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Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffTitle: Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3), Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

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 There was so much hype for AURORA RISING, from the reading community and I admit, my own hype since there’s so much love for Amie & Jay! I think this was a really fun first book and an intro to the main characters, setting up for the rest of a great series.

I’m not sure if I was just unfocused or if it was something other readers experienced/will experience, but I found the beginning to not flow well in some spots. I did listen to the audiobook while I was working, but since I do that all the time, even with complicated fantasy, I found it a bit jarring in some spots where I actually had to go back and re-listen to a couple things to make sure I didn’t have a track out of place or anything. It wasn’t bad but it was just something that didn’t really seem to fit in sequence so I had to adjust to some transitions or lack thereof.

I also just found the beginning to be a little lacking. Going into AURORA RISING after reading NEVERNIGHT and reflecting on The Illuminae Files, I kind of feel like some of the YA plot lines are held back to not overwhelm readers with detail, but I personally love how detailed worlds and characters can get, especially when designing worlds to include alien races, new planets, and even more space! Obviously adult novels and YA novels will differ and this is a project with Amie and not just Jay alone, but after reading NEVERNIGHT, the book just felt like it was being held back and cut down where I would have loved so much more world-building and expansion.

The book was very enjoyable and a lot of fun to read! I always love the misfit crews and classic sass and sarcasm! It just makes everything so much fun and creates a great character and crew dynamic. The story was interesting and I didn’t guess where it was going and how everything was connected! I didn’t totally love it but it was unique and I’m curious to see how everything fits in later on in the series!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Science Fiction. I’ve been wanting to read more sci-fi and I felt like I was… but looking back on my reads I need to read so much more! Books in space are always so much fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. I just didn’t feel like things flowed as well as they could have. I was hoping for a little more development in the beginning as well.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is still a really fun read even though it’s hard to live up to the hype and creativity of Illuminae! It was a lot of fun though.

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BOOKS LIKE AURORA RISING

             

Warrior of the Wild – Tricia Levenseller

Warrior of the Wild – Tricia LevensellerTitle: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
Publishing Info: February 26, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1)

How do you kill a god?

As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

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WARRIOR OF THE WILD was such a fun read! I was a little worried because I’ve been really hit-or-miss with YA fantasy recently (a lot of it feeling too young in many ways, which is not a bad thing since it is young adult fiction but just not something I’ve been connecting with as of late) so I was really happy that I enjoyed WARRIOR OF THE WILD so much! I immediately got hooked on the tone of the book and really connected with Rasmira as a fierce warrior and really felt her fierceness in a true way.

The characters really made this book for me. I really enjoyed Rasmira’s character and loved that she was fierce but not a caricature of a fierce warrior. She had many layers to her characters and I could tell that a lot of thought and care was put into her reactions and interactions with other characters. There were many instances where she would stop to think how she was relating to another character and how it affected her, really taking into account the full picture. It wasn’t just a quick reaction or stubbornness for the sake of being fierce. The stubborn quality came from a true place in her heart where she stuck to her morals and beliefs while still growing to question where they came from and what was best for her.

I really enjoyed the story taking place in the wild, away from the bustle of the fantasy society to really focus on a few characters. I really loved the character relationships and interactions and I loved how they developed. The trio of Rasmira, Soren, and Iric was perfect. There was no love triangle and the friendships were beautiful. Each friendship was complicated with its own conflicts and I really liked how the introduction of Rasmira into the duo of Soren and Iric really shook things up to create a new dynamic. I actually could have used less romance, as little as there was, because I was enjoying the friendships so much and some of the kissing just felt a little out of place at times, but that could have also been because I was enjoying the friendships so much.

I also REALLY liked that it was a stand alone. I totally felt like it could have been drawn out into a series, following what happens if/when the characters return back to their villages, but I really appreciated that it wasn’t forced to continue into a series and bring up a whole new set of conflicts. This was wholly resolved in one book and I like where the end of this book left the readers! It was a quick read, settling on the perfect amount of time — not dragging on too long and not wrapping up too quickly. addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: YA Fantasy. I’ve been reading more adult books lately and have been shying away from some YA, just not hooking onto the tone. I’m so glad I enjoyed this one and fell right into it!
Left Me Wanting More: After-story. I really did enjoy where the book ended but it also made me want to see what else would happen! I wanted to see where the characters would go and what would happen after the book ended.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a great read and really fun all-around! The sass amongst the characters was perfect and I enjoyed the world-building and story.

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BOOKS LIKE WARRIOR OF THE WILD

             

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) – Sarah J. Maas

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: October 23, 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: November 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

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So. This was the end and I had one roller coaster of a ride with this series! I went from enjoying the first book to adoring the next three, like favorite-series-ever adoration, to being super salty about EMPIRE OF STORMS, DNFing TOWER OF DAWN, and falling somewhere in the middle with KINGDOM OF ASH. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a mixed range of feelings toward a series overall, so bear with my thoughts here. I’ll try to express both the loves and the things I didn’t enjoy.

Let’s start with the good things. Sarah J. Maas created this huge series that appealed so to many readers who didn’t think they were fantasy fans, including myself. This was one of the series that launched me into reading fantasy and knowing I could enjoy these big series. She created a very firm, passionate connection with Aelin, packed a lot of punches and surprises, and brought so many characters to life that became immense fan-favorites. I loved how she connected things from the entire Throne of Glass world in the first four books and the ending for Aelin and the crew felt right and satisfying.

My issue throughout all of KINGDOM OF ASH was just that it was too long. In Sarah’s Chicago tour stop, she said she “would die” (yes, that’s a direct quote) if she had to cut any more from this book and I felt like there was a lot that could have been condensed, especially from books 4- 7. There’s a lot that happens on the page with so many characters and as much as they are loved, I think characters like Elide, Manon, Aedion, and Lysandra didn’t really need as much on-page time as they were given in KINGDOM OF ASH. Aedion and Lysandra to carry a lot of that action when things are happening away from Aelin, but it didn’t really push the story forward. There was a lot of battle action and, of course, there was romance, but everything felt like it really could have been shorter and more focused. I didn’t think Nesryn needed any POV chapters at all and her part in this book really didn’t push anything forward. I’m still salty about Chaol’s role in the series, being so prominent through QUEEN OF SHADOWS, being eliminated in EoS only to have ToD and then his real purpose for the series seemed only to bring Yrene to the fray, which was EXTREMELY important and made me even more upset that Yrene only came to the series in a novella and in TOWER OF DAWN when she should have been a much more prominent character of this series from the start. I actually think she should have swapped focus with Manon, who I loved earlier on but didn’t connect with in KINGDOM OF ASH much at all. I also felt like Manon didn’t get the ending she deserved, not because of the THINGS that happened but because I was so excited for her connection with Aelin and how they crossed paths in the previous books and something just didn’t connect. Yes, her storyline does play an important role in the battle at Terrasen but I feel like we left her in a place that is deserving of a whole new series focused on Manon because I just don’t like where her story ended in this series.

I also noticed right away that I had issues with the writing this book. There were a lot of sentence fragments.
On every page.
In so many ways.
In every third paragraph.
And it really broke up the flow of the story. There were a lot of places where a sentence was chopped into fragments where it could have just gone on as a continuing idea and it really made things choppy and dramatic. I get it — they’re for effect — but it doesn’t have to be every other paragraph or every fifth sentence. It was a LOT.

I also felt like there was a real lack of world-building here. There was a lot of time spent with characters and witnessing their actions, but too many big moments and concepts were presented with not a lot of weight supporting them. Some of the big worldly concepts felt like they just happened without a lead up and readers are just expected to accept them as things that are possible in this world because hey, there’s magic. Granted, there’s a certain understanding that some of these characters have fae magic and that doesn’t really need explanation, and that I get, but some of the wyrdkey/portal/magical item/god/magical ability concepts seemed to just sort of happen. For how big and detailed these books are, I felt like more attention should have been focused on some of these interesting details about the political structure and magical rules. Too many characters seemed to be able to just have these certain magical abilities all of a sudden and I wouldn’t question it if it was just one who discovered they had more powers than they knew, but it kind of happened a lot and other moments seemed to come out of nowhere with these random grand magical gestures happening at the most convenient times when they were never mentioned before. I’m not off-put by their existence but I would have liked to see the characters discuss more about how some of these abilities worked, what sort of lore there was behind powers that could destroy the Valg, why some people inherited or developed X powers, etc. There were too many things that I felt like I was just supposed to take as they came instead of making a really cool connection into the rules of the magic.

And lastly, while I did feel like the ending was a great way to wrap up the series, I did still feel like there weren’t enough risks taken and not enough was… sacrificed, mostly because I’ve had these feelings before with the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and I couldn’t shake that feeling in this epic conclusion either. War isn’t clean and it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t protect all of the best people. There were some choices made and sacrifices given but it still felt a little too happy and perfect in a few ways. I’m glad I finished the series and I’m glad I read it and it was quite the epic adventure.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Finales. I am glad that I finished the series! It’s always so complicated ending a series but it’s so refreshing as well.
Left Me Wanting More: PLOT. Ugh, I felt so frustrated that this book barely moved anything forward. It was the finale!! We spent far too much time with the characters and their love stories or random action sequences that did nothing for the book when so much could have been happening.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’ve made it to the end, it’s worth finishing! I did like finishing the series even if I didn’t really love it.

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BOOKS LIKE KINGDOM OF ASH

             

Review in a Tweet | Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally Carter. I LOVE the Heist Society books and HEIST SOCIETY was one of the first-ever books I listened to on audio so it always holds a special place in my heart. I enjoyed the audiobooks so much that I didn’t even want to read them in print. I read the first two books via audio but… the third one was nowhere to be found! I actually found out that it wasn’t even available as an audiobook and then ONE DAY IT WAS. So I immediately grabbed the audio, started listening, and sort of binged it so therefore, I didn’t end up with a lot of notes as I was reading. Instead of a full or even a mini-review, here’s a review in a tweet!

 

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini TaylorTitle: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: March 28, 2017 by Hachette
Source: Audible, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 18, 2017
Related Posts: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), 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 is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

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When you write a series as epic as Daughter of Smoke and Bone and then your next release gets delayed even more (to make it that much more perfect, that is), it could be really, really hard to live up to the hype of the book… But Laini Taylor had no such problem with STRANGE THE DREAMER! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t know what to expect with Daughter and it constantly surprised me so I knew I was ready for some more magic of the same quality!

STRANGE THE DREAMER was actually quite similar to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE in some ways. There was a distinct separation from the humans and the magical beings, some bad blood to draw up that tension, and a star-crossed romance, so in that respect, I did wish that STRANGE THE DREAMER did venture out on its own plot-wise and away from the world of Eretz. The books aren’t of the same world but Laini Taylor did say that they’re of the same multi-verse and may cross paths one day, but for now, two totally different things so I was hoping for a bit of a difference in big picture.

That really is the only “disappointment” I have about this book, which isn’t really a disappointment so much as something else I was looking for. STRANGE THE DREAMER really swept me off my feet with Laini Taylor’s ever-gorgeous writing. She’s one of the authors whose writing style I just love to read and I just get lost within the pages (along with Maggie Stiefvater and Neil Gaiman who also hold that magical ability to suck you into their books). The world is amazing and gorgeous and I love that the humans are even still in a different fantasy world, not Earth as we know it, to add that extra sense of magic and wonder.

All of Laini Taylor’s characters are poetic and deep. From Lazlo Strange, the dreamer whose nose was broken by a volume of fairy tales, to Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares with a gentle softness. They compliment each other and bring a wonderful balance to the book, and each character serves a real purpose to the story. Every character is so unique and Laini Taylor does an amazing job at bringing each one to life. I always feel like I’ve really gotten to know each one of them!

I won’t really get into the story itself because like all of her books, it’s one to experience, but I just loved being wrapped up in her stories again. I’ve missed that feeling of being so involved in a story and being in kind of a reading slump, it was wonderful to enjoy something so much again!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Pretty prose. Some authors just have a knack for story-telling and putting gorgeous words on the page and Laini Taylor is one of them. It doesn’t always work with such vivid descriptions but I could read Laini Taylor’s details forever.
Left Me Wanting More: Uniqueness. The only thing I would have asked for was to have more of a different big picture plot than DoSaB!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is such a beautiful book and a wonderfully heart-breaking start to a new series (only two books! We think). It’s a must-read!

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BOOKS LIKE STRANGE THE DREAMER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    shadow and bone

Strange the Dreamer | A Dream Come True + Giveaway!

I partnered with Little, Brown today for a really fun post all about one of my new favorite books, STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor! I was asked to participate in this series of posts and when I heard about it, I immediately said yes. I want to continue spreading the love for Laini Taylor and her books and having just finished STRANGE THE DREAMER not too long ago, it’s a book that needs to be in everyone’s hands!

Before we jump into the giveaway (yes, there’s a giveaway), I have some fun DREAMER-related content as well as book info! I was asked if I wanted to share some fun optional content for my blog post today about a dream of mine that’s come true already or a dream that I would like to come true and the answer to this one was easy!

Strange the Dreamer | A Dream Come True + Giveaway!Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: March 28, 2017 by Source: Audible, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 18, 2017
Related Posts: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), 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)

A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around--and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries--including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
Welcome to Weep.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laini Taylor is a New York Times bestselling author and a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

MY BOOKISH DREAM

I’m sure everyone knows by now but if not, I own and run the candle shop Novelly Yours Candles. When I started it, it was just a fun hobby that I wanted to share with friends by making candles available for purchase on Etsy so I could share them since I couldn’t afford to give candles away to everyone. Well, when I started it, it was really just for fun for myself and once I started sharing what I was doing, the interest really picked up. A year and a half later and I’m soooo close into turning this into my full-time job, and what a dream that would be!!! It’s hard and scary to be self-employed but doing this has been so amazing and I can only dream of what it would be like to work for myself while doing something that I love. Being able to spend time with my husband, doing a job that I really love and care about, seeing all of the joy that people share when receiving my product, and of course the perks of any vacation time I want and not having to get up at 5:30am every day! This would truly be a dream come true and one step close to really making this an even better business.

It’s scary going into business for yourself because I would become dependent on consistent sales which is never a guarantee and there are so many variables by making a living off of selling bookish candles, but it’s a big dream that just might work! It’s my current long-term goal and something my husband and I are currently working very hard towards! He’s been so helpful and encouraging throughout my candle endeavor and I couldn’t have set up my new work space without him!!

STRANGE THE DREAMER BONUS CONTENT

There is some awesome bonus content for this book as well, including videos and a quiz (which I am totally taking, by the way). Check out everything you need to complete your STRANGE THE DREAMER experience below!

Official Site + Social Media

 Bonus Content!

  • Which Godspawn are you? Take the quiz! (I got Feral!)
  • Download a variety of quote-art here.

Sneak Peek at the Book

Video Content

GIVEAWAY

The folks at Little, Brown are also providing a giveaway for today’s post! One lucky winner will win a hardcover copy of STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor and a $25 Visa gift card to use to pursue one of your dreams! Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Little, Brown & Co.

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Re-read: Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Re-read: Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie PerkinsTitle: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Publishing Info: December 2, 2010 by Penguin
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 26, 2014
Related Posts: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After, My True Love Gave To Me

    Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.
    But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss
?

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DEEP BREATHS. DEEP BREATHS. Because I know I fell in love with this book when I first read it but I forgot exactly how in love with it I was until I read it again this year as a part of the #IslaIsComing Read Along (and blog tour)! How I managed to write a coherent review for this book the first time around is beyond me and how I will manage to do it again… Seems impossible.

Okay, first… Let’s talk about Anna. I still feel quite a bit of a connection with her and I just see so much of myself in her character! The whole movie review blog, the way she reacts to things, the way she talks, the way she cares about her family… They’re just all things that I relate to and I still feel like Anna is one of my favorite female leads of all time. I love how much she grows in this book from not wanting to put herself out there (for being in/exploring France as well as with new friends and crushes) to feeling okay — even confident — to take risks and do things on her own. She’s far from perfect but she’s willing to admit her mistakes when she recognizes them and she does try to be a good person.

I’ve come to the realization that the reason I connect so much more with ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS versus LOLA or even ISLA is because of the romance between Anna and St. Clair. It’s not even just their romance but how it develops. I LOVE the best-friend-turned-boyfriend concept and I was discussing with Sandie after we had both read ISLA how Anna and St. Clair just have this instant chemistry and it just never felt forced. They both had an instant attraction to each other but they had a great friendly banter and camaraderie that was at the core of their relationship so it never felt like insta-love even though they had just met. This romance really just combined everything I love in a romance: a great friendship, a slow burn, and a forbidden aspect. Put all of those together in ANNA and I was just constantly falling in love and tearing my hair out watching their interactions — and it’s a re-read so I already know how it ends!

What makes this book so special to me in part is the connection I made to the characters but I think a big part of WHY I connected is because Stephanie Perkins just wrote them so well. Each character — but especially the two main characters, Anna and St. Clair — all felt incredibly real. Anna and St. Clair feel like real people and not just characters in a book. I feel like I lived part of the book and other parts feel like I’m reading about my best friends. I really was just able to put myself into the book at any given time and it felt like home, despite the fact that I’ve never been to France or even anywhere in Europe at all.

I don’t know how she does it, but Stephanie Perkins is amaaaaazing at infusing this book with ALL THE FEELS. Honestly, almost all of my status updates as I was reading had some sort of capslocked words or flailing. All of the butterflies and tender moments and perfect quotes all come together flawlessly. Nothing felt like it was overdone. Everything fell perfectly into place. Not all moments were perfect and each character had a bit of their own ugly moments that everyone in life must go through to learn about each other and to learn about themselves.

What more can I say about ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS except the fact that this has been by far my favorite re-read ever. Picking up this book again has solidified it on a list of my all-time favorites and I think I can say after re-reading that it’s easily my favorite YA contemporary novel that I’ve read so far. This book is the tops, my friends. For me, it doesn’t get any better than this.

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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!

anna

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Anna Oliphant // Character Obsessions: Movies, home, Toph, friends.
I wish Anna was a real live person. We could get along SO well. I honestly would just love to stick myself in this book and be best friends with Anna. I think we would totally hit it off and be the best of friends… until I try to steal St. Clair from her 😀
Etienne St. Clair // Character Obsessions: Art, friends, having fun, his mom.
Can I just say ALL THE SWOONS and cover it? No? Well, okay. St. Clair just has that confident swagger but not swagger in a cocky way because I hate that. He’s just a confident person and that’s just an attractive thing. He’s funny and supportive and emotional and kind and basically everything any girl could ask for. He just makes me swoon.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The best. contemporary. ever. I am so glad I re-read this book. It was amazing to re-read it and have just as many feelings and maybe even more so since I was already invested in this story! I think I may need to do a regular yearly re-read of this!
Left Me Wanting More: Anna & St. Clair, all the time. I could read about these two forever. I just love their chemistry and their connection. Stephanie Perkins really knocked it out of the park with this couple.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

If you haven’t read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS yet, even if you’re not a contemporary reader, DO IT. It’s so swoony and so lovely and so wonderful and I can’t imagine anyone hating it (although I’m sure SOMEONE does, but we may not be friends for that reason (just kidding (kind of)) so if you haven’t read it yet, you absolutely MUST!

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BOOKS LIKE ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 open road summer    on the fence

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) – Susan Dennard

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) – Susan DennardTitle: A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: July 23, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Steampunk, Young Adult, Zombies
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 30, 2014
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3), Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

    With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters - Joseph, Jie and the handsome, enigmatic Daniel - have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst - that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.
To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city...and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.
In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely...and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

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A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY has been on my “can’t wait to read” list pretty much since it came out last summer and I FINALLY read it months later. Well, better late than never and hey, there’s a bright side because now the series will be more fresh in my mind for when the last book comes out this summer!

It had been a while since I read SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY and I forgot to refresh myself before I started A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY so something I really appreciated was a brief refresher from Susan Dennard about what happened in book one. It was done so well, including dialogue between two of the characters to really recap the events of book one in a way that didn’t feel repetitive and was still and important part of the story. The book surely didn’t start off slowly either — right off the bat, a LOT is set up to preface the rest of the book and set the tone of the whole novel and I was really excited to get going!

So as we know, the Spirit-Hunters are off in Paris and naturally, Eleanor ventures off to the only place in the world where she feels like she really belongs… Off to France we go! Since the series is already set in a historical time period, the difference between the United States and France didn’t have a largely different feel for me personally (I like France, but I’m not a Francophile so I can take or leave the setting) but I did enjoy the different atmosphere and different aspects of France that ended up playing important roles in the story itself! I was glad we caught up with the Spirit-Hunters fairly quickly because I really enjoy the team dynamic a lot and of course, I was anxious to see how things would turn out with Eleanor and Daniel!

There’s also a new character, Oliver. Given that I love all Olivers, I knew I would instantly gravitate towards his character and I really, really liked everything that he added to this layer of the story that is the Something Strange and Deadly series. Oliver is mysterious and a little bit dangerous (INSTANT like, right here) and he also encourages Eleanor to explore her abilities and really just think for herself… Although he also does it in a way that sort of makes me not trust him. DO I TRUST HIM??? I battled with it the whole book and I almost still don’t know. Eleanor’s friendship with him is in direct conflict with her partnership with the Spirit-Hunters so there is some major drama, concern back and forth, and a whole lot of “who can we really trust?” that had me reeling the whole book, never quite sure what to expect.

I really loved how the series grew and progressed in this book. Questions were answered, more popped up, and the series really reached a point where I’m ready for it to all be resolved in the final book and I can’t wait to see exactly how that happens! I really only have one minor issue with the series so far and that’s the language — I’m still not quite connecting with it and some of the dialogue and time-period jargon feels a bit forced at times, but still keeps the book moving and really puts you in a different place! I haven’t been totally “wowed” by it but I’m anticipating an epic conclusion and I’m excited to see how it all wraps up!

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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!

adsl

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Eleanor // Character Obsessions: Spirit-Hunters, Elijah’s letters, magic.
I really enjoy Eleanor’s spunk but sometimes she’s a bit stubborn for my tastes! I do have to say that if I was in her place, I would probably do the same things about learning how to handle magic and I would be all over trying to use it just like she did. I do like that she takes action and honestly, I see a lot of similarities between the two of us, except she’s probably more bold than I am!
Daniel // Character Obsessions: Germany, learning, inventing, lookin’ sharp.
I’m kind of sad I didn’t get to see more of Daniel and more Daniel-Eleanor interaction. The missed opportunities and failure to communicate grew a bit frustrating and I’m sure they’ll work out their differences in the next book but one of my “second in a series syndrome” issues is when couples are essentially physically separated or sort of broken up in book two. I know they have issues, but I wanted the romance to progress and grow instead of fracturing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Zombies. Who knew I would enjoy zombies so much? I just love the magical subplots, family involvement, and a sort of Ghost Busters team for the zombie age.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I really wanted to see Daniel and Eleanor together! That was one thing that I really longed for throughout the book and really could have just pulled it all together just a little bit more. Romantic glue, if you will.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this as the second book in the series! I had a couple small issues, but still really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to finish out the series with STRANGE AND EVER AFTER this summer!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Born Wicked       Cruel Beauty

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) – Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) – Cristin TerrillTitle: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Publishing Info: September 3, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 26, 2014

What would you change?
    Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
    Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
    Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it... at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.
    All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice

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Right off the bat, I knew I was going to enjoy ALL OUR YESTERDAYS. It’s a book about time travel. So of course! The book started off exciting. I’ve been going through a rough patch lately where I’ve read a lot of books that started out just a bit slowly but ALL OUR YESTERDAYS definitely caught me from the beginning and it was just what I needed to kick off another batch of exciting reads!

One thing I really liked about ALL OUR YESTERDAYS was the really creative POV switch. Going into the book, I really knew nothing except that it was about time travel (I really like to go into books blind for the ultimate surprise effects!) so it was really interesting to see the timelines of Em and Marina and exactly how they were connected. I had my suspicions from the start how the stories of the two girls would merge together and I was completely satisfied when it was revealed to the readers!

Time travel can be tricky to incorporate into books sometimes and I’m not always convinced with the time travel explanations but Cristin Terrill did an amazing job making sure everything connected and things like paradoxes were explained. I totally geek out of time travel and the different methods it works as well as the explanations of how time lines diverge and converge so I was very please to see how well everything was handled!

I think the overall plot was pretty brilliant. The reason that these characters choose to time travel, the events that they’re trying to stop, and the fact that they’ve already had so many failed attempts was absolutely fascinating. There were a few situations that positively terrified me, mostly because I stopped to think, “This could really happen in our world… And wouldn’t I try to time travel if I thought I could prevent it, even if it meant giving up everything to do so?” But the best part about it all was honestly how the villain of the story, the doctor, was incorporated. The doctor is… complicated, to say the least, as is his relationship with Em and Finn. It’s incredible to see the slow reveal of his side of the story and how that all fits back into everything. Cristin Terrill just does a fantastic job of weaving everything back in together which is something that never ceases to amaze me when I read books with plot twists and reveals.

I also really enjoyed the romance between Em and Finn. Once again, Cristin Terrill introduces us to the timeline as it currently stands and then slowly fills in the missing pieces of everything that the characters have gone through to get there. The reveal of how Em and Finn ended up in their current situation and how their relationship formed was bittersweet. I loved seeing how much they relied on each other, trusted each other, and fell in love in despite their current situation (you know… trying to save the world). At the same time, it was so heart-breaking to see them constantly being put in jeopardy and they really only have each other throughout this crazy expedition to set the world right so when something goes wrong, it goes terribly wrong and my heart ached whenever something endangered either character or their relationship. I totally fell in love with the two of them!

The only tiny complaint I have was the way the ending was wrapped up… I almost feel embarrassed to admit but I was a bit confused at first. I understood what had happened but I was missing a tiny portion of the “how” according to the rules that had been set up throughout the novel. I thought over it and felt all right with it but at the same time, there’s still a piece of me that feels like it didn’t quite make sense. (So please feel free to talk some sense into me, those who have read it!) I appreciate knowing that apparently there will be a book two (which was something that upset some readers before me since it was originally planned to be a stand alone) so I’m very curious to see where the second book takes us because I’m not entirely sure what Cristin Terrill has up her sleeve!

Other than that, I really loved the book. There was just a little tiny “something” missing (I couldn’t really tell you what) that prevented me from fangirling and failing and rating it five stars, but I really, really enjoyed it and I always love a good time travel book!

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Em // Character Obsessions: Time traveling, saving the world, stopping the doctor, Finn.
I really, REALLY liked Em. I loved her tough spirit, her determination to persevere and I respected how hardened she had become even though she had to make some seriously tough choices along the way. I really appreciated seeing how much she had changed from her past-self and she really turned out to be a better person even though she had to go through insane amounts of hardships to get there.
Finn // Character Obsessions: Protecting Em, chasing down the doctor, general Tom Foolery.
I loved Finn’s attitude. You know I love the joking, teasing sort of guy and I love seeing the funny guy fall in love. It’s just so touching to see that sort of exterior broken and seeing a softie underneath. I really grew to love his character and I loved seeing how different he had been in the past as well.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Time Travel. Heckkkk yes. The time travel was done SO well in this book. I loved how it was established, I loved how it was explained, and I love how it drove the plot from beginning to end.
Left Me Wanting More: “Something”. This was another book that was just missing a tiny something and I really couldn’t tell you what it is. There was nothing “wrong” but it didn’t quite blow me away.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS was really great. If you’re a fan of time travel, sci-fi, exciting chases, narrow escapes, romance, kissing, evil villains… You’ll love it! (Come on, who DOESN’T like that?)

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Tandem      Crewel

Just One Year (Just One Day #2) – Gayle Forman

Just One Year (Just One Day #2) – Gayle FormanTitle: Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: October 10, 2013 by Penguin
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 5, 2013
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read. Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began.... When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . . The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

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** Caution: If you have not read JUST ONE DAY yet, there will be spoilers for that story. This review for JUST ONE YEAR is as spoiler-free as I can make it and I reveal no SPECIFIC details but there are some strong feels so if you haven’t read the book yet, just beware! **

JUST ONE YEAR was a very different read for me than JUST ONE DAY and I really contribute that to the fact that it felt much more like a personal journey and much more of a personal struggle for Willem than it had been reading Allyson’s story. I feel like the reason for that was that Allyson was going through so many transitions at once — from high school to college, from Europe to home, from sheltered to wanderer — whereas Willem, although already a constant traveler, felt much more stuck in his life. He seemed much more lost, unsure of where to go and what to do and was already in the thick of it when he met Allyson. Allyson hadn’t realized her life needed a change UNTIL she met Willem so for her, I felt much more of the romantic attachment — especially since her story changes with the encounter with Willem and Willem’s story starts after his meeting with Allyson had already come and gone.

Of course I had been dying to hear Willem’s side of the story ever since JUST ONE DAY, and I found it really fascinating. Willem’s story sort of unfolded much more like a mystery to me. We slowly got to find out the secrets of his past that had shaped his life as well as the way he interacted with Allyson (and the various girls he met in Paris). I really, really appreciated getting to know Willem more and finding out about his family. We knew nothing of his parents except their names in JOD and it was so bittersweet to learn about his relationship with both of them and exactly where that relationship stood at the beginning of JUST ONE YEAR, not to mention how his relationship changed towards the conclusion of the book as well.

JUST ONE YEAR wasn’t as emotionally moving or particularly as life-changing as JUST ONE DAY had been simply because it was an entirely different journey that we were on. Of course I had identified with Allyson as the “good girl”, aiming to please her parents and please others so I just connected more with her journey on a personal level than I had with Willem — But that’s not to say that I didn’t feel for Willem because I really did feel his pain, his loneliness, his sense of just feeling a little lost and I appreciated the changes he went through as well.

The biggest thing that struck me about JUST ONE YEAR were all those “almost”s — all the “missed connections” — and that absolutely killed me. Just to see how close he and Allyson came to crossing paths — the attempts to find each other and the pure chances were incredibly surprising! But as we know from Allyson’s side of the book, they never do end up meeting until her story in JUST ONE DAY concludes, leaving us with Allyson at Willem’s front door. To watch all of Willem’s attempts to find her or run into her, though, just was so heartbreaking. She really had an impact on him and even though I knew they wouldn’t meet up again until that moment, I secretly kept hoping for there to be a chance meeting!

 ** Strong feels ahead about the ending of this book that may be spoilery if you haven’t finished this book yet! Just a kind word of warning 🙂 **

So the ending. We already know that the end of JUST ONE DAY ends with Allyson at Willem’s door step but we don’t know where it goes from there and it takes us a while to get back to that point because obviously we have to find out Willem’s side of what happened after he and Allyson separated in Paris. I won’t say exactly HOW the book ends, but I cannot write this review and omit the fact at how disappointed I was with it. I want to say I can understand Gayle’s choice to end the book like this… But I really can’t. (Spoilers on the specifics of the ending below… Do not click if you haven’t read the book.)

View Spoiler »

After finishing the book and ending the way it did… I was honestly enraged. I felt let down. Abandoned in the middle of this story. And I HATED that I was mad. I really enjoyed the whole book up until that point and I couldn’t believe it ended like that. I legitimately felt a little bit betrayed that I had been so emotionally invested in the ending for these two characters and that was the way we left them. I may have been spoiled by how perfectly WHERE SHE WENT ended because I absolutely loved that whole book, cover to cover, but I didn’t quite understand why JUST ONE YEAR had to end like that.

I wanted this to be a series I could rave about, shove in the hands of friends, jump up and down with, hug!!!! But the ending left me feeling so confused and emotionally raw — I had a serious book hangover, but not quite in a good way. I thought about this for HOURS after I finished reading and my feelings have settled a little bit, but I’m still upset with the way this book ended and I can’t deny that if affected how I feel about this book as a whole. I will still recommend the read but just a word of warning to the readers that you may be in for shock and rage in the last chapter.

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Willem de Ruiter // Character Obsessions: Finding Lulu, traveling, trying to make connections, acting.
Willem was an interesting character to follow throughout JUST ONE YEAR. I actually really liked getting to know him more and seeing all of the secrets — or simply things he didn’t outright say — that Allyson had missed. I appreciated his character so much more and he really came to life more. I think he was flawed, but his run in and day in Paris with Allyson set him on a new course to realize that maybe he had been stuck in a rut and she turned him on to parts of himself he didn’t know were buried so deep in his soul. There really were kind of soul mates — not just romantically — but that they each brought out a new, better side of each other.

I kind of don’t even want to talk about other characters because Willem is such a vagabond and such an transient character that he doesn’t stay in one place — physically or emotionally — long enough for these people to make lasting impressions. Oh, they do make lasting impressions, mentally and emotionally, but their physical presence isn’t as prominent in Willem’s life and he doesn’t always realize the impact these people have, sometimes not until they are long gone from his life.
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Kept Me Hooked On: Fate. There’s a serious question about fate, chances, and intentions in JUST ONE YEAR and how much is really and truly left up to chance. I really enjoyed seeing Willem figure out what he needed to leave up to fate and what was impacted directly by his choices and intentional decisions.
Left Me Wanting More: Of an ending. I think after that review, it goes without saying. Sorry, Gayle.

Addiction Rating
Read it.

I can’t NOT suggest you read this — If you’ve read JUST ONE DAY, you need to see how things happen in JUST ONE YEAR, but just be prepared for a bit of a shock of an ending, I suppose. I know lots of people who totally and completely loved it and weren’t fazed by the ending at all. I know of others who were totally shocked and so disappointed that it ruined the entire experience for them. I think it’s a necessary read to finish out the duo of books and if you’ve got a copy of JUST ONE DAY, you probably need it to finish out your book collection anyway, amirite?

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BOOKS LIKE JUST ONE YEAR

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          The Beginning of Everything     Meant to Be