Review -Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino



Title: Swear on This Life
Author: Renee Carlino
Originally Published: August 9th 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 303
Rating: ★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

Synopsis: When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

This is definitely bookception. There’s a book, within a book, within this book. One of the characters describes one of these books as “It made for a short book, and it was kind of boring.” and that’s really how I feel about Swear on This Life.

Emiline has buried her past for so long until her childhood sweetheart publishes a book… about their past together. Half of the story is told in the present, and the other half is told through the book that Jase has written. I knew this was going to be a second chance romance story and that some of it would be focused on the past and how they fell in love in the first place but really it was too much. One of the lessons Emiline learned was not to hold on to the past but that’s all this book does.

There was a review I saw on goodreads that said this would probably be a better book if it wasn’t written by Renee Carlino and I completely agree. I’m not saying she’s a bad writer, because really she’s a wonderful writer. I just think maybe Before We Were Strangers was so incredible that I’ve set my expectations too high for Carlino’s books.

Overall this was on alright book.. lackluster and anticlimactic really. The first half was really good but just seemed to go nowhere.


Review – Whitefern by VC Andrews



Title: Whitefern

Author: VC Andrews

Originally Published: July 26th 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 344

Rating: ★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

Synopsis: Audrina remembers a better time, when her husband, Arden, was a young man with a heart filled with devotion for her. He didn’t used to be this ambitious, expansive…this cruel. But then, the death of Audrina’s father changed a great many things.

When the reading of her father’s will reveals that Audrina herself will control fifty-one percent of the family brokerage—the halls of Whitefern again don’t feel safe. Arden’s protestations become frantic, nearly violent. And while Audrina didn’t anticipate running the family business, she’s curious to do so. And she can’t help but wonder what had made her father change his will at the last minute? What did he know about Arden that she didn’t?

Trapped in the middle of it all: her fragile, simple sister—the beautiful, trusting Sylvia. Audrina promised her father she’d watch over the young woman. But after years of relative quiet, the dark days of Whitefern may have returned…

This was.. really not as bad as I expected. It was advertised as “The long-awaited sequel to My Sweet Audrina” and I didn’t like that. Among other VCA fans, I didn’t think My Sweet Audrina needed a sequel. Especially not 34 years later. And definitely not by the ghostwriter, Andrew Neiderman.

I think he did a good job though. He used one of VCA’s famous plot devices. Unfortunately that did make it too easy for me to guess what would happen but it was an enjoyable read.

Audrina has grown into strong woman. Well, strong until it comes to standing up to her husband, Arden, who is certified Trash(TM). Her ending was much better than it would have been if the story left off with My Sweet Audrina.

To other VC Andrews fans like me who thought this book was unnecessary: give it a chance. It’s not as bad as Neiderman’s newer stuff and not nearly as terrible as Christopher’s Diary was.

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Review – The Girl on the Train



Title: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Originally Published: January 13th 2015

Format: Audiobook

Rating: ★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I so wasn’t planning on reading this. For some reason I thought it was something entirely different but then I saw the movie trailer, thought it looked good, and decided to see if my library had the audiobook. They did and I ended up listening to the first 8 hours in one sitting. I didn’t want to stop but it was 3am! So I finished it as soon as I woke up. And I am 100% glad I read this. It was truly an experience.

The Girl on the Train is told by three different women:

  • Rachel “the girl on the train” is an unreliable narrator. I usually hate that so so much but I loved her. She was a real character honestly. Every sentence she spoke seemed to be a lie and it was so funny everytime she wondered why the police didn’t think she was a reliable source or when she questioned why someone else would lie. Emily Blunt was the perfect casting choice for Rachel.
  • Megan “the girl on the terrace” was interesting. I didn’t like her at first. She was pretty cold and emotionally detached but the more I learned about her, the more I understood and came to like her. Also I listened to the entire story thinking Jennifer Lawrence was going to play her in the movie but then I went back to look at the cast and apparently I was wrong. Oops.
  • Anna “the girl down the road” was unlikable for the majority of the story. She’s Rachel’s ex husband’s new wife and most of her plot was revolved around bashing Rachel 24/7. But then the end… When she started to figure stuff out I loved her. So much. Rebecca Ferguson was great in The White Queen and I think she’ll do great in this.

This was a murder mystery and I kept thinking I knew who was the killer but nope. It was the person I didn’t suspect until near the very end and I love that in these types of stories. It takes the fun out of everything if you know how it’s going to turn out.

Really the biggest problem I had with this was remembering who everyone was at first. I had to make notes for each character to know who people were talking about.

The Girl on the Train has been one of those really hyped up books and I can understand why some people might not enjoy it. But for me it was pretty addictive and if anyone has similar murder mystery recommendations I would be so grateful!

Review – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix



Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Author: JK Rowling

Originally Published: June 21st 2003

Format: Audiobook

Rating: ★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Synopsis: Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.

I’m very glad I went with the audiobook for this one. Like I said before, I’m not a huge fan of audiobooks because I get easily distracted but I loved listening to Jim Dale read this. He was the perfect choice to narrate this series.

I definitely preferred this book to the movie. Order of the Phoenix is probably my least favorite of all the movies but the book had more depth and things seemed to make more sense. I do hate that they left so much out of the movie though! Like: Hermione blackmailing Rita Skeeter into writing an article telling Harry’s side of the story; the entire quidditch season, like???? It wasn’t even in the movie at all; and Dobby of course.

My favorite scenes, however, were the ones with McGonagall. I could perfect imagine Maggie Smith saying all of these lines. The McGonagall vs. Umbridge matches were amazing too!

Before reading this I’d seen a lot of people complaining about Harry in this book and I just don’t get it? He’s been through this huge trauma. Voldemort is forcing him to become an adult and nearly every adult that he trusts is determined to treat him like a child still. Plus he’s a hormone-filled 15 year old boy. I can understand why he’d be a little upset honestly.

I think I’m going to wait a while before reading the next book in the series. I’m already so far behind mostly everyone else in reading these books that a few months won’t hurt!

Which is your favorite HP book? Do you think they did a good job adapting this to the big screen?

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ARC Review – A World Without You by Beth Revis


a world without you

Title: A World Without You

Author: Beth Revis

Originally Published: July 19th 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Source: Author

Pages: 352

Rating: ★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it’s his job to save her.

A World Without You is told through two point of views:

1. Through Bo himself. Bo thinks he can time travel. He’s desperate to save his girlfriend from the past and he’s finding it hard to know what’s real and what’s not.

2. Through Bo’s sister – Phoebe. Phoebe was easier for me to relate to. She’s almost done with high school and everyone keeps asking her what she’s going to do next. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t even know if she wants to go to college. Right now she’s just trying to get through her every day life which she struggles with when her whole life seems to be falling apart at home.

A World Without You was kind of a mix between a sci-fi novel about time travel, and a contemporary novel about mental illness. Beth wrote so finely on the edge between those genres and honestly it messed me up. I was right there with Bo, finding it difficult to separate reality from what isn’t real.

The mental illness seemed to overall be portrayed very well. Bo has dissociations, which I’ve really never seen in fiction at all. She did a really good job of linking each character’s illness to what power Bo would think they have. Like pyromania = pyrokinesis, etc.

Though what I really loved about this book was the little things.

  • Representation where many authors wouldn’t have even thought to include it. Several characters of color. One character had two dads. A little boy who’s more feminine than his grandfather likes and a sister who will gladly punch anyone who’s mean to the kid. Actual girls who are friends without talking about someone’s boyfriend. Beth Revis is wonderful at portraying characters you’d easily find in real life and that’s why her books will always be on my instant buy list.
  • Doctor Who references. Beth said this book was inspired by DW, which I love. I loved that I could tell she’s also a fan. Each piece of this book that reminded me of DW was 10x as amazing. Honestly can she be the next writer for the show???

This book was one that I had trouble putting down, especially the last 100 pages. It was easy to read and the ending broke my heart. I’m very glad that this was one of the first books I read in 2016 and I hope others love it as much as I did.


Review – Frostfire by Amanda Hocking


Title: Frostfire

Author: Amanda Hocking

Originally Published: January 6th 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 321

Rating: ★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Synopsis: Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.

Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.

But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

This book was so much better than the Trylle trilogy. The pacing was well balanced and I love the characters so much.

Bryn reminds me a lot of Rose from the Vampire Academy series. They both feel a sense of duty for their people. They’re girls in fields that are primarily dominated by men. I knew I was going to like Bryn from page one. She does have faults and she does make mistakes but she learns from them and they help her grow. I can’t wait to read more about her.

And oh gosh… the romance between Bryn and Ridley??? I love it! They’re not necessarily forbidden from being with each other but it just wouldn’t be accepted. He’s her boss though he’s just a few years older than her. They both know this but the attraction is undeniable.

But then there’s Konstantin. I’m not sure what to think of him. He’s clearly working with the bad guys but the reasons aren’t obvious. I’m sure there’s going to be some redemption arc for him and while I love that I don’t know if I’ll like what it’ll mean for Bryn. There’s signs that this could turn into a love triangle and I really don’t want that to happen.

Frostfire had been sitting on my shelf I believe since it had first came out in early 2015 so I’m glad I finally read it but also relieved that I waited until the rest of the series was released. I’m probably going to fly through the next book 🙂

Review – Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking


Title: Switched | Torn | Ascend

Author: Amanda Hocking

Published: January 3, 2012 | February 28, 2012 | April 24, 2012

Format: Paperback

Pages: 290 | 291 | 295

Rating: ★★☆☆ | ★★☆☆ | ★★★☆

Synopsis: She must dare to be different to unlock the key to her past.

When Wendy Everly was six, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. 11 years later, when do you discovers her mother was almost right. She’s not the person she’s always believed to self to be, and her whole life begins to unravel – all because of Finn Holmes. Finn is a darkly handsome newcomer and every encounter with him leave so deeply shaken… Though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she ever admit.

He’s also here to tell her the shocking truth: Wendy is a changing who is switched birth- and he’s come to take her home. Now Wendy is about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that is both beautiful and frightening. And she must leave her old life behind to discover who she is meant to become …

So I re-read this before starting on the spin-off series and honestly it just wasn’t as good as I remembered. I think my taste in books has just changed? Like the books were good and I can definitely see why I enjoyed it years ago but it’s just not my thing anymore.

Let’s go with the cons first:

  • The romance… er, make that romances. Not only was there a love triangle but it was also that “insta-love” thing that could be done well. Except when the MC says she’s fallen in love with some guy after only four conversations (that were honestly just arguments!) it gets messy. I really didn’t care who Wendy ended up with until the last half of the last book. Plus when Wendy is just 17 and the love interests are around 25 it’s kinda gross.
  • The pacing. Nothing really happens throughout the first book. It’s a lot of Wendy asking questions and nobody wants to give her answers so the conversations seem to be repetitive. Things do pick up a bit in the second book but the real action really doesn’t begin until Ascend. This series could have probably been edited down to one book, two at most.
  • The main character. She’s whiny. She’s a brat really. No matter how much people care about her and are willing to help her she just plays the victim card over and over again. She barely takes a second to see how good she has it compared to all of her friends who will drop anything to help her out.

That’s just some stuff I didn’t like but here’s what I did like:

  • This series is original. I’ve never read a story about changelings before and I’ve only ever heard about faerie changelings. But these characters are trolls – another creature I’ve never read about. It’s a world that I’m excited to read more about in the Kanin Chronicles series.
  • They’re fast reads. I know not much action happens for the first half of the series but I was able to fly through all 3 books in 2 days. I’m usually a slow reader but getting through 3 ~300 page books in such a short span of time is a huge bonus for me.
  • The epilogue + bonus story at the end. Hocking tied things up so wonderfully and was able to let the reader know that the character got their happy endings.

I wish I had written reviews for these when I first read them so I could go back and compare but I do know that I originally rated all three of these at 5 stars and now they’re down to 3 stars for the first two and 4 stars for the last book. It’s definitely interesting going back and reading something you remember loving after a few years and seeing how your interests have changed.

Have you read this series or anything else by Amanda Hocking? Leave a comment letting me know 🙂