As you'll be able to see, I cheated when I created this list. I combined authors/series for some of my top spots. I couldn't help it.
Another winner for Ginger Scott.
WICKED RESTLESS features Owen Harper's brother(Wild Reckless) Andrew. While it isn't necessary to read WILD RECKLESS first, it will add to the overall story - making it a richer experience.
Andrew was kind of sheltered from the Harper family drama when he grew up. He was too young when his father died (under total tragic and gossip-worthy circumstances) and when his oldest brother died, his other brother, Owen, was mostly involved. While he does feel the stigma of the "Troublemaker Harper Boys," it isn't something that has plagued him.
Andrew is SUPER smart. He has been enrolled in a special program for highly gifted students for years. BUT, he is lacking one class to graduate that he can't get through Excel - a P.E. credit. So, Andrew is forced to attend P.E. at the local high school. It's there that he meets Emma and is completely blown away. It is love at first sight for him and he'll do anything to spend some time with her. Eventually, they go out and the connection they feel is amazing and mutual. Andrew is happy and sees nothing but blue skies ahead as long as Emma is in his life. BUT, tragedy strikes, tearing apart both Andrew's and Emma's worlds.
In order to save Emma from the consequences of a terrible accident, Andrew takes the blame. He never expected his punishment to be so severe though. He is sent to a juvenile detention facility and the only thing that keeps him going is his thoughts and memories of Emma. He writes her all the time telling her about his experiences there and how desperate he is to hear from her, but Emma never writes back. Eventually, Andrew is left bitter and betrayed and his love for Emma turns to hate.
Fast forward several years. Andrew is in college and attempting to make a life for himself. He has anger issues that he resolves by fighting in illegal boxing matches. Not only does the violence and pain ground him, he makes a lot of money which allows him to attend college and afford daily expenses.
Andrew isn't a great guy - meaning he uses women. He and his roommate have this thing where they bet each other whether or not they can pick up certain girls or not. The night Andrew's life changes is the night he is dared to pick out a girl to make his target. He has a system. He walks by a bar table and looks for a driver's license or university ID sticking out to pick up. Later he approaches the girl to return it and then makes his move. This particular night the ID he steals belongs to none other than Emma! He is angry that she is there acting like she is having the time of her life when he suffered so much for her in the past. He soon devices a plan for revenge. Instead of targeting Emma he decides to hit on her best friend/roommate and torture her with his presence. The problem is, the time he spends with the best friend only makes him want Emma all over again.
Will he be able to put his anger aside and forgive Emma? Will they be able to build a relationship again? Can they even be friends? Why did Emma not respond to him all those years ago?
Ginger Scott writes so that your heart breaks for Andrew. You feel his anger and sadness. You feel the betrayal. You sympathize with all he had to go through to protect Emma. You root for them to get together and pick up where they left off in high school.
If you like edgy, dark, young adult/new adult romance you'll definitely want to put this one on your tbr.
Here is my sketchnote for the book.
So you think you know how to be successful, but somehow keep missing the mark? Then Edgy Conservations: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Outrageous Success is for you. In fact, it's recommended for any reader who feels that the adages of hard work and perseverance are somehow not paying off; and that there must be something more to the equation of success.
Where other self-help guidebooks take the form of 'tried and true' approaches, in reality it's personal baggage and perceptions that often prove the limiting factors to leading a successful life. Edgy Conversations lives up to its title and isn't for those who would follow a formula; but is very highly recommended for readers who would reflect on the personal habits and approaches to life that are keeping them from succeeding.
When it comes down to how to achieve such self-examination and honesty, Edgy Conversations is there to offers answers. Not for the faint of heart or those who would live the unexamined life, it begins with the root of any achievement: how to handle such concepts as: "The doing part is only one side of discipline. The harder, grittier side of discipline is what you won't do."
Susan Scarf Merrell – novelist and fiction editor of TSR.
A young couple move in with author Shirley Jackson and her philandering husband Stanley in the months shortly before the writer’s untimely death at the age of 48.
The Haunting of Shirley Jackson
Anything by Jackson herself.
Rose, newly married, newly pregnant, who arrives in 1964 Vermont to lodge with the writer, when her husband takes up a teaching post at the local college.
Rose comes across as the dictionary definition of self-effacing. As this is not an abundant quality in the current crop of acting talent, I’m going to go with Joan Fontaine (see Hitchcock’s Rebecca) or Julie Harris, who played Eleanor in the original film version of The Haunting of Hill House.
North Bennington, Vermont is 1960s small town – bitterly divided between the college population and the locals, surrounded by deep, dark woods. Oh yes, I would live there.
Several competed for first place, but this one captured my affection by nailing my exact sentiments about a certain famous author:
And he turned and picked up his glass, and said to Alan, “Have you actually tried Herzog? If Bellow gets any more self-referential, he’ll start writing with his asshole.
Ever play the Dinner Party Game? You know — that one where you choose the people, living or dead, you would most like to invite to your home to share a bottle of red and consume a plate of quiche and salad? Jesus, Einstein, Hitler, Marie Antoinette (bet she’d give excellent makeup tips) — they’re all on my list. I’d invite Lovecraft too, except he’d probably sit in a corner and cry. The game gets into our curiosity about the famous and the dead. What were they really like? we wonder. Was Jesus the kind of hipster who sneers at people’s immoral food choices? Did Einstein have a great line in dirty jokes? Could Hitler do accents?
If, like me, you’re a huge fan of the small but beautifully crafted output of horror writer Shirley Jackson, then she would be on that list too. Jackson, who died in her sleep from heart failure, left behind four children, a husband, a shedload of short stories (they were how she made her living) and a handful of novels. But not just any novels. Her penultimate book just happened to be The Haunting of Hill House, the book Stephen King describes as having one of the (if not *the*) finest opening paragraph. In any novel. Ever.
But the dinner party game is just a game, unless you are Susan Scarf Merrell, in which case it is a book in which Shirley Jackson once again presides over a dinner table, available to us via the gaze of Rose, the mousy child-bride of handsome academic Fred. The couple lodge with Shirley and her lascivious husband Stanley through a long cold Vermont winter. Through Shirley, Jackson lives again. We get to hear her talk. We get to eat her terrible meals. We begin to delve into the odd, fraught, complicated business that was her marriage and her life.
If that were all Shirley the novel represented — a chance to satisfy our curiosity about what kind of a person could write something as dark and psychologically twisted as Hill House — then it would itself be nothing more than a curiosity, and for around half the book, this is what I believed the story amounted to. Rose observes the family. She hears stories about a young co-ed who disappeared years ago. She understands that Shirley may outwardly tolerate Stanley’s infidelities, but that inwardly she deeply resents them. Rose, pregnant with her first child, begins to appreciate why the local townsfolk whisper about Jackson’s reputation as a witch.
Up to this point, we’re heading in the direction of a straightforward mystery, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But then Merrell manages, in a masterly, Jacksonesque way, to skew the story into something else entirely. ‘I am not Eleanor!’ Rose cries, denying her similarity to the lead character in Jackson’s famous book. Rose tries to wake Jackson’s sleeping daughters and fails. People act as though she is not there; speak to her in asides, almost as if speaking to themselves. You begin to wonder who Rose is, exactly. How real she is. With a chill you realize that everyone at your invented dinner party is hanging on every word you say. You realize that you are not the host of the party, but the guest – that you are the observed not the observer. You begin to wonder if you might be the figment of someone else’s imagination.
It’s a magnificent twist and one which Merrell, to her credit, does not overplay. She contents herself, as did Jackson, with hinting, provides an ending which satisfies both possibilities – the ordinary mystery and the story about a writer conjuring a subject into reality – and leaves us to make up our minds about which version we prefer.
Jackson, at the head of the table of phantoms, would smile and approve.
Bookshots review written for LitReactor.com by Cath Murphy