September 25, 2018

Can We All Be Feminists? Edited by June Eric-Udorie

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
So for today's post, I'd like to introduce a book that I think everyone needs to read. Can We All Be Feminists? edited by June Eric-Udorie is a book about feminism, but not the traditional feminism that has been gaining popularity.

The feminism described in this book, rather, is intersectional feminism about inclusivity. It isn't about just rights for white women, but for all women, regardless of things like race or natural born sex. In this collection of 17 essays, women tell their stories about their experiences, discuss what drew them to the feminist movement, share important information about feminism in history, and suggest how we can all work towards a more inclusive feminism.

The voices of each of these women came through in their stories, adding to the urgency of the overall message. The essays were interspersed with facts and figures in addition to personal anecdotes. It was hard-hitting, emotional, and motivating to read the words of these women.

One complaint with this read was that it was a little statistics-heavy, making it challenging to get through at points and a longer read. In addition, it came off as a little too preachy in some places, which can be a turn off for readers.

This is the kind of book that everyone should be exposed to, as these issues are facing us today more than ever. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Penguin Books for a copy of this important read! Can We All Be Feminists? edited by June Eric-Udorie is out TODAY!

September 24, 2018

Born Scared by Kevin Brooks

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Take a peek into the mind of a child who is terrified of everything. In Born Scared by Kevin Brooks, we follow thirteen-year-old Elliot, as he must conquer some of his fears in this book focusing highly on the daily life of someone with anxiety and crippling phobias.

As Christmas approaches, Elliot realizes that he is almost out of his fear pills. After a mix up at the pharmacy, Elliot panics that he might not get them in time, and if he runs out, the fear "beast" will emerge. A plan is developed to get him his pills in time, but suddenly that plan starts falling apart. First, his aunt Shirley who was supposed to bring him his pills never shows, and isn't answering her phone. Fearing the worst, Elliot's mother goes out searching for her in the snowstorm, but when she doesn't return from what should be a short walk, Elliot has to take matters into his own hands.

This book was interesting, because it's hard to imagine being scared of literally everything. I personally struggle with anxiety, so I know what it's like to have irrational fears, but virtually everything Elliot encounters terrifies him. Some of the scenes got pretty intense, and while I was tempted to tell Elliot to just snap out of it, this book is all about understanding that for him, this IS reality and he can't just snap out of it.

This was described as a "terrifying thriller," but the only terrified one after reading this was Elliot. It seemed like more of a journey-based story than a thriller most of the time. I know we were meant to feel Elliot's fear, but I just didn't and never really connected with the story. This was told from multiple points of view, and while I understood why that was necessary, I didn't really like it.

Overall I enjoyed this story, but didn't love it and probably wouldn't read it again. It was a quick read, and something that would be great to pick up during the upcoming holiday season.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for an advanced copy of this read! Born Scared by Kevin Brooks is out now!


September 21, 2018

Still Water by Amy Stuart

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Coming at you again with another adult psychological thriller review! In Still Water by Amy Stuart, Sally and her son have disappeared, and Clare is tasked with helping find them. She travels to the town of High River and ends up in a home known for taking in women looking to escape their pasts, a home that Sally previously stayed in before her disappearance. 

Unfortunately with this one, I felt that it started really strong and promising, then fell off as the book progressed. It was very gripping at the beginning, but then I had to struggle some to push through and finish. There also didn't appear to be any real effort involved in solving the mystery, Clare just kind of lucked out by happenstance.

I did very much like Clare as a character, however, and appreciate when characters are flawed and potentially unreliable. But I did have some questions.

Turns out, this was the second book in a series, and I didn't know that going in. While it was okay as a stand-alone, I think knowing the back stories of Clare and Malcolm would have really helped me understand their motivations and relationship more. There were multiple times that I just had no idea why things were happening, and I think that would have been alleviated if I read the first book, Still Mine, before this one.


This was just a middle of the road read for me, didn't love it and didn't hate it. I do think I would have rated it higher if I had known more of the backstory, and also if it wasn't so anticlimactic overall.


Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Touchstone/Simon & Schuster for a digital copy of this read! Still Water by Amy Stuart is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy if you love thrillers or are a fan of Still Mine!

September 19, 2018

The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
If ever a book spoke to me, it was this one. Girl gets possessed by a demon, girl develops close friendship with the demon, girl gets an exorcism against her will and loses the demon, girl tries to get her demon back. That's the gist of The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas, and I enjoyed this read so much!

After Clare's demon, known simply as Her, is exercised against Clare's will, all she wants is to get her demon back. But it appears that her demon has left her three clues. Now Clare has to try to figure out these clues to be reunited with her demon once more. Making some unlikely friends in the process, and learning her town has more dark secrets than she realized, Clare is forced to make some tough decisions and risk it all to be reunited with Her.

I loved Clare's character! From her attitude, to the description of her room, to her musical tastes, I thought she was so unique and I was immediately drawn to her. I also really liked Roy and felt for his inner struggle to both rebel and stay true to his roots, faith, and father. I could picture everything in this story so vividly, and honestly think this would make a fantastic movie! 

At first, I didn't understand the cover at all, but after reading the book I now see why it is incredibly representative of the story. While the ending felt a little rushed, this did not at all deter from my love of this book. I wouldn't quite call this YA read a thriller, and I wouldn't really call it horror either, but whatever it was, it was fantastic!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Amulet for an advanced copy of this demonic read! The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas was released YESTERDAY, Sept. 18th, so be sure to pick up a copy of this fantastic story just in time for Halloween!

September 18, 2018

Lies by T.M. Logan

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I know I've said this on my blog a million times, but I can usually see the twist coming from a mile away in most thrillers. That being said, the twist in Lies by T.M. Logan REALLY threw me for a loop! 

When Joe and his son are driving home one evening, they see Joe's wife's car pull into a hotel. Thinking nothing of it, they innocently decide to follow her and surprise her. But Joe could have never known how pulling into that parking garage that evening would seal his fate. Now, being framed for a murder he didn't commit and digitally harassed by the supposed dead man, Joe has to fight to find out the real story and prove his innocence before it's too late.

There were so many moments in this book that had my heart beating out of my chest! This story was full of vivid description and detail that put me right in the scene. The suspense was real, and I was so desperately rooting for Joe. He really is the definition of "the average Joe" and I felt terrible that he was mixed up in all of this. I loved the comic relief that the son William provides, and how Joe's relationship with William shows what a good man and father he truly is.

For a pretty long thriller, it read extremely quickly. There were a lot of times that a scene or situation just felt "wrong" to me, but I could never put my finger on why. Like I said, I did not see this twist coming, and I absolutely loved what it turned out to be!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for both an ARC and a finished copy of this suspenseful read! Lies by T.M. Logan is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy! It's the perfect thrilling read for this fall season.

September 12, 2018

I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
If you take Indiana Jones, add it to The DaVinci Code, and throw in a female protagonist, you get this book. I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz was something unique and exciting, and I really enjoyed this read. Memphis (or M for short) had a pretty unusual family. Growing up with a doctor mother and an archaeologist father, she saw more of the world as a child than most people see in a lifetime. But when her mother passed away, she grew even closer with her father, and helped him with his research. Now, her father has died also, and she is stuck with guardians that know nothing about her passions or the world she grew up in. Enter the posh and handsome Ashwin, a cult member who worships an ancient Egyptian god, who comes with news that M's father is actually still alive and being held captive.

Now the two must beat the odds together, searching for pieces of an ancient relic that they can trade for M's father's freedom. Using Ash's resources and M's knowledge of history and archaeology, along with an ancient map, they travel the world searching for these pieces, and find more than just the pieces themselves along the way.

This read was really fun! It was adventurous and engaging, although I do think it was a little bit drawn out at points. I really liked both Memphis and Ashwin as characters, and enjoyed seeing the story from both of their perspectives. I was also very grateful that there wasn't an unnecessary romance in this book, as tends to be the norm in a lot of YA fiction. The few twists and turns were perfect for keeping you on your toes as you read, and I was surprisingly pretty satisfied with the ending.

This is a genre that isn't seen too often within YA. It seems that writers have determined that once you're past middle grade level, you don't have an interest in action and adventure stories anymore, when many teens and adults do still really enjoy them! If you have any interest at all in ancient history or Egyptian mythology, you will really love this read.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Wednesday Books/St. Martin's Press for a finished copy of this adventurous read! I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!

September 10, 2018

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins was intense, there's no way around that. Focusing on gun violence, and touching on abusive relationships, the sexual abuse of children, white supremacy, and racism, this YA contemporary needs almost every trigger warning possible. Following six different teenagers, this book builds reasons why any one of them may pick up a gun and pull the trigger. It is clear from the beginning that someone will pull that trigger and someone will die, but who? Interspersed with poetry from the point of view of the gun itself, it places you into the shoes of each of these teenagers as you learn their hopes and their fears, and why each of them might be drawn to the weapon.

Writing an actual review of this book is difficult, because it punched me in the gut in so many ways that I don't really know what words are even appropriate. Everything from the point of view of the gun itself was chilling. Even though there were six main characters, their stories never got confusing.

The ending was incredibly sad, and an all too true reality. I've never read anything else by this author before, but it seems like she is known for hard-hitting reads. This book is incredibly important and relevant, but it's best to know going into it that it will make you disgusted, appalled, shocked, confused, and furious. One thing I didn't like was that the book made the argument that guns don't kill people, people kill people, and guns just make it easier. This is an argument typically used against strengthening gun laws. As someone who definitely advocates for stricter gun laws, that argument does not sit well with me.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster for a finished copy of this haunting read. People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy if hard-hitting contemporaries are your thing!

September 5, 2018

A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
The title of this book coupled with the absolutely gorgeous cover had me intrigued from the first time I saw it. A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma follows runaway Bina, who has found herself at Catherine House, a home for girls in New York City. Having heard stories of Catherine House from her mother, when things got to be too much to bear at home, Bina had to see for herself the magic of both Catherine House and the city. 

But when Bina arrives at Catherine House, she soon discovers that the house and its inhabitants are full of mysteries and secrets. Why is one of her housemates always disappearing, and where does she go? Why does it seem like no one ever moves out? And what is with the obsession with the house's founder, Catherine? The more Bina searches for answers, the more she discovers that Catherine House is not at all what she expected.

The writing and language is just as beautiful as the cover. This story was captivating and swept me right into Catherine House alongside Bina and her housemates. It was creepy and magical, mysterious and maddening. The characters were vivid and intriguing, and I especially loved Monet. The wildness and desire for independent adventure in this story really spoke to me.

My biggest complaint with this read was that I was confused by the ending. I had to read it a few times, and am still not sure I quite understand how things actually wrapped up. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A huge thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for a finished copy of this beautiful read! A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!


September 3, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers



Synopsis
Cover Art Courtesy of Wednesday Books

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

"The fresh, nuanced, and fast-moving narrative will appeal to a range of YA and new adult readers, and serves as a larger examination on the way society interacts with true crime...It's impossible to not be drawn into this haunting thriller of a book. A heartrending must-have."

—School Library Journal, STARRED Review


My Review

My bookshelves are full of thrillers, both adult and YA, and this one is fully deserving of a spot on those shelves. Sadie by Courtney Summers is a YA thriller about one dead girl and another missing one. This story completely sucked me in from the beginning, and I flew through it in a few short hours.  It is told in two perspectives, the first being a radio podcast detailing the story of the girls, and the other from Sadie herself, the girl who has gone missing. I loved the podcast aspect, and found this to be a unique and thorough way to tell perspectives other than Sadie's and provide additional details. 

I really admired Sadie as a strong, motivated character who would stop at nothing to follow through with her mission. Her love for her sister spoke volumes, and she constantly put Mattie above herself, growing up way too early to ensure that her little sister was provided for (even when that sister acted spoiled and ungrateful). I also appreciated that she had a stutter, since this is a disability that many people have yet is underrepresented in literature. I would have loved to have seen more of Mattie, but that just wasn't the nature of this book.

The writing in this story was so descriptive and enveloping, I felt transported right into the scenes, watching Sadie pull her knife or question someone. This book was raw and gritty and real, both disturbing and beautiful all at once.

I do want to put a trigger warning on this book for child molestation and child pornography. This was dealt with in a tasteful manner, and it is important to bring these issues to light. Far too many children experience what the characters in this book go through every day.

Overall I enjoyed every minute I spent with this book, as twisted as it was, and it will be one that sticks with me for quite a while.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About the Author

Artist Photograph Courtesy of
Wednesday Books
Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada. She is the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, Please Remain Calm, and All the Rage.

Twitter // Website // Instagram

A huge thanks to Wednesday Books and St. Martin's Press for a digital advanced copy of this read and for allowing me to take part in this blog tour! This superb thriller is out TOMORROW, September 4th, so be sure to pick up a copy!