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Bad Romance – Heather Demetrios

Bad Romance – Heather DemetriosTitle: Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 29, 2017
Related Posts: I'll Meet You There

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

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BAD ROMANCE was such a hard book to read but in such a good way. I haven’t read too many books that deal with the inside of a bad relationship but I think Heather Demetrios really captured all of the emotions, twists, and tangles that are involved in being trapped in a “bad romance”. Her experience with the matter really helped dig in to those dark corners and create such a realistic picture of this situation.

I wouldn’t say that it was enjoyable to read BAD ROMANCE because it’s so hard to read about these tough situations that make you cringe and cry and want to shake a main character… but in a way that made me feel for Grace, but in frustration for how stuck she feels and how other people are taking advantage of that vulnerability. Grace is stuck in her life at home and is just waiting for the day when she can move out and go off to college. Her mother suffers from OCD (which is not stated outright but more and more is revealed along the way) and things have gotten so bad with her mental state that she’s dependent on Grace’s step-father who uses all of that to his advantage. Both her mother and step-father continue to keep Grace under their thumb so when popular guy and long-time-crush Gavin starts to show interest in Grace, even after a suicide attempt, Grace can’t help but fall head over heels for someone who finally shows her some positive attention.

The book starts with Grace sort of telling a story to Gavin himself. The usage of the second-person narrative, essentially telling the story back to Gavin like it’s a narrative straight to him, created such a personal and tense connection and sets the story up for the devastation that is to come. The reader knows from the beginning that this will not end well, and the tension is set up right away so even though you see Grace falling for someone who seems so good to her at first, the reader knows it will not end well, and I just had that sinking feeling in my stomach. Things start off well  but there are also immediate signs of what’s to come, and it’s easy to ignore when you have hope and trust in a relationship. There are plenty of things that don’t have to spiral out of control, but Grace is surrounded by those who need more help than she can give them and too often she’s put in the position of being someone’s savior, and that’s exactly what Gavin pins on her.

I won’t go into the whole book, but long story short, I think Heather Demetrios did a really great job of laying this whole relationship out. I felt like Gavin really did like Grace but then it just turned into dependency and the need to control her instead of caring about her and having a nice balance. Gavin was in need of professional attention and support that Grace couldn’t give and all of his problems were being pinned on her, so instead of finding a freedom with Gavin, she became even more stuck. My stomach twisted and my heart sank as things grew even worse, taking an abusive turn, but I also saw Grace’s side of things! It wasn’t that she wasn’t strong or wouldn’t take action and leave Gavin… she really did care for him and she also wanted to help him. She thought he loved her, and maybe he did, but it reached an obsessive and controlling point to where it wasn’t real love anymore and it turned into an unhealthy need. Grace’s character had so much good in her heart but that doesn’t help someone who needs therapy or medication and it was so hard to watch her struggle between wanting to help Gavin, trying to love him and be the support that he needed, and just needing to get out.

I have a lot I could say about this book but I won’t go on forever with this review. What I will say is that I think it’s a very well-done story about abusive relationships, especially those that don’t seem outright abusive. There were emotional aspects here that bullied Grace into staying in the relationship (that did turn a little bit physical) and Heather Demetrios did a great job of writing each character so even if you knew they were in the wrong, you could understand their perspective and see the whole picture all at once. This was so well-written and very hard to read all at the same time, but the hard to read is definitely because of the difficult content. I haven’t had experience with this myself but I found it very realistic and would definitely recommend BAD ROMANCE!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic, non-contemporary fiction. So many realistic fiction I read nowadays is romantic so it’s always interesting to read more novels that are realistic but not a “contemporary romance”.
Left Me Wanting More: Help for Grace. This is usually where I put what I was missing from a book but I really felt that this was well-written and I wouldn’t have asked for anything different! I just wish Grace had someone to turn to who could offer her help and support, mostly from her parents. Your parents are supposed to be there for you especially in times like this and they only made things so much worse.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is a powerful read and absolutely worth picking up. I think it tells a really important story and shows that not all abusive relationships are purely physical. This bad romance was emotionally demanding and controlling and Grace was just as stuck.

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BOOKS LIKE BAD ROMANCE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ELEANOR & PARK

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally CarterTitle: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: January 20, 2015 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2)

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

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I’m actually really disappointed that this is a new series opener from Ally Carter. I guess I’ve only read two of her books (Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals) but her early books were SO GOOD and this book just fell so flat. I heard it had a bit of a rough start but truly, the whole book felt rough for me.

ALL FALL DOWN felt super repetitive. The story repeating the same five concepts over and over again with no action to follow them up (until the very end of the book) and literally nothing happened for the first half of the book, in my opinion. I felt like the first 75% could have been crammed into a few action-packed chapters but instead, everything was drawn out. I wouldn’t have minded spending time with these characters in place of action, but the time I did spend with them didn’t feel to developed. They weren’t personalities that jumped off the page and everyone fell a little flat.

There were hints at the snark and sass that I love so much but Grace was too busy falling apart all the time for that to really take shape. I get what the book was going for and I followed it, but it all felt a bit too dramatic for me. The visions and hallucinations were just way too much and they really bothered me — as they do in pretty much any other book unless it’s really important and necessary. I’m all for showcasing a character who is suffering from PTSD and other consequences of going through some serious stuff but for some reason this just didn’t work for me in this book. It all felt forced and cheesy instead of informative and genuine.

After all that, I was waiting for the twist (I heard there was one) and… flat again. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable — I got there and understood what was going on but Grace still didn’t and it irritated me how long it reasonably took for her to catch on. There was something I actually wasn’t expecting because it was so cliche but the cliche happened anyway.

ALL FALL DOWN was an easy read and I do think I’ll continue the series but I might sneak a peek at reviews before I do so. I do love the Heist Society series and from the way this book ended, I am hoping for maybe a little more levity and a lot more intrigue in the second book.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: International thrillers. I’ve been really into international thrillers lately and I loved the mix of worlds in this book! The vibe was also really great.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt so let down by the overall plot here. There wasn’t much development at all and it was a total snooze-fest throughout the beginning. I was just so bummed because I came to hope for a lot from Ally Carter!

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It’s hard for me to say. I think I’ll continue the series but I can’t outright recommend this one. I think if the series gets better, I’ll have a better feeling about it!

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BOOKS LIKE ALL FALL DOWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnisTitle: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 20, 2016
Related Posts: A Madness So Discreet

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

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THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is a hard book to talk about. It’s incredibly important in so many ways and has some great not only feminist but also important universal notions that really bring to light how we excuse certain male actions and condemn female ones for the exact same thing (sex, drugs, violence). I really did love how Mindy McGinnis said so many of these things right to readers’ faces and makes people truly confront all of these issues. That’s part of the beauty of Alex’s character as well. She’s described as both closed off and yet feeling too much. She isn’t afraid to say what she thinks or do what she thinks is right because she’s really never been the person to cater to a society’s “norms”. She confronts people, makes people pay for their actions, and somehow becomes this great antihero for us to gather around.

The book has a sort of Dexter-like feel and yet stands on its own. Alex has a darkness within her. It drives her every day life, takes over in moments of extreme emotion, and she once she actually finds people to care about and who care about her, she tries to be as “normal” as possible to not scare away her new friends. She uses this darkness to right wrongs and to seek vengeance on people who have committed horrible acts of violence, sexual abuse, or general heinous injustices. THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES isn’t focused on Alex as a serial killer (because she’s not) and I was both confused and satisfied with the ambiguity of “what she was”. Alex couldn’t even put a label on herself, seeking to fit in the category of sociopath or psychopath and didn’t quite seem to fit anywhere. I liked the uniqueness and originality, not fitting into a specific box, but I was also anticipating more of something… which I guess Alex would probably reprimand me for trying to put a label on her! I think the anticipation of the something affected the read a little bit for me because I felt like I was missing something and the book never quite crossed that line into supremely satisfying for me.

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES doesn’t shy away from really anything. Whereas some young adult books clean things up a bit for the sake of readers or publishing, Mindy McGinnis chooses to include all of the realistic speech (including swearing, descriptions of sex, and lewd behavior) that other books play down in order to reach a younger audience. I would definitely recommend this for a more mature young adult audience (although we always have that taboo of censoring younger teen audiences — I’m not a librarian, educator, or parent so that’s not for me to say but it a moderately explicit read even as an adult). There are also several instances or mentions of rape, date rape, sexual abuse, and scenes with near instances of all of these occurring so if that’s a trigger for you, do be aware that it pops up many times throughout the book.

One thing that actually bothered me about the book was the confusing involvement of animals. If you have an animal abuse trigger, it will likely bother you for this one (more than one person has brought up that it was an issue for them), and it’s not a trigger for me but I thought the violence towards animals was quite unnecessary. It wasn’t out right on the pages with a character abusing an animal but there are some really hard-to-read scenes about what happens to a few animals that I just didn’t get. It wasn’t directly tied to a character and didn’t push a plot point forward. The characters actually do take care of and help quite a few animals too but I didn’t know why the harsh scenes with injuries and death needed to be included. It didn’t serve a purpose for the book or assist a character’s story line. There was also a very gruesome scene at a meat factory that wasn’t abuse but a part of the job, but still seemed unnecessary to include (especially when I was trying to read this book as I was eating lunch — that was just unfortunate timing on my part).

My middle of the road feelings aren’t due to any of those factors though. As much as I thought the message was extremely important and valid, I just didn’t really connect to the characters in the book. I know Alex is sort of emotionally closed off and yet over-feeling and I kind of felt stuck between those two emotions. I just didn’t connect with her as much as I wanted to. I understand that she’s not someone you really connect to emotionally but I wanted to understand her just a little bit more or be able to stand behind her a little bit more and I just didn’t quite get there. It’s a weird spot because in a way, that’s the whole point of her character — she’s complex, she’s cold, she’s overly angered by injustices, she’s not your average person in terms of emotional ranges — but somehow it just didn’t click for me. It’s not that there was a lack of character development in any of the other characters either but none of the relationships really slid into place for me. It was just the little things with characters or perhaps the writing that just didn’t click and although the content was there, I just didn’t get bowled over like I thought I would.

Long story short, I’m just sort of a jumbled up from this book. I can’t quite sort out what I feel but I know that I don’t feel as wowed as I had hoped. When I end up rating books, it’s based on an overall feeling and THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES had a whole lot going on. The overall message of the book is so important but I feel like I can’t rate a book for its message alone. There are several factors involved in my feelings toward a book and this one had so many things for me to consider.

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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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Alex // Character obsessions: Justice, darkness, friendship.
Alex is a very simple and yet very complicated character all at the same time. She’s a very black-and-white sort of character, knowing exactly she feels is right and what she feels is wrong, and she’s not afraid to right the wrongs she sees in any way she deems correct. She carries a certain darkness with her that tends to lead to violent situations, which really brings out the anti-hero in her character as readers root for the violence to “correct” injustices within Alex’s town. I think I actually struggled a little bit when Alex started figure out some friendships and tried to be “normal”, as she called it. It was also complicated because Alex didn’t fit into an easily identifiable category for what she “was”. She stated that she felt TOO much, not that she was unfeeling, as so many psychopathic or sociopathic characters are and that really complicated things for me as a reader and former student of psychology. (Not like I’m any expect but I’ve always been incredibly interested and took many classes in high school and college.) I think it was hard for me that she didn’t quite fit into a common classification — and it was actually hard for her as well! It was a very interesting addition to her character but it also kind of confused me because I couldn’t figure her out!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Antiheroes. I love a good antihero. It’s so interesting to have the main character of a book have some normally abhorrent behavior but when it’s combating someone else’s worse actions, things get interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness. This is actually a pretty dark and serious book… But I think I just wanted more darkness, more shock from Alex. Maybe it was the way I went into the book. The way that the synopsis read and the way that the book was pitched, I think I was assuming that Alex would be more of a Dexter-type: a more easily-classifiable pathology, violent but with a purpose, and still loveable. I found some of those things but there seemed to be more gray area with Alex than I expected so I think I was expecting some more BIG “omg” moments, which I think a lot of content came from other characters that I didn’t expect. I actually didn’t know that it was narrated by three voices so that also threw me as well.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This is kind of a hard recommendation for me. I was personally left with some off feelings — not bad, but off — and I just didn’t click with it somehow, which leads me to feeling hesitant about truly pushing this book to someone. BUT I think there is a lot of important content and some really important messages to not only today’s teens but really to a large audience of adults on the treatment and expectations of women, and even just our society in general.

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BOOKS LIKE THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT

When We Collided – Emery Lord

When We Collided – Emery LordTitle: When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 10, 2016
Related Posts: Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

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Emery Lord is an auto-buy author for me. I fell in love with her debut, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and every book I read from her is a wonderful and thoughtful experience full of growth, friendship, and a little bit of romance. After finishing WHEN WE COLLIDED, one of the things that I’m really starting to appreciate is how incredibly individual each book feels from is predecessor. Emery Lord’s writing is deep and powerful but still allows each character to let their silly side show and really tells a very realistic story without getting caught up in the dramatics that some young adult books tend to overemphasize. Each book has had a very different story to tell and WHEN WE COLLIDED may be the most powerful one yet.

WHEN WE COLLIDED is the story of Vivi and Jonah but it’s also a story for anyone who’s dealt with grief, depression, mental illness, or really any hard times in their life. The reader learns that Vivi has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that Jonah’s father has recently passed away and his family is still grieving. WHEN WE COLLIDED chronicles the journey of these two characters throughout one summer as they crash into each other’s lives when they’re both at their very bottom and how they’re able to help each other grow and heal. The book is incredibly powerful. There’s so much emotion as Vivi and Jonah sift through their struggles individually and how once they start to open up, they’re really able to help and support each other by sharing their own personal hurdles.

What I loved the most about WHEN WE COLLIDED was how realistic everything truly felt. Sometimes I have a hard time connecting to big families like Jonah’s (especially young children for some reason) but just like Vivi, I easily fell in love with each and every one of them. Emery Lord is able to bring even minor characters into full color and share their dazzling personalities with the reader. I also really appreciated all of the personal experience as well as research that went into Vivi’s character. I haven’t personally seen the effects of bipolar disorder in any of my friends or family members (that I know of) but I felt like this was an incredibly realistic and thorough view of what someone with this disorder might be going through. Experiencing Vivi’s emotional highs and escalation as she went through her manic period was truly an emotional roller coaster and as an observer, I was incredibly nervous for her throughout the book. I was afraid of what might happen when that mania finally came back down and feared for when depression might hit. Vivi has a naturally spirited and unique personality so there was also this blur and question of whether her actions were simply because she was such a sizzling personality or whether some of her decisions were affected by her disorder.

I adored the relationship between Vivi and Jonah. It was such a sweet romance full of highs and lows and it was exactly what these two characters needed. Jonah needed someone who would break down the door and push themself into his life in order to really accept help and start to talk about what his family was going through. She opened Jonah up to acting a little silly sometimes and allowing himself to really act his age when there was so much weighing on his shoulders. Vivi needed someone a little grounded to reel her back in at times but still love her for exactly who she was. Jonah was able to offer her a peek into a big family and the loss of a loving father and these two really learned a lot from each other that they never set out to find.

I could really go on gushing about WHEN WE COLLIDED but it’s a book that really must be experienced. It was so incredibly well-written and I love how it shares some similar elements of Emery Lord’s previous books (strong female characters, great friendships, tons of growth) and yet it truly stands on its own. It was such an emotional ride for me and one that I will absolutely continue to recommend. If you haven’t read any of Emery Lord’s books yet, start anywhere but make sure you do read WHEN WE COLLIDED as soon as possible!
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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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Vivi // Character Obsessions: Costume design, staying unique, fun, adventure.
Vivi was such a wonderfully layered character. She has this struggle with bipolar disorder but she’s so spirited to begin with that at times it’s hard to tell where this disorder creeps in but then you realize that so much of Vivi is just that adventurous, free, and bubbly. I loved her unique personality and you will never find a dull moment with Vivi. She really brought Jonah out of his shell and truly loved who she was.
Jonah // Character Obsessions: Family, responsibility, cooking, his father.
I adored Jonah’s love of cooking (some of these things seriously made me hungry!) and how much I fell in love with his big family. He has the burden of being one of the older siblings and really taking care of the littles as well as his mom as she continues to struggle with the loss of her husband. The whole family is still grieving and I admired Jonah’s strength (although I’m sure it didn’t feel like strength to him) as he attempted to piece his family back together again.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mental health awareness. I thought the authenticity of Vivi’s bipolar disorder was so accurate. I read the author’s note at the end of the book so I know she put a lot of personal experience into creating this character but also really did a ton of research as well to represent it as well as she possibly could.
Left Me Wanting More: Fairy tale endings. Obviously I wish for a fairy tale ending where everyone rides off into the sunset but actually… I’m glad that it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies in the end. Things get real and the ending is realistic and not just smacking a happy conclusion on there just for feels. I loved that I was left with some great feelings but it wasn’t overly sappy.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

You NEED to read Emery Lord’s books if you haven’t yet. Every single one is truly unique and WHEN WE COLLIDED is such a powerful story.

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BOOKS LIKE WHEN WE COLLIDED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES    I WAS HERE

No More Confessions (Confessions #3) – Louise Rozett

No More Confessions (Confessions #3) – Louise RozettTitle: No More Confessions (Confessions #3) by Louise Rozett
Publishing Info: January 25, 2015 by Independent
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 25, 2016
Related Posts: Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1), Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend (Confessions #2)

For Rose Zarelli, freshman year was about controlling her rage. Sophomore year was about finding her voice. With all that behind her, junior year should be a breeze, right? Nope. When a horrific video surfaces, Rose needs the one person she wants to be done with, the person who has broken her heart twice—Jamie Forta. But as the intensity between them heats up, Rose realizes she isn’t the only one who needs help. The thing is, Jamie doesn’t see it that way—and that could cost them both everything.

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I’ve been a big fan of the Confessions series since I first read CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL back in 2012 on a whim. I was so impressed with main character Rose and Louise Rozett’s character portrayal and I’m so glad to see that continue throughout the entire series so far. I was thrilled to hear that NO MORE CONFESSIONS was still being published despite the series’ original publisher apparently dropping the series because these books are incredibly realistic, meaningful, and actually quite quick to read.

NO MORE CONFESSIONS went surprisingly quick for me! It looks like it is shorter than its predecessors but I also love that it wasn’t jam-packed full of unnecessary situations just to fill the pages. NO MORE CONFESSIONS gets straight to the point and sticks to the heart of the story which revolves around Rose, her family, and her relationship with bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold, Jamie Forta. I somehow forgot a lot of what went on in book two (it’s been a while!) but I easily fell back into Rose’s world and felt so comfortable picking up where I left off.

One of the things I love the most about this series is how realistic each character and situation feels. I love that so many reactions are based off of a character’s internal debate or personal involvement with a situation. It’s less conflict because of misinformation or unnecessary drama. These characters have gone through some really tough stuff but not so far that it becomes potentially unrelatable. I feel like if I haven’t experienced something that they’re going through, I know someone who has or feel a degree of connection somehow through my own experiences. The book addresses death, grief, addiction, relationships, friendship, and so much more in a way that really allows readers to connect on many levels. I love how relationships on all levels have changed and evolved throughout the book.

I really like how Rose’s friendship with her best friend Tracy has changed so much from the first book as both girls grow up, experience different things in their lives, and start to become individuals. They do drift a bit but they’re still friends and it was great to see that evolving element in their friendship, even if it does mean they’re not as close anymore. We’ve all grown out of friendships or have spent less/more time with a friend over the years and it was really nice to see that happen over time and not because of a blow-out fight. Situations like these are really well-represented throughout the course of this series and how people naturally change over the years. Some changes have happened quickly after major events but I really appreciate the slow and gradual changes that an individual might experience and how Louise Rozett really brings that aspect of growing up to life.

The ending of NO MORE CONFESSIONS was great. Rose and Jamie both converge and diverge — they’re really coming together as a couple but their current life situations don’t seem to be on the same path. Rose is looking at colleges since her senior year is drawing near and their relationship once again comes into question, proposing a big decision for the two characters on so many levels. Again, Louise Rozett does a great job at representing this and how a character might indirectly reaction to potential changes without that full-on confrontation. It’s just so beautifully represented in each book.

I forgot how much I loved this series and it was so wonderful to read another book about Rose, Jamie, and the wonderful cast of characters that supports them. This is some really great contemporary if you’re looking for that extra realistic element and I really hope there’s a Confessions #4 to really bring this series to a close (I’m guessing it would be the last one since we’ve been progressing through Rose’s high school years). I’m dying to see what happens after this book because NO MORE CONFESSIONS was just wonderful!

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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!

no more confessions gr updates

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Rose // Character Obsessions: Family, singing, Jamie.  
I’ve always like that Rose has felt very mature, even at 14, but it’s also great how she’s matured since the first book. I’m loving her character growth and how she’s able to see things from other people’s perspectives now. She’s still quite the teenager and goes through some typical teenage experiences but she’s also gained some real wisdom over the course of this series.
Jamie // Character Obsessions: Work, protecting himself, alcohol.  
Jamie has always been a little rough around the edges but NO MORE CONFESSIONS really brings some of that rawness to the surface. Jamie’s never been really good at handling emotions or stressful situations and you see some of the pressures really take a toll on him this book. It’s so hard to watch him go through that but I also really liked how it was represented. It’s especially hard to see that his bad boy exterior is so much more than that and he’s really hurting inside.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character development. I just love each and every one of these characters. It’s amazing how Louise Rozett brings them to life! They all feel so incredibly really and I just get so invested.
Left Me Wanting More: Conclusion. I truly hope there’s one more book! I NEED to know what happens to Rose and Jamie after this book and where the story goes from here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think this is a highly underrated and unknown series and it’s one I’ve loved from day one. It’s always so delightful to read these again (even though the topics are not always delightful) and see such realistic representations of every day life.

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BOOKS LIKE NO MORE CONFESSIONS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

I'LL MEET YOU THERE    SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL

Calvin – Martine Leavitt

Calvin – Martine LeavittTitle: Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Publishing Info: November 17, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 4, 2015

As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.
He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.

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CALVIN seemed like a really interesting concept as well as a quick read (the book is under 200 a pages!) and with the end of the year drawing near, it was the perfect time for me to grab a book that would keep me intrigued and help me get that much closer to completing my reading challenge for 2015!

CALVIN is the story of a boy named Calvin who discovers that he has schizophrenia. He believes that if Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson would just write one more comic, he would stop having visions of a real (to him) version of Hobbes and his life could just go back to normal. Calvin then leaves on a quest to go find him by walking across the frozen lake from Canada all the way to the US. As interesting as this concept sounded, the book really fell a bit flat for me. I’ve always been interested in psychology so naturally, books with a psychological aspect of any sort tend to grab me. I started out really interested but the book quickly lost steam for me and despite its short length, I had trouble focusing and staying interested. 

Calvin as a character didn’t really seem to have a lot of depth. I suppose it’s hard to have a well-rounded character when the whole point of the story is a single obsession but I would have loved to see more emotion from him throughout the book! I suppose because I knew Calvin was having schizophrenic episodes, I also found it hard to get a grip on what was real and what was being manifested inside Calvin’s head. Obviously I knew Hobbes wasn’t real but I found myself questioning the entire situation and several characters so just the smallest of doubts really threw off my whole reading experience. That’s also how I am when I read books that I know involve psychological aspects or psychological twists — I’m always looking for a twist, even if it isn’t there, so I actually ended up making this book more complicated than it really was.

I was actually not too impressed with the book overall. It should have been a quick read but I didn’t find the writing terribly engaging and (though possibly due to my own faults), I was kind of let down with the ending. I just didn’t really feel like the book was taking me somewhere and the middle really dragged for me. I kept hoping for something to reel me back it but I never quite made it there. I was also sort of upset that the author didn’t really include any information about schizophrenia and what it is. There were some quick passages where Calvin is trying to explain it to Susie but I just always feel like books dealing with mental illness should educate the reader a little bit since most people don’t know details. I feel like CALVIN missed an easy opportunity to just open that conversation up to the readers.

CALVIN wasn’t a bad read for me but I’d have a hard time recommending it. I can usually zip through a nice, short book and I felt like this book actually dragged a bit. It really didn’t impress me on any level and like I said, not bad but just didn’t really stand out in any way for me.
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!

calvin gr updates

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Calvin // Character Obsessions: Finding Bill Watterson, Hobbes, Susie. 
I felt so disconnected from Calvin and really thought he was lacking the emotion I needed to enjoy his character. I completely understand his obsessions and why he needs to go on his mission but for some reason I just couldn’t connect to him like I wanted to. Hobbes seemed to have more personality, actually.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Quick reads. It was kind of nice that this book was on the shorter side! I always feel more motivated to finish and finish quickly.
Left Me Wanting More: Conversation about mental illness. I’m not usually one to say what “should” or “shouldn’t” be included in a book but I really, really would have liked to see the author touch more on Calvin’s schizophrenia, how it’s handled, what people experience, etc. There was just a bit of talk about it but I had really hoped for more.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Again, the book wasn’t bad and usually I tell people get a second opinion or try it but I have a hard time recommending this one! I just feel a little let down.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE CALVIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

BELZHAR    LOUD AWAKE AND LOST

The Lies About Truth – Courtney C. Stevens

The Lies About Truth – Courtney C. StevensTitle: The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
Publishing Info: November 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 22, 2015

Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.
As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.

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I had heard so many good things about THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH that I simply couldn’t wait for its release and I requested a copy from Harper Teen. The book fairies granted my wish and sent me a copy and let me tell you… the good things I heard? All true and then some! I started and finished this book in just a day because I couldn’t put it down! (Although I do regret that a teensy bit because I already miss the characters!)

THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH is just so well done all around. From the characters to setting to plot to emotion — everything was incredibly realistic and really came across to me as a real story, almost surpassing that feel of it being fiction. Aside from just connecting to the characters, I really got to know them inside and out, feel their grief and their joy, and every reaction just really felt so genuine. I was so impressed with the character development that Courtney C. Stevens was able to include in this book! I absolutely loved Sadie. Even though I haven’t been through nearly anything like what she did, I saw pieces of myself in her and I just felt like I really got to know her so well throughout the book. She was so realistic to me and I felt like she could have been one of my friends and not just a character in a book, which is something that rarely happens to me.
I also adored Sadie’s parents. Any avid reader of young adult will tell you that too often parents are absent in some way (it does amp up a story when putting a teen into that leadership or life-changing role) but it was so, so refreshing to see loving, caring, and present parents. Sadie’s mom was truly amazing and I loved the relationship she had with her mom. She didn’t seem as close to her dad but they were both really awesome parents and incredibly supportive as she went through this terrible grieving process for her friend and the way she used to look.

I didn’t connect to some of Sadie’s friends as much but it was so great to see how their friendships devolved, changed, and then evolved all over again throughout the course of the story. There’s such a tension between them after “The Wreck” and it was really great to see these characters go through the stages of working on their friendships as they try to figure out how to work on themselves and find that inner-peace again. I also really appreciated how they experienced this massive, life-changing event and it really did change their lives in the sense that no one was really the same once the book was done. Everyone was still true to themselves and they managed to really work on who they became after this incident but they also really did change and took on new roles even in their own friend groups. It was so refreshing to see that exponential change in the characters and really witness them move forward. A mantra that Sadie kept repeating throughout the book was something like “I do not have a time machine” and I loved how the book really carried this mantra all the way through to the end. The characters had to come to this true acceptance that they could never go back to the way things were and they really had to continue on towards the future, embracing who they are in the present day and who they will be once they’re able to move on from this.

The emotion captured in this book was simply fabulous too. I laughed, cried, and everything in between with Sadie, and these characters really had some dynamic personalities. Courtney C. Stevens did an amazing job of allowing those feelings to flow naturally and really let her characters carry the story to the reader through their experiences. It really was like peeking into their lives and I felt very emotionally invested in them.

THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH even had a few surprises and a small mystery! I’ll admit that a mystery always hooks me so the anticipation of figuring out that answer definitely kept me turning the pages in addition to my connection with the characters. There was even a small yet large surprise (I mean, it’s called THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH so naturally some lies are unearthed…) that I totally didn’t see coming in the book that really changed the course of the book for me for the better. When that little knowledge bomb was dropped on me, I became even more invested!

This book was great from start to finish. It was an emotional roller coaster in the best possible way, but it really flowed so well, allowing me to really experience everything naturally as the characters did. (And emotional… water slide? Terrible metaphor, I know.) THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH was so refreshing with its wonderful characters, meaningful story, and true character growth. This is one of my favorite realistic fiction novels in a while and I’m so glad I didn’t wait to read this!
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!

the lies about the truth gr update

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Sadie // Character Obsessions: Her scars, avoidance, grief, lists. 
Sadie was SUCH an awesome character. It was so awesome to see her progression and character development throughout the book. I was so impressed with her and how much she changed, eventually finding the strength that she needed to push herself mentally and emotionally to heal and become a better person.
Max // Character Obsessions: Healing, Sadie, family.
At first I hadn’t expected to like Max as much as I did. I was a bit afraid of how he would affect the dynamic of the friend group after Trent’s dead and new romantic role with Sadie but he was super sweet and it ended up not being awkward at all. (Okay, maybe a little bit for the characters but not really for me.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Heavier realistic fiction. I haven’t really been drawn towards more serious or heavy realistic fiction lately but I’m so glad I didn’t put this book off! I really connected with it and it was so touching.
Left Me Wanting More: Attachment to Sadie’s friends. There’s not much to complain about with this book but I think the only thing that was really missing for me here was a bit more of a connection to Sadie’s friends. That’s also super hard when everyone is still healing and many of them are on the outs so that might just be how it goes with this book! (Or still could be me.)

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is owning-the-hardcover worthy, my friends. I adored this book and it was such a wonderful read. You may cry but you’ll also laugh, smile, fall in love, and really root for these characters. It was such a wonderful reading experience.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

NANTUCKET BLUE    THE START OF ME AND YOU

A Madness So Discreet – Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So Discreet – Mindy McGinnisTitle: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Historical Fiction, Psych/Mental Health, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2015
Related Posts: The Female of the Species

Grace Mae knows madness.
She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.
When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.
In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

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** Word of warning that I WILL be talking about some minor spoilers for the book. It’s nothing that will give plot or twists away but I will be discussing character relationships, the nature of some which are not revealed until later on in the book. ** 

How amazing is the cover for this book!? As soon as I saw it, I immediately knew I had to read it… BUT this book had a serious case of “misleading cover”! From the look of it and the title, I went into the book thinking it was going to be creepy, paranormal, and take place mostly with the mental patients within a very scary institution (we all know how much I avoid the synopsis right before I start)… and while some of that was indeed true, A MADNESS SO DISCREET turned out to be much more historical fiction meets murder mystery than creepy psych hospital!

A MADNESS SO DISCREET took me a little bit to get into, but once I found out that it was more murder mystery, I was all on board! The beginning started out a bit slow and confusing for me as I was trying to get a grasp on what the deal with the mental hospital was. Readers are thrown right into Grace’s story with little introduction of who she is and why she’s there so I was getting to know Grace as I was getting to know the setting which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but for some reason with this particular book, it was a bit confusing trying to get a read on both.
There were a few hints at some extra-sensory abilities from fellow inmates so I was anticipating that playing a bigger role than it did (especially with the creepy hand reaching out on the cover!) but after finishing the story, I wonder if that was just more of an “illness” thing than actual ability. The confusing part was that the inmate’s ability was accurate so the lack of presence of this character and seemingly realistic powers throughout the book sort of felt like a waste of a mention.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about all of the other things I really enjoyed, which was a lot! I really enjoyed the historical setting. I’m not usually a historical fiction person but I usually do love a gothic horror feel and that always draws my attention. I really got the feeling like I was thrown back in time to where this book was taking place and felt totally immersed in the time period, the setting, and the characters. The setting especially was so vivid and so well done. I really felt like I could picture so many of the locations and the overall tone was consistent and gave a really nice gothic horror feel!

I also really enjoyed the character relationships. Grace Mae actually wasn’t my favorite character of the book and neither was Dr. Thornhollow (it was Nell!) but I just loved the way that they worked together and how much they trusted each other. It was interesting to see how similar they thought and formed ideas and I thought they made a great team. I thought it was great that they had a sort of chemistry going on and they seemed to have somewhat of an attraction but it wasn’t forced into being a relationship. As of right now, MADNESS is definitely a stand alone, but if the series continued, I think I’d enjoy seeing that relationship develop! Because of the circumstances, it didn’t quite make sense or feel right to have those two characters romantically involved but I like the idea that it sets up for a future for them should they wish to pursue it.
Grace also a had a great friendship with her fellow institution gals that I just loved. I immediately warmed to Nell and she became my favorite and I loved how she and Elizabeth really took Grace under their wings. The friendship was just delightful to witness and I grew really attached to those girls.

I also really enjoyed the mystery aspect! I always feel like there’s a lack of young adult mysteries and I just love how this pieced together in a historical setting. There were some nice clues, great teamwork, and some interesting suspense! The only complaint is not the lack of twist but lack of anticipation of the murderer’s capture. I don’t really need a twist in all of my mysteries (though they are fun) but I thought it ended rather quickly and easily. While that may have been a realistic conclusion, I think I would have appreciated a bit more storytelling as far as wrapping that mystery up.

There is one more thing I have to touch upon before I close out the review that I think I just can’t pass up and it was something I battled with the whole book… The whole incest thing really was hard for me to read. If I had known it was a part of the book, I’m honestly not sure I would have read it and I really think it hindered my reading experience. It’s just something that I find truly appalling and my brain tends to immediately turn off not just from the offending character but from the whole book. There’s a sort of cloud that sits over the whole book and it was just really hard to get over. I’m not saying it’s something that shouldn’t be talked about, but for me personally, it just really creates an “ick factor” for the whole book. It does make the offending character that much more of a monster and that much more “hateable” but I couldn’t shake that overall gross feeling because it’s actually a consistent part of the book.

A MADNESS SO DISCREET was a really enjoyable read for me and I was left wanting so much more of this world! I think in part because I took a while to feel out the characters and I also think I’d enjoy another book in this world without the constant reappearance of incest hanging over it. I’d love to see Grace and Thornhollow solving more mysteries or even something else taking place in the asylum. I just loved the atmosphere and would love to spend more time in it but even if this is the last we see of MADNESS, it won’t be the last I see of Mindy McGinnis! Now I have to worked my way backwards and read her previous works!

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 madness so discreet goodreads updates

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Grace // Character Obsessions: Survival, revenge, resolutions, justice.
I actually didn’t connect with Grace a lot. I guess it’s hard since she’s kind of closed off, given what she’s been through, and she was actively shutting herself down in the very beginning. Even after she started opening up more, I didn’t quite make a connection to her, though I appreciated her goals (I was on her side, of course) and thought she was interesting to get to know!
Dr. Thornhollow // Character Obsessions: Science, medicine, mysteries.
I would love to learn so much more about Thornhollow. He was so interesting and intelligent and I wished I could have gotten to know him better! I wonder what things would be like from his POV…

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction. It’s always great when I can find a historical fiction novel that I enjoy. It’s not my genre of choice so I’m so glad I found another one that I just fell into!
Left Me Wanting More: Personality. I think I was drawn to the characters who were more outwardly emotional. Nell was very outgoing and she was my favorite, but I dare anyone not to like her! She was fantastic. I think Grace is just more reserved, as is Thornhollow, so it was a bit harder to get to know their true personalities.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I had a lot of fun with this one! The atmosphere was great, the plot was interesting, and it felt like a pretty quick and fun read while at the same time staying a little dark.

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BOOKS LIKE A MADNESS SO DISCREET

(Click the cover to see my review!)

BORN    The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1) – Megan Shepherd

We’ll Never Be Apart – Emiko Jean

We’ll Never Be Apart – Emiko JeanTitle: We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 2, 2015

Murder.
Fire.
Revenge.
That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.
Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

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I’m always interested in a good psychological thriller so I was really excited to start WE’LL NEVER BE APART, especially when I was looking for something with an edge to read around Halloween time (you know… for those horror-chickens like me)! As with most psychological thrillers, I went into this one nearly blind so I could be surprised by any twists that might occur.

WE’LL NEVER BE APART definitely had its thrilling moments but… maybe I’ve read too many psychological thrillers recently… I totally guessed the twist after the first chapter. This was one of those books I was hoping I was wrong and that there would be something more surprising coming but turns out my guess was accurate. It was kind of a bummer because then I spent the rest of the book reading it assuming what the twist was and it made it a bit anticlimactic instead of exciting and mysterious.

I did appreciate that the story really dug into deeper layers as the book went on. I struggled for a bit in the middle because, well, once you know the twist, the suspense deflates a bit so I didn’t feel as hooked as I had hoped. Things really start to pick up around 50% to 75% in and the pacing really picked up! I found out so much more about the backstories of the characters and there were some very shocking revelations about their backgrounds and how their past affected their present/future.

I think the thing I was disappointed in was that even guessing the ending or not, the middle of the book didn’t seem to develop as much as I had hoped. I’m sure being in the dark would have left some suspense and I would have felt more of a pull to read but even still, I feel like there wasn’t too much going on in the middle. I’m not sure what I was expecting — more action? More thrilling moments? More hints at backstories earlier on? — but the book as a whole just didn’t quite grab me. I enjoyed the ending and thought it culminated nicely but again, it just didn’t feel like anything original for me.do like when books end on a sort of open note like this — it’s all tied up in the end as far as plot goes but there’s juuuust a little jab that makes the reader think twice and I kind of love when horror/suspense books do that!

WE’LL NEVER BE APART felt a bit like it fit the mold of the other psychological thrillers I’ve read so it was nothing too new for me, BUT I think if you’re new to these sorts of books, this could be a really fun one! Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a perfect fit for me.
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!

we'll never be apart gr updates

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Alice // Character Obsessions: Cellie, Jason, defeat, escape.
Alice wasn’t a very deep character for me… I guess I shouldn’t say deep but I just really didn’t connect with her like I had hoped. I think it would have been a lot more enjoyable had I been able to get a better feel for her character and really get into her head but I felt really disconnected from her. She never quite panned out to a real person to me and just felt like a story.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Psychological thrillers. As much as I felt this one was a bit too predictable, it did leave me with a craving for more books like this. I love when books mess with my head and take me totally by surprise and I think it’s always a good thing when a book leaves you wanting more of anything.
Left Me Wanting More: Surprises. I just really wish this could have been something I couldn’t have guessed. Or maybe I could have been led off that path to be surprised that what I had guessed really was the ending. It’s hard to say!

Addiction Rating
Try it

I’d recommend this if you’re more of a newbie to psychological thrillers. If you’re a veteran to these types of books, you’ll probably guess the ending as well and I’m not sure the rest of the story is appealing enough to really stay suspenseful and shocking. For me personally, I just wasn’t as connected as I had hoped.

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BOOKS LIKE WE’LL NEVER BE APART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WE WERE LIARS    VANISHING GIRLS

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey | Review + Giveaway

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Welcome to the blog tour for
   FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella!

I am VERY thrilled to be on the blog tour for FINDING AUDREY today! A big thank you to Random House for asking me to be a part of this tour, especially since I’ve been reading Sophie Kinsella for quite literally almost half of my life. This book holds a special meaning for me having gotten into young adult in the past two years!

Today on the blog tour, I’m sharing my thoughts on the book with my review! I’m so happy to have read it so I hope you’ll take the time to read it and hopefully it stirs up some interest for you to pick it up! I thought it was a really great read but… I’ll let the review do the talking!

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey | Review + GiveawayTitle: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Publishing Info: June 9, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 17, 2015

    From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

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FINDING AUDREY was a really interesting read for me! It was meaningfully complex and yet still maintained the trademark Sophie Kinsella humor and wit. I really enjoyed meeting Audrey and finding out more about her story and it was just so nice to read Sophie Kinsella’s work again!

FINDING AUDREY primarily deals with a teenager named Audrey (of course) who is currently in the midst of trying to get a handle on her anxiety. After a recent and tumultuous incident at school, Audrey ended up in a tailspin of emotions which eventually resulted in her current state of anxiety. FINDING AUDREY picks up her story after she’s returned home from the hospital and is currently seeing a therapist to help her overcome and push past her fears. I personally thought that this aspect of the story was handled so, so well. The reader gets to know Audrey and her personality while she’s in the safe space of her home and amongst her family but also gets to see how crippling anxiety and panic can be for a person. The smallest thing can trigger the biggest fear and my heart went out to Audrey as she struggled to retrain her brain to not immediately react to these things as panic-inducing triggers. It was very interesting and informative to see how her brain had her reacting and how much effort it really does take to not only stay afloat but to fight back. I think it’s great to have this mental health awareness and allow readers to see how anxiety affects people on many different levels and also how hard someone can work to overcome it.

It was really interesting to witness Audrey with her family as well. She and her brother seem to have a good relationship and I liked how there were a few key moments in which he wasn’t afraid to speak up to her when everyone else was too afraid to. Their relationship felt very natural and I really liked how they got along! Their mother, on the other hand, was a bit much for me sometimes. (Most of the time.) Audrey’s anxiety disorder is the focus of the book but I think her mother has her own form of anxiety throughout the book. She’s so OVERLY concerned with her kids — especially Frank and his video games — that it became very hard for me to read. She was so worried that she outwardly obsessed and overreacted for nearly the entire book and where I felt it was supposed to lend comedy, it ended up turning me off from her character quite a bit.

FINDING AUDREY was a really interesting read overall and it went through its fair share of ups and downs. I loved how the characters, especially Audrey, had to figure out the nature order of things after their lives got shaken up by this traumatic event. I was so happy to watch these characters strengthen their relationships by supporting each other to help each other grow. The little romance that developed was also so cute and heartwarming! I absolutely loved how it formed and evolved throughout the course of the book.
I did struggle a bit with the mother character as I had mentioned before and I was a bit frustrated at times with how much her struggle with Audrey’s brother took center stage. Sometimes it felt like Audrey got shoved to the background and this plot point took over, but it really was an important focus of the book as well. Really, that was the only (minor) downside for me because I just really enjoyed the book overall!

If you love Sophie Kinsella — YA reader or not —  I think FINDING AUDREY will be a really solid read for you! I was so happy with how well all of these elements blended together and I was left with a positive and happy feeling when I was finished instead of the heaviness I sometimes feel when I finish a book that deals with mental health and issues. I really hope readers enjoy this one and I hope Sophie Kinsella continues to write more YA because I’d love to read more books like this from her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: A lighter side of mental health. I don’t mean that that mental health should be taken lightly, but I appreciated that I was able to read a book about a girl who’s struggling to overcome a serious anxiety disorder and there was still an overall levity throughout. I feel like people tend to steer clear of books with important issues because they’re too “serious” or “heavy” so I really liked that there was a lighter tone throughout FINDING AUDREY!
Left Me Wanting More: Of Audrey’s story. I was a bit sad that we didn’t seem to get the full story on exactly what happened to Audrey. It’s not necessary for the book — clearly it was a traumatic event — but it did leave me hanging a bit. I also wished there was a bit less focus on her brother’s story at times because it seemed to take away from hers.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

FINDING AUDREY was a really enjoyable read and I loved how well serious and comedy blended! Sophie Kinsella did a great job with these characters and bringing more anxiety awareness to YA.

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GIVEAWAY

Random House is also providing a very fun giveaway for this blog tour! One winner will receive a copy of FINDING AUDREY and a promo coffee sleeve! (The coffee theme definitely comes into play so this will make more sense once you’ve read the book too!)
All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter form below! US residents only, please! Must be 13 years of age or older to win.

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