Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Summary:
Live life in a bubble…
Or risk everything for love?
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean, and wearing all black-black t-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I, Maddy, am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

everything everything
Review:
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was an expected read for me. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I checked it out from the library a few days ago, mostly because I’ve heard all the hype about it and I wanted to read it before I eventually watch the movie. Also, my sister read the book and she really liked it, which means a lot because neither of my sisters read very much. So I went into this read not really expecting all that much, maybe a quick fun love story about a sick girl. Boy was I wrong. This book surprised me in so many ways.
The first surprise was how much I genuinely liked our main character, Maddy. She has this innocence about her (likely because she’s never really left her house or interacted with anyone other than her mother and her nurse) that just was surprising but also super realistic. I learned by reading the pages in the back of the book that the author, Yoon, used a few situations from her very young daughter to portray that innocence in Maddy. It was very well done. Because of this innocence, I wanted to love and snuggle and protect Maddy forever, so when the new family next door includes an attractive boy the same age, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. With that said, Maddy also knew it wasn’t going to end well. She even tells herself that she’s not going to talk to him anymore, a couple times, because she knows she will just get hurt. But you can’t fight that forbidden love. Also, the main character that likes to read and write book reviews, c’mon, are you going to find a bookworm anywhere that doesn’t love this trope?
I thought the story was going to be just that, forbidden love and how the two fall in love anyway and it either kills Maddy or breaks her heart. I certainly did NOT expect what actually happened. The plot twist in this book was absolutely insane, but also incredibly written. There weren’t any hints that it was coming that I noticed. Everything, Everything started off sweet and innocent like a typical YA love story, but took a turn to pretty dark a bit over halfway through which I think is what made me like this book so much. I really love books that can surprise me and that’s exactly what Yoon did with this novel.
The secondary characters were also great. The main players were Maddy’s Mom, her nurse, Carla and of course, Olly. I loved the relationship between Maddy and her mom (for most of the book anyway), probably because it’s the relationship I always wished for with my own mother. They play board games together and actually talk about everything. I feel really bad for Maddy’s mom for a bit once Maddy starts talking to Olly because Maddy really neglects her relationship with her mom. She cancels movie nights and starts telling lies, it just didn’t sit well with me until our plot twist. I absolutely adore Carla. She’s the actual best. She lets Maddy get away with things that her mother wouldn’t because she wants to make sure Maddy is safe. You can just tell how much Carla really loves Maddy and I really enjoyed reading about their relationship.
Now, the main event, Olly. The handsome boy next door. I loved getting to know Olly. His back and forth banter with Maddy had me laughing out loud (which was bad because I read this book in bed after my husband went to sleep and I almost woke him up a few times.) He’s just so real and genuine toward her and it warmed my little heart. I think a part of this was that I loved Maddy so much and she so deserves to be loved. Olly just seemed like an all-around good guy. He wanted to make sure that Maddy was okay all the time. He would push the boundaries a little bit, but never too much. He actually communicated with her, which was nice to see instead of a broody macho man (which I like sometimes, but not for this book.) They were just a really good couple, they complimented one another and I’m glad they got their happy ending.
Everything, Everything has little illustrations throughout the story. I thought these were a really nice touch. They just added a little extra to the story. I also thought it was super sweet once I found out that it was Yoon’s husband that drew all of the illustrations and that she used to wake him up in the middle of the night to draw things when she was inspired. It just added something special to the story.
Overall, I liked this book so much more than I thought I was going to. Like, I read it in four hours last night before bed, the book was just that good and I couldn’t stop. These characters that wormed their way into my heart got their happy ending, but not in that annoying “and everyone lived happily ever after” kind of way. It was real and made sense. Maddy got what she wanted, but not without needed to work through some things. I just liked that the book didn’t end with a little bow that tied everything up. The characters were flawed and they had just learned how flawed they really were and how much work they’d need to put in to work on those flaws. But they were all moving forward despite their flaws and struggles. I could go on and on, so I’m going to stop here. If you haven’t read this book because you’re like me and are sometimes hesitant to read the hyped up books, then get over it and read this. You won’t regret it, I swear.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie


Summary: There has been a murder at Styles Court. Detective Poirot comes out of retirement to solve who would want the rich heiress Inglethorp dead, and would have the impudence to poison her. The jagged plot turns keep Poirot – and the reader – guessing as suspicion shifts from one peculiar character to the next.

In Agatha Christie’s first published work, the reader meets Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, destined to become the central detective of her mystery novels.

Review: I’ve been wanting to read Agatha Christie’s books for a long time but continuously put it off in favor of others. When I read Sabriel’s review of Murder on the Orient Express the other day, I decided I finally had to get one of her books. I immediately got the first Hercule Poirot novel and finished it in about four hours.
Now I’m kicking myself for not reading her books sooner. This was a fantastic mystery that kept me guessing the entire time. It was a relatively light (for a mystery), quick read and I appreciated that it didn’t lean towards the scarier side of the mystery genre. (I’m a wuss when it comes to scary stuff.)
The narrator, Arthur Hastings, was the only part I didn’t love. I found him a little self-absorbed and mildly annoying at times though not enough to diminish my overall enjoyment of the book. He worked very well as narrator; since he didn’t have a direct connection to the murder, he was able to observe events without influencing them too much. He appears in several of the other Hercule Poirot novels so I hope I’ll start to like him better later on.
I found Hercule Poirot extremely entertaining. He’s a Belgian detective who appears in most of Christie’s works. He works in a style similar to Sherlock Holmes, using seemingly insignificant clues to solve the mystery. He’s a little dramatic and flamboyant and has funny little quirks, like straightening objects on a mantelpiece when he’s agitated, that combined to form a very clear picture for me. I absolutely can’t wait to read more about him.
The rest of the characters were fairly diverse in their personalities and I was surprised that they were more complex than I expected from a book written in the early 20th century. I’ve found many older books have secondary characters that are more two-dimensional.
I found the plot interesting throughout despite a great deal of back and forth over who the murder suspect could be. There were so many clues and behaviors, small and big, important and irrelevant, that I could never quite figure out who the murderer was.
Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery, detective novels, and crime. I can’t wait to read the rest of Christie’s books. Please leave your own thoughts in the comments and thanks for reading!
-Antonia

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The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Summary:
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel.
On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…
The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”
The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second-rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).
Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
the lying game, ruth ware
Review:
I was given this book by my sister in law because she read it recently and enjoyed it. So when we went to visit home last weekend she let me borrow it. I was super excited to read it because the summary sounds pretty good, but also because my SIL and I have similar (for the most part) reading tastes. I like to stay up to date with what she’s reading because she’ll give me good suggestions like this one.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware is what I just finished. I mostly got what I was expecting from this book. With every page I read, I got some unexpected plot twists, some well-placed suspense, and characters that I could relate to. I liked the way this story was written. There were well-written descriptions that allowed me to picture the setting in my head as well as nice attention to detail. There were little things that were pointed out, little details that added that extra bit to the story. There was an abundance of suspenseful moments throughout this book. Suspense done the right way with enough tidbits of information to keep the reader wanting more, but not so little that we’re left with a huge amount of confusion and questions.
The characters that make this story were another thing I enjoyed very much. They were very realistic characters. When things blew up, their reactions and emotions and thoughts were real and relatable. This book focuses on four friends, Isa (whose point of view tells the story), Kate, Thea, and Fatima. These women became friends in school and have been best friends ever since, even if they didn’t always make time to see or talk to one another. The ladies have the kind of friendship that every girl hopes to make once they’re going into high school or college. They’re forever friends. One says jump and the others say when and how high. I really loved the dynamic between these four for most of the book. Toward the end, things got a bit screwy and they all fell apart for a bit, only to come back together again.
I want to mention a few things about our main character, Isa. She’s a new mother with a baby that’s only about six months old. As I’m currently seven months pregnant and expecting a baby I found myself really relating to her with many things that I can see myself going through in the near future. Along with the motherhood aspect, she’s also dealing with an immense amount of stress and drama from her friends. She finds herself taking it out on her partner, Owen. This is something that’s also super relatable and realistic because most relationships take the brunt of stress from both parties. I know this is something that happens in my relationship for sure. I lean on (mostly annoy and badger and take things out on) my husband when I’m feeling super stressed and he does the same with me. Though neither of us has dealt with the crazy things that Isa deals with during this story, it just makes her more of a real character that I could empathize with and understand more.
Overall, I loved this book. It was a fun quick and crazy thriller that I enjoyed. I loved the fast-paced story with crazy twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I especially loved the character that I got to know and love. The Lying Game is definitely an adult novel, one that I’d recommend to anyone that loves a good thriller. So if that’s you, go to the store or library and check Ruth Ware’s book out.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Come Sundown – Nora Roberts

Summary:
Love. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN
Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…
But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?
As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

come sundown
Review:
Nora Roberts is an auto buy author for me. I don’t care what the story is about, how long the story is, when it was published, I just love all of her books. So when I saw Come Sundown at Target a few days ago I knew I was going home with it.
Nora Roberts really just knows how to get you into the story right from the first page. She makes you feel for the character, who in this case left home and was admitting defeat and coming back home with her tail between her legs, only that’s not what happened.
This story focuses on a huge family, the Bodines and Longbows, who own an enormous property where they have a ranch and also a resort. I loved the dynamic of this family. Every member does a bit of everything, but the men run the ranch and the women run the resort, with some going back and forth when the extra help is needed. The family is just such a finely tuned machine, they all work so well together, getting things done in whatever way works best for everyone. They all share their ideas freely and everyone says their piece. They’re a team and I really enjoyed getting to know all the different parts in this story.
One thing I can say is that Nora Roberts sure knows how to write romance. I hate that love at first sight junk. It’s just not believable or realistic to me. And while Nora leads us to see that our two main characters, Bodine and Callen, have been interested in one another for longer than they want to admit, their relationship is realistic. They go on dates and they discuss the important things and it happens at a reasonable pace over months rather than in five days and then everyone is happy and getting married. Along with this couple there are two others that we get to see develop. Bodine’s friend and event planner, Jessica, and Jessica’s assistant, Chelsea, develop a few different relationships, first the three girls get close and become good friends and then the more they get together, Jessica and Chelsea find themselves interested in Bodine’s brothers, Chase and Rory. I liked seeing the six hang out together and slowly all develop their relationships as a group and as couples.
I think my favorite part of this story was all the different dynamics in the relationships and characters. This story touched on so many different real life issues from gambling to addiction to kidnapping and sexual assault to losing loved ones and being far from loved ones and coming together to be there for one another despite all of these issues. I really think Nora did a great job in this aspect of the story. She talks about these issues and gets them out into the open and also touches on how family and loved ones will be there to support you through it all. She shows that there is hope to move forward and get past these horrible things and keep on living.
So there’s one character that we see in the first pages of this story and then are left wondering about her for a while before we get a few updates and then she takes her place in the rest of the story. This character is Alice. I’m not going to say too much about her because I don’t like to give spoilers. But I do want to say that Alice is such an amazing character and was written so incredibly well. The character development that we see her go through was so interesting. Going from the young girl who has the world at her feet to the victim and then back into the real world again, was just incredible. I loved seeing the family come together and each member doing their part to help Alice recover and remember who she is and bring her mind back into the real world. It’s just exactly what family is supposed to be and I loved it. It was super heartwarming to see Alice recover and to read her interactions with her niece and nephews and Callen, how each one did little things that helped her come out of her shell and clear the fog in her head a little bit more. I could go on forever, so I’ll stop here and move on.
The last thing I want to mention is the ending, which happened so fast. There was quite a bit of drama in this story, but I feel like the ending was just a bit rushed. So much happened in the last hundred pages or so and while it was all wrapped up nice and neat, I definitely think there could have been more to it, we could have been shown just a little bit more. Now, I’m not saying the ending was bad, because it wasn’t. There was a mostly happy ending where all the mysteries were solved, but I was just left wanting more, more details, more story, more of what was going to happen next. But that’s something that happens for me with most books. It’s rare that I’m not left wanting more once I get to the end of a book, but I think that’s just because I get really attached to the characters.
Anyway, this book overall was really very good. I liked it, even though it was definitely a bit darker than her other books. I wouldn’t recommend this to young adult readers, because there’s a lot that’s not really meant for younger readers. If you’re someone that likes Nora Roberts then this book will be no different. There’s romance and family love and drama and craziness with awesome characters and a fascinating story.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Collector – Nora Roberts

Summary:
As a professional house-sitter and freelance writer, nothing ties Lila Emerson down-not her work, not a home, and definitely not a relationship. She spends her life moving from one job to the next, sometimes crashing at a friend’s Manhattan apartment. And though she can appreciate her client’s extraordinary homes, their expensive collections, and their adorable pets, Lila has never longed for possessions of her own. Everything she has, including her heart, is portable.
But when she witnesses a possible murder-suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as Lila knows it takes a dramatic turn.
Artist Ashton Archer knows his charming, clever, and impulsive brother couldn’t have killed his girlfriend-or taken his own life. His hope of unraveling what happened lies with Lila, the only eyewitness. And even buried in grief, Ash longs to paint the woman whose deep, dark eyes seem to hold endless reserves of strength and a fiery passion.
Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash in trying to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you posses is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession.

Review:
I knew I was going to love The Collector before I even opened it. An assumption I made solely on the fact that it is written by Nora Roberts. After reading the first couple of pages, I was hooked. There were so many things I love about this book, but I’ll start with Roberts’ writing style. She always gives the reader several different points of view. Every few chapters or so a new character is introduced with their point of view. Although we don’t always know who the character is when they’re introduced, the many points of view give us readers a much better picture of the whole story rather than just what one character is experiencing. This is something I really love that Nora Roberts does with many of her books. I love being able to see the big picture, getting to know things that the characters are oblivious to. Another thing I love about the way Nora Roberts writes is her attention to detail. Each new character that is introduced to the story has their own history and Roberts’ is never shy with her supporting character’s backgrounds. This is something I really enjoy because I feel like too many authors focus on the main characters and the plot rather than the details. While reading The Collector there were so many times that I just had to stop reading and say, “Holy shit, what just happened?” This book just had so much depth and detail to it. There were so many little connections between characters that I never saw coming. Which brings me to the next thing I really liked about The Collector. I never once correctly predicted anything that happened in this book. Every page had some new shock or surprise that just blew my mind. This book was just wonderful, like most of her novels.
I immediately fell in love with the main character, Lila Emerson. I decided I needed to have her life. Every page I read made me like Lila more and more. I think that’s because she was a really relatable character. She reminded me very much of myself with some of the things she did and said. Enter Julie, Lila’s best friend. These two girls together reminded me so much of myself and Antonia it was almost unreal. Relatable characters are something I think is necessary for a good book. There were so many moments when I stopped and read something aloud to Antonia so that we could both laugh and agree that we would do the same or say the same thing as the characters. The relationship between Julie and Lila was, I think, my favorite part about this book. Lila was an amazing female lead character. She was very intelligent and independent, she stood up for her beliefs. Julie was an excellent supporting character. Like Lila, she’s smart and funny and always said the right thing. The two had a really great relationship together.
Now, to talk about the handsome men in The Collector. I’ll mention Luke first. Ashton Archer’s best friend. He’s handsome, smart, determined, everything you could want in a man. He was another wonderfully detailed supporting character. He was just a really genuine person and that’s not something you see too much anymore. He made me laugh and squeal excitedly every page he was on, especially once he reunites with Julie. Luke definitely shared some qualities with people in my everyday life which I enjoyed immensely. Onto Ashton Archer. The rich and handsome artist who we learn is so much more than that. The first thing I loved about Ash was the way that he sees things. As an artist, the way he looks at the world is significantly different from the normal person and I’m not sure I know how to explain what I mean. Which means that you all need to go read this book and love it as much as I did. Ash is part of a very large, dysfunctional family, another thing that I related to. He’s very family oriented and sees himself as the problem solver of the family. He’s a very strong and opinionated person, which is where he and Lila clashed. The relationship between these two was a very amusing one. They were always going back and forth about one thing or another. They’re both passionate about their beliefs. I loved the fire their relationship had and following them as the grew together in that relationship was a wonderful experience.
The Collector, overall, was an amazing book. There was everything that I require for a really good book. It was suspenseful and exciting. There were excellent character dynamics and so much depth to the story itself. I would suggest Nora Roberts to any reader, but The Collector specifically. I’d love to hear some thoughts from anyone else who’s read this.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.