Review | Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

“We’re all ugly, Ryen. The only difference is, some hide it and some wear it.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: black envelopes, silver-inked pens, abandoned theme parks, prom dates, songwriting, siblings, scavenger hunts, movie quotes, cheerleader outfits, watches, swimming lessons and pen pals.

“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

For a smutty, quick romance, this was beautifully executed. I read a lot of romance, and I know how hard it is to find a story that doesn’t feel shallow… and this book has a good layer of depth to it!

The romance was really good and entertaining. At first, the main characters are friends, but they become “enemies” before becoming lovers. 

I liked both main characters and their stories, but I didn’t love Ryen at first. I know she had a hard time making friends, but it was hard to see her being mean to others. I adored Misha though! He had a hard time, but he never treated others poorly – well, at least if they didn’t deserve it.

I wish the chapters were a bit shorter, but it didn’t bother me too much. The writing was immaculate and the book is very easy to read.

I enjoyed this a lot! It’s a good one to pick up if you like smutty romances. Penelope Douglas makes great books, I loved every single one I read so far.

xoxo,

Review | The Doll’s House (Helen Grace #3) by M.J. Arlidge

“The ties that bind a parent to a child can never be broken; however awful their relationship might be, those ties just are.” 3.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: asthma inhalers, hunger, tweets, bird tattoos, old earrings, cheap makeup, landlords, closed beaches, blue eyes, black hair and cassette tapes.

A young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who her kidnapper is. So begins her terrible nightmare.
Nearby, the body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing – her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years. Someone has been keeping her alive from beyond the grave.
For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it’s chilling evidence that she’s searching for a monster who is not just twisted but also clever and resourceful – a predator who’s killed before.
And as Helen struggles to understand the killer’s motivation, she begins to realise that she’s in a desperate race against time…

Big disclaimer before you pick up this book: if you bought it for the title, you will probably be disappointed. I personally thought the theme for this story would revolve around creepy dolls and doll houses, but it didn’t. The small reference to the title had almost no significance and it didn’t contribute to the story in a big way. This was probably the main reason why I was so disappointed with this book.

But with that said, the book has great quality just like the other books from the series! We are again following the inspector Helen Grace and her current murder investigation. Just like the other books in the series, I have (almost) zero complaints about this book. The writing is amazing and easy to follow, the pacing is great and the story is interesting and intriguing until the very end.

Sure, I got title-baited, but the story is good! I read it in one sitting, and I’m definitely continuing the series.

xoxo,

Review | The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

“Some of us need to be rescued, but everyone wants to be seen.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: pianos, Marilyn Monroe posters, legends, toxic family, music videos, whistle notes, acting classes, high heels, long relationships, racism, songwriting and therapy.

It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.

This book is composed of my memories, my mishaps, my struggles, my survival and my songs. Unfiltered. I went deep into my childhood and gave the scared little girl inside of me a big voice. I let the abandoned and ambitious adolescent have her say, and the betrayed and triumphant woman I became tell her side.

Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit.

Love,
Mariah

To say my mother is a hardcore Mariah Carey fan would be an understatement. I personally didn’t know a lot about Mariah other than some of her most popular songs, so I decided to pick up her book and finally learn about her backstory – you know, since she is my mother’s Idol and all.

I have found a few interesting things in this book that I would never know if I didn’t read it. For example, I knew she had a really hard time with racism growing up, but I had no idea how painful and stressful her family life was. Her relationship with her family was what stood for me the most and I was shocked with what I read. I was so impressed to see how she blossomed with almost zero support from her family. If her mother and siblings really are like that, I feel sorry for Mariah. Seriously, that was another level of toxicity!

I also didn’t know about her abusive marriage. Being married to someone who is so manipulative and controlling can destroy an individual. I’m glad she eventually got out of it and she got to be herself again. She deserves better!

Now, to be completely honest, I need to say this: I have read a good amount of memoirs to the point that I can confidently say that if you are looking for an inspirational real story, I would recommend other memoirs – for example Michelle Obama’s memoir. For me this was an okay book, in the sense that even though I learned a lot about Mariah’s life, it wasn’t the most inspiring life story ever. I’m glad I picked it up because it gave me an opportunity to know her as a person and her life, but I can think of more inspiring stories.

I can now share her story with my mother, and I know she will be eager to listen! Her fans, the Lambs, would love this book.

xoxo,

Review | I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

“Because once you become a parent, you learn that love can involve more fear than you had ever imagined, and you never quite look on the world in the same way again.” 3.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: plum cake, anonymous cards, train trips, flower arrangements, part time jobs, ex-convicts, witnesses, creepy photographs, secrets, stalkers and new parents.

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

This was very entertaining and I read it quickly! It’s not necessarily the most memorable book of all time, but I enjoyed it for what it was: a fun, quick read.

There were a few flaws I found that contributed to my rating, but nothing too serious! One thing I found interesting is that the author’s intentions were crystal clear to me. Let me try to explain what I mean by this! Basically, there are some (not so subtle) attempts to distract the reader from the main suspect, by introducing new discoveries, new subplots and other possible suspects. And even though I couldn’t find out what really happened until the very end, it was easy for me to point out what was just a distraction that I shouldn’t think about too much because it was just an attempt to not focus on what really mattered (and those happened a lot)! A good example of this is the subplot regarding Sarah and her sister. It would be fine to use their story as a distraction for the plot, but the thing is that after it had its purpose their story was left unfinished. I wish some of these “distractions” had some development!

Regarding the writing, it was great! The chapters are fairly short, the story is very easy to follow and the writing is also simple. I’m glad I couldn’t find out who was responsible for the missing girl until the very end, so that was a big positive point to me!

I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for new books from this author. If you like easy thrillers, this is a good book to read over the weekend.

xoxo,

Review | Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10) by Agatha Christie

“All around us are people, of all classes, of all nationalities, of all ages. For three days these people, these strangers to one another, are brought together. They sleep and eat under one roof, they cannot get away from each other. At the end of three days they part, they go their several ways, never, perhaps, to see each other again.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: red silk kimonos, smoking pipes, bunk beds, secrets, broken clocks, snow storms, buttons and open windows.

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer—in case he or she decides to strike again.

My third Agatha Christie book, and it did not disappoint! 

This murder mystery novel follows a crime investigation by the famous detective Hercule Poirot. The murder happened during a train trip while the train was not moving due to a snow storm, and it was Poirot’s job to discover who the murder was amonst the first class passengers. To be honest, I never watched the movie made about this novel so I had no idea of what the story was like, but I was very impressed when I read this.

The setting was incredible. I really liked the idea of a crime happening on a train, while a snow storm is going on. It added a cool, mysterious atmosphere to the story and you know for sure someone travelling was responsible for the murder.

I personally don’t read a lot of murder mysteries in general, but Agatha Christie’s books are probably my favorite within this genre. It was also my first Hercule Poirot book! I heard great things about him and I know he is Agatha Christie’s most popular main character – now I understand why and I became a fan too! 

The mystery was really good, and the story is very original and very well put together. The end and the final explanation was a complete surprise for me, but I was satisfied with how everything came together! I know this is fiction and of course some things were a bit far fetched, but I really think this was very well written.

For a murder mystery, it very smart and well made. I need to check out the movie, I’m very curious to see how the story is portrayed! It really is a very entertaining story, definitely recommend it.

xoxo,

Review | Pop Goes the Weasel (Helen Grace #2) by M.J. Arlidge

“The aftermath of rape is like a slow death, a cancer eating away at you from the inside, unwilling to let you go, unwilling to let you live.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: nosy reporters, rekindled romances, difficult bosses, prostitutes, wigs, piercings, revenge, trauma, pain, little kids and open chests.

DI Helen Grace returns in Pop Goes the Weasel, the electrifying new thriller from M. J. Arlidge.

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton’s red-light district – horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed.

Hours later – and barely cold – the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.

A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards.

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes. For Grace, only one thing is certain: there’s a vicious serial-killer at large who must be halted at all costs…

I’m loving this series! Like I said in the review of the first book, I’m not usually a fan of police investigation mysteries, but this series is surprising me in a very positive way!

The story still follows most of the characters that appeared in the first book Eenie Meenie, and we also have Helen Grace again as the main detective.

The case featured in this book was what really grabbed me to the story! I was so intrigued with the murders and the modus operandi of the killer, that it was difficult to put the book down. The book is very graphic not only sexually but also with violence, so if you’re sensitive to blood and internal organs… you have been warned!

I personally wouldn’t recommend reading this as a standalone because there is a very strong connection to the first book. I’m not talking about the plot itself, but the way the characters are affected by the events of the first book. Even though each book talks about a different case, there is a bigger plot behind it that brings the series together. I tried picturing what it would be like if I read this without reading the first book, and it would be extremely confusing because I wouldn’t understand what they would be talking about most of the time.

I was very satisfied with the end and with the creativity of the plot. It’s not the kind of book where you discover exactly what’s going on and why, so I guarantee you will be surprised with the ending.

I’m definitely continuing the series! I’m loving it so far and I can’t wait to read the next one. Read this book in one sitting!

xoxo,

Review | One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

“Everyone wanted so many things from her—to believe in herself and see her own true beauty, but not to be conceited, to know her place. Be more than your looks, but never speak out of turn. Don’t be defined by love, but remember, you’re nothing without it. Be a princess. Find your prince. You don’t need a man to complete you. Stand on your own two feet.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: fancy capes, interviews, engagement rings, online bets, family gatherings, blog articles, interviews, Ryan Gosling, stylish bathing suits, mean tweets, elimination rounds, designer clothes, culinary chefs, prom queens, lipstick colors, cruel words and a great fashion sense.

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale.

This book is phenomenal. For the last few days after finishing it, I kept on thinking about this story and bugging my friends to read it. The funny thing is that I didn’t even plan on reading this book – I just picked it randomly and I ended up falling in love with the story!

Bea was a wonderful main character and I connected to her on a deeper level – maybe because I understood her feelings and attitudes throughout the book. Even though she had a lot going on (especially hate she constantly got for being overweight), she kept her head high. I was rooting for her happiness the entire time!

Still, I would say the coolest thing about this book is not only the format, but also the rawness of it all. This is a work of fiction, but everything I read made me feel like this could be a real story. Through its format – that included tweets, blog articles, text messages and conversation transcripts -, the book shows all the negativity and positivity that you would expect from a television production team picking a plus size girl to be the star of a tv show. You have a lot of people supporting it, but also a lot of people being against it… and I really liked how real it felt in that sense. The mean tweets and blog articles were brutal and it makes me really sad that this is a reality for a lot of people, but I’m glad this wasn’t a romanticized story.

Also, just as a side note,  I really liked all the fashion moments featured in this book. The descriptions of the clothes and fabrics gave life to Bea, in my opinion. This was a small detail I really enjoyed!

Being a debut novel, I was super impressed with the final result. The romance is great, but there’s so much more to this book that you get. Regardless of your opinion on plus size women and men, everyone deserves a shot at love. And regardless of shape and size, we all have our own value – you are not less of a person for not fitting the beauty standards of today.

Loved this book. This is a breath of fresh air that I will keep recommending to friends! If you like tv shows like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, this is a must read.

xoxo,

Review | My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: cleaning supplies, dreadlocks, nigerian food, knives, flowers, hospital rooms, scrubs and blood stains.

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

I was somewhat disappointed with this book. Since it was so hyped up and it was nominated for several awards… I was expecting more.

I have mixed feelings not only about the story but also about the characters –  and by characters I mean the two sisters. The story felt slow and still, and there wasn’t visible development in every single aspect of this book. I was at least expecting some character development by the end of the story, but that didn’t happen.

With that said, I do have positive things to say about this book. My favorite thing was definitely the cultural aspect. I really like the references to the Nigerian cuisine, traditions and expressions! I learned a lot with this book, which I wasn’t expecting.

Another great aspect was the writing!  Pace aside, I really liked how short the chapters were and how easy it was to follow the story. It made reading so much easier!

I think it’s important to know that if you’re going into this book for the mystery/thriller aspect, you will probably be disappointed. But I still think you can take something from this book like I did. For me personally, it was a great way to learn more about the Nigerian culture. It’s a fairly quick read, so why not give it a shot and see it for yourself?

xoxo,

Review | Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

“Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: blog posts, thriller books, secrets, ginger cats, questions and the dark web.

A chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders.

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne’s Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox’s Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald’s The Drowner, and Donna Tartt’s A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest time, and now that I did… I’m underwhelmed. 

In my eyes, this story had great potential. The concept behind the book is incredibly creative: a bookstore owner wrote a blog post about eight perfect murders based on great thriller books, and someone decided to recreate those murders. He then gets to work with an investigator to discover who is responsible for those murders.

The book was okay. It’s the kind of story where you keep uncovering secrets and you don’t know if you can trust the main character. With that said, it’s not the most memorable book, probably because the real plot is overshadowed by the other thriller books it’s based on. I also wasn’t a fan of the ending and the “big” plot twist.

One thing that REALLY bothered me about this book was how some books I wanted to read were spoiled. To be fair, the thrillers mentioned are pretty old, but I still wanted to read some books from Agatha Christie that were mentioned. Unfortunately, this story describes exactly what happens in each mentioned thriller book… including the plot twists and killers! So… thank you for that.

If you like books about books, you should probably give this one a go. Like I said, there’s a bookstore and there are endless references to thriller books, and if that’s something you might enjoy, you should give it a go.

xoxo,

Review | The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson

“The Community is truth.
The Community is loyalty.
The Community will keep you safe.”

4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: initiations, strawberries, appointments, pizza, pink caps, swimming lessons, small bathroom windows, hunger, brainwashing, lies and the chosen one.

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn’t know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

With a woman They claim is her real mother–a woman They say Father stole her from.

But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.

For a mystery, it was a pleasant surprise! I only read another book about cults before, and I definitely prefer this one. I flew through this book because I was hooked from the first chapter! It follows a seventeen year old girl named Piper, who was raised in a cult, and the chapters switch between the Before and After she was rescued. We get to see how the cult operates and the all the child abuse, but it’s not descriptive to the point that will make you feel uncomfortable. 

I liked Piper as a main character but it was frustrating to see her resist so much when she was out of the compound. I understand why she was behaving like that, but it was still frustrating as a reader to experience that.

The writing is very simple and easy to follow, and it is fast-paced. It also helps that the book is composed of small chapters – you will fly through it

One thing you should know about this book is that it’s not a book with surprises. What I mean by this is that you discover new things as the story goes, but it’s not in a way that shocks you. So if you like that element of surprise, please know that you will not get it with this book.I really liked this book and I would love to read more from this author. It was an entertaining, fast-paced book… but I wouldn’t consider it a thriller, only a mystery book. If you’re interested in books about cults, this is an interesting one to check out.

xoxo,