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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Review: And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

And Now She's Gone 
by Rachel Howzell Hall

Thank you Forge Books and NetGalley for this amazing review copy.

Publisher: Forge Books
Publish Date: September 22, 2020
Kindle Edition
369 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Isabel Lincoln is gone.

But is she missing?

It’s up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray’s search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman’s secrets and the truth she’s hidden from her friends and family.

Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat and mouse game, Rachel Howzell Hall's And Now She’s Gone explores the nature of secrets ― and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive.

My Review:

I've been in a weird reading funk with other things going on in my life and it took me 4 days to finish this book.  If you know me, I'm a one-sit binge reader.  So many shiny things and my own brain seemed to have plotted against me because I absolutely LOVED this book and am mad I took so damn long to finish it!  But I DID - so YAY, SUCCESS!!

Grayson, I'm sending you a crate of pens.  I'm never naming my dog Kenny G.  And, I want to put on record that while Mrs. Kim, the Korean old lady, may have always cooked Korean food that smelled musky, not ALL Korean food smells like this!  Haha - I'm mostly kidding, because there were definitely times I felt like my parents house smelled like a musky ox so I totally understand how even more terrible this can be for people not used to it!  All jokes aside.... I really LOVE Grayson.  The further I got into this book, the more my heart went out to her.  What a strong ass woman.  And the case that she's on..... WHAT... THE .... FUCK.  I'm 85% in the book and I STILL have no clue what is going on or what direction it's going in but I also am finding Isabel a genius of a woman herself.  Cat, meet mouse.... a worthy opponent. GIMME!

The build up that leads to the reveal is brilliant.  I will say that I found some of the metaphors used within the writing a bit odd at times... but mostly I found them humorous and took them more as a nod to Grayson's personality, and as such, appreciated the uniqueness of it all.  I did notice that the text messaging could be a little hard to follow at times due to the lack of differentiation in font and format most of the time.  It did not take away from the enjoyment of the novel however. 

I'll be honest, I was hovering between a 3.5 and 4 star review throughout my read but when that ending came and the culmination of everything that was set up throughout the story erupted, I nodded and was like "MMM HMMM..... THAT'S IT! YES!" So yeah, absolutely bumping up to this 5 star ramble of a review.  I really need to know what happens next though - WILL THERE BE A SEQUEL? Turn this into a series?  How will I ever know if _____  get what ______ ______?! 😉 

Read this book.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Review: White Ivy by Susie Yang

White Ivy 
by Susie Yang

Thank you Simon & Schuster for this amazing copy!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: November 3, 2020
368 Pages
Genre: Contemporary

A dazzling debut novel about a young woman’s dark obsession with her privileged classmate and the lengths she’ll go to win his love

Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her. Raised outside of Boston, she is taught how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops by her immigrant grandmother. Thieving allows Ivy to accumulate the trappings of a suburban teen—and, most importantly, to attract the attention of Gideon Speyer, the golden boy of a wealthy political family. But when Ivy’s mother discovers her trespasses, punishment is swift and Ivy is sent to China, where her dream instantly evaporates.

Years later, Ivy has grown into a poised yet restless young woman, haunted by her conflicting feelings about her upbringing and her family. Back in Boston, when she bumps into Sylvia Speyer, Gideon’s sister, a reconnection with Gideon seems not only inevitable—it feels like fate.

Slowly, Ivy sinks her claws into Gideon and the entire Speyer clan by attending fancy dinners and weekend getaways to the Cape. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the nearly perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Filled with surprising twists and offering sharp insights into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story, as well as a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.

My Review:

Let me introduce you to Ivy Lin.  A Chinese immigrant who just wants to belong and yet sees that people just feel sorry for her - especially her biggest crush, Gideon, who seems to be the perfect American boy of her dreams.  But Ivy, with her poor family, has learned to make ends meet however she needs to.  And Roux seems to be the only one who sees her fully and accepts her for who she is.  But she's sent off to China for a summer and when she comes back, her parents have moved and now she has lost them both (the boys, not the parents).

When she gets back, fate has put her back in Gideon's path and she will do whatever it takes to finally "make it".  Roux also comes back into her path and now a love triangle has blossomed into something that will take her down a path of much resistance.  I'm not a huge fan of love triangles in a book but this one just works within the story being told here.  👏

This may seem like a slower read for some but I found the pacing perfect.  We get to see Ivy trying to deal with her Chinese heritage and what is expected of her while trying to find her own fitting in the world she is growing up in.  With this, she thinks Gideon is the answer and will mold and change every aspect of herself in order to make this happen.  But how long can one person do this without being driven crazy?  When you don't know exactly who you are, it's easy to just become a chameleon.  And when something can potentially get in the way, you will do whatever it takes to ensure that something doesn't.  

I personally loved watching Ivy's trajectory.  Although I wanted to shake her at times, I actually completely understood why she was being the way that she was.  I wasn't surprised by any revelations that came within the read, however, I did think one particular arc was going to go in a different direction that it did.  I'm also SO CURIOUS AS TO WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW!  Yang, um, can you please advise? I need more!

This debut novel is outstanding.  And can we just talk about how awesome Ivy's grandmother is?  Yang brilliantly brings together these families and even in their differences, had some similarities.  After all, no matter your stature, there are always some kind of issues happening within.  Ivy learned some very hard lessons and I'm so curious as to how she's going to transverse the rest of her days.  Can't wait to see what Yang has for us next.


SPOTLIGHT: Lifeline to Marionette by Jennifer Waitte

Lifeline to Marionette 
by Jennifer Waitte

Thank you Smith Publicity for this copy.

Publisher: Madam Larcy Literary
Publish Date: September 22, 2020
290 Pages
Genre: Contemporary

A lonely childhood, a haunted past, a secret, and a life controlled by others--she is a woman at the end of her rope, without hope.

Alaina Michelle Sekovich is the daughter of Europe's most famous living composer. Once his prodigy, they are now estranged. To the world, she is Michelle Seko, a multimedia star and valuable asset of the film and fashion industries.

Michelle was a gifted yet troubled child who sought only to see the suffocating world of her father's overbearing tutelage. She thought she could change her life by becoming someone else. But when her world becomes herself looking back at her and the face that is her own is a monster she does not know, she finds there is no place she can go, nowhere she can hide, because what she wants to escape from most is the one thing she can never be truly free of--herself.

Lifeline to Marionette is a story about what life under a microscope can do to the soul. It is a story about a young woman whose every move is determined by the people who control her. Their strings are fine but unbreakable, and they pull her painfully in opposing directions until she can no longer bear their tension.

Lifeline to Marionette begins where Michelle's life is nearest its end. It is a story of exploitation, greed, death, drugs, and secrecy, of familial bonds and human frailty. It is a story about cutting strings and accepting the fall.

Jennifer Waitte is an award-winning journalist, feature writer and editor. She is a graduate of California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo, and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

For 15 years, Waitte worked as a writer and editor for numerous lifestyle, equine and equestrian sporting magazines. She has won many awards for her writing, editing and editorial direction.

Waitte is an avid equestrian. She competes in the sport of long-distance horse racing and dressage. She lives in Napa, California, with her husband Barry. They own Tamber Bey Vineyards, a boutique winery located in Napa Valley.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Review: Frankly In Love by David Yoon

Frankly In Love
by David Yoon

Thank you Penguin Teen for this copy!

Publisher: Penguin Teen
Publish Date: July 7, 2020
432 Pages
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong?

Frank Li has two names. There's Frank Li, his American name. Then there's Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.

Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl--which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white.

As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he's forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don't leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he's found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he's left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love--or himself--at all.

In this moving debut novel--featuring striking blue stained edges and beautiful original endpaper art by the author--David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.

My Review:

When I started this read, I was expecting your typical YA rom-com with a not so favorite of mine trope of fake dating.  While I did get a little of that, I also got a whole lot more.

Yoon brings the Korean culture to the forefront along with the clash of growing up in America, juggling two cultures while still trying to find your own self.  As a Korean-American, I could relate to Frank on SO MANY LEVELS.  My family has disowned members, there were always certain expectations from my Korean side and while my language barrier isn't as bad as Frank's may be, I totally understood quite a few of the situations he found himself in.

I found Frank and Brit's relationship off and a bit forced and so FAST - even for high schoolers.  I was definitely more invested with his fake dating of Joy and their natural chemistry that did not feel forced at all.  I also truly appreciated his best friendship with Q and how their different ethnic backgrounds helped strengthen their relationship.  Also absolutely relatable.  I do wish Q's arc had flourished a bit more.  I really wanted to learn more about him... however, I absolutely stan their friendship HARD.  Especially during one particular part. ❤

But the biggest part of this book isn't even the fake dating and Frank's love life.... for me, it was more about his relationship with his sister and his parents.  There was just SO much that reminded me of the Korean side of my family on a variety of levels.  At the beginning of this read, I didn't think I would actually get that emotionally invested but those last few chapters.... well, let's just say that I may have a leak in my eyelids.

Overall, I found this coming of age story funny, emotional, relatable and heartfelt.  


Friday, September 18, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: For The Best by Vanessa Lillie

For The Best 
by Vanessa Lillie

Thank you to the author and Thomas & Mercer for these copies!

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: September 8, 2020
320 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

Suspected of a murder she can’t remember, a troubled woman takes an unusual approach to proving her innocence in this gripping thriller from the bestselling author of Little Voices.

When Jules Worthington-Smith’s wallet is found next to a dead man, she becomes the prime suspect in his murder. After struggling for years to build the perfect family and career, she’s dangerously close to losing everything.

Sure of her innocence, Jules is desperate to clear her name. But there’s one big problem: she was blackout drunk when the murder took place and can’t remember what happened.

Unsatisfied with the police’s handling of the case, Jules embarks on her own gin-fueled murder investigation. As she uncovers fresh clues, she starts a true-crime vlog that becomes a viral sensation, pushing her into the public eye. It’s not long before the ordeal forces Jules to confront her demons, including her turbulent childhood and excessive drinking.

The deeper Jules digs, the more dirt she uncovers about the murder and herself. Unexpected truths pile up until she’s buried so deep even finding the killer might not be enough to set her free.

My Review:

Vanessa, how dare you play with my emotions!!! 

Oh my god you guys, gals and them!  Remember when I complained about the continuous use of female lead characters having drunken amnesia as a plot point?  Well I eat (or maybe actually drink) my words!  Turns out - I don't mind if it's done right and Lillie has changed my mind.  Or rather, maybe Jules did!

What I absolutely loved about this book was the uniqueness in solving the murder of Terrance.  As we all know, in this day and age just about everything plays out through a lens to the public.  When Jules becomes the only suspect in the murder investigation, her name smeared on the news along with the loss of her job, she decides to take matters into her own hands and using her skills starts a vlog to start digging into clearing her name.  As this escalates, so does her drinking.... and soon truths outside of this murder start to pop up and wouldn't you know it, it would drive anyone to drink. 😉

Around the 200 page mark I said to myself, "Self, what if it's actually THIS?!"  Ding. Light bulb!  Turns out I was right about one part and honestly it made me so damn giddy.  However, I certainly didn't see another part coming and OMG, WTF?! (LOVE!)  Lillie had me glued to these pages.  My heart went out to Jules so much by the end of it all, even if she was a highly frustrating character at times.  

I did wish the light therapy was explained a bit more - I stupidly kept thinking it was "light" as in compared to hard therapy and couldn't figure out why that was such a thing DOH!  Turns out, it's therapy using lights.  The book explains it a bit better than I am doing here.  But outside of my stupidity here, this part did feel a bit glossed over and quickly thrown in.

This will be an interesting one I think for thriller lovers.  I love the uniqueness of it all and how it hits on some very important issues - child trauma, alcoholism, white privilege, complex relationships, etc.  I think some readers will have a hard time with Jules as a character and how while this read is twisty, it's also somber with quite a life lesson brought to the surface.  Personally, I loved it a lot for these reasons and I liked that it wasn't your typical thriller read.  


Jessica's Review:

Another one that kept me up way past my bedtime, but it was so worth it! FOR THE BEST was my introduction to Vanessa Lillie and now I need to get her other book ASAP. What I will always love in a book is when the author includes multiple formats to tell the story. Like in this one we get the story as it's happening and transcripts from Jules's vlog, which was very entertaining to read!

Jules seemed to have the perfect life, but there was one glaring problem, her drinking. She is what you could call a high functioning alcoholic, but it soon catches up to her when the police knock on her door one morning. The man she was with the night before has been found dead and her wallet was laying next to the body. With her being a person of interest in the case she is determined to prove her innocence, which is easier said than done because she can't remember a thing.

While this trope is used a lot in thrillers, I think Lillie did an incredible job with it and kept it fresh. This didn't feel like all the others and really did stand out for me. I loved Jules and going through everything with her to find out what truly happened that night. So many secrets and webs to unravel. I can't wait to pick up her other book!

4 stars

Review: Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

Every Body Looking 
by Candice Iloh

Thank you NetGalley & Dutton Books for Young Readers for this beautiful copy.

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: September 22, 2020
Kindle Edition
416 Pages
Genres: Poetry, Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

"Ada” means first daughter, means oldest girl, means pressure. “Ada” means you are expected to do a lot of things because the honor of this family rests on your back.

When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her sexuality, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her. Ultimately, Ada discovers she needs to brush off the destiny others have chosen for her and claim full ownership of her body and her future.

Every Body Looking is a luminous and inspiring novel in verse about bearing the weight of others’ expectations and finding the courage to shape a life of one’s own.

My Review:

I can't remember the last time I read a book in verse/poetic style and wasn't sure how it would resonate for me as I typically find poetry hard to review.  However, when you have 416 pages of a lyrically beautiful story, it felt like listening to the most beautiful song that told you a very important story.  I found myself fascinated and read it in its entirety without ever getting up from my couch.

Ada's story is told in nonlinear style as we see her growing up under the weight of enormous expectations.  Her father's strong Christian values, her mother's addiction, the cruelness of her fellow students, the confusing abuse at the hands of someone unexpected.... she just wants to dance and even that is frowned upon.  When she leaves for College and not surrounded by all of this, she still struggles to find her footing but is ever so grateful for the freedom being away from home finally provides.  

This certainly is not an easy story to read at times and I do wish we got maybe a bit more in depth of her childhood and some very heavy issues to make the story feel a bit more complete.  However, the writing is strong and you absolutely feel for Ada all the way through.  It was such a pleasure to see Ada grow and I was so engrossed that I was surprised when it ended and wanted more!  Plus, how gorgeous is this cover?


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Review: Captain Clive's Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff

Captain Clive's Dreamworld 
by Jon Bassoff

Thank you to Eraserhead Press and Night Worms for this copy.

Publisher: Eraserhead Press
Publish Date: October 1, 2020
Kindle Edition
Genre: Horror

After becoming the suspect in the death of a young woman he was investigating, Deputy Sam Hardy is "vanished" to a town in the middle of the desert called Angels and Hope. A company town built to support a magnificent amusement park (one to rival Disneyland) known as Captain Clive's Dreamworld. When he arrives in Angels and Hope, Hardy begins to notice some strange happenings. Virtually no customers ever visit. None of the townsfolk ever seem to sleep. And girls seem to be going missing with no plausible explanation. As Hardy begins investigating, his own past is drawn into question by the town, and he finds himself becoming more and more isolated. The truth—about the town and himself—will lead him to understand that there’s no such thing as a clean escape.

My Review:

"Orwell, the guy who wrote 1984, feared the leaders would conceal the truth from us.  Huxley worries that they wouldn't need to because the truth would no longer matter to us.  Which is worse, Deputy?"

Well this was definitely quite the interesting read.  I always have loved stories where a small, seemingly idyllic town is uber creepy and there's something sinister going on underneath the painted smiles.  Angels and Hope certainly fits that bill. I absolutely loved the little nods to things such as the Three Witches and the subtle but notable political tones reflecting where American seems to be heading these days.  It gives me the shivers that when I used to read books such as these, I could keep them in the realm of fantasy and fiction and thus not get squeamish or offended.  But blind following, for whatever the reason, such as what we see here for Captain Clive is almost understandable and all too realistic considering what I've been seeing over these past few years in real life. But I digress...

There were definitely a couple scenes that made me raise my eyebrows (also, EW) and I was expecting the story to go a different way than it did.  But I'm always one who is (usually) happy to be surprised.  Bassoff does a fantastic job of building this insane story where it bursts vividly in your imagination.  Angels and Hope is certainly a place I hope to never, ever visit.  Ever. And I appreciate why the story ended the way that it did, which also gave me new perspective on the town itself.

We all have demons.  We all have secrets.  How we manage to get punished or how we punish ourselves for these can sometimes come about in the most unexpected ways.  Bassoff writes so viscerally, that I can see why one of his books have been opted for adaptation.  I will certainly be keeping my eye out for more by this author.  Can someone please pass me some moonshine "medicine"?  


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Review: The Easton Falls Massacre by Holly Rae Garcia & Ryan Prentice Garcia

The Easton Falls Massacre
by Holly Rae Garcia & Ryan Prentice Garcia

Thank you to the authors for this awesome signed copy!

Publisher: Close to the Bone Publishing
Publish Date: July 7, 2020
129 Pages
Genre: Horror

US Army Veteran Henry Miller embarks on a hunt at the edge of the Black Forest, but strays from the path and finds himself too close to the East Cascade Mountain Range.

Something lurks in the forest on the other side of those mountains. An ancient race of Bigfoot that have kept to themselves for centuries, until one of them defies the warnings and roams too far from the safety of their home.

When these two intersect, alliances are broken and events set in motion that will leave residents of the town of Easton Falls, Washington, fighting for their lives.

My Review:

If you had told me that I would be reading about Bigfoot's revenge and would love it, I probably would've side eyed you!  But you would've been RIGHT!  Novellas are such a hit or miss for me and I'm happy to report that this one was obviously an absolute hit for me.

These authors really pack quite a full and fulfilling story in less than 200 pages and I loved every single page.  The backstory was brilliant and oh the humanity of it all!!  I especially loved the ending and how it was presented... but also now I'm so curious as to what will happen now?!  I need answers! Hahaha - but what a fantastic and entertaining read. 

This creature feature is the perfect combination of complex relationships, secrets of OH SO MANY kinds and a plethora of rip roaring revenge tactics that have you rooting for Bigfoot the entire time - or at least I did. 


#ATBR2020 Review: Don't Look For Me by Wendy Walker

Don't Look For Me
by Wendy Walker

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this amazing read!

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: September 15, 2020
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life.

She doesn't want to be found.

Or at least, that's the story.

The car abandoned miles from home.

The note found at a nearby hotel.

The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.

They called it a “walk away.”

It happens all the time.

Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.

But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?

My Review:

WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL DID I JUST READ?!  My third Walker and by far my favorite.  I literally still have goosebumps all over my body from that last line and I can't even tell you how many times my mouth fell open while reading this book.  Hold on, I need just a moment to collect my thoughts......

Ok, WTF?!?!
Ok, I'm still not composed but whatever - let's TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK.  From start to finish, I carefully read each and every word.  I sometimes reread certain parts because I was trying so hard to figure out who was what and where and this and that and ... oh boy, I'm losing it again.  
I am thoroughly impressed with how this was all put together.  Every single nuance and red herring.  Geebus - I almost feel manipulated!  All of these characters are just WOW - some are so eerily chilling that I don't know if I ever want to be around someone with that name ever again.  EVER. AGAIN.  
Words... I don't have them.  All I can say is that you absolutely need to read this.  Like now.  Stop whatever you're doing and READ THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY.  I'm in a full on book hangover right now and don't know what to do with myself.  Where's Nic? I need to go get a drink with her.  She can have the vodka and I'll take the bourbon.  Please and thank you.  Kurt, pour me a double!


Jessica's Review:

Ok, so I'm still trying to gather my thoughts on this one. Not only did this book start out with a bang and suck me instantly, but that ending! Holy crap. I was so wrong because of all the strategically placed red herrings that the author gave the readers. That last chapter? Still thinking about it. DON'T LOOK FOR ME is definitely in my top books for 2020 without a doubt.

Molly Clarke is a woman plagued with guilt over a horrific accident that happened years before. An accident that forever changed the dynamic between her and her family. Convinced that her children and husband hate her, maybe they would be better off is she wasn't around. Returning home from her son's football game, Molly drives straight into a huge storm. The next day, her empty car is found without gas and her phone inside. So begins the search for Molly.

Nicole (Nic) and her father begin searching in the area where Molly's car was found abandoned. A couple days after the storm a credit card charge was made at a nearby casino and a note was found - telling them that she was leaving and didn't want to be found. Writing it off as a "walk-away" the police end their search. Nic knows something is up and she and her brother are sure that she wouldn't just abandon them.

We get Molly and Nic's POVs in alternating chapters. We see what Molly is experiencing and then Nic trying to unravel where her mother could possibly be. Let me tell you, some of these characters we meet along the way would send a chill down your spine, and you never really knew who Nic could trust as she tried to make sense of the web of lies.

Bottom line, you need to get this on your TBR. Wendy Walker wowed me with THE NIGHT BEFORE but this one was even better. She has become an auto-buy author for me and now I need to go back and get her other books. If you want a twisty psychological thriller, look no further!

5 stars

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review: Meme by Aaron Starmer

by Aaron Starmer

Thank you NetGalley and Dutton for this copy.

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: September 8, 2020
Kindle Edition
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Young Adult

No one is going to miss Cole Weston. A loner without friends or family and an unhealthy obsession with the darker corners of the internet, Cole had become increasingly violent toward his ex-girlfriend, and threated to do so much worse. So it was only logical–only right, really–that his former friends took it upon themselves to rid the world of Cole Weston.

Now, Logan, Meeka, Holly, and Grayson are forever bound by Cole’s body, buried under the cold Vermont earth. The failsafe should any one of them consider betrayal: their old phones, buried with Cole, disconnected from service, and each wiped clean except for one file–their video confession.

As expected, no one misses Cole. Or even realizes he’s gone. But a few days later, the meme appears. It’s a stupid meme, old school and not even funny. But every terrible joke has one thing in common, the same photo–a screenshot from the confession video still entombed six feet under with Cole.

My Review:

Uff... I really, REALLY wanted to like this one but unfortunately it fell very short for me.  As a meme lover, I couldn't help but be drawn in to with the title and the synopsis.  And for some reason I thought this was horror but turns out it's actually a thriller ... and not very thrilling at that. 

The book opens up nicely with the gang burying their "friend", Cole.  The timeline alternates here and there and goes through each of their POVs so you get a full rounded picture of what was going on within this crew of characters.  Honestly, I LOVE to hate on characters but they need to be complex and interesting and I just didn't find any of these teens intriguing.  

What I did like about this book is how social media/memes, etc. can become extremely hurtful and how teenagers actually will react to being publicly shamed with these.  Unfortunately this is an all too real problem in society.  However, the reasoning behind the initial murder didn't hold water and the ending was just no..... it felt like someone doing a voice over and while I don't mind ambiguous endings at times, the openness of this one failed to impress.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Spotlight: Village of the Lost Girls by Agustín Martínez


Village of the Lost Girls 
by Agustín Martínez

Publisher: Mobius
Publish Date: September 15, 2020

Five years after their disappearance, the village of Monteperdido still mourns the loss of Ana and Lucia, two eleven-year old friends who left school one afternoon and were never seen again. Now Ana reappears unexpectedly inside a crashed car, wounded but alive.


The case reopens and a race against time begins to discover who was behind the girls’ kidnapping and most importantly: Where is Lucia and is she still alive?


Inspector Sara Campos and her boss Santiago Bain, from Madrid’s head office are forced to work with the local police. Five years ago fatal mistakes were made in the investigation conducted after the girls first vanished, and this must not happen again. But Monteperdido has rules of its own.


Agustin Martinez was born in 1975 and studied audiovisual communications in Madrid. Today he is one of Spain’s most renowned screenwriters who has worked on some of the country’s most popular crime series. On a holiday trip with his family to the Pyrenees he overhead the locals talking about a case of a missing child—the idea for Village of the Lost Girls was born and has since been translated into many languages. This is his first novel.

Spotlight: A Fierce Belief in Miracles by Anne Reeder Heck

 A Fierce Belief in Miracles 
by Anne Reeder Heck

Anne Reeder Heck’s new memoir offers both guidance and solace for those seeking healing and ready to explore paths of forgiveness and spirituality. A Fierce Belief in Miracles: My Journey from Rape to Healing and Wholeness (She Writes Press, Sept. 22, 2020) is a powerful and uplifting story of determination and trust. It’s for anyone who believes in—or questions—the existence of miracles.

A Fierce Belief in Miracles recounts the experience of Heck, who at age 26 was enjoying a morning bicycle ride in northern Virginia when she was stopped by a man asking for directions. She was violently beaten and raped. Heck is tenacious in her pursuit to heal the pain permeating her body after the rape, and she devotes herself to a healing quest that opens her to the transformative power of intention, intuition and trust. Her prayers for strength are synchronistically answered with a DNA match and identification of her rapist 14 years after the crime.

Featured on the front page of The Washington Post and by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, Heck shares her story to offer hope and support to others navigating their way to wholeness. Gail Straub, award-winning author and co-founder of Empowerment Institute calls Heck’s work “a courageous and generous account of one woman’s healing journey and a testament to resilience of the human spirit.” In this inspiring story, readers will witness the beauty that emerges from darkness, the goodness that is born of ill-guided acts, and the perfection of all that transpires on this path we call life.

Anne Reeder Heck’s life and livelihood are brimming with miracles. As a seasoned facilitator of spiritual circles for women, a certified Healing Touch practitioner, and an ordained interfaith minister, Anne is devoted to inspiring and guiding others to trust themselves, open to their intuitive guidance, and experience the magic of life through ceremony, positive intention and a creative, curious spirit.

 Anne’s life training has been diverse and compelling. In addition to graduating with honors in chemistry and receiving her MAT, Anne is trained in spiritual dowsing, conscious languaging, women’s rites of passage, and transformational speaking. She is a self-taught artist, specializing in doll making, fiber arts and watercolor. She has trained in and/or participated in over seventy different healing modalities and is grateful to have studied with a multitude of wise and generous teachers.

Anne lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband of 26 years and her sweet retriever pup. She can often be found hiking nearby trails or meditatively turning her pedals on the Blue Ridge Parkway. When she’s not outdoors, Anne is passionately speaking, facilitating workshops, mentoring, writing or making art. To learn more about Anne’s offerings, or to see photos of her healing dolls, visit her at

An Interview with

Anne Reeder Heck

 What inspired you to write A Fierce Belief in Miracles?

I spent years browsing libraries and later the Internet to find a true story of someone who had navigated their way to wholeness after rape—a story that could give me hope in what sometimes seemed a hopeless search. I wanted to read about those who’d been broken open and had come to discover their inner strength, their authentic voice and an understanding that our traumas are a precious part of our life experience. My book tells that story. What’s more, I consider my story nothing short of miraculous, and one that needs to be shared.

Who is the primary audience for this book?

While the reader audience includes survivors of sexual violence, the book will appeal to anyone who’s seeking deep healing and is ready to explore the paths of forgiveness and spirituality.

What can readers hope to learn from this book?

My intention in writing this book was to offer hope to those on a healing path. I share teachings that I’ve found invaluable and introduce the reader to some alternative paths of addressing the traumas in their life. While I can’t predict what a reader may take from this book, I know there are plenty of powerful messages available to those who are open.

What was the most challenging part of writing A Fierce Belief in Miracles?

The writing and extensive editing process were grueling. I hadn’t anticipated how emotionally draining this would be. What I learned is that writing about trauma can be re-traumatizing. I had thought that it could be healing, but for me that wasn’t the case. Writing and editing required great self-compassion and self-care.

A large part of your healing was directed by the making of dolls. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes. For seven years, I devoted myself to making dolls - medicine dolls you might call them - as part of my healing. By placing my emotion outside of myself, I could see it/myself from new perspectives, have a better idea of what I needed, and alter the course to find a new place of balance. The doll series clearly depicts a path of moving from pain and fear to freedom, vitality, strength, and wisdom.

Every journey to healing is unique, but are there actionable steps assault survivors can take?

I don’t have a prescription for healing, but I share in my book many things that were valuable as part of my own journey. For example, a big turning point for me happened in the writing of my victim impact statement, when I was forced to consider the impact the rape had on my life. While I don’t condone acts of violence, and the healing process was both painful and daunting for me, I also realized this experience taught me many things: the power of my thoughts, the deep connectedness to all life, and the positive influence we get to have through our reverence for all life and through holding an open heart.

Did you always believe in miracles? How did you come to believe in them? Can you remember the specific moment?

As a youngster, I was pragmatic and realistic on the exterior and a mystic and dreamer on the interior. In chapter 11 of my book, a chapter titled “Possibility,” I write: “miracles—transformations that could not be explained by science—were a concept I warmed to cautiously. My mind required a rational basis or personal experience to give credence to something beyond reason. However, the faint and timid whisper of my heart fiercely believed in miracles. It was this heart whisper that began to speak to me in my despairing moments during the years I sought healing. It was this quiet voice that encouraged me to stay open to possibility.”

 I consciously chose to stay curious, to be expectant about what may come. It was partly a mind game to keep me focused positively, but truly, I wanted a faith in miracles, to experience proof of miracles in my own life. My transformative moments as concerns this are described in my book. They were nothing short of miraculous. This is partly why I needed to write this story.

How important is forgiveness to the healing process?

My experience is not going to be the same as that of others, but forgiveness was an essential part of my healing. Any anger or judgment I had about the rapist or the experience of rape hurt me more than it hurt anyone else. When we forgive and find peace this helps us, and it also heals others. It’s a compassionate gift to all people to let go of our anger and open our hearts to love.

What does it mean for you to live openly as a survivor of assault?

Terry committed a crime against me that was horrendous and hurtful in so many ways. I couldn’t cover that up and move forward knowing that it could happen to someone else. From day one, I did all I could to identify my assailant. It didn’t matter what that required of me; I simply needed to speak the truth, and be open about my experience. At this point in my journey, the rape doesn’t define me. My healing journey defines me. This is the piece that I’m inspired to share with others - that healing is available to us, and not just healing, but miracles. Yes, miracles.