September 19, 2018

The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
If ever a book spoke to me, it was this one. Girl gets possessed by a demon, girl develops close friendship with the demon, girl gets an exorcism against her will and loses the demon, girl tries to get her demon back. That's the gist of The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas, and I enjoyed this read so much!

After Clare's demon, known simply as Her, is exercised against Clare's will, all she wants is to get her demon back. But it appears that her demon has left her three clues. Now Clare has to try to figure out these clues to be reunited with her demon once more. Making some unlikely friends in the process, and learning her town has more dark secrets than she realized, Clare is forced to make some tough decisions and risk it all to be reunited with Her.

I loved Clare's character! From her attitude, to the description of her room, to her musical tastes, I thought she was so unique and I was immediately drawn to her. I also really liked Roy and felt for his inner struggle to both rebel and stay true to his roots, faith, and father. I could picture everything in this story so vividly, and honestly think this would make a fantastic movie! 

At first, I didn't understand the cover at all, but after reading the book I now see why it is incredibly representative of the story. While the ending felt a little rushed, this did not at all deter from my love of this book. I wouldn't quite call this YA read a thriller, and I wouldn't really call it horror either, but whatever it was, it was fantastic!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Amulet for an advanced copy of this demonic read! The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas was released YESTERDAY, Sept. 18th, so be sure to pick up a copy of this fantastic story just in time for Halloween!

September 18, 2018

Lies by T.M. Logan

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I know I've said this on my blog a million times, but I can usually see the twist coming from a mile away in most thrillers. That being said, the twist in Lies by T.M. Logan REALLY threw me for a loop! 

When Joe and his son are driving home one evening, they see Joe's wife's car pull into a hotel. Thinking nothing of it, they innocently decide to follow her and surprise her. But Joe could have never known how pulling into that parking garage that evening would seal his fate. Now, being framed for a murder he didn't commit and digitally harassed by the supposed dead man, Joe has to fight to find out the real story and prove his innocence before it's too late.

There were so many moments in this book that had my heart beating out of my chest! This story was full of vivid description and detail that put me right in the scene. The suspense was real, and I was so desperately rooting for Joe. He really is the definition of "the average Joe" and I felt terrible that he was mixed up in all of this. I loved the comic relief that the son William provides, and how Joe's relationship with William shows what a good man and father he truly is.

For a pretty long thriller, it read extremely quickly. There were a lot of times that a scene or situation just felt "wrong" to me, but I could never put my finger on why. Like I said, I did not see this twist coming, and I absolutely loved what it turned out to be!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for both an ARC and a finished copy of this suspenseful read! Lies by T.M. Logan is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy! It's the perfect thrilling read for this fall season.

September 12, 2018

I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
If you take Indiana Jones, add it to The DaVinci Code, and throw in a female protagonist, you get this book. I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz was something unique and exciting, and I really enjoyed this read. Memphis (or M for short) had a pretty unusual family. Growing up with a doctor mother and an archaeologist father, she saw more of the world as a child than most people see in a lifetime. But when her mother passed away, she grew even closer with her father, and helped him with his research. Now, her father has died also, and she is stuck with guardians that know nothing about her passions or the world she grew up in. Enter the posh and handsome Ashwin, a cult member who worships an ancient Egyptian god, who comes with news that M's father is actually still alive and being held captive.

Now the two must beat the odds together, searching for pieces of an ancient relic that they can trade for M's father's freedom. Using Ash's resources and M's knowledge of history and archaeology, along with an ancient map, they travel the world searching for these pieces, and find more than just the pieces themselves along the way.

This read was really fun! It was adventurous and engaging, although I do think it was a little bit drawn out at points. I really liked both Memphis and Ashwin as characters, and enjoyed seeing the story from both of their perspectives. I was also very grateful that there wasn't an unnecessary romance in this book, as tends to be the norm in a lot of YA fiction. The few twists and turns were perfect for keeping you on your toes as you read, and I was surprisingly pretty satisfied with the ending.

This is a genre that isn't seen too often within YA. It seems that writers have determined that once you're past middle grade level, you don't have an interest in action and adventure stories anymore, when many teens and adults do still really enjoy them! If you have any interest at all in ancient history or Egyptian mythology, you will really love this read.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Wednesday Books/St. Martin's Press for a finished copy of this adventurous read! I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!

September 10, 2018

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins was intense, there's no way around that. Focusing on gun violence, and touching on abusive relationships, the sexual abuse of children, white supremacy, and racism, this YA contemporary needs almost every trigger warning possible. Following six different teenagers, this book builds reasons why any one of them may pick up a gun and pull the trigger. It is clear from the beginning that someone will pull that trigger and someone will die, but who? Interspersed with poetry from the point of view of the gun itself, it places you into the shoes of each of these teenagers as you learn their hopes and their fears, and why each of them might be drawn to the weapon.

Writing an actual review of this book is difficult, because it punched me in the gut in so many ways that I don't really know what words are even appropriate. Everything from the point of view of the gun itself was chilling. Even though there were six main characters, their stories never got confusing.

The ending was incredibly sad, and an all too true reality. I've never read anything else by this author before, but it seems like she is known for hard-hitting reads. This book is incredibly important and relevant, but it's best to know going into it that it will make you disgusted, appalled, shocked, confused, and furious. One thing I didn't like was that the book made the argument that guns don't kill people, people kill people, and guns just make it easier. This is an argument typically used against strengthening gun laws. As someone who definitely advocates for stricter gun laws, that argument does not sit well with me.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster for a finished copy of this haunting read. People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy if hard-hitting contemporaries are your thing!

September 5, 2018

A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
The title of this book coupled with the absolutely gorgeous cover had me intrigued from the first time I saw it. A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma follows runaway Bina, who has found herself at Catherine House, a home for girls in New York City. Having heard stories of Catherine House from her mother, when things got to be too much to bear at home, Bina had to see for herself the magic of both Catherine House and the city. 

But when Bina arrives at Catherine House, she soon discovers that the house and its inhabitants are full of mysteries and secrets. Why is one of her housemates always disappearing, and where does she go? Why does it seem like no one ever moves out? And what is with the obsession with the house's founder, Catherine? The more Bina searches for answers, the more she discovers that Catherine House is not at all what she expected.

The writing and language is just as beautiful as the cover. This story was captivating and swept me right into Catherine House alongside Bina and her housemates. It was creepy and magical, mysterious and maddening. The characters were vivid and intriguing, and I especially loved Monet. The wildness and desire for independent adventure in this story really spoke to me.

My biggest complaint with this read was that I was confused by the ending. I had to read it a few times, and am still not sure I quite understand how things actually wrapped up. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for a finished copy of this beautiful read! A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!


September 3, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers



Synopsis
Cover Art Courtesy of Wednesday Books

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

"The fresh, nuanced, and fast-moving narrative will appeal to a range of YA and new adult readers, and serves as a larger examination on the way society interacts with true crime...It's impossible to not be drawn into this haunting thriller of a book. A heartrending must-have."

—School Library Journal, STARRED Review


My Review

My bookshelves are full of thrillers, both adult and YA, and this one is fully deserving of a spot on those shelves. Sadie by Courtney Summers is a YA thriller about one dead girl and another missing one. This story completely sucked me in from the beginning, and I flew through it in a few short hours.  It is told in two perspectives, the first being a radio podcast detailing the story of the girls, and the other from Sadie herself, the girl who has gone missing. I loved the podcast aspect, and found this to be a unique and thorough way to tell perspectives other than Sadie's and provide additional details. 

I really admired Sadie as a strong, motivated character who would stop at nothing to follow through with her mission. Her love for her sister spoke volumes, and she constantly put Mattie above herself, growing up way too early to ensure that her little sister was provided for (even when that sister acted spoiled and ungrateful). I also appreciated that she had a stutter, since this is a disability that many people have yet is underrepresented in literature. I would have loved to have seen more of Mattie, but that just wasn't the nature of this book.

The writing in this story was so descriptive and enveloping, I felt transported right into the scenes, watching Sadie pull her knife or question someone. This book was raw and gritty and real, both disturbing and beautiful all at once.

I do want to put a trigger warning on this book for child molestation and child pornography. This was dealt with in a tasteful manner, and it is important to bring these issues to light. Far too many children experience what the characters in this book go through every day.

Overall I enjoyed every minute I spent with this book, as twisted as it was, and it will be one that sticks with me for quite a while.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About the Author

Artist Photograph Courtesy of
Wednesday Books
Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada. She is the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, Please Remain Calm, and All the Rage.

Twitter // Website // Instagram

A huge thanks to Wednesday Books and St. Martin's Press for a digital advanced copy of this read and for allowing me to take part in this blog tour! This superb thriller is out TOMORROW, September 4th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

August 23, 2018

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
There's nothing like a story with a good, unexpected twist. Pair that with a contemporary high school scene and you have a win in my book. See All the Stars by Kit Frick was just that. This part love story, part thriller follows high school student Ellory both at present in her senior year and in flashbacks to her junior year. Something clearly happened that split Ellory's friend group apart and destroyed her life, but what?

While one part of this story was incredibly predictable, the main twist came out of left field and completely took me by surprise! If you read my blog regularly, you'll know that's rare for me! I really enjoyed the characters and was especially intrigued by Ret. With characters like her, I'm always fascinated by what makes them so attractive that people can't help but want to be in their orbit. I honestly can't say I've ever met a person so charismatic in real life, so these types of characters are some of my favorites!

Overall, I enjoyed how unique and truly realistic the characters were. I appreciated that Ellory was into metalworking as an art form. I found that so unique and wish I could have seen some of her pieces. The writing in this novel was absolutely beautiful and poetic, and the story just flowed off the page. The last chapter was good closure, and I felt satisfied with the ending. And can we talk about this cover - it's gorgeous!

Fans of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart will absolutely love this read! It's one of those books that you will want to read over and over again to get your questions answered and discover more details.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster for a finished copy of this thrilling read! See All the Stars by Kit Frick is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!

August 20, 2018

Giant Days by Non Pratt

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've heard so much about the Giant Days graphic novel series, but I've never managed to pick it up and see for myself. This was somewhat remedied when I found out that there was a novel based around the same characters. Giant Days by Non Pratt follows the same three girls as the graphic novel: Susan, Esther, and Daisy, as they navigate their first year of college (university). I'm not quite sure where on the timeline this story takes place, but it definitely isn't the very beginning of their friendship.

The story is about these three girls trying to find themselves and their place in the world of college. Esther tries to befriend an ultra-cool goth girl and bends over backwards trying to impress her. Susan throws herself headfirst into her medical studies to escape her past. And Daisy joins every club possible hoping to find something that sticks. Chaos ultimately ensues leading the girls to need each other more than ever, and really learn the value of true friendship in the process. I do want to put a trigger warning on this for roofies and a scene that could have led to rape.

As much as I wanted to love this book, unfortunately I just didn't. The only real action happened in the last few chapters, so it was hard to push through until then. Normally I'm fine with this in character-driven novels, but the characters didn't even really change or develop enough to keep me interested until that point. The main characters were fine, and while I liked Esther and Susan, Daisy really rubbed me the wrong way. And the side characters were just awful in my opinion, and didn't really serve a purpose until the very end. I also don't understand the title. Maybe it makes more sense if you've read the graphic novels. I'm glad I took a stab at this book, and am still definitely interested in learning more about the Giant Days world as a whole, but this isn't a memorable read for me.

If you're a fan of the graphic novels and love these three girls, definitely pick up this read! But if you're new to the Giant Days world, you should probably start with the graphic novels then segue over to this novel. I think it would be a great addition to an already established world, but as a stand alone it unfortunately fell flat for me.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Amulet Books for sending me an advanced copy of this read! Giant Days by Non Pratt comes out TOMORROW, August 21st, so if this sounds up your alley or you love the graphic novel series, be sure to pick up a copy! 

August 6, 2018

The Bespokist Society Guide to London by Jeremy Liebster



Synopsis

You have in your hands one of the most curated city guides ever created. As the first travel book produced by the hugely influential Bespokist Society, this handy guide takes you to a London you’ve never seen: a London of challenging Etruscan restaurants, edgy branding parlours, emoji hotels and hidden Icelandic communities; a London where 8-ply toilet paper is a thing.

On the way, meet an eclectic band of inspiring Londoners - from scriveners to socialites via urban wordsmiths and coffee preachers - and see why London is now the global epicentre of Bespokist consciousness, community and culture.

"sparse... some glaring omissions” FoodPorn London

“only page 23 is of mild interest” http://www.londonpetlover.com

“Wow!!! A genuinely bespoke city guide!!!” Tommy Sponge, Chairman, The Bespokist Society

My Review

As you guys probably know, I recently got to go to London, and absolutely fell in love with the city. Knowing I had this trip planned, I jumped at the chance to take part in this blog tour. But big disclaimer here: this is not just any city guidebook. No, this is a satirical, uproariously funny guidebook, poking fun at niche hipster culture.

Each page had me cracking a smile if not all out belly laughing. The wit and cleverness just roll off the page, but I do have a very dry and sarcastic sense of humor. Many of the entries are accompanied by a high quality and Instagram-worthy image, further emphasizing the overall "extra-ness" of everything in this guide.

This was a fast, funny, novelty read that I really enjoyed. It was very short, and I would have liked to see a little more content.

Just know going into this that this guide will not help tourists make their way through London. This fantastic work of fiction belongs in the humor section of the bookstore, rather than the travel section. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the Author

The Bespokist Society Guide to London is a work of fiction written by born and bred Londoner, Jeremy Liebster. Somewhat surprisingly, Jeremy is also a city lawyer - formerly at DLA Piper and now a General Counsel within a large private equity group. Jeremy is utterly obsessed with travel books and although he might poke fun at urban fads, hipster fried chicken is his guilty pleasure. He also has an unusual interest in clothes hangers.

You can follow The Bespokist Society on Twitter, or visit the website here.

Thanks so much to Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of this read! If satirical travel books are right up your alley, be sure to pick up a copy!


August 3, 2018

The Letting Go by Deborah Markus

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This book is so unique and different, and I had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I did when I decided to read it. The Letting Go by Deborah Markus is a thought provoking story about a girl who believes she is not allowed to have anyone or anything she loves.

Emily is a loner, not because she wants to be, but because she has to be. You see, everyone (and everything-pets included), that she loves, is brutally murdered. Emily has finally figured out the rules: don't get too close to any living thing, or if you do it will be killed.

Holing herself up in an artistic boarding school, Emily is viciously cruel to everyone that crosses her path. But this is for their own benefit. She doesn't want them to end up like her mother, father, best friend, or dog. At school, Emily focuses on the one thing that she loves that cannot be taken away from her: Emily Dickinson. Emily Dickinson is already dead, and words cannot be killed, so this is the one thing Emily allows herself to embrace and love.

But when a dead body turns up on the steps of the boarding school, Emily is convinced that it has to do with her, even though she never knew the dead man. Has she made a mistake? Was she wrong about the rules? And just as this is happening, another girl at the school insists on getting close to Emily at the possible expense of her own life. What can Emily do to stop all the death around her?

I loved everything about this book. From the poetry interspersed throughout to Emily's introspective and meticulous thought process, I was captured from the first page. It actually took me a while to get through this read, not because it was dull or boring, but because it made me think so much and I had to keep putting the book down to reflect.

I was a huge fan of the lesbian romance in this book, and loved that it was subtle and not at all pushy. This is definitely not a love story, and this element was not the focus of the plot. The twist really got me as well, and normally I can see these things coming from a mile away! Overall, this was a very unusual and unique read that I can definitely see myself revisiting in the future.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to Sky Pony Press for an advanced copy of this fantastic read! The Letting Go by Deborah Markus was just released this week, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 26, 2018

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've raved about Becky's other two books, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited, on this blog before, so I knew I would fall just as in love with her newest release, Leah on the Offbeat. This story is technically a sequel to Simon vs., only focusing primarily on Leah instead.

In this story, bisexual Leah is struggling with her love life. Her head is telling her one thing, while her heart is telling her another, and the outcome could be magical or a complete disaster. As Leah and her friends prepare for prom, graduation, and then college, they all have to make some tough decisions, and the reality that they are all going their separate ways hits them hard.

Leah is actually my favorite person on the planet. Her wit and sarcasm coupled with her hidden insecurities is literally me in fiction form. I really related with how she hid her insecurities with cynicism as it is much easier to act like you don't care than to reveal that you really do. There was one instance of racism in this book, and I appreciated how Leah called it out and handled the situation rather than letting it go. I loved getting to know her and some of the other Creekwood characters more. And the ending of this book was just perfect!

This time I chose to physically read the book, even though I opted for the audio versions for Becky's other books. Not sure why, although I think it might have had something to do with how inviting this cover was, I just wanted to own it! Now I obviously have to pick up physical copies of the other two to have the complete set.

I'm really anxious to know if there will be more books in this series, maybe following Abby, Nick, or Bram. I sure hope there are, because this is a cast of characters I never want to let go of! Also, this better get a movie.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

July 23, 2018

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Looking at this book, you have no idea what to expect. Is it a coming of age story? Maybe a touching book about motherhood? You'd never guess that it's a story about a twisted and terrifying mother-daughter relationship that will give you chills. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is so unlike anything I've ever read, and I am so glad that I experienced this story.

This book follows mom Suzette, dad Alex, and little Hanna. Told from both Suzette and Hanna's points of view, the story opens with Hanna not ever speaking, and her parents being concerned that something is physically wrong with her. She barks like a vicious dog, sets trash cans on fire, and gets kicked out of school after school, so there has to be an explanation. When all the tests come back with no sign of physical causes, everyone begins to suspect that maybe Hanna just doesn't want to talk. But why?

Then, all of a sudden Hanna does start talking. But only to her mother, and not as herself, but rather as a historical witch. Hanna starts speaking terrifying things to her mother, horrifying Suzette. And it only gets worse from there.

Hanna is actually a terrifying character. Her chapters were where you were really able to understand not only how twisted she is, but also how intelligent (which in my opinion makes it even scarier.) I felt so bad for Suzette because all she wanted was a happy and healthy daughter, and understandably the whole situation was breaking her down. Even through struggling with her own illness, she kept trying to do what she thought would help Hanna. Honestly, I couldn't stand Alex though. His blindness to the situation and unwillingness to believe anything negative about his daughter really rubbed me the wrong way.

This was an incredibly disturbing story that made my skin crawl. It was new and inventive and exhilarating until the very last page.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for both an ARC and a finished copy of this chilling and creepy read! Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 17, 2018

Campfire by Shawn Sarles

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Give me a good scary story and I am all in! This book delivered just that. Campfire by Shawn Sarles follows main character Maddie as she goes on a camping trip with her extended family. Immediately, Maddie is attracted to their hot guide Caleb, and conspires with her best friend Chelsea (who has also accompanied them on the trip) to make a move. 

The first few days of the trip go fairly well, with everyone gathering to tell scary stories around the campfire at night. But then a bear scare puts people on edge and everything goes downhill from there. Suddenly the scary stories they have been telling begin to come true, and the fun family trip becomes a fight for survival.

I really enjoyed this book! The scary stories told were actually very creepy, and even though this is YA, I was actually freaked out a little even as a 28-year-old! And horror is my jam, so that's saying something. There were a lot of unexpected twists in this as well that I didn't see coming, and since I can usually predict things pretty well, that was definitely impressive.

I thought the main characters were fine. I didn't love them but I didn't hate them, and nothing really jumped out at me to sway me one way or another. But this was a much more plot-driven than character-driven story, so this was fine with me. I really appreciated how this book didn't paint the picture of the perfect family, but rather showed the tumultuous intricacies that make up real life. This really is the perfect story to sit on your deck with on a summer evening, or even take with you on a camping trip...if you dare.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to JIMMY Patterson Books for sending me an advanced copy of this spooky summer read! Campfire by Shawn Sarles is out TODAY, July 17th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

July 9, 2018

London Recap

Hello lovely readers! I'm back! I had the most amazing 10 days in England and am excited to recap my trip for you all! 

We went primarily for the wedding of one of my husband's college friends, but stayed around to explore since neither of us had ever been to England before! The wedding took place in Newmarket, but for the rest of the week we mostly hung out in London.

We got to see and do so much on this trip, I'm still in awe of how much we were able to fit in! Major highlights included the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath! We stayed in Pimlico, which was an absolutely adorable part of the city, and we were able to walk to a majority of the things we wanted to check out. It was unusually hot by England standards, but still much cooler than it was back home in Virginia.

Of course, I had to check out some local bookstores while we were there. I loved getting to experience Waterstones, and obviously picked up a few titles. I love that books come out sooner in paperback over there, so I picked up two new releases in paperback: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli and Neverworld Wake (the UK cover for this is outstanding btw!) by Marisha Pessl. I also got a cute little copy of The Wind in the Willows. The table we sat at for breakfast every morning had the text in a poster and I realized I'd never read it!

Regular review posts will resume this week, but I wanted to leave some of my favorite pictures for you all to give you a glimpse into where I've been and what I've been doing in my absence!


Parliament
Stonehenge

Hogwarts Model at WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

Roman Baths
Windsor Castle

June 27, 2018

Vacation!

Hey loyal readers! Just wanted to pop in and say that there will be no new posts for the next week and a half, as I'M GOING ON VACATION! I'm leaving tomorrow for a 10 day trip to England! My hubby and I are going to a wedding, then spending the rest of the week touring and exploring. My dad is from England so I'm really excited to see where he grew up. Plus we're going to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour!

I'll be back on the 7th, so head back here in the days following for some new reviews! I'm hoping to get a lot of reading done while on my flights so I'll be sure to share my thoughts with you when I get home. Maybe I'll even do a trip recap for you all if that's something you would be interested in.

Until then, enjoy your reads, and we'll chat when I get back! <3





June 25, 2018

Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
When you think summer, don't you typically think of road trips? I know I do! Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller follows Dessa Rhodes, a teenage girl who travels the country with her family in an RV. Her family is part of a caravan of three families who do everything together, even voting on the future of its members. But Dessa wants more from life, specifically to be an artist. 

After getting rejected from all the art schools she applies to, she is unsure what direction her life will take. Just when she thinks all hope is lost, she gets an internship with an artist in Santa Fe, and it's during this time that Dessa learns more than she ever thought possible, not only about art, but also about herself and what she really wants out of life.

I thought this was a super cute summer read! Dessa was easy to identify with, and I loved seeing her get stronger and more self-aware as the story progressed. I really enjoyed the side characters in this book, especially Taryn and Fiona! I thought they were great motivators for Dessa and helped her articulate her true thoughts and wants versus just going along with everyone else's plans. Cyrus was a cute love interest, but I really appreciated that this was not the primary focus of the story, and that Dessa was strong enough to put her own dreams before romance.

One thing I really disliked in this book though was Dessa's family, especially her mom. I thought the whole aspect of voting as a caravan (like really, someone ELSE'S family can determine whether or not you get to go do your internship??) was insane and almost cult-like. I also thought that her mom was incredibly selfish in the way she did things, like asking Dessa to immediately take time off her internship and not caring that it put Dessa's future in jeopardy.

Overall this is a perfect fast and fun summer read to take on a trip or lounge with by the pool! It has a powerful message of going for your dreams, no matter what the people around you say, and staying strong in your convictions.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy of this great summer read! Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller is out TOMORROW, June 26th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

June 21, 2018

Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I read so many thrillers that for the most part, they don't freak me out anymore. This one did. This freaked me out so badly that when my husband went away for the weekend, I made him take this book with him so I couldn't read it while home alone. Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley is about a man fascinated with murders, and what happens when he gets in too deep.

Martin Reese is obsessed with murders. So obsessed, in fact, that his hobby is digging up the bodies of missing murder victims. Think of a Murderino on steriods. Using police files from a friend on the inside, he prides himself on being able to find the missing bodies that the cops could not, and after finding them he calls them in anonymously, simultaneously taunting the police and giving the families of the victims some closure. But one day Martin finds a recently deceased body in one of the graves he digs up, and he realizes that someone is onto him.

This book really gets you deep into the mind of a serial killer. It's almost a psychological profile of a killer in itself, mixed in with a mystery. All throughout the story I kept asking myself, "Could someone really be this twisted?" and the answer was always yes. Personally I've always been interested in the minds of serial killers and fascinated by murders, but I know many people are (otherwise the My Favorite Murder podcast wouldn't be so successful!). But this really does take it into uncharted territory.

The story is told from multiple points of view, but doesn't ever get confusing. Each of the characters is strongly developed and you really learn what makes them tick. The picture painted here is so clear that you can easily see yourself in the Reese residence, in Ellen's store, and in Keith's apartment. The overall ominous and creepy tone of the book was right up my alley and I was left with a very unsettling feeling. 

This book has been compared to Dexter (which I loved) and I definitely agree! It was a very slow burn book, though, which I'm never a huge fan of. There was also a little sexism in my opinion, and there were a few loose ends I would have liked to have seen tied up better.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Atria Mystery Bus for an advanced copy of this read! Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley was released this week, so be sure to pick up a copy!

June 13, 2018

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

"You have to be careful of girls that are too pretty, though. 
They hold a power that they never had to earn."

-Carola Lovering, Tell Me Lies


Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
With every great reading streak, you're bound to encounter a dud sooner rather than later, and this book was unfortunately that dud for me. Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering had so much promise, but just fell flat. This story follows two main characters, Lucy and Stephen. Lucy is perpetually stuck in Stephen's charismatic trap, even though he treats her terribly. Each of them have their own individual issues going on outside of each other, which makes the toxic relationship even worse, but the only real growth that happened in the book happened so late in the game that everything up to that point was like watching paint dry.

Normally I really enjoy character-driven stories, even if there isn't much plot, but this was such a drag! The story just chronicled their college years in dual narrative format, and all the story really focused on was each time Stephen ensnared Lucy only to begin treating her like crap fairly soon after.

I've been Lucy myself-the girl fully absorbed in a guy and completely ignoring how badly he treats her, listening to lie after lie, and believing that he will change. Observing this from the outside though, all I wanted to do was scream at Lucy to get a grip and leave the loser, even though personally I know it's not that easy.

The book also kept referencing one specific incident in the past that Lucy and Stephen both have ties to, but neither knows it. I honestly didn't see the point of this addition whatsoever. This could have been done so much better to turn this story into a somewhat-mystery. I liked all the side characters a lot, and I think stories about them would have been much more interesting than this. I especially loved Pippa, and was absolutely fascinated by CJ.

The only other redeeming quality I could find in this book was the abundance of Fleetwood Mac references. Lucy sure did have good taste in music. That and the fact that I really like the book cover.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Atria Books for an advanced e-copy of this book! Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering is out now, so if this sounds up your alley be sure to pick up a copy!

June 11, 2018

Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Not only did this book have a gorgeous cover, but this "CinderFella Story" has an outstanding plot as well. Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips follows two gay teens on a journey of love, loss, and beautiful music.

When Nate and Cameron meet at a club, it's practically love at first sight. Cameron's singing voice matches Nate's guitar style perfectly, and the vibe is instant. But then Nate finds out who Cameron actually is: the son of a famous record mogul, the same record mogul who might have been responsible for Nate's father's suicide. Nate runs for the hills and never wants to look back. But Cameron can't stop thinking about him, and wants to do everything he can to convince Nate that he isn't his father. 

When Nate shows up for a mysterious audition for a new up and coming singer (who just so happens to be Cameron), they are once again thrust together. Nate has to decide if he wants to follow his heart and his talent, or keep his distance and possibly miss out on the opportunity, and love, of a lifetime.

This book was so wonderful! From all the musical references to the adorable yet cautiously real love story, it was everything I want in a contemporary. But what I loved the most about this book was that it didn't make a big deal out of the fact that the two main characters were gay. There was no pandering or playing it up, it was just normal, which is how our society should view gay relationships. This was so much more than a love story as well, and dealt with some tough topics and difficult family dynamics, making it all around a fantastic read.

My biggest complaint was that I thought it ended rather abruptly. I wanted to know more about what happened!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thank you so much to Viking for an advanced copy of this adorable read! Sometime After Midnight by L. Philips releases TOMORROW, June 12th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

June 7, 2018

Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
In the aftermath of the Royal Wedding, I was looking to bridge the gap between that and my visit to England in a few weeks. Enter Royals by Rachel Hawkins. I figured this would be the perfect title to feed my royal need, and I was right.

Royals follows Daisy, whose sister Ellie just got engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Suddenly Daisy is thrust into the world of the royals, from going shooting to fancy balls, and she doesn't know what to do. Miles, a friend and steward of the royals, is assigned to help Daisy learn the ropes. There is drama, and plenty of it, as Daisy tries to figure out who she wants to be in this new world, and what rules she must follow versus which ones she is happy to break.

Daisy was feisty and sarcastic and I just loved her! Her jokes and comebacks are something to aspire to. As much as it was easy to dislike Ellie, I fully understood her struggle to fit into her new family and be the perfect princess that everyone expects. I would have liked to have seen more of Alex, but I just adored the "Royal Wreckers!" The romance aspect of this book was cute, although not the main focus which I really appreciated. Just looking at the tagline on the cover, you think this book will primarily be about a love interest, but it was so much more than that. I also loved that there were some LGBT+ aspects in this story as well, and the descriptive scenes of the Scottish countryside were beautiful. 

Ignoring things like the fact that there is no Crown Prince of Scotland/separate Scottish monarchy, this book was adorable. It was fluffy and light, and I think this could be a great book to get someone out of a reading slump! It definitely wasn't life changing, or something I would probably even pick up again, but for what it was I enjoyed the few hours I spent reading it. A solid, decent, 3 star read.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

June 5, 2018

The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
When I saw this book takes place on a cruise ship, I knew it would make for a fantastic summer read. The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando follows Natalie, who has embarked on a cruise with some close friends and family for her seventeenth birthday "Sail-A-Bration".

Natalie has been having a hard time, as her boyfriend has recently passed away, and her friends and family hope that this cruise is just the thing she needs to let loose. On the first day of the cruise, Natalie meets a charismatic boy who might be just the person to help her move on. But when he mysteriously disappears and there are rumors of someone going overboard, Natalie becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to him.

This book was quite the ride! There were so many twists along the way, and it was virtually impossible to predict anything. Even when there were reveals, they were so outlandish it was hard to get on board (get it...cruise story-on board??) with them even though they were true. The best word to describe this book would definitely be surprising. It's definitely not a scary thriller, more of a psychological, twisty one.

I loved Natalie as a character, but really disliked her friends. They were rude, judgmental, and really pushy, not seeming to care that Natalie was still deeply impacted by the tragedy she experienced. There are a ton of Hitchcock references, which I quite enjoyed, especially as they paralleled the story itself so well. This story is also interspersed with cruise newsletters and documents to let the reader know what is happening on board each day. While not really necessary, I thought it was a nice touch that made you feel more immersed in the atmosphere of the book. Having been on multiple cruises myself, I can say that the overall cruise setting was very authentically written.

As much as I really enjoyed this read, and do appreciate its entertainment value, I have to take a star off for being extremely unrealistic in the plot department.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Bloomsbury for an advanced copy of this mysterious summer read! The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando releases TODAY, June 7th, so be sure to pick up a copy!

May 30, 2018

The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan by Gia Cribbs

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've lamented my problem with YA thrillers many times on this blog...they're always too predictable. This one, however, completely surpassed my expectations and turned out to be one of the best books I've read so far this year. The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan by Gia Cribbs has everything you want in a YA thriller...it's realistic, the characters are relatable, the plot isn't too simple OR too confusing, and the twists and turns around every corner completely take you by surprise.

This story follows high school senior Sloane Sullivan. A member of the witness protection program, or WITSEC, Sloane is constantly having to change her identity and move all over the country accompanied by her assigned US Marshal, Mark. After witnessing a violent crime, Sloane had no choice but to enter WITSEC, but now as she approaches her eighteenth birthday, she is excited to finally get out and begin a life that truly belongs to her. But when Sloane lands at her final high school and an old friend from her past is now a student there, she has to fight even harder than ever to ensure her identity, and her chance at WITSEC freedom, aren't compromised.

I cannot sing this book's praises enough! Every time I thought I had something figured out, I was wrong and completely blown away by the actual reveal. Interspersed throughout are flashbacks to the event that landed Sloane in WITSEC in the first place, culminating in the final realization she thought she had forgotten all these years. The characters were all fantastic. I loved Sloane and really admire her for all that she had to go through as a child and a teen. Jason was an outstanding character, and I loved Mark as her protector. I love that Sloane picked her names from characters in books or movies (because this is totally something I would do). 

This story has mobsters and mystery, and some amazingly dirty and hilarious Harry Potter pick up lines! What's not to love?

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Gia Cribbs who reached out asking if I wanted to review her book and providing an advanced copy! This is Gia's first novel, so be sure to check it out! The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan is out NOW, so go grab your copy to be completely immersed in this fantastic thriller!