My 2019 Five Star Reads

The Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides

Purchase here.

This was Goodreads 2019 Mystery & Thriller winner! I reviewed this one on my blog earlier this year, which you can check out here.

The One by: John Marrs

Purchase here.

Amazon is having a deal on the Kindle version of this novel at the time of posting.

This book took me for one heck of a roller coaster ride! Each chapter revealed a plot twist that I didn’t see coming and kept me hooked till the very end! To see my review, click here.

A Stranger on the Beach by: Michele Campbell

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I ended up reading this book in one sitting! The author alternates between two points of view: Caroline and Aidan. The readers are left wondering whose side to defend through the entire course of events, but will have them questioning their own judgments when the ending is revealed. My full review can be found by clicking here.

Horns by: Joe Hill

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Amazon is having a deal on the paperback version at the time of posting.

This was my first read by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King, and it has become one of my favorites of all time. I can’t put into words how much I loved this book!

We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

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This is the only celebrity memoir that I have read this year to receive a five star rating by me. Union’s style of writing makes readers feel like they are sitting across the table from her the entire course of the book!

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

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Amazon is having a deal on the paperback and Kindle versions of this novel at the time of posting.

Readers follow Sarah Perry on her journey of finding out the events surrounding her mother’s death and who the suspect was. The author provides a thorough breakdown of what she uncovers and fans of true crime will want this one on their TBR!

A Mother’s Reckoning by: Sue Klebold

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Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one half of the Columbine shooting duo. The author tells her story of events leading up to and after the shooting with the help of diary entries. This is one readers won’t want to miss out on; I reviewed this one on my blog earlier this year, which can be found here.

Christmas With You by Nan Reinhardt

  • Published: November 21, 2019 by Tule Publishing
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance

She’s loved him all her life… but will he be there when she needs him the most?

Disheartened and adrift after being written out of a hit TV show, actor Aidan Flaherty returns to his family’s historic winery, where he’s invested some of the fortune he’s made. As the holidays approach, Aidan becomes intrigued with the old showboat that’s dry-docked just east of town… and even more intrigued with the daughter of his former mentor, who now owns it. He decides to buy the boat and restore it to its former glory.

Single mom Holly Santos is back in River’s Edge after her divorce and she is over men in general and actors in particular. If she could only get rid of her father’s old showboat, a source of fascination for her son, Mateo. She never expects her old crush to walk into her tea shop or the fireworks that happen every time they’re in the same room. Can Aidan convince her that he is determined to restore their shared heritage on the showboat and that he’s home to stay?

GIVEAWAY-US ONLY!

The author will be awarding six handmade wine charms along with a $10 Starbucks gift card to FIVE lucky winners!

Click here to enter.

Beneath London’s Fog by Iona Caldwell

  • Published: October 30, 2019 by FyreSyde Publishing
  • Genres: British Literature, Ghost Story, Occult Fiction

Jonathan is the immortal master of Raven Hollow Manor – a decrepit mansion riddled with superstition, murder and restless ghosts. Beneath it lies a restless malice.

Its previous owner driven mad, violently kills his guests with a rusted ax, creating the perfect venue for Jonathan to seclude himself in a prison of his own device.

When the streets of London begin to run red with blood; the bodies exhibiting disturbing signs and baffling wounds, the identity of the killer remains elusive to police.

The bodies are just the beginning of Jonathan’s troubles. A mysterious letter accusing Jonathan of committing the murders appear, raising suspicion in the police. Hidden beneath the mangled bodies, Jonathan soon realizes he is being forced to face demons he thought died in a forlorn past he attempted to escape. 

One thing Jonathan knows for certain: He must deal with the demons of his past if he is to survive his future. Not only him but those he has come to love as well.

INTERNATIONAL GIVEWAY FOR $25 AMAZON GIFTCARD AND PRINT COPY OF BOOK!

Enter here.

Take Me To Bed: Bedtime Quickies Collection

  • Publication date: February 25, 2020
  • Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

𝑮𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒂 𝑸𝒖𝒊𝒄𝒌𝒊𝒆?

Grab your ereader and snuggle up with your favorite authors as they come together to bring you a collection like no other.

From steamy to sweet, contemporary to paranormal, and everything in between, you won’t want to miss hooking up with these exclusive new stories.

If this title sounds like something you would be interested in reading, it can be pre-ordered for only 99¢ on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Nook. All proceeds will be donated to the International Network of Hearts, a non-profit organization that brings communities and governments together to help rescue women and children from human trafficking and sexual violence.

Heist by Kezzy Sparks

  • Published: October 31, 2019
  • Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 364
  • Rating: 3 stars

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

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

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

I must confess that once I read the synopsis on this one, I knew I had to read it! I love thrillers, but I haven’t read many with paranormal elements involved; however, this one did not disappoint! This title has a little bit of everything: a man looking forward to marrying his beloved, a mage hired to extract revenge, and a woman tasked with hunting down said mage.

The readers are introduced to Casey grabbing drinks at a bar before his upcoming wedding. He is looking forward to married life despite the feedback from his buddies. It is here that Casey encounters the mage, but her appearance has been altered by one of her spells; to Casey, she appears as this attractive, young woman that he can’t seem to resist. Her spell works and she manages to isolate him and perform her removal.

Alone with the victim, the mage performs the operation while he is in a drunken stupor. Upon awaking the next morning, he quickly spots the violation and begins seeking out solutions for his situation. While looking for answers, he is pointed in the direction of Melanie; she’s a witch hunter and agrees to help him out.

Melanie definitely has her work cut out for her, but remains optimistic that she can help restore Casey’s manhood. The wedding is days away, the mage has to be found, the stolen goods have to be returned…will justice prevail? You’ll have to read to find out!

* I’d like to thank Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me a spot on this tour and for providing me with a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Time Bitches by Branden Lanette

Trigger Warning: This book contains topics that may be difficult for some readers: foster parenting and profanity.

  • Published: October 5, 2019 by Success in 100 Pages
  • Genre: Self-Help
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 112
  • Rating: 3 stars

Once upon a time I realized we all have a story, we all have a struggle and happiness is relative. I am not cynical or hardened, I am just stating the facts. Here’s the deal:

  • Prince Charming doesn’t exist. 
  • Fairy Godmother is drunk.
  • Glass slippers don’t come 2 Day Prime Shipping from Amazon.

There is no magic fairytale, but if YOU work at it enough you can come pretty close creating your version with a happy ending. The best part is, in life you can continue to make edits until that sh*t reads exactly how you want it to. 
You may not agree with everything I say in this book but the most important takeaway is that YOU have to be your own f-ing hero. No more damsel locked in a tower, bullsh*t. That ends now. Join me as I take you through my 7 Magical Maxims for creating a fairytale life. (I know what you are thinking: Branden, no one gets a fairytale life.) Can you stop being so damn cynical for two seconds and just go with this? 

Is it possible to design a fairytale life? Control your destiny? Be the hero in your story? I believe you can and that’s why I wrote this book. I am going to make you a little uncomfortable. Back out now if you aren’t ready. 
Sh*t is about to get real bitches…

Personally, I have not read many books pertaining to the self-help category; the most recent one that I read was Girl, Wash Your Face. Surprisingly, I found there were quite a few similarities between Hollis and Lanette; both authors dealt with challenges when it came to intimate relationships and foster parenting, but what made Lanette stand out was her confidence and no filter writing style. The author addresses the judgments she has faced, addresses the hardships she has dealt with, and addresses the work she put into turning her life around and shares those tips with her readers.

Branden Lanette acknowledges that she has a boy’s name, but does not feel ashamed about it and instead owns it. The author is the mother of six children and has no problem admitting that she has a “mom bod,” but would not trade it for anything. She may have several tattoos, but does not apologize for expressing herself the way she chooses. The list of things the author has been judged on is endless, but she does not let it prevent her from living the life she wants for her family and herself.

Sometimes, life can be overwhelming and it can appear as if dreams could not be further from reach; Lanette understands this a little too well. The author grew up with an uninvolved mother, which resulted in her emancipation and finding herself in a toxic relationship with a man that she would end up marrying TWICE. These difficulties that she faced made her continue to ignore the whispers inside her that said she should write her own book until one day something within her changed her mind.

Branden’s life has been far from a happily ever after; Lanette has made several mistakes along her journey, but has learned from them all and ends up providing the readers with her seven steps to living a fairy-tale life like the one she now does. These tips are ones that the readers will find fairly easy to achieve and will want to keep with them as they navigate obstacles in life.

I personally enjoyed this book, so much so that I finished it in one sitting! The page total is fairly short and Branden’s writing style will have you laughing throughout the book’s entirety. I highly recommend others to give this book a read as it provides for an uplifting and enjoyable read.

* l was provided a copy of this book via the author as part of Lola’s Blog Tours and in exchange for an honest review.

Grimworld by Avery Moray

  • Publication date: November 1, 2019 by Our Street Books
  • Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • Rating: 3 stars

Every day, thirteen year old Henry Bats has his usual bowl of Sugar Slugs, helps tend Cobalt Sidewinders at Frank’s Peculiar Pets, and keeps to himself with his comic book collection. Just your typical day in Grimworld, where the sky is always dark and shadows lurk in the streets. What’s not typical is a suspicious Nightspook luring Henry into a cemetery in the middle of the night with the promise of a prized comic book. The Nightspook steals part of Henry’s lifespan with a pocket watch, which begins counting down to his death. Henry is running out of time, and the pocket watch won’t stop ticking…

Following a nightly experience of being tricked by what he believed to be a Nightspook, Henry Bats awakes to find that there is a pocket watch permanently clasped to his neck; the pocket watch’s arrow is pointing to a number that he later discovers predicts how many years he has left to live. Filled with questions and desperate for a cure, he sets out on a quest that leads him to befriending a boy who shares his predicament, strengthening the relationship he has with his sister, and saving his world from darkness.

During his walk home from school, Bats crosses paths with a boy that seems to be wearing the same sort of pocket watch around his neck as him. He approaches the boy and has his suspicions confirmed, but is shocked to discover the boy’s situation is far more dire than his. Realizing that in order to find a way out, they decide to work together; however, they run into some problems that will require outside help from unlikely sources.

Henry has never really had anything in common with his sister; she’s always been into her dolls and he’s always been into comic books. Through the course of this book’s plot, we see their relationship start to change as Henry requires help from his sister when it comes to gathering ingredients for a spell that will supposedly remove the necklaces and spare their short lifespans.

Everything that occurs throughout the book sets the reader up for one highly anticipated climax in the form of a showdown between Henry Bats and his trickster. Can he defeat his foe and claim victory, or is he at a loss and must accept that his life will remain short-lived? You’ll have to read it for yourself in order to find out!

Grimworld is a middle grades story, but can be enjoyed by all ages. This book is short in length, but packed with action all the way to the end and will provide an adequate amount of Halloween vibes. I definitely recommend this one to parents of children who enjoy reading and to readers looking for something to fitting for the season.

* I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book as part of Lola’s Blog Tours and in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Trigger Warnings: This title contains the following topics that might be difficult for some readers such as: cheating, profanity, sexual assault.

  • Published: August 16, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 8 hours
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is-a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend-an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably-but only because it’s over.

This year, I have taken it upon myself to read more memoirs, specifically celebrity memoirs. I had originally made the decision to skip this one; I love Amy Schumer, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t think that she would write about any topics I would consider important. I can now admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong! Schumer’s writing style reminds me of Gabrielle Union in her memoir: We’re Going to Need More Wine. The author openly discusses her struggles with her readers, openly throws out profanity, and openly gives readers a glimpse into her personality aside from the humor we have grown to adore.

To the outside world, it is easy to picture Amy Schumer as having the perfect life, but that wasn’t always the case for the comedienne. Schumer does not shy away from providing her readers with background information about her rough upbringing; she writes about how her mother’s cheating had consequences beyond her family, about how her family wasn’t wealthy and she had to work several jobs throughout her adolescence in order to cover expenses, about how her father was diagnosed with an illness that made it difficult for them to spend time with one another more often, and more that you won’t want to miss out on.

I don’t know if I’m the only one that feels this way, but I often feel as if celebrities avoid opening themselves up to their readers and connecting on a deeper level; unfortunately, this results in a book filled with content that is already public knowledge and a disappointing read. However, I’m happy to announce that Amy’s book was the opposite; I know that profanity may not be every reader’s cup of tea, but it happens to be mine. I felt like the author’s use of vulgar language made her more relatable and provided me with many opportunities to laugh.

Readers are probably well aware of Schumer’s comedic acts and generally associate her with being funny, but in this book she shines a light on some other important traits she exhibits: authenticity, honesty, empathy, kindness…the list goes on and on, but I’ll let you read the book to discover the rest! The author makes you feel as if you are sharing a table with her and engaging in meaningful conversations; she doesn’t once try to sugarcoat things to make herself appear in a better light. There’s a particular chapter in which she discusses how she gave her bonus from one performance to those that work for her and by donating it to a charity that supported veterans; this made me admire her a little bit more because I feel like more celebrities should make an effort in supporting the less fortunate.

This is a book that I feel will stay with me for many more months to come and I highly recommend this book for those that love listening to audiobooks, for those that love learning more about certain celebrities, or for those that love having a quick, light read.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Trigger Warning: This book contains the following topics that might be difficult for certain readers: bullying, death, physical abuse, suicide, violence.

  • Publication date: October 8, 2019 by Wednesday Books
  • Genres: Dystopian, Suspense, Young Adult
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Page length: 407
  • Rating: 4 stars

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

This novel just recently began circulating around on social media sites, but I originally discovered this one from seeing an Instagram review from @itsahardbacklife4me. I was hesitant to give it a read because it was being marketed as a young adult dystopian novel, which is a genre that I have not given much attention to. However, I’m so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone because this one has become one of my top favorites for the year!

In Garner County, the time for another grace year has arrived; a punishment for girls aged sixteen due to the town’s belief that they possess magic that creates temptations for the male inhabitants. This year, Tierney James is the next girl in her household to receive this suffering. She will be one of thirty-three girls sent into the woods to begin working on expelling her magic, battling the harsh elements, and avoiding death at the hands of poachers.

Once the girls arrive to their destination, one girl in particular seems to demand control over the others: Kiersten Jenkins. She begins making claims that her magic has already came in and sets out to release the magical abilities for others in the encampment. Tierney, however, does not feel like she possesses any type of magic and quickly becomes an enemy of Kiersten’s when she expresses that she is not interested in her offer.

It’s the beginning of autumn when the girls arrive at their encampment. They start assessing their surroundings and conclude that the confinement lacks clean drinking water, adequate food supply, and the resources to stay warm during the upcoming winter. Tierney’s father, the county’s healer, taught his daughter basic survival skills that prove to be beneficial; she builds rain barrels that will collect rainwater that is safer for the group to drink, she uses seeds her sister provided to grow produce, and chops down some trees to use as firewood. However, all her efforts go unappreciated by the other girls as they begin separating themselves from her and continue to obey the instructions of Kiersten.

As if the elements of nature wasn’t enough to worry about, the bigger threat remains in poachers. The poachers hide outside of the encampment waiting for a grace girl to venture outside the boundaries; the poachers hunt down grace year girls and offer up their corpses in exchange for payment.

At the end of their trial, only fifteen girls managed to survive. The events of the year have caused the remaining girls to be forever changed and they decide to join forces and leave the encampment in better conditions than previous years. If you haven’t read this one yet, be sure to preorder now from Target, Amazon, or any other place you shop for books. If you love dystopian novels, the Handmaid’s Tale series, or want an empowering read on your TBR, then be sure to give this one a read!

* I was given an advanced reader’s copy of this book via NetGalley and MacMillan in exchange for an honest review.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

  • Published: February 5, 2019 by Celadon Books
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 297
  • Rating: 5 stars

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

When I first joined “bookstagram” in April of this year, this book was all the rage. I immediately placed a hold for a copy at my local library fairly soon after seeing all the publicity the book was receiving; after waiting around four months for my hold to come through, I finally had the chance to sit down and read this thriller. I’ll be honest, halfway through this book it was looking to be a solid three star read for me; however, towards the end it took a turn and pulled out all kinds of twists that blew my mind.

The story starts out with Alicia being committed to a mental facility due to the murder of her husband, where she begins a vow of silence. Theo, a psychotherapist, has been waiting for an opportunity to meet Alicia and be the one to get her to speak again; when a position opens up at the facility housing her, Theo hops on it and ends up filling the role. Throughout the course of their therapy sessions, both individuals begin to uncover the events surrounding the murder. The answers they uncover will not only leave them in shock, but the readers as well!

There is so much that I want to spill about this book and its contents, but it’s impossible to do so without revealing any spoilers. I want to take a moment and state, though, that if you have not read this one yet: grab a copy today and get to reading! This book is the perfect cure for those facing the dreaded reading slump or those facing a tough choice on what book would make the ultimate creepy read for Halloween.