Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Adult Book Mini Reviews-- Someone Knows & Good Me, Bad Me



1. Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline


Goodreads Synopsis:

Twenty years ago, in an upscale suburb of Philadelphia, four teenagers spent a summer as closest friends: drinking, sharing secrets, testing boundaries. When a new boy looked to join them, they decided to pull a prank on him, convincing him to play Russian roulette as an initiation into their group. They secretly planned to leave the gun unloaded—but what happened next would change each of them forever.

Now three of the four reunite for the first time since that horrible summer. The guilt—and the lingering question about who loaded the gun—drove them apart. But after one of the group apparently commits suicide with a gun, their old secrets come roaring back. One of them is going to figure out if the new suicide is what it seems, and if it connects to the events of that long-ago summer. Someone knows exactly what happened—but who? And how far will they go to keep their secrets buried?




My Thoughts:

When I saw that part of this book is set in the late 90's, it was pretty much an instant yes for me.  I guess I'm just a sucker for anything nostalgic.

This book shook me a little.  It's freaking depressing, guys.  A kid dies for literally NO reason and everyone who was involved has a shitty life after that. I know that most unnatural deaths are meaningless, but this one really hit me hard.  Why did I read 400 pages just to come away with: What a waste that all was.

Another thing that puzzled me was the BIG BAD.  The theme of this book seemed to be that life isn't black and white-- there are grays when it comes to who is at fault and what is good and bad.  The thing is, the villain in this book was overly evil.  I didn't need the author to make the villain so villainy that I had zero doubts about his/her evilness.  I don't think this book needed a villain like that.  I think the event that happened brought up a lot about culpability and guilt-- it didn't need a serial killer to bring it together.

This is a book of alternating POV chapters, which I like... and I did like it when it was only the 4 main players giving their POV.  At some point, there were the POVs of the parents and spouses too.  It started to get confusing, and I think it would've been better just sticking to the main characters.

Putting all of that aside, I didn't hate the book.  I just didn't like being so depressed either.

OVERALL: Depressing.  Days later I'm still thinking about how this whole book was about a meaningless, senseless death and how I wish I didn't read about it.

Date Published: 4/9/2019
How I got this book: Audio from the library
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Books

My Rating: 3/5















2.  Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land


Goodreads Synopsis:

Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree? 

Milly's mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school. 

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all. 

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.



My Thoughts:

I know this is an Adult book, but it has definite YA crossover appeal.

This book was rough to read-- emotionally.  It's about a girl who did the right thing, but nevertheless was a completely damaged person.  Milly grew up for 15 years with a psychotic serial killer for a mother--  abusing her, brainwashing her, making her witness horrible, unimaginable things.  Milly was never going to be normal.

She's living with a psychiatrist (Mike) and his family until the trial of her mother can take place.  She's going to a prestigious, private school and excelling.  The only problem is that Mike's daughter, Phoebe, is also a sociopath and she's not about to let Milly acclimate to her new situation smoothly.

The biggest theme of the book has to do with the title.  Is there a bad person living inside of Milly because of the way she grew up??  How much does nurture influence her?  It was a super interesting aspect of this book, and I was totally on edge waiting on Milly to snap.

For the entirety of the story, the reader is in Milly's head, which is kind of a sobering place to be.  She has feelings of empathy and sorrow, anger and grief-- but you can also feel that there's something missing somehow.  I had equal feelings of wanting OUT of her head and wanting to see her succeed.

Good Me, Bad Me worked.  It was a readable, addicting, painful story-- and it felt totally real.  Soberingly real.  I won't forget Milly anytime soon.

OVERALL: I loved this psychological thriller and think it was one of the strongest debut books I've read in a while.  I don't think it's for the faint of heart-- it was a hard book to read-- but it is totally worth it if you can handle being in Milly's head.

Date Published: 1/12/2017
How I got this book: Audio from the library
Publisher: Michael Joseph/Pengiun

My Rating: 4.5/5















Have you read either of these books?  Thoughts??  Share with me!!


Monday, February 17, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- My Last 10 Book Hangovers

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (February 11th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Last Books That Gave Me A Book Hangover




  • Book Hangover-- That feeling when you finish an amazing book and can't even THINK about reading anything else because you know it won't be the same.
  • Also-- for me, a Book Hangover can be caused by a stunning ending.  I may not have loved the book, but if the ending leaves me feeling a WAY, then I may not be able to focus on what to read next because I'm still processing.





1.  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • This book was fabulous and it was SO HARD to pick another book after this one.  I knew nothing was going to compare.

2.  Wilder Girls by Rory Power
  • I didn't love this one... but that non-ending just pissed me off so bad that I had trouble moving on.

3.  Sadie by Courtney Summers
  • This book gutted me.

4.  The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
  • I loved this mystery & the camp setting & the fact that I read it in the summer, it just all led to me wanting to stay there for a while longer.

5.  All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
  • This book was so good and addicting that it was total book hangover central.





6.  The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
  • Ugh.  This book had it all.  It made me cry, it made me never want to stop reading it.  Afterwards, it was hard to move on.

7.  Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger
  • This book!!  I read it in one night and was so mad at myself because the next day I was really wanting to continue with the characters.

8.  Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  • I wouldn't say this is one of my all-time favorite books, but it's one of the first few books I read on audio, and it so reminded me of when I first started read YA and fell in love with Sarah Dessen's books.  It felt like home, and that's hard to move on from.

9.  The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando
  • THE ENDING!!!  It made me question everything.

10.  The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  • Another non-favorite, but it was a wild ride and some of it was very shocking and graphic.  Hard to get over.





What books gave you a hangover?


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- Love Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (February 11th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books I've Read With Romantic Tropes



  • I don't read a lot of books with romance being the focus, so this topic was hard for me!!  I did finally decide to look at some of my favorite books that contain a romantic trope.
  • We all know with romance comes tropes.... these are some that I've had the pleasure of reading:




1.  Slow Burn
Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell- Claire & Rafael had the cutest slow burn relationship.

2.  Friends to Lovers
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills- I loved the way Gideon & Claudia had a cute friendship first and then became something more.

3.  Enemies to Lovers
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco- Maybe these weren't "true" enemies, but Audrey Rose & Thomas did NOT like each other at first.

4.  Love Triangle
Be True To Me by Adele Griffin- I don't normally like love triangles, but this is an exception.  This isn't really a romance book because it goes a bit darker, but the love triangle was the main focus of the book and it got me hooked!!

5.  Fake Relationship
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han- This is the obvious choice for the fake relationship trope, but I just love it so much.




6.  Unrequited Love
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour- Poor Colby :(

7.  I'm In Love With My Best Friend's Boyfriend
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott- Sarah loved Ryan even though he was dating her best friend.  This book hurt SO MUCH.

8.  Forbidden Romance
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo- This book is a huge exception for me because I usually do not get down with inappropriate romance-- but this one was done just right!

9.  Romeo/Juliet
Visions series by Lisa McMann- Jules & Sawyer were from families who owned warring Italian restaurants.

10.  Boy/Girl Next Door
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway- Emmy & Oliver had the cutest connection even through all the years apart.






What are your favorite tropes in YA Romance?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Why did it take me so long to try audio?




Guys, I am stubborn.  If you know me at all, I'm sure this isn't new information-- but I am just now realizing the extent of my stubbornness.  The reason I'm realizing this:

I JUST FIGURED OUT HOW AWESOME AUDIO READING IS IN 2019... THE END OF 2019.




I have at least 17 friends who are regular audio-bookers, and they consistently sing the praises of using this medium.  And for the last  8 years, I've pretty much ignored them. (Rude, right??)

The thing is-- I'm one of those people who think I only like what I like.  I think I don't like YA Fantasy, so I rarely try it.  I thought I couldn't enjoy audio reading, so I never gave it a fair shot.

This is what I was thinking back then before I loved audiobooks (like 3 months ago):

  • I read 1 audiobook before I started blogging (it was a book on CD, that's how long ago it was), and I was having trouble multitasking with it.  Basically, if I was concentrating on not hitting a curb while driving, I wasn't listening to the book and would have to rewind like 5 minutes of it.  Or, if I was really into the book, I would be almost wrecking.
  • Because of that, I thought I wasn't capable of learning to do 2 things at once (not that I don't still struggle a tad with that).
  • I thought audio book reading wouldn't give me the same FEEL.  So, I figured I wouldn't pick up on all the little details if it was being read to me.
  • I thought it would be really hard to go back in the book if I had questions or forgot about something (I was right about this one, it is super hard to do this).
  • I kind of thought this wasn't real reading.  I know, I know, I'm a terrible person.  I hold myself to really weird and strict standards when it comes to reading (I just recently allowed myself to count rereads in my yearly book count).  So, in my head it didn't feel like it counted??  I know now that it totally counts.

Things I've discovered since becoming audiobook obsessed:
  • I can totally drive (and cook and cross-stitch) and listen at the same time.  There are very occasional times where I have to rewind, but it doesn't happen near as much as that first time I listened.
  • I am reading so much more!!!  Because I can read when I would usually not be able to read, I am getting so much more reading done!
  • I can reread all my old favorites (that I've been meaning to reread since forev), and it feels new and fresh!
  • It is weird not knowing about character names spellings.
  • It is weird hearing names that I've been mispronouncing for years.
  • Narrators matter!!  If I'm not feeling the reader's voice, I probably won't love the book.

What I've learned from all of this is that I should really listen to my peoples and try things.  I don't always know better.  My reading life is now and forever completely changed.  And that is something I love about being a reader... you never know when something will come along and change you forever.  Be it a new way to enjoy books or a book about a certain topic that blows your mind and changes you as a person.





Now, some questions for you.  Do you audio??  When do you do it?  What kind of books do you like to read on audio?  When did you start doing it?  What apps do you use/where do you get your audiobooks?



Friday, February 7, 2020

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen-- Felt Like It Was Written On Auto-Pilot

Once and for All

Louna is the daughter of a successful wedding planner (Natalie Barrett).  She lives weddings, but love??  Love has not been great to Louna or her mother.  Louna has lived through a tragedy and her mom has been super jaded ever since her own marriage fell apart.

Ambrose is a guy who doesn't like commitment.  When he's forced to commit to helping the Barretts with wedding season, he can't help but be intrigued by Louna's flight response when it comes to feelings.

When Louna and Ambrose make a bet to see who can get past their issues (Ambrose by dating ONE girl, and Louna by dating in general), things start getting interesting...












First the good: Isn't that cover lovely??  I love the colors and the simplicity.  Very pretty and a nice addition to my shelves.

Now what I really think: This book is not good.  It's not up to standards that Sarah Dessen has set with her volume of work.  It's also her last book with Penguin... is that a coincidence??  This certainly felt like she phoned it in, and maybe she did.

It startled me a bit in the beginning with a school shooting being a part of the story (there’s no scenes of the shooting and the person recalling it was multiple states away when it occurred). This felt way out of Sarah’s norm and I was hopeful that this story would be unique and show her pushing herself a little. But no, it reverted back to the same story of the same uptight, non-personality girl and the guy that is sickeningly nice but flawed. Once again, the best friend and side characters shined in this book (which is the one part I really, really loved). William, the mother's business partner, especially was a needed part of this book.

I didn’t get the appeal of Louna for Ambrose or Ambrose for Louna. The only reason I can come up with for Ambrose being interested in Louna was that he likes a challenge.  She was in no way his type.  She wasn't fun, she wasn't interesting.  She was just a girl who was sad.  And who wants to try a serious relationship with someone who cannot do serious? How is someone who flirts with every girl and wants to date everyone at the same time attractive?  Why try to change someone like that?

I did like the familiarity of this book in the way that it felt homey— as in it reminded me of reading other Dessen books. But there wasn’t enough originality to push it into a LOVE category for me. It was very: insert mom with x career, insert main character facing a loss, insert boy who isn’t available but will be someday because the main character is just so special.

OVERALL: Just not this author’s best by any stretch.  She phoned it in.


Date Published: 6/6/2017
How I got this book: I got it as a gift AND I listened to the audio from the library
Publisher: Viking Books/Penguin

Add it to your To-Read List!!



My Rating: 3/5











Character: Jilly Baker
Book: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

  • Jilly would totally relate to the Garrett's chaotic life with all those kids.