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Jessica (HDB)

I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!

Currently reading

Amy Plum
Progress: 35%
Cora Carmack
Progress: 45/352pages
The Dovekeepers
Alice Hoffman

DNF @ 50%

Spindle Fire - Lexa Hillyer

I tried Spindle Fire. I really did. I gave you 50% to pull me in, which is more than fair, and you just couldn't do it. 


I'll sum that 50% up that I did read for all of you, bookish friends.


Confusing fairy curse.

Teen angst.

Sisterly bonds.

Budding romance??? (Kind of?)

More teen angst.

Random fairies doing things that don't seem to fit with the plot.

More teen angst.


More confusing fairy curse.

More kind of budding romance...


Possible war?



And it was at this point that I gave up. I really did try.

"Sometimes I think gravity may be death in disguise. Other times I think gravity is love, which is why love's only demand is that we fall."
We Are the Ants - Shaun David Hutchinson

-- We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Calling all my Horror fans out there!


I found this amazing box called The Nocturnal Reader's Box through Instagram, and I had to subscribe. Instagram is swimming in YA sub boxes, and I was getting kind of tired of seeing the same thing over and over. When this box promised all things thriller, mystery and horror, I was sold.




This is April's "Trapped" theme box. It featured:

* A Lord of the Flies tote bag (the picture cut off but I can take another one if anyone is interested)

* A Cujo enamel pin (it's AMAZING)

* A Shutter Island matchbox

* A Chap Book of creepy poems

* An Overlook Hotel bar glass

* A 3D print (this looks so cool with the glasses on)

* A "Trapped" bookmark

* A copy of Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie (I read this last year and it was GREAT)

* A copy of Little Heaven by Nick Cutter


Honestly, this box had the most value for what I paid for it (roughly $42 with shipping) and I'm so pleased with the curation. I'm hooked, and I'm keeping this subscription. Especially if I keep getting things like that pin and bar glass. *happy sigh*


May's box is already sold out (it literally sold out in 2 hours), but June's sub opens up May 1st. So keep an eye out if you're interested.

Mississippi Blood (Penn Cage #6) by Greg Iles

Mississippi Blood: A Novel (Natchez Burning) - Greg Iles

Friends, I am winded from the epic sprint that Greg Iles sent me on with this book. I tell you, I was already eagerly awaiting this final installment in Penn Cage's family saga. What I wasn't prepared for though, was how much Iles was going to throw at me all at once. This book is a rapid fire rush to the finish the line. It sweeps you off your feet, and all you can do is hang on for dear life as everything that you've been waiting for unfolds in this maniacally beautiful fashion. This book right here, more than anything else, has proven to me what an expert writer Greg Iles is, and I happily bow down to that expertise.

First off, let me say that I was originally a bit put off by courtroom melodrama that started in Mississippi Blood. Admittedly, I wasn't sure I actually wanted to read a whole murder case laid out on the page. I worried that it would slow things down. That is, of course, until I realized that even these portions of the book were utterly riveting. Watching Shad Johnson and Quentin Avery go at it soon became something that I looked forward to. Iles wrote two brilliant lawyers who, despite any flaws they might have otherwise had, were masters of the judiciary art. I felt like a part of the jury, as surprise witnesses were thrown into the mix and tantalizing details were unearthed. I felt like a part of Penn's family, as I watched them struggle to keep themselves together while dealing with what everyone around them was terming the "case of the century". In other words, I was completely engrossed. I've never run through a 700+ page book more quickly in my whole life. If I could have lived without sleeping for the three days I read this, I would have. I needed to know what happened next.

More than that though, was the fact that Iles didn't let go of a bit of the character development that he'd been nursing throughout this whole series. Despite the trial, and all the violence surrounding it, he didn't stop at all in his quest to make the reader actually care about these characters. I admit, I teared up more than a few times during this book. I hadn't realized how much I actually empathized with Penn and his family until everything was ramping up to a conclusion. It amazed me how quickly I fell in step with even the new characters who were put in place, and how much I wanted them to succeed. It's no secret that I was a little angry after the last book, where Iles took something away from Penn that I really thought was unfair and unnecessary. Reading this installment though, I understood. I saw the reason. It didn't mend the hole in my heart, but I saw Penn in a new a light. A man who has been through hell and back, but still has a heart as big as anything. It's tough not to love a man like that, even when his decisions seem insane.

Look, the point of this rambling review is to fairly confess that I started out this book with a bit of doubt as to whether or not I was going to fully enjoy it. I expected over the top courtroom melodrama, and worried that the climax might not be what I expected it to be. I'm happy to report that I was wrong. I was so very wrong. This book is amazing. Mississippi Blood is not only the ending that Penn Cage deserved, but the type of ending that any author should be damn proud of. My heart is still pounding from what happened, even after the epilogue tried to assuage my fears. This is mastery, plain and simple, and Greg Iles quite rightly has my heart.

Am I sad that there won't be anymore Penn Cage? Yes. Will I happily read anything else that Greg Iles puts out into the world? Absolutely. If you haven't started this series yet, please do. This is a genre that I all but never read, and so you can trust me when I say that this is worth your time. 2,100 pages later, and I'm not even the least bit sorry that I put in the time.

Shoutout to Grim for my amazing "Swing Into Spring" box! Ah! Can you believe she sweetly took the time to give me books from her own library AND write a note explaining why she chose each one? I'm still speechless guys. I feel so darn loved.


Which, is exactly why I started this swap group in the first place! To spread all the love! Mission accomplished.

Bits and Bobs

*waves sleepily from under a blanket*


My motivation seems to have left me lately. Hahaha. All I want to do is stay under this blanket, with a snuggly puppy, and nap. Even reading has been a bit slower lately, because I just can't focus. I suppose that happens every now and then. In an effort to make sure that I don't burn myself out, I'm kind of just going with the flow :). I've been binge watching Legion and Love, and enjoying the chill time.


In other news, look who is now 10 months old!

*cries a little*



This puppy child has just grown so dang fast! When we got her at 8 weeks, she was a tiny little 10 pound squish with a head way too big for her body. Now, at 10 months old, she's an 85 pound behemoth who doesn't know how big she really is. Hahaha. If you ask Luna if she's a lap dog, she'll respond by climbing up into your lap. She definitely thinks all the snuggles are in order, even if she's sitting on your chest and you can't breathe. I love this giant squish.


In other, other news, you may remember that my husband had weight loss surgery last summer. I'm happy to report that he's officially down to the smallest he's ever been since high school! He hit the "below 300 lbs" mark last week, and we're celebrating by going to Magic Mountain next month. He's so stoked that he'll be able to fit comfortably on all the roller coasters, and we haven't been since I was 25 so I'm pretty darn excited as well! It's just all around good.


This long rambling is to say that I'm here! I'm lurking a lot, and trying to take it easy while reading. I really promised myself that I wouldn't get to the burn out stage this year, and so far it's going well. Feel free to poke me (I'm looking at you Grim, my awesome friend.) because I'm always around. *HUGS*

Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland and Michael Miller

Shadow Run - AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller
I'm not going to lie, I am always so delighted when I find a Science Fiction novel that is accessible and exciting! I had high hopes for Shadow Run, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. The Kaitan Heritage is a ship after my own heart. Cobbled together, barely holding on, and full of the most loyal and intriguing set of people there ever was! I remember seeing somewhere that this book was likened to Firefly and Dune. Yes, friends, that is entirely accurate. A little bit of love, a dash of danger, and a whole lot of sarcasm and wit. That's what you'll find between these pages.
First off, massive kudos to the authors for crafting as captivating a character as Captain Qole. At just 17 years old, she's the best Shadow fishing captain in the Universe. But that's not where her intrigue ends. Qole is also poisoned by the very thing that both makes up her livelihood, and makes her such an excellent captain. It's a compelling double-edged sword. What I loved most about her character though, was how self-assured and bad-ass she was. Qole doesn't need your admiration. She's strong, loyal, and full of a kind of fierce love that made me fall for her instantly. I love seeing forceful women in positions of power. Qole doesn't disappoint.
Better still, Nev's entrance into this story didn't dim Qole's light one bit. In fact, Nev is a beautiful contrast to Qole's dark and resolute personality. See, Nev is ever the optimist. He's both tough as nails and has a heart that is fit to burst with pride for his family. His quick thinking and kindness make him the perfect opposite to Qole, and watching them interact is honestly a lot of fun. I never felt like the tension brewing between them was overbearing and the little romance that may have existed just felt like it belonged. Color me impressed.
The absolute only reason I wasn't able to give this a full five-star rating is because the climax felt a little rushed. The first three-quarters of this book are perfectly paced. There is world-building galore, time for our characters to grow and understand one another, plus even the perfect amount of action to keep things fresh. As the book neared the end, I felt like it was rushing to push everything still left undone in order. Which, to be honest, I can totally understand. It makes me happy to know that there's another book coming after this one. I absolutely cannot wait to read it! 
You need to meet the ragtag crew of the Kaitan. Plain and simple. If Shadow Run isn't already on  your wishlist, put it there. 

Reading progress update: I've read 55%.

The Invention of Wings: A Novel - Sue Monk Kidd

This book is kicking my all my emotions in the face right now. My annoyance/pity/frustration with Sarah is through the roof, and Handful is breaking my heart into a million and a half pieces. 

The Odds of You and Me by Cecilia Galante

The Odds of You and Me: A Novel - Cecilia Galante

It's a bit unbelievable to me still, how books can sometimes completely blindside you. You'll be going about your daily life, a book will fall into your lap, and suddenly it's the exact story that you need to read at that exact moment. It's like the author knew just who you were, and what was missing, and came along to fill that void. The Odds of You and Me was exactly that. I wasn't expecting this book, it simply showed up for review. I'm honestly so glad that it did. I can't believe I almost missed the opportunity to fall in love with this book.

Bird's story is one of so many layers that it's almost impossible to really touch on them all in this short review. What I can say is that Cecilia Galante isn't afraid to peel back each one of those layers, down to the deepest part of the soul. She allows the reader not even just to crawl into Bird's head, but almost to become her. I felt her pain, her love, her elation, her hate, her confusion, and each bit of it filled in a part of my own soul. I was able to pick her apart, to the point that I was so invested in this story that I sobbed while reading it. My life might not be a mirror to Bird's, lord knows she has it much harder than I do, but just seeing someone else at a place where they still don't feel like they have their footing yet made me whole somehow.

See, Galante doesn't shy away from the parts of life that we all hide from the outside world. Bird has made mistakes, she's grown from them, but she also shows us that there is always growing to do. Her character is one that questions things, examines her feelings, and shuts things away. She's basically any one of us at any given moment. I've never seen such pure emotion laid out on a page, to be honest. As an example, Bird's love for her son Angus is so bright that it's blinding. Yet at the same time she admits that most of the time she struggles to even feel like she mildly knows what she's doing as a parent. Learning, growing, fighting, it's all there in vivid color as Bird simply tries to exist in a world that doesn't always feel hospitable. Nothing here is black and white, everything is up for debate, and I loved that more than I can say.

There are discussions of love here, and the tense relationships that we might have with others. So delicate that they can crack at any moment. There are insights about caring for others, despite their past decisions, and possibly stepping over the boundaries set by society to do good for someone else. As I mentioned above, there is even a discussion on being a parent and feeling like you're constantly floundering. Bird's raw commentary on raising her son, as a single mother, and feeling utterly helpless at times will speak to a lot of readers out there. Or, if you're like me, her battle with religion as an upbringing versus religion as an adult will hit home too. Like I said, there's so much wrapped up here that I can't touch on it all fairly. It simply exists together, in this beautiful web of a story, that will catch you up and likely evoke feelings that you weren't even expecting.

To sum it all up, The Odds of You and Me is absolutely beautiful. It's a raw, emotional, story that isn't afraid to dig deep into the emotions of a woman who is simply trying to navigate life. I recommend you have a box of tissues handy for this book. I really do.

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

Beautiful Broken Girls - Kim  Savage

So, first off, kudos to the designer of this cover because it's a thing of beauty. My heart belonged to this book before I even gazed eyes upon the synopsis. Still, it was ultimately the synopsis that did me in. I love stories that hint at a mystery beyond death. The idea of someone leaving you notes to discover the reason behind their demise has always fascinated me and, quite honestly, is one of the YA concepts that I'll read no matter what. It's not hard to imagine that I was pretty excited to dive in to Beautiful Broken Girls. I only hoped that it would live up to the hype that my brain was already generating for it.

Which is where we come to the difficult part, and that's the fact that I'm still not sure entirely how I feel about this book. I'm a bit on the fence because, well, this story confused me more than I'd like to admit. Beautiful Broken Girls starts out fairly strong. We're introduced to Ben as he's mourning the loss of Mira who, as we slowly uncover, was a much bigger part of his life than he'd like to admit. I liked Ben. He was a little broken, a little angry, but full of the kind of resolve that only exists when you truly cared about someone. His quest to find out what happened to Mira was harsh at the best of times, but he soldiered on despite all of that.

Ben's relationships with the other characters in this story, specifically his family and his group of guy friends, were also pretty well laid out. I understood his frustration that people kept trying to put him in a bubble because of his past trauma. I felt for him that he couldn't express his feelings, because it looked to the outside world that he was overreacting. While I wasn't a huge fan of the majority of the other boys in this story, I liked that they weren't caricatures of what someone believes boys would be. They were raw, and honest, and sometimes kind of obnoxious. Just like real life.

The disconnect for me, came when Mira and Francesca's story began to unfold. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting the reasoning behind their suicide to be, but the choppy and vague story that was laid out for me left me feeling a bit frustrated. I don't want to give anything away, for readers out there who are interested in this book, but I can confidently say that I wanted much more backstory. It drives me mad when characters are given a special trait, or an interesting existence, and there is absolutely no explanation as to where it stemmed from. Since I had no insight into Francesca's past, she simply felt shallow and spoiled to me. I had no empathy for her whatsoever. Which meant, unfortunately, that since Mira kept playing into her delusions I kind of began to hate her as well.

As it stands, Ben ended up being the best part of this story. The ending was okay, although not quite what I was hoping for. I just really feel like the middle of this book needed much more explanation and much less of Ben's flashbacks. It was tough for me to build a relationship with any of the other characters, and it ended up hurting my connection with book. Did I mention that my feelings are all over the place? I can definitely offer this book a three star rating, and say that there's much of it that is going to interest other readers out there. If you're looking for a book that blends mystery with some darker emotions, you'll want to pick this up. 


If you have an Instagram account, I'm hosting a giveaway!


One winner gets (if U.S. address)


* A choice of bath scub

* A choice of candle

* A pre-order for Strange the Dreamer


(or, if International address that BD ships to)

* A pre-order for Strange the Dreamer!


Enter here.


Ends 3/17 :). I can't wait to see who wins!

Reading progress update: I've read 135 out of 384 pages.

The Odds of You and Me: A Novel - Cecilia Galante

This book is just so.... raw. I already knew that Cecilia Galante excelled at allowing people to crawl into the heads of her characters, but being in Bird's head is so tough. Which is how I feel it would probably be if anyone crawled into mine. Her love for her son, her guilt over her past, her relationship with her mother, her deep need to break away and be her own person... it's just all so much. Galante just dropped a major bomb, regarding how Angus (Bird's son) came about, and I'm speechless.


I don't know how the hell I'm going to review this book when I'm done.

Swing Into Spring Swap!


It's here! The next swap is here!


If you've been eyeing our group, waiting to participate, now is the time! We're celebrating all things Spring in this book box swap, and I'm really excited about it!


(If you couldn't already tell by all the exclamation points.)


More info here.

Let's Play A Game!


I saw this on Instagram, and had a ton of fun reading people's responses! No cheating! It has to be the book that is closest to you :).

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess - Casey Griffin

Be still, my heart! Friends, I'm about to shamelessly gush about this book. Consider yourself warned. I mean, I admit that it did take me a few chapters to warm up to Andy but once I did? Well, you couldn't have pried me away from this book if you tried. It has everything I love. Great characters, realistic life lessons, sweet romance, and LARPing. Yes, LARPing. My nerdy heart is so happy right now.

Andy, or Adrianna as her mother prefers she goes by, is the type of character that I wish we saw more of in YA literature. Used to being bullied and mocked, she uses her fresh start in her "new life" to remake herself into someone who avoids all that. The problem is, that she soon learns that it's difficult be someone you're not. Even more than that, she learns that sometimes fitting in means being the bully. If more teens learned that lesson early on, well, high school might not be such a difficult space to exist in.

My absolute favorite part of this story though was that it was a love letter to nerdom. Griffin points out the deep divide that exists between the popular crowd, and the "nerds". However she goes beyond that by showing that it's perfectly acceptable to love what you love. Comics, drawing, cosplay, it's all in here. I was instantly able to tell that Griffin did her research, and I adored the spotlight that she gave to this group that is often ignored.

Then there were the characters. Most importantly, or maybe I have a minor crush myself, is Kevin. Kevin is sweet. He's kind, honest, and he loves LARPing. It takes his character, unafraid to be himself, to teach Andy who she really wants to be. The awkward, often tear-jerking relationship between these two was the icing on the cake really. I would have loved them even if they were just friends.

Secrets of a Reluctant Princess has it all. Family loyalty, forever friendships, high school drama, and enough giggle worthy moments to make the tear-jerking moments totally worthwhile. I loved this book! I genuinely hope you'll add it to your TBR, because it's well worth you time.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

Can I please hire Neil Gaiman to just read everything to me? Good LORD this man has a voice that just melts me. The audiobook opened, he started reading, and I was rapt. I mean, the first chapter is basically his introduction to the book, and I was INVOLVED.


What me? Have a crush on Neil Gaiman?


You're damn right I do.


Pardon me while I go revel in his voice some more.