The Fever

Finished The Fever by Megan Abbott.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation” (Laura Lippman).”

I absolutely adored this book.  It’s similar thematically to Katherine Howe’s Conversion but they handle it absolutely differently.  Unlike Conversion, this is very straight-forward (no flashbacks to Salem) and also it seems like the mysterious illness takes a backseat at times as we learn about what ELSE is happening in the town.

I loved everything about this book.  The illness was incredibly creepy (moreso because we didn’t know what was going on or why) but even more than that, I love the fact that the story had just as much to do with other things.  This book is amazing.

This is my second Megan Abbott book and I really need to start reading more of hers because I’ve been incredibly impressed both times.

Highly recommended.

Charm and Strange

Finished Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying. “

This is one of those books that will require patience because if you’re anything like me, you will spend most of the book not entirely sure of what’s going on.  (And when I say that, I mean I literally spent most of the book completely confused.)  Ultimately, though, everything clicked and made sense and then I was broken.

Win/Drew is a hard person to like.  He’s determined to keep people at arm’s length (or, preferably, even farther away) for reasons unknown.  Not surprisingly, the most effective way to do this is to be a complete jerk to everyone.  (You would be amazed at how well that works.)

But, as you might imagine, there are two people who refused to be shoved away and ultimately they realize exactly what’s going on with Win/Drew and it’s at that point where the book clicks.

This is a unique book and it’s hard to read (both for the confusion and for the revelation), but it’s also amazing.  Highly recommended.

One Kick

Finished One Kick by Chelsea Cain.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

I’ve read a few of her Gretchen Lowell books and, while I very much enjoyed this book, it didn’t have the visceral reaction for me that those books did.  (That is not a complaint.)

I have this weird fascination with abduction books (fiction ones; I don’t read the nonfiction ones because it feels a little too much like voyeurism) and this is one of my favorites.  The main reason for that is because it deals more with the aftermath than with Kick’s time with her pseudo-parents.  How in the world would you readjust back to normal life?  (If Kick is any indication, the answer is “not well.”)

This is an incredibly fun book and I’m so happy that it’s the first book in a series.  I can’t wait to see what Kick does next.


Isla and the Happily Ever After

Finished Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.”

Oh, you guys, this book.

I’ve been waiting for it for years, since my friend Daisy sent me the first book, since I randomly was able to snag a copy at BEA the following year—I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book my whole life.

And it is perfect.

I feel like there’s really nothing I need to say, because you already know whether you’re reading it or not and because by the time you read this review, you’ll probably have already read it anyway.  (Yes, it just came out yesterday, but even so.)

So here’s what I can tell you.

It’s a billion times better than Lola and the Boy Next Door.  And it’s even better than Anna and the French Kiss.  (Paris trumps San Francisco; Paris and New York trumps everything.)

It’s about flawed characters who grow (separately and together) and, as Rainbow Rowell said in the blurb, it’s about the kind of love we all wish we had.  (I’m paraphrasing.)

I absolutely adore this book (and her others) and I hope I don’t have to wait as long for the next one.

Highly recommended.


Dangerous Boys Release Day

Out Now!

August 14th, 2014

Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

dangerous boys

Three teens venture in to the abandoned lake house one night; hours later,
only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense?

Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful
of faces…

Purchase Now!



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 Early Praise

“Dangerous Boys is a taut, compelling thriller balanced on the razor’s edge of suspense. I could not put it down, and could not stop grinning wickedly as I raced through the pages.”

Leah Raeder, USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable

“Abigail Hass is a master at her craft! This is a special book and a special author.
This is the kind of storytelling and writing that sticks with you no matter how much time passes.” — The Book Geek Blog

“As with Dangerous Girls, the closing left me with a huge, admittedly rather twisted
smile on my face
. I don’t know how Haas manages to turn me into such a gleefully evil
creature.” — Dahlia Adler, blogger.

“Dangerous Boys was an intense, psychological read which was full of suspense and drama,…Abigail Haas has a way of writing books which reel you in a nd keep you there, hooked and addicted until the very last page.” —

About Abigail Haas

Abigail Haas has written two adult novels and four young adult contemporary novels under the name Abby McDonald. Dangerous Girls is her first young adult thriller. She grew up in Sussex, England, and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She lives in Los Angeles.

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/ Facebook

Desire Lines

Finished Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Desire Lines is a taut, penetrating new novel filled with psychological suspense, sensitivity, and emotional complexity by the critically acclaimed author of Sweet Water.

On the night of her high school graduation in 1986, Kathryn Campbell’s best friend, Jennifer, vanished without a trace. It’s been ten years since then, but Kathryn still feels the conspicuous void in her life – and the nagging, guilty sense that she has failed her friend.

When a divorce sends Kathryn reeling back to the Maine town where she grew up, the young journalist finds herself face-to-face with her past. At twenty-eight, she’s been living for far too long on memories and questions; now she needs to take a hard look at her own life at the same time that she is delving into the mystery of what happened to her friend.

As she explores the seemingly random series of events that led up to Jennifer’s disappearance, a pattern slowly begins to take shape. All the puzzle pieces are at her fingertips – it’s a matter of whether Kathryn can put them together in a way that makes sense. As she faces her own fear and grief, she is finally able to come to terms with the ways in which the loss of her friend has shaped her life and the lives of those who knew her. In the process, Kathryn realizes that if she is ever going to understand the circumstances of Jennifer’s disappearance, she is going to have to expose herself to the same risks and dangers. Ultimately, Kathryn’s quest to find out the truth becomes a quest to save her own life as she races against time to keep Jennifer’s fate from becoming hers.

I absolutely loved Christina Baker Kline’s most recent release, Orphan Train, so I was incredibly excited to read this book.  (This is an earlier novel that’s been re-released with a book club guide in the back.)

This is an incredibly hard book to describe.  On the one hand, there’s a mystery at the center of it, but on the other, there’s just as much to do with your life after college and how, for the most part, the life you expect to have is nowhere near the life you end up actually having.  (An excellent example of this is the movie The Big Chill.)

I love the idea that this one event has clearly shaped the lives of the rest of Jennifer’s group of friends—which makes sense, because you figure this is probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to any of them (Jennifer disappearing) and which is the better outcome? Either your friend is dead—and probably in a horrible way, given that the body was never found—or she deliberately chose to run away and literally couldn’t care less about the impact that said disappearance had on her family and friends.

It’s not as good as Orphan Train, but this is an incredibly fun read.


Flawed Release Day Blitz!

Title: Flawed (Perfection #2)

Author: J.L. Spelbring

Release Date: August 12, 2014

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

 Click here for the chance to win an ARC!


Synopsis: In a world where Hitler won the The War, and perfection is constantly sought, Ellyssa has broken free from her austere life and has found another meaning for her existence.

Family, friendship, and love.

But her happiness is short lived. Ellyssa finds herself on the run, again. Her father’s work didn’t die with him, but lives on in her siblings, Aalexis and Xaver, and they are determined to complete his unfinished dream.

Goodreads Link:



Barnes & Noble:,%201

The Book Depository:



 JL Spelbring

Author Bio:

J.L. Spelbring lives in Texas, where she wanders out in the middle of the night to look at the big and bright stars. Besides knocking imaginary bad guys in the head with a keyboard, she enjoys being swept away between the pages of a book, running amuck inside in her own head, pretending she is into running, and hanging out with her kids, who are way too cool for her.

Her novel, Perfection, released in July 2013 and the sequel, Flawed, releases August 2014.

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Can’t Look Away

Finished Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Donna Cooner establishes herself as our own Jodi Picoult in this timely tale of sisters, loss, and redemption.

Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey’s sister is killed in an accident — maybe because of Torrey and her videos — Torrey’s perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn’t know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey’s internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there’s Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?”

I absolutely loved Donna Cooner’s first book, Skinny.  This book is completely different but still has much to enjoy.  (If that’s the right word for a book that deals with incredibly difficult topics.)

Torrey is a hard person to like, especially at first.  She’s a little selfish and consumed with herself and how things impact her.  (This is a little understandable as she’s a teenage girl and I remember how that felt.)

Her younger sister Miranda died after being hit by a car and the last conversation she had with Torrey was an argument.  That haunts Torrey, understandably, but she’s a little more upset because it turns out the conversation was filmed and then released online.  Not surprisingly, she gets a lot of grief from internet comments for that, but I was pretty inclined to let that slide—everyone has arguments and everyone says things they don’t mean.  It doesn’t make you a bad person, only an unlucky one because most of the time, we get to take those things back.

I absolutely adored this book and can’t wait for her third book.


Breathe For Me (and giveaway!)

Title: Breathe For Me

Author: Rhonda Helms

Release Date: August 5, 2014

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

 Breathe For Me

Synopsis: Isabel’s been cursed since the Middle Ages.

Desperate to escape an arranged marriage, she made a hasty bargain with a demon, asking for liberation from an oppressive husband-to-be and the excitement of travel. But the demon’s “gift” came at a steep cost. Each time he moves her to a new city, her memory’s wiped. No one can touch her bare skin without injury or even death. And she sees the lifespan of every living being (and is, in fact, immortal herself).

All a constant reminder that she’s different than other teen girls.

But New Orleans seems to accept her as she is. She has friends and a real life in this quirky, hot city. Then Isabel meets Dominic, whose deep soul and strong character draw her to him. Her growing love gives her the courage to confront the demon, insisting the curse be broken. But the demon’s price for freedom is much, much higher than she could possibly give.


Also, Spencer Hill is giving away a copy of Breathe For Me! Click here to enter!


English class. I can’t stop my eyes from sliding casually across the room every few minutes to stare at Dominic. He has one lock of hair that flops onto his forehead. For some reason, my fingers itch to push it off his face.

When was the last time I touched another person? I can barely remember what it’s like. Even a small gesture, like brushing the small hairs on someone’s arms with the tips of my fingers, is forbidden to me.

Dominic looks up from his notebook at that moment. I tear my gaze away, cheeks flaming from almost being caught staring, and turn my attention back to my assignment. We’re supposed to be working on a poem, which is usually one of my favorite activities. For some reason, I’m having a hard time concentrating.

Okay, I know why. But it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to think about him or our talk in the library. I’m going to finish this poem. I’m going to finish school today. And then I’m going to retreat to the sanctuary of my apartment, where I can shed these layers of clothes and be free of my constraints, if only for a little while.

I reread what I’ve written so far:

Alone on a shore, I am swallowed

By a stillness, body

Bowed over, hair like a tree willow.

I skim the water surface

With my fingertips, as

Sand engulfs my feet, my ankles, my calves.

The water licks


Sighing shores beckon me

To dance upon the swirling currents.

I can feel Dominic looking at me. Emboldened, I lift my eyes and stare right into his. The blue of his irises remind me of the body of water in my poem. Dark. Tempting. Heavy with an unspoken awareness.

Everything falls silent except the rush of blood in my ears.

The rest of the poem’s words come to me out of nowhere, and I spill them out onto my paper:

I close my eyes,

Fall into my escape, where

The tide’s fingers

Drag out my air.

Tug me closer,

Fill me,

Absorb me—

I gasp I freeze

I am no longer alone.

The bell rings, jarring me out of my hypnotized state. I slip my poem into my notebook and stay seated, waiting for the room to empty before I leave to go to my next class. Girls cling together in tight groups, laughing and talking to each other as they pour through the doorway into the hall.

I stay back and watch.

Goodreads link:



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Author Bio and social media links:


Author Bio:

Rhonda Helms started writing several years ago. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She also edits for Carina Press (an imprint of Harlequin Publishing) and freelance edits.

When she isn’t writing, she likes to do amateur photography, dig her toes into the sand, read for hours at a time, and eat scads of cheese. WAY too much cheese.

Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her family.

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