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

Book Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamo

Dear Bookworms,

I honestly really don’t know how I feel about this book, lets unpack it shall we?

Before I Let Go
By Marieke Nijkamp

Corey and Kyra have always been inseparable. Growing up the small Alaskan town of Lost, they were outsiders, but they always had each other. Corey was the only one who understood Kyras manic highs and depressive lows in a town rife with judgement and shunning. Six months after moving away to Canada for her mothers new job opportunity, Corey gets a call that Kyra has been found dead in the lake, under the frozen surface. Corey goes back to her childhood home for Kyras memorial and realizes this town, and the people in it, have become strangers. Corey is convinced Kyra would never kill herself, and the town is hiding secrets.

Don’t let this synopsis fool you, this book is not your run of the mill murder mystery. It has an ethereal almost otherworldly feel to it. Lost, cut off from the world with his snow and ice harbors a sort of preternatural feel which is hard to put into words. Corey is desperate for answers and continues to uncover horrible truths about Kyras last months in Lost before her death. I was so certain that I knew how this book would turn out (I was convinced Kyra and Corey were the same person with a case of dissociative identity disorder and this was some insane therapeutic way to separate her personalities and leave her with only one- I was waaaaay off base).

It was creepy, cultish, and sinister and the setting of this isolated Alaskan town really lent itself to setting that tone and mood throughout the book. There were some aspects of the supernatural; premonitions of the future and voices from beyond the grave.

There were some interesting themes that were explored which were refreshing to read. Mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder as well as various angels of sexuality that are too often underrepresented in literature.

Overall, I would say this was an entertaining read. It was certainly different from any other mystery I’ve read in awhile, even if I was left slightly dazed and confused at the end.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Such a Perfect Wife by Kate White

Dear Bookworms,

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

Criminal reporter Bailey Weggins is sent on assignment to the idyllic small town of Lake George, NY. After dropping her kids off at school , Shannon Blaine sets out for her morning run, only this time, she doesn’t come back. It doesn’t take long for Bailey to compile a short list of possible suspects; her seemingly perfect husband (husbands are ALWAYS a suspect amiright), a bitter older sister, a creepy hotel manager, and a young deacon at the church Shannon recently rejoined. After an anonymous call points Bailey in the direction of the church she stumbles upon the body of not only Shannon, but 2 other unidentified persons. The case gets dangerous, and quickly, for Bailey. Using her reporting and researching skills, as well as pure gut instincts, Bailey is close to unraveling the truth. Can she unmask the killer before he silences her, forever?

Y’all…. this was a wild ride! White does an amazing job of laying the ground work (clues and red herrings alike) for an epic mystery; It was well paced and exciting. As with any good mystery there are plenty of interesting and plausible suspects. At various points in the book I was convinced they were each responsible, only to change my mind and go another route (at least half a dozen times!) Baileys profession as a criminal reporter ensures our MC is quick witted and attentive to detail. She is able to think outside the box as any good writer can, and has an uncanny ability to piece together information seemingly unrelated to form a comprehensive picture of the situation. No family is perfect, and Shannon Blaines life and the people in it contain their fair share of secrets. Bailey does not give up until she uncovers them all.

I will definitely have to check out more of Kate Whites work, specifically the Bailey Weggins mysteries. I am hooked!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Dear Bookworms,

Another Greta Helsing book for the win! And if its even possible, this one was even more enjoyable than her first book, Strange Practice.

Greta and Ruthvan are in Paris for a series of medical conferences when she begins to notice what she deems, peculiar happenings. For starters, strange monsters keep making their way into her hotel room, a well monster and hair monsters (harmless creatures really, but unusual nonetheless). After Ruthvan flies out of Paris, Greta decides to ease her mind and reach out to the guardian of the city, St. Germain (a werewolf) to get his take on the strange little creatures. Before she is able to make it to her appointment however, Greta is kidnapped and taken to an underground prison cell by a vampire leader with a decades old vendetta against Ruthvan. Greta is to serve as bait in order for this vampire, Corvin to exact his revenge. Meanwhile, someone is practicing magic to summon these little monsters, and in doing so is tearing the fabric of reality. Alone and with only her wits, Greta hopes her friends realize shes missing, before she becomes more meal than bait in his coven of hungry vampires. And time is of the essence as reality is splitting and may not be able to be held together for much longer.

SUCH. A. GOOD. BOOK. Greta and her posse are really like a group of old friends by the end of this book. At only the second in the series I feel like I know them all so well. They are comfortable and familiar and I could read about their adventures forever and not tire of them. Greta is such a great MC; She is smart, witty, and cunning in a way that isn’t devious but more so resourceful. She is the damsel in distress who doesn’t need saving. She buckles down, uses her brain, and saves herself. She is brave and headstrong, someone you definitely want in your corner when trying to save the fabric of reality. The blooming relationship between her and Varney is swoon-worthy (yes I swooned) and the addition of a few new characters to the group was fun. In addition to the baby ghouls from the last book, I have decided I would also like to add a well monster and a hair monster to my list of supernatural creatures I would like to meet/keep as pets. (How can you resist that siren cry of “glup” and the fuzzy hair monster snuggles?!) The book was full of action, friendship, love, and redemption and I cannot recommend it enough!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: The Last Straw by Ed Duncan

Dear Bookworms,

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

After a car jacking gone wrong results in the death of a man, the witness to the crime, a young teenage girl, is set to testify against the suspect. Before taking the stand, her father is shot and killed after walking her home from school. Clearly a botched attempt at silencing the witness, her neighbor, Paul Elliott keeps an eye on her until her mother who is out of the country can be located. A respected lawyer, Elliott finds himself enmeshed in a criminal plot by the local crime boss to silence the witness. As Elliott tries to keep his friends daughter safe and figure out why the bounty on her head, a ghost of his past, professional hitman Rico Sanders resurfaces.

Rico was chosen for the job to take out the young witness. When he refused saying it went against his rule of “no kids”, the boss chose the second in his arsenal of killers, John D’Angelo. Rico and John have a complicated relationship and soon Rico finds himself working tenuously together with Elliott in an effort to not only save the girl, but take out D’Angelo altogether.

When I agreed to read and review this book, I didn’t know that it was the second in a series. Although I was able to follow along having not read the first, it was slightly confusing at times and for that reason I would say it would be best to start with book one. The plot was interesting and packed with tension/action, although the characters felt a little flat. I could have done with some better dialogue and character development to really beef it up. At times it was cliched but still enjoyable for the most part. Rico was a good “bad guy with a conscious'“ that you as the reader find yourself rooting for, even if he is a hired hit-man. Paul Elliott was sort of your average joe who seems to get caught up in extraordinary circumstances and does really make you as the reader think “could I really pull the trigger and kill someone if my life depended on it?” Elliott and his girlfriend explore the morality of these situations in a way that is thought provoking.

Overall I would recommend this one to those of you who enjoy a good mystery with plenty of action.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco






Book Review: Aaru 2 Halls of Hell by David Meredith

Dear Bookworms,

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

Halls of Hel is the second in the Aaru series by David Meredith. Didn’t catch that review, find it here!

Things is Aaru are idyllic. Rose and Franco are closer than ever, her friendships with her fellow Lords, Ladies, and Vedas are flourishing. In a land where her every thought, dream, and desire can become reality, what more could one ask for? Koren is struggling out in the real world. Her relationship with her parents is testy, her father is drinking too much and her mother is barely around. She is constantly tugged between promotion, event, and interview as the spokesperson for Elysium Industries with hardly a minute to catch her breath. Magic Man is still at large, plotting and toiling away behind a computer to hack into the Aaru mainframe, ensnaring and enslaving Koren forever. The two sisters are up against the most sinister foe, can they ward off Magic Mans attack before it’s too late?

Ok, I am just going to go with the things I liked and the things I didn’t like route here. Once again, this was a really imaginative plot with some really unique themes being explored. The afterlife and it’s connection to technology and thus immortality raise some really interesting talking points which had me debating myself while reading. Are the “damaged” brain scans uploaded into Aaru deserving of a quarantined location, away from the inhabitants and glory of Aaru? (I’m still going back and forth on this one) Is deleting a brain scan equivalent to murder/death. (I think so?) Leaves a lot to think about. Fighting a war within Aaru is also a compelling plot line, and one that left me furiously turning pages to see what would happen next.

Now for the things I wasn’t so thrilled with…. Koren is WAY oversexualized for a child of 14. The descriptive language of her sleazy dress, her body, and relationship with pop star douche just made me feel….icky…it wasn’t needed and felt like too much. Koren is essentially a child, one maturing into adulthood sure, but way too young to be parading around in the book like a little sex kitten. It didn’t work for me, and left me feeling skived out. I also feel the plot line could work just as well without the villain being a crazed pedophile. It’s too much; a disgruntled ex employee would work fine, a college aged computer hacker with a vendetta against Elysium Industries is another more plausible angle. Magic Man is just a gross, weirdly written villain to me. (Obviously I am not an author but speaking purely my personal opinion). I was looking for more character development here in the second book but felt it fell a little flat in that department. Rose comes off as some angsty, lusty teenager, and Koren a petulant brat.

Overall a really interesting plot line if the characters just felt more authentic and not so overly sexualized, it would be a really amazing read.

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco





Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Dear Bookworms,

I know you all are probably sick of me gushing about my love for Ruth Ware but damn, I love her! I listened to this one on audible and the narrator, Imogen Church, slaaaaaaays once again.

Two days before a career changing business trip aboard the luxury cruise liner, Auroras, maiden voyage, Lo Blacklocks London flat is broken into and burgled. Lo, writer for the travel magazine, Velocity, is shaken but not harmed and despite her sleep deprived state (who can sleep comfortably after a break in?) she packs her bags and boards the vessel in what is promised to be 5 days of top of the line luxury cruising. After perhaps one too many drinks, while sleeping fitfully in her cabin on the first night, Lo hears a scream from the cabin next door, and the distinguishable sound of a body hitting the water outside.

Rushing to her balcony she can make out the body of a woman sinking beneath the waves. Immediately calling staff security, they are confused with her desperate attempts to explain what she heard/saw. No one had been assigned to cabin 10, the investor who was slated for that room cancelled last minute and it remains unoccupied. But that doesn’t explain who the woman was Lo saw in the room before dinner, the one who lent her some mascara. And she is certain she heard that scream and splash. As Lo starts digging, someone tries to thwart her every move. Stuck out at sea, Lo is trapped on board with a killer, but who? And who was the woman in cabin 10?

This was like a modernized version of Murder on the Orient Express. Stuck in the middle of the ocean on a small luxury cruiser, the suspects are obviously very limited. Lo’s profession as a journalist and thus her investigative nature obviously lends well to the plot. There are some amazing “ah-ha!” moments that are honestly really just masterful. I was engaged, enthralled, and enraptured the entire time. The two fold mystery of who the woman was (and why no one knew she was aboard) as well as who killed her (and why) had my gears working double time trying to fit the pieces together (I definitely didn’t fit them together either haha). Ware did a good job of making Lo just unreliable enough (drinking, lack of sleep, mental health history, recent burglary that set her on edge) that the stone walls she kept running into with the security officer and other passengers was plausible. And let’s face it, her gender helped too; women are all too often thought to be hysterical or over-imaginative <insert annoyed eye roll here>

Overall this read was thrilling and suspenseful, the perfect mix of intrigue and conspiracy. I have officially now read all of Wares books and CAN’T WAIT for her 2019 publication The Turn of the Key.

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Kindred in Death by JD Robb

Dear Bookworms,

This read was a more random choice trying to fulfill my reading challenge prompt of “a book by a female author using a male pseudonym”. I didn’t realize when I started that this was one of a continuing series of crime thriller (number 29 in fact!), but it was written in a way that made reading it independently of the others wasn’t a problem.

Kindred in Death
By J. D. Robb

Eve Dallas’ plans for a quiet night in are dashed when she receives an urgent call from her superior to be the lead investigator when the newly promoted police chiefs teenage daughter is found dead. When Eve arrives to the scene she finds the young girl has been brutally raped and strangled to death. Delving into such a case brings up memories of her own past trauma, but Eve digs in her heels and gets to work.

When another woman turns up dead, killed in the same fashion, Eve knows she is running out of time before the killer strikes again. Connecting the dots and digging into clues is Eves specialty. Can she connect the dots fast enough, or will the tech savvy murderer slip through her grasp to finish his murderous revenge?

I didn’t realize when I started this one that it was set in the future, 2060 to be exact. Although it wasn’t too scientifically advanced from current day to be distracting, it did make for an interesting take on a murder mystery. This book was pretty graphic and grizzly when discussing the details of the rapes/murders which honestly seemed overdone at times. The constant discussing of the case details with all the various characters seemed a bit too much and would have been much better without in my opinion.

Overall it was entertaining and engaging. It kept my interest with the swiftness of the action and plot development (the whole book spans only a few days). The characters were likable enough if a little cliched. I did appreciate Eves tough as nails attitude and fearlessness. Like a dog with a bone, Eve Dallas does not give up on a case, she digs in, tooth and nail, devoting all her time and energy to bring justice to victims.

Kindred in Death is number 29 in this series (wow right?!) If murder mysteries are your thing, this series has got you covered for quite a bit of reading!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Dear Bookworms,

Us Against You brings us back to Beartown. (Didn’t catch that review, find it here!) The Beartown hockey club is all but dead having lost most of it’s team to their rival Hed, and along with it, the sponsors. With some sly maneuvering from a local politician involving a new sponsorship, a new coach, and the recruitment of a questionable talent, Peter Anderson just might be able to save hockey in Beartown. Building the team around Amat, Benji, Bobo, and the new recruit, Vidar, it looks like Beartown stands a fighting chance against Hed this year. Tensions mount between the two teams, and as a result, the two towns. Escalating violence goes from nuisance to deadly leaving the two towns wondering when hockey got so complicated and if can ever be the same again.

Blown away by Backman, the man can write! Another deeply moving novel that gives an introspective look into a proud hockey town. While Beartown focused more on the story of Maya, Us Against You gives us a more in depth look at Benji and The Pack. Each and every character was so expertly developed that they felt like actual people, people that I felt I knew deeply and wholly. I was once again awed by how Backman can not only capture his characters personalities with such a nuanced depth but how each of those characters fits in with the whole; The whole of their family units and the even the broader scope of within the town. Good characterization builds not only a complete picture of a person but how that person interacts with everything/everyone within its setting, and Backman is a master of it. This book had far more twists and turns than I was anticipating and I found myself flying through the pages like a madwoman long past my bedtime. Add this on your must read ASAP- it’s one that will stick with you, I promise.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

2018 Year in Review

Dear Bookworm,

Another year another (56) book (s)! And for the first time EVER, I actually completed my book reading challenge. I always read enough books, I just always get sidetracked with a new series or get stuck in a thriller binge and get off track from my prompts but this year I actually did it! Behold!

So my favorite reads of the year? In no particular order, here’s my top 5!

1) The Hate U Give:

Timely and relevant, this book sheds a light on the issues of police brutality and racial disparities within the criminal justice system. Starr Carters strong voice as the MC and her journey of self discovery is deserving of every bit of the hype it’s received this year.

2) Yellow Crocus/Mustard Seed:

This historical fiction follows the lives of two women born in the deep south pre-civil war. Although their lives and upbringings couldn’t be more different with one a privileged plantation owners daughter, the other a field hand/wet nurse, the way their lives entwined and the bond they forged was beautiful and at times, heartbreaking to read.

3) Ravenspire Series:

(The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, and The Traitor Prince) Set in the fantasy world of Ravenspire, these books are takes on classic fairytales of old. I read all three in the series this year (all independent of one another and can be read alone or in conjunction with each other) and loved them each! This world is rich and imaginative and I am eagerly awaiting the next to be published this year, The Blood Spell.

4) Glass and Steele Series:

This historical fantasy takes place in the early 1920’s London. It features a robust character set and is filled with magic, intrigue, and mystery. There are seven in the series (so far?) and I have torn through the first 5 with zeal. A wonderful series to get lost in!

5) BearTown:

A small hockey town is rocked with allegations of a brutal crime at a highschool party. So many important themes and issues tackled in this book it’s a relevant read. This story could be one of millions of girls/women’s stories and delves deep into the cultural norms that cultivate these behaviors in boys and also how crimes of sexual assault are investigated and prosecuted (or not).

BONUS FAVORITE

I’m including Rupi Kaurs two books of poetry, Milk and Honey & The Sun and Her Flowers as a favorite this year too. Very short books of poetry and prose, I found them each captivating! Simple and heartfelt with illustrations to accompany the passages, I have a new found love of poetry after reading these!

What did you all love in 2018? Drop me a comment with your favorites!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Dear Bookworms,

Rupi Kaur is my favorite.

After binging on Milk and Honey of course I ran to Amazon for her second book of poetry immediately. Lucky for me, the kindle version was free for Prime members!

Broken into 5 parts; Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, Blooming; Rupi takes the reader through various depictions of love, in all it’s many forms and stages. Her writing is not only beautiful but deeply thought provoking. She has an uncanny ability to portray so much depth in such simple sentences. Her illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to her words in that same simple yet powerful way that I have come to expect and love.

Take a look at a few of my favorites:

over the past week i've heard from so many of my trans readers and friends who are dismayed and heartbroken over this administration's plans to erase trans and non binary identities out of legal and policy existence. taking away the few protections that were hard-fought and won. within this administration (and most global regimes) there has been a shockingly criminal disregard toward trans. non binary. and intersex lives. this week the administration is "considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth". this is a criminal disregard for the lived realities of our trans and non binary siblings. in the words of my brilliant friend @prabhdeepsk "using genetic testing for any form of social identity verification & having civil rights protections is another form of legitimating and furthering eugenics to me." why does any of this matter? because our myopic and exclusionary visions as a society have served to marginalize and remove our trans. non binary. and intersex siblings from every single fabric of society. 2017 was the deadliest year on record for transgender communities and 2018 is outpacing it. trans communities are in danger not only because of hate and gendered violence but because law enforcement and policy makers ignore trans identity. in fact law enforcement often doesn't even acknowledge trans lives as trans. in many countries repressive heads of states dehumanize endanger and legitimize attacks on trans lives. by every global and domestic metric : trans. non binary. and intersex lives are marginalized beyond comprehension. and the danger is even more apparent for trans and non binary folks of color and queer folks. in the weeks months and years to come we need to do more as a global collective to combat this avalanche of hate. here are some actionable steps: contribute directly to trans peoples in need. contribute to trans organizations. vote!!!! vote out transphobic politicians. have difficult conversations with our families and educate. don't let people's jokes and jabs about trans and queer folks slide. listen to our trans & non binary friends. check in with them. amplify their voices.

These are just a few of the many many gems that resonated with me in this book. It was all deep and moving, quick snippets of inspiration that I can’t recommend enough!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco





Book Review: That Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Dear Bookworms,

I know this book has gotten a lot of hype this year and let me tell you…

The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas

It has earned every last ounce of hype, and then some.

Starr Carter lives two lives. There is the Starr who lives in the gang riddled neighborhood of Garden Heights, whose dad is an ex-con who used to run the streets as a gang lord. And there is the Starr who attends the prestigious, private, predominately white prep school across town. Starr tenuously keeps these two worlds separate, until the day when her best friend is shot and killed by police after a routine traffic stop.

First things first, I listened to this one on audiobook read by the immensely talented Bonnie Turpin (she did Yellow Crocus & Mustard Seed), she is definitely on my short list of favorite audiobook readers!

I can’t really adequately put into words how much I enjoyed this book. It was so relevant and timely; a story that is all too real and heartbreaking and sheds a much needed light on the issues of police brutality, implicit bias, and white privilege. Perpetrators aren’t always the blatant racists, but can be found in even the most well meaning of people. It is an insidious problem within our culture, one that people of color face on a daily basis, and one that we (i.e white people) need to be more cognizant of and willing to work within our communities to address.

Starr straddles this thin line between worlds, always keeping them separate and disconnected from one another; watching her break down these internal partitions around the different versions of her life was both liberating and enlightening. The entire book from beginning to end is addicting. I laughed (Harry Potter houses are actually gangs theory) and cried (no spoilers!) and will be recommending this read to everyone I know. It will also most certainly be on my year end wrap up!

10/10 recommend this one!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: The Convents Secret by CJ Archer

Dear Bookworms,

Back with book 5 in the Glass and Steele series and ya’ll, I could serious read these characters and this world for the rest of my life and not be bored.

India and Matt are running out of time. They have to find the healing magician in order to fix Matts watch, or he will die. It continues to become weaker and soon enough, it will cease to work at all. When clues point them to a local convent, Matt and India investigate. The nuns are tight lipped, but they are able to discover that twenty years ago, two infants and the Mother Superior went missing. With the convent actively thwarting their attempts at digging up information, an old enemy intent on taking Matt out, and a family matter that threatens India and Matts happiness together, the sleuthing duo have no shortage of problems to solve and people to be wary of.

First and foremost, thank you Jesus we FINALLY have some real feelings sharing between Matt and India. That plot line was literally making me crazy. THEY BELONG TOGETHER PEOPLE! But wouldn’t you know it, OF COURSE, something threatens their happiness and ability to be together. Honestly, I don’t know whats worse, India not being honest with Matt about her feelings in books one through four, or finally bearing their hearts and love to each other only to have his pesky family drama interfere.

It’s infuriating.

And I can’t get enough!

I like that we get some more fleshing out of some of our beloved secondary characters, most notably, Willie. Having such a diverse kind of character in this time period and setting was unexpected, but books need more of it! We got to see a more vulnerable side to Willie which really gave her much more depth as a character. As with the rest of the books in this series, there was plenty of heart stopping action to keep your adrenaline spiked. I’m not ashamed to admit I gasped, out loud, on more than one occasion in a public setting.

Book 6 has been ordered and on the way (thanks Amazon!), can’t wait to dive into it!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Dear Bookworms,

Y’all this book rocked my world. We all know I am a huge fan of a thriller, and Ruth Ware has climbed my list of must read thriller authors. Her stories are always insanely addicting and full of surprises and The Death of Mrs. Westaway was no different.

Hal (Harriette) Westaway has had a rough go of things since her mothers untimely death 2 years prior. Barely making ends meet, the 21 year old can hardly keep food on the table working her job as a tarot card reader at the local pier, let alone pay off the loan shark she has become indebted to. It seems almost too good to be true when she receives a summons to meet with a lawyer to discuss an inheritance left from her recently deceased grandmother. Only, Hal doesn’t have any family. Her mothers birth certificate lists completely different parents to the one who’s will she is in. Her mothers past wasn’t something talked about, her father a one night stand, it’s always just been Hal and her mother. Even though she quickly realizes a mistake has been made, Hal is desperate for money. With some trepidation, Hal decides to travel to Trepassen House and accept “her” claim. It isn’t long after arriving to the funeral, Hal realizes something is very off about this family, and her place in it’s inheritance.

So I listened to this one on audiobook and, YAY, it was read by Imogen Church who I am absolutely obsessed with. (She read Wares, The Lying Game also, check out that review here!) This story had all the elements needed for a really riveting read; interesting characters with compelling backstories, deceit, lies, murder, and the ever satisfying (if heart stopping) discovery of truths. The dreary setting of Trepassen house with it’s cold, dark facade really lend itself to the overall mysterious and spooky tone of the book.

Another read by Ware that I was absolutely unable to put down (stop listening too?)! Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this one ASAP!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Magicians Diary by CJ Archer

Dear Bookworms,

Continuing on with the Glass and Steele Saga with book 4 and I’m just over here like:

This series has proved to be utterly addicting y’all.

Book 4 picks up right where three left off. Indian and Matt have finally flushed out Chronos who, coincidentally is India’s (thought to be dead) grandfather! With one piece of the two parts magic required to fix Matthews life saving watch, the two track down any and all leads to find the rumored diary containing the spell needed by a doctor magician to restore Matthews watch, and in turn his health. The diary was lost when the doctor magician was murdered over two decades ago, but India and Matt are relentless in their quest. It is obvious they are getting close when Chronos is viciously attacked and the heads of prominent guilds insist they stop their search.

Spellbinding read! (See what I did there guys?) Once again India and Matt use their wits and powers of deception to sniff out clues and long buried truths as Matts clocks magic dwindles. There is that same sense of adventure and mystery that I have come to expect with this series. There may have been audible gasps and frantic page turning during my reading.

Just when I think I can’t possibly be surprised anymore, Archer totally throws a well placed curveball of a truth bomb totally changing the name of the game! That ending?! Absolutely did not see that coming. Well played Archer, well played. There continues to be this back and forth romantically with India and Matt and honestly it’s making me want to smack some sense into India but I’m hoping book 5 can have her open up some more as far as her feelings and fears are concerned. I am convinced Archer enjoys torturing us readers at this point because I just can’t take it with the romantic tension between those two anymore.

Our tried and true sidekicks were an enjoyable bonus to the story, including the blooming relationship between Cyclops and Catherine. How cute are they?! I’m intrigued on Willies plotline and hope more is revealed in the next book. What is she up to?!

On to the next in the series! Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!













Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Dear Bookworms,

I picked this one up on a whim (as I do with most of the really amazing books I discover) while trying to find one for my 2018 Goodreads challenge prompt of “ A book by a writer of a different ethnicity from you”.

Milk and Honey
By Rupi Kaur

A short book of poetry and prose covering a wide array of topics personal to the author including abuse, love, heartbreak, and feminism. Her debut novel, I found it absolutely riveting. The subject matter is pretty mature so I would say adults or older teens only for this one. I actually listened to the audiobook version of this one and it was read by the author, Rupi Kaur, who was absolutely hypnotizing. It was short, just over an hour, but it was powerful and packed with big ideas. It was a read that left me thinking long after it had ended.

I would like to share with you guys a couple of my favorite entries:

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A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on

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Write here…


Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco


READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!