Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Edinburgh Christmas Market

I'm in Edinburgh for Grad School and I haven't done a whole bunch of 'touristy' things yet, because I'm waiting for when family and friends come to visit. However, it would be impossible to ignore the Christmas Market that has taken over Princes Street Gardens. It's full of food, drinks, games, and rides. I've already been multiple times. I've sat in the pop-up bars and walked through the rows and rows of stalls. I've purchased a few Christmas gifts, but I can't share those until after the holiday passes for fear of ruining the surprise. If you ever get the chance to visit Scotland during the holiday season I say jump on it.
I'm curious as to how you guys feel about temporary carnival rides? The market has a Ferris wheel, this crazy swing thing that goes like 60 feet into the air (total guess on that height), a mini roller coaster for little kids, carousels, and a wave blaster type ride. Would you go on any of these? I know people who would never go on some of those rides because of how often they're put up and taken down. How could a screw or two not get lost? The market also has games like basketball, ring toss, throw a ball to knock down the cans (What is that called?), etc. Winners get a plush toy.   
One thing about the market is that it is a lot of food. There are plenty of stalls to buy gifts, but I would guess that the majority are for food and drinks. I'm not saying that's a bad thing - everything looks and smells amazing. However, it did take a few people by surprise when they first walked through.
For myself, I've purchased a few different snacks. From the Fudge Shop stall, I bought three pieces: salted caramel, nugget, and mint chocolate. And OH MY GOSH they were all amazing. I also had a delicious soft pretzel. It's the perfect place to walk around and grab a snack.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Books I Read in September and October

There aren't many pictures this month because most of these were ebooks

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
I finished Dracula the day before I left for Scotland and immediately went onto the Barnes and Noble website to order this book for in-store pick-up. I was the second person in the store the next day to pick it up. I just knew this book was going to be amazing, and I was absolutely correct.
This novel follows Audrey Rose and Thomas on a cruise to America. While on the cruise, they attend a carnival show, led my Ring Leader Mephistopheles. The act includes acrobats, knife throwers, the amazing Harry Houdini, and more. What no one was expecting was attendants being murdered. Audrey Rose and Thomas, having just figured out the Dracula murders, once again begin to collect clues and suspicions about who could be killing the cruise-goers. However, when Audrey Rose makes a deal with Mephistopheles, she starts to distance herself from her partner. As you can imagine, I did not like the idea of Audrey Rose getting closer to Mephistopheles and possibly choosing him over Thomas. Thomas didn't like it either. The love triangle did add a very interesting aspect to the story because Audrey Rose did struggle with her new feelings for Mephistopheles while continuing to love Thomas. It was hard to know what was genuine and what was part of the deal. But the boys aren't the only thing on AR's mind. Her cousin makes a surprise appearance on the boat, claiming to be running away to America with the carnival group because she has fallen in love with Houdini. And of course, the dead bodies that keep appearing on the ship.
There is a lot of personal conflict for AR in this novel as her loyalties are testes, probably the most so far in the series. Her loyalty to her cousin. AR didn't think Liza should ruin her reputation by running away with the carnival, but her cousin had always been supportive of her interest in forensics, which was also far from proper. Her loyalty to Thomas. The two of them were always a team, but when she makes a deal with Mephistopheles, he makes her keep things from Thomas. She goes along with it allows her to gain backstage access to the carnival, but Thomas realizes she's keeping things from him. Her loyalty to herself. AR has always been a strong-willed character who doesn't need anyone else. But at the same time, as she's worked her way through all of the murder mysteries, Thomas has been right beside her. For the first time, there is another love interest in her life, which is different and exciting. She finds herself being pulled in different directions. She has to remind herself that she doesn't need a man, but that doesn't mean she doesn't want one. And once she makes her decision on which one, will he want her too?
The one thing I didn't really understand about this novel was the title. Houdini isn't a huge part of the story, and he isn't a suspect any more than the other carnival members. Thomas views Mephistopheles as a major suspect, so I was surprised that his name wasn't in the title instead. But I guess more people recognize the name Houdini as opposed to Mephistopheles.

Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco
This novella is the end of Escaping from Houdini, but from Thomas's point of view and if you've been reading my blog, you know how much I love getting multiple viewpoints, so I thought this was amazing.
This allows you to learn about Thomas's jealousy of Audrey Rose's relationship with Mephistopheles, a feeling he's never faced before. He constantly has to stop himself from acting on his jealousy for two reasons. 1) He refuses to make his father's prediction of his Vlad the Impaler bloodline taking over, and 2) he always told Audrey Rose she has the choice whether or not to choose him, and he would never pressure her into a decision.
Also, something happens at the end of Houdini that results in Audrey Rose getting hurt while defending Thomas. He struggles to see himself as worthy of Audrey Rose's choice and considers staying in New York without her at the end of the story. But he's still in love with her, so there is a very tense scene between the two of them that decides their future together. I don't want to give too many spoilers, but it was worth reading it from both points of view. This book is only available in e-format.

Ice Hard by Tracy Goodwin*
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Camille doesn't date hockey players. Anymore. Because the last one she was with involved an unplanned pregnancy, marriage, miscarriage, surgery that led to infertility, divorce: in that order. It was hard to come back from, but when Nick comes into her life, Camille needs to rethink her rule. Because Nick isn't the stereotypical hockey player, Camille was used to and divorced from. He was smart, enjoyed documentaries, and down to earth, so she agrees to give it a chance. But when her family life is rocked by a surprise marriage announcement, and her dad fires her from the family business, Camille has to make a choice: stay with the hockey player she's falling for, or go after a great, out of state job opportunity. On the other hand, when Nick fell for Camille, he fell hard, and he wasn't going to give her up easily, he just had to find a way to make her see that she could have everything she wanted for herself and also be with him.
I enjoyed this story. It was a romance with a lot of family drama mixed in. It contained viewpoints from both Camille and Nick, so you were able to know what they were both thinking throughout. The multiple viewpoints allowed you to see Nick fall hard and fast, and Camille allows herself to admit her feelings for the new hockey player in her life.
There was one thing that did confuse me, but I was reading an ARC copy, so it might be different in the final print. At one point, Camille is set to move to Florida but then doesn't. The confusing part was that the change in the decision was never discussed. And time passes, but it's unclear how much time goes by. I wasn't sure if she moved and quickly moved back because she hated it, or she never left at all.
Ice Hot by Tracy Goodwin
This is the first book in the New York Nighthawks Series, but I read it after I read Ice Hard. This one has a similar structure as Ice Hard and most romance novels that I read: they meet, they date, they break up, they end up together in the end. I don't mind this structure at all, but I do like to point it out in case you're over it. This book also alternates viewpoints between Christian and Serena.
This story follows Christian, captain of the Nighthawks, and Serena, a fashion designer. Christian is constantly in the spotlight for being a professional athlete and a captain of a new team that is putting a lot of pressure on him to bring home the Stanley Cup in their first season. Serena is a designer for women who are bigger than a size two. She quickly learns that being seen with Christian gives her publicity - good and bad. Good when their relationship is good, and people appreciate her body positivity message, but bad when she's accused of causing animosity amongst the team. And when Christian decides that breaking up with Serena is the only way to protect her business, she becomes an even bigger target for breaking the captain's heart. Mix in a teammate who's out to sabotage Christian and Serena's strained relationship with her parents, and this book gives a good balance between romance and drama.

The Furies by Katie Lowe*
This book is hard for me to like because I didn't like the main character, but I don't think I was supposed to. I've been learning a lot about writing unlikeable characters and the craft it takes to create someone your readers won't like, but will still follow to the end of the story. Lowe's ability to do this is impressive.
While reading, you get to watch Violet and her friends become more and more evil. They're influenced by one of their teachers who shares stories about The Furies, vengeance seekers from ancient greek mythology. They start partaking in satanic rituals to eliminate anyone who has done them wrong. These events could be argued as coincidental to the girls' rituals, but it happens more than once. Violet and Robin start to enjoy the power and pain they can inflict on others. The other two girls take a little longer to persuade, but eventually, they do. They're basically a group of serial killers. And as you read, you keep hoping they come up with another way to solve their problems, but they just keep killing. However, the spooky concept of the book makes it perfect for Halloween.
Violet's character gets sucked because she's the new girl who wants to belong. She also resembles Emma Frost, the girls' friend who died right before Violet's arrival. She is constantly jealous of Emma and Robin's relationship.
This book left me with a few questions as well. They were partially explained, but I was hoping for some more details on them. These probably won't make any sense to you if you haven't read it yet, but if you have and know the answers please comment below! What was the Dean trying to get Emma to do? Also, Emma's death is described a little bit, but I felt like it needed more. 

Pour Judgement by Heather M. Orgeron
Instagram made me buy it! Yes, this book was brought to my attention by my targeted ads on Instagram. It's a romance staring Rhett, country singer, and Korie, a female trying to break into the world of skateboarding and X Games. They meet through a band member who is also Korie's cousin, but they don't like at each other at first. Then they spend a week together at a couple's retreat and when a photoshopped image of Rhett proposing to Korie goes viral, they decide to play along. Of course, fake dating leads to real dating and when a celebrity is involved so is paparazzi.  Korie calls it quits when a photo of Rhett and another girl get released to the press, but he's not willing to give up on her that quickly.

*I was lucky enough to receive ARC versions of these novels. All opinions are my own.


Monday, October 21, 2019

His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey Cover Reveal*

R.S. Grey's next romantic comedy, HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS, releases November 14th! See the gorgeous cover below and find out more about HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS!

About HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS (available November 14th)

I’ve spent eight years wishing I’d fall out of love with Derek Knightley. Blowing out birthday candles, chasing after shooting stars, making it rain spare change into mall fountains—every time it’s the same wish: forget about Derek.
But the day he walks back into my life, I realize there are two things time has yet to soften: my feelings for him and his chiseled jawline.
It’s infuriating that my heart still races when he walks into a room. I refuse to fall prey to old unrequited love, so I decide the less I’m around him, the better. Avoidance is key.
Unfortunately, Derek isn’t going to make it easy. As a teenager, I would have crawled on my hands and knees to attract his attention. Now I can’t seem to escape it.
I’m not sure why he’s bothering. He’s not just out of my league—he’s out of my tax bracket. As the sole heir to the Knightley Company, he’s as close to American royalty as you can get. As for me, I’m just a part-time princess at Knightley’s flagship magical theme park.
I spend my days playing make-believe, but Derek has no use for fairytales. His unwavering confidence makes it clear he thinks I’ll surrender in the end.
He’s just biding his time.
Making me sweat.
His Royal Highness always gets what he wants.
And he wants me.

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS releases November 14th - you'll be able to preorder your copy for .99c a few days before release!

Keep an eye on R.S. Grey's Facebook page for the link!

About R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at

Monday, October 14, 2019

Look Back on Twenty-Two

I was texting with some friends the other day trying to figure out where the line between early and mid-twenties lies. We decided that 21-23 are early twenties, 24-26 are mid-twenties, and 27-29 are late twenties, which makes sense mathematically, so it was pretty easy for us to all agree on.
So here I am, officially in the final year of my early twenties. My birthday was Tuesday, October 8, but before I fully embrace being 23, I wanted to take a look back on what being 22 brought me.
This was my second year using the "1 Second Everyday" app. I love using this app, but there were definitely a few days I wasn't using my phone or forgot to record something. When that happens, I try to recreate something or put in the picture that correlates with what I did that day. However, you'll probably figure out that any day where I'm wearing a pink long-sleeve and speaking to the camera is a make-up video.
Last October, I was a senior at Saint Anselm College, living in an on-campus apartment with two of my best friends and two girls who I didn't know when the year started, but quickly became close with.
It was also an exciting time because the Red Sox won the World Series! I skipped school and went to the parade with my best friend, Casey. I filmed the day, and you can watch it here
It was also a time for me because I was writing my thesis. I chose to write it about "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving and how different adaptations have sprung from that original piece of work. It was a long process, but now it's an essay I am extremely proud of. Let me know if that's something you'd want me to write about in more detail :)
In November, my sister and cousins went to New York for a night. This involved a flat tire, sightseeing, and a comedy show. And then in December, I spent New Year's Eve in Orlando, Florida, to visit Disney. I wrote about both of those trips in a blog post you can read here.
I also went to Providence to visit my best friend, Erin and see Anastasia the Musical. I've talked about my fascination with Anastasia Romanov a lot this year, but it's true. This play was amazing!
And at the beginning of December, my family and I got all dolled up to go to my brothers' best friend's wedding. It's not something we do very often as a whole family, but the wedding was a blast!
When my second semester of senior year started, I had a new internship that I really enjoyed, and I was still working on my thesis. At the end of January, I was talking with my boss, who is also a professor at my school, and he talked me into applying to Grad School - something I wasn't super interested in pursuing originally. I was fully applied by the beginning of March and accepted by the beginning of April.
February brought another New England victory and even more celebrating. Unfortunately, my schedule didn't allow me to attend this parade, but I watched it on TV.
During the first week of March, my sister and I went to California to visit her friends and our cousin. We saw the sights, toured Dodgers Stadium, went to a Kings game, and went on a Wine Safari. I wrote about that more in-depth here.

With the spring came graduation and the Senior Days we had leading up to that. I filmed the weekend, and you can watch that here.
This summer, I went on a road trip with my best friend, Erin. It was almost two weeks of making our way from Massachusetts to Colorado. I filmed the entire trip, and you can watch those videos here. I also went to New Hampshire for my Aunt's birthday, Philadephia, for a friend's birthday, and Maine for a final hurrah! with friends. I wrote about all those trips here.
I have taken on the mantra, "Make plans, God laughs." because that's what 22 felt like for me. If you had asked me on my 22nd birthday how I thought I'd be spending my 23rd, I would have said that I'd be living at home and working, probably in some entry-level marketing position because I wouldn't be able to afford to live in New York and work at a publishing company. Instead, I'm living in Scotland and studying for a Master's in Creative Writing.
Like I said, this is my second year using the "1 Second Everday" app. I bought it right before I turned 21 because that year I had a trip planned for Iceland and I was studying abroad in London. I never expected 22 to top that, but I think it did. And I've got a few things planned for 23 that might make that year even better, so I hope you keep following along!


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Summer Travels

Now that we are officially into Autumn, I wanted to share a few summer travel memories with all of you. Most of these trips I've posted about on other forms of social media, but I never discussed here. And some of them I have video footage for, but never got around to editing . . . Is it too late to make them into videos? 

May 30-June 11: American Road Trip
The biggest trip of the summer was the cross country road trip I took with my best friend. She moved out to Colorado, so I drove out with her. However, we didn't drive straight to Colorado. Our course went Massachusetts>Niagara Falls, NY>Louisville, KY> Nashville, TN> Memphis, TN>Dallas, TX> Santa Fe, NM> Salida, CO> Erin's New Home, CO. I vlogged the entire trip, and you can watch every episode on my YouTube. 
Before we left, I was a little nervous about taking part in a road trip because I don't enjoy being in the car for long periods of time. However, I didn't end up minding the drive at all. Erin and I listened to some playlists and podcasts to pass the time. Not to mention, random topics of conversation that came up along the way. And I think my South Carolina trip last year helped me prepare.
This trip was amazing, and it was a great way to see cities I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. Some cities just don't warrant more than a few days, so making them stops on our road trip was perfect.

July 16: Martha's Vineyard
And just when I thought I had seen the last of Erin for a while, she was back a month later to go on her family vacation to Martha's Vineyard, MA. Erin's family has always told us to come to visit while they were on the island, but the scheduling never worked out until now. This was my first time properly on Martha's Vineyard (I had been once before for tennis, but it was during the offseason). We had a lot of fun at the beach relaxing and enjoying each others company.

July 20-21: New Hampshire
My aunt and uncle own a house in New Hampshire, so every year we go up and spend the day on their boat. We usually plan the weekend around the birthday of my aunt's sister so that we can celebrate that as well. There was a tense moment when we saw a snake in the water. It wasn't near enough to do anything to us, but being able to see it meant it was too close. This year we mixed it up with a pinata, which was hilarious to watch being smashed open.

July 27-28: Pennsylvania
My friend, Vanessa, who I met when I was studying abroad in London (if you watch my YouTube from that time, she's the one that we kinda, sorta, not really, almost got stabbed together), invited me to her apartment in Philly for her 21st birthday. I went back and forth about whether or not I was going to go, but in the end, decided to. Vanessa also let me bring my friend Megan as a travel buddy, which was nice. Before celebrating, Megan and I went to see the Liberty Bell, but we didn't have a lot of time, so we didn't spend much time in the little museum it's housed in.

August 24-25: Maine
When Megan isn't going on last-minute trips to Philidelphia with me, she lives in Maine. I really wanted to see her new apartment before I left, so a group of us made it a point to go up to Maine for a weekend. We ate delicious donuts, saw a moose made completely out of chocolate, and walked on the beach. It was the last weekend we were all going to be together because I was leaving for Scotland and another friend of ours, Jessie, was leaving for Montana. We had so much fun and Megan and Carli ended up throwing us a mini going away party with crowns and wine.

September 3-?: Scotland
And then, of course, I left the country at the end of the summer to study my mater's degree in Scotland. I'm still here, which is a good sign and I'll be updating you as the months go by. There are no direct flights from Boston to Edinburgh, but both flights went smoothly. Summer is officially over and school is in session, but that doesn't mean I don't intend on doing some traveling while I'm here . . . 


Friday, September 20, 2019

Books I Read in August

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Series by Jenny Han
This series was the perfect summer read. They were quick to read and super enjoyable. The first two books are continuous with the second one starting immediately where the first ends and the third book jumps a year into the future. All three chronicle the love story between Lara Jean and Peter. Their story starts when Lara Jean's love letters get sent out, and she and Peter decide to pretend date. Peter agrees to move past his ex-girlfriend, and Lara Jean agrees to avoid talking to her sister's ex-boyfriend, who was also a recipient of one of her letters. The books cover their junior and senior years as they try to navigate a relationship that starts as a lie and then develops into something more. They're thrown curveballs when people from their past come back and when they need to decide whether or not going to two different colleges will affect them. I enjoyed this series because I think it covers a lot of relatable topics.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
I need to preface this by saying that I am fascinated with the story of Anastasia Romanov. It was one of my absolute favorite movies growing up (my mom bought me the Blu-ray DVD for Christmas when I was in high school). I did a research project on the Romanov's when I was a freshman in high school. I saw the broadway play my senior year of college. And I've listened to the My Favorite Murder episode about their execution. So I already knew a lot about Anastasia's life, and I was very excited to read Lawhon's novel about her but
This book was amazing. It's deemed historical fiction, so as I was reading, I kept saying, "Oh, this character/situation isn't real." But after a quick google search, I would find that the character/situation was real. Lawhon's author note offers more information about her research and the creative liberties she took to make the story more straightforward for readers to follow. But in my opinion, this book was only about 15% fiction. It was amazing to read about Anastasia Romanov's life in this form, and I would HIGHLY recommend anyone who enjoys historical fiction to give it a read. I went into the story knowing the truth, but the question of whether or not Anna Anderson is Anastasia Romanov is the main focus of the book. Lawhon's use of perspective and time will have you going back and forth on what you believe the truth is until the very last page. And then another question arises: No matter the truth, would we care about Anastasia Romanov if it wasn't for Anna Anderson?
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for almost a year now, and I knew I was going to love it because I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper, but for some reason, it took me this long to read it. The only good thing about that was I was able to read the third book immediately after instead of waiting for the paperback to come out (review coming next month). If I could transform into a fictional character, I would turn into Audrey Rose. She's brilliant, strong-willed, curious, but she also appreciates "girly" things like her dresses. I also find her view of society really interesting because her interest in forensics goes against societal norms, but her reactions to Thomas's courting advances can be very proper. To me, Audrey Rose is a fantastic feminist character, and I appreciate Maniscalco's ability to find that balance instead of having her role turn away from societal expectations completely.
In this novel, Audrey Rose and Thomas are in Romania trying to gain a spot at a prestigious school of forensics. While they're there, murders begin, and people start to think that Prince Dracula is back from the dead. Audrey Rose is a scientist who refuses to believe this, and she wants to prove it by finding the real killer. She and Thomas start looking for clues and finding themselves in dangerous situations as they uncover more truths than just the identity of the killer. The story also furthers the relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas, which you could probably guess I absolutely love.
I love this book because the seriousness of the murders is balanced out by the humor and charm that Thomas Cresswell provides. Again, I think Maniscalco is a master at balance.


Monday, August 5, 2019

Books I've read since February

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
This is one of those books that I have known about forever but never read. Then at the end of the school year, I took part in a book club, and this was the book we chose. This book covers the topic of death, which I feel people don't like deep diving into - I know I don't because death freaks me out. However, this book gave a version of heaven that I had never thought of before. The idea that your entrance into heaven includes you reliving five pivotal moments of your life (whether you knew at the time or not) and learning more about the people involved. You guys know that I love perspectives in books and usually that means alternating character chapters, but this book allows Eddie to get another outlook on his own life, which I thought was a fantastic concept. Eddie meets people who effected his life and people whose life he effected without ever knowing it. The experiences in heaven allow Eddie to find closure in his life before he can move on to eternal life. It's a quick read, but a thoughtful and heartfelt message.  
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Everything comes at a price. Is an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii worth it if it means spending the week with the person you like least in the world? Olive Torres has to make that decision when her sister gets food poisoning and doesn't want her honeymoon to go to waste. This book does have a little bit of predictability as it involves enemies who have to pretend to be married. When doesn't that become true love? However, there is a little bit of a twist with an unfaithful character and some miscommunication that gets resolved years later. The most important thing that makes Christina Lauren books, so fun to read is the humor within this book. I was legitimately laughing out loud as I was reading this novel. Olive has a way of getting into hilarious situations. She considers herself unlucky, while Ethan thinks she needs to look at everything from a different perspective, but either way, I was giggling to myself.
The Edge of Us by Jamie McGuire
Jamie McGuire is one of my favorite authors, and I love this universe she's created, so I went into this book expecting to love it, which I did. Even though Naomi's husband died to save his Marine brothers, he was her soulmate, and she doesn't want and most certainly doesn't need another. Zeke is an ex-foster kid and was heartbroken by his first love. Although he considers his hotshot crew a family, he's also used to being by himself. Neither Naomi nor Zeke are looking for love, which is precisely why they find themselves falling for each other. Zeke fights wildfires, and Naomi is a marine turned secret government building security guard, which means that both of them risk their lives daily. It never mattered before because their only "families" are friends with lives of their own, but if they let each other into their lives will they still be able to do their jobs correctly? Then, when one of them gets sick, the idea of losing another love threatens to tear them apart. This book is full of headstrong characters who struggle to reopen their hearts.
Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
My love for ice cream is basically an ongoing joke in my house, so naturally, I was drawn to a book that was centered around ice cream. And while this book uses ice cream as its focus, it's much more about passions and what happens when those are threatened. Amelia's favorite thing about summertime is her job at Meade Creamery serving ice cream. Every year, two girls going into their freshman year of high school are chosen to work at the creamery. That means there are eight employees, two girls from each grade of high school. They become close friends as they work the counter during the summer, and it's a type of honor to be chosen. However, the summer before senior year, Amelia discovers Molly Meade's dead body in the creamery, which leads to her grandnephew, Grady, owning the shop and making changes. (I will say that I thought this part was glazed over a tiny bit. Amelia has a few nightmares about it, but a seventeen-year-old girl found the dead body of her boss, and nobody suggests she sees a therapist or talk about it at all!) And as much as Amelia disagrees with many of Grady's decisions, there's no point fighting with him until after the two of them find the secret recipes for Molly's ice cream. During the search, Amelia comes across Molly's diary and uncovers more secrets than just the recipes, and she also discovers how much she enjoys making ice cream rather than just scooping it, which makes her even more determined to find the originals. While her passion for ice cream making grows, her relationship with Grady tightens, and her relationship with her co-workers weakens. Amelia has to figure out how to keep her final summer at Meade Creamery as amazing as she originally planned it to be.
The Lost by Natasha Preston
Whenever you pick up a Natasha Preston novel, you expect a level of scariness and some death, but oh my goodness this one took the cake. Not only was there a serial killer, but also kidnappings and flat out torture chambers. I explained the plot to my parents, and they looked at me like I was crazy for reading it, but it was a really great book. Piper and her best friend Hazel get kidnapped and brought to a torture house in the woods. At first, I thought it was going to be a maze, and they would have to make their way through the rooms, but I was wrong. The girls find themselves in basically a teacher's lounge/dormitory with other kidnapped teenagers, and they get sent to different rooms based off of who the kidnappers say over a speaker system, which means that there is the possibility of repeating rooms. That was the part that made me be like WOAH these kidnappers are sadistic because if it were a maze the girls wouldn't know what was coming and then when it was over they could move on to the next room. And there's no set time limit for the rooms so one could be sent to a room one day for an hour and then be sent to it again another day for five hours. And some of the tortures don't sound that bad when they're first said, but the more you think about it, and they're described, they sound physically and mentally terrible. Piper ends up being the person I hope I would be if I were in that situation, but if I'm being honest with myself, I just don't think I would be. And then there's the ending that made me flip through the acknowledgment pages thinking there is no way that's how it ends because it wasn't an ending, it was a beginning, one that I desperately need to know more about.
Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Charlie was a character that I really saw myself in. She's the youngest of five (same), there are three boys and two girls in her family (ditto), she's a school journalist (I was the News Editor for my college newspaper), she forgoes plans with her friends to hang out with her siblings (I have 100% done this), and she accuses her older siblings of having memories she'll never have when she gets upset about not being able to come back to her childhood home for college breaks (I'm pretty sure every youngest sibling has this complaint about something). Now, my siblings aren't very much like Charlie's siblings so as much as I relate to her, I don't necessarily relate to her situation. Charlie is at a phase in her life where a ton of changes are happening: she's headed off to college, her parents are selling her childhood home, her mom is ending her famous comic strip that is based on the family, and her sister is getting married. This novel focuses on the wedding weekend and everything that goes wrong but turns out okay. However, what I liked was that Charlie starts to realize that she spent her life confusing the comic strip with real life. There's a big announcement that happens towards the end that I was able to guess, but it wasn't obvious, which I really appreciated, but it opens Charlie's eyes and makes her realize that although it was loosely based on their life, the strip made everything happier and Charlie has to remind herself that the comic world is fictitious. To me, this novel was the perfect balance of funny and serious moments, which is basically what it's like to be apart of a family of any size.
Losing the Field by Abbi Glines 
The thing I love about Abbi Glines books is that she's able to make a book about high school football into something so much more than that. Tallulah spends the summer before senior year getting into shape because Nash, the one person who never made fun of her, laughed at a joke targetting her. When the school year starts Tallulah quickly learns that Nash also changed over the summer, having injured his leg bad enough that he can never play football again. And when they think those events are difficult to overcome, this book also covers topics of sexual harassment and death. And while everyone deals with trauma differently, these characters start to pull apart soon after finally coming together. These changes would be hard enough without the rumors and assumptions that filled their high school. Tallulah and Nash have to find ways to heal and decide if that includes staying close to each other or staying as far away as possible.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I have always loved reading about World War II, but for some reason, this book took me forever to get through. I started this novel in January and finished it in July. The story seemed to move slowly for me because I was waiting for Werner and Marie-Laure to meet and they don't do so until the last 100 pages of the book, and they don't spend much time together, which wasn't what I was expecting. Although that aspect of the story was a little disappointing for me, the rest of the book was amazing (no matter how long it took me to get through it). This novel depicts the very unique journies of two individual's lives during World War II. When France is occupied by Germany, Marie-Laure's father takes her to his uncle's house to keep her safe. While many people in France were looking for safety, Marie-Laure's case was unique because she was blind, and the Nazi's weren't known to being understanding to anyone they didn't deem capable. Her father was also entrusted with a diamond that was said to allow someone to live forever. On the other hand, Werner was an orphan brought into the Hitler Youth and used his knowledge of radios to help the German Army, which is what eventually brings him to Marie-Laure. Both characters face hardships and loss as they try to survive World War II.
You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston
Another Natasha Preston novel and I'm going to start by discussing the end. Preston does not like endings apparently, but she loves making me wish there was a sequel to every book she puts out. And I've read her other three books, but I did so almost three years ago, so I don't remember if the other ones ended this way too, but my goodness it drives me wild. I'm assuming she does this on purpose and just emphasizes that she's good at the genre she has chosen because I want so much more. Anyway, this one is about a serial killer as well, but no torture house. This book was actually published before The Lost, but I read it afterward. Lylah is a Sophomore college student, and as she approaches the anniversary of her parent's death, which is also valentines day, her friends start being murdered. They do call the police, which I appreciated because I first thought they would try to figure it out themselves, but the police end up not being helpful in any way. That part was equally frustrating and funny to me because the police are supposed to come in and fix everything, but even though they try, they can't. There are a few very convincing possible red herrings in this book as well that makes the killer a lot more dangerous because the killer may or may not have been someone the reader would have been able to guess (I tried to not give away spoilers there - I'm not sure it worked). This also makes it scarier when applied to the real world because literally anyone could snap and go on a murderous rampage. Preston's novels always suck me, scare me a little bit, but then always leave me wanting more - she knows how to mess with my head, and I always appreciate it.
Please leave a comment if you've read any of these books, or if you want to read any of them!

© Juliann Guerra
Blogger Templates by pipdig