Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review: “What Unbreakable Looks Like” by Kate McLaughlin

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Happy Pub Day & Thank you @wednesdaybooks for my gifted copy of “What Unbreakable Looks Like” by Kate McLaughlin! Available today, 6/23!

Lex was taken –trafficked– & now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again.

After she moves in with her aunt & uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn’t trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that’s what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things.

But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend & his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her & that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight & realizes she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, & a new love.

Kate McLaughlin’s “What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life & learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.

I will warn you upfront, this is a very difficult book to read. I had to stop at least 3x & go back to it on a day where I could handle it better mentally. (Trigger warnings for graphic physical & sexual violence, rape, & human trafficking. And kudos to the publisher for noting this at the beginning of the book.)

I live in Ohio, which is 5th highest in human trafficking cases, & about 45 mins from Toledo, which is the 4th highest city in the US for cases. We often have reports of unmarked vans trolling through our area w/ people in them trying to get kids (& sometimes adults) to come to the van & help w/ directions or some other seemingly innocent problem. One girl I know had a car follow her & her friends one night, someone jumped out at a stoplight & slashed one of her tires, & then they continued to follow them. But the girls were smart & called 911 right away. There are more stories I could share, but let’s get to the book. (And just talking about the above freaks me out so much!)

Gut-wrenching, raw, relevant, & thought-provoking, Lex learns to allow herself to trust again, even while dealing w/ the aftermath of sexual assault, followed by cruel treatment & bullying by her peers, & coming to terms w/ her past & finding the courage to tell herself she is worthy of love & a future & happiness. It was often painful & emotional to read, but the overall message is hopefulness & strength. A really powerful read!

Click HERE to add this book to your Goodreads TBR.
Click HERE to get this on audiobook at & use my code MOMLOVESREADING for a BOGO.
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What others are saying about “What Unbreakable Looks Like“:

Book Riot, “The Ultimate Guide to Spring 2020 YA Books for Your TBR”

Culturess, “13 must-read June YA book releases to start your summer off right”

“This shines a light on a little-talked-about topic that involves teens.” – Booklist (Starred Review)

“This story of resilience and recovery is gritty and heavy but ultimately hopeful… A gut-punch story with an uplifting ending.” – Kirkus

“[A] beautiful insight into what it means to heal and have hope. …If you are wanting a heartwarming, heartbreaking, inspiring, and hard hitting story, I would definitely recommend you pick this book up.” – The Nerd Daily

“Gritty and moving, What Unbreakable Looks Like is a compelling story about recovery and the problem of human trafficking that persists today.” – Young Adult Books Central

“With unflinching honesty, What Unbreakable Looks Like exposes the injuries and scars we wear on our skins or in our souls. Hidden damage is tragically common, but helpful others who dared embrace hope invite Alexa to step onto the healing path. This novel may offer a springboard for a reader’s own healing or foster empathy for life’s walking wounded.” – Liz Coley, author of international bestseller Pretty Girl-13

“Raw, unflinching, and authentic, Kate McLaughlin’s thoughtful What Unbreakable Looks Like carefully crafts a story exposing the vulnerability of underage trafficked girls and what it takes to begin the process of healing from sexual trauma.” – Christa Desir, author, advocate, and founding member of The Voices and Faces Project

“This is a powerful book about a sobering topic that I found myself thinking about for days after I completed it. It is wonderfully poignant, painfully real, and even laugh out loud funny at times. Not everyone can truly wrap their minds around the trauma these victims endure and yet somehow, despite all of it, are still just regular kids. But Kate McLaughlin gets it. ‘Lex’ is truly what unbreakable looks like and you’ll fall in love with her spirit.” – Tanya Compagnone, Trooper First Class

“Sex trafficking continues to seep into all our communities. In this novel, Kate McLaughlin brings to life the trauma that transpires in youth who forced into the life of sex trafficking. Her novel is a reminder that each of us can make a difference in someone’s life.” – Dina R. St. George, MSW, Juvenile Re-Entry Unit OCPD

KATE McLAUGHLIN likes people, so much so that she spends her days making up her own. She likes writing about characters who are bent, but not broken – people who find their internal strength through friends, strife and sometimes humor. When she’s not writing, she likes studying people, both real and fictional. She also likes playing board games with friends, talking and discovering new music. A proud Nova Scotian, she’ll gladly tell you all about the highest tides in the world, the magical creation known as a donair, and people who have sofas in their kitchens. Currently, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and four cats.

Book Reviews

Book Review: “The New Girl Code: The Launch of a Fashion App” by Niki Smit

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Thank you @kaffienemedia & @thenewgirlcode for my gifted copy of the wonderful book, “The New Girl Code: The Launch of a Fashion App”!

Know of a young girl who loves technology and wants to become a programmer who wants to break the barriers to get into technology? Then this book will inspire her to take the necessary risks to follow her dreams.

“The New Girl Code” tells the story of 15 year old Charlie who discovers her love for coding and most importantly, herself, as she enters her Sophomore year. Charlie lives in Brooklyn. She is a little awkward and a lot uncertain — about her future, friendships, lack of relationships.

This all changes when she discovers, through her love of fashion and friendship, an idea for an app, The Fashionist. As Charlie and her friends grow the app to unimaginable heights of success, they learn to adapt to their new CEO roles. On the rise, Charlie encounters a catfish, betrayals, school gossip, bullying and more. Will she boss up and be the next level?

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list

What an absolutely inspiring book for STEM-minded or focused girls of any age! I took some website building classes in college & did a little coding, but this was before apps & smart phones became a thing, but it was really neat seeing my codes become something legible. My second oldest son is in IT & does coding & has worked on app creation. It’s so amazing how people takes their ideas & create something others want to download & use (ie: Instagram). 

“The New Girl Code” is female empowering, awe-inspiring, motivating, & insightful. It’s written in journal/diary entry style (which I always love!) & has some fun illustrations & inspirational quotes scattered throughout, which is fab! It’s only like $8 for the hardback on Amazon right now & for every book purchased the profits will go towards supporting underprivileged girls & provide them the book for free. Inspiring Fifty is a non-profit organization that aims to increase diversity in tech by making female role models in tech more visible..I highly recommend this book for the tweens, teens, & any reader in your life that is interested in coding & STEM!

Hope everyone is hanging in there during this self-isolation! Also, quick reminder to click HERE to go to my current Instagram giveaway (3 winners!). Here’s hoping this week is better than this past one for all of us!

Book Reviews

Book Review: “All Your Twisted Secrets” by Diana Urban

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📖Thank you @dianaurban for my gifted, autographed copy of your newly released YA thriller, ‘All Your Twisted Secrets’!
💉A thrilling debut, reminiscent of new fan favorites like ‘One of Us Is Lying’ and the beloved classics by Agatha Christie, that will leave readers guessing until the explosive ending.
🍽“Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.”
💉What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, & music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, & a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill…or else everyone dies.
💣Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates & herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something.
⏰And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, & fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?
💉First off, “confusion turns into fear, & fear morphs into panic”…that about sums up the state of our nation lately, am I right? Moving on…
💣With a pitch-perfect plot & well written characters, this book will have you guessing until the twisted, shocking ending! This is one pressure-cooker of a debut novel that practically turned me into a nail biter! Compelling, captivating, & utterly satisfying, this is a helluva debut novel! Kudo’s to you @dianaurban!!
📖”All Your Twisted Secrets” is available now everywhere books are sold, but PLEASE check with your local, independent bookstores first to see if they have it or can get it for you. Many are even doing curbside service or home delivery & with the economy in decline due to Co-Vid, if you’re going to buy a book, support indie sellers. You can use BookStoreLink to look up the book(s) you want and find it at local indie bookstores or order it from one that has that option. They need us readers right now more than ever! (Amazon is doing just fine right now…)
💉PS: The syringe in photo is real! (empty B12 syringe refilled w/ cherry juice!😉)

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list!
Book Reviews

“Echoes Between Us” by Katie McGarry

Thank you @torteen {#partner} for my gifted copy of “Echoes Between Us” by Katie McGarry!
“Echoes Between Us” is bestselling author Katie McGarry’s breakout teen contemporary novel about a girl with everything to lose and the boy who will do anything to save her.
Veronica sees ghosts—more specifically, her mother’s ghost. The afterimages of blinding migraines that consumes her whole life and keeps Veronica on the fringes. But the haunting makes her wonder if there is something more going on….
Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but this All-American is hiding an adrenaline addiction that could kill him. Drawn to each other after a chance meeting, can they help each other battle the demons that haunt their every step or will they push their luck too far and risk losing it all…including their lives?
This is not a ghost story. I figured I better let all you “thriller junkies” know that right off. It’s an intriguing, heartfelt, complex, emotional story that deals with some tough, but important issues: depression, addiction, illness and bullying, as well as family relationships. There are also a couple twists you may not see coming.
Some of the adrenaline junkie stuff that involves Sawyer made my heart rate soar, and I am no stranger to migraines, as I get debilitating ones a couple times a month and have several different meds I have to take for them.
This book is well-written and is an emotionally charged, heart-breaking, young adult romance/drama. Keep tissues handy for this gem!
Look for “Echoes Between Us” tomorrow, 1/14, everywhere books are sold! Or even better, use Bookstore Link and order it from and support your local independent book sellers!