We Were Liars (E. Lockhart)

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A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I really want to five star this. I really REALLY want to. I’m completely satisfied as a reader but I just can’t pinpoint one reason as to why I am not giving this five stars. That’s strange to me. But this is a really big four star review for me nonetheless and definitely a book I would love to recommend to anyone whether you are a new found reader or an “old timer” looking for something different.

I. Devoured. It.

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I haven’t enjoyed a YA like this one in a very long time and that is incredible to me. Mainly because I don’t typically sway towards YA books. There is just something about the writing that I can’t latch onto. BUT I think the main reason I enjoyed We Were Liars so much was because of the writing. I LOVED the writing. It was descriptive but not too descriptive. It gave us just what we needed to make us feel like we were actually in the story. Not to mention the prose was beautiful.

I wasn’t connected to any of the characters but the gripping story and tone of the book kept me connected to the story as an entirety. For me it was the mystery. It was the unreliable narrator (which is one of my favorite things about reading). And the biggest shock to me about this book was just when I thought I didn’t care about the Liars, I did. I really truly did. And I was shocked.

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I like reading books that aren’t predictable. I don’t like knowing what is going to happen or what story line it is going to fall into. And I like reading books that have incredible endings and We Were Liars just falls into all of those categories for me.

If you read this book: go in blind. Just do it. It is the best thing that I could have done. No reviews. No blurbs. Nothing. If you liked Courtney Cole’s Nocte trilogy you are going to devour this book. Happy reading all!

Up in the Treehouse (K. K. Allen)

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I wanted to tell him all my secrets, but he became one of them instead.

Chloe Rivers never thought she would keep secrets from her best friend. Then again, she never imagined she would fall in love with him either. When she finally reveals her feelings, rejection shatters her, rendering her vulnerable and sending her straight into the destructive arms of the wrong guy.

Gavin Rhodes never saw the betrayal coming. It crushes him. Chloe has always been his forbidden fantasy–sweet, tempting, and beautiful. But when the opportunity finally presents itself, he makes the biggest mistake of all and denies her.

Now it’s too late . . .

Four years after a devastating tragedy, Chloe and Gavin find themselves crashing back into each other’s lives. Haunted by the past, they’re forced to come to terms with all that has transpired to find the peace they deserve. Except they can’t seem to get near each other without combatting an intense emotional connection that brings them right back to where it all started . . . their childhood treehouse.

Chloe still holds her secrets close, but this time she isn’t the only one with something to hide. Can their deep-rooted connection survive the destruction of innocence?

I haven’t dove back into a “romance” in a while but when a friend of mine recommended this one I jumped right back into it.

And it was AWESOME.

And it was ANGSTY.

And it reminded me of all of the reasons why I love contemporary romance and that I do enjoy reading it.

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The storyline in Up in a Treehouse was just adorable. But the friends to lover hook sealed the deal for me. Because that means, yep you guessed it! NO INSTALOVE! *throws confetti*

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All kidding aside, the whole structure of the book was magnificent and well built. From the alternating POV’s, the wonderful use of flashbacks, and the added bonuses of the journal entries you were sure to stay in the loop continually. Never wandering or straying from any element in the story.

Secondary characters mean the entire world to me and let me just say, there are some great ones in this book. But no one tops Monica. The one I thought I would hate the most. She was so wise beyond her years and a positive staple to the whole story. The characters in Up in a Treehouse were just fantastic. I could gush about them for hours.

For a fun romance with complex and flawed and wonderfully crafted characters you will want to pick this book up. I know that if I had the time, I would have read this in one setting. The palpable chemistry built between two people was just beautiful.

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But, it wasn’t just a book about love and blah blah blah. It actually portrayed messages that needed to be heard. It wasn’t cheesy. It wasn’t boring. It’s what we as readers need. I’m glad I read this, I hope you are too!

This is Where it Ends (Marieke Nijkamp)

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10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

* two stars only because the cover is wonderful.

Thoroughly disappointed. Thankful I checked out the book from my local library rather than purchasing it. I am just feeling…MEH.

Let us begin, shall we?

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The whole time during this book I felt like I was trapped in that One Tree Hill episode. You know, the one where Jimmy shoots the school up and all of the characters are trapped in there and we experience the shooting through each of their perspectives. Yeah, this book was just like that. I was just more emotional and connected to the One Tree Hill version though. (If this is a spoiler for you I am offended. Every one should have watched OTH especially this episode.)

This book takes place over the duration of an hour. One single hour. But it felt like I was trapped with them in that school auditorium for much longer. I think it felt that way because the author went back and forth with POV’s way too frequently and at one point all of the characters literally ran together for me. I couldn’t keep anybody’s stories or characteristics or relationships straight. I kept having to go back and look. I should have just drawn a diagram. Or put the book down.

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Also I feel like I need to add, you get roughly three minutes in each characters POV back and forth back and forth. But it’s three minutes full of pointless flashbacks that have NOTHING to do with the story on hand (except for maybe three things) and it’s rather exhausting.

Let me just point out that there is one huge plot hole that you will never ever get an answer to. “What did Tyler do to you?” HELLO! AUTHOR! COME ON! WHAT DID HE DO? Frustrating.

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I am disappointed because the author just throws in a character, puts a gun in his hand, and makes him shoot up a school. But WHY does he do it? What drove him? What did it take for him or her to just…”snap”? There is never a detailed trip down memory lane or even the shooters POV for at least 5 minutes for us to see what happened and what led him down the path he chose. That’s annoying.

The “live tweeting” was completely annoying and unnecessary to me. “Oh no! A shooter! Let me grab my phone so I can tweet this on Twitter.” No. Just stop. I don’t think it should even have been put in the book at all.

The story was just way too undeveloped for my taste. I am not saying that it needed more detail or descriptions but it needed a message. There was no message portrayed to the reader. I feel like with a subject this drastic it needed to have LESS drama and more impact. More…meaning. I’m glad it didn’t take me long to get through this one. I feel like I might have DNF it.

Before I Go To Sleep (S. J. Watkins)

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As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child, thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me…

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love–all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life  

Wow! Great read. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Actually, it was a very riveting read. For a debut author and novel, I am so impressed.

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Here are my two cons: 50%…BORING. Christ, I lost my momentum and I basically just wanted a nap. Okay, so I did stop there and take a nap but that is besides the point. Once I hit 75% I was ready to rock on again. Sadly, the ending didn’t please me in the way I was hoping it would but all in all it was a very enjoyable read.

Christine was such a complex and interesting character. Her POV got me through this entire book. Every bit of it. It was fascinating the way she navigated through her days. How she navigated. What she did and what she thought. She was so thought provoking for me as a reader and constantly kept me on my toes. Was she reliable? WHO is reliable? What is going to happen now? What will happen if she does THAT?

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The narrative was my absolute most favorite thing about this entire book. It was infused with Christine’s fear, confusion, and panic as she pieced through the days of her life, past and present. Her memory makes her extremely vulnerable but nonetheless she is a very strong character. A smart character.

The complexity of Before I Go To Sleep was just brilliant. I’m very happy I picked this one up. Four solid stars.

Bad Boy (Elliot Wake fka Leah Raeder)

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Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

I liked this book because I love Blythe, Armin, Laney, and Ellis. I loved Black Iris. So that is a plus…?

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Bad Boy is actually very melodramatic and actually kind of hmm, “weird”. I found the whole idea of “Black Iris” very unrealistic in this book and it made me see Laney, Blythe, Armin and Ellis in a different view point. I found them to be rude, heinous, sad and honestly I think I would have preferred not to see them again at all because Elliot ruined them for me. There, I said it. I didn’t like how he portrayed them at all. I wish he had actually compiled a whole new story line and plot for Bad Boy and Ren. I feel like I would have actually enjoyed the book more.

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So, one minute we are following Ren around Umbra with Black Iris and all of their plans and the next minute Black Iris gets thrown in the back seat for pretty much the ENTIRE book and we are kind of just thrown into Ren’s struggle with transitioning into a male and his struggle with his personal life. So yeah, I’m a tad confused as to what the plot of this story is. A trans gendered man struggling? Or crime fighting vigilantes? I feel like it was 87% a memoir or autobiography of Elliot’s personal life.

And that’s OKAY! I just don’t feel like the two other plots should have been thrown in there if that was the case. Give it a different story completely.

The writing wasn’t even as good as Unteachable or Black Iris. Where was the prose? The flow? I would recommend reading Black Iris first (which was tremendous) because it follows the same people and story line. But at the same time, if you read Black Iris first and absolutely love it I’m afraid you won’t like Bad Boy.

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Lucian Divine (Renee Carlino)

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“My guardian angel is a drunk.”

Evelyn Casey’s life is at a standstill. She’s in her mid-twenties, struggling with the dating scene in San Francisco. Nothing seems to be working out, and she’s starting to think that she’ll live out her days in her crummy apartment with her overbearing roommate, Brooklyn. It’s absurd, but sometimes Evey longs for a guardian angel to show up and save the day.

And then he does. Seriously. His name is Lucian and he’s a guardian angel, been on the job for two thousand years. His sudden presence in her life is both good—he’s brilliant, witty, and warm—and bad—he’s brilliant, witty, warm, and hot as —-. But as perfect as Lucian seems, he’s got problems of his own. He’s taken up drinking and he’s brazenly inserted himself into Evey’s life, going against the greatest cosmic law ever created.

For Evey, the rules are simple: You are not allowed to hook up with your guardian angel. But sometimes fulfilling your destiny requires a leap of faith, a confrontation with God.

Yes, God as in God.

I don’t know Renee personally but I trust her. I trust her as a reader. I trust her to write a book and deliver it to me that just makes me feel whole and like a human being with feelings. I love that and this book was no different.

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Here’s a disclaimer though for anyone who is skeptic about reading this book because of what others say: IT’S NOT A PARANORMAL. So please don’t make that assumption based on the synopsis. and if you’re the one spreading that around, shame on you!

I have been steering myself away from the contemporary romance books that sprout up every day but I wanted to snag Renee’s book and read it because she’s an automatic for me. She is the cliché of “every book of hers that I have ever read I have LOVED.” I’m not just saying that to say it or to release hot air. I mean it 100%.

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The alternating POV’s were a nice touch to the story. Lucian’s thoughts and actions were just as important and crucial as Evey’s were. Plus we all know I love me some male POV.

“Isn’t love supposed to be easy? Isn’t love supposed to be fun? The moment you fall in love, you become acutely aware of all the different ways the person you love can die. It’s sickening. It’s morbid and painful and heart-wrenching, and it’s all totally, completely worth it.”

As I sit here and think about Lucian Divine and Evey and Lucian and how to put my feelings into thoughts and words I’m truly struggling. Very rarely do you pick up books that teach you something valuable. I like to read Taylor Jenkins Reid for that exact reason. But it’s also why I like to read Renee’s books. The messages they carry is sometimes overwhelming. They pack big punches to the gut and when you finish the book you are compiling a list of all the ways you can use this book in real life. Lucian Divine was no different.

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This is more than an “eye rolling romance”. It’s a story about protection and hope. Of faith and love. I, for one am so glad that I read it. In less than 24 hours might I add. I hope that every one falls in love with not only Lucian but Evey just as I did.

Dark Places (Gillian Flynn)

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Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer. 

I’m honestly impressed. Mainly because Sharp Objects and Gone Girl were such huge flops for me. So, redemption in the form of Dark Places is a nice thing.

Gore. Blood. Disturbing. Harsh. Filth. Dark Places.

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I didn’t like a lot of the characters, actually I don’t think I liked any. Maybe Lyle? Meh, even he was strange. I don’t know, they were all pretty terrible. But I liked the story. I was borderline obsessed. I wanted to be greedy with all of the details so that I could keep them all to myself and solve everything on my own. Na-na-boo-boo. And Gillian let us do that! Her writing was so eerie that the pieces you picked up on, they were all yours. To piece however way you wanted them to fit.

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. It’s the Day blood. Something’s wrong with it. I was never a good little girl, and I got worse after the murders. Little Orphan Libby grew up sullen and boneless, shuffled around a group of lesser relatives—second cousins and great-aunts and friends of friends—stuck in a series of mobile homes or rotting ranch houses all across Kansas. Me going to school in my dead sisters’ hand-me-downs: Shirts with mustardy armpits. Pants with baggy bottoms, comically loose, held on with a raggedy belt cinched to the farthest hole. In class photos my hair was always crooked—barrettes hanging loosely from strands, as if they were airborne objects caught in the tangles—and I always had bulging pockets under my eyes, drunk-landlady eyes. Maybe a grudging curve of the lips where a smile should be. Maybe. I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.”

I shared that because it’s an amazing part of the book. It really is.

I really liked the multiple POV’s and the past and present way of writing out the story. It felt more believable in that sense. Not to mention, Gillian seems to always tie up her loose ends. Leaving nothing for the reader to sit and wonder on. “But what happened with….” No, none of that here. I’ll give her that.

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My one complaint is this: the ending wasn’t as “explosive” as I thought it would be. It didn’t end how I wanted it to, I guess you could say. But the way it ended wasn’t horrible either.

Dark Places was an emotionally dark story that really had great development. I’m really happy that I picked it up and read it. If you like solving cold case files or murder cases, Dark Places is for you.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (Bryn Greenwood)

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As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

I don’t think this book is what all of the negative reviews say it is. This book might tackle a “tough” subject but to me it is about comfort, safety, love, nurture, trust and all of the words that describe someone’s happiness. I think it’s uncomfortable and out of everybody’s “norm” so they have a hard time embracing the real message that this book portrays. And to me, that’s okay.

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In all of the ugly things in the world, you can have a beautiful. A beautiful, wonderful thing. And that’s exactly what the book is about.

The differing POV’s was just brilliant. I enjoyed going through Wavy’s life through the eyes of her peers and friends and family. You never had to worry what was going through a certain persons mind in any of the situations that occurred in this book because the author made sure to draw everything out for you as you read each chapter.

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There was a downside, unfortunately. The book was very repetitive. The first 30% I flew through, I honestly couldn’t put it down at all. But about a third of the way through I lost interest and got disconnected. It took a while for me to get fully connected and invested all over again which is a total bummer.

Another down side for me was how the author portrayed Kellan. Not only the author but the characters too. It was like the author tried to force us to be turned away from him. Did you want us to just think he was this giant, fat, ugly monster? Why? Just stop. I get it, you don’t want him to be attractive!

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The main thing about this book to me wasn’t the plot, the characters, or the prose. It was the authors writing. How she didn’t have to manipulate readers into thoughts. We got to develop our own. To me, what was going on was acceptable (in a sense) because Kellan wasn’t driven by sexual fantasies. He wanted to protect Wavy from the day to day things she encountered. People grow up. People explore feelings. They’re vulnerable to what they’re comfortable with. He was her safe place.

So, although the book may be uncomfortable and “gross” you feel so emotionally confused because your empathy for Wavy is off the charts. Your yearning for her is so indescribable. I can understand how this book would be a huge hit or miss. You’re either going to love it or hate it. You won’t find a middle ground on it.

Imposter (K. Larsen)

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In idyllic Brunswick, Maine, a tragedy strikes, leaving one family struggling to stay together.

7 year old Sophie Anderson vanished from a neighbors front lawn in 2006 leaving the Anderson family reeling. Helen, a mother who never gave up hope.
Sam, a father who couldn’t cope. Cora, the even keeled sister and Shane, the angry half brother fought to maintain their family after losing Sophie.

Just when the Anderson’s thought they had moved past Sophie’s disappearance,
Cora finds Sophie shivering behind a dumpster in Portland, Maine 10 years later.

As Sophie integrates back into her family home a series of dark revelations rear their ugly heads leaving you wondering… is anyone who you think they are? 

It’s just….it’s not a Jezebel. Which is a bummer. But I can deal. I can handle it!

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Larsen has a talent for writing. It’s unnerving. She develops great plots and story lines and her characters are always so diverse and real. I just couldn’t grasp the concept of this one.

A big thing for me: I’m really annoyed at the fact that almost every chapter started in first person but then randomly changed to third person. “Today I walked down to blah blah and I seen blah blah” “…but she didn’t know who she ran into to. She didn’t know what would happen.” Stuff like that. Stuff that should have been caught. Stuff that makes my eye twitch.

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There’s no huge “twist” or shock factor in Imposter because the way the chapters are structured, the title of the book, and the way the story is told you pick up on everything from the start. But it’s almost a compliment? Larsen wrote such realistic characters that you could see their predictability a mile away. Like when you see a chapter called “Ava” it’s obvious who she is. Or when you see one labeled “Cora” it’s obvious who she is. It was just all predictable. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! It just takes some of the suspense out of it.

I’m also frustrated with the fact that we don’t get anything from Shane’s perspective. Even at the end. Nothing. We don’t get anything regarding him. I feel like we could have gotten a little of something regarding him. I’m irritated with the fact that people hid things for TEN YEARS and went about their lives like it was just a typical day. I don’t know, that just really disturbed me.

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Basically, I love K. Larsen. I love her books, I loved Jezebel, and I love her writing style. She’s artistically different and I’ll probably continue reading everything she puts out. But this one just wasn’t all I was hoping it would be.