Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Aftercare Instructions
Author: Bonnie Pipkin
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen’s decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing début follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.


Reading Aftercare Instructions was a bit of a weird experience for me. I entered a Goodreads giveaway for it without having read the blurb. I know that’s a little weird, but I do it sometimes. When I won and received the book, I still didn’t read the blurb. So when I started reading it, I had no idea what I was in store for. Aftercare Instructions was a really sad story. It wasn’t a bawling my eyes out sad, but more of a depressing sad.

Aftercare Instructions, as the blurb statesis about an almost eighteen-year-old girl who finds herself in the tough position of having an abortion. Gen knows having one is the right decision for herself and her boyfriend, Peter. But when Gen walks out into the waiting room after the procedure and finds Peter gone, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

I’m going to jump right into my impression of Peter. I don’t care what his reasons for leaving Gen at the clinic by herself were, they weren’t good enough. No one should have to go through what Gen did, and then be left to suffer alone. I hated Peter and wished someone would have kicked the crap out of that kid. For someone who was supposed to be so good, he was pretty horrible. I understand his reasoning and beliefs, but Gen deserved better.

As for Gen, I understood her emotions and rationale. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she was making, but I didn’t fault her for them. She made a very tough, adult decision and the ramifications of it hurt. Gen had every right to be as broken as she was. She had every right to do anything she could to feel better.

One truly great thing about Aftercare Instructions was the bond between friends. Gen had a few people on her side that were willing to do everything they could to make sure Gen was in a safe emotional and physical state. They showed up when she wasn’t expecting and took charge. I applaud the author for showing how friends can support each other when a character can’t reach for a parent.

Another really great thing about this book was the way the title, chapter headings, chapters and story all meshed together. Obviously, the title Aftercare Instructions refers to the guidelines Gen needed to follow after her abortion. Each chapter is headed with one of those instructions. That instruction fit what Gen was going through physically and emotionally at the time. By the end of the book, we can see the way all of these instructions and Gen’s actions led to her moment(s) of healing. This was genius. I also really enjoyed the way the author used a play script as the method of delivering Gen and Peter’s past. That was so unique and cool.

Aftercare Instructions is an important book. Never before have I read a young adult novel that so honestly deals with the topic of abortion. Not only does it cover the emotional aspects of having one, but it details the physical. I’m not just talking what happens the moment of the procedure, but also in the week to come. It’s not romanticized. It’s not over and done. This is a good thing. It gives teenagers (and adults) down and dirty look at life after. I think that’s important. It gives girls/women who have gone through it a book they can identify with. Maybe it will give someone who might be making a similar decision peace or make them re-examine the decision they’re making. I don’t know. Like I said, I think it’s an important book.

I do have to admit I had some problems rating Aftercare Instructions — no matter how important I thought it was. I almost didn’t give it a rating at all. How do you rate a book that’s written so well, but wasn’t a fun experience? Honestly, this book depressed the hell out of me and made me so angry at Peter. Those aren’t fun emotions. I ended up giving it 4 stars because I think it deserves to be read.

Review: Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

Bad Mommy
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 24, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

When Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street, it’s not because she likes the neighborhood, or even because she likes the house. It’s because everything she desires is next door: The husband, the child, and the life that belongs to someone else.


Bad Mommy is a mind$#%^. I don’t know how else to explain it. It was everything I expected from Tarryn Fisher, but nothing like I expected. Every time I thought I had a grasp on what was going on, I would start a new section of the book and become completely disoriented. It was such a trip!

I want to go back and read Bad Mommy a second time. That’s high praise because it’s rare for me to re-read a book. I feel like I would grasp more from the story a second time, and enjoy it even more.

Anyone who loves a great psychologically suspenseful novel will enjoy Bad Mommy. It’s dark, deceitful and will keep you turning the pages long after you should have gone to bed.

And that’s all I’m saying because I’m not going to ruin this book for anyone. 😉

Review: Iluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files _01
Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


Umm….My mind is pretty much blown from reading this book. Excuse me as I try to make any sense in this review. It’s probably going to be one big ramble!

Illuminae was pure genius. Everything about it was amazing. I loved the way the story was presented. The format was so very smart. It made the story fast-paced and easy to become engaged in. I credit the format for making me, a non science fiction fan, a lover of this book. Well, the format and the characters.

I absolutely loved Kady and Ethan. I was amazed at how well I got to know them and how well developed their characters were despite Illuminae not being told directly from their point of views. Their communications were probably my favorite in the entire book. I couldn’t help root for them. I also loved every supporting character I got a glimpse of throughout this tale.

Honestly, I have no clue what else to say. Illuminae had been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for over a year. I’m pretty mad that I let it sit all this time. It is totally worth any and all hype it’s received. Don’t be like me and wait any longer to read this book. Push it up to the top of your TBR list now.

Now, excuse me while I go purchase Gemina.

Release Day Review: Girl in the Mirror by Elizabeth Reyes

Girl in the Mirror
Series: Looking Glass, #1

Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A girl without a past.

Margaret Hellman wakes in a hospital with no memory of the horrific accident that claimed the lives of her sister and their best friend.

After years of struggling to regain a fraction of her memories, Maggie is left with no choice but to accept her past is gone. Despite the tormenting void in her heart.

Then the triggers start.

Tiny indiscernible but profoundly emotional glimpses of her past. The day she meets him, at her sister’s graveside sets off the most explosive trigger to date. It’s so overwhelming Maggie’s convinced she’s supposed to remember—she needs to.

As the puzzling pieces of her past start to come together, it’s clear something’s amiss. But nothing can prepare her for the shocking reality of what really happened that fateful day seven years ago.

Girl in the Mirror is a psychological romantic suspense with a twist you’ll NEVER see coming!


I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Reyes’ writing since I stumbled across her Moreno Brothers series. I love her independent women, alpha males, and the little twists she adds to her romances. I’m not a big romantic suspense fan because they aren’t always as entertaining as I want them to be. I usually avoid them, but I knew if anyone could craft a good one it would be Elizabeth Reyes.

I have to admit I was thrown off a little by the writing style of Girl in the Mirror at first. It didn’t really have the same feel to it as Reyes’ prior novels. So much of the beginning of this book is told to the reader by Maggie, the first person narrator. There wasn’t a whole lot of character interaction. It made more sense to me as the story went on, it just threw me off a bit at first. Maggie’s story did pull my in from the beginning, though. I was caught up in the mystery of her situation.

As the book went on, I was enthralled with the story. There was more to Maggie’s past than the blurb hints at. I loved trying to figure out what was going on and who was involved. Some of the answers were easier to guess than the others. Plus, as the romance and drama began to appear, that Elizabeth Reyes feel that I was talking about finally makes an appearance.

Another thing that surprised me about The Girl in the Mirror was the way the book wrapped up. I wasn’t expecting to move so quickly into where Maggie was now. I would have loved to see the period that wasn’t included. I wanted more of the romance of the story!

Girl in the Mirror was a great romantic suspense novel. It had fun twists, amazing characters, and kept me guessing. I’m really hoping some of the characters that were introduced get a book of their own.

Review: Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

22253643Marrow
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: April 16, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In the Bone there is a house.

In the house there is a girl.

In the girl there is a darkness.

Margo is not like other girls. She lives in a derelict neighborhood called the Bone, in a cursed house, with her cursed mother, who hasn’t spoken to her in over two years. She lives her days feeling invisible. It’s not until she develops a friendship with her wheelchair-bound neighbor, Judah Grant, that things begin to change. When neighborhood girl, seven-year-old Neveah Anthony, goes missing, Judah sets out to help Margo uncover what happened to her.

What Margo finds changes her, and with a new perspective on life, she’s determined to find evil and punish it–targeting rapists and child molesters, one by one.

But hunting evil is dangerous, and Margo risks losing everything, including her own soul.


Um…I don’t even know where to start when reviewing Marrow. This book was just so…disturbing. There wasn’t one thing about it that didn’t get under my skin or make me uncomfortable. It disturbed me so much at times that I take breaks from reading it. This shouldn’t surprise me. I felt the same way while reading Fisher’s Mud Vein. Still, I wasn’t prepared for what this story had to give.

Marrow is the story of Margo Moon. Margo barely exists. She lives with her mother in a horrible neighborhood filled with horrible people and horrible things. The only bright light in Margo’s life is her friendship with Judah. Despite being in a wheelchair, Judah sees the good in life. Their relationship gives Margo hope she hasn’t had before. That hope lasts until Margo’s young neighbor girl goes missing. Margo takes it upon herself to find out what happened to Neveah. What she finds will force her into avenging the wrongs taking place around her.

Margo was an interesting character. In the beginning, I loved her because I felt so bad for her. Margo was stuck in a situation created by her birth. There was nothing she could do to change it. She was a child who deserved more from life. Margo just didn’t have any positive support until she became friends with Judah. He made her want things to be better. I loved seeing that change in her.  As she grew older and horrible things began to happen around her, Margo changed again. Her new-found confidence created a person who felt the need to take justice into her own hands. That Margo freaked me out.  The more Margo took on her role of punisher, the darker the story became — and it was already pretty dang dark to begin with.

I never saw the twists and turns coming in Marrow. There were moments where I was disgusted. There were moments when I was sad. There were moments when I was completely confused. When I got to the end, all I could say was,

What the heck did I just read? 

I’m still not sure of the answer to that. My mind has been messed with in ways only Tarryn Fisher can accomplish. Once again, she’s written a beautifully disturbing tale. Marrow will suck you in, torment you and leave you thinking about it for weeks after you’re done. If you’re a fan of dark storytelling, this one is for you.

Review: Dark Water by Sara Bailey

darkwater7Dark Water
Author: Sara Bailey
Publication Date: October 3, 2016
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Note: I received an ARC from Nightingale Editions in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Friendship doesn’t die, it waits…

A haunting and lyrical novel, Dark Water is a psychologically intense portrait of adolescent yearning and obsession.

When Helena returns to her childhood home in Orkney, she is forced to face memories that she has spent half a lifetime running from. Her best friend, the charismatic Anastasia, disappeared after a swimming incident. But what really happened that night by the wrecks?


I have mixed feelings about Dark Water. On one hand, it was an incredibly strong debut novel. On the other, it didn’t really feel like a psychological thriller.

Sara Bailey’s writing in Dark Water is exceptional. The pictures she paints in her novel are clear and concise. Her descriptions of Orkney were so beautiful and haunting. They took over the novel at times, but that was a good thing because the setting played a huge part in the story. I liked the characters and their dark history.

There were a couple of things that kept me from truly appreciating Dark Water, though. First, The story unraveled so slowly that it never truly pulled me in. I wasn’t truly invested in it until the last third of the book. That’s when the story felt like it really took shape and built toward an amazing ending. Second, I was interested in the characters and their present points of view, but not as much as I was interested in the past. The little bits of it I got weren’t enough. I wanted more of them. They were the only parts that made me feel like I was reading a psychological thriller.

Overall, Dark Water was a well written and interesting tale of the bond of an obsessive adolescent friendship. It wasn’t quite the psychological thriller I was hoping, but it was still a tale I think readers of the genre might enjoy.

Release Blitz Review: Jagger by Heather C. Leigh

jagger_release_blitz

Jagger-ebookI sell drugs. Heroin to be specific. And I’m fucking good at my job. Enough to fight my way to the top position, controlling all of Austin’s supply.

So what if I had to kill the previous boss to do it. I do what has to be done. Never cared about consequences because I never had anything to lose.

Until I met Miri. My doll. She’s my weakness and somehow, my enemies found out about her.

If they hurt her, they will regret the day they ever heard my name. Boss. They call me Boss for a reason. What I say goes, including the price on the heads of anyone who dares to fuck with what belongs to me. My Miri.

Read a Bonus Scene HERE.
jaggerad1-1

REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 

Jagger is the second book in the Broken Doll series by Heather C. Leigh. It picks up right from where the first book in the series, Junkie, left off. Jagger, or Boss, is Austin’s drug dealer king. He’s fallen for Miri, a junkie who had the nerve to stumble onto his property and ask for drugs. When his relationship with Miri is discovered by his enemies, Jagger will do anything to protect the woman he loves. That’s all you’re getting for the plot because I don’t want to spoil the cliffhanger Junkie left off with.

The second book in the series was just as dark and twisted as the first. The brutal scenes immediately start off in Austin’s drug world and continue throughout the book. There’s barely a break in drama and intensity for more than a chapter or two. Heather C. Leigh did an amazing job portraying a dark and gritty world filled with violence. I have to warn this book is not for the faint of heart. There’s way too many gruesome details. I found myself having to take mental breaks to combat the intensity of it all.

Jagger and Miri’s relationship continued its surprisingly sweet and sexy path through the violence and destruction of the drug world. The romantic in me loved the parts of the book were when they were interacting with each other. Those were my favorite moments in this dark tale. Jagger and Miri proved their willingness to do anything it took to be together. Their chemistry was off the charts, and the sensual moments that had with each other were so erotic.

Jagger was a great conclusion to a twisted series. Readers who enjoy dark romances are bound to enjoy the Broken Doll series.

**I received an ARC from TRSOR Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review.

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NEW DARK ROMANCE by Heather C. Leigh

Meet Miri (Junkie) and Jagger (Boss) in the Broken Doll Series!

NOW LIVE & FREE on KINDLE UNLIMITED!

the broken doll series

Jagger (Book Two)
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Meet Heather C. Leigh

heather c leigh bio

Heather C. Leigh is the author of the Amazon best selling Famous series. She likes to write about the ‘dark’ side of fame. The part that the public doesn’t get to see, how difficult it is to live in a fishbowl and how that affects relationships.

Heather was born and raised in New England and currently lives outside Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 kids, and French Bulldog, Shelby.

She loves the Red Sox, the Patriots, and anything chocolate (but not white chocolate, everyone knows it’s not real chocolate so it doesn’t count) and has left explicit instructions in her will to have her ashes snuck into Fenway Park and sneakily sprinkled all over while her family enjoys beer, hot dogs, and a wicked good time.

My favorite authors are Dan Wells, Ken Follett, and Stephen King.

 STALK HER: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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