Tag Archives: trigger warning

Neighborly by Ellie Monago

Severe TRIGGER WARNING for this book. This book contains sexual trauma involving minors and “swinging” among semi-consenting adults. If you are sensitive to things containing trauma or sexual exploitation, please do not read this book or my review.

Love thy neighbor…

Kat and Doug are over-the-moon when they move into their dream neighborhood. It has all of the bells and whistles they think they want and need to provide their young daughter with everything she needs to succeed in life. We quickly meet the neighbors and get to know their quirks… and their secrets.

Neighborly was written by practicing therapist Ellie Monago. She has authored two novels and is a busy wife and mother. You can read more about Ellie Monago here.

This book is filled with quite interesting characters, and we are quickly introduced to them as the novel takes off. Our main character and narrator, Kat, starts off seeming very insecure and standoffish. Her husband, Doug, seems extremely delightful and charming and quite the doting husband and father. They have a four-month-old daughter, Sadie, and have just bought their first home. This neighborhood is like a character all its own, holding secrets, twists, turns, and a deadly revelation.

There are some heavy topics within this book. And I would have greatly appreciated Ellie Monago placing a trigger warning disclaimer in the book’s introduction. The story is actually really good, and I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. The twists were well placed, and the overall writing is very smart. Monago is a practicing therapist, as she can describe emotions and feelings extremely well. She makes you really feel uncomfortable with certain instances, which work within the writing but leave you shocked as a reader. Be prepared to have your breath taken away, several times, not necessarily in a good way.

Please read this book with caution; as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this book contains several trigger warnings.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I was taken back by how certain plot points were just dropped in my lap, but I think the “shock” factor was intentional. I would be willing to read a novel by Ellie Monago again, but this time I will go into it with a more prepared frame of mind. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

You can find Neighborly by Ellie Monago on Amazon.

Discovery File from Chris Watts Case

I have fallen down the Chris Watts family annihilator rabbit hole. Over the last week, I’ve read books, watched documentaries, read articles, listened to various podcasts and over the past three days I read the discovery file. All 1960 pages of it.

Obviously, we (the public) will never truly know what happened, why it happened, how it happened, etc. but reading the discovery file… which is every report, every interview, transcripts of texts/messages, copies of pretty much every piece of evidence involved in this case, was heartbreaking.

As I was reading posts regarding Watts, and whether he actually committed the murder, and if he did, did he act alone; I have read several discussions (that got pretty intense) where people have speculated and made assumptions all across the board.

He admitted to killing his pregnant wife, Shanann, and daughters, Bella and Celeste. He admitted it. He gave several different versions of his confession, but all of the evidence literally points to Watts as the killer. He brutally murdered his beautiful family, and cruelly disposed of them. There isn’t anything to debate here, in my opinion. The man is a monster, and he is where he should be… in prison for the rest of his life, without the possibility of parole.

I am not completely convinced that he acted alone, however. I believe 100% that he and he alone, murdered and disposed of Shanann, Bella and Celeste. But after reading the things I’ve read, and finding out from Watts himself, via “Letters from Christopher, that he drugged Shanann (once in NC to attempt to induce a miscarriage) and having the question “where did you get the 80 mg oxycodone?” And his answer being, “that will be something I take to my grave.”, definitely leads me to think perhaps his girlfriend provided the oxy. In the discovery file, there are so many questionable Google searches that the girlfriend did, and then deleted, that just leads me to think maybe she was more involved than either (Watts or his gf) claimed.

My heart absolutely breaks for the Rzucek family. They have not only lost a daughter and sister, and their grandchildren in one of the most devastating ways possible… but this poor family is being subjected to harassment, bullying, slanderous statements (written and verbal), insensitive and inappropriate videos on YouTube, etc., on top of attempting to heal. How we can be so disgustingly cruel to a grieving family is beyond me. The Rzucek family is attempting to create Shanann’s Law (I am still researching) and I think that is very brave, in the light of all they are dealing with.

There is a documentary on Netflix, American Murder: The Family Next Door, that was done in collaboration with the Rzucek family. The family was consulted and involved in every aspect, so they were able to ensure Shanann got to tell her story.

This case is ugly. It’s heavy, it’s so sad… and it didn’t have to happen. Watts literally could have filed for divorce. He could have just walked away. He could have ended his affair with his girlfriend, and actually tried rebuilding his marriage with Shanann. But instead, he chose to kill his pregnant wife, Shanann, and their two beautiful daughters, Bella and Celeste. Instead, he chose to completely destroy two families.

If you are like me, and have fallen down the rabbit hole with this case; all I ask is that you are kind. Kind towards both families (Rzucek and Watts), to all of Shanann’s friends, and to each other as you discuss and debate your opinions.

To wrap this tragic post, I will say: Nickole Atkinson is a damn hero. She is the friend we all deserve, and the friend we should all strive to be. Be an advocate for your loved ones. Be adamant. Be pushy. Be loud.

The Ghost Writer by Alessandra Torre

*Trigger warning, this book has explicit content that may be unsuitable for some people*

Read 9/23/2020-9/26/2020

This is a heavy, heavy book. It has a lot of weight and sadness and anger and vengeance and remorse and conflict… and forgiveness. This was so beautifully written. Heartbreakingly honest and brutally transparent. When we are first introduced to Helena, we see a successful, controlling, assertive woman who is used to getting what she wants and who does not hesitate to keep every ounce of human interaction at arms length. She is purposefully cruel enough that people don’t want to get to know or spend time with her. Helena is such a dynamic, complicated, complex and sincerely brave character. She is smart; alarmingly so. She has a razor sharp wit that will cut you to the core and an ability to make even the slightest comments hurt. She is fiercely protective, loyal and scared. The transformation her character takes across these pages is so incredible. She takes herself from victim to hero, she takes the power back for those who didn’t get the opportunity. She is an advocate, a force to be reckoned with. Mark was such a necessary and appropriate character, and he was just what Helena needed in her final novel. Their unconventional friendship starts out as competing authors and ends with the two of them having such a powerful understanding of each other’s pain. The support they give to each other, and the amount of weight they remove from each other is tragically beautiful. The last few chapters of Helena (and Mark’s) final novel contain a massive revelation and a twist that I did not see coming… and that nothing could have prepared me for. The last several chapters of this book will make you angry, sad, and they will make you cry. Helena is humanized to us in the final pages of this book… which is something you will find yourself yearning for throughout majority of this novel… but when it finally happens, when we finally get Helena to take down her walls… your heart will break. Again, and again, and again. Beautifully written, dynamically put together, and a truly wonderful story. Alessandra Torre writes about very heavy and hard topics with such a delicate touch, but she gives the respect to those who deserve it. I absolutely recommend this book. This is my first Alessandra Torre novel, and I can assure you that it will not be my last. This book came to me via a recommendation from Tarryn Fisher through her Instagram stories, and I am so glad I chose to read this novel. These words, this journey, the ups and downs, the twists and turns… the emotions creates are truly wonderful. This book is #katyapproved. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

Find The Ghost Writer by Alessandra Torre on Amazon

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Too Late by Colleen Hoover

Read 9/4/2020-9/7/2020

Trigger warning: For readers who might be triggered by sensitive subject matter, this book contains scenes which depict rape, murder and other graphic violence.

This book deals with some heavy things, and it has some fairly dark parts. But it was written so eloquently and so lovingly. This book opens our eyes to how truly desperate a person can feel, when they feel they have no options but to make it work in their current situation, regardless of how bad that situation may be. We meet very damaged, but very well developed characters in this book. We see the absolute brutal ugliness that can rest within a persons soul, and we see the light that can be redeemed, should a person want to change. We meet Sloan, who is strong, brave, smart, charismatic and so damaged from a long life of disappointment. Sloan, who is not looking for anyone to save her but herself, finds out that true love waits for no one. Worlds collide and things get dangerous. Colleen Hoover has such a magical way of weaving her stories and gripping our hearts and minds. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Colleen Hoover wrote an extra epilogue for this book and it provides the most beautiful closure ever. If you’re not following her on Facebook you definitely should be!!!! This book is beautiful, and such a complete story. I further stand by my 5 star rating!!

Find Too Late by Colleen Hoover on Amazon

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Read 8/23/2020-8/24/2020

*Trigger warning: this book contains self harm, suicide attempts and self-loathing. If you are sensitive to these topics, this may not be the book for you.

I love the way Gillian Flynn tells a story. This book was sad, dark, twisted, painful and sweet. This book deals with self harm, so if you are sensitive to that this may not be a book for you. We can see and feel the darkness in the characters. The anguish leaps off the pages in this fast paced thriller. Classic Gillian Flynn, you will not see the twist coming… and you will not be prepared for the ending. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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Whatever Mother Says…:A True Story of a Mother, Madness and Murder by Wensley Clarkson

Read 7/12/20-7/25/20

I wanted to read this book because the crime took place near my hometown. At the time this book was written the case hadn’t gone to trial… and there is no epilogue with the update. So I ended up having to Google the trial and the outcome of all the individuals involved. Which isn’t a deal breaker for me, and I enjoy researching true crime cases anyway (a weird hobby I guess), so chances are I would have still given this case a spin in the Google machine… but it would have been nice if the book had been updated with the results of the trials. This case is brutal, and definitely hard to read at times, but without having the follow up it makes it difficult to recommend. I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars.

*Trigger warning: this is a true crime novel. The events that are described within this book are extremely violent and graphic, so if you are sensitive to abuse, mental health abuse, assault and verbal threats, you will probably not enjoy this book.

Find Whatever Mother Says… by Wensley Clarkson on Amazon

Doll House by John Hunt

Trigger warning: this book deals with sexual assault, kidnapping and psychological torture.

Read 7/16/20-7/17/20

Pretty good story line. Some parts were extremely hard to read, due to the content. I was disappointed in the ending though, it just kind of stops. The resolution is minimal… and you are left with so many questions. For a story that had so much potential, even with triggering content, the ending was pathetic at best. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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Bang by Barry Lyga

Trigger warning. Guns and gun related death, infant death and suicidal contemplation.

Read 6/27/20-6/28/20

This book was very smart, and very well done. It handled extremely difficult content in a very tasteful way. You don’t know what’s going to happen until it finally does… and it grips you right in the center of your chest. Compassion and understanding are such beautiful traits. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Find Bang by Barry Lyga on Amazon

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Read on 6/26/20-6/27/20

Trigger warning with this book. If you are sensitive to domestic abuse, verbal and emotional abuse as well as abuse, this may not be the book for you.

This book was heavy. Extremely well written, fantastic plot and intense buildup. This was a hard book to put down, and at times a hard book to keep reading. The way the scenes are written will grip you by the throat and won’t let go. You are in for an extremely bumpy ride. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Find Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris on Amazon