For readers around the globe. :)

Friday, November 20, 2020

I Killed Zoe Spanos

I bought this book on a whim one day.
I don't know if it was the blue pages that drew me in or maybe it was the girl on the cover. Regardless, this was 100% a cover buy. But oh my god, it was amazing.

Anna Cicconi wants a fresh start.
When the opportunity to nanny for a family in Herron Mills pops up, Anna jumps at the chance. It will help her leave her reckless, partying lifestyle behind. Plus she'd be taking care of an eight year old, so she'll have to start taking on some responsibility.

What Anna didn't know was that 6 months earlier, a girl named Zoe disappeared from this tight knit community. Even weirder, Anna and Zoe share striking similarities. Anna and Paisley's first trip into town brings some wariness among the residents. People constantly doing double takes when they see Anna. She just looks so much like Zoe.....

Weirder still, Anna thinks she might have killed Zoe.
The more time she spends in the area and around the people who knew Zoe best, she begins questioning her entire life. She has detailed memories of how Zoe was killed. She knows the floor plan to Zoe's house. She even knows the exact tiles that line the Spanoses indoor pool. She shouldn't know these things but somehow she does.

Anna tries to convince herself that listening to Missing Zoe, a podcast about her disappearance, and doing google searches on her family has somehow created false memories. There's no way Anna could have killed Zoe, they had never even met.

I love the podcast included in I Killed Zoe Spanos.
It reminded me of Courtney Summer's book, Sadie.
The alternating chapters of "then" and "now" definitely added an extra layer of suspense to the overall story. It's honestly one of my favorite reads of 2020.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I'm going to write this while trying not to cry again.
I had a weird reaction reading this book.
It reminds me of something my aunt and I discussed while reading Looking for Alaska. We romanticize the life these women lead. It's dark, it's sad, it's honest. But we can't help wanting to be them.

Breakfast at Tiffany's follows party girl, Holly Golightly.
Better recognized as the iconic Audrey Hepburn.
You guys probably remember bits and pieces from this novella and movie. Things like the allure of New York City, the fashion, the glamorous parties....but I think many of us missed the overall theme of the book. Instead of giving an actual review, this is going to be an analysis, I guess you could say.

Let me start by saying, the novella and movie are VASTLY different.
Some lines are taken directly from the text, but overall it lost the darker theme of the book.

Paul Varjack is actually never named in the novella, and he most definitely is not in love with Holly Golightly. They do become fast friends, but I think their friendship was one that fit perfectly with Truman Capote's writing. The queer undertones of their friendship permeate from the pages, while it's completely cut from the movie. 
Holly leads a life of luxury. She makes her living as a call girl and an unwitting messenger for mafia leader, Sally Tomato. The man upstairs is a typical struggling writing trying to make ends meet. He's drawn in by Holly's carefree lifestyle. But he sees Holly for who she truly is. 
In my opinion, and it is just an opinion, Holly struggles with Bipolar Personality Disorder (BPD). Her "carefree" lifestyle, her manic episodes, her constant need to stay aloof....they all point to BPD. She avoids settling down anywhere, she's living out of suitcases, she's constantly looking for someone to sweep her off her feet and away from all her problems. 
I also believe that Holly may have been pansexual and/or asexual.
Now before y'all jump up about me ruining a classic, hear me out.
Throughout the book she mentions that she enjoys spending time with "dykes". She even goes as far as to move a rather masculine woman into her apartment. Which would make sense why her upstairs neighbor is drawn to Holly, because he's modeled after Truman Capote himself, an openly gay man.
They're drawn to each other because they feel they understand the struggles they're both going through. Another interesting aspect is that Holly hardly ever is seen having sex outside of the gentlemen she was escorting for the night. That could point to the idea that she avoids sexual relationships with men/women because she is afraid of getting attached to someone.
To quote Holly, "You can make yourself fall in love with anyone."

 I honestly loved this novella. All 87 pages of it.
The movie is obviously iconic, but there is a reason Capote hated it and I completely understand why he felt this way. I highly recommending reading this fantastic piece of literature.

Looking for other books by Truman Capote?

Looking for other books about Truman Capote?

Friday, November 13, 2020

After the Fire

YA historical fiction loosely based on the Waco Siege?
Oh yeah, count me in.
After the Fire is told in alternating time lines, simply Before and After the fire.
The whole book is told through the eyes of Moonbeam, a seventeen year old survivor. She, and a handful of other child survivors regularly attend therapy to work through everything that went down at The Lord's Legion. They have one on one sessions with their psychiatrists and supervised social interactions with their Brothers and Sisters.

Moonbeam feels partially responsible for all the death her Brothers and Sisters witnessed, all the lives that will forever be altered, all the kids without parents, and it's all her fault. But she plans on keeping that secret close to her heart for a long time. But those secrets will eventually weigh her down. She just needs a little bit of faith and a good bit of trust.

Obviously the therapy takes place during the chapters titled After. Whereas Moon's firsthand account of what happened at the base is told during the Before chapters. Both coincide very nicely with each other. I was a bit skeptical, but the flow of these chapters were almost like following Moon's train of thought.

In Will Hill's Author's Note, he makes the comment that many YA readers have probably never heard of the Waco Siege that left 82 Branch Davidian members dead, as well as 4 law enforcement agents. This attack went on for nearly three months. I highly encourage anyone who does not know about Waco to look into the horrors both parties felt as fire was opened on their own people.

Friday, November 6, 2020


This book was absolutely disgusting.

It's not a bad premise, but the execution was terrible.

Let me set the scene.
It's set in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1968.
So yeah, segregation was very much still alive.
The idea is that some black teachers would teach at all white school and some white teachers would teach at all black schools. This process didn't sit well with many of the parents, students, or teachers. However, our main character, Lisa, happens to be the daughter of a lawyer who defends black people in the community. She also has a cleft lip and cleft palate, so she is the most likely person to understand what it's like for her new teacher, Miss Loomis, to be absolutely terrified to begin working at their school. It's a stretch though.

This book literally teaches nothing about racism.
It paints an elder black teacher as a woman who is afraid of her students.
It shows that punk as white boys run this shit show.
It had so many oddly placed racist remarks that are quickly explained away by some vague description that didn't address the root issue.

Honestly, I tried to reason with myself on reading this book.
I really had to push myself to finish it.
I ignored the terrible reviews, the indie publishing house, the countless grammatical errors, and the formatting problems.
I wanted to give this book the benefit of the doubt. But at the end of the day, Leah Harper Bowron choose to make the title of her book Colorblind and then went on to use the same word as a derogatory remark towards the end of the book.

Do not waste your time or money on this.

Murder Thy Neighbor

Murder Thy Neighbor
The latest installment of Murder is Forever, includes this insane story. My mouth was hanging open for 90% of this story. Murder Thy Neighbor tells of the feud between neighbors Ann Hoover and Roy Kirk. Roy has bought eight fixer-upper homes in a very short amount of time. Given the state of disrepair, he bought the houses for rock bottom prices. Being a newly licensed contractor, he's beyond excited to start doing all this work. Ann is grateful that someone has finally bought the derelict home attached to hers. Roy seems to be just the man for the job. Soon he becomes the Home Owners Association's President, and soon after he begins cancelling their meetings as his "work" ceases to a halt.

Ann has tried countless times to give him contacts to help move his work along. She even paid to have the front porch worked on so the front of the houses would match. But Roy's leaky roof becomes a problem when it begin leaking into her home as well. This begins their feud. Roy begins leaving heaping piles of trash and various tools and equipment in the front yard. The trash becomes a rat haven, which results in Ann losing work, as she is an in-home piano instructor.

Ann finally offers, as a last attempt, to buy Roy's home and fix it up herself. She offers to pay exactly what he paid for it, so he won't lost near as much money. She just wants this eyesore removed from the neighborhood. She wants her safe haven back. When this doesn't work, she finally takes Roy to court. Here, he is fined $50,000, stripped of his contractor's license, and ordered to get the work done in a timely fashion. But that isn't what he plans on doing.

He has another idea.
All he needs is sledgehammer, a hacksaw, and a few trashbags.

Murder IRL
Man, this story tripped me out too.
I'll try to keep this review shorter because according to my husband, this is the longest story I've ever told him. So, here it goes!

Jenelle is nearly 30 years old when her family moves from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. She's never really been popular, especially with her intellectual disabilities. Her favorite past-time is scrolling through her Facebook friends' endless posts. Soon, a local drugstore clerk befriends her. Tracy takes Jenelle to meet some of her friends, when Jenelle falls head over heels in love with Tracy's brother Billy. Her Facebook friend list grows, and her confidence does too. She finally has a group of friends to spend time with, she even has a boyfriend, Jamie.

During a BBQ with her new friends, Jenelle notices Billy with another girl. When she spies them holding hands and kissing, she demands to leave the party. As she logs into Facebook that night, she has a mission. Find Billie Jean Hayworth's page and befriend her. Then the cyber-bullying attacks start. Jenelle can't imagine what Billy sees in Billie Jean. A variety of fake accounts begin posting horrible rumors about Billy and Billie Jean, and shouting praise for Jenelle, all in the same post.

Jenelle uses this virtual harassment as a way to manipulate her parents and boyfriend into believing her side of the story. She not only created fake profiles to attack her crush-turned-enemy, but she created a CIA persona to encourage her parents and boyfriend to protect Jenelle at all costs.

Whatever it takes, her daddy is going to protect her.

Looking for the rest of the Murder is Forever series?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Kingdom of the Wicked

Oh. My. Goddess.
Kingdom of the Wicked is filled with witches and demon princes.
Oh yeah, all Hell is breaking loose.

Twins, Emilia and Vittoria have had their heads filled with stories of the underworld. Stories like bloodthirsty demons striking bargains with witches and werewolves. Princes of Hell tempting every woman they meet. Grimoire's filled with ancient spells to escape from evil. Their Nonna even has them recharge their protection charms every full moon.

But all those stories go out the window when Vittoria is killed.
Emilia is hellbent on finding the man she saw standing over her sister moments after her death. It's her mission to find him, to find her murderer and make him pay for taking her sister's life. When Emilia gets word that Vittoria isn't the first witch to be killed, but the THIRD, she takes matters into her own hands. This must be the work of the Devil.

In an attempt to find answers for all Vittoria's secrets, Emilia finds herself bound forever with her very own Prince of Hell, Wrath.

Looking for other books by Kerri Maniscalco?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Five Total Strangers

Nat Richards latest YA thriller might be my favorite one yet.

Five Total Strangers is a gripping thriller that is told over the course of a dangerous blizzard induced road trip home. I was a little skeptical because my mind kept thinking two things. One, there's no way that much can happen on a road trip. Two, is the car haunted? Obviously, I was wrong for asking both questions.

High school student, Mira, is flying home for the holidays when a massive blizzard grounds all the flights out. But lucky for her, her seatmate, Harper, mentioned renting a car. Desperate to get home to her mother, Mira sets off to find Harper. When she does, Harper introduced her to a few friends; Josh, Kayla, and Brecken. The five of them pile into the SUV Harper rented and set off on a trip that has everyone questioning their sanity by the end of it.

Harper seems like a normal, put together, college student who has the world figured out. Anyone would be lucky to be in Harper's (expensive) shoes. 

Josh has that sleepy, coffee shop vibe about him. He has psychology student written all over him. It doesn't make sense for him to be in a knee brace, no way he plays sports.

Kayla seems to be sleeping her life away. When she's not sleeping, she twitchy and irritable. Possibly going through withdrawal symptoms.

Brecken feels like the boy whose daddy buys him everything he could ever want, as long as he follow directly in his family's footsteps.

Then there's Mira. The aspiring art student who just needs to go home to be strong for her mother.

Everyone just wants to go home. They want to be with their families, work through their family drama, and get back to real life as soon as possible. None of them wanted to be stuck in a rental with 4 total strangers. But when the blizzard starts, they're in for a long ride.

Looking for other books by Natalie D. Richards?