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Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the Ants

MINI REVIEWS

I’ve somehow fallen extremely behind on book reviews (that’s life!) so I’m combining a few audiobook reviews into one post today! Life has been so busy that I’ve been finishing way more audiobooks lately than I have print copies — but I’m always a fan of audios! Here are a few thoughts on 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade, TRICKY TWENTY-TWO by Janet Evanovich, WE ARE THE ANTS by Shaun David Hutchinson.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: 738 Days by Stacey Kade
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 7, 2016

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.
Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.
Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.
To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

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I was in need of a new audiobook when I started 738 DAYS and it seemed the most appealing choice out of my current selection! I had heard a lot of good things about it and although I wasn’t feeling any of my options, this one seemed to be my best bet for my mood at the time. I hadn’t realized it was so realistic/contemporary (I thought it was going to be more thriller/action — ah, the curse of going in mostly blind) but I did enjoy the book! Since I wasn’t in the mood for a serious contemporary novel, I ended up getting a little eye-rolly at some of the mushy parts (it was my own fault!) but 738 DAYS was a really well put together novel.

I thought the characters were quite realistic. I liked the array of emotions from Amanda. I could easily see how the trauma of her past still affected her — and likely would affect her for a long time or even the rest of her life — and yet she was determined not to to get stuck from it and have that trauma hold her life back. I loved her strength and determination. It was nice to see that gusto and not have her be too gung-ho or the type that constantly refuses someone’s help just so she can do something herself. There was a great balance of growth and seeing that moving past this wasn’t easy. I also really liked Chase and that we met him in his days of redemption. I think it’s easier to like a character when the bad stuff is in their past versus watching them go through the periods of self-destruction. It’s easier to distance yourself from that negative side and it was really nice to see Chase already in the process of that change to be a better person. He and Amanda really just clicked together and I liked how easy that relationship felt. I’ll admit that since I was thinking it was a bit more thriller (oops) that I wasn’t really excited about the romance at first (I know, I know, that’s what the whole book was ABOUT) but the great thing is that it totally grew on me. To swing me from not thrilled to totally loving it says a lot!

I’d say this is more of a New Adult title (given age range and sexual content I wouldn’t say it’s YA) and if you’re hesitant about reading New Adult given some of the more cheesy titles that have previously given it a bad name, this is a great place to start! It’ll definitely be one of my New Adult recommendations for people looking to try some.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | 738 DAYS had dual narrators for the two main characters. Andrew Eiden voiced Chase and Shannon McManus voiced Amanda. I didn’t really like Shannon’s voice much but it wasn’t enough that I actively disliked it (which has happened in the past and I’ve turned an audiobook off). Her voice is high and clear, very feminine, but it has kind of that Valley Girl intonation that bothered me a little bit. I did like Andrew Eiden’s voice but I still wasn’t overly in love with his narration. I’d say a solid 3.75 – 4 stars for the narration on this one.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 17, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 19, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Something big is brewing in Trenton, N.J., and it could blow at any minute.
Stephanie Plum might not be the world's greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she's being played. Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), hailed as the Supreme Exalted Zookeeper of the animal house known as Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College. Gobbles has missed his court date and gone into hiding. People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk. Things just aren't adding up, and Stephanie can't shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college - and it's not just Zeta fraternity pranks.
As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug Linken. When Linken is gunned down in his backyard it's good riddance, and the list of possible murder suspects is long. The only people who care about finding Linken's killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Linken, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve.


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I am loving that the Stephanie Plum books are coming back around to being actual stories that I care about and not just throw-away, silly novels. TRICKY TWENTY-TWO actually had the characters addressing serious issues. We hear talk of marriage and serious commitments, and not in just the silly way of how the characters are usually afraid of commitment or Stephanie’s caught up between Morelli and Ranger. I loved that things got a little deeper and the characters became more real again and not just caricatures of themselves.

The plot was better too! Less crazy, wild animals and more actual cases, bringing that sense of mystery back to the book and not just a silly thriller aspect. I do love these books — they’re fun, familiar, and the audios are SO quick. I’m really glad that they’re coming back around and keep me excited for more! For a while I was starting to grow tired of them (not like I’d quit them!) but I’m really happy that I’m getting that faith back in the series.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | As usual, Lorelai King was a lot of fun! I think she’s really good at all of the different voices (and there are a LOT of distinct ones) and she really brings these books to life. I don’t think I’ve read Stephanie Plum book in print for maybe ten books (or more!) because they’re just so much fun on audio and somehow they go by so quickly!!

Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Publishing Info: January 19, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 26, 2016

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.
Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.
What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.


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I hadn’t picked up WE ARE THE ANTS for a while because truthfully, I was afraid of the whole “abducted by aliens” thing. While I will agree that it is a big part of the book, it’s not a main portion of the action. Henry does believe that he keeps getting abducted and that he has the ability to save the world or let it be destroyed but it’s more about the question of his decision than it is about the aliens.

The book is a lot deeper and a lot more realistic fiction than I thought it would be too! Obviously aliens had me believing it was sci-fi but it was really more of Henry’s story, what he was going through since his boyfriend’s suicide, the bullying that’s occurring in his life, and his relationship with his family. It was a heart-achingly beautiful novel, quite realistic and really thought-provoking. It was darker than I had anticipated but there was also a wonderful balance of humor to ease that darkness a little bit. Shaun David Hutchinson did an amazing job and really brought me into a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own (alien abduction is really just a turn-off for me) and I like how that whole idea was incorporated into the book! I was poignant, original, and very well-written.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | Gibson Frazier was a really good narrator! This is the first time I’ve ever listened something he’s narrated (I have a tendency to listen to my favorites) and he was really great! Sometimes a little monotone but I also think that was a bit of the character so I’m not sure if it was him or Henry. I liked how well he seemed to fit the character and I really enjoyed him in this book. Sometimes I did wish for more emotion but I’d be interested to listen to more from him.

Wanderlost – Jen Malone

Wanderlost – Jen MaloneTitle: Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Publishing Info: May 31, 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 2, 2016

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.
Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

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I love cute contemporary books, especially in the summertime, so I was very excited to read WANDERLOST! I had been looking forward to reading it and ran into a reading slump for a while (well, more so that I didn’t have time to read than an actual slump) so WANDERLOST got put on hold for a bit but once I was able to pick it back up, I couldn’t put it down! I spent an afternoon in the summer sun bingeing the rest of the book and it was such a pleasant and fun read!

I really, really loved the sister aspect in this book. Aubree and her sister Elizabeth are just far apart enough in age that they never really fell into sync with that best friendship that a lot of sisters have, not to mention that they both have very different personalities. The book really swings back and forth from the two girls getting along to wondering how they’re even sisters and I just loved how real that felt to me. My sister and I are three years apart and we were never at odds like Aubree and Elizabeth were but it took us a while to find our solid friendship! We’ve always gotten along and have been sisterly but once I graduated college, we really started to become better friends and it was such a wonderful thing to be able to have another relationship with my sister like that! I really loved seeing how Aubree and her sister worked their way through their relationship and really worked on seeing life from each other’s perspectives (quite literally as Aubree pretends to be Elizabeth for a portion of this book) and it was such a great part of WANDERLOST for me!

I think this book is perfect for fans of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS both in tone and content. The romance is cute, the comedy is perfect, and the wanderlust is real. Even though it maybe pushed the limits of reality sometimes (I’m not sure how plausible it is to pose as your sister in a foreign country but I guess it COULD happen), I totally didn’t care and I was on board no matter what was happening. I loved the fun atmosphere throughout! Aubree did a great job of handling herself no matter what the situation was and I loved how much she grew throughout the book.

I love how Aubree learned so much about herself through all of her new experiences. Aside from traveling to Europe — which is a pretty huge deal — she traveled alone, led a group of seniors around the continent, and ended up having to really figure out who she was outside of her friends, family, and school. I really appreciated watching her grow up and more so than just growing up, to really figure out who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. She was finally coming out of her sister’s shadow and I can totally relate to the point where Aubree was in this book. It was similar to my experiences when I went to college (though obviously without the whole Europe part) and I really started to figure out who I was as an individual and the kind of person I wanted to be as an adult. It’s such an awesome thing to witness and this is one of the many reasons I love reading YA!

WANDERLOST was such a fun book with some really great messages. If you’ve got a bit of wanderlust, this book will totally hit the spot and you get to see some really great relationships as well. Jen Malone had me totally hooked with this book and I can’t wait to read more from her!

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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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Aubree // Character obsessions: Relaxing, friends, the easy life.
Aubree had the easy life before this book started — classes, friends, hanging out — and I don’t blame her! As a high schooler, this was pretty much my life as well. I really appreciated how much she matured throughout her trip and how she really claimed a lot of responsibility for so many things in her life.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Travel. Man, I want to go to Europe. I’ve never been (money and time, ya know) but it would be so amazing! In the mean time, I’ll travel through these books.
Left Me Wanting More: Chill from Elizabeth. I loved the sister relationship but Elizabeth was a BIT much sometimes. I guess I haven’t known someone who is so dedicated at such a young age but I can see it. It just felt a tad towards the exaggerated side.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

WANDERLOST was so much fun and such a great summer read. If you love fun and light contemporary books, this is one I highly recommend!

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BOOKS LIKE WANDERLOST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS    MEANT TO BE

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door #2) – Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door #2) – Huntley FitzpatrickTitle: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publishing Info: August 18, 2015 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 2, 2016
Related Posts: My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1)

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
- find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
- need a liver transplant
- drive his car into a house
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
- well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.
Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.
And Alice is caught in the middle.
Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.

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** Warning: This is NOT a spoiler-free review like I usually write. In order to discuss my full feelings about the book, I will be discussing main plot points but will not reveal any conclusions **

Tim was my favorite character in MY LIFE NEXT DOOR and I was so excited to hear that he had his own novel with THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO (although it’s actually a dual POV book with Alice). Naturally, I was all over this idea and finally got around to reading it once I picked up the audio with one of my favorite narrators, MacLeod Andrews! Usually I don’t talk about main plot points that aren’t immediately a part of the book or that haven’t been revealed in the synopsis but there were a few things that really affected my overall feelings about THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO so if you you are looking for zero plot information on this book, look away now! If you’re with me for this ride, keep on reading!

While THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO was highly enjoyable, it really wasn’t quite the story that I thought it would be. This was actually how I initially felt about MY LIFE NEXT DOOR but for different reasons. I was expecting MLND to be more cutesy and summer fun and instead I found a story that had many layers, great characters, and a really meaningful and deep story. I was expecting the same feel with THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO, which I did get, but I was missing that love story part of the book. I knew that Tim and Alice were likely to end up together at the end of this book but I was a little disappointed with how little time was spent on the romance in the book because of other things going on in Tim’s life that he needed to address… specifically, the baby. (Yes, I said baby. We’ll get to that in a second.) Since the romance was something I was really looking forward to, I was kind of bummed that it didn’t really get developed or highlighted until the end of the book so the characters felt a little underdeveloped in that way. They don’t need a romance to feel like developed characters but I loved the banter between Tim and Alice when they were secondary characters in MY LIFE NEXT DOOR and I was hoping to see more of that sort of relationship in the spotlight in THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO. I was really missing that relationship and the interactions between the two of them that I loved so much when I first met them.

Okay, so the baby. If you haven’t read the book, I bet you’re a little surprised right now. I was too. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of teen pregnancy/teen mom books and granted this is from the guy’s point of view (Tim, of course) instead of the girl’s. (There’s a full discussion in this as to why but that’s a blog post for another day.)  I had no idea this book involved a baby or the fact that this bomb would be dropped on Tim and I probably would have read the book anyway because I love Tim, but it was a surprise that I wasn’t really pleased about at first. The baby story line really did take precedence, as it really would in someone’s life, but since I was expecting the romance to be the main story, I was really thrown off an with a topic that’s not something I usually gravitate towards, I was starting to doubt the book a little. Thankfully, Huntley Fitzpatrick handled everything expertly. I actually loved Tim’s relationship with Cal (the baby) and he had such a wonderful mix of confused, troubled teen and compassionate, wanting-to-be-responsible young adult. Tim’s experience with the baby really forced him to grow up quickly but I really loved that growth and development and how everything shaped up! I think Tim could have done that on his own but it was also really touching to see him take care of a child and really take on that responsibility head on.

The book was really great overall but it just didn’t quite meet my expectations and that seems to be the case with a lot of Huntley Fitzpatrick fans. I think MY LIFE NEXT DOOR set up an expectation of seeing a romance like Samantha and Jase’s — one that developed and continued despite a struggle in both of their lives — and the romance just plain didn’t have a spotlight in this book until the very end. While I enjoyed the whole book, it really did feel like it was missing something and I didn’t really get the Tim time that I was looking for because his time was so wrapped up taking care of someone else that I didn’t get to see him as much. He did grow immensely because of it but it was an entirely different feel and not one I expected.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: MacLeod Andrews
Performance: Love! But not my favorite of his — I think I love MacLeod more as the nerdy kid than the bad boy. Seems more appropriate to have a nerdy crush on him (on his voice?) than a bad boy appeal.

I love MacLeod Andrews and his narrations! I specifically seek out books that he narrates so I was so excited to hear that he voiced Tim for this one! His voice acting was just great and he does a wonderful job with Tim but I feel like maybe since I listened to more nerdy-cute characters in his voice first that I’ve fallen in love with those narrations and they feel more genuine in his voice than a bad boy character (although the very first one of his narrations I listened to was brooding merman so who knows).
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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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Tim // Character obsessions: Change, responsibility, Alice.
Tim really changes a lot in this book and tries to straighten out his life. I really liked how it wasn’t a total personality change though as he goes through this transformation. I love that he’s still snarky and a little bit of a bad boy at heart. I did wish for maybe a BIT more snarkiness from him since that was something I loved so much in previous books.
Alice // Character obsessions: Family, finances, school.
I felt like Alice was really different in this book than in MY LIFE NEXT DOOR… maybe I just hadn’t gotten to know her well enough then? She did feel really different to me for some reason and i really think a lot of it was that I was just missing so much of the banter between her and Tim.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books with children. Besides the whole baby thing, even young kids bother me in audiobooks. Usually the narrators aren’t very good with kid voices but I thought these worked out well! And I liked the family dynamic which doesn’t always work for me either.
Left Me Wanting More: Banter. A lot more serious things were going on in this book than in MLND but I really did miss that back and forth between Tim and Alice a LOT. It was one thing that really had me rooting for them and falling in love with them.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This book was really enjoyable — not in the way that I thought I would enjoy it but it was great nonetheless! I had hoped for something a little bit different but Huntley Fitzpatrick does such a great job with the serious and realistic contemporary!

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BOOKS LIKE THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO

(Click the cover to see my review!)

NANTUCKET BLUE    CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL

Just A Girl – Ellie Cahill

Just A Girl – Ellie CahillTitle: Just a Girl by Ellie Cahill, Liz Czukas
Publishing Info: June 21, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Netgalley
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 28, 2016
Related Posts: When Joss Met Matt, Call Me, Maybe, Throwing My Life Away, Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

After getting kicked out of her own band—by her own boyfriend—Presley Mason finds herself back in Wisconsin, helping her parents run their renowned music store. Instead of belting out powerhouse vocals to sold-out crowds in L.A., she’s stocking shelves and inspecting rental violins. But the shop isn’t all bad: When she’s vacuuming up late one night, she bumps into the guitar teacher with the smoldering amber eyes and the killer tattoo. And that’s when things take an interesting turn.
Presley soon finds that Paul Kellerman is as good in bed as he is on guitar. So why isn’t he stoked to share his band, Jukebox Bleu, with her? Turns out Paul has crippling stage fright, which he’s been self-medicating without much success. But when Jukebox Bleu’s lead singer gets called for military service, the other members beg Presley to front them. Even though she swore never to mix men with music again, the temptation to perform is almost as intense as her chemistry with Paul. Now Presley must decide what’s more important: a second chance at love . . . or rock stardom.

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I don’t read a ton of New Adult but I do have my favorite NA authors and Ellie Cahill is definitely one of them! I fell in love with her YA debut ASK AGAIN LATER and her NA debut WHEN JOSS MET MATT and every book from her since has been an insta-read for me. When I got approved to read an early copy of JUST A GIRL, I started almost immediately because I knew the book would be fun, flirty, and just the kind of romance I was in the mood for!

I really loved the music hook/theme throughout JUST A GIRL and it added such a fun and unique vibe. I love books that can really pull off a music scene because I’ve read several that involve music but JUST A GIRL is one of those books that really pulls you onto the scene and makes you feel like a part of the action! Ellie Cahill does an amazing job at establishing the musical settings, from music store to concert stage to practice rooms, and creating characters that wholly encompassed the feel as well. I’m always so impressed with an author who can really bring music to life in a book because I feel like that’s the hardest sense to evoke when reading and I was constantly able to make up songs in my head or identify with already-existing songs when referenced. I also really loved Presley’s playlists in between chapters based on what had just happened to her! They really added a little extra something to the book and they were so much fun, not to mention totally spot on.

As with any New Adult read, you expect romance and that is surely what you get in JUST A GIRL! The romance was cute, fun, and realistic. Presley ends up falling for a guitarist that teaches lessons at her parents’ music store and the two instantly hit it off. I actually really liked that Paul (the love interest) was a bit shy and found it refreshing to see some social anxieties in a male character instead of stereotypically finding in a female character. Presley is strong and confident, loving the stage and while Paul loves music, he has incredible stage fright that really prevents him from sharing his music in any way. I really enjoyed seeing the two characters work together in a romantic and mental sense and how they grew from getting to know each other. Their relationship was easy-going and yet meaningful as they both worked through their own issues to end up better people on the other side of this story. I really appreciated how realistic the whole book felt even with a sense of celebrity attached.

The whole book was just a fun and easy read. I loved getting swept away by the romance and again, the musical aspect was also just such a great touch. I was nearly done with the book and things were going so well that I almost forgot there had to be a big conflict! I was afraid of a little self-sabotage on Presley’s part but I really liked how the whole story ended up resolving and I thought it was a great conclusion without being too over-the-top happy ending. It was a very satisfying conclusion and very grounded.

Ellie Cahill (or Liz Czukas if you’re reading YA) is always such a delightful author to read! I love the levity to her books while still addressing serious issues. Any book of hers is an instant read for me and I’m always waiting for more! If you’re in the mood for some fun romances, her books are exactly what you need! 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!

just a girl ellie cahill

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Presley // Character Obsessions: Singing, performing, friendship, honesty.
Presley was a fun main character! She’s much more out-of-her-shell than I am so it was fun to have her take the lead in the story and I got to live vicariously through her a little! It was nice to see her have a little bit more of a confident and dominant personality over Paul and I kind of like that the stereotypical “norms” were flipped there.
Paul // Character Obsessions: Music, teaching, friendship, family.
Paul was a cute, boy-next-door-who-can-also-play-guitar type. He was a little bit edgy with his music a total softie and it was just adorable. I loved that sensitive side of him and that he had his own issues to work through that had nothing to do with relationship issues. It was great to see a different source of conflict and a thing to overcome that wasn’t a relationship hang-up.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Music in books. Gosh, it’s just so rare that music and a musical atmosphere really comes ALIVE when reading. I love how JUST A GIRL really made me feel like I was on the scene. I could totally picture everything!
Left Me Wanting More: Tender moments. There were plenty of swoony and sexy moments but I was hoping for just a teeeeensy bit more personal connection between Presley and Paul. Just a couple more cliche cutesy moments that didn’t relate to Paul’s anxiety would have sealed the swoon for me!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of any of Ellie Cahill’s books (well I guess this is the third NA so you only have two New Adult books to choose from so far…) then you need to grab JUST A GIRL! It’s fun, clever, and just a delight.

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BOOKS LIKE JUST A GIRL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

OPEN ROAD SUMMER    DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

Call Me, Maybe – Ellie Cahill

Call Me, Maybe – Ellie CahillTitle: Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill, Liz Czukas
Publishing Info: February 9, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Netgalley
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 21, 2015
Related Posts: When Joss Met Matt, Just a Girl, Throwing My Life Away, Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

Clementine Daly knows she’s the black sheep. Her wealthy, powerful family has watched her very closely since she almost got caught in an embarrassing scandal a few years ago. So when Clementine’s sent on a mission to live up to the Daly name, politely declining isn’t even an option. Of course, the last thing Clementine does before departure is grab a stranger’s phone by mistake—leaving the hunky journalist with her phone. Soon his sexy voice is on the line, but he doesn’t know her real name, or her famous pedigree—which is just the way Clementine likes it.
Despite all the hassles, Justin Mueller is intrigued to realize that the beautiful brown-eyed girl he met at the airport is suddenly at his fingertips. They agree to exchange phones when they’re both back in town, but after a week of flirty texts and wonderfully intimate conversations, Justin doesn’t want to let her go that easy. The only problem? It turns out that Clementine has been lying to him about, well, everything. Except for the one thing two people can’t fake, the only thing that matters: The heat between them is for real.

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I’m a huge fan of Liz Czukas’ YA novels and absolutely adored her first NA, WHEN JOSS MET MATT. When I heard about CALL ME MAYBE, I knew I had to get my hands on it quickly! Like all of her other novels, CALL ME MAYBE was a fun and quick read. It was also, however, the book of hers that I’ve had the most issues with to date.

CALL ME MAYBE started out incredibly cute. Readers get to know Clementine who seems just like the girl next door… if the girl next door’s family was filthy, filthy rich. Chaos and adorableness ensues when Clementine and mysterious hot stranger accidentally switch phones and end up making a connection while talking. The phone conversations were absolutely adorable and I was quickly falling in love with these two characters and their relationship! I loved how they got to know one another and since it’s New Adult, we got to dip more into the sexy side of flirting. Some of it actually really reminded me of text conversations I had while in college (well, maybe they weren’t sexy like that but the texts reminded me of my own) when I had all of the feelings for a new crush!

Fellow book bloggers might also love that Clementine is a book worm and blogger just like us! At first I was super thrilled because hey, she’s just like me! But as the story progressed, I sort of felt like I was reading something that I had written… but not really in a good way. Don’t get me wrong! This wasn’t the author’s fault, but I have a terribly, terribly bad habit of “writing what I know” aka, I fictionalize my own life when I run out of creative ideas when writing (seriously. This is why I’m a reader and not a writer) so it sort of started to feel like that for me. I also ended up having a hard time with Clem’s job choices and how easy/hard it was to find something in her field. Trust me — we as bloggers would love to write reviews and blog and get paid for it but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Some things just felt like they happened a little too easily since for me/us, the struggle is real.

My big hang-up, though, was that Clementine really ended up self-sabotaging and that was THE reason for conflict in the book. Things were going just fine until she started getting suspicious, jealous, and freaking out for honestly no reason at all. There really could have been some other conflict or maybe something more justifiable for her to freak out like she did but I really didn’t feel like her actions were warranted and that totally turned me off. I didn’t really feel sorry for her because any drama that happened, she really did it to herself.

I was so bummed that it started out so cute and really lost steam about halfway through. I just wanted so much more from this book considering WHEN JOSS MET MATT is still one of my favorite contemporary books and was easily a favorite from 2015. CALL ME, MAYBE just didn’t quite live up to its predecessor and was so sad that I didn’t fall in love with it.
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!

call me maybe gr updates

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Clementine // Character Obsessions: Reading, blogging, family, privacy. 
Oh, Clem. We hit it off so well and then you had to go and get all paranoid. It was really such a bummer because I was positively glowing at the beginning of the book and you can really see how quickly things changed for me by my updates. Such a shame that she had to get so insecure.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New adult. I don’t really read a lot of new adult but these books always remind me why I love the ones that I do. Though really, where was all of the good new adult sexy times in this?
Left Me Wanting More: Confidence. Clem didn’t have to be crazy confident but I would have appreciated something there that prevented her from getting so paranoid. That was really hard to watch and totally lost me.

Addiction Rating
Try it

The beginning was super cute and I loved where the book was headed. If insecurity doesn’t turn you off as much as it does for me, hopefully you won’t have a big issue! I just couldn’t look the other way.

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BOOKS LIKE CALL ME, MAYBE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT    THINGS I CAN'T EXPLAIN

Video Review: Things I Can’t Explain – Mitchell Kriegman

Video Review: Things I Can’t Explain – Mitchell KriegmanTitle: Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman
Publishing Info: November 10, 2015 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 17, 2015

A complete re-imagining of Clarissa Explains it All as 20-something Clarissa tries to navigate the unemployment line, mompreneurs and the collision of two people in love.
She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads.
After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers?
All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?
Things I Can't Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties.

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I’ve been working on my booktubing and decided to do a video review for THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN by Mitchell Kriegman! It’s a Clarissa Explains It All continuation in her new adult/adult life and… well, I’ll let the video do the talking! Check out my video review on YouTube!


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!

things i can't explain gr updates

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Clarissa // Character Obsessions: Fashion, job-hunting, journalism.
I mean, that’s pretty legit Clarissa right there. There were some total Clarissa moments and then… some totally where I just wasn’t making that connection. It was hard! It’s also so so so weird reading about Clarissa’s sex life!! Adult + Clarissa was hard to reconcile.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Nah nah nah nah nah! (That’s the Clarissa theme song. For those of you who now have it stuck in your head, welcome to my world!) This was one of my favorite shows of the 90s. Heck, it still is. I need a binge watch…
Left Me Wanting More: Original feel. I just didn’t quite connect to it like I wanted to. Half the time the character just didn’t even feel like Clarissa… but I think it was hard to read and not SEE.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This didn’t QUITE do it for me but… but… Clarissa! It was fun regardless and I think people will have fun reading it. I was hoping for more of that Clarissa feel so I didn’t rate it as high as I wanted to but I think people will still definitely enjoy it!

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BOOKS LIKE THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ATTACHMENTS    WHEN JOSS MET MATT

When Joss Met Matt – Ellie Cahill

When Joss Met Matt – Ellie CahillTitle: When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill, Liz Czukas
Publishing Info: February 24, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Edelweiss, Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 5, 2014
Related Posts: Call Me, Maybe, Just a Girl, Throwing My Life Away, Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

    Ellie Cahill is poised to coin the term “sorbet sex” with her charming twist on the age-old ‘friends-with-benefits’ story.
    Dating can be fun, but it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. For Joss, ever since her longtime boyfriend cheated on her, she doesn’t want her last memory of a guy to be that jerk. Enter her college friend, Matt. They come up with a theory: after a bad break-up, a person needs to cleanse the palate with a little sorbet sex. Lovers for a night, but always back to being friends in the morning. The two can handle it because they have a contract: rules they wrote, rules they follow and rules they can sometimes bend. The arrangement works: everyone needs a little sorbet now and again … until it starts to be the only thing you want. And then Joss breaks the one rule they never wrote down: don’t fall in love.

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I love Liz Czukas (sorry, I mean Ellie Cahill *wink*) and so I knew I would love WHEN JOSS MET MATT but I didn’t realize how MUCH I would love it. Her debut novel, ASK AGAIN LATER, totally won me over but WHEN JOSS MET MATT had me totally falling head over heels for these characters, the story, and how much I connected with absolutely everything (and I already have it pre-ordered).

WHEN JOSS MET MATT is everything I want New Adult to be. Always. We first meet the two during Joss’s first years of college and when a good relationship goes bad, she leans more and more on her new friend Matt who also helped her coin the new idea of “sorbet sex” (having sex with someone else after a bad encounter to wipe the slate clean). I’m not shy around sex in books but there are quite a few times in the new adult books that I’ve read that the sex scenes become tawdry and over-the-top and unrealistic, so although there is plenty of sex in WHEN JOSS MET MATT (hey, that is the whole concept of the book…), it never felt silly or awkward to read (well, except when it was supposed to be)!

The characters were fantastic too. I LOVE Joss and have been in her shoes so many times. I just really connected and although I may not have been in the exact same predicaments, everything was just so incredibly relatable no matter what it was. She and Matt are both just totally normal people. No one is over the top sexy or hunky but there’s enough attraction between the two to flirt with that line of best friends vs something more (MY FAV) and see how the two end up.

Books with flashbacks/flashforwards are often “take it or leave it” for me but I loved the back and forth in WHEN JOSS MET MATT. We start to get to know Joss & Matt in college but the story constantly flashes back and forth between their past and their present day (which also made me VERY NERVOUS but in a good way). It takes a great author to really make those scenes fit together plot-wise even though they’re not chronological and I love the way Ellie Cahill handled them.

But really my favorite part was just the overall feel. I loved that it took place in Wisconsin since I’m from Illinois (and one scene in Chicago!) and I felt that Midwestern vibe, which may not be much different than any other setting, but it really helps me connect that much more. Everyone is very down-to-earth and the situations these two ended up in felt like they could happen to me — or HAVE happened to me. The book was funny yet serious, sexy and sweet, and I absolutely love love loved the ending. If you’re not a fan of new adult, PLEASE try this book! I absolutely adored it and it’s one that I think could easily appeal to YA, new adult, and adult fiction lovers alike.

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!

When Joss Met Matt reading updates

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Joss // Character Obsessions: Friendships, her job, her cat, Matt, sexy underwear.
Joss is just your girl next door. And I absolutely loved her for that. She’s not what you’d necessarily define as traditionally beautiful but she’s still a normal-looking girl and has a normal life. I loved her little quirks — especially her love for sexy underwear (because let’s be honest. It makes us all feel super sexy even if no one sees it) — and I just totally clicked with her. She has a great sense of humor and may say a little TOO much sometimes but I loved that she reminded me of a combination of both myself and a few of my friends.
Matt // Character Obsessions: Family, friendship, dating, Joss.
OH MATT. I loved him. He was a great best friend, so funny, so nice, and yet still a “typical” guy. He was so funny and had really great chemistry with Joss. Also infuriating at times, but hey, that’s what happens with both guy best friends and when you’re interested in your guy best friend. I just loved how relatable he seemed as well!

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult. YAYYYY this is what I want all new adult to be! I know the “typical” thought about NA is that it’s sexed up and well… this definitely has a lot of sex in it but it isn’t overly-explicit and I really think that extends its appeal to so many more readers. It’s not just a romance novel — it’s so much more.
Left Me Wanting More: Of this book! I didn’t want it to end. I just loved every second of this book and it was so, so perfect.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

No, seriously. BUY THIS BOOK. If you’re a fan of YA or NA or Adult contemporary, you should definitely read this. And buy it. And hug it. I loved it!

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BOOKS LIKE WHEN JOSS MET MATT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT      JUST ONE DAY

Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler: Review, Interview, and Giveaway!

Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler: Review, Interview, and Giveaway!Title: Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
Publishing Info: December 9, 2014 by Dahlia Adler
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 30, 2014

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.
    But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.
    Until he does.
    Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.
    Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

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Pretty much every since college, I’ve been looking for a book that incorporates a college atmosphere. I fell in love with young adult, but I was still craving those books that reminded me of my college years and there just weren’t that many out there. With the emergence of the “new adult” category, I got very excited but upon sampling a few selections, none of them really did it for me. Yes, many more sexy times happen in college than in high school but I didn’t want to read just a romance novel in a younger package than it usually is.

Then came this year. I swore off new adult for a while (unless it leaned heavily towards the young adult side), not wanting to try another one unless I really felt confident that I would enjoy it. I saw that Dahlia Adler had a new adult book coming out and because I love her so (and was genuinely interested), I immediately jumped on the chance to read, review, and promote. I finished LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT in a single day because I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely loved it and it really was the perfect new adult for me.

The thing I’ve been craving the most in new adult — the college feel — was very much a part of the book and almost all of it takes place while Lizzie is at college at Radleigh University. I just love the campus feel and the change-up from roaming the halls of a high school to dorms and quads and lecture halls. Throw in a hot YA (hey, I’m sure a lot of us had a hot teacher/TA in college) and things just got even more interesting!

From the very first few pages, the emotions were running high. From a string of “big mistakes” to an all-time low, Lizzie Brandt was already have a terrible year and things just started piling on after her parents’ death. I really just loved how realistic her reactions to everything were. Lizzie is very protective of her brothers and immediately starts planning what she can do to keep the rest of her family together but she’s not totally un-selfish either which I liked. Of course she wants to do the best thing for her brothers but she’s also still in college and has a lot of her own life to live. Everything gets turned upside for her so quickly and it’s incredibly difficult to manage.

I really loved how everything was handled with the story line too. I’m sure some people are thinking, “Student relationship with a TA? No way.” Because in any other book, I’d be hesitant about it too. The relationship between Lizzie and Connor felt totally natural and I wasn’t quite sure exactly how that relationship would start. Despite the natural hesitance about the two getting involved (hey, they had qualms of their own, of course!), I was always rooting for them to make it work somehow. I absolutely love Connor and yes, it was infuriating and scary at times watching this romance pan out for Lizzie, but boy did I want those two together! Everything really fell into place as the story progressed and I think Dahlia Adler totally hit the nail on the head with this pairing and how the entire conflict was handled.

I KNOW you’re wondering, “But what about the sexy parts?!” WHEW, BOY, you guys. Yes, there are sexy parts. Lots of them. And GOOD ONES. I’m not a romance reader (just contemporary where things tend to not get as steamy) but things got hot and heavy in LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT and I loved it. (Also holding my Kindle away from my husband so he didn’t read over my shoulder during the more detailed scenes because I was blushing). I thought the characters had great chemistry and yep. I’ll admit it. I totally had a thing for Connor too.

For someone who’s been hesitant about new adult for so long, I’m so happy that LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT started to bring me back towards this category of books. This book was utterly addicting and so much fun to read. I finished and immediately wanted more! If you’re on the fence about new adult, DEFINITELY try this book! It’s one I will be highly recommending!

view_from_goodreads1

“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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 BUY IT!

I absolutely devoured this book and I highly recommend it! If you’re hesitant about new adult, this is one to try! It has a great college feel, a steamy romance, and awesome characters.

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BOOKS LIKE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

when joss met matt      the sea of tranquility


INTERVIEW WITH DAHLIA ADLER

I also got to interview the wonderful Dahlia Adler about her new release (on sale now!) and it was so much fun to find out a little more background on the book! Check out the interview below to see more about Dahlia’s experience with new adult, LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, writing, and more!

Brittany: I’ve really been looking for a new adult book that incorporates the college experience a lot into the story and so happy that it was such a big part of Last Will and Testament! Was their a lot of your own college experience in the book?
Dahlia Adler: Yes and no! I chose Byzantine History, honestly, because it was my college class with the hottest professor, and Lizzie takes Russian because it was my favorite class in college. Even Stats was taken from my own syllabus. I certainly didn’t hook up with any TAs, and I didn’t go to any frat parties (the Greek system was kinda meh at my school), but I also had a really rough time in college when my dad was diagnosed with cancer (see Behind the Scenes), so the parts about needing to beg some teacher patience and miss class because being in the hospital came first were definitely part of my experience.

B: Your debut novel Behind the Scenes was a young adult novel and you have a companion YA novel — Under the Lights — out in 2015. Was Last Will and Testament something that just came to you or a specific choice to write in a “new adult setting”?
DA: Last Will and Testament came to me very specifically, based on a conversation with a friend. Somehow it came up that her parents set her up to be the guardian of her younger brothers when she turned 18, even though she was going to college in upstate NY, which is hours away from her home, and I just knew there was a book in it. I wrote the first chapter quickly, but then set it aside to work on YA. But as soon as I hit some roadblocks in the YA side of my career, I knew I needed to write something else, for myself and potentially to self-pub, and I immediately picked LWaT back up.

B: I feel like new adult books still have a little bit of a stigma for being over-sexed or romance novels in a younger package. Was there anything you intentionally wanted to include or avoid in Last Will and Testament based on the current generalizations towards the new adult category?
DA: I’m not someone who shies away from writing sex, or who has a problem with there being a prevalence of sex in NA – it is a lot of the adolescent and college experience, whether or not you’re having it. What bothers me about sex in NA, often, is A) romance novel terminology that doesn’t sound anything like how people actually talk and think, and more importantly B) perfect fantasy sex. I don’t use phrasing like “his length,” so that didn’t require intent from me, but having sex scenes in which they don’t both finish was very intentional. Because that’s sex sometimes!
Also, Lizzie’s someone who is unabashedly sexually active, as are her friends, albeit to varying degrees. There is no slut-shaming, no virgin-shaming, and no magic manparts; Connor isn’t the man who taught her how great sex can be. All those things were important to me to show as well.

B: Were there any particular hardships about publishing LWaT? Was it more difficult because of content or age range?
DA: Honestly, nothing but my own know-how limitations. I write YA on the upper end anyway, so it’s not a huge content jump for me, and I had so many people graciously answer my questions and help point me in the right directions. I did hire people for more than I thought I would, and I’m glad for it. I’d rather focus my energies on the things I’m good at and learn fewer things well.

B: Who was your favorite character to write in LWAT and why? (Personally, I hope it’s Connor. Yum!)
DA: Haha alas, it’s Lizzie, though Connor was a lot of fun too. I just really enjoy writing irreverence. And arguing.

B: With the topic of a student dating a TA, I had a few guesses at what might happen in the end (though I was still surprised!)… No spoilers of course, but did you always know how LWaT was going to wrap up or did you go through a few possibilities?
DA: Oh, no, I definitely did not. In fact, that ending now is about 10K words longer than it was when it went to my first betas. I know not everyone is going to love the way that things play out, but when I finally finished the ending that it is now, I knew it was the truest way things would’ve happened for these characters.

B: Do you have any habits or rituals that help you throughout the writing journey?
DA: Writing sprints are hugely instrumental to me on days it’s just not coming naturally; god bless Twitter and writer friends.

B: If you could pick one of your characters to hang out with for a day, who would you pick and what would you do?
DA: From any book? Probably Vanessa. I feel like she’d be a lot of fun to just walk around the Grove with, and definitely to go shopping with, and then end the day in front of the TV. I’m lazy – those are all my aspirations.

B: I love your “rec-ing ball” posts and tweets — recommending books is one of my favorite parts about being a reader & blogger! (This may be an evil question but) which books do you recommend that most?
DA: Oh man…I rec a lot! I think the books I’m most known for rec-ing are probably Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, Unteachable by Leah Raeder, and OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. Possibly Deeper by Robin York? My rec-ing for Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St. John Brown has gone a little quieter, but I’m working on picking that up; that’s a little sleeper NA I’ve gotten extremely good rec response to. And of course, I push my CPs’ and accountabilibuddy’s books as much as humanly possible, and love them all – The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca, and Sekret and Skandal by Lindsay Smith!

A BIG BIG thank you again to Dahlia Adler for this wonderful interview and the opportunity to read LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT early! I loved it so much and want people to read it that I’m also doing a giveaway! Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win an ebook version of LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT! (This will be a Kindle or Nook version, depending on what the winner has for an ereader.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Novella Mini-Review: Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) – Gayle Forman

Novella Mini-Review: Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) – Gayle FormanTitle: Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: May 29, 2014 by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 4, 2014
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), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

After spending one life-changing day in Paris with laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter, sheltered American good girl Allyson “Lulu” Healey discovered her new lover had disappeared without a trace. Just One Day followed Allyson’s quest to reunite with Willem; Just One Year chronicled the pair’s year apart from Willem’s perspective. Now, back together at last, this delectable e-novella reveals the couple’s final chapter.

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I’m sorry, Gayle. I know. I know you completed JUST ONE YEAR exactly how you wanted it, and exactly how you meant to end it… but for the love of all that is sacred in the world, THANK YOU for giving us JUST ONE NIGHT.

JUST ONE NIGHT was just what I needed. If only… if only this little bit really could have been at the end of JUST ONE YEAR. I really didn’t need much. Just a few sentences. Just the catching up. Just the tiny bit of closure and thank goodness Gayle gave us JUST ONE NIGHT. My only regret is that it wasn’t at the end of JOY because the fact that it ended so abruptly honestly made me a bit ragey and a bit sad. It did affect me overall opinion of that book so my only regret is that we didn’t get this closure at the same time.

As a novella, JUST ONE NIGHT was a breath of fresh air… Or rather, the giant breath all of us were holding in waiting for the resolution of Willem and Allyson’s story and the hint at their futures. It felt a bit odd to be in third person since the books were in first person (they were, right?) but I definitely understand the reasoning since we kept switching back and forth between Willem and Allyson for the novella. We had to get everything in and all at once so the dual POVs in third person were sort of necessary so the reader didn’t have to constantly flip-flop back and forth between POVs. Sometimes it just switched on a dime and that would have just been a headache!

The best part? (Aside from the closure…) Revisiting these characters I thought I had said goodbye to. And seeing more of the secondary characters. AND seeing the stories line up again. And Willem and Allyson finally talking about all of their “almosts” that absolutely killed me in JUST ONE YEAR. (Okay, okay, I had a lot of “best parts”.)

Anyway. As you can see, I just NEEDED this novella, so thank you to Gayle who made this happen! I think all of us readers can sleep a little bit easier after JUST ONE NIGHT.

Something Like Normal – Trish Doller

Something Like Normal – Trish DollerTitle: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publishing Info: June 19, 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 28, 2014
Related Posts: The Devil You Know

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

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The very first thing I’ll say about SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL is that I had NO idea it was from Travis’s point of view when I first started it. I’m actually mildly upset that the cover (which I really like) focuses on a girl because that automatically leads you to believe it’s from a female’s point of view. Obviously how I feel about the cover has no impact about how I felt about the book, but something that irritated me a little nonetheless.

Okay! So onto the actual review — I really enjoyed SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL more than I thought I would. I usually don’t pick up books with military themes simply because it’s not something I often relate to, not really personally knowing anyone in the military and let’s be honest — it’s not like the military is a bed of roses. When I’m in the mood for a contemporary novel, I’m usually swinging towards light and fluffy so those just tend to be the books I pick up first. I was in need of a new audiobook so I purchased the Whispersync companion for the ebook I had purchased last year and this one instantly drew me in and I’m so glad I chose it!

SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL was not what I was expecting. In a good way. You know I’m totally loving male POVs in YA right now (although, this would be considered more New Adult, I think?) and so I really loved being able to feel those emotions as Travis was feeling them and his perspective was just so powerful. It was so interesting to be in his shoes and see how much different his life has been since he’s been in the military and the decisions that had brought him there in the first place.

This is definitely a book that was heavy on the emotions and I really appreciated that. I love when I’m able to really be in a character’s head (which I very much was with Travis) and that allows me to really feel everything as I’m reading. There were times I wanted to throttle him, times I wanted to hug him, and times where I wanted to both laugh and cry. I really connected with him and just felt so conflicted about everything that was going on in his life — he doesn’t have it easy with his family and being away, while that meant temporary escape, didn’t solve all of his problems. He isn’t sure what to do about his romantic life, especially when he’s leaving again in such a short time span. And he’s also mourning the loss of one of his best friends Charlie, who he lost in Afghanistan and was more like a brother to him than his own brother was.

I think what I liked the most about the book was that it just felt so realistic. Even when Travis came home, his family issues were still right where he left them except things had actually compounded and even gotten worse in his absence because he wasn’t there to address them. His past comes back to haunt him, just like anyone else, and that affects both his family life as well as his romantic life between his ex-girlfriend who still hangs around (and is actually dating his brother) and new romantic interest Harper.

The romantic aspect of this book was fantastic. I loved how cautious the relationship was between Harper and Travis and yet how easily everything seemed to fit and how casual it became. I loved that nothing was rushed, as it shouldn’t have been, even though Travis was only back home for a short period of time. They really just felt like they fit and even though they had their own personal demons to overcome to make it work as well as one big demon that was actually a major conflict between the two of them from their pasts, it just all felt like it was meant to work out.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would connect with this book but the emotional aspect really brought me into the story and didn’t let go. I was totally hooked and for an audiobook, I finished pretty quickly (granted, it was also a shorted book too). I didn’t like it as much as others loved it but I still had a very solid amount of praise for this book and it definitely opens up that emotion-portal that really allows readers to totally fall in love with the characters!

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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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Travis // Character Obsessions: Charlie, Afghanistan, family issues, Harper.
I’m so glad I got to read this book from Travis’s perspective. I really got to see everything he was seeing and feel everything he was feeling (which is a LOT). I haven’t really read many books that involve military aspects so it was incredibly interesting to hear all of that from Travis and it was just so darn emotional and even hard to read sometimes. (Not in a bad way.) It’s incredible that people have to deal with war and PTSD and such incredible amounts of pain and constant reminders. It really made me appreciate that just a little bit more.
Harper // Character Obsessions: Work, marine biology.
I loved Harper. I’m so glad she was a part of this story and became a part of Travis’s life. She seemed like a real “take charge” kind of girl but also allowed for opportunities to present themselves. I like how she was able to open up to Travis even though they didn’t have the best experiences together in the past. Thank goodness she allowed for second chances!

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Kept Me Hooked On: More serious contemporary. I usually opt for fluffy, light, and more rom-com feel contemporary when I’m in the mood for it so whenever I pick up a more serious contemp book and I have a positive experience with it, it just pushes that door open just a little bit more!
Left Me Wanting More: I really can’t say… You know, I didn’t really feel like anything was missing. I felt like this book was VERY well done and the only reason I wasn’t over the moon for it was really more of a topic-issue, so to speak. It’s not something I usually pick up or usually read but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great! There was a great mix of serious as well as comedy and lighter times mixed in between.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I’m so glad I picked this up because without the glowing praise from other bloggers, I probably wouldn’t have. Not my typical read but it was very emotional and extremely well written!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

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