Book Reviews

MindF*ck Series Rating

Each of these books is 5/5 for me!

Synopsis

Lana is seeking revenge for something terrible and revolting that she went through when she was a teenager. Logan is an FBI agent working on the case of a serial killer that mutilates alpha males. One day, Lana and Logan cross paths in a coffee shop. One thing leads to another and Lana and Logan end up romantically involved with one another. However, their relationship is hard because Logan’s job is demanding of his time, and Lana’s secret side gig, is also demanding of her time. However, they make what they have work.

The series builds upon their relationship as well as the case that Logan is working on and Lana’s fixation on her past. Things are tricky with Logan being FBI and Lana being, well, a herself. As the books go on, we see different cases that Logan is involved with and see why Lana is the way she is. Her past is haunting and brutal, but will Logan think the same when (or if) he finds out what happened 10 years ago in a small, creepy town?

My Thoughts (mild spoilers)

First, I wish there was more to this series. I could read about Logan and Lana forever. I also wish that the books were longer…they’re more novella length and I really wanted more. But, I’m more than pleased with what S.T. Abby blessed us with!

I’ll start with the characters. Lana is the definition of badass. Her past is awful and something that no one should ever have to go through, but she did. She survived (somehow) and is now seeking the ultimate revenge, with the help of her best friend Jake. Lana is sexy, smart, cunning, and able to defend herself better than any other human character I’ve ever read a book about. Her personality it relatable, she is human after all, and she has dreams and aspirations..albeit a bit different than my own, but she’s a goal setter!

Logan…woof. I was SO happy when Craig was not the main love interest in this series. I didn’t enjoy his character the first time we met him hitting on Lana, and wouldn’t have been able to make it through the series if he was who she fell for. Logan is passionate about his job and about his friends. He’s smart, patient, and, like any good male character that I enjoy; sexy. His job is interesting but demanding, so kudos to Lana for handling that. I don’t know if I could be with someone that could get called into work literally at any second, and then risks their lives and puts their loved ones at risk on top of it!

Hadley and Jake. These secondary, but awesome, characters are fabulous. I didn’t know what to think of Hadley at first, but I ended up really enjoying her snarky attitude. She’s protective and loyal, and I really liked the friendship she and Lana built. Jake is just a mastermind. I wish I had someone as awesome and technologically savvy as Jake. Hadley may be loyal but Jake is loyalty on steroids. I really did enjoy his back story and the frienship/pseudo-siblingship he had with Lana.

The creepy people from Lana’s past. Hate them all. They deserved everything they got. End of story.

The characters were great, but the fascinating plot is what made me run through these books. A serial killer dating the FBI agent that’s working her case. Who knew I would enjoy this so much? I really liked reading how Lana did everything that she did (is that concerning or…) and how Jake played a part as her partners. I also liked seeing how the author wrote from an FBI point of view; I bet that took a lot of research…as did writing the perfect serial killer.

S.T. Abby did a phenomenal job of moving the plot along. I didn’t feel like it dragged at any given points and, even though I wanted more story, I didn’t feel like I was missing any information. The books being short also helped to move the story along!

The only part that irritated me is how long it took Logan to realize what was right under his nose. Lana gave him enough information about her past, and then he got information on a case that kind of lined up with Lana’s story, but he didn’t connect the pieces. I don’t quickly connect the dots in stories, but when I beat an secret service agent, he was clearly blinded by love! On a lesser of two evils note, there were some editing errors in the books…but seeing as I’m nowhere near perfect in my writing (see this blog post for example) I can brush them aside. I always feel powerful when I find an error in a published book…just me or..?

Overall, I highly recommend this series. Lana’s whole back story is an extreme trigger, so make sure you know that going in (rape, torture, abuse) and then the details of her killing men is very graphic and triggering as well. For a mystery AND romance lover, this book was the perfect combination. It didn’t have a ton of sexy scenes, but I was more interested in the mystery part of the story to be honest (gasp)! I read all five books in three days, which for someone that’s been in a reading slump, I’d say that’s awesome! So, try out the series if you like mystery stories – I wish I had known about this series sooner!

Book Reviews

Kingdom of the Wicked Book Review

4/5 Candles (stars)

This book hasn’t been published yet and I am SO thankful to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read an ARC for an honest review! So, this review is going to look a little different than normal!

Synopsis

Kingdom of the Wicked follows Emilia, a young witch, on her journey to avenge her twin sister’s death. Her sister, Vittoria, never came home for dinner at her family’s restaurant one night, and Emilia stumbled across her dead body. Emilia doesn’t know who killed her sister, or why they did it, but her new purpose is to find out. She will do ANYTHING to set her sister to rest and get back at her murderer…so much so that Emilia ends up summoning Wrath, one of the seven Wicked princes of Hell.

For her entire life, Emilia had been warned to NEVER trust anyone from Hell, but Emilia thought the warnings were just an overreaction to keep her safe. On her journey, she partners with Wrath and ends up meeting his brothers, and quickly realizes they can’t be trusted and that they are very, very dangerous. Wrath has told Emilia that he is going to help her because they both want to understand and figure out who is murdering young witches. But, as she was warned for years, the Wicked aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface.

Thoughts

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author, and I loved it! I’ve been wanting to read her book Stalking Jack the Ripper, so I was very happy to read a book by her!

First, I really loved that a fantasy took place in a real location…for this book it was Sicily. KM did a great job describing the setting, from the food people sold to the vendors and booths on the street. I’ve never been to Sicily, but know people who have, and this sounds like what they experienced! I enjoyed that I didn’t have to wrap my head around a made-up world like we have to in most fantasy novels! Don’t get me wrong though! I do enjoy made-up worlds!

Emilia had moments when I wanted to strangle her, but she was a good character. I don’t think I could have read a book with a main character named Vittoria for almost 400 pages…so Emilia will do! Nonna was a favorite for me..I love a badass grandmother..especially when magic is involved! Then there’s Wrath…ugh I love him. I’m always drawn to the dark, brooding, villains. Speaking of Wrath, huge kudos to KM for the personification of the 7 deadly sins. I was so intrigued by the concept and loved how they were each portrayed. We didn’t get to meet all of them in this book, but I hope in future books that they’ll be around!

Overall, I appreciated the concept of this book. I was engaged and really into the plot and characters. I liked the bit of mystery feel that it had, as we tried to solve Vittoria’s murder. KM weaved magic and other fantasy beings into the story really well, too. The whole idea of Hell and the Wicked princes reminded me a bit of Supernatural (which I love) and really kept my interest. I may or may not have envisioned demon Dean Winchester as Wrath a few times. The main reason this didn’t get four stars for me is because it was young adult. We get some ‘innocent’ moments (I won’t spoil with who) between some characters, but I was hoping for more detailed scene (I like what I like). For a young adult book though, I still think there could have been a few more spicy moments…nothing crazy though. But, overall, I really enjoyed myself. As soon as I read the last sentence, the first thing I thought was “I hope there’s a book 2”!

So, if you like YA Fantasy novels, catch Kingdom of the Wicked, out October 27th!

Tags

The Anonymous Bookaholics Tag

Hello! I’ve been a bit MIA lately, and haven’t been reading much because work has started back full swing! That being said, I do have some time to do a fun book tag (we all know I love a good tag)! Thank you to Books are 42 for tagging me – let’s get to it!

  1. What do you like about buying new books?

Everything! I love coming home and finding a spot for them on my shelf. I love admiring the covers and the art word. The thrill of having new books to read is fantastic (yes, the thrill). It’s even more exciting when I buy them from used book stores or thrift shops/flea markets!

2. How often do you buy new books?

Too often…I probably buy a new book (or more) once a week. I went months without giving books a thought, but now they’re all I want to buy; well books and book related merch. I’ve tried to put myself on a book buying ban, but that ended in 30 new books…so I won’t be doing that again!

3. Bookstore or online book shopping: which do you prefer?

I like going to bookstores and physically holding the books, browsing the aisles, and whatnot. Then, when I’m done, if there’s something I didn’t find, I’ll do online shopping. I can typically find books cheaper online that in person, even at used book stores. I just feel like online book shopping isn’t the same, but I do get very excited when the books come in the mail!

4.  Do you have a favourite bookshop?

We have one really good used book store near us, and it’s called Ukazoo! I’ve been going to them for years. They have great prices, a big selection, and I can easily spend hours in there searching for books. I would love to go around and find more used book stores! I have a road trip to PA planned, there’s about five stores within minutes of each other…I just need the time to get to them!

5. Do you pre-order books?

I’ve always loved reading, but quarantine has really made me have a new appreciation (and obsession) with reading. This is the first time I’ve ever pre-ordered books. I have a VE Schwabb book pre-ordered and I pre-ordered ACOSF. I’m also into special edition things now and have a handful of them pre-ordered too…oops!

6. Do you have a monthly buying limit?

I should, but I don’t. I’d never stick to it, so what’s the point?

7. How big is your wishlist?

Fairly large. I have a lot of books that I want to read and a lot that I want to buy. I think I’d be poor if I bought them all.

8. Which three books from your wishlist do you wish to own right now?

Good Girl, Bad Blood; Madhouse, and the Dusty books (I’ve read them but need the physical copies).

If you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged! I’d love to see everyone’s answers!

Book Reviews

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire Book Review

“Some say patience is a virtue,” his voice echoed back to me. “Some deserve a punch in the face,” I muttered”.

JLA
Rating: 5/5 blood trees (stars)

Synopsis:

I’m just going to use the book’s synopsis because I will butcher it very badly and ramble (as you’ll see in the my thoughts section)…

A Betrayal… Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice…Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.

My Thoughts *Contains mild spoilers*

To quote Casteer…I am unworthy. This book just took my breath away. The first book (From Blood and Ash) ended on such a cliffhanger, so I was very excited to pick this one up. I think this may be in my top 3 reads of 2020 (or ever). I’m going to attempt to organize my thoughts in a coherent manner, but I’m not making any promises.

First of all, I am so in love with Poppy and Casteel. The way they communicate with one another is so entertaining and I can’t get enough of it. I also really love the strangers-friends-lovers-enemies-frenemies thing they have going on. The character building from Poppy and Hawke is phenomenal. We were able to see the many masks that Prince Casteel wears and each of them are so different; some are sexy (okay he’s just sexy), enticing, heartbreaking…you name it and he wears a mask for it! Then there’s feisty, funny Kiernan. I love him so much and would not object to a Joining scene in upcoming books…just saying. His relationship with Cas and how he treats Poppy is wonderful, and you can tell he is genuine and truly cares. He’s not necessarily a main character, but he plays such an important part in their friendship that he’s easily a favorite. I did miss Tawny a lot in this book. I hope that we see her in book three (whenever that comes out…soon I hope). Alastir rubs me the wrong way. I am not a fan of him…something just isn’t right and I don’t trust him at all. The wolven are also a favorite of mine. I think they’re fascinating, as is their history, and I really like the scenes where they interact with Poppy and Cas.

There is A LOT of history in this book, learning about the past of the different bloodlines and creatures in this world. However, JLA executed the information in such a way, that I didn’t feel overwhelmed with details and knowledge. It didn’t feel like the beginning of Crescent City, for example, with a huge information dump (I still love CC, don’t get me wrong). Did I remember everything, of course not, but JLA had refreshers thrown in there throughout the story that reminded Poppy and the readers! I was engrossed in the history of Atlantia, the Ascended, the Craven, Wolven, and all the other unique things this world brings.

The plot of this book was so engaging. I couldn’t put the book down (unless I had to tend to some stupid responsibilities or something) and wanted to read and read and read! The conflict between Poppy and Casteel was something that really built the foundation of the book, and I don’t just mean the sexual tension between them. The internal conflict in Poppy about loving Casteel even though he lied (a lot) was done so well, that I started feeling those things. This book elicited a lot of emotions from me because of how Poppy told the story. I was angry with her, sad when she was, intrigued at certain times, and so on. So, kudos for the great writing JLA!

So in my review of FBAA, I talked about the one sex scene that really drew my attention. Well, there are A LOT more in this book and they are fantastic. I could read a whole book just about Poppy and Casteel getting it on, as Poppy threatens to stab Cas and he calls her Princess. Again, the complicated “pretend” relationship they have with one another really plays into the chemistry they have together. That with how JLA writes…*chef kiss*. Also, can we PLEASE have them re-enact some scenes from Miss Willa’s Diary in the next book?

I had a lot of questions entering this book and I was expecting some closure with them…instead I was left with A LOT more questions. I thought by the end of this book, we’d be in contact with Casteel’s brother and have some answers there…nope! Now I need to know where he and Ian are, who Poppy keeps hearing in her nightmares, why the wolven get shocked when they first touch her, what the hell was going on at the end, and so many more. Now I don’t know if book 3 will answer any because book 2 ended on another damn cliffhanger! I’m noticing a theme here JLA! The book 1 cliffhanger was okay because I read it three days before book two came out. But, now I read book two and have no clue when book three is going to come out! I NEED ANSWERS!!!!!!!!!

I’m rambling now…so, overall, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I am so glad that I read the first one and I cannot wait for more. I hope we see more of the sassy and sexy relationship between Poppy and Casteel, as well as more from Kiernan and the wolven! I will definitely be rereading these books. Look out ACOTAR series…you have a rival! (jk I still love you Rhysand, but Hawke just hits different…guess I’ll have two book boyfriends).

I’ll just be twiddling my thumbs until someone finds out when a third book will be coming out!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. If you haven’t read this series yet, please do so! If you love fantasy, romance, and some well written smut, this is the series for you!

Book Reviews

From Blood and Ash Book Review

“Fear and bravery are often one and the same. It either makes you a warrior or a coward. The only difference is the person it resides inside.”

Jennifer Armentrout
4/5 Daggers (stars)

Synopsis

Poppy has grown up belonging to everyone but herself. She was raised as the Maiden, which translates to having absolutely no freedom. She can’t speak to anyone, can’t be looked upon, can’t engage in activities, can’t do anything. Poppy is covered by a veil and sits quietly while she does as she’s told. As Poppy waits for her Ascension, she would much rather be defending people and daggering the Craven – a terrifying type of monster that destroys and kills…including having killed Poppy’s parents long ago. Then, one day, she gets a new guard and everything becomes beautifully confusing. Poppy wants less to do with her Ascension and more to do with living the life that was stolen from her. As Poppy struggles with following her heart, an old and fallen kingdom is beginning to rise and rebel. Lives are in danger, including Poppy’s. She can either fight or she can remain the perfect, pure maiden…what will she choose?

My Thoughts

This was the first Jennifer Armentrout book that I picked up. I ended up using this book as my ‘reading before bed’ book, so it took me longer to read than normal. I first saw this book on TikTok when someone said that it was more steamy than ACOMAF. I was intrigued but didn’t want to add another book to my collection just yet. Then, someone I follow on twitter was raving about this book so I decided to download the kindle version. Since I hadn’t read this author before, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. The first chunk of the book dragged for me. I enjoyed what I was reading, but it felt slow for me. Although…I then simultaneously decided to read the book Forever With You, by JLA as well! I loved that book so I continued trucking through this one, and I’m glad I did!

Let’s start with Poppy…I LOVE her!!!!!! What a strong character. This poor girl is put through HELL, but she entertains herself and breaks some rules, too! I love a good badass, and Poppy is definitely that! Reading about how she was forced to live her life was so unsettling and upsetting, especially her lessons with the Lord and Duke. I don’t know how she didn’t lose her mind with all the rules she had to follow…I wouldn’t have lasted 18 years. Then, there’s Viktor whom I also love. He helped Poppy see a little bit of life by training her to use a dagger and defend herself. He saw behind her veil and knew Poppy as a daughter. I also enjoyed Tawny’s character and how she was so much more than Poppy’s handmaid. They cared for each other and Tawny saw Poppy as a person and a friend, not just the Maiden.

Then, there’s Hawke. We meet Hawke early on in the book, then he disappears, and then he returns. I loved him the moment I met him. Then I fell even more in love with him…then I hated his guts…then I loved him…then I hated him…it’s a love/hate roller coaster. I picture him distinctly in my mind but I can’t put into writing how I imagine him. The way he and Poppy talk to one another is my favorite and I love them so much (I’m saying that a lot). But then, JLA throws a wrench in things and my heart is very, very confused. However, I finished this book and NEEDED the second book ASAP. Luckily, I chose a great time to finish this book because the new one came out today (Sept. 1).

Now, I’m going to move onto the writing. I like JLA’s writing style. But, like I said before, this book took a while for me to get into. I don’t think it was the writing that bored me, but the plot and learning the back story and piecing together what was holding me back. However, I soon wrapped my mind around the story and ended up loving it in the end. Once it got going, it sure took off! Some of the semantics of the setting and Lords/Ladies/Duke/Duchesses were confusing and I didn’t love them. Although, I do see how they add to Poppy’s backstory and the plot of the book. As for Fantasy, this book has some great creatures (the craven, Atlantians, Vampyrs, Wolven, and giant rat monster things). Honestly, I would have loved to see more of the Craven and the blood forest. We see more of the wolven in the last chunk of the book, but I liked them and am excited to (hopefully) see more in book 2.

Holy plot twist. I 100% did not see that coming until it was right under my nose. Maybe I was blinded by love, but that was an SJM twist if I ever did see one! Again, playing with my emotions in books is something I rank highly…it means I’m invested.

I do have to say that this book may house my favorite ever sex scene that I’ve read. This book didn’t have a lot of sex in it, maybe three scenes tops (toward the end of the book too), but there was a lot of sexual tension! I’ve read quite a few smut books in my days, including books that aren’t romance but have sex in them, but this one just did something to me (TMI maybe?). ACOMAF for example, has a handful of sex in it. Love the book, love the romance, chapter 55 amiright? But this books second big sex scene, in the closing chapters of the book, was just something utterly raw and carnal and beautiful. So, congrats on JLA for writing a filthy, wonderful sex scene into this book and making me love those few pages more than anything ever. The atmosphere and events surrounding the scene had a lot to do with the portrayal of emotions, too. It didn’t just happen and it wasn’t an “omg I love you, so show me” scene. It was unexpected and powerful…for me anyway. It will definitely stick in my mind until I read something equivalent or better (as if).

Overall, I am so happy I stuck it out with this book. I cannot wait to read the new one (it should be here in physical form by Friday…ugh) and see where the story goes. I also bought a handful of JLA’s books based on how much I liked the two I’ve read this month. Hopefully they’re just as good! Hawke has been added to my book boyfriend list and may be second under High Lord Rhysand. Just saying.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this book. Leave me some comments if you’ve read this! I love a good discussion!

Book Reviews

Heart Bones Book Review

“Love is a lot like water. It can be calm. Raging. Threatening. Soothing. Water will be many things, but even in all its forms, it will always be water. You are my water. I think I might be yours, too.”

Colleen Hoover
4/5 Hearts (stars)

Synopsis

Beyah hasn’t had the easiest life. Her dad hasn’t really been in the picture lately, and her mom just overdosed in their trailer. Beyah can’t afford to live in the trailer alone, and doesn’t move into college until August, so she tells some white lies and moves in with her dad and his new family…so, it’s off to Texas she goes! Beyah is the complete opposite of her dad and his family. They’re rich, peppy, and doing really well. Beyah, on the other hand, is poor, quiet, and is used to fending for herself. Beyah just wants to survive the summer before she can escape to college. However, Beyah’s new neighbor, Samson, throws a large wrench in her plan. Just to look at, Beyah and Samson come from two walks of life, especially because Samson has more in common with her father’s family than Beyah. However, the two of them hit it off and promise to take it slow…until things speed up and they don’t want summer to end. But then, it does…

My Thoughts

As always, I love Colleen Hoover’s writing with a passion. I didn’t know where this book was going at first (I didn’t read the synopsis) but was pleased with the result. I loved Beyah and appreciated seeing how her life wasn’t perfect. In fact, the life she lived growing up was ROUGH. Her mom was an addict, they lived in a trailer, and didn’t have any of the necessities. Her coaches/teachers made sure she was fed and had what she needed for volleyball and for school. Beyah worked at McDonald’s and did some tough things, at a young age, to get money so she could survive. Her dad, on the other hand, lived across the country and was living his best life. He thought he was supporting Beyah via money/gifts etc, but she never saw those things because of her mother. I thought Colleen Hoover did a nice job portraying Beyah’s home life throughout the novel as well. Her mannerisms and memories of being poor didn’t magically disappear when she moved in with her dad and their money.

I also really enjoyed Samson’s character and the mystery that surrounded him. I was weary of him through the whole book because of his inability to answer almost any question, but I looked past it and felt attracted to him just as Beyah does. I loved the relationship they built with each other and what we were able to learn about each of them, through the other. They made me feel an array of emotions and I loved every second of it!

Besides the main characters, I loved the secondary ones too! They brought a lot to the story and really helped us find out who Beyah and Samson truly were. I liked the quirkiness that Beyah’s stepsister brought to the table and I did like how her dad tried to redeem himself for Beyah.

Overall, the plot of this story was fun and I definitely didn’t see the plot twist coming (I guess that’s the point)! The story showed the complexity of Beyah’s life well and showed how she made the best for herself in crappy situations. There were so many times that Beyah could have given up and fallen into the same troubles as her mother, but she persevered. Along with the plot, I loved the writing (per usual). CH used amazing imagery and personification of the ocean throughout the story and it just helped add to the atmosphere.

I think I would have liked an epilogue at the end of the story, kind of looking into the future and seeing where Samson and Beyah were in life. I think that would have added the last bit of closure I needed for the story. Sometimes I felt that I wasn’t reading a CoHo book. I’ve read a good chunk of her stories and this one felt a little different at times, and then it didn’t. I think that may be why I didn’t give it 5 stars. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but something felt a little off and unusual for her. Still, I wasn’t disappointed and very much enjoyed the story!

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I love Colleen Hoover! This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year (as is her book coming out later this year) and it lived up to the hype I gave it in my head. Also, the cover is BEAUTIFUL. I have a signed copy coming next month and I can’t wait! I read this on my kindle and it was a quick read. I highly recommend this book!

Book Reviews

After Book Review

“I bring out the worst in you and you bring out the best in me.”

Anna Todd
2/5 Skulls (stars)

Synopsis

This book started as a fanfiction published on Wattpad. It’s based on the boys of One Direction, with Harry Styles (Hardin) being the main bad boy.

Tessa is 18 and headed off to college. She’s a straight A, 4.0 student and can’t wait to dive into her studies. Upon arrival to her dorm, Tessa meets Steph, feisty, tattooed, and completely opposite from her roommate. Steph convinces Tessa to come to a frat party and Tessa meets the rest of the gang, the most interesting being bad boy, Hardin Scott. Tessa and Hardin are drawn together, but Hardin is a bit of a wild card. He’s hot and then he’s cold, extremely cocky and rude, but Tessa can’t find it in herself to leave him alone.

My Thoughts

I picked up this book at target because I knew it was based on One Direction…and having used to love 1D (specifically Harry), I had to read this! Then I heard from multiple people and from reviews that it is not the best read. I can confirm…I have A LOT of thoughts about this book and I will do my best not to ramble in this review!

First of all, I am so angry at the portrayal of Harry Styles. Why in the world is he written as a toxic, cruel, evil man? Obviously I don’t know Harry, but I feel like Hardin’s character was a poor attempt at creating this bad boy fantasy out of Harry. Hardin Scott is an absolute asshole and I wish he didn’t exist. I thought Travis from Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster was bad…nope, Hardin makes him look like an angel. Hardin may be THE most toxic male character I have ever met. The amount of times he belittled, insulted, threatened, and emotionally abused Tessa was ridiculous. I really don’t know why this is the male personality that is being glorified and lusted after. Being about 1D, this book is going to be a draw to younger audiences (mid teens). Hardin is not the type of boy that girls should be reading about and fantasizing about. If you look up a checklist for emotionally abusive men, you will see things like demanding/controlling, unrealistic expectations, rushes into relationships, copes with drinkin, is hypersensitive, extremely jealous, and that’s just naming a few. If you look at Hardin Scott’s personality, he has every single one of these traits, aka he is the epitome of emotionally abusive.

Tessa was this sweet, naive girl, coming to college and getting the rug ripped out from under her. I wanted to jump into the pages and shake some sense into her so many times. I don’t know how she didn’t have more emotional problems because of him. I would guess that more are shown in the second book, because that ending ruined me, and I just read it. Tessa’s character lived through the shitshow that Hardin and her so called friends put her through. I don’t know how she could bounce back from that. However, seeing as she gave Hardin 1000+ chances (after saying ‘one more chance’ a million times) I have a feeling she’ll end up back in his presence in the following books.

I know that this relationship is a reality for a lot of women, and I feel for them. I know that Tessa was young and new to this life, but all the people in her life didn’t try hard enough to help her. Hardin’s friends knew his personality, and warned Tessa, but didn’t bother to help her. Seeing her family life made me think that she didn’t know better and may have been drawn to his verbal abuse. I just don’t know. I hate that these are the male characters that are portrayed and what girls want. I don’t want to believe it, but here we are. I’d imagine if I were 8 years younger, I’d love this book. I’d probably think that Hardin was frustrating, but wouldn’t really see an error in his ways. Young women and men need to be educated about mental and verbal abuse, abuse in general, and books like this are not helpful.

Although…Tessa’s mom was also verbally abusive and controlling and awful, so no wonder she didn’t know any better. Again…education would be helpful. Also…can I just say that even though Noah was extremely irritating, I do not think he deserved to be treated how Tessa treated him. She isn’t innocent either…hold yourself accountable girl.

The ending of this book had my blood boiling. I was so unbelievably pissed at how Hardin and the friends did Tessa dirty. His personality sucked enough, but that ending was the cherry on top. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable and unstable their actions made Tessa.

The one positive thing about the book is the chapter length. They were the perfect length and I was able to breeze through them because of how short they were. I did like Sasha, but seeing as she was in on the BS the friend group pulled, she’s on my nono list.

After I read the book, I tried to watch the movie. First, the movie is a washed down version of the book. Hardin is nowhere near the same character. He has his flaws, but he’s just a hot British boy with some anger issues. Nowhere near as extreme as in the book. Second, the sequence of events in the movie are out of whack and a lot of important parts were skipped. There were also random scenes added and I think they try to portray Hardin as this awesome dude, but I’m not buying it. Third, the relationships that were dominant in the book were not evident in the movie. We didn’t really see the strain Hardin and his dad had, Tessa’s mom wasn’t nearly as bad, the friend group wasn’t thoroughly explored, and so on. I did skip around a lot because it was awkward and I was irritated by how different the two were.

Overall, I gave this two stars because I was invested in the story. It gave me SO MANY feelings (mostly those relating to rage), but I needed to know how it panned out. The ending wasn’t my cup of tea and I wished better for Tessa. Although…even though I hate myself for it, I may or may not have ordered the second book. I need to know how this trainwreck ends and if that means having to subject myself to more…I will. I know I just trashed the book and here I am going to dive into the next one, I’m a hypocrite, but also a sucker for character development. Here’s to hoping that Hardin either changes or seeks the help that he needs.

Book Reviews

Girl in Pieces Book Review

“Go be absolutely, positively, fucking angelic.”

Kathleen Glasgow
3/5 Bikes (stars)

Synopsis

Charlie is 17 years old and has experienced things no one should have to go through. She’s been homeless, lived on the streets, lived in a sex house, was abused and raped, and resorted to self harm to try and escape the terrible reality that she was living. Charlie ends up in a place for other girls that have been in similar situations. She attends therapy and sticks to a strict schedule. Eventually, Charlie is released and has to learn to live with her past while creating a future for herself…in the hot location of Tucson Arizona. There, she meets a strange cluster of people and has to figure out how to not be pulled into a downward spiral by some.

My Thoughts

First of all, this book DEFINITELY needs content warnings. Sorry if they spoil anything for you, but I feel they are important.

Content Warnings: self harm, suicide, substance abuse, abuse, rape

Characters:

  • We were introduced to a lot of characters in this book. Charlie, the main character/narrator, had so many thoughts. I felt a lot of the time, that Glasgow could have left out some of the thoughts that Charlie was having; some that didn’t further the plot of the story/were very repetitive. I did like Charlie’s ability to tell the story, but felt that a lot from her own story was missing.
  • The other girls in the beginning of the book: Some of them were very interesting! Blue was a great character and I’m glad we got to see more of her. I would have loved to see more from Louisa and a few of the other characters Charlie met.
  • The True Grit crew: What a diverse, yet oddly similar, set of people. Riley was the typical damaged male that had A LOT of issues. I didn’t quite like the huge age gap between them (she was 17 and he’s 27). I feel like he could have been younger and still had the same issues, as we see in a lot of other books. His sister Julie was an enabler and I didn’t like her at all. She knew her brother had issues, yet she just let it happen because he had a rough childhood and she had to protect him. I don’t know about you, but if my little brother had drug issues and was constantly stealing from me and making shit decisions, I’d make sure he got help…or at least wouldn’t turn a blind eye to him. I did love Tanner and Linus though. I thought they were great secondary characters and liked that we got to see more of them near the end of the book.
  • Charlie’s friend Mikey…love him and also hate him. He did help Charlie when she needed help the most, but his lifestyle had him on the road constantly so he wasn’t really around to help her in person. I understand his part in the book, but feel like the same events could have happened without him.

Writing/Plot

  • I thought the writing was decent. Some of it really dragged for me and at times I felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere. I struggled getting through the beginning of the book because I was bored with it. There wasn’t really any crucial information that was being shared and I felt like there were so many characters introduced to us at once, I was lost.
  • The story also barely touched on Charlie’s past. We got snippets here and there, but nothing really in depth. We know what happened to her, on the surface, with Frank and why she did what she did, but I would have liked to see more in her head during those times (I know it was traumatic for her, but it would help build the plot some more).
  • I did like that Glasgow reintroduced Blue into the story because that added some spice. I was really over the Riley situation and adding Blue gave me drive to continue reading.
  • When covering difficult topics, Glasgow did get Charlie’s thoughts out there. I felt like I understood Charlie and how she was feeling at any given time. I also appreciated the emphasis that recovery takes time and has no definite end, as well as it is different for each individual. Charlie wasn’t magically healed by the end of the book. She had relapses and setbacks, but she moved forward; something positive for her even if she didn’t notice at first.

Overall…this was an okay book. I wouldn’t rush to read it again, but I am glad that I read it. However, is no one going to talk about the cover or the chapter breaks? The red, cut marks on the cover are pretty tasteless and using the same cut marks to separate thoughts was pretty unsettling. I know it’s a main plot point of the book, but different art could have been used (since Charlie is an artist). Someone who struggles with self-harm or has a history could very easily be triggered by just seeing the cover of this book in the store. Not the best move on the publisher’s part.

I would love to hear what others thought about this book!

Book Reviews

The Thing About Jellyfish Book Review

There’s no single right way to say goodbye to someone you love. But the most important thing is that you keep some part of them inside you.”

Ali Benjamin
4/5 Jellyfish (stars)

Synopsis

A seventh grader, named Suzy, loses her best friend, Franny, in a drowning incident. However, Suzy is convinced that Franny didn’t drown, but instead, was stung by an extremely rare and dangerous jellyfish. After hearing the news about Franny, Suzy retreats into herself and refuses to talk. She spends her time researching jellyfish and trying to decide what professional she wants to reach out to for help so that she can prove her theory. Suzy finds out things about jellyfish and herself in her long journey of dealing with loss of someone near and dear to her.

My Thoughts

First, I had zero expectations going into this book. I bought it because I loved the title and the cover. When I started reading it, I realized it was about a middle schooler that has experienced the loss of a friend. I didn’t know if I was going to like this book very much after the first handful of pages, but I am so happy that I continued.

Being a science teacher I loved that the sections of the book are split up to represent the parts of research/the scientific method. It really emphasized the efforts that Suzy was putting into her research and was a great outline for the research she had to do for her class project, too!

I enjoyed Suzy’s character a lot. Even though she didn’t talk to people, her internal thoughts were so detailed and emphasized how observant she was to what was going on around her. I really felt what she was feeling when she was feeling it. I think she is a relatable character, especially for the age group she portrays (middle school). Her parents were divorced and she had to split her time between them, she experienced a big loss, and dealt with all the same things that kids in middle school do. I think if a 13 year old read this book they may find themselves relating to Suzy more than they anticipated.

To me, Suzy’s research means so much more than just figuring out the cause of her friend’s death. She is convinced that things just don’t happen and that there is a reason/cause. Her research, in my eyes, was a way for Suzy to also find and define herself, this version of her without her best friend. She’s looking for a way to remedy her friend’s death, but deep down, Suzy is looking for who she is. On the surface, yeah it seems like she is obsessed with solving her friend’s death, but there’s more to Suzy than that and, I think the reader can see that before Suzy does.

Suzy’s narrations are also believable and real. She has extraordinary thoughts for her age, but then she does have ideas/thoughts that remind readers that she is only in 7th grade. Since I teach 7th grade, I can see a lot of my students in Suzy and the story really touched my heart because I related to it in that way. I also appreciated the jellyfish aspect of the story. I liked how facts were thrown in about jellyfish and it was a fun way to learn about the creatures. The way that Ali Benjamin described jellyfish was beautiful as well. One that sticks out to me particularly is when she describes their tentacles as reminding Suzy of Franny’s fiery hair.

If I didn’t teach middle schoolers, I don’t necessarily think that I would have loved this book as much as I did. It was a great middle grade story that could even go into the younger ages of the young adult genre! Nonetheless, I still loved the story. I haven’t read anything like this for a while and I enjoyed the tie in of nature.

Overall, this earned 4 stars from me and I hope that I can encourage others (maybe younger readers) to pick up this book. Whenever I get back to school, this may just live in my classroom library!

Book Reviews

Home Before Dark Book Review

Every house has a story to tell and a secret to share”

Riley Sager – Home Before Dark
5/5 Haunted Houses (stars)

Synopsis

When Maggie Holt was five years old, she and her parents spent 20 days living in Baneberry Hall, a creepy mansion with a dark past. Maggie’s father wrote a story about their days in that house, claiming it was a horror house. Maggie doesn’t remember anything and doesn’t believe a word in her dad’s “horror novel”. After her dad passes, Maggie finds that the house is now hers and she decides to go get it ready to sell. Despite her father’s final warning to Maggie to not go back, she goes to try and uncover the truth in those dark and horrifying 20 days, even if it means unburying some old ghosts.

My Thoughts

This was a much anticipated read for me and I finally got it from Book of the Month. I knew close to nothing about this book but was very intrigued by the cover and the title, so I went out on a limb and gave it a shot.

The first 40 pages or so of this book, I was a bit irritated because it was very similar to the Netflix series, the Haunting of Hill House. I read that book and the series was nothing like it…this book does a better job outlining and telling that story, that one would easily think the show is based off of this book. The haunted house, the short stay, the spooky things happening, the grounds keeper, etc., all are things that were part of the show too! However, I love a Haunting of Hill House and was quickly over my irritation. I almost wished that the show was based off of this book (but maybe the book was based off the show…who knows?!).

The writing of this book was fantastic. The chapters rotated from Maggie’s perspective to the chapters in her father’s novel. It was so interesting to be able to read a book inside of a book. Sager did a phenomenal job connecting the present perspective with the book’s perspective. For example: One of Maggie’s chapters ends with the sentence; “Some promises do indeed need to be broken” and the next chapter (from her dad’s book) starts with “I need you to make a promise”. This happens quite a few times and I loved how it flowed so nicely even though it was two different perspectives. The chapters complimented each other very well.

I also think that having this “book in a book” aspect added to the mystery and suspense of the story. I was so invested in the story Maggie’s dad wrote, that I was believing every word of it, even if Maggie didn’t (maybe I’m gullible?). His book really brought the horror aspect of the story and then intensified the things Maggie felt and experienced during her short stay as an adult.

I enjoyed Maggie very much. Seeing the story unfold through her eyes and watching her hatch out the mysteries of the house step by step was fascinating. Having to dive into this time of her life that she only knew from the pages in her father’s book was hard for Maggie. It added to the suspense of the story. I found myself trying to decide if her father’s book was fiction of non-fiction and then I was on my toes as Maggie began digging into the past of Baneberry Hall.

Holy Plot-Twist x 2! I didn’t see the ending coming at all (also because I’m dumb when it comes to twists). I was thrown through a loop twice at the end of this book and I loved every second of it! Sager did a fantastic job building the characters, the suspense, making readers formulate their own ideas, and then he threw a wrench in everything and had me reading faster than ever before!

I couldn’t put this book down. From the first chapter I was invested in what was happening in Baneberry Hall. I also loved that the house itself was portrayed as a character; “it never forgets”, “it remembers”, “it breathes”, things like that make the house so much more than just a setting. Some of my favorite thrillers have the setting become like a character and I can add this book to that list too!

There were some parts where I would have liked some more description or scare factor, but other than that, I can’t complain about this book! It wrapped up nicely and I didn’t feel like it was rushed or dragged on. I’ll say it again too, I REALLY loved the book inside of a book writing style too. I recently read Colleen Hoover’s Verity and that also has a similar writing style (I enjoyed that book too, a fun mystery…also a bit creepy).

Overall, I can’t rave enough about this. I’m going to talk my fiance into reading this book because he also loves the Haunting of Hill House and I think he’ll love this book. I may or may not have been raving about it when I finished and it got him interested.

So…if you got anything out of this, let it be to READ THIS BOOK! If you like a good thriller/mystery, this is a great one to try! It had my skin crawling a few times and I was definitely creeped out too!

Buy this book here!