Baby Teeth

“It was hard to pour endless love into someone who wouldn’t love you back. No one could do it forever...”

Seven years ago, Alex and Suzette had a beautiful baby girl, who they called Hanna. Now they aren’t sure who their daughter is or what she needs. For one thing, she still doesn’t talk, and they have no idea why.

Hanna has other things on her mind like being Daddy’s ‘sweet-but-silent’ little angel, not going to school, and getting exactly what she wants. Only now she’s decided that she only wants one thing: her own happy ending. But there’s someone in the family who isn’t included in that picture anymore…

Wow, what do I say first?? Baby Teeth was insane, it was emotional, it was disturbing, and it was so riveting. I haven’t read anything else like it.

The thing this book does best is to weedle its way into your mind and set up shop. The author knows exactly which beats to hit along the way to send a shiver down your spine or make you stare at the book in appalled disbelief. More than once, I found myself up at night just thinking about this book. It is a perfectly unsettling adventure through this family’s life, and I would bet it’d be even more powerful if you’re a parent yourself. I read this book for my mark-up book exchange so I made notes in the book while reading, and there were so many times that I stopped, searching for the right words, only to end up writing just “…wow.” Sometimes the bite of this book left me speechless.

The subjects alone are enough to disturb any self-respecting person, but that’s not what makes it special. What makes this story so special is that it takes these distressing, confusing, sinister elements, a lot of them classic tropes, and then weaves them into her characters lives with an incredible amount of heart. I didn’t expect my heart to be so conflicted or broken open by a thriller! So much happens in this book and there are times when it’s almost impossible to tell who you’re supposed to feel the most for: the parents? The child? Everyone involved? (Which is where I landed, dang.) But the beauty of it is that every reader has to decide that for themselves. Her ability to shift such intense and full empathy onto every character, especially juxtaposed with the subject matter, is one of the most compelling things I’ve read in a long time.

A third aspect of this book that I loved was the authentic and relatable way that the author wrote a character living with a chronic illness. Suzette, the mother of this family, has Crohn’s Disease and it plays a huge part in her ability to care for family, to make decisions, even to live and work and feel like she has enough energy to be a whole person. I wasn’t expecting this in a suspense novel, but I needed it so badly. As someone else living with a chronic condition, it was obvious to me that Stage was writing from firsthand experience. So many subtle moments of Suzette’s suffering made me go “me too!” and to see and acknowledge that as a valid, human part of this story was a brilliant decision on the author’s part. Very well done.

From the very first chapter I felt a driving force pulling me further and further into the book. Every time I set it down I would end up glancing back over at it a few minutes later and, before I knew it, I’d be nose deep in it again. I had to finish, I had to know what happened. And one of the brilliant, most aggravating things about this book is…I still want to know more. That ending– gah! I wish to death that this book had a sequel, I would read it in a heartbeat. Something about the way that Zoje Stage chose to write this story has made me infinitely hungry for more: the choices in how its told, the style she wrote it in, the empathy and fear that she employs so skillfully.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction that doesn’t flinch. Stage has written something so addictive and hypnotic that I finished it in two days while on a busy trip to Cleveland, which is saying something! This book is visceral, intense, and never looks away from the disquieting story it has to tell you. Enter at your own risk, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did once you’re on the other side.

Now write me a sequel, Zoje!

“Sweetness can be deceptive.”


Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered

“F**k politeness.”

“Politeness doesn’t require actual humanity. It’s just cultural ritual…
Politeness is fancy curtains in your front window. Kindness is the home-cooked meal on your dinner table.” 

Have you heard of the hit podcast My Favorite Murder? If not, you have now!

Authors and co-hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark wrote a book this time instead of sitting down for an episode and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Equal parts memoir, life advice, and humor, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered shares new stories of the authors’ lives, pasts, and perspectives with authenticity and empathy. If you’re a fan of the podcast, don’t worry! There’s crime in here too, and a strong dose of the frank and unapologetic voices we know and love.

My favorite part of this book, and their podcast honestly, is their refreshing and freeing philosophy of “f*cking politeness.” These ladies talk about how hard it is for women to learn when politeness is and isn’t in their best interests and the importance of advocating for yourself. They open up a discussion with the reader about learning to value personal safety and wellness over being “nice” or “helpful.” I love this and it’s so important, especially today.

Conversational and compelling, I flew through this book. It was instantly readable and one of those books that you put down and realize you’ve read so much more than you thought you had! Whether they were discussing murder or mental health, vulnerable moments in their youth or smashing the patriarchy, I was right there along with them. The authors have done a great job of translating their podcast banter into a creative way of writing that includes the reader in the conversation it creates.

I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a good collection of life stories, true crime, or even just hearing from two awesome ladies about their lives and what they think about the world right now. And don’t forget to check out their podcast if you’re looking for more murder than memoir! Have fun!

“I’m not a shitty person, which really is the point of life in my eyes: “Don’t be a dick and do good things.” That’s my other motto. It has the word dick in it.” 

ARC Reviews

The She Book

“Come, sisters, let us sit around the fire.”

In The She Book, Tanya Markul delivers 114 short, emotive little poems that come together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Reminiscent of Rupi Kaur or Lang Leav, The She Book was empowering, brave, soulful, and utterly readable.

I love the feminist women’s poetry trend that’s happening now and this book is another great addition. From her elegant and tender way of combing through the layers of emotions, to her modern and fierce declarations of womanhood, to her fun and powerful descriptions of women from each star sign, these poems made me want more.

Markul’s collection bounces playfully between poems about her own wounds and pain in life to the inspiring revelations they’ve brought her. She equally soothes and calls the reader to action. Her writing is responsive and relatable, making the reader feel as if she might be the “she” the book talks about instead. The author of this delightful collection uses repetition and simplicity with a masterful hand.

The She Book is about change and grief and self-love and healing and is written with so much heart. I will definitely be picking up a copy once this one hits shelves.

“What they thought  was a phoenix

 rising from the ashes, 

was really a woman.”

ARC Reviews

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan has been one of my favorite reads of this Spring. Part memoir, part self-help, this book was funny, forgiving, and wholehearted.

In this Book, Pan tells us stories about the year that she decided to start saying yes and pushing her boundaries more. She talks about being an introvert, being a depressed introvert, being a depressed introvert with anxiety, and also doing all of those things while sitting in a sauna fully clothed. (Don’t ask.)

Some of the stories she shared made me laugh, and some of them made me pause and look inward, but each of them was unique and fun and a special challenge to the reader to examine their own lives. At times, I too have felt that “my life was passing me by” and the struggle that Pan describes is authentic and validating.

I love this kind of book and it is right up my alley. Jessica Pan, like Jenny Lawson or Brene Brown, has an uncanny knack for making you laugh and insightful profundity at the same time. I felt empowered, amused, and satisfied by the end of this delightful book and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.


The Unhoneymooners

Luck, fate and determination – whatever it is, I’ll take it. I pull Ethan down to me, feeling the slippery slide of his tank top under my hands and my laugh echoing into our kiss.

When her sister’s wedding ends in widespread food poisoning, Olive gets sent off on the non-refundable honeymoon that her sister so meticulously planned. Only there’s a catch— her new brother-in-law has sent the Best Man, Ethan, in his place too. And Olive and Ethan do not get along.

What starts off as a test of endurance to enjoy her vacation without punching Ethan in the face, soon becomes something else. Forced to pretend they’re married in order to fool Olive’s boss, who they find at the same resort along with Ethan’s ex-girlfriend, both of them start to see a different side of the other. Soon they start to realize that maybe they aren’t pretending anymore, and that fate may have had more of a hand in their “honeymoon” than they thought.

It’s official! The Unhoneymooners by author duo Christina Lauren has ushered in the Summer of 2019.

This was the first time I’ve had the privilege of reading a Christina Lauren novel and I enjoyed every second of this delightful romantic comedy. It is warm, sexy, and written with a wicked sense of humor that had me smirking and cackling over and over again. And it’s now a NYTimes Bestseller!

The main characters in this book made it for me, they were each so funny and relatable, frustrating and flawed, and incredibly sweet together. At least when they weren’t tossing hilarious banter back and forth. The dialogue between them feels easy and real and I often found myself laughing or sighing contentedly at some special moment between them. Olive and Ethan may have started off hating each other but it was easy for me to fall in love with them.

Even the side characters were people I cared about and laughed with throughout the novel. Olive’s family is huge and loving and the way they take care of her was one of my favorite parts of the novel, as well as her relationship with her sister. 

I think what I loved most about this book was that, as sweet and romantic as it is, it still isn’t an easy, straight shot for Olive and Ethan from enemies to lovers. When their vacation ends, there’s a pretty big, emotional twist that immediately pops the happy love bubble they’ve built around them, for them and the reader. It was jarring, but I appreciated it. It felt real even though it was dramatized and, even though Ethan’s behavior at times had me grinding my teeth, I was ultimately glad that they learned they can survive a tough blow. Something about this addition to their love story was emotional and powerful, and added another layer of depth that I enjoyed. I felt so much for everyone in these scenes, and I still feel it hours after finishing.

Ultimately, this was the Summer read I was waiting for. I read this on a rainy day and I loved how it was written so that you could practically feel the warmth of the Hawaii sun on your skin. I felt like I was on the beach with them, warm and without a care in the world. The world that the authors create in the Unhoneymooners feels real and tangible, like a breath of fresh, ocean air.

I blew through this Summer read and wholeheartedly plan to read more Christina Lauren soon, they have joined the ranks of authors I adore. This is the perfect book to read near the beach, dreaming of your own Olive or Ethan. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

“Ami watches her go. “She’s so brave.”

She doesn’t say it like its an epiphany; she just says it like its a face, something we’ve all always known about Olive, a core quality. And its true, of course, but these little truths, finally being spoken aloud, are tiny, perfect revelations, dropped like jewels in Olive’s palm.”