“The Stranger Beside Me” by Ann Rule

1262745The Stranger Beside Me was originally published in 1980, and it had a 20th anniversary edition that came out in 2000. It’s been on my to-read shelf for…… longer than I care to admit.

Ann Rule, as you may know, is an acclaimed true crime author known for many of her works. Back in the 80’s, there was a suspected serial killer sexually assaulting and bludgeoning young women to death. The case was in full swing when Rule’s publisher asked her to follow the story and write a book about it.

A short time before this, Ann had done some work for a suicide hotline to honor her brother’s memory (he had committed suicide many years before). She became close to another volunteer there named Ted Bundy. Bundy was kind of a charmer, and Rule felt almost sisterly love for him, giving him rides and attending events together.

As Ann followed the serial killer case, she began to hear things that brought Ted to mind. But no, nice Ted that she worked with would never do something that horrible! Eventually, Ted was caught and sentenced to death by electrocution. Rule continued to communicate with Ted, even with him knowing she was writing this book, up until when he was executed.

Doesn’t that sound like an amazing, unbelievable story? In case you didn’t catch it, this is a T R U E  S T O R Y. You could not make this stuff up.

This is a very solid read, even with its age. If you like serial killers and well-researched procedural and mystery books, you should definitely put this on your list.

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Buy the book here.

The Mara Dyer Series by Michelle Hodkin

Okay everybody, take a seat. This is another case of “Why didn’t anyone force me to read these before?!” So here I am to shove these books in your face and make you read them.

This is a three-book series: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and The Retribution of Mara Dyer.

983940_orig

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer starts off with Mara starting a new school in Florida after surviving a building collapse that kills her three best friends. Mara is understandably distraught and is diagnosed with PTSD that leaves her hallucinating at random. At her new school, Mara meets Noah Shaw, a supposedly notorious ladies’ man. There’s something about him that she can’t put her finger on, but he eventually convinces her to go on a date with him.

But Mara isn’t sure all of her hallucinations are actually figments of her imagination. Some of them are too real. She starts receiving creepy messages and photographs, and she suspects they’re coming from her deceased ex-boyfriend, Jude.

I can’t really get into any more details because it’ll be too spoiler-y.

This series is awesome because it combines so many genres flawlessly. It has YA contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, historical fiction, and more. It’s amazing, really. The audiobooks are narrated by Christy Romano… yes, that one — Christy Carlson Romano, known best for her role in Even Stevens and the voice of Kim Possible.

My review of the first book was few words — I couldn’t process it. “Wowwwww. Yes. Amazing.”

The same happened with the second book. ” Wow wow wow. Normally a second book falls flat. But that ending……..On to the next oneeeee!!!”

And the last book prompted this, “Well that ending had me SHOOK. But it definitely felt like it was dragging in the middle there. I can’t wait to read The Shaw Confessions series. NOVEMBER GET HERE NOOOOOW.”

Because *excited face* there’s a new spinoff series coming out that focuses on Noah! The first one is called The Becoming of Noah Shaw and it comes out November 7th, 2017.

So get caught up now, because there’s about to be another installment in the series! Overall, I give this series 4.5 stars.

Buy the box set of the first three books here.

Pre-order The Becoming of Noah Shaw here.

“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” by EK Johnston

25528801.jpgThis is such a hard review to write. It’s a book I enjoyed a lot, a book that I thought about for days after finishing it. But here’s the thing: It’s going to sound pretty morbid for this to be one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheer team, plus it’s her senior year of high school and that’s stressful enough as it is. The captain has a lot of expectations, especially at cheer camp — be the loudest, the bubbliest, the most precise during their routine. But at the end-of-camp dance, Hermione is drugged and raped, and left in the lake. When she comes to at the hospital, she has no memory of what happened. She remembers going to the dance, and getting tired and thirsty, and that’s where her memory ends. Exit, Pursued By A Bear is the story of Hermione’s assault, recovery, healing, and coping with what has happened to her.

Exit, Pursued By A Bear is heartwrenching, beautiful (in a sad way), exceptionally well-written, and it’ll stay with you for days (if not longer). I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was captivating. Honestly, this book was one of my favorites of 2016. You’ll find yourself cheering for Hermione to overcome.

Rating: ★★★★★

Purchase the book here.

November Wrap-Up

November was a great month for reading. I had a four-day weekend thanks to Thanksgiving, in which I read like the world was ending. I managed to get through 31 books! Some of them were graphic novels, which I just started reading for the first time. They still count in my eyes!

2016 challenge update: As of the end of November, I am at 192 books read for my goal of 200. I’m on track to win!

67e31b61-d64e-4605-b6d4-e89ecc2b11ca

Here’s what I read this month:

  1. Defending Jacob by William Landay*
  2. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  4. Ex Machina Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, et al.
  5. Can I Sit on Your Lap While You’re Pooping? by Matthew Carroll
  6. The Homecoming by Stacie Ramey* (review)
  7. Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
  8. Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan*
  9. Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
  10. Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan*
  11. Saga Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan*
  12. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  13. Saga Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan
  14. Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  15. iZombie Vol. 1 by Chris Roberson*
  16. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  17. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  18. iZombie Vol. 2 by Chris Roberson*
  19. Panic by Lauren Oliver*
  20. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  21. iZombie Vol. 3 by Chris Roberson*
  22. Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver*
  23. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  24. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  25. Saga Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
  26. Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk*
  27. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid*
  28. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
  29. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham*

*Not pictured — read as audiobook, library book, or ebook. Not included are 2 books read for work that are outside the scope of this blog.

Man, I really need to catch up on reviews this month! What did you read last month? What are you looking forward to reading in December?

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

★★★★☆

stationelevenhcus2Station Eleven is the story of the post-apocalyptic world after the “Georgia Flu” wipes out a massive amount of people. The story flashes back and forth from before the flu, to years after the flu devastated the world. There are also many different storylines woven through the book, which I absolutely love–seeing how the characters are all related or came together eventually.

Another thing that I was really excited about in Station Eleven is that most of the post-apocalyptic world stuff happens in Michigan, which is one of my favorite places. It was easy to relate to the places, the weather and the general atmosphere being described because I’ve been there.

The audiobook was especially awesome, the narrator was engaging and easy to listen to. I really did not enjoy parts of this book, but others I absolutely adored. No wonder this book is so popular. I just wish I had picked it up earlier! So here’s my recommendation for you: Pick this one up–before the world ends!

Purchase the book here.

August Wrap-Up!

So last month, I thought I’d outdone myself by reading 20 books. In August, I read 22 books!

That’s 1 book for every 1.4 days. I’m currently standing at 113 books read in 2016. (That’s a full 33 books over my goal!)

IMG_2663 (1)

  1. Labyrinth Lost  by Zoraida Córdova
  2. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (Review)
  4. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach (Review)
  5. 100 Days by Nicole McInnes (Review)*
  6. The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner (Review)*
  7. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer*
  8. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay*
  10. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (Review)
  11. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (Review)
  12. The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer*
  13. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
  14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  15. The Graces by Laure Eve* (Review)
  16. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty*
  17. And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich*
  18. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie*
  19. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin*
  20. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (Review)
  21. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel* (Review)

*Audiobook or eARC, not pictured
(Plus 1 book proofread for my work, not pictured and not within my blog’s scope of genre)

Some of these books have yet to be reviewed on my blog, but I will add the links as I add the reviews! September is going to rock! So many good books are coming out!

Have you read any of these books? Which ones are you looking forward to reading?

#ReadThemAllThon!

ReadThemAllThon

I’ve decided to join the #ReadThemAllThon hosted by Read at Midnight! It runs from August 14th through September 4th. Basically there are 8 challenges to complete and you get points for every book read (and some more things like tweeting!). It’s a great way to get a bunch of your books knocked off the ol’ TBR!

This time, it’s Pokemon themed. (Which isn’t really that interesting to me personally, but I can get behind a challenge for sure!)

Below, I list the challenges and the books I hope to read for them! My pokemon is Magikarp, because if I read a lot of books, I’m told it’s the best points-wise.

ReadThemAllThon-Badge01-Boulder
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
ReadThemAllThon-Badge02-Cascader
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner
ReadThemAllThon-Badge03-Thunder
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
ReadThemAllThon-Badge04-Rainbow
The Reader by Traci Chee
ReadThemAllThon-Badge05-Soul
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
ReadThemAllThon-Badge06-Marsh
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
ReadThemAllThon-Badge07-Flame
The Graces by Laure Eve
ReadThemAllThon-Badge08-Earth
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

So anyway, wish me luck! I am really excited to see how I do on this challenge. Are you participating in #ReadThemAllThon? What are you excited to knock off your TBR?

July Wrap-Up

It’s time to wrap-up my July reads. I read 20 books! Wow! That is by far the most books I’ve read in a month. It’s 1 book for every 1.55 days. I also completed my Goodreads Challenge this month, and now stand at 91 books total for the year!

IMG_2655
Books read in July 2016!
  1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  2. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (Review)
  3. Jackaby by William Ritter
  4. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  5. Shrill by Lindy West
  6. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  7. All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (Review)*
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman*
  9. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke*
  10. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (Review)
  11. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  12. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Review)
  13. The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel (Review)*
  14. Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  15. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover*
  16. The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
  17. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany (Review)

*Audiobook or eARC, not pictured
(Plus 3 books proofread for my work, not pictured and not within my blog’s scope of genre)

Some of these books have yet to be reviewed on my blog, but I will add the links as I add the reviews! I look forward to August being a very successful month as well.

Have you read any of these books? Which ones are you looking forward to reading?

“Baby Doll” by Hollie Overton

27415371.jpg★★★★☆ — New release Tuesday!

When I was at BEA, one of the people in the Hachette booth looked at me and said, “This is like Room, but darker.” And I was in. I was so in.

Lily was kidnapped eight years ago. Since then, she has endured serious torture, sexual abuse, and a pregnancy. But then one day, her kidnapper forgets to lock the door. And Baby Doll runs, runs, runs all the way home.

To spoil anything in this book would be a crime. So I will quote what the synopsis says, “This is what happens next…to her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter…and to her captor.”

This book is dark, scary, sad, and twisty. Much like Room, it captures the escape from the kidnapper and the hard adjustment after the horror. But on a different (and in my opinion, better) note, Baby Doll is told from multiple different viewpoints, instead of just the child’s. This brings in different feelings, different perspectives, and I think that makes the story more impactful.

Purchase the book here.

Thank you to the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Lunar Chronicles (1-4) by Marissa Meyer

★★★★☆

CinderIf you haven’t started on this series, you’ve been missing out. I listened to all of The Lunar Chronicles on audiobook this year. This YA series takes old fairy tales, and gives them a modern, futuristic twist that brings them all together.

Cinder is a cyborg, having been in a tragic accident when she was little. She works in the market as a mechanic, and one 13206760fateful day, Prince Kaito comes to her stall to get his android fixed. This sparks a friendship (and perhaps a romance?) between a regular citizen and the soon-to-be Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth. Earth is under attack from “The Plague” — a disease that kills a person within weeks of contracting it. No one knows where it comes from or how to cure it. When Cinder’s evil stepmother gives her up for the cyborg draft for medical testing, Cinder finds out some very shocking news about herself. cress-marissa-meyer-top-ten-young-adult-books-of-2014This starts an epic journey and Cinder gains many friends — and enemies — throughout the process.

Scarlet is a young farmer whose grandmother disappears one day. She’s determined to find her, and on the way, she meets a genetically modified man named Wolf. He’s mysterious and Scarlet isn’t sure she should trust him. Cress is a spin on the old Rapunzel story, locked up in a satellite to do evil Queen Fairest_CoverLevana’s bidding with her impressive hacking skills. Queen Levana rules Luna (the Moon), and she is well-known as a cruel leader who killed her own niece, Celene, the rightful Queen of Luna. Princess Winter is her step-daughter, cursed with Lunar Madness and never to be Queen due to her lack of royal blood. Over time, all of these characters, and many more, meet up with Cinder and choose either to follow and help her, or work against her for their own benefit.

WinterThe story is very fast-paced and easy to read, but has the same feel-good plot points like the fairy tales. It has it all: action, romance, humor, politics, and fantasy. The last book in the series, Winter, just came out this November, so now you can read through all 5 books without torturous waiting, like the rest of us did. Lucky you!

Purchase the books here: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter