This is for the true crime podcast lovers | Sadie by Courtney Summers

SadieSadie will not stop until she finds the man who killed her sister. With Mattie gone, she has nothing good left in her life and nothing left to live for. As Sadie follows the killer’s trail she’ll have to confront her own demons and figure out what it means to get justice for her sister.

Hardcover | eBook | Audio

TL;DR – Trigger warnings galore, but will satisfy anybody who is already a fan of true crime podcasts.

This book was so much harder to read than I thought it would be. I put it on my TBR because of the podcast element and really didn’t know what I was in for. The majority of the book is from Sadie’s perspective, but there’s also a “podcast” running throughout hosted by a man named West McCray. You can actually download the podcast and listen to it with the book. I imagine that the audio for this book would be phenomenal because of the mixed media element. But anyway, like I was saying, beyond the podcast stuff, I didn’t really know what to expect. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse, abandonment, pedophilia, and honestly, probably more.

Now that that’s out of the way, while I liked the podcast element and thought it was fun, it definitely read like fiction. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but you can tell when a podcast is fiction and when it’s not. It’s the language that’s used and the way sentences are put together. The interviews just don’t sound as authentic. That was the case with this, but it probably wouldn’t bother anyone who doesn’t listen to nonfiction podcasts regularly.

I thought this book was really well written. Plotwise, I think it could have read like Sadie was on this ultimate, messed-up roadtrip, but it doesn’t. Summers does a great job presenting clues for Sadie to follow in an organic way that doesn’t feel forced or convenient. While Sadie isn’t necessarily a¬†likable character, I find that she’s still sympathetic to me. One of the main things I felt throughout this book was an overwhelming sadness. As a mom (and as a person in general), I feel so sad for kids who don’t have a functional family and who don’t have their every day needs met. I feel so sad for kids who don’t have a loving parent or guardian who tell them every day how loved and wanted they are. I feel so sad for kids who don’t feel safe in their own homes–in their own ROOMS. And it makes me so mad to think that there are sick people out there who are preying on kids and who make them feel like there’s no one who will help them.

Overall, this book is a hard one to read and I don’t recommend it lightly. I think if you’re going to read this book, you should know what you’re in for. I really only had one issue and it was just that the reason Mattie was killed doesn’t really make sense to me. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but the guy came back to town and I don’t feel like that really matches his M.O. Was he looking for Mattie or was it spur of the moment? Did Mattie somehow contact him? Anyway, that was really the only sticking point for me. In the end, it’s a powerful book that still has me thinking about it even though I read it weeks ago.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Heavy
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Heavy
Sexual Content: Heavy

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Forced Marriage Creates Real Feelings | The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M Eden

The Kiss of a StrangerLord Cavratt (or Crispin to his friends and family) was only trying to escape a calculating young woman when he kissed Catherine Thorndale in the garden. Unfortunately, Catherine’s abusive uncle seizes this opportunity to¬†get rid of his troublesome niece once and for all. He forces them to marry and now Crispin has to get used to the idea that he unexpectedly has a wife. In order to save both their reputations, Crispin and Catherine are forced to pretend that this marriage was a love match instead of a forced situation as they secretly work to obtain an annulment. Things become more complicated as they each begin to develop real feelings for each other. They just can never tell if the other is being genuine, or if they’re just playing it up for their public audience.

I got this book for my birthday a while back from my sister (thanks Cassie!). If you enjoy regency style romance, you should definitely look into this author. She’s written quite a few clean romances in several different settings. I love a good regency romance–there’s just something about that setting that makes every romance a little sweeter and more romantic and this book was no exception.

I’m just going to start off, though, by saying how much I hate that title. Seriously–endless teasing from my husband. Like…sure it matches the story and I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed about stuff that I like to read, but…still. Who wants to read a book titled¬†The Kiss of a Stranger in public? Not me.

Okay, that put aside, this book is a classic situation where simple communication could clear a lot of things up. So while I still really enjoyed the book and the romance, I felt frustrated almost the entire time. I just wanted to be like, “Okay, you two get in a room and just TALK TO EACH OTHER.” Then there were some secondary characters that weren’t exactly helping the situation–at least they weren’t helping in a way that seemed helpful to me. On the other hand, if the characters had just sat down and talked with each other then we wouldn’t have the same tension and drama. So I see why it was necessary, but it was still frustrating as a reader.

I thought the author did a really good job with the characters. I liked both Catherine and Crispin a lot. Eden was able to give them depth and I felt like I could really understand their motivations. I especially thought she did a good job with Catherine who comes from an abusive home. I don’t personally know anyone who’s come from such an abusive home, but I feel like Catherine was treated as a real person instead of just a stereotype. The topic of abuse itself was treated with care and sensitivity. On another note, the secondary characters were also really fun. I especially enjoyed Crispin’s sister and brother-in-law. Their relationship and dynamic with the other characters brought more depth to the story and created some lighter scenes.

Overall, this book was fun and a really fast read for me–I would definitely read more from this author. The last critique I have is that some things didn’t really seem resolved in the end. Catherine’s uncle said a couple of things that I was just like, “Wait, aren’t we going to address what he just said?” There was also one particular character that I didn’t quite understand why he was in the story to begin with–perhaps he’s a character in another of Eden’s books? That’s kind of the only thing that makes sense to me as to why he would play such a large role. In the end, if you’re looking for easy, clean romances then I think you’ve found an author to explore.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

BLOG TOUR: Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor [GIVEAWAY]

NKNora & Kettle
by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Release Date: February 29th 2016

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SYNOPSIS: What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to‚ÄĒthe internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having ‚Äúone drop of Japanese blood in them‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒthings are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to na√Įve, eighteen-year-old Nora‚ÄĒthe privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

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REVIEW: This book…wow. I’ve never read anything quite like it. First let me start by saying that this book deals a lot with the mistreatment of individuals based on race as well as domestic violence/abusive relationships. If these are things that you have a hard time reading about, I advise you away from this book. That being said, I personally feel like these are really important things to read about and I feel like this book changed some of my perceptions.

The book started off a little slow for me. The reader is placed in the middle of some action so we have to play a little catch-up to really figure out just what is going on. I had a hard time figuring out what the plot might be or where this book was headed. It also seemed like it took forever for our protagonists to finally meet. For whatever reason I felt really anxious the whole time about them finding each other and that kept me from fully enjoying the first half of the book.

I really liked the historical portrait that was painted for us. It’s a very stark picture and it makes me so glad that I live in the time that I do. It’s hard for me to read about kids living on the street or being discriminated against based on race though I know it¬†did (and still does) happen. Taylor did a great job of making the setting come alive and creating a believable backdrop.

Despite the fact that this book is based off of the Peter Pan story, I feel like this book really transcends that idea. Like I said earlier, it deals with really important topics and I am so glad that I read it. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction (especially Post-WWII era), fairy tale retellings, or just likes to read things that make them look at the world a little differently.

Overall Rating:4
Language: Moderate. Some stronger language scattered throughout.
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None


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Click on the picture above to be taken to the giveaway!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger [ARC]

Claire lives alone with her motorcycle-loving dad. She’s been watching the way her neighbors treat their dog and she’s finally ready to do something about it. One walk turns into a complicated relationship with the dog (Wally) and his¬†side-burned, teenage¬†owner¬†(Danny). With Father Jasper’s book on how to train dogs, Claire finds that she’s not only learning¬†more about Wally, but about herself as well.
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I really, really liked this book. I’ve been having a struggle with some of the books that I’ve gotten from NetGalley because sometimes the tone is just WAY too casual. Casual in an immature way. This book had a casual tone, but it wasn’t immature and it just felt real! The narration would sometimes be a little scattered, but it felt like how someone would actually think–not so straight-forward. I felt this made Claire super relatable. She sounded like any teenage girl to me. She’s not perfect, she’s not this social outcast, and she doesn’t have some freakish skill. Her emotions and relationships felt so real. She’s just a normal girl who goes to a normal high school.

I loved Claire’s relationship with her dad. He’s described as being this rough-looking guy who is obsessed with his motorcycle and is in a motorcycle “gang”. Even though he appears tough, Claire describes him as being a sweet teddy bear-like guy. He’s trying his best to be both mom and dad to Claire, but he’s sometimes at a loss for what exactly she¬†needs. He get so excited over small things–like eating subs from the best sub place ever– and it’s so obvious how much he loves Claire and would do anything for her.

Claire’s feelings for Danny change from scene to scene. I could see how this might bother some readings, but for me, I just thought it added to the realness of the character. Normally, I think people’s feelings do fluctuate like that. Too often in YA we see a relationship go from zero to sixty in two pages. Not that that doesn’t happen ever, but I think the majority of the time, it’s like how Claire feels about Danny.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s real and deals with some tough issues like abuse, but it left me with a really good feeling.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.