Imprint: HarperTeen (November 5, 2019)
On Sale: 11/05/2019
Pages: 464
List Price: 17.99 USD Age: 13+
ISBN: 9780062693167
ISBN 10: 0062693166

Praise for THE HOW & THE WHY

“The novel’s great strength is the emotional depth of its characters and the complexity of their relationships. A heartfelt and hopeful story about coming of age as an adoptee.” ―School Library Journal

“Hand explores adoption’s multiple dimensions with great insight and sensitivity. Inclusive and illustrative: an engaging lesson in timeless family values.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Cynthia Hand is the master of pulling at your heartstrings. The How & the Why tells both sides of an adoption story with love, compassion, and care. You’ll be reaching for your tissue box with this one — if you can stop turning pages long enough, that is.” ―Brigid Kemmerer, New York Times Bestselling Author of Letters to the Lost

“Beautifully rendered and superbly shaped. Hand has crafted an absorbing novel that focuses on family, friendship, teen pregnancy, adoption, personal choices, and serious health issues. Give this exquisite novel to readers seeking an emotionally intricate story.” ―Booklist (starred review)

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

You can purchaseThe How & the Why at the following Retailers:
I received a copy from the publisher for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made for this review.
I’m not a big contemporary fan. I’m just going to put it out there. When it comes to YA contemporary, I need some kind of substance. Not the Hallmark love story (I actually like that in my adult contemporary fiction). THE HOW & THE WHY is not a Hallmark love story, but it will tug at your heart.
The book is written in two point of views, our main character, Cassandra, and her birth mother, S. S’s side of the story is the before. Before Cass was born and adopted into the family she’d love forever. Cass’ side is a fresh eighteen year old girl navigating college applications, potential boyfriends, and a mother’s sickness. All the while, slowly realizing that maybe she does want the beginning to the happily ever story her parents made her adoption out to be.
I’m not adopted, but I have family closely linked to it. My aunt is my mother’s older sister and she found my mom and my grandmother after, I don’t know how long she searched for them. If you put the three together, you can see they all share the same smile. I do too. I don’t know why, but it’s always seemed to be something that I actually felt proud of. I am proud that my aunt could find the extension of her, to find the courage to do it. I am proud of my grandmother for recognizing the struggle she would have had if she had kept her baby. Not to mention she probably wouldn’t have met my grandfather and therefore, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have gotten to know that internal strength is a trait with the women in my family. And, now, I’m about to cry about this.
What I truly love about this book is that it made me wonder what it was like for my aunt. It made me wonder what it was like for my grandmother. It makes me more open and loving to the hard decisions that pregnancy can result in.
There are subtle moments where you will see how S and Cass are similar. Like my family and the smile we share, the two characters share some physical attributes and some personality traits. It is amazing to see the intricate knitting of nature and nurture in this book if you look closely. It isn’t a “versus” thing, it’s an “and” thing.
I’ve read only one other book where Cynthia Hand was one of the authors and I can see where some of the humor in that book comes from. Cynthia brings to life characters that seem like everyday people. Their struggles are real, but it is not the overdramatized struggle you see in other teen contemporaries. There is no “you don’t understand” here. There is a girl who knows her background, who is trying to find her courage, and there is a support system that are willing to help her through it.
I am happy I got this book and I will definitely be reading more of Cynthia Hand (with her fellow partners in crime and her solo works).
Final Rating: 4/5
Photo Content from Cynthia Hand

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novel THE HOW AND THE WHY (Fall 2019). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with a husband who’s addicted to typewriters, two kids, two cats, one crazy dog, and a entourage of imaginary friends.

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Kezzy Sparks
Publication date: October 31st 2019
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Thriller

A thrilling introduction to the dark mystical world of Melanie ‘Breaker’ Perkiss, Buffalo NY’s most capable witch hunter and spell lifter.

In this debut instalment, a dark mage acting on behalf of a vengeful ex has magically removed the genitals of a man and vanished, leaving him wiped clean down there. And unfortunately for the victim, he is set to wed…now imagine saying ‘I do’ while in that deprived state.

No wonder when a shell-shocked and heartbroken Casey walks into Melanie’s office to report the incident, the witch hunter immediately goes on a chase, risking her own life as she encounters dark creatures and malevolent spirits in the city’s darkest corners.

The pressure is indeed on Mel: the wedding is fast approaching and leads remain few. Will she be able to corner the mage, recover the taken goods and save a doomed marriage, while bringing the conspirators to justice?

Goodreads / Amazon



I received a copy for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

Heist is the debut urban fantasy by Kezzy Sparks. What got me wanting to read the book was definitely the blurb. There is something about a man losing his bits that gets a girl interested. Especially under such a time constraint.

For me, starting the book was rather difficult. The third person narrative felt very noir-ish, which wasn’t so much of a problem, but then continuing the rest of the story in first person was a bit confusing. But, only at first. Once you learn about the magical fish Melanie Perkiss has, you kind of just get pulled in.

The magical theft theme to the story was an interesting twist in the urban fantasy genre. I mean, come on, losing your private parts by magical means is so interesting! You never see that. The action is well done and I really like how Melanie stands as a heroine.

All in all, the book is a good addition to your urban fantasy collection. It stands well as the first book in a series and I wouldn’t mind reading more.

Final Rating: 3/5


Author Bio:

Kezzy Sparks is a Toronto based author and writer. HEIST is his debut fiction in the long form. He enjoys reading as well, and lists works by Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Benedict Jacka, Dan Brown and Kevin Hearne as some of his personal favorites.

Website / Facebook / Twitter



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ISBN: 9780062821799
ISBN 10: 0062821792
Imprint: HarperTeen On Sale: 10/15/2019
BISAC1: YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Fantasy / Wizards & Witches


“The Never Tilting World is what happens when Garth Nix meets Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s a dark, lovely, and even timely look at a world that’s fallen apart, with just the right blend of epic action and twisted magic.” ―Tara Sim, author of Timekeeper

“Visually vivid, magical, and exhilarating.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Dark and richly drawn, The Never Tilting World is a lavish fantasy about sisterhood, sacrifice, and finding strength in a treacherous world. Chupeco’s writing is lushly descriptive, transporting me to the brink of the abyss; while reading it, I could swear the world stood still.” ―Heidi Heilig, author of For a Muse of Fire

“Multiple plot twists and a breathlessly cinematic tone will attract fantasy and romance fans alike.” ―Booklist

“Complex, brutal, romantic, and terrifying. With a phenomenal cast of characters who stick to your bones and vivid worldbuilding that shows up in your dreams, this is a book that demands to be experienced.” ―Dahlia Adler, author of Under the Lights and editor of His Hideous Heart

“This rich fantasy spotlights power’s corruptive influence, love’s redemptive nature, and the urgent concerns of climate change. The tale’s scope and creativity astound.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A great choice for fantasy shelves.” ―School Library Journal

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

You can purchase The Never Tilting World at the following Retailers:
I received a copy of The Never Tilting World by the publisher for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.
Rin Chupeco is one of those authors that I have to really sit back and just stare at in awe. I know that sounds weird, but when you come across a story that has as big of imagination and conceptual idea as what she comes up with, that’s all you can do. Ms. Chupeco develops these intricate worlds, magic systems, and brings to life a story that conjures up so many thoughts.
The magic system is interesting. Everyone in the world, or close to everyone, has either the ability to or latent ability to access magic. The magic is elemental based with the Goddesses being the only four able to use multiple incanta at the time. The magic is described as setting patterns and opening gates with their eyes. For some awesome reason, my brain is hitting on different magic imagery in anime. And I’m loving it.
As mentioned before, there are four Goddesses. In terms of mortality, they aren’t technically immortal. That said, they are essentially the Avatars (see Avatar: The Last Airbender) of Aeon. There is also a physical aspect to them that show they are filled with all this energy and power. Their hair changes color, like a prism in a way… or, I guess a better description would be like those fun white sequins that have a rainbow effect going on. So, the hair is that color, but it also just moves around on its own (think rainbow medusa). I know that’s weird, but I like that there is a huge distinction between the regular people and the Goddesses. It can be either detrimental or positive for them depending on where they are at. Which causes narrative conflict, and I’m all for that.
 The book is written in four different narrations, with some joining of the twins (Odessa and Haidee). Usually, the four different points of view would bother me and confuse me, but actually, this helps explain the world and story better. You have a better grasp of things and will learn something new about the dangers through these different personalities.
And each one is different. You have Lan, a ranger and healer. She has this duty-bound personality who will do something illegal, but not for herself. There is Arjun, a nomad with one hand. He is skilled in what he does and can be a bit full of himself, but all that is a facade. Then we have our Goddesses, Haidee and Odessa. Odessa is ill but doesn’t let that get in the way of her trying to do what’s right or what makes her happy. Haidee is the same, but without the illness and maybe a bit more gumption.
The differences in the narration style are slight in that each voice is so distinct. You experience the world through their eyes and you learn a little about the mystery of the older Goddesses, Latona and Asteria. I could go on and on about this, but I don’t want to give anything away.
The monsters and creatures are interesting. I am feeling the Mad Max vibe with the Hellmakers. The Frozen-esque vibe is there too, but I’m personally getting the idea of Attack on Titan or other animes. But that could just be me. No matter what, the world is so interesting that you can’t help but be immersed in it.
On a side note, Bug loves the cover (which I do as well). It sparked a heavy conversation with him on the fantasy and science aspect of a world that never moves. In this alone, I love the book. I have a feeling my 7yo will pick this book up when he’s older.
The only thing I will say against the book is that 400+ pages isn’t enough. What I mean by that is that the world is this much more interesting and I can’t wait for more, but I have to. And that sucks.
Final Rating: 4/5
Photo Content Rin Chupeco

Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.

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Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (October 15, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763697508
ISBN-13: 978-0763697501

Praise for WHAT MAKES US

What Makes Us is a heart-stopping, heartbreaking read — a book full of heart. Mittlefehldt’s thoughtful, nuanced exploration of identity pulled me in from the very first page, and I could barely put it down. Eran’s story takes a universal coming-of-age theme — finding out your parents aren’t who you thought they were — to a tightly wound and thrilling extreme. Most important, this book provides satisfying, much-needed representation of a contemporary, complex Jewish teen and his family. ―Lisa Rosinsky, author of Inevitable and Only

Provocative. ―Kirkus Reviews

A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving him to reckon with his heritage, legacy, and identity in this fiery, conversation-starting novel.

Eran Sharon knows nothing of his father except that he left when Eran was a baby. Now a senior in high school and living with his protective but tight-lipped mother, Eran is a passionate young man deeply interested in social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a program to increase traffic stops, Eran organizes a peaceful protest.

But a heated moment at the protest goes viral, and a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier — and asks if Eran is anything like his father, a supposed terrorist. Soon enough, Eran is wondering the same thing, especially when the people he’s gone to school and temple with for years start to look at him differently.

Timely, powerful, and full of nuance, Rafi Mittlefehldt’s sophomore novel confronts the prejudices, fears, and strengths of family and community, striking right to the heart of what makes us who we are.

You can purchaseWhat Makes Us at the following Retailers:
I received a copy of WHAT MAKES US by Rafi Mittlefehldt by the publisher for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.
What can I say about this book? This is one of those reads that I was pulled in and devoured. I was enthralled with the story. I was angry with the story. I loved the story. So many emotions and just not enough words to properly place my review.
Eran is a teenager with teenager emotions (extreme. Go ahead and fight me on this one, but come on, teens are a bit extreme). He is passionate and wants to do what is best for the world and in doing it, he jumps at the chance to speak every chance he gets. Okay… let me just backtrack on this.
To properly grasp this book, you need to look at society as a whole. What are we? What, as the title states, makes us? We are opinionated. We are passionate. We want change. But, do we pause and think before we act?
This book is about a teenager who learns something about himself because he acted without thinking first. It is about a woman who was forced to speak and take on the actions of a man she loved because no one bothered to think before acting on their pain. It is about a young girl who has always thought before acting and is pushed to act once she is pressured by outside forces and her internal ones.
We all act without thinking. And this book, as much as it is a story about a young boy learning about himself, is about how we all need to start thinking. We don’t need to stop acting, but we should still think and care. Our actions may not hurt us, but it could hurt others.
And this may seem philosophical and not to the point of the story, but as I’m sitting here and really think about what I’ve read (a beautiful book, mind you), I’m forced to make a literary comment on it. I’ve read other reviews talk about the individuals, but not the actual emotional impact they have felt upon reading the book. And this, this is my emotional take.
Mittlefehldt is a great writer. He is a great storyteller. I was talking to my best friend last night about how I was pulled away from the story not because the writing didn’t flow, but because they matched so well that I felt I was with the characters. I was angry with them. I wanted to be there, to hold them, to yell for them. I wanted to act. And even at the start of this review (which I am leaving unchanged because I feel it shows exactly what the book was intended for), I was acting before actively thinking about what I wanted to say.
And now that I am thinking, I’m seeing more than just the story given. I’m seeing me. I’m seeing you. I’m seeing Rafi Mittlefehldt. I’m seeing how there are always going to be differing opinions, but not enough quiet to actively just discuss.
Okay, in terms of story, you can guess that this book truly hit me. I wasn’t sure at first because I was worried this was a more politically leaning book. It isn’t and I’m glad about that because I honestly don’t want to ever air out my own personal politics online. But, once I really got into the book (which did not take long, probably around the five percent mark), I was in. I would read passages out loud. I would fan over the way Eran’s mom lived her life (seriously, this woman is goals. I need to be more like her).
The writing is . . . I don’t want to say normal . . . it’s how you would think life would have been written. Like, would you want your life described in flowy language or would you like the truth right there in your face? I personally like the truth. And though the story is told in a first person point of view (for Eran), I didn’t completely feel it was unreliable. I felt that for him, this was his truth, just as for the other points of view was theirs.
Honestly, I feel everyone should read this book. And, Mr. Mittlefehldt, thank you for writing it.
As I said before, this book isn’t just about a teen going through a discovery that nearly destroys his world. This book is about how we should all learn to pause, breathe, ride out the currents, or even just think before we act.
Final Rating: 5/5 (seriously, everyone needs to read this).
P.S. Mr. Mittlefehldt, you have a new fan. Hi, I’m that new fan.


My mom’s hair is all curls. They wiggle when she shakes her head, even a bit. It’s a big bushy mass, jet black, a bird’s nest. I’d have to get close to see the roots, the tiniest bit of brown, probably not even a quarter inch. Eema will dye it again tonight. She won’t let more than a couple weeks go by.

“Why do you do that?” I asked her once. I’d watched her as she unwrapped her towel turban, quick but careful, practiced but vigilant, a ritual I’d seen millions of times but never thought about.

When I finally did, it occurred to me how weird it was. Eema’s not one to care about appearances more than is absolutely necessary. She’s not sloppy, not untidy; she just has no interest in cosmetics. If it’s not practical, it’s not worth doing. I’ve never seen her wear lipstick.

She paused in the middle toweling off her hair, as if she had never considered the question. “I prefer black,” she said. That was that.

I watch her now as she reads the Chronicle, curls shaking to tiny eruptions. The actual print version, no quaint. I look for the steam above her coffee and don’t see it. She almost never finishes her coffee, lets it cool half-full, but still complains about how expensive chicory is.


Copyright © 2019 by Rafi Mittlefehldt

Photo Credit: Damien Mittlefehldt

Rafi Mittlefehldt is a writer who has worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance theater critic, and children’s author. His debut novel was It Looks Like This. Rafi Mittlefehldt lives with his husband in New York City.

Shortly after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, I read an article that mentioned one of the bombers having left behind a wife and three-year-old daughter. It was a throwaway line, but it stuck with me — I couldn’t stop thinking about that girl, who was too young to understand what had happened. When would she find out who her father was, and how would she process that? How would others react to learning about her family history? Would she keep it a secret? Would her mother?

What Makes Us began very simply as a story exploring those questions. But as I fleshed out the two main characters, Eran and Jade, their personalities took the story deeper, toward matters that are personal to me but relatable to so many. Eran’s volatility and tendency to react instinctively force him to confront issues of impulse control and anger management. And both characters’ uncertainty regarding their own pasts compels them to wrestle with self-determination and to ask, What makes a person? As the novel switches between Eran’s and Jade’s perspectives, we see them reluctantly frame and then try to answer this question, all against the backdrop of a community on the brink of chaos.

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Book #60: Blood and Magic by R.L. Weeks

Kate’s is attempting to get back to normal following her dad’s unexpected death at the start of summer. Sleepless nights, numbness, and dreams of an abandoned house and a mystery boy forces Kate into isolation – cutting herself off from her friends and mom.
However, on the first day back she is forced to face reality in the form of Nicholas Nightshade – the school’s bad boy that everyone loves to hate – and he has plenty of secrets of his own.
Struggling to come around to her new-found powers, people are thrown into harms away until she is forced to deal with the magic inside of her.
Nicholas will do anything to keep the truth from her – even if it means distancing himself from Kate and leaving her to be a ticking time bomb of dark magic.

With students dying in freak accidents, two covens playing a tug of war with Nicholas and Kate’s souls, and a terrifying foresight between their relationship, shrouding her future with darkness – senior year will be more exciting than Kate could have ever anticipated.

Warning: This book is intended for adults. It has some scenes of a sexual nature, strong language and violence, with references to occultism. This novel is fictional, and all spells and rituals performed are not intended to be instructional. The references made to witchcraft are not accurate to the study and practice of modern-day witchcraft or the pagan religion.

I want to first state that I actually received a copy of this book from the author alongside a book box. At the end of this review is the link to my video on YouTube. You can follow it for future unboxings and writing/book related stuff. What follows is my opinion on the book itself and there was no compensation for this review.

I have read a few of R.L. Weeks’ books and she has a good imagination. Each story is better than the other. And though I prefer her short stories, her books aren’t bad. This includes Blood & Magic.

Blood & Magic follows the life of Kate Bathory, a senior in high school and a girl who pretty much secluded herself after the death of her father. Upon coming back into the real world, she learns something that was kept hidden. It is both something beautiful and dangerous, two sides of the same coin.

The magic part had to be the most interesting to me. The world is dark and beautiful and well thought out. I felt Weeks made her own witches, but was also understanding to the witches of today. They could coexist together in this world without really being an impact to one another, and I liked that. This world also made me think of Sabrina on Netflix, another witchy story where magic can be dark and beautiful at the same time.

The romance wasn’t bad. There were parts where I could see the chemistry between Kate and Nicholas, but I feel there might have been something missing. Maybe it’s more quality time? I’m not sure. They are well written and you could see how the romance grows. As for Nicholas being a bad boy, lies! He’s actually a cuddly teddy bear and intuited Kate’s needs. Dude, this guy isn’t a teenager, he’s closer to his twenties or thirties with the amount of presence he has with Kate.

I bet you can guess who I really liked in the book. Yep, it was Nicholas. Though you are seeing the story through Kate and she isn’t a bad character, it was Nicholas who I found to be a bit more interesting. You don’t get much about his personal background, but what you do know, you are interested in what he has to bring. He may have made some stupid choices, but I feel he was just an overall more thought out character.

All in all, the book wasn’t bad and it hasn’t pulled me away from supporting R.L. Weeks and her writing. If you like paranormal reads, but don’t want a series per se, you should check out the Supernatural New Order books. Each book is set in the same world, but all are standalones. Blood & Magic is the first and coming soon is Dead Girls.

Final Rating: 3/5

Want to see the unboxing? Look below! Be sure to find me and subscribe on YouTube!


Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Filles Vertes Publishing (October 7, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1946802409
ISBN-13: 978-1946802408

Praise for MERRY JONES

“A nurturing and protective elementary school teacher is thrust into a web of unspeakable evil. Riveting, suspenseful and diabolical, Child’s Play keeps the reader anxiously and eagerly turning the pages.” ―Mary Jane Clark, New York Times best-selling author on Child’s Play

“…thrill ride…packs a wallop. By the end, the body count of Child’s Play adds up to eight (plus one rape), and delivers the shocking answer.” ―Mystery Scene on Child’s Play

“Surprising, dark, and even disturbing. A fragile and vulnerable young teacher faces a terrifying first day of school―and that is just the riveting beginning. Timely, provocative and sinister, this twisty story of family and friendship is not for the faint of heart.” ―Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author on Child’s Play

“What’s behind these horrors culminates in helter-skelter chaos. Elle’s home becomes the center of a tragic universe, since she ‘attracted tragedy and death.’ That combination is magnified many fold as bodies pile up. And readers are left enchanted by another ‘Elle-oquent’ thriller.” ―BookReporter on Child’s Play

“The murder of the principal and a teacher on opening day at an elementary school, a terrifying scenario. In Child’s Play Merry Jones showcases her unique skill in delivering this dark, very dark, thriller with a modicum of humor. The end, well, you won’t see it coming amid the tortuous twists and turns. Merry Jones at her best!” ―Patricia Gussin, New York Times best-selling author of After the Fall on Child’s Play

“In Jones’s fast-paced third Elle Harrison novel (after 2014’s Elective Procedures), the Philadelphia second-grade teacher believes that she failed Ty Evans, a former student who later confessed to killing his abusive father, but she hopes to redeem herself with his younger brother, Seth, now enrolled in her class. With Ty newly released from juvenile detention and clashing with their alcoholic mother, Seth’s home life is unstable. When the draconian school principal and a humorless teacher―both of whom treated Ty cruelly―are murdered, Elle is torn between belief in his innocence and her desire to protect Seth. Meanwhile, the realtor charged with selling her house becomes increasingly aggressive, and when someone drugs and rapes Elle, she doesn’t know whether to suspect the realtor or the killer. The identities of the rapist and murderer are obvious well before Elle or other characters identify them. Still, Elle’s complex feelings toward her late husband―who was murdered while they were separated―add nuance and depth.” ―Publishers Weekly on Child’s Play

Nora Warren hides her dark side well because she’s had years of practice.

The wife of a lawyer and mother of two girls, she slides under everyone’s radar, never revealing what she really is—a murderer.

At least, she feels like one.

Nora’s plagued by the secrets surrounding her older brother’s suicide decades earlier. Yet she lives as though he never existed.

Now, in her thirties, Nora suspects her husband, Dave, is having an affair with her friend, the wife of a leading US Senate candidate. When her friend’s body is discovered—another apparent suicide—Nora is left with haunting secrets and choices that dredge up her grim nature, the side of herself that no one ever sees. Will she act on her impulses? Mustn’t she?

How far will Nora go to protect the life she has built for herself?

You can purchaseWhat You Don’t Know at the following Retailers:
I received a copy of What You Don’t Know for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.
The first thing that grabbed me about this book is the interesting way the narration goes. The best way I can describe it is that this book is more of a character study than a mystery. You know there is a mystery and you are questioning what is happening, but everything revolves around Nora. It is Nora you are left really wondering about.
The book is written with the past and present interlocking. It is well written and grabs you. You are taken through her preteen years and the main thread of the story. That said, the story itself could seem a bit slow getting there. But that doesn’t bother me. It’s the way Nora is written that had me wondering who she really was and how she was going to interact with everything around.
Despite the possible slow feel at getting to the main plot, the book was hard to put down. It is very easy for the reader to get to the halfway point in one sitting. Merry Jones did a great job of engaging the reader, hooking them, and fishing along the river.
I honestly can’t say more about the book aside that even though the blurb feels like you will know the whole story, you won’t. If I say anything else, I would be seriously spoiling the book (which doesn’t bother me, but it might you).
All in all, I really liked how it was written and I found myself being sympathetic and understanding much of Nora, but still questioning everything.
Final Rating: 4/5

Excerpt from Nora’s preteen years:

Nora was on her bike, waiting while the high school bus struggled up the hill, sputtering to a stop.

The doors folded open and the driver yelled, “No more roughhousing, you two. Next time, you’ll walk home, the both of you.”

And, oh God, Tommy tumbled out backwards into the street, landing on his butt and scuttling backwards like a panicked crab as Craig Troeschler jumped off and followed after him, swinging Tommy’s empty backpack. Tommy raised his hands, protecting his head. The doors closed and the bus chugged away with a dozen noses pressed against the windows.

Nora tried to look away, but Craig’s voice boomed at Tommy.

“Don’t ever take my seat again! Hear me, you sorry piece of shit? Next time you see me standing on the bus, what are you going to do?”

Craig whapped the backpack at Tommy’s hands and head, and Tommy turned away, dodging and cowering. His face flushed crimson, even darker where black fuzz grew in unshaven patches along his jaw.

Tommy muttered something.

“What? I didn’t hear you.” Craig’s grin gleamed, vicious. He kept swinging the canvas bag.

“I said I’ll get up and give you the seat.” Tommy hunched, arms protecting his head.

“You’ll give me the seat?” Slap. “What else will you do?” Whap. “Say it.”

“I’ll go away.”

“Wrong!” Craig bent over him, growling. “What will you do?”

“Crawl. I’ll crawl away.” Tommy’s voice was husky. A swallowed sob.

Craig stopped smacking and jeered. “That’s right, crybaby douchebag. You’ll get on the ground with the rest of the dirt and crawl out of my sight.” He threw the book bag at him, spit at the ground, and sauntered off across the street.

Toward Nora.

Nora didn’t move, couldn’t. What had just happened? Craig Troeschler was an older kid who lived in a red brick house up the street. What did he have against Tommy? And the driver—he and all the other kids on the bus must have seen what Craig was doing. Why hadn’t they stopped him? Unless—

The realization hit like a slap. It appeared like a rewind, like scattered shards unshattering and reconnecting into an unbroken whole. In a short, silent moment, Nora knew why Tommy hid in his room and never invited anyone over. Why he slunk around without making a sound. She’d known he wasn’t popular or cool. But the truth was far worse: Tommy, her big brother, was the brunt of jokes. He was a wimp who got bullied. A loser. A freak.

Nora’s whole body went numb. She wished she hadn’t seen what happened. It wasn’t her business. She wasn’t part of it, had nothing to do with it, had stumbled into it by chance. What should she have done? Intervene? Stand up for her older brother and confront an even older, bigger Craig who had just acted meaner than anyone she’d ever seen before, who even on that warm spring day was wearing a black biker leather jacket that matched his greased-back shoe-polish-black hair?

Nora didn’t know what her role should be, how she should act, so she did nothing. Even when Craig walked right up to her, standing at the bus stop with her bike, she said nothing. For a flickering heartbeat, she thought, oh God, he was going to pick on her for just standing there, witnessing, or for being Tommy’s sister. Did he know she was his sister? But he passed her by without the merest glimpse, not even a grunt.

Tommy looked up, then, probably to make sure Craig was gone. For an endless, permanent, never-to-be-forgotten moment, brother and sister stared at each other in silent recognition of Tommy’s humiliation, his perpetual victimization, his tormented hopelessness.

Copyright © 2019 by Merry Jones

Photo Credit: Bill Eckland

Merry Jones is an award winning author who has written humor (eg. I LOVE HIM, BUT…), non-fiction (eg. BIRTHMOTHERS), and dark suspense (eg. the Zoe Hayes mysteries, the Harper Jennings thrillers, and the Elle Harrison suspense novels). Now, with her twentieth book,WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW, she’s entering the domain of domestic psychological suspense. Jones taught college writing courses for fifteen years, and leads seminars, appears on panels at writing conferences, and, with fellow members of the Liars Club, cohosts a monthly writers’ coffeehouse and the weekly Oddcast, a podcast devoted to writing and other creative endeavors. 

Jones’s work has been translated into seven languages and has appeared in magazines, such as American Woman and Glamour. Jones is a member of the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Philadelphia Liars Club. The mother of two and grandmother of one (so far) lives with her husband in Philadelphia, where she is an avid rower on the Schuylkill River and a member of Vesper Boat Club. Visit her at

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Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (October 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250299705
ISBN-13: 978-1250299703


“Don’t underestimate the girls in the Arkettan welcome houses because you might just lose your life. Davis’ The Good Luck Girls is a dust-filled, bloody fairytale set in a menacing world haunted with the reminder―the price of freedom is high, but it’s worth fighting for at all costs. Rise up, teen readers!” ―Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles

“This dystopian debut is deeply connected to today’s social issues, and readers will feel that impact.” ―Booklist


Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this stunning fantasy adventure from debut author Charlotte Nicole Davis.

Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst


The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.

You can purchaseThe Good Luck Girls at the following Retailers:
I received a copy of The Good Luck Girls for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.
Okay, I should probably say that this book deals with two heavy subjects. The umbrella term for the subject is Human Exploitation. The Good Luck Girls are girls who “give good luck”. If you aren’t sure what that means, in the plainest terms these girls are forced sex workers. And then you have the forced miners which seemed very similar to slavery or indentured servitude without the ability to be completely free. Two different types and heavy handed subjects, but both under the umbrella of human exploitation. If this is something that bothers you, you shouldn’t read the book.
That said, this was the reason I loved the book. Charlotte Nicole Davis handles this heavy subject in a well said way without being too delicate or too preachy. You feel the anger coursing through these girls, you want them to survive and thrive and kick ass. You become one of them or, at the least, one of their supporters.
I actually love Westerns and the world crafted around this story of runaways is very similar to the wild west. Add in spirits and scary men able to torture you with their minds, and you have the base of a good series. It felt like the wild west and it felt very dangerous.
As for the writing style, I mentioned it a bit above. Charlotte Nicole Davis’ writing voice is exactly what I like in a storyteller. It was to the point in the way that the language is very similar to our own and easy to be pulled in. The characters are well written, diverse, and all have secrets but they protect each other under a common thread. Like I said before, it was easy to be pulled in and that makes it hard to put the book down.
All in all, this is a different sort of YA fantasy and I am 100% on board with it. I already have book two on my TBR list and I am impatiently waiting for it.
Final rating: 5/5
Photo Credit: Brett Pruitt

Charlotte Nicole Davis is the author of The Good Luck Girls, a young adult fantasy novel releasing in Fall 2019 with Tor Teen. A graduate of The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Charlotte loves comic book movies and books with maps in the front. She currently lives in Brooklyn with a cat with a crooked tail.


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Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press (October 8, 2019)
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Language: English

Young Adult Novel/Hardback

Praise for THE RIFT

“Thrilling … A fresh and original story; a standout in the fantasy genre. The romance between Cal and Meg blends envy, desire and uncertainty with a potent authenticity. Written with a sparse lovely poetry, The Rift demands an immersion that is intoxicating. I can’t recommend this enough.” ―Isabelle Carmody, author of The Obernewtyn Chronicles and The Gathering

“Gripping, brutal, tender. You won’t be able to put this book down.” ―Michael Pryor, author of The Laws Of Magic series and Gap Year in Ghost Town.

“Beautiful, dark and deliciously tense – an astonishing world that will hold you in its finely wrought claws.” ―Alison Goodman, author of the Lady Helen series and the Eon series.

“Masterful and brilliant! Beautiful world building, stunning writing, a cracking plot, perfectly paced and hot romantic tension. Craw has outdone herself.” ―Fleur Ferris, best-selling author of Risk, Black, Wreck and Found

Storylines Notable Book Award, 2019
Finalist, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2019

As corporate greed is pitted against supernatural forces, two young friends must try to protect the precious Old Herd — and their island itself.

For generations, the rangers of Black Water Island have guarded the Old Herd against the horrors released by the Rift. And Cal West, an apprentice ranger, fights daily to prove he belongs within their ranks. But even greater challenges await with the return of his childhood friend Meg Archer and the onset of a new threat that not even the rangers are prepared for. Now Meg and Cal, while struggling with their mutual attraction, must face their darkest fears to save the island from disaster. In a possible near future where Big Pharma is pitted against ancient traditions and the supernatural, Rachael Craw’s gripping and brutal tale, inspired by Greek mythology, will immerse readers and leave them intoxicated by its richly imagined world.

You can purchaseThe Rift at the following Retailers:


I want to first thank the publisher for my copy of the book. What follows is an honest review and my opinion alone. There was no compensation given for this review.

What instantly pulled me into this book was the blurb. It seemed so different and interesting that I wanted to crack this book open. What kept me going was the ambiance and the world. I’m not sure if the Pacific Northwest was an inspiration for the book or not, but I got some serious PNW vibes with Black Water Island. And to top it off, I also got some Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle vibes. So, I was very much on board with this book.

In terms of story pacing, the story itself is a bit slow in the beginning. More so because you don’t really get what is going on in the Island and how Meg and Cal fall into the world. It’s not slow in the writing, just in the mental execution as a reader. That said, once you hit about 80 pages, you should know whether or not you are in for the story. I was in.

I absolutely loved Cal and Joss. Joss for his perky sidekick ways of doing things. He had a whole bunch of personality and just not enough time to keep him going. There is no restraining that boy and I would love to see more of him. As for Cal, he had that big broody kind of attitude with him. The silent type who won’t speak unless it’s very important. And I was very into it.

Note, it is rare for me to “fall” for a character and I definitely fell for Cal. I wanted to cuddle him and just hiss at all the others (except Joss, he can stay).

Meg wasn’t a bad character. She grew on me as the book progressed and I do like her as a character. The way she and Cal worked against or with each other was well done. She and the other characters had a great chemistry.

The world itself is so expansive that there doesn’t seem to be enough to talk about it. Even though this book is written as a standalone, I can definitely see the story and world progress. There is so much left to understand. Like the Rift, Fallon, the Hounds. . . so much more I want.

The story wasn’t predictable, but I can see where you would be able to guess what is going on. In my case, I was too inside the world to really try to theorize or guess what was happening. I just wanted to be immersed and stay in there for a little while. And, on a huge plus, I was able to read the book in three days (I’ve been having a big reading problem lately so this was a big win for me). I didn’t want to put it down!

Final Rating: 4/5

P.S. Ms. Craw (if you happen to read this), I would love more. I know you don’t have anything planned, but there is just so much with the world and how you set up the characters. Come on, you know Joss needs to be out more. Okay, I’m done being a bother, but really, I am definitely going to need more of your writing (though I still say more of the rangers please!).

Photo Content from Rachael Craw

Rachael Craw began her working life as an English teacher after completing a degree in Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury. She dabbled in acting, directing and writing for amateur theatre productions and small independent film ventures. Her passion for dialogue and characterisation finally led to long-form writing with the Spark series. Rachael’s enthusiasm for classical heroes, teen angst and popular culture informs much of her creative process. She enjoys small town life teaching, writing and mentoring at the top of the South Island of New Zealand where she lives with her husband and three daughters.

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Book #56: The Last Real Girl by L.C. Warman

“Warman’s taut prose is pitched perfectly for her subject matter, managing to make the high school drama feel high-stakes and creepy by turns… The author’s sharp senses of pacing and character make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Readers will be waiting with anticipation for future volumes. A captivating teen mystery in a secretive lakeside town.” -Kirkus Reviews

Book Description:
When 17-year-old Reese first moved to the wealthy, lakeshore town of St. Clair over five years ago, she never expected someone like Charlotte Walters to take her under her wing. Charlotte is everything that Reese is not: rich, gorgeous, and carefree, living with her enigmatic older brother and her parents in a mansion at the top of the lake.

But when senior year starts, everything seems off. Reese notices that Charlotte’s older brother Aiden keeps coming back from college to hang around on weekends, stoic and grim. And Charlotte’s parents seem more distracted, almost lost. Meanwhile, Charlotte keeps insisting to Reese that nothing is wrong, and decides to host a Halloween party with the theme of “missing girls.”

That night, at the party, Charlotte goes missing.

Everyone who attended becomes an instant suspect, from Charlotte’s brother (who argued with Charlotte earlier that night), to Charlotte’s field hockey teammate (who wasn’t invited to the party in the first place), to Reese herself (who was the last person to see Charlotte alive, out near the lake).

With the clock ticking, Reese must unravel what happened to her best friend, and dig through the layers of secrets protecting people in St. Clair. Because now, being the quiet sidekick won’t cut it. And maybe only an outsider to St. Clair can truly confront all of the town’s dark mysteries.

L.C. Warman is the author of spooky young adult mysteries. She grew up in New England, in a town where real estate contracts stipulated that you couldn’t back out if you discovered your new place was haunted. She currently lives in a Michigan lakeside town with her husband and two dogs.

I received a copy from the publisher via Audiobook Boom for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

The Last Real Girl by L.C. Warman is definitely a mystery to start reading. Truthfully, I feel it could be joined with the other two books just from how this one ended, but I do say this book is a fully thought out book and a great introduction to something truly dark.

The first thing that caught my attention was the way Charlotte is described. It reminded me of how I would describe my own best friend. As something other, someone to aspire to, and a person I would probably set aside anything to make sure she was safe. It helped me feel connected to Reese and the mystery unfolding in front of her. The mystery behind her best friend’s disappearance.

You don’t get much in the reveal of the mystery (the bulk of the story unfolds in three books), but you do get a taste of the environment. And, in my opinion, environment is key in a mystery.

And boy does this town seem odd. Like, really odd. Shady Pines kind of odd. The kind of odd that you wonder if you are in the Twilight Zone. And yet, I don’t think this is all of the oddity around the town. I have a feeling that Charlotte’s disappearance and the disappearance of other girls is closely intertwined with the deeper mystery of the town.

It is inspiring, odd, and just gets the mental gears running. I am left trying to piece together what little information I have from book one. And no answers are given. We have only more questions.

I definitely say you need to read the second book after this one. I am going to have to.

As for the narration of the audiobook, the narrator is a good one. Her reading and voices pulled me into the world of the story. The narrator is a good mix of the teen we relate with and the ethereal feel to the strange town. A great choice for a moody mystery that leaves you wanting more.

Final Rating: 4/5


Book Details:
Book Title Mayhem, Murder and the PTA by Dave Cravens
Category:  Adult Fiction, 434 pages
Genre:  Mystery / Thriller
Publisher:  Amazon
Release date:   May 20, 2019
Format available for review:  print, ebook (mobi, gifted Kindle copy, ePub, PDF)
Will send print books out:  USA & Canada
Tour dates: August 19 to September 13, 2019
Content Rating:  R (Rated R mostly for language. There are adult topics of conversation, a brief scene depicting two adults having consensual sex that becomes interrupted, a murder, and several themes that touch upon drug use, adultery, pedophilia and human trafficking.)Book Description:
Parker Monroe is a tough-talking investigative reporter used to writing headlines, not being the subject of them. When a key source vanishes on a politically toxic story, this single mother of three finds herself at the center of a media storm and out of a job. Ready to reset, Parker moves her family back to the rural town where she grew up. But a gossip-filled PTA, a tyrannical school principal and a gruesome murder make adjusting to the “simple life” anything but. Parker Monroe is about to chase the story of her lifetime…
I received a copy for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.
Now that’s out of the way, this book . . . well, it took a little bit for me to get into the flow of this book. First off, the size of the paperback felt a bit daunting. I mean this thing looks huge! Turns out, what you see isn’t always what it is. Nope, the print is actually a bit large. Which I have no complaints about! I can read it without my glasses and I know my sister (she’s dyslexic) or my best friend (she’s legally blind) could read it too.
But, what really made the book a challenge, in the beginning, was Parker Monroe, our main character. Right off the bat, I didn’t care for her. She is abrasive, argumentative, and cusses a lot. The last part doesn’t actually bother me, I do too. After a few chapters though, I could see that the first Parker I met was really just coping with something bigger. Yes, you find out what is causing the stress right away, but you don’t necessarily see the implications of it unless you push past the first ten chapters.
Don’t worry though, the chapters are quick.
There were characters that I liked (Parker’s mother is awesome) and there were others who seemed to be caricatures of what you would suspect (I’m thinking the PTA). That said though, it is the story that grips you. I honestly didn’t know what to expect or see and when the final reveal happened . . . . I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!
The writing is easy to get into and again, once you get past the abrasive Parker (who I am now beginning to see similarities with me) you get a story that is part mom trying to fight for her children’s music program, part solving serious crime, and part navigating the world of single parenthood.
This was one of those reads that I did enjoy and reminded me that I shouldn’t judge a book by its physical exterior and not to judge the main character from your first impression.
Final Rating: 3/5

Dave Cravens

Meet the author:As a child, Dave Cravens planned to grow up to be a superhero, the first person to capture Bigfoot and Nessie on film, pilot experimental aircraft out of Area 51, develop cold fusion, and star and direct in his own blockbuster action movies so he could retire at the ripe age of twenty-five and raid tombs the rest of his life. Instead, he got a degree in journalism, which he hasn’t used at all other than to justify his incredibly insightful and valid complaints about the state of journalism. During his twenty-two years in the video game business, he’s written for award winning franchises, directed TV commercials and movies, sprained his ankles numerous times in ultimate frisbee games and published three original novels.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  

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