Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Thou Shalt Kill."
I love a good dystopian read, and this book did not disappoint. Set in a chilling, futuristic time period where humans have cured all illnesses and have found the key to immortality, Scythe looks at the problems with doing just that.
In this world, all diseases and injuries have been cured. Humans are now immortal. However, every civilization has its limitations--with out-of-control population concerns, the Scythes became an instrumental group in society. Charged with the task of killing humans to keep the population down, they mimic death in our current world. Filling their quotas and carrying out "gleanings," the term for murder in their society, Scythes are seen as figures to be revered. To be a scythe is the highest honor.
Citra and Rowan are two teenagers who, thanks to certain circumstances, are chosen to be apprentices for this position. Those trained to be scythes must meet one major stipulation--they can't want to be a scythe. Citra and Rowan certainly fit the bill. Assigned to the same Scythe, Faraday, both begin a journey to a life they never imagined for themselves.
Things get complicated as emotions bubble between them. In addition, as Citra and Rowan enter the secret world of the scythes, they learn that like in so many societies, not all is what it seems. As they uncover major issues and corruption within the scythes' secret society, they must question what is right and what is wrong--and how they will play a role in the path they choose.
I adored this book because it was such a unique concept. Nonetheless, it made so much sense. We always seek immortality but never really think about the consequences of achieving it. I also love the characters in this book. Shusterman has a wide range of characters, allowing the book to feel dynamic and engaging. All aspects of this society are really well thought out, leaving no plot holes. I also loved the format, with a diary entry from a scythe coming between every chapter or so.
I already bought book two in the series and am starting it immediately. If you like dystopian literature, this book is definitely for you. Even though it is young adult, it definitely is engaging for all ages as it raises interesting, ethical questions.
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For me, summer is a time to rejuvenate, recharge, and read a whole heck of a lot.
With school out for summer and my curriculum ready to go, I love to catch up on my personal TBR list. Right now, I'm reading The Arc of a Scythe series by Neil Shusterman and loving it so much! I'm also planning on reading a book by Shirley Jackson, Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men, and Night Circus.
This time of year, I also like to read books with a beach setting, a summer vibe, and some beautiful summer dates. If you're looking for a super summer read, check out my recommendations below. These are all books that just seem to say summer to me.
Do you have some great book recommendations? I'd love to hear what's on your list or what books you've loved recently. Hit reply and tell me what books I should read and review this summer.
Author Lindsay Detwiler
Books you should read this summer
1. Jane Green, The Sunshine Sisters
This book is set at the beach and is about three sisters brought back together over their very frustrating mother. This one is a realistic, sweet read about family loyalty.
2. Jane Green, The Beach House
This one is another perfect beach read. This was my first Jane Green book, and I really fell in love with her style .She doesn't shy away from realism in her books, and I appreciate that.
3. Jeannine Colette, Reckless Abandon
If you like some spice in your romance, you're going to love this alpha romance. However, I like that Jeanine makes her alpha's likable. I also love that Jeanine sets her books in different cities. Such a fun, summer read in the romance genre.
4. Nicholas Sparks, The Choice
Of course, every single Nicholas Sparks book is set at the beach. If you want some romantic drama with a touch of tears, this is the one for you. I adore this story, I adore the movie, and it probably has my absolute favorite proposal of all time in it. I think you'll love Travis because he's not your typical book boyfriend--but his loyalty to love and family is so admirable.
5. Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
I'm a huge Moriarty fan, and Big Little Lies is the perfect book if you want some drama and some suspense. This book focuses on a group of women from wealthy families and a mystery that brings some unlikely allies together. Reese Witherspoon is involved in the HBO adaptation of this book, and it is also phenomenal.
6. Nights in Rodanthe, Nicholas Sparks
Another tearjerker, this one is about second-chance romance. I love that the couple in this book is in a later stage of their life, which I think is something we need to see more of in literature. This one is also set at the beach, and it's all about summer love.
Summer Reads You Should Grab Now
Do you have any summer reading recommendations? Please comment below! Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram for weekly updates on the books I'm loving.
Sneak Peek at Small-Town Romance, Still Us
From the first time they locked eyes, Lila Morrow and Luke Bowman had a special spark. Their first kiss sealed their fairy-tale romance… until everything fell apart.
Here’s your excerpt of Still Us. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!
Sitting on the sofa with the curly-haired hunk who was a singer and an animal lover, I couldn’t help but wonder if this might just be different and if Luke’s desire to see Henry might turn into something more.
“I’d like that too.”
We spent the next few hours chatting about school, childhood memories, animals, and life. For those hours, it didn’t feel like Luke was some man I’d met less than twenty-four hours ago. It felt like he was someone I’d been meant to talk to my whole life, like the piece of me that was missing.
When we woke up in the morning to Floyd’s cries for food, I awkwardly stumbled to my feet. I’d been leaning on Luke’s shoulder, a wet spot on his shirt showing where my drooling mouth had been. I flushed with embarrassment.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. We must’ve fallen asleep. I’m so sorry,” I said, cupping my mouth in embarrassment.
Luke looked at his shirt, then at me, and started laughing. “It’s fine. Just a little drool, right, Doctor? Nothing you haven’t dealt with before.”
He shrugged. “Could be worse.”
“Not really. I just fell asleep on a patient’s owner’s shoulder and drooled on him. Not quite professional.”
“Well, there’s one solution for that.”
“What’s that?” I asked, rushing to get Floyd some food from the cupboard, mostly to busy my hands.
“Let’s not make this professional. Let’s make it personal. Go out with me tonight.”
I froze with a can of cat food in my hand. I turned to look at Luke, trying to avoid looking at the drool spot. “I don’t know. That’s not very professional. I mean, what would people think?”
“People can think what they want. Who cares. Go out with me.”
He took a step forward now, and I felt that familiar flutter. I wanted to say yes, to see where this feeling would take me.
But with the haze of the evening gone and the bright daylight streaming in, I realized this could lead me down another path to heartbreak. I didn’t know much about Luke, but I knew he seemed too good to be true. Those eyes were inviting, but they also said trouble.
“I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”
“That means no.”
“It means I’ll think about it.”
“Dammit, Lila Morrow. Just go out with me.”
I sighed, shaking my head. “I can’t. But I think Floyd is okay to take home. Call me if anything changes.”
Luke stared, those eyes piercing into me. For a moment, he hesitated, as if he was going to push me further. “Okay. But you call me if anything changes on your end, okay?”
I smiled, shaking my head. “Okay, I will.”
I helped him get Floyd ready for the ride home, giving him medicines and instructions and things to watch for. As I walked him to the door and thanked him for the coffee, he turned around to me.
“Just one more thing.”
He leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I froze, shocked by his boldness. He pulled back so we were almost nose to nose, his eyes glinting in the sun’s rays floating through the door. “I don’t think this is over. I think you haven’t seen the last of me. I think we could be good for each other.”
I sighed again, the fluttering intense now. “Well, for starters, that was more than just one thing, FYI.”
He shook his head now. “I’ll see you soon, soul mate.”
“Soul mate? Really? Don’t you think it’s a little soon?” I said, unable to stop the smile from spreading on my face.
“Nope. Not at all. Come on, Floyd. Let’s get out of here before Dr. Morrow makes a move. We’re not ready for marriage yet, you know.”
“You’re unbelievable.” I was flabbergasted by his confidence, more accurately labeled as arrogance. From his smirk to the way he walked out of there, it seemed like Luke Bowman knew I would be his.
Which was both frustrating and surprisingly intriguing.
“Well, thank you,” he said, whistling as he walked to his pickup truck, loaded Floyd, and drove out of the parking lot, leaving me to stand and wonder what the hell kind of trouble I’d gotten into.
“Maren, this is a terrible idea. I have no rhythm,” I whined, yanking down my hot pink exercise top and feeling completely out of place. I had no idea why I’d let her talk me into it.
“Come on. Zumba’s great. Plus, that guy I’ve been telling you about works out here, so come on. Just go with it.”
“Wait, that Will guy?”
“Yes, idiot. Hence the hour it took me to get ready for Zumba. Didn’t you think the eye makeup was a little over the top?”
“Still do. But I don’t see what your obsession has to do with me.”
“Because I need a Zumba buddy. Only creepos come alone. I don’t want Will thinking I’m a creepo.”
“That seems like seriously flawed logic,” I said.
“Okay, doctor lady. You get that white jacket and you think you know everything,” Maren said, rolling her eyes but grinning.
I shoved her into the wall, and we started yelling and pinching each other like the preteens we still were together. After we’d settled down, I turned to the right, eyeing the muscular guys on the machinery, taking a peek.
And then I froze, putting a hand on Maren’s arm. “Oh, shit. Are you serious?” I asked, seeing the familiar curls.
He was in a T-shirt and shorts, but even from here, I could appreciate his amazing biceps at work. My heart started to beat faster.
“It’s him. That guy from the other day. You know, the whole Floyd thing?”
“Oh, Lila, he’s gorgeous. Go get him.” Maren let out what I thought was supposed to be a Latin growl, but sounded more like a cough.
“No. I can’t. He’s crazy. Super bold. He’s trouble.”
“Trouble is what you need,” she hissed. “You’re so boring. He could liven you up. Now go talk to him.”
“Not in this outfit.”
“Absolutely in that outfit. Now go, or I will.”
“I thought you were here for Will,” I observed, staring at my crazy sister.
“I am. But if you let that fine man go to waste, I’ll just have to move in on both.”
“You’re ridiculous,” I said. “But fine. And besides, there’s Will. Go make eyes at him,” I said, rolling my eyes now. We pinched each other one more time before heading off in separate directions. So much for using the gym to get fit.
What did you think of Lila and Luke? Feel free to hit comment and tell me about your own love story and what you thought of Luke and Lila. If it sounds like your kind of romance, click the button below to add it to your TBR pile.
Honest book review of The Wife Between Us
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Did love or control propel him?"
The Wife Between Us is a story about secrets, love, and revenge. It is a winding tale that will keep the reader guessing the entire way through. The story follows a character named Vanessa who, throughout the story, is a complex woman. After a breakup with her husband, she is left in the shadows of his new wife... but can't seem to let it all go. As the tale goes on, it is difficult for the reader to know whom to trust.
I enjoyed the constantly shifting perspectives in this book. Just when I thought I'd figured everything out, things shifted again and again. It was unsettling to read because of this, but kept me wanting to read. I appreciated the various twists and turns up through the last page. Furthermore, the constantly shifting timeline helped keep the book engaging.
The writing was seamless; even with two authors, I couldn't tell where one's words began or ended. The description and emotion packed into the words was powerful and kept me intrigued.
I do wish the ending was a little bit stronger. The final twist was interesting but could have been executed more thoroughly.
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Saenz's Complex Teen Read Encompasses Identity, Tough Topics
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
""Something happened inside me as I looked out into the vast universe. Through that telescope, the world was closer and larger than I'd ever imagined. And it was all so beautiful and overwhelming and I--I don't know___it made me aware that there was something inside of me that mattered."
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an award-winning young adult novel... and deservedly so. This book is rich with depth, meaning, and realism. It deals with so many heavy issues in a way that feels genuine and not forced. From PTSD to sexuality to identity, this book is a great one for teens and adults alike because it reminds us to be who we really are and go after our dreams.
Dante and Ari's friendship throughout the novel reveals so many layers to each of the characters. The author does a good job at capturing the feel of teenage relationships in a way that feels natural. I enjoyed the dialogue between the two as well as their quirky families. The characters are memorable in a John Green kind of way. They each have their own personalities and quirks that make them stand out in a world of young adult literature.
The continual symbolism of the the universe and stars was beautiful. The title fits perfectly, and I love it when a book makes you say: "Oh! I get why the title is what it is."
This book is an inspiring read for anyone searching for their identity and trying to mold their own personality in spite of family challenges. This is one of those books you could read multiple times due to the layers of meaning and the symbolism in so many of the lines.
A deep teen read that stands out thanks to its complexity and realism... I definitely recommend it.
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Win a Literary Lover's Prize Pack
Are you a literature lover? Do you want to start the year off with this fun prize pack, including a huge Book Nerd mug?
Head over to the pinned post on my Facebook for a contest that's super easy to enter...and super fun to win. Join my tribe in celebrating sweet, genuine love stories for your chance to win this gift pack.
Raw, Real Main Character Redeems John Green's Latest Novel
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am a huge fan of Fault in Our Stars, and loved Green's writing style in the book. I knew it was going to be a tall order for this book to live up to my love for Fault in Our Stars.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved his main character. Green again created a female protagonist who was strong, witty, and super memorable. I loved Aza and how real she felt. I also appreciated the fact that Green wrote about a character dealing with extreme anxiety. He didn't try to sugarcoat her anxiety or make it seem "less." He went all in, writing in a very raw, real way about Aza's struggles. I appreciated his realness and his ability to write her character in such a gritty way. I liked Aza's narrative voice in the novel and felt like I really knew her by the end.
For me, however, the plot in this book wasn't enough. I understand many really liked the introspective nature of this read and felt that the plot wasn't the focus. I can appreciate that and can understand Green's desire to approach this book from a unique literary form/presence. However, I really wish the plot started at the beginning of the book was more smoothly and intricately developed. I kept waiting for everything to come together and all of the subplots to make sense. I didn't feel that they ever truly did, other than a rushed attempt at the end to make it all make sense.
I also did not like the main characters' relationship all that much. Maybe I just like Hazel and Gus too much to be objective about another John Green couple. However, I just felt something was lacking between them. The depth and emotion wasn't there. I was left wanting more.
Although this is not my favorite book, I will say that Green always amazes me with his ability to write in a quirky yet relatable way. His books are always very clearly his own, with a one-of-a-kind style and voice. I appreciate his realism in his novels as well as his quirky references.
All in all, I am sure John Green fans will find valuable messages to cling to in this book. For many, the book will be a five-star. For me, though, I just wanted a deeper connection between the main characters as well as a more intricately developed plot.
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Honest Review of Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel, The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, The Underground Railroad doesn't disappoint in its ability to weave a powerful tale of hardship, injustice, and also resilience.
The book follows the story of Cora as she escapes the confines of slavery thanks to the Underground Railroad...and also her sense of determination. Her journey begins in hardship and continues in hardship as she faces loss, obstacles, doubt, fear, and capture over and over. The book keeps you reading because there are so many twists and turns. It is a sorrowful read that will stick with you and remind you that so many lives have been filled with hardship and suffering. It really made me think about my own life in that sense.
Cora's character is one riddled with complexities. She is courageous but also, as any of us would, demonstrates fear and frustration. There are points of despair and hopelessness as well as extreme isolation. However, I admired her determination to not only survive, but to survive and find a life of freedom and joy. Living was not enough for Cora; she wanted to live with the power of choice and dignity, something that clearly every human being deserves.
This book was a harsh reminder of the cruelties of the American past. Whitehead displays not only the struggles and horrors of the time period, but also the many complexities that supported and promoted slavery at this time. He sheds a light on a particularly cruel part of history through a human lens. He, thus, paints the emotional and human side of slavery and escape from slavery, allowing the reader to feel every single emotion during Cora's trials. The book was a reminder that so many lives were not only lost during this time period, but also so many lives tainted by hate, prejudice, and a lack of dignity.
This is a poignant, difficult story about a harrowing journey to freedom that will remind every reader that life isn't about money, fame, or success as we define it: the true point of life is to live a life of freedom and conviction. In addition, it's about empathy for all of humanity and standing up for what is right.
Whitehead allows these messages to stand strong through the characters he created and the raw, gritty telling of their story.
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Pre-Order Inked Hearts NOW for 50% off and get an exclusive invite to our VIP Party!
"This is so stupid. I’m not going to see him again. I got my new tattoo, I’m ready to start over, and I’ve accomplished one of my goals.
As I walk toward home, I notice I have a little more bounce in my step. Despite the burning sensation on my shoulder and the pain, I feel better than I have in months.
I tell myself it’s the new tattoo, and not the man who gave it to me."~Lindsay Detwiler, Inked Hearts
Inked Hearts, a sexy seaside romance, is releasing October 21st! Pre-order now for half-off and then get your invite to our exclusive Pre-Order party, happening October 20th. We've got giveaways, recipes, behind-the-scenes, and more.
$2.49 for a book and a party invite. Grab your copy today!
Fall Festivals and Small-Town Charm: The Author's Life
I'm a small-town girl with a heart for the small-town kind of world. Sure, I've been dazzled during trips to New York City. The rush of people and the constant thrill is exciting.
But I wouldn't want to live there... because I'm a small-town kind of girl.
I like the simplicity of walking down my empty street, waving at a few friendly faces. I like the sometimes humdrum pace of our town. I like walking for breakfast to a tiny cafe down the street, and ambling to a school event on a weekend. I love the friendly, familiar faces at our local haunts. I love the lack of traffic at intersections and the easy pace of our Pennsylvania town.
So, this weekend, when my husband and I were invited to a bookstore in a small town in Pennsylvania for the town's fall festival, I was thrilled. These are the kinds of places I feel at home.
And you know what?
It was one of my favorite author events so far.
It wasn't my favorite because we sold hundreds of books (we didn't) or because we had lines of people waiting to meet me (we also didn't). It was my favorite because of the atmosphere, the people, and the small-town charm that just made me feel at home.
Watching children laughing as they visited the petting zoo and ate way too much caramel corn. The smell of fried foods and the simple chatter around. The dog costume parade and scarecrow contests. It was an afternoon of warmth and simple, true fun.
Sometimes as authors, we lose sight of the journey. We are always wanting bigger, better, faster, more. We are always measuring our paths by how many books we sell or how much money exchanges hands. We try to collect awards and fame. We become so focused on these things that we lose sight of the simple fun, the beautiful memories, and the days like today.
Today, I'm thankful for a chance to meet new readers and to explore a new town. I'm thankful my author career has led me to new places and small towns all over our state. I'm thankful for an afternoon in the sun with my husband, laughing and having a simple, small-town adventure.
The author's life isn't always about big cities and huge tour stops. Sometimes, as I've learned, the best days and events are the ones that make us feel right at home, that remind us what genuine fun is all about, and help us see that the memories we make along the way are so much more important than anything else.
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