Sunday, December 30, 2018

One Day in December, 409 Pages

Recommended to me by my best friend, who always has a knack for knowing just what I need to read in that instant, One Day in December was everything she promised it would be and more.  And I'm not just saying that because it was the first thing I've read for fun since spending a semester studying European History. 

On a bus ride home, one day in December, Laurie locks eyes with a man waiting on the street.  There's an instant connection, but before either of them can take action, the bus pulls away.  Laurie and her best friend, Sarah spend the next year searching for Laurie's bus boy with no luck. Until the day she meets him, as Sarah's new boyfriend...  I'll stop there, so you can enjoy the how the rest of the story unfolds for yourself.

This book had just the right amount of romance for me without being overly sweet or raunchy.  It was also the December pick for the Reese Witherspoon, Hello Sunshine Book Club.  It's a classic romcom, best enjoyed on a winter weekend with a mug of something warm. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, 444 pages.

I've seen all the buzz around this book and also the film adaptation, but I never gave it the time of day. I honestly didn't even know what it was actually about until around a week ago, and decided to check it out. I am SO glad that I did. This was by far the best book that I read in 2018. I think that with how society is today, this is something that everyone should read and could learn from. I found myself hysterically laughing, hysterically crying and everything in between. I had chills when I read the line, "When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and bees. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me." I had to stop and collect my thoughts for a few minutes after reading that line because, to be honest, it never occurred to me that that was a "thing". When I'm stopped by a cop, I'm thinking of every way I can possibly get out of the speeding ticket I'm inevitably going to get. This book really opened my eyes to the privilege that some people have just by being a different race, sexual orientation, etc.

Starr Carter basically lives a double life. She is a typical sixteen-year-old female while attending the prep school her parents pay for her attend, an hour away from their home. When she's at home, Starr is a not so typical sixteen-year-old who has witnessed her best friend, Natasha, being murdered in a drive-by shooting at the age of ten. Starr has learned to balance the two lives she lives, but everything comes crashing around her when another life-long best friend, Khalil, is murdered by a white cop during a supposedly routine traffic stop. To make matters worse, Khalil was completely unarmed. Now, Starr's life is turned upside down, and her neighborhood has turned into a war zone. His death has become a national headline, and said headlines are slandering Khalil, calling him a drug dealer and a thug. Starr knows that is far from the truth, and is also the only one who knows in entirety what happened that night. The only problem with that is that Starr has been scared into silence thanks to the violence that is surrounding her home, and also the threats coming from a local drug lord.

The Elizas by Sara Shepard, 352 pages

Sara Shepard is best known for her series Pretty Little Liars, which I LOVE! I also loved this book! I was hooked from the very beginning, and was so anxious to find out how this all played out in the end. There was a little bit of mystery to the end, which completely left me hanging and questioning what I thought I knew. This is one I will definitely recommend!

Eliza Fontaine seemed to be on the right track. She is days away from her first book, The Dots, being published, and seemingly put her painful, tragic past behind her. But, when she is found near-death at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family begins to question everything. Eliza doesn't know how to swim, and she also has attempted suicide multiple times in this same way. Upon waking up, Eliza is adamant that this time, she didn't jump and was not suicidal. She is convinced that she was pushed, and that her life is in grave danger. She unfortunately begins questioning everything when she realizes that the book she just wrote, that is supposedly fiction, is starting to resemble her own life. Eliza has no idea what happened to her, and what happened to her fictional character, Dot.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, 464 pages

I'm a massive Moriarty fan, so I really had my hopes up for this new release. It was being marketed as a thriller, which also excited me! Unfortunately, I was extremely let down with this book. I read the Kindle edition of this, so I'm able to see how far I am in the book, percentage-wise. 80% into the book is when something "thrilling" started, and I could see it from a mile away. The one thing that I liked about this book was the character development. Other than that, it was a miss for me.

A group of nine strangers arrive at a 10-day health cleanse at Tranquillum House. They are all coming for different reasons- some in hopes of losing weight, some to find peace in their lives, and some to hopefully salvage a crumbling marriage. But, they will all soon have an unfortunate bond due to some bizarre circumstances that were definitely not included in the welcome packet. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Asylum by Madeleine Roux, 317 Pages

I listened to the audio version of this, and it took me literally a month to finish it. (In my defense- I don't have a long commute or anything that gives me the chance to listen to audiobooks, so I mostly have 15 minute increments while I'm in the carpool line at my kid's school!) Asylum is a Young Adult thriller/horror novel, and while there were some creepy parts of the story, I was overall unimpressed. I felt like it was also more juvenile than Young Adult.

Dan Crawford is spending his summer at New Hampshire College Prep. He sees it at a chance for new friends, independence and his last hurrah before he goes off to college. He's a little hesitant when he finds out that instead of a dormitory, he's being housed in a former asylum. Dan decides to take advantage of the creepy living situation, and decides to explore the old asylum with his new friends Jordan and Abby. The three friends realize that they've arrived here under no coincidence, but because of a past that somehow involves them.

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay, 368 Pages

This. Book. Was. So. GOOD!! I couldn't put this down, and was not expecting the ending. Barclay is a master at getting into your head and making you question everything, and A Noise Downstairs was no exception.

Paul Davis is recovering from a brutal attack that almost killed him, after he stumbled upon a colleague about to dispose of two bodies. With his colleague now in prison serving a life sentence, Paul is trying to get his life back. He is battling PTSD along with other physical injuries, and begins seeing a therapist. While meeting with her, Paul decides that in order to fully heal, mentally and physically, he needs to dig deeper in the life of his attacker and find out what makes him tick. In an effort to cheer him up, Paul's wife brings home a vintage typewriter. When Paul begins hearing someone typing on the typewriter in the middle of the night, he blames it on everyone- even himself. Unable to find the source of the typing, Paul comes to the conclusion that the typewriter is somehow possessed, which leads to him wife coming to the conclusion that he is losing his mind. Paul is determined to prove that he's not crazy, and takes matters into his own hands.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

We Say #NeverAgain by Melissa Falkowski, Eric Garner, and the Parkland Student Journalists

This was an interesting look at the tragedy that hit Florida in February 2018. This book was written by the journalists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and really talks about the Never Again movement that started after what happened. I appreciated that it didn't focus solely on the shooting itself, and is more about what the students have done to ensure that this never happens again.

That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger, 329 Pages

That's Not What Happened centers around a school shooting, and what that leaves in it's aftermath. What sets this book aside from others with the a similar plot is that this mostly takes place a few years after the shooting, and really hits on the subject of how quickly stories spread, even if there's hardly any truth to them, in society today. This book also is very similar to the Columbine shooting and the story of Cassie Bernall. Throughout the entire book, the fictional-shooter's name is never printed, which I thought was a really fantastic detail to the story. Personally, I often see headlines of heroic actions, or even the opposite, after a tragedy or a huge event happens, and I've never stopped to think that maybe that situation isn't entirely how the media portrayed it to be. Keplinger does a fantastic job at pointing out the flaws in the media, and how we often, as a society, believe what we want to believe.

Leanne Bauer has spent the last three years attempting to move on, and reclaim some normalcy to her life. After losing her best friend, Sarah, in a school shooting, she's not really sure how to move on. Making it even more difficult to move on is the fact that Sarah's "story" has been played out repeatedly in the media. The biggest issue with this, is that the story the media is telling isn't true. Everyone thinks that Sarah died immediately after proclaiming her faith to the shooter, but Leanne knows that isn't true because she was in the bathroom stall with Sarah when she died. Three years later, Leanne has kept this secret to herself because she doesn't want to face what she's sure will come if she speaks up, and also doesn't want to tarnish Sarah's name. But, Leanne is about to graduate, and Sarah's parents are about to publish a book about Sarah's story, so she knows this may be her last chance to really get the truth out there.

We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott, 352 Pages

We Told Six Lies is a Young Adult thriller that is set to be released in February 2019. I'm still a little unsure of how exactly I felt about this book. Was is the best YA thriller I've ever read? No. But it was intriguing enough to keep my attention, and made it difficult for me to put down. I didn't see the ending coming, and was surprised with the twist that came with it. The one thing that I didn't like about this book was how sexual it was, especially for a young adult book. I wouldn't consider myself a prude, but as someone who was reading YA at what I would consider a young age, it makes me uneasy that it would be on the YA shelves.

Hindsight: And All the Things I Can't See in Front of Me by Justin Timberlake, 288 Pages

I'm a huge Justin Timberlake fan, and an even bigger NSYNC fan, so I was super excited to read this book. I thought it was an interesting look at his life beyond what you normally see. The book also includes a ton of pictures from when he was a child, all the way up to his most recent tour. It was a quick and easy read, too, which I really appreciated. (I finished this in one sitting!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans, 283 Pages

Jacob Churcher returns to his childhood home after the death of his mother.  Upon arrival he discovers that the mother he hadn't seen in over 20 years had become a hoarder.  While cleaning through layer after layer of junk he uncovers family secrets that need to be brought to life.  During this process he meets Rachel, a woman looking for answers and trying to fill holes in her own past.  Little do they know that their past lives are intertwined.  During this journey they mend family ties and discover that love is possible and deserving for two people who had given up on ever finding happiness.

I enjoyed this book, and it was a really quick read, taking me only a few hours.  However, it was a bit too wholesome for my taste.  I could have used a bit more grit, with Jacob's abusive past/mother, and a little more steam/hotness with the romance storyline between Jacob and Rachel.  I've never read Richard Paul Evans before, so I'm guessing he writes clean/wholesome stuff.  There's nothing wrong with that, and I did enjoy the story.  I was in the mood for a little, quick wintry and Christmassy themed book and this did the trick. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Lonely Dead by April Henry 240 pages

Another great book by April Henry. Besides the mystery and suspense that April brings to her books, she adds a paranormal flare to The Lonely Dead. I was able to read an Advanced Reader's Copy thanks to NetGalley. 

Ever since she was young, Adele could see and talk to the dead. While taking a shortcut home from school, Adele comes across her ex-best friend, Tori in the woods. She soon realizes that Tori is dead and she is buried in a shallow grave. Suspicion is thrown on Adele when the police find out that she and Tori had a fight the night Tori died. Add in that Adele doesn't have an alibi, she becomes the prime suspect. Adele must work with Tori's ghost to find the real killer.  

Monday, November 26, 2018

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge, 384 Pages

I received an advanced copy of She Lies in Wait via Netgalley, and although it had a ton of potential, I had a hard time finishing the book and there was just too much going on for me to keep track and enjoy the read. I felt like the book was extremely predictable, and after starting out extremely fast paced, it fizzled out and dragged on. There were a few times that I had to go back and reread parts to figure out which character was who, and how they played into the story. I was overall disappointed by this, but extremely thankful I was given the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review! She Lies in Wait is set to be published in January 2019.

A group of teens go camping in the forest, and after a night fueled by alcohol and drugs, they realize that the youngest, Aurora, is missing. Thirty years later, remains are found in the forest, and are identified as Aurora's. The case is reopened, and the original group of friends is brought together under the circumstances, and everyone is under suspicion.

The Cellar by Natasha Preston, 368 Pages

The Cellar is a Young Adult thriller that I genuinely enjoyed. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was fast paced, intense and thrilling.

When 16-year-old Summer fails to return home from a night out with friends, her family instantly knows something is wrong. They know that something must have happened to Summer, as they are sure that she would never run off and leave her life behind. Police quickly become involved, and everyone helps in the search for Summer. Colin Brown also involves himself in the search, seemingly in hopes of finding Summer. Unfortunately, Colin has ulterior motives and is getting close to the search for all the wrong reasons.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia, 336 Pages

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia had so much potential for me, but fell flat. I was SO annoyed with the main character that the life choices that she decided to make after meeting Lucas. There also were a lot of moments where I found myself thinking, "There is no way that this would ever, ever happen in real life". (I get that it's fiction but COME ON. I need it to be a little realistic!!) I feel bad for disliking it so much because the ratings on Goodreads and similar websites were mostly positive, but I had a hard time finishing this book.

Maya Stark, a speech pathologist, finds herself in over her head when she is assigned to the case of Lucas Blackthorn. Lucas was last seen as a 9-year-old boy, camping in Boundary Waters with his father, Josiah. The two men went missing, and all that was left behind was a ravaged campsite. The authorities assumed the two were dead until Lucas was caught stealing items from a sporting/outfitters store. Lucas was sent the psychiatric ward where Maya works, where he was extremely violent and refused to communicate with anyone. After some time together, Lucas opens up to Maya, begging him for help in saving his father. Maya decides to put everything on the line in hopes of finding a happy ending for Lucas.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston, 292 Pages

You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston is a Young Adult thriller. The book kept my interest from the first page, but some of the story was so ridiculous that I found myself actually laughing out loud while reading it. For example- main character Lylah is literally surrounded by death. Her roommates are being murdered and she continues to talk about the crush she has on one roommate, even describing a morning as "the best morning ever", even though 3 of her best friends had died not even 48 hours before. I also didn't love that the characters all placed the blame on someone very early on in the story, but the ending made up for a little of it because I didn't completely see it coming.

Lylah and her 5 roommates are getting ready for a night out when a note arrives. The note is addressed to Sonny, one of the roommates, and seems to be an attempt at a funny Valentine's Day themed joke. The rest of the group quickly forgets the note even happened and head out for the night, but Lylah is having a hard time letting it go, feeling like something bad is going to happen. Lylah's worries are validated when Sonny doesn't return home and later is found brutally murdered on campus. Panic ensues when another note arrives, informing the next roommate that they are next.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter, 468 Pages

I'm a huge fan of Karin Slaughter. Her books are gruesomely descriptive, and the plot usually unfolds seemingly effortlessly, taking over basically my whole life while I read her work. I found myself hooked from the first page of this book, but also found that while her other books have somewhat believable plots, this one seemed a bit unrealistic. I still enjoyed this book just as much as her others, and I'm already anxiously waiting for the next book she writes!

Andy Cooper is living with her mother, Laura, after returning home from college in New York. Andy returned home after Laura was diagnosed with cancer, vowing to help take care of her. Laura is now in the clear, and both women are returning to their normal lives. Andy and Laura decide to have lunch at the mall, and a calm day erupts into chaos and violence. A man with a gun comes in, calmly killing people in his path. Laura jumps into action, protecting Andy and killing the gunman. To make matters worse, the killing is caught on tape, and Laura is forced to somewhat confide in Andy that she is not who she originally said she was. Andy is now on the run per Laura's instructions, and Andy uncovers horrifying secrets about her mom's past, all while fighting for life.

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford 456 pages

This is the sequel to Greenglass House.  It's one year later and Milo is not in a great mood.  It's not snowing, his teacher makes unfair assumptions because of Milo's race, and worst of all, his parents' hotel has a guest that just won't leave and it's almost Christmas.  It certainly doesn't help that his friend, Meddy, who happens to be a ghost, hasn't appeared for nearly a full year and Milo doesn't understand why.  Milford is exceptional at describing settings and having completely character-driven plots.  Her dialogue between characters is so believable, you can actually hear the voices.  I love these books with their quiet, but intriguing stories unfolding within the pages.  I wouldn't recommend this for a reluctant reader, but if you have a kid who loves to read and get wrapped up in a story, this is an excellent choice. 

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder 215 pages

This was one of those books I'd heard about, but had put way down on my list.  Only recently I read another book about challenged and banned books and it put The Egypt Game at the top of my to-read list.  It's no wonder this book is a classic and a past Newbery honor book.  It is a book that any kid can relate to, the desire to find the people who will understand you, the imagination and creativity that happen naturally when kids are left on their own for entertainment, and the excitement of creating your own world are all very engaging and inspiring.  Of course, there's a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in just for fun, too.  If you haven't read this one since you were a kid, or if you have a kid 4th grade or older, this should move to the top of your to-read list, too! 

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan 264 pages

This was a fascinating book.  Susannah Cahalan was young, driven and intelligent.  Suddenly she starts behaving in ways she can't rationalize or understand.  Eventually, she becomes someone her family and friends barely recognize.  This was a compelling story about a neurological disease that is barely understood still.  Susannah was lucky to have recovered as well as she did, others have not.  She is a reporter, and she wrote this book largely based on her investigative skills, by interviewing her family and medical teams, and by watching videos of herself during a period she has absolutely no recollection of.  I couldn't put this down, it was engrossing.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African childhood by Trevor Noah 288 pages

If you think Trevor Noah is smart and funny already, just wait.  This was such a great book, especially since I listened to it read by Trevor himself.  More than anything, it is a tribute to his mother, but the stories from his childhood in South Africa are compelling, funny and thought provoking.  This book never delves into current politics, or even talks about how Trevor got his career started in America.  This is strictly about his experience growing up under apartheid and its fall.  It's no wonder he is the intelligent, and thoughtful man he is, with his mother being the woman that she was.  I highly recommend this to everyone, I enjoyed it so much! 

Calypso by David Sedaris 259 pages

The most recent of works by David Sedaris was as enjoyable as any of his others.  While this one did have a significant amount of discussion of how our bodies fail us as we age, it was hysterically funny.  I was so happy that he included another exploration of idioms from around the world, as those are my favorites in his works.  This time it was "How do you tell off another driver when they, say, cut you off in traffic?"  The answers were so good, I may add them to my own repertoire.  As I always do, I listened to this read by the author.  In my opinion, this is the only way to go with Sedaris books.  His impressions of his family are so fun to listen to. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, 246 pages

The Haunting of Hill House has been on my to-read list forever. As a lover of all things horror, I have read thousands of times that this book is one of the best of the genre, and an absolute must-read. Unfortunately, it fell really flat with me. I know that this book was originally published in the 1950's, but I struggled with the language used in the book. I also thought that a lot of the book was mostly just rambling from the characters, particularly Eleanor. I found myself skipping tons of dialogue because it seemed to be nonsense. There were a few parts that really made my skin crawl, but I overall was unimpressed.

Dr. Montague is in search of evidence of paranormal activity in the Hill House. In attempt to document said evidence, he decides to rent the house and invite a group of strangers to stay with him in the home. Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke (the future heir to Hill House) arrive, and sit around, waiting for the activity to start. What appears to be a scary week or two in a potentially haunted house turns out to be far worse, as Hill House attempts to claim it's next victim.

The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott, 400 pages

I listened to the audiobook edition of this. I thought the book was a good thriller, with plenty of twists to keep me engaged. It was very close to having too many twists for me, and there were a couple parts of the story that seemed like they'd be huge pieces of the final puzzle, that were just dropped and never brought up again. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book!

Mariah Dunning and her father, Craig, are still reeling from her mother's disappearance. Beth's case ran cold, and there have been no signs of her since the day she left. The local police and community have mostly assumed that Craig is to blame, but Mariah stands by her father. Mariah is positive about one thing- she knows her mom would never just abandon her. Taking matters into her own hands, Mariah begins investigating Beth's disappearance, much to her dad's dismay. Mariah is tipped off by a friend that runs a true-crime blog that another Beth disappeared in eerily similar circumstances, and her location is very close to the Dunning's. She begins to put everything at risk in order to figure out what happened to her mom, and now, the other Beth.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare, 368 Pages

Call Me Evie is a psychological suspense novel set to be released in March of 2019. Although I thought the book was a little slow, I enjoyed it and there was a twist in the end that I didn't see coming.

Seventeen-year-old Kate has been kept in a remote location for the last two weeks by a man she refers to as Bill. Bill is holding her there against her will and referring to her as Evie, claiming that he's doing so to keep her safe. Kate/Evie has no recollection of the accident that Bill claims she caused, and he tells her she will be reprimanded extremely for said accident if she tries to return to her normal life. As Kate/Evie attempts to piece together the night in question, she realizes that Bill's story isn't adding up and starts to think she is in grave danger.

Monday, November 5, 2018

I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan,384 Pages

I put off reading this for the longest time because I had read another book by Macmillan and didn't like it at all. The plot of this sounded very good, though, so I finally gave in and read it. I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to patrons! The ending had a good twist that I didn't see coming!

Over a decade ago, two young boys, Charlie and Scott, were brutally murdered and dumped behind a dog-racing track. The boys' murderer was convicted and the case was closed, but questions once again began to stir when an article is published, questioning the police's conviction. Charlie and Scott's childhood best friend, Cody, has also had life-long doubts, and the article convinced him to dig deeper and start a podcast dedicated to finding the truth. The local police are not thrilled about Cody's podcast, as are some of the people close to the crime. Charlie's mother, Jess, is on the side of not wanting any attention drawn to the case, as she's started her life over and attempted to move on since the death of her son. Now she is forced to face the secrets of her past, and attempt to stop the podcast from ruining her new life. To add to the situation, a body is found extremely close to where Charlie and Scott were found, which brings even more questions and doubt to the surface.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers, 378 Pages

This is a newer Young Adult thriller that I really enjoyed! It had just enough suspense to keep me interested, but I wasn't thrilled with the ending. I really wish the author would have given me more!

Sadie Hunter is not your average girl. She grew up with a drug-addicted mother, a seemingly non-existent father, and Sadie herself having to raise her younger sister, Mattie. Things take a turn for the worse when Mattie is found murdered and there are no leads as to who did it, or what happened. Sadie decides to take matters into her own hands, and leaves town to seek justice for Mattie. West McCray, a radio personality, decides to start a podcast dedicated to following Sadie and finding out what happened and also where she's at, after overhearing her story.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica, 384 Pages

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I will say that the main character was starting to get on my nerves, and seemed unrealistic, but the ending definitely made up for that!

Jessie Sloane is starting over. Her mother just passed away, and Jessie is now forced into the real world, all alone. One of her mother's last wishes was for her to "find herself", so Jessie starts with a new apartment and attempting to enroll at a local college. Her enrollment is halted when she is notified that her social security number belongs to someone who is classified as deceased. Secrets begin to unravel, and Jessie finds herself having an extremely difficult time distinguishing what is real, and what is fake. (The fact that she hasn't slept in days definitely doesn't help.)

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus, 336 Pages

I've been a huge fan of McManus ever since I read her first book, One of Us is Lying, earlier this year. I was really anxious to read her newest, Two Can Keep a Secret, so I was elated when I received an advanced copy. I was nervous that this one wouldn't live up to One of Us is Lying, but I honestly think I liked this book even better. It was suspenseful, and kept me guessing until the very end. This book is scheduled to be released in January 2019!

Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra,have to move in with their grandmother after their mother is forced into a rehabilitation program. The twins have never been to Echo Ridge but have heard a lot about it through the years. Upon arrival, they realize that the horrible things that happened in the past, including their aunt going missing, and another female being murdered years later, are still haunting the small town. When threats begin accumulating, Ellery realizes that no one is safe in Echo Ridge.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Watching You by Lisa Jewell, 323 pages

I'm a huge fan of Lisa Jewell, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. This was another one that I got as an advanced copy via Netgalley. It was extremely well written, and probably my favorite written by her that I've read so far. I'm anxious for it to come out in December so everyone else can get a chance to read it!!

Joey Mullen returns home from a trip abroad with way more than she left with- the way more being a new husband. The pair decide to move in with Joey's brother and his wife, as they figure out what to do next with their lives. Joey quickly develops a crush on her new neighbor, Tom. Tom is the headmaster at a local school, and known for getting things done and turning schools around. He is also known for his good looks and charming attitude, which even works on some of his female students, including student Jenna Tripp's best friend. Jenna becomes increasingly worried about her best friend, and thinks there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Tom. 

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult, 352 Pages

I received an advanced e-copy of A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult via Netgalley. I was very hesitant to read it at first, because I've been told that I wouldn't like Picoult's writing. The plot of this book drew me in, and I decided to give it a try. I was very surprised for two reasons- 1. That I actually enjoyed this book. Was it the best book I've ever read? No. But, I was hooked from the beginning and able to finish it with ease. 2. The plot of this book was an extremely difficult topic, and I was nervous that Picoult would shove whatever belief she has down my throat, via her writing. I was extremely surprised at how well both sides of the argument were written and represented.

Hugh McElroy, a hostage negotiator, gets called to the scene of an active shooting. The shooting is taking place at the Center, a local women's health clinic that specializes in reproductive services. Everyone is aware that the Center comes with tons of controversy, which is represented by the protesters lining the sidewalk daily. McElroy realizes there's much more at stake than he originally thought, when he finds out his daughter Wren, and sister Bex are inside the clinic. Putting aside the questions burning in his mind, (Why is Wren in there? And why didn't he know about it?) he focuses on the important part- getting everyone out safely. The story goes back in time to explain how everyone got there, and how this horrific incident got started.

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles, 272 Pages

The Boy at the Keyhole was something I was really looking forward to reading, but was ultimately letdown once I finished it. I felt it was very slow, and then once I got to the ending, I had to re-read it a couple times and still don't think I know what the author was trying to get at with it.

Samuel is 9 years old and lives with his family's housekeeper, Ruth, due to his father's passing and his mother going on a supposed work trip. The only problem is- Samuel doesn't believe his mom is actually overseas working, due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding her departure. Rumors begin to circulate around town, and Samuel lets them get the best of him, growing more and more suspicious of the one person he should be able to rely on- Ruth.

Matilda by Roald Dahl, 240 Pages

After finishing Helter Skelter and not sleeping for the week that it took me to finish the book, I decided I needed a light, "feel-good" read to get my mind off of it. Matilda was always one of my favorite movies growing up, but I can't ever remember reading the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I won't bother summarizing the book, as I'm sure most people know of the story, but I can't recommend it enough for readers both young and old! And as usual, the book was better. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, 689 Pages

I've always loved true crime, but never really got into it in book form. I decided to start reading Helter Skelter because I've always wanted to, and October seemed like a good time to finally do it. Bugliosi's telling of the Manson crimes was horrific. I found myself triple-checking locks and windows before I went to bed each night. The horror genre is one of my favorite's to read, and a book like Helter Skelter takes horror to a new level due to the fact that it is unfortunately real. In my opinion, Charles Manson is the ultimate boogeyman.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Whiskey In A Teacup by Reese Witherspoon, 304 pages

I was really excited for this book to come out, and chose to listen to the audio version because it's read by Witherspoon and she is one of my favorite actors. I unfortunately was a little let down by this book! I still enjoyed it, but I wanted more. I would have preferred to hear Reese speak about the roles she's played and stuff like that, instead of mostly recipes. But, I still would recommend this book to others. It was a refreshing change from my usual read!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House by Steven LaChance, 264 pages

Confession time: I'm OBSESSED with anything paranormal related. I have been since I was a kid, and it seems to get worse around Halloween time. I picked up this book because it sounded nice and spooky. It was definitely scary in some parts, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that this supposed haunting takes place in Union, Missouri! I would recommend this quick and spooky read for anyone interested in the paranormal, or just wanting a good scare!

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena, 304 Pages

I'd read two books by Lapena prior to reading this one- one that I LOVED, and the other that I didn't finish, which is rare for me. Needless to say, I had no idea what to expect with this, and I was pleasantly surprised. The book was a little slow for my liking, but I enjoyed it as a whole. 

Caught in a winter wonderland, a group of people are snowed in to a remote Inn. Things get a little worrisome when the power goes out, so the guests hunker down to ride out the storm. Things are gravely interrupted when one of the guests is found dead, seemingly by an accident. But, when a second guest winds up with the same fate, everyone begins to question and turn on each other, aware that there's potentially a murderer amongst them. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Winter (Lunar Chronicles fourth book) by Marissa Meyer 827 pages

This was the final story of the Lunar Chronicles series.  All the characters come together, get split apart, come back in different groups, separate again and there's no time to register calm or relief for any of them.  The end was hard fought, but well worth it.  If you are looking for a very satisfying, female character-driven, sci-fi, light romance, adventure story, you need to jump into the Lunar Chronicles at your very first opportunity.  This was an incredibly well-crafted series with characters that constantly surprised me with their complexity and depth.  I listened to the whole series read by Rebecca Soler who did a fantastic job.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Zero Day by Jan Gangsei, 368 Pages

I usually shy away from anything politically driven, but this caught my eye. Unfortunately, it fell really flat for me. The entire book was just extremely unrealistic, especially in this day and age.

Eight years ago, eight-year-old Addie Webster was kidnapped. Coming from a very high-profile, political family, her kidnapping was known across the nation. Her father, Richard Webster, is now the President of the United States, and him and the rest of the family have attempted to move on and find a new normal. Suddenly, life is once again interrupted when Addie is returned to her family. Things seem like a fairy tale ending until people start noticing that Addie was acting suspiciously. Was this just her way of coping, or did Addie return to her family for more sinister reasons?

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, 354 Pages

I'd heard mixed reviews on this book, so I was anxious to read it and see what I thought. The plot was really good, and made the book have great potential... but I found the main character so annoying. She was frustrating to read about, and made it difficult for me to finish the book. Luckily, the plot held up and I was able to finish. I also didn't like that I knew who the antagonist was basically from the beginning. I prefer a book that keeps me guessing until the end!

Nora and Clare were childhood best friends. Their friendship seemed like a friendship that would last a lifetime, until certain events happened that caused Nora to walk away from her life and start over. Ten years later, Nora receives an email invited her to Clare's hen/bachelorette weekend. Nora decides to take a chance and go, hoping this is her chance to start putting the past behind her. But, upon arrival, things start to go horribly wrong.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris, 336 Pages

B.A. Paris is one of my favorite authors on the planet. Her books leave me desperately wanting more. The Break Down was unfortunately the last book she's written that I had yet to read, so I've been painfully putting it off for a while, as I didn't want to be done with her stuff yet! But, I gave in and checked it out the other day, and as usual.... it was fantastic! The Break Down kept my on the edge of my seat. I found the main character unlikable but it luckily didn't change my opinion on the book overall.

While driving home from a dinner with friends, Cass decides to take the shortcut she promised her husband she wouldn't take due to the horrible storm. While on the shortcut, she notices a car stopped on the side of the road with a woman inside. Cass finds herself pulling over to see if the woman needs help, but decides against it when the woman doesn't even acknowledge her being there. She continues home with doesn't think about it again until the next morning, when she hears on the local news that a woman was found brutally murdered in her car on the shortcut. Cass realizes that the woman she saw the night before is the one who died, and the guilt she feels for not approaching the car and doing more is seriously effecting her every day life. She's forgetting things, receiving sinister phone calls where the caller doesn't speak a word, and constantly feels like someone is watching her. Is Cass making all of this up in her mind due to the stress and guilt she feels, or is her life really in danger?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, 384 Pages

First and foremost, I’d like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. I was and still am so pumped about it!!
I had really high expectations for this. Hendricks and Pekkanen’s novel, The Wife Between Us, is still one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is so, so good. This follow up didn’t disappoint at all. It was creepy, twisty, and just fantastic. I loved it so much, and couldn’t put it down. I’ve already put in the request for the library I work for to order it when it comes out. (It’s supposed to be released in January 2019.)
Jess Farris happens to end up at a psychology study that is conducted by local psychologist, Dr. Shields. Jess feels herself opening up to Shields, drawn to her. The original study progresses to meeting in person and completing tasks assigned to Jess. Paranoia begins to set in as Jess realizes that Dr. Shield’s intentions may have been way more sinister than what she originally thought.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, 240 Pages

Let me start off with this- I despise the idea of “Think happy thoughts and you’ll be happy.” Like, literally despise. The thought of it makes me cringe. I come from a background of mental illness, and specifically struggle with social anxiety myself. I know that I can’t just think happy thoughts and then everything will be butterflies and rainbows. Hollis definitely hits on that mindset, but in a way that makes sense. She makes sure to point out that mental illness is real. So, she earned points with me for that one. While yes, she’s privileged. She lives a nice life with her seemingly cookie-cutter family, she also has worked her you-know-what off to achieve all of her goals. She is self-made, and she is real. This book actually did give me a wake up call. I can’t count how many times I’ve told myself that I’m a bad mom. (I just did last night, actually.) I’ve considered myself too fat, not pretty enough, not successful enough, etc. But when I think about it, as Rachel recommends, none of these things have been said to me by other people. I’m the only one that is spewing this nastiness. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely recommend it.

Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah, 384 Pages

I had really high hopes for this book and it let me down, unfortunately. It’s another one that’s been on my “To Read” list for a while. I’m still not completely sure why I disliked this book like I did. I know that I didn’t enjoy the writing style- there was just too much “filler” in there for me. And, I found the main character extremely annoying. Not to judge anyone, but running away from your family, including your kids, when you’re facing a difficult time just isn’t realistic to me. I could maybe see having a night away, but the main character leaving the country for over a week is just too much. 
Cara is facing a life-changing situation and isn’t sure how to cope, so she runs. She leaves without telling her family goodbye (aside from a note left behind) and books a stay at a five-star resort in a whole different country. Upon arrival, she’s sent to her room, or what she thought was her room. Inside, she finds a man and a young woman. Without much thought of the encounter, she goes to her actual room and gets some sleep. But, Cara soon realizes that the girl she thinks she saw in the room that night couldn’t have been there… because she is a very well-known murder victim, Melody Chapa. Cara’s relaxing getaway soon turns into a stressful search of the missing girl who everyone around her believes she is making up.

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando, 432 Pages

This was another book I found on my “Best YA thriller” google lists. It’s also been on my mile long “To Read” list I have going. Honestly, this book was a major disappointment for me. It had so much potential and just really fell flat for me. I found it weird, for a lack of better words. And not a good weird, if that makes sense.
Every parent’s worst nightmare became reality for six families over a decade ago. A group of kindergartners disappeared from their school in broad daylight. Now, the town is still trying to find normalcy in the aftermath, when five of the children suddenly return. Upon the joyous reunions, all five realize that they have no memories from the last decade, including what happened to them, or who took them. They also have no idea who Max is- the sixth child that still hasn’t returned. They are all forced to work together to unfold the mystery.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil, 309 Pages

I’ve been on a Young Adult kick lately. I was having a major "book hangover" after finishing Kara Thomas’s book, so I decided to google “Best YA thrillers”, and this happened to be on a list I saw. There were comparisons to “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie, so I thought it sounded pretty good. I enjoyed this book quite a bit and was actually surprised by the ending, which is always appreciated.

Best friend’s Meg and Minnie were invited to an inclusive party on Henry Island. Meg is already on edge when she arrives, but is catapulted into straight fear once a DVD with the message “Vengeance is mine.” is discovered in the secluded home. Cue the terrible weather and power going out- the teens begin dying one-by-one, and quickly turn on each other, as that is the only logical answer as to what is happening. Meg takes it upon herself to not sit and wait to be the next victim, she’s determined to get to the bottom of things.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas, 336 Pages

I've mentioned it in my reviews before but... I. LOVE. KARA. THOMAS! This is the last book of hers that I had left to read that was written by her, and it didn't disappoint. The Darkest Corners gave me major Gillian Flynn vibes, who happens to be another favorite author of mine! 

Tessa left Fayette, Pennsylvania with the goal of never returning. But when her incarcerated father passes away, she is forced to return and face everything she painfully left behind. When Tessa left, she drifted apart from her best friend, Callie. Callie's family welcomes Tessa with open arms when she returns to town, which causes the two girls to reconnect and remember everything that happened before Tessa left- including when they both were forced to testify that they saw Wyatt Stokes kill Callie's cousin, Lori. Both girls question what they actually saw that night, and begin to uncover secrets that bring them extremely close to danger. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Best Man by Richard Peck 232 pages

I absolutely loved this book.  It's told first person in one of the most believable young voices I've ever read.  The boy telling the story isn't super smart, in fact, it's a running joke that it takes him a while to figure out all the random subtexts of life.  He has three men in his life that he knows are what men should be.  His grandfather, his father and his uncle.  By the end of the book, he'll add a fourth.  This is a brilliant, subtle and engrossing look at family dynamics and what really makes a good man.  There are no unrealistic characters and the introduction of a gay character is done with finesse, straightforward and unapologetic frankness.  In my opinion, this is as close to perfect as a book for young people can get. 

The Secret of Goldenrod by Jane O'Reilly 370 pages

This book made the preliminary nominees for the Mark Twain award, but didn't make the cut to final nominee.  It gave the impression that it was going to be a ghost story, but certainly never followed that track.  I'm still not sure what the explanation for the odd...very odd happenings would be, if not haunting, but it was made very clear throughout the book that this was not the solution.  Most of the children who have read it tell me they absolutely love it, so I'm going to go with their review.  It was a sweet story about a lonely girl finding her place in a new setting, but it never really wowed me.  That being said, there were some very nice touches to the book, so it's worth placing in the hands of kids 3rd grade and up. 

Cress: the Lunar Chronicles book 3 by Marissa Meyer 552 pages

The third book in the sci-fi/dystopian twist on fairy tales that is The Lunar Chronicles ramps up all the pre-existing tension of the first two books.  The romance, violence, and drama are all set to new highs.  This had just the right amount of romance for me, since I don't care for the bodice-rippers.  It really takes a back seat to the adventure and action surrounding all the main characters.  Cress (Rapunzel) has been held captive on a space station for years, using her tech skills to hide Lunar ships, spy on Earthens and do the bidding of the horrible Sybil Mira.  When her story gets woven into the main story of Linh Cinder, everything starts to get buck wild.  I can't wait to read the fourth book!