Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Okay, I took the day off because Wednesday’s are meant to be celebrated {hump day and all}. Now it’s Thursday, and I have my final review of this week, but no worries! I’ll be back next week with another review or two, and then we’ll be back on track.

Keeping with the creepy theme of the week, I thought that this would be an excellent book to go out on.

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Title: Bring Me Back {336 pages}

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publication Date: June 19, 2018

Summary:

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Review:

So. This one took a few days to grow on me. Sometimes I read a book and I’m in love with it even before I finish, but this one was…strange. This was a weird book with weird twists and turns and weird characters. It was weird. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I did. A lot. It just took my brain a little time to get around to it.

Finn fell in love twelve years early with a young woman named Layla. She was beautiful and exciting and loved him as much as he loved her. Then she disappeared one night, and Finn had to learn how to move on with his life. When he meets Ellen, Layla’s sister, he thinks that maybe he could love again. Ellen is nothing like Layla, but she makes him happy and the love he feels for her might be different than the love he felt for her sister, but it’s still love. He thinks.

But then Layla comes back into their lives, and Finn doesn’t know what he feels. Then the truth about that night comes out, and everything is spiraling out of control.

The ending to this book is a mind-bender. I honestly had to go back and skim through the book, rereading certain parts where I was sure I’d catch the author in a sleepy state. But I never did. The answers are right there for the reader to find, but it seems so improbable that you don’t catch anything. It’s also so heart-breakingly sad that all I wanted to do after I finished was cry. I wanted to cry for Finn and Ellen and Layla and the lives that they had harmed and for the harm that had been done to them. None of them had escaped unscathed from their lives before, and those that remained would never be the same again.

This was the kind of mystery that was still a mystery even after I finished reading it. There were so many questions that I had that were answered, but they just gave me more questions.

I just realized how difficult it is to write about this book without giving anything away.

All you need to know about this book is that it’s sad, mysterious, and completely confusing. But not in a bad way. It’s a book that’s really going to mess with your head and it’s going to linger for awhile. You’re going to want to reread it, and then after you’ve done that, you’re going to want to re-reread it because you’re going to be sure that there are some things that you missed. Chances are, there are a lot of clues that you missed, and it’s going to take multiple readings before you’re completely sure you know what the heck is going on.

Basically, read this book until it falls apart. It’ll never get boring, trust me.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Oh, Tuesday. You’re not the worst day of the week, but you certainly are not the best. But that’s okay, because I’m back with a book that’ll make you think Tuesday is the best day ever!

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Title: Jar of Hearts {320 pages}

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publication Date: June 12, 2018

Summary:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

Review:

About five years ago, I read a thriller that stayed with me for awhile. It was dark, creepy, and heart-pounding, the perfect mixture to make a perfect thriller. I put the author on my always-to-read list, but unfortunately, I never got around to reading her other books. When I requested Jar of Hearts on NetGalley, I did so because of the description, because it sounded dark, creepy, and heart-pounding.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Five years ago, it had been Jennifer Hillier’s Creep that had reignited my love for mysteries and thrillers. Because of that one book, I kept picking up the spine-tingling novels, the ones that kept me up a little later at night because I couldn’t turn the light off just yet. And now it’s five years later, and Jar of Hearts is going to give me a few more nights of bright lights.

Georgina Shaw has it all: a rich fiancé, a hot job, a cool car, and the rest of her life ahead of her. That is, until her best friend from high school, Kaiser, comes stomping into her life, arresting her for the murder of their best friend, Angela Wong. Geo accepts her part in Angela’s death, and she takes her five-year prison sentence with grace. When she is released, she thinks that she’ll get her life in order, get a job, reconnect with her father. What she doesn’t think is that she’ll be haunted by her past by murders in the present, murders that are uncannily similar to Angela’s. Someone is hunting down women and their children, killing them and dismembering the mothers, much like how Angela was dismembered. There’s only one difference: the eyes of the women have been scooped out, and a message on the children’s bodies ask someone to See Me.

There is a lot happening in this book, and for good reason. It’s told from alternating points of view, from Geo to Kaiser, and it gives us a glimpse of the life they both used to lead before Angela’s death. Geo remembers the night that Angela died, the night that part of her died, as well. Kaiser, on the other hand, gives us some insight into the relationship between the two girls, the jealousy, the subtle fighting. Combined, the reader begins to understand a bit more about Geo, Angela, and Kaiser, and even more about how, sometimes, we see what we want to see.

Jennifer Hillier has a neat way of making things really obvious and then throwing you at the last second. For the entire book, I knew that the killer wasn’t who they thought it was. I didn’t know who it was, but it wasn’t the guy everyone was pointing fingers at, I knew that much. And then, right when I was feeling smug and brilliant, a wrench gets thrown into the plan, and I’m back at square one, because of course this person is the killer, how could I be so blind? But she also writes in a way that involves you completely, and you’re left with little time to wonder who could be committing these heinous crimes. You are so consumed with the story and the characters, that you almost forget that there’s even murders happening around them. When she sends Kaiser out to a crime scene, I was like, oh, right! My poor babies have to deal with this on top of everything else.

What’s the moral of this review? Well, mainly that I’m going to start reading more Jennifer Hillier, and that’s not an empty promise. I’m going to revisit Creep so I can move onto Freak, and then I guess I’ll move onto every piece of writing that she has ever done and my entire life is going to be consumed with Jennifer Hillier books.

Oh, look. That’s the kind of dark, creep, heart-pounding stuff I was talking about.

Tell Me No Lies by A.V. Geiger

This week is going to be filled with book love, because I’ve read so many good books lately. I’ve been trying to parcel them out slowly, but who am I kidding? I’m just going to throw them all at you, because it’s 2018 and you deserve a good book – or two or three or eighty – this week.

So, let’s start out with a fun one.

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Title: Tell Me No Lies {Follow Me Back #2} {336 pages}

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Summary:

Love. Obsession. Jealousy. Murder.

No one knows what happened to pop icon Eric Thorn. His Twitter account? Frozen. His cell phone? Cracked and bloody, buried in the snow. 

Agoraphobic fangirl Tessa Hart knows the truth, but she’s finally left her #EricThornObsessed days behind. She has no intention of ever touching her Twitter app again. But Snapchat… That’s safer, right?

After months of living under the radar, Tessa emerges from hiding, forced to face the deadly consequences of her past. But in the interrogation room, answers only lead to more questions in the pulse-pounding conclusion to the Follow Me Back duology.

Review:

I was lucky enough to score an early copy of Follow Me Back, the first book in this series, and let me tell you, I loved it. This series is the type of guilty pleasure that isn’t really a guilty pleasure because after you read it, you’re telling the whole world about it. In the first book, Tessa Hart had the chance to meet Eric Thorn, the biggest heartthrob in the world, and not only did they meet, but they fell in love, and Tessa seemed to be on her way to living the kind of life only available in fanfics. But the ending of that book was, shall we say, not so much of a happy ending.

Or was it? {Cue dramatic mystery music.}

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Tessa has been in hiding for months, without her meds, without her therapist, without her agoraphobia running her life, living in a small RV with none other than Eric Thorn himself. After so long of being in the spotlight and hating most of that time, Eric had decided to get away from it all, and Tessa wholeheartedly helped. But once they’re discovered, Eric knows that in order to protect Tessa from her crazy stalker, he’ll have to go back to the life that he hated. This time around, though, Maury, Eric’s manager, keeps his only client busy, so busy that Tessa is slowly being pushed into the background. But when Tessa is put in harms way, Eric realizes what he has to do, and he has some help from the last place on earth that he would imagine he would find it.

I mentioned in my post about Follow Me Back that Twitter is pretty scary. I take that back. Twitter is downright terrifying. There are horrible people on there, people who seemingly have nothing better to do with their lives than tear other down. Eric knows this firsthand, and even an account dedicated to him seems to be at the forefront of wanting Eric Thorn to fall flat on his face. I don’t pretend to understand the obsession with celebrities, and I understand the obsession with hoping they fall from grace even less. This whole series is dedicated to the kind of “fan accounts” that are only there to watch their “favorite” celebrity have run-ins with the law, fall on their faces, and generally lead horrible lives. It’s completely understandable that Eric Thorn fakes his own death and leave the country for awhile. Celebrity obsession has reached an alarming new high {new low?}, and Eric Thorn wants nothing to do with it.

Mental health issues are also at the very center of this novel. In the first book, Tessa suffered from severe agoraphobia, living inside her house and inside her mind. Twitter was a place for her to feel like she was in the real world, until it became all too real. Although he is never officially diagnosed, we can see that Eric Thorn is a ball of anxiety, and Tessa sees this too, knowing all too well how anxiety can rule your life. A.V. Geiger writes about these issues as if she knows them, too. Never once does Tessa seem to forget about her anxiety or agoraphobia, like can happen with certain authors and their characters. Even while Tessa and Eric grow, their anxiety and agoraphobia and brains are always there.

In short, I read this book too fast and didn’t realize it was a duology. Here I was, thinking that Tessa and Eric would be back in a matter of time, ready to thrill me with a new adventure. I liked the ending of this one, because it was open enough to allow for a third book, if ever {IF EVER}, but also the kind of ending that let me imagine what happens to the characters. I like those, because that means everyone gets a happy ending. And these characters definitely deserve that.

Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

The best laid plans, am I right? I have so many books to write about, but did you know there’s only 24 hours in a day? And I want to sleep for 20 of those hours? Now that all of my preparations for summer school are done {HA!}, I should have some time to get these reviews done. And what a book with which to come back.

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Title: Bruja Born {Brooklyn Brujas #2} {336 pages}

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Summary:

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

Review:

Labyrinth Lost, the first book in this series, has been in my TBR pile since forever. Latina bruja sisters living in modern day Brooklyn? Yes please. When NetGalley so graciously gave me Bruja Born, I knew Labyrinth Lost had just been bumped up in the pile. While I ran screaming through that book {OH MY GOD, IT’S THE BEST}, I jumped into Bruja Born, wanting more of Alex and her struggle with becoming one of the most powerful brujas in the world.

Imagine my surprise when I realized Lula, Alex’a sister, was the main character of Bruja Born.

I’ll be honest: I was disappointed. I wanted Alex, because I had grown so happy with her, and she still had so much more adventure to give. But that disappointment lasted about a chapter, right up to the part where Lula’s school bus crashes and a pole impales her and her ex-boyfriend.

I know, right?

Bruja Born is Lula’s story, along with Alex, as well as their little sister, Rose. Then it becomes her parents’ and Nova’s and everyone else in the Brooklyn community that these girls have grown up with or picked up along the way. The three girls must navigate their world after Lula’s big mistake creates casimuertos, or the bruja version of zombies. New York is suddenly overrun by teenagers wanting nothing more than to eat the hearts of humans and create a larger army of casimuertos. Lula struggles with the knowledge that she created this disease because she wanted to save Maks, the love of her life, turning him into the first casimuerto. Along the way, Lula gathers her sisters, her parents, the infuriatingly charming Nova, a vampire, and a boy whose orders are to arrest Lula for creating this mess for the supernatural community. But, most importantly on her journey, Lula discovers that there’s more to her than just powers and a pretty face marred by scars.

I’ll admit it, I didn’t really like Lula in Labyrinth Lost. She was the typical older sister, the typical pretty girl, the typical everything. She was annoying and rude, and she pushed Alex to the brink because she was angry. Sure, she had a right to be angry, but she never stopped to think of Alex, only caring about herself. But that’s one of the things that makes Lula Lula, and it wasn’t until Bruja Born that I learned to appreciate it. Lula only thinks of herself, and that’s why she tried to bring Maks back. She only thinks of herself, and that’s why she tried to stop the casimuertos. Do you notice a trend here? Lula thinks about herself and, in the process, does good for others.

Can I also admit that I’m more than psyched for the next book in the series? Because if it follows the trend, then that means we get Rose’s story. Rose was nothing more than the little sister in Labyrinth Lost and even a little bit in Bruja Born, and then suddenly…she wasn’t.

Also, Dad. What the heck. What’s going on there?

Both of these books are beautifully written. They’re full of lively characters and lush landscapes, and it’s the kind of realistic fantasy that the book world is severely lacking right now. The other good news is that Bruja Born comes out tomorrow {TOMORROW, PEOPLE}, so you barely have to wait to get your hands on it.

Lucky. Ducks.

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bruja-born-zoraida-cordova/1127405584?ean=9781492650652 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bruja-Brooklyn-Brujas-Zoraida-Cordova/dp/149265065X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528083351&sr=1-1&keywords=bruja+born

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781492650652 

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

2018 really is the year of great books. Every book I pick up seems to be my new favorite, and Furyborn is no exception.

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Title: Furyborn (The Emporium Trilogy #1) {512 pages}

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: May 22, 2018

Summary:

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Review:

I think I’ve said this before, but there was a time last year where I was burned out on the same old YA fantasy story. I wanted something new, something fresh, something exciting. I didn’t it know it then, but what I wanted was this story.

Rielle and Eliana are badass. There is no other word for them. Rielle, a close friend of the royal family of Celdaria, must stand by while the love of her life Audric marries their best friend Ludivine. But that doesn’t stop Rielle from saving Audric’s life, and in the process, outing herself as one of the two possible queens of a prophecy. Rielle has to pass a series of tests to prove that she is the Sun Queen, the good queen, and not the Blood Queen, the one that will bring death and destruction. As she goes forward in these tests, she is aided by her friends and a voice which only she can hear, a voice of a creature named Corien, a creature that could be her downfall.

Eliana is a trained assassin who works for her kingdom, all so she can keep her family clothed and fed. She must shut down her heart in order to fulfill her duties, and that makes Eliana, in simple terms, one tough cookie. When her mother is kidnapped – one among many – Eliana sets out to get her back, making a pact with the dangerous Wolf, an elusive figure with his own seedy reputation. Eliana and her younger brother Remy must quickly figure out who to trust and who to fight if they ever want to see their mother again.

I’m going to be honest: the link between the two women is pretty immediately known, although the rest of their backstories is not. I think I figured out who they were within the first couple of chapters, but that didn’t stop me from devouring this book. It’s not about who Eliana is, or her connection to anyone, but the journey these two young women must go on before they can understand themselves. There might also be some sexiness during their journey, and that’s just something that they’re going to have to deal with.

And, oh, boy, do these women deal with it.

Since we’re talking about sexiness for a moment: the honesty in the book is refreshing. Rielle and Eliana have lovers, and the sex scenes are kind of explicit, and as weird as it sounds, it was nice to read. I’ve never been one for the fading out sex scenes, or the ones where it ends with a coy smile and a wink. We know what’s going to happen next, and if the scene gives us more insight in the relationship between the two characters, then go for it. Audric and Rielle are hot, and by the end, I knew I needed more than just a chaste kiss or two between them. Eliana believes she has no heart, but that doesn’t stop her from falling into bed with her hot assassin friend Harkan. She’s honest with what they are about, and neither of them are expecting more.

It’s fresh and new and that’s terribly sad to think about.

These women are fighting for their lives against crazed men who have nothing better to do with their lives than put women through trials and tribulations. Rielle has a legitimate excuse to kill every man around her, and Eliana doesn’t wait for the excuse. I mean, sign me up, right? These two are amazing, and it only makes sense that there’s going to be a hundred books about both of them. Oh? No? Well, I guess I’ll have to live with three.

You have exactly one week to pre-order this and then wait at your mailbox for it to come. Seriously, that’s how good this book is. You honestly won’t even care that you missed school/work/graduation/your own wedding for this book.

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The weather has gotten ridiculously warm, and I guess this is the part where I make a cute joke about things heating up outside and in my reading realm. But really, warm weather sucks and The Favorite Sister decidedly does not.

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Title: The Favorite Sister {384 pages}

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

Summary:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

Review:

To say that I didn’t like any of the Goal Diggers wouldn’t be enough. None of them were good people, none of them had any redeemable qualities, and all of them made for good TV.

Because of their lack of likeable personalities, I want to concentrate on the questions this novel raises, mainly about feminism, the morality of lying, and reality television.

The purpose of the show Goal Diggers is to give young businesswomen a platform to establish themselves and their businesses. Ideally, the women work together, support each other, and boost each other up in something like a feminist Shark Tank. Stephanie is the only one to question how feminist Goal Diggers really is, because the show also thrives on putting these women in dramatic situations. They cannot boost each other up in these conditions, Stephanie believes. But this is exactly when we should be supporting each other the most. Brett and Jen are in the same industry – health – and they are at each other’s throats. I understand competition {TRUST ME} but in this world, in this climate, shouldn’t we women be helping each other out? Now, if there are women out there supporting people or an agenda that goes against women {side-eyeing the US Government right now}, then maybe we should band together and figure out what to do.

In a perfect world, right?

Speaking of perfect worlds, let’s jump into lying and morals. Spoiler alert: everyone lies in this book. Some are little white lies, while others could destroy the Goal Digger world. But every character believes she is lying for the god of someone – or something – else. All these lies to is create more problems and drama both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. But it’s not the drama that caught me. It was the ease and normalcy with which they all lied. Our society has become one where we all encounter a lie – or many – on a daily basis. These women lied for many reasons: fame, family, love. But their lies came so easily and frequently that when one finally started telling the truth, she was branded the crazy bitch.

It hit a little too close to home to be funny.

That’s the perfect segue into reality television. Look, I am not immune to the charms of reality TV. I love Cops. But while all that show does is make me want to catch some bad guys, shows that we actually think of when someone says reality TV can be a bit more harmful. Brett, Jen, Lauren, and Stephanie admitted that they became hideous people because they were determined to stay on Goal Diggers. They knew what the audience wanted and they gave it to them. I don’t know when everyone decided that they wanted to be famous, but those people are terrifying. But what happens after you finally get that reality show? What happens when everything of yours is suddenly laid out for the entire world to see?

You better have a great puppet master like the Goal Diggers do.

All of this is to say: I liked this book. Any book that gets me going like this is either really good or really terrible. Thankfully, with The Favorite Sister, it’s the former. This is definitely going to be one of those books that makes you think long and hard after reading the last word, but it’s going to be worth it, I promise. Stick with the horrible people and the situations they put themselves in. You might even discover a few things about yourself along the way.

Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos

Happy May, my lovely book nerds! Are we sick yet of Justin Timberlake telling us it’s going to be May? Maybe I should have ended that question after Timberlake. But today is not about Timberlakes or overused memes! Today is about fat girls and skinny girls and what happens when those girls are the same girl.

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Title: Fat Girl on a Plane {304 pages}

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Summary:

FAT.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat too fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.

SKINNY.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

Review:

Fat Girl on a Plane is one of those stories that lives hidden deep down in my heart. Every time I get on a plane, every time I’m sure the belt won’t buckle, every time I cross my legs as tightly as I can so I don’t bother the person next to me, this story gallops through my veins like a thousand wild horses. Now, I’m not as big as Cookie, so I don’t understand the daily harassment she goes through, but I get the gist of it. Mostly because, like Cookie, the worst of the worst comes from myself.

But Cookies “turns her life around,” as the saying in celeb magazines goes. She loses weight – the “right way” – and believes that everything is going to be okay. So it comes as a complete surprise to her that skinny people have just as many problems as fat people {shock, I know}. Not only does her best friend not drop his obnoxious and cruel girlfriend, but Cookie is still being ignored by her supermodel mother and stabbed in the back by those people who promised to help her. Cookies has to grow up a little and realize that she can still have everything she wants, even if she’s not a size six. At the risk of sounding like a Disney movie, Cookie could have achieved her dreams all along.

This book felt a little like a Disney movie, except, well, with some sexy scenes involving Cookie and the extremely handsome designer Gareth Miller. Cookie lives in rags most of her life. Well, no, cut that. She lives in Cookie Vonn originals, clothing she has made because, as all of us plus-size girls know, clothing out there for us sometimes really sucks. But Cookie perseveres and does things her own way, and even then she gets shunted aside for skinny, rich Kennes Butterfield. Kennes takes the high school by storm and tries to get Cookie under her thumb.

You can guess how Cookie takes that.

Now skinny, Cookie lives out her dreams and fantasies, believing that now that she can comfortably fit into a plane seat, her entire life will be sunshine and rainbows. But life still sucks sometimes, no matter what size you are. You can either let it consume you, or you can fight back and make your mark.

You can guess what Cookie chooses.

The story is sweet, the message even sweeter, and the ending the sweetest. Cookie is ferocious and strong, and she makes mistakes all over the place, making her even more real. The icing on the cake is Piper, Cookie’s best friend that she met at fat camp. Piper is the president and CEO of “giving no fucks,” and she is truly a sight to behold. I didn’t enjoy Piper’s boyfriend story, but I got why the loser was there. Still, if I could have thrown Brian and Kennes into rushing waters, I would have. In a heartbeat. Does that make me a bad person? No, because they were both terrible people and I’d be doing this world a favor.

Oh, let’s toss Gareth and Tommy in there, too, because Cookie doesn’t need them in her life, either.

This story is all too relevant right now. And this is only one example of the kind of this kind of discrimination. I don’t know when it happened that people started to classify fat people as different. It’s disgusting and wrong, and not only that, but it’s mean. Fat Girl on a Plane reminded me how mean people can be to those who are different from them, and I cried steadily throughout the fat parts of Cookie’s story. So, if you take anything from this, please let it be this: read this book, challenge you way of thinking, and remember to always be kind. That is definitely something that this world could use a little more of.

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

Okay, people, listen up! Today I’ve got a doozy for you, so we’re just going to jump right into the dark, choppy waters.

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Title: Social Creature {320 pgs}

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Summary:

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

Review:

What did I just read?

Louise. Oh, little Louise. All she wants is to make it in New York. She wants to leave her old life behind and be someone new, someone who doesn’t have a past, someone who could really belong in this city of new beginnings. Someone like glitzy, beautiful Lavinia, the kind of socialite who would give 2001 Paris Hilton a run for her money. Glamorous operas, secret parties, Lavinia is that girl, the girl that runs around New York like she owns everything – and everyone – in it.

After “interviewing” to become Lavinia’s little sister’s tutor, Louise and Lavinia become quick friends. Lavinia introduces Louise to her quirky, elite group of friends, including Rex, the one-time love of her life, who she swears she doesn’t care about anymore; Mimi, Lavinia’s copycat who has her own sad past with the golden girl; Hal, the overbearing jerk who is only tolerated because his father is a Great Writer; and Athena Maidenhead, a woman-about-town who I couldn’t stop picturing as Mag Wildwood. They’re all stuck in their own little world, and their only common factor is Lavinia. And now Louise.

Louise makes her own spot in the group – mainly by being the kind of girl that everyone wants – and that’s where the troubles begin. Rex falls for her, Hal brings her close, and even Mimi starts to look at Louise as more than just a usurper. Lavinia might not be used to sharing the spotlight, especially not when it comes to Rex, and instead of calmly talking about her insecurities with her friend, Lavinia and Louise come to blows.

This is where Louise’s life gets interesting.

I’m going to be honest here: I was rooting for Louise. It doesn’t seem like a big deal right now, because Louise is portrayed as a scrappy little nobody. But once you read the book…maybe you’ll think a little differently about me. And that’s okay. Louise does terrible things, and so I have no idea why I skipped to the end to make sure that no one caught her. She destroys so many lives, even up to the very end, and yet. And yet. This book is a testament to Tara Isabella Burton’s ability to write compelling and dynamic characters. Everyone elicited such a strong response from me. There was no one who felt unnecessary or who I wished hadn’t been there. Everyone had a purpose, and, in truth, they were all kind of terrible people. Some more so than others.

I know Social Creature doesn’t come out for another month, but I finished it in two days and knew I had to share this wonderful story with anyone who would listen. The next step? Convincing everyone to preorder it. That means you awesome people.

So? GO PREORDER THIS BOOK!

From the Earth to the Shadows by Amanda Hocking {giveaway!}

Tuesdays are the best, aren’t they? They’re not Mondays, and they’re new book days! And what a new book I have for you today {even though, yes, it doesn’t come out until next week, but that’s okay. This is just to get you excited!}.

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Title: From the Earth to the Shadows {336 pgs}

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: April 24, 2018

Summary:

The epic conclusion to the thrilling Valkyrie duology by New York Times bestselling YA author Amanda Hocking, From the Earth to the Shadows.

While dealing with dark revelations about her life and her world, Malin finds herself with new allies–and new enemies. Her quest for the truth leads her to places she never thought possible, and she’s never been one to shy away from a fight. But for all her strength and determination, will it be enough to save the world before it’s too late?

Review:

Oh boy. I sped through this one. Like the first book in this duology, From the Earth to the Shadows has everything: romance, mythology, pissed off immortals. Malin and her friends are back, this time with a little bit of help from this guy you may have heard of, Odin. With the all-Father in their corner, there’s no way that they could lose…right? This rag-tag group of barely young adults race to destroy the forces of evil that are trying to take over the world, forces that are determined to make a world full of immortals. Malin might also be in a race to save the boy she cares about, Asher, even though she’s not entirely sure he wishes to be saved.

If you like exciting, edge of your seat action and mythology sprinkled through your never-ceasing attacks, then this is the book for you. Did I just include everyone in that description? I should have, because this book is for everyone.

Also, in case you missed it earlier, this is a duology, which is fine, really, it’s fine. Except it’s not. I need more Malin in my life. I need more Quinn and Oona and Atlas and everyone else in this book, even the bad guy jerks that have been banished to the end of time. Malin is so relateable, even if I can’t imagine a life as a Valkyrie. Still, she goes through the normal stuff, too: falling in love, losing friends and family, trying to live a normal life. You understand her on a basic level, even when she’s fighting chupacabra’s in the jungle.

Need more convincing? Take an excerpt from the first chapter of the book and then try to tell me that you don’t need this book in your life:

 

ONE

The air that fogged around me was thick enough that I could taste it—earthy and wet, with a trace of salt. It stuck to my skin, which was already slick with sweat, and that only seemed to attract more insects. They buzzed around me, leaving burning little bites in my flesh. I wanted to swat them off, but I couldn’t. I had to stay perfectly still, or the Kalanoro would spot me too soon.

The oversaturation of green in the jungles of Panama had been a strange adjustment from the smog and bright lights of the city. Out here, it was an endless emerald sea: the plants and trees, the rivers, were all varying shades of green—even the sky was blotted out by a thick canopy of leaves.

This wasn’t where I wanted to be, crouched motionless in the mud with a giant millipede crawling over my foot. Not when Asher was still gone, held captive in Kurnugia by the underworld goddess Ereshkigal and her mad centaur boyfriend, Gugalanna. Not when the fate of the world felt heavy on my shoulders, with Ereshkigal attempting an uprising that would unleash the underworld on earth.

It had only been three days since I’d gone to the Gates of Kurnugia, along with Oona, Quinn, Asher, and Atlas to aid me. I’d wanted to avenge my mother—and I had killed the draugr that had killed her—but all of that may have set off a chain of events that would bring about the end of days.

And I had lost the guy I … well, not loved. Not yet. But I cared about him. All I wanted to do was rescue him. But I couldn’t. There was too much at stake. I couldn’t let my heart get the best of me. I had to hold it together, and follow my orders.

After Gugalanna had pulled Asher down into the underworld where I could not follow, the rest of us had gone to Caana City in Belize. It was the safest city near the Gates of Kurnugia, and Oona needed medical intervention to survive. She was on the mend now, and that’s why I had left her behind, with Quinn and Atlas.

I didn’t want to risk losing them the way I had Asher, and I was on a special assignment, coming directly from the Valkyries’ highest authority—Odin.

Odin had found me outside of the hospital where Oona was being treated. I had never met him before, and, like most of the Vanir gods, he changed his appearance to suit his needs, so I hadn’t recognized him.

He towered over me in his tailored suit, with his left eyelid withered shut. He had a deep rumble of a voice, with a softly lilting accent, and a grim expression. His large raven, Muninn, had been watching over me, but when I tried to press him for a reason why, he had told me that there wasn’t time to explain.

“I need you to go deep into the heart of the jungle, where no man dares to live,” Odin explained, as we had stood in the eerily silent parking lot in Caana City. “You must retrieve something for me.”

“Why can’t you retrieve it yourself?” I asked bluntly. I wasn’t being rude, but the reality was that Odin was a powerful god, and I was just a young mortal Valkyrie-in-training. He had far more knowledge and power than I could ever hope to have.

“I’m not allowed to meddle in the affairs of humans or any of the other earthly beings,” Odin clarified.

“But…” I trailed off, gathering the courage to ask, “What is this you’re doing now, then? Isn’t directing me to get something for you the same as meddling?”

A sly smile played on his lips, and he replied, “There are a few loopholes, and I think it’s best if I take advantage of one now. If you want to save your friend, and everyone else that matters to you, you need to act quickly.”

“What is it that you need me to get?” I asked, since I didn’t seem to have a choice.

“The Valhallan cloak,” he explained. “It was stolen centuries ago by a trickster god—I honestly can’t remember which one anymore—and he hid it with the Kalanoro of Panama.”

“The Kalanoro?” I groaned reflexively. Having dealt with them before, I already knew how horrible they were.

If piranhas lived on land, they would behave a lot like the Kalanoro. They were small primate-like creatures, standing no more than two feet tall, and they vaguely resembled the aye-aye lemur. The biggest differences were that the Kalanoro were tailless, since they lived mostly on the ground, and they had razor-sharp claws on their elongated fingers and a mouth of jagged teeth they used to tear apart the flesh of their prey.

“What is the Valhallan cloak, and how will I find it?” I asked Odin.

“You’ll know when you see it. It’s an oversized cloak, but the fabric looks like the heavens. The rumors are that the Kalanoro were attracted to the magic of the cloak, though they didn’t understand it, so they took it back to their cave,” Odin elaborated. “They apparently have been guarding it like a treasure.”

“So I have to go into the treacherous jungle, find the man-eating Kalanoro, and steal their favorite possession?” I asked dryly. “No problem.”

Which was how I ended up in the jungle, alone, in the heart of Kalanoro country—at least, that’s what the nearest locals had purported. In front of me, on the other side of a very shallow but rapidly moving stream, was the mouth of a cave. The cave I hoped was the home of the Kalanoro, but I was waiting to see one for official confirmation.

Sweat slid down my temples, and a large dragonfly flew overhead. The trees around me were a cacophony of sounds—monkeys and frogs and birds and insects of all kinds, talking to one another, warning of danger, and shouting out mating calls.

Back in the city, beings and creatures of all kinds lived among each other, but there were rules. The jungle was not bound by any laws. I was not welcome, and I was not safe here.

I heard the crunch of a branch—too loud and too close to be another insect. I turned my head slowly toward the sound, and I saw movement in the bushes right beside me. Tall dark quills, poking out above the leaves, and I tried to remember if the Kalanoro had any quill-like fur.

I didn’t have to wonder for very long because a head poked out of the bushes, appearing to grin at me through a mouthful of jagged fangs and a face like an alien hyena. The leathery green skin, mottled with darker speckles, blended in perfectly with the surroundings, with a mohawk-like row of sharp quills running down its back.

It wasn’t a Kalanoro—it was something much worse. I found myself face-to-face with a Chupacabra.

TWO

The Chupacabra—much like dolphins, dogs, and quokkas—had the uncanny ability to appear to be smiling. Unlike those contemporaries, there was nothing adorable or friendly about this Chupacabra’s smile. It was all serrated teeth, with bits of rotten meat stuck between them, and a black tongue lolling around his mouth.

“You don’t want do this,” I told the beast softly, even though he probably didn’t understand English.

I kept my gaze locked on the Chupacabra, but my hand was at my hip, slowly unsheathing my sword Sigrún. The name came from my ancestors, as had the blade itself. It had been passed down from Valkyrie to daughter for centuries.

Sigrún was a thick blade made of dark purple crystal, so dark it appeared black, but it would glow bright brilliant purple when I was working. It was short and angled, like it had been broken off in battle. Maybe it had—the full history of my blade was unknown to me.

But the handle was a black utilitarian replacement. It had been my mother’s gift to me on my eighteenth birthday. Her final gift to me, well over a year ago.

The Chupacabra stared at me with oversized teardrop-shaped eyes and took a step closer to me, letting out a soft rumble of a growl.

Valkyries weren’t supposed to kill anyone or anything they were not specifically ordered to kill. The one exception was self-defense. Since I was on an unsanctioned mission into territory I had no business being in, this would all get very messy if I had to kill a Chupacabra.

But the hard truth was that I was beyond worrying about my career as a Valkyrie. I would do whatever I needed to do.

When the Chupacabra lunged at me, I drew my sword without hesitation. Since this wasn’t an official “job,” my blade didn’t glow purple, but it sliced through the leathery hide as easily as I knew it would.

I didn’t want to kill the creature if I didn’t have to—after all, he was merely going about his life in the jungle. So my first blow was only a warning that left him with a painful but shallow cut across his shoulder.

He let out an enraged howl, causing birds to take flight and all sorts of smaller animals to go rushing deeper into the underbrush. From the corner of my eye, I spotted several Kalanoro darting across the stream back toward their cave. They had been watching me.

The Chupacabra had stepped back from me, but by the determined grin on his face I didn’t think he was ready to give up yet. He circled around me, and I turned with him, stepping carefully to keep from slipping in the mud.

“This is stupid,” I said, reasoning with the animal. “We should both go our separate ways, and you can go back to eating … well, I think you mostly eat the Kalanoro and birds.”

Apparently growing tired of my attempts at talking, the Chupacabra snarled and jumped at me again. I dodged out of the way, but he kicked off of the tree behind and instantly dove at me. I didn’t move quick enough this time, and he knocked me to the ground.

Fortunately, I fell on my back, with one of his feet pinning me and his claws digging into my shoulder. I put one hand around his long, slender throat, barely managing to hold him back as he gnashed his teeth.

With one of my arms pinned, he was too strong for me, and I wouldn’t be able to throw him off. As his thick saliva dripped down onto me, I knew there was only one thing I could do if I wanted to survive.

I drove my sword up through his breastbone, using all my might. He howled in pain, but only for a second, before falling silent and slumping forward onto me. I crawled out from underneath him, now covered in mud and his thick green blood, along with my own fresh red blood springing from the wounds on my bare arms and shoulder.

In the mouth of the cave across from me, two dozen or so beady little green eyes glowed. The Kalanoro were crouched down, watching me. So much for the element of surprise.

My hair had come free from the braid I’d been wearing, and it stuck to my forehead. I reached up to brush it back, and the Kalanoro let out a squawk of surprise, and one darted off into the woods.

That’s when I realized the Kalanoro were afraid of me. I glanced over at the Chupacabra—the Kalanoro’s number-one predator, and I had left it dead and bleeding into the stream. They were right to fear me.

I tested my new hypothesis and stepped closer to the mouth of the cave, and the Kalanoro screeched and scattered. Most of them ran into the woods, but a few went deeper into the cave. My fight with the Chupacabra had left them far more skittish than I had anticipated, and I doubted that I would need my sword for them, so I sheathed Sigrún.

I unhooked my asp baton from my hip and pulled my flashlight out from my gear bag. I took a deep breath and walked toward the cave, hoping that this wasn’t a trap where they would all pounce and devour me the second I stepped inside.

As I walked into the cave, I heard them chittering and scurrying, but it reminded me more of a rat infestation than man-eating primates. Once my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, I shone the flashlight around the narrow cavern. The beam of light flashed on a few pairs of eyes, but they quickly disappeared into the darkness.

The entrance of the cave stood well over eight feet, but as I walked, the ceiling height dropped considerably. Very soon I had to crouch down to venture farther.

The ground was slick with Kalanoro droppings and bat guano, and it smelled like a musty cellar that doubled as a litter box. Tiny bones of partially digested meals crunched underneath the heavy soles of my boots.

My flashlight glinted on something, and I crouched down to inspect it. It was an old pocket watch, the face broken and the gears rusted, but it had once definitely belonged to a human. Near the watch was another trinket—an old walkie-talkie.

That’s when I realized it was a trail of treasures, piling up more as I went deeper into the cave. Old car parts, a titanium hip replacement, and even what appeared to be a wedding band. The Kalanoro apparently loved hoarding shiny things.

On the ground a few feet ahead of me, I spotted something particularly sparkly. It looked like stars, shimmering and glowing from a puddle on the floor. By now I had to crawl on my knees, since the ceiling was so low.

As I reached for those stars, a Kalanoro leapt out from the darkness. Its rows of teeth dug painfully into my right arm, and I beat it back with my asp baton. It took three hits before it finally let go and ran off screaming.

I grabbed at the stars, picking up a satiny fabric. The way it glimmered, it looked exactly like the night sky, and I now understood what Odin meant by looking “like the heavens.” This had to be the Valhallan cloak. I hurriedly shoved it into my gear bag. The Kalanoro couldn’t be happy about me stealing their treasure, so I had to get out fast.

I raced out of the cave and gulped down the fresh air. Around me, the trees had changed their tune, from the normal song of the jungle to something far more shrill and angry. I could hear the Kalanoro growling and screeching at each other, sounding like high-pitched howler monkeys. They were enraged, and they were chasing after me.

It was a ten-kilometer hike downhill, through thick forests, to the nearest village. There I would be able to clean up and catch the hyperbus back to Caana City. Back to meet Odin. The Kalanoro were now alerting the entire jungle to my presence, and even as I hurried ahead, deftly moving through the trees, I could hear them following me.

I ran down the hill, skittering through the mud and branches, swatting back giant bugs and the occasional surprised snake. My legs ached and my lungs burned but I pressed on, running as fast as I could. I had to make it to the town before dark, because I doubted the Kalanoro would let me out alive.

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in From the Earth to the Shadows and reprinted with permission from Wednesday Books.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera Photography

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

 

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Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

IndieBound

Powells

 

Social Links:

Author Website: http://www.worldofamandahocking.com/

Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking

Facebook: @AmandaHockingFans

Author Blog

 

Preorder this book. Shake down your local bookstore clerk. Wait patiently for it outside of your library on April 24. Basically do whatever you can to make sure that you read this book. You won’t regret it. But you will want more, and that’s where you can head over to Amanda Hocking’s social media to find more of her titles {spoiler alert: they’re all good. Just so so good.}.

If that’s not enough for you, head over to my Twitter where I’ll be running a giveaway where you could win a finished copy of From the Earth to the Shadows!

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Note to future self: never move. Ever. It really digs into your reading time. Good news: I had a few books lined up before I moved, and I manged to finish them all. Bad news: I’m just getting around to putting up reviews.

But after I read Sometimes I Lie, I knew I had to write something about it.

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Title: Sometimes I Lie {258 pgs}

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Publication Date: March 13, 2018

Summary:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Review:

This book messed with my head bit. Okay, a lot. I read the first couple of chapters, completely confident that I could figure out the mystery before I was even halfway through, and while I’m proud to say that I was sort of right {I mean…kind of, a little…}, the rest of it came as a shock. I even tried to write my own little summary, like I do, and I couldn’t, because I realized how much I’d have to give away just to explain certain things.

This is told from different times: at Amber’s time in the hospital, the time before her accident, and glimpses from her childhood told through diary entries. In each chapter, we learn a little more about Amber and the life she leads. We learn that her husband has practically moved out of the house into the cottage outside where he can write. We learn about her job as a radio co-presenter and the boss that makes her life a living hell, until Amber decides to fight back. We learn about the kind of childhood she had, about the friends she made, about the decisions that haunt her. The threads seem different at first, but then they weave together to tell the kind of story that makes you question absolutely everything that you read.

Seriously. I had to read it twice, and I’m thinking about diving into it a third time.

Alice Feeney gives Amber the kind of voice that makes me simultaneously want to trust her and also to slap her because I know she’s lying through her teeth. But Amber is so believable while she’s laid up in the hospital. Who am I to question the story of a woman in a coma? But somewhere in the middle of the book, I got it. Amber might tell lies, but to her, their truths. Compared to others, she’s lived a charmed life. Her parents loved her, her husband Paul is a good man, and she has an adorable niece and nephew that adore her. But the bad things in her life are really bad. Like an old boyfriend who suddenly shows back up in her life, an old boyfriend who really should have been laid to rest years ago. Like a perfect sister who is wiling to do anything to maintain her perfect lifestyle. Like a few dark secrets of her own, secrets that could eat up her insides and take down those she cares about most.

This is a pretty quick read, and thank goodness for that, because you’re going to want to read it again and again. There are always new hints that you pick up, new threads that seem like nothing the first time around. Alice Feeney is impressive – her writing, her voice, her innocent way of wrecking you for life – and she’s going to be on my list of authors that I’m always going to pick up.

Quick sidenote: Now that I’m back, I’m back for good. I’m going to post at least once a week, if not twice. I have a ton of books on my NetGalley shelf, and I’ve walked into a couple of surprises when I visit Barnes and Noble. {My new job is within walking distance…which means I go there pretty much everyday. Someone save my wallet.} I’m getting back into the routine, so bear with me here, okay?

Thank you. You’re all the best.