Tag Archives: adult

The Devil’s Only Friend (John Cleaver)

The Devil's Only Friend Book Cover The Devil's Only Friend
John Cleaver, Book 4
Dan Wells
Tor Books

John Wayne Cleaver hunts demons: they've killed his neighbors, his family, and the girl he loves, but in the end he's always won. Now he works for a secret government kill team, using his gift to hunt and kill as many monsters as he can . . . . . . but the monsters have noticed, and the quiet game of cat and mouse is about to erupt into a full scale supernatural war. John doesn't want the life he's stuck with. He doesn't want the FBI bossing him around, he doesn't want his only friend imprisoned in a mental ward, and he doesn't want to face the terrifying cannibal who calls himself The Hunter. John doesn't want to kill people. But as the song says, you can't always get what you want. John has learned that the hard way; his clothes have the stains to prove it. When John again faces evil, he'll know what he has to do. The Devil's Only Friend is the first book in a brand-new John Wayne Cleaver trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells.



John Wayne Cleaver is back in “The Devil’s Only Friend”, the first in somewhat of a sub-trilogy within the already established John Cleaver series by Dan Wells.

I’ll start off by saying that the entire John Cleaver series, though popular, is extremely underrated.  I also think it’s unfairly compared to Dexter.  Granted, Dexter is a wonderful series and he is a great character, but John Cleaver stands on his own as a psychopathic anti-hero.  He doesn’t need anyone’s help to establish exactly who and what he is.  And yes, I realize I am writing this like he is an actual person, but that is a true testament to how developed he is as a character.  Mr. Wells has made him feel like a living, breathing person who may or may not want to kill you, but will most likely not.  He’ll just make an intricate plan to do so in case he ever changes his mind.

“The Devil’s Only Friend” is the best of the series yet, and while I would encourage everyone to read the first three, if you feel like jumping in here the backstory is explained in enough detail to keep you from being confused, while also avoiding a dry rundown that will leave previous fans bored and waiting for the plot to get going.  Which is great, because the plot is nothing short of amazing.  Every single clue adds up to the ultimate conclusion, but I had about ten different theories on how it would go and still managed to be taken by surprise.  This is a mystery written by a master.  I wish I could go into more of the plot but almost anything I say besides it is blow-your-mind-good will lead to some sort of spoiler.

I feel the need to add this:  For some reason unknown to me, many bookstores and libraries insist on shelving this entire series under “Young Adult”.  Now, I’m not saying this cannot be read and appreciated by the older young adult set, but I’m also fairly certain that you will traumatize quite a few of them if you hand them a John Cleaver book thinking it’s “Dexter for Kids”.  This is NOT a young adult book.  This is a book for serious mystery and thriller fans who do not mind a lot of gore, horror, and psychotic thoughts.

In short:  Great main character, excellent plot, not for the squeamish, everyone else should read all of the John Cleaver series.  Of course, this is a review for “The Devil’s Only Friend”, so be sure to read that one, as well.

Five enthusiastic (albeit bloody) stars.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

This is an adult book about a teenaged psychopath.  That should be all the warning necessary.

I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves Book Cover I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves
Ryan O'Connell
Simon and Schuster
June 2, 2015

This hilarious part-memoir, part-manifesto reveals what sets apart the latest generation of young people coming of age in an all-wired, overeducated, and underemployed world.

People are obsessed with Ryan O’Connell’s blogs. With tens of thousands reading his pieces on Thought Catalog and Vice, watching his videos on YouTube, and hanging on to each and every #dark tweet, Ryan has established himself as a unique young voice who’s not afraid to dole out some real talk. He’s that candid, snarky friend you consult when you fear you’re spending too much time falling down virtual k-holes stalking your ex on Facebook or when you’ve made the all-too-common mistake of befriending a psycho while wasted at last night’s party and need to find a way to get rid of them the next morning. But Ryan didn’t always have the answers to these modern day dilemmas. Growing up gay and disabled with cerebral palsy, he constantly felt like he was one step behind everybody else. Then the rude curveball known as your twenties happened and things got even more confusing.

Ryan spent years as a Millennial cliché: he had dead-end internships; dabbled in unemployment; worked in his pajamas as a blogger; communicated mostly via text; looked for love online; spent hundreds on “necessary” items, like candles, while claiming to have no money; and even descended into aimless pill-popping. But through extensive trial and error, Ryan eventually figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began limping towards adulthood.

Sharp and entertaining, I’m Special will educate twentysomethings (or other adolescents-at-heart) on what NOT to do if they ever want to become happy fully functioning grown ups with a 401k and a dog.



I am not sure how the work of Ryan O’Connell has not come across my screen before, but if any articles he has written are half as good as “I’m Special”, then I need to read them all.  The book is not only hilarious, but also true, and explains so much about the millennial generation.

Mr. O’Connell is a very self-aware individual, which makes him the perfect writer to put a voice to the millennial generation, because self-awareness is not always a trait widely attributed to them/us.  I’m a generation straddler, so half of it seemed to apply to myself or my parents, and the other half seemed to apply to every friend and relative I have who is younger.  During some of the stories I was actually saying out loud, “That’s me! I do that all the time!” It should probably be embarrassing that I had that reaction, because every time it was because of something weird, quirky, and/or off-putting, but it is what it is.  He makes it feel ok to be the way we are.

“I’m Special” has quite a bit of rather adult content, so if that bothers you it is probably not a good fit.  Otherwise, as long as you aren’t afraid to laugh at yourself (because you will identify with someone in the book), I recommend it to anyone looking to be entertained while also being made to think about their life choices.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there is no content warning.

Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice From Yesteryear

Ask the Past Book Cover Ask the Past
Elizabeth P. Archibald
Hachette Books

Want to know how to garden with lobsters? How to sober up? Grow a beard? Or simply how to make a perfect omelet? Look no further. Rather, look backward. Based on the popular blog, Ask the Past is full of the wisdom of the ages--as well as the fad diets, zany pickup lines, and bacon Band-Aids of the ages. Drawn from centuries of antique texts by historian and bibliophile Elizabeth P. Archibald, Ask the Past offers a delightful array of advice both wise and weird. Whether it's eighteenth-century bedbug advice (sprinkle bed with gunpowder and let smolder), budget fashion tips of the Middle Ages (save on the clothes, splurge on the purse) or a sixteenth-century primer on seduction (hint: do no pass gas), Ask the Past is a wildly entertaining guide to life from the people who lived it first.



Historian Elizabeth P. Archibald does a wonderful job in “Ask the Past” of showing that history can be fun and entertaining.  Her collection of some of the best/worst excerpts from antique etiquette and advice books and pamphlets, along with accompanying illustrations, had me laughing so hard that I could not breathe.  Her snarky “translations” at the end of each excerpt doubled the entertainment value.

Aside from being entertaining, her introduction breaks down her research methods in a way that will help novice historians learn how to take tiny bits of information and use it to get an overall picture of the society of the time.

Also, I would like to note that I am forever grateful to the person who established that it is not appropriate to attack someone who is defecating.  Where would we be as a society if that was still an acceptable practice?

“Ask the Past” is the perfect gift for anyone old enough for fart and sex jokes made classier through Old English.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there is no content warning.

Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspires Millions

Ricochet Book Cover Ricochet
Judy Fridono

Ride the wave of hope with Ricochet – the only SURFice dogTM in the world who chose her own purpose! She surfs with children with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors, and veterans with PTSD as an assistive aid and intuitive muse, healing hearts and souls on every wave. This tears-to-triumph story takes readers behind the TV and video sensation and shares the true journey that went from promise to disappointment before ultimately finding life's purpose. The gorgeous golden retriever Ricochet seemed destined to be a service dog from the moment she was born. She approached her training with boundless energy and surpassed every other dog in her Puppy Prodigy training class. Unfortunately, her love for chasing birds could prove dangerous, for those she would assist. Fifteen months into her training, Ricochet was released, leaving a frustrated owner and a dog without a direction. Yet through a twist of fate, Judy realized that flunking out of school wasn't the end of the world—and in fact, could be the beginning of a new one. Once Judy learned to let go and let Ricochet be who she really was, they found her true calling as a SURFice dog. Ricochet's story is one of synchronicity, our interconnectedness, and opening ourselves to life's 'paws'ibilities. Embracing her true calling, Ricochet began to help others, including those with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, and physical disabilities, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable causes and inspiring people to believe in themselves. Ricochet does more than steady the board: she offers hope, comfort, healing, and a reason to keep fighting. What gives this story such extraordinary potential to become a publishing sensation? Ricochet is the only SURFice dog in the world, there is no other story quite like it!



Knowing of Ricochet and a bit of her story thanks to YouTube, I was very happy to receive a copy of “Ricochet” to review.  I’m having trouble even typing this review without getting emotional.  Don’t worry, it creates tears, but of the very best kind.

“Ricochet” is an inspiring story that covers not only her story, but the story of her person, Judy, and “sister” Rami, along with the stories of many they have all impacted in their unique mission.  As someone with mobility challenges of my own, I cannot imagine how freeing it must be to feel the surf around you while you catch a wave with Ricochet.  She isn’t a traditional rescue dog, but that makes her story that much more special.  She does what she does because she was unable to be what others felt she had to be.  Once she was allowed to be herself, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to her and anyone she meets.  As any dog lover can tell you, it’s easier to take advice from a dog than a human.  Who could resist any message that face tries to give you?

As a short side note, I really appreciate Judy’s advocacy of positive training methods for service dogs.  While traditional methods may work for many, I have seen some training that was more than a little heavy-handed, and it is nice to see other training options put out there.

“Ricochet” is inspirational, and about dogs helping those with disabilities, as well as those without disabilities.  If you’re in any way inclined to frown at frolicking puppies, laughing children, the sound of the ocean, or merriment in general, I would skip this book.  If you want something to make you smile and want to hug your dog, or get a dog, then pick this one up.

This is an honest review based upon a complimentary copy won through the Goodreads First Reads program.


Content Warning:

Note: Even though it is listed as an adult book, there is nothing in the content to make “Ricochet” inappropriate for middle grade readers.

Intimacy Idiot

Intimacy Idiot Book Cover Intimacy Idiot
Isaac Oliver
June 2, 2015

This big-hearted, laugh-until-you-can’t-breathe collection of personal essays, stories, and riffs on finding love and intimacy in New York City announces the arrival of a “a monstrous new talent” (New York magazine) in the vein of David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, and Tina Fey.

In this uproariously funny debut collection, award-winning writer and performer Isaac Oliver serves up a comedic cornucopia of sketches, vignettes, lists, and diaries from his life as a young, fanciful, and extremely single gay man in New York City. Whether he’s hooking up with a man who dresses as a dolphin, suffering on airplanes and buses next to people with Food From Home, or hovering around an impenetrable circle of attractive people at a cocktail party, Oliver captures the messy, moving, and absurd moments of urban life as we live it today.

Since moving to New York a decade ago, Oliver has pined for countless strangers on the subway, slept with half the people in his Washington Heights neighborhood, and observed the best and worst of humanity from behind the glass of a Times Square theater box office. He also rode the subway during Breastfeeding Awareness Week and lived to tell the tale. Culled from years of heartbreak, hook-ups, and more awkwardness than a virgin at prom and a whore in church (and he should know because he’s been both), Intimacy Idiot chronicles Oliver’s encounters with love, infatuation, resilience, and self-acceptance that echo our universal desire for intimacy of all kinds.



The star rating for “Intimacy Idiot” is probably a bit misleading here, as I rated based on the average of all of the pieces.  When it is good, it is very, very good.  I was laughing so hard it hurts at some points.  The problem is, when it is not good it falls completely flat.  The writing is on point in all of them, but sometimes I simply felt disinterested.

Isaac Oliver seems like someone I would love to hang out with.  He’s funny, intelligent, talented, and self-deprecating without coming across as though he wears a hair shirt and flogs himself every night before bed.  Twice on Sundays.  The stories manage to both give a peek into the world of gay dating, which is an unknown territory for some of us, while being relatable on so many levels to every single person reading it.  The ratio of familiar to foreign is absolutely perfect.

As I said above, it unfortunately fell flat in many chapters, but I would much rather focus on the enjoyable parts, of which there were many.  The book is at its heart a work of comedy, but it also evokes quite a sense of loneliness and longing.  It changes tone swiftly and seamlessly, always keeping the reader on their toes.  There is a natural talent for storytelling that shows in the writing, and I am anticipating reading more of Oliver’s works in the future.

I recommend “Intimacy Idiot” to anyone looking for a laugh and a well-written memoir.  The chapters range in format from stories to lists to poetry, so what fell flat for me may strike a chord with someone else.  The enjoyable parts make it well worth reading, no matter the issues you may have with other chapters.  If you in any way do not enjoy reading about casual sex, though, I would give the book a wide berth.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there is no content warning.

The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath

The Liberation of the Camps Book Cover The Liberation of the Camps
Dan Stone
Yale University Press

Seventy years have passed since the tortured inmates of Hitler’s concentration and extermination camps were liberated. When the horror of the atrocities came fully to light, it was easy for others to imagine the joyful relief of freed prisoners. Yet for those who had survived the unimaginable, the experience of liberation was a slow, grueling journey back to life. In this unprecedented inquiry into the days, months, and years following the arrival of Allied forces at the Nazi camps, a foremost historian of the Holocaust draws on archival sources and especially on eyewitness testimonies to reveal the complex challenges liberated victims faced and the daunting tasks their liberators undertook to help them reclaim their shattered lives.

Historian Dan Stone focuses on the survivors—their feelings of guilt, exhaustion, fear, shame for having survived, and devastating grief for lost family members; their immense medical problems; and their later demands to be released from Displaced Persons camps and resettled in countries of their own choosing. Stone also tracks the efforts of British, American, Canadian, and Russian liberators as they contended with survivors’ immediate needs, then grappled with longer-term issues that shaped the postwar world and ushered in the first chill of the Cold War years ahead.



“The Liberation of the Camps” is a book that manages to make itself unique in a history genre that can feel a bit crowded at times.

What sets the book apart is the liberal use of primary sources from a variety of different situations that occurred after liberation.  Many of them, including the fact that many Survivors were kept in the camp for a long period after the actual liberation, are unknown to many people.  It’s a very comprehensive resource for those with an interest in Holocaust history.

The one major flaw is that it can be dry at times.  It’s definitely by an academic and meant for those with a scholarly interest in the Holocaust, but even by those standards it can be dry.  I have a degree in history, so feel like I have seen both sides of the “dry history” spectrum.  This one is not awful, simply dry in the medium range on the spectrum.  Not enough to be boring, but not something to be consumed in large doses.

Overall, the content and primary sources make “The Liberation of the Camps” worth the time for those with an academic interest in the Holocaust.  However, for anyone else it would probably be a bit of a bore.  Four stars are given for the wealth of information provided, not the writing itself.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

As this is an adult and non-fiction title, there are no content warnings.

The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop Book Cover The Little Paris Bookshop
Nina George
Crown Pub
June 23, 2015

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.



A true romance about the love between people and books, “The Little Paris Bookshop” will delight anyone looking for a “literary” read.

The idea that not every book is meant for all readers, or even for a large audience, is true of this novel.  If you’re looking for a fast-paced plot, this is not the book for you.  To enjoy it you need to be willing to meander and to take the time to allow yourself to slowly sink into the world of Monsieur Perdu and friends.  It’s a slice-of-life read with beautiful imagery and lyrical writing.  Meant to be savored, do not be afraid to put it down and come back later.  Some things are meant to be savored.  “The Little Paris Bookshop” is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy the types of novels I’ve described, it is one of the best out there. It reminds me of “The Whistling Season” by Ivan Doig, which is an extremely high compliment.

All of the characters are wonderfully quirky and full of depth.  Each has a backstory that is revealed in layers through both observations and dialogue.  And the dialogue is excellent!  Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, there are no wasted words.  It all furthers what you know about their past in addition to giving hints to their future.  I want to be friends with them and would love for “The Literary Apothecary” to be an actual place I could visit.

There is one flaw that so many good books often have:  the excessive epilogue.  While I enjoyed how their lives turn out, the book had a natural ending in the last chapter.  A small epilogue would have been nice, but there was so much crammed in that it would have been better served, if the author felt it necessary, to have been split into a couple of actual chapters.

“The Little Paris Bookshop” is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy the types of novels I’ve described, it is one of the best out there.  It’s a balm for the soul, to paraphrase Monsieur Perdu.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

As this is an adult novel, there are no content warnings.

Humber Boy B

Humber Boy B Book Cover Humber Boy B
Ruth Dugdall
Legend Press
April 1, 2015

A child is killed after falling from the Humber Bridge. Despite fleeing the scene, two young brothers are found guilty and sent to prison. Upon their release they are granted one privilege only, their anonymity.
Probation officer Cate Austin is responsible for Humber Boy B’s reintegration into society. But the general public’s anger is steadily growing, and those around her are wondering if the
secret of his identity is one he actually deserves to keep. Cate’s loyalty is challenged when she begins to discover the truth of the crime. She must ask herself if a child is capable of premeditated murder. Or is there a greater evil at play?



As a lover of mystery, procedurals, and books that expose flaws in prison systems, I had quite a bit of hope for “Humber Boy B”.  Unfortunately, what was a promising premise fell completely flat.

The plot began decently enough, but became burdensome after a while.  I did enjoy the way flashbacks were intermingled, but they were the most interesting parts.  By the end, several subplots had been introduced that were rather large and important, only to be left unresolved.  I know this is how life works, but the author could have made them a less important part of the story and focused more on the main storyline, which most definitely needed expansion.  There will be a second book in the series, but as it is written there will be no opportunity to clear up most of the loose ends.  I think this bothered me the most because between the flashbacks, two different types of narration (first person and third person omnipotent), and a long length, there was no reason not to essentially finish the story being told.

Some of the characters are well-developed.  Other characters are basically caricatures of mystery tropes that you get the feeling you are supposed to like but are the exact opposite of likable.  On top of that, the two main characters have been developed through many perspectives and still make decisions that are completely out-of-character and unexplained.  I came to downright despise the female protagonist, and considering the series will revolve around her, I can only hope the author redeems her in a major way, because there really was potential.

In short, I can’t recommend “Humber Boy B”.  I wish the author the best and hope she finds her rhythm.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

This is an adult book, so there is no content warning.

At the Water’s Edge

At the Water's Edge Book Cover At the Water's Edge
Sara Gruen

In this new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water's Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman's personal awakening as she experiences the devastations of World War II in a Scottish Highlands village. Madeline Hyde, a young socialite from Philadelphia, reluctantly follows her husband and their best friend to the tiny village of Drumnadrochit in search of a mythical monster--at the same time that a very real monster, Hitler, wages war against the Allied Forces. What Maddie discovers--about the larger world and about herself--through the unlikely friendships she develops with the villagers, opens her eyes not only to the dark forces that exist around her but to the beauty and surprising possibilities. From the Hardcover edition.



The beginning of “At the Water’s Edge” was only worth three stars, but the second half of the book redeemed it enough for me to round-up to four stars.  It is well worth sticking it out through the sluggish beginning to see where the story leads.

As I said, the beginning was a bit sluggish, but I believe most of the problem came from the extremely irritating nature of the main character, Maddie, along with her husband, Ellis, and her friend, Hank.  I can understand why the author portrayed her the way she did, but I feel like it may have been a better choice to soften Maddie’s character just a little, as it is very well possible that many readers will give up before learning more about why she is the way she is.

The plot is a unique one featuring the Scottish Highlands, WWII, high society, and the Loch Ness monster.  Once all of these elements combine the pace picks up and “At the Water’s Edge” becomes nearly impossible to put down.  I loved the way things unfolded, as well as the details of life during the war in that area of the world that were sprinkled throughout.  As a historian, I appreciated that Sara Gruen made the facts fit with what the characters would know at the time, which were inaccurate in many ways, giving it a very realistic feel.  I also highly appreciated the author’s note at the end clarifying the real facts and numbers that time revealed to be true.

Overall, in spite of the problems at the beginning, I can still recommend “At the Water’s Edge” for anyone looking for an engaging read.  The reward is worth the trouble of getting there.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy of the book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Content warnings are not included for books intended for adult audiences.


Hades Book Cover Hades
Archer and Bennett, Book 1
Candice Fox
January 27, 2015



It has been quite some time since I have found a new and enjoyable mystery series that features both procedurals and a unique premise, but “Hades” definitely meets all of those requirements and more.  If you read the description, it may sound like “Dexter”, but I can assure you there is very little resemblance.

The plot goes back and forth between the backstory of the twins Eden and Eric, along with their “father” Hades, and a first-person account by detective Frank Bennett of the current work of finding a prolific serial killer.  On occasion there is also a third-person narrative of what is happening with the killer.  The switches took a bit to get used to, but once they did I found them enjoyable.

The plot is fast and interesting, with quite a few surprises thrown in.  It will be difficult for even the most enthusiastic mystery lovers to see where it all will end, making it the perfect mystery.  The characters are deep and well-developed, with enough mystery surrounding them to make the reader look forward to the sequel.  Unfortunately, writing much more would spoil the surprises, and where is the fun in that?

I recommend “Hades” for any mystery lovers out there with strong stomachs, as it can be gruesome at times.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

I don’t normally write content warnings for adult books, but please be aware that this novel contains animal death.