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Mini-Review: Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica

Mini-Review: Pretty Baby – Mary KubicaTitle: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: July 28, 2015 by Harlequin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 5, 2017
Related Posts: The Good Girl

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

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PRETTY BABY definitely wasn’t as strong as THE GOOD GIRL for me. The story line wasn’t as intriguing and I’m glad that it had a different feel but I also wasn’t as fond of the plot involved in this book. Call me silly, but any time a baby is a main part of a plot, I just find it unappealing. I don’t have anything against the baby, but babies are so vulnerable that it really holds a character back and I find it frustrating. While it’s a part of real life, it’s just not something that I usually choose to read about.

PRETTY BABY seemed to be a little less intriguing as well, not only compared to THE GOOD GIRL, but just in general compared to other mysteries or thrillers. I really felt like there was a lot of time spent in places where the plot could have moved forward and more info through the backstories could have been provided to keep the reader intrigued. It seemed like there were a few missed opportunities to really keep things moving and some big things were delayed a bit too long.

Things did end up unraveling for a fast and furious finale so that did bump up my rating just a bit. I did enjoy the ending and it was expected, yet not. I could see something coming but to actually watch the events unravel was kind of mind-boggling.

I actually liked the twist of characters throughout the book and I enjoyed how I started out with one impression of each one of the narrating voices and changed my opinions slowly the more pieces of the puzzle I gained. Some of the more unlikable (or simply less warm) characters became more likable towards the end once I gained a little more perspective on what exactly they were dealing with.

I’m definitely still interested in more from Mary Kubica (and I love that her books are set in Chicago! Hello, St. Charles/Kane County mention!) but this one wasn’t as strong as her first for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult thrillers. I’ve always been a big mystery/thriller fan and I’m enjoying getting into Mary Kubica’s books! It’s really fun to take a break from YA and get into an adult mindset.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot Development. I wanted things to keep moving forward just a little bit. I didn’t mind a bit twist/reveal/thing at the end but I was hoping for just a little bit more forward motion throughout.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I did enjoy this one but it wasn’t as strong as other thrillers for me. I think it’s a good read though and I enjoy Mary Kubica’s writing!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE PRETTY BABY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

The Good Girl – Mary Kubica

The Good Girl – Mary KubicaTitle: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: July 29, 2014 by Harlequin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 13, 2016
Related Posts: Pretty Baby

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.
When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

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I had been hearing about THE GOOD GIRL and Mary Kubica’s books for a while now (I still remember those giant banners from BEA 2014!) and when this audiobook was on sale through Audible, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I didn’t know what I was in the mood for when choosing a new audiobook one day and I’m always in the mood for a mystery/thriller so I decided to start this one!

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from THE GOOD GIRL. I didn’t know if it was supposed to be another GONE GIRL (I feel like I had heard some comparison like that somewhere along the way) or if it was more mystery or if there was any sort of twist at all. In a way, that was a good thing because I had a few less expectations and I was able to just read (listen to) the book without trying to push it on a certain path. It was also a bit of a bad thing at times because I really wasn’t sure what the point of the book was. I felt engaged the whole time but I started to expect a twist somewhere because while the action was moving forward, I wasn’t quite sure what the end goal was to this story and why it needed to be told. (Not that I didn’t think there was a purpose — I just wasn’t sure what it was!)

THE GOOD GIRL has alternative POVs but it also has alternating timelines with each POV as well — there will be a POV switch and a time frame switch from before Mia was abducted to after. I thought this was really interesting and it really made for a well-rounded story while still leaving big clues out since the perspectives are from Mia’s mother, the detective working the case, and interestingly enough, Mia’s abductor and not Mia. The reader is able to follow the mystery along since Mia is suffering from selective amnesia and PTSD following her kidnapping and return home.

I was actually incredibly interested in Colin, the guy who was hired to kidnap Mia. I thought it was super interesting to get POV chapters from him instead of Mia that detailed how the kidnapping went down and how his decisions really affected the story. I ended up finding myself feeling quite sympathetic towards him and enjoying his POV and I wasn’t sure at first if I was supposed to. As the book goes on, the reader discovers exactly how big his role is in Mia’s story and why it’s important for him to have POV chapters and not Mia.

I was both happy with and a little disappointed by the ending. There’s a little piece of information that really brings the whole book together and made me say, “AH. There it is.” I was glad that everything really came together and that nugget of information really brought that “point” of the book to light and explained why this story was so important. The reason I was a little disappointed was because this happened literally right at the end. It was the very last chapter of the book so I was getting ready to say, “Okay, nice story but meh” so at least that really did tie everything together! I guess I was also hoping for something more… sinister? I can’t help it — as much as I hate Amy Dunne characters because they’re awful people, it’s so incredibly fascinating to watch that trainwreck go down. I will say this is not a light read and it has its dark moments but it doesn’t have that flash of legitimate antisocial personality disorder like GONE GIRL does and in a way, I was hoping for it because such bad behavior just makes those shocking moments all the more shocking!

THE GOOD GIRL was a good read and I’ll probably pick up another Mary Kubica book but it wasn’t as thrilling as I had hoped. The moments in between the action were a bit slow for me, especially the chapters with Mia’s mother because I just didn’t care as much about her backstory or personal life. I’m interested to pick up other Mary Kubica books but I’m also hoping for a bit more of a twist!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Produced by: Blackstone Audio
Narrators: Lindy Nettleton, Johnny Heller, Tom Taylorson, and Andi Arndt
Source: Purchased on sale from Audible.com

Honestly, I was totally surprised to hear Lindy Nettleton kick off the story… with a British accent. The book takes place in the Chicagoland area so I didn’t understand at first but then we do find out that she’s from the UK and moved here when she was a teenager but still has a strong accent. It really wasn’t all that appealing to me since it seemed out of place in a Chicago atmosphere even though I know it was actually accurate.
I really enjoyed Colin’s POV (narrated by Tom Taylorson, who also narrates in PRETTY BABY which is good news for me if I pick up the audio for that book too) and his voice was really enjoyable to listen to. I think that’s also why I ended up being sympathetic towards him — an audiobook’s narrator really affects how I feel towards a particular character!
It was a bit awkward to hear exchanges between Eve and Gabe (Nettleton and Heller) because their voices are just so different that I just feel like they were hard to capture from the other person’s POV. I felt like Nettleton didn’t do a very good American accept and Heller didn’t do the best British accent but things like that don’t usually bother me too much unless they don’t seem to be trying at all.
Overall, the narration was pretty good with Taylorson being my favorite narrator of the bunch and I’d actively seek out other books narrated by him! I will probably not listen to something with Nettleton’s narration again unless it’s a favorite author.

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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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Eve // Character Obsessions: Mia’s case, family, appearances 
Eve was sort of a weird character for me. She loves her family and yet they’re still quite distant. She keeps up with appearances and yet she’s not overly focused on status. She sort of floats somewhere in the middle where you know she comes from money and maybe wasn’t the best mother but she’s not a horrible person. I ended up feeling pretty ambivalent about her but I didn’t really like her overall character either.
Colin // Character Obsessions: Survival, money, taking care of business
I ended up being really sympathetic towards Colin. He’s the antagonist here and yet I found myself rooting for him more and more. His voice felt genuine and you could tell he was just in a hard spot, had a hard life growing up, and was doing these things for the money and to help his mother. That’s not an excusable reason to kidnap someone but that’s also a part of why the story went the way it did.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult thrillers. I don’t really too many adult age-range novels anymore since I’m heavy into YA but it’s refreshing to pick up something different every once in a while!
Left Me Wanting More: Twist. There was a little twist but it came so late that a bit of disappointment had already set in.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I did enjoy this one! Not my all-time favorite and probably other go-to recs before this one but it was a solid, well put-together book and I’m sure I’ll read more Mary Kubica in the future!

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BOOKS LIKE THE GOOD GIRL 

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GONE GIRL    THE PASSENGER

Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion #1) – Aimee Carter

Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion #1) – Aimee CarterTitle: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter
Publishing Info: November 26, 2013 by Harlequin
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 30, 2013

   For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
    If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
    There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

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When I first heard about PAWN, I was super excited. It sound liked a mega-thrilling dystopian that I could totally get swept away with. In the end, it was definitely really enjoyable but maybe not as mega-thrilling as I had hoped it to be!

I was definitely interested right off the bat. I really enjoyed the new caste system that Aimee Carter came up with — With the Harts in charge of the country, each member receives an assigned number representing their rank. All Harts are VIIs simply because they are the leading family. From there, you can earn a rank as high as a VI — meaning you have a high intelligence rating, can give back to society, and are entitled to a higher standard of living — and the lower ranks of Is and IIs are usually sent Elsewhere, removed from Society. When Kitty receives a III after her testing and is offered an opportunity to earn a higher rank, she accepts, not truly know what she’s in for. Sounds good, right!?! I know I was hooked!

I really admired Kitty’s spunk as soon as I met her. She may have received a III but she’s not unintelligent. She has a lot of common sense and she’s very clever, but she can’t read and I actually really liked that Aimee Carter incorporated a learning disability (as much as I really hate the term “learning disability) in the book. It was especially something that I appreciated seeing because I know a few people who are dyslexic and while I don’t experience first hand how hard that may be, I can definitely appreciate it and how people who don’t understand perceive them as unintelligent when it’s not their fault. I really connected with Kitty on that level so it made the book a bit more personal for me. My heart went out to her and made me think of the people I know who struggle like that (although not to the extent that Kitty does) and how frustrating and really life-changing that is.

PAWN also had some really good plot twists that I really enjoyed! There were quite a few things I didn’t see coming so I really appreciated that it was not only action-packed but really surprising! I feel like a dystopian can carry a reader through with creative world-building and terrific suspense and action but PAWN also has quite a few surprises packed in for the reader and after the first one, I was so excited to see where Aimee Carter would take us next!

I really loved a lot of the characters in PAWN as well! I have to say Knox was my favorite. I was curious and tempted. I felt like Kitty was exposed and yet safe. He was quite the interesting character and there were times I wasn’t sure whether he was friend or foe! The entire Hart family was quite the conundrum while reading and I was really never sure what to expect from them! I love the way I was kept guessing the whole time.

I really don’t have any complaints about the book but I do have to say that it never quite took me to WOW level. I really loved the twists and they really kept me hooked but overall, I had an impression of “really good” but not quite “fantastic”. If you’re feeling worn out on the dystopian trend and looking for a light mix of futuristic technology, I’d highly recommend you add PAWN to your reading list!

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Kitty // Character Obsessions: Being more than a III, finding Benjy again, protecting the ones she loves, surviving the Harts.
I really liked Kitty! I thought she was a really great heroine with a lot of motive and desire to get herself both in and out of trouble. She was really dedicated to her family, friends, and boyfriend that she ended up “leaving behind” when she went to go work with the Harts and I really felt her commitment to them. I also loved the new relationships that she formed as well. I really appreciated her situation as far as her “judgeable intelligence”. (Yes, I totally made that up.) She was definitely smart, but not always traditionally book smart so she really got put in a class she may not have belonged.
Knox // Character Obsessions: Maintaining a status quo, protecting Kitty/Lila… or is he?
Knox was another stand-out character for me. I really, really liked him. He was mysterious and yet I trusted him all at the same time. He felt trustworthy but especially with all of the twists thrown in there, I was just never sure of him. A very exciting character!
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Kept Me Hooked On: Caste system dystopians. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy learning about different levels of society in dystopians and how they’re categorized. For some reason this world-building aspect really just fascinates me! Not like I really approve of it in real life… Just for fiction, people! Just for fiction! But that kind of world building is really interesting. I always wonder how the authors decide what falls into which category and who gets put into what class.
Left Me Wanting More: …Something. I’m not sure what was holding me back but I wasn’t fully WOWED. It was definitely really good and looking back on it, I still feel really confident with how much I enjoyed it but it didn’t quite skyrocket to a favorite.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think a lot of people would enjoy this one! It follows a certain pattern and will feel familiar but still keep you on your toes!

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BOOKS LIKE PAWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Altered   Tandem

The Break-Up Artist – Philip Siegel

The Break-Up Artist – Philip SiegelTitle: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Publishing Info: April 29, 2014 by Harlequin
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 23, 2013

    Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash.
    Some work at the mall.
    Becca Williamson breaks up couples.
    Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca's older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple's relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they're second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca's best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.
    One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and raw football team's star player, Steve. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars...not to mention sneaking back into Huxley's good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val's new boyfriend.
    No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.

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Firstly, I need to thank author Philip Siegel for the opportunity to read THE BREAK-UP ARTIST in advance! When I first read up on the title, I knew this was going to be an incredibly fun read and I certainly wasn’t disappointed in that expectation!

I think THE BREAK-UP ARTIST is a great story that touches on several different aspects of the average teenager’s life (okay, and adults too) such as friendships, romances, and balancing the two. Becca, also known as “The Break-Up Artist” is making her living by breaking up couples at her high school, but ONLY by hire. Most of her clients are girls who have lost their best friends because they got a boyfriend and Becca’s totally on their side. Her sister Diane was left on her wedding day and a year later, she’s still picking up the pieces. This book was such a perfect fit for me because even though I’m happy engaged now and planning my wedding, in high school I was all too-often “that girl” who got left behind because of a boyfriend or a crush.

Becca was kind of my girl. She’s funny, witty, and she knows what it’s like to be ditched because your best friend found a guy. She used to be BFFs with Huxley until she started dating the most popular guy in school, and instead of taking Becca with her on her path to popularity, she ditched her like they had never been friends in the first place. When Becca gets a request to break up Huxley and her boyfriend, she hesitates, knowing that they once had a real friendship, but when she ultimately accepts, the plot thickens. Now I can’t say I would ever do the same to my former-best friend, but Becca has a business and she really believes that even though breaking up couples sounds horrible, she’s really doing it for the right reasons.

I also really like that Philip Siegel incorporated the story of Diane, Becca’s older sister. We could have just had her story appear, find out she was left on her wedding day, and let that be a driving force but never developed, but I really liked that we got to see many different sides of Diane’s story and how that helps Becca. Becca always looked up to her older sister and she often goes to her for advice since Diane is the only person who knows that Becca is The Break-Up Artist. I always love sister relationships and the one between Becca and Diane really propels this story forward and keeps it moving.

I also really loved the many examples of how girls balance relationships and friendships. Some of them actually handled it well but most of the characters get blinded by their boyfriends and from my personal experience, I think that’s easy to do, even as an adult. It’s not so much more noticeable as an adult because that’s the time for settling down. You’re supposed to spend the majority of your time with your significant other, get married, move in, etc. But in high school, it’s much more noticeable when you find you’re hanging out with your friends less and less because of guys. Becca even has to go through this first-hand and then, well, I don’t want to spoil things, but her life gets much more complicated and she finds herself in situations she never thought she would be in.

THE BREAK-UP ARTIST was definitely a fun read and something that I really related with as well. I was the girl without a boyfriend in high school so I really related to Becca and how hard those situations could be sometimes. I think readers will have a lot of fun with this one and really enjoy it!

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Becca // Character Obsessions: Breaking up couples, helping her sister, not losing any more friends.
Becca already lost one best friend to a boyfriend so she’s determined not to let it happen to anyone else. She has a really tough job as The Break-Up Artist but she knows that what she’s doing is for the best of everyone’s interests. I really loved her sense of humor and was so happy to see it! I also loved how she wasn’t flawless. When things get complicated with her friend Val, Becca doesn’t always make the right decisions but I love how friendships DO end up prevailing in this book.
Huxley // Character Obsessions: SDA, her boyfriend Steve, popularity.
Some of the scenes with Huxley ACTUALLY reminded me of Mean Girls and I was laughing out loud! (“You can’t sit with us!”) Huxley was actually a really interesting character and the further we got into her relationship as Becca is trying to break it up, the more we learn about Becca and Huxley’s old friendship and the more we begin to see the pieces of what once was. I like that she had some layers to her character and that she wasn’t totally one-sided!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic high school. Okay, so most high schools have nothing like a break-up artist, but I really liked seeing the realistic friendships and relationships play out. Not all of them are like that, but these are ones where you can see when they need to be exaggerated, they definitely have roots in reality. All too-often I felt like Becca and I really appreciated the situations she went through.
Left Me Wanting More: You know what… I really don’t know. I enjoyed the book and I can’t really say I was missing anything! I had a really great time reading it and I felt like it covered a lot of big issues and had some really great and natural character development. Right on, Philip Siegel!

Addiction Rating
Read & Recommend It!

This is definitely one I would recommend if you’re looking for a fun and still realistic contemporary. Keep an eye out for THE BREAK-UP ARTIST coming out in April 2014!!! I think readers will really enjoy it.

book_recommendations1(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Confessions   Nantucket Blue

Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend (Confessions #2) – Louise Rozett

Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend (Confessions #2) – Louise RozettTitle: Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend (Confessions #2) by Louise Rozett
Publishing Info: June 25, 2013 by Harlequin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 13, 2013
Related Posts: Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1), No More Confessions (Confessions #3)

    Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around...
    ...but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all...the almost-girlfriend.
    When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.

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I absolutely LOVED the first book in this series, CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL — so much so that I actually went out and requested this one from HarlequinTeen because I was dying to read it! So a big thanks to them for sending me the paperback to review! Louise Rozett did it again. Another great portrayal of Rose Zarelli’s life as she knows it. Rose is back for her sophomore year, and she’s ready to take on the world by storm with Rose 2.0! But where does she stand with heartthrob (and oh, he is) Jamie Forta?

The first thing I’m going to say about CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND is JAMIE FORTA. Jamie. Forta. Oh, I love him. But okay… More on him later. This is the story of Rose! Who last year struggled with the death of her father and well… She’s still sort of struggling with it! But I’m glad she is — and don’t take that the wrong way — because grief takes time. It was interesting to see how Rose’s family has changed since her father’s death a year and a half ago, both as a unit and as individual people. The death of Alfonso Zarelli sort of tore his family apart in ways that I don’t think anyone would have predicted and I actually think Rose is the most adjusted one, despite what her mother probably thinks.
I actually felt like Rose’s mom really loses her cool a bit more in this book than in the first. Maybe we just didn’t see that change in her mom so much because Rose was having such a hard time and she wasn’t noticing the difference. Especially now that Rose and her mom are in counseling, so many issues come up that they’re forced to address and it puts even more of a strain on their relationship until they fix them. Her brother Peter is starting to deteriorate and that’s also become incredibly noticeable as well. Her poor family is falling apart without her father.

In a way, this jolt to the Zarelli’s helps Rose become more “Rose 2.0” than I think even she anticipated. Rose intended to start sophomore year with an attitude that no one would hurt her because she wouldn’t let it — Rose 2.0. Turns out, that’s a lot harder to do than it sounds, but Rose is able to rediscover herself in different ways, one of which turns out to be music. She actually has to try a lot of things to figure out what fits her best (and HEY. LOUISE. Didn’t appreciate the choir and musical theater slamming from Rose! But… Okay, I’ll let that one slide). She learns how to make decisions for herself and basically becomes isolated from her family and friends at one point in time because of a series of events that led to Rose REALLY figuring out who she wants to be and how she wants to act.

Rose is also dealing with yet another event that turns her from good samaritan to tattle tale when a bullying incident occurs. Rose simply does what she thinks is right and what she thinks will help and somehow it turns into one book-long catastrophe when she helps a boy named Conrad after he’s being hazed by the swim team for being gay. CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND deals with several tolerance issues and brings up a lot of points on bullying which was interesting to see. I liked how it was handled and that even though it’s the right thing to do, sometimes it takes a lot of courage to stand up against a bully and put your foot down. Just because you do something good doesn’t mean that that’s the easy road, and Rose learns that several times over. I really did like this story line and the stand against bullying… But I also felt like that took away from the Rose story line and switched it to Conrad’s story. Rose was a victim of bullying in book one, so everything was relevant to her life, so I felt like for it to happen to a brand new character sort of just took away from the main focus being Rose.

That being said… JAMIE FORTAAAA. Oh, Jamie. He’s so dreamy. When he first showed, I practically melted into a puddle of little hearts. He’s just that bad boy with a heart of gold, and he’s the older guy, and Jamie! You’re killing me with this back and forth thing! I don’t know… I could swoon all day but.. Just read the books yourself! You’ll KNOW.

I think CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL may still be my favorite of the two, but I really liked where Louise Rozett took CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND. Since book one was freshman year and book two was sophomore year, I’m hoping there’s a three and four in our future with junior and senior written all over them!

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Rose Zarelli // Character Obsessions: Jamie Forta, her father’s memorial website, music.
Rose is back! I really liked seeing Rose evolve into Rose 2.0, as she called herself, and I’m actually glad it didn’t go the way she planned. Rose 2.0 was originally sounding like she might be a mean girl and sure, she still has some “angry” issues, but instead of getting tough, Rose starts to just grow up. I loved seeing her change and find herself along the way of this book!
Jamie Forta // Character Obsessions: Being dreamy, Rose Zarelli, the Deladdos.
Jamie has that sense of mystery that made me both want to swoon over him and smack him across the face. I think Rose did maybe a little of both haha! His internal debate sort of killed me this book, but how can you not love him? I’m HOPING he’ll have sorted some things out for the next book (there IS a next book, right!?) because I need to see him and Rose having a legit relationship!
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Kept Me Hooked On: The bad boy. I feel like sometimes I can go either way with the “bad boy” romantic interest, but oh, Jamie. He keeps me swooning. (Also, just so you have this frame of reference, I’m picturing Jess from Gilmore Girls. Yeah.)

I mean… Come on.

Left Me Wanting More: Rose + Jamie. Rose does discover herself a lot in this book, but I also wanted see more of her AND Jamie. It was such a big part of book one and what I was expecting to see more of in book two and I just didn’t get enough!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I’ll buy this whole series. I love Louise Rozett’s writing and I still keep recommending CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL to people looking for a good contemporary read!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND

     Blaze           Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality

Confessions of an Angry Girl – Louise Rozett

Confessions of an Angry Girl – Louise RozettTitle: Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1) by Louise Rozett
Publishing Info: January 4, 2012 by Harlequin
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 17, 2012
Related Posts: Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend (Confessions #2), No More Confessions (Confessions #3)

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some confessions to make…
1. I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?
2. I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.
3. High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry—get it?)
Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.
(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.)
(Sorry. That was rude.)
  

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When I first got approved from Netgalley to review this book (thank you!) I figured I’d like it, but just so-so. It seemed like a simple story and frankly, I expected it to be half-silly. It wasn’t. I was so impressed with the novel that Louise Rozett laid out for us and I got really into Rose’s character and the situations she was experiencing.

When we first meet Rose, it’s just months after her father was killed by an IED over in Iraq, her brother left her family for college, and she’s just starting high school. She’s feeling like she’s losing her best friend Tracy who’s more interested in being a cheerleader than the friendship they used to hold so dear, and through a series of events, she’s majorly crushing on Jamie Forta — a known bad-boy — and therefore a target of bullying by his “maybe girlfriend” Regina, who also happens to be the head of the cheerleading squad.

Rose’s situation is far from enviable and I really felt like the author did a great job of having the reader connect with Rose (at least I did!), especially since my expectations of this book was that Rose was going to be angry in a comedic way. I was so glad that this was an emotion-filled book and I really connected with all of the characters. In a lot of ways, Rose is very mature at only 14, but we do still see some girlish notions with the way she acts towards Jamie and romance, which is to be expected.

The thing I really liked about the book is how real it felt to me. I felt like this could have been a real person’s story. None of the characters were too “out there” (although I do have an issue with cheerleaders being prevalent in a lot of YA books since they didn’t have much stigma at my high school) and the emotions definitely made sense and were logical instead of people flying off the handle and acting a little bit crazy (hey, it happens).

I really didn’t expect to like this book so much and I loved it. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a stand-alone like I thought and I’ll still pick up the sequel. I think it could have wrapped up neatly in the end in just a few more pages; however, I do love Rose and where this story was headed so I’ll definitely read the sequel to see where that goes.

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Rose Zarelli: I loved Rose! I felt like she and I had a lot in common in our beginning years of high school so I totally connected with her. She was studious but still liked to have fun and was wary of all of the drinking and sex and drugs – Which is exactly how I was. I was fresh out of Catholic school and had a crash course in high school and public school. I just think I really made a connection with Rose.
Jamie Forta: Personally, Jamie Forta kind of reminded me of a Jess from Gilmore Girls (<3 <3). He’s the strong, silent type and it totally worked in this story. The age difference is a bit large for high school, but hey, this kind of stuff happens. He seemed like the bad-boy I would have been interested in with all of the mystery surrounding him too – But I probably wouldn’t have the courage to get anywhere near Regina!
Regina Deladdo: Regina reminded me of… um… Regina George? From Mean Girls. Hahaha. She’s the Queen Bee and they totally had the same personality. But she was a really good villain for the story. If anything, she was the character I liked the least just because she seemed the least realistic. I don’t know about other people’s high schools, but as far as I KNOW, we didn’t have any crazy bullies like that, outwardly making fun of and insulting people to humiliate them in front of everyone.

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BUY IT!

Wow, I was really impressed with this book. I REALLY enjoyed everything about it. I feel like not too many people have heard of this one so I’m recommending it to all!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL

Pushing the Limits – Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits – Katie McGarryTitle: Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) by Katie McGarry
Publishing Info: July 31, 2012 by Harlequin
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 20, 2012

    No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.
    But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
    Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Breaking It Down Further: After a tragic incident with her mother that she repressed in her mind, Echo Emerson finds it hard to return to her normal life. She can’t remember how she got the scars on her arms and everyone at school treats her like a total outcast because of them. The more Echo withdraws, the more she feels lost and desperate to find out what really happened to her. Noah Hutchins tells his own story as well – typical bad boy with a bad rep. Although his reputation is mostly true, Noah has a dark past that put him there but now more than ever it’s important for him to clean up his act a bit to reunite with his brothers who are in a separate foster home. When Echo & Noah’s worlds collide, it quickly becomes hard to fight the attraction until the two become more than they ever imagined.

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Hm. Well. Let’s start with my overall opinion: I really did enjoy reading PUSHING THE LIMITS. I felt like it was a different kind of contemporary YA romance and we actually had a little bit of mystery with Echo’s secret story about what really happened between her and her mother. I really did pick up on the chemistry between Echo and Noah. I was a little afraid at first since Echo was a formerly popular girl (I don’t know why that bothered me, but for some reason it did a little – Maybe overkill on the polar opposites?), but Echo actually seemed pretty normal aside from the trauma that she went through.

I actually really enjoyed tons of aspects of this book (even though I’m about to complain a lot). I really liked the story line a lot! Echo’s story was really interesting and I really didn’t know where that little mystery was going. The relationship between Echo and Noah was pretty much instant physical attraction, but there was a nice lead up to their actual relationship and I liked that it didn’t jump into things too fast.

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Echo: I was actually just a smidge annoyed with Echo? Yeah, that’s a question. Even after the whole book, I still don’t know how I feel about her. I felt like she put too much blame on other people for how her life turned out. I mean, I know it wasn’t her fault for whatever happened with her mom, and even though we don’t know what the incident was throughout the book, we do know that Echo was indeed a victim of the situation and she’s not at fault. But I felt like the whole book she was searching for someone to blame and sometimes it put me off a bit that she was so mean to her dad and step-mom (I felt bad for poor Ashley the whole book). It seemed a little “typical teenager” that okay yes, you do have a hard life, no one’s denying that, but time to face it.
Noah: I liked Noah a lot more. He has a tragic past as well, but he’s already been dealing it for years and we see the hardened exterior of Noah throughout the book and Echo actually softens his personality up a bit. We know he’s got a really passionate side for his friends and family and I really loved seeing that side of him. The only thing that really bothered me about Noah (and yes it really bothered me) was all of the “Noah-isms” that Katie McGarry used for him over and over. It was way to repetitive to hear him call Echo his siren/nymph constantly and I’m sorry if anyone out there uses this, but I hate hearing couples call each other “baby”. Babe is fine. Cute even. Baby irritates the hell out of me. I know, I know personal rant, but it’s stupid stuff like that that really does make a difference when I’m reading. Baby just seems so insincere to me so to hear Noah call Echo “baby” just seemed like he was belittling her because that’s how I see the word.
Ashley: I actually did feel bad for step-mom/former nanny Ashley! I think she got treated way too harshly by Echo. I guess I didn’t feel as bad for her dad because it’s easier to be mad or to be mean to family and “get away with it” so to speak, but even though Echo saw Ashley as someone who broke up her family, I could really see Ashley’s side and I felt like we as readers knew she was a good person at heart and never intended it.
Supporting Characters: I actually think some of the secondary characters stole the show for me and really made the book that much better. If they weren’t in the story, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. Noah is still one of my favorite characters, but here’s my shout out to the secondaries that made it a much deeper and beautiful novel: the great Mrs. Collins, Noah’s brothers, Isaiah, Beth, Lila, step-mom Ashley

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Try it

I feel bad that this review somehow ended up being a lot more complaining than I anticipated… I guess all those things really just got under my skin! I thought about rating it 3.5 stars since apparently I found to many negatives, but I actually really did like reading the story quite a bit and would recommend it to people. Really, really great story. I actually felt kind of like I was watching a movie instead of reading. I think almost anyone will read this and really enjoy it.

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BOOKS LIKE PUSHING THE LIMITS

The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle    The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle

The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) – Julie Kagawa

The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) – Julie KagawaTitle: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa
Publishing Info: February 1, 2010 by Harlequin
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 28, 2012

    Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
    Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
    When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
    But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

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This was a really, really creative story and I loved how in depth the world of the fey was. But… I just don’t think faeries are my thing. I’m not a really big fantasy person and I think THE IRON KING unfortunately solidified that. 

I really enjoyed Meghan’s character, especially her interaction with Robbie/Puck. I adored their friendship and Puck was hands down my favorite character with all his spunk and joviality (is that a word?) — They made a great duo and Puck was the perfect sidekick/bodyguard.
I started getting into the whole relationship with Meghan and Ash towards the end too. It was another “forbidden love” that I really rooted for.

Overall, I think the whole faery world just is not for me. Not to say it’s not a good book — I did enjoy it — but I think I easily get lost in what I can’t relate to. The faery world and all magic, eccentric and wild creatures… too many tend to bog me down and I just get confused with trying to use so much of my imagination to create the pictures in my mind. I really need something I already know to draw from in order to piece together the worlds that I read in books and I guess my imagination isn’t what it used to be when I was kid because I just can’t get there anymore!

I also had way too many things I was comparing this story to that I couldn’t pick up an original storyline to detach from the ones I already knew. I had The Labyrinth in the beginning (baby brother gets taken by the faery realm (okay, so the Labyrinth was the Goblin Kking — And isn’t Toby a half-brother in that movie too?) and the packrats), Alice in Wonderland with Grimalkin as the Cheshire Cat, Harry Potter (some magic, I pictured the mermaids/lake creatures from the Goblet of Fire challenge), Narnia with all of the doors leading to different realms, City of Bones (glamour and the supernatural hidden in plain sight) and of course the whole thing is based off of A Mid Summer Night’s Dream. So between all of those old stories rolling around in my head, I just couldn’t separate them from this one and make it original and new to me.

Really creative, I enjoyed the writing — especially the humor and the sarcastic/witty remarks — but I just think I’m not the intended audience unfortunately.

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Try it

Lots of good stuff coming out of the book. Just not for me though.

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BOOKS LIKE THE IRON KING

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) – Sarah J. Maas    TIGER LILY

Sex, Murder and a Double Latte – Kyra Davis

Sex, Murder and a Double Latte – Kyra DavisTitle: Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte (A Sophie Katz Murder Mystery #1) by Kyra Davis
Publishing Info: April 1, 2006 by Harlequin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 18, 2012

    When a mystery writer cries bloody murder, everyone blames her overactive imagination . . .
    Thriller scribe Sophie Katz is as hard-boiled as a woman who drinks Grande Caramel Brownie Frappuccinos can be. So Sophie knows it's not paranoia or post-divorce, living-alone-again jitters, when she becomes convinced that a crazed reader is sneaking into her apartment to reenact scenes from her books. The police, however, can't tell a good plot from an unmarked grave.
    When a filmmaker friend is brutally murdered in the manner of a death scene in one of his movies, Sophie becomes convinced that a copycat killer is on the loose -- and that she's the next target. If she doesn't solve the mystery, her own bestseller will spell out her doom. Cursing her grisly imagination (why, oh, why did she have to pick the ax?), Sophie engages in some real-life gumshoe tactics. The man who swoops in to save her in dark alleys is mysterious new love interest Anatoly Darinsky. Of course, if this were fiction, Anatoly would be her prime suspect . . .

Breaking It Down Further: Murder mystery writer Sophie Katz just finished her latest novel (early for once) and is happy as a clam… Until a string of unusual events makes her feel like her privacy and maybe her life is at stake. After her apartment is broken into and her car is vandalized, Sophie can’t help but feel a little uneasy… And even more uneasy when she makes the connection that all of the creepy coincidences piling up are taken directly out of her best seller Sex, Drugs, and Murder. Soon it moves beyond creepy and into murderous. Can Sophie solve the mystery of the murderer before she ends up as the victim of a crime she herself designed?

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So upon finishing, I have to say the end pushed me towards liking the book more. Thoughout the beginning and middle of the book, I felt like it was a little too fluffy for me. Sophie was likable enough, but there were too many “stereotypical” characters (gay best friend/hairdresser, best friend who owns a sex shop, best friend who’s a total “dumb blonde” type, overbearing Jewish mother, sister with a bratty kid). It just seemed like there were too many characters and not enough realness (is that a word?) in each person. Granted it’s supposed to be a lighter and more humorous piece, but I like a book where there are more real people with some token characters peppered in to be the ones who are over the top. As for the mystery, again through the beginning and middle I was almost disappointed. It seemed too easy. But then once I got really close to the end, it got really interesting! I thought I knew who Sophie’s stalker/soon-to-be-killer was, and then things get switched around again. So good job on that change, otherwise I may have had a very different opinion of this book! ALSO — A major thing which I can’t believe I almost forgot to include in my review! Even after reading, I’m still not sure if I think book-about-an-author’s-book was too easy to come up with and or a well-thought out and clever little idea. Really still not sure how I feel about it.

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3.5/5 stars
It was enjoyable, lots of silly moments and crazy characters, but just a little to overdone for me. The mystery was drawn out enough and Sophie did some good investigation, but I just didn’t feel like I’d come back to a second book.

Body Movers (Body Movers #1) – Stephanie Bond

Body Movers (Body Movers #1) – Stephanie BondTitle: Body Movers (Body Movers #1) by Stephanie Bond
Publishing Info: August 1, 2006 by Harlequin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2012

So Carlotta Wren's life hasn't turned out as she'd planned. She didn't plan for her parents to skip bail for a white-collar crime, leaving her to raise her brother. She didn't plan on having the silver spoon ripped from her mouth and forgoing college to work retail. She didn't plan on her blue-blood fiancé dumping her. And she didn't plan on still being single ten years later, working at Neiman Marcus, with no idea where her fugitive parents are. But she's coping. Until
——her lovable brother is arrested, and the hunky cop decides to reopen her parents' case.
—her brother becomes a body mover for the morgue, and his sexy boss gets Carlotta involved.
—her former fiancé's wife (a good customer) is murdered, fingering Carlotta.
With three men in her life, Carlotta has added motivation to help bag a murderer to keep her own well-dressed body from being next on the list!

Breaking It Down Further: Ten years after Carlotta Wren’s parents flee from the law for a white collar crime, her fiancé dumps her, and she’s stuck taking care of her younger brother Wesley, the bodies start piling up. Wesley has developed quite the gambling problem and owes large sums of money to his backers. Carlotta, working retail at Neiman Marcus, doesn’t make enough money to support this habit either and after getting caught hacking into government systems, Wesley is in even more trouble than where he started. Then after a harsh confrontation from her ex-fiance’s current wife Angela, all eyes are on Carlotta when Angela turns up dead after drowning in her own swimming pool. Did ex Peter kill her off after reuniting with Carlotta? Did Carlotta kill her off to get Peter back? Is there a new serial killer in Atlanta? While fending off three (yes, THREE) attractive men (Wesley’s new body-mover boss Coop, ex Peter, and the dreaded detective), can Carlotta solve a murder and keep her lust in check?

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Well, this was enjoyable, but I do have to say that I was hoping for better. Maybe since there were three possible romances, I really wanted one of them to start panning out. Coop’s lust for Carlotta is just a crush, she’s hopping back on the Peter-train against her better judgment, and I personally was also rooting for the detective (as well as Coop) just because she seemed to hate him so much that she liked him. As for the murder mystery, well played out, but still not quite the ending I wanted it to have. Carlotta does some good sleuthing and like any good mystery heroine, hunts down her own clues instead of leaving it to the professionals! Very good with that side of the novel, but I was even still just mildly disappointed with who ended up being the murderer here. Somehow just not satisfying. Maybe I was also led on by the fact that it was called Body Movers and I just expected all of the characters to be involved in the title business and not just her brothers happening upon it. Oh well. I did still like the characters that were introduced and I’d like to continue on in the series!

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3.5/5 stars
Well, I just couldn’t get enough out of it to give it 4 stars. I did like a lot of things about this book, but it was another one that after I finished reading it, I just still wasn’t happy. I really hope I like the next book in the series better! Definitely willing to keep on reading the series.

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If You Liked This, You Might Like…
This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine — Freelance writer Jaine is on the job when a mild-mannered geek is set up on a date with an aerobics instructor who turns up murdered
…OR…
Candy Apple Red by Nancy Bush — Okay, so confession is that I actually read the second book (Electric Blue) in this series (Jane Kelly) by accident. I actually didn’t like the 1st book as much as the 2nd, but I always say to start with the first!