Book Review: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Dear Bookworms,

Every Last Lie
By Mary Kubica

Another Mary Kubica book for the win! Check out the tags below to read a couple other reviews of her previous novels (they are all fantastic).

Clara is reeling from the sudden death of her husband Nick. The police have ruled it an accident- speeding combined with a sharp turn resulted in a deadly collision with a tree, killing him on impact but leaving his 4 year old in the backseat with nothing but a scratch. Just days postpartum with their second child, Claras world is rocked. Unable to pick up the pieces, grieve, and move on with her life, Clara begins digging into the events leading up to Nicks death, convinced someone must have run him off the road on purpose. Clara uncovers shocking information about her husband in her quest to discover what exactly happened. Did she know her husband at all? She will not rest until she uncovers every last lie.

This one was told in alternating perspectives, the present with Clara and the past (spanning a few months past) with Nick. I enjoy this style of storytelling, particularly with a mystery. It’s a fun and interesting way for the reader to make discoveries and piece together clues. The book had a different feel to me than Kubicas previous novels, but it was just as enticing and enrapturing of a read. Claras grief was palpable in Kubicas writing. I cannot even imagine what that must be like, to lose my husband and find myself not only with a large hole in my life, but to find out that my partner was hiding secrets. Kubica sets up the plot nicely, with a wide array of potential villains and motives and the ending was once again not what I had expected. There were a few loose ends that I don’t feel were very well tied up (no spoilers but feel free to jump into the comments if you want to discuss!) but nothing that hinder the plot line.

Overall another fantastic read!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Oleah Chronicles Truth by Michelle Johnson

Dear Bookworms,

This read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Oleah Chronicles: Truth
By Michelle Johnson

Life seems pretty normal for 16 year old Angel Seriki; school, friends, gossiping about boys. That is until the mysterious Zander Black shows up. A transfer student from a prestigious private school, Angel seems to form a strange connection with him immediately. The two are drawn to one another in a way Angel cannot explain. Ever since his arrival at school, Angel has been plagued by nightmares and strange hallucinations, and her seemingly normal life begins to get a whole lot more complicated. As details from hers and her parents past come unraveled and brought to light, Angel finds herself squaring off against an unimaginable foe and a decision that may result in her leaving her life as she knew it behind forever.

Pretty solid read! You all know I enjoy a good contemporary fantasy/supernatural book and this one definitely scratched that itch for me. Johnson builds a pretty unique world in Angels backstory and I am looking forward to seeing even more of that in book 2 (which thankfully I have handy to dive into!). The Oleah are a unique race and I enjoyed the feline shapeshifting aspect. They ooze a certain regal strength that played well in the plot of the book.

The characters were all pretty likable including Angels best friend, Julie. She was the perfect sidekick, spunky and loyal- we all need a Julie in our life! I did find myself slipping into swoon mode, like Angel, the more I read about Zander. He has the strong yet gentle charisma that really makes for a perfect love interest of a character. Despite having her life turned upside down, Angel seemed strong and brave in a way that I feel will only continue to grow as the series (and her character) develops further.

My only drawbacks to the book were that I could have done with a little bit more plot development in the building of Zander and Angels relationship, it seemed a tad rushed at times as was the build up with our villain. I would have enjoyed more cat and mouse between the two factions, really building that tension and anxiety. I’m hoping the remainder of the series can do that for me.

Overall a good read- one that I would recommend to my middle grade readers and up!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco





Book Review: Grenade by Alan Gratz

Dear Bookworms,

So last year I devoured a number of books by Alan Gratz (look for the tags at the bottom of this post to check them out!), falling in love with his ability to tell the tales of those broken by war, putting faces and stories to the countless unnamed who didn’t make it to tell their story themselves.

Grenade
By Alan Gratz

Grenande takes place during WWII at the battle of Okinawa. Ray, a young mid western farmer turned solider is just a freckled faced boy when he lands on the beaches of Okinawa with the sole mission to get home alive. Hideki is an even younger boy, Okinawan pulled from school and made to join the Blood and Iron Student Corps who was given 2 grenades and a mission. One grenade to kill as many Americans as you can, and one to kill yourself. Told through alternating chapters between Ray and Hidekis perspectives, the reader comes to realize the two, while fighting on opposite sides of the war, are actually not so different.

Gratz has such a unique way of bringing history to life within his stories. They are chalk full of history and facts but in a way that feels very natural and engaging. This book more so than his others really highlights the effects of war on people, soldiers in particular. Grantz does an amazing job of humanizing each solider, from both sides, showing that their similarities far outweigh their differences. Fear turned them into monsters, Japanese and American alike, but we can choose to overcome that fear and remember our humanity. Poor Hideki broke my heart. To be so young, to lose so much, to be forced to make impossibly hard life or death decisions was gut wrenching. I was awed by his sticktoitiveness and unrelenting bravery in the face of so many adversities.

An important read, bursting with history and the effects of war on the human psyche that I recommend to my readers of all ages.

Until next week friends

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Dear Bookworms,

This charming fantasy stole my heart this week <3

Every year The Protectorate sacrifices it’s youngest citizen to the witch of the forest, for without the sacrifice (they are told) the witch would destroy them all. Every year, Xan, heads out to rescue a baby from certain death, found within a ring of holly trees. Making the journey to the free cities with the babe in tow, she nourishes the baby with starlight along the journey. She carefully selects the perfect family for the abandoned child, ensuring it will be forever loved and cared for. This year, however, Xan accidentally feeds the child moonlight instead of starlight, thus enmagicking her. Having fallen in love with the child on her journey, she heads back home, having claimed her for her own. With the help of her tiny dragon, Fyrian and her loyal Swamp Monster, Glerk, they raise the magic child, now Luna in a home filled with love and magic. As Luna grows, so does her magic. In an effort to protect Luna from herself and to protect those around her, Xan puts a spell on Luna to contain all her magic within until her 13th birthday. Meanwhile in the Protectorate, a mother grieves her child, never giving up hope that she will one day find her daughter, taken by the Sisters. Unbeknownst to her, as Luna nears her 13th birthday, change is coming, and not only within herself but within the Protectorate as well. A man has set out to kill the witch to protect his child which is to be this years sacrifice, and Luna must venture out on her own to save those she loves.

First of all, I listened to this one on audiobook and the narrator, Christina Moore, absolutely killed it! She brought so much life and individuality to each of the characters and the story as a whole that I was literally held hostage listening to her tell this tale. I fell in love with each and every one of these characters. Xan and her infinite kindness and compassion, Luna with her eager hunger for knowledge and exuberant energy, Glerk with his steadfast loyalty, Fyrian and his larger than life personality and carefree whim, Antain and his search for meaning, the madwoman and her never ending hope, and honestly my favorite character even if her role wasn’t as pronounced, Athean. Athean was clever, endlessly kind and compassionate, and stood up to a powerful institution in an act of bravery that was so bold it was breathtaking. Honestly she was my favorite (although Fyrian was a close second! I want a tiny dragon friend of my own!). Barnhill does a wonderful job of telling each of these characters stories individually until the culmination of events leads all their journeys to the pinnacle of the plot; so well done!

Wonderful storytelling and one I recommend to all my readers of all ages!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Dear Bookworms,

Fair warning, this book is pretty deep and heartbreaking but so worth the journey.

This book was written based on interviews with Holocaust survivor, Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov and tells the tale of his time imprisoned in a concentration camp and becoming the tattooist in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Lale used his position as the tattooist which afforded him extra rations and the very rare, if still limited, freedoms to walk the camp unmolested by the Nazi guards. In a place of terror and death, Lale makes an unlikely connection. A terrified woman, Gita, presents herself in line to be tattooed and it is then and there that Lale falls in love. Over the course of the next couple of years, Lale does what he can to protect Gita. Using his position as Tatowierer he is able to secure her a job in the administration offices. He smuggles her and her bunk mates extra food and even develops his own smuggling ring of food and medicine with the help of a local (free) man who works as a construction worker in the camp. Surrounded by death and misery, horrors that we can only imagine, Lale survives, and love blossoms and grows in an unstoppable riptide. The two cling to the idea of a future in which they are free, and truly able to begin a life together.

One thing that honestly never ceases to amaze me when I read these stories (like in Born Survivors), is the ability of the human spirit to not only withstand/survive such unimaginable horrors, but to continue to forge meaningful connections and find something beautiful in all the misery. People who literally have nothing, willing to share their tiny morsels of food with those around them. Skin and bones, carrying the weight of their friends too weak to stand. The unrelenting will to survive that kept people going, day in and day out. This book did such a good job of showing just how incredibly powerful one simple act of kindness can be, the ripple effect that literally saved untold lives.

“He who saves the life of one man saves the world”

If ever two souls were meant to be together, it was Lale and Gitas. Surviving the concentration camps and finding each other again after the war when they had been separated by countless miles and obstacles is nothing short of miraculous.

This book will make you weep but give you hope. Hope in love and the resilience of the human spirit. Hope in the small acts of kindness that can save the world.

Be kind to one another friends.

XOXO,

Coco



The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Dear Bookworms,

If Neil Gaiman wrote a dark version of Narnia with a dash of The Wizard of Oz- this would be it.

Twelve year old David is still mourning the loss of this mother, and adjusting (not so well really) to his fathers new wife and his new half brother. While a war wages on in Europe, they are tucked safely into a house on the countryside where David pours his time into his books. He begins to notice whispers from the books, of which only he can hear and one night, finds himself sucked into another world through a crack in the wall of a sunken garden in the yard.

This world is strange. From the wolf/human hybrids (descendant of a girl in a red cloak), to the seven socialist dwarfs, and the crooked man who seems to be lurking around every corner, David fights to survive in this strange world, coming soon to realize things weren’t so bad afterall at home. Davids storybook characters have seem to come to life, albeit grotesquely, and he isn’t sure he will ever be able to find his way home again.

Overall this was an enjoyable read, if dark and twisted at times. It was full of some of the most well known fairytales many of us have grown up with, with a warped, twisted edge to them. There was plenty of action and danger and something very nostalgic about childhood. Wanting to run away into a book is a feeling I am very familiar with, and to see David do just that was almost like living out a childhood fantasy. Davids progression from a petulant( if grieving) child, into a selfless and brave young man was really fascinating to read.

Also gotta give a shoutout to the audiobook narrator who really lent a great theatrical feel to the whole read. Steven Crossley really did the book justice with his performance!

Any fans of Neil Gaiman are sure to love this read, and is one I would for sure recommend to any of my readers middle grade and up!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

The Book of Lost Things
By John Connolly

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Dear Bookworms,

This one has been on my TBR since it’s release last year and I can’t believe I have just now finished it!!

THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING.

Set in the land of Orisha, Zelie Adebola grew up in life filled with magic. Marked by their stark white hair, those gifted by magic from the gods could perform truly incredible feats. Power over fire, water, earth, metals, health, even death, their power was greatly feared by the monarchy. King Saran found a way to kill magic and all the magi with it, including Zelies own mother. Watching her mother being dragged from her home and hung from a tree limb is a memory that haunts her to this day, over a decade later. When a simple trip to the capital for trade turns into a flight for her life with a runaway princess and a magic scroll, Zelie finds herself at the center of the fight to bring magic back and rise her people up from persecution and tyranny.

The only thing I am mad about with this book is that it’s over and I have to wait until December to read the second. Adeyemi built an absolutely incredible world that is so robust and filled with life that jumping into it feels like I am stepping into a real time and place in history. The sounds, feels, smells just ooze from her words, utterly captivating. This unique story has all the essential elements of a superb fantasy but with such a wonderfully different flare. African lore and mythology reign supreme and are the focal point of the plot, and what a rich and mesmerizing history it is. Her characters emotions came across so well in the text I found myself shocked to the core with how viscerally i could feel their pain, fear, worry, and even love. This is a novel riddled with fierce and brave characters (and some really vile villains) who truly come to life in Adeyemis words.

I have already pre-ordered my copy for book 2 on Amazon (even though I am cursing the December release date).

This book is a perfect fantasy that not only serves to entertain, but to inspire.

And inspired I was.

Until next week friends, be good to one another.

XOXO,

Coco

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Dear Bookworms,

What a wonderful read this was! I can honestly say I had never heard about the “orphan trains” from American history and wow, how eye opening. It is definitely a topic that I will be digging into after this read.

Orphan Train
By Christina Baker Kline

When 90 year old Vivian Daly needs someone to help her clean out her attic, the task falls to rough around the edges Molly. Molly is a foster kid who has one foot out of the door in her current placement due to her recent run in with the law. Cleaning out the attic seems a boring if easy job for Molly to complete her community service hours. The hours spent with Vivian going through the mementos of her life begin to forge an unlikely bond between the two women.

In the early 1900’s a young Irish immigrant (our very own Vivian Daly) finds herself an orphan after an unfortunate apartment fire kills her parents and siblings. Along with thousands of other children during this time period, young Vivian finds herself aboard the orphan train, headed to the Midwest in the hope of finding a kind family to take her in. So begins Vivians journey across the vastness of the Midwest with only her meager belongings and the strength of her spirit.

This book was told in alternating time periods; with Molly in the present day, and Vivian in the early 1900’s into present day. My heart hurt for both girls, orphaned and alone in the world trying to not only survive but make a way and forge an identity. They each experienced heartbreak and pain, but their shared resilience and fortitude seemed a common thread in both their lives, separated by decades. Their stories were one of thousands of stories, both from the time of the orphan trains to the current foster system in the United States. Klines writing was detailed and heartfelt, and I couldn’t read fast enough!

I highly recommend this read, it was full of emotions and an absolute page turner.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Faeries of Saizia by Tonya L Chaves

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review. (Another Beep review! The Bloggess fan club is such a talented tribe!)

Faeries of Saizia
By Tonya L. Chaves

In the land of Saizia, two young fairies, Avery and his best friend Zaria, find themselves in trouble after venturing into the forbidden Eerie Hollow. Stumbling upon a secret chocolate production and a pair of elves, the two fairies are at a loss for what to do. Should they tell Queen Yamani? Continue to investigate alone? Curiosity wins out and Avery and Zaria soon find themselves in too deep when they are discovered snooping by the evil King Thordon of Eerie Hollow. In an effort to save themselves from having their wings ripped off and enslaved by King Thordon for breaking the century old truce to keep their kingdoms apart and secret from one another, the fairies accept a mission. If they succeed, they live, if they fail they belong to King Thordon. The two must venture out past the boundaries of anywhere they have ever been to retrieve a special seed. Their journey is rife with adventure and danger. With only their wits and determination, can Avery and Zaria complete their mission? And will King Thordon betray them in the end?

What a fun read! This one is perfect for all my middle grade readers and up and is filled with all things magical. There are fairies, elves, dragons, and magic- what more could you want?! I was tickled over the fairy speech patterns and colloquialisms. “Leaping Lizards!” is one exclamation that I hope to introduce into my everyday vernacular. Saizia was truly a wonderful world to dive into, and I’m not gonna lie, some place that i would like to live. There were some neat twists and turns that I was not expecting which kept me on my toes. (I would love to read a prequel about the events leading to the fallout between Saizia and Eerie Hollow and the truce to remain separated forever!)

Thanks Tonya for a really fun read, one that I will be sure to recommend to all my fantasy lovers! (Also, where can I get my copy of Human History and Other Mistakes to Learn From because clearly we need a refresher over here in the human world.)

Add this one to your reading list folks! It’s a goodie! See you guys next week!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Dear Bookworms,

My cup overflowth with joy at this book.

Seriously guys….my heart!

Book Three in the Dark Artifices series picks up right where book 2 leaves off (you can read up on both book 1 and 2’s reviews first find the tags at the bottom of this page!) The Blackthornes are mourning the death of Livia , Julian takes drastic measures to extinguish the fire of his forbidden love for his parabatai Emma, a sickness has seeped into the world mortally weakening warlocks, and the Black Volume of the Dead has been stolen and taken away to Faerie. With little time for mourning, Julian and Emma embark on a dangerous covert mission to Faerie in order to bring back the Black Volume of the Dead before civil war breaks out in Alicante. When the two unexpectedly find themselves hurtled into an alternate reality, Thule, they come face to face with a horrible, twisted version of their world, one they may not survive. With all the forces of the world bearing down on them, they must work together to survive this land, get back home, cure the blight that is slowly spreading throughout their land sickening the warklocks, and stop the bigoted newly elected Head Counsil before their community is ripped apart. With the threat of the parabatai curse looming ever nearer, Julian and Emma seem to be fighting an uphill battle.

Cassandra Clare is a writing goddess. Her books are so intricate, deep, and well written they are one of my favorite worlds to get lost in. Clare has no limit to her ability to weave tales so complicated and heart wrenching that you find yourself utterly immersed and completely addicted. To stop reading is physically painful people! You just don’t ever want to leave her universe! At 880 pages there is no lack of action and plot development. She broke my heart countless times, filled me with hope, kept me on the edge of my literal seat throughout the entire book. Her ability to build worlds is truly remarkable and I am convinced she is a warlock sharing a piece of Shadowhunter to us mundanes. There was quite a bit of character development with not only Julian and Emma but Christina, Mark, Keirian, Diana, Ty, and Kit. Everyone, while fighting towards the common goals of the larger arc of the plot, also went through immense personal growth, experiencing their own personal struggles to get there. Clare once again touches on issues prevalent in today tumultuous political climate. Themes like bigotry and xenophobia were woven within the plot and was very reflective of some of the issues we face even today. The complex and diverse relationships found within not only this book but the series as a whole is filled with an honestly and depth that was really amazing to read and watch unfold. I fell in love with Chistina, Mark, and Kierian. Their love was so pure and so honest. I swooned over Diane and Gwyn and the quiet strength of their relationship. And obviously Julian and Emma, that relationship has driven me crazy for 3, 800+ page books and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’m sure it goes without saying considering this entire review has been one long fangirl squeal but if you haven’t read any- PLEASE add anything and everything Shadowhunter to your TBR. You will hate me because it will consume your life but you will love me forever for pushing you to jump into this world you will never want to leave.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

P. S I would also like to take a minute to point out how stunning the inside of the book jacket and all of the art interspersed throughout the book is. It is absolutely amazing!

Book Review: Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Dear Bookworms,

Pillow Thoughts
By Courtney Peppernell

After reading Rupi Kaurs two books of poetry last year I have definitely been more intrigued to pick up and explore this genre some more. This book popped up as an Amazon Prime freebie so of course I gave it a whirl.

Pillow Thoughts is a collection of poetry and prose broken into 10 sections. All deal with love, heartache, loss, and self worth. Peppernell delves into all the various aspects and emotions that come with falling in love. The heartache when it ends, the butterflies when it’s new, the beauty in the comfortable mundane-ness of a relationship. Peppernell explores feelings of self esteem and self worth, something that everyone has struggled with at some point in their lives. She has a simple yet heartfelt writing style that was easy and relatable. She captures complex feelings and emotions in a way that is easily digestible and enjoyed. I could see myself in much of her work. Here are a few passages that I really connected with:

“ There are little pieces of happiness and they are scattered through your day. So take a basket with you as you step outside, fill it up with all the little pieces, and bring it back inside. Take a moment, just by yourself, take out all of the pieces, and place them on your shelf”

“ Of all the tragedies on this earth, there is none more tragic than a person who cannot see their worth”


Even if your sadness

feels quite heavy

the truth is

it’s just a paperweight

Learn to turn the page”

Overall an enjoyable, quick read, one that can be revisited and felt anew with different stages in life. Definitely recommend this to my poetry fans (and like me- new to the poetry game!)

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

Dear Bookworms,

I picked this one up as I had read and really enjoyed Macallisters previous novel, The Magicians Lie. I was hoping for all the same elements that I enjoyed with her first novel; action, danger, and a kick ass female led.

Let me tell you guys, Macallister delivers yet again!

Girl in Disguise
By Greer Macallister

Kate Warne has quite literally no where to turn. A young widow in the 1850’s (don’t feel too bad, she was coerced into a loveless marriage by her good for nothing parents) with no income, she was quite literally almost out on the streets when an ad in the newspaper caught her eye. Pinkerton Detective Agency was hiring a new detective. The fact that there was no such thing as a female detective did not dissuade Kate; if anything, it made her want it even more. Kate is determined and quick witted and Pinkerton takes a chance and hires her on. Kate works twice as hard as every man on the payroll to prove herself, and prove herself she does. With the country on the verge of a civil war, Kates life as an operative takes her on countless dangerous missions, all over the country. Inspired by the real woman who was Americas first detective, this read is one you won’t be able to put down.

Y’all, Kate Warne is such a badass! I could read about her operations all. damn. day. This is a historical fiction done right. I do love some action and suspense in my reading and sometimes with a historical fiction, it really just isn’t there (obviously, I mean I’m not expecting them ALL to be, just that for that reason- they normally aren’t my cup of tea) but Girl in Disguise was such a perfect blend of action and plot to the back drop of one of the most important times in American history- the Civil War. The politics of it all are more a backdrop to Kate and her navigating her life as not only an operative at a prestigious detective agency, but a woman fighting gender norms and societal stereotypes on how she should be living her life. Kate is smart, and she uses these stereotypes to her benefit. After all, who would suspect a woman * gasp * of subterfuge and deceit? Kate was firery and brave- just such a great character to read. In addition to the action and danger that the life of an operative entails, we also are shown a more vulnerable side to Kate which was really moving to read. There was loss and heartbreak, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t tear up at some scenes.

Do yourself a favor and add this gem to your reading list. I will certainly continue to read anything Greer publishes and look forward to her next book!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Mira's Griffin by Christie Valentine Powell

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Mira's Griffin
By Christie Valentine Powell

Something is terrorizing the city of Mund Cove. People are disappearing, never to be seen again. Strong willed Mira pays no mind to the warnings of the elders and continues to spend her time scouring the cliff walls for eggs to trade and barter with in town; until that is, she is captured and taken for prisoner. The griffins have been taking and enslaving her people, and other people from neighboring villages to work in their vales as their own personal “animal” labor.

When Mira forms an unlikely bond with a griffin in her vale, she in convinced she can forge a way for humans and griffins to live together in harmony. Together with a small band of humans, Mira and her Griffin work to overcome stereotypes and break down boundaries. Not everyone is sold on this idea, and violence ensues. Can Mira and her gang of revolutionaries convince the humans and griffins alike to work together, or will they let their differences destroy them all?

This book was such a fun read. There was a little bit of everything in there; action, loss, love, magic, and an overarching theme of rising above stereotypes and discrimination to coexist with those who may be different than yourselves. It’s about understanding, or caring even to understand, about people who are different than ourselves. How these differences can be used as strengths to a common community and its posterity.

Mira was such a likable character. She was strong willed to the point of bullheadedness and ever the idealist. She wasn’t afraid of hard work and lived her life with an open mind. We could all learn a few things from Mira. Powell created an enchanting and well written world that was a joy to dive into. Mira’s band of revolutionaries (that’s how I like to think of them anyway) were a great supporting cast each distinct and complete as characters.

Overall this was a really great read. Definitely recommend to all my middle grade and up bookworms!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read is definitely heavy so I did want to include some trigger warnings in case it might not be the read for you.

Girl in Pieces
By Kathleen Glasgow

TW: Sexual assault, self harm, alcoholism, drugs, suicide, violence.

Charlotte (Charlie) Davis has hit rock bottom. After nearly successfully committing suicide, she finds herself in the all womens ward of Creeley, a mental hospital in Minnesota. While there, she slowly opens up, piecing herself back together from her life on the streets. Upon discharge, her mother refuses to take her home, sending her instead with a one way bus ticket to Arizona where a friend has offered to help her get settled. Charlie once again is forced out into the unknown, at time when she is most vulnerable in her recovery. As she moves into this new life, and looks to make a place for herself, she falls back into destructive habits with an equally damaged guy named Riley. Charlie clings so desperately to Riley but his demons prove to be too much for them both, and Charlie finds herself spiraling, quickly, back into dangerous waters.

Like I said, this book was heavy. My heart ached for Charlie who seemed to be dealt one shitty hand after another. Charlies story is the story of so many girls and women who each face shame not only from society but from themselves; a self loathing that is masked with drugs, self harm, or destructive relationships. Charlie was vulnerable but hard and was written so so well. One thing that really stuck out with me throughout the book was the small kindnesses she encountered along her journey. It is an important reminder that we all have the power to be kind, and our kindness, however small and insignificant it may seem, could truly be the defining line between life and death. The women at Creeley were all so robust, they were honestly probably my favorite part of the story, though they only occupied a small percentage of the book. I listened to the audiobook version of this one (shoutout to the narrator Julia Whelan- she really nailed it!) and the afterward by the author was really something special. Glasgow talked about her own struggles with self harm in a way that I felt was both very brave and very powerful.

This is a must read for sure and is a glimpse into a life of someone struggling with mental health, one that I think is important for everyone to take a look at.

Until next week my bookish friends!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Dear Bookworms,

This one has been on my to read list foreeeeeevvvver. I have always been a huge John Green fan (The Fault In Our Stars anyone?! Dear god I loved that one) Needless to say, I had high hopes for this one.

Spoiler alert….I loved it.

16 year old Aza and her larger than life best friend Daisy embark on an adventure in search of a missing billionaire, who just so happens to be the father of a childhood friend, Davis, who Aza met at a grief camp when they were children. The two girls are caught sneaking around on Davis’ property in search of clues, and thus reignites the once friendship (now possibly more??) between Aza and Davis. The thing is, Aza isn’t well. Her intrusive and obsessive thoughts are wrecking havoc on her life, and she begins a downward spiral that she isn’t sure she can pull herself back from.

I don’t know why I continue to be amazed at how well Green captures the minds and emotions of people so well, but every time I finish one of his books I just slowly clap for the master… bravo John!

This young adult fiction really explores so many relevant topics; mental health, relationships, loss, grief, and unwavering friendship and loyalty. Although it’s never exactly labeled in the book, Aza seems to suffer from a diagnosed anxiety disorder and/or obsessive compulsive disorder. Her struggle is gripping, and I found myself completely sucked in when her mind began to spiral and the intrusive thoughts won out over her rational thinking. It wasn’t a book with a happy ending where the girl gets the guy, and they overcome their issues to ride off into the sunset, and honestly, that’s ok. It’s real life. It was the journey through the muck and the fear and loss of control that really made the story. Despite the lack of a picture perfect happy ending, there was hope. Aza was a superbly written character and as secondary as Daisy seemed at first to me in the novel, she really was a great character in and of herself. She kind of sneaks up on you.

As a side note, I really love all the obscure trivia I picked up from the book including , but not limited to, attributes of a tuatara, gut health, and clostridium difficle colitis.

Overall, definitely recommend this one!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco






Past Life by Dominic Nolan

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Abigail Boone has no memories before waking up in a dirty flat in England, beaten and bruised. After a harrowing escape which left her maimed and broken, Abigail is trying to put her life back together. It’s been a year, and she still has no memory of her life before that day. Her husband and son are patient, if weary, of the process and her former life as a detective is over.

Past Life
By Dominic Nolan

Boone (as she prefers to be called now), once she is strong enough, begins to investigate what happened to her. She pours her days into rereading the old case file of a missing girl which lead her into being kidnapped that fateful day over a year ago. Following leads and reconnecting with another woman who escaped from that flat with her that night, Boone embarks on a dangerous journey, one in which powerful people will stop at nothing to silence her for good.

This debut novel was a slam dunk! From the intense and gripping first chapter it was a roller coaster of excitement and tension. Having the main character suffer from amnesia was a really interesting take on a thriller that worked well for the plot line. We were piecing together the story in real time with Boone and it was heart pumping to say the least. Within the story of figuring out what happened to Boone and finding some sort of closure with the missing persons case she was investigating prior to her kidnap and injury, we have the story of Boone herself, struggling to make sense of her new life and the people in it.

There were layers of drama that were interesting to unpack. Boone is one bad ass chick; despite all her past trauma she was tough as nails, and almost stubborn to a fault. Her gang of supporting characters were just as unique and eclectic which made for good reading. There was no slow build to action with this book. Boone finds herself in plenty of hairy situations which left me furiously flipping pages to see how in the world she was going to extricate herself in one piece. There were some adult themes in this one so be cautioned if you are triggered by violence and brutality as the fight scenes are pretty intense.

Overall a great read! Make sure to crack into it with plenty of time to devote to reading because you absolutely will not be able to put it down when you start!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco




Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Dear Bookworms,

Into the Water: A Novel
By Paula Hawkins

Having read, devoured, and thoroughly enjoyed the wild ride that was Girl on a Train by Hawkins, I had the bar set quite high for this one and to be honest, I was kinda let down.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad read, it just really didn’t have that wow factor for me.

After learning of her estranged sisters (Nell) apparent suicide, Jules Abbott travels back to her home town to wrap up her sisters affairs and try to figure out what to do with her teenage niece. The drowning pool, as it’s known in town, has claimed the lives of women dating all the way back to the days of witch hunts and was also the topic of the book Nell was in the process of writing, chonricaling all the women and their stories who had lost their lives in it’s icy depths. Jules isn’t convinced that her sister would ever purposefully take her own life and after a few days in the town, begins to have suspicions of foul play. Being back home brings back memories that Jules has worked hard to forget, painful memories which include her own near death at the drowning pool.

Overall not a bad read, the characters were well written and engaging, even if I wish they hadn’t been so predictable. The drowning pools history was eerie and interesting to read and provided a great backdrop and setting for the plot. I think my issue was with the predictability. I (like most mystery/thriller readers I would venture to say) was really waiting for that wow moment that unfortunately just didn’t come. The ending was predictable and I had it figured out pretty early on in the book. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the ride to get there, but It wasn’t the shocker I was craving nevertheless. The ending could have been wrapped up a little quicker, I didn’t feel like we needed all that “after”the mystery was solved” information.

Anyone have any thoughts on this one? Did you like it as much as Girl on a Train?

Until next week my bookish friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Born Survivors by Wendy Holden

Dear Bookworms,

Let me start off by saying that I cried, dozens of times, reading this book. It was utterly heartbreaking.

This memoir follows three young Jewish women in Europe during the rise of the Nazi party until the end of WWII and the liberation of the concentration camps. The reader is given a glimpse into each woman’s upbringing including a look into her life; likes, hobbies, families, loves. As the war intensifies, the women find their once idyllic and independent lives, slowly leached of not only property and belongings, but liberties, freedoms, and basic human dignity.

While this is the unfortunate, heart wrenching story of countless Jewish peoples during the time period, these women have something quite unique about their stories. Each woman was newly pregnant at the time of their incarceration in a concentration camp, and against all odds, not only did they live to be liberated by the Americans, but their children, born into the desolate, hopeless camps, survived as well.

Wendy Holden does such a wonderful job of sharing these brave women’s stories. I felt I knew them each, deeply when I finished the book. I wept for them, I silently prayed for them even knowing how their stories would end up, I felt them on such an emotional level.

One of the things which really struck me about each of these women was the unimaginable resilience they each possessed. Losing their child, or death, was never an option. They fought each an every day, each and every minute even, to stay alive. Even in a place as bleak and hopeless as a ghetto, isolated and starving, scared and beaten for minor infractions; people cobbled together beautiful works of art in the form of plays, musicals, and performances. Friendships blossomed, and even love took root. It was moving and profound to read.

Overall I cannot speak highly enough about this book. As a mother, it spoke to me in a way that it will forever be branded in my mind, and I will always been amazed at these three women and the incredible fortitude they displayed at what is arguably one of the worst, most horrific genocides of modern time.

Until next week my bookish friends.

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Returning by Yael Shahar

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Returning
By Yael Shahar

This is an unusual memoir to say the least. The first half switches back and forth between Alex (written in first person) and Yael (written in third person). Alex is recounting his tale of having been imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp of Birkenau. Alex is deeply troubled about his time spent in the camp and the things he had to do to survive. His memories are painful and he feels much guilt about some of the things he had to do to survive, mainly working in the crematorium leading down the weary and frightened Jews to their deaths, then collecting the dead bodies and feeding them into the fires. Yael is plagued with intrusive thoughts about a time in which she could not possibly have experienced. Memories of being held in a concentration camp, filled with fear and pain. Alex begins correspondence with a rabbi in order to sort through his feelings and emotions surrounding his time at Birkenau and submit to a final judgement on his actions within the camp. He is wracked with guilt and knows that while it will be hard, it is the only way to achieve peace in his soul.

This emotional memoir really hooked me for the beginning half. The journey back in time as Alex relives his time at a German concentration camp is heartbreaking. It was descriptive and vivid and I found myself needing breaks in between especially disturbing passages, it was a lot to digest.

I was really not as invested in the story of Yael and her journey of self discovery, and when the two characters story lines came together it was shocking and not anything remotely close to what I had been anticipating. The second half of the book dragged quite a bit to me; it was very repetitive and clinical with reading of sacred texts and discussing at length and in multitude, Alexs actions in the concentration camp.

Overall it was a very different sort of memoir (no spoilers but trust me on this one) one that I really am not sure was my cup of tea. Had it been wrapped up shortly after that halfway point twist, I think it would have been a much more enjoyable read.

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

Dear Bookworms,

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Storytellers
By Bjørn Larssen

Ekkkkk!! This book is so special to my little bookworm heart. Not only does it take place in one of my favorite places in the world, Iceland, but it is written by a fellow Bloggess lover (you do remember my obsession with Jenny Lawson, no?) and internet buddy who really is a super cool dude (check out his blog here!)

Gunnar lives a quietly predictable, if lonely (although I am sure he would argue that he’s not) life in rural Iceland in 1920. When a bedraggled injured stranger shows up on his door step, Gunnar unenthusiastically allows him lodgings until his broken foot is healed enough for him to continue on with his journey (the wad of cash offered for his discretion didn’t hurt either). Sigurd, an enigmatic man with a penchant for telling stories, passes his time in convalescence with Gunnar by telling him a tale of love, adventure, jealously, betrayal and murder. Little does Gunnar know, the story he has begrudgingly come to greatly anticipate hearing each day will collide with his once small world, turning everything he knew upside down.

Alright kids, this one is FOR SURE, a keeper. Bjørn has a knack for writing witty, enjoyable characters. Gunnar is crass and harsh, a raging alcoholic but damn if you don’t root for him every step of the way. The story within a story if you will, that Sigurd tells, sucks you in. It was always leaving you wanting more each time he breaks, yanking me back from his story, into the current story ( are you following me here?). Bjørn seamlessly brings the two together in a fast paced, action packed ending that definitely left me reading way past my bedtime (a bookworms famous last words amiright?) His characters are uniquely flawed, each one, which was honestly refreshing. They each have vices, or personality quirks (or just plain old horrible personalities) that resonates with truth, and was much more enjoyable to read than some cookie cutter character that no one can relate to. There were surprises and twists that I didn’t see coming, and even an appearance from an elf (hello- it IS set in Iceland).

Do yourself a favor and go ahead and pre-order this one now! You can even score some cool merch from his Etsy shop too!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco