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Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia Grey

I had been eyeing The Firebird Trilogy ever since I saw the cover for A THOUSAND PIECES ABOVE YOU and fell instantly in love! NO WAIT. I’ve actually been eyeing the trilogy ever since Claudia Grey gave a sneak peek of it at a signing for SPELLCASTER. (Seriously. I made a note of it.) Anyway, I finally got around to reading the books and decided to binge all three for a cohesive series read!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Thousand Pieces of You (The Firebird Trilogy #1) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 26, 2017

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

This book had been on my TBR and on my shelves for a very long time (I mean, hello, one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen) and the concept was something that instantly drew me in. I finally grabbed the audio for this, wanting to read something more sci-fi and what better to pick up than an multi-dimension story?

The book started off abruptly for me. It kind of starts right in the action and things immediately start happening. I really wished Claudia Gray had taken the time to set up a little backstory before throwing readers into things because it permanently messed up my feelings towards some of the characters, without giving away any spoilers, and once that happens, it’s really hard for me to go back and “correct” that. The first impressions stuck with me and I didn’t even have time to learn a little backstory, but more importantly, see some character history and personality, before the action took off.

The concept was exactly what I was looking for! Hopping from dimension to dimension and travelling between worlds. I have to say, I was super impressed with the different universes that Claudia Gray created for these characters! Most books, when dealing with alternate universes, focus a lot on things that are very close to the life that we’re living now but a few major or minor things have been changed to have a significant impact on a character. Here, Gray set up worlds where the main characters have a whole lot more to figure out. From a world where technology has progressed much faster to a world where technology has progressed MUCH slower so that the world is essentially still in the dark ages. A world where Marguerite ends up in a place almost exactly like her home to a world where she lives in a different country and has an entirely different upbringing. It’s easy to create a setting for a book a tamper with it slightly to come up with an alternate universe. Claudia Gray really gets into the different possibilities and how anything minor can create a huge major difference!

I also really love the family aspect and how tightly knit this family is. There’s a great dynamic, the parents are loving and supportive (although I guess it depends in what universe, right?), and the graduate students that work with Marguerite’s parents have become a part of the family too.

What I didn’t love was the romance. It was set up a little awkwardly and there were some… things that happened that really turned me around right from the start. I won’t get into details because that heads into spoiler-ville but the set-up and execution of the romance felt really clunky to me and even heading straight on to the second book (which I’m reading now), I still can’t shake that feel because of how it was set up in book one. Again, with no backstory for these characters when the book started, I had no sense of who was supposed to be what to Marguerite, the history she had with them, her feelings for them, and why she should trust anyone. I just really needed that chapter or so in the beginning to introduce all of the characters. The book felt like it was the second book in the series, not the first, with the way that it started and threw the story and characters at me right away and that made things a little difficult. The book does offer flashbacks so readers are still able to see things from “before” but that didn’t really make up for what I was wanting in the very beginning.

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU didn’t exactly go how I had hoped but it was still an enjoyable read and I’m so impressed with the different worlds that Claudia Gray has built! I’m already in the second book because I’m interested in bingeing the whole series and I’m loving her creativity so far.

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (The Firebird Trilogy #2) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

I think I enjoyed this book better than the first! I liked having everything established and it was neat to see these concepts expanded even more. One thing I love about good fantasy/sci-fi writers is when they make the readers think they’ve gotten all of the reveals and then something totally new is revealed and it’s like a whole new world opening up!

I’m still not the biggest fan of the romance, but I don’t think I will be at this point. It’s kind of just there for me and I don’t love that it’s the main reason why Marguerite is doing what she’s doing, but I guess I also like that her guy isn’t someone she just met and that it’s someone who’s been in her life for a long time. There’s just something about it that still feels like instalove for some reason, and I think it’s the way it was all set up in the first book. I don’t have a problem with instalove when it’s executed well but I’ve just never been a fan of this relationship.

The further development of the multiverse is fascinating! We get to know the same characters but in different dimensions and how their lives are different, as well as how one dimension may be affecting another. Things dig way deeper in this book and the plot was even more fascinating!

I’m still not tooootally in love like I had hoped to be but these books are proving to be very enjoyable and I’m glad I’m reading them back-to-back-to-back so I’m able to soak everything in and not have a year in between each book!

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Million Worlds With You (The Firebird Trilogy #3) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 1, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2017

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.

I think this may have been the best book of the series for me! I really liked how everything came together and it was nice to follow the story having gotten to know these characters and really get into their histories. I really enjoyed the conclusion and that it included even deeper layers of these worlds and how they entwined with each other.

One thing I always have a hard time with in sci-fi books is how much science the reader should really be exposed to. We knew the Firebirds worked and that there was a lot of physics and science behind them, but I always found myself wanting to know just a bit more about the science behind it. I understand we don’t want to bog readers down with complicated explanations but I always feel that it adds to the world-building (at least personally, for me) and adds that sense of reality instead of just saying “we created these with science and the science works”. Obviously there’s no real technology like that (at least not that the public knows *cue conspiracy theory music*) but I was left wanting just a biiiiit more of an explanation of why the science made it work the way it did. There were descriptions of how the Firebirds worked but I wanted to know how the science made those functions possible. Maybe I’m going one step too far, haha.

Anyway, I found this book really enjoyable! The whole series was a very solid four-star read for me but I never quite fell head over heels for it, and I think that was because of the characters. They were all very good characters with depth (as noted in their different personalities in different dimensions), but I just never LOVED them. I did love all of the different universes and I’m still impressed with how much time and thought went into each one of them.

Listening via audio, I did find one discontinuity which wasn’t a big deal but it really bothered me for the brief moment that it existed and I needed to get it off my chest! If you want to check it out, head over to my Goodreads review and peek between the spoiler tags!

So TL;DR, this series was very fun in terms of concept and set-up! I didn’t totally love the characters — mostly the romance. I don’t know why but I never fully got on board! I think I liked Theo better, to be honest… I love the rakish rogues, what can I say? — but it was a super solid series and I loved the creativity and detail!

SERIES THOUGHTS

The Firebird Trilogy was really enjoyable! I thought it was a very solid series, all quite good with some great characters, excellent settings, and creative plotting. I really loved that the different universes Marguerite travels to aren’t just slight changes but large changes. It was different from the other alt-reality books I’ve read and it was quite fun to experience such alternate realities!

I was on the wrong side of the love triangle the whole time, so that was hard for me, but I did enjoy the characters to a certain extent. When you’re on the wrong side of a love triangle, it’s REALLY hard to fall into the “do anything for love” concept so that became slightly unrealistic for me but I tried to go with it.

I did want a little more detail with the science to better explain some things but I really enjoyed all of the dynamics between all of the characters and how the different worlds shaped them. I never quite fell in love with these books but they were all very, very good reads and I like the way everything wrapped up! It’s always nice to be able to recommend a series from start to finish.

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

These books were so interesting and Claudia Grey did a wonderful job with the different worlds. I’m really glad I finally read this series!!

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BOOKS LIKE THE FIREBIRD TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin Cashore

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin CashoreTitle: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Publishing Info: September 19, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 6, 2017
Related Posts: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

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JANE, UNLIMITED is literally the most unique book I’ve ever read. It’s unlike anything else, with a unique concept, characters, plot, and structure, and this both enhanced my reading experience and left me utterly confused.

I need to go into books blindly so I don’t ruin the twists and the overall experience for myself so I did some reading up on the book immediately after finishing to help ground me a little bit, and I found (which I actually had heard before and completely forgot) that the concept originally started as a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel and developed into what it is. It’s quite impossible to really discuss the book without mentioning specific spoilers so for spoiler-free thoughts, I’ll say that it was quite a wild ride and listening to an audiobook may have made it even more complicated, not able to SEE what was going on with the print on the pages, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the audio performance (one of Rebecca Soler’s best, in my opinion).

Without knowing the CYOA concept, the book seemed unmoored — flowing from story to story not really knowing where one ended and the next began. Once I understood that these were actually telling different parts and weren’t following a chronological timeline, it made a lot more sense to me and I was able to appreciate it more. I thought at first that things were just non-sequential and I kept trying to put each part back into the first to follow through with the same timeline and it was just so confusing, but again, that probably would have been more easily deduced if I was reading a print copy and not the audio version. It also made a LOT more sense once I figured out that these were being told in different parts because I was thinking as I was listening that this story feels like it’s wrapping up but holy cow, I have a LONG way to go to finish this book haha!

That being said, I enjoyed most of the adventures. The first few parts were more enjoyable than the last few because things really started to go off the deep end towards the end of the book. It sort of starts in the more probable and drifts towards the more fantastical with each story and it was hard to grasp so many different genres within the same book as possibilities all at once, but I will say that it was incredibly interesting and I found them all fascinating, even if I didn’t particularly love each one. I DID love that each part revealed a little something and tied back to a point that was made in the beginning of the book or a part of another story. There were so many things going on in this peculiar house and Jane ended up discovering them all… just not all in the same version. I’m really glad the readers get to see why the characters are doing peculiar things, why the house feels a little bit emotional, and why the art plays such a big part of everything. Though I still don’t know why umbrellas are such a big deal.

One of my disappointments with the book was just that I needed a little something more from the ending. I would have been really impressed if the book had wrapped up with a singular ending that sort of put all of the stories at peace because none of them really ended and I would have been SUPER impressed if Kristin Cashore somehow tied them all up, sort of how the beginning set them all up. Instead they all kind of just taper off and there’s not a solid conclusion for any of them. I don’t mind open endings but I think this was a little TOO open and I would have been super impressed with something closing all of those open doors.

Usually when I’m confused about a book, the more I write about it, the more I realize how disappointed I was but I’m actually finding the opposite with JANE. The more I talk about it, the more fascinated I am and I wouldn’t be opposed to another collection of JANE stories somewhere down the road with even more possibilities. It’s a story with infinite worlds to explore and I’m sure even more things could be touched upon that I haven’t even thought of. I don’t think it’snecessary to know the structure of the book before starting but it did help me understand it more after finishing and helped me appreciate it more. I still would love that one last thing to tie it all together though.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Listening Library has basically been my reading savior this year. With so many candle things to do, I just don’t have time to sit and read anymore and they are so kind as to keep me on their reviewer list for audiobooks. I’ve been listening to one right after the other this year and I was so excited to see JANE, UNLIMITED as one of the options!

I knew I was in good hands with Rebecca Soler as the narrator. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because she narrated The Lunar Chronicles audiobooks but personally, I feel like this is her best audiobook performance yet. I think her voices were more distinct in this book than in previous books and her voice and tone just really fit the overall feel of JANE, UNLIMITED.

The audio was probably a little bit harder to follow than the print copy due to the nature of the book but it still totally works and probably isn’t confusing if you don’t go into reads blind like I do!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Extremely unique formatting. I love seeing new and unique things not only in YA but anywhere in the literary world. This book cobbled together the different decisions that Jane could have made and it was interesting to see each one of them play out!
Left Me Wanting More: Closure. I didn’t really feel like the ending of the book really closed it off. I guess the point is kind of that the choices really are unlimited… I’d totally be up for another book full of possible endings though!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was so clever and so unique. The tone was also a LOT of fun with a neat cast of characters, including a house that was a character in itself.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE JANE, UNLIMITED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Blog Tour: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Review

AWOM_blogtour

Welcome to the blog tour for
A WEEK OF MONDAYS by Jessica Brody!

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for this book and spread the word about A WEEK OF MONDAYS! This is actually the first contemporary book I’ve read from Jessica Brody (after having read her entire Unremembered sci-fi trilogy) and it was so much fun to read! Thanks to Macmillan Kids & Fierce Reads for having me be a part of this blog tour!!

On today’s blog tour stop, I’m sharing my review for A WEEK OF MONDAYS! Check out what I thought of the book:

Blog Tour: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | ReviewTitle: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Publishing Info: August 2, 2016 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 30, 2016
Related Posts: Unremembered (Unremembered #1), Unforgotten (Unremembered #2)

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!
As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?
From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

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It’s Groundhog Daaayyy! (I hope you said that like the radio announcers in the movie…) But no, even worse… IT’S MONDAY and Ellison Sparks can’t get past the worst day of the week which incidentally is about the worst day of her life. From boy issues to mean girls to family affairs, Ellie Sparks is having a tough Monday and in A WEEK OF MONDAYS, she has to do it all over again until she gets it right.

This was my first contemporary book from Jessica Brody after having read her Unremembered series which was sci-fi so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect! Some authors have a tone that carries throughout their novels no matter what the genre is and others completely change depending on the characters they’re writing. I feel like I was able to pick out some of that humor that I’d seen in Unremembered that really had me enjoying the characters! It was a bit slapstick at times in A WEEK OF MONDAYS but if you’re going to have a Groundhog Day-type book, you gotta get some slapstick in there, right? The book definitely had a lightness to it and was a breeze to read despite its length! The way the chapters are set up make for a higher page count but don’t let that fool you — it’s actually a quick read!

I could totally identify with Ellie in so many ways. I didn’t have a lot of relationships in high school but whether it was relationship or crush, I know so many of us ended up trying to be the person we thought our crush wanted us to be and what they liked and sometimes not who we actually were. I liked that Ellie went on this journey of self-discovery in such a unique way. As wonderful as it is to have this total revelation as some characters do in books, Ellie had to go through the same situation SEVEN times in order to finally figure certain things out and I kind of loved that. We learn from our mistakes but we don’t always learn on the first try and as terrible as it was to relive the same Monday over and over again, she was lucky enough to get another chance to take a different path in her life when so many of us are left with regrets or “what if”s.

I really, really enjoyed the ending. There was a moment there that I totally called from the start (because I just really wanted it to happen) and it totally came together in the end. I really loved how everything worked out and all of the things that Ellie made right again. It wasn’t totally predictable either! I thought I knew how things would wrap up and I suppose I guessed it overall but the path to get there was different than I expected and I always love when authors are able to surprise me!

A WEEK OF MONDAYS was just a fun book from start to finish. It started off more on the silly side and slowly progressed to serious and a little deeper. I really loved Ellie’s journey and the ending to the book was just perfect! A WEEK OF MONDAYS was my favorite kind of book to read in the summertime but it’s great for any time of the year! I do love Jessica Brody and I look forward to reading more of her books!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Groundhog Day-type books. I love the chance to relive the same day until you get it right. This was a lighter version of the concept and I think the only other book I’ve read like this was BEFORE I FALL which was a more solemn concept. It’s always interesting to see what the author does with the concept though!
Left Me Wanting More: Seriousness. The book was a teensy bit silly towards the beginning but it does add to the lightness of the book and the overall tone!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

A WEEK OF MONDAYS was just plain fun and a great take on reliving a day to get it right. I had so much fun with Ellie’s journey and I just love watching characters finally get everything right!

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BOOKS LIKE A WEEK OF MONDAYS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ASK AGAIN LATER     BEFORE I FALL

ABOUT JESSICA BRODY

Jessica Brody - High Res_credit Brian Braff

Jessica Brody is the author of several popular books for teens, including the Unremembered trilogy, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and The Karma Club, as well as two adult novels. She splits her time between California and Colorado. Find out more at jessicabrody.com.


Thanks so much for taking the time to check out the blog tour for A WEEK OF MONDAYS and hope you enjoyed my review! Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour happening NOW! Keep up with A WEEK OF MONDAYS news with the hashtag #AWeekofMondays on social media! 

Blog Tour: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Thank God It’s Monday!

Blog Tour: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Thank God It’s Monday!

Welcome to the blog tour for
A WEEK OF MONDAYS by Jessica Brody!

Macmillan has a fun set of posts all lined up for A WEEK OF MONDAYS blog tour! Today the blog tour hosts are sharing info on the book and introducing you to the schedule of posts that are coming up within the next few weeks! Jessica Brody is so sweet and I’m so excited to read A WEEK OF MONDAYS for the tour! My stop won’t be until later where I’ll be reviewing the book but check out the details and a guest post from Jessica to kick everything off!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Thank God It’s Monday!Title: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Publishing Info: August 2, 2016 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: TBD
Related Posts: Unremembered (Unremembered #1), Unforgotten (Unremembered #2), A Week of Mondays

Ellie is having the worst Monday of her life. She messes up her school speech for the class vice presidency position, she manages to take the world's worst school picture, she bombs softball tryouts, and the icing on top of this awful cake: her perfect boyfriend who is in a high school rock band dumps her. At the end of the day, Ellie wishes she could redo everything. When she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that it's Monday again! She has six more chances to redo the day in the hopes of having everything go exactly the way she wants. But in the process, she just may find out that what she really wants and what she actually needs are two very different things.

GUEST POST FROM JESSICA BRODY

ELLISON “ELLIE” SPARKS: An idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.

Those were the first words I ever wrote about Ellie Sparks. They were written in a synopsis for my publisher when I was first trying to sell them on the idea for a book called A WEEK OF MONDAYS.

Of course, you can’t write an entire book about a one-sentence character. Just like you can’t live your entire life as a one-sentence person. But every character has to begin somewhere. And this is where Ellie began for me.

As an idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.

In my mind, this is who she had to be. I thought, if you’re going to write about a girl who relives the same horrible Monday over and over again, trying to “get it right,” these are the adjectives that must describe her. She has to be idealistic enough to think she can fix everything in her life. Yet, she also has to be ambitious enough to try it. And how else are you going to fill seven Mondays with interesting storylines if the main character doesn’t have a lot on her plate.

So there was Ellie. And there was me, ready to write her, thinking I understood her. Thinking I knew everything I needed to know about her.

This is the writing process for me. I start with an idea of who someone is. I draw a box around them, like an identity fence. I stuff them inside and I lock the gate. I tell them, “This is who you are. Don’t try to change that. Don’t try to be or do anything else. I don’t have time for detours. I’m on a deadline.”

I never learn.

A WEEK OF MONDAYS is my tenth published novel and I’m still trying to lock characters inside fences. Eventually, though, they always break free. They always get bigger than their boxes. And even though I try to adjust, I keep drawing bigger and bigger boxes around them, trying to contain them to the world I built, the world I envisioned, they never quite want to stay inside. Just like people. You can try to identify them, label them, build a fence around them that makes you feel safe, and yet they’ll always surprise you. Because no character—no human being—fits inside a box.   

One of my favorite reviews of A WEEK OF MONDAYS says, “Watching Ellie relive her horrible day is something like peeling an onion. Each Monday, a piece of her people-pleaser facade melts away, revealing more of her real self.”

I smiled when I read that because it wasn’t until then that I realized exactly what had happened in the writing of this book. I had done it again. I had tried to put yet another character in a box, and she had slowly, word by word, page by page, Monday by Monday broken free.

This book is ultimately a story of self-discovery.

Seven days. Seven chances to completely reinvent yourself. Wear different clothes, make different choices, explore different paths, say different things, be different people.

Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out who you really are. And when you finally do, you may find yourself thinking ‘Thank God It’s Monday’ after all.

For the next five Mondays, blogger friends across the internet will be sharing their best and worst Monday. Follow along with us online with #TGIM and #AWeekofMondays, because whether a Monday is memorable for good reasons or memorable for bad reasons, we stand to learn a lot about ourselves.

Share your own best and worst Mondays on social media or check out the hashtag to see content from other bookish friends! 

Jessica Brody is the author of several popular books for teens, including the Unremembered trilogy, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and The Karma Club, as well as two adult novels. She splits her time between California and Colorado. Find out more at jessicabrody.com.

Jessica Brody - High Res_credit Brian Braff


Follow along for the next six Mondays to catch A WEEK OF MONDAYS content and don’t miss the full two-week blog tour coming the first week of August!

Once Upon a Kiss – Robin Palmer

Today’s review is a little something different to bring back some 80s nostalgia! Penguin Teen invited me to be a part of a really fun review campaign in which reviewers of ONCE UPON A KISS add a little 80s and 90s flair to their review posts! Naturally, I immediately said yes –because how much fun is that? — so today’s review will have a little extra blast from the past for you! Enjoy!


Once Upon a Kiss – Robin PalmerTitle: Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Alternate Reality, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 8, 2016

It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

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ONCE UPON A KISS was exactly what I thought it would be — adore, cute, and just a feel-good book! I’d say it’s 13 Going on 30 meets Mean Girls, except instead of simply moving forward into her own future like Jenna does in 13 Going on 30, Zoe Brenner ends up in an alternate present-day life where all of her friends and family are the same but 2016 is their reality instead of 1986. The concept was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed this new take on time travel and alternate realities where the two really end up blending!

I really enjoyed how ONCE UPON A KISS was a blend of contemporary with a little bit of science-fiction! I wouldn’t necessarily call it a time travel book but what happened to Zoe really did span the boundaries of time and also ended up skewing into an alternate reality where her life in 1986 got shifted to what life would be like at the same age, in the same house, with the same people but all in 2016. It was really fun to see how her entire life would have shifted if she was living the same teenage years in 2016 instead of 1986 and how her family was adjusted to that change as well!

The book was definitely adorable but at times actually a bit too cutesy for me. I really loved the switch from 1986 to 2016 and it’s always interesting and fun to see how the author adjusts each person’s life from the day to day routines in 1986 and how much different those same lives would be in 2016. It was highly entertaining to watch the same lifestyles adapt to modern day, especially Zoe’s parents and their work out videos! They were a bit silly and over the top sometimes but it was also hilarious to see the new name drops of celebrities that helped them endorse and participate in their work out routines!

I’ll admit that the use of modern-day jargon was a bit too much for me at times. I think I was more okay with it when they were being silly with overuse of 80s jargon because it amped up the 80s atmosphere (and hey, I was a baby in the 80s so I can’t tell you how many of these words were actually used and how often) but the 2016 catch phrases, abbreviations, and terms got to be a bit too much for me at times. People don’t really use that many buzz words in everyday speech (well, if they do, they’re not people I know) and the 2016 vocabulary felt a bit like overkill for me sometimes… BUT that also amps up the 2016 feel for Zoe and allows room for laughs as she tries to figure out what the heck these people are talking about! It was one of those moments where it was definitely cute but maybe went a bit too far for my personal taste.

Right off the bat, I was shipping Zoe with her best friend Jonah. If you know my reading tastes at all, you know that I adore best friend to romance relationships so even when I wasn’t sure if that was the idea of the book, I was already on board with it when the book first took off! I totally felt for Zoe when she ends up in 2016-life and a best friend who doesn’t even really know this new version of her. I thought the friendships and romances throughout the whole book were really well done! I enjoyed the romantic aspects of the book as well as the various friendships that Zoe both maintains and strives to acquire. She really worked hard to be a good person, include everyone that she could, and went out of her way to befriend others!

ONCE UPON A KISS was definitely a quick, fun, and light book! It bordered a bit more on the fluffy side for me but it was perfect timing because that was exactly what I needed! I wished there was a bit more to the plot development and I could have used a bit more possible explanation why Zoe was transported to the future and why her life there was different, but I did love the character development and how everything really varied from 1986 to 2016. I had a great time reading the book and it was definitely a delight!
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

once upon a kiss gr updates

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Zoe // Character Obsessions: Everyone getting along, Jonah, getting back to the past. 
Zoe was a really fun character! She was just so enjoyable to get to know and I really loved how positive she was. She really took that whole “new world” thing as easily as she could and I always admired how much she really just wanted equality for everyone. I wish I had known more about why the switch from 1986 to 2016 happened but she seemed to adapt really well!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Alternate realities. I really liked this take on an alternate reality! Instead of a parallel universe or straight time travel, Zoe ended up being in 2016 instead of 1986 that was an alternate reality of her life and not just an alternate universe or possibly future.
Left Me Wanting More: Explanation. I think the thing I was really missing from the book was why Zoe was transported to 2016. I suppose there doesn’t have to be a reason but it’s always nice!

Addiction Rating
Try it

I wasn’t totally wowed but it was such a cute book. It was definitely on the lighter side for me but a fun take on an alternate reality and definitely adorable.

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BOOKS LIKE ONCE UPON A KISS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

BEFORE I FALL       LANDLINE


TOTALLY 90s!

In honor of ONCE UPON A KISS, I’m also sharing some of my favorite 90s nostalgia! Since I was barely born in the 80s (’87 baby!), all of my childhood memories are from the 90s so we’re bringing back some of the most awesome things from the decade!

Honestly, Buzzfeed summed up my 90s childhood pretty well with 45 Things From Your 90s Childhood You Probably Forgot About (YES to literally everything on this list) but there were so many trends at my school that didn’t make the list! Some of my other favorite things that were big when I was a kid were pogs, keychains for your backpack and/or purse (like, as many as you could possibly find. From Claire’s, of course), mood rings, and for some reason it was a thing to wear tall white socks (but I think that was just a thing at my school because I haven’t found other people who did this)! I also loved rocking my fake work boots, which for some reason was also a thing. Can’t forget that light green eye shadow and buying/gifting tons of lotion from Bath and Body Works!

    

Were you an 80s or a 90s kid? What were you favorite items/trends??

Dissonance (Dissonance #1) – Erica O’Rourke

Dissonance (Dissonance #1) – Erica O’RourkeTitle: Dissonance (Dissonance #1) by Erica O'Rourke
Publishing Info: August 14, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Alternate Reality, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 10, 2014
Related Posts: Harmonic (Dissonance #1.5), Resonance (Dissonance #2)

    Delancey Sullivan knows for sure that there is more than one universe. Many more. Because every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world spins off the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed -- all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled. Del knows all of this because she's a Walker, someone who can navigate between the worlds, and whose job is to keep the dimensions in harmony.
But Del's decisions have consequences too. And when she secretly starts to investigate other dissonant worlds she's intrigued by the echo versions of Simon Lane, a guy who won't give her the time of day in the main world, but whose alternate selves are uniquely interested. But falling for Simon draws Del closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide -- a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

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WOW. I totally fell in love with DISSONANCE. I was hoping that this would be a book that I would fall in love with and I’m SO happy that I did. There were just so many “Brittany” things about it (based in the Chicagoland area, parallel universes, music, and of course, awesome romances) and they all worked so well together to create one amazing book. DISSONANCE is the first book from Erica O’Rourke that I’ve read so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into when I started. I had a review copy from Edelweiss but the fact that Erica O’Rourke was going to be at the event with Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard really pushed me to start it and I’m SO glad that I did because even halfway through I was in love, bought a physical copy, and had Erica sign it for me!

I’ve really been enjoying books with parallel universes lately but sometimes the science of it all can be a bit overwhelming. What I loved about DISSONANCE was the pairing of science and music. In the book, the Walkers (people who “walk” from universe to universe) are able to identify different worlds (and the problems within them) by certain musical pitches. A world may sound off or dissonant (ahhh, the title!) if there’s a large error within the world. I won’t get into the details as to how all of that works because it’s explained so well in the book, but essentially this establishes the music tie-in with Walkers almost always having perfect pitch and the easiest way to describe things is often with a musical term. I’ve never played any instruments but I was a huge choir nerd in high school and college and took a music theory class so the fact that I was able to identify so many terms and concepts that I’d learned about in music theory had me really geeking out over the book. Combine that with the science (well, made-up science, of course (OR IS IT) but science nonetheless), and it was just the perfect amount of nerding out for me.

So enough fangirling about all of the world building (no, but really — LITERALLY building worlds! So cool). The rest of the book was fantastic as well. I really loved the main character Del and connected with her a lot. I may not have chanced as many rebellious acts and school-wise, I was probably more like her sister Addison, but I felt like she was such an interesting main character to get to know and a great one to witness as she figures out what’s going on with her life as these events unfold. The whole family dynamic was great, actually. It was wonderful to see two parents who were present (albeit busy with work for a lot of the time) and a grandfather who’s still in the picture as well. The family wasn’t always perfect, but they worked through their differences and I really liked watching all of those interactions between the two girls and their parents/grandfather.

The romance was fantastic as well! It was so interesting to see Del and Simon’s interactions and exactly what transpires between them. Del ends up meeting Simon in other worlds and the more she interacts with him, the more she sees different sides of his personality. Since each world is a representation of a different part of him, it was really interesting to see different sides of Simon in different ways. I won’t give away exactly what happens between the two of them and how it affects the main story, but this was definitely something that I loved witnessing and I adored how the two of them ended up connecting.

On top of all of this, the plotting is just fantastic. This book has some TWISTS, you guys. Some you could see developing and were really exciting to watch as they unfolded and others were totally surprising and knocked me off my feet. I was just so impressed with really everything about this book and now I am DYING for book two! DISSONANCE was my first book by Erica O’Rourke but you can bet it won’t be the last!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Del // Character Obsessions: Walking, music, family (though it doesn’t always seem like it), Simon.
I really got along with Del. We may not be exactly alike in how we act, but I think we have some common principles in common. Even though she’s got a bit more of a rebellious streak than I do, I really liked how she interacted with her friends and family and also how those relationships grew in this book. She also grew up some herself and I was able to see real changes based on what she went through! I just really liked her a lot and felt like she was a really great main character.
Simon // Character Obsessions: Basketball (or other extra curricular activities), his mom, keeping up appearances.
Simon was a really interesting character. Sometimes I really don’t like when a series starts with one POV and then switches or splits, but I would love to get to know more about Simon from his POV. (Weird to ask for a novella, but I would love to see one from him.) I don’t know why, but I just really want to know so much more about him! I loved his role in this book and how it went beyond just a love interest. VERY cool. 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Musical aspects! I knew the book was called DISSONANCE (obviously) but I didn’t realize exactly how big music was in this book. I LOVED the way it was incorporated!
Left Me Wanting More: Answerrrrs. OMG how can I possibly wait for book two of this series! This is one I will need the SECOND it is available to me!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT

I had expected to enjoy DISSONANCE but I had no idea I’d fall in love. I did see a few just so-so reviews for it and I feel like they may be a case of just not the right match and I would honestly feel out a person’s taste before recommending because I do want the right person to fall in love with it! I think time travel/parallel universe fans will enjoy this one and may be a nice surprise for music aficionados as well!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE DISSONANCE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        tandem          all our yesterdays

Landline – Rainbow Rowell

Landline – Rainbow RowellTitle: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: July 8, 2014 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Source: BEA 2014
Genres: Adult, Alternate Reality, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 8, 2014
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Attachments, Kindred Spirits

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. . . .Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

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LANDLINE was a breath of fresh air. I’m made my niche reading young adult fiction and I still love it but sometimes it’s just so nice to take a break from the norm and switch things up a bit. Reading LANDLINE was a sort of wonderful crossover since I’m so used to Rainbow Rowell’s young adult books and I got the same feel of her writing but in a different age range and covering different subjects.

Rainbow Rowell is just a master of her craft. Her story telling is simply exquisite in not only the way the plot comes together but also how the characters really tell a story in themselves. I got to know the story just by getting to know Georgie and her family. Rainbow’s characters and their relationships are always amazing and they always seem like incredibly real people, and it’s just amazing to sit back and watch their stories unfold.

I’ve already mentioned how much I love the characters but the relationship between each character is just fantastic as well. Every single one is complicated. From Georgie’s relationship with her husband to her relationship with her best friend and co-worker (who just so happens to be an attractive male) — even her relationship with her children, her mother, her sister… It was just so true to life because aren’t all relationships messy?

Unlike Rainbow’s previous books, LANDLINE involved a bit of… science fiction? I guess that’s what you’d call it — with the “magic” landline phone that Georgie finds at her parents house. She realizes she’s not talking to her husband in present day, but Neal in the past which also happens to be a very critical point in their relationship. I do have to say… Wasn’t quite sold on the magic phone thing. I enjoyed the book from cover to cover and I didn’t DISLIKE it but I felt like with Rainbow’s other books, there’s just a strong sense of reality that I pull from them — and I did with LANDLINE too — but the magic phone really pulled me out of that element and felt more “cutesy”. It just took away from the emotional, serious aspect of the book for me. Not a lot! Not a lot at all. But it was enough that I didn’t quite fall in love with it the way that I potentially could have without it.

I really enjoyed how everything wrapped up and really all of the loose ends were tied back together. I had just the best feeling of satisfaction when I finished the book and I know Rainbow Rowell fans won’t be disappointed! Her books always leave me with this feeling of contentment and LANDLINE is no exception.

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I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Landline - Rainbow Rowell

I read the majority of this on a plane so far fewer updates than usual!

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Georgie // Character Obsessions: Comedy, writing, Neal, family.
Despite the blame seeming to fall on Georgie’s shoulders for many of the issues in her marriage, I really liked her a lot. She felt really real and I was able to see how hard it must have been for her to balance a career that she loved so much and the family she loved so much, especially when her husband was willing to maintain the family when Georgie’s schedule didn’t allow it. That didn’t really mean he should do it all on his own, but through these situations, I really felt like I got to know them through every situation they went through.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Rainbow. YA or Adult. Serious or more playful. I love anything Rainbow Rowell writes. She just has that magical way with words and amazing character & relationship development that just grows with each book.
Left Me Wanting More: Heart-wrenching. The phone thing was cute. I was just hoping for something more deeply emotional like so many of her other books. Although I guess Attachments was definitely more on the cutesy side, but it was also her debut novel and I was expecting that to be more cute whereas I was expecting LANDLINE to be a bit more on the serious side.

Addiction Rating
Buy it

It’s a solid read and although it’s not my favorite of Rainbow’s books, it was still so enjoyable with all of that magnificent writing magic that she always incorporates into her books! Definitely still worth the purchase and a place next to your other favorite Rainbow Rowell books!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE LANDLINE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Nantucket Red Leila Howland       Just One Day Gayle Forman

Just Like Fate – Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young

Just Like Fate – Cat Patrick & Suzanne YoungTitle: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick, Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: August 27, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Alternate Reality, Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 13, 2013
Related Posts: The Program (The Program #1)

    Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...

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JUST LIKE FATE was a really fun read for me! I pretty much love anything with alternate universes/co-existing realities so I was really excited to see exactly how this story plays out. Here’s the gist: Caroline’s grandmother just suffered a stroke and as it seems her clock is ticking down, Caroline devotes all her spare time to staying at her grandmother’s bedside. When her friend calls her to invite her to a party to help lighten her mood, JUST LIKE FATE splits into two possible story lines: Whether Caroline chooses to stay with her grandmother or go to the party.
I want to say before I start my full review, though, that don’t get confused: The only people aware of these two alternate paths are us, the readers. I’m actually not 100% sure how to categorize the book since the readers are just getting two different stories none of the characters, including Caroline, are aware of the split. I felt like it was mostly contemporary but the fact that there is a split brings in a tiny element of paranormal/sci-fi so I’d be interested to hear how you guys feel about that!

I won’t say TOO much about each story line, but I will say that each option presents Caroline with different reactions and relationship-altering situations from her family, an interesting new romance possibility, and friendships put to the test. I will say that I appreciated that the two paths were in fact very different with some minor things and of course people that overlapped. When the story first split, it was a tiny bit confusing to keep the two separated because they were so similar, but as Caroline digressed in two opposite directions, we end up with different situations and different settings so things quickly solidify into separate stories.

One thing we definitely see about Caroline as reiterated by her family and friend is that she’s a runner. No, not like a track star, but she has a tendency to run and hide from her problems. Caroline seems to be running unconsciously so naturally it’s shocking and painful when that’s brought to her attention and I really think this is the way we see her grow the most. I actually liked seeing a blatantly obvious character flaw in Caroline. It was kind of nice to be shown that issue right off the bat and constantly witness Caroline’s progress with addressing conflict and standing up for herself. I think it made me that much more proud of her when I saw her making strong choices near the end of the book!

So the boys. There are two boys in this book. Firstly there’s Joel who is Caroline’s long-time crush. His relationship with Caroline is dominant in the “Stay” part of the book. Obviously we’ll all make our own opinions of Joel but I was always a bit… wary. And I think the authors made me feel that way for a certain reason. It’s all cryptic now, but of course I don’t want to give away any major spoilers! The other love interest is the new guy Chris who dominates the “Go” part of the book. Chris is a cute guy who Caroline meets at the party and he is my kind of crush! He’s snarky but sweet and you know I love that banter and joke-flirting. Personally, I was rooting for the Chris story to work out… But….

JUST LIKE FATE is written so well because each path has some serious upsides and some MAJOR issues that Caroline will have to deal with in either path she chooses, so of course the whole time I’m wondering, “Which path does Caroline actually choose and how does this story end!?!?!” I was totally itching to know at the very end. So which one does she pick? Of course I’m not revealing that answer BUT I will say that I think the end was done perfectly. Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young did a great job of closing the story in the only possible way they could have and it was a good surprise!

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Caroline // Character Obsessions: Her grandmother, Electric Freakshow, Joel.
As mentioned earlier, I really liked seeing her flaws. I think that really helped me see several different aspects of her character without having to dig for them and it was that much easier to see her grow. I actually really identified with Caroline a lot. I wouldn’t say our lives are similar but I tend to avoid conflict situations so I totally understood her behavior. I really sympathized with her a lot!
Natalie // Character Obsessions: Her family, pointing out Caroline’s flaws.
Natalie is Caroline’s older sister and I feel compelled to talk about her. I was actually gonna go into listing the boys next, but Natalie just stuck out in my head and I needed to address her character. In the very beginning, we see that Natalie and Caroline do not get along. AT ALL. But I could see that so much of Natalie’s anger extended from the hurt that Caroline unknowingly caused. I really felt for Natalie and I really liked seeing so many sides of HER in these two paths. We actually get to see the many different faces of Natalie and I really liked seeing that she was just Caroline’s mean, cold-hearted older sister.
Joel // Character Obsessions: Electric Freakshow, making out, girls.
Joel is Caroline’s long-time crush and plays a big role in JUST LIKE FATE. I gotta say… I got some not-so-good vibes from this guy right off the bat. It made it REALLY hard to like him but we come to learn that there may be more to this guy than Caroline originally knows. Again, not wanting to give away any spoilers, I’ll stop there!
Chris // Character Obsessions: Music, jokes, Caroline.
Ohhh, I loved Chris. Of course he’s not without his flaws and Caroline still picks up some questionable vibes from him here and there but he was the guy that was so easy to like! He was funny, smart, a musician, confident… Everything I love to crush on in books! Of course, all of those things attract a LOT of girls soooo. You can see where Caroline might have some issues!
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Kept Me Hooked On: Parallel Universes. I definitely need to read more of these kinds of books (I’ve read Pivot Point, have Tandem, and want to read Parallel) because I just love the concept!
Left Me Wanting More: Responsibility. Caroline seemed really… immature at times. Chalk that up to being a teenager, but I wanted her to show a bit more maturity (which I guess she did towards the end), but sometimes her decisions left a bad taste in my mouth.

Addiction Rating
RECOMMEND IT.

This was an enjoyable read for me but I’m somewhat on the fence whether I’d say buy it or not… I would, however, definitely recommend it to others!

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BOOKS LIKE JUST LIKE FATE     

Pivot Point      Time Between Us

Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall – Lauren OliverTitle: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Publishing Info: March 3, 2010 by HarperCollins
Genres: Alternate Reality, Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 5, 2013
Related Posts: Annabel (Delirium #0.5), Requiem (Delirium #3), Vanishing Girls, Panic

With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today's foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person's life can affect so many others.
    For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.
    However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

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My first impression of BEFORE I FALL is Groundhog’s Day meets Mean Girls but with a darker twist: Samantha Kingston is one of the popular girls… Until she dies on the night of February 12th and must relive the day over and over until she rights the wrongs of her life. I loved the beauty of Lauren Oliver’s writing in the DELIRIUM trilogy so I figured it was about time I got to her stand alone, BEFORE I FALL.

This is a tough book for me to review. I think this is another book that suffered from everyone else being in love with it and combine that with the fact that I expected to love it simply because it’s Lauren Oliver and I ended up with… disappointment. I did still enjoy the book and I love the concept, but as Rachel helped me realize, I don’t like the “mean girl” story lines in books. I know this story is about Samantha and trying to find a way to redeem herself from being that popular mean girl, but even still, it was hard for me to get on board with any of her friends who still were that way, completely oblivious to the fact that they’re hurting others, and the things that they do. So yeah, that was a BIG part of the book for me that was hard to stomach. Since the whole point of BEFORE I FALL is for Sam to right the wrongs of her world, I did end up liking her a whole lot more, but I still couldn’t say the same for her friends. But I mean, seriously. Mean Girls. Except instead of Candy Cane-grams, we have Vale-grams (or however it was spelled (SORRY, listened to the audio so I don’t know haha)).

I loved the Groundhog’s Day concept and how even though we’re reliving the same day over and over and over again, it’s always different, even if it’s the same setting. Sam finds different ways to relive her school day, different ways to change the party, different ways to interact with her friends, but she can only change HER part of it and the other people around her have the tendency to fall into the same routine that they do in every scenario. It was interesting to see what exactly Sam had to learn from each day and what she had to come up with to really make a difference.

The other thing I really liked was that it’s not obvious how the book is going to end. It starts with Sam dying and the day restarting, that we know, but I was never able to guess if she was going to snap out of this cycle of repetition and have a happy Bill Murray ending or if Sam’s destiny really is to die on February 12th regardless of the things she corrects. Up until the very last minute, I STILL didn’t know what was going to happen, so I loved that I was kept on the edge of my seat.

I liked the concept of BEFORE I FALL, but I just didn’t end up loving it as a book. I think there were too many “mean girl” moments that really prevented me for liking a lot of the characters so I found it hard for me to be on their side. It didn’t destroy the book for me but it really did prevent me from falling in love with it.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Narrator: Sarah Drew
Listening Time: 12 hours, 25 minutes
Source: Local library’s digital catalog

You may not know her name, but you know Sarah Drew — she’s famous for playing Dr. April Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy (among other things, but that’s where I know her from). I spent the first half hour of the audiobook wracking my brain because I knew that I knew the voice but couldn’t place it! I had to Google her name to figure it out!
Sarah Drew was very pleasant to listen to as Sam, but I can’t really say that I liked the way she voiced other characters. They were all very distinct which can be a challenge when you’re voicing four or five different female main characters, but some of them were distinct in… annoying ways. Lindsay’s voice was very deep which I guess could be logical, but for Lindsay, Elody, and Rob, the voices all sounded drunk or just plain unintelligent half of the time (even when they weren’t drunk, which actually was half of the time) so that was just kind of annoying to listen to. It’s one thing if a character is supposed to sound unintelligent, but too many of the characters were voiced as slow and vapid.
Sam went through a lot of changes and that was also noted in her change of tone so I felt like Sarah Drew did a really good job on that part. She has a really good voice that I could easily picture as a teenage since it’s relatively high pitched. (Sometimes I get frustrated when it’s a very adult voice doing the audio for a teen book.)
She also narrates the audiobooks for the Delirium series (also by Lauren Oliver) but I’m so glad I hadn’t listened to her voicing Lena. The voice just wouldn’t fit for me like it had fit so well for BEFORE I FALL.

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Sam: I loved watching Sam’s realization of all of the things she needed to correct in her life and help correct in other people’s as well. It was a great story and really interesting to see how much she changed in that week that she was trapped in February 12th. I still didn’t totally feel for her character (it bothered me that she was teased so much as a kid BY LINDSAY and then ends up doing the same exact thing WITH Lindsay to other kids) but she did definitely redeem herself!
Lindsay: Hated her from start to finish. I just didn’t like her at all.
Juliet: I felt so, so bad for Juliet. She was definitely my favorite character because I could just see all the hurt and feel her pain. My heart went out to her the whole book.

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BORROW IT

I enjoyed the book but I was really hoping for more. It was definitely very different from the Delirium trilogy but I just wasn’t a huge fan of many of the characters so that made it hard for me.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE BEFORE I FALL

     If I Stay    The Sky Is Everywhere

Born Wicked (Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) – Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked (Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) – Jessica SpotswoodTitle: Born Wicked (Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) by Jessica Spotswood
Publishing Info: February 7, 2012 by Penguin
Source: Library
Genres: Alternate Reality, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 9, 2012

    Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.
If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Breaking It Down Further: Cate Cahill and her sisters are witches. When their mother (also a witch) died years ago, she left them begging them to promise to keep their magic a secret — from their father, from the staff, and especially from the Brothers. The Brothers overtook the witches when they were in power and are now on a constant witch-hunt, teaching the girls of the community all of the evils of magic. It’s now Cate’s duty to keep her younger sisters safe from being shipped off to a ship to work practically slave labor or to the mental institution, and she manages quite well. That is, until her life is turned upside down in a matter of days. Her father hires a governess named Elena who Cate cannot trust although she’s not quite sure why. Cate finds out she had a godmother who was a witch. And she begins to fall in love with their gardener and old friend Finn Belastra. Now Cate struggles even more to keep their darkest secret, keep their family from falling apart, and figure out if it’s possible for her to have a true love.

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BORN WICKED was quite the interesting book! I think one thing I really liked was the fact that the story line wasn’t really good magic vs bad magic and their battle against each other. Of course, it did touch on the fact that magic can be used improperly or for the wrong reasons. BUT the main idea of the book is the fact that magic is seen as unnatural and morally wrong as a whole. Poor Cate has to keep her family’s secret from the Brothers for fear that they will all be taken away – her conflict is with the Brothers and their teachings, as well as the conflict we seen within her family and her magic itself.

Right away, we see that Cate doesn’t like her magic. It’s been a hardship for her and some of the last words said to her made her doubt that it could ever be a good things. We find out she has the ability to do mind-magic and is fearful to ever use it, but had to use it on her father once to keep him from sending her away from her sisters to go off to school. Magic is also a conflict between Cate and her sisters, especially Maura. Maura wants to learn to use her magic and she finds it exciting. It’s difficult for the younger sisters to keep their magic under wraps and Cate is the one who always has to scold them, creating a sort of rift between them.
I really liked the interaction between Cate and her sisters. Although they are at odds and their secret puts quite a strain on their relationship, it just seemed so real. I feel like it’s not often that I come across relationships that feel as real as this so it was really nice to see. It really pulled me into the book and I felt more involved in it.

I absolutely adored Cate and Finn. It’s such a bittersweet romance because you can tell they’re just perfect for each other, but Cate’s proper match would be Paul. She also can’t ever marry Finn because even though her family isn’t quite held in the highest esteem, marrying Finn would still be marrying below her class, and that would make matters for the Cahill family even worse. I just loved them together though.

The ending of the book was quite surprising and visually shocking (in the sort of “finale” scene – I could just picture the whole thing!) – After that ending, I can’t wait to pick up the next book and see what happens!

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Cate Cahill: It’s kind of hard to say how I feel about Cate. It’s really hard for me to gauge a character who’s forced to keep the most important aspect of her life a secret. But I guess that is a big part of the story – No one really gets to know Cate who doesn’t know about her magic. Well, I guess until Finn. I do have to say though, it was so nice to see her loosen up around certain people! I could just feel the tension that she has to carry around with her all the time and you could tell it’s definitely not easy!
Finn Belastra: Oh, Finn! I simply adored him. He just seemed like the perfect match for Cate and cute and polite and sweet and strong – But at the same time, I also felt bad for Paul. Even though Cate doesn’t love Paul, she still does like him and he’s a perfectly nice guy.
Tess Cahill: I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about Tess that just made me love her like the little sister I never had. She seems really mature for her age (12) and she just seemed like such a real character. I absolutely adored her.
Elena: Oooh, this girl. I was with Cate — I didn’t trust her from the start. The story line following the entrance of this new governess was quite interesting!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE BORN WICKED