Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Book Description:

Published: June 16, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Review –

Touching tale of girl with OCD finding love through poetry.

Everyone has something they want to hide, even from their closest friends, and I empathized with her desire to keep her secret from her glittery, popular clique. She also just wants to feel “normal,” something that I think everyone  struggles with in high school. 

I loved her new-found friends in Poet’s Corner. Every one was so unique and yet they all shared these secret poetry sessions that made them into a family. Poet’s Corner is an escape, but it’s also where you find your true self, and I wish we had had something similar in my school. Hell, even now I would want to join a secret poetry club!

I think it’s so important that stories like Sam’s are given a bigger place in mainstream media. Every Last Word is a story about living with a mental illness. Sam has a therapist, she takes medication, and her parents are trained on how to handle situations when Sam feels overwhelmed or out of control. She has a set treatment plan that works (and that she and her therapist worked on together and continue to develop as Sam grows), and a therapist who is portrayed in a positive light and I think that all of that is so important. Sam struggles throughout the book with the idea of “normal.” She wants to feel that way and doesn’t see herself as such. But by the end, she realizes that there are all kinds of “normal.”

The most unique aspect of Every Last Word is how Stone weaves poetry into the storyline. The poetry opens the windows to the characters’ hearts and gives a depth to characters that you just can’t get with simple characterization. I felt every emotion with this book!

There is a pivotal point in the book (no spoilers) that changes the trajectory of Sam’s life. It gave me goose bumps and I cried ugly tears.

Though this is a young adult book, I highly recommend it to everyone!

 

 

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo

Book Description:

Published: October 16, 2018

Format: Audio/Audiobook Sync

Stars: 5

Only three students had access to a teacher’s racy photos before they went viral. There’s Mouse, a brainy overachiever so desperate to escape his father and go to MIT that he would do almost anything, legal or not. Then there’s Drew, the star athlete who can get any girl’s number—and private photos—with his charm but has a history of passing those photos around. And finally there’s Jenna, a good girl turned rebel after her own shocking photos made the rounds at school last year, who is still waiting for justice. All three deny leaking the photos, but someone has to take the fall. This edgy whodunit tackles hot-button issues of sexting and gossip and will have readers tearing through the pages to reach the final reveal.

Review –

Sexting, lies, and consequences.

Jenna, Drew, and Mouse(Matthew) are thrown together for their senior law final project. Instead of being the easy “A”  Drew expected, the class ignites controversy about dangerous social media issues. Jenna hasn’t spoken to her ex-boyfriend Troy since the day he publicly tweeted topless pictures of her. She has since cut her hair short, dyed it jet black, cut up her girly wardrobe and set his truck on fire, exchanging ballet shoes for a court-mandated anger management class. Drew is an unapologetic player on and off the basketball court but finds himself drawn to Jenna’s newfound strength. Uber-intelligent Mouse is bound for MIT and painfully in love with Jenna. He stands to lose everything if anyone finds out that the basketball team hired him to build a database to house photos of naked girls. What all three students have in common are grievances against their law teacher, Mrs. Bailey. When shocking photos of Mrs. Bailey are posted on the internet, the threesome begin to suspect each other while confronting their own moral transgressions. The author creates realistic, multidimensional characters while exploring the legal and ethical ramifications of privacy as it plays out in a hormonally charged high school environment. Drew and Jenna are white, and Mouse and Troy are black.

I thought I knew where this book was going and BOOM, a twist I didn’t see coming. Fantastic and well deserved ending.

A provocative story about the consequences of poor decisions in our digital world.

I highly recommend it to all young adults who have ever thought about posting something they shouldn’t on social media!

 

 

Reign of Brayshaw (Brayshaw #3) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

“Trust only those who earn it.”

A sentiment I follow without direction but holds more consequence than ever before.

One decision, five lives, three futures.
This is what’s at stake.

One night, one choice, four broken Brayshaws.
That is where we’re headed.

Unless I stop it.
I 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 to stop it.

I have to remind him of what he’s chosen to forget.

My town. My choice. 𝘔𝘺 ending.

Review –

Reign of Brayshaw picked up exactly where Trouble at Brayshaw left off. Thank god because that ending was freaking crazy as hell to try to get over.  Once I started this novel, I had zero power when it came to putting it down. I sat on the couch and lounged in my bed the entire day while I binged this bad boy. So let that be a lesson for you, if you have a long fulfilling day planned to the max of stuff you absolutely have to get done….. I highly recommend you hold off on reading this book until a day when you have nothing on the schedule. Because this book will consume your every thought and you’re going to want to know what happens next, and what happens after that. It’s a continuous ‘just one more chapter’ broken promise on an endless loop.

This book is full of twists and turns, you truly never know what waits around the corner. The shocking moments are just as brutal as the angst. My heart was in hyper overdrive thinking the best but expecting the worst possible outcomes.

My heart broke for Raven  repeatedly because all she wanted in life was to find acceptance and love. Given her past history though, letting people in wasn’t an easy task for her to accomplish. So it was great to watch her find that acceptance and love she’s been searching for her entire life.

Maddoc lies down when he needed to stand up but  I still loved him.  And, you can understand the helplessness he’s feeling and the extreme jealously anyone in his position would be dealing with.

The story wrapped up with a bang and I was left an emotional mess. I love stories like this that make me just FEEL SO MUCH!

This will go down as one of my favorite NA series. It’s sexy, angst filled drama that also had sweet, emotional, heartfelt moments. I absolutely recommend!

OMG…. I completely forgot why I rated Reign of Brayshaw a four instead of a full 5 stars rating. I dropped a star because some of the moments seemed a bit far fetched and really  unreal. I understand this is fiction, but I like a little realism mixed into the romances I read. I like to walk away thinking, damn that could really happen in someone’s life. But I unfortunately didn’t walk away with that notion. A bit of the content was extremely far fetched.

Love the cover, too!

The Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw #1) by Meagan Brandy

Book Description:

Published: January 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

Triggers: Yes

“Girls like you aren’t exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way.”

Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for “troubled teens”.

I didn’t listen, and now I’m on their radar.

They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they’ve deemed me fit.

Too bad for them, I don’t follow rules.
Too bad for me, they’re determined to make sure I do.

Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings…these are the boys of Brayshaw High.
And I’m the girl who got in their way.

Review –

OMG….I dont even know where to start with this one!! There are NO words! I’m totally #abraygirlforlife !

What do you get when you pair a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with three bad boys who run the town? The answer is: a world that you crave to live in. Boys you salivate over. A girl who is tough as nails, takes no BS from anyone. You get the most amazing story with EVERYTHING. Raven, Maddoc (new book boyfriend), Royce and Captain are just amazing characters, that the author effortlessly makes you fall in love with. All four strong, fierce, loyal and independant. They have a way of getting under you skin and living there.

I had the audio version and listened to it almost in one sitting. I just had to know WTF was going on. The author kept me interested and on the edge of my seat, just waiting for that moment that my jaw would hit the damn floor and pause my listening device and just TRY to slow my heartbeat!  And when it did, boy did I scream at the top of my lungs. I’m so invested in this world, in these characters, in this story.

The level of angst in this book (which is OFF THE CHARTS) had my head spinning and my mind going all over the place. Readers will be in a continual state of “what the actual F***”, then jumping to “oh he** no”, all while their hearts will be racing and their mind will be swimming with questions.

There is so much that goes on in this book that I can not do it justice, so invest in a copy (written or audio) and hang on for the ride of your life. it has drama plus revelations you don’t see coming. There are hot steamy sex scenes and one that will have you blushing from head to toe!!!!!!!!

Can you tell I loved it?

 

The Dark Bones (Dark Lure #2) by Loreth Anne White

Book Description:

Published: May 25, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.

When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.

To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.

And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

Review –

In The Dark Bones, Detective Rebecca North returns home to her small town because of her father’s suicide. She immediately decides that her father who was a retired cop would not have taken his own life, although everyone in town thinks otherwise. To make things more difficult, the man who broke her heart, Ash Haugen is at the center of the investigation in the worst way. Secrets from their past regarding the disappearance of two teens seem to have something to do with all of it. And here in present day, two other teens are also somehow involved. The more Rebecca digs, the harder it is for her to trust anyone. In addition, she and Ash still have feelings for each other. The town seems to be made up of complicated relationships at all levels. Plus, there are a couple of killers on the loose that no one suspects. Since it’s truly a mystery, that’s about all I can say. Nothing is what it seems.

I really enjoyed The Dark Bones and I never had a clue as to what would happen next. The whole book is just one huge puzzle that you have to play out to the very end. The pace was smooth and there is never a dull moment. I look forward to reading more books from this author.

 

Good Girl,Bad Girl (Cyrus Haven #1) by Michael Robotham

Book Description:

Published: July 23, 2019

Format; Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity.

Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth?

Review –

Troubled psychologist Cyrus Haven has to evaluate a girl without a past while finding out who killed a rising young figure skater.

Evie Cormac is an enigma. No one knew who she was when she was found in a secret room in a north London home, weighing less than a child half her age, which was determined to be 11 or 12. Only a few feet from her hiding place was the decomposing body of a man who had been tortured to death.

Given a new name, she ended up in Nottingham’s Langford Hall, a high security children’s home, after a series of foster homes. Now, six years later, she’s eager to be declared an adult, so Cyrus must evaluate her for possible release. Evie is rude, unruly, self-destructive, prone to occasional violence, heartbreakingly naïve, and very, very broken. She also seems to be able to tell, with remarkable consistency, when someone is lying. This intrigues Cyrus, who wrote a thesis on human lie detectors, aka “truth wizards.” When Cyrus makes an impulsive choice to temporarily foster Evie, it brings a basket of challenges to his already complicated life.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is assisting his mentor, Chief Inspector Lenny Parvel, in the investigation of the suspicious death and possible rape of fifteen-year-old Jodie Sheehan, who was called the “golden girl of British skating.” Some shocking revelations lead Cyrus and the police down a rabbit hole of dark family secrets, and Evie can’t help but involve herself in the investigation. It’s the careful and often poignant interplay between Cyrus and Evie that elevates this page turner.

Cyrus’ parents and sisters were murdered when he was just a boy, and by all accounts Evie’s childhood was nothing short of hellish. Trauma unites them, but the author seeks to show that together, they might begin to heal. Readers will adore the brilliant hot mess that is Evie, and more than a few moments are breathtakingly sad, such as Evie’s confusion about her wrinkly fingers during a long bath…because she’s never in her life had one.

This was a fantastic read/listen (my second on Scribd’s free 30 day trial) and I will look for more from this author!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When She Returned by Lucinda Berry

Book Description:

Published: October 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

One woman’s reappearance throws her family into turmoil, exposing dark secrets and the hidden, often devastating truth of family relationships.

Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot eleven years ago, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult.

Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down–her husband is remarried, and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before.

While the family tries to help Kate reintegrate into society, they discover truths they’ve been hiding from each other about their own relationships. But they aren’t the only ones with secrets. As the family unravels what happened to Kate, a series of shocking revelations shows that Kate’s return is more sinister than any of them could have imagined.

Review –

Dark and disturbing…

When Kate Bennett vanished from a Target parking lot, her husband and daughter never thought they would see her again. But eleven years later, Kate shows up dehydrated and malnourished, showing signs of severe abuse in Montana holding a baby. With Kate returning, her family’s lives are turned upside down. As they struggle to understand what happened with Kate during those years, shocking revelations come to surface and threaten to destroy their lives. The narrative shifts between past and present and is told from the perspectives of Kate(first wife), Meredith(new wife), and Abbi, (daughter). Kate’s story is chilling and full of dread as she recounts the shocking cruelty from her days/years in “captivity”. The author’s exploration of Kate’s complete entrapment in the cult community is both compelling and disturbing. The pace gets hampered in the middle from the monotony of Kate’s story, but Berry threw in another twist that invests readers’ interest until the shocking culmination and what an ending it is!!!

I listened to this while traveling from Oklahoma to Alabama last month and kept my mind off the HUGE semi-trucks that traverse I-40.

Five star read!

 

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Description:

Published: April 16, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Stars: 5

A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence .

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover–movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora–and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted–not even those closest to Cora.

Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe–even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

Review –

After investigating a local urban legend, (which was assigned by a teacher )a twelve year old girl(in sixth grade) is brutally attacked in the author’s latest thriller.

Like nearly every almost teen, Cora struggles in middle school. She’s shy and sheltered and tries every day to navigate the stormy social seas of friendships and crushes, even within the small town of Pitch, Iowa.

When Violet and her family move to Pitch,  from New Mexico, she connects with Cora and helps her begin to come out of her shell, but this is complicated by the on-again, off-again presence of Queen of the Mean Girls, Jordyn. All three girls end up working together on a social studies project to explore the truth behind an urban legend; they choose to research the story of Joseph Wither, a boy supposedly responsible for the disappearances or deaths of several local high school students across the decades.

As they dig deeper into the mystery, Cora begins corresponding online with someone claiming to be Joseph, in a chatroom on a “not so safe” web site. She knows this could be dangerous, but when her classmates find out and mock her for believing in the legend, Cora decides to meet up with Joseph and prove them wrong.

The book opens with an assault and then slowly unravels the events leading up to that act of violence; also functioning as a mystery, it is not until the VERY end that the perpetrator is revealed. There are interesting layers of psychology at work here, but it can be exhausting inhabiting the world of these teenage girls, so concerned about appearances, so protective of their own secrets. 

There  are so many suspects and people of the town are visibly cautious of everyone they meet going about their daily routines. You almost have a notepad handy to keep track of all the twists and turns as the end approaches, and they will blow you away. THE ENDING!!! That’s all I’m going to say.

It is so timely, dealing with bff’s, jealousy, cliques, wanting to so badly to belong, bullying many more things that young girls of today come across on a daily basis.   

This is one book that you HAVE to read!.

Deep Freeze (Northwest #1) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: October 29, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

HER BIGGEST FAN…
When she wakes up, she’s very cold. Colder than she’s ever been in her life. She can’t move or speak. And then she sees him. The one who took her. And before she dies, she wishes she could scream…

IS ABOUT TO BECOME …
Former movie star Jenna Hughes left Hollywood for an isolated farm in Oregon to get away from fame. But someone has followed her – an obsessed fan whose letters are personal and deeply disturbing.
And while Jenna’s already shaken up by what she’s seen on paper, she’d be terrified if she knew what Sheriff Shane Carter is investigating. It’s a shocking case that started with the discovery of a dead woman in the woods. Now two more women are missing, one of whom bears a striking resemblance to Jenna…

HER WORST NIGHTMARE …
As a winter storm bears down on the pacific northwest, a merciless killer’s grisly work has only just begun. And Jenna is Getting Closer to meeting her biggest fan.. one who wants nothing more than to see her dead..

Review –

The story was well thought-out and the characters well-developed. I could not guess the killer until the author revealed him to me!

The beginning was slow, but eventually started to pick up. I actually appreciated the slow start, though, because it gave me a chance to get to know the characters, relationships, and setting. Plus, it made the escalation at the end all that more terrifying.

The killer’s point of view was fantastic because it was both believable and disturbing. I kept wondering, “how can a person actually think like this?”

Jackson executed third person point of view in a way where it almost felt like first person. I enjoyed reading different character’s thoughts and digging through their mind so that I could better understand the characters.

There is a sex scene, which I don’t think I’ve seen in a Lisa Jackson book. While it wasn’t necessary to the plot, it was nicely done and added to the tension between the two leads.

You can not go wrong with a book by Lisa Jackson, so if you’ve never read anything by her, please give one a try. You will not be disappointed !

 

Pretty Reckless (All Saints High #1) by L.J. Shen

Book Description:

Published: April 21, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Penn

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced.
I took her first kiss.
She took the only thing I loved.
I was poor.
She was rich.
The good thing about circumstances? They can change. Fast.
Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project.
Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much.
Yeah, baby girl, say it—I’m your foster brother.
There’s a price to pay for ruining the only good thing in my life, and she’s about to shell out some serious tears.
Daria Followhill thinks she is THE queen. I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess.

Daria

Everyone loves a good old unapologetic punk.
But being a bitch? Oh, you get slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot you put in your adversaries’ way.
The thing about stiletto heels is that they make a hell of a dent when you walk all over the people who try to hurt you.
In Penn Scully’s case, I pierced his heart until he bled out, then left it in a trash can on a bright summer day.
Four years ago, he asked me to save all my firsts for him.
Now he lives across the hall, and I want nothing more than to be his last everything.
His parting words when he gave me his heart were that nothing in this world is free.
Now? Now he is making me pay.

Review –

Pretty Reckless took high school rivals, added a splash of enemies to lovers, wrapped around heart-wrenching angst, and delivered one finger-licking utterly addicting page-turner/ audio book.  If NA angst is your crack of choice, then Shen is about to become your favorite dealer.

If you’ve read Shen’s Sinners of Saint series, then you’ll be familiar with the Followhill from Defy. Daria is the daughter of Melody and Jaime. And if you recall their forbidden union, then you already know that their daughter will have one big chip on her shoulder as she attends the same high school as her parents had their notorious relationship at.

Daria is easily one of my favorite heroines of LJ Shen to date. I love a female that can own the fact that she’s a queen B. But she’s also not the stereotypical do-gooder. This is a girl with a huge chip on her shoulder and she can be downright vicious to those that cross her path. She’s completely unapologetic about it, though being in her head, you see the glimpses of the vulnerability that causes her to lash out the way she does. Poor little rich girl.

As for Penn. Sweet mother of ovaries! I turned cougar for this man and I have no regrets. The turbulent enemies to lovers relationship that happens between these two kept me absolutely riveted. Daria may give as good as she gets, but Penn doesn’t pull any punches with her either. They are pure fire together.

I devoured and I mean straight up DEVOURED this book and was left desperate for more. Shen is a master of her craft and just keeps getting better and better with each new book. I’m already frothing at the mouth for more ASH!

Five stars !