Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Pleased to Meet Me [book tour; review]

Pleased to Meet Me by Bill Sullivan
Published by National Geographic Society on August 6, 2019
my rating: ★★★ ★
Goodreads avg: 
4.35 (as of 2019-08-23)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Why are you attracted to a certain “type?” Why are you a morning person? Why do you vote the way you do? From a witty new voice in popular science comes a life-changing look at what makes you.

“I can’t believe I just said that.” “What possessed me to do that?” “What’s wrong with me?” We’re constantly seeking answers to these fundamental human questions, and now, science has the answers. Clever, relatable, and revealing, this eye-opening narrative from Indiana University School of Medicine professor Bill Sullivan explores why we do the things we do through the lens of genetics, microbiology, psychology, neurology, and family history. From what we love (and hate) to eat and who we vote for in political elections to when we lose our virginity and why some people find drugs so addicting, this illuminating book uses the latest scientific research to unveil the secrets of what makes us tick. Filled with fascinating insights–including how experiences that haunted our grandparents echo in our DNA, why the bacteria in our guts mess with our minds, and whether there really is a “murder gene”–this revolutionary book explains the hidden forces shaping who we are, pointing us on a path to how we might become our best selves. 


In Pleased to Meet Me, Bill Sullivan sets out to explain what makes us, well, us. Conversationally written, this is absolutely geared toward the lay reader. While going in with a solid foundation of biology wouldn’t hurt, Sullivan lays each topic out carefully and provides sufficient background for readers to understand the more advanced topics being discussed. There is truly just enough information for us to glean what we need from each section and although I occasionally wanted more, I knew it wasn’t feasible to go more into depth while covering such a wide variety of topics.

This was an incredibly insightful read. I ended up bookmarking what felt like almost every page in the book and marked up countless passages. There are constant gems of information that are either fascinating all on their own or feel highly applicable to day-to-day life. My only complaint really is that Sullivan is a little too conversational at times, although that could just be my personal preference. He made endless cheesy jokes and had constant commentary that began to wear on me. But honestly, it’s a small price to pay for the amount that I learned reading this, especially considering what an easy read it was.

I really can’t recommend Pleased to Meet Me enough to those interested. While scholars on the topic may find this a bit too surface-level for their interests, this is certainly a wonderful primer for those who want to understand the interactions between genetics, environment, and family history. I’ll probably find myself leafing through it again in the future and am excited to see whether Sullivan puts out something similar again eventually.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Perfect Wife [review]

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
Published by Ballantine Books on August 6, 2019
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg: 
3.92 (as of 2019-08-20)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s an icon of the tech world, the founder of a lucrative robotics company. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago, and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss. She is a miracle of science. 

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago? 


This was really nothing like I had expected. At the very start, I thought I had quite a firm grasp on things, but this is definitely one of those novels where literally nothing is what you expect. Even the perspectives shift wildly, moving between the second person while following Abbie and a plural first person (???) when diving into Abbie’s history with her husband. This definitely lends some additional intrigue to the narrative, and by the end I felt that this decision had paid off for Delaney.

While there isn’t much else to say about the plot itself — it’s interesting, it’s timely, and it makes you want to keep reading — there was an additional aspect to the novel that I found interesting. Abbie and her husband have a son named Danny, who was diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder. While I know next-to-nothing about this, the book explains it as late-onset autism. The disclaimer here is that I am allistic and have been unable to locate any ownvoices posts by autistic reviewers — so please link me any you have written or seen and I’ll add them here. 

At first, I was really taken aback by the portrayal: there was a lot of the stereotypical “my son has been taken from me” wailing, and talk of “curing” him. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that this perspective changed greatly over the course of the novel and seemed positive by the end — although it’s not up to me to give the final comment on rep that doesn’t apply to me. I mention this for two reasons: first, this could obviously be triggering to some people. And second, if you’re considering putting down the book due to its characters’ problematic stances, they do change.

Overall this was a decent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting, creative thriller.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Our Year of Maybe [review]

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Published by Simon Pulse on January 15, 2019
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
4.02 (as of 2019-08-16)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie, too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.


I had honestly expected this to be a more emotionally piercing book than it ended up being. The themes here are so deep, and complicated. This book follows Sophie and Peter over the course of a year, starting just before Sophie donates her kidney to Peter, who was born with failing organs. The relationship between the two is complicated to begin with, so this exchange only serves to muddy the waters further. 

There is a lot to love about this book, and plenty of rep: more than a handful of lgbtq characters, two Jewish protagonists, and a biracial love interest. Sophie’s sister is a teen mom, and Sophie herself is dyslexic. The story is an important one and encompasses a plethora of issues; there’s really something for everyone. At its base, it’s a story about the relationships between people and how they change, which I think anyone can relate to.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t vibe super well with it. It was well-written, the premise was interesting, and I appreciated a lot of the things it discussed. It just didn’t reach to a deeper level. I didn’t get that spark I feel with other books. As I said to begin with, I was expecting much more of an emotional connection that I just didn’t get. I felt sort of distanced from the characters, through no fault of the author. This book just wasn’t for me, for whatever reason.

Regardless, I highly recommend it if it’s of interest to you! I think this is yet another book that’s important for young adults and I’m glad it was written. I’m certain there are readers who will just adore this, I just wasn’t one of them.


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Her Name in the Sky [review]

Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen
Published on February 23, 2014
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
4.23 (as of 2019-08-16)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Hannah wants to spend her senior year of high school going to football games and Mardi Gras parties with her tight-knit group of friends. 

The last thing she wants is to fall in love with a girl–especially when that girl is her best friend, Baker. 

Hannah knows she should like Wally, the kind, earnest boy who asks her to prom. She should cheer on her friend Clay when he asks Baker to be his girlfriend. She should follow the rules of her conservative Louisiana community–the rules that have been ingrained in her since she was a child.

But Hannah longs to be with Baker, who cooks macaroni and cheese with Hannah late at night, who believes in the magic of books as much as Hannah does, and who challenges Hannah to be the best version of herself. 

And Baker might want to be with Hannah, too–if both girls can embrace that world-shaking, yet wondrous, possibility.


Oof, this was a tough read. As the blurb states, this is about a girl falling in love with her best friend and struggling with those feelings. What the blurb leaves out is that both girls attend Catholic school and that their faith is quite important to them, as well as the people around them. Having grown up surrounded by plenty of Catholic family members, I found this quite an interesting slant to things, but I can definitely see that making this a difficult or impossible read for some people.

She wakes, hours later, in terror. She sits straight up in bed with her heart sprinting in her chest. Her face and neck are damp with cold sweat. She sweeps the back of her hand across her forehead and remembers, with the force of a stone slinging down into her belly, that she had been dreaming about God.

I thought Kelly Quindlen did an excellent job portraying high school friendships. The kids were all goofy and raucous and constantly referencing inside jokes. Unfortunately, it was so realistic that it grated on me at times and I found it a bit over-the-top and obnoxious. But I can respect the fact that this book was certainly not written for a 27-year-old, so the things that bother me aren’t likely to bother a teenage reader. And in a way it was quite nostalgic. I’ve had friendships like those and they are something very high school. Additionally, juggling a cast of six characters is quite difficult, but Quindlen handles it well. They are all their own discrete people with different mannerisms.

She tries to ask God, but she can’t seem to find God anywhere. 

As I’ve already stated, I found the religious aspect to be quite interesting. Hannah struggles deeply with what she’s always been told about gay people contrasted with the feelings she herself is feeling. There’s a lot of potentially triggering content, as Hannah literally tries to pray the gay away. The scenes with her begging God for answers were absolutely heartbreaking and, while not really religious myself, I desperately hoped she would find a way to reconcile her faith with her sexuality. And it is really nice to see a book that seeks to find a connection between queerness and religion rather than abandoning faith entirely due to conflict. I think a lot of religious, particularly Catholic, folks in the lgbtq community will see themselves in this and appreciate it.

Sometimes I think God reacted the way he did because he was so, so anguished that Adam and Eve hated something about themselves. They didn’t realize how beautiful they were in the Garden. They didn’t realize how perfect they were in their love. When their eyes were opened—when they saw that they were naked—they felt as if they had to cover themselves. They thought what God had made was shameful and embarrassing and wrong. Can you imagine how that made God feel? How his heart must have ached to see them denying their beauty, their humanity, in front of him like that? It’s the most heartrending part of the story.

Overall, I think this is quite an important book for young adults. It offers a new path that I think a lot of stories bypass. And that’s fair, I can see why religion is hard for a lot of lgbtq people, but I can also see how it helps others. This is a tough read, but it’s also an important story of self-revelation and self-acceptance. I definitely recommend it if you think you’d find these topics interesting, or if you’re intrigued by any aspect of the premise.


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We Went to the Woods [review]

We Went to the Woods by Caite Dolan-Leach
Published by Random House on July 2, 2019
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg: 
3.15 (as of 2019-08-13)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. All quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Certain that society is on the verge of economic and environmental collapse, five disillusioned twenty-somethings make a bold decision: They gather in upstate New York to transform an abandoned farm, once the site of a turn-of-the-century socialist commune, into an idyllic self-sustaining compound called the Homestead.

Louisa spearheads the project, as her wealthy family owns the plot of land. Beau is the second to commit; as mysterious and sexy as he is charismatic, he torments Louisa with his nightly disappearances and his other relationships. Chloe, a dreamy musician, is naturally able to attract anyone to her–which inevitably results in conflict. Jack, the most sensible and cerebral of the group, is the only one with any practical farm experience. Mack, the last to join, believes it’s her calling to write their story–but she is not the most objective narrator, and inevitably complicates their increasingly tangled narrative. Initially exhilarated by restoring the rustic dwellings, planting a garden, and learning the secrets of fermentation, the group is soon divided by slights, intense romantic and sexual relationships, jealousies, and suspicions. And as winter settles in, their experiment begins to feel not only misguided, but deeply isolating and dangerous.


We Went to the Woods is a quietly intense novel following five not-quite-yet adults as they leave the comforts of the modern world to create a commune of sorts in upstate New York. All are there for different reasons but the narrator of the novel, Mack, is attempting to escape her infamy after a very public experiment goes awry. While the threads of a mystery are woven throughout, this is very much not a thriller; the focus is held much more deeply on the characters and their relationships and introspections than on the plot itself.

Even if most of my days felt useless, days where I came home with some cash felt like they hadn’t been entirely wasted. This depressed me, this feeling that my life mattered only as it was measured out in paper dollars.

Mack herself is quite relatable in some ways: she has fallen into this tightly knit friend group and feels more like an outsider than anything else. As readers, we are not privy to the ins and outs of the four other characters and must slowly figure them out alongside Mack. There is a strong element of voyeurism to this and it was difficult not to be torn between wanting things to settle down and wanting to watch the drama unfurling.

Could I learn to live? The clouds opened up and I let them drench me, waiting to feel something. The intensity I wanted seemed close, attainable — the chill I felt out here and the coziness I would feel inside, with them? Was that what I hoped for? The distance between two feelings?

I found the parallels drawn between past and present to be quite interesting. Mack begins researching older communities that had struck out from society at large in similar ways. It seems obvious that humanity keeps making the same mistakes rather than learning from those who came before them. Even when drawing comparisons to the Collective, another nearby commune, this much is obvious. Whilst Mack’s group has struck out alone in an effort to avoid existing groups and their mistakes, this means they simply turn around and make their own.

But action is not something that has ever come easily to me; I wait for others’ decisiveness, not choosing for myself. Never recognizing that my passivity, too, is a choice.

There is a lot to be said about the portrayal of sexuality in this novel, and I’m intrigued to see what others have gotten from it. It is clear that Mack’s draw to the others in the group is firmly rooted in the erotic tension they all share. This is something that Mack herself focuses heavily on, literally obsessed with the physical relationships between each of them. There seems to be little delineation as far as gender or sexual orientation goes and most of the focus is on “free love” though it is clear that not all of the characters enjoy participating in non-monogamy. Indeed, it’s clear that any lack of boundaries is more forced than natural, particularly as secret upon secret is slowly unearthed.

But then, how can one small group of committed individuals hope to alter a whole society bent on injustice?

As much as I enjoyed the novel, there were some aspects that I felt could have been handled better. For one, Mack’s infamy is a point of interest throughout the book that I felt was played up a bit too much. It is quite some time before the reader finds out what had happened and in my opinion, the eventual reveal was quite anticlimactic. It felt heavy-handed and clunky in the moment and I felt it could have been woven in better. Aside from that, the reason itself just confused me. Sure, what Mack did was terrible, but I was expecting something so much worse and felt let down by what had promised to be a major confession. Where Mack ends up in the end also irritated me and seemed like a throwaway, but that’s something I can’t get into without spoilers.

“That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” Jack said, musing. “The idea that you don’t have a home inside your own head. That breaks my heart.”

Speaking of which, what an ending it was! While the tension slowly builds throughout the novel and a climax is strongly alluded to (there are a lot of “had I known what I was coming…” reflections), I was still unprepared for where it led. Again this is difficult to discuss without spoilers, but I’d compare Caite Dolan-Leach’s writing to a well-done score: it is easy not to realize how much it is impacting you until you realize you are taut with anxiety and all hell is about to break loose.

“Do you think it’s because of the pesticides?” I asked finally. “I think it’s because of the whole damn world, Wee Mack. There’s nowhere to get away from the poison.”

Anyway, yeah this is a doozy of a read. I wasn’t sure what to think of it as I progressed but I have to say that the last act really cemented things for me. I was actually racing through the pages and dreaded the idea of not finishing before I would have to put it down. There’s much more to think about than what I touched on here, and even what I discussed could be analyzed at great length. I’m really interested in seeing what others have gotten out of this, and definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a slower, more intense read.


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Amatka [review]

Amatka by Karin Tidbeck
Published by Vintage on June 27, 2017 (originally 2012)
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
3.80 (as of 2019-08-11)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Vanja, an information assistant, is sent from her home city of Essre to the austere, wintry colony of Amatka with an assignment to collect intelligence for the government. Immediately she feels that something strange is going on: people act oddly in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion.

Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja falls in love with her housemate, Nina, and prolongs her visit. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony, and a cover-up by its administration, she embarks on an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk.

In Karin Tidbeck’s world, everyone is suspect, no one is safe, and nothing—not even language, nor the very fabric of reality—can be taken for granted. Amatka is a beguiling and wholly original novel about freedom, love, and artistic creation by a captivating new voice.


Amatka is quite creative as far as dystopian novels go. The world we’re dropped into is a strange place where everything must be labeled and referred to with its proper name (CHAIR, TABLE, etc.) or else it turns into a pile of goo. Language is vital for keeping the world together here. Our main character, Vanja, has traveled to the city of Amatka for a research project assigned to her by her employer. As is typical in most dystopian novels, things are not quite as they appear and some deep secrets are uncovered.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about some aspects of the novel. As is indicated in the blurb, Vanja falls in love with her housemate Nina. Interestingly, absolutely no ado is made about this and it’s clear that same-sex relationships are treated just as any others. The issue really is that there is no clear reason for Vanja and Nina’s relationship. We don’t see much besides lust develop between the two and while it’s obvious Vanja’s former life left much to be desired, it seemed bizarre of her to drop everything to stay. I will say Vanja’s relationships with others are similar: they exist only for the sake of the plot and don’t develop much otherwise.

The pace of the plot was quite good, as was the way things were gradually revealed. The reader is forced to pick apart clues along with Vanja and watch as she must decide whether it’s more important to fit in or to discover the truth. As is typical in this genre, things build slowly but steadily until they reach a frantic climax that is impossible to look away from. I had some mixed feelings about the ending itself, which I can’t discuss without touching on spoilers. I’ll just say that I didn’t love the way things were left and found the last bit of the novel to be a bit too frantic to take in easily.

Overall, though, this was a really neat book that I’m glad I picked up. I had no idea what to expect going in and I’m not sure how it even ended up on my TBR but I’m glad it did. I’ll probably be picking up some more of Karin Tidbeck’s works to see what else she’s been able to come up with.


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Truth or Beard [review]

Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) by Penny Reid
Published by Cipher-Naught on July 21, 2015
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
3.96 (as of 2019-08-04)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. 

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?


This was the first book I read out of the Hilariously Ever After collection, which I snagged while it was free on Amazon. I’ve been in such a bad slump recently and decided some romance might help me through. And boy, was I right! I devoured Truth or Beard in one lengthy sitting, finishing sometime around 2:30am with no regrets.

I’ll get the things I didn’t like out of the way first, because there were a few. The first is probably the most minor and it’s the writing style. I literally almost DNFed on the second page because I couldn’t stand how it was written, but I persevered and ended up adjusting to it very quickly. There were still a few moments where I was thrown out of the story by the writing, but for the most part it wasn’t too bad.

There were also quite a few moments of questionable consent, which really rubbed me the wrong way. First and foremost is a scene where Jess thinks she’s getting hot and heavy with one twin when it turns out to be another. But throughout the whole book, Jess keeps physically accosting Duane even when he is definitely not giving enthusiastic consent — and she’s noticing that he’s not! I know that this kind of portrayal is common in romance novels, but I just couldn’t help but feel really icky every time it came up.

Thirdly was the slut-shaming leveled at Jess’ cousin Tina, who is a stripper and groupie for the local biker gang. One line about her was literally “I couldn’t talk to her about anything, because she didn’t know about anything other than townie gossip, biker gossip, how to work a pole, and how to spread her legs.” Loove the air-headed slut trope, thanks /sarcasm. On a related note, the last thing that I didn’t like was everything involving the biker gang. I agree with Destiny that it actually subtracted from the plot, and that I ended up skimming a lot of those interactions.

But, there was still plenty to like! The characters were all super well-fleshed out. There were plenty of funny lines to laugh at, too. Duane’s relationships with his brothers basically made the whole book for me. I adored them all so much and am actually quite excited to continue the series so I can get some more time with them. The chemistry between Duane and Jess, while perhaps overemphasized, was legit as well.

While it looks like there’s a lot more to dislike than to like, I really found this to be quite a fun read. If you’re looking for some easy-to-read romance, this is definitely a good candidate. I’m hoping some of the issues I had are remedied in the rest of the series, and I’ll definitely be trying them out.


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Wilder Girls [review]

Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Published by Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg: 
3.87 (as of 2019-07-28)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website


A feminist Lord of the Flies about three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears. This fresh, new debut is a mind-bending novel unlike anything you’ve read before.

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.


Wilder Girls thrusts you into the midst of an epidemic unlike any you will have encountered before. The story is centered around a group of three friends who have all fallen prey to the Tox, which has overtaken their boarding school as well as the island it sits upon. Many lives have been claimed by the Tox, both students and teachers alike. The girls have become quite accustomed to the situation, and seem to have accepted their fates.

Part of what I adored was how original the Tox was. I think we’ve seen plenty of sci-fi stories focusing on diseases, but Wilder Girls took this to a whole other level. We aren’t fed much info about the plague, which makes it feel quite mysterious, but its result is a whole lot of body horror that plays out differently in each girl. And believe me when I say it is a LOT of body horror. This book is really not for the faint of heart.

At first I had a bit of trouble discerning the differences between the characters themselves. It took me quite a bit to become attached to them and their relationships. The three girls at the center of the book kind of blurred together in my mind until about a third through. Luckily, I felt this issue was resolved and came to love them all in their own ways.

Also, believe the hype when it comes to how queer this book is. Hetty, one of the POV characters, is bi/pan/queer (she mentions liking both boys and girls, but no label) and Reese, another one of the characters, self-identifies as queer. Byatt, the third in the trio, doesn’t have her sexuality mentioned at all as far as I remember. There is a f/f romance that is not the focus of the story at all, but was very cute and did add a lot!

Overall, I think this was just a lovely sapphic YA horror novel that gave off some serious Annihilation vibes. If any of that sounds interesting to you, you’ll probably adore it. While I’d love a sequel (or a spinoff?), I do think the ending left things tied up quite nicely. I’m impressed by this debut novel and am quite excited to see what Rory Power puts out next!


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Mini-Review Compilation #15

Your Tarot Court

This felt more like a reference book than something you would take in front-to-back, but I enjoyed it and will definitely look back at it in the future. I enjoyed the various exercises provided as well as the wealth of information provided about the tarot court. The author also does a pretty good job at removing gender from the equation and speaking about each card more as a general archetype than anything else. I found it informative and would definitely recommend to those who partake in tarot.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Delay, Don’t Deny

This is a really helpful primer if you’re interested in intermittent fasting (IF). It mainly discusses using it for weight loss reasons, but does talk about other benefits as well. What I really liked was how Gin emphasized that this is actually a lifestyle change; any weight loss or benefits you experience WILL go away if you revert back to old habits completely. I liked that there wasn’t any of this magic bullet BS a lot of other people will try to peddle. She also explained the biology behind how it all works and provided extensive sources, referring readers to other books so that she could give a summary without bogging this book down with technical details. I’m still a little skeptical of some aspects, but am definitely interested in trying it out and learning more!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ancillary Justice

I wish I had more to say about this, but it unfortunately didn’t leave too much of an impression on me. Aspects of it were certainly interesting. The implication of AI having free will, and being intelligent and independent enough to pass as human beings was intriguing to consider. The mundanity of gender. A few other things that I can’t delve into without getting into spoiler territory. The issue mainly being that this is such a slow burn, making it feel unnecessarily long at parts. I found myself getting confused relatively easily at some points and just didn’t feel like whatever I got out of the book heavily outweighed the work I was putting into it. Still, I do find it intriguing and would like to see where the series goes so I plan to continue.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Invited [review]

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon
To be published by Doubleday on April 30, 2019
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg: 
3.93 (as of 2019-03-04)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. All quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times best-selling author of THE WINTER PEOPLE, returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house, they start building one from scratch, without knowing it, until it’s too late…

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home – wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks — she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day. 


Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People became one of my favorites when I read it last year so of course Rachel let me know the second she saw it on Netgalley and I requested it immediately. McMahon’s books combine my love of horror with my love of all things Vermont (and New England) and I’ve been meaning to pick up more of her books for quite some time now. Rachel actually lent me a copy of The Night Sister, which I’ve got sitting in my physical TBR pile. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed The Invited, it just wasn’t as strong a book as I had hoped for.

What people don’t understand, they destroy.

As with The Winter People, McMahon sets up alternating perspectives. We have Helen, an outsider who is building a house with her husband Nate on supposedly haunted property. We also have Ollie, a girl in her early teens who is searching for a treasure that may or may not exist. I sympathized with Helen and while I found Ollie a bit irritating at first, I quickly warmed up to her as well. I also adored Ollie’s aunt, Riley, with her dyed hair and many tattoos and love of local lore. At one point I briefly hoped that Helen would leave her husband for Riley, but alas, that was wishful thinking.

Sometimes Olive got so caught up in her own grief that she forgot other people were grieving, too.

The plot itself is somewhat interesting: Ollie searches for the treasure and for traces of her mother who had left while Helen searches for more information about the spirit that may haunt her new home. McMahon puts her own unique twist on the classic ghost story, incorporating new elements and giving us just the right amount of red herrings. A lot of my nitpicks came less from issues with the story itself and more from inconsistencies in the writing and the difficulty I had getting invested until about a third in. Hopefully some of this gets pulled together better in the final copy.

“Sometimes a vivid imagination is a curse,” her mama used to tell her.

Overall The Invited was interesting and enjoyable, but it unfortunately lacked the oomph that would have given it a higher rating and put it on my favorites list. Still, Jennifer McMahon manages to explore the storied history of New England and its comparison to modern-day life. I definitely recommend this to anyone who has read and liked any of her other books, as well as to those who like the exploration of relationships between women in horror.


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