Mar 18, 2018

Guest Review: This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

Title: This Heart of Mine
Author: C.C. Hunter
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Hardcover, 384 Pages
Published February 2018

Summary: A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor? Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened. Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

Today on the blog we have a guest review from Mandi over at Brunette BiblioShe was kind enough to stop by and review This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter, a book that came out last month and sounds super chilling and interesting. So without further ado, let's get into the review!

It's been a while since I've read a damn good contemporary. But that all changed with this book. This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter made me laugh, it made me cry, but most importantly it taught me a lesson that is so easy to forget.

This book follows Leah, a high school student with an artificial heart. She carries her heart around in a backpack until one day she is fortunate enough for a transplant. Enter Matt, the charmingly handsome boy whose twin brother Eric's heart Leah was fortunate to receive after Eric committed suicide. After Leah gets her transplant, she starts to have dreams hinting that it may not have been a suicide after all. She and Matt bond over this unsettling notion, because like Leah, Matt is also having dreams and feeling's regarding Eric's demise. Leah promises to help Matt get to the bottom of what really happened to Eric...after all, she did get his heart, and the fact that she's falling for Matt doesn't hurt.

This book was way more than I ever hoped for. There's love and passion, mystery, fear, and above all else, hope. Hope to get to the bottom of what happened to Eric. Hope that Leah's body won't reject her new heart. Hope that Matt and Leah's relationship really is the real deal. And an underlying but ever present hope for tomorrow. This book teaches us to not give up that hope, and to take advantage of what time we are given. Life is too short to waste it worrying about what could happen rather than actually living our lives. I sound like a complete cheese ball, but really this book was incredibly cheesy and I wouldn't have it any other way. As a 28 year old, it takes a lot for a YA contemporary to touch me, but this one not only touched me but violently grabbed at my heartstrings and pulled until I was drained of all emotion after both laughing and crying my way thorough this book.

And to top it all off, not only is this just about the best contemporary I've ever read, but it's an own voices novel! The author's husband had a kidney transplant that saved his life, so all the emotions, both hope and fear, packed into this novel are 100% genuine. 

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

A huge thank you to St. Martin's Press for allowing me early digital access to this book!

We'd like to once again thank Mandi for stopping by The Book Bratz today to post this guest review. You can read the original review over on her blog by clicking HERE!

** Psst! Interested in guest reviewing on The Book Bratz? Shoot us an email at or DM us on Twitter (@thebookbratz) and we'd love to have you!

Mar 17, 2018

College Diaries: Surviving Midterms & Staying Calm

Image result for midterms

Happy March! For us college bloggers, there are only a few more months left before we can have an entire uninterrupted summer catching up on reading -- but for now, we have to deal with hard work and things like midterms. Which is what today's College Diaries topic is -- surviving midterms and staying calm while doing so! (And yes, even finding some reading time throughout it all!)

Okay. I'm going to start off by being honest here. I had no midterms this semester. My friends here did, so it's not like my school doesn't do them, but for some reason, I ended up having none. Which I know I am so lucky for, but I've still dealt with midterms for three semesters in the past, so I'd like to think that my advice is still valid here. (Warning: Workaholics like myself definitely won't enjoy the advice I'm about to offer up here.)

studying k-pop GIF

My biggest piece of advice for people that are struggling through midterms is, contrary to popular relief, to relax. We all know that running yourself into the ground is no way to study -- for midterms, or for anything else. I'm in no position to tell anyone what is the best way to do something, since everyone studies differently, but I'm going to give a little advice based on the successful methods I've been using.

For starters: Study either during the day or at night, but not during both periods. Studying for an entire 24 hours will not, sadly, help you retain the material. It will make you stressed and tired and cranky, and possibly even sick. I wake up early, head to the library and hole myself up in there all day studying, and around dinnertime I pack up, grab something to eat, come back and shower and do a face mask and watch Netflix for a little bit, and then I read before bed. I've done it both ways, and I've realized that at night I tend to be more tired and focus less. So I've learned that I do best when I study during the day, and then give myself time to relax at night. That way, I wake up the next day well rested, relaxed, and ready to tackle another day of studying!

Also: Study breaks are incredibly important! Whether for 10 minutes or an hour, giving yourself a little break from staring at your screen/books is a relief both for your eyes and for your brain. You can stagger your breaks -- sometimes I'll take a 45-minute break to grab lunch, and other times I'll take a 5-minute lap around the floor of the library to stretch my legs and just give my brain a little reprieve. Breaks help motivate you to get more work done during the study sprints (just like writing sprints, which I highly recommend!) -- it's more productivity, plus more time to relax afterwards! What's not to love about that?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go do a face mask and reading for the night -- since I've been studying for a test of mine all day today! It's a little weird to say that my method for doing well on a test is NOT studying all of the time...but hey, that's just me. It works out well for me, but maybe not anyone else. But you'll never know until you try!

So, those are my thoughts on surviving midterms! If you're in high school or college, what's your advice? Comment down below -- I'd love to hear it!

Mar 16, 2018

Review: The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Title: The Heiresses
Author: Sara Shepard
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Paperback, 320 Pages
Published March 2015

Summary: The only thing more flawless than a Saybrook’s solitaire is the family behind the diamond empire. Beauties, entrepreneurs, debutantes, and mavens, the Saybrooks are the epitome of high society. Anyone would kill to be one of them. But be careful what you wish for, because if you were a Saybrook, you’d be haunted by secrets and plagued by a dark streak of luck. Tragedy strikes the prominent family yet again on a beautiful morning in May when thirty-four-year-old Poppy, the most remarkable Saybrook of them all, flings herself from the window of her office. Everyone is shocked that someone so perfect would end her own life—until her cousins receive an ominous warning: One heiress down, four to go. Was it suicide . . . or murder? And who will be next: Aster, the beautiful but reckless girl who’s never worked a day in her life—and who’s covering up her father’s darkest secret? Her older sister, Corrine, whose meticulously planned future is about to come crashing down around her? Perhaps it will be Natasha, the black sheep of the family who suddenly disinherited herself five years ago. Or maybe the perpetually single Rowan, who had the most to gain from her cousin’s death. A gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller about heiresses who must uncover a dark truth about their family before they lose the only thing money can’t buy: their lives.

I've always been a fan of Sara Shepard's books -- although I feel like the Pretty Little Liars series was certainly drawn out waaaay too long, it was still a gripping series that I tore through nonetheless. So when I was browsing through Barnes & Noble one say and saw The Heiresses, I didn't even realize that she was the one that wrote it -- the book was flipped over. So I looked at the summary, made a passing comment to my mom about how it sounded like a Sara Shepard book, and then I flipped it over -- and I laughed out loud once I realized that it really was a Sara Shepard book. And it was only $5. So I knew I had to get it and check it out.

Well, a few months later, I finally got around to reading it -- and I'm so glad I did! This book takes you on a total emotional rollercoaster. I flipped through it so fast that I finished it in the span of one day because I just wanted to keep reading -- neglecting my homework and my other responsibilities in the process, but that's totally okay, because this book completely captured me. I thought I wouldn't be a big fan of it since I've read so many Sara Shepard books before and I thought it would feel old and tired out, but wow, was I wrong!

But before I get more into what I loved about it, let's talk about what this book is actually about. The best way I can describe this book is a blend between Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. It's the story of five beautiful, wealthy girls, and the one they all envied and respected, Poppy, suddenly commits suicide -- but they aren't quite sure that's what really happened. (Sound familiar?) But rather than being a typical YA novel, these women are all older, married, and in the "adult" world -- but the same amount of drama, secrets, and horrors remain. So this book takes you on the journey of the remaining heiresses as they struggle to come to terms with the horrific death of Poppy while also trying to protect themselves if it was possible that this was a murder and not a suicide. In addition to all of that, they have to navigate the press, which wants to know everything about their lives at all times.

What I loved most about this book is how the force behind all of the horrors is something you totally weren't expecting. In typical Sara Shepard fashion, she leads the reader on and points a lot of different clues to a lot of different people, until you're almost certain that a certain person was behind all of the horrors, and then you're certain it's someone else...and then, by the end, you are totally shocked and baffled. I certainly didn't realize that the ending could've been what it was, but after looking back, it was totally there the whole time. In total Sara Shepard fashion, this book knocks you off your feet and leaves your mind reeling.

I was only a little bit disappointed in this book because there were some plot twists that I saw coming miles away. Maybe it's because they were too obvious, or maybe it's just because I've read so many Sara Shepard books by this point that I know almost all of her tricks. Either way, I was a little bit disappointed when some of the things that were supposed to totally wow the reader were things that I saw coming. But I still wasn't expecting a lot of this book, especially how everything turns out in the end, so I don't think that seeing those other twists coming ruined my view of the book at all!

I am so glad to give this book a five-star review. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not huge on slapping five-star reviews on every book I read -- not because I want to be strict and make a book "earn" it, but because I rarely find a book that sucks me in and doesn't let me go the way that this book did. I finished this entire 300-page book in one day because I didn't want to put it down. The chapters were short enough that I tore through them quickly and immediately felt compelled to flip to the next one. And this book is told in multiple perspectives of all of the women, which was a bit confusing at first because there was so much going on and a lot of name-dropping happening, but it didn't take long for me to catch on and sink into the story. And each girl had her own drama, her own secrets, and her own horrors awaiting her -- so it was interesting (and shocking) to get to peek into all of their thoughts simultaneously.

Overall, I absolutely loved The Heiresses, possibly more than I ever loved Pretty Little Liars or The Lying Game. While the story itself was really similar to the types of stories Sara Shepard has written in the past, I was pleased to find out that I really wasn't tired of the mystery, thrills, and plot twists that her stories contain. Rather than feeling tired out and cheated out of a similar story, I closed this book with a pounding heart and a reeling mind. (And I immediately fired off many, many texts to Amber and Emily to discuss!) I slept before I wrote this review and I'm still shocked and reeling in the best way. I haven't felt this invigorated by a book in the longest time!

If this book isn't on your TBR yet, it absolutely needs to be. If you're looking for a mysterious, shocking, thrilling book, pick this one up immediately -- if you're anything like me, it will certainly have you hooked!