to be over. And the thing with the old wedding cake? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. DISTURBING.

4) Your least favorite book of life: Oh man, this could also be considered as a classic, and I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to use it above or for this one, but it really and truly is my least favorite book of life. For this I would immediately burn The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I HATED this book. Everything about it was just terrible. The main character Holden is the most annoying character ever created, and all he does is whine and complain. Burning this one first for sure!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Still Here: A Novel by Lara Vapnyar

Cover Art Courtesy of
Penguin Random House
Still Here: A Novel by Lara Vapnyar is a book about four friends, Russian immigrants Sergey, Vica, Vadik, and Regina, who are learning to live and love in New York City. This story follows them as their relationships fall apart and back together, their jobs shape who they are, and they evaluate whether or not it was worth it to immigrate to America in the first place.

Each of the characters has characteristics that make them distinct from one another. For example, Sergey can't hold a job but is the most ambitious of the group. Regina married for security not love, but is slowly learning what love really is. Vadik can't make up his mind when it comes to anything, like his apartments or his women. And Vica is just trying to maintain security while raising her son Eric. 

The story centers around Sergey's idea of an app (one of many app ideas he has, I might add) called Virtual Grave, something that will preserve us long after we're gone. It makes each of the characters really evaluate their lives and what, if anything, they would be able to leave behind and be remembered by.

Overall, while the concept was unique and I had high hopes for this book, I really didn't like it. I honestly found all of the characters annoying, especially Sergey, and they were all weirdly romantically tied together in one way or another. Sergey and Vica are married, but Vica used to date Vadik and Sergey used to date Regina, yet somehow they don't think this is weird at all and still hang out together. When Vica kicks Sergey out, he goes to crash with Vadik, and here you really get a taste of Sergey's slothiness, which made me dislike him even more. The writing was great, however, and that's what got me through the story. While I didn't like the characters, the character development itself was spot on, and although I didn't like this plot in particular I would definitely give Lara Vapnyar another try since her writing was great.

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
So, I finally got around to making this book a priority, and I'm SO glad I did. I chose to listen to the audiobook rather than read the text itself because I had heard amazing things about the narration, and I definitely made the right choice. Michael Crouch narrates this coming of age tale about a boy being blackmailed regarding his sexuality, falling in love with an anonymous classmate via email, and struggling with the typical family and friend dynamics that a teenager encounters. The entire time, I felt engaged and connected to the story, and I was so eager to learn what would happen next.

Simon was such a relatable character, even though I'm a straight female, simply because he was so down to earth and real. This story really showed not only the struggles that a typical teenager faces, but the ones that homosexual teenagers deal with on a daily basis that many of us will never understand. It really puts things into perspective about being kind to everyone, because you never know what they may be struggling with internally.

Simon's friends Abby, Leah, and Nick were great examples of how real friends should be, supportive yet hard when they need to be. And Blue, let's not even get started when it comes to Blue! Simon and Blue's emails were precious, and they made me feel all the warm fuzzies throughout the story. This was an easy read/listen with a really great message and a feel-good plot. I don't know why it took me so long to commit to this story, but now that I have I can see this being something that I will listen to, and even read, time and time again.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Unpopular Opinion: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (Witchlands #1)

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
When it comes to hyped/popular books, I usually agree with the mainstream. I loved hyped books like Cinder, Fangirl, and Throne of Glass. But when it came to this book, I have to say I disagree with the majority of the views out there, so it's time for my first post in (what is hopefully a short) series on unpopular opinions.

Truthwitch, and its sequel Windwitch, by Susan Dennard have been hyped all over the internet, Booktube included. So when I saw that it was an action-packed fantasy novel with a badass female character, I knew I needed to hop on this train. But unfortunately, I couldn't even finish this book. 


It was just too confusing! There were so many new concepts and terms to understand and they weren't explained well at all. From the very beginning it was throwing around terms about the witches and different nationalities and where people are from and I couldn't follow it. For example, it right away mentions a "Threadsister" and "Threadwitch" that can see "threads" in other people, but it never really said what threads are! Emotions, life forces, thoughts, what?? You had to try to piece together what she was seeing to really understand the concept, rather than getting a clear explanation. Another example is that it kept mentioning that Iz a Nomatsis and she was basically in exile, but again it didn't explain why, just that she was. 


I had to work so hard to try to figure out what was going on, this book gave me a headache. I was too confused to actually enjoy the plot and really follow the storyline, which I very may well have enjoyed if some of the background information had been explained better at the beginning. Even though this is the first book in a series, it felt like I was jumping into the middle of a series without any explanation of what was going on. I am giving this book two stars since the concept is pretty unique, and like I said I can see liking it if it was clearer, but I couldn't even complete the book.


Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 4, 2017

August 2017 TBR

Just some of this month's TBR!
I've got a pretty ambitious TBR for August, especially since some of these I've been putting off forever, but lucky for me it will be a fairly easy month in terms of plans. Let's see if I can get some of these (if not all) read this month!


  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • Goodbye Good Girl by Renee Blossom
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
  • Still Here by Lara Vapnyar
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July 2017 Wrap Up

So in total I read 9 books in July. A few were ARCs but most are books already on the market. Here are the books I read and how I rated them. If you would like me to do an in-depth review on any of these I haven't already reviewed, just let me know! Otherwise, check out my Goodreads account for brief reviews.



*ARC courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando

Cover Art Courtesy
of Goodreads
Fighter. Faker. Student. Spy.

I absolutely adored this book! You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando follows a high school student named Reagan who was born to two extra-secret CIA operatives. Because of her parents, Reagan has to move around all the time and keep her true identity secret, and she herself has been training to become one of these operatives, known as the Black Angels, since she was 10.

Reagan is conflicted by the life she was born into, especially since she just got a taste of real life for the first time: true friends, a love interest, and a town she really likes. She feels that the way her parents raised her is unfair, not giving her a chance to make her own choices and regularly putting her in danger. But when one of her parents' missions goes awry, Reagan has to choose whether she really wants this life or not.

This book was full of all the things I love: action, teen angst, romance and friendship, and did I mention action? It was a super quick read, and very different from anything on the market right now. I'm extremely anxious for the next book in the Black Angels series to come out! But now, it's time to head to the gym, because Reagan makes me want to be a badass girl just like her.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Final Girls by Riley Sager



Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Yes. Yes. Yes. This book. I can't.

Aside from it's kickass cover, the story itself was incredible. It follows Quincy, a "final girl" who was the lone survivor of brutal massacre, as she battles with herself and her identity following the incident. Along the way she is connected with two other final girls, Sam and Lisa, but when Lisa turns up dead things start getting weird. Is someone hunting down the final girls? Is Quincy in danger? And what about Sam, this mysterious third final girl who appeared out of nowhere and seems to be turning Quincy against herself? Is Quincy really as malicious as she is now appearing, or is Sam turning her into someone she's not?

The character development in this book was spot on, and the writing was great. Since Riley Sager is a pen name, I would love to know who the actual author is! I loved how Quincy used baking to escape her demons. It's written so that you get occasional flashbacks of the night of the massacre, so you get the same bits and pieces of memory as they come back to Quincy. This was a page turner until the very end. And without spoilers, the ending is DEFINITELY unexpected! So glad I chose this as my July 
Book of the Month.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Of Jenny and the Aliens by Ryan Gebhart

Cover art courtesy
of Goodreads
I was luckily enough to snag a digital copy of this book from Netgalley to review, and I tore through it like a bat out of hell! To preface, any time you say the word "aliens" I'm on board, no matter the context. So when I saw a YA title with a super cute cover that included aliens in the plot, I knew I had to request it! 

Of Jenny and the Aliens is the story of Derek, a high school boy who has been through the ringer with his divorced parents and a forced cross-country move. While he's not completely miserable, he's never been truly happy...until he meets Jenny at a crazy end of the world party. You see, humans have finally made contact with aliens, and no one is sure what will happen next. This story follows Derek as he struggles with himself and to win Jenny over, and he has a few, well...unique, encounters along the way. 

This book was SO different than what's out there right now. Yes it was boy meets girl, but it was so much more than that. It was a quick read, but one that sticks with you. What Derek did for Jenny I think will hit home with a lot of people, not just in the sense of how much you love someone, but the existentialism of how much is really out there, the meaning of life, all that jazz. I think this book had a lot of unobvious lessons in it, and I'm glad I was able to take so much away from it. I think Of Jenny and the Aliens will mean different things to different people, but it's up to you to read it and find out!Of Jenny and the Aliens will be released on August 1, 2017.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley and Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

It's no secret that I love Star Wars. When Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) passed away in December, I was distraught. Shortly before her passing she had released a new book, The Princess Diarist (in fact, she was on the press tour for this book when she had the heart attack that ultimately killed her). I put it on my to-read list right after it came out, but due to her death it was sold out virtually everywhere. I FINALLY managed to get my hands on a copy, and devoured it immediately. 

The book details Carrie's experiences filming the first Star Wars movie, her naivete in Hollywood, and of course, her affair with Harrison Ford *swoon*. In addition to her modern narrative, it also includes excerpts from the diaries she kept while filming-everything from self-loathing entries to romantic poetry. It closes with what it personally meant to her to be Princess Leia, which was in my opinion the most touching part of the book. Interspersed throughout the book are also black and white images from Carrie's golden years, including snaps with her Star Wars costars and with Warren Beatty on the set of her first film, Shampoo. 

This was a quick, enjoyable, and sadly nostalgic read. I feel like Carrie was the perfect combination of brutally honest, sarcastic, and witty, and that came through so well in this book. My only complaint would be that I wish the diary entries were more scattered throughout the book rather than all shoved smack dab in the middle.

Thanks, Carrie, for giving us one of the most badass female characters of all time. Rest in peace, Princess, and may the Force be with you.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Aren't these two CUTE?!
It's no secret that I love Fixer-Upper on HGTV. Chip and Joanna Gaines are miracle workers, as far as I'm concerned. And as for shiplap, if you could make a coffin out of that stuff I would want to be buried in it. I had been wanting to read their book for a while, but I was worried it would have too much of a religious tone. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people who are religious, I just don't like others to try to shove it down my throat (I wanted a story about their business, not their religious beliefs).

I decided to give it a shot anyway, and I'm glad I did! There was barely any religious tone at all (they referenced God every now and then, but it was far from preachy), and it really did focus on Chip and Joanna's rise to HGTV fame. And man, did these two HUSTLE. Chip especially, that guy was the king of hustle, upside down, backwards, and sideways. From the time they met, Chip and Jo seemed to constantly get involved in one financial endeavor after another, reinvesting any profits they made, which slowly led them to where they are today. It really showed the meaning of hard work and dedication, and the fake-it-till-you-make-it mentality. Chip and Joanna grew up in average families, and really did make their own way in life, unlike many "celebrities" who have been raised in wealthy, well-to-do families.

One thing that rubbed me the wrong way, however, was that things always seemed to work out for them. When they had a construction project about to fail because they couldn't get a loan, they had someone who was virtually a stranger lend them 100k. When they wanted a location for Jo's store but couldn't offer as much as other interested parties, the property owner just up and decided to give it to them for much less than the others had offered. And this is really the theme of how they dug their way out of many a hole. Now this does not at all, in my eyes, diminish the value of Chip and Joanna's hard work. It just doesn't seem like reality. No matter how hard you try and how much effort you put in, there will be some failures, but it seemed like these two narrowly avoided failure more through luck than anything else.

I liked how the book was written from both Chip and Jo's perspective, and this was distinguished by different fonts (although Joanna definitely wrote more than Chip did). It also read very quickly. Their personalities really showed through their writing, which made it easy to imagine that these two were sitting in the same room telling you their story. Overall, it was a decent read and a good motivator.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars