Review: Have You Seen Me? by Kate White

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Expected publication: April 28th 2020

The key to her missing memories could bring relief—or unlock her worst nightmares.

On a cold, rainy morning, finance journalist Ally Linden arrives early to work in her Manhattan office, only to find that she’s forgotten her keycard and needs to have a colleague she’s never met let her in. When her boss finally arrives, he seems surprised to see her—because she hasn’t worked there in five years.

Ally knows her name, but little else, and it’s only after several hours in an emergency room and multiple interviews with the hospital psychiatrist that she begins to piece together important facts: she lives on the Upper West Side; she’s now a freelance personal finance journalist; she’s married to a lovely man named Hugh. But she still can’t recall what happened to her during the previous two days. When she learns that she’s experienced a dissociative fugue state, Ally tries to think of triggers and remembers that she’d been seeing a therapist about a traumatic event from her childhood, in which she came across evidence for a murder that was never solved.

Desperate to unearth answers, Ally focuses on figuring out where she spent the missing forty-eight hours. As ominous details of the two days pile up, so does the terrifying pressure: she must recover the time she lost before the time she has left runs out.

I loved this book so much. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
The pacing is perfect, I never lost interest, even if I had to put the book down for a couple days. I constantly wanted to keep reading and find out what happened next and get to the bottom of the mystery. I had my suspicions of what happened and where the plot was going but I was never 100% sure and in the end, I was completely wrong and didn’t see the plot twist coming at all.
The ending was a little bit rushed but it wasn’t a big deal to me.
Overall, I have really nothing critical to say about Have You Seen Me. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in awhile and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a good suspenseful mystery to pick up.

Review: We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite by Conyer Clayton

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Expected publication: May 1st 2020

In her debut collection of poetry, Conyer Clayton hovers in the ether, grasping for certitude in often wrong places. Through experiences with addiction and co-dependence, sex and art, nature and death, she grapples for transcendence while exploring what it means to disengage. What is revealed when you allow yourself to truly feel? What do you ask for to carry you into life, and where do you land when this fails? And when you are finally, beautifully, emptied out, who are you? The poems in We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite wonder aloud amidst tangled revelations, and yearn to be lifted away. 

I really enjoyed the themes throughout this book but I did find some of the poems hard to understand. I couldn’t decipher what some of them meant and they seemed pretty abstract to me. I’m not super well versed in poetry and I only casually read poetry so maybe someone with more knowledge than me would understand them. Other than that, I thought this collection was beautiful and creative and I really enjoyed reading it.

Review: The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman

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Expected publication: June 9th 2020


Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.

I was so excited to start The Girls Weekend. The plot sounded really great and I’ve been super into suspense books lately. However, I felt extremely disappointed with this book. I still really liked the overall plot but there was multiple times that the writing was tone deaf.
The first thing that hit me really wrong was the main character, June, and her careless comparison of hate stalking someone’s Instagram to a person who self harms. June was also incredibly immature and spent so much of her time complaining about her life and how Sadie seemed to have it all, just based on her social media. Not an uncommon way of thinking in today’s culture but also not a compelling story line in a book with full grown adult characters.
I didn’t mind the pace of the plot. It was a little slow, the action didn’t start until 30% into the book, but I didn’t feel like it was being dragged out. I do wish there was more background on the characters, I was especially interested in knowing more about Kimi but we knew very little about her or Amy or Em.
The second tone deaf issue I noticed was when the only person of color in the book brings up how cops make her uncomfortable and another character says “Really? You’re going there?”. It was convenient that the author has a POC token character, because that’s all she seemed to be, but also, very poor choice on the author’s part to include a white character disregarding a real and legitimate concern for POC in the real world. Shortly after that, there was a brief degradation of #MeToo, which was completely unnecessary and did nothing for the plot or characters.
I also hated how mental illness was consistently downplayed and was used as a reason that someone might be a murderer. One of the worst lines in this book was, “Amy went through a cutter phase in college.” Again, so tone deaf. Self harm isn’t a phase. It’s serious and not something to dismiss as a phase. And of course, mental health issues always equal being a murderer in all the character’s eyes. That was a consistent theme throughout the book and I found it to be a disgusting, outdated, tone deaf stereotype.
The plot twist was decent but I wasn’t shocked and it didn’t spur any emotion out of me.
Overall, the potential of the plot was ruined for me by all the tone deaf stereotypes and careless disregard for serious issues in the real world.

Send Me Recommendations!

Hello all!
So far 2020 has been a great reading year. I’m three books in, and I’m already starting to see myself re-reading books, and that’s not really what I want from my 2020 reading journey. So I’m opening up my reading time to books you all have loved and are willing to recommend to me! So please comment on this post and I’ll start integrating the books you recommend into my readings!

I’m currently reading through the Stalking Jack The Ripper series, since I loved the first two books, and noticed there were two more I hadn’t read! Not sure how they fell under my radar but, other than that. Absolutely zero plans on what to read for 2020. So flood the comments with your favorite reads!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published June 13, 2017

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means–and what it costs–to face the truth.


I waited for MONTHS, MONTHS for this book to be auto checked-out to me from my library. The anticipation for this book was absolutely insane. I literally yipped when I got the e-mail that it had been auto-checked out for me. I started it right away and it was so great. It wasn’t what I expected at all in the best way possible.

This book was…entrancing, that’s the best way to put it. Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote with such finesse, and managed to write this amazing masterpiece. A piece with these vivid and descriptive flashbacks, I could imagine everything as though I were a fly on the wall in all of Evelyn’s life moments. Not a single second of this book was I confused, or bored, it was all filled with just continuous granules of story crumbs that I just had to devour, I was like a starved animal for more and more as I kept reading.

The exploration of Evelyn and how she brought her self to the top in a white man’s world I feel is something very relevant to today’s world. The way she worked herself into the top, and was so unapologetic for using people and the tactics she used to get to her next steps, it was unlike any character I ever read about. It was actually pretty refreshing to see a woman so ok with being as cutthroat as she was to get what she wanted. And the exploration of her bisexuality, was purely amazing. The relationships she had between both men and women, and how she loved each one of them so differently was something I found to be extremely special. Although it’s hard to not have your favorites be Harry and Celia.

Please pick up this book if you haven’t yet. It’s such a great read, and I’m thrilled that the books I’ve been choosing this year has yet to disappoint.

5/5 Stars

Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

Mayhem by Estelle Laure

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Expected publication: July 14th 2020

Mayhem Brayburn and her mother are on the run, not away from home, but back to it: Santa Maria, California, a beach town that looks like paradise, like carnival rides and street food and bikinis under the hot sun.

It’s where Mayhem has always wanted to be. It’s where generations of Brayburns have lived and thrived, and she has never understood what made her mother leave Santa Maria in favor of the arms of her abusive stepfather.

But when she befriends her aunt’s foster kids and they take her to their hideout, decades of secrets unravel, and Mayhem is thrust into a world of chaotic magic, a serial killer’s mind, and finally, even the answers to her own past.

Set in 1987, MAYHEM is a mashup of The Lost Boys and The Craft with a bit of the Manson family thrown in for good measure. It’s original, compelling, and a little bit rock-’n’-roll, and reading it will leave you feeling deliciously wicked.

I loved the idea of this book more than the actual book. It sounded amazing but the execution could have been better. The writing style was beautiful, I loved it. The descriptions were so wonderfully written and creates such a lush visualization of the characters and settings.
I’ve never seen The Craft or The Lost Boys but I’ve seen multiple reviews saying it borderline copies The Lost Boys at various points, which if that’s the case, I’m not a fan of direct copying someone else’s work.
The biggest downfall I found was how slow this book is. If the pace was quicker, I’m sure I would have loved it but I just didn’t have the patience for the dragging pace of the plot. I also thought the last half of the book changed it tone rather quickly and felt like a different person was writing the story. The characters started acting completely differently and it felt so disjointed from the first half of the book.
I wish there was a better build up to the action, that it wasn’t forced into the last half of the book. And even though there was an attempt at speeding up the pace, it still felt slow to me.

 

An advance copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

 

 

 

Gypsy King (Tin Gypsy #1) – Devney Perry

Gypsy King (Tin Gypsy #1) by Devney Perry
Published October 29, 2019

The former Tin Gypsy motorcycle club has everyone in Clifton Forge, Montana convinced they’ve locked their clubhouse doors and ripped off their patches. Everyone but Bryce Ryan. There’s more happening at the club’s garage than muscle car restorations and Harley rebuilds. Her instincts are screaming there’s a story—one she’s going to tell.

As the new owner of the small town’s newspaper, Bryce is hungry for more than birth announcements and obituaries. When a woman is brutally killed and all signs point to the Tin Gypsies, Bryce is determined to expose the club and their leader, Kingston “Dash” Slater, as murderers.

Bryce bests Dash match after match, disappointed her rugged and handsome opponent turns out to be an underwhelming adversary. Secrets are exposed. Truths defeat lies. Bryce is poised to win this battle in a landslide.

Then Dash breaks all the rules and tips the scales.

One kiss, and she’s fighting to save more than just her story. She’s fighting to save her heart from the Gypsy King.


This was an alright read. I bit lacking but totally enjoyable. The chemistry between Bryce and King was great. And oh lawdy did I love the chemistry between these two. But as a former president of a MC. I was expecting a bit more out of Dash in terms of being a hard MC Pres, that lifestyle always seems rough and I would think he’d be a bit more closed off, hard around the edges. So I was hoping for a bit more conflict or work between the two main characters before they got together.

All in all it was an entertaining read, it kept me going and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t anything much to write home about.

2/5 Stars

Say You Still Love Me – K.A. Tucker

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker
Published August 6, 2019

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

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

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

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

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


OK so, K.A. Tucker is 2 for 2 right now. She’s crushing the romance/contemporary game. I read this almost right after The Simple Wild, and that plus this book, made her an instant read author of mine.

The classic tale of two kids, in love from two completely different sides of life. She came from money, he came from nothing. They leave camp, he never calls and then twenty three years later, they see each other and connect again.

I loved the way this went back and forth from Piper’s 16 year old self and currently her 29 year old self. Piper starts off with almost the perfect life. Next in line to be the VP of her family’s real-estate development company BUT, is working with her ex-fiance, who has the abutting office.  And then a familiar face shows up as she’s leaving the lobby for lunch, and sees Kyle, her teenage love, who never called her back after all those years when her family pulled Piper away from Kyle towards the end of the camp season.

This whole book is just a great show of teenage love, and the story of a reconnected flame. But there is so much more to that. Piper is living with her camp friends which you realize are some great side characters that don’t go unnoticed which I find happens a lot in some books, and I really appreciate K.A. spending the time to really incorporate those side characters.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the issues that arise from past to present, it’s really well done. A good secret that comes up and really just pushes all characters to a new emotional peak. I actually feel like I want to re-read this again. Please pick this up, it’s such a great read.

4/5 Stars

Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

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Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless. 

I wanted to love this book so much but I never did. I felt like it was lacking in plot, creativity with the characters, and there was an extreme amount of tropes. The amount of cheating was disgusting and made so many characters unlikeable to the point I hated them. There was so much girl on girl hate, I felt so disappointed because I expected better and thought YA was pasted that toxic trope.
The lack of creativity was what I found the most disengaging. The amount of parallels between the main character and the author was… odd to me. I don’t know a lot about Christine about I recognized enough from when I used to watch her YouTube videos to know that the main character is extraordinary like the author and the lack of creativity in the main character just made her boring.
I also thought the main character’s “relationship” with Pilot was so cringeworthy and I got so much second hand embarrassment while reading.
Overall, definitely not the book for me. I went in with high hopes but I left super disappointed with a lot of the author’s choices. I do look forward to seeing what else Christine writes in the future, I’m still rooting for her and hope she has much success.

The Light We Lost – Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Published May 9, 2017

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

 


Well, I knew this heart was going to break my heart into a million pieces and it did. I’ve been reading a lot of romance books this year. Not sure why, but this genre really just swept me up and I find romance books to be my favorite type of read right now. And this book, it wasn’t like anything I’ve read before. The way it was written from Lucy’s POV and how back and for their relationship was in terms of being in and out of love with each other.

I couldn’t get over this book. The rollercoaster of Lucy and Gabe just had so many ups and downs that I just couldn’t stop reading their story. I really suggest this for anyone who loves a great love story and wants something that really evokes strong emotion. I feel like only a very small few books ever made me emote so strongly.

5/5 Stars