For readers around the globe. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Six Months Later

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Natalie D. Richards is my go-to author for YA thrillers.

So, turns out Sourcebooks Fire is re-releasing a bunch of her books with new covers, which is great for me because I just found her a few years ago, so yay for matching covers!

Six Months Later tells a very confusing tale. Main character, Chloe, has what she believes is amnesia. She falls asleep in study hall, when suddenly six months of her life have vanished. She literally became a new person overnight. She bailed on her best friend Maggie, she's dating the high school heartthrob Blake, and secretly fawning over bad boy Adam. 

Oh, and she somehow scored at 1540 on her SAT's even though she's slacked off for the past three years and is barely passing her classes. 

None of this makes sense. She has no idea how she became this person. She has no idea why everyone is suddenly accepting her into the popular crowd at school. Even her mother has fallen for this new and improved Chloe. So why does she hate this life so much? Her life has officially been made.

But obviously there's some deep dark secrets lurking around this small Ohio town. So when a trip to California arises and they can visit Chloe's friend Julien who moved to California out of literally nowhere....that might be the answer to all her questions.....

Looking for other books by Natalie D. Richards?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The One and Only Bob

Yall remember Bob?
Little pup with a taste for adventure?
Best friends with a gorilla named Ivan?

That's right, The One and Only Bob picks up right where The One and Only Ivan drops off.
Ivan gets a new home, in a new zoo, where Julia's dad works....which means Bob, Ivan, and elephant Ruby can hangout ALL THE TIME!

Obviously, this story is about far more than just the unlikely friendship of dog, gorilla, elephant. 
It's a story about fear, courage, and love.

So, this book follows Bob's story of abandonment, homelessness, finding his zoo pals, and settling into his furever home with Julia, George, and Sara. He's becoming a soft pup, maybe even a little lazy. He gets to lay in his own bed all day, watch tv, and wait for Julia to walk him down the street to see all his neighborhood friends, minus his lifelong enemy, Nutwit the squirrel. But other than that, he is living his best life. But when a hurricane blows through town and he get separated from his family, he begins panicking....is he.....flying? 

Dozens of thoughts are spinning through his head but the only thing he can think of is getting tossed on the side of the road with his brothers and sisters so many years ago. He couldn't save them, but he's going to try his best to save all the creatures in the zoo, wolves and all.

This was just so stinking cute and I loved it just as much as The One and Only Ivan. I hope Katherine Applegate keeps up with this series because I am OBSESSED.

Looking for the rest of the series?

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Grass Harp

I love Truman Capote so much.
I constantly picture him as one of his characters and it's always easy to pick which ones he seems to base off of himself. Whether it's a small characteristic or a story literally based during his childhood, this aesthetic is immediately identifiable. It also helps that I'm from Alabama, just like him. It's so comforting to be reading about streets I've been on, towns I've been in, and places I've just passed through. It almost gives me a nostalgic feeling for my own childhood.
Anyway, you guys probably want to hear about the book.
So The Grass Harp focuses on Collin who lives with his quirky aunts, Dolly and Verena. These sisters have their fair share of problems and Collin quickly finds himself in the middle of it. During a disagreement, Dolly and her friend Catherine run into the woods with Collin in tow, to start their new lives in their treehouse. They want to live on their terms, they want to become themselves, they want Verena to let them make decisions for themselves without her hateful eye watching over them. It was a story of friendship, love, and growing up. Definitely everything I expected from a story like this.

Now this book also included some of Capote's short stories. Some of my favorites were "Children on Their Birthdays," "Miriam," and "The Headless Hawk." Each one had just the right amount of quirk that kept me drawn in until the very end!

Looking for other Truman Capote books?

Looking for other books about Truman Capote?

Friday, May 1, 2020

Home Sweet Murder

Home Sweet Murder
Imagine you're getting ready for dinner with your significant other when the doorbell rings. There's a man claiming to be an SEC agent. Maybe your lawyer husband is getting files dropped off on a Sunday night? You think nothing of it.....but suddenly a taser has been drawn and your husband is flopping on the floor with taser coils protruding from his chest. Panic sets in and you realize you guys need to SURVIVE.

This is exactly what happened to Leo and Sue Fisher in November 2016.
This fictionalization of their night was traumatizing. Leo thought he and his wife were as good as dead. The man torturing them was convinced he murdered them both and was getting ready to light the house on fire when the alarms started blaring. Sue held her own and literally fought for their lives....over a misunderstanding at Leo's law firm.

Murder on the Run
 Imagine coming home from work and seeing your housekeeper with a knife in her neck, even worse....picture your son nearby, also with a knife in his neck. You're a doctor, you know as soon as you see them that they're both dead. But why? Why would this happen?

The detectives originally believed the 11 year old boy may have been talking to a sex offender in the private message of XBox Live. When that angle didn't work out, the case went cold for a little over five years. Until another doctor and his wife are found murder in their home with, you guessed in, knives in their necks. That's when it all clicked for the detectives, these murders are connected through the university the doctors work for. It couldn't have been more obvious. A mere 36 hours later, they knew exactly who they were looking for.

Now, I am not a James Patterson fan by any means but his true crime series is one of my favorites! Quick and easy to read.

Looking for the rest of the Murder is Forever series?
Murder, Interrupted

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere

Get this book.
Read this book.
Love this book.

I'm not even going to lie to you guys, I absolutely inhaled this book.

Now the first....30 or so pages I was thinking "Why the hell would I care about this rich ass white family and their problems?" Then suddenly four hours had passed and I was so painfully invested in their lives and LOVING IT.

So, Little Fires Everywhere actually has quite a bit going on.
It's set in the late 90's with flashbacks to the 80's. It follows two families: The Richardson's, family of 6 which include Mr. and Mrs. Richardson -lawyer and news reporter respectively, Trip -athlete, Moody -his name is very fitting, Lexie -perfect child, and Izzy -the black sheep; and then there's the Warrens, family of 2, Mia -a struggling artist, and Pearl -a teenager looking for a normal life.
When Mia finds the Richardson's apartment for rent, it seems too good to be true. The neighborhood is picturesque, the people are incredibly friendly, and everyone is truly proud of who they are and where they come from. Which comes easy for Mrs. Elena Richardson who was born and raised in Shaker Heights, left for college and promptly returned home with her new husband to start a family. 

But Mia has led a vastly different life. She's never really had a place to call her own. Pearl has never even had her own bedroom. They've bounced around from town to town whenever Mia has a new photography project on her mind. They pack all their belongings into a car and hit the road. But Shaker Heights is different. They might finally have a place to belong.

Honestly, this book amazed me. I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this and how quickly I devoured it. I'm highly recommending it to literally EVERYONE!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Dead Girls Club

The Dead Girls Club focuses on a foursome of teenage girls who are obsessed with all things macabre. They gather around to talk about serial killers, death, witches, and ghosts. But when one girl starts telling the story of the Red Lady, things start to get weird......

This book grabbed my attention because I also love all things macabre. I thought this would be a fun little read about what it would have been like to have a group of friends to discuss these topics with, without them thinking I was crazy. Well, that's exactly what happens in the book until main character, Heather, tells all the girls Becca's story is just a story. There's no way the Red Lady can be real. Legend has it, the Red Lady was a witch who was buried alive. No one tried to stop the town when they cut out her tongue, chopped off her hands and feet, and began shoveling dirt onto her body and into her mouth. Soon, the entire town began dreaming about the Red Lady, blood covering everything; everywhere she went blood flowed freely from her stumps. The people in the town began waking up with the taste of dirt in their mouth, eventually they would end up at the bottom of a pit, dead. Becca told stories about the Red Lady for weeks. Convincing all the girls she was real. They began doing rituals to contact her to ask for her help. Becca needed someone when her life got too hard to handle. She believed the Red Lady was the person who would make things right.

This story was told through alternating timelines, past and present.
We follow 13 year old Heather and the Dead Girls Club throughout the 90s and up to the fateful night that Heather would rather forget. The present day storyline follows Dr. Heather Cole, a child psychologist who begins receiving mysteries gifts; gifts that lead her to believe someone was there the night that Becca died....

Huge thanks to Crooked Lane Books for sending me an ARC!

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Night Stalker

It's no surprise that I love true crime books with a passion.

I've had The Night Stalker on my shelf for several years but had never gotten around to reading it until now. Truth be told, my motivation to pick it up came from Richard Ramirez being a character on American Horror Story: 1984.

Richard Ramirez was a petty thief, a measly criminal, a self-professed Satanist.
He moved to Los Angeles, where he could become one with the night. He could easily sneak into homes and take whatever he deemed valuable. Before long he deemed human life the most valuable of all. He fed off of the fear he inflicted on unsuspecting victims. Over the course of two years, he terrorized California. There were break-ins all over the state, all of which included rapes and murders of men and women of all ages. No one was safe with the Night Stalker on the prowl.

Influenced by heavy metal and a rocky home life, Ramirez was not surprised by who he had become. He believed Satan was on his side through it all. He was protected by evil forces, the same evil forces that drove him to rape, sodomize, and murder. He believed this was his destiny. When caught, he was fully prepared to plead guilty to most of the crimes he was being charged with (he opposed the abduction charges??? I mean those weren't even the worst charges).

Now, I have a few problems with the case.
Richard was eventually apprehended by a neighborhood of people who went on to receive awards for their heroism.....before Ramirez was even convicted of these crimes. The very public theatrics the police departments put on for these civilians could have very easily skewed the public perception of who the Night Stalker really was. Because of these public praises, many people, victims and potential jurors alike, knew Ramirez had been badly beaten when caught. Therefore having Ramirez be identified in a lineup after his image and suspected crimes had been all over the news did not particularly seem fair. I also find it crazy that because of this media presence, they refused to move his trial out of the area?!

Regardless, he needed to be punished for his crimes.
After a grueling trial, the jury found him guilty and sentenced him to death 19 times. Given that California overturned their stance on the death penalty, Ramirez lived out the rest of his life on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

Looking for other books that include Richard Ramirez?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Three Perfect Liars

This was.....weird.
I always put thrillers in my list of fav genres, but this kind of has me second guessing that. Maybe this just wasn't the kind of thrillers I usually enjoy.

Anyway, this is told through three different points of view.
We follow new mom Laura returning to work from her 6 months of maternity leave. Laura's temp, Mia who got hired to permanently work with Laura's main client. And of course, there's the bosses wife, Janie who believes everyone but herself is in love with her all powerful husband.

Now, this is where it gets weird for me.
The story is told through three separate time frames; before the fire, the night of the fire, and then through interrogations after the fire. Why is this fire so stinkin' important, you ask? Well it's because all of their lives are intertwined and none of them knew it, well except Mia. But they all have reason to set fire to the building where Janie's husband runs his marketing agency. They all have vindictive personalities. All they think about is themselves and how they can get the outcome they desire the most.  Which makes it painful to keep "guessing" what's going to happen when you already know the ending like a hundred pages in.

I don't think I liked this book near as much as I hoped I would.

Huge thanks to Gallery Books for sending me an ARC!

Mark your calendars, Three Perfect Liars hits shelves June 9, 2020!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Admission

Yup, this is going in my most anticipated teen reads of 2020.

Admission is loosely based on the college admissions scandal. You know, the one with Lori Loughlin, aka Aunt Becky (I really hope you teens know who that is). Now, I didn't totally keep up with the scandal because honestly, I had better things to do. But I was intrigued by the idea behind this book because it's a fictionalization of what happened. 

So, told from alternating timelines (past and present), we follow Chloe's story.
Chloe is the daughter of hallmark movie superstar, Joy Fields. She knows she's a privileged white kid, but she never really thinks about what that means. She never thought that meant her mother would spend HALF A MILLION DOLLARS to get her into the side door of college. Most of the book is Chloe struggling to understand what this is going to do to her life. She doesn't understand why her mother wanted her to hire a private college admissions counselor, or why she would be given extra time for her SAT's at a remote location, or why she found her face photoshopped onto a pole vaulter's body. But she never once questions aloud why these things would be allowed for her but not some of her other classmates.

Parents are willing to go to extreme measures to make sure they are doing what they believe is best for their kids, but Joy never once stopped to think about the fact that she was committing a felony and could actually face time in prison. This is a story about a family that has always been in the public eye and screwed up royally. The circumstances surrounding them felt surreal and staged. There was no way this could be their lives. They had to hit rock bottom and I mean ROCK BOTTOM before they could begin to have some semblance of family again.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Random House for providing me an advanced copy of Admission.

Even bigger thanks to Julie Buxhaum for writing such an awesome story.

Mark your calenders, Admission hits shelves May 5, 2020!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Everything is #@%!ed

In the midst of the COVID-19 apocalypse, I found Everything is Fucked to be a fairly fitting read. My coworker loaned me her copies of Mark Manson's books. I didn't really expect to find anything substantial in books with curse words in the title, but honestly I kind of love it. The dry sarcasm, the hint of impending doom, the sense of hope we all need.
 
I personally enjoyed one of the last chapters in this book. It talked about algorithms and how every choice we make is based on these algorithms. We move through life thinking we know what we want, how we want it, and how fast we can get it. But have you ever stopped to wonder how you got to that point? Maybe it was a passing thought, maybe a dream even, but most likely it was a billboard you glanced at while driving, an article you quickly scrolled past, maybe a stranger mentioned it in passing. All of these things are in our lives and we've never stopped to think why or how they got there.

Another chapter I really enjoyed was one about happiness. Yes, the title says everything is fucked, but we know that isn't always the case. But based on a little survey I did via Instagram, colleagues, and friends; most people will say their happiness on a scale of 1-10 is a steady 7 (which is said in the book). What amazed me is that I have friends literally all over the world and 90% of them said they were a 7. Some made note of how lucky they are to be able to spend time with their family, some expressed concern over the rising COVID-19 numbers, some just felt bored from laying around at home. But they all believed their happiness level was a 7. It's intriguing to me that we're in a global crises right now and people can still find happiness. 

Looking for other books by Mark Manson?

Monday, March 16, 2020

Serpent & Dove

A few weeks ago my friend and I were talking about how there are no good witch books out right now. Then lo and behold, Serpent & Dove was perched on an endcap are B&N and we snatched it up.

I was skeptical because it's about an out of practice witch who ends up marrying a huntsman, a man who literally burns witches at the stake. Louise, better known as Lou, is a petty thief, a criminal, and does not care in the least what people think of her. But she knows that dressing as a man will keep her incognito for much longer than if a woman was running around the streets. 
However, things go haywire when Lou is forced to marry Chasseur, Reid Diggory, who happens to be the Chasseur Captain, leading attacks against witches. His dreams are officially stomped out when the Archbishops weds him to a heathen like Lou. But in the midst of learning about each other, they eventually decide that marriage isn't so bad. They could learn to love each other, right?

Outside of the Lou-Reid love aspect of the book, I loved Ansel. Ansel was a Chasseur in training when he was ordered to watch Lou. They soon become fast friends, and honestly their friendship was one of my favorite things about the book. However, I do wish there was more magic throughout the book instead of just towards the last 200 pages. But that definitely gives me hope for Blood & Honey, which I've already pre-ordered!!

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Art of Racing in the Rain

For the past few years I've repeatedly had this book recommended to me. Friends, coworkers, even the occasional book shopper has told me about how this book has taught them so much about love, life, and loss. It's showed them the world through a dogs eyes and they could not wait for me to read it.

Now it's great that all those people found some great big deep meaning to this book, but I honestly hated it. I found it uncomfortable, unfathomable, and a little bit creepy; not a scary creepy but more like there's a guy at the bar breathing a little too close to you creepy.

Okay so The Art of Racing in the Rain is told through the perspective of a dog named Enzo. Here's a quick rundown of his quirks: he's a dog (which he repeatedly reminds us of), he can smell BRAIN CANCER, he mistrusts modern medicine, he loves racing (makes sense given his owner is a race car driver), but he also believes in reincarnation of his soul which he thoroughly believes is going to come back as the greatest race car driver of all time.

Got that?

I can suspend my belief for only so long. But there are parts of this book that left me feeling downright violated. I know that sounds extreme but hear me out first. Eve, the wife of Enzo's owner, has an episode and ends up in the hospital for 3 days and just.....forgets they have a dog. During those 3 days, Enzo begins hallucinating. He's in their daughter's room when he sees a stuffed zebra molesting all of the other toys in the room. He tries to get the zebra to stop but instead the zebra rips open his own seam and begins ripping its stuffing out..... How awkward are those two sentences? Imagine reading that for several pages.

There's several awkward misplaced sex scenes that we're reading from the POV of a dog. The descriptions of moans and breast size and foreplay was completely cringeworthy while reading. 

Now, I do understand what the author was trying to do for....some of the book but it just was not something that I would ever read again, recommend to another human being, or even something I'd want to keep on my bookshelf.

If you want to read a genuine book that captures the voice of a dog more than any other dog book I've read then you should definitely check out Where the Dogs Go by Janell Martin!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing

Oh my god, I love this book.
This has easily worked it's way into my top 10 favorite books of all time.
Yeah, that's how good it is.

Catherine Danielle Clark.
Kya.
Marsh Girl.

Where the Crawdads Sing follows Kya's story through her tumultuous life, living alone, surviving off the land, and making the marsh her home. At just 6 years old, Kya watched as her mother walked away, abandoning her entire family. By age 10, she waited and waited for her father to drunkenly stumble home, but he never did. Long before she could remember, her siblings left to start their own lives. Soon, it was just Kya. 

Kya is one of the strongest, most resilient characters I've ever met.
 
I think a lot of people who read this probably imagines Kya as a lonely little girl. A girl who had absolutely nothing. A girl who lived on her own because no one wanted to stay with her. But I think the heart of the story lies with Kya making the most of her life in the marsh. She never knew what she was missing out on because she had crafted a life that was literally perfect for her. Yes, it got lonely and she craved human touch and connection; we all do. But she knew that accepting herself for who she was was more important than gaining acceptance from a town who could never understand her way of life.
 
This book is more than just a girl growing up on her own in the marshes of North Carolina.

It speaks to everyone who needs encouragement, empowerment, and empathy.
 
I don't care who you are or what your day to day life is like, but I do know that you need to get a copy of this book immediately and then tell everyone you know all about it.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Playbook

While I don't condone the behavior found in Barney Stinson's playbook, I found myself chuckling a few times while reading this. In the show, the playbook itself was a pivotal moment in Barney and Robin's relationship. However, my favorite play, The Robin WASN'T EVEN IN THE PLAYBOOK. I was hoping against hope that it would be, I remember crying and yelling and being absolutely astonished with their entire relationship up to the point and even after. But this book isn't about the show so let me get back to The Playbook.

It was a super quick read, not as good as The Bro Code, but it was alright.

Looking for other Neil Patrick Harris books?

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Bro Code

I've been re-watching How I Met Your Mother for the past few days.
It's one of my favorite shows around, plus I need something to watch incessantly now that Friends is no longer on Netflix. So when I saw The Bro Code and The Playbook were part of a BOGO sale at 2NC I grabbed them immediately!
Now lets keep in mind, these are parody books based on Neil Patrick Harris's womanizing player of a character, Barney Stinson. Oh, and it was written in 2008 so obviously times have changed and some of the vernacular is outdated.

But this was a quick read; quick like I read it in about an hour. But I enjoyed it and had a great time grilling my husband on the unspoken "Bro Code." He doesn't even watch the show but he was dying as I showed him page after page of little things he does. The only downside to this book was getting past the first few articles that were your stereotypical womanizing sexist behavior that just doesn't fly in this day and age. But once you get past that it's genuinely funny and very true to Barney's character.

Looking for other Neil Patrick Harris books?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Space Between

I first met Nico through their character Josh on Younger.
So when I saw they were writing a book, I immediately had to have it.
That being said, I had no idea what to expect from Nico's life.
 
Space Between: The Exploration of Love, Sex, and Fluidity.
Nico has always felt like they needed to explore their sexuality and what exactly that would mean for their family, career, and overall well-being. Recently, Nico has decided to use they/them pronouns. Their gender fluidity is constantly moving, adapting, and growing with who they are at any given time. What I found to be an extremely honest explanation for the they/them pronouns (which I wasn't totally sure of how to explain before now) was when they explained that people are multidimensional. We're always juggling more than one character trait at a time but not one trait solely describes us. It seems fitting to refer to Nico as they or them because that's who they feel most comfortable as.

But what I really want to talk about is the dynamic between Nico and their partner Bethany. The love they share for each other is astounding. They have explored every sense of their beings together and have continuously helped each other grow to be the best versions of themselves. They were together through the darkest parts of their addiction, through several relationships (some of which were broken because of their closeness), through experimenting with polyamory, through the rawest forms of love. Their love knows no boundaries.

I was expecting a quick peek into Nico's stardom but instead I got this incredibly raw piece of art that they put their entire heart and soul into. I applaud everything they are doing, from the protests, to the subtle coming outs, to the honestly they share everyday.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Spotlight: The Third to Die

I partnered with Harlequin Trade Publishing to bring you guys an exclusive first look at The Third to Die by Allison Brennan! Below you'll find the first chapter of her new Mobile Response Team Series! 

Wednesday, March 3
Liberty Lake, Washington
12:09 a.m.

Warm blood covered him.
His arms, up to this elbows, were slick with it. His clothing splattered with it. The knife- the blade that had taken his retribution- hung in his gloved hand by his side.
It was good. Very good.
He was almost done.
The killer stared at the blackness in front of him, his mind as silent and dark as the night. The water lapped gently at the banks of the lake. A faint swish as it rolled up and back, up and back, in the lightest of breezes/
He breathed in cold air; he exhaled steam.
Calm. Focused.
As the sounds and chill penetrated his subconscious, he moved into action. Staying here with the body would be foolish, even in the middle of the night.
He placed the knife carefully on a waist-high boulder, then removed his clothes. Jacket. Sweater. Undershirt. He stuffed them into a plastic bag. Took off his shoes. Socks. Pants. Boxers. Added them to the bag. He stood naked except for his gloves.
He tied the top of the plastic, then picked up the knife again and stabbed the bag multiple times. With strength that belied his lean frame, he threw the knife into the water. He couldn't see where it fell' he barely heard the plunk.
Then he placed the bag in the lake and pushed it under, holding it beneath the surface to let the frigid water seep in. When the bag was saturated, he pulled it out and spun himself around as if he were throwing a shot put. He let go and the bag flew, hitting the water with a loud splash.
Even if the police found it- which he doubted they would- the water would destroy any evidence. He'd bought the clothes and shoes, even his underwear, at a discount store in another city, at another time. He'd never worn them before tonight.
Though he didn't want DNA evidence in the system, it didn't scare him if the police found something. He didn't have a record. He'd killed before, many times, and not one person had spoken to him. He was smart- smarter than the cops, and certainly smarter than the victims he'd carefully selected.
Still, he must be cautious. Meticulous. Being smart meant that he couldn't assume anything. What did his old man use to say?
Assume makes an ass out of you and me...
The killer scowled. He wasn't doing any of this for his old man, though his father would get the retribution he deserved. He was doing this for himself. His own retribution. He was this close to finishing the elaborate plan he'd conceived years ago.
He could scarcely wait until six days from now, March 9, when his revenge would be complete.
He was saving the guiltiest of them for last.
Still, he hoped his old man would be pleased. Hadn't he done what his father was too weak to do? Righted the many wrongs that had been done to them. How many times had the old man said these people should suffer? How many times had his father told him these people were fools?
Yet his father just let it happen and did nothing about it!
Nothing! Because he was weak. He was weak and pathetic and cruel.
Breathe. Focus. All in good time.
All in good time.
The killer took another, smaller plastic bag from his backpack. He removed his wet gloves, put them inside, added a good-sized rock, tied the bag, then threw it into the lake.
Still naked, he shivered in the cold, still air. He wasn't done.
Do it quick.
He walked into the lake, the water colder than ice. Still, he took several steps forward, his feet sinking into the rough muck at the bottom. When his knees were submersed, he did a shallow dive. His chest scraped a rock, but he was too numb to feel pain. He broke through the surface with a loud scream. He couldn't breathe; he couldn't think. His heart pounded in his chest, aching from the icy water.
But he was alive. He was fucking alive!
He went under once more, rubbed his hands briskly over his arms and face in case any blood remained. He would take a hot shower when he returned home, use soap and a towel to remove anything the lake left behind. But for now, this would do.
Twenty seconds in the water was almost too long. He bolted out, coughed, his body shaking so hard he could scarcely think. But he had planned everything well and operated on autopilot.
He pulled a towel from his backpack and dried off as best he could. Stepped into new sweatpants, sweatshirt, and shoes. Pulled on a new pair of gloves. There might be blood on the ATV, but it wasn't his blood, so he wasn't concerned.
He took a moment to stare back at the dark, still lake. Then he took one final look at the body splayed faceup. He felt nothing, because she was nothing. Unimportant. Simply a small pawn in a much bigger game. A pawn easily sacrificed.
He hoped his old man would be proud of his work, but he would probably just criticize his son's process. He'd complain about how he did the job, then open another bottle of booze.
He hoped his father was burning in hell.
He jumped on the ATV and rode into the night.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

1984

Okay, I'm probably in the minority here. But this book killed my soul.
 
You know that old saying, "If a tree falls and there's no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?" That's kind of how this book is written. It's every philosopher's dream and every sane person's nightmare.  What you think you know, you must forget you know. History is rewritten every single day. But if you somehow remember the past (because humans actually have memory believe it or not) then you are guilty of thoughtcrime. Meaning you thought something outside of what "Big Brother" wants you to think. They want a dictatorship in the purest sense of the word. But even that idea isn't what bothered me. What bothered me was that Winston and Julia opposed Big Brother while working directly for them. When the opportunity arose for them to join the Brotherhood, they jumped on it. But really they were just trading one dictatorship for another? They literally were not gaining a single thing by joining the Brotherhood, it did not help them in any way, shape, or form. But they were prepared to put their lives on the line for another all knowing entity??? For Winston to want free will so badly, he sure didn't act like it.
 
Now in the beginning, Winston starts by buying a journal and writing stories of his past for a future generation. One he knows he'll likely never be a part of, but his words might. Honestly his like.....three journal entries were the best part of the entire book. If the whole thing was written like that instead of him just kind of gallivanting off with Julia every chance he got, I might have given this story more than 3 stars.
 
The last 50 or so pages were also incredibly well written. But again, the logic behind what O'Brien was doing to Winston still made zero sense to me. I understand that Winston was set up by O'Brien to commit thoughtcrime. I understand that Big Brother masterminded this entire thing to trick Winston into thinking he was acting on his own free will. But logically, everyone in the Inner Party would also be committing thoughtcrime because they're divulging past information to the prisoners as they try to reform them. Maybe that was the idea behind this entire book? That the wealthy control everything?

I don't know but I'm not going to keep trying to figure it out.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Phantom Prince

When I first took an interested in true crime, Ted Bundy's name popped up. I was so intrigued by him. I devoured all the articles and books on him. So when I took a Serial Killers course in college, I wrote my final paper on Ted Bundy. That's when I found this book, written by his ex-fiance.....for $1000+ on a wide variety of book retailers. When they announced the movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (which is based off of this book) I had high hopes for a re-release of his original book. 3 days ago, I got my copy in the mail.

So that's a lot of hype that I was putting into this book.
 
But Liz, oh man, Liz.She was so young, so naive, so vulnerable when she met Ted. She had no idea this would become her life. She really, truly humanized Ted in her original manuscript. She got to write about a side of him that the general public following him never got to see. She saw the love of her life, playing with her daughter, playing house, dreaming of a future. Which is how she missed all the red flags that kept popping up even before the kidnappings and murders. She abused alcohol, she trusted a man she hardly knew, she stuck with him until he was arrested in Florida. FLORIDA. AS IN WHERE HE COMMITTED HIS LAST 3 MURDERS. And then she still couldn't turn him away when he called after that! 

I know love is a tricky thing.
The phrase "Blinded by love" is no joke.
But Liz and Ted were toxic for each other. Their entire relationship was based on their own selfish needs and codependent behaviors. The hardest part for me, was watching Liz battle herself over the details directly in front of her. He tried to drown her, he abandoned her for days, she knew he spent time with other women, she found a hatchet under the seat of his car, she turned him into the police multiple times and still could not see a future without him in it. It was sad, really.

Looking for other books on Ted Bundy?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Denali

Ben Moon was in his mid-20s, living near the mountains, and trying to save his crumbling marriage. This was never the life he wanted, but he began building his new life around climbing, surfing, and photography. That's when he knew he needed a new companion, a dog. Denali was just a few weeks old when Ben spotted him in the shelter. He knew this was the dog he wanted to spend forever with.

Ben and Denali lived in a van, living the "dirtbag" lifestyle. They lived a life on the road, camping near Ben's climbing sites and enjoying every ounce of fresh air nature could offer. Until Ben was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, ultimately halting their nomadic lifestyle for the immediate future. Ben put out the diagnosis for as long as he could possibly handle. When he heard the news that he would have to use a colostomy bag for the rest of his life, his world was turned upside down. How could he continue climbing and surfing? How was this going to affect his career and future? He was an athlete through and through. 

Denali stood by his side through every chemo treatment, every metallic sweat filled night, every trip to the bathroom to vomit. Denali became his only constant throughout his entire journey. So when Denali's body became cancer-ridden, Ben knew he had to step up for his best friend, his confidante, his dog. The two of them continued on adventures until Denali's very last breath.

Denali was a quick read for me.
I expected it to be about Ben and Denali's relationship more so than Ben's cancer diagnosis. With quirky inserts of what can only be described as Denali's innermost thoughts, Ben included Denali in every aspect of the book. It was almost as if a subtle mentioning of Denali made you love their relationship even more. Some people have a rare, raw relationship with their dogs and I definitely can tell that through Ben and Denali's life together. They steadied each other for many years until Denali's time had come. They truly loved one another.

After Denali, Ben wanted to do something special for him.
I'm including the short film Ben Moon, Ben Knight, and Skip Armstrong made in his honor.
 Beware, I cried. A lot.
 
 

Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me an arc!
Denali hits shelves January 14, 2020!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A Dark Night in Aurora

July 20, 2012
 
People all over America were gearing up in their Batman tee's for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Meanwhile James Holmes was gearing up to wreak havoc on those unsuspecting movie goers.
 
There's a lot that can be said about this case. There's a lot I don't totally agree with and there's a lot that leaves me scratching my head as to why more wasn't done to protect the community and protect James Holmes from himself. Now before you guys start saying, "BUT JESSICA, HE WAS A MASS MURDERER," let me explain. James Holmes was in most ways your average guy, a bit misunderstood, sure. But overall, he never stood out. When he began seeing a psychotherapist in college, she became concerned that he would hurt someone, not necessarily a whole crowd of people, but she definitely knew what he was capable of. Which is why it drives me absolutely CRAZY that more wasn't done to help James Holmes after he intentionally flunked out of grad school. 

James Holmes had this human capital ideology that if he could take other people's lives, it would more or less, reduce his apparent suicidal ideation. Now I'm paraphrasing there, because his idea was based on a point system for each life he took but the points didn't actually do anything. But the overall gist of his explanation was that it calmed his anxiety. Which brings to me agree with Dr. William H. Reid, the author of this book. James Holmes plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but that mean he had to have been impaired at the time of the crime. Giving the amount of planning he put into purchasing guns, stockpiling ammo, ordering cans of tear gas and ballistic gear, along with researching how to make bombs (which he used to rig his apartment to explode), there's no way he was impaired while following out his mission to commit mass murder.

He expected his psychotherapist to be able to read his mind. He never gave her specific details, he never let on that he might actually commit murder, he never told her when he began buying weapons, but he expected her to be able to stop him when the night of his "mission" came. He even went so far as to write everything out in his notebook and mail it to her in the hopes that she might be able to use his story to predict the next mass killer she encounters.

This book had me questioning so many things, like how could he buy over 6000 rounds of ammunition in a matter of weeks and no one was concerned in the least. How was he able to purchase guns when he had a severe mental condition? How did the police mistake him for another officer when they arrested him? How has life treated him so poorly that he felt the need to commit mass murder just to calm his anxiety?

There's so many questions I could ask, but the truth is we can only speculate the "why" behind this happening.