Book Blogger Awards: My Nominations

Reminder that the 2nd Annual Book Blogger Awards are going on right now!!!!! If you haven’t placed your nominations yet, head over to the rules page and vote! This is our chance to nominate all of your favorite book bloggers and give them the recognition that they deserve (plus, getting nominated might just make someone’s day). Nominations close at the end of the month.

I’m so excited to write this post. quite possibly my favorite part of blogger awards is that it gives me the opportunity to scroll through all of the amazing bloggers that I follow, and remember why I love each and every one of them. The process of choosing one blogger over another is really, really hard, and it took me a long time! But without further ado, I present to you, my nominations for the book blogger awards. Make sure you cast your nominations as well 🙂

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Review: The Darkest Lies (Annoying Characters and Little Plot)

By Barbara Copperthwaite

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.05

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publication Date: May 12th 2017

Format Read: Phone Ebook via Netgalley

Goodreads Summary: A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming.

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It took all of my strength to keep reading this book.  I got bored just as short way through, thrown off by the 2nd person POV and the fact that the plot was not very interesting, but I kept reading, something which I’m fairly glad of.  The last 20% of the book was incredible, and bumped my rating up a star.  The first 80%, however, didn’t hold my interest at all.  

The basic concept is that a young teenager, Beth, goes missing, and the book is told from the perspective of the mother telling the story of her DIY detective work to her daughter.  There were also perspectives from Beth (from the night she goes missing) and a mysterious individual mixed in.  

Bottom line is that nothing in this book got me super attached.  The plotline wasn’t intriguing, I hated Melanie (the MC, aka Beth’s mother), her partner in solving crime seemed like the biggest stock character I’ve ever met, and all of the “villagers” had 0 dimension.  They were all flat.  The only one I liked is the husband, and I felt like even he did a thing that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of his character ,at all.

Luckily the ending was good.  Well, one of the endings.  The major storyline that everything was working towards fell flat for me, but in the last 20% Copperthwaite had a side story line that she had been progressing and made it the center stage, and for me THAT was the only intriguing part of the novel.  

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Beth is the girl who goes missing.  You really only hear about her from her mother’s POV, and occasionally from her own, but she’s a dynamic, interesting girl, and I liked her and wished the best for her.  That’s probably the only reason I didn’t DNF.  I HAD to know what happened to Beth.

Melanie, the MC, is Beth’s mother, but she just MAKES ME SO MAD I CAN’T EXPLAIN.  She’s not that good of a person, although she thinks she is, and she’s super self absorbed and can’t see the world around her.  It was painful, and I found myself looking forward to the short, one page segments that were not from her point of view just so that I didn’t have to listen to the whining drunk anymore.

Glenn, her partner in solving the crime, is a figure from her childhood who she was not exceptionally close with, but happens to waltz into her life and “just want to help”.  Mel bought it.  So he’s around for the entire novel, and despite this fact, he has ZERO DIMENSION.  I don’t understand how I can read a whole book with him at center stage and still not really KNOW him aside from the one central fact (it’s a spoiler so I won’t say).  It’s weird.

The husband, Jacob? (I think, we’ll go with it), was my favorite character, but the author made him do something so completely out of character with everything else we saw that he started to feel fake as well.

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The plot was very, very slow.  This 433 page book could have easily been condensed into 200 pages and you would not have lost any of the red herrings, dramatic moments, etc, because there was so much WASTED SPACE SPENT DOING NOTHING.  

Of course, that changed slightly in the last bit, where there was action, character development, a big reveal, an oh shit moment where you realized what was really going on, and an overall good pace.  But that doesn’t happen soon enough.  

I know books won’t have action the whole way through, but something needs to be happening, or at least characters being developed, for it to be interesting.

And the whole “why won’t the village talk” thing that propelled the entire plot felt fake and strange to me, their motivation not really that good.

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  • Beth
  • The Ending
  • Laughing at MC’s stupidity and lack of awareness for the world around her

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  • Melanie, her stupidity, and her lack of awareness for the world around her
  • Slow Plot
  • Poor writing style– there was nothing remotely extraordinary about her writing, the whole thing was very simple and told straightforwardly.
  • OBVIOUS display of clues– there was never any clue that I looked back on later and was like, ooooh I missed that… It was all shoved aggressively in your face.

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None.  There’s one character who may or may not be gay but that’s all.  And he’s in the story for like 5 minutes and accused of hurting Beth.

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  • A child is brutalized and left to die
  • Child is raped
  • Drinking problem to deal with other problems
  • Drugs abound

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This book was a 2 star read all the way through, but the ending was 4 or 5 stars, so I adjusted accordingly with a 3.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody, but if you already have it, you might as well read it and see where it goes, it wasn’t so bad as to warrant you not reading it at all.

I’d love to know what other people think of the character development, because for me nobody except Beth felt real.

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Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you read anything else by Barbara Copperthwaite?


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Book Tour: Bringing Back Robert Germaux, This Time with Fiction

A few months ago, I did an interview with Robert Germaux for a book tour, and now that he’s about to publish yet another book, I’m excited to be introducing it back on the blog!! This book is really different from his last, so I hope you all look into it!!! (special thanks to susan barton for putting this whole tour together)

Print Length: 342 pages
Publisher: Robert Germaux (May 26, 2017)
Publication Date: May 26, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


The victims appear to have had nothing in common, other than the fact that, as one officer put it, somebody wanted them dead. And that somebody left a “clue” at each crime scene, but as those clues began to accumulate, Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked squad soon discovered that the clues appeared to have even less in common than did the victims. In order to catch his prey, Daniel realizes he has to change his focus and concentrate on an entirely different aspect of the case by following a twisting trail that eventually leads to a face-to-face encounter with the killer.




Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places. And although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one. Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes, including “Hard Court.” Along the way, I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write “The Backup Husband,” the plot line of which came to me one day when I was playing the What-if game. On that particular day, the question that occurred to me was, What if a woman suddenly realized she might be in love with two wonderful men? After “The Backup Husband,” I wrote “Small Talk,” my first novel about Pittsburgh police detective Daniel Hayes. I then switched gears again with “Grammar Sex (and other stuff),” a book of humorous essays. Now I’m back with “One by One,” the second Daniel Hayes mystery, which will be released on June 1st. You can find all of my books on my Amazon Author Page.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), seeing Broadway plays and musicals, watching reruns of our favorite TV shows, such as “Sports Night” and “The Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and enjoy a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my stories and characters. Please feel free to contact me on my website.

Review: The Roanoke Girls (Disturbingly Wonderful)

By Amy Engel

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.75

Genre: Psycho Mystery & Adult Contemporary Mix

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Format Read: Hardcover

Goodreads Summary: Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

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wow.  just wow.  This book took me on an absolute roller coaster of emotions and I’m not even sure what to say.  First off, the synopsis gives literally nothing away so I’m going to have to keep this review super vague to avoid spoilers.  Second, if you are worried about triggers then I would head straight down to the trigger section, which does contain spoilers, written in white so that you have to highlight over it to read it.

Back to the review.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!! It was so intriguing, I couldn’t put it down, and the whole weird relationship between the characters drew me in.  Amy Engle normally writes YA and this CERTAINLY wasn’t that, but I think it still gave her a better perspective on the younger characters (there were flashback chapters and present time chapters) than most adult authors had, because everything felt so REAL.  I had been reading this before bed for a few minutes each night, but I had to stop doing that and bring it out into the real world and binge it in 2 days because it was THAT. GOOD.  Once you get into it you won’t want to put it down, I promise.halfway (3)

I know I normally do the characters section first, but I felt like with this book I literally couldn’t.  What I loved about this book is that it was told from dual time frames, but with the same perspective in each– Lane Roanoke.  In one perspective, Lane was just arriving at her grandparent’s house, known as Roanoke, for the first time as a 15 year old (I think) and in the other time frame, Lane was coming back to Roanoke as an adult.  It was her first time back in 10 years, because she ran away from the place and hated its disgustingness.  She only comes back because her cousin, Allegra, has gone missing.

This was fabulously done because the author managed to flip back and forth while giving away simultaneously nothing and everything, twisting their lives together, and making everything exceedingly confusing and yet simultaneously perfectly clear to the reader.  And when it revealed everything in dual format like that, you suspected everyone of hurting Allegra, and guessed at (yet tried to ignore) the sick truth of the matter.

Also, it made everything feel like a time warp, because stuff repeated itself in the two time frames slightly, but not exactly, which kept the reader guessing but helped to promote Lane’s perspective that “everything was exactly as it was 10 years ago” and honestly I loved the whole story.

Everything moved at just the right speed.  You grew attached to the characters and felt like you understood them, but yet there was always action and stuff happening and sick revelations and it made me fall in love.

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Lane is the main character.  As a child, she was naive and yet the opposite of, a wonderful mix for a 15 year old.  As an adult, she was experienced and knowledgeable and yet had a hard time making decisions, and I think it was her strength and yet fallibility that made me fall for her (In the most non-romantic way possible).

Allegra was only there in the past, since she is missing in the present.  She’s such a wild crazy teenager and yet she has secrets, dark secrets, and that’s her allure.

Granddad was portrayed in so many different ways it was honestly just crazy.

and Cooper is perfect and Cooper and Lane I ship them so much asdfghjkl I don’t know how else to explain it.

Engle did such a fabulous job of creating  3D characters who felt real, and that’s what made the book so so disturbing.  The characters came alive on the page and you understood them, even the ones you would rather not understand.

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The writing style was incredible.  I don’t have the book with me right now, but Engle used so much beautiful descriptive language that everything was SO VIVID.  I normally don’t picture things that well, but with this book I was forced to because it was painted there for me.  It wasn’t a separate paragraph description type book either (which put me to sleep) it was word choice and subtle details that put this out above the rest.

The romance in this book was fucked, because everyone was so messed up and crazy, but the way the romance worked made it real and not cliche at all.

The whole idea was really unique and cool so I liked that.  Other people I talked to didn’t, and although I’m not condoning* it, I still liked reading about it? idk I just did

*I promise I’m really really not, and if you read the book you know why.  Also Mahriya told me how to do little font so now I wanted to try it and copy everyone who already does this hahaha
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ummmm…. nothing?

There was a LOT of sex happening so if you’re offended by that then this is not the book for you, at all.  We had inappropriate sexual relations (see the trigger), friends with benefits situations, 15 year olds having sex, and just generally a lot of sex.  So yeah.

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None, 0/10
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I’m going to put as non-spoilery spoilers in the bullets, and then you can highlight over to get more detail

  • Suicide– Lane’s mother commits suicide in the beginning of the novel, and it is talked about, although it’s not central to the plot.  some people wondered if Allegra killed herself, although Lane never did.
  • Depression– Lane’s mother was very, very depressed.  She had many incidences of depression that Lane recalls, and it seems like Lane is pretty low down herself, although I don’t know if depression is actually the right word for Lane.
  • Not “normal” sexual content– THIS IS THE BIGGEST SPOILER OF THEM ALL SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT PLEASE DON’T READ THIS… Grandad literally has sex with all of the “Roanoke Girls” including Allegra, who we actually “see” having sex with him.  He loves them, or so he says, and it is consensual, but they start at 13 years old, it’s incest, and granddad is married to Gran.  so it’s fucked up on all sorts of levels… THIS IS THE BIGGEST SPOILER OF THEM ALL SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT PLEASE DON’T READ THIS
  • Miscarriage– Allegra miscarries all of her babies, and you hear about how she feels and what happens
  • Cutting– I’m like 90% sure that this is the way Lane’s mother kills herself.  Also, Allegra carves words into wood, which I know isn’t the same as cutting, persay, but it had that ring to it and sort of reminded me of cutting, so if I could be triggered by it I decided I’d better include it. 

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This was a wonderfully disturbing novel that I could not put down.  I’m going to look at her other books now, because although I doubt they’re anything near as messed up, since they’re YA, Engle’s writing style was really really good.  So… if you like sexy thrillers with messed up relationships and drama, this is for you!!!

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Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  This in no way affected the content of my review.

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Have you read The Roanoke Girls? Or any other Amy Engle books? Do any books that you’ve read sound similar that you can recommend?


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June Releases I’m Excited For

This month, there are a LOT of good books coming out, because it’s summer, and everyone knows that’s the best time to publish (I don’t actually know that, it’s just a guess).  Since I’m doing a whole separate post for releases rather than mixing it in with my intro post like I normally do, I’ll hopefully be way more organized and make this section more useful to you!  So now, the top 10 books of June…

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Mystery / Thriller

He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said (June 6th)– omg I cannot even tell you how good this looks.  It seems really interesting because there’s a lot of backplot going on, and plus I’ve never heard of anything that sounds quite like this.  I’m 150% putting this on my TBR.

On the eve of a solar eclipse, a couple forced into hiding discovers that they can no longer run from their past in this taut psychological suspense novel.
In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.
But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.
The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?
15 years later, Kit and Laura are living under assumed names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.
From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.

The Silent CornerThe Silent Corner (June 20th)– I’ve never heard of this author, but apparently he’s popular, and this book looks amazing.  Not only is it a thriller, but it looks like it’s going to feature a totally badass woman and I’m always down for that.

I very much need to be dead.
These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demands: find the truth, no matter what.
People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important so terrifying that they will exterminate anyone in their way.
But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love.The Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey (June 27th)– I read and reviewed this book a couple months back, and it was a pretty good read!! If you already own the book or enjoy police crime thrillers, I would recommend.  You can read my review here, but I think my perspective was colored by the fact that I’m not a huge fan of police narratives.

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive. 
As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unraveling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.
With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller.Final Girls

Final Girls (June 29th)– If you buy one thriller this year it has got to be this one.  It was so dark, mysterious, and yet fun to read.  I adored the characters and pretty much everything about it, and despite the fact I read it in January when I think about it I get excited all over again!! Read my review!

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Adventure / Dystopian

The Sandcastle Empire

The Sandcastle Empire (June 6th)– I had heard a lot about this book on Twitter, I think because I follow the author, and it looks exciting.  Even though it’s dystopian, a genre I feel like is sort of overdone, this seems like a fresh take.

When all hope is gone, how do you survive?
Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.
Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.
Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.
This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

Adult Contemporary

The People We Hate at the Wedding

The People we Hate at the Wedding (June 6th)– This book looks really fun, with a lot of family drama and a fancy wedding!!  I’m really hoping for a cute book with lots of character development from this one.

Paul and Alice’s half-sister Eloise is getting married! In London! There will be fancy hotels, dinners at “it” restaurants and a reception at a country estate complete with tea lights and embroidered cloth napkins.
They couldn’t hate it more.
The People We Hate at the Wedding is the story of a less than perfect family. Donna, the clan’s mother, is now a widow living in the Chicago suburbs with a penchant for the occasional joint and more than one glass of wine with her best friend while watching House Hunters International. Alice is in her thirties, single, smart, beautiful, stuck in a dead-end job where she is mired in a rather predictable, though enjoyable, affair with her married boss. Her brother Paul lives in Philadelphia with his older, handsomer, tenured track professor boyfriend who’s recently been saying things like “monogamy is an oppressive heteronormative construct,” while eyeing undergrads. And then there’s Eloise. Perfect, gorgeous, cultured Eloise. The product of Donna’s first marriage to a dashing Frenchman, Eloise has spent her school years at the best private boarding schools, her winter holidays in St. John and a post-college life cushioned by a fat, endless trust fund. To top it off, she’s infuriatingly kind and decent.
As this estranged clan gathers together, and Eloise’s walk down the aisle approaches, Grant Ginder brings to vivid, hilarious life the power of family, and the complicated ways we hate the ones we love the most in the most bitingly funny, slyly witty and surprisingly tender novel you’ll read this year.

The CircusThe Circus (June 13th)– holy shit this book looks amazing and I hadn’t even heard of it before finding it on a June releases list while making this post.  It seems super emotional and yet exciting and nerve wracking and I cannot wait to read it.

Why would a girl who has everything want to run away and never be found?
Willow has staged runaways ever since she was a little girl. She has everything a young person should want: a rich daddy, clothes, money, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. In reality, she has everything except the thing she really wants: a father who cares enough to find her.
Aged sixteen, on the eve of her father’s wedding, she ruins the bride’s dress and escapes through a window, determined never to return. Her missing mother was a circus performer, and Willow wants to follow in her footsteps. But the performers she meets don’t want her. When her last bit of money is stolen by Suze, another runaway girl she thought she could trust, Willow becomes really homeless. Then Suze comes tumbling back into her life and a desperate Willow has to decide whether to trust her all over again . . .
So begins their frightening, exhilarating odyssey though hunger, performance, desperation and dreams. Will they both survive and will Willow make it to the circus of her imagining?
Olivia Levez takes you into the very heart of a girl who wants so hard to be lost, but saves herself through a powerful friendship and the awakening of a need for home.

The Sisters ChaseThe Sisters Chase (June 27th)– This looks really emotional, and it’s a story of 2 sisters who love each other and yet still have secrets, which I think is an underrepresented side of literature.

The hardscrabble Chase women—Mary, Hannah, and their mother Diane—have been eking out a living running a tiny seaside motel that has been in the family for generations, inviting trouble into their lives for just as long. Eighteen-year-old Mary Chase is a force of nature: passionate, beautiful, and free-spirited. Her much younger sister, Hannah, whom Mary affectionately calls “Bunny,” is imaginative, her head full of the stories of princesses and adventures that Mary tells to give her a safe emotional place in the middle of their troubled world.
But when Diane dies in a car accident, Mary discovers the motel is worth less than the back taxes they owe. With few options, Mary’s finely tuned instincts for survival kick in. As the sisters begin a cross-country journey in search of a better life, she will stop at nothing to protect Hannah. But Mary wants to protect herself, too, for the secrets she promised she would never tell—but now may be forced to reveal—hold the weight of unbearable loss. Vivid and suspenseful, The Sisters Chase is a whirlwind page-turner about the extreme lengths one family will go to find—and hold onto—love.

YA / Teen

The Unlikelies

The Unlikelies (June 6th)– I really like the sound of this book, because it’s about 5 kids who just become friends, rather than having been friends their whole lives, and they actually try to do good rather than just messing around and having fun.

Five teens embark on a summer of vigilante good samaritanism in a novel that’s part The Breakfast Club, part The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and utterly captivating.
Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.
Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie’s summer changes for the better when she’s introduced to other “hometown heroes.” These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships–and anonymity–intact?
This rich and thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, and wisdom.


Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud (June 20th)– This is a really unique take on celebrities and how their success relates to feminism, and I feel like it’s something that everyone should read (although I haven’t read it yet so how should I know) and it’s written by a Buzzfeed author so it’ll probably have some lighter comedic elements in it.

From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an acceptable woman.
You know the type: the woman who won’t shut up, who’s too brazen, too opinionated, too much. She’s the unruly woman, and she embodies one of the most provocative and powerful forms of womanhood today. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of unruliness to explore the ascension of pop culture powerhouses like Lena Dunham, Nicki Minaj, and Kim Kardashian, exploring why the public loves to love (and hate) these controversial figures. With its brisk, incisive analysis, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud will be a conversation-starting book on what makes and breaks celebrity today.

That’s all for June!!  *heads out door to go buy all of these books on the list*

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What other popular books are coming out in June?  Have you read any books on this list? Are any on your TBR? What book are you most excited to read this month?


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Review: 11/22/63 

By Stephen King

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

11/22/63 is unexpectedly different from King’s typical writing genre, but it is still utterly amazing, and I would encourage everyone to go out and buy it. Just know going in that it isn’t at all a “horror novel” and instead more contemporary adult fiction.

The book begins with Jake Epping, who lives a relatively normal life as a teacher, frequenting a diner, and otherwise just doing his thing as any other man would. And then….. it all changes. Jake learns from his close friend that there is a time traveling rabbit hole which brings you back to the 1950s. Reluctant at first, Jake finally feels forced to undertake the mission which his friend had left for him: save JFK from assassination.

In a way only King could possibly do, this book seems completely realistic, is full of twists and turns, historically accurate (to the best of my knowledge) and has amazing human relationship stories that would cause me to read the book even if it wasn’t a King novel. As Jake struggles to right the past, he is confronted by the haunting difficulty of changing what doesn’t want to be changed, and overcoming the time barrier that separates himself from the people around  him.

When this book first came out, I was so, so excited; Stephen King is my favorite author ever, and I love historical fiction (yes I know that’s kind of weird) so I thought this would be perfect. And it didn’t disappoint. I could never predict what was coming next in the plot, which gave it an air of reality and suspense that wouldn’t have been present otherwise.

Besides the plot, the entire piece was full of character building and development. Jake isn’t perfect– not even close. And neither is he awful. You root for Jake, mourn his failures, and feel close to him solely because he seems like a real person. Jake is trying to be the hero, but he certainly isn’t heroic. He’s the fairly intelligent, average guy, who becomes distracted by girls, decides to give up when things get tough, and eventually fights to overcome all odds. The other characters, even those that only arrive for a minute or two, are equally as well developed and exciting to read about. There aren’t any characters that have you rolling your eyes like I typically find in novels which utilize stock characters.

This book also makes a HUGE point about the stability of our world today, and the impact of yesterday, which I think is really really cool. I won’t say any more to avoid spoiling it, but please read the book.

One thing that I would warn you about when reading is that it’s not super focused on JFK’s actual assassination. It definitely comes up, and it’s the main goal of the narrator, but the main plot is created because he has to live in the past for 5 years before he can even attempt to save him. If you want a historical book on JFK, this really isn’t for you.

I 10/10 would recommend to everyone! Plus, it’s a Hulu series, so you can get twice the fun. I haven’t watched it yet, so let me know what you think. I don’t want to spend the money if it’s not worth it.

I want to know your opinion

Have you read this book, or any others by King? Can you recommend any other books about the JFK assassination?

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Review: Crank

A five star review of Crank, by Ellen Hopkins

by Ellen Hopkins

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I picked up this book at the Book Barn, a huge used-book outdoor store, and didn’t really bother to look inside before buying it.  I walked out with a stack of about 7 books, and this one was somewhere in the middle– the back looked pretty good, but it definitely wasn’t on the top of my TBR list.

Then, I started reading it.  At first, I was shocked because it was written in verse, something which I had never experienced in a book before, and it was weird.  Admittedly, I was really reluctant to try a book written like this.  But once I did, I absolutely LOVED it.  The book was so good right from the beginning, and once you figured out how to read the poetry like a story, it just kept getting better.  It was a new experience for me, and one I’m 100% glad I had.  Next time I go to the bookstore, you can guarantee that I’ll be looking for Glass, the second book in the series.  What I love is that even though it’s a series, it can be read as a solitary book and still make perfect sense, with a final conclusion that doesn’t leave you annoyed at the reader for making you buy another to find out what happens.

The essential plot of Crank is that there is a high school girl named Kristina, and she is, for lack of a better word, perfect.  She gets good grades, has a great friend, and is otherwise very happy with her life.  And then she visits her father– and his life is not so pretty.  While there, she is introduced to the “monster” (crystal meth/crank) and she becomes hooked.  While high on Crank, Kristina becomes Bree, and she is capable of anything.  This story is based on Ellen Hopkins’ own daughter, and because of that it rings remarkably true, through both the ups and the downs.

Hopkins doesn’t bother to sugar coat anything.  When life sucks, she makes she that she makes that very clear.  But, what I think makes this stand out from other books about drug addicts, is that when life is great for Kristina/Bree, she makes sure that those emotions come across equally strongly.  This book is a poignant example of both the horrors, and the wonders, of being addicted to hard drugs.  If you are anything like me, you will find yourself begging Kristina to do the right thing, and sobbing at her struggles.  This book was an emotional rollercoaster.  This was actually me while reading.

Although it may look really intimidating when you pick it up, as it is a thick book, the fact that it is written in verse makes it go really quickly, and so you don’t have to worry about too long of a commitment.  If you’re dedicated, it can take 1-2 afternoons to get through the whole thing.  Plus, you won’t want it to end, so it’s not really an issue!

When I got about halfway through, I realized that if you read the poetry down the line, instead of across, you get a different meaning, representing Kristina versus Bree.  I think this is also a really cool feature that Hopkins included, and so make sure you look for it.  It gave me a whole new perspective for the book when I started reading it both ways.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an emotional, exciting, teen semi-fiction novel.  It was so beautifully written, and I guarantee that you will not be short on emotions during your time reading it.

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Review: Sharp Objects

A 5 star review of Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

By Gillian Flynn

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Let me start out by saying that this book was SO good.  I’d already read Gone Girl going in, so I had high expectations, and this book delivered.  It is rare that an author can write multiple thrillers that catch your attention, but I think she managed to do that well.  There are some occasional repetitive themes between the two, but not overmuch so that you can predict the ending.  However, I did read Dark Places immediately after, and those have a lot in common so I would recommend spreading them out a little bit and/or turning off the part of your brain that connects the dots between the two, at least until the end.

The story is about a woman name Camille Preaker, who happens to be a writer for a not-super-popular-but-still-decent newspaper.  She has a troubled past, and this comes back to haunt her throughout the novel.  Unfortunately for her, her boss wants her to go back to the town where she grew up in order to cover the mystery of missing/murdered children from the town.  Despite her protests, she is sent there, where she shows up at her mother’s house unannounced to cover the case.

From there, there are many twists and turns full of romance, completely twisted family relationships, murder, and (it is a Gillian Flynn novel after all) deception.  It is such a fast paced novel, but it is written really well and you find yourself relating to Camille and feeling bad for her, even though it is very likely that your situation is nothing like hers.  You root for her, and you want her to conquer all of her demons, making this a powerful, can’t put down read.

What I love about Flynn is that she doesn’t create traditional protagonist heroes who save the day with their cunning and superiority to the villains.  Camille is a real human being who had flaws (probably more of those than positives) and this makes her journey believable.  And, I can almost promise you that you will not predict the ending, and you will suspect many different people the entire time.  She does a great job of creating not-obvious red herrings that lead you to suspect them.

I should probably introduce the rest of Camille’s family, so that you can understand why she didn’t want to go home.  First, there is her mother, Adora.  Adora seems to HATE Camille, despite her outpouring of emotion towards everything else, especially…. Amma!  Amma is Camille’s half sister, the child of Adora’s second marriage.  Amma is just 13, but she acts much older, and is a dramatic, party hard, devil child that wins her parents affections easily.  And let’s just say that her and Camille don’t really get along.  Amma’s father (Adora’s husband) is also in the novel, but I don’t even know his name, if that gives you an idea of the roll he plays.

This book was amazing, and I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys relationship thrillers like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train (by Paula Hopkins, read review here) because it is a similar fast paced style that still leaves plenty of time for emotional breakdowns and sudden twists that will leave you reeling.

I would not recommend this book to children, as there are VERY mature themes throughout including (MINOR SPOILERS BUT MOSTLY THIS IS A DISCLAIMER): murder, cutting/self-harm, and sex  (END SPOILERS).  These are a pretty big part of the book so if you are uncomfortable, I suggest you look elsewhere.  That being said, it was soooo good and it wasn’t like the only reason it’s good is because it’s twisted.

What is your opinion on Gillian Flynn?  Which of her books is your personal favorite?

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Review: Iron and Silk

A 2 star review of Mark Salzman’s tales of his trip to China.

By Mark Salzman

Rating: 🙂 🙂

This intriguing book of a man studying in China captures the intricacies of the culture, while still managing to interest readers.  Told as a memoir, it is about Mark Salzman and his journey to China to teach English, and everything that he learned while he was there.  There are many eye-opening moments about cultural differences, especially if you are an American who has never been to China, or any country similar to it, and I think this is more about culture in general than the martial arts, although Salzman does market it as having a focus on the martial arts.

Iron and Silk is a strange book, especially if you do not know what you are expecting at first.  For me, I picked it up because it was required reading for English class, and dove in with an open mind.  However, from the start I found the writing style slightly dry, and the story didn’t move quick enough for my tastes.  Typically, I enjoy nonfiction and less “teen” writing styles, but this book didn’t really do it for me.

That being said, I still learned SO much China and the people’s culture there.  I am fascinated by the Communist revolution, and how it occurred when it seems like so many people were against it, and I think this book really helped explain to me just how that occurred.  It wasn’t about Communism at all, and it is much more modern, but you read about interactions with people that open your eyes to just how easy it is to spread propaganda that people will believe.

I would not recommend this book to the average reader, but it can be interesting for someone with an interest in China and their culture, especially the martial arts.  If that is interesting to you, then this book would probably be a great way to get a first-hand perspective about life in that Asian country.

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If you’ve read it, let us know what you think! comment below!

Have you read any other books about martial arts/China that you think would be more interesting?

Review: Revelation (Short Story)

A 5 star review of Revelation, by Flannery O’connor

by Flannery O’Connor

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

This short story is about a woman, named Mrs.Turpin, and her thoughts and feelings over the course of a day.  The main setting is a doctor’s waiting room, where Mrs.Turpin goes because of her husband, Claud.  Mrs.Turpin is instantly judgemental, thinking about the different classes each person in the waiting room falls into, and how she is better than the majority of people on Earth.  Then comes Mary Grace, an “ugly” overweight, acne covered girl who sits there, glaring at Mrs.Turpin and reading a book.  Mrs.Turpin, being the way that she is, doesn’t exceptionally like Mary Grace… and it goes from there.

This is a classic Flannery O’Connor short story whose theme relates good-from-bad, and right-from-wrong.  It has a great plot, and it leaves you filled with emotions about each of the main characters.  It should only take about 20 minutes to read, so it is great for if you, like Mrs.Turpin, are stuck in a waiting room.  Even though it is short, the themes and the thoughts which it provokes will stick with you for much longer.  I found myself judging Mrs.Turpin, and then wondering if I was just like her, and panicking (you’ll understand if you read the book) and then going back to wondering just what the author was trying to convey.

For the most part, it is entirely realistic even if, like me, you are not a devout Catholic.  The only part where I found it to be a bit too dramatic was the very end.  O’Connor added this part, as it was not originally included, and in my opinion I feel as though she should have just left it out entirely.  It became very religious, god comes back to Earth feel, which I personally didn’t like.  That being said, it is only for the very last paragraph of the story so by all means do not let that discourage you.

The book is filled with the in depth thoughts of Mrs.Turpin, and her descriptions of the people around her, but there are also some very comical moments interspersed, allowing you to become even more involved in what you are reading.  This is a great short story, and I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a short yet thought provoking next read.

Have you read this or any of Flannery O’Connor’s other short stories? What did you think? Let us know, comment below!