Book Review: Scars Like Wings {Erin Stewart}

I love, love, love reading YA (young adult fiction). Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been YA (HERE is a link to one of my very favorites). When a dear friend of mine told me about Erin Stewart’s book, Scars Like Wings, I knew it was a YA book that I needed to read.

Synopsis from Goodreads of Scars Like Wings {Erin Stewart}:

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

My Thoughts on Scars Like Wings {Erin Stewart}:

Omg this book. It’s a BEAUTIFUL book. I sobbed, I smiled, I LOVED IT. Such a beautifully written story. It shattered my heart and filled my heart all at the exact same time.

This book is HEAVY, definitely not a light read. However, Erin Stewart took such heaviness and perfectly paired it with moments that made me smile through my tears.

There are so many messages that this book delivers and every single one of them spoke directly to my heart. Acceptance, devotion, love, and strength are the most prevalent themes which stuck out the most to me as I was reading.

I finished reading a few days ago and have not stopped thinking of these characters and story lines since. This book has truly touched my heart.

What a stunning debut novel from this author. I can’t wait to read more!

Bottom Line:

Read this. Have Kleenex.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Xo,

Jenny

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link. When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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Book Review: The Lies That Bind {Emily Giffin}

I had been waiting for MONTHS to read and review The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin and was obsessively checking my status at the library DAILY to see when I would finally be able to get my hands on this popular book.

I had heard from not 1, not 2 but 3 friends who told me that they read this book over the course of 1-2 days because they couldn’t put it down and gave such glowing reviews. I couldn’t WAIT to start reading and knew that our lake house getaway would be the perfect time. I decided about a month ago that if the library wasn’t going to provide me with a copy for my vacation, Amazon would! When the library called the week before we were leaving to tell me that my copy was waiting for me, it truly felt so meant to be. You can read about our wonderful Labor Day weekend lake house vacation HERE.

Goodreads Synopsis of The Lies That Bind {Emily Giffin}:

It’s 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city–and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew.

As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it–you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours–and shots of tequila–the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn’t be worse–Grant is preparing to quit his job and move overseas. Yet despite all their obstacles, they can’t seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head.

Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up fast: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn’t who he seemed to be?

My Review of The Lies That Bind {Emily Giffin}:

I brought it to Michigan and read bits and pieces whenever I could. Lakeside? Check. In bed at night? Check. In bed first thing in the morning? Check. Sitting on the couch drinking coffee whilst gazing out at the gorgeous lake? Check. I read little bits each day throughout the 5 days and finished about 2 hours before we left to come home.

I interrupt this review to bring you this amazingness…

EMILY GIFFIN THINKS I’M PRETTY. I REPEAT…EMILY GIFFIN THINKS I’M PRETTY.

MIND. BLOWN.

So…I liked this book.  I did.  But did I LOVE it like my friends did?  I did not.

I pretty much loathed all of the characters at varying times while reading. Just when I would start to like a character, something would happen to make me not like that character…and this continued throughout the book. Where this was supposed to make the reader feel engaged, it actually made me feel DISengaged because I felt each character and each relationship wasn’t given enough detail for me to even be able to form an opinion and once I did, that opinion was instantly changed. And not in a twisty, fun way! In more of a…this character is awful…JUST KIDDING…now THIS character is AWFUL…JUST KIDDING…and that first character…NOT AWFUL AFTERALL…JUST KIDDING! Eventually all of this back and forth just got annoying and I gave up on trying to like anybody.

Without giving away any spoilers, I felt the author’s use of 9/11 in this story was disrespectful. The actual writing and details of the events were brilliantly written but the fictitious storyline based around 9/11 felt weird and so wrong to me. I can’t even imagine reading this as someone who lost a loved one during that time. I would imagine they would feel infuriated at how this story unfolded.

This book was just eh for me. Kept me interested enough to keep reading….but I honestly don’t think I would have continued if not for the high accolades from my friends. Parts felt so long, parts felt like they could have been longer, overall just eh.

And I HATED the ending.

I was so confused because my friends LOVED IT!  So I went on Goodreads and confirmed that I was indeed not alone….MANY other people out there did not. 

I definately liked it! I did! It was a great book to bring on vacation as I was able to easily put it down and read bits and pieces here and there. And as much as I loved that…it was absolutely one of it’s biggest flaws as I wanted to not be able to put it down. My friends felt that “unputdownable” feeling with this book…I easily kept putting this one down. Eh.

This was my first Emily Giffin book.  Would I read another?  I would!  Am I racing to?  I’m not.  Do I hope she still thinks I’m pretty even if I didn’t love her book?  I REALLY, REALLY DO!

Bottom Line:

Eh.

Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link. When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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The ultimate list of my top book suggestions can be found HERE

The Swap {Robyn Harding}: Guest Book Blogger Review, My Review, Author Interview with Robyn, AND GIVEAWAY (2 Signed Copies)!

Oh I am SO excited to bring you this post today!  A collaborative post with blogger Melissa Amster from Chick Lit Central with her book review, MY book review, an interview with Robyn Harding, AND A GIVEAWAY (2 signed copies!) all surrounding Robyn’s newest book, The Swap!  This post is already one of my favorites and it was such fun working with these ladies during the process.

Melissa Amster’s book blog was one of the first that I ever read and it’s wonderful.  If you don’t already follow Chick Lit Central, take some time to check it out!  You’ll love it like I do.  Melissa has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my blogging journey and I’ll never be able to appropriately thank her for all of her support and advice along the way.  She’s so awesome!  When she asked if I would be interested in doing a collaborative blog post to review Robyn Harding’s newest book, I JUMPED at the chance!  Amazing!

I have been a huge Robyn Harding fan for years.  Her books are AWESOME.  Working with her on this post was the first time she and I have communicated and I’m so happy to report that she’s just as lovely and kind as I was hoping she would be!  So nice corresponding with you, Robyn!

Goodreads Synopsis of The Swap {Robyn Harding}:

“No list of thrillers is complete without Robyn Harding,” proclaims Real Simple. Now the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Party delivers a riveting tale about the toxic relationship between two couples after a night of sexual shenanigans, and the manipulative teenager with an explosive secret at the center of it all.

Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

Robyn Harding brings her acclaimed storytelling, lauded as “fast-paced, thrilling, gut-wrenching” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six, to this dark and suspenseful thriller for fans of Megan Miranda and Lisa Jewell.

My Review of The Swap {Robyn Harding}:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

So I’ll just come out and say it: I was so incredibly nervous to read this book.  I had already been in discussions with Melissa Amster AND with Robyn Harding as to how we were going to collaborate on this post.  What if I hated the book???  If you are a regular blog reader, you know that I always share my true feelings on books, both positive and negative.  I was so nervous to read this book and have to write this post.  If I hated the book, how awful would it be to have to write my negative review on a collaborative post with A) A book blogger whom I very much admire and B) THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK.  Scary.  However, my readers are always #1 to me and being honest with my thoughts remains my top priority.  The reason that I have such loyal followers is because my readers trust that I’ll always be honest with my thoughts.  I hear that from my blog readers ALL THE TIME.

So…I opened the book, holding my breath as I read page 1.

And I very quickly released my breath.  From the very first sentence I. WAS. HOOKED.  Oh how I LOVED this book (thank God)!  I read the whole book over 2 days, I truly couldn’t put it down.  Hands down my favorite Robyn Harding book that I’ve read (my review of another of her great ones can be found HERE).  I can very honestly say with 100 percent certainty that I LOVED this book.  PHEW.

This book is GREAT!  It is scandalous and juicy and messed up and AWESOME.  Not only is it one of my favorite books that I’ve read during the quarantine, but it’s absolutely one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far in 2020.  These characters felt REAL and their stories interlaced with one another so perfectly.  The result?  One twisted, dysfunctional, and AMAZING psychological thriller.  I haven’t stopped thinking of these characters or their messed up story lines since I finished reading.  AWESEOME.

The writing is fantastic, the characters are interesting, the story lines are TWISTED…a perfect psychological thriller.  I love this genre so much and this book is a perfect example as to why!

I very truly highly recommend this awesome book.  THANK GOD.  How awkward would this post have been if I hated it???  Phew…

Chick Lit Central’s Melissa Amster’s review of The Swap {Robyn Harding}:

I’ve been a fan of Robyn Harding’s thrillers ever since picking up The Party a few years ago. I especially loved The Arrangement last year, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an advanced copy of The Swap, courtesy of Gallery Books. I was sucked in the moment I started reading it and I couldn’t get enough of it.

This novel was really good throughout. I had a hard time putting it down and Robyn kept me guessing the entire way through. I don’t want to say a lot as to not spoil it, but it was very twisty and messed with my head. I wish we had Freya’s perspective, but I get why it wasn’t included. I enjoyed the balance between Jamie and Low’s perspectives. Brian and Max even got a narrative at times.

I could understand Low’s point of view in terms of being a loner and craving female friendship. I wasn’t all that popular growing up and when I did form a close friendship with someone, I tended to latch on for dear life. I had a friend in high school who was really pretty and whom everyone liked (in the group I was hanging out with). Senior year, this toxic friend started stealing my friend’s attention and time and I was getting fed up with it. Eventually, my friend saw the light, but I kind of wish I had Low in my corner to get rid of the toxic friend at the time. Just saying… While I never retaliated in the way that Low did, I still will develop a burning anger and hatred towards someone on a close friend’s behalf. I have much healthier friendship attachments now, but reading this book brought some memories to mind.

When (not if!!!) you pick this book up, buckle your seatbelts because you are in for a wild ride! Don’t be surprised if you end up getting nothing else done so you can read it in one sitting.

Movie casting suggestions:

Low: Diana Silvers

Freya: Candice King

Jamie: Lyndsy Fonseca

Brian: Scott Eastwood

Max: Giulio Berruti or Jason Momoa (I was picturing Jason first, but it’s good to have backups.)

Thompson: Max Burkholder

Low’s mother: Mireille Enos

A Conversation Between Book Coffee Happy and Robyn Harding:

I love how you tackle such “taboo” subjects in your books (swapping partners in The Swap, Sugar Daddies in The Arrangement, etc.).  How do the people closest to you (family, friends, etc.) feel about you writing about such normally unmentionable topics?

I think my family and friends are quite used to it by now! My grandmother passed away a few years ago, and she did NOT like me tackling taboo subjects, or swearing, or writing about sex. I miss her dearly but there is a certain freedom in her absence.

Speaking of these unmentionable topics, how do you decide which to write about? How do you conduct the research on them to gain enough insight to create such interesting and complex stories and characters?

I take a kernel of an idea, something I hear about in the media, or through social circles, and play with it to see if I can build a story around it. Then I create the characters. With THE ARRANGEMENT, I did a lot of research into the sugar baby lifestyle. I talked to young women who had sugar daddies, and I set up a fake account on a sugar daddy dating site. Talk about an eye opener! For THE SWAP, I spoke to a friend who had been in an open marriage years ago, but most of it came from my imagination.

Describe The Swap using only 3 adjectives:

 Sexy, twisted, craaaaaazy

What do you hope readers will gain from reading The Swap?

I really just want to provide an escape for people right now. There is so much going on in the world, and so much to worry about, that I’m truly grateful when I can lose myself in a book. I hope I can do that for readers.

Tell me a bit about your writing process:

I use loose screenplay structure to plot out my novels, and I write profiles for all of my main characters. I’m not a dirty first draft writer. I re-read and edit as I go along so by the time I’m done, the manuscript is usually in pretty good shape.

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

Would you like to win a signed copy of The Swap?
 
I have 2 signed copies to give away (open to US and Canada only for this giveaway)!  

To be entered, just leave a comment below (on this blog post)!  Your comment can be about anything!

**You must comment below to be eligible for the giveaway and you must comment here on this blog post (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will close tomorrow (9/3/20) at 6:00 pm CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced here on my blog on Friday (9/4/20).

Make sure you check the blog on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winners to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

A big thank you to Melissa Amster from Chick Lit Central and to Robyn Harding for their collaborations on this post!  I had such fun working with you ladies!

Melissa and I worked on a collaborative post together a few months back reviewing Mary Kubica’s The Other Mrs.  You can check out that post over on Chick Lit Central HERE!

**If you don’t already follow Chick Lit Central or Book Coffee Happy, we would both love to have you join each of our book blog communities!  Welcome :)**

Xo,

Jenny

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

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The ultimate list of my top book suggestions can be found HERE

Book Review: I Wish You All The Best {Mason Deaver}

Ok. Time to write my very first book review since this whole WordPress new editor debacle (aka how WordPress pissed off millions of bloggers). THANK YOU to the MANY of you who reached out after I wrote my last post! Apparently there are many, many, MANY of you out there who are struggling with this as well. UGH. Ok here goes post #2 in this stupid new block editor. I reaaaaally hope I can do this…I figure that the very least I can do is to choose a FANTASTIC book from the pile that I’ve been reading to apologize for not giving you a review in over 2 weeks! If you haven’t yet read Mason Deaver’s I Wish You All The Best, you must. It’s so wonderful.

Goodreads Synopsis of I Wish You All The Best {Mason Deaver}:

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

My Review of I Wish You All The Best {Mason Deaver}:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics not spoilers)

Oh I loved this book. It was so beautifully written!

The characters were detailed, the story lines were easy to follow, and the overall “YA” feel was perfect (unlike the last YA book that I read). I Wish You All The Best touched my heart, made me smile, made me tear up, made me THINK, and overall made me so glad that I read it. I highly recommend this book.

I applaud ANY book which tackles topics which at times may be hard to discuss. This book brings awareness to such an important topic and really discusses it in such wonderful detail. I will admit that I learned so much from reading this book! Aside from being a wonderful story, I Wish You All The Best is a wonderful resource. ALL teenagers (and adults) would highly benefit from reading this book!

If you love YA (young adult fiction), read this.

Bottom Line:

A beautiful, important, and wonderful book.

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

*Subscribe with your email address to my blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page on mobile devices OR check the top right of this screen to enter your email address)*

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The ultimate list of my top book suggestions can be found HERE

Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying {Karen McManus}

I randomly came across One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus while searching through books online (man I miss doing that in person at the library).  I thought it sounded great!  I couldn’t wait to read it and to write my review.

Goodreads Synopsis of One Of Us Is Lying {Karen McManus}:

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

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.

My Review of One Of Us Is Lying {Karen McManus}:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

I LOVE a good YA (young adult) book.  In fact, some of the very best books I’ve ever read have been YA (you can read my reviews on a few of these HERE, HERE, and HERE).

So this book was good.  It kept me interested enough that I wanted to see how it would end although I very much figured out the ending significantly earlier in the book then the author intended.

HOWEVER, this book was just a bit tooooooo YA for me.  Does that even make sense?  The language, the actions, the stereotypes of characters/scenarios, all of it.  I felt like I was reading a book MEANT for high schoolers which again, I understand that the typical audience of YA books is just that…young adults.  However, most YA books that I have read have been so well written and contained such deep messages that they appeal to ALL ages.  This book, however…was most definitely written for high schoolers.

Even the names of the characters just made me feel like I’m way too old to be reading this book.  Bronwyn?  Cooper?  Keely?  Maeve?  Janae?  Ashton?  I’m too old for this.

This book had a very “Gossip Girl” vibe.  I LOVED Gossip Girl…a very long time ago.

One Of Us Is Lying is the 1st in a series of 3.  Will I be reading the next 2?  Not unless they take place 25 years into the future, lol.

Bottom Line:

If I were 25 years younger, I would have LOVED this book.  Unfortunately, I’m not.

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

*Subscribe with your email address to my blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page on mobile devices OR check the top right of this screen to enter your email address)*

*If you already have a blog, please “follow” mine*

*”Like” my Facebook page (and please comment on, “like”, and share my posts)*

*Follow me on Instagram*

*Follow me on Twitter*

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*Clicking and buying products through my Amazon Affiliate links.  The cost to you is exactly the same and I receive a tiny commission off of your purchases.*

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The ultimate list of my top book suggestions can be found HERE

The 2 Books I Started Reading This Week but Never Finished.

This week I started reading 2 different books…and put both books down before I read them though to the end.  UGH.  I haaaaate when that happens.  I find that when I put 1 book down before finishing, the trend seems to follow right into the next book that I pick up as well.  Whyyyy??  Does this ever happen to anyone else??

I have been reading some GREAT books lately (I am currently working on 3 upcoming blog posts with my reviews) and then…BAM…these 2 books.

Book 1:

Goodreads Synopsis of Tell Me Everything {Cambria Brockman}:

In her first weeks at Hawthorne College, Malin is swept up into a tight-knit circle that will stick together through all four years. There’s Gemma, an insecure theater major from London; John, a tall, handsome, and wealthy New Englander; Max, John’s cousin and a shy pre-med major; Khaled, a wise-cracking prince from Abu Dhabi; and Ruby, a beautiful art history major. But Malin isn’t quite like the rest of her friends. She’s an expert at hiding her troubling past. She acts as if she is concerned with the preoccupations of those around her – boys, partying – all while using her extraordinary insight to detect their deepest vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

By Senior Day, on the cusp of graduation, Malin’s secrets – and those of her friends – are revealed. While she scrambles to maintain her artfully curated image, her missteps set in motion a devastating chain of events that ends in a murder. And as their fragile relationships hang in the balance and close alliances start shifting, Malin will test the limits of what she’s capable of to stop the truth from coming out.

I will be the first to say that I didn’t give this book a fair chance.  At all.  I quit reading after 30ish pages ONLY because I recently finished reading THIS BOOK (review coming next week!) and these books were just so similar.  Both YA, both containing a mysterious murder, both focusing on groups of friends.  Eh.  I have a hard time reading books back to back with similar themes, genres, characters, etc.  I just couldn’t get into this one!  I really do feel that it was a matter of timing for me, though.  Had I picked this book up at a different time, I think it had the potential to be great.  The writing seemed to be ok, the characters seemed to be ok, the setting seemed to be ok, I just wasn’t invested enough to stick around to see if those “OKs” would eventually have turned into “greats”.  Have any of you read this book?

Moving on…

Book 2:

I posted this on Facebook last weekend and the comments were OVERWHELMINGLY positive about this book!  So many of you love it!  I was so excited to start reading!

I started reading and from page 1, I just really wasn’t into it.  I posted a poll on Instagram.

Aaaaaaand my result was deemed inconclusive:

I made it to page 115 before I closed the cover for good.  I just was SO BORED.

I think a big part of why I just couldn’t get into this book was the fact that I went into it literally BLIND as to what it was going to be about.  There is absolutely zero synopsis on the book cover.  Nothing on the front, nothing on the back, nothing in the inside cover.  Just this weird ominous front cover.  That’s it.

Even the Goodreads synopsis of In A Dark, Dark, Wood {Ruth Ware} is super vague:

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

Not knowing what the book was about made for a very frustrating reading experience.  I kept waiting for SOMETHING, ANYTHING to happen and after 115 pages nothing really did.  There was an annoying mention of a hidden past but I was so disconnected from all of the characters that even THAT didn’t phase me.  Once I decided that I was over it, I ended up Googling the ending just to see what happened.  Reading about the ending and how everything played out leading up to it made me even more confident in my decision to stop reading.

That was very disappointing for me as I’m a BIG Ruth Ware fan.  I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED The Turn of the Key (the book synopsis and my review HERE) and I also really enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10 (Amazon affiliate link HERE).

Aaaaand how incredibly random is this?!?  In doing research for this blog post, I came across this blub on Goodreads for Tell Me Everything which SO RANDOMLY compares it to In A Dark, Dark, Wood!  How weird is that?!?  No wonder I didn’t like either book, lol:

“A murder at an elite New England college tears apart a group of friends – and one of them is playing a dangerous game – in this electrifying debut in the tradition of In a Dark, Dark Wood…”

So now, here I sit, without a book to read.  I will be heading to the library drive thru today because a few books that I put on hold are waiting for me.  I have been quarantining library books in my garage for 3 days before reading.  However, I will be using disinfectant wipes to wipe these down and will start reading TONIGHT…desperate times call for desperate measures over here 🙂

Have you read either of these books?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Xo,

Jenny

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My Gorgeous Condominium in Downtown Chicago and a Book Review: Lock Every Door {Riley Sager}

Sharing a bit about my beautiful condominium in downtown Chicago and also my review of Riley Sager’s book, Lock Every Door.

My Life in Downtown Chicago:

Before I was married, I lived alone for many years in the most beautiful city in the world…downtown Chicago.  My memories of that time in my life will forever hold such a special place in my heart.

My gorgeous condo building:

My condo was a 550 square feet studio and I was forced to listen to the hum of my refrigerator all night as my bed wasn’t far away.  I had no dishwasher, had to take the elevator down 30 stories just to switch my laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, and had to determine which groceries needed to be refrigerated and which could sit in my car overnight to avoid multiple trips up and down the elevator.

However, despite all of that…IT.  WAS.  PERFECT.

I lived on the 29th floor, had the most spectacular view of the city that I have ever seen, and an entire wall in my condo was nothing but windows.  It had valet parking, a grocery store in the building, a doorman, and a bookshelf off the lobby where the residents could leave and take books whenever they pleased.  Living there made me feel so fancy and grown up!  My entire condo was PINK, my dishes were shaped like stiletto heels, my picture frames were shaped like purses, and my microwave was concealed behind floral curtains held back with rhinestone tie backs.  I absolutely loved it and miss it so much!  A piece of my heart will forever live in that beautiful, itty bitty teeny tiny pink space.

I couldn’t help but think of my beautiful condo building as I read Lock Every Door.  Having this background knowledge made this book feel SO REAL to me…and I think freaked me out even more as I was reading.  Yikes.

Goodreads Synopsis of Lock Every Door {Riley Sager}:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent. 

My Review of Lock Every Door {Riley Sager}:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

This book is MESSED UP.

So weird, so creepy…I liked it 😉

This was the first Riley Sager book I’ve read and I must say…I loved the writing!  This book hooked me in from the very beginning and had me guessing all the way until the very end.  Love when that happens!  The stories and characters were so detailed, I could easily see every scene of this creepy story so clearly in my mind.  And obviously I imagined some of those scenes in my very own beloved condo building which freaked me out even more 😉

This book was mysterious, it was dark, it was weird, it was GREAT!  If you are looking for a page turning psychological thriller this book really is a good one.  Such an easy read, I read it in just a few days.

Oh and pro tip:  Don’t even TRY to guess the ending.  You will be wrong.

Bottom Line:

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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Book Review: Last Couple Standing {Matthew Norman}

I had been eagerly awaiting the release of Matthew Norman’s newest book, Last Couple Standing.  You may remember it being included in my 6 New Books to be Released in 2020 post!  I had my name on the library wait list for MONTHS and it was a happy day when it finally came in!

Goodreads Synopsis of Last Couple Standing {Matthew Norman}:

The Core Four have been friends since college: four men, four women, four couples. They got married around the same time, had kids around the same time, and now, fifteen years later, they’ve started getting divorced around the same time, too. With three of the Core Four unions crumbling to dust around them, Jessica and Mitch Butler take a long, hard look at their own marriage. Can it be saved? Or is divorce, like some fortysomething zombie virus, simply inescapable?

To maximize their chance at immunity, Jessica and Mitch try something radical. Their friends’ divorces mostly had to do with sex—having it, not having it, wanting to have it with other people—so they decide to relax a few things. Terms are discussed, conditions are made, and together the Butlers embark on the great experiment of taking their otherwise happy, functional marriage and breaking some very serious rules.

Jessica and Mitch are convinced they’ve hit upon the next evolution of marriage. But as lines are crossed and hot bartenders pursued, they each start to wonder if they’ve made a huge mistake. What follows is sexy, fun, painful, messy, and completely surprising to them both. Because sometimes doing something bad is the only way to get to the heart of what’s really good.

My Review of Last Couple Standing {Matthew Norman}:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

This was the 2nd book that I read while on our beautiful vacation (you can read the GLOWING review of the 1st book that I read HERE and a recap of our perfect vacation HERE).

I read the majority of this book with this exact view in front of me:

Book.  Coffee.  HAPPY.

Take me baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

As for this book, the entire premise of the topic of the book just felt so incredibly icky to me.  Open marriage, cheating, or whatever you want to call it…hard pass.  I would literally DESTROY THE BITCH who would even TRY to look at my husband.

However, this book kept my attention from the very first page and I actually really enjoyed it despite it’s yucky premise.  The characters and the story lines were interesting, and many parts of this book were thought provoking.  It was an easy read and I quickly flew though it!  I loved the humor sprinkled throughout, it made such a heavy and weird topic feel a bit lighter.

This was the first book that I have read of Matthew Norman’s and…I’m a FAN!  LOVED his writing style!  I will absolutely be reading more books that he has written asap.

**Side Note: The main character, Jessica, is now officially one of my most hated book characters of all time.  I absolutely loathed her.**

I continued reading this book once we got home from Michigan although the scenery surrounding me wasn’t nearly as beautiful.  I always find it sad to start a book on vacation and then have to finish reading once I return home.  Anyone else feel this way???

I posted this on Facebook once we returned:

Bottom Line:

Icky topic….but….I liked the book???

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

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Looking for a Page Turner? Oh Do I Have the Book for You!

This book is the very definition of page turner.  I COULD NOT put it down.  One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.  Ever.  You need to read this book…EVERYONE needs to read this book!

I once wrote a list of my top book recommendations to bring on vacation. In that post (link HERE), I discuss a bit more of my qualifications for a book to be a perfect book to bring with you on a trip.  This book was PERFECT.

I brought this book with me on our recent trip to Michigan and every morning I went outside with my book to read with a view:

American Dirt Controversy:

This is easily the most controversial book I’ve ever reviewed on my blog.  I’ve done loads of research on the controversy and there are just so many facets as to why people feel the way that they do.  The author of this book has received death threats and as a result the book tour had to be canceled!  Here is a short video that I found online which sums up all of the controversy in an easy to understand, 5 minute clip.  I know the cover photo of these 3 men looks like it has nothing to do with this but I promise that it does!  This video does NOT contain spoilers, just an overall view of why this book is making so many people really, really upset. START WATCHING AT 2:35:

So now that you have a bit of background, let’s dive into my review…

Goodreads Synopsis of American Dirt {Jeanine Cummins}:

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

My Review of American Dirt {Jeanine Cummins}:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

I absolutely loved it.  I devoured it.  I couldn’t put it down.  I cried.  My heart pounded.  I had to use my hand to cover entire paragraphs just so I wouldn’t be tempted to read ahead.

WHAT.  A.  STORY.

This story and these characters will stay with me for a very long time.

It’s a beautifully written, intensively involved story that had me sucked in from the very beginning allllllll the way until the very end.  I so very highly, highly recommend this book!

Pro Tip: If you are not fluent in Spanish, HAVE A PHONE NEXT TO YOU WHILE READING.  I simply CANNOT come to a word I do not understand and continue reading with an assumption of what that word means!  In American Dirt, there are LOTS of words and phrases written in Spanish.  I was actually quite impressed with how much I was able to channel my high school Spanish class (gracias, Senorita Dan!) to figure out the meanings but there were MANY words that I had to look up.  Many of these words weren’t relevant to the story (words such as “damn”, etc.) however many WERE actually relevant to the story!

For the love of God please do not send me a message telling me to get a Kindle so I can look up words as I am reading.  I don’t want one (read why HERE)!

I did an extensive amount of research on the topics in this book.  I watched videos of La Bestia.  I google imaged pictures of the places that they went.  I read countless articles about immigration and learned so much about so many different and important topics.  I LOVE WHEN BOOKS INSPIRE ME TO WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TOPICS I MAY NOT ALREADY HAVE AN EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT!  Oh I learned SO much from this book.  Interesting facts, heartbreaking facts, mind blowing facts.

As for my opinion of Jeanine Cummins writing this book without personally having lived through this herself…I’m not entirely sure that even matters.  This story is brilliant and IMPORTANT and needs to be shared.  Does it really matter WHO shares it?  Many people are saying that this isn’t “her story to tell” but truthfully, how many fiction writers are basing their stories solely on personal experience?  Jeanine Cummins is a brilliant storyteller and this book is an exceptional story which will make readers think, discuss, and analyze.  I cannot speak to the stereotypes in this book but what I CAN speak to is the fact that I will always support books which make readers THINK about topics outside of their comfort zone.  Any book which encourages people to talk about issues and brings awareness and understanding to hard to discuss topics deserves praise.  Jeanine Cummins did just that.

Bottom Line:

This book is absolutely brilliant.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

*Subscribe with your email address to my blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page on mobile devices OR check the top right of this screen to enter your email address)*

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The ultimate list of my top book suggestions can be found HERE

I Highly, Highly Recommend This Book!

My friend Jana and I refer to each other as “Book Twins”.  Not only is our taste in books so similar but we know and trust each other’s tastes enough to know that when one of us has a book to recommend to the other….it’s highly likely that it’s going to be a hit with both of us.  I had never heard of The Fire on High or of it’s author Elizabeth Acevedo.  However, as soon as Jana sent me a message a few weeks ago saying this book is now one of her favorite books of 2020…I immediately put it on hold at the library.  Thank you, Book Twin!

Goodreads Synopsis of With the Fire on High {Elizabeth Acevedo}:

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

My Review of With The Fire On High {Elizabeth Acevedo}:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

Oh this book is BEAUTIFUL.  I absolutely loved everything about it!

I love a good YA (young adult) book and this one is an absolute gem.  A must read.

The characters are so well developed and each will stay with me for a very long time.  I haven’t stopped thinking of them since I finished reading the last page yesterday!  The story lines are rich in detail, description, and depth.  This book was so beautifully written.  Even the cover art is stunning!  I absolutely loved everything about this book.

My one and only complaint with this book is something that I usually love in books!  The chapters in this book are SHORT…like sometimes just 2 pages short.  While I usually do love this, I did feel at times like they were a bit TOO short and just as a story line was really taking off…the chapter abruptly ended.  However, these short chapters did make it so easy to fly through this book!  I easily could have read this entire book over the course of 1 or 2 days if I wasn’t currently quarantined with 2 young children 😉

This book is absolutely BEGGING for a sequel…so many story lines that I would love to see extended!  Fingers crossed…

My book twin did not disappoint me!  She rarely does.  Except that one time.

Bottom Line:

If you love YA, you will LOVE this book!

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think? 

Have you read any of Elizabeth Acevedo’s other books?  Which would you recommend? 

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

*Subscribe with your email address to my blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page on mobile devices OR check the top right of this screen to enter your email address)*

*If you already have a blog, please “follow” mine*

*”Like” my Facebook page (and please comment on, “like”, and share my posts)*

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*Clicking and buying products through my Amazon Affiliate links.  The cost to you is exactly the same and I receive a tiny commission off of your purchases.*

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The ultimate list of my top book suggestions can be found HERE