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To All the Boys I Loved Before ~ Jenny Han

September 3, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781442426719
384 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

I wanted to love this book, so much.

Everyone else has been so enamored with the entire series but it just didn’t hold my attention. And that might just be the mood I’m in (a little bit edgier, at the moment).

I loved Lara-Jean but I don’t think the story gave her enough of a chance to kind of get out from under herself.

It was sweet, though. I’ll give it that. And there are so few stories with single dads and little girls that it totally had the “Aw” and appreciation factor, for sure. I think it was just maybe a little TOO sweet for me.

I may, eventually, get to the rest of the series if I’m in the mood for a light little read but for the moment, the hype is kind of escaping me.

I will, however, go check out the movie, since it is hounding me every time I open up Netflix.

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August 21, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062308344
432 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

Emma and Evie have been friends for as long as they can remember though they are as different as any two high schoolers can be. They balance each other in their best moments and repel each other in their worst.

I spend a lot of time clucking my tongue and sighing at the lack of attention given to the nitty-gritty side of mental health in fiction.

There is often an emphasis on normal-spiral-treatment-healed.

A Flicker In the Clarity does no such thing.

Emma and Evie both stumble through their traumas and grief in their own ways, leaning on each other and away from each other in less than healthy or neatly tied up ways.

Because their journeys were presented in realistic, messy ways, the entire book felt pretty frustrating but that was what I loved about it, too.

The writing as beautiful and the story was authentic. In moments of frustration, I had to remind myself that the way each young woman was acting (either acting out or enabling of the other) was far closer to reality than I had come across before this particular book. When I could step back and gain that perspective, I was able to truly appreciate the raw beauty of the book.

The Cheerleaders ~ Kara Thomas

August 10, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Mystery
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9781524718329
384 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

Going into The Cheerleaders, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, that’s not true. I had my assumptions and they were pretty much all wrong. I expected something light and frilly with cheesy stereotypes about high schoolers.

I expected mushy crushes and the stoical love story.

I am so relieved that I was wrong.

The back of refuse jacket describes the book as a cross between Riverdale and Veronica Mars. I had I not read that, that would have been my exact description. I am such a sucker for “smart girl solves the case” storylines and that is exactly what I got with Thomas.

Rather than being dictated by boys or social drama, The Cheerleaders brings a refreshing look at the darker, less desirable grittiness that high school books are so often lacking.

Monica, the protagonist, leads most of the story but it is also periodically interrupted by her late sister, who was killed five years before the book starts. As the two stories weave together, there are so many striking parallels. It makes the ending that much more shocking and welcome (and that’s all I can tell you!).

I’m off to read Thomas’s other two books because I’m definitely hooked. If this is what we can expect from her, going forward, I am officially a lifetime fan.

TLC Book Tour: Day of the Dead ~ Nicci French

August 9, 2018

Hey, y’all! I’m back with another spectacular book tour pick from the wonderful team at TLC Book Tours!

I was new to the Frieda Klein series when I originally signed up to host this tour stop but I am now, officially, a giant fan. It is one of the most entertaining, fast paced rides I’ve taken in quite some time.

Day of the Dead is the final installment of the set and starts off with fireworks, as our team comes upon a week-old corpse in a runaway vehicle, smack dab in the middle of London. Deaths begin to pile up as a bonfire reveals another victim, another mile marker on a gruesome serial killer path.

Mind games and sick tricks are overflowing as this is far from an ordinary string of murders. They are all intricately planned and aimed at our fearless hero, Frieda Klein.

The entire series is well done but so few writers understand exactly the commitment it takes to wrap up an epic tale with the creativity and wit. I admit I was holding my breath going into this book as I really needed for it to wrap up with bang. And my goodness it did.

I highly recommend the entire series but I have nothing but the highest praise for the final chapter.

Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for the opportunity to be included on this tour.

About Nicci French

Nicci French is the pseudonym of English wife-and-husband team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Their acclaimed novels of psychological suspense have sold more than 8 million copies around the world.

26 Kisses ~ Anna Michels

August 6, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781481452472
304 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

After a heartwrenching break up with her high school soulmate, Vee takes the advice of her best friend and embarks on a summer-long challenge to kiss one boy for every letter of the alphabet. Obviously, hijinx ensue.

I felt all sorts of feelings about this one and it wasn’t a terribly long (or even complicated) book.

Let me start by saying that I am all about sexual freedom for women and have no problem with the concept of willingly and freely getting snuggly with multiple people as long as it is consensual.

That said, something about the way this story played out made me really uncomfortable for the entire ride. There is an ambivalence on the part of the actual kisser and a lot of pressure from her friend, including guilt, shame, and a fair amount of alcohol to “fuel” the kissing. It almost had a coercive nature to it and it made reading it pretty difficult.

There were also a few kisses that were not consensual on the part of the boys being kissed which is never ok. If the protagonist had been male and he went around kissing girls without their go ahead, this book would never fly. I think we need to be aware of that double standard and give boys the same respect we give girls over their sexual ownership.

So, I know I’m kind of being a wet blanket and this book was largely supposed to be about fun. There was some fun, involved, and I loved the way Vee did occasionally pause to look at why she might be doing something that didn’t quite sit right with her. She was, it seems, attempting to fill a bottomless pit of feelings, where it comes to her dad’s love and I could go all Clinical Therapist on that front but I’ll spare you.

Overall, I think the book was somewhat cute but way more problematic than adorable.

Sunday Wrap Up

August 5, 2018

Hey, y’all!

I have had a crazy busy summer and basically took the month of July off of blogging to just enjoy myself. I can’t believe it’s already been a month since Montana.

I’m officially headed back to school in one week and I’ve already started internship training. It’s intense but it going to be such great work and I’m so excited. I love my cohort for grad school so much and the whole Social Work field will always and forever have my heart.

This week, I wrapped up The Diviners, read the second book in Sara Shepherd’s new series The Amateurs, and did a super fun Book Tour read and post for TLC Book Tours.

I have one more week to really pack in the fiction before I hit the nonfiction for class. Wish me luck!

The Immortal Gene ~ Jonas Saul

August 3, 2018

Oh, man. It’s been a while since I read something this creative.

Jonas Saul’s The Immortal Gene follows homicide detective, Jake Wood, through gritty streets, a trek to Brazil, and ultimately, one heck of a horrifying ordeal.

After said trip to Brazil, Wood awakes to find that his entire life has been turned upside down while he’s been unconscious for the last year and a half.

That’s only the beginning of the nightmare, though, as he finds himself caught in an endless medical thriller that would make Stephen King blush.

I’ve definitely found my love for suspense in the last little while, as you all can probably tell. This was a welcome and past paced edition. I’m super pumped that this is just the beginning to what has started out as an awesome series and I can’t wait to read the next installment.

Thank you, so much, to TLC Book Tours for including me on this lineup!

About Jonas Saul

Jonas Saul has sold over 2 million books. On multiple occasions, he has outranked Stephen King and Dean Koontz on the Amazon Most Popular Top 100 Authors list.

He has traveled extensively throughout the world to scout settings for his thrillers, spending several years between Greece, Italy, Denmark, and Hungary.

Jonas is regularly invited to speak at national writing conferences, teaches writing classes, and offers editorial services.

Find out more about Jonas at his website, and connect with him on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram.