Sunday, November 19, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Let me start this review by saying that I've never really been sure where I stand on John Green. I only read two of his books prior to reading this one, one of which I loved and one I hated. Looking for Alaska was fantastic, with interesting characters and a plot that drew you in, while The Fault in Our Stars was dull and sad, with unlikable characters and a pretty predictable ending. Because I was 50/50 on this author, and everyone seems to rave about him, I decided to give his newest book a try. Turtles All the Way Down follows Aza, a sixteen-year-old with anxiety and mental problems, who gets wrapped up in a disappearance and a love story all at once.

When the millionaire father of her old friend Davis goes missing, Aza and her best friend Daisy decide to investigate, more for the reward than for anything else. Little did Aza know, she would not only get the reward money, but gain a pseudo-boyfriend in the process. Unfortunately for Aza, she has a mental disorder that leaves her obsessed with germs, perpetually afraid of contracting a disease. This proves to be a burden on Davis, and Daisy, and relationships become strained as Aza reaches a breaking point where she has to determine whether or not she will spend her life letting her anxiety control her.

This story also includes an overprotective mother, a car named Harold, and a tuatara that will inherit millions, which is a lizard-like creature I didn't even know existed until I read this book.

Unfortunately, this story didn't sway me on John Green one way or the other. This book was just average to me, not great but not terrible. The plot left something to be desired and I was unsatisfied with the ending, although I loved the complexity of Aza's character. At some point I guess I'll have to tackle another book by John Green and see where that takes me. If you have any recommendations let me know!

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Busted by Gina Ciocca

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I love a good YA contemporary. They're fun, quick reads with relatable characters and relevant plots. Busted by Gina Ciocca was no exception. Busted follows Marisa, a high school student who catches her best friend's boyfriend cheating. But once word gets around as to what she's done, she accidentally goes from an everyday student to Marisa, cheater buster and sleuth extraordinaire.

When Marisa's old frenemy Kendall solicits Marisa's help in catching a cheater of her own, drama brews as Marisa starts to fall for TJ, the boy Kendall wants her to track. Trouble brews when Kendall discovers that TJ feels the same about Marisa, and sets out to ruin her by exposing her private eye secret. But Kendall doesn't know that Marisa may know a secret about her as well. All this coupled with some additional academic drama makes for a quality contemporary and a really fun read. How far is Marisa willing to go to expose the real truth, and who is she willing to take down with her?

This was a fast-paced story that I devoured quickly. There were never lulls in the plot, and I thought all the characters added something to the story. It also really made me want a leather bracelet like the ones TJ makes! The cover for this book is absolutely gorgeous, but I think it is a little misleading. An image from Marisa's website might have been a better, more fitting option. 

When I read books about high schoolers, I always wonder why everyone has oblivious parents who can't spot an obvious lie. I know when I was in high school, my parents were always ON IT when it came to knowing whether or not I was telling the truth. Aside from a few unrealistic scenes, I really enjoyed this read and think it would be a great choice for any fan of YA contemporary!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Busted by Gina Ciocca hits shelves this coming January, so be sure to pre-order a copy! Thanks so much to SOURCEBOOKS Fire for granting me early digital access to this fantastic read!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
When this came up as a Book of the Month choice for October, I read the synopsis and immediately knew this would be my pick. Not only did the cover look beautiful, but the plot seemed full of fantasy and wonder, something we all need a little more of in our lives. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang follows Weylyn Grey, a boy of the wilderness, and those he leaves an impression on throughout his life. These include Mary, a girl who once ran away with him to live with wolves, and Lydia, his foster sister when he was brought back into civilization, in addition to a small-town mayor who hired him to handle a problem plaguing the town, and his supervisor at a logging company who witnessed some very unique characteristics in Weylyn.

Weylyn has never fit in with society. He has always felt more comfortable in the company of animals. Even though he tried to fit in numerous times, he always retreated back to the comfort of nature, whether that be living with a wolf pack, sleeping amongst a colony of bees, or befriending what appears to be a magical horned pig named Merlin. Throughout the story, readers come to discover that Weylyn is more than meets the eye, with some magical abilities that connect with his love of nature, but that could also destroy him and those he loves.

This was a fun, lighthearted read that makes you want to appreciate the beauty and wonder all around you in nature. The characters were easy to identify with, although sometimes the constant flipping back and forth from one point of view to another made it difficult to understand who was talking. I enjoyed the magical elements in the book but at times they just didn't make sense, and a lot of things were left unanswered. It also took longer to get through this book than I would have liked. Overall the story was great, but I think the execution left something to be desired.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Sunday, November 12, 2017

David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Ever since I was a little girl I was fascinated with David Bowie, and I was beyond distraught when he passed away. From the movie Labyrinth, to Ziggy Stardust, I was enthralled with this man who could morph and mold himself into almost anything, and be insanely attractive while doing so. David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones, is the story of Bowie and how he came to be this magical man.

I love biographies, but they are often a lot to slog through, this being no exception to that rule. A thick and detailed biography, this gathered bits and pieces of information in the form of hundreds of quotes from those who worked with Bowie. These included puppeteers from Labyrinth, fashion designers, fellow recording artists, directors, journalists, and more. And of course, there were some choice stories and quotes from Bowie himself. Unlike many biographies that seem so much like reference books, this was written in a way that felt more like a story, even though it was broken up into so many quotes.

While I already knew a lot about Bowie, I learned even more through this biography. Bowie was a much more reserved man that I realized, often getting embarrassed about things and occasionally drawing into himself. But above all that, he was kind, creative, intelligent, and thoughtful. He went on daily walks through Chinatown and spent hours in art museums. More than anything, I was shocked to learn that he was not a fan of his Jareth costume, which has become so iconic over the years (for more reasons than one, if you know what I mean!). I loved getting into the artist's head to see what made him tick and learn more about his rationale behind his crazy stage persona.

The best, albeit saddest, part of this book was the last chapter, with interviews from loved ones after Bowie's passing. Here you see the true impact of this man on the lives of others, and how much they were shaken by the loss of this icon and friend. Overall this was a fantastic, although long, read. I highly recommend it for anyone fascinated with David Bowie and the wonderful aura that surrounded him.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Cover Art Courtesy of St. Martin's Press
This book has been on my radar for a while. The kind folks at St. Martin's Press sent me a copy when they learned I was a big fan of thrillers, and I wanted to get through Halloween before I tackled it. I can see now why they were so excited to send this to me, I couldn't put it down! The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is a thriller that follows Vanessa and Nellie and the love interest Richard, and the complicated web weaved between them. I devoured this book in a few hours, and I can tell it will be a story I think about for a long time.

Like the back of the book says, everything you think you know about this book is wrong. And it's a sweet slap in the face when you actually learn the truth, because you never will have seen it coming. The characters were fantastic: Vanessa, the haggard and jilted ex-wife obsessed with her replacement, Nellie, the bright-eyed and hopeful teacher excited to marry the man of her dreams, and Richard, the seemingly perfect man with a dark and manipulative personality. Throw in a few other characters and you have a network of obsession and deception, wrought with mystery and intrigue, that makes for the perfect thriller.

I don't want to give anything away and spoil it for you if you intend to read it (and you should!), but I do want to add a disclaimer regarding abusive relationships and stalking. If this is a triggering topic for you, you might want to stay away from this novel.

Overall, I thought the plot and the characters were fantastic. It had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't stop reading until I found out what happened. I was VERY satisfied with the ending, but I still had a few lasting questions (like what is the deal with Maureen??). I've seen that there are already plans for this to be made into a movie, which of course I will have to see! If you are a fan of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, be sure to pick this up because it will be right up your alley.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Wife Between Us hits shelves on January 9, 2018, so be sure to place your preorder now or pick up a copy when it comes out! Thanks to St. Martin's Press for sending me what has already become one of the best books I've read this year!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Reading Slump (and a DNF Review)

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
As you can probably tell from the lack of posts, I've been in a terrible reading slump lately. While I'm not quite positive what started it, I'm pretty sure it was The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken (more on that later). I just didn't feel like picking up any books, and none of the books on my TBR appealed to me. For the last 3 weeks or so (or basically since I got back from my honeymoon), I just didn't read. I didn't even have a desire to wander aimlessly around Barnes & Noble like I usually do...weird right?!

The whole time, I felt terrible about it. I kept thinking that I was neglecting my shelves and this blog, but I think honestly you need some time away from something you love to make you appreciate it more when you go back to it. I finally got the urge to read again, and devoured an absolutely fantastic book that I will be reviewing on here next. And now that that book is finished, I can't wait to jump right into another. 

But as for the book that started my reading slump, I was so insanely disappointed. I had been looking forward to The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding for MONTHS, and bought it the day it came out. But I could not for the life of me get through this book. It could be for a few reasons: 1) It was a middle grade novel, which is definitely not my style. I only bought it because the plot seemed up my alley, it had been hyped a ton, and the cover was gorgeous. 2) The characters were just plain boring. And annoying. And because of this I just couldn't get myself invested in the story. And 3) The plot was extremely slow. After the first few chapters, it almost came to a halt. I kept picking up this book to try to get through it, but could only read a page or two at a time before I got bored and went to do something else. Finally I just gave up about 2/3 in, which is really a shame since it takes a lot for me to DNF a book. But in a way, I'm glad I didn't make myself finish it, because I believe this is supposed to be the start of a series, and I don't want to force myself into another series that I'm not invested in.

So that's where I've been all this time, doing everything imaginable EXCEPT reading! But I'm back now with an exciting TBR pile and and a rejuvenated thirst for the written word. Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
The spooky reviews just keep on rolling in! I've had Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake on my TBR for SO long, and like some of my previous spooky reads I decided this needed to be a priority this Halloween season. First off, the text of this book is printed in burgundy ink, which is SO awesome and unique. It was dark enough to still be easy to read, but that different element really stood out to me.

This story follows Cas, a ghosthunter who in his father's footsteps dedicates his life to killing those who are already dead. This is how he meets Anna, a murderous ghost who has a passion for brutally killing anyone who sets foot inside her house. But Cas notices right away that Anna is different, almost human in her emotions, so he sets out to free her spirit from whatever curse is turning her evil. Throughout the story Cas also opens himself up to friendship, something he has never done, and he and his newfound posse band together to not only save Anna, but also themselves.

I really enjoyed this story, and am excited to read the next one, Girl of Nightmares. I thought all the characters were well developed and likable, and the story itself was very fast moving. You can tell that Blake did a lot of research on different types of witchcraft as well. I did think it was a little overly gruesome for YA, but the morbid side in me appreciated this. I did knock off a star because some plot points just didn't connect for me, but overall it was still a pretty great Halloween read!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Monday, October 23, 2017

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I have been meaning to read this book for so long, and this Halloween season I finally made it a priority to pick up this collection of stories! Slasher Girls and Monster Boys is an anthology of 14 scary short stories written by well-known YA authors and compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke. I don't read a lot of short story anthologies, but I should, since they are perfect for pausing and coming back to. Whenever I had to take a break, it was easy to find a place to do so.

I really thought this book was all over the place. Some stories were fantastic, while others were just bland. I especially liked In The Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan, Emmeline by Cat Winters, and Hide-And-Seek by Megan Shepherd. Sleepless by Jay Kristoff is disturbing, in a perverted way, as is The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma. The rest were unfortunately not that memorable. Other authors that contributed to this anthology are: Marie Lu, Leigh Bardugo, Danielle Paige, April Genevieve Tucholke (who also compiled these stories), Jonathan Maberry, Stefan Bachmann, McCormick Templeman, AG Howard, and Kendare Blake.

I will say that some of the elements in a few of these stories are a little sexual for the lower age of YA readers, and that this book borders more on older YA/New Adult. The stories aren't really gruesome and many are more psychological than actually scary. I was hoping for nightmares, but was sorely disappointed, but then again I am 27 (so a little older than the target audience). I really do admire many of the authors that contributed, but I have to say that short stories (at least scary ones) just might not be their thing.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
My lovely blog readers, I'm back! Sorry for the hiatus, but I had my wedding and honeymoon to celebrate! Lucky for you, I read some fantastic books while I was away that I will be posting reviews for in the coming week. The first of these is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I actually started reading this as a free digital sampler on my flight home from the honeymoon, and loved it so much I bought the physical copy in the airport during my layover to finish during the second leg of the flight. 

This book follows Samantha, a teenage girl who loves her life, her popular friends, and her boyfriend. She has everything she wants, but a tragic accident forces Sam to face reality and acknowledge the fact that she hasn't been the nicest person in the past in order to finally find peace. You see, Sam is killed in a car accident, but she is forced to relive her last day over and over again until she can make things right.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fast moving and a very quick read. I loved Sam's character, and her friends Ally, Lindsey, and Elody as well. I thought the character development was great and so was the plot, and I loved all the details (I actually ordered a large hazelnut coffee with no sugar and extra cream with a sesame bagel from Dunkin Donuts this morning, if you get my reference!). I really enjoyed seeing how Sam relived her last day over and over, changing into a different person every day. I was a little disappointed with the ending and it was somewhat predictable, hence knocking off a star.

I absolutely have to watch this movie now to see if it lives up to the book. This is the first Lauren Oliver book I've read, but I now have tons more on my TBR!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 2017 TBR

Halloween season is finally here, which means it's extra important to pick up some spooky reads! This month is interesting, because I'm getting married in 5 days (!!!) and will be on my honeymoon, so I'll have more time than usual to curl up with a book (only this time it will be on the beach instead of on my couch!). Here's what I'm planning to tackle this month:
  • Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke
  • Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
  • The Merciless II by Danielle Vega
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo
  • A Midsummer Night's Scream by RL Stine
  • Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  • Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
Do you have any more spooky recommendations for me? I'm down for spooky books all year round of course, but October is just the perfect time!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Goodbye, Good Girl by Renee Blossom

Thanks Renee for my signed copy!
I love contemporaries, especially ones with a character I can identify with, and this book was no exception. Goodbye, Good Girl by Renee Blossom follows Kandace, a girl on a quest to both mentally find herself and physically find her father. Along the way she discovers an adventure she never thought she would be part of, and found everything she was looking for in the process. 

I absolutely ADORED this book. It had so many unique elements: coming of age mixed with travel mixed with family drama mixed with a little raunchiness mixed with a thriller. I loved Autumn/Kandace's character and identified so much with her myself. Constantly struggling to make things work and letting other people dictate her life, I loved seeing her grow and change as the story went on, with her ultimately getting to the point where she determined her own future. I also think April was a great friend for her, and wish I had an April in my life myself! Who knew a chance encounter at a bus stop could lead to a friendship like that?

My only complaint was the Kyle story line, it really seemed kind of pointless after the first few chapters, and I think he was an unnecessary addition to the story. Overall I really really enjoyed this book and am so glad I had the chance to read it! This is Blossom's first novel, and I'm so excited to see what else is in store from this author.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Goodbye, Good Girl by Renee Blossom releases TODAY so be sure to pick it up!

Thanks so much to Renee, Netgalley, and Revolve for both a digital ARC and a signed copy.

Monday, October 2, 2017

September 2017 Wrap Up

So September was a very good book month! I read a good mix of both older and new/upcoming books, totaling 7 books for the month of September. Here are my reads and how I rated them!
Reviews for all of these books have already been completed and posted, so be sure to check them out if you're interested in more detail!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Author Spotlight: M. Verano

Cover art courtesy of Goodreads
Here's the first of hopefully many author spotlight posts! Upon reading two books of his, I had to go a little more in depth on the mystery and books surrounding author M. Verano.

I've read 2 of Verano's 3 Diary of a Haunting books, the first one Diary of a Haunting, and the upcoming third one Book of Shadows. These books are definitely not for the faint of heart, and you really need to love thrillers to even pick them up (how about those creepy covers huh?). The premise behind these novels is that they are diaries detailing horrific paranormal events, the first following a family that lives in what seems to be a possessed house and the third following a group who engages with a demonic book. I really enjoy horror/thrillers, so I was immediately drawn to these books.

Cover art courtesy of Goodreads
The first, the original Diary of a Haunting, was pretty good. Paige, her brother, and her mother recently moved into an old house and things start to go wrong, and fast. The ending of this book was a crazy twist, and overall earned a 4 star rating from me.

The third, Book of Shadows, followed 4 teenagers, Melanie, Caleb, Lara, and Lucas, as they entangle their beginner practices of witchcraft with a powerful demonic Book of Shadows and all hell breaks loose. This was definitely not as good as the first. I didn't connect with the characters as much, and the writing left something to be desired, so I only gave it 3 stars.

The second book, Possession, is still on my radar to read!

Cover art courtesy of Goodreads
That leaves the author, the mysterious M. Verano, who is supposedly a professor of history and a purveyor of the paranormal at the University of Idaho. But Verano is also a character in his own are they fiction or nonfiction? Obviously fiction, but then who is the author? From the beginning I knew M. Verano had to be a pen name, and after a little digging I found I was right. M. Verano is actually Amy Ross, and it doesn't appear that she's released anything other than these 3 books. Not sure how I feel about the whole pen name bit, because although I love the mystery surrounding it, I always end up disappointed when I find out who the real author is.

Have you read any of the Diary of a Haunting books, and what did you think?

Thanks so much to Edelweiss+ and Simon Pulse for the advanced digital copy of Book of Shadows! Book of Shadows was recently released on September 19th!

Monday, September 25, 2017

There Are No Vampires in This Book by Megan Bailey

Cover art courtesy of Goodreads
'Tis the season for creepy reads! The cover and title of this book immediately drew me in, and I devoured this novel in just a few hours. There Are No Vampires in This Book by Megan Bailey follows twenty-something Taryn and her two friends Aiden and Kenzie. Taryn's life is anything but normal after she witnessed her parents being brutally killed by a vampire at a young age. 

Now, Taryn is dead-set on getting revenge. After pretending to get over the incident to resume a normal life, she spends all her spare time preparing: working out, doing graveyard sweeps, etc. to be ready for the day she finally meets her parents' killer, and she insists on dragging her two best friends along for the ride.

Upon finding who she believes to be the guilty vampire, Taryn drags her friends through a series of adventures as they stalk his every move, from a bar fight to an impromptu tattoo session, until she finally has the opportunity to get revenge for her parents' death. Here, with Taryn about to kill who she has prepared to face her whole life, the story comes to a head and a very unexpected ending.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read with a great plot. My biggest complaint is that it wasn't longer! I wanted more of Taryn, Aiden, and Kenzie. I also think it ended too quickly, with Taryn being more accepting of the truth than I think was realistic. Overall I definitely recommend this book if you're looking for a fast, fun fall read!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thanks to the author, Megan Bailey, for sending me a copy of this great story to review!

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 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.