The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn BennettThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Macmillan on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
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Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.
Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

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Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Blood and Salt by Kim LiggettBlood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Series: Blood and Salt #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Horror, Mystery & Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Source: Penguin, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”
These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.
Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.
As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

*Warning: Prepare yourselves for swearing.
There are books that I want to cherish, but end up wanting to throw against a brick wall–Blood and Salt is one of those books. Despite this, I’m actually not sure if I want to recommend it to everyone, or tell you to let it burn in the pits of your TBRs.

One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks

Darkest Before Dawn by Maya BanksDarkest Before Dawn (KGI, #10) by Maya Banks
Published by Berkley on October 27th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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THE ALL-NEW KGI NOVEL from the “incredibly awesome" (Jaci Burton) #1 New York Times bestselling author of When Day Breaks.
The Kelly Group International (KGI):
A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications:
High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.
Mission:
Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t...
The enigmatic Hancock has been both opponent and ally to the KGI teams for as long as they've known him. Always working a deep game, Hancock's true allegiance has never been apparent, but one thing is for certain—he never lets anything get in the way of duty.
But now, his absolute belief in the primacy of his ultimate goal is challenged by a captive he's been ordered to guard, no matter how much she suffers in her prison. She's the only woman who's ever managed to penetrate the rigid walls surrounding his icy heart, but will he allow his perplexing feelings for the beautiful victim to destroy a mission he's spent years working to complete or will he be forced to sacrifice her for “the greater good.”

Darkest Before Dawn has a strong premise, and since I’m a fan of military dramas I wish I could say it was enough to make this a winner for me. Sadly, however, the book falters under the weight of overwhelming excesses.

One StarOne Star

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places by Gillian FlynnDark Places by Gillian Flynn
Published by Shaye Areheart Books on January 1st 2009
Genres: Mystery & Thriller, Adult, Death & Dying
Pages: 349
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FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OFGONE GIRL
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

This book was insaaaaane. But so so good. Dark Places was my first Gillian Flynn book (though I have seen the Gone Girl movie) but I fully plan on picking up all her other books now.
It’s the kind of novel that makes you question what on earth we humans can come up with. I kept wondering what was going on in Gillian Flynn’s head. How does she think of these things?

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Middle of Knight by Jewel E. Ann

Middle of Knight by Jewel E. AnnMiddle of Knight (Jack & Jill, #2) by Jewel E. Ann
Series: Jack & Jill #2
on October 8th 2015
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 322
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Book 2 in the Jack & Jill Series - NOT a standalone.
The living seek forgiveness. The dead seek revenge.
A first love.
A last breath.
A haunting past.
Armed with a sinful past and an equally sinful body, Jackson Knight absolves his vow of celibacy to pursue Sergeant Monaghan’s unsuspecting—older—housekeeper.
Ryn Middleton, on the cusp of turning forty with a snarky daughter, a killer dog, and an abusive ex-husband, finds Jackson’s advances humorous and unbelievable. After intense negotiations including Vera Wang, Ed Sheeran, and sex four times a day, Ryn accepts Jackson’s marriage proposal on their first date.
What could possibly go wrong?
While struggling to lay claim to the woman of the dreams he never had, Jackson is forced to deal with a grief-stricken Jillian trying to hold on to her past without letting go of her future—the doctor who took her heart and the Sergeant who gave her a new one.
Beyond the hope for light, lies the middle of darkness, the illusion of truth, and a haunting past.
*WARNING - Contains explicit language and sexual content and subject matter pertaining to physical/sexual abuse.

“Love is reckless because true emotions are immune to logic. The most beautiful love stories are often the most tragic.”

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren OliverBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Published by Hachette UK on March 4th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 300
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They say ‘live every day as if it’s your last’ – but you never actually think it’s going to be. At least I didn’t.
The thing is, you don’t get to know when it happens. You don’t remember to tell your family that you love them or – in my case – remember to say goodbye to them at all.
But what if, like me, you could live your last day over and over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have no regrets? Or are there some things you’d want to change...?

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The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy SchlitzThe Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Published by Candlewick Press on September 8th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Historical
Pages: 400
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Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz relates Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!), taking readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.

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Isn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne

Isn't She Lovely by Lauren LayneIsn't She Lovely (Redemption, #0.5) by Lauren Layne
Published by Random House LLC on October 28th 2013
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Pages: 243
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The rules are clear—until they're broken. Lauren Layne puts a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet.
"Who knew that pretending you're not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?"
Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she's pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn't exactly Ethan Price's type, either. He's probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund... or does he?
As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie's a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan's brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.
But when Stephanie steps into Ethan's privileged world, the "acting" begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating "them." And Stephanie faces a question she's too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?

This is the type of predictable and rather fluffy story that might have me rolling my eyes if it was written by a less talented author. In Lauren Layne’s extremely capable hands, however, the familiar storyline is infused with such endearing characters, snarky banter, and flowing writing that it engaged me from beginning to end.

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