Book Review: Jealous Revenge by Octavia Singleton

Jealous Revenge by Octavia Singleton
Enjoyment: ★★★★★
Literary Merit: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Goodreads
Publication Date: October 24, 2019
Source: Gift 
Mariah Calhoun is a soft, outspoken college student trying to get through her last semester. But when sister is kidnapped in the name of revenge, Mariah will stop at nothing to get her back. Betrayal, jealousy and deceit are only half the things Mariah must endure as she searches for her sister.

Buddy read with my boyfriend!

It all happened so fast: one minute my boyfriend was showing me an Instagram post about this great book called Jealous Revenge, and the next, it was sitting in my email inbox. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait. We jumped right in.

This book is an experience. I have never read anything quite like it and I doubt that I ever will again.

This is the story of Mariah Calhoun, who attends Brown University in Los Angeles, which is somehow right next to Atlanta. Yes, this is 100% relevant to a major plot point in this book. (Here’s a map for those of you unfamiliar with US geography.)

For reference, this is where Brown University actually is. (Only the other side of the country, no big deal.)

But anyway. Mariah Calhoun is a dedicated college student who is also raising her younger sister, Jayla, after their parents’ tragic death. Seemingly minutes away from graduation, Mariah’s professor attempts to coerce her into sex by withholding her rightful final exam grade. Mariah is understandably not having any of that, so she reports her professor for sexual harassment. Next thing she knows, her sister is missing.

Two rather incompetent detectives take the case, sort of flailing around as they tell Mariah that she can’t report an actual minor missing until she’s been gone for 48 hours, even with evidence that she’s been kidnapped! They decide to go out to eat before following a lead. They nicely ask to be let into the suspect’s house because they wasted their time going out for a nice meal instead of getting a warrant. It’s a mess, really. It’s a wonder any detectiving gets done on this case.

The writing is… interesting. The author will, without fail, change tense at least ten times per page, sometimes even within the same sentence. The punctuation is completely off, with commas being added in the most random places and everything just being crazy as soon as any quotation marks enter the picture. It also felt like the author read an article one time that said you should minimize how many times you say “he said” or “she said,” so she often goes out of her way to use other words, like “stated” or “mentioned” or “wondered” or “questioned.”

I would like to bless you with some quotes from this book:

Suddenly, a voice that didn’t belong to Monique or Jayla said, “I can help you”. “Who said that”, Monique wondered. “Me. I’m in here. In the vent.”, the voice said.

And on Monday morning, she was going to take over as the CEO of her parents’ business, with her newly earned bachelor’s degree.

Mrs. Wilson opens the door and says, “My husband isn’t here.”, she said to the detectives.

Have you heard of the podcast called My Dad Wrote a Porno? It’s this guy sitting around with his friends, reading and commenting on this really terrible erotica written by his dad. While reading this book, I seriously entertained the idea of starting my own podcast because I had so many thoughts.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about what I didn’t like. I think I’m ready to get to the part that I did like, and that was the entertainment value. This book was so entertaining. I was on the edge of my seat! I had to know what would happen next! Would Mariah fire a perfectly capable, perfectly qualified employee who’d worked at her parents’ business for at least a decade because she and her new bachelor’s degree were ready to take his job? (The tenacity!) Would someone from Atlanta end up in Los Angeles with no recollection of how they got there? (The intrigue!) Could Mariah’s little sister become captain of the cheerleading squad after never having cheered a day in her life? (The talent!) Would people get shot just to walk around like nothing happened two pages later? (The strength!)

I never knew what was going to happen next. I was formulating all these wild theories with my boyfriend (“what if Jayla got kidnapped because she got the cheerleading captain position when she wasn’t qualified?!”) and let me tell you, they were all wrong. This might not be a piece of classic literature, but it was sure a fun read.

I don’t know what this author is going to write next, but I need to read it.


Have you read Jealous Revenge? Are you as sad as I am that the author took it off Amazon?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Purchased

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts. 

I had seen a lot of hype for this book when it first came out and when I saw the author signing at a book festival I went to last year, I figured I might as well buy it. It was probably the most awkward encounter I’ve ever had in my life, which I don’t fault the author for since it just illustrates what happens when you throw two introverts who’ve never met before together and expect them to interact. Anyway, it took me a while to finally pick it up, and… I have some thoughts.

First of all, Tessa is not like other girls and Eric is always taking off his shirt to show off his six pack, so it’s basically the same two characters as every other YA book that’s come out over the last decade. Sure, there are some differences. Tessa is agoraphobic and Eric is famous. They mostly converse through Twitter, and Tessa doesn’t know that the person she’s been talking to is actually her celebrity crush.

I didn’t think that I’d have a problem with the premise, but I kind of do. I don’t necessarily mind that a celebrity is hiding his identity when he talks with a fan for the first time. I get that. But Eric lets it go on for so long and he doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not okay to lie about who he is when he and Tessa become close enough to consider meeting in person. Eric also had such an attitude about his fans that I found it surprising that he would even entertain the idea of befriending one of them, especially a superfan like Tessa.

The side characters in the book are absolutely ridiculous. Tessa’s mother is a blatantly horrible person. (Like most YA parents, I guess.) Her therapist is awful. The person from her past that she’s so scared of? Something was definitely missing because that whole story didn’t make a bit of sense.

The “cliffhanger” at the end is actually painfully obvious if you’ve paid attention at all to what’s happened throughout the book. I even went ahead and read some spoiler-filled reviews of the sequel to confirm that this story ends exactly as I expected it to.

I can’t think of anyone I’d recommend this book to. I’m glad it’s off my shelf, but it’s already in my donate pile.

#killingthetbr: ten months on shelf


Have you read Follow Me Back? What about the sequel?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: You by Caroline Kepnes

You by Caroline Kepnes
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 24, 2017
Source: Borrowed

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone GirlAmerican Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.

I feel like I’ve been in a slump forever. I’ve read a book here and there that I’ve enjoyed, but overall, nothing has given me that feeling that I’m used to, where I’m just counting down the minutes until I can pick up a book again. Nothing until You, that is.

Let’s start with why I read this book. I’m not really a thriller kind of person. I mean, sure, I’ve read a few of them. I’ve enjoyed a few of them. But thrillers are usually something I read when they’re recommended by someone else, not something I seek out on my own. This one was recommended by Daniel, who hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

I could tell, from the very first page, that I was going to like this book. From the first line, it has this really creepy vibe that somehow makes it impossible to put down. Joe is so intense, so creepy, so completely convinced that Beck is in love with him and just unwilling to show it. He stalks her, breaks into her house, and steals from her. He should be the least likable protagonist in recent memory, but he’s not. Joe is, somehow, a sympathetic character. Even as he’s doing horrible things, you can’t help but feel at least a little bit bad for him.

I’m so afraid of accidentally spoiling anything in this book, so I’m going to be brief and vague. This book was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever before felt such a mix of emotions while reading — it’s not often that I find myself quoting Lena Dunham, but I 100% agree with what she said about this book: “I am RIVETED, AGHAST, AROUSED, you name it.” It was a wild ride and I enjoyed every minute of it, even when it made me want to triple check that all my doors and windows were locked.

I’m trying to decide if I want to watch the Netflix show or not. In some ways, I think it would be fun to compare the two, but in other ways… reading the printed words was enough. I’m not sure I want to see everything in this book acted out.

#romanceopoly: murder mill
#mmd19: a book recommended by someone with great taste


Have you read You? Have you watched the show?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini DNF reviews: Why We Sleep & The Last Time I Lied

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
Rating: n/a
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Borrowed

The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert—Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab—reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better.

Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don’t sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity.

Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses. Clear-eyed, fascinating, and accessible, Why We Sleep is a crucial and illuminating book.

The synopsis of this book is going to be longer than my review because…

DNF @ 1%.

This is my first DNF in probably at least a year and I don’t even know if I got far enough into this book to really consider it a true DNF. I was listening to the audiobook and the narrator was spouting off all these statistics about how if you don’t sleep enough, you’re going to get cancer or die in a car accident or just generally shave years off your life… and it was too much for me. I have such trouble sleeping and it stressed me out so much that I had to stop. Five minutes in. Sorry but also not.


The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Rating: n/a
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Source: Book of the Month

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

DNF @ page 75.

In case you didn’t know, I work in a dermatology office. The main thing we do is skin cancer removal, so we get a lot of cranky elderly people coming through the door. One day, a few weeks ago, I was covering the front desk because someone was out sick. I was checking out a very cranky woman who’d just finished a several-hour-long surgery to remove skin cancer from her ear. As I often do when someone is cranky, I tried to make polite conversation.

Me: “Oh, you’re reading The Last Time I Lied! I got that book a couple months ago but haven’t read it yet. How is it?”
Cranky Patient: “IT’S TERRIBLE!!!”
Me: “I’m so sorry to hear that! What don’t you like about it?”
Cranky Patient: “It’s TERRIBLE! It’s slow and repetitive and TERRIBLE!!!”
Me: “Hmm, wow. Okay.”

So, needless to say, I was a little nervous to start reading this. I wanted to love it because first of all, it sounds good, and second of all, the author is from my town! And my town really isn’t that big, so I could see him every week at the grocery store and not even know it. He could be the mysterious neighbor that I’ve never seen even though I’ve lived in this house for a year and a half. Who even knows.

But you know what? That cranky patient… she was kind of right. The book is slow and repetitive and, honestly, kind of terrible. It took me five days to get to page 75 and absolutely killed my love of reading. I might pick it back up at some point, but for now… I’m done.


Have you read either of these books? Should I give them another try?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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Book review: People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us by Dana Mele
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

People Like Us was my most anticipated YA thriller of 2018. I love boarding school books, I love books about cliquey mean girls, and I love reading debut novels. The plot of the book gave me some real Pretty Little Liars vibes, and let’s be honest, I was so into that show that it’s actually a little embarrassing. So what did I end up thinking about this book? Not a lot, actually.

If anything, the book is a little too PLL for my tastes. It feels like it would make an awesome CW show, but as a book? I don’t know. It’s a little disappointing. I was entertained and I would never call this a bad book, but I never really got a sense that Kay was all that concerned about the threatening website or that she really cared too much about being blackmailed. I also tend to dislike books with love shapes, and this was more of a love… hexagon? I don’t even know. It’s a tangled web, that’s for sure.

I appreciated the representation and that nobody really made a big deal over Kay’s sexuality (or anybody else’s, for that matter), but that wasn’t enough for me to love this book.

#mm18: vacation reads


Have you read People Like Us? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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