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Roomies – Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr

Roomies – Tara Altebrando & Sara ZarrTitle: Roomies by Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando
Publishing Info: December 24, 2013 by Little, Brown
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 1, 2013

    It's time to meet your new roomie.
When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.
As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.
National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

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ROOMIES was near perfection. This is everything I’ve been looking for in YA and NA and even crossing over into a little of both. My first reaction to the book was really how much I loved that one: it alternates POVs between the two girls and two: that it stays almost strictly in the “in between” time between high school and college. We get to see how both of these girls’ lives changed in that summer before leaving for college which I feel often gets glossed over and overlooked.

I don’t know how ROOMIES would have turned out if we had two POVs written by one author, but I will say that I’m really, really glad that both Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr each got to tell their own story, but together at the same time. I think they brought an original voice to each girl and such authenticity to each voice as well. I really felt like I got to know each girl and really felt invested in each of their stories.
I really liked the emails in every chapter. The two girls communicate almost exclusively through emails so we get their stories together strung throughout their own personal stories at home. I felt like this was a perfect way to bring everything together while still giving each girl their own time and spotlight so the reader could get to know them both together and apart.

Whereas other early reviews have said how much they related to the book because they went through the same thing, I actually didn’t quite have that same connection. Well, I kind of did. For those of you who don’t know me as well, you probably don’t know that I actually went to a community college for two years and then transferred to a university my junior year. I skipped the whole dorm process, having a stranger for a roommate (well, for the most part — that’s an entirely different and longer story), and went straight to living in an apartment so for me, ROOMIES was absolutely still relatable but it wasn’t an “OMG, this was my life” deal. I guess what I’m trying to say with all this long-windedness is that regardless of how closely your experience is/was to EB and Lauren’s, ROOMIES is extremely enjoyable and a very personal experience. Even people who haven’t gone away to college I’m sure can still relate to these girls as well — graduating from high school and other friends moving away, leaving home for the first time, first loves, family issues. ROOMIES really has it all!

Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr totally stuck gold with ROOMIES. I love every character and really felt like each one — from the main characters to their love interests, their parents, even down to Lauren’s younger siblings — really felt like a real person to me. The situations that each girl goes through, the gamut of emotions and first-time experiences — everything was just done just right. I’m really excited for everyone to get their hands on ROOMIES, especially the “new adults” and twenty-somethings like myself because I feel like it will really hit home and root itself as a favorite for many!

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Lauren // Character Obsessions: Spending time with her family, working, taking care of her siblings, finding some quiet alone time.
I loved Lauren. She felt so level-headed and really dedicated to her family which I really, really admired. She’s one of those teenagers who has really given up a lot to help out with her family from day to day and help take care of her younger siblings. She lost a lot of “typical” childhood and teenage experiences because she was acting almost like a parent instead of kid, but through it all, she’s enjoyed the experience and never resented how much she helps out. It’s really interesting to see how different Lauren’s background is from EB’s and my heart totally went out to her when she was denied a single room at college and started off rocky with her new roomie.
Elizabeth (“EB”) // Character Obsessions: Going to the beach, living up her last summer, boys, her cell phone, preparing an awesome dorm room.
I feel like EB was more of a “typical” teenager in the sense that her focus was more on connecting with her friends before leaving for school. Whereas Lauren is totally dedicated to her family, EB’s parents are separated — her dad living all the way on the west coast — and EB’s life in New Jersey with her mom is driving her crazy. She can’t wait to leave home and start her great college adventure. She’s quite the opposite of Lauren in many ways, but there’s still a lot of common ground for the two girls. It was really interesting to see how their different backgrounds really shaped their lives and the way they viewed their future living situation.

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Kept Me Hooked On: College stories. I loved that ROOMIES was actually the summer before college because I feel like that time is usually lumped into the college experience and I would never have thought to form the book like it was. I loved being able to relate to each of these girls and how hard it can be to figure out how to get along with a roommate even before you meet them!
Left Me Wanting More: College stories! I gobbled this book up. It definitely left me with a satisfied feeling and left me wanting more and more “new adult” books about going away to college or college experiences. I’m always looking for more!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is a really special book, folks. I know when it comes out, I’m buying it for my shelves. I want this book in my life and maybe I’ll trust someone enough to loan it out to them. So long as they don’t harm it. Nah, I’ll just buy them their own copy!

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BOOKS LIKE ROOMIES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Fangirl   Just One Day

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) – Laini TaylorTitle: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: September 27, 2011 by Little, Brown
Source: Won
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 10, 2013
Related Posts: Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2), Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5), Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3), Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)

    Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
    In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
    And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
    Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

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I’ve been promising to read this book for quite some time now but after our first Twitter chat at Literary Lushes, I realized how important it was that I read this book like… NOW. So I made sure it was one of the next books I picked up and I’m SO glad I finally read it! I was really, really nervous to read this. I really thought I would not like it. Soooo many people loved it and it’s fantasy… And not quite in the same realm of fantasy that I usually read, so I was a bit intimidated! Fortunately, Laini Taylor’s beautiful writing, knack for plot twists, and character development left me with nothing to fear! 

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is so not a Brittany book… But that also so didn’t matter. If you know my reading styles well, you know that I don’t do well with “creature fantasy” (is that a real term? That’s what I call it) so I was really concerned when I found out that the chimera were a HUGE part of the story. I think maybe one of the reasons their presence worked so well for me is that the chimera are Karou’s norm — these “creatures” are her family so while she does discover other secrets about their world and connections to it, there’s a certain sense of normalcy amongst the fantasy.

I was also concerned about several people mentioning how Laini Taylor’s writing is lyrical and flowery and that scared me because that’s also what people said about SHATTER ME and (hate me if you want! I don’t care!!) I really didn’t like the writing in SHATTER ME at all. That comparison had me very hesitant, but once again, I had nothing to worry about. Yes, Taylor’s writing is “flowery” but it’s done beautifully so I didn’t feel like I was lost in metaphors and it wasn’t hard to follow along with. Sure, maybe it required a bit more concentration, but really, I kind of liked that I was really forced to pay attention to the book and not allow other distractions to take away from my reading experience.

The story of the chimaera and the angels are fascinating. It was almost difficult at first because I had to stop my brain. Are the angels really the bad ones? We see the story with Karou and her family of chimaera as the “good guys”… So does that make the angels the bad guys? ARE there bad guys or is this just a matter of perspective? I loved that there was almost a sort of role reversal and/or grey area as to who was good and who was bad. I liked being challenged as a reader to not fall into any stereotypes and to listen to what the book was telling me instead of what I found to be true. As we learn in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, there’s always another story beneath the surface somewhere… And the truth can be quite surprising!

I’ve gotta say… It’s almost not fair to judge this as one book. The first half/three quarters, I really enjoyed. I was going along like, “Okay, I really like this. Like this… Oh, I really like that!” and then all of a sudden, BAM! Plot twist! Surprises! Mysteries revealed! And like Karou, my whole world was turned upside down. I will say this… Laini Taylor, you sure know how to draw out the suspense! I’m pretty sure I raced through the second half of that book because I was like, “Gimme gimme gimme info!” and I couldn’t read fast enough to resolve that surprise twist. I had my suspicions (which turned out to be about half accurate) and the whole second half of the book just totally blew my mind.

As far as style & subject matter go, I’ll say this is probably a love it or hate it book. If there hadn’t been so many rave reviews of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up because I would have thought I’d have hated the subject matter (so thank goodness for all you beautiful reviewers out there)! As far as plot & pacing go, I’d say this could fall anywhere for the general reader. I felt like the beginning was juuuuust a tad slow, but not enough to turn me off. I was just impatiently waiting for the “good stuff” to happen! The ending also kind of dragged, mostly just because we get the reveal and it IS a slight info dump of backstory, but I really enjoyed that info dump haha. It was just hard when I was stuck in the backstory and it took so long to get back to the present-day story because OBVIOUSLY I’m dying to know what happens there! Mostly, I’m just happy that I really enjoyed it so much and now I’m incredibly curious to see what happens in book two!

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Karou // Character Obsessions: Art, drawing, finding out more about Brimstone. 
Karou is pretty awesome, in my opinion. She’s got this whole other life that her “human” friends don’t know about… Considering she grew with up with chimaera as her family and knows nothing about where she came from. I feel like that could have easily been a way for Karou to whine and pine and beg about information, but she doesn’t. She helps Brimstone like she always has, does what’s asked of her… And then boldly explores on her own when she can, almost always as long as it doesn’t upset her family. She’s bold, brave, badass, and she’s got blue hair, for Pete’s sake. That’s gotta say something, right?
Brimstone // Character Obsessions: Teeth, missons, luck. 
I kind of love Brimstone. Right off the bat, you know he’s the protector and the leader of Karou’s chimaera family, but there’s so much more to him than Karou knows… And the mystery killed me the whole book. Suspicions are thrown around from good to evil the whole book and I feel like I never knew was his true character was until the end and I LOVED how that book ended with what we learn about Brimstone!
Akiva // Character Obsessions: Madrigal, Karou.
Akiva. HE HAS SMOLDERING EYES. A real, true smoldering stare. How do you compete with that!?! Anyway… At first, I was like, “What’s so special about him? I don’t know what everyone’s swooning about…” and then I TOTALLY did. Find out more about Akiva’s back story and it totally makes his character amazing.
Madrigal // Character Obsessions: Making a difference, Akiva, changing the world.
HELLO, Madrigal is so badass. She’s the chimaera who falls for a Seraphim and wants to change the ways of the world. No wonder Akiva falls for her. What a beautiful soul!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Different kinds of fantasy. Okay. The fantasy I usually enjoy is apparently fantasy that seems ancient or medieval (like A Song of Ice and Fire, Graceling, Prophecy, Grave Mercy (if you consider that one fantasy)), so the fact that this was involving a cast of non-humans as well as all taking place in the present time, I was really surprised that I liked it so much!
Left Me Wanting More: Karou/Akiva romance. There was so much to learn and so much to be revealed that it took me a while to get into the Karou/Akiva romance before the big reveal happens. Although… I’m sure there’s plenty of time for romance in future books and that’s all I’m saying!

Addiction Rating
BUY & RECOMMEND!

Even if you’re a fantasy skeptic, give this one a shot! There’s a reason why so many people have rated it 4 and 5 stars!

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BOOKS LIKE DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

     Shadow and Bone      Prophecy

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E SmithTitle: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Publishing Info: January 2, 2012 by Little, Brown
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 3, 2012

Four minutes changes everything. Hadley Sullivan 17 misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father's second wedding in London with never-met stepmother. Hadley meets the perfect boy. Oliver is British, sits in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink, but the two lose track in arrival chaos. Can fate bring them together again?

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This story was so cute! I love love-at-first-sight stories as long as they’re done right, and Jennifer E Smith definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. I felt like the story flowed seamlessly from beginning to end. I definitely fell into Hadley’s story immediately and I really enjoyed her connection with Oliver. Even though it was love at first sight, I actually didn’t feel like it was insta-love. They had an instant attraction and they started building a relationship through Hadley’s incessant teasing about Oliver’s British references and Oliver’s quirky sense of humor and sarcasm.

I really liked how Hadley’s story with her father and her soon-to-be stepmom developed as well. I was a little unsure about that storyline when it started because there seemed to be quite a bit of animosity from Hadley towards her father. I really did like the way everything was resolved and came together in the end.

I also really liked that the book was nice and concise. I’ve been reading tons of books that are in the high 300 to 400 page range so it was refreshing to pick up a book that fit perfectly in the span of 236 pages. I think any longer and it would have been too long and it was great to be able to finish so quickly and not feel overwhelmed with the size of the book since that does happen on occasion.

Also, I really love the cover! I just think it’s super cute and really catches the eye!

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Hadley: Even though the book really took place over the span of 24 hours or so, I was really able to see how she grew and how she matured in such a short time span.
Oliver: Oliver was adorable. I really liked his character and how perfect he seemed for Hadley.  His sense of humor was fun, sarcastic, and quirky and it was just adorable! We also find out more about his past later which really helps add some depth to him as well.
Hadley’s father: I think I totally took a turn with him in the book. At first I was totally on Hadley’s side, criminalizing and hating him. As the story goes on, we really get to learn more about him and I really warmed up to him!

Another note I wanted to make is that I enjoyed how we weren’t bogged down with characters. Smith kept it nice and clean with just the core of main characters and couple secondary characters and it just felt really refreshing not to add too many people into the story.

addiction_factor1Read it!

Oh, this book was just so cute! I wasn’t toooootally head over heels but it was such a great, adorable story and I definitely recommend it!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club #1) – James Patterson

1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club #1) – James PattersonTitle: 1st to Die by James Patterson
Publishing Info: March 5, 2011 by Little, Brown
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 6, 2012

    Four women-four friends-share a determination to stop a killer who has been stalking newlyweds in San Francisco. Each one holds a piece of the puzzle: Lindsay Boxer is a homicide inspector in the San Francisco Police Department, Claire Washburn is a medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt is an assistant D.A., and Cindy Thomas just started working the crime desk of the San Francisco Chronicle.
But the usual procedures aren't bringing them any closer to stopping the killings. So these women form a Women's Murder Club to collaborate outside the box and pursue the case by sidestepping their bosses and giving one another a hand.The four women develop intense bonds as they pursue a killer whose crimes have stunned an entire city. Working together, they track down the most terrifying and unexpected killer they have ever encountered-before a shocking conclusion in which everything they knew turns out to be devastatingly wrong.

Breaking It Down Further: San Francisco homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer begins investigation on the gruesome “wedding murders” with the help of her best friend, M.E. Claire, and her new partner Chris Raleigh. When newbie journalist Cindy butts her nose into the investigation, Lindsay suddenly finds herself making an instant connection and brings her into the loop to do some nosing around to help solve the murder. The Women’s Murder Club is then later rounded out by D.A. Jill as Lindsay is supported by her friends to round up the killer. This group of ladies forge a bond as they collect the clues, as well as becoming Lindsay’s support group when she is struck by the news of a possibly-fatal blood condition that may just take her out. On top of all the chaos, Lindsay learns how to let her new partner Chris Raleigh in as a trust-worthy cop and a new flame.

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Wow, this book was amazing. This was the first James Patterson book I read and I cannot wait to read more! All four of the ladies in the Women’s Murder Club were excellent characters, with Lindsay being the main character (the novel is told by her in first person), as well as the excellent budding relationship between her and Raleigh. The chapters that Lindsay narrates are interspersed with chapters from the killer’s point of view as well so you get a full story as well as a mystery as you go along. The best part about the mystery is that even though you essentially know who the killer is since you’re getting his story, you don’t know who the killer is. And even better than that is just when you think it’s the end of the book, Oh wait – there’s more! And then you think THIS is the end of the book, happy ending, but Oh wait – there’s more! And THEN you think this is really the end, I know who the killer is now, Oh wait – there’s STILL more. Man, it was great! I have never seen so many twists and turns in a book and they really keep you guessing until the very end. And then there’s still more! What an excellent book, extremely well put-together, and I have to say, I’m always surprised when a male writer puts together such an excellent female character. I’m always impressed when a writer chooses the main character as the opposite sex – Personally, I’d just be able to write better about a woman because I am one. But bravo to James Patterson on all accounts! I highly recommend this one to anyone!!

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5/5 stars
Simply superb. I loved it from start to finish, and really couldn’t put it down once I was halfway though. It was a book that keeps you hooked and really connects you to the characters.

If You Liked This, You Might Like…
Naked In Death by J.D. Robb — Sadly some of my suggestions are starting to repeat, but this I felt was a strong similar feel to 1st to Die. Strong policewoman in homicide, serial killers on the loose,  nice twists and turns. I think the two books are a very similar match! Very similar feel and another series I started and couldn’t put down.
…OR…
A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton — Another similar read. I do have to say that I liked the 2nd book in this series better and I actually think that the Women’s Murder Club is a better read than Sue (so far – I’m only ankle deep in both series), but worth checking out if you liked this book, or vice versa if you read this one first!