Evol (Cynthia A. Rodriguez)

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Denise and Gavin are over.

381 days into their love affair, Gavin shut the door and Denise is all alone.

At day 380, Denise is trying to figure out how to salvage what’s left of their relationship and by day 200, they are even happier than the day they met; day 1 when Denise knows beginnings are merely endings in disguise.

But what doesn’t kill us will break our hearts.

Travel back 381 days and bear witness to the goodbye before the hello.


“Because when you love big, you never fully come back from it. Big love makes big mistakes and comes back even bigger.” 

I have to say this: Cynthia A. Rodriguez has a type of writing that is cathartic, emotional, and vulnerable all at the same. With me saying that, she created a unique story that left me grasping for more of her words. Gimme more. 

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“Women should never build shrines with the pieces of their broken hearts. No man can ever compete with the god you create from memories.”

I whole-heartedly LOVE the idea of telling stories in reverse. I was first introduced to it last year and have been yearning for more so when I seen Cynthia’s cover reveal I knew exactly what it was going to be. I had to have it. 

But when I read it, it was way more than that. I love the way it’s told simply because the redemption and healing of the characters involved in this story line show themselves in completely different lights. And it really freaking worked. 

“Love. Something so universal and sought after. Didn’t the world know that the same thing stitching you up was the thing that ripped you to shreds to begin with?”

I really want to point out Cynthia’s poignant and poetic writing. AGAIN. I wish I could copy and paste my entire notebook of kindle highlights but I feel like that would be the whole book and well, that’s illegal so…

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This is my first novel by Cynthia but it damn sure won’t be my last. Not a chance. Seeing Denise and Gavin’s love from end to beginning was just as heart breaking as it would have been from beginning to end. 

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One of Us is Lying (Karen M. McManus)

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Buy Link: (you can also check your library! That is where I found my copy)
https://amzn.to/2wFhLhT


Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”


“You make friends. I use the term loosely. You identify the least shitty people you can find and associate with them. Moving around in a pack is useful. You don’t break rules, but you look the other way when someone else does.”

What could possibly be better than one unreliable narrator? FOUR of them. No really- there is four of them and it was incredibly delectable. I really enjoyed reading One of Us is Lying and the plot within it. The first couple of chapters I really struggled with it, but once I sat down and consistently read I thoroughly enjoyed the premise the author was following and the directions she was taking us.

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My favorite part was how well the author captivated these four different students with each of their POV’s. It was exciting and fresh every time you started a new POV and not once did any of the characters sound the same (which happens a lot when authors write multiple POV books). I can’t stress that enough actually. The author’s writing and construction of this entire story and the characters involved was mind blowing.

I also want to point out Addy’s character growth because HELLO GIRL YES.

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Despite knowing how the book was going to turn out, the mystery aspect being told was so much fun to me. I enjoyed it even if I knew what was happening and I think that speaks volumes about an authors talent. I had such a good time getting to know these students and their secrets that not once did I ever say to myself “oh I know what is going to happen, this is boring.” Because there was so much more to this story than the mystery itself. There are topics that the author touches on that these students struggle with that are nicely done and not done for dramatic effects.

With a compelling story-line and characters and a fast-paced plot, I was hooked later rather than sooner but still devoured this read nonetheless. All of the questions and plot holes are all summed up nicely and everything was so vivid from the writing, to the settings, to the characters.

Baby Teeth (Zoje Stage)

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Preorder Link: https://amzn.to/2rEfcqm

Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.


“There’s nothing scarier than loving a child and not understanding what they’re trying to tell you.” 

Dysfunctional families are one of my favorite things to read about in a book. Throw in a dysfunctional child and I am so there! I really enjoyed Baby Teeth because every time you turned the page there was a new element and action to analyze and pick apart. Are these parents good parents? Is Hanna really that bad? What is driving her to do these things? I LOVED over-analyzing everything within this story. Contemplating all of the things that could happen or did happen was so much fun for me. 

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The authors writing was straight up chilling and the way she wrote from Hanna’s POV grabbed my attention from the get go. The eerie tone and psychotic thoughts were some of my favorite parts. She seemed wise beyond her years which made it that much more creepy. The author did a great job at making Hanna as creepy as she was and Suzette just as clueless and naive as she was, same with Alex. 

I did have an issue with some plot holes. They weren’t major but there were definitely some things I would have liked to of found out. But…

The ending was oddly satisfying to me. It just…was. 

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Baby Teeth was just what I was expecting and more. It did a great job at depicting the struggle that occurs when a mother and daughter don’t bond. I feel like Suzette and Hanna both deal with issues pertaining to abandonment and exclusion and when mixed together they just don’t have the bond most parents have with their child. And that turns scary…for both. 

Shallow (Yessi Smith)

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Fake.
Shallow.
Brinley Crassus
Sedlacek College Preparatory High School’s princess. 
She belittled the weak, the easy prey, using her victims to cover her own wounds. 

Loner. 
Outsider. 
Roderick Roher
Sedlacek College Preparatory High School’s freak.
He didn’t need anyone, only the script that bled from his soul.

He was the boy she turned her back on when he needed her the most. 
When she needed him the most. 

Words tore them apart, and ultimately brought them back together. But once again, callous whispers fell from betrayed lips, threatening to destroy what they’d vowed to protect.

When the echo of their argument leaves their relationship in turmoil, Brinley and Roderick are faced with the ultimate decision – fight desperately together or surrender to lives apart.


“Alone isn’t such a tragedy when you’re trapped in a past that holds no future.” 

Shallow was an interesting read for me. I’m not typically one to jump for a YA novel but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed this book much more than I thought that I would (which is always a treat in itself).

Yessi’s writing has transformed tremendously. That is the first thing I noticed with Shallow. I think this genre is for her because her writing is the strongest than it has been before, in my opinion. The flow and the punch of the words was fantastic.

I can honestly say I haven’t read a book like this before. The way Yessi incorporated all of the poetry into the story was just another added bonus for me. Not to mention the way the characters went from shallow to characters full of depth. I love seeing character growth and both of the main characters transformed in an awesome way.

For being the first YA novel that Yessi has wrote, I think she has found her calling. The hugest thing that impressed me with Shallow was her writing, I cannot stress that enough. It bled off the pages and onto these characters which in return brought them to life for me.

Pieces of Eight (Whitney Barbetti)

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Pre-order link:
https://amzn.to/2jAuvgn

Six was always there, even when I didn’t want him.

But he couldn’t hold me together, and I couldn’t be his penance.

Loss is a phantom limb. No one can see it, but the ache torments you in the night, distracts you during the day, and leaves you fragmented. I’m half a heart, half a soul, and nothing could cure the pieces he’d left behind.

Losing him was safer than loving him. Because the love that kept us coming back again and again was nothing short of madness.

But then, isn’t mad love the most honest?


“I hated him so much. I loved him more.”

I have never been more proud of Whitney Barbetti than I am right here in this moment. After finishing Pieces of Eight and delving into my feelings I realized I had felt happiness and contention more than I ever have before. I’m sad that Mira & Six’s story is over, but I am not sad about getting there and experiencing these two characters lives, together & separately.

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My favorite thing about Pieces of Eight was Mira & Six (naturally) but let me tell you why. I enjoyed these two being apart for a little while because it showed me who they truly were as individuals. I can 100% say I am so proud of the person Mira has become. The Mira who is calm, cool, and collected, but has no problem doing what needs to be done still. Sober Mira. Strong Mira. Mira. Not Mira and Six. Just Mira. But I do want to also add that Six was a fully grown character to me as well. We seen sides of him in POE that we most definitely did not see in SFU. And that to me was so special. Raw and ragged Six, showing feelings and telling them, was my aesthetic. It was JUST what we as readers needed after reading SFU and experiencing a different side of Six.

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Whitney did a fantastic job at creating a story that spans years and still follows a story line that drops a huge twist (AND WHEN I SAY TWIST BOY IS IT A TWIST!) that fits perfectly with said story line and plot. Her writing provided me with vivid pictures and clarity of every situation going on at the moment. Have I mentioned how much I love her writing in these two stories? It’s immaculate. It’s a Whitney Barbetti I have never seen before so I know it’s one ya’ll haven’t seen before.

POE was a very character driven story, the tone alone is 10x different than SFU but I enjoyed it for that very reason. It ends in a sense that reminded me of Mud Vein. We make our own endings, even if we are shit at it, like Mira. Six and Mira’s future is for us and us only. It is what we want it to be and I love that.

I hold these two very near and dear to my heart. They have embedded themselves in me forever. They led me to places I have never experienced before and because of that I am truly thankful. Reading about Mira and Six has been the best ride of my life. I am so happy that you guys get to experience it too.

The Surviving Trace (Calia Read)

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Will is my fiancé. The shy man I met years ago in college. The person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with. 

This is the life I’ve always wanted until finding a picture of four men changes everything…

Etienne says he’s my husband and the year is 1912. He can’t stand the sight of me, but I don’t know why. 

Oh, and he’s one of the men from the picture. 

I’ve done the impossible and have become trapped in time and I know Etienne is my key to going home.

The more time I spend with Etienne, the further I fall for him, until I’m questioning which time I belong in and if the life I left behind is the one I truly desire. 

All I know for certain is I need to survive time. 

I need to survive love. 

And I need to make it out on the other side alive.


“Truth be told, I think I’ve always been slipping away. I’ve been walking the tightrope between all the yesterday and tomorrows for a long time. At some point, I was bound to fall. In a few seconds, everything will be over.”

Well…shit. Just…shit.

I am going to break this review down into three different parts. That’s the easiest way that I can think of to do this because I want to gush so much about these three things in particular that my fingers might not ever stop typing.

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Writing, plot, and characters.

The writing:
Calia has this way with her words that most authors do not have. I say that with complete confidence as a reader and as a reviewer. The distinction between Calia and other authors is her clarity and her vividness. Her settings, her characters, and events- they’re all so clear and vivid to me because she’s so careful with her words and structures. It’s captivating, actually. I can’t look away from her books even if I tried. With The Surviving Trace, Calia so strategically crafts a time that she doesn’t stray from or get lost on. She writes what she knows about the present world and then she never strays from the other time frame that takes place during this story. There are no slip ups, no mishaps. You don’t get confused for even one second. The words within these pages flow so smoothly they put melted butter to shame.

“Love is your hoarse cries. It’s your anger. It’s your sadness.
It’s your happiness and laughter.
It’s everything wrapped into one.
Love is one of the heaviest of words to exist.
It’s a miracle anyone survives it. 
It’d be a wonder if I survive it.”

The characters:
It was so fascinating seeing and feeling Serene and Etienne together. It was all consuming and overwhelming. There is really no other way for me to put that. I felt like I lived within these characters. Their pain- was mine. Their happiness- was mine. And I didn’t just feel that with them, I felt that with Calia’s secondary characters too. They all had a purpose and a specific place and Calia executed them all so wonderfully.

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The plot:
WOW! I just loved this plot line. That is all I can really say about that. I can’t say much but I still wanted to touch on it. When authors take their time and don’t force a book- it all comes together wrapped like a nicely package present. And The Surviving Trace is the epitome of this.

I felt exhilaration, angst, and excitment. I felt longing for characters that, as a reader, I haven’t felt in SO LONG. And for that, I am forever endebted to Calia Read.

Bittersweet Always (Ella Fields)

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Buy link:
https://amzn.to/2IfmV8V

Toby Hawthorne was an enigma.
One I didn’t factor into my college plans.

I wasn’t looking for love.
I wasn’t not looking for it either.
And in that state of in-between, he found me.

Unaware of the battle he fought everyday, I fell fast. 
By the time I found out, it was too late.
Because I wanted everything.
Every broken, lost part of him.

I knew I couldn’t fix him.
I could only love him.
But I should’ve known better than to think that was enough.


“I knew you had your demons, Toby, and I know it’s got to hurt, but I never thought you’d let them hurt me too.”

My three stars is not bad. It’s also not negative in any way. I want to put that out there first. I am just slightly torn on how to compartmentalize some of the things that happened in this book. I’m torn on how to feel about those things. We all read books differently and we all have “quirks”. I also realize I will probably be the only three-star review with this book so I hope once people read this they see that it’s not a bad thing. The book overall was a great read filled with smooth flowing writing and a great story line.

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While I believe that Ella handled this subject with sensitivity, she romanticized it. And that’s a huge pet peeve for me. I don’t like for any of my books to be romanticized by mental illness. There’s a way to write and execute it (Six Feet Under by Whitney Barbetti & Some Sort of Happy by Melanie Harlow are two of my favorites) and there is a way to put it into a book for the sake of the romance and dramatic effect, which is what happened in Bittersweet Always. With me saying that- it’s not a bad thing. I don’t think it is at all. I mean, authors have to write about something and some choose this but I just had a hard time rooting for Toby and Pippa. Which leads me to my next point.

I loved Toby and Pippa. But I did not love them together. They were not the type of toxic that I typically enjoy (that’s weird to say, right?) Their characters were such strong characters until you put them in a scene together. And this was partially because a lot of the first half of the book was really rushed. The pacing was off for me. I didn’t get the time I needed with Toby and Pippa, together, they just sort of…happened. WAM, A COUPLE. There was also a part in this book that I won’t name that Toby’s POV was very necessary but for a few chapters we actually don’t see it. In this particular circumstance- I felt it was needed more than Pippa’s was. I think it would have helped me really connect with Toby.

“It gets loud inside my head. But when you’re around, it’s a little quieter. More bearable.”

However, I devoured Ella’s writing and the internal dialogue that is Pippa. She was quite a fun character who had a lot of potential and depth. I loved the incorporation of Daisy and Quinn as well considering I loved Suddenly Forbidden. So, it was nice to be back with some people that we are all familiar with.

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I think if you’re looking for a book that romanticizes mental illness, one that isn’t so “dark” and overwhelming- Bittersweet Always is for you. I particularly like the ones that are deeper and more emotional when it comes to mental illness, but with me saying that I didn’t hate this book and I didn’t love it. I liked it. I enjoyed the story-line and I enjoyed the banter and writing.