We Were Liars

We Were Liars

By E. Lockhart

3.5 / 5 ⭐


“Can I hold your hand? The universe is seeming really huge right now, I need something to hold on to.”

Photo taken with Focos
Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

We Were Liars is the story of the Sinclair Family. A wealthy family that summers on their own island off the coast of Massachusetts. A family whose patriarch, Harris Sinclair is a demanding dictator to his children and grandchildren. 

Cadence Sinclair Easton loves coming to Beechwood Island. She loves seeing her cousins Johnny and Mirren every summer, but summer eight is when Gat joins them. He is the nephew of the man dating Johnny’s mom. From that summer on, Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are known to the family as the Liars.

Summer fifteen, the Liars are back on the island. Gat and Cadence start to feel an attraction towards each other. But Gat is unsettled; he has been to India and has seen how impoverished the world is compared to Harris Sinclar’s little island world. Cadence begins to fall deeper in love with Gat, but Gat warns her that her granddad doesn’t approve of someone like him.

One night Cadence is found by her mother on the beach, half in the water wearing only a camisole and her underwear. She is taken to the hospital. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, and now has migraines. She also can’t recall what happened the night of the accident. Her mother takes her back to Vermont to rest and heal. Cadence reaches out to Johnny and Mirren, but neither answer. Gat never checks in on her. 

Summer seventeen, two years later, Cadence returns to Beechwood Island. She still doesn’t remember the accident and everyone is told not to talk about it. Being on the island starts to bring back her memories piece by piece. As Cadence slowly begins to tell others what she remembers, she realizes some of them are lying.

I can’t say I was totally engrossed in this book, but I did want to know what happened to Cadence that summer. It kept me reading. The relationship between the four Liars was well written and the ending was surprising, but not shocking.




Regretting You

By Colleen Hoover

4 / 5 ⭐


Do you ever wonder if your life would be different if you had made different choices? Have you ever been asked if you have regrets? Regretting You delves deep into how we live our lives around the consequences of the choices we make in life. 

📨Morgan Grant is a stay at home mom who married her high school sweetheart, who got her pregnant at seventeen. She now wonders if there’s more to life than making breakfast burritos for her husband, Chris, and her sixteen-year-old daughter Clara. Her daily routine is just that, routine. Morgan and her daughter don’t see eye to eye on anything these days, especially Clara’s choice in boys. Morgan just doesn’t want Clara to make the same mistake she made by getting pregnant so young.

 📨Clara can’t believe that Miller Adams, sucker-sucking, truck driving Miller Adams, would even look her way. He’s been ignoring her for what seems like years at school. But Clara makes a choice to pick Miller up on the side of the road on a steamy, hot day and sets things in motion that will only drive her and her mom farther apart.

📨Suddenly, Morgan’s routine life is shattered by one phone call. There’s been a tragic accident – it’s Chris. As details unfold, Morgan’s heart is broken once again by secrets that are revealed. Now she must try to protect Clara and rebuild their life. When it seems life can’t be any more uncertain for Morgan, someone from her past questions if she ever regrets the choices she made.

Photo taken with Focos
Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

This was my first Colleen Hoover book, and it won’t be my last. I loved her writing and the alternating point-of-views between mother and daughter. Although the story was a bit predictable in places, the natural dialogue and relatable characters easily made up for it.


I’m so excited to be a part of the #bookishbuddybingeread for this book with my #bookishladiesclub pals.

Thank you to @netgalley, @colleenhoover and #montlakeromance for this ARC for review.

Pick up this book on December 10.


Holly Banks Full of Angst

Holly Banks Full of Angst

By Julie Valerie


4 / 5 ⭐

Have you ever met women that seem to have it all together and you feel like you’re literally being held together by the peanut butter smeared on your jeans? If so, you are going to love Holly Banks.

Welcome to the Village of Primm, where porches look like a Pinterest post and the town has their very own giant topiary peahen, named Plume. Holly and her family have just moved into this uppity community and Holly isn’t making a great first impression, chasing her daughter’s bus in piggy pjs, then rear-ending a school bus, and sitting in the principal’s office all on the first day of school. Holly soon finds herself wrangling with the narcissistic PTA President Mary-Margaret, who wants Holly to volunteer, be involved, and bring cupcakes. Instead, Holly is sneaking out of meetings on her hands and knees and throwing up in scrapbooking swap bags. 

Holly isn’t sure if it’s her or her My Little Pony loving daughter that has to adjust to kindergarten. All the while, she is trying to not let the fact that her husband’s gorgeous boss is eating fries off his plate drive her nuts. And how did she get volunteered to bake thirteen pies, or did she offer? Why is the cable guy giving her parenting advice? As if things couldn’t get crazier, Holly’s screwball mother blows in. Holly is feeling like the worst mother in the world; she even turns to Psychic Betty on the internet for advice and in a sad, desperate way friendship. Holly then, in her “hollyish ways,” finds herself in the middle of a scandalous mystery that reveals that not all Pinterest perfect lives are what they seem.

Photo taken with Focos
Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

I literally laughed out loud quite a few times while reading this book. Holly is as real as it comes. I love it when we hear her thoughts, and honestly, her thoughts are what we are all thinking. If you’re a wife, a mother, a grandmother, even a husband, you will find this book funny, fresh and heartwarming.


Thank you to @Julievalerieauthor, @lakeunionauthors, and @netgallery for this ARC for review.

Watch for this book December 1, 2019

If Only I Could Tell You

If Only I Could Tell You

By Hannah Beckerman

4 / 5 ⭐


I was immediately drawn into this book at the prologue. It takes place in 1988, two sisters witness something, and each believes they know what truly happened. The secrets they now keep will rip their family apart. 

Photo taken with Focos
Photo by Subakka.bookstuff


Audrey Siskin only has months to live. What grieves her most is that her two daughters, Lily and Jess, have been estranged for nearly 28 years. Her granddaughters have also been kept apart because of their mothers’ feud. Audrey doesn’t understand why Jess has such a hatred for her older sister Lily. Jess can’t even stand to be in the same room as her. 

It all started back in 1988. Jess was so young, only 10, yet they all went through so much together. So why does she hate Lily? Even Lily doesn’t understand. Ever since, the sisters have been living on opposite sides of their mother, with Audrey trying to hold onto a relationship with each daughter. But now her life is about to end; can she bring her daughters back together?

This book is sad, to say the least. At first, it’s very intriguing, with the tease of the prologue. You really want to know what took place. What did they see or even do? But then for quite a few chapters the collateral damage of the secret is played out in their lives. You see how Jess’ hatred continues to grow against Lily and Lily struggles to find peace in life. There are subtle clues of what was seen or heard that day, and then there is more heartbreak in the family that may lead you down another line of thinking. If only I could tell you a few more details, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

If you love family drama, heartache, and secrets, you will enjoy this book. Beckerman does string you along for a while, and I was a little frustrated at times, but she brought it home very well. 

*Please be aware that this book does discuss terminal illness, miscarriages, and suicide.


Thank you to @netgalley and @orionbooks for this ARC for review.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

By Heather Morris

3.5 ⭐


Photo taken with Focos
Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

 I was hesitant to read this book, for this very reason: what if I didn’t absolutely love it. It seems irreverent and disrespectful not to rate a book about the atrocities of the Holocaust a strong five. Yet here I sit faced with the reality that, although this story is based on Lale Sokolov’s true story, I just didn’t feel a deep connection with him. I was troubled by this. I think it had to do with my having read many other stories about the Holocaust that were so much more descriptive, graphic and disturbing. 

➼ In 1942, Lale Sokolov is transported from his home in Slovakia to the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Jews are being rounded up and forced into these camps at the brutal hands of the German SS. Here in these death camps, Lale is put into the position of the Tätowierer (German for Tattooist). Although it is difficult to defile his fellow prisoners in this manner, the position allows Lale extra rations and special privileges. With these privileges, Lale is determined to help save others.

➼ One day, Lale tattoos the arm of a young lady, with eyes as dark brown as he has ever seen. Number 34092. That is all he knows her by, but he must see her again. They meet in the compound on Sundays. Her name is Gita, and she and Lale fall in love in a place where only death persists. 

➼ As with all Holocaust stories, I am amazed at both the utter depravity of humanity and the will of the human spirit. How can one person be so cruel, while another is doing anything just to survive? Honestly, in this story, I was more drawn to characters such as Baretski, Lale’s German guard. I wanted to know what would drive a man to be like this, he could be cold-hearted, yet at times he seemed to actually want to befriend Lale. And of course, there is Cilka, Gita’s friend, who is used as a plaything for the Commandant. I look forward to meeting her again in Morris’ Cilka’s Journey. 


The Furies

The Furies

By Katie Lowe

3.5 / 5 ⭐

Photo taken with Focos
Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

How far would you go to be accepted into the right club, society, or group of friends? What would you do for those friends, even if things went too far?

🔥 Elm Hollow Girl’s School, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead. Her stiff body still sitting on a swing, her cold fingers gripping the chains, no cause of death could be found.

🔥 Jump back a year: after a terrible accident kills Violet’s father and little sister, it leaves her mother all but catatonic in front of the television. Violet now feels lost and alone in the world, left behind. The school year brings a new school for her, Elm Hollow, a private girls school with an infamous history. The school was the site for witch trials and its founder had been murdered for practicing witchcraft.

🔥 Violet is surprised when a feisty, bossy girl, Robin, takes her into her trio of friends. Robin declares Violet her new best friend. Soon, Violet is asked to become a member of their secret “advanced study group” led by Annabel an eccentric art teacher. Here the four study art, mythology, such as The Furies, and ancient rites and rituals. When the girls come upon a book of spells and magic, they decide a few incantations could come in handy in dealing with certain situations.

🔥 Things begin to unravel when the decaying body of a former student, Emily Frost, who went missing nearly a year ago and was Robin’s best friend, is discovered on the school grounds. Violet begins to wonder who she can trust. She questions if they’ve gone too far; if she’s in too deep.

🔥 This book started off a little slow for me. It took me a while to warm up to the writing style. At about the halfway mark, I was intrigued, and then at the end I was pleasantly surprised by a few twists. The characters are written very well. Robin is so manipulative; you just want to shake Violet, like don’t you see what she’s doing to you? But in that, it displays her need for acceptance so very well. If you enjoy art, magic, and murder mysteries, you will certainly enjoy this book.


Thank you to @Netgalley and @stmartinspress for this ARC

All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

By Jennifer Niven


Photo taken with Focos
Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

I’m still walking around in a daze since turning the last page on this one. My emotions are just wrecked. I used to shy away from YA books because I felt they were all bubble gum, angsty teenage love stories. But man, some of them dive headfirst into some heavy topics and take your heart with them. 

Theodore Finch, Finch or Freak, as many of his classmates call him, is standing on the high school’s bell tower. He is contemplating whether today is a good day to die. It’s something he does quite regularly. Then he realizes he is not alone on his ledge. Violet Markey is, or was, one of the popular girls. She was a cheerleader, she was dating “Mr. Handsome,” and she was running her own website. But life changed for Violet a year ago, and now she doesn’t know how to live. Today she’s standing on the ledge with the Freak, Finch.

Finch helps Violet down from the ledge that day, although the world sees it differently. Surely Violet must be the one helping messed up Finch. Finch in all his “finchness,” (which will just endear him to you) coerces Violet to do a school project with him. In their wanderings, Finch helps Violet see life differently. As Violet begins to realize she wants to live, and experience life with Finch; Finch is going under. 

This book deals with the very serious issue of suicide. It deals with how kids can be cruel with their bullying, how families can be oblivious to their own children’s pain, and how an individual can disguise their anguish and torment from the world. Finch’s character is written so well. He’s smart, funny, and creative. He’s the one the jocks beat up, the one his dad hits, and yet Finch thinks about how to make Violet feel special, to give her spring in winter. 

Finch is just trying to stay awake, to stay alive. We get to hear his inner dark, drowning thoughts. This project seems to give Finch something to focus on, and Violet gives him something to stay for – but will it be enough?

✨Make sure you read the author’s notes and acknowledgments as she gives very good information on suicide, bullying, and abuse.