2

[REVIEW] The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Adult

Series: None

Rating: 4 STARS

Description:

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

My Thoughts:

Well, THAT was certainly an experience. And probably one of the most messed up books I’ve ever read. And, let me tell you, I absolutely loved it. A little bit of a note: I know there are some people out there who want to know nothing going into a book, so I’ll tell you right now that if you don’t want any spoilers, just know that this book is wonderfully dark, but slow-moving, but also highly addictive. But, I am going to talk about this “dark secret,” mainly because it’s literally revealed in the third or fourth chapter, which is about 25-30 pages in? So, it really doesn’t matter. But, again, I know some people hate spoilers, so feel free to skip out on this review.

So, bye to the people who don’t want any spoilers!

 First off, this book was so dark. So incredibly dark. Like, “My Grandfather has sex with all the women part of the Roanoke family, and my Grandma knows about it and doesn’t care, and also, my Grandfather is totally a pedophile, and also I’m in an unhealthy relationship with a boy I had lusty sex with back when I was like, sixteen,” dark. And I absolutely loved it. I’m a huge fan of dark thrillers (this is probably why I have such an unhealthy obsession with Gillian Flynn and Nick Cutter), and this was definitely my taste. I know it definitely won’t feel that way for others, and it might be uncomfortable for some, but I just couldn’t stop reading. Not to mention this book made me have all the feelings, and, in my opinion, feelings always make me adore a book.

 In this book, we’re dealing with the mystery of Allegra, who is her “cousin,” but obviously not because her Grandfather is having sex with all of them, and then they’re having babies, so, probably not, but that’s not the point (in short, the way they’re all related is SO WEIRD, and I’m not even going to bother to figure it out). I will say, the mystery is very slow-moving, and it’s not even really towards the end that we’re really working hard on solving the mystery, but I didn’t really mind too much. I thought it was a sort of mix between a contemporary/literary fiction and a thriller, especially since we get to see the POV from Lane in the past when she’s sixteen, and in the present, and also a peek at the lives of the other missing/dead Roanoke girls, which is what made me devour this book.

 And we also get to see everything through the eyes of Lane, the main character, who I can’t really put my finger on. She frustrated me, but at the same time I really liked her? It’s all very confusing. I wouldn’t really call her a likeable character, in retrospect – and really not a sane one, either, to be honest – but she’s certainly an interesting one, and I really enjoyed seeing everything from her POV. It was a nice take on the “main character is forced to go back to a small town” trope, since for every one I read, I’m always faced with a different messed-up protagonist, and Lane’s a bit different, especially since she’s one of the few to sort of run away from the normal fate of the Roanoke girls.

 Also, there’s a romance? Or whatever you’d like to call it (I definitely don’t define it as one). It honestly seems like all kinds of unhealthy to me, and, like, two-thirds angry sex and hate, but, you know, I guess they’re meant to be because they can be messed up together? Honestly, every single relationship in this book was unhealthy in a way, so I guess you could say it really doesn’t matter in the end, right? RIGHT?

Also, a mini bravo to Engel for going from a YA dystopian novel to something as horrific as this. Like, hot damn. Welcome to the thriller crew, Engel; trust me, you fit right in with the big dogs.

 Overall, this was a dark mystery/contemporary that captivated me from the very first sentence. I highly recommend for those who are a fan of Gillian Flynn or just dark thrillers in general, much like me.let's chatHave you read this book yet? What did you think about it? Are you as much of a fan of dark thrillers as I am?

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6

[REVIEW] The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

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Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Adult

Series: The Otto Digmore Difference #1

Rating: 4 STARS 

Description:

“Road trip!” 

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success. 

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time. 

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie. 

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend. 

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams? 

My Thoughts:

“People are staring at me, and I’m in the moment, and I want it to go on forever.”

First off, oh my God, this is my first author request book! I was so happy to read this one because LGBTQ+ novels are my some of my favorite novels, as I’m sure you guys know. Plus, I actually have two of Hartinger’s books on my TBR – Three Truths and a Lie and Grand and Humble, to be exact – so, why not start with this one! And, yes, I’m so glad that we’re getting a sequel because this was oh so good.

I absolutely loved Otto so much! He has burn scars on one side of his face because of an incident when he was seven years old, and continually has to overcome prejudice regarding Hollywood because he can’t get the parts he wants, and the parts he’s offered are extremely offensive. He’s such a nice guy that just wants a chance to make it as an actor, and you’ll definitely feel for him. He’s such a real character that it’ll basically be impossible to not care about him even a little, especially because of the situations he’s constantly caught up in and the way he feels because of what he looks like. Do people think of him as sexless because he’s not conventionally attractive? Are the only parts he’s going to be able to act as are monsters or small parts?  It’s one of those things where you’ll feel frustrated and sympathetic because of his thoughts and what’s going on around him, and that’s always a good thing.

Also, the road trip aspect of this was so much fun. Believe it or not, I’ve had yet to read a book centered around a road trip and not become completely bored by it – I’m looking at you Retribution of Mara Dyer and The Darkest Minds – but I read this one so quickly because it was easily captivating, and because I cared so much about Otto, I just wanted to see what was going to happen regarding his story. Of course, we had some out-of-the-blue events going on, but it really didn’t bother me too much because it was just all so enjoyable.

And good news – this book had little to no romance! I truly thought there was something that was going to happen between the two main characters because I’m so used to watching shows or reading books where everything works out happily ever after for the main character romance-wise, but I was pleasantly surprised that this book featured absolutely no cheating and a really adorable bromance (and bromances are always some of my favorite friendships out there). There is a little bit of a fluffy romance near the end, but not too much that it’ll detract from the story, and I thought it was just so, so cute. I don’t think I’ve ever read a contemporary that doesn’t center completely around a romance, so it was nice to see a contemporary that had more of a focus on the importance of friendship and recognizing other people’s sacrifices.

Also, points for all the super modern references! Since it’s a book that takes place in Hollywood, we get to see all these references to modern TV shows – shows that came out just in this fall season of last year, which I adored – and actors – if you actually keep up with that type of stuff. This book reminded me that I was watching The Exorcist, and I never got back to that (like I do most shows I start watching oops). Also, Speechless is A+; I highly recommend it.

Overall, a really fun road trip contemporary that has a larger focus on friendship than anything. I highly recommend.

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I received this book for free from the author via an author request. Thanks so much to Brent Hartinger for allowing me to read this book!

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Does this book interest you? What are some of your favorite LGBTQ+ books?

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21

[REVIEW] The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Genre: Contemporary, YA

Series: None (but I would love a sequel, pretty please)

Rating: 5 STARS 

Description:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Thoughts:

I am black. I know, you guys are just so completely shocked! It’s as if I don’t have a picture on my “About Me” page that has my face next to V.E. Schwab’s and clearly shows the color of my skin (now I know you guys are going to go and probably look at my “About Me” page)! But, clearly, that’s not the point. Starr and I live different lives as black girls, but, she’s definitely probably one of the most relatable protagonists I’ve ever read about. She’s definitely up there with Fangirl‘s Cath and Unwind‘s Lev.

 I live in the suburbs. Starr lives in the projects. I don’t in any way suffer from the effects of gang wars because I live in a nice neighborhood over in North Carolina. The closest thing to fear I’ve felt in my neighborhood is when I jump because someone is setting off fireworks and it’s not July 4 (this happens often). I don’t really have any friends that are black, I don’t listen to rap, I’ve never watched Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in my entire life, and any black person could probably be ashamed if they found out I didn’t understand any of their slang. I’ve lived in a nice suburban place since I was born, and I’ll probably go on to live in nice places (unless my life takes a horribly dark turn, which I hope it doesn’t). I don’t ever feel like I’m hiding two parts of myself, because I’m just introverted, and…that’s it. That’s all. There are lots of differences between us, obviously.

 But seeing that Starr went to a private school was what hit home for me. I go to a private school as well, and it also happens to be Christian, because my entire family is, and I am as well (but, like, everything else about me is liberal, so there’s that). Obviously, there are only eight to ten other black kids in grade out of the 120+. Out of the entire school, there’s probably still a lower number than white kids that attend. It can sometimes be interesting, going to school where some of the white boys listen to rap more than I ever will in my entire lifetime. And it can also be highly annoying, because surprise, surprise, some of those same Christian white boys supported Donald Trump and his racist remarks (and his misogynistic comments. And now he’s transphobic. And he’s Islamophobic. And we’re all going to be here all day if I continue). So, imagine my fury at the fact that I’m sure if I asked these people to their face if they thought Donald Trump was racist, they’d probably say no.

 It’s frustrating. It really is. And the fact that Starr feels like such a real, raw character is what makes it so perfect. Her parents are protective and care about her, much like mine are (and she gets annoyed at them, much like I do) and she swears a lot in her head, much like I do when I get rant-y and angry! I’m not the only one who does that! It makes me so happy! And she feels like she has to be this whole different person because she doesn’t want to be the Angry Black Girl, and, yep, I feel for the fact of feeling like I have to keep my mouth shut even though I want to scream, and that’s part “I don’t want to become a stereotype” and part “I am an introvert, hear me keep quiet.”

 Also, this book gave me all the feelings. ALL OF THEM. The entire way the case is handled, the entire way the actual shooting is handled feels so very, very real. You will be angry. You will be frustrated. And if you’re not, you probably don’t care or you’re just emotionless or whatever. But nothing made me want to throw my phone against the wall (I was reading this as an e-book) then that interview with the cop’s dad, where it makes out Khalil and Starr to be these teenage thugs who made the cop uncomfortable and in danger. WHEN THAT IS NOT TRUE. NONE OF IT IS TRUE. And then we have Hailey over here, with her annoying ways, saying the most racist things, and then being angry because Starr is offended by said racist things. #EveryRacistEver

 But then we have Chris, Starr’s boyfriend, and their relationship is so cute, okay? Chris is white, and he doesn’t want Starr to be this different person in front of him, and, yes, he might say some ignorant things that will make you face-palm – especially if you’re black – but I think what I loved is the fact that Starr always set him straight, and he tried as hard as he could to understand. And he’s just a nice guy in general, and he’s such a dork who’s always there for Starr whenever she needs him. Chris is precious; where can I buy one?

 I felt like the case was realistically handled, and I loved how this book gave this sort of POV of black people. We get a look into protests and riots and having to live in a neighborhood that puts a curfew on the people living there, much like what happened in Ferguson a couple years ago. They are angry and they are frustrated and they want justice, and those emotions bleed through the pages, and that’s what makes this book so amazing. That it manages to play with your emotions, by not only being serious, but also balancing those moments with really funny ones. We usually only get to see this type of stuff on TV, so it feels far away unless you’re actually there and living through it, and I liked how Thomas managed to make the feelings the protestors and Black Lives Matter advocates feel going through this conflict. It just makes it that much more powerful and personal.

 We have supportive parents that are ACTUALLY THERE and ACTUALLY SUPPORTIVE and feel real. We have a beautiful representation of family and being black from #ownvoices. We have an adorable romance that doesn’t take center stage. We have wonderful female friendships. We have a raw representation of racism that will probably make you angry and uncomfortable, and THAT’S THE POINT. We have a book that is literally so amazing and perfect and PLEASE READ IT I BEG YOU.

 And if you’re not pushed to read this book after this review, then, I don’t know how I can help you. You must pick this book up. You must.

 (Hopefully, I’ll be able to buy this in hardcover since I had to borrow this via Overdrive, and the hardcover looks so gorgeous, but I don’t have any money to buy it; I am just a poor, jobless teenage bookworm. I’M SUFFERING.)

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Have you read this yet? Why haven’t you read this yet? YOU MUST!

(And if you have, what did you think about it?)

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26

Why Have I Not Read You Yet?

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So, anyone who knows me knows that I have the most intense book shame. So many books that I want to read but have yet to because my priorities are not straight in any way whatsoever. So I decided to share my shame with all of you just in case I’m not alone in an out-of-control TBR that is basically drowning you. We can be shameful together.

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The Martian

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Okay, so I’m super excited to read this one, and I don’t even know why I haven’t read it yet. I’ve heard literally nothing but good things, and the movie got great reviews as well! I promised myself that I wouldn’t watch the movie until I read the book, and I’m going to!

(Soon enough.)

Ready Player One

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Apparently, Steven Spielberg is adapting this into a movie by the end of this year, so I’ll read it before then. I promise.

The Girl with All the Gifts

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This is about zombies!!! I love zombies!!! And I still haven’t read it!!! Literally what is wrong with me???

Room

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The concept for this one also interests me, especially since it’s told from the POV of a child. Again, I heard the movie was great (and that Jacob Tremblay was fantastic in it, and he’s absolutely ADORABLE), and this has been out for way too long for me to have not read it.

All the Light We Cannot See

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I swear on God’s green earth I’m the only one who hasn’t read this book, and I feel so bad! The cover is eye-catching, and the concept sounds brilliant, and I can already feel myself giving it five stars, but I just need to read it!

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

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Once this came out, I saw nothing but fantastic reviews for it, and the fact that it centers around a cult and a girl who has no hands because they were cut off (!!!) immediately pulls me in – I’ve always been interested in cults and such – so I’m actually hoping to get to this one this year!

Fangirl

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Listen, I’ve had this book for SO LONG. I borrowed it off my friend once it first came out, but I had to return it before I could finish it. I actually bought the book, and started reading it again, but got distracted by other books. Again, a year later, I attempted to read it, got further than I did the first time, but I got distracted YET AGAIN. So, this is actually ridiculous; I love it every time I read it, but I’m a failure at finishing it.

I’ll Give You the Sun

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I’ve literally owned this book since a couple weeks after the release date, but I’ve yet to, you know, actually read it. It has a cute gay romance, which I know I’ll love, and, again, hoping to finally get to it this year!

On the Jellicoe Road

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Literally every single review I’ve seen for this book has given it a glowing five stars, and I’ve also heard brilliant things about Melina Marchetta and her books as a whole, so I know I must read this, even though I’m still confused as to what this book is actually about from the synopsis. But who cares, I love weird books.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Again, I’ve owned this book for so long, and, again, I’ve actually read halfway through it (and was really enjoying it), but life probably got in the way, and I left it unfinished. Younger me was not good at completing books, is what I’m learning.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

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Yeah, I’ve owned this book for a long time and read halfway through it and yep, I think we’ve all heard this story before.

Poison Study

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I heard this was a really good recommendation for those who are fans of the Throne of Glass series, which I’m a super-fan of, so I know I have to get to this one! I actually read a sample of this on iBooks and I found it to be entertaining and well-written, so I’m excited to continue!

The Name of the Wind

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I don’t think I need to explain myself with this one.

American Gods

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This book is actually going to be adapted into an HBO TV series by Bryan Singer, who did Hannibal, one of my favorite TV shows ever (so upset it was cancelled), so I feel like I need to educate myself before I watch it. Even though it’s super long. I’ll attempt to read this.

Nimona

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Last year, I dived into the world of comics/graphic novels, and I failed to get to this one, which, again, nothing but good reviews had popped up in my Goodreads feed. I consider this one to be even MORE shameful because it’s so short and I could get it done so quickly, but, again, failure.

Carry On

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I actually read a little over 100 pages of this on iBooks last year, but I wasn’t exactly in the mood for a fantasy novel, so I neglected it, but I’m actually part of the 1% that really enjoyed the fanfiction parts of Fangirl, and Simon and Baz’s relationship is basically Drarry, one of my top ships, so, I’m pumped. Plus, I loved what little I had read, so yep.

Fairest and Stars Above

I jumped on the Lunar Chronicles bandwagon in late 2015, so I missed out on Fairest, and Stars Above, but I love this series, so I should really love these too! I just haven’t gotten to them because whenever I have book money, I rarely ever want to buy prequels or extra books in series, if that makes sense, but I would love nothing more than to return to this world again.

The Host

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I didn’t like Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight or New Moon, but I’ve heard that The Host is much better than the Twilight quartet as a whole, so I definitely want to get to this one. I actually watched the movie once it came out (in an empty theatre with only my mom as company), and thought it wasn’t that good, but that was the general consensus, so I can’t wait to read the source material!

(This sort of makes me want to watch the movie again, just for kicks.)

The Lies of Locke Lamora

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I’ve heard this is like an adult version of Six of Crows, and I am intrigued.

The Secret History and The Goldfinch

I borrowed both of these books off Overdrive but quickly returned them because the real pages on Kindle were driving me absolutely crazy and making the reading experience extremely slow, and I knew there was no way in hell I was reading these tomes in two weeks. I purchased the ebook versions instead because I prefer the stretched out pages. I’m probably going to take both of these super slow, but I will definitely get back to them. I was enjoying them while I was reading them, so I can’t wait to finish them!

The Death Cure

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Of course, we weren’t going to make it through this list without a finale being on here, and this one is shameful. I’ve already read and completed the first two books in the trilogy and absolutely loved them, and I was in the midst of reading this one, but, again, middle school me was distracted and abandoned it. I really just need to reread this series and check it off my list!

Game of Thrones

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I’ve only really watched about three episodes of the show, so this actually counts as double shame. I just really need to read this no matter how big this book is, because, again, nothing but good reviews from most of my old Goodreads friends, but, I’m weak.

Me Before You

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Okay, so this one hasn’t been on my list for TOO long, but after the flurry with it becoming a movie and everyone jumping on board the hype train, I was sadly left behind. But I will read this! I promise!

The Assassin’s Blade

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the biggest Throne of Glass nerd/fangirl ever, and I JUST NEED TO READ THIS. Seriously, the further I read, the more I realize I need to read these books, and, honestly, this is ridiculous; I should have read this about two years ago.

Made You Up

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First of all, gorgeous cover! Second, the idea of a book where the main character has schizophrenia, and you can’t tell what is real and what isn’t sounds absolutely brilliant, and the reviews are clearly reflecting that!

The Scorpio Races

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Clearly, I’m a huge fan of Maggie Stiefvater. I absolutely love the Raven Cycle, and I know that I’m going to like this once I read it, but I. Just. Haven’t. And it’s even worse because I could easily borrow this on Overdrive, but I’m weak.

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And that’s it for my extremely shameful list of “Why Have I Not Read You Yet?” I have no idea if I’ll complete any of these before the end of the year, but if I do, cheers to future me for doing better than past me!

Also, completely unrelated note, but it snowed this past weekend, and I’m praying that we have no school tomorrow because I’m a lazy bum.

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What are some of the most shameful books on your TBR? Do we share any of the same ones?