Bookish Posts

My Top 20 Books of 2018

Because there are waaaaay too many AMAZING BOOKS to limit the list to only 10 

 

Click on the title link to go to my review of each book to hear all the reasons why it’s an awesome book!

In no particular order . . . my favorite books I read this year 

 

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  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Asha Bandele  |  Add to Goodreads

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  • Well That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey  |  Add to Goodreads

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How many of these books have you read?

Which did your add to your TBR?

What are your favorite books that you’ve read in 2018?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · fiction · mental health · Uncategorized

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

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Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

Published: September 2, 2016

Publisher: Upperhand Press, LLC

Pages: 425

Genres: fiction, domestic fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: Lifetime Movies, over the top parents, Law & Order SVU, books about family dynamics

Foodie Vibes: carrot juice and French fries ~ oh, the contradictions of being a teenager

 

Synopsis: 

A story about the timeless struggle between mothers and their teen daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist. This heart-wrenching, harrowing debut novel for fans of Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) and Reconstructing Amelia (Kimberly McCreight) will make you question what’s needed to keep your children from harm.

Phoebe’s mother, Isabel, is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe. With her busy schedule, though, she fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger Phoebe faces by flirting with a mysterious boy on Facebook. A cyber-bullying episode aimed at Phoebe pushes her to the edge with horrific consequences. In her search for justice, Isabel, a DC lawyer, sets out to find the culprit behind this cruel incident.

Saving Phoebe Murrow, set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me.

Trigger warning: many fairly graphic mentions of self harm and suicide. Please do not read this book if you’re not in a mentally healthy place, especially if you’re sensitive to these topics in particular.

That being said I enjoyed the whirlwind of drama and incredibly serious topics. It reminds me of a mix between a Lifetime movie and episode of Law and Order SVU. Kind of a perfect combo. We get an in depth look at the challenges and drama of teenage girls lives from the perspective of them and their parents. 

I really liked reading about Phoebe and her mother. I wish the story focused more on them. I disliked the amount of focus put on Phoebe’s dad and Sandy, the mother of Phoebe’s classmate/friend. The difference between the parenting styles was both horrifying and interesting. 

I so disliked the character of Sandy. She was so psychologically unbalanced and awful. She meant well, for her daughter, so at least she has that going for her. The focus was on her too much, when I felt it should have been more on Phoebe. Also the trope of parents providing teens with alcohol and getting in legal trouble has been done a lot before. But it’s still something that people could be reminded of. 

All in all, Saving Phoebe Murrow is highly entertaining, drama filled, and a warning for parents and teens alike.

 

If you could turn a TV show into a book, which show would you choose? 

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · LGBTQIA+ Books · Young Adult

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

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The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Published: April 3, 2018

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Pages: 284

Genres: young adult, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, LGBTQIA+

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: summer fun books with substance, adorable romances, books about bloggers

Foodie Vibes: the best burger you can get

 

Synopsis: 

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

 

Review:

The Summer of Jordi Perez is the perfect book for a late summer read. Fashion, photography, pink hair, fruit patterned dresses, internships, new relationships, and the search for the best burger in town. It’s a winning combination to create a fun but substantial read. Even though we look nothing alike (her fashion sense is way better than mine) I definitely relate to Abby. She’s unsure of herself, doubting her abilities, even though she’s very talented. I also appreciated that Abby’s whole personality doesn’t revolve around being gay. It’s discussed with her friends and family, and she has a girlfriend. But it doesn’t define her as a character. She’s so much more than one thing. And a book with characters who blog, Abby and her mother, a definite win for me!

There are very few things that I disliked in the book. As with many young adult books, some of the situations could have easily resolved with communication. However, it’s realistic that teenagers may not be great at communication and problem solving all the time. 

The Summer of Jordi Perez is seriously cute! I cannot get enough of it. I hope the author writes a sequel or other books with similar vibes. I highly recommend it!

 

Have you read The Summer of Jordi Perez?

How many of you have dyed your hair a fun color before?

mystery · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays: Mystery Edition

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

 

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

 

3 Books a Week with 3 Words to Describe Them 

 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

 

 

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The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard 

4 stars 

Creepy, suspenseful, dramatic 

 

 

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Crime and Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett

4.5 stars

Cozy, entertaining, passionate 

 

 

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine 

4 stars

Addicting, whirlwind, unsettling

 

 

Well there you have it!

The first official edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Middle Grade

Holes by Louis Sachar

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Another Random Question of the Review to start off with:

What book did you not enjoy the first time, but ended up loving as a reread?

 

Holes by Louis Sachar

Published: August 20, 1998

Publisher: Frances Foster Books ~ Scholastic for the paperback version

Pages: 240

Genres: middle grade

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books for the whole family, life lessons, character growth, redemption

Read with food: a tall glass of ice cold water

 

Synopsis:

A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley Yelnats to a harsh juvenile detention center. While the warden claims that the hard labor that the boys are subjected to is meant to build character, it becomes clear that she is really using the boys to hunt for a fortune buried by a Wild West outlaw. The outlaw’s story and a curse put on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather are part of a compelling puzzle that has taken generations to unravel.

 

Review: 

Way back in elementary school this book was required reading for me. I absolutely hated the book. I must have understood the general concepts, because I did well on all my tests. Straight A’s, thank you very much. #nerdalert However, I didn’t truly understand the nuances of the life lessons the author was trying to accomplish with the book. So I’m really glad the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 encouraged me to go back and reread this assigned book that I originally hated.

As an adult, I really enjoyed Holes. I’m not really a middle grade book reader, but it’s a book that people of all ages can enjoy and learn from. The relevant concepts introduced are child labor, jails, incarceration, the unfairness of the justice system and world in general, deceitful people, learning, personal growth, precious resources, friendship, and finding strength within yourself to accomplish great things. Wow! That’s a lot of hard hitting, important life lessons al jam packed into a middle grade book. No wonder it’s so popular.

I really enjoyed Holes and recommend you give it a read or reread. If you’re a parent, Holes could be a book you group read as a family, and discuss the relevant topics. Might even help explain some of the things going on in the media today.

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · Young Adult

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Let’s start with the Random Question of the Review:

On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best, how much do you enjoy young adult books? 

 

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Rating: 5 stars

Published: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 355

Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance

Recommend to fans of: nice teenagers, coming of age books, books that give you all the feels, happy sweet books, sister bonds, Asian character representation 

Read with food: mocha sugar donuts ~ featured throughout and so accurately represents the fun and sweetness of the book 

 

Synopsis: 

Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

 

Review: 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is an incredibly hyped book in the book community. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, but I tend to be nervous that overhyped young adult books won’t live up to all of the hype. Not to worry, because the book is fabulous! I so enjoyed reading about Lara Jean that I forgot to write down notes for my book review. For me, that’s the mark of a wonderfully engaging read.

The premise of Lara Jean’s love letters getting mailed to the boys she wrote them about could go either way. It ends up making for a great setup, because she focuses on living her life, not worrying too much about what others will think of her. Lara Jean’s relationship with her father and sisters is a major point of the story. I absolutely loved the importance the author placed on family relationships. It’s okay for teenagers to have strong relationships with their family as well as their friends and boyfriend/girlfriend.

Occasionally I was a bit annoyed with some of the drama and fighting, but that’s to be expected in a character driven young adult novel. The tension didn’t take over the story for too long.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is such a cute sweet novel that I can’t get enough of. I’ve already added the next books in the series to my TBR. 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

ARC Review | Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase

Be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom for a fun twist!

 

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Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase

Published: July 31, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: doesn’t list 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: murder mysteries, Law and Order SVU, books about college faculty

Read with food: pretentious hors d’oeuvres at networking events

 

Synopsis:

Meet Tara Thorpe – she had enough on her plate before a grisly college murder landed right in her lap!

As the sun rises, a young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.

It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.

Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Clare Chase for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

Murder on the Marshes is a fast read that pulled me in right from the beginning. The action is written so there’s plenty of it to move the story forward, but not so much to be over the top ridiculous. In general I enjoyed the writing style. The color descriptions and imagery are wonderful. They paint quite a picture.

I also really liked the setting. Many of the main characters are college professors, so it’s set on and near a college campus. There’s something about getting a behind the scenes look at college life through the eyes of the professors. Maybe it’s just me, but these types of books are really appealing. I could read an entire book about this alone, completely taking out the murder mystery aspect. Although that was intriguing as well and gave the plot structure.

I would recommend the book for the great writing, college professor characters, and also the mystery.

 

Random Question of the Post: 

What dish do you cook best?

 

Let’s hear all your answers!

 

Book Tags · Bookish Posts

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Nobody officially tagged me for this, but a ton of people have said they tag everyone . . . and since I’m a part of everyone, here we go

 

  1. Best book that you’ve read so far in 2018?

Oooh, this is a tough one, because it’s just way too hard to pick the best book of 2018! Narrowing it down to my top 5 or 10, sure, that I can do. Buuuut, if I have to choose, I would pick:

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James 

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Murders, deaths that may or may not be accidental, haunted boarding schools, disturbed teenage girls. What more could a reader possibly want in a creepy, can’t put down book?

 

2. Best sequel that you’ve read so far in 2018?

Find Her by Lisa Gardner (#8 in the Detective D.D. Warren Series)

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First book that I read in 2018!

Lisa Gardner does not disappoint with her jam packed novel, filled with suspense, intensity, and the courageous Detective D.D. Warren. If I’m looking for a good solid mystery/thriller I can always count on Lisa Gardner.

 

3. New release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

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The cover is gorgeous!

I keep seeing Tell Me Lies all over the book world of social media. So many people have loved it, and I hope it’s worth all the hype!

 

4. Most anticipated release for the next half of 2018?

So hard to choose. I want to read all the books!

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar

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I know, I know, such a nerdy choice. There’s something about a good medical book, fiction or non fiction, that I absolutely love.

 

5. Biggest disappointment of 2018?

The Corporation: An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld by T.J. English

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So many people loved it. The description made the story seem epic, but I absolutely crawled through every page. Definitely not the book for me.

 

6. Biggest surprise of 2018?

Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik 

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I went into the book thinking the premise sounded interesting. I was absolutely blown away by the gorgeous writing and storytelling about the spirited controversial Iranian poet. A close second to my favorite book of the 2018.

 

7. Favorite new (or new to you) author?

Courtney Milan!

She is the romance author I’ve been looking for. I enjoy some romance novels, but am picky about the writing, plot lines, etc. Courtney Milan ended up being the perfect fit for me.

 

8. Newest fictional crush?

I don’t get fictional crushes on characters. Everyone talks about book boyfriends, and I’m over here by myself like “I don’t get it.”

 

9. Newest favorite character?

Mikki Lincoln in Crime & Punctuation 

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Smart, savvy, generally badass ~ and bonus points for a good representation of the 50 plus years characters

 

10. A book that made you cry?

Most recently,

The Crate: A Story of War, A Murder, and Justice by Deborah Vadas Levison 

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There are barely enough words to describe how impactful The Crate is on people. Definitely recommend giving it a read!

 

11. A book that made you happy?

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery 

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The author’s passion for these incredible creatures makes it almost impossible to not experience joy while reading the book.

 

12. The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received in 2018?

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

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The cover has an ethereal beauty to it, almost as if it’s painted with watercolors. Underneath the jacket cover the spine has a beautiful simplicity to it.

Bonus fact: Love and Ruin is the book I used in my profile photo.

 

13. What books do you need to read by the end of 2018?

So many! Too many!

Is there a thing as having too many books to read?

I actually stopped requesting books from NetGalley for a bit until I finish reading a few more books, because I was feeling way too overwhelmed.

As of now I need to read:

  • From NetGalley:
    • The Secret by K.L. Slater
    • A Politically Incorrect Feminist by Phyllis Chesler
    • When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
  • From Goodreads Giveaways:
    • The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
    • Dead in the Water by Simon Bower
    • The Fifth to Die by J.D. Baker
    • Rush by Lisa Patton
    • Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood
    • All the Way by Kristen Proxy
    • Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly
    • The 1% Rule: How to Fall in Love with the Process and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams by Tommy Baker
    • Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly 
  • And the books I choose for the BookTube-A-Thon. (There’s some overlap from the above lists, but I can’t complete a few of the challenges with my ARC reads.)
  • Also a few more books to complete the 2018 BookRiot Read Harder Challenge. I’m making good progress on this so far.

Anybody else exhausted by reading the list of books I need to read?

 

Since I’m probably one of the last people in the book blogging community to complete this tag; I tag anyone else who wasn’t done it yet. 

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mystery

ARC Book Review | Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

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Shoutout to my wonderful mom who grows these gorgeous flowers featured in the photo. Thanks Mom!

 

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Published: July 24, 2018

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, mystery

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance with a twist, complicated characters

Read with food: chocolate cake and tea

 

Synopsis: 

Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to the author and publisher as well. As always, an honest review.

I was a bit unsure about Ghosted before I started reading. Contemporary romance books have to wow me for me to enjoy them. And wow me, it did!

Sarah and Eddie meet along a countryside road one day, immediately feel a spark, and spend the next week together. They know they have something special. Eddie goes off on his previously planned vacation. Sarah never hears from him again. And this is where the mystery begins.

The premise drew me in and captivated my attention throughout the entire read. As with many contemporary novels, it was a quick, easy and enjoyable read. Ghosted brought up so many relatable questions. Do you trust your heart? Your instincts? What other people are telling you? Logic and reasoning? Or hold out for hope that the best will happen?

I really liked that a lot of the writing was in the form of letters – both formal and informal. Eddie writing to Sarah. Sarah writing to Eddie. Both of them writing to other people. Except, most of the letters go unread or at least without a response. The unsent letters form a sort of journal of their mental processes through all of this. The writing style works really well and is quite enjoyable to read.
I can’t say too much more without spoiling the book. I will say this, when you get to a certain unforeseen twist, everything will make perfect sense.

There was very little I didn’t enjoy. However when Sarah was moping around about missing Eddie, it became a bit redundant and annoying at times.

Ghosted has a little something for everyone. Romance, heartbreak, hardship, caregiving, and mystery. Give it a read!

 

Random Question of the Review:

Where’s your favorite place to read?

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Young Adult

ARC Book Review | The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

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The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas 

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: July 31, 2018

Pages: 384

Genres: young adult, contemporary, mystery, thriller

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: dark young adult novels

Read with food: iced frap at Starbucks ~ so many clandestine meetings happened there

 

Synopsis: 

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

My rating is actually 3.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.

The Cheerleaders is a fun, yet dark young adult novel that captivated me from beginning to end. In the span of a few weeks, 5 girls from the local high school cheerleading team were dead. Murders, accidents, suicides, but is that what really happened?

The book quickly drew me in and held my attention throughout. I absolutely flew through this quick read. Definitely something you could read and still comprehend while tired or in a noisy place. I also enjoyed that the narrator is one of the dead girls’ younger sisters. Monica and her friend Ginny were likable and smart, making the story work well. I find that if I don’t connect with the main characters or at least understand their motives, I rarely enjoy the book. Not an issue at all in The Cheerleaders.

However the plot trope of teenagers trying to solve a crime that the police can’t or got wrong has been done a lot. It’s easy to overlook in this book, but it’s worth noting. Also, every characters has a distinct role in solving the mystery. Which in theory sounds great, but left me feeling as if certain characters were just being used for what they could bring to the solving the mystery, instead of actual relationships or character development.

Overall, The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is worth a read in my opinion. Fun, serious, with a mystery that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for those hot summer days when you want to escape into a book for awhile.

 

Who is looking forward to reading the book?

 

Random question of the post: 

What’s your favorite color?