Book Review || More Happy Than Not

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Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publication Date: June 2015

Version: Audiobook

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Rating: 4/5 Stars

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Well dang, if that isn’t a heck of a synopsis.  This was my first ever Adam Silvera book, and it did not disappoint.

First, I really enjoyed the setting of the story.  It takes place in the Bronx in a world very similar to our own, except for the powerful corporation known as “Leteo” that can alter memories and therefore, allow clients to forget painful experiences and live their “happily ever after”.  Of course, things don’t always go that smoothly.

Despite the futuristic premise, this book definitely reads as a contemporary and I was just a little disappointed that Leteo wasn’t more fully explored in the book.  I was almost hoping for something a little more sci-fi-ish (almost wrote sci-fish, which is not what I was hoping for, just to clarify).

It may have been because I listened to the audiobook, which was by no means bad, but it felt like the story dragged a little in a few places.  It makes me wonder if I would have given the book a higher rating if I read the physical book.  (I may need to reread the physical book sometime in the future to compare notes.)

Overall, this is definitely a dark book and tackles some difficult issues, but does so extremely well and I am no so stoked to read another (ahem, all) of Adam Silvera’s books.

Also, second book of the Booktube-A-Thon DONE!!

Book Review || Find Her

Title: Find Her

Author: Lisa Gardner

Publication Date: February 2016

Format: Physical book

Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

**TRIGER WARNING** There are scenes that describe rape and sexual assault.  This book also contains traumatic scenes of abuse and torture.**

Flora Dane is a victim.

Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Flora Dane is a survivor.

Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

Flora Dane is reckless.

. . . or is she? When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime—a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him—she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.

Book one of the Booktube-A-Thon 2017 complete!

Are you ever walking down the aisle of a bookstore when a cover completely jumps out at you?  Find Her was that book for me recently.  While I won’t buy a book only for the cover and this book doesn’t have an especially pretty cover, it jumped out at me as the type of thriller I would enjoy, which the synopsis confirmed.

On to what’s inside the book.  I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, but basically, this was a complex thriller with plenty of twists and red herrings that made me fly through it.

Flora is still learning to live with who she is after her abduction, and it leaves her changed and those around her confused and hurt that she can’t return to the person she was before she was taken.

I liked Flora and her determination and resilience despite the horrors she faced for over a year.  The points of the novel told from Det. D.D. Warren felt slower and I never really connected with her character.

When the “bad guy” is revealed, it felt a little forced and I guessed the ending, so the twist didn’t completely feel like a twist.  The pacing was pretty solid throughout, but towards the end, it did start to get repetitive, which are the reasons it was a 3.5 star read.  However, I literally carried it with me everywhere while reading it, so I definitely enjoyed this one.

I feel like I’m off to a good start for the Booktube-A-Thon and now onto book #2!

BookTube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

I am so excited to participate in my first ever read-a-thon with the BookTube-A-Thon 2017!  I am new to book blogging and read-a-thons, so while I’m not a booktuber, I really enjoy booktube and thought this would be the perfect first read-a-thon to participate in!  Side note, my TBR is going out literally hours before it starts because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to participate in it until today, but I am going to try to read as much as possible!

The BookTube-A-Thon is hosted by Ariel Bissett and you can find the BookTube-A-Thon channel and more information about the read-a-thon here.

Here are this year’s reading challenges:

Booktubeathon 2017 Prompts

Finally, here is my TBR.  I am very confident that I won’t be able to read 7 books this week because of various commitments, but I have 3 books that I’m counting for various challenges that I am hoping to finish this week!

Challenge 1: Read a book with a person on the cover.

Challenge 3: Finish a book in one day.

Challenge 4: Read about a character that’s very different to you.

Challenge 5: Read a book completely outdoors (???)

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This definitely counts for challenge 1 because the version I have has the main characters on the front.  This books weighs in at 320 pages, so I am *hoping* to finish it in one day and the story follows two half-sisters from Ghana who are put upon different paths in life and follows their descendants through eight generations.  The characters are very different from me and I cannot wait to read this book.  Also, I’m not sure if I will actually get to read this book outdoors because it is HOT right now where I live, so maybe?  Not sure?  Hopefully, I can get a few challenges from this book.

Challenge 6: Read a book you bought because of the cover.

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Find Her by Lisa Gardner

I have to admit, I rarely buy books just based off of the cover because let’s be honest, books are really expensive and just because the cover is beautiful and would look great on my bookshelf doesn’t mean I will like the story inside.  Also, I don’t have that kind of room on my shelves anyway.  However, I saw this book in the book store and bought it on a whim not because the cover is necessarily beautiful, but because when I saw it, it jumped out to me and looked like a super suspenseful myster/thriller and I was immediately intrigued.

Challenge Two: Read a hyped book.

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While I don’t think there has been as much widespread hype about this YA book as others (it just recently came out), those who have read this book have definitely hyped it up.  I’ve heard really great things about this book, so I am definitely including it in this challenge.

I already know that 7 books this week will probably just not happen, so if I can finish these three, I will be 100% pleased.  Mostly, I am super excited to participate in my first ever read-a-thon in just a few hours!

Happy reading!

 

Book Review || Because You Love To Hate Me

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Book: Because You Love To Hate Me

Author: Ameriie, Various

Publication Date: July 2017

Format: Kindle Ebook

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Rating: Each short story and essay has a different rating, but overall 3.2ish/5 stars.

I have been super intrigued by this anthology since the buzz started on booktube several months ago.  And let me say, I love the idea of this book: short stories featuring different villainous characters.  

There are thirteen stories in this anthology written by various YA authors paired up with 13 booktubers who supply the prompt and essay.  While I have heard the controversy about publishing booktubers, personally, I was excited to read this book and thought it was definitely a cool idea.  I will say that I didn’t think most of the essays added a lot to the story except a few, but I still gave this anthology a solid 3.2ish stars overall.

Now, on to the individual stories and essays.


(Story) The Blood Of Imuriv by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I was hesitant going into this short story mainly because the only book I’ve ever red by Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn, I really didn’t like.  And unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of this short story.  The story felt too short to really be invested in the sibling rivalry backstory and even the sudden ending wasn’t enough to keep my attention.

(Essay) The Evil Vaccine: Keep The Darkness At Bay by Christine Riccio (PolandbananasBOOKS)

I didn’t think the tone, which tried to be lighthearted and funny, matched very well with Ahdieh’s story, which was serious and ominous.  There were a few lines that stuck, but overall, it felt a little off key.  


(Story) Jack by Ameriie

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

For a short story, I felt like it plogged along a bit and mixing “magick” with modern life “below” didn’t quite work.  I thought the ending was the best part, but that the rest of the story should have been darker to lead up to it.

(Essay) Giants And Tyrants by Tina Burke (The Lushables)

This prompt was probably my least favorite out of all of them.  And Jack and the Beanstalk was never one of my favorite fairy tales, so that may have something to do with it, but I also wasn’t a huge fan of the essay that followed the prompt.


(Story) Gwen And Art And Lance by Soman Chainani

Rating: 1/5 Stars

Oh, dear.  This was definitely my least favorite story, mainly because the whole thing is told in text messages/emails.  It was just kind of a disaster for me.

(Essay) The Bad Girl Hall Of Fame by Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes)

I thought the format fit the essay (social media inspired) but that the essay wasn’t memorable.


Shirley & Jim by Susan Dennard

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I’ve seen several people comment on the unnecessary gender swaps of Watson and Sherlock and I completely agree.  I definitely would have rather read a story about a male Sherlock in love with a male Moriarty.  Also, “Shirley” didn’t feel like an accurate interpretation of Sherlock at all, high school girl or no.

Dear Sasha, The 411 For Villains by Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia)

While this was not the most unique idea, I am a sucker for anything Sherlock, so I do like the prompt and thought that the essay was clever.  I just wish the actual story was better.


The Blessings Of Little Wants by Sarah Enni

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I actually enjoyed the magical system in this story, but the ending made no sense and I don’t feel like it was really about a villain.  At least, it didn’t feel villainous.

Will The Real Villain Please Stand Up? by Sophia Lee (thebookbasement)

The essay didn’t add much to the story for me.


The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This story is where the book started to pick up significantly.  Finally, this story is about a villain who is definitely villainous, but you can’t help but root for her.  And the writing was fabulous.  I’ve never read anything by Meyer, and now I 100% want to.

Villain Or Hero? You Decide! by Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe)

Great idea for a story and I thought the essay was cohesive with Meyer’s story as well.


Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Good writing and great spin on the Medusa story, but I did think the ending was a little abrupt.  

**TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains a raoe scene.  It is not graphic, but it is still there.**

Without The Evil In The World, How Do We See The Good? by Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes)

The idea was okay, but Pon really brought it to life with her interpretation.  However, the excitement for the idea and story was really evident in the essay.


Death Knell by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Wow.  I’m not sure why a short story should be allowed to make me tear up, but screw the rules, because it sure did!  This was my favorite story and was beautifully written.  My only complaint is that I need approximately 400 more pages. 

Dear Death by Jesse George (JessetheReader)

Easily my favorite essay.  It was also beautifully written and touching and these two together=perfection.


Marigold by Samantha Shannon

Rating: 3/5 Stars

My main issue with this story is the way too open ending.  It almost needed a little more character development, but the setting and world building was good for the length of the story.

Evil Revealed by Regan Perusse (PeruseProject)

I really like the mash-up of ideas for this story, especially centered around the oppression of women during Victorian England.


You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera

Rating: 5/5 Stars

This story was dark and twisty and pretty amazing, but it needs to be a full length book ASAP.  Also, I have never read anything by Adam Silvera, and that needs to change yesterday because his writing is incredible.

Behind The Villain’s Mask by Catriona Feeney (Little BookOwl)

I liked the prompt (brought to life by Silvera), but I didn’t feel like the essay really added to the story.


Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Good writing, but it didn’t feel futuristic per Raeleen’s prompt, but more paranormal maybe?  And I’m probably in the minority with this story in general, but the ending especially was a little disappointing.  Overall, I wish I would have liked this one better.

Julian Powell: Teen Psycho Extraordinaire by Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07)

This definitely wasn’t my favorite prompt, but I thought Smith did an okay job with it regardless.  I also didn’t think the essay added much to the story.


Indigo And Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

This was definitely an odd mashup of traditional lore/fairytale retelling in the modern world and it didn’t quite work.  The insta-love was distracting and it didn’t feel super villainous.

Glamorized Recovery: Expectations Vs. Reality by Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels)

I thought the prompt was good, but it just wasn’t well executed by Tucholke.


Sera by Nicola Yoon

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This story was super creepy and totally awesome.  I want a whole book out of it.

The Bad Girls’ Guide To Villainy by Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery)

I also really enjoyed this essay.  It was darkly funny and fit the theme of the book perfectly.


 

Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading this anthology.  There were a few standout stories that were really, really good and make me want to read more by the authors (Adam Silvera, Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab, Cindy Pon, and Nicola Yoon).  

If you have been curious about this book and the stories inside, I would definitely recommend picking it up.

Book Review || Unbreakable

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Book: Unbreakable

Author: Kami Garcia

Publication Date: October 2013

Version: Audiobook

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 1/5 Stars

*This review contains minor spoilers.*

Today I am going to review

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I mean, Unbreakable.  I am going to dive right into the synopsis of this book because the warning signs start there.  The blurb:

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Sounds pretty awesome, no?  Of course it does, but that’s because it also sounds very, very familiar.  That’s because this book is so similar to Supernatural, it basically is Supernatural, but with teenagers, a laughable love triangle, and not nearly enough pie.

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Knowing this book, even in the blurb, is described as similar to Supernatural, I was on board because the paranormal is a genre that I am kind of picky about, but when I love a paranormal book, I really love it.  However, this book just felt like bad fanfiction.

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In fact, here is a list of all the similarities between Supernatural and Unbreakable:

  • Two brothers with daddy issues who fight supernatural beings.
  • A weird, lovable genius who helps the brothers. 
  • Dean, I mean Jared (yes, really, Jared), the battle-worn, but deep down kind and loving character.
  • Sam, I mean Lukas, the intelligent brother who still hasn’t forgiven his father.
  • The reluctant female hunter, I mean member of the Legion of supernatural fighters.
  • EMF readers, electric storms, flickering lights, rock salt, and journals passed down because of course ghost hunting is party of a family business.
  • A demon hunting down members of the Legion one by one.

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This is where a lot of the similarities stop, because I never felt invested in any of the characters or plot.  And the love triangle among the two brothers and Kennedy was pretty ridiculous and felt like the purpose of the story, rather than the paranormal aspect.

Basically, just watch Supernatural.  Because it has a lot less teenage angst, Baby, and a lot more Jensen Ackles.

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Books I Read In June

 

June has been a pretty decent reading month!  My birthday was this month too, so that could be why I felt extra motivated to read because I may or may not have just replenished my book supply with a birthday buying expedition.  (All of those books can be found here.)  In fact, here is an actual picture of me reading this month:

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Now, onto the books I’ve read in June.

It must have been a pretty good month for YA for me seeing as I read several YA books this month, and I gave most of them 4 or 5 stars.  

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5/5 Stars

Starr is a 15 year old living in a poor neighborhood and attending a wealthy private school when she witnesses a police officer shoot and kill her best friend.  Starr endures opposing ideas of what happened that night from her friends at school and neighbors and family members.  This book is pure perfection, it takes a hard look at what’s happening in the US currently, and I can’t recommend it enough.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

4/5 Stars

This book follows two Indian-American teenagers who meet at a summer camp after their parents decide to give arranging their marriage a go.  It is incredibly funny and sweet and is the perfect summer YA contemporary read.  Full review here.

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Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

4/5 Stars

What if the story of Peter Pan isn’t the full story?  What if Neverland isn’t only a place full of fairies and mermaids?  These are the questions this story answers, only from Tiger Lily’s point of view with Tinkerbell as the narrator.  It’s a great set-up to a very touching story.  Full review here.

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Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

4/5 Stars

A classmate finds Simon’s emails on a school computer.  Emails that talk about Simon being gay, which he hasn’t really told anyone yet.  Now, he is being blackmailed with the threat of outing him and the boy he’s been emailing, only named “Blue”, to the whole school.  This book was incredibly cute and it is impossible not to love Simon.  And the ending is so adorable I can’t stand it.

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My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

1/5 Stars

I’m still not 100% convinced this book is YA, but I’m putting it here for lack of a better place for it.  I have a review for this book here where I talk in depth about how much I was disappointed with book, but essentially it’s about two best friends who are trying to manage being teenagers in the 80s while also dealing with one of them being possessed by a demon.  This one was probably the biggest disappointment this month, but ah well, can’t win ’em all.

Sadly, it wasn’t one of the best months for mysteries/thrillers, which I love to read in the summer.  Still, with over two months left, hopefully I’ll find some good ones to even it out!

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

1/5 Stars

I read In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware last year and while it didn’t blow my mind, I definitely enjoyed it and was excited about her new release.  However, this book just fell completely flat.  It follows a woman who goes on a luxury cruise and here’s a woman being thrown overboard and the next day, she finds out everyone on the ship is accounted for.  I had some issues with portrayal of mental illness and the plot got more and more ridiculous and unbelievable as it went on.

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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

1/5 Stars

This book was another disappointing mystery for me.  I picked it up because it was compared with Tana French’s novels, which are some of my absolute favorites.  However, it became more of a character-driven story while the plot just lagged.  And the “twist” at the end wasn’t a twist at all because there is nothing at all that leads up to it.  This story follows a woman who goes missing from her house.  There’s supposedly more about the missing woman’s love life, family relationships, and other stuff, but it wasn’t really enough to make the book more exciting.

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The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

3/5 Stars

This book was definitely the bright spot on my otherwise not so great month for mysteries/thrillers.  It follows Roxane Weary, a detective hired to dig into the disappearance of a girl years ago, and the man sitting on death row who was convicted of the crime, but may be innocent after all.  Full review here.

I read one contemporary book this month, which was

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

5/5 Stars

Suburban moms, affairs, lies, scandals, and a possible murder.  Seriously, this book is great.  Full review here.

Lastly, I read four non-fiction books this month. Woohoo!

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

4/5 Stars

This book is Jenny Lawson’s memoir about mental illness and finding the humor even in the bleakest moments.  It is absolutely ridiculous in the best way possible and the chapters where she talks about her mental illness are quite touching.  The audiobook is definitely the best way to go because it’s read by Jenny Lawson, who is simply freaking hilarious.  Full review here.

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Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety by Robert Duff

4/5 Stars

I have anxiety, so I picked this book up based off of a suggestion.  It clocks in at only 71 pages, but it packs a big punch for being so small.  It is incredibly vulgar in language, which I actually appreciated because when you have a mental illness, it doesn’t feel clinical and sterile, it feels like you’re at war with yourself.  I’m really not kidding when I say it is *full* of bad language (as you can see from the cover), so that is definitely something to note.

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

2/5 Stars

This book explores cases of mass public shaming and internet shaming culture.  I thought the premise was interesting, but the book didn’t deliver for me.  Full review here.

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Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls To Gilmore Girls, And Everything In Between

5/5 Stars

Whether you know her from Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, or commercials where she plays the mom in plaid, this book is perfect if you love Lauren Graham.  Do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook.  Full page of me just gushing about her complete with gifs review here.

Those are the 13 books I read in the month of June!  As always, bless you for reading to the end.

 

 

Book Review || The Last Place You Look

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Title: The Last Place You Look

Author: Kristen Lepionka

Publication Date: June 2017

Version: Physical Book

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

I have to admit, since finishing The Trespasser by Tana French (her latest in the Dublin Murder Squad series), I have been looking for a series that is equally gripping and well written filled with interesting characters.  And I definitely think this series has the potential to be really, really good.

This story is the first in a series to come that follows Roxane Weary, a private investigator who is still healing from her police officer father’s death, when she takes on a client for the money.  The only catch is that her new client’s brother is in jail and on death row, possibly for a crime he didn’t commit.  His name is Brad, and despite being from “the wrong side of town”, he maintains his innocence in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Sarah, years ago and the murder of her parents.

The premise of this book sounded excellent and the beginning definitely pulls you in to Roxane’s struggles with her father’s death and two unhealthy relationships, one with a man and one with a woman.  And like any good mystery, red herrings abound throughout the book.

However, the book lost a little momentum around the middle and though it offered excellent insight into Roxane’s life, the actual mystery lagged a little.  The other reason I didn’t rate this book higher is because the ending felt like a lucky solve on Roxane’s part, particularly since there wasn’t a ton of evidence to back her up.

The book’s strength lies in the flawed and realistic characters and relationships and despite not absolutely loving this book, I certainly liked it and am definitely excited to continue in the series and see more from Roxane.