Podcasts I can’t stop listening to

A couple years ago I did a post of five podcasts that I suggested listening to and I decided to do a follow-up because I’ve discovered a few more since then!

I mainly listen to podcasts when I’m driving or at work because I always find myself losing attention during audiobooks and missing huge chunks of contents. Podcasts are not only interesting to me, but they make me feel like I’m a part of a conversation between some really cool people.

1. My Favorite Murder

Image result for my favorite murder

Many of you have probably heard about My Favorite Murder and I’d love to give a warm welcome to any fellow murderinos out there! For those of you who don’t know, My Favorite Murder is a true crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark where they recount various true crime stories in their main episodes and read “hometown” emails from fans in their minisodes.

Karen and Georgia not only bring fascinating true crime cases to the table, but they also bring the coolest friendship I’ve ever witnessed. Their chemistry and riffing is some of the best I’ve listened to. In addition, they are both major mental health advocates and encourage those who struggle with mental health to get the help they need.

They also come up with some of the best catchphrases! Some of my favorites include:

  • Fuck you, I’m married.
  • Fuck politeness.
  • Godammit, Patriarchy.
  • You’re in a cult; call your dad.
  • (and the most famous) Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.

Also, if you didn’t know, Karen and Georgia have a book, called Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide, about their lives, true crime, and more.

2. Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine

Image result for sawbones podcastWhen you have a boyfriend in medical school, medicine starts to get interesting to you even when it never used to before. Sawbones is the perfect podcast for anyone even remotely interested in medicine.

It’s a weekly comedic medical podcast hosted by Sydnee McElroy, M.D. and her husband, Justin McElroy. Each week Syndee discusses a medical topic while Justin provides hilarious commentary. They have no fear of discussing important, current medical topics, in addition to their comedic historical recounts.

Sawbones is a part of The McElroy Family of shows where you can find a lot of other amazing podcasts this family produces. Sydnee and Justin also have a book called The Sawbones Book: The Hilarious, Horrifying Road to Modern Medicine.

3. The Murder Squad

Related imageHosted by investigative journalist, Billy Jensen, and retired cold case investigator, Paul Holes, The Murder Squad is a true crime podcast about solving unsolved murders.

Each week Jensen and Holes tell the listeners about an unsolved case and all of the facts they have. They attempt to solve cases using a variety of methods, including: familial DNA, social media, geotargeting, old-fashioned detective work, and most importantly, the listeners.

The listeners are the most important part of this podcast because Jensen and Holes are relying on citizen detectives to bring forward facts and information about cold cases forward to investigators. They use this podcast to give voices and attention to unsolved cases.

If you feel you can provide assistance in their unsolved cases or are just interested in true crime podcasts, check out The Murder Squad.

Both Billy Jensen and Paul Holes have their own books available for reading or listening:

In addition, Billy Jensen and Paul Holes both worked on The Golden State Killer case and worked directly with Michelle McNamara, author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer.

4. Done Disappeared

Image result for done disappearedAnd finally, if you’re interested in true crime, but need a break from true true crime, Done Disappeared is the perfect palate cleanser. It is a fictionalized true crime podcast hosted and produced by John David Booter.

There are currently three season of Done Disappeared where John David Booter attempts to solve already solved or unsolved cases in his town of Davistown, PA.

Each episode gives you the taste of true crime podcast with the absolute absurdity of a comedy. It even makes fun of real true crime podcasts (ex. My Favorite Murder becomes “My Dearest Disappearance”). In addition, each episode is only 20 to 30 minutes long so you can get through quite a few on a long drive!

Are there any podcasts you love that I should check out? Have you listened to any of the above? Let me know your thoughts!

It’s been a while…

And many things have changed.

I want to get back into reviewing books and talking books with whoever is out there because I’ve really missed it. Before I get into reviewing books though because I don’t even know where to start yet, I wanted to give you guys a little update:

  • I started a new job back in May. I work for a pet retail company now in the marketing department and it’s a dream. On any given day there is a dog in the office and, sometimes, my dogs make an appearance.
  • I fixed up a house over the summer. It was an undertaking and we’re still not totally finished yet, but it’s been so rewarding to see the before and after of this space that’s now ours.
  • My boyfriend started med school! Yes, he interviewed and got in and I couldn’t be more proud. I honestly can’t believe he’s in and starting this new chapter in his life.

It seems like everything and nothing has changed over these past few months, but I am really excited to get back into writing about books. I think I’m going to start with a review of Skyward by Brandon Sanderson because his books have dominated my life this year.

That’s all for my updates, let me know about yours below! I really would love to hear from you!

Review: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Thank you, Gallery Books, for my free copy of Queenie in exchange for an honest review.

To be completely honest, the jacket of this book does it a disservice. Queenie is so much more than a combination of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Me Before You . There are, of course, similarities, but I did not expect Queenie to affect me in the way it did, but I closed the book feeling so much for Queenie and the story I’d just read.

Queenie follows the life of Queenie Jenkins as her life begins to “fall apart”. Following a break-up with her long term boyfriend, Queenie enters into sexual relationships with many different men who begin to undermine her self-worth and confidence. From her career to her family to her sexual relationships, Queenie questions who she is, what she’s doing, and who she wants to become.

Candice Carty-Williams‘ prose was honest and modern. She wrote with the voice of a young woman who truly understood the struggles of someone searching for meaning in the world and feeling as though it’s not there for them. I struggled with the prose at first and found myself having to reread passages in the beginning to understand the British slang and different dialects Carty-Williams’ wrote in occasionally, but after the first couple chapters I was absolutely hooked. Queenie’s voice was one I really identified with even though the character/author and I have not had the same life experiences.

The personalities of the female characters absolutely jumped off the page. They were all nuanced and human. There was nothing cookie-cutter about any of these characters and I loved that. There have been some books I’ve read where all the female characters are the same people on the inside and they’ve ignored what makes women so amazing — their humanity. Carty-Williams celebrated her female characters and their emotions and that made my heart soar while reading this book.

My favorite parts of Queenie’s story, however, were near the end.

Spoilers ahead!

The support of Queenie’s friends as she suffered through anxiety and, potentially, depression was truly the shining light in this book. Carty-Williams’ wrote about healthy female friendships and support networks that modern women today (especially those with mental health struggles) really need. My heart was so full near the end when Queenie’s friends constantly showed their support and love for her.

I also felt that Carty-Williams’ did an incredible job showing Queenie’s journey through therapy. She showed how difficult it can be and how even when you’re feeling better, you can still relapse into panic or struggles. She made the therapy experience for Queenie so real and I admire her ability to have done that.

Spoilers over!

I cannot recommend this book enough. I loved the characters, the prose, and the story more than I thought I would. I think this book is important for everyone to read, but especially young women of color. Queenie is truly a great read and I give it five out of five stars.

Okay, now that you’ve read me singing its praises, go read Queenie!

Top Audiobooks of 2019 (so far…)

It feels like it’s been 84 years since I’ve written anything on this blog and it may actually have been… Earlier this year I took a long break from bookstagram to focus on bettering myself as a person and professional, but I’m back writing about what I love and am itching to tell you guys all about what I’ve been up to!

Before I even get into that though, I want to tell you about the top audiobooks I’ve listened to this year because I have been listening to quite a few on my commutes to and from the office.

So let’s get into my top four audiobooks of 2019, so far…

4. West Cork

So, technically West Cork is not an audiobook, but an Audible Original. It is formatted like a serial podcast with themes/focuses for each chapter or episode. That being said, it is absolutely riveting.

West Cork is a true crime audio series detailing the events and investigation of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Sophie was a french woman vacationing in West Cork Ireland when she was found murdered outside of her vacation home days before Christmas in 1996.

Investigative journalist, Sam Bungey, and documentarian, Jennifer Forde, take listeners through the details of the unsolved murder and it’s haphazard investigation. They provide evidence from the original investigation and present-day interviews from major players, including the prime suspect.

I was completely entrenched in this audiobook. As a true crime fan, West Cork had everything needed to be interesting without being too gruesome or upsetting. It also had perspectives from everyone involved in the investigation of Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder so there was nothing one-sided about the story. West Cork is an average length audiobook at 7 hours and 50 minutes so it’s perfect to listen to a chapter or two on any commute!

3. Emma

If you’re a fan of audiobooks with a full cast Audible’s Original Drama of Jane Austen‘s Emma is for you.

I’ve never been one for classics. I’ve always found my attention wandering whenever I’d try to read them for school and there are so many other modern books to read that I felt like I never had time to explore the classics! Well, lo and behold, the full cast edition of Emma was the perfect introduction. It featured Emma Thompson as the main narrator with other audiobook narrators to read and act out all of the dialogue between characters. It honestly felt a bit like listening to a movie without having to worry about missing anything on screen.

Emma tells the story of a young woman named Emma Woodhouse and the trouble she gets into when trying to play matchmaker for the many people in her life. The narration sucked me into this audiobook, but the story made me stay. I had so many moments where I was kicking myself for not getting into a classic sooner because I had so much fun. I even purchased the Audible Original Drama of Northanger Abbey because I have come to  love the full cast audiobook world of Jane Austen thanks to Emma. This audiobook comes in at the standard length of 8 hours and 21 minutes.

2. Evil Has a Name: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation

Is anyone shocked to see another true crime audiobook on this list? No? Just me?

Evil Has a Name is the perfect follow-up to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. It dives into more detail about the investigation of the Golden State Killer and the prime suspect, Joseph DeAngelo. It’s narrated by the primary investigators on the Golden State Killer Case, Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, and Peter McDonnell.

This audiobook was such an interesting behind-the-scenes look into a case that gave me nightmares last year. It was amazing to hear the science behind how Joseph DeAngelo was caught and how the case was reopened by complete accident thanks to Paul Holes. I had intense emotions while listening to this book. Anger. Heartbreak. Vindication. And everything in between (especially when Paul Holes talks about Michelle McNamara).

I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone who has read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark or anyone who has the slightest interest in true crime. It is absolutely worth listening to and it’s on the shorter side at 6 hours and 13 minutes.

1. Becoming

Finally, the best audiobook I’ve listened to so far this year (and probably the best all year), is Becoming by Michelle Obama. I have very few words to describe how incredible of an experience it was to listen to Michelle read her life story, but it was incredible.

I have the greatest admiration for the former first lady and hearing her journey to that position was an experience I will always love. Hearing her voice from my car speakers on my morning commutes or when stuck in traffic was something I looked forward to every day.

I had so many great takeaways and life lessons from this memoir. Michelle Obama eloquently describes her struggles, triumphs, “swerves” in a way that I could only imagine being able to do.

If you’re in need a good memoir that makes even the most elegant human (yes, Michelle Obama is the picture of elegance in my eyes) seem truly human, then you need to listen to Becoming. A fair warning though… this audiobook is long. It clocks in at 19 hours and 3 minutes, but every minute is so worth it.

So, that’s all I’ve got for audiobooks I’ve listened to this year! I want to hear about your favorite audiobooks now so hop into the comments and let me know!

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter spotlight tour!

What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life? 

I have the honor of featuring an excerpt of In Another Life by C.C. Hunter for all of you to enjoy! I am very excited about this book because I really enjoyed her earlier novel This Heart of Mine and I’ve recently discovered my love of YA thrillers by reading books like One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. I have no doubts that In Another Life will live up to my expectations for a edge-of-seat, page-turning thriller for a younger audience.

Now onto the details!

Title: In Another Life
Author: C.C. Hunter
Pub. Date: March 26, 2019
ISBN: 9781250312273

Get a yourself a copy from your local bookstore, library,
or from Wednesday Books!

In Another Life_COVERFrom New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim.

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel.

Christie’s books include The Mortician’s Daughter series, Shadow Fall Novels and This Heart of Mine.


“What are you doing?” I ask when Dad pulls over at a con­venience store only a mile from where Mom and I are now living. My voice sounds rusty after not talking during the five hour ride. But I was afraid that if I said anything, it would all spill out: My anger. My hurt. My disappointment in the man who used to be my superhero.

“I need gas and a bathroom,” he says.

“Bathroom? So you can’t even come in to see Mom when you drop me off?” My heart crinkles up like a used piece of aluminum foil.

He meets my eyes, ignores my questions, and says, “You want anything?”

“Yeah. My freaking life back!” I jump out of the car and slam the door so hard, the sound of the metal hitting metal cracks in the hot Texas air. I haul ass across the parking lot, watching my white sandals eat up the pavement, hiding the sheen of tears in my eyes.

“Chloe,” Dad calls out. I move faster.

Eyes still down, I yank open the door, bolt inside the store, and smack right into someone. Like, my boobs smash against someone’s chest.

“Crap,” a deep voice growls.

A Styrofoam cup hits the ground. Frozen red slushie ex­plodes all over my white sandals. The cup lands on its side, bleeding red on the white tile.
I swallow the lump in my throat and jerk back, remov­ing my B cup boobs from some guy’s chest.

“Sorry,” he mutters, even though it’s my fault.

I force myself to look up, seeing first his wide chest, then his eyes and the jet ­black hair scattered across his brow. Great! Why couldn’t he be some old fart?

I return to his bright green eyes and watch as they shift from apologetic to shocked, then to angry.

I should say something—like, add my own apology—but the lump in my throat returns with a vengeance.

“Shit.” The word sneaks through his frown.

Yeah, all of this is shit! I hear Dad call my name again from outside.

My throat closes tighter and tears sting my eyes. Embar­rassed to cry in front of a stranger, I snatch off my sandals and dart to a cooler.

Opening the glass door, I stick my head in needing a cooldown. I swat a few stray tears off my cheeks. Then I feel someone next to me. Dad’s not letting this go.

“Just admit you screwed up!” I look over and am swallowed by those same angry light green eyes from a minute ago. “I thought you were . . . Sorry,” I say, knowing it’s late for an apology. His look is unsettling.

He continues to glare. An all­in­my­face kind of glare.

As if this is more than a spilled slushie to him.

“I’ll pay for it.” When he doesn’t even blink, I add an­ other, “I’m sorry.”

“Why are you here?” His question seethes out.

“What? Do I know you?” I know I was rude, but—hotness aside—this guy is freaking me out.

His eyes flash anger. “What do you want?” His tone car­ries an accusation I don’t understand.

“What do you mean?” I counter.

“Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.”

He’s still staring me down. And I feel like I’m shrinking in his glare.

“I’m not . . . You must have me mixed up with someone else.” I shake my head, unsure if this guy’s as crazy as he is sexy. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I said I’m sorry.” I grab a canned drink and barefoot, carrying sticky sandals, hurry to the front of the store.

Dad walks in, scowling.

“Careful,” a cashier says to Dad while mopping up the slushie just inside the door.

“Sorry,” I mutter to the worker, then point to Dad. “He’s paying for my Dr Pepper! And for that slushie.”

I storm off to the car, get in, and hold the cold Diet Dr Pepper can to my forehead. The hair on the back of my neck starts dancing. I look around, and the weird hot guy is standing outside the store, staring at me again.

Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.

Yup, crazy. I look away to escape his gaze. Dad climbs back in the car. He doesn’t start it, just sits there, eyeball­ ing me. “You know this isn’t easy for me either.”

“Right.” So why did you leave?

He starts the car, but before we drive off, I look around again and see the dark-­haired boy standing in the parking lot, writing on the palm of his hand.

Is he writing down Dad’s license plate number? He’s a freak. I almost say something to Dad but remember I’m pissed at him.

Dad pulls away. I focus on the rear view mirror. The hot guy stays there, eyes glued on Dad’s car, and I stay glued on him until he’s nothing but a speck in the mirror.

“I know this is hard,” Dad says. “I think about you every day.”

I nod, but don’t speak.

Minutes later, Dad pulls over in front of our mailbox. Or rather Mom’s and mine. Dad’s home isn’t with us anymore. “I’ll call you tomorrow to see how your first day of school was.”

My gut knots into a pretzel with the reminder that I’ll be starting as a senior at a new school. I stare out at the old house, in the old neighborhood. This house once belonged to my grandmother. Mom’s been renting it to an elderly couple for years. Now we live here. In a house that smells like old people . . . and sadness.

“Is she home?” Dad asks.

In the dusk of sunset, our house is dark. Gold light leaks out of next door, Lindsey’s house—she’s the one and only person I know my own age in town.

“Mom’s probably resting,” I answer. There’s a pause. “How’s she doing?”

You finally ask? I look at him gripping the wheel and star­ing at the house. “Fine.” I open the car door, not wanting to draw out the goodbye. It hurts too much.

“Hey.” He smiles. “At least give me a hug?”

I don’t want to, but for some reason—because under all this anger, I still love him—I lean over the console and hug him. He doesn’t even smell like my dad. He’s wearing co­logne that Darlene probably bought him. Tears sting my eyes.

“Bye.” I get one slushie­-dyed foot out of the car.

Before my butt’s off the seat, he says, “Is she going back to work soon?”

I swing around. “Is that why you asked about her? Be­cause of money?”

“No.” But the lie is so clear in his voice, it hangs in the air.

Who is this man? He dyes the silver at his temples. He’s sporting a spiky haircut and wearing a T­-shirt with the name of a band he didn’t even know existed until Darlene.
Before I can stop myself, the words trip off my tongue. “Why? Does your girlfriend need a new pair of Jimmy Choos?”
“Don’t, Chloe,” he says sternly. “You sound like your mom.”

That hurt now knots in my throat. “Pleeease. If I sounded like my mom, I’d say, ‘Does the whore bitch need a new pair of Jimmy Choos!’” I swing back to the door.

He catches my arm. “Look, young lady, I can’t ask you to love her like I do, but I expect you to respect her.”

“Respect her? You have to earn respect, Dad! If I wore the clothes she wears, you’d ground me. In fact, I don’t even respect you anymore! You screwed up my life. You screwed up Mom’s life. And now you’re screwing someone eighteen years younger than yourself.” I bolt out and get halfway to the house when I hear his car door open and slam.

“Chloe. Your stuff.” He sounds angry, but he can just join the crowd, because I’m more than mad—I’m hurt.

If I weren’t afraid he’d follow me into the house all pissed off and start an argument with Mom, I’d just keep going. But I don’t have it in me to hear them fight again. And I’m not sure Mom’s up to it either. I don’t have an option but to do the right thing. It sucks when you’re the only person in the family acting like an adult.

I swing around, swat at my tears, and head back to the curb.
He’s standing beside his car, my backpack in one hand and a huge shopping bag with the new school clothes he bought me in the other. Great. Now I feel like an ungrate­ ful bitch.
When I get to him, I mutter, “Thanks for the clothes.” He says, “Why are you so mad at me?”

So many reasons. Which one do I pick? “You let Dar­lene turn my room into a gym.”
He shakes his head. “We moved your stuff into the other bedroom.”

“But that was my room, Dad.”

“Is that really why you’re mad or . . . ? He pauses. “It’s not my fault that your mom got—”
“Keep thinking that,” I snap. “One of these days, you might even believe it!”

Hands full, chest heavy, I leave my onetime superhero and my broken heart scattered on the sidewalk. My tears are falling fast and hot by the time I shut the front door behind me.

Buttercup, a medium-­sized yellow mutt of a dog, greets me with a wagging tail and a whimper. I ignore him. I drop my backpack, my shopping bag, and dart into the bathroom. Felix, my red tabby cat, darts in with me.

I attempt to shut the door in a normal way instead of an I’m­totally­pissed way. If Mom sees me like this, it’ll upset her. Even worse, it’ll fuel her anger.

“Chloe?” Mom calls. “Is that you?”

“Yeah. I’m in the bathroom.” I hope I don’t sound as emotionally ripped as I feel.
I drop down on the toilet seat, press the backs of my hands against my forehead, and try to breathe.

Mom’s steps creak across the old wood floors. Her voice sounds behind the door. “You okay, hon?”

Felix is purring, rubbing his face on my leg. “Yeah. My stomach’s . . . I think the meat loaf I had at Dad’s was bad.”

“Did Darlene fix it?” Her tone’s rolled and deep­-fried in hate.

I grit my teeth. “Yeah.”

“Please tell me your dad ate a second helping.”

I close my eyes, when what I really want to do is scream, Stop it! I get why Mom’s so angry. I get that my dad’s a piece of shit. I get that he refuses to take any blame, and that makes it worse. I get what she’s been through. I get all of it. But does she have a clue how much it hurts me to listen to her take potshots at someone I still sort of love?

“I’m going to sit out on the patio,” she says. “When you’re out, join me.”

“Uh­huh,” I say.

Mom’s steps creak away.

I stay seated and try not to think about what all hurts, and instead I pet Felix. His eyes, so green, take me back to the boy in the store. Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.

What the heck did he mean?

Review of Beartown by Fredrik Backman

“Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion. The world becomes easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard, It makes demands. Hate is simple. So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe – comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.” 

— Beartown, Fredrik Backman

A while ago I read A Man Called Ove and heard my heart crack in my chest. Fredrik Backman created a man so grumpy yet so lovable that, while reading about his struggles, I felt them as if they were my own. I knew after setting that book down that I wanted to read more of Backman’s work, but wasn’t sure if I was ready. After a long time of reading other books and avoiding the Backman on my shelf, I finally picked up Beartown

Beartown tells the story of a small town deep within a forest that is utterly devoted to hockey. The people of Beartown believe that hockey will restore their town to its former glory, especially because their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals. All of the pressure of fixing Beartown’s future rests on the shoulders of a group of teenage boys.

But with that pressure and potential for glory, an act of violence in Beartown leaves a young girl reeling and a whole time on the brink of falling apart. Backman’s story about a small town sheds light on the entire world.

With only his words, Backman has the power to rip out your heart and inspire you at the same time. Beartown was full of so much heart and heartbreak that I felt myself clutching my chest in every chapter. Every single character came alive on the page and I felt like I knew them. They were utterly human. I truly felt for each character (yes, even the not so good ones). I wanted to console Maya and hug Ana. I wanted Amat and Fatima to be given the world. I wanted to tell Benji to knock it off, but also that he was going to be okay. I can honestly say I believe Backman to be a master of character creation. Each of these characters were fully fleshed out with real human emotion and behaviors.

With the utmost confidence I can say that I love this story, but here’s where things get tricky…

I desperately wanted it to end, but didn’t want to let go of it. This book was painful to read in the best way possible. If I thought my heart cracked when I read A Man Called Ove, it absolutely shattered when I read Beartown. The world Backman created was beautiful, well-written, and made me feel so many different emotions. But the events that took place in the world and hurt the characters ended up hurting me too. It’s a strange feeling to love a book so much, but to be constantly angry and frustrated with it at the same time.

I’m grateful there’s a sequel (Us Against You) so that I can immerse myself in the world once again, but I am so scared to start it because I know it’s going to hurt just as much. Beartown gets all the stars from me. I know that I am going to be thinking about this book for a while, it has left a mark on my heart.

“I think you got him, Michelle.”

Open the door. Show us your face.

Walk into the light.

— I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara

I want to talk about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. In light of the Golden State Killer’s recent arrest, this book is incredibly timely and informative.

Prior to hearing the recommendation for this book on My Favorite Murder I had not heard of the Golden State Killer (also known as: East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker). As a lover of all things true crime though, I impulsively purchased this book and let it sit on my shelves for a little while. Then when I heard of the GSK’s arrest, I knew I had to read this.

And I am so glad I did.

Don’t get me wrong, this book is terrifying. Reading about the things the GSK did and how heinous his crimes were made me paranoid and constantly double check my locks at night. I was disgusted that someone so sick and disturbed was walking around freely and hadn’t been caught for 40 years. However, I am grateful I read this book after his arrest because it gave me some level of comfort to know that the committer of these rapes and murders was locked up and would be tried for his crimes.

What makes this book great though is Michelle McNamara’s writing and dedication to this search. You can tell by the narrative that she’s written that her life had been dedicated to putting this man behind bars. Her writing is strong and kept me on my toes throughout the entire book. She balanced describing the GSK’s crimes with sections about her life and her search. This gave the reader’s much needed breaks from the descriptions of the GSK’s attacks and provided some insight into why she wrote this book. I never felt like I was being buried with facts because McNamara weaved her own thoughts into the book and described where her search took her. There were many sections that described how she worked with current and former investigators to get a deeper understanding of the case and the Golden State Killer.

Every time I turned a page in this book, I got chills from how terrifying the crimes were and how McNamara described everything about this case. I never wanted to put it down and, even though I finished it last night, I’m still thinking about this case and want to dive in to do my own research.

My favorite part of this book is the afterword and epilogue. After a tense telling of the Golden State Killer, Patton Oswalt’s afterword left my heart in pieces. He described his life with Michelle and how dedicated she was to solving this case. He wrote about how desperately he wanted to see the cell doors shut behind the Golden State Killer and that somehow he hopes Michelle knows. It is because of Oswalt that this book was finished because he, “…knew that [he] wouldn’t be able to live and go on with life if this was left undone” (USA Today). How supportive Oswalt was of Michelle’s work in life and death broke my heart, but made me feel so honored that I was given the opportunity to read this book.

I hope that the Golden State Killer goes to jail and rots there forever. I hope one day Patton Oswalt gets to talk to him and asks him all of the question McNamara wrote in her “Letter to an Old Man” (the epilogue to I’ll Be Gone in the Dark).

I think everyone should pick up this book. It is one of the best books I’ve read (despite the disturbing content).

Here are some pieces about the Golden State Killer and his recent arrest that I found interesting:

Bookstagram breaks are healthy.

This weekend I took a break from bookstagram. I logged out of my account so that I wouldn’t get notifications and just focused on things that made me happy this weekend.

While I love bookstagram and the community, it can be tiring at times. Bookstagram is a lot of work and sometimes negativity likes to sneak its way in. By the time the weekend rolled around I was exhausted from every day things in my life and on social media and needed time to take care of myself.

After a weekend away, I felt great. Here’s a couple of things I accomplished:

  • Finished Other People’s Houses
  • Saw A Quiet Place (and loved it!)
  • Finished season 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events (and can’t wait for season 3)
  • Worked out multiple times with my boyfriend
  • Visited my sister at work and had a pretty great BBQ chicken pizza

None of these are major things, but they were things I wanted to do and could do without interruption or worry about social media.

After this weekend, I might take more breaks from bookstagram and focus on taking care of myself (and worry less about how other people are perceiving me). It really did help with my mental health (and, saying this mostly for myself, there is no shame is taking a break from something no matter how positive it usually is).

Review of Sinner by Christopher Graves

I was sent a free copy of Sinner by Christopher Graves in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Smith Publicity!

Sinner was not the book for me. While an interesting premise and good pacing, I could not overlook the content in this book and how uncomfortable in made me feel.

Content warnings for Sinner (highlight to see): murder, rape, violence against women

Sinner was based on an award-winning screenplay written by the author, Christopher Graves. It tells the story of Zeke, a religious extremist, whose life has been immersed in violence and literal interpretations of the Bible. While hiding in the world as a grocery store clerk, Zeke continues decades of violence and crusades created by his ancestors. Zeke spends his time in his cellar preparing his victims for the ultimate choice: redemption or death. Zeke’s latest victim makes a third option, though, and escapes. Now Zeke must recapture his victim or face his worst fear: the thought that God has forsaken him.

Based on content alone, I don’t know that I would have finished this book. While I love true crime and thrillers, this book was really heavy and violent towards women. Given that Zeke’s victims are women he deems “sinners” and that Zeke is a serial killer, it would make sense that he is violent towards woman. However, it is a trope I am very tired of and makes me very uncomfortable. I dislike reading about the woman who has been assaulted (view content warnings for more specificity) rising from the ashes and becoming stronger than she was before. Women can be strong without having a traumatic event to help them “realize” it. This is where Sinner fails for me. The trope really spoiled the book and kept me from fully immersing myself in Graves’ story.

Another negative, is that I found myself a little confused at moments throughout this book. There were times while I was reading that I felt like I had skipped over something important and missed a major piece of the novel. I’m not sure if this was because I wasn’t reading closely enough or because there were parts that weren’t written very clearly, but it definitely hindered on my experience reading this novel.

What redeemed this book was the pacing. Since it was previously a screenplay, the story moved quickly and had very few lulls. Since the pacing was exciting, I was able to get through this book and definitely felt some chilling moments. I think Graves did a good job at building the tension throughout this novel thanks to the pacing.

Overall, I think this book would be great for horror/thriller fans. If you like horror and can handle reading the content (see content warnings for examples), you might be a fan of Sinner. I think the reason this book wasn’t for me was because of the content.

This book gets two out of five stars from me!

A review of The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

Huge thank you to Harper Perennial for providing me a copy of The Oracle Year in exchange for an honest review.

As a fan of David Wong, I knew The Oracle Year by Charles Soule would be a great fit for me.  It sounded like a adventure full of questions and bizarre situations and it did not disappoint. The Oracle Year tells the story of Will Dando, a bassist living in New York City, after he wakes up with exactly 108 predictions in his head. Will, with the help of his friend, sets up a site where he can publish these predictions and make more money than he thought possible. Unfortunately, with the power Will has been given he ends up making a lot of enemies. Among them: the president of the United States, a nationally renowned televangelist, and a warlord with a live nuclear bomb.

As the world is falling apart around him, Will learns he is the only person who can put it back together. Enlisting the few people he can trust, Will’s journey takes him on an adventure that spans the globe while taking the reader on a really wild ride.

I think my favorite part of this novel is the idea that a person considered to be a “nobody” is entrusted with power on such a large scale. I also love the specificity of the predictions he receives. Starting with the number, to some of predictions themselves, Soule really created an interesting web of predictions. I like how Soule weaved everything together from beginning to end. Nothing mentioned in the beginning was not left out from later in the novel. It showed me that Soule gave great care to the world he created and didn’t want to leave a single thread hanging.

Of course, that is, for the biggest thread there is. There are many questions in this book that are answered, but there is one that isn’t. I won’t say which one so as not to spoil the novel for anyone interested in reading it, but it definitely left me wondering. That being said, I don’t think the big question not being answered detracted from the novel at all. The Oracle Year is about Will’s journey and what Will did with the knowledge he received. I cared more about that than the logistics or science behind the story.

Another thing that was great about this novel was the humor. Soule was great a bringing humor to the novel in a great way – through his characters. The humor was not too much or barely there. Soule was masterful about the way he incorporated funny remarks or actions from his characters. He created a serious novel with humorous undertones and that is hard to do.

My only complaint is that the beginning is a little slow. It took me some time to get into the novel and actually want to dive headfirst into Will’s world. It’s the only thing I wish was different.

Overall, The Oracle Year gets three and a half out of five stars from me! It was funny, intriguing, and a really interesting take on the ideas of power and faith.

Make sure you get your hands on this book when it comes out on April 3!