The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)

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Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced.


One of the coolest thriller/mystery story lines I have read in a quite a while and to top it off, it had an even cooler twist. And to top THAT off, the cover fits in perfectly with the story line.

I wanted to start out by saying that the author did a fantastic job at creating such a “spooky” atmosphere for the reader. Both past and present, I was creeped out. And for this storyline- that was much needed. It set the entire theme for both of the timelines and it was executed perfectly.

With me saying that, the dual timeline in the story was MUCH needed and much appreciated (ya girl is thankful). The structure of it worked so well that I was completely enthralled with all of the characters involve, past and present. If I was reading about the 1950’s I was happy. If I was reading in 2014, I was happy too. It was a complete win-win for me.

The pacing of the book was superb. It kept me hooked the entire time and constantly turning the pages. With all of the questions I had building up in my head, I was given all of the answers. Like the author herself just knew it would need to be done that way.

The story as a whole was clever and very bone chilling. Haunting and captivating. I’m very glad to know that out there in a pool full of “Gone Girl” and “The Woman on the Train” (or whatever it was called) comparison books, The Broken Girls was WAY more than all of those books. It restored my faith in the thriller/suspense genre.

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The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (Mariana Zapata)

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Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?


“Maybe that was the thing about love I never understood before Aiden. Like football and art, like anything that anyone in the world has ever wanted, love was a dream. And just like a dream, there were no assurances behind it. It didn’t grow on its own. It didn’t blossom without food to feed it.
It was the greatest in its subtleties.
It was the strongest in its selflessness.
And it could be forever with someone who wasn’t afraid to never give up on the possibilities it presents.”

The word perfect will be used a lot in this review. A L O T. Fair warning.

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I don’t know where to even start. I honestly don’t. But I do know this. I know that I have found a new author to binge read. HARD. (Thanks, Stephanie!) I get so excited thinking about all of the Mariana Zapata books I get to read next. But for now, I think I’m just going to start this review with what I noticed right off the bat.

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The pacing of this story. It’s slow. Hence the word “slow burn” and when you read that I am not even exaggerating. BUT, it’s not a bad type of slow. If you know me, as a reader I am not a fan of the insta-love. I enjoy feeling the way the characters are feeling and falling right in that exact moment that they do and Mariana does a wonderful job of that by utilizing the tool of slow burn romance. She done did it, and she did it right. And when you have a slow burn romance something else fits so perfectly hand in hand with it…

CHARACTER GROWTH IS A REAL THING, Y’ALL. AND MARIANA ZAPATA DOMINATED IT WITH THIS STORY. 

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The way they change and adjust to each other was awkward, imperfect, and it was a lengthy process but it was perfect, for me anyways. That is the only word I know to use to describe it all. Actually, the perfect words to described it all is direct from Vanessa herself: “Ovaries. Where were my ovaries?” Because the attraction you will develop towards Aiden is so overwhelming you hardly even see it coming. Blind-sided at its finest as each chapter goes by.

I’m just going to put it like this…I don’t even like onions. But if I had to pick a favorite, Aiden Graves is my favorite kind. The kind you keep peeling the layers back on and seeing more and more of who he really is. He melted me. And then his layers made my eyes get heavy and my heart swoon more than a few times. He probably didn’t even mean to do it. That’s how good and kind he is.

“In that moment, I don’t think I had ever loved anything half as much as I loved Aiden.”

Watching Vanessa’s growth and her back bone really transform was incredible. From the first page she had a spunk about her that just drew me in but the further you read on, the more she grows and its fantastic. Given the cards she was dealt with, she is so head strong on becoming the person that she ends up being. Not to mention her internal dialogue was what dreams are made of. She had me laughing SO MANY TIMES I lost count within the first quarter of the book.

“Home is where you are. I would go anywhere for you if you wanted me to be there.”

I think the review says enough about Mariana’s writing too. I mean, you can’t have all of these fantastic qualities without having good writing, right? I shouldn’t have to touch on that too much to make you realize that it was JUST PERFECT OK.

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Mark me down for a Team Graves t-shirt, coffee cup, stickers. You know what…mark me down for everything Aiden and Vanessa and my new-found love of Mariana. Just, mark me down.

Punk 57 (Penelope Douglas)

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“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it. 


“Alone. Empty. Fraud. Shame. Fear,” he murmurs, holding me tighter. “Don’t you get it yet? You don’t have to be afraid or embarrassed. No one does you better than you. You can’t be replaced. Not everyone will see that, but only you need to”

Y’all already know, don’t even act surprised. *sticks hand out*

High school.
Angst.
Drama.
Brooding, tattooed, pierced, emo guy. (drool)
Witty and hard headed girl.

I am ALL IN. All the way in. Not just the tip, I’m ALL THE WAY THERE. So, if you don’t like that type of thing, don’t read Punk 57. I say that in the kindest way.

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And don’t roll your judge-y eyes at me. That NA genre angst is such a guilty pleasure for me. But only when it’s done right, and let me tell you: Penelope did it right. My tiny heart squeezed a few times and I got goosebumps while reading more than a few times. I’m a complete sucker for it.

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Yes, this was a romance but this romance was way different than the type that you would usually come across. It’s much more than what you are probably thinking that it is, there is just no other way to put it. And not only that- it tackles way more subjects that should be talked about MORE. Especially in high school, and for that, I appreciate what Penelope did. The subject matters and the way she approached them overwhelmed me in a sense mainly because I didn’t see it coming, but I am so glad that it did. They are so important.

“You want to be loved without risking consequence, so you reach out to get the attention you need while enjoying the luxury of taking no responsibility for those words.”

I also loved how the title fit into the story line. It made everything much more complete for me.

I especially loved the characters. Well, the good ones that is. And I really loved Ryen. Which is tough, because a lot of people probably didn’t like her in the beginning and I can see why but her growth is so outstanding. I felt like a proud mama watching her baby bird fly out of the nest for the first time. That’s my girl.

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The writing was fantastic (no shocker there, I loved Bully), the romance was unique, and the story was not like anything else I have read here lately. The messages inside were very important and touching and for that, I scream to you…READ THIS BOOK.

Waterfall Effect (K.K. Allen)

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Lost in the shadows of a tragedy that stripped Aurora June of everything she once loved, she’s back in the small town of Balsam Grove, North Carolina, ready to face all she’s kept locked away for seven years. Or so she thinks.

As one of the victims of a string of mysterious disappearances in the small, picturesque Appalachian Mountain town, darkness has become her home—her safe blanket when the world reveals its true colors. But as the walls of darkness start to move in on her, she knows the only way to free herself from her past is to face it, head-on. She just needs to figure out how.

Upon arrival, Aurora isn’t expecting her first collision to be with the boy she left all those years ago. The boy who betrayed her trust with no regrets. The boy who is no longer a boy, but a man with the same stormy eyes that swept her into his current before she ever learned to swim.

She’d thought he was safe. He’d thought their path was mapped out. Turns out neither of them was ready for the crash at the bottom of the cascade.


I wasn’t completely sure what to expect going into this book. I didn’t read the blurb but the cover was so alluring to me I just had to have it. I needed it. Plus, I have enjoyed many of Allen’s other books, so I knew I would at least like this one. But when I finished the book I was completely satisfied, way more satisfied than I even thought I would be. And by saying that I have to add this: Not knowing what this book was about- intensified my experience in the greatest way.

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“Jaxon has always been the wild rush of the creek barreling by, a force powerful enough to alter even the sturdiest of landscapes. And he halts me with his eyes- icy gray orbs with a stormy finish. Cold, dark, mysterious- alluring.”

This is not just a romance. And for that- I was very thankful. Not that it wouldn’t have been a bad thing, as a reader I have just been wanting more than that here lately. I was so surprised to know that there was so much suspense and even a well thought out twist within this book. I was happy to know that K.K. Allen branched out into something and wrapped it up so neatly. No plot holes to be found. I was a happy reader.

“You came into my life like the fastest river, unsure of where you would end up. And then you leapt- from that rock at Hollow Falls when you were fifteen years old. You leapt and you crashed into my world. Even then, I saw you. I didn’t realize what it meant- I wouldn’t allow myself to figure it out- but I could feel it.”

K.K. Allen’s writing in Waterfall Effect is electrifying and piercing. That is the only way I can put it. When she writes, whether from Jax’s POV or Aurora’s- you feel. You feel so much. Not only was the writing completely engrossing, I loved the metaphors within this story and the way they all related.

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When you read this book, you will see what I’m talking about. It’s hard to miss.
Waterfall Effect was a meaningful read on so many more levels than just romance. I was hooked from the beginning and all of that alone sets this book apart from most of the others that are currently out there.

Hate List (Jennifer Brown)

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Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends, and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.


I feel like Hate List is the type of book I was wanting to experience whenever I read the book This is Where It Ends (don’t even bother, IMO). And I couldn’t help but notice other people saying that too, so that made me feel better. Hate List did such a superb job at going into what it’s really like for school shootings and even what the after math was life. Sort of like when I read We Need to Talk About Kevin. I really crave that with these types of books and have only came across a couple that does so well at going beyond the tragic event. I want to know everything and I want to know how everyone is affected. The author did a fantastic job writing that. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

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“People do it all the time—assume that they “know” what’s going on in someone else’s head. That’s impossible. And to think its possible is a mistake. A really big mistake. A life-ruining one if you’re not careful.”

I truly felt like Valerie was a very well wrote character that I had no problem at all relating to. Seeing it all from her POV, was completely enthralling to me. I never once questioned her feelings or the way she approached things and I felt more for her than I have any other character in this book. My only complaint was that I really wanted to see more of her life “before”. We get some of that in the book, but I still wanted more. I can’t tell you why.

“The truth was most days I couldn’t feel grateful no matter how hard I tried. Most days I couldn’t even pinpoint how I felt. Sometimes sad, sometimes relived, sometimes confused, sometimes misunderstood. And a lot of times angry.”

I cannot stress how much I loved seeing the development for ALL of the characters within this book. Not just Valerie but her classmates, her family, just everyone around her. It was so amazing seeing all of this unfold and seeing them change as the weeks went by. Adjusting, growing, healing. All while still trying to focus on what they needed to focus on. It wasn’t easy, so seeing that made the experience of the book that much better for me.

I didn’t care for the abrupt ending. I kind of just turned the page and bam, it was over. Big pet peeve of mine. Like, WHAT?! Wait, I wasn’t done! Don’t do that to me! Please come back!

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“I knew what she was thinking: Being pretty isn’t everything, but sometimes being ugly is.”

If you are looking for a book that is completely powerful and never stops making you feel something- you need to read Hate List. I don’t think I ever stopped feeling a feeling through out the entire book. If it wasn’t one feeling it was another. That is so much fun to me, feeling different things throughout a story. I like it when a book keeps me on my toes.

Gods and Monsters (Saffron A. Kent)

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He was an artist. She was his muse.

To everyone in town, Abel Adams was the devil’s spawn, a boy who never should have been born. A monster.

To twelve year-old Evie Hart, he was just a boy with golden hair, soft t-shirts and a camera. A boy who loved taking her picture and sneaking her chocolates before dinner. A boy who made her feel special.

Despite her family’s warnings, she loved him in secret for six years. They met in empty classrooms and kissed in darkened church closets. Until they couldn’t.

Until the time came to choose between love and family, and Evie chose Abel.

Because their love was worth the risk. Their love was the stuff of legend.

But the thing about legends is that they are cautionary tales. They are made of choices and mistakes. And for Abel and Evie, the artist and the muse, those mistakes come in the form of lights, camera, sex.


I’m just going to go ahead and strike this up as a book that just plainly isn’t for me. That’s basically it, yeah. Let’s go with that.

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First things first: If any one expects me to read this book and believe that the dialogue in the first part of it is that of a 12 and 13-14 year old they’re absolutely nuts. They spoke in ways that most children don’t. That I didn’t speak like until I was well into my teenage years. It was just highly unbelievable to me.

Also, if I’m off about the ages above, that’s because for the entire first half it’s hardly ever specified as to what their ages are. It’s a guessing game of ages. All I know is that Evie was not of legal age until roughly 55% in. Over half of the book. I must have also missed the entire year these two characters were together and fell in love with each other at the beginning. It’s like I turned the page and boom, they were in love at 12 years old.

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Roughly around 22% I got really confused, actually. Did they age a few years? How old are they? How is this not pointed out to the reader? The reason I say that is because I really feel as though the ages should be pointed out to the reader considering the type of story this was. I really had a hard time accepting that these children spoke so vulgarly and sexually. Underage romance that is detailed the way Evie and Abel’s was just makes me very squeamish. Let the slow burn build, please.

Aside from all of that, I had a hard time distinguishing what the plot of the book was. What was the main focus point? I really didn’t know much except here are these two kids, wanting to be together. A plotless book makes me itchy. Give me some story and meaning.

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Abel’s controlling and co-dependency tendencies turned me off in all measures. Which in turn made me feel zero angst or want towards any of the characters. Which in turn brought me here.

The Smallest Part (Amy Harmon)

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“In the end, only three things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
– Unknown

It was a big lie. The biggest lie she’d ever told. It reverberated through her head as she said it, ringing eerily, and the girl behind her eyes—the girl who knew the truth—screamed, and her scream echoed along with the lie.
“Are you in love with Noah, Mercedes?” Cora asked. “I mean . . . I know you love him. You’ve been friends forever. We all have. But are you in love with him?”
If it had been anyone else—anyone—Mercedes would have stuck out her chest, folded her skinny arms, and let her feelings be known. She would have claimed him. But it was Cora. Brave, beautiful, broken Cora, and Cora loved Noah too.
So Mercedes lied.
And with that lie, she lost him. With that lie, she sealed her fate.
She was the best friend, the bridesmaid, the godmother, the glue. She was there for the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs, the biggest moments and the smallest parts. And she was there when it all came crashing down.
This is the tale of the girl who didn’t get the guy.


I was really nervous going into this book, I will admit that. Seeing the cover, the three people, I was just not very excited that Amy Harmon wrote a triangle trope book. I was ready to brave it though. For Amy I would do that.

Ya’ll…it is not that. It. Is. Not. That.

It is so much more than that and I feel so foolish for even judging Amy’s cover before even experiencing what she has strategically placed for us in these pages. Stupid, stupid, stupid Talon.

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First I should say this, if you see a book that has Amy Harmon’s name on it: get it. I can guarantee that you will start feeling all sorts of things and you will have no idea on how to make it all stop. I have zero control and a very lose grip on all of my feelings every time I pick up an Amy Harmon book. I’m making that known right now.

My favorite thing in The Smallest Part (besides the obvious- past characters) was the way that the past parts of the chapter opened us up to the present parts and somehow, they all fit together. They were joined in a way that we get to experience with Cora, Mercedes, and Noah. The intricate details were so neat to me. It’s the little things like that that make me happy.

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I didn’t like how a lot of things were left unsolved and unanswered when it came to Cora. I can’t go into much detail but I really wanted to know quite a few things about her and I didn’t ever really get the closure from her presence either.

Basically- you can’t lose with an Amy Harmon book. If you are a huge fan of The Law of Moses and The Song of David you are going to love this heart filled book about these three people. I don’t think Amy has told a story quite like this one before and for that I’m thankful. I’m glad she told it with The Smallest Part. If you don’t love what she did, I just don’t know what to say to you.

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