Book Review: Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

I had no issues with the writing, but I also wasn’t highly impressed by it. For the most part, it was an engaging and easy read, but I didn’t always enjoy the author’s voice or identify with her perspective. A lot of this book focuses on pop culture, which was less interesting to me than the less elaborated personal stories and sociological information presented on the value of female friendships.

Entertainment Value

I had very high hopes for this book and to be honest it did let me down a bit. I wanted this to be an examination of women’s friendships in real life and this focused more on pop culture and the author’s own experiences, which were very different than my own. I grew up in a home where my mother had many female friends and where I was taught the value of female friendships. A lot of what the author had to say about prioritizing relationships with men over women was just not what I’ve experienced in life. It made it hard for me to connect with the author and her point of view.


While this is a good book on female friendship, particularly as it’s displayed in movies and on television, it wasn’t the book I was hoping for. It took me quite a while to read it, as I didn’t find it particularly compelling. It was, however, an easy read, and one I’d be likely to recommend to someone looking for an examination of female friendships in relation to pop culture.


A personal and sociological examination–and ultimately a celebration–of the evolution of female friendship in pop culture and modern society

For too long, women have been told that we are terrible at being friends, that we can’t help being cruel or competitive, or that we inevitably abandon each other for romantic partners. But we are rejecting those stereotypes and reclaiming the power of female friendship.

In Text Me When You Get Home, journalist Kayleen Schaefer interviews more than one hundred women about their BFFs, soulmates, girl gangs, and queens while tracing this cultural shift through the lens of pop culture. Our love for each other is reflected in Abbi and Ilana, Issa and Molly, #squadgoals, the acclaim of Girls Trip and Big Little Lies, and Galentine’s Day.

Schaefer also includes her own history of grappling with a world that told her to rely on men before she realized that her true source of support came from a strong tribe of women. Her personal narrative and celebration of her own relationships weaves throughout the evolution of female friendship on-screen, a serious look at how women have come to value one another and our relationships.

Text Me When You Get Home is a validation that has never existed before. A thoughtful, heart-soaring, deeply reported look at how women are taking a stand for their friendships and not letting go.

Book Review: Women Talking by Miriam Toews

I really appreciate Toews’ style choices in this book.  It’s told as meeting minutes taken by the only man left in the colony (and the only one who knows how to write), who is also somewhat of an outsider.  I really enjoy stories that are told in an unconventional manner, so the minutes’ format appealed to me from the beginning and I think Toews was very successful in its use.  I enjoyed all of the characters, although I feel like characterization was secondary to the philosophical side of the book.

Entertainment Value

This isn’t really a character-driven or plot-driven novel, so if you’re looking for one of those things, you’ll probably find it slow.  It is, as it says, made up only of women talking.  We’re listening in on their discussion of how to proceed given their horrific circumstances, which leads them to discuss what I think is the best part of the book – a very philosophical look at the nature of forgiveness and the responsibility for protecting oneself and one’s children.  Toews addresses these big ideas from a religious standpoint, which is something that I don’t think we see often in any writing and which I really enjoyed. Being put in the place of the women who are struggling to decide how to proceed really highlighted the ethical and moral dilemma (not to mention the practical dilemma) of how to protect themselves in a patriarchal colony where women have very little voice.


I ate this book up.  I think I read it in two sittings. It’s not that it’s a page-turner in terms of plot, but I was just fascinated by the author’s take on a very conservative and patriarchal religious sect in an extreme situation and the ethical side of the women’s dilemma. If you’re interested in religion or the topic of forgiveness or philosophical novels, this is one you must read.


One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?

Book Review: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

In 1985, 13-year-old Reggie’s mother was the final victim of a serial killer known as Neptune, who cut off one hand of his victims and left it on the doorstep of the police station five days before staging the body of the victim in public.  Reggie’s mother’s body, however, never turned up.  Twenty-five years later, Reggie has moved away from her small hometown and is a successful architect, but has never managed to put her past fully behind her.  Then she gets a call from a homeless shelter saying her mother has been found alive.  As Reggie searches desperately for the truth, Neptune resurfaces and Reggie must race to discover his identity before he kills again.


I love Jennifer McMahon and this title was no exception.  It’s well-written and deliciously creepy.  I loved the characters, especially Reggie, who I connected with emotionally.  It’s a thriller, so the writing is par for the course for the genre.  McMahon is one of my favorite types of thriller writers – the suspense and plot carry the book.  It’s thrilling and holds my attention without inserting unnecessary attempts at being literary, but the writing is also good enough to keep me from being distracted by poorly constructed dialogue or gaping plot holes.

Entertainment Value

I also think the author did an amazing job of keeping the book scary and holding the reader’s attention without resorting to graphic depictions of violence.  It’s certainly scary, but it is a much more subtle suspense than many thrillers that rely on torture porn to hold the attention of readers.  McMahon is able to capture the reader without the use of cheap tricks commonly found in thrillers.  I read it in two sittings and loved every minute.


McMahon is quickly becoming one of my favorite suspense authors.  She writes well, doesn’t over-embellish, and refrains from using gore to keep the reader interested.  Her books make sense and are easy to read, but the writing is done well, so there aren’t any distractions.  I recommend giving it a try.


The One I Left Behind is one of those books. Reggie was only 13 when Neptune, the serial killer haunting her town, took her mother. He removes the right hand of his victims on day one, and leaves their bodies on day five. But when Reggie’s mother is taken, her hand is found, but her body never surfaces.

Book Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Impulse, like all of Ellen Hopkins’ books, is a story in verse.  This story focuses on three teenagers who have all been hospitalized for suicide attempts.  Each one has secrets to hide and they form a bond as they deal with some extremely difficult issues.  Serendipitously, I discovered that Hopkins’ latest YA book, Perfect, is a sequel to this one.  I’m anxious to get it and see what happens next for the teens.


I have a hard time analyzing Hopkins’ writing.  On the one hand, she’s doing something that not many other authors or poets are doing – YA or otherwise.  Stories in verse are unique and she does them well.  On the other hand, it’s not great poetry.  It’s gimmicky and cliche at times and not something I think you’d hear a lot of literary praise for.  But I don’t think Hopkins is going for critical praise as much as she is going for an appeal to the audience, which is a young adult.  So I have to applaud her for taking poetry to a group that doesn’t get much exposure to poetry and for doing it in an appealing way.  So, while she’s not going to be winning any literary awards, I think her writing is extremely successful for her purpose and intent.

Entertainment Value

Definitely entertaining, if not always believable.  If you are a teen in a book by Ellen Hopkins, you are facing some serious obstacles.  It’s almost like being an animal in literary fiction – you aren’t just going to suffer, you are going to suffer in every imaginable way.  That’s not necessarily a criticism either – Hopkins’ whole “thing” is appealing to teens who are struggling and creating characters they can identify with.  And these characters go through the teen experience to an intense degree: rape, homosexuality, religion, sex with teachers, molestation, sibling rivalry, etc, etc, etc.  And that’s just in this one book.  Very soap opera, but on a teen level.  Lots of drama, but with heart, if that makes sense.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading Perfect. I enjoy Verse Novels, they are my simple pleasure. I have only read Crank by her. Lisa Schroeder is my favorite Verse novel author if you are interested in trying another.

Combine a splash of suicide, a tablespoon of mental diseases, and a cup of poetry and you get the wonderful, dark novel, Impulse. This book is geared towards young adults though can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults as well. Between the hints of drug use, the attempted suicide, and stories of sexual intercourse this book is unfit for younger readers. Taking the wonder of poetry and intertwining it with the passion of a novel you’ll get Ellen Hopkins’s style of writing. Bringing in the passion of a teenager with the knowledge of an adult you’ll find that she can combine skills and storylines to find a true passion.

Book Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Ok, before I start my review, I want to warn you that there will be spoilers in the Entertainment Value portion of the review.  In a nutshell, I straight up hated this book.  If it hadn’t been an e-book, I would have thrown it.  There were several portions that I desperately wanted to quote, just to prove my point, but as I was reading a galley, I’ll refrain.  Just know that you’ll be getting spoilers if you read the Entertainment Value portion.


The writing in this one is just flat out bad.  The characters are stock, one-dimensional caricatures that aren’t in any way believable as real people.  There was no point at which I connected with any of them or developed a sense of caring about their plights.  They were all horrible, even the ones we were supposed to like.  And I don’t mean horrible in a good, Gillian Flynn way.  I mean horrible in cardboard, stereotyped flat as a pancake way.

In addition to being populated with unbelievable and cookie-cutter characters, the plot itself is miserably slow.  I kept waiting for things to happen and they just never did.  If your book is going to spend a lot of time on the interior lives of characters, they need to be interesting characters.  If you can’t come up with interesting characters, then give me some action, for heaven’s sake.  This book has neither.

Entertainment Value (here come the spoilers)

So this is where I wanted to bring in quotes, but I feel bad doing that since I read a galley.  Instead, I’ll just summarize the bizarre and frankly disturbing “romance” of this book.  I kept hoping for some twist that would justify things, but it never comes.

So basically, the gist of the book is that Colin kidnaps Mia.  First, he stalks her.  Then he hits her, he holds a gun to her head and threatens to kill her, he chases her down in the woods, he terrorizes her, and he holds her against her will for months.

But he’s really not a bad guy.  He grew up poor and loves his mama!  See, he’s really not that bad?  And (this is really in the book) Mia starts to realize that she was really mean to him when he first kidnapped her and if she had had the opportunity she might have tried to kill him.  So it all comes out in the wash.

They fall in love and have tons of what the book portrays as consensual sex.  I feel the need to clarify to everyone who calls this a love story that if a man stalks you, kidnaps you, holds you against your will, threatens to kill you, and hits you, any sex had is not consensual.  Maybe you think it is because you’re suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but this book is sure to point out that Mia is in REAL LOVE and not suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  It made me livid.  LIVID.

Of course the twist at the end reveals that the evil rich people were evil all along, the poor kidnapper had a heart of gold, and Mia had some complicity in the whole situation from the very beginning.  Which does not change the whole idea of whether or not the sex was consensual in my opinion.

And can we just discuss this sad little tacked on twist?  I think it was put there so that the book could get Gone Girl comparisons, and it obviously worked in many people’s minds.  But it was two pages at the end of the book.  Seriously.  Two pages that felt randomly inserted into a story I already didn’t care about that did nothing to change my opinions or make me rethink anything that had happened earlier.  It was just as dull and pointless as the rest of the book.


In case you can’t tell, I am strongly recommending that you skip this book.  Having just had a great experience with another of the publisher’s books (Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf), I don’t want to write them off as a whole, but man this was a letdown, especially after all the raves I had read about it.


From Goodreads:

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

Book Review: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

My Book of the Month pick was Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear.  There were several in August that sounded good, but I decided to go with just one since I have SUCH a long list of books I want to read. Just like almost all of my other Book of the Month picks, it did not disappoint. I would categorize this as a thriller but it was a kind of thriller/mystery. I think Book of the Month categorized it as a thriller, but it was a little more mystery to me. It could have to do with the main character being a detective though.

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Cat Kinsella is a detective with the Metropolitan Police Force in London. She recently witnesses a horrific crime scene involving a child, so she is in mandatory therapy, being watched closely by her superiors, and on a very short leash at work. Cat also came from a rather dysfunctional childhood and has all kinds of issues with her father.

Around Christmastime, Cat and her team are called to investigate a murder of a woman who is found in the neighborhood where her father owns a bar. The victim was Alice Lapaine, a young wife who didn’t like to get out much, and naturally, her husband is the primary suspect. But things take a turn when it is discovered that the woman murdered is actually Maryanne Doyle, a teen who disappeared from a small town in Ireland that Cat was visiting with her family 18 years earlier. The cat always suspected her father was involved in her disappearance, she knows he lied about knowing her, and now she wonders if her father is also involved in her murder as well.

Cat is determined to figure out what happened to Alice Lapaine, and to Maryanne Doyle all of those years before. She crosses ethical lines and will stop at nothing to discover the truth.

This was a really good one. I always enjoy books where there are detectives involved, especially the less ethical detectives. I will say this book was dark and had some troubling parts to it (I won’t say what), but it is a thriller, so what do you expect? And it had a good twist at the end, which is always good!

The timeline goes back and forth from present-day adult Cat to Cat at 8 years old on her family vacation in Ireland, but the majority of it is set in present-day London.

So have you read Sweet Little Lies? If so, what did you think? If not, does it sound like something you might like to read?

And if you like to read a lot, I highly recommend Book of the Month. I get so excited when the new selections come out at the beginning of the month! To read more about my first Book of the Month, read this post.

Book Review: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy

I recently finished another book on my reading list (which I am still not done with because other books keep getting in the way!) – The Last Equation of Isaac Severy. And I really enjoyed it! I would classify it as a mystery – it even says on the cover “A Novel in Clues” which made me really excited! I love a good mystery. This was actually a Book of the Month pick before I ever joined, but I had written it down (in my crazy extensive Note that I have on my phone).

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Isaac Severy was a genius mathematician who suddenly died by apparent suicide, leaving his family wondering what happened. After his death, his granddaughter Hazel,  a failing bookstore owner, received a letter postmarked before his death. In his letter, Isaac tells Hazel that people are after him, leads her to believe that perhaps his death wasn’t a suicide, and telling her she must destroy his work and find and deliver his hidden last equation to his trusted colleague before anyone else can get to it. Hazel must figure out complex clues left by her grandfather, and the more she learns, the more dangerous it becomes.

Although Hazel is really the main focus, the book is also told from the perspective of her brother Gregory, a cop who has a lot of secrets, and Isaac’s son Phillip, a string theory physicist who struggled with needing his father’s approval, all who are dealing with Isaac’s death and the aftermath.

I really love mysteries, and although I love a good thriller, sometimes I like sinking my teeth into an actual mystery.  The Last Equation of Isaac Severy reminded me a little bit of The DaVinci Code – a granddaughter is trying to find out what happened to her grandfather and she is following the clues to figure it out. However, it wasn’t nearly as action-packed as The DaVinci Code, but I am not really into the action so I didn’t find that as a bad thing. This book was super smart (most of the Severy family are geniuses) and I read it really fast.

So, have you read The Last Equation of Isaac Severy? If so, what did you think? If not, you should definitely add it to your reading list!

Book Review: The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

My second book of the Month pick was The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams (the first was The Last Time I Lied). I once again went a little outside of my comfort zone, since it is described as historical fiction and that is typically not my thing. Just like with The Kiss Quotient, I am so glad I did! I loved this book. I suppose I need to step out of my book comfort zone more often.

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Winthrop Island is a secluded island off the coast of New York where wealthy families spend their summers. In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on Winthrop Island for the wedding of her mother and Hugh Fisher, who owns a summer house on the island. The morning of the wedding, Miranda sees a boating accident and meets Joseph, the son of a lobsterman and the lighthouse keeper, and Miranda is instantly drawn to him.

The wedding transports Miranda into a new life of the elite full of parties and events, guided by her new stepsister Isobel, who has an intense relationship with Joseph that Miranda does not understand. Miranda quickly learns there are two types of people on the Island – the Families, the wealthy people who spend their summers there, and the Islanders who live there year-round and work there.

The book goes back and forth between several time periods. – Miranda’s time on the island in 1951, Miranda’s return to the island in 1969, and then time on the island before Miranda in 1931. I loved the way it bounced back and forth between the time periods.

I will say, I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this one, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the book. It was because I read it after I read The Last Time I Lied, and it just wouldn’t leave my brain. But once I got past that, I really got sucked into the story. When I finished it, I kept thinking, “But now what??”

Even though I typically don’t do much historical fiction, because I loved this book so much, I decided to look into the author Beatriz Williams. She has several books, and they all revolved around the extended Schuyler family, which I love, and it gives me hope that perhaps Miranda and company will make appearances in future books. So I’ve decided to start reading them from the beginning. They can stand alone but I am going to read them in order of publication, so the first one is Overseas, and I’ll be reading that soon! This first book doesn’t involve the Schuylers (her next one A Hundred Summers is the beginning), but I am still starting with this one.

If you are looking for a book that has a little bit of everything – a love story, forbidden love, secrets, a murder, mystery – The Summer Wives is a great pick for you! Or if you want, you can start at the beginning with me!

Book Review: Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

I was really excited to start Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding. I had seen it on several lists of books to read, and it did not disappoint! Now I can’t wait to read Robyn Harding’s first book The Party. So I think it is categorized in the thriller category, but I don’t know that I agree with that. It is pretty psychological, so that may be why. Anyway, I did categorize it as a thriller here.

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Frances Metcalfe is struggling – her son has a lot of issues, so she was thrilled for him to go to a new school.  Unfortunately, he had a really rocky start. Frances doesn’t fit in with the other moms at the private school. She is overweight and really insecure, and the fact that her husband is very handsome and works a lot doesn’t help.

And then Frances becomes friends with Kate Randolf. Kate is the opposite of Frances – she is beautiful and sophisticated and seems to have it all together. And for some reason, she wants to be friends with Frances. Frances relishes in the new friendship, which makes her more confident and happy. And her son flourishes as he becomes closer to Kate’s son.

But one of them isn’t who she says she is. Her name is Amber Kunik and she is a murderer.

This book was crazy. It is full of lies and deceit. And like I said, it was really psychological. And the big question is – can people change? And can we forgive them for their past?

This was a super-fast read for me – I read it in 3 days. And I loved who did the narrating in it – there are 3 different narrators, and I thought they all had really interesting perspectives. Although it might have been interesting to hear from Amber Kunik … or maybe not. You’ll see what I mean if you read it.

Now I am anxious to order The Party, just as soon as I read what I have in my very large stack of books to be read at home (which somehow just keeps growing)…

Have you read Her Pretty Face? If so, what did you think? If not, you should definitely check it out!

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

When I read a really good book, I generally go check out the author and see what else he or she has written. And after I finished The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, that is exactly what I did. (If you have not read that book, please go do it now). So his first book is called Final Girls, and I quickly ordered it so I could devour it as well. Final Girls was excellent too, but I am going to warn you and say it is really REALLY dark. Thrillers are, by nature, dark of course. But this was even darker.

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The term Final Girls refers to the last woman who survives in a horror film, and it is also the term that the media has used to categorize three women who were the sole survivors of horrible massacres. Quincy Carpenter was in college when she and a group of 5 friends went to a cabin the woods to celebrate her friend’s birthday. While they were there, a deadly massacre occurred, and only Quincy survived. A few years earlier, Samantha became a member of the Final Girls when everyone at the motel she was working at was murdered except her. And the original Final Girl was Lisa, who survived a mass murder at her sorority house.

Quincy seems to be doing well – she has a successful baking blog, a loving boyfriend that she lives with, a support system with Coop, the cop who rescued her, and the press has finally left her alone. She also has a dependency on Xanax and wine, and she has no memory of what happened that night in the cabin. But everything starts back up when Lisa, the original Final Girl, is discovered dead in her bathtub with her wrists slit, and then Sam mysteriously shows up at her apartment building. Sam seems determined to make Quincy reline the past and remember what happened that night, no matter what it takes, making Quincy wonder what Sam is really hiding and if she can be trusted.

This book was SO super psychological. It gave me so much anxiety. And it was really creepy too. I kept thinking it was leading one way, and to be honest, I was so worried I could see the writing on the wall and be disappointed. The Last Time I Lied had such an insane ending. And this one did not disappoint. It kept me guessing until the end, which I LOVE!! It was CRAZY. And Quincy is kind of an unreliable narrator – between the Xanax and the wine and the fact that she has no idea what happened, I really questioned her. And the fact that it is dealing with these deadly, bloody massacres makes it so much darker than a normal thriller.

So have you read Final Girls? If so, what did you think?? If you haven’t and love thrillers, you should definitely check out Final Girls!