Blind Kiss (Renee Carlino)


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Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio… Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with [a] McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

“My relationship with Gavin was rooted in love. Maybe a kind of love people would never understand.”

I am rating this 3.5 stars but I was really torn on that (star wise) so on Goodreads I went with the good ole’ four stars just because Renee and her books never fail in the emotional department and her writing is top-notch in my opinion.

But ultimately- I am conflicted. I am conflicted because although I love Renee and her writing and the way she is able to construct a relatable story every time you pick up one of her books. I am conflicted because Renee made me fall so much in love with Gavin but Penny… Penny just really got under my skin. And not in a good way.

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“Life will change and change again. You just have to find a port in this storm. It doesn’t have to be another person, Penny. Find something just for you.”

I did love the concept of the book. As someone who is a huge fan of 180 Seconds by Jessica Park this was definitely an idea I could get behind but the execution of it really fell flat to me. I feel like these characters should have explored more of what they had and while Penny said she didn’t want that, the author never really explained why Penny pushed away so hard. Not even when you finished the book.

Penny. To me, Penny was hypocritical. She was wishy-washy and indecisive and used Gavin as her doormat- which is not okay for me. Typically heroine’s have reasonings as to why they are like they are but with Penny we don’t really get any. She loves dance. And she wants a college degree that she doesn’t really do anything with (under circumstances that come, I know). But to me that’s not a believable enough reason to push as hard as Penny pushed Gavin. Usually in romance books, I am a fan of the female and it takes the male a while to grow on me but in Blind Kiss it was the opposite except, I never really grew to like Penny which it unfortunate.

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What I didn’t love was the constant back and forth, both between Penny and Gavin and the timelines in the book. It was exhausting. Both of them. Not only that, but it was insanely hard to read about the two main characters push each other away for the whole book. Yes, the whole book. 14 years. Pushing. Pulling. Jealousy. Wanting. It was too long for me, I got bored with it because Gavin was constantly begging or Penny was constantly begging.

I thought the book as a whole was great. There was just no gasping revelation or dramatic turning points that held perked my interests. It was a nice book to read in one sitting or if you are looking for a second chance romance. It’s really a bummer, I do enjoy myself every time I pick up one of Renee’s book but this one just wasn’t my favorite.


Salt (Mara White)


Salana Livingston did everything right, from taking her multi-vitamin to kneeling before bed to say her prayers every night. She followed the path her parents had planned before she was born, never questioned the role until the day a bus-load of sweaty kids from the Bronx got dropped at her parents’ horse farm.

Tiago Alcazar knew a life of hard knocks. An incarcerated father, a missing and strung-out mother who left him to rely on his aged grandmother for most of his life.

Tiago runs the mean streets of the neighborhood that raised him, living hand-to-mouth, everyday a gift, if he can just make it.

Burdened by a world that only wants to see her as perfect, Salana finds her greatest confidant in a boy society has labeled as worthless. Their paths cross too many times for their stubborn hearts to deny the connection, but can the delinquent and the debutant defy the odds and overcome the social constructs that condemn them?

“Be the salt of the earth and you will become the light of the world.”

I have to start this out by saying that I am not a third person narrative type of girl. I typically get really slowed down in books that have said narrative but every single time I read one of Mara White’s books I am reminded that with the right care and expertise, I can love it. And in Salt, I did just that.

Salt was not what I expected, but in the best kind of way. I was rooting for this unpredictable couple more than I ever knew I could and as the story went on, Tiago was slowly finding his way into my heart. It took a while, it did, but once he was halfway in there, he didn’t find his way back out. He fought just like he should have and he did exactly what Salt needed at the right times and for that I am truly grateful. He knew just what she deserved and he never forgot it.

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“Rings were forgettable, but true love- that was indestructible.”

I loved that Salt wasn’t the fairy tale romance that most books revolve around today. It was two real, unlikely people and it was endearing seeing all of the things they encountered as their relationship went on. If they ended up together- I would have been happy and if they didn’t end up together- I would have been just as happy. I say that because the character growth they both portray and go through, without each other, was perfect. Just absolutely fan-freaking-tastic.

Salt is not only another great book by Mara White but proof that this girl can write a book full of emotion and well-rounded characters. She never ceases to amaze me.

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“Just follow your dreams, Salt. I can’t give you much, but freedom? – that I can give you.”

Mara did a great job showing us the years of these two characters lives starting at the age of 16. I didn’t feel like there were any time jumps that left me confused or anything that was unresolved. Her writing truly flowed in a way that kept my attention until the very end.

Salt left me filled with hope, happiness, and true understanding for the types of people that were involved in this story and that is all that I can really ask for. Bravo, Mara!

Providence (Caroline Kepnes)


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Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he’s suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and “fit in” with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity–but he’s soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

“That might be the scariest thing of all,” she says. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a little good if you’re mostly made of evil.”

First and foremost: this book was something that I never anticipated (in a good way). I didn’t read the blurb, I only gushed over the cover and knew that I really enjoyed Caroline’s writing in her previous books so I just had to read this one. Providence was so much, all wrapped up into one book. I loved the multiple meanings it had, the metaphors, and the way Caroline created a human being like Jon. While I did rate this book three stars, it wasn’t for anything negatively done on Caroline’s part. It was simply because I was left unsettled and while I thought that was in a good way, maybe I was wrong. I think I wanted more answers than what we got. Which was none.

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Like with Joe (in YOU), you can’t help but to love and sympathize for Jon and Chloe. I didn’t so much as connect to Eggs and Lo as I probably should have but the story did okay for me, even if I didn’t much care for their POV. The best part though, is that Caroline’s writing is so “in your face” and very distinguished and I love that about her because she creates characters who captivate you in ways that you haven’t experienced before. i.e. Joe. I haven’t experienced characters like Jon before and I was very much drawn to him and the struggles he was facing and the ways that he coped and handled them.

“People are human and humans are selfish.”

I really just struggled with the way the book ended. The way the last 15% of the book unfolded- I can’t explain it and that is hard for me as a reader. This was the part where I felt unsettled. Like I was missing something and I wasn’t included in the story line that was taking place. It felt like a “HA, I know something that you don’t know”.

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Also- maybe if I was more educated in Lovecraft it would have helped me. But as I was reading Providence I feared that researching Lovecraft would give me spoilers and I didn’t want that at all. I also have a really hard time classifying this as a thriller which is what I expected as I went in. I am most definitely curious of the other types of genres this could be classified as. Super-natural, maybe?

“A heart doesn’t just break for no reason.”

And it doesn’t. There is always a reason and Providence showed the reason, or in Jon’s case, reasons. And those reasons broke my own heart. His struggle through life, I really feel like I felt that and connected with it.

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Caroline wrote so well that my pages kept turning and at some points I was holding my breath waiting to know what happened next. But something happened with me as I was reading. I wasn’t disappointed, but I had a bunch of questions…you know, the usual ones. But why? And how? When did that happen and where? I really enjoyed the story line that took place but I also really sad that I can’t say this was one of my favorites this year.

Evol (Cynthia A. Rodriguez)


Denise and Gavin are over.

381 days into their love affair, Gavin shut the door and Denise is all alone.

At day 380, Denise is trying to figure out how to salvage what’s left of their relationship and by day 200, they are even happier than the day they met; day 1 when Denise knows beginnings are merely endings in disguise.

But what doesn’t kill us will break our hearts.

Travel back 381 days and bear witness to the goodbye before the hello.

“Because when you love big, you never fully come back from it. Big love makes big mistakes and comes back even bigger.” 

I have to say this: Cynthia A. Rodriguez has a type of writing that is cathartic, emotional, and vulnerable all at the same. With me saying that, she created a unique story that left me grasping for more of her words. Gimme more. 


“Women should never build shrines with the pieces of their broken hearts. No man can ever compete with the god you create from memories.”

I whole-heartedly LOVE the idea of telling stories in reverse. I was first introduced to it last year and have been yearning for more so when I seen Cynthia’s cover reveal I knew exactly what it was going to be. I had to have it. 

But when I read it, it was way more than that. I love the way it’s told simply because the redemption and healing of the characters involved in this story line show themselves in completely different lights. And it really freaking worked. 

“Love. Something so universal and sought after. Didn’t the world know that the same thing stitching you up was the thing that ripped you to shreds to begin with?”

I really want to point out Cynthia’s poignant and poetic writing. AGAIN. I wish I could copy and paste my entire notebook of kindle highlights but I feel like that would be the whole book and well, that’s illegal so…


This is my first novel by Cynthia but it damn sure won’t be my last. Not a chance. Seeing Denise and Gavin’s love from end to beginning was just as heart breaking as it would have been from beginning to end. 

One of Us is Lying (Karen M. McManus)


Buy Link: (you can also check your library! That is where I found my copy)

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

“You make friends. I use the term loosely. You identify the least shitty people you can find and associate with them. Moving around in a pack is useful. You don’t break rules, but you look the other way when someone else does.”

What could possibly be better than one unreliable narrator? FOUR of them. No really- there is four of them and it was incredibly delectable. I really enjoyed reading One of Us is Lying and the plot within it. The first couple of chapters I really struggled with it, but once I sat down and consistently read I thoroughly enjoyed the premise the author was following and the directions she was taking us.

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My favorite part was how well the author captivated these four different students with each of their POV’s. It was exciting and fresh every time you started a new POV and not once did any of the characters sound the same (which happens a lot when authors write multiple POV books). I can’t stress that enough actually. The author’s writing and construction of this entire story and the characters involved was mind blowing.

I also want to point out Addy’s character growth because HELLO GIRL YES.

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Despite knowing how the book was going to turn out, the mystery aspect being told was so much fun to me. I enjoyed it even if I knew what was happening and I think that speaks volumes about an authors talent. I had such a good time getting to know these students and their secrets that not once did I ever say to myself “oh I know what is going to happen, this is boring.” Because there was so much more to this story than the mystery itself. There are topics that the author touches on that these students struggle with that are nicely done and not done for dramatic effects.

With a compelling story-line and characters and a fast-paced plot, I was hooked later rather than sooner but still devoured this read nonetheless. All of the questions and plot holes are all summed up nicely and everything was so vivid from the writing, to the settings, to the characters.

Baby Teeth (Zoje Stage)


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Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

“There’s nothing scarier than loving a child and not understanding what they’re trying to tell you.” 

Dysfunctional families are one of my favorite things to read about in a book. Throw in a dysfunctional child and I am so there! I really enjoyed Baby Teeth because every time you turned the page there was a new element and action to analyze and pick apart. Are these parents good parents? Is Hanna really that bad? What is driving her to do these things? I LOVED over-analyzing everything within this story. Contemplating all of the things that could happen or did happen was so much fun for me. 


The authors writing was straight up chilling and the way she wrote from Hanna’s POV grabbed my attention from the get go. The eerie tone and psychotic thoughts were some of my favorite parts. She seemed wise beyond her years which made it that much more creepy. The author did a great job at making Hanna as creepy as she was and Suzette just as clueless and naive as she was, same with Alex. 

I did have an issue with some plot holes. They weren’t major but there were definitely some things I would have liked to of found out. But…

The ending was oddly satisfying to me. It just…was. 


Baby Teeth was just what I was expecting and more. It did a great job at depicting the struggle that occurs when a mother and daughter don’t bond. I feel like Suzette and Hanna both deal with issues pertaining to abandonment and exclusion and when mixed together they just don’t have the bond most parents have with their child. And that turns scary…for both. 

Shallow (Yessi Smith)


Brinley Crassus
Sedlacek College Preparatory High School’s princess. 
She belittled the weak, the easy prey, using her victims to cover her own wounds. 

Roderick Roher
Sedlacek College Preparatory High School’s freak.
He didn’t need anyone, only the script that bled from his soul.

He was the boy she turned her back on when he needed her the most. 
When she needed him the most. 

Words tore them apart, and ultimately brought them back together. But once again, callous whispers fell from betrayed lips, threatening to destroy what they’d vowed to protect.

When the echo of their argument leaves their relationship in turmoil, Brinley and Roderick are faced with the ultimate decision – fight desperately together or surrender to lives apart.

“Alone isn’t such a tragedy when you’re trapped in a past that holds no future.” 

Shallow was an interesting read for me. I’m not typically one to jump for a YA novel but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed this book much more than I thought that I would (which is always a treat in itself).

Yessi’s writing has transformed tremendously. That is the first thing I noticed with Shallow. I think this genre is for her because her writing is the strongest than it has been before, in my opinion. The flow and the punch of the words was fantastic.

I can honestly say I haven’t read a book like this before. The way Yessi incorporated all of the poetry into the story was just another added bonus for me. Not to mention the way the characters went from shallow to characters full of depth. I love seeing character growth and both of the main characters transformed in an awesome way.

For being the first YA novel that Yessi has wrote, I think she has found her calling. The hugest thing that impressed me with Shallow was her writing, I cannot stress that enough. It bled off the pages and onto these characters which in return brought them to life for me.