Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Shallows by Matt Goldman


The only reason to tie a dead man to his deck by a fishing stinger through his jaw is if you have something to say.

The Shallows by Matt Goldman follows private detective Nils Shapiro as he solves a gruesome murder that gets more complicated the deeper he digs into it. This is actually the third, and newest, book in the series following Shapiro, which I didn’t know when I picked it up. Needless to say, since I didn’t immediately return it, you don’t have to read this series in order. Like in any criminal show each book is a different case, so no real need to read one to three.

Nils is a good detective. His reasoning isn’t hard to follow at all. He’s kind of an asshole, and thinks he is more complicated than he actually is, but he isn’t a bad main character at all. Girls throw themselves at him which gets a little ridiculous but it’s easy to ignore.

The mystery was nice. I guessed some of the answers, and was surprised by others. What more can you want? And really what more can I say? The mystery could be really obvious to others. It’s something very subjective.

I was surprised by how political this book got. A lot of the characters are Jewish and the law firm the victim worked at his very, very right wing while Shapiro is liberal. I liked the commentary though I know if most conservatives would be offended.

I think I would check out the first two books. It looks like the second is many people’s favorite so I’m particularly interested in that one. 

4 stars

Book Reviews, Personal, Uncategorized

Nicole’s Reading Round Up

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Sooo, hi! I’m back (hopefully). The last time I posted anything was at the end of February. As the one half of this blog that tried to update on a twice a week schedule, that was very different, and, understandably, it’s been reflected in our stats. Still sad though because we were really getting (kind of) popular.

Why did I disappear? Well life. And a reading slump. And laziness. And stress. We also opened up for accepting review requests last year (I think), and, boy, that was a mistake. We quickly got overwhelmed, and really neither of us deal with that well. So, yeah, we aren’t doing that anymore. Sorry.

But hopefully I’m back for good with a nice schedule because I do really miss making posts. I feel like a lot of the books I did read during my impromptu break feels too far from my mind to make individual posts, but I also feel like I can’t move on without acknowledging them in some way. Hence this post. Consider it a lighting round of reviews. Hope you enjoy!



“If you don’t make the decision to love, every day, it’s an easy thing to forget.”

The Last by  Hanna Jameson is an interesting mix of murder mystery and post-apocalyptic novel. When Jon is away in Switzerland for a conference, a nuclear bomb hits Washington. He’s stuck in his hotel with strangers at the end of the world with no idea how his wife and children are doing, and then he discovers the body of a dead little girl. As a historian, he compulsively writes about the events for future generations while also becoming obsessed with finding out if the murderer is still in their midst.

I love how this book was written. It was refreshing, a nice break from the regular narratives of novels. The characters were interesting, and I was very invested in the beginning. I was convinced it would be one of my favorite novels of the year. But around the middle/ending, the story lost it’s way. I think the author had many ideas of where to go and instead of picking one, she tried to stuff all of them into the book. It didn’t work. Overall, I found this book disappointing, but I can’t forget how great the beginning was. 

3 stars


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“You must forge your own path for it to mean anything.”

“Life is only precious because it ends, kid.”

Oh, Rick Riordan, you always make me feel better when I’m down. I’m always torn between ripping through these books because they are so good, and saving them for when I am really stressed and sad. 

This is the spin off series to the original Percy Jackson series, and yes, you must read those books first. These books bring in a new enemy, new heroes, new friendships, and new jokes. I am loving it. I think I like it more than the first series which I think is an unpopular opinion but oh well. I can see Riordan’s writing improve in this, and it’s simply a magical adventure everyone should read.

5 stars

5 stars


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And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is a young adult fantasy about a librarian, a magical world with a name that disappeared, and blue monsters. It’s weird but entertaining and really beautifully written.

I’ve heard so much about Laini Taylor’s writing, but this is the first time I’ve read from her. Everyone made me feel intimidated by her which made me put off reading her, thinking that it would be a little complicated to understand. But that’s not true. Taylor’s writing style simply gave me writer envy. I spend the book in awe of her writing, but also wondering if I could ever write so beautifully. 

The story itself is unlike anything I’ve ever read, yet, still boiled down to a simple love story. I have to admit that did disappoint me a little. I did like it, and I might read the sequel in the future. It’s not a need though which I always thinks says a lot about a book.

3 stars



I doubt there is a loss in the universe more profound than a daughter losing her mother.

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth is a thriller surrounding the seeming suicide of Lucy’s mother-in-law Diana. It switches from Lucy’s POV of the present to Diana’s of the past as the mystery unfolds.

I liked the characters more than I usually do in thrillers. I especially liked Diana, and I feel like her POV made the novel. The mystery itself was a little lackluster, but the relationships shown was very good. The commentary of the concept of a mother-in-law, and what is expected of women was great as well.

4 stars



I’m lonely but I’m not alone. My body works, my brain works, I’m alive. It’s a good life. I have to make a conscious effort to remember that. To choose to be happy every day. If I didn’t, I think my own pain would’ve killed me a long time ago.

Shadow Me by Tahereh Mafi is technically book 4.5 in the Shatter Me series. It’s a novella following Kenji through the final chapters of Restore MeThe whole series in general is mainly about Juliette, a girl who’s touch kills, set in a dystopian world.

Kenji is really one of the reasons I love this series so getting into his head was amazing. Mafi did not disappoint my little fangirl heart. However, with my reader/writer brain I realize this novella was kind of pointless. Yeah it clarified a couple things, and made me more interested in the next book. But it wasn’t needed at all, no like, in my opinion, the other novellas in this series are, and I think that’s the point of novellas.

5 stars


I went on a road trip to Point Pleasant, WV because of fanfiction

In 2012, I read a lengthy Supernatural Dean/Castiel fanfiction entitled Point Pleasant by chainedtoacomet. And then I read it two more times.

In 2013, that fanfiction became a novel by the same name, but now by the author Jen Archer Wood. I befriended Jen. She lived in the UK while I lived in the US, so we were mostly pen pals, but our friendship was strong for a while. And I loved her story so much.

Point Pleasant is the story of two friends who share a camaraderie for spooky things. As kids, they run into the Mothman in their hometown of Point Pleasant. This brings them even closer together. But as adults, they grow apart. Ben realizes too late that he’s in love with Nicholas, and when he spills his heart out, he gets rejected. Ben leaves Point Pleasant behind for thirteen years, but he returns because the Mothman has made a reappearance. Now Ben is a famous horror novelist, and Nicholas is the town sheriff. Here, the story takes off. And boy, it’s a good one.

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first cover of the novel. it has now been changed, but i prefer this one.

I have read this book at least 8 times now. Maybe more. It was hard to keep track after the 5th time. Since the story is set in the fall, in October actually, that’s usually when I tend to pick it back up. It’s kind of a tradition of mine.

This year, I decided to drive with Nicole 15+ hours from Texas to West Virginia to visit the town. This is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I first read the fanfiction about 7 years ago. And you might think it’s crazy to do all this because of a story, but it’s the only place I’ve wanted to visit for years. I wrote a post a few months ago about how much fanfiction has influenced my life, if you’d like to check that out. I take my fanfiction very seriously.

It always felt impossible to make the trip, even though it’s only a few states away. But I’m happy to say I finally did it.

i was embarrassed to take this picture because it was in the corner of a heavily trafficked intersection but i got the shot
here i am posing with the beautiful mothman statue
we stayed at the lowe hotel, which is both historic and haunted and has really comfy beds
we had mothman pizza, which was delicious
we drank mothman rootbeer and mothman cookies
i visited the mason country sheriff’s department at night so that i would not get arrested. sadly, though, i did not get to meet the sheriff, who i’m assuming is very cool
point pleasant at night. so beautiful
i don’t understand why the mothman statue has such a nice butt he’s a moth for god’s sake
i didn’t want to leave him

In conclusion, I want to live in Point Pleasant. No, but in all honesty, Point Pleasant was such a beautiful town rich in history and wonderful residents that are proud of their little town with a pop. of about 4,000. I’ll never forget this trip. I was sad to leave, but I know I’ll return. There’s still so much to experience in Point Pleasant.

*Explaining to the town residents why I drove so long to visit their town was a bit awkward because how do I explain fanfiction to older people? Anyway, my love for this town goes far beyond fanfiction or even the Mothman. I just love it.*

Buy the book here!




Book Reviews

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen – Book Review

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Balance the world in your relationship. No one person should be responsible for killing ALL the Zombies.

Married with Zombies is one of the first books I ever read with Nicole many years ago. I read it during the hype of zombies (in my life) and I loved it so much. Recently, though, I listened to the audiobook because I want to finish the trilogy, and hey, zombies are my favorite thing yet again. I hate to say that I found this book not as great the second time around.

This story follows Sarah and David, a couple that’s on the verge of divorce. During their last therapy visit, they discover a world full of zombies. They cope with everything well, all things considered. The zombie slaying kicks off pretty early on. And through the fighting off zombies and protecting each other, they solve their marriage.

I really love the premise of this book. I love that the fricken zombie apocalypse managed to keep a married couple together. I love to think that certain people will thrive during the upcoming zombie apocalypse. (Come on, do you not believe one is coming?) I liked the pacing and the plot. They encounter a variety of interesting characters and stumble into terrifying situations. I just had a few problems with Sarah as the narrator.

Sarah calls a lot of women “bitch.” The one that hurt me the most was when she called a teenager a “bitch” just because she didn’t want to leave with them. Sarah just constantly kept looking down on women, calling them stupid as well. I hate it when women hate women for no good reason. I kept cringing because of it.

I think this is a fun book that should, in no way, be taken seriously. But give it a read if you like zombies.

3 stars

Book Reviews

The Strongest Boy by Renee Irving Lee – Book Review

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I’ve been on a children’s book kick lately. During Pride month, I read a lot of really beautiful, thought-provoking LGBT+ books that made me so happy. When I heard about The Strongest Boy, I knew I would also love it.

This beautifully illustrated book deals with the topic of toxic masculinity very well. Max wants to be strong. He’s been told he’s strong, and he believes it completely. But his idea of strength is kind of Hulk-smash strength, which causes destruction and frustration.

Through his father, Max learns that strength can be shown better with your mind and words and intelligence. Max learns a very important lesson about masculinity, and grows a lot in the end.

It was refreshing reading about this topic. I’m glad I found this sweet little story.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – Book Review


History, huh? Bet we could make some.

I just want to stay in this book forever.

I had the enormous pleasure of reading an early copy of this book through NetGalley, and I’m so grateful for that because from the moment I heard about this book, I knew I would love it. Sometimes, though, you hear about a book that sounds too good to be true, and it disappoints you because your expectations were way too high. In this case, I’m delighted to say that this book exceeded each and every one of my expectations.

Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex, the First Son of the United States of America. In this wonderful fictional reality, the U.S. has a phenomenal woman as president, Madam Ellen Claremont. Alex Claremont-Diaz is her half-Mexican son who is one-third of the White House Trio, also made up of June and Nora (who are both exceptional women, owners of my heart). I completely adored the White House Trio, and the president, and the entire White House staff. Adored them. The fact that Alex and June were half-Mexican and very attached to their Mexican culture pulled my heartstrings. Being Mexican, I saw so much of myself reflected in them. I saw so many things of my culture that I had long ago forgotten, and was pleasantly reminded. I felt so connected to these characters for these, and many other reasons.

I’m already gushing and we haven’t even made it to Henry. Oh, boy. How should I sum up Henry? Henry is the Prince of Fucking England. Oops, sorry. I mean. His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales — no disrespect. Henry is the softest, most talented, most beautiful man I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Wow. Henry is a dream, but like a dream that you never want to wake up from. A dream that keeps on giving. Henry is all that is good in the world and then some. He also has the most amazing sister, Bea, who protects him fiercely. And the most glamorous best friend, Pez, who is honestly the best. So, yeah, I think we can all agree that this book stole my heart, entirely.

So now, the premise of this magnificent book, which is the hook that gets everyone. Alex and Henry are lifelong enemies, have always hated each other. But due to a small incident involving them ruining an expensive cake and jeopardizing the peace of their two nations, they’re forced to spend some quality time together. You know, just two guys that hate each other spending time. What could possibly happen next? Oh, wait, I know! It’s the best trope ever! Enemies to friends to lovers. And Casey McQuiston does it perfectly. Their relationship develops so naturally, and before you know it, you’re rooting for these two beautiful idiots to just kiss already because they’re obviously harboring very romantic feelings for each other!

You know, I usually love queer romances in books. That’s my favorite thing to read. I love the rep, and that’s what I’m here to read. But in this book, there was so much more. I came for the romance and stayed for all the other things. Among these things were all of the extraordinary side characters that were all fleshed-out and absolutely wonderful. Did I mention yet that they’re all super witty? Because they are. All of them. The banter they have is on another level.

The love between these characters is so heartwarming. All of them love and support each other. None of them are perfect. They’re all so flawed, but they love each other anyway. It’s great. So great.

And the politics. I gotta say, I’ve always been a bit of a history buff, so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I cried, simply imagining a world in which Ellen Claremont was the president of the U.S. and I’m not even a little bit sorry about that. That woman was badass and she could rule the world if she wanted to. Of course, she’s fictional so we kind of have to digress.

Whoa, I’m still so pumped after reading this book. It comes out in a month, but I can’t wait to get my own physical copy. I’m going to get as many people as I can to read this, because not only is it an amazing read that’ll lift your spirits, it’s also super inspirational and necessary. Also, the world must know Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz because he is my child. That is all.

5 stars


Listening to the Signs

I’m Mexican, so naturally, I grew up Catholic. My grandmother was a firm believer in the Virgin Mary being there to offer her support at all times. I grew up going to Sunday school and talking to priests like they were my friends.

That all changed when I was eight and moved from Mexico to Texas. As soon as I arrived to the U.S. I was told by my older brother that we were no longer Catholic because he was no longer Catholic. He had recently converted to Christianity and attended an Evangelical church. I learned to just roll with it when my mom, sister, and I all switched over to his religion. It all made sense at the time. Plus, I liked that they played upbeat music at the beginning of the church service.

My family drifted from church, though. It happens. But when I turned fifteen, I returned, and got settled in nicely. I found friends and had had a huge crush on the pastor’s son, which played a big role on my sudden commitment to the organized religion. I spent most days at church, sang in the choir, got involved in all the youth events. I lived and breathed the church.

Things eventually went sour. I realized that the people in the church were not as perfect as I once saw them. They were hypocritical in their actions, and yet felt superior due to their constant attendance of church. I was caught in the middle of their gossip and was sort of kicked out of their little clique. A lot of it also had to do with people finding out my feelings for the pastor’s son and using it to mock me. In the end, I quit the church and the religion in general.

But I’ve never lost my faith. I have a strong faith in God that I cherish. It helps me in my darkest times, and it helps me feel less alone. I see God as my friend because he listens to me when I pray, when I just randomly talk to him. I love God with all my heart. When I lost my mom to cancer almost four years ago, my only comfort was my faith in God. I never got angry. I trusted in him.

I’ve realized, though, that as much as I love God, my views on religion are a big different. First of all, I don’t trust my old church anymore. I feel incredibly uncomfortable just stepping inside the building. I can’t speak to my old church friends anymore. I’ve tried to go back, make nice, but things turned so bad so quickly. I have decided to never attend another church again, because I can’t go through that again.

I do respect people who practice all types of religion. I think the freedom to do that in amazing. I’ve learned a lot about other religions, and it’s opened up my mind. But I do still hold a bit of stigma when it comes to Christianity. Part of me thinks that anyone who’s Christian will immediately try to exorcise me for being the gay that I am. I also really hate it when Christians say stuff like: “I don’t hate the sinner. I just hate the sin.” Like yeah, but you still hate that I’m gay and wish I wasn’t.

My point is, I have had many interesting interactions in my life. Random times when people come up to me and tell me to keep believing in God, no matter what. Or people telling me they see God working through me. My first reaction to these things is to run away from the person and not look back. But I don’t. I listen to what they’re saying, and I replay it in my mind.

Yesterday, while I was at work, a random guy looked at my necklace. I wear an essential oil diffuser necklace that’s round with a tree in the front. He said he loved the tree, in particular. And then, he looked me in the eye and said, “You know what part of the scripture it reminds me of? John 15:5. Look it up.”

And I laughed and said, “Oh, okay. I didn’t know that.” And the guy just repeated, “Yeah, it’s John 15:5.” Then he left.

My instinct was, of course, to completely disregard this guy. Who the hell did he think he was? Did he think I was Christian, too? But then, I thought about it. I thought that I do want to read and learn the Bible. I want to know more about God’s message. So I wrote it down on a sticky note and when I got home I looked up the verse. Here’s what it said:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

And I instantly realized what he meant when he said my tree reminded him of this. I have read this verse over and over today. It’s pretty simple, honestly. But the message speaks to me. I think it’s a message for me. From God. And look, I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I like to listen to the signs. I like to think that God just wants me to stick with him. He doesn’t want me to stray from him. Because if I’m with him, then I will achieve many great things.

I just wanted to share this because it’s been in my mind all day long.