The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund

The greatest thing about being plugged in the book community is being exposed to books I would never read ever before.

Thank you Atria Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Though Owen Tanner has never met anyone else who has a chatty bird in their chest, medical forums would call him a Terror. From the moment Gail emerged between Owen’s ribs, his mother knew that she had to hide him away from the world. After a decade spent in hiding, Owen takes a brazen trip outdoors in the middle of a forest fire, and his life is upended forever. Suddenly, Owen is forced to flee the home that had once felt so confining and hide in plain sight with his uncle and cousin in Washington. There, he feels the joy of finding a family among friends; of sharing the bird in his chest and being embraced fully; of falling in love and feeling the devastating heartbreak of rejection before finding a spark of happiness in the most unexpected place; of living his truth regardless of how hard the thieves of joy may try to tear him down. But the threat of the Army of Acronyms is a constant, looming presence, making Owen wonder if he’ll ever find a way out of the cycle of fear. A heartbreaking yet hopeful novel about the things that make us unique and lovable, The Boy with a Bird in His Chest grapples with the fear, depression, and feelings of isolation that come with believing that we will never be loved, let alone accepted, for who we truly are, and learning to live fully and openly regardless.

Yes, I normally read mysteries and thrillers, but the premise of this book just captivated me immediately. This was absolutely beautiful! Fair warning – this book covers a lot of sensitive topics such as gender identity, bullying, and family drama. I loved the magic realism touch to this story, and honestly was so impressed that this was a debut novel by the author. I cannot wait for more to come!

4.5/5 Stars

All I Want by Darcey Bell

I had heard a lot about Darcey’s previous novel “A Simple Favor”, and I’m ashamed to admit I have not read it yet, but was intrigued to read her newest book seen here.

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: When Emma’s husband, Ben, falls in love with a large Victorian mansion for sale in upstate New York, he swears to her the fixer-upper will be worth the risk. With a baby on the way, Emma would like to live in a charming, safe community, after all—and in a space larger than a one-bedroom New York City apartment. On impulse, she agrees to Ben’s plan and they put in an offer on the house. Sure, the mansion has a somewhat creepy backstory and is a bit dilapidated, but Emma and Ben are in this together, aren’t they? When strange things start happening, Emma begins to experience a little buyer’s remorse. What’s the real history of this house? Is its dark history repeating itself? Why does her husband suddenly seem so distant? Is she in danger? Is her baby?

Well, this was a bit of a letdown for me. I really wasn’t impressed with the plot or character development. I liked how the book started off with such eerie vibes, but it completely fell flat. Don’t even get me started about the ending. The twist was definitely not worth the read. Score one point for creating a story that’s unforgettable and another for an absolutely beautiful cover! I will go back and try her previous book as I have heard a lot of hype about that one – in a good way.

2/5 Stars

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Ever been in the mood to read something just completely different than normal? I think I’ve got a great book for you!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: This murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect. The Fairway Players, a local theater group, is in the midst of rehearsals for an Arthur Miller play, when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Haywood and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow cast-mates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival. But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. New actress Sam, a former NGO worker, raises doubts. But are her suspicions justified? Or does she have a history with the doctor involved? As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head the night of the dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may still be on the loose.

Like I said, this book is different and unique in the fact that it is written in multiple formats (ie. text messages, emails, etc.). It took me awhile to get used to, but I had a lot of fun reading it. There are a lot of characters in play, and mapping out their motives can be a bit tricky when reading messages in multiple formats, but it’s unique, engaging, and entertaining read. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

4/5 Stars

Everything We Didn’t Say by Nicole Baart

This book was featured in last month’s Book of the Month Club selection. You may have had a chance to read it before I have! If so, please share your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June’s world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa. Until now. Officially, she’s back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she’s returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who’s been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since birth—and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that’s haunted her for nearly fifteen years. As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it’s her daughter’s life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time?

Nicole has a wonderful talent for writing. The prose in her books is so beautiful! I’m captivated each time a read one of her novels. On the other hand, this was a bit too much of a slow burn for me. I also had a really hard time with the dual timelines (if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know this a tricky thing to master for me). Regardless, this is definitely my favorite novel of hers to date!

3.5/5 Stars

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

If you haven’t read a Lisa Jewell novel, then stop reading this right away and go pick one up. You really can’t go wrong with her writing!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: 2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim. Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits. The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah’s friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place. She never returns. 2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree. ‘DIG HERE’ . . .

An abandoned mansion AND a cold case? Sign me up! This was a whirlwind of a novel – a little slow in the middle of the novel, but packed a punch in the end. She does the two timelines really well which is saying something from a person who isn’t a huge fan of alternating timelines and perspectives. This is the perfect book to pick up on a chilly fall evening this season.

4/5 Stars

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

This is one of my most highly anticipated reads this year, so I’m so excited to finally get the chance to read it!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse has a lot to learn when it comes to the real world. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she has spent the last several years living on her own, but unable to move beyond her past—especially the disappearance of her twin brother Andy when they were sixteen. With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax. Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual ways. Her brother Charlie pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister Tate forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic facade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin. 

This was interesting. It was different than I thought it would be. The first chapters of the book really give away a lot of the meat to this story. I feel like if this was a slow burn, it would’ve added a creepy factor that I think this story was missing. The ending was a bit far-fetched, but it wrapped up a lot of questions I had throughout my time reading. It’s not as unique of a story as I was expecting (but then again, I read a lot of mystery novels), but I really do enjoy Megan’s writing style and can’t wait to read more from her.

3/5 Stars

Where The Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

All right you guys, this is one of those books that has been talked about in the book world for a few months now. It comes as a highly anticipated debut from this author and is available today! Let’s check it out.

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets. When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences. Among those secrets: Abi’s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders. But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever. 

This is another multiple point-of-view novel taken place in different times. Not my favorite type of style thriller to read, but more and more authors are doing it so I have to bite the bullet and read on. With that in mind, it was fairly well done despite a few hiccups where I had to backtrack to pay attention to what timeline I was reading about. This was a really unique mystery which I appreciate having read a lot on my own. It started off as a typical mystery novel, and really turned into something a whole lot more intriguing. The writing was really well done for a debut author as well. I enjoyed reading this small town vibes during the summer months and highly recommend this one.

4/5 Stars

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

My first book by Louise was Our House. That was a few years ago, and I STILL think about this book ’til this day. I think about it quite often in fact! Something about her writing just engulfs my brain.

Thank you Atria Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: You’re feeling pretty smug about your commute to work by riverboat. No more traffic gridlock or getting stuck on the tube in tunnels (you’re claustrophobic); now you’ve got an iconic Thames view, fresh air ?— a whole lifestyle upgrade. You’ve made new friends onboard — led by your hedonistic young neighbor, Kit ?— and just had your first ‘water rats’ Christmas drinks. But the first day back after Christmas, Kit isn’t on the morning boat. The river landmarks are all the same, but something’s off. You disembark to find the police waiting. Kit’s wife, Melia, has reported him missing and another passenger witnessed the two of you arguing on the last boat home after your drinks. Police say you had a reason to lash out at him. To kill him. You protest. You and Kit are friends ?— ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your private lives? No, whatever coincidences might have occurred that night, you are innocent, totally innocent. Aren’t you? 

And now I have another book to be thinking on for years to come. This was a hit for me! I think what’s so great about her books, and especially this one, is that she does such a great job throwing you right into the story. I felt like I was right on the riverboat myself! The twist in the end caught me off guard, and I actually enjoyed learning about what happened months after that! Another awesome story.

5/5 Stars

The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry

I can’t believe February is approaching so fast! It’s almost time for Valentine’s Day, which means it’s time to break out the romance reads!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school. When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities. Spanning decades, The Love Proof is an unusual love story about lasting connection, time, and intuition. It explores the course that perfect love can take between imperfect people, and urges us to listen to our hearts rather than our heads.

I loved this book!! Normally I’m not one to read a story that follows such a long timeline, but this was phenomenal. I have to preface by saying that I am a science teacher by profession, so the addition of the physics touch in this book just captivated me! The characters are so relatable and their relationship is raw and real and everything you want in a romance book. I gobbled this book up in one sitting, it was that good. You’re definitely going to want to add this one to your read pile next month!

5/5 Stars

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I’m THAT person who has yet to read a Fredrik novel…YES I admitted it. BUT, I have to say, this was the first novel to completely captivate me by just reading the description. So exciting!

Thank you to Atria Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world. Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next. Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times. 

The story-line is unique, the characters were unique, the book was wonderful! It was such a refreshing read and a good break from any other genre. Honestly, this book really creates it’s own genre and it’s like none other! I can’t recommend this one enough. Go in blindly – don’t read any more reviews! Just take my word for it!

5/5 Stars