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The Night Olivia Fell

*Thank you Netgalley for this ARC!*

Probably the most hyped book I have seen on instagram. You know me, I had to see what the hype was about.

My Synopsis: A 19 year old girl falls off a bridge. Or did she…? 

Pairs best with: Honestly, whatever you’re eating at the time whenever you’re eating it. For me, it was a salad at my desk while I rushed to finish this at lunch. It wasn’t even a “I CAN’T PUT THIS DOWN” but it was a “I am curious and work is boring so lets see if I can get away with it.”

Brief Review:

This book was a classic thriller, and I loved it for that. I didn’t see the end twist coming directly, and some of the journey was pretty heart breaking (like the revelations in the later chapters that you knew Olivia never got to tell her mom, and that her mom never got to tell her). I can see why this book is getting so much hype!

Extended Review: *SPOILERS BELOW*

I love thrillers. Hands down, my favorite type of book. In 2019 I’ve been expanding my horizons, so maybe its not clear from this blog, but in general I definitely tend to go more towards thrillers.

Was this the best thriller I’ve ever read? No. Did it pull at my heart strings more than some others have? Yes. Okay lets dive in shall we:

Where to even start! I guess I’ll start with a little more background on the story. Olivia is 19 years old, and falls/gets pushed off of a bridge. She is brain dead, being kept alive only by life support. TWIST: she is also pregnant. And in Washington state, it is illegal to take a pregnant person off of life support while the fetus is still alive.

The book goes back and forth between the past being narrated by Olivia, the 19 year old who dies, and the present being narrated by her mother, Abi. Because of this, a large theme of the book is mother/daughter relationships. It made me reflect both on my relationship with my mom, and my relationship with my future daughter (when she gets here in approx. 11 weeks, but who’s counting).

This is the part that was heart breaking. Towards the end, Olivia comes to a lot of realizations about her mom. As the reader, we know that she will never get the opportunity to tell her mom these things, because in Abi’s chapters she is fully unaware. It was incredibly sad to know that their relationship ended so much more strained than it needed to, and really emphasized the “live each moment like its your last” decal stickers so many teens have on their walls. YOLO.

But really, I almost (almost) got teary eyed when Olivia went to kiss her mom goodnight in her last chapter. Her mom doesn’t, and never will, know that happened. I was taking notes on a post-it while I read and just wrote “Olivias mom sleeping :(.” That was sad.

There were some parts of the book that had me scratching my head. Her relationship with Anthony was weird and obviously not what it seemed from the start. It didn’t make sense he just showed up and cared. Even after the explanation that he was really working for the police, it still was a little extreme. Why did he care tHaAaAt much. I get that they explained why, but I still don’t buy it.

While the murderer being Tyler shouldn’t have been a huge twist (the boyfriend did it… I mean, its not anything ground breaking) I didn’t see it coming! They did such a good job making it seem like it was the dad and step sister (who’s names I’m blanking on), that I knew it couldn’t be them. It was a good tie in to be related to the step sister, without being her. But she still seemed like a troubled person so I’m glad she was somewhat involved.

In the end, the baby had to live. There was nothing surprising about that, but I was still glad she did.

Also. I must say, as a 29 week pregnant lady, I did not enjoy reading about the C-section. I’m choosing the “blissfully unaware” method of childbirth. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

The author very easily could have written “Olivia was 19. Fell off a bridge. Died.” without throwing in the baby. Normally, I’m anti-baby as a plot point, but in this case I thought it really added a lot to the story. It gave a reason for Olivia to stay alive even in her death, and kept her as a character in Abi’s parts as more than a memory. It was a bold, but overall successful, choice by the author that I admire.

Have you read The Night Olivia Fell? What did you think?

The Siren

I’m usually more of a mermaid fan, but I guess sirens are close enough.

My Synopsis: A siren meets a boy and falls in love. But she can’t speak to him without risking his life, and can never be with him because she belongs to the Ocean.

Pairs best with: Whatever your favorite food is. For me, Charleston Chews. Since sirens are not technically human, they don’t need to eat to survive. They still can eat for enjoyment though (and don’t put on any weight). Where do I sign up??

Brief Review:

This was an enjoyable read, but it didn’t live up to The Selection (which I loved). It was well written and had a really interesting plot, but there were parts of it that were a little slow and dragged. There were too many chapters of the main characters internal struggle without having enough action woven in. But overall it was a quick and satisfying read!

Extended review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

The Selection is definitely my favorite YA series. I loved it. Shortly after I finished, I got The Siren and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. I’m talking years. Seriously – the purchase order is still in there and I bought it 11/2/2016. Do you know how much has happened since November 2016?! I got a dog. I got married. I got pregnant. I moved twice. But did I read The Siren? NOPE.

Enter bookstagram: someone posted they were reading this book on instagram, and I commented that it had been sitting on my bookshelf for years and I still hadn’t read it. She responded “read it with me!” and I couldn’t pass that up. A chance to clear an unread book from my shelf, and have someone to talk about it with. SOLD!

She hasn’t finished it yet so I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with her. And I think by the end there are definitely things to discuss, the middle just dragged a little. It wasn’t a “chat as you go” kind of book.

Kahlen (a name I had a hard time pronouncing in my head) falls in love with Akinli (…same) and I honestly did buy their love. I have a hard time with love stories because sometimes I just don’t believe the two characters are in love. Akinli’s interest in her made sense because he seemed somewhat like a lost soul. He fit in fine, but he enjoyed having someone he really could talk to. Kahlen’s love worked because she needed someone to see the real her without knowing her background or who she was.

There was a lot of violence in this book, and I enjoyed those parts. The book starts with a shipwreck and has 2 (maybe 3?) more throughout. It’s an intriguing start, and every time it comes back to the morbid ship wrecks it got a little exciting. But there were parts in between the wrecks that were a little slow.

A lot of the book is thoughts inside of Kahlen’s head, and while I understood her struggle, it came across a bit whiney at times. When she was with Akinli trying not to speak and towards the end when she is sick – that had the action other parts were missing.

I really enjoyed the Ocean being its own character. It reminded me a little of Moana – except meaner. But when they were being sent around the world to different countries, I pictured Moana’s ocean. I thought the dialogue between the Ocean and the girls was great, and I loved how it was written in italics rather than quotations because they were speaking somewhat telepathically.

The end was fairly predictable. But the more I write about this book, the more I think I enjoyed it! I feel like I’m talking myself into liking it more and more. It definitely was not The Selection (<3333), but I’m glad I finally got to it!

Have you read The Siren? What did you think?

Maid

*Thank you NetGalley for this ARC!*

I just finished the book Maid, and it was enlightening. Though I do have to say, while this one was incredibly well written, I keep trying memoirs and they are just not my type of book.

My Synopsis: A young, single mother, documents her experience with trying to raise a young woman alone while battling with poverty.

Pairs best with: A beer. Throughout the book, whenever Stephanie was splurging on food, it was a burger and a beer. She also talked a lot about missing being able to stop at a bar on her way home from work. I hope that now that she wrote this highly successful book, she can stop for beers whenever she wants!

Brief review:

Maid was a great story, and showed a life that I don’t often hear about. Of course, I know about poverty in America and the different government programs that we have, but I have never read a book (or memoir) told from the point of view of someone that has used them. Though the book only approached these options on a surface level, reading Stephanie’s story was really enlightening. She had a unique situation of being a single mother who was somewhat born into the poverty that she was in, but still had more family support than others in that situation might have had. It made for a very interesting dynamic. Stephanie had a great voice, and overall it was a really enjoyable and eye opening book. I finished reading this with a lot of respect for the author, and a pride that she was able to achieve her goal of becoming a writer.

Extended Review *SPOILERS AHEAD*

I know that I said that I was done with memoirs, and honestly I am. The next time someone sees me start one on Goodreads, say “Brooke. I know this one sounds good. But don’t do it!!” But this wasn’t the fault of Stephanie. She did a great job writing this book, and like I said, I felt genuinely proud every time she mentioned her dream of being a writer. She succeeded!

I just have realized its not my favorite type of book. And thats okay! I can still appreciate the book.

Have you read it? What did you think?

The Adults

I saw this one on social media, and liked the sound of it. Well, bookstagram for the win! Because it was adorable.

My Synopsis: Mom and Dad decide to bring their daughter, Scarlet, on a Christmas trip. The catch? They’re divorced and each bring their significant other. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, and you find out on the first page – someone gets shot with an arrow.

Pairs best with: Fish of any kind. Also pasta of any kind. Basically anything because Claire is an amazing chef and finds cooking relaxing (the opposite of me). But I went with the fish and pasta theme – shrimp pasta!

Brief Review:

Overall, this book was super cute. It wasn’t laugh out loud funny, and I wasn’t drawn into the mystery dying to know who did it, but it was really enjoyable and light. The author also did a really good job of using different voices and sharing different points of view. Definitely worth the read!

Extended Review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

Honestly, this one will be brief. It was a really cute book, but theres not much to discuss! Reviews said it was “laugh out loud funny,” which it wasn’t quite, and some labeled it as a mystery, which it wasn’t really either. But it was really light and enjoyable.

I loved Alex, I felt bad for her because she was in such an impossible situation. But I thought (for the most part… obviously the wine didn’t help) that all of her thoughts and actions were reasonable. Patrick, on the other hand, was annoying AF. I felt for him also, an equally as impossible situation (if not worse), but sometimes he was annoying.

I wasn’t surprised how drawn out the “mystery” of who got shot was and who did the shooting, I also wasn’t surprised to find out it wasn’t the true story. But, like I said, I still really enjoyed it. It didn’t need the mystery to make the story, it just helped add to it.

Sometimes, neat happy endings can drive me mad because they’re just so unrealistic, but I liked this one. Even though Patrick bugged me at times, I was very happy to have a hint of him getting his own happily ever after. I was glad that Matt and Alex were okay, and that Claire was fine on her own.

Also – I got this far without mentioning Posey. But I think I’ll continue to not mention Posey. All I’ll say is I was happy for Scarlet that he “left” too.

One thing the author did REALLY REALLY well is different characters and points of view. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of books with different points of view per chapter that aren’t written well, and its a personal pet peeve. If they are different people speaking, I should be able to tell. Different people have different tones, different speech patterns, different slang. I thought this book did a good job of the 3 different POV (Alex, Patrick, and Scarlet) and it was interesting reading the same situation from different peoples perspectives.

I also thought it was an interesting, and good, choice to only have Alex, Patrick, and Scarlet speak. Not hearing directly from Claire or Matt helped legitimize Alex and Patricks feelings, which I really appreciated.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Have you read it? What did you think?

The Other Woman

Let’s begin with an embarrassing story.

I have seen this book all over the bookstagram world. It was touted as a thriller, but the front cover has a wedding dress. Purely judging a book by its cover, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Trying to make new friends on instagram once I created @stacks_and_snacks, I commented on a picture of someone who liked it and said “I had heard of this and felt (totally judging based on nothing) that it would be meh. But I’ve seen nothing but good reviews – I have to check it out!” Little did I know, the author was tagged in the picture, and she commented back “Really hope its better than meh for you!”

So I had to see what it was about.

My Synopsis: Emily is ecstatic to be engaged to the love of her life. Her soon to be mother in law doesn’t quite feel the same.

Pairs best with: These peanut butter protein balls I saw on every wedding blog when I was getting married. I’m sure Emily scoped out a few wedding blogs since she had a wedding to plan in such a short period of time! This was the first time I made them, and honestly, they’re so easy and so delicious (2/3 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup ground flax seeds, 2 tablespoons honey. Mix everything up, fridge for 20 minutes, roll them into balls. Then they can stay in the fridge for up to week).

Brief Review:

This book. The entire time, it was a solid 2 stars. The end saved it, brought it up to a 3 because it wasn’t as predictable as I thought it was going to be. 

What really bugged me is that Emily and Adams love story wasn’t built up enough. He kept doing shitty things, but nothing happened before to make me understand why she stayed with him. I hate weak protagonists when it comes to men, it makes it hard for me to get through a book. 

I also wouldn’t characterize this as a thriller. 

Overall, 3 stars, because the end twist was good, but getting there took a bit.

Extended Review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

Midway through reading this, I took out a notebook to write down some things that were bugging me so I could remember to rant to you about them. So buckle up. *Cracks knuckles*

Like I said in my brief review above, I really can’t stand weak female protagonists. Emily was the definition of THAT girl (tied with Lucy from The Light We Lost, but I digress). This wasn’t entirely Emilys fault. The love story between Emily and Adam wasn’t developed enough that I could understand why she was still with him. Every time he did something shitty, she had to stay with him because she loved him. But why?? Why did she love him?? I couldn’t get behind that. Give me some reasonable doubt – fine! But there was nothing.

The whole love story plot with James made no sense throughout the book. By the end it gets kind of wrapped up, but throughout the whole book I was so confused why James was flirting with her. It also made no sense that she was feeling guilty about it. Having a crush on your boyfriends brother is weird, I get that, but she went to dinner/lunch/coffee (or whatever it was) twice with her future brother in law. Is that really so weird to feel THAT guilty about? No.

Okay, this is just a bone to pick in general with the last approximately 8 books that I read. WHYYYY oh why oh why do authors throw in a surprise baby and think “oh baby (pun), what a twist!” Seriously. It’s at the point where someone in a book has sex, and I automatically think “well, now they’re pregnant.” And I’m usually right. Guess what, thats not how it happens! Well, technically it is, but you know what I mean.

While we’re on the topic of her pregnancy, she woke up projectile vomiting for an entire day and thought “I must be pregnant.” Then at 2 months, she was feeling well enough to go out at night with her friends. This was just too convenient. You don’t have one day of throwing up to alert you to your pregnancy. Either you’re REALLY sick for at least 10 – 12 weeks, or you’re not projectile vomiting for a day straight. Obviously everyone has different experiences, but take it from this 26 week pregnant mama-to-be, thats not the most realistic take on this.

The second thing that I wrote down when plotting annoying points was “Adam sometimes agrees with his mom, especially on Seb, and its annoying. He sucks.” So I won’t say I predicted the ending (I didn’t figure it out until they wanted you to, I thought the end was a good twist), but I can see where the hints were!

The end did save the book. About 10 pages before the reveal, I thought “oh, the mom was doing it to protect Emily,” and she was. It was still effing weird, there are better ways to protect her, but whatever. It was a twist I didn’t see coming. I thought the mom killed Rebecca and that was that. But I always do enjoy a good twist.

Did the twist make it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. About halfway through I wanted to give up. I started to read this thinking it was a THRILLER and being really tired of the weak protagonists I’d been reading about in romance stories. But… this had the same situation. I wouldn’t consider this a thriller. As my best friend (and fellow bookstagrammer – @skyflyreads – follow her!) noted, sometimes the classifications of books can make or break. I was expecting a thriller. And while the end was unexpected, I didn’t spend the whole book needing to know who did it.

So if you want to read this book – go for it! Just don’t expect a thriller, or any strong female characters.

It Ends With Us

I’ll start my first blog post with an older (if 2016 is older) classic. I just finished this one, and have so many thoughts!

One thing you will learn about me is that I HATE to read the description of a book. Sometimes, it gives too much away! So instead, I will give my own brief synopsis, followed by my quick review, and then my extended review (with spoilers). So if you haven’t read this yet, stop before that last part!

My synopsis: Boy meets girl. Girls first love was a VERY complicated relationship that gets mixed up in the new relationship.

Pairs best with: Chocolate chip cookies. Atlas makes Lily chocolate chip cookies when they’re kids (before going on to become a chef – note the knife set in the background). I don’t know about you, but chocolate chip cookies are enough to make me fall in love with anyone.

Brief review:

This was my 4th love story in a row (by accident). I start each of the love story reviews with “this is not my normal type of book” because it’s really not. I find love story protagonists to be really irritating and often weak. That was not the case with this book – I loved this. I found her to be strong willed and proactive. It also bugs me in stories about love triangles when someone is married to one person but still hung up another and I didn’t feel that was the case in this either. I thought all feelings on all sides were justified. 

I think it was the dark plot line of domestic abuse thread into the love story that really hooked me. Highly recommend.

Extended Review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

This book was suh good! It had a good love story, but more importantly it tackled the unconformable issue of domestic abuse. Lily grew up in a house where her father abused her mother, and somehow found herself in a similar (though entirely different) situation. I loved that she was able to analyze the differences between her relationship and her parents, without making excuses for Ryle.

While we’re on the topic of Ryle. WHAT KIND OF NAME IS RYLE. Thats not a name. I have two exboyfriends – one was named Ryan and the other was named Kyle. Was she trying to combine these?! Because Ryle is not a name. And while we’re talking about names, Emmy Dory is a terrible name. But I digress.

I LOVEEDDDD that she didn’t stay with Ryle in the end.

I hate in books with a love triangle how they always make the spouse seem like the bad guy without any solid evidence that he is. It always seems like the girl doesn’t really love him, but if you can’t be with the love, (try to) love the one you’re with. It drives me crazy! In this case, I fully believe that Lily loved Ryle. I enjoyed reading her struggle of whether or not to stay with him, and I loved that in the end she chose to do what was best for herself and her daughter.

I also like that her relationship Ryle wasn’t ruined because of Atlas. It was because of Ryle. He wasn’t mentally stable enough to be trusted. And while Atlas was there and helped her, he wasn’t the root of the problem.

Thats why I loved this book. It took a common love triangle premise, and brought in so much more depth. I didn’t find the main character weak or question her decisions at all throughout the story, I commiserated with her and wanted what was best for her throughout.

Did you read this book? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!