Tenderness (Robert Cormier)

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Eighteen-year-old Eric has just been released from juvenile detention for murdering his parents. Now he’s looking for tenderness–tenderness he finds in killing girls. Fifteen-year-old Lori has run away from home again. Emotionally naive and sexually precocious, she is also looking for tenderness–tenderness that she finds in Eric. Will Lori and Eric be each other’s salvation or destruction? 

Basically, I only finished this book because it was so much shorter than most. Had it been longer, I would have DNF it.

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I didn’t one star this because of the topic, I’m a big girl. I one started it because it was b o r i n g. Plain and simple.

Lori is awful. She’s dumb and clueless and that’s all I can tell you without spoilers. And Eric is the knock-off junior high version of Joe from YOU.

I didn’t even like the writing.

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*sigh* Yet another YA that I didn’t like.

The Roanoke Girls (Amy Engel)

IMG_0818After 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. 

I
Loved
This
B O O K!

And let me just tell you why right now. You don’t have to pull up a seat, it won’t take long.

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The author’s writing in The Roanoke Girls was just as powerful as the subject matter the book tackled. And hot damn is it a trigger-filled story. Just…absolutely crazy. That’s the only head of warning you get from me.

“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or die.”

But like I said, the author’s writing and over all the construction and lay out of the entire plot was incredible. Trust it. Embrace it. It will pull you in so far you don’t even see it coming. The alternating past and present scenes did this book so well! It does suck because I did guess the plot twist but that still didn’t steer me away from the book. Not. At. All.

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Basically my stomach churned, my anxiety was sky high, I felt dirty and I cringed so many damn times.

And I LOVED IT!!!

People will judge me for liking this one. I’ll hear about it. And I can’t wait.

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The Silent Wife (A. S. A. Harrison)

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A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers.

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

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This book was excruciating. I should have known that from the minute I seen the caption “So much better than Gone Girl!!” on the back of the book *face palm*. Gone Girl wasn’t good, I should have known from that point on. Authors, when you have people blurb your book, and they put anything relevant to Gone Girl on the cover, I won’t read it. I’ve learned my lesson. Please stop doing it!

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My biggest complaint with this book was I wanted to know how the story ends, I knew it just HAD to be good but then I got to the end and was left with a blank stare on my face. Really? That’s the ending you’re giving me? Where is the twist? The OMG factor? The “how did that happen!?!” moment? Not to mention I was already irked off enough because this book is marketed as “thriller” and “suspense” but there was none of that. It was a basic book. With a basic ending.

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Another thing I didn’t like was the random scenes thrown in throughout the entire book. Scenes that played no relevance to the plot. None at all. I got to the end and said “okay, so what was the point with blah blah blah?” Spoiler alert: THERE WAS NO POINT.

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When you read the blurb, you’re expecting a chilling and high suspense novel but the story itself is not that. The story was boring. Point blank. No climax, no plot, no story line, boring characters, dull. The title? How is Jodi a silent wife? She very much was vocal and present, I don’t get it. I’m still lost. How do you like a book with not one but two unlikeable characters? I have no idea.

A Different Blue (Amy Harmon)

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Blue Echohawk doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing.

This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don’t know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can’t love you back might be impossible.

Once upon a time, I picked up A Different Blue, the last of Amy’s books that I hadn’t read yet and surprise, surprise…adored it. Gobbled it up.

Amy Harmon doesn’t write bad books, y’all. I bet she never does either. And the best thing about her books is they’re all so diverse and the messages they all provide is so heartwarming.

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My most favorite thing about Amy is she doesn’t have to have a book chalk full of romance and smut. Better put as: S E X. Amy doesn’t need that detail strung out chapter after chapter. She diligently writes her stories with beautiful words that in turn evokes beautiful feelings. That, to me, is a million times better than full blown romance and sex scene after sex scene.

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The characters in A Different Blue were probably my favorite ones from Amy Harmon to date. Wilson and Blue form such a dynamic bond from the start that I instantly latched onto. And Blue herself was a strong and dominate character. A woman who was growing but wasn’t afraid of the growth she would undergo.

So, for those who are searching and for those who want to be found or for those who are trying to understand…read this book. Read. This. Book.

The Unrequited (Saffron A Kent)

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Layla Robinson is not crazy. She is suffering from unrequited love. But it’s time to move on. No more stalking, no more obsessive calling.

What she needs is a distraction. The blue-eyed guy she keeps seeing around campus could be a great one—only he is the new poetry professor—the married poetry professor.

Thomas Abrams is a stereotypical artist—rude, arrogant, and broody—but his glares and taunts don’t scare Layla. She might be bad at poetry, but she is good at reading between the lines. Beneath his prickly façade, Thomas is lonely, and Layla wants to know why. Obsessively.

Sometimes you do get what you want. Sometimes you end up in the storage room of a bar with your professor and you kiss him. Sometimes he kisses you back like the world is ending and he will never get to kiss you again. He kisses you until you forget the years of unrequited love; you forget all the rules, and you dare to reach for something that is not yours.

A lot of things drive me to read books like this. But the biggest thing with The Unrequited was the authors writing. It was not only neat it was mesmerizing. I couldn’t look away or stop reading it. I had to mentally tell myself to put it down even though it only took me a day to read this book.

I like tropes like this book because they push my anxiety. They make me tense and breathe hard. But it also makes want more. That’s the kind of things I’m looking for when I read a book. I want that WANT and The Unrequited gave me that and so much more.

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Layla and Thomas are not only Unrequited lovers but they’re two very similar people who are looking for the same thing but have many complications along the way. MANY. But hot damn, they’re so worth it.

I really enjoyed this book, it wholly consumed my day and I’m in no way complaining. Four gold crazy stars for you, Layla girl!

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The Butterfly Garden (Dot Hutchison)

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Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

YIKES. Talk about a crappy ending. And that’s putting it lightly. It kind of makes me want to take back all of the time I spent reading this book. And when I sit down and ponder, one word comes to mind:

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A N T I – C L I M A C T I C

The Butterfly Garden started out so poetically and well written. The author took it’s time with the construction of the story line and details surrounding the book and as a reader I appreciated that. But what the hell…did the author just sit down and let their 7 year old child write the ending? Ugh. What happened? Did they get bored?

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The book had great detail but I still struggled with picturing how the garden looked. I mean…WHAT exactly was it? Someone probably needs to draw me a pretty picture. I’m slow.

I just…the writing was superb. It was really well done. But I wouldn’t consider this a thriller. At all. I honestly don’t know what I would consider it. A bed time story? A story a person tells when they’re bored? I don’t know, either way…the ending was rushed, sloppy, and not delivered in a way that I was happy with.

Until it Fades (KA Tucker)

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Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.

For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades? 

I have no words. I haven’t had a book hit me in the feels like this from KA Tucker since Ten Tiny Breaths. That’s not me saying her others weren’t good, they were. But this one packed the punch! This was hands down THE BEST slow burn I have read of 2017 thus far. Get that insta love crap out of here because KA has brought it with Until it Fades.

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Brett’s characteristics really stick out to me. He brought this book full circle for me. His involvement in Catherine and Brenna’s life was absolutely incredible to me. Very realistic and mind opening to me as well. Especially that he embraced them both for who they were with no questions asked. He was just an all around great character.

I also want to talk about the dialogue and conversations between the characters. They were all written so diligently and it wasn’t just used as “fillers” within the book. They actually had MEANING, can you believe it? The character interaction basically flowed off of the pages right into my face. That’s the good stuff right there.

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Secondary characters are a huge plus for me in all books that I read and KA absolutely delivers! I can’t pick just one, they all brought a smile to my face at some point in the book. Especially Lou. And Jack. And Keith. SEE! I can’t pick just one.

I’m recommending this to every one. I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t appreciate this story and fall in love with these characters. And if I find that person they should find a new hobby besides reading.

The Weight of Life (Whitney Barbetti)

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-Mila-
“Don’t let go.” Those were my first words to him, as I hung over the side of a London bridge. The words I would soon say again, in a moment that didn’t involve bridges, but something much more fragile: my heart.

He held onto me for three weeks, in a time when I needed to be held. Needed to connect to someone who understood how loss tunneled unrepentantly through the fabric of your soul.

Although he said he’d stay, we both knew he wouldn’t. I had already survived one loss—I didn’t know if I’d survive another.

-Ames-
She spun into my life like a tornado of smiles and chatter and everything else I’d long avoided, with a persistence that I admired, albeit begrudgingly. She broke down each neat wall I’d constructed without even trying. Her presence alone caused me to remember what it felt like to smile, to look forward to what the day would bring.

But it was only supposed to last three weeks.

“Don’t let go,” she’d pleaded.

I’d promised her I wouldn’t—but I would. I didn’t have a choice. 

What Whitney did with this book was bring two completely different people from two completely different worlds together and make me believe in them and love them and accept them for all that they are.

In The Weight of Life not only do we have two strangers meeting unconventionally but we have an established connection. And a strong one at that! A connection that Whitney so diligently delivers to readers without forcing it or shoving it into their faces. Without saying “here is Ames. Here is Mila. Love them.” Slowly, Whitney eases us into their lives and their surroundings and it’s an ease and comfortability we never knew we were looking for.

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Ames. Ugh, I couldn’t have asked for a more developed character. Watching his growth from the beginning of the book and to the end and the way he opens up and transforms one chapter at a time was one of my absolute most favorite things in this book. And Mila, she’s so different from Whitney’s other characters but one of my favorites nonetheless. Whitney took a ray of sunshine and gave her so many real feelings that I hurt for her. So many flaws and proof that even the happy ones hurt. Even when she didn’t want her hurt to show.

“Summer.” When I crinkled my brow, he took a sip of his sangria. I could feel his heart calm, the beats slow to a rhythm not unlike my own. “The sun shines the longest in the summer, making the days last longer than the nights. And when I first saw you on the bridge, you looked like summer to me. It made no sense, not at that time of night, on the cusp of fall, that I could look at you and see so much sun. There’s comfort in night, in the dark—a safety that the sun cannot guarantee.”

Not very often do I find books like this. Just…a good love story. Two good people with two good hearts. Two souls and two weights of life. Two stars plus two stars plus one. FIVE!

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The Tutor (K Larsen)

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After a party gone wrong and in desperate need of money for the fall semester of college, twenty-year-old Nora Robertson needs to escape her hometown.

She accepts a summer long live-in tutoring job for a handsome man and his little sister at a secluded home deep in the mountains.

There is no running water.

No electricity.

No internet or cell service.

When her tutoring job ends she’s hit with a brutal turn of events … she’s not permitted to leave. After months in captivity, she makes a harrowing escape with her student that ends in a car accident on a desolate road. When Nora comes to, her student is missing. In a desperate attempt to find the girl, Nora will have to recount her time held captive.

The good and the bad.

Can Nora and the authorities work together to find the man who took her? Will they rescue the girl Nora tried to save?

Author’s Note: This is a dark romantic suspense.
Trigger warning: all of them. This will not elicit warm fuzzy feelings

We are gonna jump right into it, and when I say it I mean my most favorite thing about this entire book. The POV’s.

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The more POV’s the better for me and The Tutor provided just that. I loved the consistency of them all as well. They weren’t just all thrown together in random places, they were placed in all of the right places and exactly where they needed to be in the story. I imagine this is a hard task for authors to keep straight but props to K. Larsen.

“Only ever you.”

My other favorite thing about The Tutor was Nora and her many layers of psychological struggles. The good ones and the bad ones. She was an ever growing character with internal struggles that I couldn’t look away from as a reader.

My only complaint with this book was that I would have actually preferred MORE details in some of the chapters. They were almost too short for me and there were so many things that I wanted to know MORE about.

Another thing, the twist wasn’t insane or mind blowing like some of the reviews I read, I feel like they were over playing it but it was believable to me. It was realistic and to me that’s better than an over dramatic plot twist. Stockholm syndrome is real, y’all! And I love it.

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This wasn’t the darkest and angsiest read I’ve ever read but it didn’t fall short for me. I was easily pleased. I might have provided the blurb but I always do that because I always read blurbs last. DO NOT READ THIS BLURB! Don’t do it! I mean it.

Puddle Jumping (Amber Johnson)

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When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart. 

All of my feelings are gone and out the door. I read this book in one sitting. I didn’t go pee. Or eat. I DEVOURED this book. For so many reasons. Here, let me show you why with just ONE paragraph from Puddle Jumping:

“I don’t believe there’s such a thing as conventional love. Love is bending. Love is breaking. Love is constantly learning about the other person until you go crazy because it will never be perfect, but there’s no fault in trying. I’ve loved a boy who was extraordinary beyond words, in my eyes. I don’t think I’d ever wanted to live an exceptional life before him. A life filled with color and knowledge and feeling beautiful.”

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That is why. Right there. Because Amber Johnson wrote a very overwhelming story about a boy and a girl and it wasn’t your typical boy and girl book. It was so much more than that. It was what we need as readers. It was what we go out and actively search for. Because sometimes we need to pick up a book that makes us feel what we don’t normally feel and understand people we don’t usually encounter.

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Everything about this book enveloped me into this tight ball of emotions and just left me clinging to every single word this author was writing. The cover and the significance of it all and the way it all ties together and Jesus H Christ I can’t even..

Lilly and her patience and kind heart and Colton and his…I can’t even tell you because I don’t want you to know. I could go on and on. But they’re both the most extraordinary characters I have ever read about. Colton might be special to every one else but Lilly was just as special if not more. Two special people I will hold near and dear to my heart.

You know what, read this book. I’ll shut up, just go read the book.