The Girl He Used to Know (Tracey Garvis Graves)

The Girl He Used to Know

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Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose, is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

“Such is my desire to replace the memories of the girl he used to know with the woman I’ve become.”

As a long time fan of On the Island, I was intrigued to see that Tracy had written this book. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it after I saw the simplicity and beauty of the cover. What I found inside was something I was not expecting in the least bit.

There is something about reading about characters with mental illnesses that really fascinates me. I love to see them working, thinking, and interacting with the people and the situations around them. I love learning things with them and experiencing all of the things with them. It really helps me with connecting to said characters. I get vulnerable, my guard is down and I am completely open to all possibilities when it comes to characters like Annika. She’s a wild card but I love that about her. I love her honesty, her sensibility, and her personality so much.

The writing in The Girl He Used to Know was so addictive. Resembling a lot of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work (whom I love), the writing flowed well with the story and really made it hard to put down. The messages and themes that were touched on weren’t over done and the story-line never drug on. I was genuinely enjoying myself and the author’s work while I was reading.

”Marched to the beat of a different drum, did she?”
“She marched to the beat of an entirely different band. One you’ve never heard of and under no circumstances ever expected to like.”

Very rarely do I ever crave an epilogue. I can live my life without them in so many books that I read but for some reason I REALLY itched for one in this story. I can’t explain it. But their story wasn’t done for me and I really needed that last little bit of stretch to align the cherry on the top of my cake.

“How could I tell him that my loneliness was crushing? How it felt awful to be lonely but not know how to reach out to people and fill the time I always had too much of?”

Although this story revolved around Annika, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Johnathan. He was those good type of heroes that I love to read about. The vulnerable ones who aren’t like any one else around them. The ones who fight and show the woman how much she really means to him. He was so much good in Annika’s life but that brings me to my next point.

Annika did not need him. I think that is what really sold me with this book. Annika lived her life, achieved her dreams, all without a male or his romance in her life. She fought and clawed and did things her way without deterring in any type of direction or following any body else. She really did march to the beat of her own band.

I was wildly in love with this story and these characters. I think these are the type of romance books I yearn for. The ones with powerful messages and meaning to them. The ones that viscerally slice you open and make you feel the things that the characters within the novel want you to feel. I hope you go into this story blind. I hope you find all of the beauty inside of it that I did. I couldn’t put it down. Annika drew me in from the beginning and I couldn’t let go of her even when the book was over.

Crew (Tijan)


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To survive where I live, you have two options.

You can be a Normal–a cheerleader, jock, member of the debate team, or on the yearbook committee. You pretend everything is normal.

Or you can be crew.
You insult us? We hurt you.
You hurt us? We really hurt you.
And if you screw with us, we will end you.

My name is Bren.
I’m the only female in the Wolf Crew–the best, fiercest, and most dangerous crew there is–and we have a rule: There’s no falling in love.

Well… too late.

If you want to read a book that drags and drags and drags you are in luck…Crew is just for you!

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I like to think I am a huge Tijan fan, and although I still consider myself one, Crew was not for me. In my opinion, this book was way too long. A lot could have been taken out and the story would have still came out the same.

I want to touch on Bren first, just lightly because she was the worst. There is nothing more and nothing less I can say about her. Mainly because every single chapter was in her perspective. Bren is literally just a 17 year old who likes to tote around a knife and act scary. I had zero sympathy for her. I couldn’t connect with her at all. In return, I couldn’t feel the “connection” that was randomly thrown in there with Cross. But that takes place after Tijan makes you feel like Bren has some strange connection with Race.

I also have to say this: As many times as the word CREW was mentioned in this story, I still have no idea what it even is or what it means. LOL, no joke. I feel like if you are going to write a book about characters in gangs, then just do it. Don’t make them into some non-gang with a gang name running around with other “non-gangs”.

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I was so very disappointed in this book. From the lack of communication to the “big secrets”, to the relationship(s) build up, to the ending, it was all just not what I was quite expecting. I think the book could have had much more potential had the POVs been rotated between all of the Crew members. I couldn’t even find myself to like any of the secondary characters. None of them played a crucial part to this story line. Womp, womp, womp.

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Cross Her Heart (Sarah Pinborough)


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Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job, and her best friend Marilyn, but when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go. Then her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see. Lisa’s world explodes, and she finds everything she has built threatened. Not knowing whom she can trust, it’s up to her to face her past to save what she holds dear.

Cross Her Heart was a wild ride, I think that is the only way I can put it. I am also coming to the conclusion, right here and now, that I am forever a huge fan of Sarah Pinborough. Her writing is top notch and something that I find myself having a hard time putting down. Not to mention her twists are always so much fun.

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It starts out sort of slow, but then I assumed the author was just setting up the stage and preparing me for all that was going to happen and before I knew it, we were off! The story alone was a fast read with an even quicker plot (which I love). The flow of the writing mixed in with the characters and the plot line just really worked for me. When I say I had a hard time putting this book down, I wholeheartedly mean that.

A lot of times, multiple POV’s (and when I say multiple I mean more than 2/3) really throws me for a loop and confuses me. I have a hard time keeping everything together and every one separate and it doesn’t take much to lose me. But every single one of the POV’s in this story and every single character are very crucial, even the ones that I read and thought to myself “wow, was this even necessary?” YES, it was. Even the small role characters, the secondary characters we see every so often, all of it. I loved how it all came together.

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Secrets, lies, and betrayals are all central themes of this book. They are also all themes I thoroughly enjoyed reading about. All the characters have secrets in this book. Some of their secrets are straightforward and some we have to really work for and read on to find out.

I am not sure what I can say that hasn’t already been said. I love how the blurb makes you think one thing, as well as the chapters but then it’s something else entirely. Sarah is a clever writer and for that alone, she has inherited another forever fan. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Because You’re the Love of my Life (Sarah Kleck)


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How do you recognize the love of your life? Do you have butterflies in your stomach? Do you see showers of sparks and fireworks as soon as he steps into the room? Or, is your big love composed of something quieter?

Annie longs for nothing more in her life than someone to love her with his whole heart. With Holden, this wish seems fulfilled, and the two build their own world. But how much pain can happiness bear? When something utterly shocking happens, Annie’s life becomes unstable, and nothing is as it once was. Then, she unexpectedly bumps into her teenage love Seth, and her life is completely thrown off balance—especially when fate intends its own tragic story.

I got this book off of Netgalley for the cover alone. I was sold (it doesn’t take much for me LOL). And while it wasn’t too awful of a read, it’s just another book like all of the others out there. Medicore angst, a conflicted heroine, and a plot that was just the same as at least ten other books I have read in the past.

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This was translated from German to English and while I thought that would be a struggle for me to read, it wasn’t. The writing wasn’t awful and the translating was even better.


This is also a book that contains cheating in the most un-justifiable way. Any one who knows me, knows I loathe when a book does this. I felt so sick when I read what Annie did and why she did it. It made zero sense to me and it was the most random aspect of this entire story-line. When an author does this for shock factor, I lose all interest.

I just had a really hard time with Annie. I struggled to like her and I struggled to support her in any way. I struggled with her personality and I struggled to not roll my eyes at her every single time I turned the page. Not to mention that the end of this story is the most famous of all cop-outs and I hate when an author randomly throws this thing in. Like, really?……..

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And when it happened, I wasn’t even sad, not in the least bit. I think that is because I wasn’t invested in either of these people. They weren’t very three dimensional and I never seen their growth as characters. They basically stay very dull the entire way through.

Chalking this one up as a “pretty cover/poor plot and female lead” read. Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read it.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)


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No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

“I was alone. There was no living thing in the universe that was more alone than me. Or more terrible.”

I loved Eleanor. Undoubtedly and completely. From the very first page, she caught me off guard with her quirkiness, socially awkward personality, and ability to make me giggle with all the things that she says (out loud) but I wouldn’t of traded her for anything else in the world because watching her blossom into the person she was truly meant to be, was so heartfelt and warming to witness.

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Going into this book, I was afraid the writing would throw me for a loop and I just wouldn’t be interested in it (the author is British) but I loved it! It worked for the story and it worked for Eleanor and her quirks. I also loved how the author took serious issues and even traumatic events and weaved them into a funny and warm story line that made us both sympathize and empathize for Eleanor all at the same time.

This wasn’t a romance book and for that, I was glad. I was more than glad, actually. The author didn’t make a love interest the main focus (although at parts you might think it will become one). This was a book ABOUT Eleanor and how she starts to unravel and sort out her life occurrences and watching that was the best part of the entire story. Raymond was just a nice addition, a truly great person to befriend Eleanor at her time of need.

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”Eyelids are really just flesh curtains. Your eyes are always “on,” always looking; when you close them, you’re watching the thin, veined skin of your inner eyelid rather than staring out at the world. It’s not a comforting thought.”

Eleanor Oliphant will stay with me forever. The title is not correct because she is not fine. She is broken, sad, lonely, beautiful, strong, funny, and smart. She is so many things much greater than “fine” as is this story. It’s more than fine. It’s amazing and truly heart-warming. I cannot wait to see how they do with the movie when the time comes.

Until We Are Gone (Gia Riley)


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I wanted a family with Cash.
We had dreams –building a house, kids, a dog, and, yes, even the white picket fence.
Or so I’m told.
I don’t remember anything about my husband. Not the wedding or the vows we shared.
The past ten years were erased and with time, they’re supposed to come back.
But this isn’t your typical case of amnesia
What if I’m not supposed to remember?
What if I was meant to forget?
Maybe I don’t want my old life back.
Because if the accident hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have uncovered the truth.
Losing my memory wasn’t tragic.
Losing my memory was fate.

“Our house is as dark as her mind.”

I chose not to rate this book, for a lot of reasons. It wasn’t because I hated it or loved it, it was simply because it had hints of a trope that I do not care to read about and I was caught off guard with that. When I seen the cover to this story and then read the blurb, I had high hopes that it would be about something else entirely or taken more seriously (the topic, I mean). I don’t like how the author romanticized it and I don’t like how this story line as a whole, turned out.

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Up until about 60% I was semi-enjoying where this book was going. I thought this was about a husband, wanting the best for his wife who had suffered tremendously. But I felt like I was blind-sided throughout the whole thing. Or maybe the author was just showing me what she wanted me to see and then flashing the worst parts in front of me at the last second, when I was already invested.

The pacing was…all over the place because as I would be enjoying what was happening and find myself getting pulled in finally, I would turn the page and the momentum I had finally gained would be lost because of the next chapter. The ending was rushed and not what this story needed. Not to mention the way the incident is explained to us was very lack luster and didn’t have a lot of emotion. For a book building up on the grounds of “emotional” I feel like it should have been presented better to the reader.

“Sometimes, you don’t need words to hear a person; you just feel them through a look or a smile.” 

Although the premise of this book was interesting and caught my attention, as well as the cover, it didn’t play out how I would have liked for it to and I think the characters were to blame for that. They weren’t attractive and they never really grabbed my attention. I had a hard time understanding the concept this book was portraying and the reasoning for the actions the characters were giving us. It was just all rather odd for me.

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*If you read this review and are interested in what was in there that I don’t particularly care to read for I will explain below and mark as *SPOILER*. 

I do not do cheating tropes. I just don’t particularly care to read them. Although I felt like it wouldn’t be fair for to lowly rate this book because of what happened, I decided to still discuss the book without a rating. I don’t like the reasoning for the cheating and maybe it wasn’t even “cheating” and I say that because the character’s POVs each tell us a different thing and we only know what they want us to. And up until the end of the story, we basically only think of it as infidelity.

The Night Olivia Fell (Christina McDonald)


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A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

Ultimately, The Night Olivia Fell had everything that I look for in a book: it was emotional, suspenseful, difficult to put down, it had a small amount of romance but nothing that over powered the story line as a whole, and it had secondary characters that hit the mark every time they were present. Wam, bam, thank ya ma’am!

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From what I have researched, this is the author’s debut book and with me saying that, I have to in turn say this: I read this in one sitting. Nonstop. I loved this story, I loved that topic that the author tackled, and I am just in awe as I sit here and type up this review of how delicately she handled it all. For a debut novel, it knocked the socks off of almost everything that I have read this year.

There was so much that I wanted to discuss and talk about in my review and I was ready to get it all out but by the time I typed it all up the first time, I realized that so much of it would be given away if I did that. So I erased it all and instead I wanted to talk about the main thing that I LOVED about this book and that was how the author evoked authentic and raw feelings from me. It’s almost difficult for me to explain, maybe it was my mood, maybe it was Olivia or even Abi or the story-line, but this book hit me in a soft spot in my heart that I had long forgotten about and for that, I am always grateful.

The characters, WOW! They were amazing. And not one of them was as good as what they were portrayed as and as the story goes on you can see them crack more and more. They were all mixed with mysteries and they kept me guessing the entire time. By the time it was all said and done, I was suspicious of every one at least three different times. The author did a fantastic job at pulling my feelings and accusations in all different types of directions.

The plot holes were all filled. Just when I was making mental note of something that needed to be touched on, bam, it was covered. And when I say that, I mean it. That is a huge pet-peeve for me when I am reading a story. But with this book, the story-line stayed open so long that you were able to cast all sorts of allegations but then when you got to the next chapter, you would have more and the previous ones would all be gone.

I really feel like The Night Olivia Fell is so much more than the typical suspense story that we keep seeing promoted day after day. While it does include the typical “cliches” such as secrets, lies, nothing appearing as it seems, and even conflicts and similarities between characters that you never would have expected, but the relatable characters and the raw emotions that this book evoked from me was in a department all in it’s own.

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