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The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners – Christina LaurenTitle: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: May 14, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: May 30, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

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This book was so cute! Another great hit from Christina Lauren and I think maybe my favorite one yet. I adore a good hate-to-love story and this book was cute on so many different levels.

The beginning really reminded me THE HATING GAME with its adorable hateful tension and the way the two main characters, Olive and Ethan, interacted with each other. I think the beginning with that spiteful tension was one of my favorite parts of the book. The snark and sass was just perfect and it really had that HATING GAME vibe like I mentioned. I am glad that it sort of moved away from that feel because I wanted the book to be unique but I did also kind of miss it when it did haha!

I really loved the whole set-up of the book. How these two managed to get stuck together on a not-honeymoon was very cute and very well planned! The perfect way to stick them together and have everything really make sense, plus some funny family hijinks in the beginning as well. I would have liked to see maybe a little bit more family throughout the book but I also did like that it didn’t take away from the main characters and their story as well. They made little appearances here and there but I think that could have added a little more depth to the story by adding just a little more family history!

The romance was positively adorable and I loved every minute of it! The unfolding was just lovely and these two characters had great chemistry. I think I could have used juuuust a little more tension (I’m a sucker for that hate-to-love chemistry) but I did like spending sometime in the cute moments of the romance too!

I also really appreciated how there were other plots in the book as well, not just the romance. Olive is dealing with being laid off and finding a new job. There are stressors in her sister’s brand-new marriage and things that she finds out that are very concerning. All of these things also put a stress on her evolving relationship with Ethan. It’s a great mix of real-life feels and grounding real-life situations.

I highly recommend THE UNHONEYMOONERS and I can see why so many people have loved it already! I’m really enjoyed all of the Christina Lauren romances I’ve read and I think this is my favorite so far.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Hate-to-love romances. I love a good hate-to-love romance but there’s something so special when it’s done just right! Christina Lauren totally nailed this one and it was so much fun to read!
Left Me Wanting More: Family history. I feel like we could have had a few more appearances from the families since both of them played a role in the story. I would have loved that extra little layer of family/character/world building to really have me connect with the characters that much more.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was such a fun story and I really enjoyed it from start to finish! A lot of other readers have been enjoying it too so I don’t hesitate to recommend this one along with some other romance favorites if you’re looking for a fun love story this summer! (Or any time)

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BOOKS LIKE THE UNHONEYMOONERS

             

My Favorite Half-Night Stand – Christina Lauren

My Favorite Half-Night Stand – Christina LaurenTitle: My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: December 4, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: February 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

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This was super cute! I almost always enjoy a good friends-to-more romance and I really loved how this one was handled. The online dating aspect was brought about in a cute way, really getting the whole group involved and not making it so singled out for the two main characters. I really loved how there wasn’t a love triangle or anything and how everyone didn’t have to get paired off in the end.

The big friend group was a ton of fun and I had a great time reading about Millie and all of her guy friends! I really loved the dynamic and how each guy had a unique personality. With so many, it was a little confusing at first but as I got to know the group, they really did stand out on their own.

I thought the romance was cute and handled well! It had a great pace, in my opinion, and I liked the back-and-forth with the characters’ feelings and how they were unsure of what to do. It really felt natural but still fit a novel well, not dragging anything out too long and not jumping into anything too quickly.

Quite enjoyable and one I’d recommend for a nice, light romance! I would recommend for fans of THE HATING GAME (except THG is just so perfect).

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult romance. I haven’t read a lot of adult/romance books lately and I’ve been dipping into a few adult contemporary/romance noels. These have been ranging more on the romance end than just a love story and they’ve been really fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Friend time. I really did enjoy the romance kicking off right off the bat but I also wished for a little more friend time as well.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a great read and really fun all-around! The sass amongst the characters was perfect and I enjoyed the world-building and story.

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BOOKS LIKE MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND

             

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine – Sally ThorneTitle: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 10, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Hating Game

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

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THE HATING GAME sprang onto the scene as an adorable rom-com beloved by so many so the anticipation of 99 PERCENT MINE was naturally quite heightened. As much as I don’t like comparing two books that are in no way related, I admit that 99 PERCENT MINE fell incredibly short compared to my love for THE HATING GAME.

Firstly, 99 PERCENT MINE felt much more serious. THG was so cute, cheeky, fun, and had amazing tension. 99PM felt like it was much more in the way of a serious romance, despite Darcy’s cheek and sass. The difficult part for me is that I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator was incredible boring and monotone and didn’t have the flirtatious fun that THG’s narrator did, so that affected my take on the tone entirely as well. She read it as a serious book so whether it was or not, that’s how I felt about it. Her narration affected me a lot, and not in a good way. It only exacerbated how much I wasn’t enjoying the plot and made for a difficult read. I really didn’t want to continue but pushing me forward was the fact that I knew I could finish quickly. My problem wasn’t the fact that it was a more serious book, but the cover matched that of THG with a sass and cuteness that didn’t really reflect the story inside. I was just expecting the same tone and it really wasn’t for me.

Okay, onto the story itself. I didn’t much like the feel of the characters and I hated how they treated each other. You know I love a good friends-to-more romance and the situation between Darcy and Tom was best friends as kids, reunited as adults and the tension is still there. He’s the only guy Darcy ever had strong feelings for and the childhood crush/teenage bigger crush carried into adulthood and Darcy still has it bad for this guy, all hidden under a very hard exterior. The hard exterior isn’t false — Darcy is tough and can handle herself, but it all felt like a bit TOO much. Leather pants, swearing (don’t get me wrong, I love swearing), teasing guys, a nipple ring… Meh. It just wasn’t for me and I just didn’t click with it. There was something that just felt really off about her character. Jamie (her twin) was a little too black-and-white, stripped down to the basics of a character. Tom was a little better but also still a little too melodramatic for my tastes. And I just hated the way everyone treated each other. Darcy basically tried to force Tom into liking her back (she knew he did but she put him in uncomfortable situations) and she and Tom were so afraid to talk to each other. It was constant aggressive moves, then not wanting to talk, hiding things from each other and making up for it afterwards. All of the relationships just made me cringe instead of having me swoon.

The book finally made up for it some in the end when the two do finally get together (no spoiler there, that’s the whole point of the book so if you don’t see that coming…..) and I finally got a feel for some of the chemistry without the secrets and non-sensical reluctance to be in a relationship. They both loved each other and the only thing holding them back was themselves. Meh.

I also really hated this dependency and ownership. The “99% mine” thing is kind of cute until you realize that Darcy actually wants to make Tom “hers” and keep him all for herself. She thinks her brother, who is best friends with Tom too, has too much of him and she keeps counting up the percentages until he’s all hers. It’s just such an unhealthy way to think of relationships and the fact that she couldn’t even share him with his friends was off-putting. I get a sibling rivalry of sorts, but Darcy and Jamie actually liked each other and had a good relationship (until a stupid fight which they have to overcome) so it bothered me that she wanted to steal Tom away from an important person in his life as well as hers, which would hurt her brother in the process too.
The dependency came in where both Darcy and Jamie felt they would die without Tom, Darcy quite literally with her heart condition… And that took it too far. Things can be romantic and her heart beating faster and responding to Tom was cute, but dying without him? I get the point being made, losing your soulmate and I suppose I do believe the possibility of dying of broken heart, so to speak, but it just didn’t fit in this situation and the concept just didn’t seem to jive. I never got a good handle on Darcy’s character with her pushing everyone away and then clinging so tightly.

The characters really didn’t pull me in and this is a character-driven novel so without some other plot (besides Darcy’s heart, which also irritated me because she could have taken care of herself but chose not to), I just didn’t connect with it. Thinking about two stars but I’m not sure yet.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary. I don’t read a lot of adult contemporary romances but I think I want to get into more cute and fun ones! This was an instant read for me thanks to THE HATING GAME and I think I’d like to read more cute contemps!
Left Me Wanting More: Chemistry. Among other things, I would have loved to see the chemistry sooner. There was too much time putting it off because the two main characters were afraid or hesitant. We missed so much good emotion time.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

There are so many mixed reviews on this book that I don’t know what to tell you! I felt let down and disappointed but other friends really loved it. I guess it depends on what you’re aiming to get from this book and I didn’t get it.

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BOOKS LIKE 99 PERCENT MINE

             

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

The Hating Game – Sally ThorneTitle: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Publishing Info: August 9, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 17, 2017

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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Well, this book was so incredibly enjoyable! I haven’t read an adult contemporary novel in a very long time (most of my non-YA reads tend to be fantasy or mystery) and this was so much fun! I tend to avoid adult contemporary at large because I like reading to have fun and don’t particularly enjoy reading about more serious realistic topics (divorce, babies, cheating, break-ups, blah blah I know that’s not all adult contemp but you know what I mean) but THE HATING GAME was on sale at Audible in a 2-for-1 sale and I had heard such great things from bookstagram that I grabbed it! Thank you, bookstagram.

I agree with my friend Brittany when she told me that the beginning was better than the ending (hence the four stars and not five). I LOVED the beginning of this book and the hate-fire that fueled the tension between Lucy and Joshua. It was tense, exciting, funny, and sexy. I loved those shared moments when you could tell they hated each other so much that they didn’t hate each other anymore. It was absolutely perfect and I loved how this relationship developed!

The ending was also wonderful too. I loved how the book resolved, how both characters really grew, and how the reader learned so many different things about each character’s past by the time the story concluded. It was romantic and brilliant and I could read so much more about Lucy and Josh (except for the fact that the awesome hate-tension wouldn’t be there anymore). I loved their personalities, especially Lucy, and how this book really came to life.

Mild Spoilers: The only thing I was missing was that I wished the “Hating Game” part of the book had gone on longer. The book starts out with Lucy and Josh positively despising each other and I thought that could have gone on just a bit longer and Sally Thorne could have established their relationship (the hate side) a bit more before breaking that sexual tension. The tension was so fantastic that I just wanted it to keep going, and I thought it should have lasted just a bit longer. I enjoyed watching that hate dissolve and Lucy and Josh still spurring each other on all the while, but it almost felt like the resolution of the book started a little too early and it lost a little momentum. You want to keep reading to see when that breaking moment happens and it just broke a little too early, I thought.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book and I immediately added Sally Thorne’s next book to my TBR (I actually added it before I was even done with THE HATING GAME). It’s not a sequel to this book, which I’m glad this was a stand alone, but I definitely want to read her next novel! I loved the writing and the characters were so vivid and real. I’m so glad I picked this one up after seeing it everywhere!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemp. I don’t read a ton of adult contemporary, but when I do, it’s books like this! I love the falling in love side of things (it’s why I read so much YA) and it’s fun to read in an adult setting! I loved the publishing office and how work really affected their relationship.
Left Me Wanting More: Tension! I thought the hating side ended just a liiiiiittle too soon because I LOVED that tension and banter! It sort of lost a little steam taking that tension away but the whole book was really so much fun.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book was so incredibly cute, a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to read more from Sally Thorne!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE HATING GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Leave Me – Gayle Forman

Leave Me – Gayle FormanTitle: Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss, BEA 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 29, 2016
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, I Have Lost My Way

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.
Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.
With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

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I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan so any book of hers, no matter the age range or genre, will be on my radar. When I heard that LEAVE ME was adult contemporary, I had to admit that I wasn’t super excited about it since I haven’t been reading as much “serious” contemporary lately and I don’t really read it on the adult level — I’m more of a YA gal. Either way, it was Gayle Forman and I knew no matter what, I was in good hands so I was excited to receive a copy of LEAVE ME at BEA this year! Upon finishing, I don’t really know how to feel about this book. If we’re being perfectly honest, if it wasn’t Gayle Forman’s book, I wouldn’t have read it. The entire premise of the book is that overworked, overtired Maribeth Klein whisks herself away for time to recover both mentally and physically after a heart-attack in her early 40s. She leaves her husband and two four-year-old twins with only a note, no way to contact her, and actively avoids ways that she can be traced so she can just take some time for herself. This really isn’t a topic I’m drawn to but Gayle Forman is the master so I was along for the ride!

This book (and entire concept) is so confusing to me as I try to sort out my feelings towards it. I know how I personally feel about Maribeth’s actions but there are just so many ways to look at it. The beginning of the book before Maribeth leaves was actually kind of hard for me to read with so many situations hitting a little too close to home. Having been in a similar situation with a medical emergency turning your life completely upside down, I just had a very hard time with the decisions that Maribeth made. I was not the person who was directly medically affected but I was a big part of that whole situation and yes, it’s always hard but my thoughts were constantly directed towards, “How can I help?” and “How can I understand?” On the flip side, no matter how close you are to a person, you’re not that person going through the medical issues and there are things and feelings you won’t understand. You have fear of your own but may not understand the level of anxiety that person is feeling, in which case, I did identify with Maribeth. Her heart attack was such a complete disruption of her life in so many ways and her only way that she was finally able to handle everything was to leave all responsibilities behind, including her family. Leaving I had a hard time with. Leaving and cheating are two situations that I really struggle to forgive or forget and even if things did end up working out in the end of this book (I won’t give anything away), I knew I wouldn’t be able to forgive Maribeth for up and leaving.

But then there’s the question of what strength is in this situation. Is strength staying and pushing through, working through all of the things with your family? Or is it leaving, taking some time off and gathering yourself up first? Honestly, I think either one could be the right answer but I had such a hard time with the fact that she literally abandoned her family. I know that she was not in the right mental state to really assess things, and that falls on her husband too since he didn’t really try to help around the house or with anything after Maribeth’s surgery, but it was hard for me to support Maribeth when her solution was to run. I guess we wouldn’t have much of a story if she spoke with her husband and took some sort of retreat instead of simply running… But that would have been a workable situation for me where I wouldn’t have hard feeling towards Maribeth. We’ve gone through some very hard things and our family is still in tact… but I’m also not a parent and don’t have that added responsibility and role in my family so I can’t speak on how that might affect a situation either. Life is messy and each situation is unique and complicated. I’m not in Maribeth’s family so maybe I would have handled things differently if I was in her shoes but from a reader’s perspective, it was really hard for me to fully understand.

My feelings for Maribeth aside, I thought this was a very good story and as always, Gayle Forman does an amazing job of bringing so many things to light. Maribeth’s situation was definitely more complicated than just the heart attack too and these things really added to why she ended up running in the first place. I won’t say hard things justify abandonment but it does help you understand where she’s coming from a little bit more. Gayle Forman also just has a way of making these characters come to life. I felt like I really got to know Maribeth, all of her new friends, and I could easily picture Maribeth’s life with her husband and children in so many ways.

I started and finished the book in one day. It was really easy to read and like so many of Gayle’s books, just so easy to get lost in. She does an amazing job of making you really feel a setting, getting you invested in a character’s story, and bringing raw, real emotions to the table. Her stories are about the more challenging sides of life and I’m actually glad she wrote this book because I wouldn’t have read this story by another author. It’s outside of my normal comfort zone — both being adult contemporary and also the “leaving factor” — and it was refreshing to think about things in a different way as I read. It’s also a bit scary, to be honest. I’ve only been married for two years and we’ve already been through a lot. I have amazing confidence in my marriage and I’m not really worried for us in the future but it does make me wonder what our life will be like in five or ten years which isn’t something I normally do. Life has taught me that there are too many thing you can’t plan for so I don’t map everything out but all I can do is hope that we grow together and build a solid foundation for our home and books like LEAVE ME really leave readers to reflect on their relationships/marriages/friendships. Even if you have an amazing relationship, there’s always a little bit more you can take into account and it’s interesting to have that reminder of what even the closest person to you might be going through without you even realizing.

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“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!

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Maribeth // Character obsessions: Work, responsibilities, letting it all go.
Maribeth’s character really hits me hard because I feel like so many of us feel like this so often. I think we as a society have such a focus on work and career that it consumes so much of our lives. So many people’s places of employment expect them to take their work home with them or be available at the drop of a hat, in and out of the office, and people aren’t getting relaxation time anymore. Add to that a family life which can be so fulfilling but still adds responsibilities, chores, and duties to one’s life and it can easily be overwhelming. Maribeth was easily identifiable for me in that sense. I work from 7:30am – 5pm and it takes me an hour to get to/home from work so work consumes twelve hours of my day. Then I come home and make dinner, do laundry, make candles for my second job (essentially) and by the time I’m done with everything, it’s time for bed. I’m not complaining about it at all and my husband does help out but it’s so exhausting and I can’t imagine doing that with kids. I absolutely see where Maribeth is coming from and has a life-changing experience with her heart attack… But even with all of that I still can’t get over leaving. Maybe leaving her husband would be more forgivable (okay, really not for me) but she left her children and I really can’t get over that either. I understand that she needs to take care of herself first but to just LEAVE like that, that’s so, so damaging to everyone. She could have handled it totally differently, communicated with her husband, gone to therapy, went on a retreat even, and I would have been fine with it. I personally couldn’t forgive the leaving. I know she healed, I know she helped herself, but you can’t just run away form responsibilities. You discuss, you face them, you figure out a solution, even if it’s hard. Plenty of people go through such things without leaving their families. I guess I’ll never quite understand it but it’s a strong feeling of mine. As much as I grew to like her as a person, I couldn’t let it go.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary/realistic fiction. I really don’t read many adult realistic fiction novels because it’s just not my bag but I’m glad I read this one. I read it simply because it’s Gayle Forman and I really enjoy how she crafts a novel.
Left Me Wanting More: Understanding. The lack of communication between these characters killed me. It wouldn’t have been easy but if Maribeth and her husband had just talked, they could have figured things out without her having to run away. I know it’s not an easy thing to do and especially having that feeling like Maribeth, I know it’s hard to ask for help, but it was something I couldn’t shake.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It was a very good read and as always, a well-crafted story from Gayle Forman. I love her big-picture novels and books that take you through the messier parts of life. It wasn’t my favorite topic but I enjoyed the novel from start to finish.

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BOOKS LIKE LEAVE ME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT

Attachments – Rainbow Rowell

Attachments – Rainbow RowellTitle: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: April 14, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 27, 2014
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline, Kindred Spirits

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

    When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
    By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.
    What would he say . . . ?

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ATTACHMENTS is actually a re-read for me and I’ve been meaning to re-read it for a while. Back when I first heard about the book in 2011 (I think I found it through Goodreads, actually!), I went to Borders (yes, Borders) to hunt it down and then finally found a copy right before they went out of business! I thought the book sounded adorable and since I was working in an office then, I really felt I’d relate. Somehow I ended up not enjoying it as much as I had hoped and after reading all of Rainbow’s other books as they’ve come out over the past few years and loving every one of them, I came to the conclusion that it was finally time for me to go back and re-read because Three-Years-Ago Brittany must have been crazy to not enjoy it that much!

Re-reading ATTACHMENTS was so much fun. I had remembered the basic plot but forgotten so many of the little details that makes this book so enjoyable. I had forgotten that the book is really told from Lincoln’s point of view — with Beth and Jennifer’s emails being a big part of the story, I had forgotten that they really weren’t telling the story so much as we were being told their story from what Lincoln had read about them and the reader doesn’t even get to see them in action until they show up physically in Lincoln’s life.

I really connected to the characters a lot more this time around. I remember feeling like Lincoln was a little too goofy during my first read and I have no idea why because he was utterly realistic for me during my second read. Lincoln is just a normal guy and I could easily pick things from his character that reminded me of a friend or my fiancé or that I could even see in myself. Beth and Jennifer often reminded me of conversation I’ve had with my friends — not only in topic but also sending emails back and forth throughout the day, no matter the topic.

What did feel the same was the overall feel compared to Rainbow Rowell’s other books. I feel like from ELEANOR & PARK on, there has definitely been a bit more of a serious tone throughout whereas ATTACHMENTS felt a little lighter and a bit more “just plain fun”. I saw sneak peeks of Rainbow Rowell’s now-signature writing full of all the things she doesn’t say that appear in the characters and in between the lines. I feel like ATTACHMENTS was just starting to play with that sort of writing but it didn’t quite play with my feelings as much as her others books had.

If you’re a Rainbow Rowell fan (and really, how can you not be), ATTACHMENTS is not one to miss! I feel like it gets a bit forgotten since she didn’t gain as much notoriety until after ELEANOR & PARK (or maybe that’s just from my perspective since I’m more involved in the young adult community), but it’s a really great read and has a lot of the same themes as the rest of her books. I really enjoyed it and I’m so glad I gave it another read because I would have truly been missing out on the optimal experience for this book!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

The audio was great! Laura Hamilton narrated this one and she did a great job! I loved the enthusiasm of Beth and Jennifer and her tone for Lincoln was great as well. I always hesitate a little when books are from split POVs with only one narrator because I wonder if they will do the opposite sex justice, but Lincoln’s voice felt totally genuine and I thought her voices for all of the characters were wonderfully done! This was also a great audiobook to listen to because I ended up listening for a long time over short bursts and it was easy to stop and start both with plot and short chapters for easy breaks.

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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!

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Beth Fremont // Character Obsessions: Movies, friends, Chris.
I LOVED Beth. We don’t live parallel lives but I saw so much of my own personality reflected in hers, especially when talking to Jennifer. It’s so weird to read books about people in the mid to late 20s because sometimes I STILL don’t feel like that’s my age… But it is… so it was really great to go back and read this book again following more along the same paths that Beth has and seeing us go through similar experiences.
Lincoln O’Neill // Character Obsessions: Sam, school, reading emails, possibly stalking.
I actually saw a lot of myself in Lincoln too. I really didn’t expect to identify with him so much but I really felt like I’ve gone through similar things recently… Losing touch with friends and then all of a sudden starting that relationship again, going through career crises, wondering if it would have been better to go back to school, feeling good at things but not GOOD anything. I’m so glad I got to re-read ATTACHMENTS at this point in my life because there were so many things about Lincoln before that I just didn’t understand.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Re-reads. Usually the level of enjoyment doesn’t change that much when I re-read… I’m usually picking up a book because I already loved it and want to experience it again (Mockingjay really being the one exception) so I surprised myself with how differently I felt about ATTACHMENTS after reading it again a few years later!
Left Me Wanting More: Rainbow-signature writing. I’ve gotten spoiled over the years reading Rainbow’s latest books and her writing has only grown since ATTACHMENTS! It was still wonderfully written but I missed those little sentences that just totally bowled you over.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

ATTACHMENTS is a different sort of read than Rainbow’s other books but it’s still so wonderful and I feel like she can do no wrong! It’s definitely fun and also perfect for those who are used to her young adult novels and want to foray into adult.

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BOOKS LIKE ATTACHMENTS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 Sean Griswold's Head Lindsey Leavitt    Just The Distance Between us Kasie West

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 // GoodreadsDate 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

Nutcase (Crazy #2) – Charlotte Hughes

Nutcase (Crazy #2) – Charlotte HughesTitle: Nutcase (Crazy #2) by Charlotte Hughes
Publishing Info: February 24, 2009 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 2, 2012
Related Posts: What Looks Like Crazy (Crazy #1)

Psychologist Kate Holly is about to get evicted from her office, and her best option may be to share space with her jacuzzi-loving ex-boyfriend, Dr. Thad Glazer. That?s not going to help her patch things up with her firefighter ex-husband. With her oddball patients, meddling mother, and eccentric secretary thrown into the mix?not to mention a spree of suspicious fires?will Kate put her life back together or wind up in a padded cell?

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Another cute, quick read from Charlotte Hughes, staying right on par with WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY. This is just what I needed to bring me out of the reading slump I’d been in for the past week or so! Dr. Kate Holly is a really fun character for me to read about. She deals with so many crazy patients and sometimes she wonders how qualified she is to be working with them since her family is so crazy – erm, eccentric – and her life is so hectic as well.

I think I enjoyed the first book just a bit more. It seemed to have a bit more humor whereas NUTCASE actually took on a bit more of a serious tone, in my opinon. That being said, I really liked where the serious notes carried us: A few of the featured patients that Kate is treating are facing really serious issues that may sound grandiose and although they’re exaggerated for the novel and cases usually aren’t that extreme, they are still real conditions that I’m sure a lot of people don’t even realize are prevalent in quite a few people. I like that even though Kate has a lot of wacky cases, this book dealt with some more serious ones like bipolar disorder, gender identity disorder, and dissociative identity disorder (which is not the same thing as schizophrenia!). I love reading these books because it brings me back to all of those psychology classes I took in college (I almost had a minor in Psych but it wasn’t worth staying another year to take the statistics classes I needed to fulfill the minor — Plus, I hated math) and I feel like I can actually understand what’s going on! I’ve always found it really interesting, so it’s really great to read about this kind of stuff.

I think Kate’s relationships with the other characters turned more serious as well. She and Jay Rush (I just love his full name. Something sexy about it for some reason…) are still on the rocks and it’s only getting rockier. I’m really hoping they’ll work things out in future books! I’m rooting for them!

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Kate Holly: Kate just can’t stay away from the extreme cases! Although I am glad to see her help them out and take them under her wing. I love how we can see how much she cares about her patients, and although I’m not totally convinced she has OCD (I’m not sure how extreme a case has to be in order to be diagnosed), she definitely has a few neuroses that put an extra twist in everyday life. She’s definitely a lot of fun to read about!
Jay Rush: Mmmm, Jay Rush. I just like his name! Both he and Kate are a little bit stubborn and/or headstrong so their marriage (well, they’re already divorced, but still) is still pretty rocky. I’m hoping they’ll figure this thing about because he clearly still loves Kate too!
Arnie: I loved Arnie’s character development in this book! And go, Arnie for being true to himself and standing up to his father! I thought it was great how he actually became a really big part of the character ensemble we have here and I hope to see a lot more of him in these books!

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Read it!

These books are a lot of fun! Quick, easy, and definitely remind me of Janet Evanovich. I hope to continue the series!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE NUTCASE

           

Naturally, Charlie – S.L. Scott

Naturally, Charlie – S.L. ScottTitle: Naturally, Charlie by S.L. Scott
Publishing Info: November 1, 2012 by Independent
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 2012

    Twenty-five year old Charlotte “Charlie” Barrow is caught between her old life and the one she is beginning to build when she crosses paths with a handsome stranger on the subway. Not looking for romance, she closes her heart off to the possibilities of love. With a knack for mishaps, Charlie maintains her sense of humor while befriending the kind stranger who seems to be there at all the right times.
New York freelance writer, Charlie Adams, is forging his own path beyond the expectations of the society circles of his childhood. Rejecting family money, and fast-lane friends, he is snubbed by his family as he follows his own compass to a life more extraordinary. 
Through a coincidence of events, they come to rely on each other for comfort. This is   the tale of two Charlies learning to trust again while fighting their fates to create their own destiny.

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So let me say something a little bit silly and possibly totally illogical: I love female characters with male nick names (Sam, Danni, Charlie! etc) so when I found out one of our MCs fell in this category, I was already interested. Then when both the guy and the girl have the same name? Adorable!

When I first started reading, I was immediately hooked. The female Charlie was instantly relatable to me. She was my age (25) and usually I have issues with chick lit novels that make young characters already so much more successful in career and advanced in relationships (usually advancing in the workplace and engaged/married), I did see that female Charlie shared a lot of these characteristics, but it felt natural to me (no pun intended since it’s… NATURALLY CHARLIE —  I have a feeling I may make this joke more than once).

Another thing I have issues with lately is the alternate viewpoint between main characters. We did have these alternating chapters between female Charlie and male Charlie and I really loved it! You know how sometimes we get those novellas that are our favorite books told from the male POV instead of the female? That was how I felt with NATURALLY CHARLIE. Sometimes the alternating POV feels unauthentic and forced, but here it was totally… say it with me – natural! I felt like we were getting both stories from each Charlie and they just overlapped slightly so we got to see some of the same scenes from both perspectives and enjoy them two different ways, but still seeing very different personal aspects as well as separate backstories from each character to really get to know them.

I thought the romance was super cute and I loved the stories for both characters. I loved so many aspects of this book and would definitely recommend it for a great chick lit or contemporary romance story!

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Charlie (female): I really enjoyed female Charlie! She seemed really down-to-earth and I really like when the characters can be feminine without having to be super girly. I loved her approach to a lot of different aspects in the book and she was strong as well as sensitive. More important than connecting with the male in any book, I need to connect to the female and I loved Charlie.
Charlie (male): Male Charlie was a lot of fun too. I loved how forward he was in pursuing female Charlie because that’s kind of how my boyfriend pursued me when we first started dating. It made me all nostalgic 🙂
Rachel: Rachel is exactly how I would have written one of my friends if I were to put her in a book. I felt bad for her in a lot of ways because she was struggling to get married and settle down and was going about it all the wrong ways, and my poor friend – that is exactly her! Every line that I read I was like, “Oh my God, that’s so her!!!!” I wonder if we all have a friend like that… Hm.

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The Rock Star in Seat 3A – Jill Kargman

The Rock Star in Seat 3A – Jill KargmanTitle: The Rock Star In Seat 3A by Jill Kargman
Publishing Info: May 22, 2012 by HarperCollins
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 21, 2012

    It's Hazel's thirtieth birthday and she has everything she's ever wanted: a kickass job, a dream apartment in New York City, and the perfect boyfriend—who's just days away from proposing. Hazel thinks she's happy but isn't quite ready to settle down. So when her most far-fetched fantasy enters the realm of the possible, shouldn't she drop everything to see it through?
The morning after her birthday, Hazel boards a flight to L.A. only to get the surprise of her life. When she's bumped up to first class, extra legroom and free drinks are absolutely the last things on her mind when she catches sight of her seatmate: her all-time biggest celebrity crush, rock star Finn Schiller! Only the night before she'd confessed her infatuation with the gorgeous musician, and her boyfriend joked that she had a free pass if she ever met him. Hazel can't believe fate has actually thrown them together.
Even more unbelievable is that during the flight they genuinely connect. Finn likes her uncensored cursing and wicked sense of humor, and that she's unlike all of his groupies; Hazel likes his killer looks, ripped physique, and soulful music. But what started as a fantasy quickly becomes a real attraction, and after a dream date and taste of the rock-star life with Finn in L.A., Hazel is forced to examine the track her life is on. Indulging in a passionate affair with a rock star seems crazy—but could she ever forgive herself if she walked away from her wildest dream coming true? And is her wildest dream the stuff that happiness is made of?

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Okay, so… Here’s where my problem lies: Poor research on my part; before reading books, I’ve stopped reading the entire summary because I like to be thrown into the story and not have anything at all spoiled by reading the synopsis of the book. I saw the giveaway on BookTrib and thought it looked like a cute little chick lit story. Girl meets her crush and they start to hit it off. Sounded great! What I didn’t realize — and far too late — was that it wasn’t as innocent as it seemed.

Hazel has a boyfriend. An awesome one. An awesome one who proposed to her and she pretended she didn’t see it. Right off the bat, I’m not a fan of Hazel. To make things worse (for me, better for Hazel), she meets Finn and they hit it off. They started to really hit it off and then Hazel’s questioning breaking it off with her boyfriend to kick it with a rock star and her all-time biggest crush. To me, I was like, “No! How disloyal!” and I threw a fit (in my head) about where this story was going. I was saddened by how much it was not like I thought it was! But like I said, kind of my fault for not looking into that!

Anyway, so the rest of the book…. Ahh ummm, still didn’t care for it. Okay, so I’m no saint or anything, and I’ve never been hesitant about a book before because of its language, but this book was just way too crass for me. Okay, anecdote time:
I actually began reading this book because I took it on the plane with me on vacation a few weeks ago. I thought, “Cute book about being on an airplane while I’m on an airplane!” I’m cheesy, I know. So I started reading, and my boyfriend was sitting next to me and he glanced at the book and was like, “What are you reading!?!” because this book is not censored in any way, shape, or form. Cursing, followed by sexual innuendos, followed by more curses, followed by more sexual references and cursing and sex. It was just overwhelming! I’ve never been bothered by swears or sex in a book before, but this was just a little too much for me and lots of things taken too far. Thrown in an onslaught of pop culture references that I didn’t care for and I was ready to put the book down and back away slowly.
Lesson learned: Although YA lit may not always appear age-appropriate, it will still be much more appropriate to read in public places!

I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes it’s not a bad thing to look further into books before reading them! I try not to ruin things with mysteries, but this was clearly an open book and I should have checked it out better before jumping in!

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Hazel: You suck. You’re obnoxious and still act like a teenage girl even though you’re thirty. And I watched Friends — There’s no such thing as a break. You’re a cheater.
Wylie: Poor, poor Wylie. He was so sweet and he got trampled on. Except he really seemed like quite the pushover… So I don’t like him either.
Hazel’s Sister (I can’t even remember her name): Bad influence! Terribly, terribly so.
Finn: Finn actually seemed like the most enjoyable character of the book! At least he was honest and not totally corrupt or the cliche dirty rock star (although he dressed like it and had a rep like it).

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Skip it

This one just didn’t work for me. It really wasn’t my type of book and I can’t stand books where the main character cheats.