ARC Review: Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go


I was excited to read the new story by Marieke Nijkamp as I liked her first book, This Is Where It Ends. I liked that story but was not in love with that story. It still made me curious to read her next novel, regardless of my feelings on her first.

Short recap: Corey’s best friend, Kyra, died under mysterious circumstances and the town of Lost Creek, Alaska wrote it off to suicide. Corey knew her best friend was ill with bipolarism and knew her well enough to know she would never commit suicide. Corey travels back to Lost Creek for two reasons: to pay respects to her best friend and to find out what really happened.

This was a wild ride of a story. I had my own ups and downs while reading this. It was a quick read but there were some things that just felt… obscure. I’ll explain but first I’m going to talk about the characters. There is only one real character in this story with several supporting characters. The entire story is told from Corey’s POV. Corey is absolutely torn at the loss of her best friend. Corey moved out of her home town to go to college and experience life, while Kyra was “stuck” in Lost Creek. To help deal with her manic episodes, Kyra would paint for hours, sometimes days at a time. I loved the relationship that these two best friends had. No matter what, Corey had Kyra’s back. But as the story developed and moved along, it seemed Corey grew farther away from Kyra who desperately needed her best friend. I don’t fault Corey for wanting a chance at a normal life outside of that weird town but it seemed she took her Kyra’s always being there for her for granted. There was a slew of supporting characters but none of them really stood out for me. It seemed everyone in that town was drinking spiked Kook-Aid. I half expected them to start chanting “One of us. One of us” while sparks were shooting out of their necks.

The one thing about the story that started to grate on my nerves was the constant repetition. I’m all for reminding the reader about certain aspects of the story, but the way Corey was going over the same points over and over started to annoy me. I knew Kyra was bipolar and was being refused treatment by her parents. I knew the girl isolated herself to help deal with her manic episodes. I knew the girl wanted to “collect stories” and paint as a way to deal with her bipolarism. I knew Kyra was alone and wanted more out of life but felt trapped. What I did not need was to have these points and more told back to me every other page. What I wanted more of was a thickening of the plot. I think I may have missed the part of the story where everything clicked for Corey. It might have been so subtle that I honestly missed it. One moment Corey was trying to find out what happened and in the next she understood. I may have to go back to find out what I missed.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I really did enjoy this book. The way Marieke portrayed a town that was so close knit that they didn’t approved of “outsiders” was very well done. I come from a super small town so I understood that aspect of the story. What I didn’t truly get was how or why this town went from not accepting Kyra to saying that her art brought the town together. Maybe I won’t ever understand that part, who knows? As I always say: not ever book is for ever reader.

Overall, I did like this book. I enjoyed Marieke’s words and the way she weaves a tale. I will always be a reader of her books and I will always encourage everyone to read her books. I feel this book was better than her first book so please, give it a try if you have not already.




Sunday Street Team: Nice Try, Jane Sinner – Review

Goodreads Link:

Preorder Links:

Amazon- US:

Book Depository:–Jane-Sinner/9780544867857

Synopsis (GR):

It’s Kind of a Funny Story meets Daria in the darkly hilarious tale of a teen’s attempt to remake her public image and restore inner peace through reality TV. The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

About the Author:

Lianne Oelke holds a degree in philosophy and works in the film industry. She resides in Vancouver, and Nice Try, Jane Sinner is her first book. Visit her online at and on Twitter @lianneoelke.

Author Social Media:





This story was so much fun to read! I will do my best to give a review that is spoiler free. 

This story is told from the Jane’s journal / diary entries. Jane dropped out of school due to “an event” and has to deal with the backlash from her overly religious parents. They want nothing but the best for their daughter so they expect her to become something big… Someone that will make a difference in the world. Jane feels that pressure and is not handling it well. Fate steps in and she stumbles upon an ad for a new YouTube reality show called “House of Orange”.  Given the opportunity to reinvent herself, Jane is tested in ways she didn’t know could happen. She is pushed in all areas of her life, which is just what she needed. Her eyes finally open to everything going on around her. 

This was such a fantastic read! Jane’s tone and POV were entertaining and even had me laughing at times. She was snarky, had a sarcastic sense of humor that added another depth, and just felt real. I really enjoyed her character arc, it seemed believable to me. I do have to point out there are some serious topics touched on in this story: depression, attempted suicide, and heavy guilt. There were parts that were not easy to read, but the author handled those with grace. 

Please give this book a chance if it isn’t already on your TBR. This was a quick but enjoyable read. I highly recommend to everyone. 

Tour Schedule:

1/7 Tour Stops

Review – Books And Ladders

Creative Post  – Bayy In Wonderland

Interview – The Regal Critiques

1/14  Tour Stops

Interview –Book Stack Amber

Creative Post – The Ultimate Fangirl

Guest Post – Haunted By Books 13

1/21  Tour Stops

Review – A Gingerly Review

Review – Emily Reads Everything

Interview – Dani Reviews Things

1/28 Tour Stops

Interview – Curly Hair Bibliophile

Guest Post- The Hermit Librarian

Review  – Here’s To Happy Endings


Interested in being a part of SST? Ask me how! 

Books Left Unread #109


Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

This week’s post is dedicated to:

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Incarnate (Newsoul, #1)


This has been on my TBR for a really long time and I have yet to read it. I even met Jodi at a couple of book events and got her to sign my books. Maybe that’s the reason I have hung on to them? Either way, I haven’t brought myself to read them and I don’t know why. 😦


Review: Con Academy

Con Academy


This book had been on my Wish List through my library for a while. I’m a sucker for a good mystery/thriller story so I finally decided to give this a chance. That might have been a mistake because this was not what I expected.

Short recap: Will has just started at a very elite private school for the wealthy, privileged, and spoiled rotten kids of the North Eastern part of the country. Will has a secret that nobody knows about – he conned his way into the school. Well, he thought nobody knew until Andrea called him out on his cover story. Shortly after Will realizes that Andrea is a con artist as well. These two make a bet to see who is the better con artist.

I know my description is a little choppy but it was the best I could do because my thoughts on the book changed after I finished. I was excited to start as it was promised to be like Ocean’s Eleven but I’m here to say it wasn’t anything like that. It felt like an underdeveloped attempt at a great YA con/thriller. I had so many issues with the entire story.

First, the characters. I never connected with Will or Andrea. I didn’t care what happened to either so I couldn’t cheer for either to win. Will was an arrogant prick that talked like his poop didn’t stink. He had a very high opinion of himself. At the same time, Andrea had a higher opinion of herself. Her arrogance knew no limits. I found myself wanting to punch her on several occasions. Why Andrea felt it necessary to challenge Will was beyond me. Both of these teens managed to con their way into this elite school so why not let bygones be bygones? They weren’t really hurting anyone and both could have gone on without bothering the other but OH NO, Andrea couldn’t live like that. She immediately felt threatened by Will and went for blood. I just didn’t understand that. The third character that had a large part was the girl Will fell for – Gatsby. That’s right, her name was Gatsby. This girl felt like she was there for a forced romance. She did nothing to help move the story along. She was just as underdeveloped as the rest of the characters.

The actual bet proposed by Andrea was pretty typical. There was nothing unique or thrilling about it. She picked the target – who just happened to be the most popular and richest jerk in school. Whoopie. I just could not find a way to care that they were both trying to con $50k out of the kid who was allowed to invest and trade real millions of dollars from his family’s estate. The way they both went about trying to get the money was absurd. Conveniently Will had all of these connections to an online fake gambling poker website and had no problems setting things up to get the $50k. At the same time, Andrea played the head over heels girlfriend who was captivated by the rich boy. All the while, Andrea had her own secrets that are revealed at the end that will did nothing more than caused me to roll my eyes.

I know I’m not giving a glowing review of this story but I seemed to enjoy it enough to finish it. Maybe I just wanted to see how it would play out, who knows. I know the ending was super rushed and weak at best. Too many things were trying to happen at once and as a result, it was jumbled. Would I recommend this story? No. I cannot recommend anyone to read this as it was not as developed as it could have been. The characters needed more depth and the plot needed more work. I am thankful I was able to borrow from the library and did not spend my money on buying a copy.



Review: Love, Life, and the List

Love, Life, and the List


I don’t know about you but when I think of contemporary books I tend to go right for Kasie West books. 9 times out of 10 they are super adorable, lovely, and just all around good fun. Sadly, her last book (By Your Side) was not my favorite and it made me hesitant to pick up her newest love story. I’m happy to report that this book was everything I wanted and more.

Short recap: Abby is a bright, up and coming artist in her town. She wants desperately to enter the local art show and get her big break. The problem is that the curator tells her she needs more depth, more experience. Enter… The List. Abby devises a List that will help her achieve more depth and insight to become a better artist. Along with the help of her best friend (and unrequited love) Cooper, they tackle their own Lists and discover more than they expected along the away.

This book was just so sweet and adorable! I really liked Abby as a MC even though I struggled with her in the beginning. Why did I struggle? Because she thought that completing 10 list items over the course of a few summer weeks would give her “depth and experience” so she would become a better artist. Well, I’m sorry to burst that bubble, pickles, but one does not magically develop or gain depth in just a few weeks. That was the only part of this entire story I didn’t completely jive with. I appreciate the fact that she wanted to at least try new things and have new experiences, but I still didn’t buy that she could suddenly feel her paintings differently after having gone to a fish spa. You know what I mean? Abby did have some growth and came into herself (more) as the strong continued. I felt bad for her as she was madly in love with Cooper, her BFF, but he didn’t feel the same way about her. The girl watched her love interest try to date other girls so that could not have been easy. At the same time, I liked Cooper but it felt as if he was leading her on most of the time. He knew how Abby felt about him and yet he couldn’t stay away from her. Either you are or you aren’t into her, Coop. Pick a side!

With all of that being said, West did a really great job of interweaving some serious topics into this story: social anxiety, a child being raised by a mom who has diagnosed agoraphobia and other social disorders, a father who is overseas in the military, and unrequited love. Those are tough topics but West handled them with style and grace. There were times I wanted to grab Abby’s mom, shake her, and yell at her to wake up. She was doing so much harm to her daughter! I felt bad for Abby in these situations as she sacrificed so much for her parents and asked for so little in return. I felt these topics were not brushed over at all. They were meaningful to the story and they were given the resolution they deserved.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… This was the first Kasie West book that made me cry. I did not think I would be that emotional but something about this book grabbed my heart and never let go. Maybe it was the brilliantly written relationships within the story, or the way I truly felt heartbroken for everything Abby had to go through daily. Either way, the ending made me leak tears from my eyes.

Guys, I’m trying so hard not to give too much away with this story. If you take anything away from my review, let it be this: the progression and development of the characters was well done and the overall story tore my heart out. The topics covered were not easy topics but were necessary for this story. They were exceptionally well done and this is now one of my favorite West stories. If you have not picked this up yet, or are on the fence about reading it, please give it a chance. I walked away thankful I put the time into this story.



Waiting on Wednesday: Daughter of the Siren Queen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:


Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2)



From Goodreads:

Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.


The first book was amazing and so much fun that I cannot wait to read the next book. Is this on your TBR?


Top Ten Tuesday: Book Resolution/Goals for 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week they have a different theme for bloggers to post their top tens about, and this week I’m listing…

Book Resolution/Goals for 2018


  1. Join more book tours
  2. Read 250 books  (I’m already at 85 for the year so I may be on track for this)
  3.  Comment on more blogs
  4. Follow more book blogs
  5. Grow my blog followers
  6. Grow my Instagram followers (
  7. Interact with my Twitter followers more
  8. Do more Twitter/Blog/IG giveaways
  9. Read more books that have been sitting on my shelves
  10. Read at least 5 books that intimidate me



This was NOT an easy list to come up with! One would think it would be easy to come up with 10 things but how many different ways can I say, “Tackle my ever growing TBR” or “post more”? Plus, those are constant goals for me. I am going to try to push myself in 2018. What about you? What are some of your goals?