July Wrap-up

After kicking ass last month, I did have a bit of a slower reading month this month – BUT we were out of town almost every single weekend, so I’ll take what I can get. I ended up reading 8 books this month:

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  1. Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Berube (ARC): ★.5
  2. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (audio, reread): ★★★★.5
  3. Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali (Dragons and Tea Bookclub pick): ★★★★
  4. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing: ★★★★
  5. Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker (ARC): ★★★★.5
  6. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (ARC): ★★★★
  7. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (reread, audio): ★★★★
  8. Th e Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang (ARC):

I definitely think my favorites this month were Say You Still Love Me and My Lovely Wife. What was the best book you read in July?

xoxo

Jen

July Haul

I can’t believe it’s already almost August – where has the summer gone? Pretty soon we’ll all be reading Christmas books and drinking hot chocolate next to crackling fires. YIKES.

I tried to keep the haul small this month, as we had an expensive vacation and we’re definitely trying to keep the spending small. BUT I did gather a few exciting new reads!

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BOOK BOXES

As I mentioned previously, I’ve canceled my Fairyloot subscription for now (SO SAD) but I’m still staying loyal to my Book of the Month membership. (FUN FACT: I’m now an affiliate for the new branch for YA books! If you’re interested, use my link to subscribe to support my page!). This month I went with two books:

  1. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
  2. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

GIFTS

This month I was so blessed and grateful to receive such a generous gift from one of my dear friends, Melanie @ Meltotheany. She sent me a copy of Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner, as she had an extra one and I was desperate to read it. This book is high on my potential list for Backlist Must Reads in 2020, so I’m so thrilled to finally have my own copy! Thank you so much Melanie, I love you so much and the world does not deserve you!

MISCELLANEOUS

When I go to a new place, I make it a point to visit any local bookstore I can find, and I usually make a purchase to show my support. My husband and I went to Maine on our anniversary trip this year, and Bar Harbor just happened to have an adorable book store! I bought two books:

  1. Wilder Girls by Rory Power
  2. All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Only 5 books this month – not too bad! I’m pretty impressed with my self control this month. Let’s see if I can keep it up??

How many books did you buy this month?

xoxo

Jen

Down the TBR #35

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Down the TBR Hole was created by Lost in a Story. Its purpose is to help narrow down your TBR list on Goodreads by selecting 5 titles each week and deciding if you want to keep it on your TBR or get rid of it! I was inspired by Melanie @ Meltotheany and Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills to start this series. If you haven’t checked out any of these lovely blogs, do it NOW!

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here’s what’s on the chopping block this week:

ONE: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

I’M SO EMBARRASSED THIS IS EVEN ON THIS LIST. Strange the Dreamer was one of my top reads last year, and I just have not had a chance to get to the sequel. Honestly, it’s shameful.

VERDICT: KEEP

TWO: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Ok I know this got a lot of polarizing reviews, but there was so much hype that I think I just have to make the call for myself.

VERDICT: KEEP

THREE: The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

I actually DNF this last year. It was just a little too dense for me at the time, and I wasn’t in the right mind frame. I’m hoping to return to it at some point, because I loved Strange Grace by Gratton.

VERDICT: KEEP

FOUR: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I already own this book – it’s sitting on my shelf. I’ll get to it eventually, I swear…

VERDICT: KEEP

FIVE: City of Skies by Farah Cook

I don’t know anything about this book and the summary was kind of meh. I think I’ll pass for now.

VERDICT: DELETE

Ok… I don’t think I understand how this exercise is supposed to work. Aren’t I supposed to be decreasing this list? Whoops.

Have you guys read any of these? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: Things You Save in a Fire

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Title: Things You Save In A Fire

Author: Katherine Center

Pages: 320

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 13, 2019

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“‘Love makes people stupid,’ I said at last, hoping to cut to the chase, ‘and I’m not interested in being stupid.'”

That pretty much sums up Cassie Hanwell’s view on love. And besides, she doesn’t have time for it. She’s too busy being a kickass firefighter – one of the few females around. There isn’t anything, or anyone, she could love as much as she loves her job. She loves being a firefighter, she loves her crew, and she doesn’t need anything else. But when life throws a few huge curveballs at her, and her estranged mother calls and asks for her help, she’s forced to confront an emergency of her own, uproot her life, and move to Boston.

In Boston, having a “lady” on the crew is just about the worst thing they can imagine. Cassie has to start over and work on proving herself to everyone. All the men are ready to watch her fail, and sure she’ll ruin their fun – except for the new rookie, who seems to like watching her prove them all wrong. Cassie is distracted from her job for the first time in her life – and by another fireman, no less! Determined to keep her eye on the prize and her heart out of the equation, Cassie keeps the rookie at arm’s length, but her plan is foiled when the captain keeps throwing them together to practice skills. For female firefighters, there’s one cardinal rule: don’t date another firefighter. But is a crush worth jeopardizing her entire career over? She runs into burning buildings all the time, but having the courage to open up her heart is a whole different story. Is Cassie ready to finally let love in?

“‘Choosing to love – despite all the ways that people let you down, and disappear, and break your heart. Knowing everything we know about how har life is and choosing to love anyway… That’s not weakness. That’s courage.'”

The high point for me definitely was Cassie. I loved her determination and bravery, but I also appreciated her vulnerability and how she tried to hide it. She’s smart, brave, a hard worker, and completely unapologetic for the things she wants in life. She’s definitely has had some trauma in the past, but she’s found a way to push past it and build a life for herself. But the best part about Cassie was watching her character arc from the beginning of the story to the end. I loved watching her relationships grow and develop, especially with her mother. Katherine Center did a great job showing the emotional growth, as well as the strength and courage that must have taken for Cassie to open up to others.

“It’s a strange thing to know about yourself, but there it is: I’m at my very best when things are at their very worst.”

This was my first book by Katherine Center, and I really enjoyed it! Reading a book from a female firefighter’s perspective was so fun, and really illuminating to the challenges they must face. And the writing really made you feel ALL the feels. It was the perfect combination of drama, swoon, humor, badass, and tugs at the heart strings. There were definitely some cringeworthy moments, but overall I really loved the story. Ultimately, this is a book about forgiveness, trust, and having the courage to open up to others – even when you think you already have everything you need.

Trigger warnings for insinuations of rape/sexual assault, terminal illness, sickness of a loved one, fires, discussion about death of a child.

*All quotations taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.

Things You Save In A Fire releases on August 13, 2019.

ARC Review: Say You Still Love Me

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Title: Say You Still Love Me

Author: K. A. Tucker

Pages: 384

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: August 6, 2019

Rating: ★★★★.5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“I can’t keep my gaze there for long. I never could, on anything else, not when Kyle was around.”

This is the first book I’ve read by K.A. Tucker (I know. Let the shaming begin) but it certainly won’t be the last. This book had everything I love in a contemporary: first love? Check. First love suddenly reappears years later just as swoony as he was before? Double check. And did I mention it features one of my all-time favorite settings? SUMMER CAMP. I was hooked after the first couple chapters on this one, and I never wanted to put it down. I ended up giving it 4.5 stars.

Say You Still Love Me follows two different time lines. The first takes place over ten years ago. Piper is off to her first-ever summer camp on her mother’s request that she get some normalcy from their extremely wealthy lives. She isn’t there ten minutes before she lays eyes on Kyle Miller – and life is never the same after that. She and Kyle are both counselors at the camp, and in-between watching over their groups of kids, they find plenty of time to cause mischief, learn about life and each other, and fall deeply in love for the very first time. While they come from two very different worlds, all of that seems to melt away at Camp Wawa and all that matters is their feelings for each other. That is, until their antics get them into a little more trouble than they can handle, and both Piper and Kyle are sent home. From then on, Piper never hears from Kyle again.

Flash forward to the present. Piper is 29 and the VP at her father’s company. While she’s smart and capable, as one of the only females in the company, she has to fight tooth and nail to make every proposal heard and to get the old boys club to take her seriously. Determined to succeed and earn their respect, Piper keeps her head down and works hard, kicks ass and takes names, and never takes her eyes off the ball – until one day, as she’s walking out of her building, she realizes the company has a new security guard… and it’s none other than Kyle Miller.

As you can probably guess, chaos spirals from there, and there’s certainly more to each timeline than initially meets the eyes. As feelings come out and secrets are uncovered, it becomes clear to both Piper and Kyle that they have some serious unfinished business. The only question is if they can make it back to that peace they felt at Wawa, bridge the differences in their very different lives, and find a way back to each other again.

“This feels like coming home, after thinking I’d never see home again.”

I really enjoyed this book, in part because the cast of characters was fantastic. I loved Piper, especially in the present – she’s bad ass and determined to prove herself. She wants everyone to know she deserves to VP because she’s smart, capable, and driven – NOT just because she’s the president’s daughter. The way she handles the ‘old boys club’ at the company was incredible and left me chuckling at the book more than once. As for Kyle, he was a favorite from page one as well. As a young boy, he’s your typical kid from the wrong side of the tracks with a great heart and a vibrant sense of humor. It’s easy to see how he’s the teen heartthrob among the counselors – heck, if I was 16 I’d be drooling over him too! As a young man, he’s more steady and centered, but just as attractive. But I think really the best thing about both of these characters was their chemistry. Neither Piper or Kyle were perfect, at Camp Wawa or in the present. The author did a great job at highlighting their flaws and making them relatable and realistic. But together, despite their physical chemistry and beyond the shininess of their first love, they brought out the best in each other. And that was really great to read in both time lines.

“I’ve seen him in that exact position so many times – first in real life and then in my thoughts. First as the tall, slender seventeen-year-old boy who stole my heart, then as the one who broke it. And now as the man who still holds my heart, despite everything.”

I am a total sucker for anything set at a summer camp, and this book was no exception. I absolutely adored it from page one. The only reason I knocked off half a star is because I was slightly annoyed at some things Kyle did in the present day about halfway through the book. I don’t want to get too into it because SPOILERS ARE RUDE but it did seem slightly out of character and is one of my pet peeves. Overall, this was great writing, a fantastic storyline, and the perfect summer romance read. If you love stories of first love, summer camp, or couples beating all odds, this book is for you. Pick it up – I promise you won’t regret it.

*All quotations are taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.

Say You Still Love Me releases on August 6, 2019.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Book Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Happy Tuesday everybody! I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of July. Summer is flying by so fast! This week’s prompt is book settings I’d like to see more of. I definitely have a few favorites, and I’m such a sucker for ALL of them. Seriously, mention any of these settings and I’m pretty much guaranteed to buy your book.

SUMMER CAMP

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Guys, I am such a sucker for books set (at least partially) at summer camps. I just finished Say You Still Love Me last week (keep eyes open for a review later this week!) and it featured flashbacks to summer camp – I was LIVING FOR IT. Riley Sager’s book The Last Time I Lied also featured flashbacks to a summer camp. I NEED MORE SUMMER CAMPS.

 

BOARDING SCHOOLS

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Harry Potter, anybody? But not just that series. ANY boarding school stories. I love them. I feel like so many shenanigans happen when adults are not as present – stories spiral out of control so quickly. I guess I just live for chaos.

 

TROPICAL SETTINGS

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Maybe it’s just because it’s summer, or my brain is in total vacation mode, but I love books set in tropical places. It makes me want to travel and lay by a beach and explore! A perfect example is The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. I absolutely adored this book, and honestly it made me want to visit Hawaii SO BAD.

 

FAERIE

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Is anybody surprised this made my list? Because I’m not. I LOVED The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, and my obsession for Faerie after these books is real.

 

MICHIGAN

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I’ve said this time and time again, but I love my home state. It isn’t glamorous, but it’s home and it will always be home to me. I truly believe that it is one of the best places for me to live. I will always and forever buy any book set in the mitten state. Exhibit A: after reading You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn, she has now sold me on every single book she will ever write. Hello, new auto-buy author.

And that’s it guys! Those are my favorite settings! Now tell me all of yours so I can become obsessed with some new ones!

xoxo

Jen

July Pick: Book of the Month

I cannot believe we’re already more than halfway through the year. I also can’t believe how much a blessing this reading year has been. Is it just me or have there been SO many good books in 2019???

I ended up going with 2 book of the month books in July. Here they are:

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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Why I Picked Them:

Lock Every Door was a no-brainer for me; I really enjoyed The Last Time I Lied and was ready to get my hands on another Sager book. I know, I know, I said no more mystery/thrillers from BOTM until I had caught up, but I couldn’t resist. Gods of Jade and Sorrow was kind of a step outside of my normal box. It sounded interesting and different, and honestly that cover is gorgeous. On impulse, I added it to my box. Things You Save in a Fire almost got me, but I have an ARC of it waiting to be read, and want to read that first before buying a finished copy.

What about you guys? What books did you go with for July?

xoxo

Jen

Review: My Lovely Wife

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Title: My Lovely Wife

Author: Samantha Downing

Pages: 374

Rating: 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

Review:

“Why do you think it’s so popular? The missing-woman story?”

“Because who can resist a damsel in distress?”

Holy cow, you guys. This book took me for a wild wild ride. This book was recommended to me so many times in the past few months, and let me tell you I was not disappointed in the slightest. This is easily the best thriller I’ve read in 2019 so far, and I’ll be hard pressed to find one that outpaces it the rest of the year.

My Lovely Wife is a story about two people – told from the man’s perspective – who’ve been married for 15 years. They’ve climbed their way up the social ladder, become successful, had children…and have gotten bored. Their solution? Try to get away with murder.

The synopsis makes it sound simple and like a neat little package, but trust me, it isn’t. There is more to everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in this book than meets the eye. Every marriage has secrets, but Millicent and her husband really take the cake. These two are the serial killer dream team. A real estate agent by day and a murderer by night, Millicent commits the actual deed while her husband helps lure in the woman they’ve chosen together. When they decide to try and pin their murders on a serial killer from the town’s past, things start to spiral out of control.

“The power of knowing so much and choosing what will happen next – this is what I like.”

I do need to be clear about something – both of these main characters are terrible people. Their only redeeming quality may be their love for their children. They are killing and torturing people for sport, and to keep their marriage ‘fresh’. But I feel like it really speaks to the author’s talent that…even though these characters were unlikable on purpose, I still loved this book and was so invested in the story. And honestly, I think part of why I was so invested was that I just couldn’t look away. Their entire relationship was so twisted and messed up, and having an insider view to that via the narrator was so gripping.

“I have never had a conscience when I’m trying to make her happy.”

I really loved this book from start to finish. I loved that it was told from the man’s perspective (I feel like a lot of the thrillers I’ve read lately are told from the woman’s POV, so this was refreshing). I loved the concept – so unique! The pacing was superb. I’m also one who hates to be able to guess the entire ending, but also hates to be blindsided by the twist (I know, I’m annoying) and this book did a pretty fantastic job at fulfilling those wishes. I was able to see a few things coming, but had no idea how the ending would play out.

Some trigger warnings for descriptions of violence and torture – if that isn’t your cup of tea, you may want to pass on this one. They are brief, but they are definitely descriptive.

I hope you love this book as much as I did. If you’re looking for a twisted, gripping, well-paced and unique thriller, this is the book for you. Happy reading!

xoxo

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Happy Tuesday bookworms! This week’s prompt was auto-buy authors, and I’m super excited for it. I’ve also gained a few recently…what else is new? So here they are, in no particular order: the authors I’d buy anything they write, even if it’s just three lines written on a piece of toilet paper.

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ONE: Holly Black

I’m sure this queen is going to be on EVERYONE’S list but I don’t even care. After The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, ‘auto-buy’ is a category well deserved for Holly Black.

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TWO: Erin Hahn

I know I’ve talked about this quite a bit, but I read You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn and absolutely fell in love with it. This book was an adorable Johnny-and-June love story about two country singers on the road. PLUS the MC is from Michigan, and we get to travel back there for a while. I’m a sucker for anything in the mitten state, so Erin Hahn has me hooked for life.

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THREE: Leigh Bardugo

Again, another one I’m sure made EVERYONE’S list. But after Six of Crows, how could she not?

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FOUR: Taylor Jenkins Reid

TJR made my auto-buy list by a land slide after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoI haven’t read anything else by her yet, but I do already have several books on my shelf, and I can’t wait to get to them.

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FIVE: Laini Taylor

Three words: Strange the Dreamer. The end.

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SIX: K. Ancrum

If you haven’t read The Wicker King or The Weight of The Stars yet, do it immediately, and then put K. Ancrum on your auto-buy list for life. Honestly, if this author wrote her name on the back of a napkin, I’d buy it. And she’d probably find some way to make me to cry my heart out over it, too.

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SEVEN: Shea Ernshaw

I read The Wicked Deep last October and honestly it was everything I ever wanted. It was beautifully written and unique and I can’t wait to see where Ernshaw goes from here.

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EIGHT: Tessa Gratton

Are you guys sick of me talking about Strange Grace yet? TOO BAD. My top publication of 2019, so obviously now anything Tessa Gratton puts on paper, I’m going to buy.

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NINE: Helen Hoang

Romance QUEEN. Plus so much rep. I loved her first two books, and I know she’s doing more based on other characters. BE STILL MY HEART.

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TEN: Anna-Marie McLemore

After Blanca y Roja, I honestly would buy this lady’s kindergarten fridge artwork. I’m not joking. It was that good.

Honorable Mentions:

I made an honorable mentions list because 1. I couldn’t decide and 2. I know a lot of these are FOR SURE going to be on people’s list so I just figured they were assumed…

  • Sarah J Maas
  • JK Rowling
  • Cassandra Claire
  • Tessa Bailey
  • Casey McQuiston

What about you guys? What authors make you spend all the money, no matter the cost?

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: Here There Are Monsters

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Title: Here There Are Monsters

Author: Amelinda Bérubé

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

Rating: ★★★.5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, in exchange for an honest review.

“These woods devour everything.”

This book was a big step outside my comfort zone, and I was so surprised by how much I couldn’t put it down. If I had to pick one word to describe Here There Are Monsters, it would be CREEPY. I honestly wish I had picked up this book around Halloween, because it would have been perfect for that time of year. As it is, it still managed to scare me even with all of the lights on in the middle of the day time (did I mention I refused to read it at night?) I ended up giving it 3.5 stars.

This book follows a pair of sisters, Skye and Deirdre shortly after their move to a new neighborhood across the country. They both deal with the move differently: Skye wants to start over, step away from her sister’s bizarre imaginary games, and try to fit in for the first time in her life. Deirdre becomes more withdrawn and bizarre, and becomes obsessed by the eerie woods behind their new house. Her games and sculptures become more and more disturbing and involved, created out of sticks and bones.

When Deirdre disappears, Skye is worried it’s all her fault. She shouldn’t have pulled away so much, she should have been there to take care of her sister. But then a creature made of bones comes knocking on her window in the middle of the night and offers her a deal: if she can complete it’s tasks, the woods will give Deirdre back. And Skye knows that no matter how much they have drifted apart, she will do anything in her power to save her sister – including compromising herself and everything else she cares about.

“You can’t just walk away when someone needs a hero.”

My absolute favorite thing about this book was how atmospheric it was. The writing and phrasing was so transportive. I literally had goosebumps for about half of the book because it was so eerie. I was afraid to read it at night, and checked for monsters under my bed and outside my window before I went to sleep. If you are looking for the perfect Halloween read, look no further. I have half a mind to go pick up Berube’s first book and save it for October. Not only did the writing take me straight to the center of these creepy woods, but it kept me flipping page after page. I couldn’t put this book down, even though horror is definitely not a genre I’m completely comfortable with. And that, to me, is what makes for a good book: something that takes you out of your comfort zone but makes you beg for more at the same time.

My biggest issue was the main characters. Neither of them were likable, and at times they were both downright annoying. They were both pretty horrible people. Deirdre is a little monster, both to her sisters and her parents. And Skye is almost worse. Her initial thoughts after Deirdre goes missing is that she’s doing it for attention, and she literally goes to a party the night her sister disappears. It makes it a little hard to root for either of them, and even though the plot was driving enough that I HAD to know what happened at the end, I honestly couldn’t tell you what I was hoping would happen because I didn’t care about either of these girls enough to get invested.

“Love. Like that’s what this is about. Like there’s any such thing. Like there’s anything to any of us beyond our private stews of guilt and fear and obligation.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It really took me out of my comfort zone, and was really atmospheric and eerie. It kept me flipping the pages as fast as I could (but with every single light on). If you’re looking for the perfect creepy Halloween read, I hope you like this one as much as I did.

Here There Are Monsters is releasing on August 6, 2019.

*All quotations taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.