WORLD IBD DAY

Today is World IBD Day! A day created to bring awareness to a disease that has a lot of stigma. Most people have only heard of Inflammatory Bowel Disease thanks to the awful commercials on TV promoting medications for the disease. But IBD is so much more than what the commercials show. Over 1.6 million people in America have either Ulcerative Colitis of Crohn’s Disease and over 30,000 people are newly diagnosed every year. You probably know people with this disease and don’t even know it!

So, what is IBD? 

IBD is constant anxiety about when and where you’re going to have to go to the bathroom. It’s cancelling plans because you’ve had to go too many times that day and you’re worried about trying to find a bathroom during that outdoor concert. It’s walking into a store and immediately wondering where a bathroom is, just incase. It’s when someone walks in to the public restroom while you’re going and being mortified that maybe they heard you and are judging you for going in a public place. Some days it’s having to go 25+ times. 

But it’s also more than that. 

IBD is having a flair in the winter and waking up with arthritis in your feet so bad that getting up and around takes way longer than it should. It’s having skin so dry it cracks and bleeds. It’s having minute needle marks all over the inside of your arm and scars that you don’t want anyone to see. It’s stomach cramps so bad it feels like someone forced you to eat a hot iron. It’s 3am hospital visits. It’s trying not the scream on the toilet from your fissures or hemorrhoids. 

Sometimes, IBD is going to the bathroom and wondering who put the shark in the toilet… how can you lose that much blood? It’s the sleepless nights because you couldn’t stop going or because the pain was too much. It’s an insistent brain fog because you’re dehydrated or anemic. 

Sometimes it’s being an expert on colonoscopies because you’ve had so many you lost track. Sometimes it’s MRIs and drinking the thick plastic concoction when you’re body is protesting. Sometimes it’s your GI Doc asking you if you want a cork because it’s day 42 in the hospital and you just want to go home. 

Sometimes it’s a complete stranger telling you that if you just changed your diet to vegan or paleo or just cut down on the sugar then you would be cured. They recommend essential oils, colloidal silver, and everything else under the sun.

Simetimes it’s remission. Remission of the disease thanks to dangerous and strong medications. Steroids and biologics. Moonface and weight gain. Or outpatient hospital visits every 8 weeks to get your remicaid. Sometimes it’s taking 50 pills a day, you and your doctors hoping they work this time. 

Sometimes it’s surgery. Removing intestines. Creating reservoirs out of intestines. Or an Ostomy. Having a bag hidden beneath your pants, no control over when you go. Waking up in the morning very rested until you realize you rolled over on your stomach and your bag burst all over your bed and yourself. Or it’s wondering when your next intestinal obstruction will be and when it happens you do everything possible to make it pass because you don’t think you can take another NG tube. 

Sometimes it’s being so weak you decide to sit down in the shower. And then you’re so weak you can’t figure out how to stand up again. But you do. 

Sometimes IBD is little victories. Days when you are so glad you’ve only gone 4 times, when you slept through the night for the first time in months. Private bathrooms in public spaces. Finding medicines that work and doctors who can help. It’s sympathetic friends and unrelenting supporters. It’s trying new foods and getting out of the house. It’s fighting, one day at a time, for a cure. 

BOOK v. TV: Alias Grace

I’m pretty sure the norm is to READ a book before you watch the adaptation… right?! I guess I did it backwards this time because I found Alias Grace on Netflix and plunged in. It’s a short series that follows Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace which is based on Grace Marks, a woman convicted of brutally murdering her employer and his mistress in the 1800s.

Let me tell you, the Netflix adaptation is dark and captivating and after binging the entire series, I was left with a lot of questions. This was obviously done on purpose but honestly, I want to know if Grace Marks is truly guilty or a victim of circumstance… the reality is that we will never be sure of the truth at this point.

But I turned to Margaret Atwood’s take on the case and began reading her version of the infamous murderess. Atwood tells the story from the perspective of Grace Marks, a girl born into an impoverished family in Ireland. Grace is currently serving a life sentence in prison, however, she has a wide following who believe her to be completely innocent of her crimes. In an attempt to set her free, Grace is convinced to speak with a doctor in an attempt to get her memory of the events back but she starts her story from the beginning, allowing you to see how her childhood has affected her.

After living in poverty for a majority of her life, Grace’s mother and drunken father decide to uproot the family and move to Canada in hopes of a better future and more opportunity. Heartbreakingly, Grace’s mother dies on the ship and when her family lands in Canada, she is left to care for her siblings. Once her father deems her old enough, she is sent to work for a family as a servant, eventually leading her to the employer she is convicted of murdering.

Margaret Atwood’s portrayal of Grace is catching. You immediately become entranced in the story, wondering if she could really be the evil woman society has marked her. Her life, from the very beginning, was difficult and you easily begin to feel sympathy for her circumstances. The choices she made leading up the murder seemed to be choices truly meant to better her life and lead her to a quieter existence.

But is she really a sociopath? Honestly, we will never know for sure. But if you’re in for a little dramatized mystery from one of the best (AKA Margaret Atwood) then you should definitely check out Alias Grace! Let me know what you think too… because I am still not sure what I think.

A Man Called Ove

I’m calling it now- this is going to be one of my favorite books of the year! I’m kicking myself because

I’m calling it now- this is going to be one of my favorite books of the year! I’m kicking myself because I’m so disappointed that I didn’t read this earlier! Frederick Backman has received quite a bit of hype over the past several years and while I’ve noticed his popularity, I just never got around to picking up one of his novels. But several weeks ago, at the Friends of the Library Sale, I happened to find a copy of A Man Called Ove and I snatched it up!

I started this book on a Saturday morning and finished it the next Monday in the bath while I was ‘getting ready for work’ which ended in me blubbering in a cold vat of water and being exceptionally thankful my boyfriend was still asleep and my makeup wasn’t on yet. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has these problems? It’s safe to say that I couldn’t get enough of Ove or his inconvenient neighbors.

A Man Called Ove follows the story of an extremely grumpy old man who is on a mission to commit suicide. I know, that’s not the beginning of a review that will make you jump out of your seat and rush to read this novel but here’s the thing- this novel contains a few very serious topics, but it’s also balanced with a substantial amount of humor.

Ove is determined to take his own life so he can be with his wife again, but he plans to do it in the most responsible and respectful way possible. Not only is he trying not to inconvenience anyone, he has a routine and he absolutely can’t interrupt. Ove is also set in the ‘old’ ways of doing things and when he encounters the new family moving in down the street, he has zero interest in welcoming them with open arms. And his enthusiasm regarding the cat that following him around is also non-existent.

It’s Ove’s determination to be alone that ultimately reminds him that he still has a purpose. A purpose involving camaraderie and an unconventional family that needs Ove just as much as he needs them.

Overall, this book may go into my all-time favorites list. Truly, the entire story from page one was captivating. Ove is such an honestly lovable and grumpy old man that you feel as if he could be your own grandfather. Backman did such a tremendous job developing all the vibrant and realistic figures within the novel. There is a stark contrast between the very solemn issues that are lightened with such an ironic humor and the divergence is brilliant. But don’t get me wrong, you will probably get as many laughs as tears out of this story.

Just know that I have already added every Fredrik Backman novel available to my TBR. In fact, I had to restrain myself from immediately running to the nearest bookstore to purchase them. A Man Called Ove is such a uniquely poignant yet boisterous story and everyone should read it.

New Release! The Sisters Hemingway

I love book mail and I happened to receive this book in the mail from the publisher. It immediately caught my attention for a few reasons. The first being the character names. The Sisters Hemingway follows the story of 3 sisters named Martha, Hadley, and Pfeiffer. Of course, if you’re a Hemingway fan you know that these also happen to be the names of his wives. And if you’ve ever listened to our podcast, 3 Book Girls, or have read my blog, you’ve probably figured out by now that I idolize Martha Gellhorn. So of course, I could not resist reading this book.

But alas, The Sisters Hemingway has nothing to do with Hemingway or his wives. It is actually a story about 3 sisters who lost their mother and youngest sister in a tornado when they were teenagers. The story takes place well into their adult lives and each sister has their own prominent personality and they have all gone in completely separate directions over time. But the death of their aunt has brought them back home where they have to face each other as well as their own individual problems.

Written by Annie England Noblin, The Sisters Hemingway is a pleasant and fast-paced novel that focuses on family secrets and the bond of sisterhood. Noblin has brought her characters to life with unique personalities and situations and the novel has a unique ability to move from setting to setting without missing a beat.

My Discovery of Outlander

If you walk into my house you will immediately notice the amount of books that I own. They are on shelves. They are stacked on top of shelves. There are stacks of books on tables which I’ve been justifying as ‘decor’ because I am simply out of room. Some of these books I have read and some reside in the category of my never-ending ‘To Be Read” list. There are so many new books I want to read and so many classics I feel I should read and as a result, when I receive a recommendation to read something I simply have to ignore it.

Towards the end of 2018, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was recommended to me. I had honestly only ever heard of this book because it’s on so many ‘lists’ and because I LOVE lists, I decided not to ignore this recommendation and actually picked up a copy of this MASSIVE book. I was not expecting an 850 page monster so I decided to be strategic and read it as my last book of 2018. And I loved it. I fell in love with the story and the characters and I couldn’t get enough. So much so, that I devoured all 850 pages in around 6 days.

What is Outlander about?

Outlander follows the story of Claire, a World War II combat nurse who is on a second honeymoon with her husband in 1946. As they are enjoying their time of leisure, Claire brushes up her on herbalism as her husband focuses his attention on his genealogy and his roots in the Scottish Highlands. After finding a ‘Mini-Stonehenge’, Claire is somehow transported back in time to a brutish and challenging 1743. After being forced to accompany Scottish clansmen to Castle Leoch, Claire realizes the extent of her imminent danger and finds herself getting more and more comfortable in the presence of one particular clansman, Jaime Fraser. Suspected of being an English spy, Claire is forced to marry Jaime in an attempt to protect herself from Captain Randall, an English officer that is intimidating to the strongest of men. But Claire’s marriage is nothing less than steamy and her adventures with Jaime seem to be never ending.

What I thought of Outlander…

I know! I am SO late to the game on this book. It was literally written before I was born. This story may be older than I am but I can vouch that it has absolutely aged well. Who would have thought that I would read an 800 page book in a WEEK?! I was not expecting to get so wrapped up in the plot.

The plot in general is fascinating and the mystery behind how this woman was transported through time will wrap you into the book easily but there is so much more offered. There is a HUGE romance. There is historical fiction. There’s drama and action. There are characters you will hate and there are characters so steamy you couldn’t have dreamed them up yourself.

One of the aspects I found the most interesting is watching a woman from 1940’s England attempt to adjust to the Scottish highlands of the 1700’s while not drawing attention to herself. Claire went from electricity, cars, and plumbing to a world in which the fastest transportation is on horseback and women were careful not to give the impression of being a witch. Not only was technology lacking but the political climate would have been a terrifying situation to land in. But Claire perseveres and finds herself enjoying the simplicity and stillness of the undeveloped countryside.

I honestly haven’t enjoyed a story this much in so long! I am constantly reading but finishing Outlander left me with an empty hole in my stomach that made me want to immediately go out and get EVERY book in the series. I know I’ll be reading the next in the series pretty soon, but I hope I can get to all 10 of the next books in within the next year or so!

The Ultimate Book-Related Gift List

I know, I know! Shopping for book lovers can be extremely difficult! How on earth are you supposed to choose a book for the ultimate reader in your life when they seem to have EVERY book already? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a list of alternative gifts for the literary aficionado in your life.

BOOKMARKS

I’m a believer that YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH BOOKMARKS! Avid readers are truly used to stuffing their books with whatever they have on hand as a place holder so a unique bookmark chosen with them in mind will definitely win you some Christmas-brownie points.

Fell Asleep Here Bookmark on Etsy

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Personalized Bookmark on Etsy

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Elephant Bookmark on Etsy

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UNIQUE ITEMS FROM ETSY

There’s no better time to support small businesses than CHRISTMAS! The best part about Etsy is the unique items and most of them are actually handmade by a REAL person! Check out some of these ideas!

The Perfect Pillow for Your Book Nook

There are so many options for book themed pillow cases. Choose one that your reader will love!

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These Charming Book Socks

Socks are the best. The end.

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These Adorable Book Related T-Shirts

Just pair one of these shirts with some cute pajama pants and the socks above and you’re reader will be in book heaven.

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A Super Cute Book Protector

This is great for the reader who take their books with them EVERYWHERE!

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Perfect Items you can find on Amazon!

As amazing as Amazon is, sometimes it can be overwhelming and difficult to find what you are looking for… especially when you aren’t actually sure what you’re looking for! Hopefully these ideas will help get you on the right track!

For the Aspiring Librarian

I personally think this is super cute! I borrow and lend books ALL THE TIME! Sometimes I am worried my books wont make their way back to me! This is perfect for the reader who likes to share their favorite literary works of art.

For the Organized Reader

For the One Who Likes a Challenge

Book Ends

Just a tip: Pick out some book ends that truly match your reader’s personality! They have book ends in just about every shape or style imaginable, your options are endless!

Agate Bookend, Green

EVEN MORE GIFTS FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

A Scratch Off Reading List

100 Books Scratch Off Poster

Personalized Book Plates 

Another product designed to ensure that borrowers don’t forget whose book they have!

Bookplates by Felix Doolittle

These Bookish Candles

There are even Harry Potter themed candles. Is there anything better?! I am and have always been a candle lover and the more unique the candle is, the better! I get so tired of store bought candles so when I find hand made scents, I have to try them out!

Bah Humbug 8 oz soy candle front viewDivination Classroom 8 oz soy candle front viewOld Books 8 oz soy candle front view

The Perfect Reading Light

There are so many options when it comes to reading lights but they are so important for those of us who love to read! You can choose the color, size, and there are even different styles!

UltraBrite - 8-LED ClipAnywhere Booklight - Silver - Front_Zoom

For the Relaxed Reader

Don’t forget to grab a waterproof bath pillow to go with this bath caddy!

Bambusi Bamboo Bathtub Caddy

A Coffee/ Tea Mug for those Dreary Winter Days

Pair this with your readers favorite coffee or tea!

Go Away I'm Reading MugBooklovers Never Go To Bed Alone Mug

T-Shirts or Throw Blankets With Your Favorite Books Written on them!

The Great Gatsby

The Princess BrideA Court of Thorns and Roses

A Page Anchor

Winter Platinum

Girl, Wash Your Face on Audio

Are you ready for a two-part review? If not, brace yourself because it’s about to happen!

Let’s talk about audio books first. I have never had anything against audio books but previously my only personal experience with them happened to be high school AP English classes in which I had to ‘read along’ with a cassette tape playing in the background. Let me tell you, that is definitely one of the most boring methods of reading a book ever. I get WHY teachers choose to incorporate audio books into lesson plans as some students definitely learn better reading and listening to the material but…

As EXPERT as I am at multi-tasking, I am in NO WAY capable of concentrating on someone talking to me while I am also trying to read. This is just not a skill I have become adept at, mostly because when I am reading I am also ‘talking’ to myself inside my head… and all that noise going on in my noggin gets super confused when I also have to listen to someone or if I’m trying to concentrate on something else.

But there is nothing WRONG with audio books. It does drive me a little crazy when someone says they “read” a book and what they really mean is that they “listened” to the book, but that is not because I think one method of absorbing a story is superior. I simply am frustrated that they are using the wrong verbs. I even did a little research and the majority of studies show that neither method is better for you than the other. They both have their own benefits!

After listening to some friends of mine always talking about their audio books, I decided to give them a REAL chance. I signed up for Audible and immediately began browsing the choices. I thought a good suspense novel would be perfect for an introduction to audio, but I was sorely disappointed. I swear there was an 80 year old dude reading the story and 10 second pauses in between EVERY sentence. I quickly became frustrated but I wanted to try something else. That’s when I saw that Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis was available as an audio book.

This may have been the greatest choice I have made all year! In regards to audio books, while I still haven’t decided if they are really for ME, I can tell you that listening to an author read their own story is AMAZING. You can generally get a sense of someones personality through their writing and if you’ve read Girl, Wash Your Face then you probably know Rachel Hollis isn’t holding anything back. But listening to her encouraging words and her embarrassing stories is such a different experience than reading them! I highly recommend giving audio books a shot!

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

But let’s talk about the actual book. I had heard so many positive things about this book that I honestly couldn’t resist it. I know that I personally enjoy ‘self help’ books but let me just set you straight now- this is NOT a self help book. This is a motivational, positive, high energy book that is encouraging you to be your best self.

I know, it sounds super corny. If you don’t want encouraging words or you are 100% okay with your life, this book may not be for you.

But I am no where near perfect and I wake up with anxiety and go to bed with anxiety. I am always worried about what other people think of me or if someone will judge me for something. I’ve wondered if I am “good enough” and I literally complained on my 26th birthday that I felt like I haven’t accomplished enough.

And Rachel Hollis wrote this book for me. For me and for every other person on this earth who feels the same way because I know that I am not the only one who gets so wrapped up in expectations that it could literally drive me mad.

In Girl, Wash Your Face you are presented with a lie that the author has at some point told herself. Some of these lies include “I am not good enough” or “Something else will make me happy.” Each chapter focuses on that lie and how she came to a realization that it was only hurting her. She may spill a hilarious yet embarrassing story in attempt to get her point across or she may give you a very serious and gut wrenching tale that will leave you with chills.   Then she tells you what helped her to stop telling herself that lie or how she developed new habits that were positive.

Truly, this book has something for everyone. I know people in their 70’s still terrified of what people think of them and I know parents who feel like they are not up to par with their peers. There are moms who feel guilty for wanting a career and women in relationships that they don’t realize are train wrecks. Every single one of the women above should read this. Even if you don’t fall into a category above, she talks about SO MANY things that you WILL find her talking about something that strikes a chord with you.

And the best part about this book is that it isn’t trying to sell you some miraculous ‘you’ll be perfect tomorrow if you just read this’ story. She truly is motivating you to take care of yourself and to invest in your own future. I felt empowered and inspired after reading her words and encouragement and I hope you will read this and find the same positive energy that I did. And I truly hope you will pass the encouragement along to others.

Summer is winding down… but your sense of adventure doesn’t have to!

Summer is winding down… but your sense of adventure doesn’t have to!

I’m definitely a young’n… people love to remind me all the time. I’ve even been told that I’m “still a baby!” and my mature, 25 year old self has to contain the rage that is brought forth by insinuating that my diaper still needs to be changed.

But one of the greatest things about my young age is the fact that I grew up in a WONDROUS world in which Jurassic Park was on television ALL THE TIME when I was a kid. And I watched it ALL THE TIME with my dad (when we weren’t watching Star Trek, of course.) And to this day, 25 years after the release of Michael Crichton’s  fabulous novel, Jurassic Park, I am still obsessed. I love dinosaurs! I’m a dinosaur nerd. I may not have every dinosaur memorized, but I do have an Advanced Reader’s Copy of the original Jurassic Park book. I go to see all the new movies when they come out and I’m compelled to buy every t-rex t-shirt my eyes stumble upon. Not only are dinosaurs fascinating but I truly think they bring out the imagination of everyone.

So when I came across The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte I had a moment of nerd-out. I immediately had to read it, how could you wait to submerge yourself into the Jurassic realm?

 

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

 

But I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. Sometimes I find books on subjects that I think are fascinating but once I try and read them… I find myself regretting my choices. They can be so dry and factual and honestly painful to read.

But today I am here to tell you that it was ANYTHING but dry and painful! Brusatte does an amazing job of not only bringing history to life but he’s brought his own experiences and personality (also not dry or boring) to his book and the results are fabulous. He does a spectacular job of illustrating his life experiences and as he grows throughout the book he explains his discoveries and the history of dinosaurs.

Let’s talk about the book itself. It is really a beautiful book. I received a finished copy from William Morrow and they definitely spent a large amount of time and money on these. Not only is the book cover beautiful but inside the book there are graphs and timelines and photos and illustrations that compliment Brusatte’s story and aide in the reader’s imagination.

I know, you could really just Google dinosaurs and I’m sure you would find as much information as you could possibly contain, but truly it was a joy to read The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. 

Who I would recommend this to:

Anyone who is interested in dinosaurs or science and evolution. I think this may be a fun book to give pre-teens as well! This would make a great Christmas or birthday gift!

New Release- The Other Woman

NEW RELEASE ALERT!

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones was released TODAY! Happy Publication Day!

Honestly, it’s the perfect time for this to be released. We’re on the tail end of summer and slowly creeping towards fall! The greatest season of seasons filled with cute pumpkins, caramel covered everything, and spooky bumps in the night. What’s better than a psychological thriller to get you in the mood for cooler weather and Halloween?!

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

The Other Woman follows Emily, a young woman who suddenly finds the man of her dreams. Adam seems to be everything she could ever want out of a partner and she falls for him quickly. Things are going great… until Emily meets Adam’s mother, who quickly becomes the bane of Emily’s existence. As Emily plans her future with Adam in it, she finds it more and more difficult to put up with his high-maintenance mother.

 

There are a lot of these thrillers going around. The ones that EVERYONE starts to talk about just as they’re released but you’re hesitant to read because you don’t want to be disappointed. We’ve all been there and I’m here to tell you that THIS ISN’T one of those.

I have to say this one actually surprised me! I’m usually pretty good at figuring out the ending, but I did not have this one put together in the least. I also don’t think an ending has surprised me this much in a long time.

Let’s talk about Adam’s creepy mother for a second though. She is the epitome of a NIGHTMARE MOTHER-IN-LAW. Truly, this part may have terrified me more than anything else in The Other Woman. I couldn’t deal with something like that so props to Emily for sticking it out for as long as she did!

 

If you’re looking for a relatively short suspenseful novel, check out The Other Woman. It will be perfect for getting you into the mood for darker and twistier novels as the seasons change.

Review: The Last Time I Lied

Anyone else use Book of the Month? I can’t decide if I enjoy it or not… Some months I get really excited about EVERY book and other months, not a single one sounds interesting. But the July picks weren’t half bad! I actually chose two. One of which I still haven’t gotten to but the other was The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager.

Sager also happens to the be the author of Final Girls, a thriller that was (and still is) immensely popular and is another book you can find in my endless TBR pile. Final Girls made its way to both the national and international bestseller lists and has even won a few awards.

But I haven’t heard much about The Last Time I Lied and the plot sounded like it was right up my alley… and so I made the leap and clicked the little “Add to my box” button and it’s safe to say that I made the right decision.

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

The Last Time I Lied follows the story of Emma, a young artist who has been haunted by memories of 3 friends who went missing from summer camp when they were teenagers. Emma was the youngest of the group and the guilt she felt from the disappearance has never left her.

Fast forward and Emma is invited to go back to the camp for its grand re-opening and she is even offered a teaching position which she accepts in an attempt to solve the disappearance of her friends. However she quickly realizes it won’t be as easy as she thought. As soon as she gets to camp, she is met with hostility and questioning glances which intensify when the 3 teenage girls she is forced to share a cabin with disappear… again.

There has been an influx of thrillers that become instant bestsellers lately and some of them are AMAZING, while others leave you questioning the choices of other readers. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into with this book and I am so glad I chose to read it!

 

The Last Time I Lied is truly a mysterious story full of twists that you DON’T see coming. It was a fun and exhilarating read that makes you want to read more thrillers. It will creep you out and leave you in a state of suspense, but you wont be able to put it down.

The story itself is full of characters who are intriguing and the main character’s narrative is captivating in her hunt for the truth, no matter how much she has lied in the past. The setting of the campground is a perfectly haunting location and Sager’s writing will lure you to the point of no return.

If you need a thrilling beach read, or something to keep you awake on a rainy day, The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager is for you.