Touched (Mara White)

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-Does your sister let you touch her, Gemini?
-Barely, but, yes, more than anyone else. I remember even in preschool when the teacher would grab her hand, she’d stare at the spot where their skin connected as if it were an affront to her existence. Just stand there and glare like she wanted to hurt someone.
-Junipera suffers from a rare phobia.
-Please, what does June not suffer from?
-When did she start chasing storms?
-In third grade she started obsessing about the rain. Full blown? I’d say after hurricane Katrina she never looked back. And she didn’t just chase them, June became those wild storms.

Junipera and Gemini Jones, Irish twins born during the month of June, survive a childhood of neglect and poverty by looking out for one another. Destined for a group home, the girls are rescued by a rich aunt and uncle who move them from Northern Minnesota to Fairfield, Connecticut. One sister thrives while the other spins out of control. A violent assault leaves Gemini searching for clues, but what she finds might be questions that are better left unanswered.


JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER.

I am screaming Mara White’s name from all of the rooftops, here and there and everywhere. If you haven’t read any of her books, you’re definitely missing out!

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Mara is a master story teller and not only can she tell bomb stories, that girl can WRITE. And not only THAT but she crafts three dynamic characters that were so deep I needed my arm floaties! I do need to say this: Junipera was incredible. The intensity that her presence created throughout the story was just unfathomable. She engulfed me whole.

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“He gave Gem his lonely heart and she ate it.”

My only kink with the book was the POV’s and time frames. It was a little jumpy and took me more time than what I would like to catch up to speed on what was going on. I had to turn back a page or two a couple of times and in turn that takes a lot more time than I’d like.

“The storm had seduced her sister and she could see it clearly in her eyes. My sister is in an intimate relationship with Mother Nature.”

The title of the book fits the theme of the story to a T. The irony shouldn’t be lost on the reader in ANY way. If you finish the book and don’t see how the title fits in with the story of the book you’re missing a sliver of the story that is so important.

“It felt alive, like being in the center of the storm. Potential to rip you apart limb by limb, tear your head off if it wanted to, but there in the moment, it’s just pure connections. A connection and at the same time, a perfect solitude.”

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Mara White could write in her sleep. I’m convinced she can do this job like it was no big thing. Like she was just writing down a grocery list. Easy peazy. I loved her other books and I loved Touched. I love her, who am I even kidding! Let me love you, Mara!

 

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The Evolution of Ivy: Antidote (Lauren Campbell)

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“It should have been easier.

I changed everything. Became the beauty I didn’t think he’d resist. Lived the lie I thought he could love.

I sacrificed my soul to recover the years that she took from us, yet I’m still empty-handed.

But he’s mine. I’ve earned him. It’s time to collect my prize, and I’ll be damned if I let anyone come between us this late in the game.

If only I’d known my greatest obstacle would be me.”


Listen. I’m a huge fan of Lauren’s work and her individually and I’m also a huge fan of Ivy and Brooks. The first book in this duet was INSANE! But it was a good type of insane. It was an insane that entertained me and kept me flipping pages all through the night. But let’s just cut to the chase with this book, Antidote…

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It was exhausting. That is the only way I can think of putting it, honestly. If it wasn’t about Ivy coming up with ways to be a damsel in distress for Brooks’ attention it was about Brooks internally telling himself over and over again NOT to sleep with Ivy. Not to be with Ivy. Ultimately, I’m a smart reader, I get it. And personally, I really loved Brooks in the first book, Poison. And besides him constantly talking to himself internally, he was still my favorite.

Where was my OG Ivy at? The determined one? The one who fought with teeth and nail and didn’t have to resort to petty actions? The one who KNEW what she wanted and how she wanted it. Bring her back because “oh pity me…oh pay attention to me Brooks…oh help me Brooks!” wasn’t cutting it for me. GIRL, WHERE ARE YOU!? The one in the first book seemed like a completely different character than the one in the second. And I didn’t even see the growth. It sort of just…happened.

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This book still has fantastic writing. I’m in awe of Lauren’s capability to plot and construct such a great story but redundancy was a huge issue for me in this book. Cycles. Repetitive. Then you get an exciting moment three quarters of the way. It was so much repetition which in turns makes me want to skim the book. And let’s face it. That is no good. I think the cause of this repetition was because the book was rushed. All of the events taking place seemed like they were just thrown together.

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For an author who was originally going to put out three books and downsized it to two, I feel like Lauren made the smart choice. These characters are ones that I will always enjoy but the story line in Antidote I just…didn’t.

Final Girls (Riley Sager)

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Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


I liked this book. Full on, enjoyed it. I found it hard to put down two nights in a row. You just gotta push past the first few chapters.

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Quincy. Girl, you are one cray-cray person. Give me some of those Xanax.

The author did a great a great job at constructing characters the way they needed to be displayed to the reader. They made you question every single motive and action they had and I love that. I love not being able to trust anybody and unreliable narrators. It’s my favorite thing! Using my mind as my own. So awesome.

Ugh…Some things I guessed. Flat out nailed it. I won’t even lie to you right now. BUT!

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Some things I didn’t. The balance of the predictions and non-predictions were enough to keep me on my toes full force. And the way the author wrote the book, with flashbacks and timeframes, were a nice touch to keep me hooked enough to keep going.

Although the first couple of chapters are slow building, once you push past them the pacing is incredible. The turns and twists are on every page and you pick up so many things that in turn take you to the end. Did you guess it all? Some of it?

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Final Girls is one of the better thrillers I have read this year and I was not a bit disappointed. The author took a fantastic premise and wove a nice little story leaving the reader to use their brain and play out all of the possibilities and I’m a huge advocate of that.

Without Merit (Colleen Hoover)

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The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Poignant and powerful, Without Merit explores the layers of lies that tie a family together and the power of love and truth.


I feel like this review is a little harder for me to write. Mainly because I have this weird relationship/connection with Merit. I don’t think I liked her too much because I identified with her too much. I saw a lot of myself within Merit. But alas, without Merit (see what I did there) this book wouldn’t have been what it was.

“So many secrets in this house. And yet, the one secret I should have told years ago is the one I’ve kept the quietest.”

The only thing I had a huge issue with was the father. And while I won’t go into details because I don’t roll with spoilers in my reviews, I just don’t like how a lot of the issues were handled by him. But I understand why Colleen wrote it that way. Every family has their issues and their flaws.

Now I will say this, when Colleen says on social media that this is unlike anything she has wrote before, I agree with her. It’s not. Take all of those expectations away because they won’t be exceeded. Maybe this is what happens when Hopeless and Slammed come together and make a cute little baby. And the best part about ALL of it is in true Colleen nature, she brings you through some darkness and rough patches but she is always following through with that wrap around, that good stuff, that happiness.

My favorite part of the entire book is the layers. The layers of Merit, of Honor, Utah, Sagan. ALL of their layers. And Colleen spares no one. All of those said layers are uncovered at a wonderful pace that keeps you turning the pages.

To all of Colleen’s readers, this book will portray something beautiful. Something that every one might be struggling with. You could relate to any of the characters in Without Merit and still come out with a smile on your face. Because hot damn. Colleen knows how to tell one hell of a story.

Bad Girls Don’t Die (Katie Alender)

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Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents’ marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.

Alexis wants to think that it’s all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening–to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she’s the only person who can stop Kasey — but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore? 


Okay. I did not see this book going in the direction it went. At all. This was not at all what I thought it was going to be. How does that even happen? I do not know but…

I loved it.

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I’m going to write out a whole review about this book and not tell you what it’s about. Not a single thing. That’s fair right? Well wait, let me tell you this about it: it’s creepy and it’s eerie. This type of thing freaks me out in real life. It can happen…I’m sure it HAS happened. Close your doors, lock them, and get under your covers.

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For someone Alexis’ age, she was very like-able. I enjoyed reading about her throughout this entire book and never once did I get tired of her drive and her constant strength and determination. The fierceness she showed for her sister was admirable because it’s something I would struggle with had this all happened to me.

Kasey sucked. But, you’ll soon learn why.

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The tone of the book was mysterious enough to keep my eyes glued to the screen of my kindle. It’s probably not the spookiest book you’ve read but for a YA novel I was impressed.

Now, although it took Alexis a while to figure it what I had already figured out was happening, I wasn’t even mad about it. I enjoyed the ride and the story more so than me trying to depict every tiny thing that was going to happen or why it was going to happen.

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Another YA book down for me and this one was very appealing! There isn’t much that I didn’t like and I was glued from the get go. This is also a debut novel from an author I had never heard of and I’m stunned. The word flow and the story line were entwined so vividly I could see it all playing out in my head with zero struggle.

This book is a yes from me!

Fierce Kingdom (Gin Phillips)

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An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running.

Joan’s intimate knowledge of her son and of the zoo itself—the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines—is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger. 


I liked this book. Genuinely liked this book. As a whole, it was a good read that kept me glued to the pages.

I was so caught up with the story and the events taking place within the zoo that I didn’t even think about how Fierce Kingdom would or could end and I’m very disappointed in myself for that because when I got to the ending I was thoroughly unhappy. Deflated. I was built up and then let down. Not even let down easily.

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The first part of the book was so gripping. I was so wrapped up in Joan and Lincoln that I couldn’t think straight. The middle part of the book I wanted to take a nap. And I probably could have and I wouldn’t have missed anything. Almost to the end I was holding my breath and eager to see what would happen next and then the end of the book I rolled my eyes and said “REALLY?”

Pet peeve #1: Joan, my girl. You had a phone. Good for you for telling your husband but what about the police? Their digits are easy, girl! 911. Give them a holler!

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Another killer for me was the plot holes. Big. Fat. Plot holes. What about the baby? The teacher? Kailynn? Lincoln? Do we just…move on from those? I don’t move on easily. I have to know the things!

The author could have navigated the POVs a little better than what she did. They were kind of sloppy and thrown all over the place. I was confused the first couple of times she switched it on us but was ultimately able to catch back up as the pages went on.

As a mother, this book is just not fathomable to me. My anxiety was through the roof, sure but as a reader I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. This book is the best example on why some books should have an epilogue. A book that should have been crafted a tad bit better throughout so maybe the ending could have delivered.

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Speed (BB Easton)

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Because BB Easton had so much fun writing her bestselling, award-winning memoir, 44 CHAPTERS ABOUT 4 MEN, she decided to give each of her four men his own steamy standalone! SPEED is the second book in the 44 Chapters spin-off series—a gritty, taboo love triangle overflowing with dark humor and tangible teen angst. It is based on a true story.

After her possessive, psychopathic, rage-fueled ex, Knight, joins the Marines, sixteen-year-old BB is left trying, and failing, to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart. It isn’t until she meets Harley James—an easy-going, tattooed mechanic with a face as angelic as his habits are sinful—that she learns how to live again. How to laugh again. But will she learn to love again?

Over Knight’s dead body.


The first thing that I want to say in this post is: I love internal monologue BB! I love her so much I could squeal. Her sarcasm and internal banter with herself is what I live for. I know that even when the moment is going to be a super serious one and my anxiety is going to spike up, internal BB is going to make her way to the top first and make things a little more bearable for my anxiety before anything else.

“For too long I’d left my heart vulnerable to monsters. I’d let them take and take ant take. My innocence, my devotion, my freedom, my control. I would have given on of them my whole future, if he’d ask. But he didn’t. He left instead. He was always leaving. For a year I’d been mourning him, even when he was right in front of me. I’d worked my way from the pits of despair, to the highs of false hope, through the battlefields of anger, and had finally arrived at acceptance. I was resigned to our fates. But the remorse never came.”

I really feel like I liked this book more than I did Skin. I liked Skin because I liked going back in time and I loved BB’s writing. I didn’t like who Knight was in Skin though but in Speed, I FINALLY understood what BB had seen in him and I can see now how his mark was eternally left on BB. In Skin I couldn’t. But that doesn’t mean I was rooting for him either! I feel like between Harley and Knight, I can’t root for any of them. I don’t feel drawn to either of them. But I can sure as hell root for BB. Because I AM drawn to BB. Through everything that raged within her and everything that happened to her, I rooted for her. I was 100% pulling for her and she did it.

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Sidenote: Um, and how awesome was Dave? Because ya girl could use a little novella on some Dave…hint hint.

I don’t sit here and question what BB went through and what she didn’t and if it was true or wasn’t true. We all have those stories for ourselves. I do, however, sit here in awe of her story telling capabilities and her way of captivating readers. She’s the real deal. The adult in me doesn’t approve of A LOT of the things that happened in this book but the teenage me says “girl, I done been there done that too, why didn’t we do this all together?”

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