Wednesday, August 24, 2016

REVIEW: With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel

Title: With Love from the Inside
Author: Angela Pisel
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: August 9/2016
Acquired: e-ARC sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Angela Pisel’s poignant debut explores the complex relationship between a mother and a daughter, and their quest to discover the truth and whether or not love can prevail—even from behind bars.

Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.

Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood.

Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever. Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don't try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.


Before you read this novel, put your mother on your speed dial if you haven't already, and have your phone READY. You've been forewarned. 

With Love from the Inside will tie your heart into knots, and prod relentlessly at your tear ducts. Told from two perspectives, this narrative follows the life of a mother on death row, convicted of murdering her infant son, and a daughter that has done nothing but attempt a life of moving forward. It is a fast-paced story line that will have you begging for "just TWO more minutes! PLEASE canwestoptheworldforONEsecond." I promise you that your appreciation for time will be forever changed.

Sophie Logan has been harboring eleven years worth of hate for a mother that Sophie believes has done the unthinkable, all while Grace Bradshaw holds on to the hope that her daughter will find the space in her heart to fit forgiveness, and faith. When both mother and daughter become aware of a dreaded final date, there is a rush to recount memories, to question truths, and to bare souls. Angela Pisel strung together some extremely beautiful lines in this novel, just enough to hit you square in the soul, but otherwise, there was not much literary flare to make note of. 

Pisel wrote With Love from the Inside with an urgency to get to the conclusion, so while the intended punch in the gut was achieved, the road to get there wasn't paved with in-depth character development or lengthy back stories. It was the kind of narrative that allowed you to easily place yourself in the main characters' shoes, to reminisce on your own childhood memories about someone who may have loved YOU beyond control. Someone you took for granted. Someone who has now been given an exact life expiry date. It was devastating to think about. And I was devastated while reading the majority of these pages. But the end message was SO strong, it would be a shame to miss out on the much-needed perspective it lends. It definitely did that for me!

Now...I'm off to call MY mother.

Recommended for Fans of: Contemporary, Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult, The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (my review here).



I love to write. When I don’t have my laptop or iPhone in front of me, I transcribe the pages of my day-to-day existence in dramatic detail that I (usually) keep confined to the few inches that live between the sides of my mostly straightened hair.

I decided to write my first novel after my obsession with TV trials led me to research women on death row. I didn’t find what I thought I’d find—how people end up where they end up continues to mesmerize me.

I was born in the Midwest, but have set up homes across the country after marrying my love who happened to be an Army physician. We have chosen to call North Carolina home.



A huge thank-you to G. P. Putnam's Sons for providing an eARC of this book via  for review.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

REVIEW: The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

Title: The Summer that Melted Everything
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Genre: Dark/Literary Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: July 26/2016
Acquired: Kindle copy sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.


There isn't enough human emotion in me right now to properly understand what The Summer that Melted Everything did to me. I feel like my innards are lying on the floor of the room I turned the last page in. I feel like I've been enveloped in a darkness so immense and all-consuming that I'd trade food for light, air for even a sliver of brightness. This novel holds you under water until you feel like your lungs might burst. I want to keep giving you metaphors, because I'm honestly not sure I can give you a proper review.

It was a hot summer:

"Particularly that June day in 1984, when the sky seemed to be made on the kitchen counter, the clouds scattering like spilled flour."

The sweltering Ohio town is a small one named Breathed (pronounced "breath-ed"), and little does it know, the town in which the Devil has been cordially invited. Autopsy Bliss sends out the invitation after a particularly discouraging situation at work, and the recipient is found standing near a tree by Autopsy's son, Fielding Bliss. Sal is thirteen-years-old, disheveled, scarcely clothed, and claiming to be the infamous Lucifer himself. When Fielding brings Sal home, there's an initial onslaught of confusion and disarray from the Bliss family and their neighbors. The people who matter welcome Sal with such wide arms, while the majority are immediately wary and unwilling to accept him. Is he merely a child? Or are the ensuing reckless incidents to be blamed on Sal's true nature as Satan?

Written in the most stunning and heart-wrenching poetic prose I have EVER experienced in my 30 years on this earth, The Summer that Melted Everything became the storyline to overshadow any other storyline that was happening simultaneously in my current reading life. It was relevant, it was so horribly and wonderfully relevant despite being set 32 years in the past. It was about one thing, and about so many things, at the same time. There were themes of racism, sexual orientation, abuse, acceptance, love, and so, so much hate. Every single theme existed in a deliriously spectacular unison, and Tiffany McDaniel's writing is my new favourite place to exist in.

Don't let the vibrant color and design of this novel fool you, The Summer that Melted Everything is not the book to fill your happy, sun-drenched days with, and it is most definitely not the novel to bring you out of the harrowing misery the world could impose on your soul. But if you don't experience the 320 pages of pure poetic misery that THIS novel will hand you, you will be doing yourself a serious injustice. 

Recommended for Fans of: Literary fiction, Dark themes, Gillian Flynn.



An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.

“Sometimes this world is like red fences in the snow. There ain’t no hiding who we really are.”—THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING



A huge thank-you to author Tiffany McDaniel for 
providing a print copy of this book for review!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

REVIEW: True Crime Addict - How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray

Title: True Crime Addict - How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray
Author: James Renner
Genre: True Crime
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Release Date: May 24/2016
Acquired: Print copy sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

When an eleven-year-old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession led Renner to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2011, Renner began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovered numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Murray but also found himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. As his quest to find Murray deepened, the case started taking a toll on his personal life, which began to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the All-American girl who went missing and Renner's own equally complicated true-crime addiction.

True Crime Addict is the story of Renner's spellbinding investigation, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher's Zodiac, it's a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man's obsessive quest for the answers.


Dear James Renner, can you please develop an obsession with every single cold case in the world and then spit out books detailing your findings?  BecausethatwouldbegreatTHANKS. 

I don't want you to be mistaken. This wasn't just a book about the insanely mysterious disappearance of a New Hampshire nursing student on a cold winter night, it was also the inner workings of a man who refuses to let 'dead end' mean anything but 'keep searching'. It was non-fiction content, written with the literary flare of someone who's been engrossing the minds of millions with their fiction for years (which he's written, by the way, fiction that is. check it out here). THIS BOOK WAS UNENDINGLY ADDICTIVE.

One has to wonder why they are so drawn to stories like this, in their fiction, and in their real, every day lives. I hate the news, I'll go on record to say that I wish every news station just played clips of baby pandas being born all over the world. I hate that the fact that even though I hate the news, I am explicitly drawn to the horror it spits out in droves. With that said, I cannot specifically remember the disappearance of Maura Murray. It may have a lot to do with the fact that it happened in 2004, when I was 18 years old, social media was not yet an integral part of my existence, and the news was the very last thing I wanted to watch on a daily basis. But Renner, this man was born wanting and needing to be involved. True Crime Addict read like the obsessive journal of a mentally-stable stalker, and I would be a dirty liar if I told you that I didn't stay up all night with my face THISCLOSE to his fact findings. 

And JESUS THIS MANS LIFE. In addition to the invasion of Maura's personal life, Renner also lays bare the details of his own, and it is disturbing and fascinating. There's an autistic and possibly psychic son, Renner's own medical diagnosis of psychopathy, and for good measure, a whole slew of friends in weird fields of study. There's also an entire chapter in here dedicated to his grandfather, a man who was constructed from the very ashes of hell (disclaimer: this section in the book is intensely graphic, and while I don't suggest skipping it, you might want to skip it). I have NEVER been so engaged whilst reading a non-fiction piece of work, and I can bet you every single one of my hard-earned dollars that you will agree. God..give me ALL OF the True Crime books now.

I'm addicted! Any suggestions to assuage my craving?

Recommended for Fans of: True Crime, Non-fiction, Mystery, Thriller.

Challenges: Goodreads 50 Book Goal



CLICK HERE to read more about James!

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A huge thank-you to Thomas Dunne for providing a print copy of this book for review.

Friday, May 13, 2016

TLC BLOG TOUR: The Girl Who Stayed by Tanya Anne Crosby

Title: The Girl Who Stayed
Author: Tanya Anne Crosby
Genre: Mystery fiction
Publisher: The Story Plant
Release Date: April 19/2016
Acquired: Print arc sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Zoe Rutherford wasn't sure what she was expecting when she returned to Sullivan's Island. The house on Sullivan's hadn't represented home to her in decades. It was the place where she endured her father's cruelty. It was the place where her mother closed herself off from the world. It was the place where her sister disappeared. But now that her parents are gone, Zoe needs to return to the house, to close it down and prepare it for sale. She intends to get this done as quickly as possible and get on with her life, even though that life seems clouded by her past, both distant and recent. But what she discovers when she gets there is far beyond her imagining and will change her in profound ways.

THE GIRL WHO STAYED is a remarkable exploration of the soul by a writer with a rare talent for reaching into the hearts of her characters and her readers, a novel of transformation that will leave you moved and breathless.

Monday, May 2, 2016

TLC BLOG TOUR: When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

Title: When the Moon is Low
Author: Nadia Hashimi
Genre: Cultural Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: June 30/2015
Acquired: Print copy sent by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.

Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.

Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.