For readers around the globe. :)

Monday, September 17, 2018

People Kill People

Disclaimer: this book deals with sexual abuse, suicidal ideation, and gun violence.

Now, that that's been said.... lets get down to business.
Ellen Hopkins took a chance on this book, and wrote in a new and unique way. Instead of her usual free verse poetry style, she led us straight into the skin of the characters with poetry sprinkled throughout. But the amazing thing that she did.....
 
She made violence the narrator. 

Which is amazing.
People Kill People is told through 6 POV's: Rand, Silas, Daniel, Cami, Noelle, and Ashlyn.
Of course, each of their lives overlap in one way or another in classic Hopkins style. Each of their stories are sprinkled with whispers of violence. The idea that they could even think of committing a crime is something they all regularly struggle with. So lets break down all the characters.

Rand: 19 years old, married to Cami, father to 3 year old Waylon. Aspiring police officer. Violence is the voice of his childhood. The abuse he endured while growing up has shaped him to become a police officer....but only to get revenge on the man who hurt him.

Silas: Teen leader of the TradYouth white supremacist group, regularly uses derogatory terms to explain his "white is right" motto. Violence rears his ugly head towards anyone who is "illegal" and Silas uses it to his advantage.

Daniel: Homeless, Honduran, and half brother to a white supremacist. His mother was deported which caused his father had to announce his secret life to his actual family, who didn't handle it so well. Once his father died, his new family showed their true colors. Which caused violence to slither into Daniel's psyche and make him beyond paranoid of people leaving him.

Cami: 19 years old, married to Rand, mother to Waylon. Stay at home mom life just wasn't the life she was hoping for. She wasn't ready for this life. But when a robbery goes wrong and all her money is stolen, she's suddenly in debt to a very important man. A man that her husband doesn't know she's in business with. Violence shows up (in my opinion) as a way of protecting her and Waylon on their daily errands.

Noelle: Overweight, disabled teen trying to find her voice in the world. After her accident, she lost all of her hopes and dreams. She could never do the things she wanted again and that caused for some serious depression. You guessed it, that's how violence found a way into her life.
 
Ashlyn: Turned on by violence, deals in sexual acts to get the things she wants and needs in life. But when she meets up with her cousin, Tim, she gets caught up in the TradYouth lifestyle. But she's not quite sure what she wants. Violence snuck in during a house party and left her in a jail cell. 

I completely loved the way Ellen Hopkins wrote this book.
It was new, exciting, and definitely had me flipping through the pages.
However, I didn't click with the characters as much as I usually do in her books.
Now don't get me wrong, the story was FANTASTIC and extremely relevant in our current society. But that's obviously what she was trying to do.. she put more development into the story and the connections in the story than she did in the characters themselves.

Looking for more books by Ellen Hopkins?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Girls

After staring at this book for a couple of years, I finally picked it up.
There was so much speculation around this book. I heard great things about it, but I also heard awful things about it. But honestly, I'm standing right on the 50/50 line. I see both sides.
It took me way longer to read it than I expected. I was intrigued by the story, mostly because it's loosely based on The Manson Family, specifically the Manson Girls (as if the title didn't give that away). But the writing was kind of bland in my opinion. There's so many interesting aspects of the Manson Family that I feel the author could have touched on. Life on the ranch, living in a commune, free love, and impending doom. But instead, she chose to focus on a girl who was barely involved.
We follow Evie from her uptown neighborhood to the rundown ranch. She was lonely, rebellious, and looking for love which is why she instantly falls into Suzanne's gaze. Suzanne is basically Russell's lead girl. She's enthralled by him and in tune to every little thing he does. Soon she and Evie become inseparable. Well, until Evie gets caught breaking into her neighbor's house with the other girls. The trance is soon broken and Suzanne knows she has to drop Evie before the night of the murders. 
That's basically the gist of the book.
Which is kind of why I'm so disappointed.
This book had so much potential and it really, really let me down.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

That's Not What Happened

Six hours was all it took for me to read this entire book.

That's Not What Happened takes place three years after the massacre at Virgil County High School. Three years where the survivors have dealt with the secrets they've been keeping. Three years since Lee lost her best friend. The story is told mostly through Lee's perspective with letters from the other survivors sprinkled throughout. The book is actually meant to be the letter Lee writes as a way to explain the truth. She knows what happened to Sarah that day, she knows the rumors are just rumors. But she didn't try to stop them three years earlier.

A lot of the survivors letters deal with grief. How each person handled the past three years varied drastically. Some are using their story to better their futures, some are using their story as a cry for help, and some are using their story just to be heard. The truth needs to be out there for everyone to see. That dreadful day won't ever get any easier, but maybe putting thoughts into words on paper will help everyone cope a little better.

Initially I bought this book because one of the characters, Sarah, has striking similarities to Columbine victim, Cassie Bernall.Cassie was reported to have stood up for her faith before being killed..she became a martyr in her community. However, it may not have happened the way everyone thinks it did; which is why this book grabbed my attention. I thought, maybe, it would be a fictionalization of Cassie's story. Which in a way, it was; but the author never mentions Sarah is loosely based on Cassie.

Regardless, this book was absolutely phenomenal.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Over Your Dead Body

Can we all appreciate how aesthetically pleasing this picture is?!
You guys can find it on my bookstagram! @a_readers_diary
 
Alright, book five in the John Cleaver Series, Over Your Dead Body.
This book isn't near as hectic as the rest of the series. Most of the story takes place on the road. John, Brooke, and Boy Dog ditched the FBI and decided to take off on their own, killing Withered everywhere they go. With Brooke's ever-changing personality, John has to stay alert 24/7. He can't have her changing personalities and running off every time she has to relive a thousand year old death. He's constantly protecting her from herself all while trying to survive. But her memories a fuzzy... Attina was last seen in Dillon, Oklahoma. But that's all the information they have. When they show up to this little bitty town, all hell breaks loose. Teens are being viciously murdered, teens that were all last seen with John and Brooke. 

I have to say, even though this book wasn't as hectic as the rest, I absolutely loved it.
I love the way Dan Wells created Brooke's character. Sure, her psyche may technically be demonic.... But it's so clearly Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which is more commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. I'm only bringing this up because he times the transitions of the alters (identities) so accurately. Everything that Brooke is, that she does, is because of this "demon" inside her. She can't control who she is, what she does, or how she reacts. But she knows the basics. She feels calm around John even when she's meeting him for the first time. Each soul in Brooke's body has their own story, but they're using Brooke to tell it.
 
I loved it.
I freaking loved it.
So well written, one of my favorites of the series.
 
Looking for the rest of the series?
 Mr. Monster (book two)
I Don't Want to Kill You (book three)
Next of Kin (novella)
The Devil's Only Friend (book four) 

Monday, August 27, 2018

See What I Have Done

I've been trying to come up with a way to review See What I Have Done since I finished it last night... here's what I've come up with.

First off, it's historical fiction about Lizzie Borden.
That being said, the book is told through four perspectives over the course of two days.
We hear from Lizzie, Emma, Bridget, and Benjamin.
Now I'm not considering anything I'm about to say as spoilers, because well, it's Lizzie Borden and if you don't know what she did then where the hell have you been?! 

Here's a refresher:
Lizzie Borden took an ax, and gave her mother forty whacks; when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.
 
Lizzie's Perspective: It's almost like stream of consciousness. She relays her activities for the day to police after she found her father cut in the study. She's obviously doped up from the sedative the doctor gave her to relax. But the problem is she can't quite remember everything. So she just starts telling the activities out of order because they did happen, just now how she's saying....and she knows that. Honestly, I got a very Tell-Tale Heart vibe from Lizzie when she starts repeating the things she's thinking.
 
Emma's Perspective: Oh, she's so bitter; it hurts. Her life was so grand while she was away from her sister, Lizzie. She could do her art in peace and not have to worry about Mother's promise. She could finally start her own life. A life outside of Fall River, a life without The Borden's. But then she gets the urgent message to come home and is uprooted from her fairytale. She can't believe what has happened but knows she has to comfort Lizzie the best she can and make sure they live a long life together.
 
Bridget's Perspective: She just wants a better life for herself. She's tired of cleaning up after an unappreciative family. She wants to go home to her own family, where she can laugh and carry on without a care in the world. She never should have come to America because all it has brought her is sadness. So the day the murders happen, she realizes she has an out. She can leave it all behind; the drama, the yelling, the menial work. No one can stop her.

Benjamin's Perspective: Benjamin get tied up with the girls Uncle John. Out one night, he meets John and is asked a rather large favor. A favor that he can't turn down. John wants someone to go have a "man-to-man" talking to with Andrew Borden, the girls father. He wants someone to teach him a lesson on how he should be treating his kids. But when Benjamin shows up for his task, the deed is already done. Snooping around the house, he finds both Andrew and Abby's bodies. But who could have done this? When he begins snooping through the barn, he finds a bloody ax head and realizes he can use this to his advantage... 

Overall, I really enjoyed See What I Have Done! It was so well written!! Now, it did take me forever to read, but only because I was in such a reading slump. But I think it just pulled me out of it.

Huge thanks to Jenni L. Walsh for suggesting See What I Have Done to me on Goodreads!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Meet Jenni L Walsh!

I am pleased to introduce Jenni L Walsh, author of Becoming Bonnie and Side by Side!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I can't remember when that urge for creativity and storytelling developed. I think it's always been there. My mom read to me every night (thanks, Mom!). That led to me writing my own stories and poems. After schooling, my day job was a writer, specifically as an advertising copywriter. Any and all promotional words on an advertisement- that's what I did for about ten years. Then, about eight years ago, the motivation to write a novel struck me. I wrote one book, then another, and another- that won't be published, but turned out to be amazing practice. My fourth go-around, Becoming Bonnie, which is a prequel that tells the story of Bonnie (of Bonnie and Clyde) before she met Clyde, was my first book published. And now I also happily have Side by Side, which puts us in the passenger seat of Bonnie and Clyde's infamous crime spree. The books can be read together, separately, and in any order.

What are some of your favorite books?
That question is always so hard, so I'm going to cheat and speak to genre. I write historical fiction because I love to read it. I am really drawn to the stories that feature an actual person, place, or thing. Hazel Gaynor has written about the Titanic. Greer Maccallister about the first female Pinkerton agent. Ariel Lawhon about the Hindenburg. Kate Quinn about a real-life ring of spies. I could go on and on, and I'm thankful I can go on and on.

Where do you get the inspiration to write?
My kiddos. I love being an author. Character voices are constantly filling my head. I wiggle in my chair when I'm writing a scene I'm really excited about. I have a long list of story ideas. But I sit my butt down to write every day because I want to help inspire my children, provide for my children, set a good example, etc. They are both really young, not yet in school full-time, so I feel very fortunate that I can spend my days with them and spend nap times, early mornings, or late nights with my words.

What inspired you to write about Bonnie and Clyde from Bonnie Parker's perspective?
I debated both tense and POV, actually. But I landed on first person, present tense because I wanted readers to be both in her head and also sharing the moment with her. The reader sees, thinks, experiences just as Bonnie does. It made for some intense writing moments!

Do you plan on writing more in the historical fiction genre?
Definitely. I just completed a draft of a novel that's set during the California gold rush. It's a time periods that's always intrigued me. I also write narrative nonfiction for children and have a new series, called She Dared, starting with Scholastic in 2019. Those books will feature young women, who at a young age, accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery.

Where is your favorite place to write?
 Wherever it's quiet! No music, no distraction, no noise. I usually write while everyone else sleeps!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read. I mean, you had to expect that. Beyond that, with a two-year-old and a four-year-old, I like to do whatever they like to do :)

What is your latest book about?
As I mentioned, my latest WIP is set during the California gold rush, and it's about a remarkable woman, Eleanor Dumont. She was witty and smart and mysterious and independent. And, she's actually began blackjack in our country. However, later in life, Madame Dumont bested an individual in a card game, and, in response, he bitterly called her Madame Mustache, due to a thin strip of hair she'd developed on her upper lip. That name stuck, and often overshadows her real name and her real story. I felt that unfair and I wanted to tell her story.

So, if any of your books became movies, who would you want to play the main characters?
In my books, Bonnie and Clyde write a song together. Bonnie also finds herself up on stage. So, my Bonnie would need a set of lungs. I've always thought Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Peebles, or Darcy Rose Byrnes would do wonderfully!

You have been given a week vacation to visit ANY fictional town, where would you go?
So cliche, but I have to say Hogwarts. I have to. I've spent so much time in that world. Fortunately, that fictional town could only exist on a vacation one day :)

Quick! You have a date with your favorite fictional character, who are you meeting tonight?!
I've long been a fan of J.D. Robb's In Death series. The main character is a badass detective named Eve Dallas. I'd probably be very intimidated and it's doubtful she would even want to spend the evening socializing. So, maybe I could be of help on one of her cases.

Connect with Jenni!

Becoming Bonnie and Side by Side can be found at Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon, Audible, and Indie Bound!

The She Dared series releases January 2019 and can be found at Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound, and Amazon!


Looking for my reviews?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Next of Kin

Alright, so I accidentally read The Devil's Only Friend (book 4) before I read Next of Kin because I didn't realize this novella was technically book 3.5 in the John Cleaver Series.

When I think of novellas I usually think of a really quick read, maybe a hundred pages or so. When Dan Wells thinks of a novella..... he writes less than 40 pages.
But I'm not arguing because I really needed those 34 pages!
Next of Kin explored the life of Elijah Sexton, a Gifted who happens to regularly visit the same hospital Brooke has been placed in under protective custody. But when she recognizes him, John and his ragtag team of demon hunters start watching his every move. What they don't realize is that he's one of the good ones. He's not using his gift for evil, he's using it to torment himself. He's almost created his own personal hell from making the mistake to become immortal.

It's a short story but Elijah is honestly one of my favorite characters. I would love to see another series branch out as the Gifted/Withered as the main character, chronicling their human life and decision to become a Godlike creature.