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Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) – Jessica Park

Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) – Jessica ParkTitle: Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) by Jessica Park
Publishing Info: May 18, 2011 by Independent
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 29, 2017

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

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I picked up FLAT-OUT LOVE in an Audible sale because Julia Whelan is one of my favorite female audiobook narrators and I had seen a lot of positive reactions from my Goodreads friends. I really didn’t know what it was about before I started but I was pleasantly surprised with its content and tone!

FLAT-OUT LOVE was a wonderful mix of serious and sarcasm. Main character Julie ends up moving in with a family friend (and the family that comes with her) after being scammed on an apartment listing for college and ends up staying there throughout the year. The story revolves around the family that Julie moves in with and their delicate balance of affection and stoicism, most noted by 13-year-old Celeste’s attachment to a cardboard cut-out of her older brother Finn, who is away travelling the world. I won’t rehash the whole plot but essentially Julie brings levity and a fresh outlook on life to this family and really breaks through a point where they were all standing still, holding their breath. I loved Julia’s personality and attitude. She brought a light to that house and so much humor, sarcasm, and high spirits. There were plenty of serious moments, as this book is clearly harboring some deep secret with Celeste’s quirks that no one will talk about, but I thought the balance was really well done. If this had been a strictly serious or tragic book, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much.

Every relationship was really well-crafted. Julie is able to connect with each person in the house on a different level, even if it’s not deeply. Julie shakes things up and yes, breaks a few hearts by making them admit the “bad things”, but ultimately is able to show them that standing still is no way to live if you can’t ever move forward. I don’t really know how I feel about the romance because without spoiling anything, it gets complicated on soooo many levels and there’s a level of trust that was broken with me as a reader that I don’t think I could have personally come back from, but Julie is a forgiving soul and of course she wants to make the relationship work because it is quite sweet in its core.

While FLAT-OUT LOVE was a quick and addicting read for me, I really don’t have any interest in its companions. I tried reading FLAT-OUT CELESTE and her voice was just very difficult for me to at least listen to, though I don’t know about reading, and I don’t have an interest in FLAT-OUT MATT since it’s really just the same story but in parts from Matt’s POV. Julie was the best part of the book and without her, the stories don’t really have a draw for me.

I think FLAT-OUT LOVE is a great contemporary read and good book for those who don’t want to shy away from real life but also appreciate some good humor and lightness in times of darkness.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The nitty gritty. I’ve been shying away from the more rough patches of life and have had a strong preference for the light and fluffy. I’m glad I read FLAT-OUT LOVE and that the balance of light and dark was there.
Left Me Wanting More: Honesty. If the family had been able to just tell Julie what their life-changing situation was, there wouldn’t really be a book… so obviously that’s why there’s a secret there, but I wish everyone had just been a bit more honest. I know they didn’t want to talk about the THING but it seemed silly to keep it from the person who was living in your house.

Addiction Rating
Check it out

I actually really enjoyed this one, which surprised me! I loved Julie’s outgoing, sarcastic, and friendly tone.

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BOOKS LIKE FLAT-OUT LOVE

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    MY LIFE NEXT DOOR

Mini-Review: Snapshot – Brandon Sanderson

Mini-Review: Snapshot – Brandon SandersonTitle: Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: February 17, 2017 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 19, 2017
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

If you could re-create a day, what dark secrets would you uncover?

From New York Times #1 bestselling author Brandon Sanderson comes a detective thriller in a police beat like no other. Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz are the only real people in a city of 20 million, sent there by court order to find out what happened in the real world 10 days ago so that hidden evidence can be brought to light and located in the real city today.

Within the re-created Snapshot of May 1st, Davis and Chaz are the ultimate authorities. Flashing their badges will get them past any obstruction and overrule any civil right of the dupes around them. But the crimes the detectives are sent to investigate seem like drudgery—until they stumble upon the grisly results of a mass killing that the precinct headquarters orders them not to investigate. That’s one order they have to refuse.

The hunt is on. And though the dupes in the replica city have no future once the Snapshot is turned off, that doesn’t mean that both Davis and Chaz will walk out of it alive tonight.

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I love Brandon Sanderson’s novellas and one thing I really enjoy about them is how so many of them (probably most of them) delve into the sci-fi world. Most of his full-length novels are fantasy-based (although STEELHEART was more sci-fi with a dash of superhero and some of his fantasy concepts fit well with scientific explanations). It’s a fun change of pace and a great way to dip into a new world.

SNAPSHOT was a really fun novella! It takes place in the not-too-distant future of 2018 where “Snapshots” have been developed to help a local police branch relive a specific day in order to gain some insight or knowledge on a particular crime. A snapshot is a full recreation of that specific day and the snapshot plays out as the day had originally happened from start to finish. The premise of the story is that Davis and his partner are “IRL” people (as opposed to the recreations in the snapshot) and they go into each scenario to try to gather any information that might give their IRL cops a lead to investigate. The concept was really fun and interesting, constantly trying to wrap my mind around a snapshot and how the interaction of “in real life” people altered the course of the day that was playing back.

Of course it’s Sanderson and I knew a twist was coming but I had no idea what that twist was. I really should have guessed it but I was enjoying my listen to this audiobook so much that I just let myself get lost in the story and didn’t try to figure it out. I really enjoyed the ending and it was a rather interesting finish!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Sanderson sci-fi. I love dabbling into the more sci-fi side of things, which seem to happen more often in Sanderson’s novellas than his full-length novels!
Left Me Wanting More: Surprises. The ending was good and a little twisty but I can always use a few more exciting moments!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Perfect for Sanderson fans, true to tone, quick, and fun!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SNAPSHOT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 LOYALTY IN DEATH    ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

Throwing My Life Away – Liz Czukas

Throwing My Life Away – Liz CzukasTitle: Throwing My Life Away by Liz Czukas, Ellie Cahill
Publishing Info: December 20, 2016 by Independent
Source: Author
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 6, 2016
Related Posts: Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless, When Joss Met Matt, Call Me, Maybe, Just a Girl

7 photographs, 2 weeks, an entire life to get back. No problem, right?
After her stepfather accidentally throws away her high school mementos, sentimental Mariska is pretty sure the world is over. That is, until she comes up with a plan. She's going to recreate her past, with a little help from her friends.
It's not easy to rally everyone into helping, especially Caine, who couldn't be less sentimental about anything if he were a park bench. But from a guerilla kite festival to convincing her ex-boyfriend to recreate her lost prom picture, Mariska is willing to do what it takes.
With a little nudging from Caine, Mariska starts to realize she can't actually get her past back. And maybe that's okay. Because while she's so focused on the past, she's missing out on the present, where her friends are busy having the summer of their lives. And where funny, quiet Caine might just be the future she never knew she wanted.

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I’ve read everything Liz Czukas has written and loved them all so I was so excited to hear about Liz’s newest YA release, THROWING MY LIFE AWAY! As usual, Liz Czukas brings to life some lovable characters, realistic situations, and of course, some amazing friendships. THROWING MY LIFE AWAY was one of the most realistic contemporary stories I’ve read that was on the fluffier side (i.e. not dealing with serious life issues). Liz Czukas did a great job of bringing the average teen to life! The friendships were fun but not over the top. The crushes were superficial and then something more. The parental relationships were complicated, but not too serious for the tone of the novel. It was a light, easy read full of fun, nostalgia, and a good message too.

What you need to know about THROWING MY LIFE AWAY is that it’s the story of Mariska, a girl who has just graduated high school and is enjoying the last summer at home before she and all of her friends leave for college. When her step-dad accidentally brings all of her old photos and memories to the shredder, Mariksa embarks upon an epic summer quest to try to recreate as many of those memories as possible. Now, I don’t doubt Liz Czukas but I was a little scared before I started that this story would be TOO perfect, imagining that Mariska would end up recreating all of her memories fairly accurately. Instead, I found an incredibly enjoyable story where Mariska’s memories got destroyed and her quest to recreate them didn’t totally work out. In fact, it actually came together in a much better way by ending up with new memories and different photos instead of her getting the exact pictures she used to have. I loved that she couldn’t recreate the past and instead, made a much better present and future.

I didn’t connect with this book AS much as I had with some of the other Liz Czukas books I’ve read, but that’s bound to happen when you read so many different and wonderful characters. I still loved everyone that I met and the situations were just delightful as well as insightful. I mostly have just connected with other books of Liz’s better, so that ends up affecting any future reads, this being one of them. I still think Mariska and her friends/family were incredibly realistic and they were so much fun to read about! The book was done so well and it’s such an enjoyable concept as well.

I’m a life-long fan of Liz Czukas and I’m so happy I got to read this book early! I’m always so happy to be able to read the latest from this wonderful author because I think in all of her books, whether that’s young adult or new adult (as Ellie Cahill), she does a wonderful job of keeping a light and fun tone but still incorporating some serious moments and realistic situations. I will forever be scrambling to pick up anything new from her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fluff yet real. “Real fluff” — this is my new favorite contemporary genre. Is a real thing? I don’t know. But Liz Czukas totally nails it if it is. It’s fun and light without being overly serious and yet it’s still very realistic and has a lot of thoughtful moments as well as life-lessons.
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. I don’t know why but I didn’t connect AS much as I had with previous books. But I guess I can’t very well have everything be a super favorite!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Start from the beginning and work your way forward through Liz’s books. She’s a gem and her books are too!

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BOOKS LIKE THROWING MY LIFE AWAY

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SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE    THE CHAPEL WARS

Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

I happen to have read two novellas/short stories from Brandon Sanderson recently and I decided to combine them into one set of mini-reviews! I grabbed the audio of PERFECT STATE  and SILENCE FOR SHADOWS IN THE FORESTS OF HELL in a recent Audible sale and managed to squeeze them in between full-length novels. Then I immediately ran to read MISTBORN: SECRET HISTORY after finishing THE BANDS OF MOURNING because A) that series is addicting and B) I always want more answers and backstory to the Mistborn universe! Below you’ll find some brief thoughts on each.


Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: March 31, 2015 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 25, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai's world.
Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date.
Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal—a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world?

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PERFECT STATE was a lot of fun! I really liked the whole concept of “meta fiction” (I recently discovered this term!) in which the main character is essentially playing out their life through a simulated world (think The Matrix or even a VR world like in READY PLAYER ONE). PERFECT STATE follows the story of Kai who is the ruler of his own (fictional) world and now the time has come for him to interact with other actual humans and do his duty to reproduce in order to keep the population going.

These quick novellas from Sanderson are always so hard to rate! I know his amazing world-building and I always go into these novellas excited to read more Sanderson and I’m left wanting so much more! I could easily read a whole novel or series about this world and these characters! It would have been a fantastic series if that were the case. It’s classic Sanderson through and through — great world, witty characters, interesting intersection, creative twist. I loved the characters and I wished I could have spent more time in all of these different worlds!
I also really loved the combination of fantasy and sci-fi. It was really neat to see the two collide like that! I’ve really enjoyed everything that Brandon Sanderson has written, no matter the genre, and I will keep reading everything that crosses my path!


Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Amazon
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 4, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Mistborn: Secret History is a companion story to the original Mistborn trilogy.
As such, it contains HUGE SPOILERS for the books Mistborn (The Final Empire), The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages. It also contains very minor spoilers for the book The Bands of Mourning.
Mistborn: Secret History builds upon the characterization, events, and worldbuilding of the original trilogy. Reading it without that background will be a confusing process at best.
In short, this isn’t the place to start your journey into Mistborn. (Though if you have read the trilogy—but it has been a while—you should be just fine, so long as you remember the characters and the general plot of the books.)
Saying anything more here risks revealing too much. Even knowledge of this story’s existence is, in a way, a spoiler.
There’s always another secret.


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MISTBORN: SECRET HISTORY was incredibly mind-blowing. I can’t really say TOO much about it because it’s incredibly spoilery for those who haven’t read MISTBORN yet or even those who haven’t finished THE BANDS OF MOURNING yet. This short story takes place just after the rush of events as MISTBORN is ending and continues to span throughout the rest of the original trilogy, setting things up for the Wax & Wayne era.

Sanderson’s world building is astounding. I love that he’s been compiling this story little by little as he’s been writing the series and finally shared it in this novella. I agree that it may have been too much to mix in with the series chronologically and I was happy to read this all from one POV!

Honestly? I got a tad lost in the middle. Well, not lost but I just have a hard time adapting to new ideas/places/people without enough anchors to hold me to an original character/story. Maybe I’m just not well-versed enough in the Cosmere? But I was having a bit of a hard time wrapping my brain around some of the sections in the middle just because we’re dealing with such higher forces (without giving any spoilers away) and a nearly new concept which I would have loved to spend more time with! Could be that these things/concepts/whatever also appear in other Sanderson books that I just haven’t read yet and that’s why I’m not picking up on it as much! Truly, the things you find out in this short story are so amazingly fantastical that I actually want to re-read the whole series and have MISTBORN: SECRET HISTORY in hand so I can read them on the same timelines. I also want to go back and read sections of this again so I can really grasp what’s going on. Some things did  seem to be tied to other books set in the Cosmere so I really need to read those soon!!

There were some amazing moments between original Mistborn characters that just totally warmed my heart and really put a happy ending on everything. I loved tiny glances at different POVs (especially Kelsier’s) as scenes from the endings of MISTBORN, THE WELL OF ASCENSION, and THE HERO OF AGES appear in the novella. I loved seeing some of my favorite characters and getting even more answers as to what happened to them and exactly how things played out since we get a different perspective here.

Always a joy to read, some MIND-BLOWING knowledge that has me dying to pick up more books (not like that was an issue anyway. I already have reads planned out!), but now I can’t believe how long I’ll have to wait for new Mistborn books! AHHH!

Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: December 3, 2013 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 7, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: "Don't kindle flame, don't shed the blood of another, don't run at night. These things draw shades."
Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.


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I think this is one of my favorite Brandon Sanderson novellas to date. (Though I think LEGION is right up there but in a totally different way.) SHADOWS FOR SILENCE IN THE FORESTS OF HELL (whew, that’s a long title for a short book) was instantly engaging for me! It took just a minute or two before I figured out who the focus of the novella was (you know me — I don’t re-read synopses before starting a new book) and then once I was there I was totally there. It was a short story but I was instantly captivated. Although it’s set firmly in the Cosmere, the characters and setting actually really reminded me of Patrick Rothfuss’ THE NAME OF THE WIND — which I also adore — and so I think that familiarity (even though totally unrelated) really helped me get a feel for things quickly which is something that I do have issues with sometimes in novellas.

The characters, action, and plot were all great! As usual with a short story, I was left wanting so much more world-building and backstory but in the sense that I was interested and invested, not that it was lacking. I felt like I had a nice grip on the concept of what was happening and the characters were interesting and showed a nice depth.

I think if you’re interested in picking a novella of Sanderson’s this is one I’d highly recommend on starting with! The audiobook was also great (and cheap) and it was perfect for a little change of pace between full-length novels.


Are you a big Sanderson fan? Have you read any (or all) of these? I can’t get enough of the Mistborn books!!

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 // GoodreadsDate 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

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Dark Carnival (Abi from Rambling Writer)

FoF2014

Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Abi from Rambling Writer is reviewing THE DARK CARNIVAL – An Anthology of Horror! Check out her review below!


Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Dark Carnival (Abi from Rambling Writer)Title: Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror by Jolene Haley
Publishing Info: October 31, 2014 by Independent
Source: Library
Genres: Adult, Horror
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 11, 2015

In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It's The Dark Carnival.
And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there's no promise that anyone can leave...alive.
Contributors include: Kristen Strassel, Meghan Schuler, Claire C. Riley, J. Elizabeth Hill, Jessi Esparza, Debra Kristi, Ryan Bartlett, Michelle Ceasar Davis, Brian LeTendre, Ken Mooney, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, Lucas Hargus, Kat Daemon, T.A. Brock, Calyn Morgan, Emily McKeon, Gregory Carrico, Kristin Hanson, Nicole R. Taylor, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Brian W. Taylor, Kate Michael, Ezekiel Conrad, Jamie Adams, Bobby Solomons, Mark Matthews, Jamie Corrigan, Kristin Rivers, Kristen Jett, Sheila Hall, Suzy G, Kim Culpepper, Ruth Shedwick, J.C. Michael, Wulf Francu Godgluck, Ashly Nagrant, Amy Trueblood, Vanessa Henderson, Tawney Bland, Julie Hutchings and Stevan Knapp.

I heard about this anthology from watching some YouTube videos by the WordNerds. Horror isn’t something I usually read, unless Neil Gaiman writes it. But there was something about an anthology that interested me. I am a scaredy-cat,  movies with zombies or paranormal activity are hard for me to watch. But there was something about a collection of short stories that beguiled me. I guess I thought that horror in small doses would be okay.  I was both right and wrong.

THE DARK CARNIVAL was an amazing entry into the genre of creepy stories. I mean this collection has everything, people gone crazy, demons, aliens, and every story was completely different.  Each was unique in its own way.  I feel like the collection starts off with some of their less creepy stories.  I found myself thinking: “Oh this isn’t so bad.” HA! The stories definitely get darker further into the anthology. No spoilers but not everything you eat in the Dark Carnival is at it seems. 😉  I liked this anthology because it didn’t overwhelm in the way a novel would. There wasn’t too much creepiness that would give me nightmares, but just enough for me to put it down at the end of a story and peek out from my blankets to make sure I wasn’t going to die. 😀

I ended up giving THE DARK CARNIVAL four stars on Goodreads. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, especially in this month of October. I promise, you won’t see carnivals the same way again.

ABOUT ABI

My name is Abi.  I’m 20 years old.  I’ve been telling stories since I was around 10 and haven’t been able to stop. I’m a reader, a writer of novels and poetry, tea drinker, and lover of food. Happily married and mother to two Viking cats.


Thanks, Abi! I agree — I’m not much into horror either — but I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Sounds perfect for Halloween time! 

Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

Naturally at the end of the year, I read a bunch of novellas to help me meet my reading challenge (no shame) but also because I got a bit restless in reading and needed to actually finish a few books. Here are some mini reviews  for a few of those books!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: October 11, 2012 by Tachyon Publications
Source: Audible
Genres: Fantasy, Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 25, 2014
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.
Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.

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THE EMPEROR’S SOUL took me a while to get into and I’m not sure why. The usual Sanderson genius was there but I think I was just incredibly restless when I started listening to this audio and I just wanted to zip through it. (Always a downfall of mine.) I really did like the different setting and Eastern influence — there’s an afterword in the book too which explains how Sanderson came up with the ideas for this novella’s magic system and it’s really quite fascinating how he pulled that little bit from actual history.

I really enjoyed the characters and how Shai’s story developed. I liked her a lot. I think I was thrown off because I was listening to the audio and although yes, Vin is a main character in the Mistborn books, I’ve only ever listened to male narrators for Sanderson books before (thanks, Michael Kramer!) so it was kind of weird listening to a female narrator.

Things really got going in the end and the action picked up a lot! I love how the story ended and it was definitely riveting. I know that this takes place in the same world as Elantris but Nikki also said it’s not really quite the same concept so I’m doubly excited for Elantris and seeing where that book will take me!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Publishing Info: December 12, 2014 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 15, 2014

Audible's 2014 Narrator of the Year Julia Whelan performs one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved fairy tales, The Snow Queen. This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.

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Yes, this is “advertised” as the inspiration for Frozen and I know, I know — I knew it wasn’t going to be Frozen. I probably sound totally uncultured by hoping it was going to be like Frozen and it’s not haha! But hey, I love the Disney movie and as most of us know, I don’t do terribly well with original versions of fairy tales.

So THE SNOW QUEEN. It was very short and really not what I was expecting. I knew it wasn’t going to be like a Disney movie, but since that was all I really had to go on, it was a bit surprising in a way. I was thrown off by the fact that it was broken up into seven parts — seven different “stories”. Really it just was not captivating to me at all — and that has nothing to do with the fact that it wasn’t Disney-fied. I tried to focus but my brain was just not having it. I think I could have connected to the story but the way it was told felt roundabout and like it dragged on, and that’s not a good feeling to have for an audiobook that I can finish in a day!

I actually really did find myself interested in the actual story of the magical broken glass but for some reason I just couldn’t get into it. I’m actually really not that into Juila Whelan as a narrator either so that probably didn’t help. This one just wasn’t for me.


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: July 1, 2012 by Independent
Source: Read for free online
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 16, 2014
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

The Eleventh Metal is a Mistborn short (really not longer than a few pages) originally created for the Mistborn Adventure Game for people who have not read the series. It delves into Kelsier's time shortly after becoming a Mistborn. This sort of begins his obsession with the Eleventh Metal and what it can do, also showing some of his training on becoming a great Mistborn fighter. 

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There is no Goodreads description for this one so that little section up there is my own — I LOVED this short story. Of course after binging the entire Mistborn series, I was dying for more, especially in the original world (I love you, Alloy of Law, but I miss the original crew). I was SO HAPPY to see Kelsier again and it’s almost comical to read a short like this when I know what I do now about the eleventh metal and what comes after that. It was so incredibly nice to spend more time with Kelsier though and I just LOVE getting more backstory from original characters. It’s so cozy to hop back inside of that world again!

This one was really only a couple of pages (if spanned out into pages — I read it on Sanderson’s website) so there’s not a WHOLE lot to say about it but I highly recommending taking the few minutes to read this if you haven’t and you’re a Mistborn fan!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Snow White And Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
Publishing Info: January 1, 1970 by Macmillan
Source: Library
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 28, 2014

THE FAIRY TALE SERIES — Created by Terri Windling — ONCE UPON A TIME... — ...fairy tales were written for young and old alike; it is only in the last century that they have been deemed fit only for children and stripped of much of their original violence, sensuality, and power to frighten and delight. — Patricia C. Wrede, the best-selling author of Caught In Crystal and other beloved fantasy novels, brings Snow White and Rose Red back to an adult audience, in this romantic and magical retelling set in the enchanted forests of England at the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Tor Books is proud to present the latest offering in the Fairy Tale Series -- a growing library of beautifully-designed original novels by acclaimed writers of fantasy and horror, each retelling a classic tale such as Snow White and Rose Red, Briar Rose, and Tam Lin in interesting -- often startling -- new ways.


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I read SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED with Alyssa & Amy for our December On the Same Page read (it’s one of Alyssa’s favorites) and after not liking Amy’s favorite, I was terrified. I got a couple pages into the book and was like, “Holy cow. That’s a lot of thee & thou & thy.” But as I read on, it really wasn’t as daunting as it first seemed. I’m not used to the language so yes, it did affect my read a little bit because I had to concentrate more, but overall, the book was very enjoyable!

SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED is actually one fairy tale I remember reading as a kid (at least I THINK I read the original…) and it stuck out in my mind. I really enjoyed Patricia C. Wrede’s adaptation and how she changed the tale in little ways to make it her own story and these changes actually really helped me grow attached to the book too. I’m notoriously hesitant about fairy books but after falling in love with books like Heir of Fire and A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m definitely coming around so I was so happy to see that not only was it something that I wasn’t afraid of in SWRR but also something that I enjoyed.

I loved the characters and they totally made the book for me. They were SO much fun with so much personality. I’m glad I was pushed to read this one with Alyssa & Amy because I would not have done it without them!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 23, 2009 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 29, 2014
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Unbuckle your belt and pull up a chair. It's the spiciest, sauciest, most rib-sticking Plum yet.
Receipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipolte comes to Trenton in a barbecue cookoff and loses his head - literally.
Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli.
Pump up the heat: Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.
Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help find he killer and collect the moolah.
Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur. Enough said.
Bring to a boil: Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?
Warning: Habenero hot. So good you'll want seconds.

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I usually write up full reviews but really once you review a Stephanie Plum book, you kind of review them all as far as plot goes! Don’t get me wrong — I really enjoyed it! These books are always so quick and easy to read and I finished this audio VERY quickly. The plot never really changes — Stephanie needs to pick up bad guys. She’s constantly back and forth between Morelli & Ranger. Lula and Grandma muck things up. Cars blow up. Stephanie gets covered in something (flour, sauce, paint, etc). Good guys win in the end. Yet somehow Janet Evanovich still manages to write these books in a way that’s always entertaining to me! (If sometimes over the top)

This one was a bit more entertaining than the last. I felt like it wasn’t as goofy (although it still had its moments of course) but the plot felt more concrete and more mystery than just chasing bad guys and hunting down skips. I really enjoyed the plot (an actual murder mystery!) and sure, things got goofy, but it was all-around enjoyable and I will keep on reading this series!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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 BUY IT!

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

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when joss met matt      the sea of tranquility


INTERVIEW WITH DAHLIA ADLER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Swan Prince (The Wilderhark Tales #1) – Danielle E. Shipley

The Swan Prince (The Wilderhark Tales #1) – Danielle E. ShipleyTitle: The Swan Prince (The Wilderhark Tales #1) by Danielle E. Shipley
Publishing Info: May 31, 2013 by Ever On Word
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 4, 2013

Catching her leg in a bear trap proves the least of Sula’s worries. Haunted by an enchanted monster from a past she dare not reveal, and hounded by the perilously perceptive young village doctor, Villem Deere, the headstrong girl of the woods gambles with fate by binding hers to that of Sigmund, the captivating orphan boy with mysterious nightly business of his own.

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Firstly, thank you to Danielle Shipley for providing me with a  copy of THE SWAN PRINCE to review! If you guys don’t know Danielle, you should totally say hello on Twitter because she’s pretty awesome and just a lovely person!

Okay, now down to the review. THE SWAN PRINCE is a young adult fantasy/fairy tale novella that starts off with the young doctor Villem Deere and the mystery of a teenaged Sula who is found in the woods with her leg stuck in a bear trap. Deere feels she’s a nice enough girl, but he knows something is amiss since her skinny leg wasn’t immediately destroyed by the trap. We then get into the story of Sula, Sigmund, and Villem and how their stories intertwine and mesh with one another.

I’ve got to say… I love fairy tales, fairy tale retellings, and new invented fairy tales so THE SWAN PRINCE was right up my alley. THE SWAN PRINCE has all of your typical fairy tale “must-haves”: princes, princesses, witches, spells, mysteries, and romance. Danielle Shipley did a fantastic job of creating a fairy tale world and the characters in it. At first, I had a hard time with Sula because she was such a stubborn girl, but I realized that’s how she’s supposed to be and she needs to find a way to make a transformation… In more ways than one. I loved the insight and detective work from Villem Deere as well as sympathy and patience. And I loved the interactions between Sigmund and Sula (which I don’t want to say too much about because I don’t want to give any big plot points away)!

Danielle’s writing is beautiful — it has the sense of age with it, like this fairy tale has already been told thousands and thousands of times already and is already near and dear to so many people’s hearts. Each plot point, each twist, each word is carefully thought out and strategically placed and yet everything just flows together so lovely, lyrically, and naturally. I honestly felt like I was reading an old fairy tale that’s been in existence for years and years already. It was quite a pleasure to read!

I also really enjoyed that The Wilderhark Tales are a collection of novellas. I could have easily read Danielle’s work for many, many more pages, but the story neatly sums up in the proper amount of pages and Danielle doesn’t push to make the story longer just to make it a “proper” full-length novel. THE SWAN PRINCE is something you could easily read in one sitting and spend the rest of the day dreaming about.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Original fairy tales. I do love a good fairy tale retelling, but I love how Danielle Shipley invents her own. It’s not just a fantasy story and truly embodies everything that a good fairy tale should be.
Left Me Wanting More: Pages! Haha, no, but really. I will gobble up anything Danielle Shipley writes, but I’m actually glad that the book wasn’t stretched out to its limits by trying to add more words. The length is perfect and I will just have to get my fairy tale fix by reading the next book in The Wilderhark Tales, THE STONE KINGDOM!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

If you’re a fan of fantasy, fairy tales, or fairy tale retellings, this is the perfect novella for you! You will easily gobble it up and the soft, lyrical writing will leave you yearning for more!

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     The Witch of Duva      Too Clever Fox

The Enchanted Truth – Kym Petrie

The Enchanted Truth – Kym PetrieTitle: The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie
Publishing Info: September 18, 2012 by Greenleaf Book Group
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 14, 2013

    In this humorous and insightful tale, a modern day princess finds herself single and asking for magical intervention to change her sorry love life. Rather than casting a spell to bring Prince Charming to her rescue, a savvy fairy godmother gives the tenderhearted damsel an unexpected gift. By entrusting her true thoughts and desires to an unlikely confidant, the young royal soon discovers that the person who could make her life everything she dreamed it would be has been with her all along.
    As author Kym Petrie herself realized, every woman needs a froggy friend and a secret journal—and enough adventures with the girls to keep her heart pounding and her mind racing. Life is meant to be about happy beginnings . . . you can never have enough of them.

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THE ENCHANTED TRUTH was a very quick short story. It encompassed a few fairy tales although its main focus seemed to be The Frog Prince.

How can I review it…? It was so short and I didn’t write my review right away so I barely remember any details. It didn’t have any specific character names so they blur together. It was more of a modern take on a fairy tale, but I didn’t find it that intriguing and it was too short to really make a connection to it, even if it was only a short story.

Overall, the story had a good message which essentially was not to wait around for love to find you and complain about being single. The princess in the story actually had to make a lot of changes to herself before she started finding her “prince” and realize that once she had her own life in order, things started to fall into place on their own. I really liked the message in the story because it’s one I fully believe myself! I truly think that unless you’re happy with yourself, it’ll be difficult to find a partner/significant other and if you keep searching for it, you’re hurting your chances to find it because you may be overlooking what’s right in front of you. Just one of my personal philosophies! 

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Skip it

Eh, there wasn’t much to it so you’re not missing much. It wasn’t awful but I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.