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Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul KruegerTitle: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Publishing Info: June 7, 201 by Quirk Books
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 23, 2016

A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.
College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

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I immediately jumped on the chance to read LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE after seeing it in Shelf Awareness and at BEA 2016. Quirk Books asked me to be a part of the blog tour and with a description that calls it “Harry Potter for adults,” naturally I couldn’t refuse. I was also anxious to check out the new adult/adult feel of the book and watch magic and mixology collide!

What I loved the most about this book was the magic of mixology. There’s a magical underground where bartenders are the keepers of the paranormal and mixing just the perfect drink provides them with special powers in the form of some sort of physical or mental strength. I really, really loved this concept because it was something that I’ve truly never seen before. I loved the unique magical system and how there was a real structure for each power that the drink endowed. The type of liquor determined whether an ability was mental or physical and the various ingredients affected, enhanced, or shaped that overall idea. It was so neat and really well done! The only thing was that it was so well structured that I would loved to have had more details on each drink like maybe some sort of chart, or even just spent more time really getting into what each cocktail did. Most of them were mentioned as the characters were using them but I would have loved a little lesson within the book breaking things down even more. It’s the fantasy-nerd and school-nerd in me! If there happened to be a sequel (which I’d totally read), I’d love for even more detail!

I really enjoyed the tone of the book as well! It was quite entertaining and maintained a lighter tone with characters who made bad jokes, silly puns, fun atmosphere, and a just a really great cast. The terrors were dark but the feeling was light and I really love that sort of feel in an urban fantasy sort of setting. The book wasn’t terribly long but it was easy reading that also made it breeze by!

I think overall, LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE could have used a little “more” — a little more background, a little more detail, a little more plot, a little more romance — but despite that, I really did enjoy it! It was still a solid read but if there’s ever a sequel for some random reason, I’d love to see more development come in book two. I guess that means I just have to check out future works from Paul Krueger, which I am definitely interested in doing! 
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!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mixology. I’m not a cocktail girl (I’m a beer girl)  but I loved the involvement of alcohol as a magical element in this book. It was just so much fun and so original!
Left Me Wanting More: Magical details. When it comes down to it, I just really wanted more details on the magic system. I’m nerdy like that and would have loved some sort of chart or a more detailed lesson in the book because it was so cool and I thought it totally deserved some more page time!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This book was just a lot of fun and if you’re up for something not YA and pretty original, you should really check this one out!

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BOOKS LIKE LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WHITE CAT    HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER

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 // Goodreads
Date 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 // Goodreads
Date 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)

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 // Goodreads
Date 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 // Goodreads
Date 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 // Goodreads
Date 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).
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!

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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

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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** Warning: This is NOT a spoiler-free review like I usually write. I won’t give away twists from the very end but I WILL be discussing things that happened throughout the beginning and middle of the book! **

I was pleasantly surprised when I read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES last year because going into it, I knew it was a story with a strong fae presence. By this point in time in my reading career, I wasn’t new to fantasy but I was still a bit picky about what sort of fantasy I liked and fae did not fall into that category of selected themes… But knowing how much I loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series and the fae presence there, I dove into ACOTAR and loved it! It had a bit of a BREAKING DAWN ending so I wasn’t quite sure where the second book would go but naturally I had very, very high hopes for it since I hadn’t been let down by a Maas book yet!

I won’t sugar coat it — it actually took me a really long time to get into the swing of this book. I was enjoying the plot but the beginning felt so incredibly dramatic and I just didn’t feel like things were moving forward. There was a lot of time spent on Feyre’s PTSD from her time Under the Mountain and I absolutely understand and don’t think that her traumatic experience should be just brushed over. I do felt like there was too much time dwelling on it though. ACOMAF isn’t a short book and I think some pages could have been saved and still gotten the point across throughout a few sections in the beginning. If the book were more character-based instead of plot-driven, it might have been more appropriate but the plot really seemed to suffer because of this and this isn’t the first time I felt this way in a Maas book either. I understand that these characters have gone through something that truly does change them but I felt like I was reading about totally different characters when I started ACOMAF. Feyre and Tamlin were just not themselves and I think had ACOTAR ended with a bit more of this shadow or if it had slowly creeped in throughout ACOMAF, it wouldn’t have been as much of a surprise. I just really felt like I was thrown into a totally new environment and it was really hard for me to adjust to, especially since I had read ACOTAR over a year before I got to start ACOMAF.

I continued to have issues with Feyre throughout the book. I don’t know why but she was just really bothering me. Instead of snarky, witty comebacks, I felt like everything with her was taken as an insult and she was constantly being defensive and kind of hated everyone. It was really hard to watch her interact with characters and I started to latch onto new (or new-to-the-spotlight) characters like Rhysand and his gang. It did make me extra thankful for Rhys coming onto the scene and shaking things up, though! The interactions between Feyre and Tamlin were just unbearable and painful to read. Then I ended up on the flip side where although I didn’t want Feyre and Tamlin to still be together, I also felt really weird that Tamlin was almost totally absent from this book. He was there in the beginning and I won’t speak of the ending but this book was straight up about Feyre and Rhysand and it almost felt like a waste that we spent all that time building up a romance between Feyre and Tamlin in ACOTAR to have it totally change. I absolutely love where it went but it’s confusing to understand why the Feyre/Tamlin romance was so important and developed in ACOTAR and why Rhysand wasn’t more of a main character throughout that courtship to really get his foot even more in the door.

I’ve followed the romances in Sarah J. Maas’ books quite well, I think, considering they’re not always simple and straightforward. I know some people who have issues with love triangles or already have their OTPs with the first love interest really have trouble moving with the characters as they fall out of love or move from one interest to realize that their true match is someone else and I feel like I’ve followed along with that fairly easily. I can see where people feel like the romance in ACOMAF is a love triangle and I guess to a certain extent it is, but Feyre also does not have interest in both men at the same time. It is quite complicated though so if you’re sensitive about triangles, you almost definitely won’t like the romance.

I personally loved the development of Rhysand as a love interest, especially once Feyre really started to struggle with Tamlin. I found it telling that at the hardest points in their lives, Feyre and Tamlin drifted apart and just couldn’t find a way to even communicate instead of being able to rely on one another and get through a hard time together. That doesn’t always mean that you shouldn’t be with someone but in the case of story telling, it’s a pretty big sign that the main character isn’t where they should be. I’ve heard this complaint from other Maas readers but this is the first of her books where I really felt like the romance started to take over the book. While I did love the new Rhysand/Feyre development, I felt like there was a lot of back and forth between them before anything major (finally) happened and that could have been cut down to some more meaningful interactions instead of repetitive, similar situations that happened more than a few times throughout the course of the story. Their romance actually is a very important part of the plot so it’s not like I wanted it to be downplayed but I just felt like so many points of the large general story were pushed aside to develop the romantic moments and it started to turn more romance story than epic fantasy — and yes, there are some cheesy romance book-worthy moments. Let’s just say this is NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK, friends. There are some very explicit scenes so if you have teens or are directing/teaching teens who are reading this series, you may not want to put this book directly into their hands. (Not that I’m saying censor them but. Ya know. Read it first so you know what you’re giving them.)

The sections where the plot progressed were really quite delightful. Sarah J. Maas is still a master at layering stories and it’s so interesting to see how much of a previous book comes back in a different light in a subsequent book. There were so many moments that the reader is able to recognize from ACOMAF and see from a different character’s perspective or reassess it with more information and it makes the story that much deeper! Once things started to really take off around halfway through and a little thereafter, the book was simply addicting and I couldn’t wait to see where the entire plot of the series was going! Sarah really does have an amazing ability to craft an overall series arc and it’s so fun to watch that develop. The ending positively floored me and it was hard to remember why I had been so frustrated for a while throughout earlier sections of the book. So many things were revealed, actions taken, and trusts betrayed that I just really didn’t know what was coming. The twists and surprises were epic and once again, I was left in utter anticipation of the next book!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Performance: Very good! I might not seek out more narrations from her but I did like her narrator of ACOMAF.

Jennifer Ikeda was a great narrator for Feyre! I think her demeanor really worked well with the character (or she adapted her demeanor very well to Feyre’s tone) and she was great with the quips and sass and rudeness. There were times I wasn’t totally into her narration but overall she was very good. I’m not sure if I’d seek her out but if there was another book I wanted to listen to, I’d definitely listen to her again.
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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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Feyre // Character obsessions: Freedom, Rhysand, independence.
Feyre was just so hard to get along with throughout the beginning of the book. I remember significantly noting that I liked how she was strong and fierce but her character did NOT feel like Celaena from Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Once Feyre started to heal and move past her PTSD, she was understandably hardened from it but then she absolutely started to feel like the same character as Celaena and I was a bit disappointed. That essence that made her feel different was gone and I loved the badassery but and took that over the weird, rough Feyre that I couldn’t get a hold on.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult non-contemporary. Most of the New Adult books I read (when I do read them) are of the contemporary romance variety due to that being the main market for NA. It’s interesting to read New Adult as a fantasy! I guess it’s not really that much different than YA or Adult fantasy but it feels so much different when actually classifying it as such!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus on the plot. I’ll tell ya. I was really missing the plot in the beginning. The beginning and middle were quite character-focused which I don’t have an issue with… when I’m not expecting the book to be plot-driven. It really took me a while to adjust.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

The ending was just fantastic and really kind of made up for the rocky times I had in the beginning. If we have similar reading tastes, just beware of possibly having the same issues here!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE WINNER'S KISS    shadow and bone

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 // Goodreads
Date 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 // Goodreads
Date 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.
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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!

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 // Goodreads
Date 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

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 25, 2014
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

     When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
    As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
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2014 was the year I became a Sarah J. Maas fan. Yes, I was a bit late to the game but I devoured the first three books in her debut Throne of Glass series and that made me even more excited for her new series releasing in the spring of 2015, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Thankfully, I got to read the first book in the series (of the same name) early. VERY early. In December, in fact, which I’m almost positive is the earliest I’ve ever read a book before it was published but I just knew I had to read it as soon as possible and I was definitely not wrong about this! A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is a book you will want to read as soon as you can get your hands on it because it certainly did not disappoint!

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is described as “a blending of Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore” and that’s a pretty accurate description — but what I loved the most about the book is that the Beauty and the Beast hints are very subtle. There are moments that definitely reminded me of the fairy tale (and even other fairy tales as well) but ACOTAR was very much its own story. Blending is absolutely the perfect word. It’s not a retelling and I suppose it could be described as a loose adaptation or interpretation but ACOTAR is absolutely unique, thrilling, and  mysterious.

For those of you who have known me for a long time, you know I NEVER used to like faerie stories. In fact, I actively avoided them, convinced faeries were just one thing I would never get along with as far as my fiction went but Sarah J. Maas not only made me excited about picking up a book about fae but absolutely had me falling in love with it. I think for me, part of the reason why it stuck was that Feyre — the heroine of the book — was not fae herself. After crossing the High Fae that rule the lands to the north, she avoids punishment by death by going to live with with the Prince of the Spring Court (see the subtle Beauty and the Beast feel there?) and the readers along with Feyre discover the mysteries and politics of the fae little by little. I really feel like the human aspect really kept me linked to the story whereas if there had been no human characters and only fae, I might not have had the same reaction.

The characters in this book were just phenomenal and the dynamic between each and every one of them was fantastic. Each character is so carefully crafted and it was fascinating to see just how entwined all of their stories were. I loved watching those connections unfold and how each new piece of the puzzle affected the friendships and relationships between each character and Feyre as well as amongst the rest of the cast. Each relationship is utterly unique, special, and important and these characters really just brought the book to life.

The overall plot of the book was just wonderful as well. The action picked up and slowed down at just the right times. There was plenty of time for world building while we were learning about characters and even throughout action scenes. Sarah J. Maas is a master at layering plots and outlining an overall series (as I’ve learned from her Throne of Glass series which is only on book three out of six and I’m already incredibly impressed) so with what I’ve already learned from one volume of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m already highly anticipating what else we will get to learn and what else will be built upon the things we’ve learned from the first book.

Every reveal feels perfectly timed. Every action scene feels perfectly choreographed. Every character feels utterly real. The romance aspects just made me melt and the struggle felt REAL. The forbidden romance aspect really heats things up and also brings tension levels too an all-time high. It stressed me out but also those moments where things finally fall into place — even if only for a second — give you just the best feeling in the world.

I just love how Sarah’s writing grows with each book she writes and I look forward to reading every single one of her works in the future. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES was absolutely delightful to read (agony and all) and I’m so glad I didn’t wait as long as I had to start Throne of Glass. I won’t make that mistake any more! This book deserves all of the praise and hype that it’s getting and I think it appeals to a wide range of readers — from YA to adult, fantasy to romance — A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES really has it all.

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!

A Court of Thorns and Roses updates

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Feyre // Character Obsessions: Her family, her vow, duty, love, freedom.
Feyre is another fantastically strong character from Sarah J. Maas and it’s wonderful to see the same confidence and strength that Celaena possesses but to be able to see the two heroines from each series as totally separate characters. I feel like too often it’s easy to compare characters from different series when they possess some of the same traits, but Feyre was definitely not Celaena 2.0 — she definitely had the strength and attitude to rival Celaena but she always felt 100% unique.
Lucien // Character Obsessions: Friendship, loyalty, bravery, passion.
I know that Tamlin is the main interest here but I absolutely LOVED Lucien. Tamlin was definitely a bit more broody and serious (which don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed) but I immediately latched on to Lucien’s snark and attitude. He was SO much fun and I loved how protective he was of Tamlin too. It was totally a great bromance between these two men and I really, really loved their friendship. I also loved Lucien’s character development throughout the book and how his interactions with each character evolved. Gah. I just loved him.
Rhysand // Character Obsessions: Amarantha, the Night Court, tricks, secrets.
Okay, Rhysand HAS to be mentioned because I actually kind of loved him too. I definitely had a love/hate relationship with him… except for that fact that I didn’t really hate him and actually loved him. But you WANT to kind of hate him. He’s a very complicated and complex character and along with Rhysand himself toying with Feyre, the pondering about his character and his actual place in the story sort of messes with you too. There was just something about him that was so appealing but also kind of made you want to hate him… So naturally I loved the conflict!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Faeries. I am NOT a fae person like at all… But I just totally click with Sarah’s stories and actually get EXCITED for books about faeries and THAT is something pretty magical.
Left Me Wanting More: X factor. Okay, I don’t even know what that means. But I don’t know how else to describe it! I LOVED everything about this book but there was just a teeny tiny bit of something that wasn’t quite five stars but it was honestly 4.5 stars to 4.75!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

This is definitely a book and series that you want to start! I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait to read more of this series. I’m so impressed by Sarah J. Maas’ writing and I am totally a big, big fan. Definitely an auto-buy author for me!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        SHADOW AND BONE   daughter of smoke and bone

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 // Goodreads
Date 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