For readers around the globe. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Woodstock

Woodstock: The 1969 Rock & Roll Revolution.
 
This book really sets the scene for me. It doesn't glorify the festival like so many nostalgic books do. It point blank says, it rained and everything was covered in mud, there was hardly any food left by the end of the first day, bathrooms were non-existent, and the campgrounds were not near as boujee as they are today.
 
But that's not to say it didn't hit on major events. Musicians from all over the world came to Bethel, New York, for an unknown music festival. Musicians who had already created a name for themselves in rock history and some who became rock legends there on the Woodstock Stage. Listening to the pitfalls of the festival just made me appreciate it even more. Founder, Michael Lang, and his crew cared for the people at the festival and wanted them to have the best experience of their life, regardless of the weather and other extenuating circumstances. They wanted this festival to be everything these kids hoped for and then some more. They spoke of peace, music, love, art, and most importantly camaraderie. Without the help and understanding of those attending the festival, Woodstock would not have been near as historical as it is now. 
 
This coffee table book delves into the most historic music festival. It highlights the best and worst parts of the festival and leaves you wishing you were there, but also incredibly thankful of how far we've come in the music scene. I'm incredibly grateful to have been given an earc of this book via NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group! 
 
Looking for other books on Woodstock?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

What You Hide: Excerpt + Giveaway

I am pleased to share an excerpt of Natalie D. Richards latest YA thriller!
Check it out below, enter the giveaway, and check out my reviews!

Spencer
Thursday, October 19, 1:13 a.m.
Fairview Public Library

I've broken curfew for plenty of stupid reasons, but climbing the public library? I can't really be thinking about doing this.
I am, though.
Not that I could tell you why. Why would a perfectly rational guy decide to take a jog at one o'clock in the morning? Any why did that jog turn into a dead-panic sprint, until I stopped in this alley, sweaty and alone on the narrow strip of pavement between the parking lot and the book drop?
I can't figure out most of tonight, but I know this: I want to climb to the top of the Fairview Public Library.
It's not a good idea. Climbing that wall has Terrible Choice written all over it.
But it'd be easy. Thirty, maybe thirty-five feet tall, which I could scale in my sleep. Especially with all those chunky slabs of stone creating perfect crevices for my fingers and toes. I can't believe I've never noticed them. Back in fourth grade, I walked here every other Tuesday for class visits It was a building full of books then. Now it's an unexplored vertical trail, my ticket to a view I've never seen.
I do this a lot: scan buildings for ascent routes. That's what happens when you love climbing. I want to climb rocks and trees and the football stadium and the water tower. And apparently the library.
Seriously, I could do it in five minutes. Maybe less.
Which is still plenty of time to get arrested in this town.
Here, tucked close to the side of the building in the alley, I'm not easy to see from Main Street. Halfway up the wall, though, I'd be exposed.
So, don't be stupid.
****
I'm twenty-five feet up with no harness. Thais fact hits me square in the chest, and in the span of one breath, my heart turns to a bag of worms. I grip my toes and push close to the wall to steady myself. Panic and stupidity lead to most climbing accidents, and I've already covered the stupidity bit.
"Not smart," I tell myself, and that's all I allow. I'll have to rub this lesson in later, when I'm back on the ground without an assortment of broken bones.
When my heart slows to a steady thud-thud-thud, I start looking for a better route. I'm maybe ten or fifteen feet from the top. With my adrenaline wearing off, it feels doable. This is not a difficult climb. Once I'm up, the fire escape ladder on the back of the building will make for an easy way down. I just need to do it.
I relax into my feet and start up the path closest to the second-story window. I still have that sill if I need it.
I push off my right foot as I reach up, a good pinch at a comfortable reach. Excellent. Plus, I see a perfect lip for my left hand, so I push through that leg to snag the next hold. My grip sticks, but something snaps. My left foot drops hard, leg scraping stone. I lurch in the opposite direction, forcing my center of gravity to the right.
 Was it the brick? I glance down at the wall below, seeing freshly cracked stone where my foot used to be. Bits of mortar and rock lay in the grass, and my stomach drops into my feet.
I was standing on that seconds ago. If it had broken any earlier, I'd have fallen. I lick my lips, heart pounding. Nothing about that brick looked wrong. There was zero warning.
Which means there might not be a warning next time.
 ****
Unbelievable. I kicked in the freaking window.
A shard hits my big toe, and it jolts me into action. I drag myself to the right of the mess, my face scraping mortar. The window I broke is tall and wide with arched glass that looks...expensive.
I'll worry about it later. I need to finish this and get down before something else goes wrong.
Nothing does. The rest of the climb passes without incident. At the top, I haul myself over the concrete cornice and drop to my backside, panting in relief.
I should bolt for the ladder, by my legs have turned to jelly. I need a minute to catch my breath. I enjoy the view, which is nothing to sneeze at. Fairview is easy on the eyes from up here. A row of postcard-worthy businesses line Main Street, embellished with flower boxes and understated window displays. Here and there, iron benches rest under neatly trimmed trees- an invitation to linger.
Beyond Main Street, the streets give way to a sleeping patchwork of lush, green lawns with curving gardens and winding paths. And houses. Large, beautiful houses.
One of those houses is yours.
My throat squeezes, and I lean forward, staring at the soft glow of streetlights and curved streets. It is the definition of peaceful and safe, but I'm not feeling either of those things. I feel like I'm peering into another dimension. Like I'm seeing something I've never seen. Which is ridiculous. I live down there. Fairview has always been home.
Always?
A flash of blue and white lights. The police. There's a single cruiser six or seven intersections down Main Street, so someone must have seen me. Adrenaline floods my senses.
Get up. I have to get up.
My body is heavy. Immobile. What the hell is wrong with me? I need to run!
 But I don't. Moments later, the cruiser turns into the library parking lot, and it's like my body is frozen. My eyes follow the car as it parks, then trail the beam of the spotlight across the library walls. Shrubs and mulch are illuminated. Then, the cherry tree. Next, my discarded socks and shoes.
I wonder what they'll do when they figure out I'm up here.
I wonder what it'll feel like when they take me away.


Looking for reviews of Natalie D. Richards books?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I'll Be There For You: The One about Friends

Kelsey Miller, will you be my friend?

This felt like I walked into Central Perk, ordered coffee from Gunther, and sat down to relax while listening to my friends talk about their favorite people.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a Friends super-fan. I regularly re-watch the entire series 3, 4, 5, 6 times a year. I could easily walk into a room, see Monica on the screen, recite her next line, and then describe the entire episode. That's how bad my addiction is...

Not going to lie either, last weekend I went out drinking with my real life friends and began talking to them about Friends and this book and the characters as if I knew them personally.... I may have a problem!

Kelsey Miller wrote The One about Friends so flawlessly. It's easy to read, it follows the plot of the show, hits on details that many people find problematic in the show today, as well as how the show managed to stay relevant nearly 15 years after the last episode aired.

Friends has been referred to as a "comfort food show" which I can 100% agree with that statement. I watch Friends because it's familiar, it's relatable, and it makes me feel peaceful. I can honestly say I have never had another show that makes still me smile after seeing the exact same episode 17 times. So yes, Friends is my comfort food. It's my relaxation show. It's my go to show for anything and everything. I am thrilled to have grown up watching it and now, as a functioning adult, I can look back and be grateful a show like this ever existed. Nothing will compare to Friends.

Huge thank you to NetGalley and Hanover Square Press for the e-arc!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Dare to Fall: Excerpt + Giveaway

I've teamed up with Sourcebooks Fire to share an excerpt and giveaway for Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame!

I've never known why Monday gets all the credit for being the worst day of the week. I disagree entirely. Sundays are. There's just something so quiet and still about Sundays that I've really grown to hate. Maybe it's because half the town goes to church in the mornings, while the other half attempts to cook a pot roast before giving up and finally ordering takeout. That tends to be the case in my family at least. Or maybe it's because half the people we got to school with are at home rushing to finish all those assignments that have been left until the last minute, while the other half spends the entire day in Dairy Queen because there's nowhere else to go. We belong to the latter half.
"Do you want another?"
I didn't realize I'd zoned out until now. Tearing my gaze up from the table, I blink a couple of times at Holden while straightening up a little from my slouched position in the booth. I didn't even notice him get up. "What?"
Holden looks down at me and nods to the remainder of my iced coffee. There's only a small dribble left. "Do you want another?" he repeats.
"Oh," I say. "No thanks. I'm good."
As he turns around and heads to the counter to order again for what must be the fifth time tonight, I rub my hand over my face, remembering too late that I'm wearing two thick layers of mascara. I curse under my breath and grab my phone from the table, opening up my camera. My eyes are now smudged and rimmed with black. I reach for a napkin and try my best to clean up the mess I've made, but I only seem to make it worse.
Will lets out a laugh, and I fire a heavy glare across the booth. He's chewing on the straw of his chocolate shake, but he quickly ducks when I scrunch my napkin into a ball and hurl it at him.
"You'd think you were hungover," he says as he sits back up, flicking his hair out of his eyes.
I can't remember the last time he had a haircut, but he definitely needs one.
"I'm just tired." I breathe a sigh and turn my attention to the trash that's amassed on our table. I swear, all we do on Sundays is eat because there's nothing else to do in this town. There are at least half a dozen empty cups, three of which are mine, and most of the food wrappers are Holden's. The ice-cream tubs are Will's.
 "Have you noticed who's here?" Will asks, lowering his voice. He tilts his head down and leans over the table, subtly giving a pointed glance over my shoulder. "I think this is the first time I've actually seen her out."
I shift in the booth and steal a quick glance behind me, and spot her immediately: Danielle Hunter.
Over in the booth right by the door, Danielle is sitting with her hands wrapped around a cup, her black hair falling over her eyes. She's with three other girls, all of whom are engaged in conversation, but Danielle is staring blankly at the table as though she is entirely tuned out of her surroundings. As I study her from across the restaurant, a lump forms in my throat. It's a surprise to see her here. She rarely goes out. No one ever sees Danielle Hunter anywhere other than school these days.
 "Well," I murmur as I turn back around to face Will. "That's new." I steal another glance over my shoulder, feeling strangely unnerved by the sight of her. I haven't spoken to her in a long time, so I am praying she doesn't spot me, but I am intrigued by how alone she seems.
I only turn my attention away from her when Holden returns to the table with another burger, his third of the night, and slides back into the booth next to me. The football team lost against Pine Creek yesterday, so he's in a sulky mood, disappointed with his performance, and Will and I have agreed not to mention it.
 ****
I leave the two of them goofing around and head to the restroom. The closer it gets to ten o'clock, the more empty Dairy Queen becomes, though there're still some people from school hanging around. Once the manager kicks us out, that is: there's nowhere else to go other than back home. I briefly give Jess Lopez a smile and a "hey" as I pass her table, but she's with some girls I don't know all that ell, so I don't stop to chat.
 I continue into the cramped restroom instead and lock myself in one of three tiny stalls. While I'm there, I send my dad a quick text to let him know I'll be home within the next hour, resigned to the fact that Sunday is almost over. I slip my phone into the pocket of my jeans as I unlock the door and swing it open. My heart stops for a split second when I glance up and there's someone there, standing motionless in front of the sinks. I hadn't heard anyone come in, and the moment I realize it's Danielle Hunter, I freeze on the spot. Her back is to me, but in the mirror's reflection, her eyes meet mine.
I haven't said more than a few words to Danielle since last year. I've barely seen her, and when I hve, I've never known how to act or what to say. So I just don't say anything at all. What are you supposed to say to someone who's grieving the death of her parents? I don't know. No one does.
But right now, I can't just turn my eyes to the floor and keep on walking like I would do otherwise. I'm suddenly aware of how small it is in here, and she's watching me with those blue eyes of hers. They are such a stark contrast with her newly jet-black hair that is just doesn't quite look right. Her entire face is blank, emotionless. I swallow and shift past her to the sink farthest away. I turn on the water, staring robotically at my hands as it cascades over my skin. Do I say something? I know I should, but I don't know what and I don't know how. My cheeks feel hot from the pressure bearing down on my while I deliberate over whether now is the right time to finally say something to Danielle Hunter. I have always wanted to talk to her again but never could.

I have the rest of the chapter that I would be more than happy to send to anyone who asks!!

Giveaway!
US and Canada ONLY
Open December 4-31

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Someday

I've been waiting for this book since, well, basically forever. I was not disappointed! If this doesn't sell you on the fact that this series is deeply rooted in love is love, then I don't know what will.

So this picks up after A leaves Rhiannon with Alexander; not to mention the continuation of Reverend Poole as someone like A.

I don't really know how to give a summary of this book so I'm just going to jump right in.
 Rhiannon and Alexander have such an adorable relationship. They are so beyond comfortable with each other, you'd think they were together for years. But when A comes back into Rhiannon's life, everything kind of falls apart. She begins spending less time with him and more time with whoever A is that day. Now, A feels grounded around Rhiannon. She's the only one that sees him for who he really is (I'm using he as the pronoun because that's how I see A).

So, Reverend Poole had his life taken over by X. X is like A, he travels from body to body without ever knowing who he will become. But he's found a loophole, he can stay for longer than a day. He's set himself up with his own bank accounts, made a life for himself, while borrowing the time of someone else. When he finds A is someone living the same type of life, he wants more. He wants to talk more with A but is going about in a way that makes A nervous. He's hurting people close to A, he's tearing families apart, he's ruining lives...all because he believe A is going to bring him power. He believes A is someone he can mentor.

There was far less romance in this book than in the others, which was quite beneficial to the book. If I'm getting the right feeling, David Levithan has set this up to be an even bigger series. I love, love, loved reading Someday. Everything about this series has been fantastic and has honestly taught me so much. I'd love to hear the various versions of A and X that everyone has had!

Looking for the rest of the series?
Everyday (book one)
Another Day (book two)

Looking for other books by David Levithan?
 Will Grayson, Will Grayson
The Realm of Possiblity

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Stalking Jack the Ripper

I actually picked this book up on a whim, thinking "Eh if it sucks, it was only $7."
I'm really glad I spent that $7 on this book.
Stalking Jack the Ripper was such an interesting take on the infamous Whitechapel murders and the man behind them. It's ya fiction, so our narrator is Audrey Rose Wadsworth, a teenage girl working in her uncle's laboratory. Audrey Rose is a member of high society and in the 1880's, forensics wasn't something a girl should have been exposed to. Kerri Maniscalco did a fantastic job of pointing that out by making Audrey Rose such a strong minded character who knew her place in the world, even if it wasn't the place society wanted her to be. 
While working in her uncle's lab, she meets Thomas Cresswell, a fellow forensics student. Together, the three of them begin performing the autopsies for Jack the Ripper's victims. When Audrey notices they all have one thing in common, she follows her lead down a dark path. She couldn't possibly think someone in her own family could be Jack the Ripper..... Not soon after, her uncle is taken to the asylum until they can clear him of the crimes. But Thomas and Audrey Rose know he's innocent, he's been wracking his brain with the rest of them to find this killer. But who, or who could he be?

During the hunt, Thomas and Audrey Rose begin an unlikely friendship. I was skeptical that the small romance they share would become a focal point in the novel, but it actually worked incredibly well. They way the ending ties together with the rest of their relationship was the perfect lead in to the next book, Hunting Prince Dracula. I didn't realize the series would have them traveling to new places to investigate, but I'm beyond excited to travel with them.

Looking for the rest of the series?
Hunting Prince Dracula (book two)

Looking for other books on Jack the Ripper?
The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What You Hide

Natalie D. Richards is slowly becoming one of my go-to-authors.
Every time I get an arc of hers from Sourcebooks Fire, it pulls me right out of my reading slump.

Let's just say I have a weakness for ya thrillers....
 
What You Hide is the perfect spooky read for October.
It has just the right amount of mystery and romance while hitting on some serious issues, like teen homelessness. Oh, and the whole thing takes place in a library!

So there's two viewpoints, Spencer's and Mallory's.
Spencer was adopted into a rather wealthy family; star hockey player, aspiring rock climber, and serving his community service hours at the library where he broke an expensive window while he climbed it.
 
On the other hand, Mallory has to leave her family; with or without her pregnant mother. She can't live another day with her manipulative stepfather Charlie watching her every move. She enrolls in virtual high school and spends most of her days at the library.
 
Obviously, Spencer and Mallory meet at the shared location and quickly start up a witty, romantic banter with each other. Maybe it could become something or maybe they're in way over their heads.
When Mallory decided she has nowhere else to go, she sneaks into the library and crashes overnight in the bathroom. But that's not even the weird part, someone is leaving messages in the library; black soot, dark footprints, writings on the walls, and an intricate art display.... could the library be haunted?
 
The story unfolds over the course of about a month with alternating story line's that pick up where the last character left off. Not going to lie, I was a little put off by romance being tagged as a key part of this book, because that's not something I really enjoy reading. But with all the things that happen in the story, it definitely worked well. It was subtle crush between two teens in the same area, could have happened anywhere. Regardless, I enjoyed this book and pretty much every other book I've read by Natalie D. Richards!
 
Huge thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for an ARC of What You Hide!
What You Hide hits shelves December 4th!
 
Looking for other books by Natalie D. Richards?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

What They Don't Know: EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY

Check out this excerpt from What They Don't Know by Nicole Maggi!
Giveaway below :)

February 13
Dear Ms. Tilson,
You probably think you know who I am, but I'm here to tell you that you don't. I used to be a bright star of a girl, but that girl burned out of existence, like a fire swept through my life and left nothing but ash and smoke. That smoke is a memory of what I had, so thick I can smell it and feel it in my eyes and ears and nose. But I can't touch it. Smoke, like memories, will slip through your fingers and disappear as if it never existed at all.
I keep thinking that if I could write down how my life used to be, maybe I could capture that smoke, keep it from drifting away. That's what made me finally crack open this journal you gave us at the beginning of the semester. Could these pages be some magical vessel to contain that gone-girl? All those bright memories preserved in this one place?
I would write about how on Sundays, after the long hours spent at church, we'd pile into the truck, exhausted, and my mom would say, "I'm too tired to cook," which is the greatest sin for a woman on a Sunday in our church, but my dad would smile indulgently and order a pizza. "God rested on Sunday; why shouldn't you?" He'd joke. Then they would kiss, and I'd be reminded that I'm one of six kids, so they must've had sex at some point. Which is gross to think about but also comforting because it means there's some order to the world.
I'd write about how when my younger sister, Joanie, was a baby and would wake up crying in the middle of the night, I was usually the one who got there first with a bottle of warmed- up breast milk from the freezer. Some nights I'd rock her for hours even after she'd fallen asleep, watching her tiny eyelids flutter as she dreamed. What is she dreaming about? I'd wonder. Sometimes I'd place her gently in her crib and get my sketchbook, draw her in a soft, black pencil. Those nights were magical. They seemed to exist in their own dimension, the spell broken only by the rising sun.
I'd write about the day after my older sister, Hannah, got her license. She picked me up from school, and instead of going straight home, we drove and drove and drove. We rode over the mountain passes, twisting along the back roads until we came to this hole-in-the-wall dive in the middle of nowhere called the Wooden Nickel. Hannah had read about it in Sunset Magazine, how it supposedly had the best bison burgers in America. We ate them with their secret special sauce dripping down our chins, washed them down with small-batch root beer, and got home hours after dark. Mom and Dad yelled their heads off, and Hannah lost her license for a week, but after they sent us to bed, Hannah turned to me and said, "Worth it."
I'd write about how I had everything I wanted and didn't know it. I had a family who surrounded me with love and acceptance. I had a father and a mother who stood on such high pedestals that the sun blinded me when I looked up at them. They loved me unconditionally, or so I thought. I never imagined there could be conditions under which they would not love me.
Every night I thanked God for my parents' love and for my family's abundance, and yet every day I took each of those things for granted. Now I'm left with the memory of what I once had.
No. These pages can't contain that smoke, those memories. They're gone now, destroyed in one irreversible moment.
Maybe I should stop here. Let you go on believing everything you think you know about ,me. That would definitely be easiest. I could record what I ate for breakfast, what time I went to bed, which TV shows I like to watch. All those myths you have about me can stay intact. You can go on thinking I'm the perfect daughter of Mayor Rivers, the shining example of the family values he talks about in speech after speech after speech. Believe that I never cause any trouble and I'm always a good girl. I'll probably get a C, but you'll never know my innermost thoughts. I'll stay safe.
Except I can't stay safe anymore.
As of December 21, nowhere is safe.
I would give anything to redo that day.
But I can't.
And the only place I can talk about it is in these pages.
So let's start with a pop quiz. True of False: Mellie Rivers is a virgin.
False. As of December 21, at 3:30 in the afternoon, on the floor in the basement of my house, I am not a virgin.
True or False: Mellie Rivers would never have sex before marriage.
True. I made a promise to God and my family, and I wear the ring on my left hand, where, presumable, one day, my husband will place a different, more permanent ring. I would have kept that promise. But the choice was taken from me.
True or False: Mellie Rivers would never, ever get pregnant out of wedlock.
False.
Signed,

Mellie Rivers.

Rafflecopter Giveaway!
Runs October 2nd-31st
US & Canada Only

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

After the Fire: EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY

I am pleased to share an excerpt from After the Fire by Will Hill and maaaaaaaybe, a little giveaway at the end!

I sprint across the yard, my eyes streaming, my heart pounding in my chest.
The noise of gunfire is still deafening, and I hear- I actually hear- bullets whizzing past me, their low whines like the speeded-up buzz of insects, but I don't slow down, and I don't change course. THe Chapel is burning out of control, its roof engulfed by roaring fire and sending up a huge black plume of smoke, and the amplified voice of the Government boos across the compound, repeating its demand over and over again.
"Put down your weapons and come forward slowly with your hands in the air!"
Nobody is listening. Not the other Governments, and definitely not any of my Brothers and Sisters.
In the distance, back near the Front Gate, the tank rumbles forward, crushing the flimsy wire fence of churning the desert floor. Somewhere, over the engines and the endless rattle of gunfire, I can hear screams of pain and pleading shouts for help, but I force myself to ignore them and keep going: my gaze is fixed on the wooden cabins at the western edge of the Base.
I trip over something.
My feet tangle, and I go sprawling onto the cracked blacktop of the yard. Pain crunches through my as my shoulder hits the ground, but I grit my teeth and get back on my feet and look to see what I fell over.
Alice is lying on her back, her hands clutching her stomach.
 Her shirt has turned red, and she's lying in a pool of blood that seems too big to have all come out of one person. She's still alive though. Her eyes are dim, but they find mine, and she looks at me with an expression I can't describe. There's pain there, a lot of pain, and shock, and fear, and something that looks like confusion, like she wants to know how things ever came to this.
I hold her gaze. I want to stay with her, to tell her it's all right and that she's going to be okay, but it isn't all right, nothing is, and I don't know very much about bullet wounds, but I don't think she is going to be okay.
I'm pretty sure she's going to die.
I stare at her, wasting seconds that the still-functional bit of my brain screams at me for wasting, then run towards the west barracks. Alice's eyes widen as I start to turn away, but I don't see anger in them. I think she understands what I have to do.
That's what I tell myself, at least.

***

After

....I drift....
......my hand feels like it's wrapped in fire. My eyes open and everything is white and there's a beeping noise and something that has no face looms over me and I try to scream but nothing happens. I'm so scared I can't even think. My eyes roll back and....
....a man looks down at me, and his face is just eyes above a white mask. He shows me a huge needle, and I just stare at it because I'm too scared to move, and when he pushes it into my arm I don't even feel it because the pain in my hand is still so huge that it blocks everything else out. I know what doctors are from when I was little and TV was still allowed, but I've never seen one in real life until now. The Prophet is screaming in my head that the doctors are agents of THE GOVERNMENT, that every one of them is a SERVANT OF THE SERPENT, and his voice rattles and shakes my brain, and my stomach churns, and I'm so scared I can't even breathe while the doctor tapes the needle that;s inside my arm to my skin and connects it to a tube that leads to a bag of milky white liquid. He says something I don't understand, and then the liquid starts to flow. I watch it creep down the tbe toward my arm. I can't move a single muscle, but I manage to form a thought over the noise of Father John howling in my head: I wonder what is going to happen when the white liquid gois inside me, and I wonder if I'm still going to be me the next time I wake up......
.....the lights above me are blinding, but the pain is much less, and the plastic bag at the end of the tube is empty. I can just about raise my head far enough to see the big mitten of bandages that has been wrapped around my left hand. Sometimes a doctor stands next to my bed and stares at me and sometimes I hear raised voices in the distance and sometimes I start crying and can't stop. I'm too hot and too cold and everything is wrong and I really want to go home, because even that was better than this. A man wearing a hat and a uniform asks me my name, but Father John roars in my head, so I don't answer. He asks again, and I don't answer again, and he rolls his eyes and walks away....

***

....I drift.....

Rafflecopter Giveaway!
Open October 2nd-31st
US & Canada Only!!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Sadie

It's been awhile since I've been completely enthralled by a book, but Sadie pulled me right in.
It's not at all what I expected it to be. I knew it was going to be a darker book based on the premise alone, but what I got was so much more than that.
 
Sadie is 19 years old but she's basically raised herself and Mattie, her 13 year old sister. But when Mattie runs away and turns up dead, Sadie wants revenge. She knows who did it and she plans on killing him. But that means she has to leave behind May Beth, her surrogate grandmother. When May Beth realized that Sadie is gone, she calls the producer of a true crime podcast to maybe get an investigative reporter who is more helpful than their local police department. Because let's be real...
 
I can' take another dead girl.

The podcast aspect of this novel is actually brilliant for a number of reasons.
1) We get everyone's viewpoint. Sure most of the story is told through reported West McCray and May Beth; but every person Sadie comes in contact with gets their own little voice.
2) The podcast chapters are much lighter than Sadie's chapters. They're short but informative and packed full of emotions. But Sadie's chapters put you in her head as she deals with the loss of her sister, the struggles in her life, and the path she's had to take to get her revenge.
3) Wednesday Books actually released "The Girls," podcast from the book. Every Wednesday, starting on September 4th, they released a serialized podcast that reads the exact podcast chapters from the book. I've included a link to episode one here!
 
However, I would like to know your opinions on this.
It's never actually mentioned if West McCray is a man or woman.
Which is not a big deal, but as I was reading reviews and listening to the podcast... West is a man yet, I was reading West as a woman. I pondered over it because the character is mentioned to have a daughter and be married to a man. But in our ever-changing society, West very well could be a man and I'm just wondering how you all read this character's voice.

I loved this book and I legitimately had to set the book down as I was reading Sadie's last chapter because I couldn't handle it. I was feeling her anxiety as she was feeling it and it blew my mind how well written her character was. I applaud Courtney Summers for this!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Nothing Left to Lose

The bittersweet ending to my current favorite series.

It's the last book, so beware of spoilers.

Brooke's gone, Boy Dog is with the FBI, and John's on his own again.
This time he ends up in Lewisville, Arizona following a lead. A women drowned in her own living room, no water nearby, but somehow drowned. Seems like the work of a Withered, which is exactly what brought John to this little town. Luckily, he has an advantage.... the dead old woman worked at the mortuary and now they need someone to fill her shoes. Obviously, John is the perfect candidate and he definitely inserted himself into all of their lives the day of he funeral. But that night he has a run in with a Withered or two and quickly realizes that this town needs him.
 John is almost like a regular 18 year old (minus the whole mortuary thing), hanging out at hipster pizza joints and couch surfing; well until his new boss realizes the FBI is looking for him. Like always, his fire setting caught their attention and they sent a full team out looking for him.

This book is probably the slowest one in the series, which I totally understand.
But honestly, I don't like John on his own. He's always had someone to bounce ideas off of and in this one there wasn't any of that. He didn't have a lot of drive left in him, in my opinion anyway. There was no connection to any of the other characters like there was before. Nothing was tying him to Arizona, yet he stayed anyway.

Either way, I'm glad I read it.
I've been besties with John Wayne Cleaver for the past nine months.
I am happy.

Looking for the rest of the series?
Mr. Monster (book two)
Next of Kin (novella)
Over Your Dead Body (book five)

Anthologies:
Life Inside My Mind

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.

Looking for other books on Charles Manson?
The Family

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)
Nothing Left to Lose (book six)

Anthologies:
Life Inside My Mind

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!

Looking for other books on Lizzie Borden?
The Trial of Lizzie Borden

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.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Devil's Only Friend

My favorite little sociopath is back in action, and he has backup!

The Devil's Only Friend picks up with John and Brooke in a new town, hunting a new monster, but John is employed by the FBI as a type of prodigy. Who knew his rules could land him an actual paying job where he got to hunt and kill monsters legally! It's a great job, but he still has his quirks. He's taking care of his impulses by beating hunks of meat with a club in his own house. He's setting controlled fires in grills. He's spending time with....people. People he can't help but fantasize about killing. But he knows he can't, he needs them. He needs the FBI on his team and he knows it.

So this elite team hunts Withered demons.
They keep Brooke in a protected wing of a psych ward, mainly because it seems like she has multiple personality disorder. In a way she does, but that's only because Nobody/Hulla kind of tried to take over her body.... so Brooke has all of her wisdom; years and years of ancient memories that come on at random. She recognizes faces and traits and most importantly, who the king is of this ancient group. A group who were considered Gods at one point and now have lost their traction. But they want it back and they'll do anything they can to get there.

Looking for the rest of the series?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Love Will Tear Us Apart

I'm not even sure where to begin with this book.
I may be the only one.... but I got serious 13 Going on 30 meets The Devil Wears Prada vibes from this book. Which makes no sense, so let me try to break it down for you.

But why 13 Going on 30?
 
Love Will Tear Us Apart is told in alternating eras, starting with Kate and Paul as kids. They quickly became best friends and did virtually everything today. Kate was truly part of the Loxton family and planned to keep it that way from many, many years. Another alternating era we see is Kate in her early 20's without Paul. She's done with school, she's got a great job, she's kind of living her best life. But then a turn of event leads to her helping Paul get a job in her office, thus pulling him back into her life. The last era we experience is the two of them together, living out their marriage pact from 15 years earlier; if they were both single in their 30's they would get married. 

Now I'm sure you're wondering where The Devil Wears Prada ties into this...

Kate's mom was artsy, very into the London fashion scene, which inspired Kate to go into the design industry in college. That was her dream, a dream she never truly got to accomplish. But while she's doing this and working her office job she's kind of losing herself. She's not the same girl she was when she and Paul were kids and they both know it. She's been through so much and has sacrificed her own well being to come out as top dog at her job only to get it all thrown in her face and realize she lost everything. 

I was thrilled for this book and was so excited when it finally came in the mail.
Now I'm beyond excited for you all to be reading this review! 
It was fantastic and Holly Seddon doesn't disappoint!!

Huge thanks to Holly for sending me a signed bookplate!

Looking for more books by Holly Seddon?

Want to know more about Holly?
(exclusive author interview)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Siriously Delicious

 
Siriously Delicious: 100 Nutritious (and Not So Nutritious) Simple Recipes for the Real Home Cook is such a cute little cookbook!!

I have a newfound love for baking and Siri Daly did not disappoint with her fantastic sweet treats. Of course there is more to the cookbook than that, she breaks it down into six categories, Wakey Wakey! (breakfast), Halftime (lunch), It's Five O'Clock Somewhere (mixed drinks), Time for Dinner (dinner), Sidekicks (side dishes), and Sweet Treats (my fav).

What amazed me is most of these things are super simple to make!
She also includes helpful cooking tips like what to add if your caramel sauce is too stiff and alternatives if you're missing things!

I would highly recommend this cookbook!

Here's a few recipes I am looking forward to trying!!
Browned Butter Caramelized Banana Bread
BBQ Chicken Nacho Bites
Quick Chicken Masala
Sneaky One-Pot Mexican Pasta 
Chocolate Chip- Peanut Butter- Banana Cookies
Homemade Samoas
Homemade Tagalongs
Lemon Bars

I'll update once I try all of them out and let you know how delicious they are!

Huge thanks to NetGalley for providing me an e-copy of Siriously Delicious, in stores now!!

Looking for other cookbooks?