The Hate U Give – Review

“When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and bees. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.”

The Hate U Give has been at the top of the New York Times Bestselling list for an impressive 51 weeks. Once you open the cover and read it, you immediately know why. This isn’t a novel relying on a plot full of catch phrases and timely references, THUG is a heartfelt, profound, and intricately deep look at one girls experience as a black teenager in America.

Starr Carter is torn between two worlds. The poor black neighborhood she lives and grew up in, and the mostly white prep school where she goes to school. Lives that she keeps mostly separate. The result of this separation is that Starr doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere.

“Funny how it works with white kids though. It’s dope to be black until it’s hard to be black.”

When her childhood best friend takes her home from a party one night, her world changes irrevocably. Pulled over and pulled out of the car, Khalid gets shot. By the officer. And Starr was right there.

The story that follows is one that should make most people uncomfortable. Yes, you read that right. You should be uncomfortable. There should be moments that you cringe. That you tear up. That you literally feel your heart break. For any child in this country to feel a tiny fraction of what Starr goes through is simply unacceptable. The heartbreaking reality is that this novel hits home way closer than it should. Because so many children feel exactly what she goes through, on some scale, every day.

When we watch the news, it’s easy to dismiss what we hear. In the specific instance of police shootings, to condemn the victim. To question how they lived, what they were doing, why this happened to them. Thomas examines all of those things through Starr. Seeing the news unfold. Watching the reports of Khalil’s history being brought into the discussion. How the perception of a person is enough to mark them guilty, or innocent.

“I hate that I let myself fall into that mind-set of trying to rationalize his death. And at the end of the day, you don’t kill someone for opening a car door. If you do, you shouldn’t be a cop.”

Somehow it’s become easy in this country to condemn people for the neighborhoods they live in, or the clothes that they wear, or the color of their skin. It becomes easy to justify small actions until they lead to big actions. And then it becomes easy to condemn those actions. And it’s impossible for ANY novel to fully encapsulate, explore, examine, and come to any meaningful conclusions on the topics of police violence, poverty, race, racism, white privilege, or any of the extremely important issues raised here.

Thomas doesn’t give us answers. She doesn’t wrap the conclusion up with a tidy bow. She doesn’t write easy answers, or give us superficial promise. Instead, she focuses entirely on Starr, and the journey she needs to go on.

While this is a story about all of those things, it is also a story about a girl finding her identity in a modern world. Should she confront a friend who says some borderline racist things under the guise of jokes? Should she break up with her white boyfriend because of the misunderstandings they’ll inevitably have, or the judgement others will inevitably heap on them? Should she fear white people because of how a select few behaved? Should she speak up and face backlash, or should she remain quiet and safe?

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

Everyone should read this book. Everyone. It isn’t a book for only young adults. This is a book for everyone. This book is full of real issues that youth in our country face today. That they have to navigate, and figure out. Literature is about introducing an understanding. Helping readers develop empathy and examine alternate perspectives. Thomas gives us a stunning glimpse into an issue that needs this more than ever.

I want to say so much more, but this really isn’t the post or forum to get into the discussions of race and racism. But, given how much controversy this book has stirred up, I will say this. If you are stuck on some of the commentary or scenes regarding Chris, or white people in general, in my opinion, you’re missing the point. The point is to understand Starr. To see the world as she sees it. To step back and see the humanity that is often forgotten when events like a police shooting scream across the headlines.

“It would be easy to quit if it was just about me, Khalil, that night, and that cop. It’s about more than that though. It’s about Seven. Sekani. Kenya. DeVante.

It’s also about Oscar.













It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first — Emmett.”

Take away statistics and studies. Take away the opinions. Take away the excuses. The justifications. The reasons. Read this book and envision Starr as your child. Don’t overthink it. Just feel it. Feel. Look at the list of names and feel.

We often get lost in the nuance of news. Who was right. Who was wrong. Thomas strips away the line between the two and forces us to recognize the fundamental fact that behind every story there is a person. A family. She isn’t asking you to pick a side. To solve the problem. THUG simply presents an opportunity for conversation. One that I hope everyone participates in.

I obviously recommend this book to EVERYONE! If I could, I’d hand it out on the streets. Needless to say I’m looking forward to anything and everything that Angie Thomas writes in the future!

Red Clocks – Review

“Two years ago the United States Congress ratified the Personhood Amendment, which gives the constitutional right to life, liberty, and property to a fertilized egg at the moment of conception.”

Red Clocks introduces us to a chilling future. Unlike most dystopians, though, this future is closer to modern day. As you read, you become aware that this potential future isn’t hundreds of years in the making, but perhaps, only two. The relevancy we find ourselves in almost makes this book feel more contemporary than a dystopian should feel. We like to imagine a future gone horribly wrong, but Zumas doesn’t let us stay safe in the illusion that this won’t impact us. Instead, she forces us to consider what happens when that future is now. What happens when we see actual possibilities take over?

“Naively ascribing common decency to people in power, as she did before the Personhood Amendment showed all of its teeth.”

Told from the perspective of five distinct women, we see the actual consequences of legislation that gives all consideration to an embryo and none to the women carrying them. Each women is introduced to us, not with their names, but with a description of their role in society. That is a clever detail that I’ll get back to.

Ro, The Biographer, is a teacher. A single woman trying to conceive a baby. This act is much tricker now that adoption is only allowed to married couples, and in vitro fertilization is illegal. She is also writing the biography of Eivor, The Explorer, a 19th century female explorer, unknown to most people.

Susan, The Wife, a married mother of two, who struggles with the monotony of being a stay at home mom. Her marriage is crumbling, and she faces growing unhappiness even though she has what every woman should want.

Mattie, The Daughter, one of the top students in Ro’s class, who puts all her potential at risk with an unplanned pregnancy. Trapped in a losing situation, she becomes desperate for options knowing that there aren’t any.

Gin, The Mender, a solitary woman living in the woods providing natural healing for any willing to seek her out. Looked down on and ridiculed, she prefers living life away from the rest of the town. Except she’s also an easy target for a modern day witch hunt, as she’s arrested and put on trial for breaking these new laws.

The most obvious perspectives that deal directly with the political climate of this society are The Biographer, The Daughter, and The Mender. Each of them is a victim of these new laws in different ways. What I really loved about breaking down the book into these different points of view is that it gives a much richer examination of what the consequences of these laws actually ends up being.

“She knew — it was her job as history teacher to know — how many horrors are legitimated in public daylight, against the will of most of the people.”

This glimpse into all these different women also forces us to really look at how these lives have been impacted. It’s sometimes easy to dismiss someone like The Biographer as a rarity or an anomaly when viewing large sweeping changes like The Personhood Amendment is. However, by getting to know them, it becomes impossible to ignore them. To write them off as unimportant. Giving us their lives forces the reader to get messy with the characters.

The Wife and The Explorer are not directly impacted, one because she’s married with children, and the other because she’s not currently living. But they are relevant to understanding the novel in the scope of women and their roles. The Wife has everything that the legislators think she should want. Indeed, she has what Ro is desperate to have. But, she finds herself increasingly unhappy. Floating in a fog of losing who she is as a separate entity. Not as a mother or a wife. But as herself.

“The wife made persons. No need to otherwise justify what she is doing on the planet.”

Which, is where the brilliance of using these descriptors at the beginning of each narration and not giving the reader their names except through other characters. It reduces the women to their roles, and it’s alarming how quickly and easy it is to simply think of them as those roles. It brings to light how often we do this in society without realizing it.

This also highlights how when we strip people of their names, of the things that make them human, it also becomes easy to dismiss their rights, their hopes, their dreams, their needs. In the form of legislation, for example.

Setting this novel in a small town was a nice touch. Watching as each narrative became entwined with another made sense in that small town setting. How we know people but really have no idea who they are. It highlighted this struggle that we face today. We see the intimate view as we read their perspective, but we also see the assumptions they make, the assumptions that are made against them. It’s an accurate and sad commentary on our current society.

Leni Zumas has created a new type of dystopian. One that isn’t far fetched. Where we can imagine it happening now instead of in the future. It’s one that is modern, but written in such a way that it doesn’t risk becoming dated or irrelevant. This is the type of thought provoking book that should be examined, dissected, and discussed. This is the book that serves as potential warning for complacency. For what happens when we let people govern us without empathy. What happens when we ourselves lose our empathy.

I was incredibly lucky to read this in a book club and even luckier to have the author herself jump into our chats. Grab your friends and put this book in their hands. It’s perfect for book clubs, discussion groups, and classrooms.

Thank you in advance to Leni Zumas for agreeing to participate in an interview, which will be posted here. Thank you for participating in our chats. You made the experience all the more memorable and enriching!

Thank you to Little, Brown for sending me a copy to read, promote and review!


Pride & Prometheus – Review

“It showed that people could convince themselves of things that, in a sober moment, they would recognize were not true.”

Pride and Prometheus is the delightful combination of two beloved classics: Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. While it may seem difficult to imagine how the two stories could merge, John Kessel makes the marriage between the two merge seamlessly. The transition happens so easily that it isn’t difficult to imagine this is the natural progression in both stories.

We pick up ten years after Pride & Prejudice ends, with the two youngest sisters, Mary and Kitty Bennett, still unmarried. Victor Frankenstein, still running from the creature he created and his, as yet, unfulfilled promise to create a Bride, runs into the sisters at a party in London. Having fled Europe under the false belief that the creature couldn’t follow him.

“As a girl Mary had believed that the notion of following the heart was foolishness, but could one find happiness without following the heart?”

There’s something delightful in the way both of these classic stories focus on marriage, the expectations of society, and the nature of love. Which makes their merging all the more natural. The Creature wants only companionship and longs for a mate, much in the way the Bennett sisters do. Once you start to see these themes emerge, it becomes obvious how these novels fit together.

Kessel nails the language and feel from both of the novels. He pulls from them to weave little details into the narration, which made Pride and Prometheus quite an authentic and enriching experience. I was thrilled to see Mr. Bennett once again, and loved that the characterization of how he would age stayed true to the Mr. Bennett we all know and love. Of course, we also see Mr. Darcy and Lizzie, though they aren’t featured very prominently in this story. However, even though their inclusion was brief, the essence of their character was held true.

“Two weeks later Darcy arrived to once again save Mary from herself. He had become accustomed to this role with regard to his wife’s sisters over the years, and though he was weary of it, he did not reprove Mary any more than she did herself.”

For anyone worried, this novel somehow blends the gothic horror of Frankenstein perfectly with the regency romance of Pride & Prejudice. The themes of companionship, love, the search for the truth of who we are are in both the original novels and work to create this new extension of the stories. The heart of the characters are maintained while giving them a plot line we wouldn’t have imagined.

Two hundred years later, and these books are once again given new life. As I was reading I found myself wanting to revisit them, to read them and imagine this new future for the characters. Seriously, how fun is it to imagine the gentlemanly duty that Darcy would embody while cleaning up the messes of the Bennett girls?! It reminds us that while Lizzie may have gotten her happily ever after, her sisters and family wouldn’t just disappear from her life.

In the same aspect, we see the future that Victor set his path on. Running, hiding, trying to deny the horror he feels of the consequences of creating life. And seeing how the Creature himself has evolved. They are still grappling with the questions we were left with: what does it mean to be human?

What really makes these two stories blend so well, is the focus of society. Women in Austin’s world had to focus on what society thought of them. They couldn’t be unchaperoned, or behave in ways that could tarnish their reputations without fear of repercussions. In the same way, the Creature shows us that darker side of humanity. How people can judge, and react, sometimes violently. In many ways the Bennett sisters and the Creature share the same plight, the same frustrations, and the same journey.

“For the Creature was right: she had no power to change what the world would think and do. But that was the nature of love: one did not offer it with any assurance that it would change the world, even if in the end it was the only thing that could.”

I realize I am not really giving much in the way of plot. That’s on purpose. This novel is a journey that should be taken a bit by surprise. Part of the joy is in discovering how these characters come to be introduced and then intertwined. It’s a novel full of surprising twists, each one encapsulating the heart and soul of Shelley and Austin.

If you enjoy taking classic novels and adding quirky twists to them, this novel is seriously screaming your name. It’s been a while since I’ve read either novel, but I was quickly drawn in and reminded of both stories. I wanted to reread them, imagining the future that lies in store for them. Kessel creates a new book, but he does so by paying proper respect and homage to these classic works. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it!

Thank you Wunderkind PR for sending me a review copy!

Pride and Prometheus hi res coverPride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

Pride and Prometheus fuses the gothic horror of Mary Shelley with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

For Sale Now! Get it at your favorite retailer using the links below:

–Barnes & Noble:

About the Author:

Kessel author photo_final_(C) 2016 John Pagliuca

Born in Buffalo, New York, John Kessel’s most recent book is the new novel Pride and Prometheus.  He is the author of the earlier novels The Moon and the Other, Good News from Outer Space and Corrupting Dr. Nice and in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence.

Kessel’s stories have twice received the Nebula Award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, in addition to the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Locus Poll, and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. His play “Faustfeathers’” won the Paul Green Playwright’s Prize, and his story “A Clean Escape” was adapted as an episode of the ABC TV series Masters of Science Fiction. In 2009 his story “Pride and Prometheus” received both the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. With Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sf, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.

Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He and his wife, the novelist Therese Anne Fowler, live and work in Raleigh, NC.

Things To Do When It’s Raining – Review

“Some things are better kept secret. And some things are not: life’s most difficult task is to know which is which.”

Things To Do When It’s Raining is a novel full of all the deep feelings. Prepare yourself for a novel full of tragedy and heartbreaking beauty. Marissa Stapley takes you into the reality of near misses, misunderstandings, and the weight of secrets.

Mae Summers is content with her life. She has an incredible fiancé, a secure job at the growing company he owns, and is well on her way to making her dreams come true. It’s a bit of a blow when she wakes up one morning to realize it was all built on lies.

After Peter disappears revealing the scam his company, and his life were, Mae is forced to return home. Life in Alexandria Bay, the sleepy tourist town she grew up in, is far different from life in New York City. While a change of pace might be good for Mae, she comes home to ghosts of her past.

Her grandfather isn’t living at home, her grandmother is acting strangely, and Gabe, her childhood love, has returned. As Mae sorts through her emotions and tries to make sense of her new life, the answers to these questions may demand more forgiveness than she can manage.

“She starts to run, forgetting the fear of the ice and focusing instead on her fear of the truth.”

I really liked how this novel was set up. In between each chapter, there’s an item from the list Mae’s mother, Virginia, posted on the wall of their family Inn, appropriately titled: Things To Do When It’s Raining. One of the more subtle tragic twists is this list, the focus on rain, and Mae’s parents. When you put that one together, it just hurts your heart!

We also get multiple perspectives, not just Mae. Gabe, Lilly and George, all have their own secrets and struggles to work through. Changing the narration to give a more personal look at each storyline made the novel feel more realistic. Mae couldn’t possibly uncover these secrets on her own, and the novel would have felt more murder mystery if she had. Instead, we get a very rich and complex set of tangled lives. Which is generally how secrets end up. Tangled and woven into our lives in ways we never really expect, or sometimes even understand.

“She had told him she loved him then, and she had cried, and he had known that there were too many things he was never going to be able to say to her.”

The one storyline I struggled with the most was Lilly. I didn’t really understand her motives for doing some of the things she did. I mean, logically I understand the information presented. But, there were a couple of things that felt so cruel, it was hard to feel like she justified doing them.

Beyond Lilly’s secrets and actions though, the core of the novel really is about how we perceive ourselves and how we let others determine that perception. Of all of the narrations, Gabe’s is the most heartbreaking. The secrets he keeps are more from the burdens others placed on him as a child. For Gabe, while he seeks the forgiveness of others, he really needs to forgive himself. That’s the hardest thing, and leads to such heartbreak for him. There are many times you want to reach through the book and hug him. And smack the adults around him.

“He loved her because he understood what it meant to be wounded, and to inflict wounds in return.”

Stapley takes us into some deep emotions, the type that take a minute to sort out. I’m still undecided on how I feel about Lilly for example. But she also gives us redemption and hope. We get a novel that shows us life at it’s messiest. At how good intentions can quickly turn poisonous, and how difficult it can be to untangle ourselves from the lies we tell ourselves and the lies others tell us.

We get to see people at their best and also at their worst. It makes it difficult to love or hate them in a black and white spectrum, and I really enjoy that in a cast of characters. You’ll want to react but will also hold yourself back, and possible change your mind. There are times you want to strangle them or scream at them, but then you’ll be exposed to their own flawed humanity and your heart will break for them. It is an accomplishment to take you through the spectrum of reactions to multiple characters.

“People change their minds about things. It just happens. You can’t stay sure about everything your whole life.”

People change. They make mistakes. They live in regret. Forgiveness is a journey that we all go through at some stage and to some degree. Whether we seek it from others, or search from it within ourselves. Stapley does a beautiful job writing a story full of mistakes, misconceptions, secrets, lies, and at the heart of it all is forgiveness and the power of love.

Things To Do When It’s Raining is a beautifully complex novel that would be perfect for a book club, or book discussion. There’s so many facets to explore. I think the conversation would be fascinating!

Thank you BookSparks for sending me a copy to read and review for #WRC2018!!!

The Ambrose Deception – Review + GIVEAWAY


Melissa is a nobody. Wilf is a slacker. Bondi is a show-off. At least that’s what their middle school teachers think. To everyone’s surprise, they are the three students chosen to compete for a ten thousand-dollar scholarship, solving clues that lead them to various locations around Chicago. At first the three contestants work independently, but it doesn’t take long before each begins to wonder whether the competition is a sham. It’s only by secretly joining forces and using their unique talents that the trio is able to uncover the truth behind the Ambrose Deception–a truth that involves a lot more than just a scholarship.

With a narrative style as varied and intriguing as the mystery itself, this adventure involving clever clues, plenty of perks, and abhorrent adults is pure wish fulfillment.

Thank you Rockstar Book Tours and Disney Hyperion Books for allowing me to be a part of this awesome tour and sending me a copy of this book. Be sure to click the photo above to check out Rockstar Book Tours website for all past and upcoming tours. They host some pretty amazing tours so check it out!

The Ambrose Deception is a fun middle grade book. Wilf, Bondi, and Melissa are all kids who are overlooked at their schools. When they are chosen to compete in a scholarship program, no one can quite believe it, including the kids! But things aren’t what they seem, and the clues they have to solve aren’t the only mystery they find themselves in the middle of.

There is a lot to love in this book. If you are a parent or teacher, this is a super fast read. I love how they mystery unfolds at a great pace, and the clues are for real landmarks around the Chicago area. I love that! Kids living in Chicago will have a ton of fun trying to solve the clues while reading. In fact, I think that would be such a fun interactive way to experience this book!

Beyond the treasure hunt, this book has fantastic themes about friendship, trust, and working together. I really liked how the clues for the hunt were repeated throughout the book, so that kids can easily follow along and remember what the kids in the book are looking for.

Sprinkled along with the hunt and each story line searching for the answers to their clues, are text message with parents, notes from the drivers, emails from teachers and much more. It helps tell the story and bring the worlds around each child to life in a fun way.

I think that parents will chuckle and kids will be delighted reading this book. It has awesome potential to be turned into a fun interactive experience. Even if you don’t live in Chicago, it would be easy to help them try and talk through how they would solve each clue, and even Googling the answers to see what you come up with! Books that are entertaining but can also be used to help kids learn is always a HUGE win for me! If you have kids, or work with kids, I recommend checking this book out. Especially if you live in or near Chicago!

The Ambrose Deception is available now! The links are below. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a finished copy. And please go visit the other amazing blogs on this tour. They’ve put together some fabulous guest posts, author interviews, along with awesome reviews!





Author: Emily Ecton

Pub. Date: February 13, 2018

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 368

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD




Emily Ecton is a writer and producer for Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,
the NPR news quiz. She has also been a playwright, a chinchilla wrangler, an ice cream scooper and a costume character. She lives
in Chicago with her dog, Binky.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads



And now….. It’s time for a GIVEAWAY!!!!


Click the photo or HERE to enter!

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE AMBROSE DECEPTION, US Only.

Ends on February 27th at Midnight EST!

Tour Schedule:

Be sure to check out the rest of the blogs on this awesome book tour! See the schedule below!!!

Week One:

2/12/2018- For the Love of KidLit– Interview

2/13/2018- Christen Krumm– Review

2/14/2018- Books, Vertigo and Tea– Excerpt

2/15/2018- BookHounds YA– Review

2/16/2018- YA Books Central– Interview

Week Two:

2/19/2018- As The Book Ends– Review

2/20/2018- Nerdophiles– Review

2/21/2018- Jena Brown Writes– Review

2/22/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post

2/23/2018- Cindy’s Love of Books– Review

Bone Music – Review

“They didn’t plan to kill my mother.”

Charlotte Rowe has never led a normal life. Her mother killed in a tragic twist of fate by two serial killers. Taken by the killers and raised as their own until the FBI finally caught up to them. Reunited with a father who was far more interested in profiting off of her than raising her, or healing her. Every time she gets her feet under her, fate seems determined to rip them from beneath her.

Right when it seems she’s actually gotten her life back, she finds herself in the midst of a new nightmare. Tricked into taking a new experimental drugs, she finds herself with surprising new powers. Unsure of what to do or where to go, Charlotte decides she needs to take control of the situation before a ruthless corporation takes control of her. And what better way to regain control, than by exerting a little revenge?

“All she feels is the bone music and the sense that she has become not darkness but a great fire, bringing a sudden, blazing end to it.”

Bone Music is part thriller, part science fiction, and is 100% an exhilarating ride. From the very beginning, where we hear Charlie talking about what it was like being raised by two serial killers, we know that this book is going to go down some very dark roads.

There is a ton of subtle psychology written into Charlie, and throughout the entire book. This shouldn’t be a surprise, any book based on serial killers tends to include some psychological elements. But Rice goes beyond standard or superficial observations and dives into the complexity of the human psyche. There is some deep conversation on PTSD, the nature of violence, the effects of abuse, and addiction to name a few that stood out to me.

Charlie has been through a lot. As a result, she is incredibly complex. Rice doesn’t make her feel superficial, or cliche at any point throughout the book. She is traumatized and struggling to sort through her tapestry of emotions. But she isn’t fragile. And I really liked that about her. She is also not convinced that her time with killers didn’t change her in fundamental ways. She wants to be a better person, but deep down is afraid that she isn’t.

“When we hurt people just to punish them, Luane used to say, we create a darkness that will live on long after our reasons for giving birth to it have faded.”

She hangs on to her grandmothers words, using them as a guiding force. Rather than having Charlie veer too much into the realm of good, Rice makes sure to show that she is conflicted at the core of her being. She relishes the power she is given at times, and is seduced by her ability to punish those who deserve it. What makes her so interesting is that it is because of her early years, and her fear that she would have gone to a much darker path had the FBI not intervened, that keeps the desire for revenge from taking over.

Rather than giving us definitive good versus evil, we get evil versus lesser evil most of the time. Bone Music sits firmly in the realm of moral gray. Even though we can agree serial killers are bad, it’s less clear what to make of Charlie and the forces surrounding her. She wants to be good, that much is clear. However, the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. And that theme is very much woven into this plot.

I also really enjoyed the strength Charlie shows in even who she chooses as her allies. While Luke is obviously a love interest, Charlie doesn’t swoon, or even rely on him to help. She wants his help, but doesn’t need it. She wants to let her defensives down, but she isn’t willing to pander to him, or defer to him. She has a plan, is confident in what needs to happen and isn’t afraid to go it alone. This portrayal of strength in a female protagonist made me very happy!

“I want your help. But I don’t want your agenda. And I want you to listen to what I’m thinking and not tell me what I’m thinking.”

Not to mention how accurately Rice captures the infuriating notion of ‘mansplaining’. I loved reading Luke realize what he was doing and how it was coming across to Charlie. And then actually acknowledge it and work on not doing it! While I want to fist pump in honor of girl power everywhere, the fact is Rice writes characters that are believable because of these types of interactions.

What I loved is that the self aware characters are closer to the side of good than evil, even if their behavior is firmly in the gray. And the characters closer to the side of evil tend towards a blindness of the self, to the point of delusional. It’s a subtle and compelling look at human nature and psychology.

“It’s the truth, as much as she’s capable of telling the truth about the possibility that no longer exists, an opportunity that was stolen from her by a man who’s only just now realizing that his belief in whats best for others can bring him close to committing the kind of violent acts that destroyed his life.”

Rice fully captures the tragedy and trauma that would be present given the circumstances these characters go through. He isn’t afraid to get dark, and he doesn’t back away from difficult themes. The plot is intense, and definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. I loved the science fiction twists. They give this thriller added dimensions that keep it original and unpredictable all the way to the end. I highly recommend this book and cannot wait until the next in the series comes out!

Huge thank you to Little Bird Publicity, Thomas & Mercer, and Amazon Publishing for sending me an early copy to read and review!

Artemis – Review

“It’s hard to run with a hundred kilograms of gear on — even in lunar gravity. But you’d be amazed how fast you can hustle when your life is on the line.”

Andy Weir is back with his unique and addicting blend of factual science fiction and smart ass humor. This time we’re not fighting for out life on Mars, but living in a city built on the Moon. Welcome to Artemis.

Meet Jasmine Bashara. Porter, smuggler, dreamer. All Jazz wants is to afford a living environment larger than her current coffin with a private bathroom. That isn’t asking too much is it?

When one of her ridiculously wealthy clients proposes a job full of insane risk, Jazz knows she should say no. But who says no to the chance of a lifetime? The chance to pay off crippling debt and start a new life? Probably the same people who came up with the saying: careful what you wish for.

This particular job will demand that Jazz use all her technical skills and intellect in order to pull it off. That much she can handle. Finding herself in the middle of a power play for absolute control of Artemis was a little more than she bargained for. Jazz has to use every single trick she can think of to stay alive and figure out a way to save not just herself, but the entire lunar city.

“Always keep your bargains. He worked within the law and I didn’t, but the principle was the same. People will trust a reliable criminal more readily than a shady businessman.”

I loved Jazz. Loved her! She is smart and feisty, but is also incredibly suspicious of everyone around her. I thought Weir did an excellent job peeling back the layers to her distrust through her emails with life long pen-pal Kelvin. We get to see a different side than the one she shows the world. And as someone who is generally distrustful of the world around me, I related to her quite a bit.

As we unfold the mystery that is Jazz, we get to know the characters in her life. I really liked each of them, and found them all believable. But out of all of them, Martin Svoboda was probably my favorite.

“By the end of it I had a plan. And like all good plans, it required a crazy Ukranian guy.”

That crazy Ukranian is a delight to read! I loved every scene he was in. His nerdy exuberance and utter loyalty to Jazz constantly made me smile.

“Tell them about the plan!” Svoboda said. “I have all the visual aids ready!”

What’s not to love about a friend who not just supports your illegal and potentially immoral hijinks without question, but then prepares visual aids when it really matters?! He’s just so adorable.

Given how much science is actually in this book, I am impressed with how much went into the characters and world building. It’s very well balanced, and I never felt like the science went over my head or took away from the scene playing out on the page. That isn’t to say I could pass a science exam after reading it, but the level of detail is enough to make the entire thing feel real. And that’s something I really enjoy in my science fiction.

Weir has a way of injecting humor into all of his scenes, including the intense ones. This gives his books a distinct feel. Fun but interesting. It helps that he includes fun facts, a little addition that makes me laugh. Probably because I am very fond of fun facts.

“Fun fact: Oxidizing requires oxygen. Flint and steel won’t work in vacuum. All right. No need to panic.”

In all, I adored this book. Jazz felt like someone I would know and be friends with. She isn’t a girly girl. In fact, isn’t even overly feminine, which, as a woman who isn’t overly feminine, I appreciated. And no, I don’t think that’s because she was written by a man either. I found her to be exactly like many of my female friends and relished reading a female character that didn’t make me roll my eyes. Svoboda as the goofy sidekick made it even better. This pairing definitely melted my feminist heart.

I’ve officially decided that space capers full of sarcastic geniuses is the best thing ever. I need more of this exact combo! I was a fan of The Martian, and Artemis is exactly what I hoped it would be. Ever more the fan, I look forward to anything and everything Andy Weir wants to write!

Paper Obscura – Your New Obsession

If you’ve been on #bookstagram for any period of time, you’re familiar with subscription boxes already. Instead of another YA box, there’s a new box focusing on murdery, twisty reads with location themed boxes featuring small businesses.

Welcome Paper Obscura!

Okay, so there are a few really cool things about this box! This is probably a good time to say SPOILER ALERT!!! I’m going to go through the first box EVER from Paper Obscura, so if you’ve ordered and want to be surprised STOP READING!!!


The first amazing thing that I think makes this box REALLY unique is that each box features a setting. On the spoiler card you get a map showing the locations of each vendor and a location for where the book is set. I mean, how freaking cool is that?!


I’ve subscribed to many a book box in the last year. And I have to say, I’ve never had one focus the theme on the featured books location. I am incredibly intrigued to watch how this theme follows for so many reasons. The biggest is being introduced to new shops and products in such a unique way. I have a feeling it will make the reading experience and subsequent use of each item, a touch more special with this added detail! Not to mention, their focus is also on supporting small businesses and artists. I think my icy heart might be melting!



Oh, hello gorgeous…

Can we all just stop a moment and appreciate the serious dark humor of this beauty??? Of all the themed candles I own or have shopped, none have made my little black heart quite so happy as this one! Sociopath?! The Apathy Collection?! “Distinctive and unpredictable, like a true textbook sociopath”?! It’s like they stumbled into my dark subconscious to find what I really needed in my life. AND THEN GAVE IT TO ME!!!

This beauty is made by Grizzly, located in Brooklyn, New York. Want natural candles made with sustainable products where fun is the focus with a capital F??? Yeah, me too. I’m so happy to meet this candle and will be buying more in the future! Find them on Instagram @grizzly_bk or their website, just click to go to their page.

Did I mention it smells fantastic with a capital F? Because it does.


You had me at stabby…

I think we can all agree that blood dripping knives are the perfect accessory to complete any outfit.

Designed by Brookpyn located in New York, NY, each pin starts as a sketch and is then digitized. Pop culture icons and jokes may come and go, but these enamel pins will last forever. Want fun and fashionable with an item that doubles as social commentary on pivotal issues? Brookpyn has you covered!

Give them a visit on Instagram @brookpyn or their website I know I already have my eye on a few!


Don’t cry little monster…

40 pages of art by artist Dylan Balliett will entertain your inner monster. Bonus points if you look through it while burning your Sociopath candle. For appropriate atmosphere.

Dylan Balliett is an artist and a musician, currently located in New York, NY. Life as a monster isn’t always as glamorous as we think. This little art book is cute and fun with an added dash of sad and a twist of disgusting. Monsters would have it no other way.

You can find out more about his art and music by visiting his Instagram @dylanballiett or his website


The Wife by Alafair Burke is one of the books I’ve been looking forward to! The cover is simply stunning, and the premise so dark it’s delicious.

At the heart of this novel is the question: How far will a woman go to protect the man she loves? Will she let him drag her down? Exploring topics like media obsession, celebrity worship and technology dependency, this novel sounds like it’s going to be full of sociopaths, monsters and bleeding knives! I can’t wait!!!

You can buy the book here or visit her website


Like I said, a lot of really cool items tied together in a thoughtful, unique way. I am very impressed and looking forward to March’s box!

What’s that? You want a hint?

“Bold, unsettling, and atmospheric — March’s featured, wicked read delivers a haunted reimagining of a mysterious tragedy in the American West.”

I can’t wait to see what book that is! And what items will be featured!

Visit Paper Obscura on their Instagram @paperobscura or their website and sign up! Be sure to use the code WICKEDJENA for a discount!

Thank you Bryan for sending me a box to review! I loved it and can’t wait to see what you guys come up with in future boxes!


She Regrets Nothing – Review

“Liberty had always been plagued by the sense that her immense privilege meant that she owed some substantial debt. But what exactly she owed, and to whom, was never clear.”

She Regrets Nothing is a coming of age tale set in the world of mass privilege and wealth. The story centers on the Lawrence family, divided nearly twenty years ago with a scandal no one will talk about.

When Liberty Lawrence, finds out they have a cousin living in Michigan, she tries to find out more about their history. And why they have never reached out to the family. But when Laila’s mother dies, leaving her an orphan, Liberty decides enough is enough and works to close the chasm in the family once and for all.

“She was reminded by meeting her cousin that you only had so much time with people, only so many chances to make things right. Holding grudges — as her father had obviously done with his brother — was never worthwhile.”

Laila Lawrence was raised not knowing the wealth her grandfather built in New York. She knew nothing of the lavish lifestyle of her cousins or the comfortable trust fund given to each of them. When she finds out she can’t help but feel that she is being denied her right to her share. She becomes determined to fight her way into the family, whether they welcome it or not.

Her refusal to give up on what she sees as her fair share, threatens to open the scandal that cut her father out of the family in the first place, along with potentially setting off a string of new scandals in her wake.

“Laila’s foremost skill seemed to be burning bridges so thoroughly that there would be no hope of return — perhaps this was her way of daring herself to keep going.”

This book is dripping full of privilege and entitlement. It would be difficult to write the story in a way that didn’t have it. The idea that Laila feels she is owed, with little knowledge of the reason behind why she has been cut out, screams nothing if not entitlement. The decisions she makes paint her in a not very flattering light, one screaming of social climber and a ruthless one at that.

That’s not to say that Laila is the villain of this book. Nearly everyone in the book could be a villain. Certainly none of them are innocent, or unblemished with their own biases that wealth has afforded them. Which makes this book a delightful and intriguing look at that darker unspoken side to wealth.

Dunlop does a fantastic job painting a vivid picture of not just the Lawrence family, but their friends and acquaintances. It’s difficult to really sympathize with any of them, short of Liberty, but even she carries with her a biased view of the world. She loathes the very money that paved the road to her independence, but anyone looking in can see that she wouldn’t be who or where she is without the money. A fact that she seems blinded to.

“It was a rich woman’s paradox: she didn’t need the money, so she didn’t chase it and was therefore followed by it everywhere.”

The fact that Laila is exactly like the rich people who look down on her is irony at it’s finest. She is just as calculating, and willing to act on her impulses and whims as they are. It’s just that she doesn’t have the pillow of wealth to protect her from the consequences and judgment like they do. Which is simply a fascinating look at how we forgive the wealthy for some horrific behaviors and then condemn the poor for behaving in the same manner.

While the book primary focuses on Liberty and Laila, there is a rather interesting examination of men and women. The roles they play, and how wealth drives the power between the genders is raised throughout the plot. There are multiple examples of how differently men and women view marriage and their role within it. While these women have much more power than the average housewife becomes questionable as each back story is revealed and explored.

Woven into this dissection of gender, is the topic of sex and beauty. Laila is clearly the young, vixen-like woman who uses her beauty as a type of currency. Again, she does this with scorn, when Nora, tries to do the same and is forgiven her efforts since she is not as beautiful but infinitely more wealthy. The conversation on beauty and how it is perceived, used and scorned is fascinating in each female characters. Liberty, conversely, is also beautiful, but sees her beauty as a liability and not an asset. But again, her wealth protects her from connotations of spinster or stuck up, and makes her enigmatic and mysterious.

“Betsy often spoke this way of Laila’s looks, as though they were a thing separate from her entirely, something that Betsy had handed down to her and that she now had a responsibility to use properly.”

There are two scenes, separated in the book, that really strike home for me the very dichotomy of Laila and Liberty and how unfairly one is viewed. They both involve sex, and without giving too many details, I found both of these encounters to be somewhat similar, but Laila’s I’m sure is met with more scorn and blame than Liberty’s. These were both powerless women being used by powerful men, yet one is more sympathetic than the other.

“How easily we’ll look past a person’s fatal flaws if their beauty is striking enough.”

This book is full of these dissections and conversations, which are very #richpeopleproblems. There is an elite tone throughout the book that is impossible to ignore, and if you get caught in that scandalous yet superficial plot, it would seem that this book is frivolous and meaningless. However, this book highlights the problems inherent in our society by focusing in on one family. We are more forgiving of wealth, and scorn those seeking it. We are more likely to hold a woman more accountable for her beauty if she uses it in any way that we view as inappropriate. We excuse ruthlessness in a man and condone it in women. We forget the privilege some people are born with and become complicit in their entitlement.

“She found it wearisome how these Manhattan kids congratulated each other so much for winning a hundred-yard dash they’d begun at the ninety-yard line.”

She Regrets Nothing is dark and devious. It is full of delicious scandal. Everything about each character is appalling yet fascinating. This book is for anyone who wants to peel back the shiny veneer on wealth and expose it for all it’s hypocrisy. The ending will shock you and yet is highly satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed this ride.

Thank you BookSparks and Atria Books for sending me a copy to read, review and promote for #WRC2018.

January Wrap-Up

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book!”  ~Dr. Suess

January started off with a BANG!!! I ended December on a roll of fantastic books! And while I wish it could have been all five star reads all through the month, they can’t all be winners…

13/125 – Goodreads Challenge

0 – BookRiot #readharder Challenge

I managed to keep a steady pace of reading, finished 3 books in the #24in48 reading challenge weekend, 2 buddy reads and a book club read! I knocked two more books off of my Netgalley TBR, working my way to that elusive 90% rating. I will get there soon! And, best news of all, managed to get in some personal reading choices. This was important to me, as my reading was all reviews at the end of 2017, and I was starting to feel bogged down.

January summary:

The Hazelwood by Melissa Albert: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Netgalley review

The Power ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Buddy Read

Red Rising by Pierce Brown: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reading Group/reread

Golden Son by Pierce Brown: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reading Group/reread

Morning Star by Pierce Brown: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reading Group/reread

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Just for ME!!!

Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

BookSparks #WRC2018 Book

Strangers by Ursula Archer & Arno Strobel: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Black Heart Read Group Read

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Just for ME!!!

Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Street Team Read/ #24in48 reading challenge

City of Brass by SA Chakraborty: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Buddy Read/ #24in48 reading challenge

Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

#24in48 reading challenge

Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties by Camille Pagan: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

NetGalley review

I reviewed every book, which met my blog goals, and while I didn’t quite manage to blog at least every other day, I was close. I’ll call that a win! Every review is linked, in case you missed any.

Being on Instagram and participating in buddy reads and reading groups has been a nice new addition to my reading this year. I really only started doing them towards the end of the year last year, and having people to chat with while reading or after, really makes the reading come alive! Especially when its a book like The City Of Brass or Iron Gold, which everyone NEEDS TO READ RIGHT NOW!!!!

I also went to Howler Fest in LA for the launch of Iron Gold, which was amazing and fantastic and I want to go to all the events now!

I’m also looking forward to doing more readathons, keeping my Goodreads goal and working on the Book Riot challenge. I managed to get back on track with writing and having blog goals is helping me stay on track here as well.

How was your January? Did you hit your goals? Tell me all about it! And Happy Reading friends!