“The Stranger Beside Me” by Ann Rule

1262745The Stranger Beside Me was originally published in 1980, and it had a 20th anniversary edition that came out in 2000. It’s been on my to-read shelf for…… longer than I care to admit.

Ann Rule, as you may know, is an acclaimed true crime author known for many of her works. Back in the 80’s, there was a suspected serial killer sexually assaulting and bludgeoning young women to death. The case was in full swing when Rule’s publisher asked her to follow the story and write a book about it.

A short time before this, Ann had done some work for a suicide hotline to honor her brother’s memory (he had committed suicide many years before). She became close to another volunteer there named Ted Bundy. Bundy was kind of a charmer, and Rule felt almost sisterly love for him, giving him rides and attending events together.

As Ann followed the serial killer case, she began to hear things that brought Ted to mind. But no, nice Ted that she worked with would never do something that horrible! Eventually, Ted was caught and sentenced to death by electrocution. Rule continued to communicate with Ted, even with him knowing she was writing this book, up until when he was executed.

Doesn’t that sound like an amazing, unbelievable story? In case you didn’t catch it, this is a T R U E  S T O R Y. You could not make this stuff up.

This is a very solid read, even with its age. If you like serial killers and well-researched procedural and mystery books, you should definitely put this on your list.

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Buy the book here.

The Mara Dyer Series by Michelle Hodkin

Okay everybody, take a seat. This is another case of “Why didn’t anyone force me to read these before?!” So here I am to shove these books in your face and make you read them.

This is a three-book series: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and The Retribution of Mara Dyer.

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer starts off with Mara starting a new school in Florida after surviving a building collapse that kills her three best friends. Mara is understandably distraught and is diagnosed with PTSD that leaves her hallucinating at random. At her new school, Mara meets Noah Shaw, a supposedly notorious ladies’ man. There’s something about him that she can’t put her finger on, but he eventually convinces her to go on a date with him.

But Mara isn’t sure all of her hallucinations are actually figments of her imagination. Some of them are too real. She starts receiving creepy messages and photographs, and she suspects they’re coming from her deceased ex-boyfriend, Jude.

I can’t really get into any more details because it’ll be too spoiler-y.

This series is awesome because it combines so many genres flawlessly. It has YA contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, historical fiction, and more. It’s amazing, really. The audiobooks are narrated by Christy Romano… yes, that one — Christy Carlson Romano, known best for her role in Even Stevens and the voice of Kim Possible.

My review of the first book was few words — I couldn’t process it. “Wowwwww. Yes. Amazing.”

The same happened with the second book. ” Wow wow wow. Normally a second book falls flat. But that ending……..On to the next oneeeee!!!”

And the last book prompted this, “Well that ending had me SHOOK. But it definitely felt like it was dragging in the middle there. I can’t wait to read The Shaw Confessions series. NOVEMBER GET HERE NOOOOOW.”

Because *excited face* there’s a new spinoff series coming out that focuses on Noah! The first one is called The Becoming of Noah Shaw and it comes out November 7th, 2017.

So get caught up now, because there’s about to be another installment in the series! Overall, I give this series 4.5 stars.

Buy the box set of the first three books here.

Pre-order The Becoming of Noah Shaw here.

“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” by EK Johnston

25528801.jpgThis is such a hard review to write. It’s a book I enjoyed a lot, a book that I thought about for days after finishing it. But here’s the thing: It’s going to sound pretty morbid for this to be one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheer team, plus it’s her senior year of high school and that’s stressful enough as it is. The captain has a lot of expectations, especially at cheer camp — be the loudest, the bubbliest, the most precise during their routine. But at the end-of-camp dance, Hermione is drugged and raped, and left in the lake. When she comes to at the hospital, she has no memory of what happened. She remembers going to the dance, and getting tired and thirsty, and that’s where her memory ends. Exit, Pursued By A Bear is the story of Hermione’s assault, recovery, healing, and coping with what has happened to her.

Exit, Pursued By A Bear is heartwrenching, beautiful (in a sad way), exceptionally well-written, and it’ll stay with you for days (if not longer). I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was captivating. Honestly, this book was one of my favorites of 2016. You’ll find yourself cheering for Hermione to overcome.

Rating: ★★★★★

Purchase the book here.

November Wrap-Up

November was a great month for reading. I had a four-day weekend thanks to Thanksgiving, in which I read like the world was ending. I managed to get through 31 books! Some of them were graphic novels, which I just started reading for the first time. They still count in my eyes!

2016 challenge update: As of the end of November, I am at 192 books read for my goal of 200. I’m on track to win!

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Here’s what I read this month:

  1. Defending Jacob by William Landay*
  2. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  4. Ex Machina Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, et al.
  5. Can I Sit on Your Lap While You’re Pooping? by Matthew Carroll
  6. The Homecoming by Stacie Ramey* (review)
  7. Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
  8. Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan*
  9. Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
  10. Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan*
  11. Saga Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan*
  12. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  13. Saga Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan
  14. Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  15. iZombie Vol. 1 by Chris Roberson*
  16. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  17. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  18. iZombie Vol. 2 by Chris Roberson*
  19. Panic by Lauren Oliver*
  20. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  21. iZombie Vol. 3 by Chris Roberson*
  22. Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver*
  23. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  24. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  25. Saga Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
  26. Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk*
  27. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid*
  28. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
  29. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham*

*Not pictured — read as audiobook, library book, or ebook. Not included are 2 books read for work that are outside the scope of this blog.

Man, I really need to catch up on reviews this month! What did you read last month? What are you looking forward to reading in December?

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

★★★★☆

stationelevenhcus2Station Eleven is the story of the post-apocalyptic world after the “Georgia Flu” wipes out a massive amount of people. The story flashes back and forth from before the flu, to years after the flu devastated the world. There are also many different storylines woven through the book, which I absolutely love–seeing how the characters are all related or came together eventually.

Another thing that I was really excited about in Station Eleven is that most of the post-apocalyptic world stuff happens in Michigan, which is one of my favorite places. It was easy to relate to the places, the weather and the general atmosphere being described because I’ve been there.

The audiobook was especially awesome, the narrator was engaging and easy to listen to. I really did not enjoy parts of this book, but others I absolutely adored. No wonder this book is so popular. I just wish I had picked it up earlier! So here’s my recommendation for you: Pick this one up–before the world ends!

Purchase the book here.

August Wrap-Up!

So last month, I thought I’d outdone myself by reading 20 books. In August, I read 22 books!

That’s 1 book for every 1.4 days. I’m currently standing at 113 books read in 2016. (That’s a full 33 books over my goal!)

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  1. Labyrinth Lost  by Zoraida Córdova
  2. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (Review)
  4. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach (Review)
  5. 100 Days by Nicole McInnes (Review)*
  6. The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner (Review)*
  7. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer*
  8. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay*
  10. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (Review)
  11. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (Review)
  12. The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer*
  13. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
  14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  15. The Graces by Laure Eve* (Review)
  16. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty*
  17. And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich*
  18. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie*
  19. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin*
  20. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (Review)
  21. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel* (Review)

*Audiobook or eARC, not pictured
(Plus 1 book proofread for my work, not pictured and not within my blog’s scope of genre)

Some of these books have yet to be reviewed on my blog, but I will add the links as I add the reviews! September is going to rock! So many good books are coming out!

Have you read any of these books? Which ones are you looking forward to reading?

#ReadThemAllThon!

ReadThemAllThon

I’ve decided to join the #ReadThemAllThon hosted by Read at Midnight! It runs from August 14th through September 4th. Basically there are 8 challenges to complete and you get points for every book read (and some more things like tweeting!). It’s a great way to get a bunch of your books knocked off the ol’ TBR!

This time, it’s Pokemon themed. (Which isn’t really that interesting to me personally, but I can get behind a challenge for sure!)

Below, I list the challenges and the books I hope to read for them! My pokemon is Magikarp, because if I read a lot of books, I’m told it’s the best points-wise.

ReadThemAllThon-Badge01-Boulder
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
ReadThemAllThon-Badge02-Cascader
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner
ReadThemAllThon-Badge03-Thunder
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
ReadThemAllThon-Badge04-Rainbow
The Reader by Traci Chee
ReadThemAllThon-Badge05-Soul
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
ReadThemAllThon-Badge06-Marsh
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
ReadThemAllThon-Badge07-Flame
The Graces by Laure Eve
ReadThemAllThon-Badge08-Earth
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

So anyway, wish me luck! I am really excited to see how I do on this challenge. Are you participating in #ReadThemAllThon? What are you excited to knock off your TBR?