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Last Seen Leaving – Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving – Caleb RoehrigTitle: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Publishing Info: October 4, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, BEA 2016, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 14, 2017

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

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This was another solid young adult mystery/thriller for me! As with most YA mysteries, I did have a little bit of disbelief that the police didn’t get as involved as they should have but that’s been one of my hang-ups in YA mysteries. The police are often shutting kids down (which, fair, they don’t need to nor can they divulge information about cases to teenagers, no matter how involved they might have been) but too often things are left at a shut-down and then there’s no showing that the police were even investigating at all. Anyway, like usual, we’ll suspend that disbelief for the sake of it being a YA mystery.

Let’s also suspend the disbelief of Flynn’s language because like many John Green books, I don’t know anyone who speaks like that, teenager or adult. I’m not saying you have to be a word nerd in order to use “big words” but some of those words aren’t even in my vocabulary much less in a teen’s, so it was noticeable to me.
January also kind of reminded me of Alaska in LOOKING FOR ALASKA in the sense that I think I was supposed to like her but … I really didn’t. Was I supposed to like January? I can’t tell. She was kind of all over the place and obviously Flynn cares for her but there was also a lot of “January is so special” and some clear manipulation here that I ended up being suspicious of her instead of hoping this was all a big misunderstanding. I think it was also the narration and the was her tone was portrayed because it was a very haughty voice and I wasn’t a fan of her character because of it.

LAST SEEN LEAVING has been compared to GONE GIRL, which is always a huge comparison in my opinion because those are some big shoes to fill, but I also definitely see where that’s coming from. I hate when comparisons are made because then it MAKES me draw conclusions similar to the plot of the book it was compared to which can be spoilers, so boo on that affecting my reading experience, but that’s also part of what drew me in so beggars can’t be choosers! Anyway — I totally see the GONE GIRL comparison except that feel left me thinking it was going to be more sinister than it was. Don’t get me wrong, some very Not Okay things happen in this book and it gets troubling and complicated, but that thought misled me juuuust a bit.

Okay, enough with the complaining. I actually did enjoy this book so let’s talk about the nice things! I really liked Flynn’s character. It wasn’t to the point of gushing but I felt like he was pretty realistic, heroics aside, and I appreciated how he handled all of life’s complications, including a life-changing admission of his own. I really liked how he handled everything, from personal relationships to self-revelations to friendships to murder investigations — it may not have always been in the BEST way, but he always seemed realistic and I thought he did a pretty good job of staying true to himself. The secondary characters outside of Flynn didn’t have as much depth as I would have liked but I also felt them to be pretty realistic as well. I loved his parents and how involved they were in the book. It wasn’t a TON of page time but they were always there to support him no matter what was going on and it’s just always so nice to see that. I wished we had gotten to know Flynn’s friends a bit more and I know some people were upset with how Micah ended up treating him but again, I also don’t think it’s unrealistic. It may have not been the best way to support your friend but what teenager handles everything perfectly?

The mystery was definitely interesting and I was left guessing until the very end! I’m glad I was still surprised at how everything went down but there were a few twists and for some reason the way that they were all laid out, I was still expecting one more (as if that wasn’t all enough for me lol). I was aaaalmost satisfied with the ending but there was just something there that I was missing. Maybe I’ve been reading too many adult thrillers where EVERYONE is so messed up that I’m expecting characters to be even worse than they are. I was very surprised and it was something I never would have guessed, at least how the reveal happened, so that was really cool.

This book has a lot happening and a lot going for it and I was definitely interested from start to finish! There were many complex friendships and relationships, an interesting mystery, and a diverse cast of characters. I think it was a very solid read, even though I had a few hang-ups as mentioned above, but I know they’re more minor things that didn’t really take away from my overall feeling about the book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA mysteries. I enjoyed the way this book was put together! Mysteries can be tricky in YA, especially murder mysteries, but I thought this was done well!
Left Me Wanting More: Shock factor? Being compared to GONE GIRL kind of set me up for a huge shock. The ending was something I wasn’t anticipating but I wasn’t bowled over.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a nice, solid read that I enjoyed and would recommend!

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BOOKS LIKE LAST SEEN LEAVING

          

I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Iain Reid

I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Iain ReidTitle: I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Publishing Info: June 14, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 6, 2017

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”

And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.

In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

In this smart, suspenseful, and intense literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel pulls you in from the very first page.

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WOW, this book was really interesting! First, I love that it was short. It added to the pacing that it was a book you knew you could race through and especially once things got towards the middle, I couldn’t put it down.

I also have to hand it to Iain Reid for how this book was structured. Obviously it’s a thriller that has been advertised as having a shocking ending so I’m not giving anything away there, but it was something that certainly surprised me and I immediately went back to the beginning of the book to check out how everything had started again because I needed to retrace my steps! The structure was excellent and it was so interesting to read! The ending was definitely shocking and I totally didn’t see it coming, somehow. A lot of times, I’m able to pick up on “obvious” things and piece together the end of a mystery or thriller but this one really got me. Looking back, I should have known but I guess that was the true nature of the book.

I was still confused about a few things after immediately finishing but once I started to look back on the whole book, it just became more and more clear to me. There were lots of clues tucked all over the place but you’d never know they were there if you didn’t know to look for them, but then seeing them again just made everything click. It was very creepy at times, definitely thrilling, and quite an interesting read!

Once I finished the book, I actually went back to read other people’s reviews as I often do and there was something that totally surprised me that I didn’t even pick up! It’s kind of a spoiler, in my opinion, so I won’t mention it outright here but you can check out my review on Goodreads to check out the spoiler within spoiler tags if you’re interested! Basically, it was another little surprise of the book that I didn’t even notice until I started reading other people’s reviews and it was neat to have the book STILL keep going after I had finished!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Super twisty thrillers. This book got a little weird and a whole lot confusing but kind of in the best possible way. I loved how twisty it was and that I was never really quite sure what as going on!
Left Me Wanting More: Direction. I DID like that I didn’t know what was going on but I’ll admit that I felt a little lost at times. I love getting swept away with a book but sometimes it did feel like a bit much.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

The book is super short and a fast read. It’s curious, interesting, and totally kept me on my toes!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on Instalove

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING by Jeff Giles! I was so honored to read the book early and provide a blurb for the ARC, thanks to Bloomsbury Kids, and then to meet Jeff Giles at BEA and be able to say hello. Now I’m a part of the blog tour and it’s been so great being so involved with this book!

For today’s post, Jeff Giles is talking a little bit about instalove. As with some books where two worlds collide, instalove happens. Heck, instalove just happens in real life. When I first saw the topics for guest posts for the blog tour, I instantly latched onto this one because I feel the same way! I even had a post that defended instalove because not all instalove is unrealistic. Today’s post has a full discussion from Jeff and I just love it!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on InstaloveTitle: The Edge of Everything (The Edge of Everything #1) by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 27, 2016
Related Posts: The Edge of Everything

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

“INSTALOVE ACTUALLY”
by Jeff Giles

When you’ve got a novel about to come out, you spend a lot of time reading reviews of other people’s books as a sort of dress rehearsal for reading your own.

I love the intensity of opinion among readers, whether it’s positive, negative or sideways. For some reason, I especially love the continuing debate about instalove, so I thought I’d share the thoughts that have been piling up in my head.

When I was younger, instalove was called “love at first sight”—and nobody ever questioned it. People generally liked the idea that, at any moment, they could turn a corner, accidentally spill coffee on someone, and proceed directly to Happily Ever After. The trope was no more realistic then than it is now, but it made every second of every day feel like a lottery ticket that could pay off big.

These days, a lot of readers DNF novels like that, of course. That may be because young people are savvier now. They know, from the internet, that some people lie about/disguise who they are every day.

For the record, I think it’s a good thing to be careful about falling in love and to expect novels to be subtle and realistic. I’m not in love with instalove in any way—but I want to say a few things in its defense, because I think it get a bad rap sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. So let’s pretend that I’m instalove’s court-appointed lawyer and I have to defend it, because it’s my job. Okay?

Here we go.

1. Sometimes people DO fall in love instantly.

It happens, even if it doesn’t happen a lot. One of the gifts, and curses, of being young is that you feel things with an almost supernatural intensity. Juliet was 13. Romeo was a couple years older.

But people of all ages can fall in love fast. It may be because they’re at a transitional point in their lives and especially open to possibility. It may be because they’re vulnerable after a loss or a trauma. It may be because they’re stranded in the Artic during a scientific expedition and the generator’s dying and the helicopter’s not coming after all and they have to huddle for warmth. But it does happen.

2. Not every character who THINKS they’re in love is ACTUALLY in love.

People lie to themselves sometimes. We ALL know people like this. They want to be in love so much that they rush in, in clear violation of the famous Elvis song about how only fools rush in. A lot of times instalove is just insta-lust in disguise, obviously. If you see a character whose eyes turn into heart emojis within three pages, the author may setting him or her up for a fall.  

3. If a novel (or a movie) is good enough, it will make you forget that you hate instalove.

The Titanic sank within four days. Four! That’s how long Jack and Rose had to fall in love. Yes, it helps that Jack selflessly gave his life even when there was definitely enough room for him on that floating door.

4. People are more likely to fall in love fast if someone (parents, say) or something (an iceberg, maybe) are trying to keep them apart.

That happens constantly in books and movies, right? It happens in real life, too. None of us want to be told who to love. None of us want to give up because there’s a war coming, or a dystopian government has outlawed love.

5. Even bad instalove is better than that thing where two people meet and hate each other’s guts before realizing they’re soul mates.

I can’t stand that. Give me anything else. Just because you detest someone does not mean you should marry them!

6. If a character is going through tragic stuff, as many YA characters are, an author may just really want to give them a partner for the journey.

It’s not a great excuse, I know. But authors are protective of their characters, and they often want someone to stand by their MC every second and say, “I love you. You can do this.” Yes, that person could be a friend or a sibling or a sentient robot, but sometimes you really just want to give your character someone to kiss.


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING!

GIVEAWAY

There’s also a giveaway as a part of the tour for one copy of the book + keepsake metal bookmark! This giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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Caraval (Caraval #1) – Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval #1) – Stephanie GarberTitle: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Source: ALAMW16, BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 14, 2016

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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Welllllll it’s another black sheep moment. CARAVAL didn’t really work for me and I know a lot of that was a personal preference. It had a Wonderland sort of feel in the sense that everything was so whimsical and Caraval itself kind of didn’t have any rules. Well, I should say that there definitely was a rule set but it was one of those fantasy situations where the characters find them out whenever something happens, so it really seems like there aren’t any rules until something happens. Really it’s just a matter of personal preference — when I’m in a fantasy setting, I really do need rules so I feel like I understand the structure of a setting and that was a bit much to really reach and understand how the magic worked.

I love books with a strong sibling aspect but I was actually disappointed with the sister relationship. They did care for each other more than anything and yet it still felt very surface level for me and that the reader was told how much the sisters loved each other and aside from the grand gesture, I didn’t really feel it. I felt like it could have gone much deeper with things like details, history, and special moments instead of them immediately being separated and the readers being told they have a special bond instead of really witnessing it.

This is maybe a mild spoiler but also happens very early on in the book so really not… But I also had a very hard time with their father’s abusive actions. I felt like there could have been so many reasons these sisters wanted to escape their father and their island and I didn’t feel the physical abuse was necessary. It was mean and nasty and the reasoning for everything really didn’t sit right with me. Surprisingly, this was a really big turn off for me, especially since it was the entire motivation of the book. It just felt a little too super-villain for me and I had a hard time seeing the father as a legitimate character. He seemed more like a caricature and not a realistic character.

I did love Julian and his interactions with Scarlett (the nickname thing was actually very cute, which sometimes doesn’t go well) and he was very suave. The romance was complicated and interesting and I loved the chemistry between Scarlett and Julian. That was something that was really great and consistent throughout the book for me!

CARAVAL was a quick and entertaining read but I’m not really sure if I want continue the series as of right now. I really wasn’t a huge fan of the writing because it definitely did feel young to me. I may see if others who had similar feelings ended up enjoying the sequel once the time comes. Really when it came down to it, I felt like CARAVAL had several places to really shine and it all kind of fell flat for me. The setting was very vivid, but didn’t feel structured. The ending was very lacking and could have happened so differently, felt like an “easy” way out of the conflict, and left me rather disappointed. Most of the characters felt underdeveloped. Most of it just didn’t quite click for me and the vivid descriptions just weren’t enough to dazzle me to make me overlook the things that I was missing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Bad boy romances. Julian was a little rough, snarky, and kind of a bad boy and I really enjoyed his character a lot!
Left Me Wanting More: Structure. I have trouble with fantasy worlds like this where characters figure the world out as they go along. It really ends up feeling like the author kind of figured it out as they went along too, even if they had everything plotted out from the beginning.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

People LOVED this one but I just didn’t click with it. It was a quick read for me but I just didn’t totally love it.

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BOOKS LIKE CARAVAL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HEARTLESS    CRUEL BEAUTY

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) – Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) – Amie Kaufman, Jay KristoffTitle: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: October 18, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 17, 2016
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

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I didn’t used to consider myself a fan of sci-fi, specifically things happening in space, but after ILLUMINAE totally rocked my reading world last year, I knew I couldn’t wait to get my hands on GEMINA. After waiting over three hours in line at BEA for a chance for an ARC (it was totally worth it), I didn’t wait too long to jump into one of my most-anticiapted reads of year, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Once again, this masterpiece by Aime Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is hard to describe. It’s a book that’s meant to be seen (although I have heard that the audio is quite amazing as well) and it was another amazing visual experience. GEMINA has all of the stunning visuals that ILLUMINAE did plus some gorgeous illustrations from none other than author Marie Lu (although the ARC didn’t have Marie’s illustrations so I had to go back and see them once my finished copy was delivered)! I absolutely love that each book is a true experience and the various forms of story-telling throughout this chronicle really pull a reader in no matter their reading preferences.

I also really enjoyed that GEMINA is a companion to ILLUMINAE. It picks up on the timeline where ILLUMINAE left off and yet readers meet two new characters — Hanna and Nik — and experience the madness and mayhem that ILLUMINAE readers loved but in a brand-new way. The new characters had a fantastic dynamic and featured one of my favorite tropes (hate-to-love). The banter was top-notch and I adored how the dynamic of these two characters really shaped the book. Plus, Amie and Jay had even more unique story-telling concepts, amazing twists for readers (which I didn’t even know was possible), and appearances from characters that were stars of ILLUMINAE!

GEMINA is clever, fun, creative, shocking, twisty, and brilliant. These books are so much fun to read in so many ways and I love how these two authors are constantly reshaping this genre and age range, bringing in new ideas and new readers. I was so impressed with the ending of this book and it bent my mind a little bit but in a totally amazing way. I cannot wait for the next installation in this set of companions! I will be eagerly awaiting, as always.

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

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Hanna // Character obsessions: Freedom, fun, clothes.
You’re lead to believe Hanna is a bit of a spoiled brat but I LOVE how kickass she turns out to be! Kady had some serious spunk in a rebel sort of way and Hanna is more skilled from enjoying the lessons and spoils of money and connections. I just love her character development and how amazingly her relationship with Nik evolves.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Space. These books are seriously changing my tune on “space books”. i actually adore outer space but I haven’t gotten into any stories that take place there, really. I’m all right with spaceships but I’m just not an alien person so I think I’ve avoided a lot of that. I just love the way these books pull me in!
Left Me Wanting More: Time to read! I just wanted to inhale this book like I had with ILLUMINAE but I didn’t have the time to sit down and keep reading. I totally could have loved it even more (if that’s possible) if I had extra time to really focus.

Addiction Rating
Fall in love with it!

These books are so amazing. I love the originality and it’s so easy for so many readers to fall in love with them.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GEMINA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

armada    Steelheart

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Hachette
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 4, 2016
Related Posts: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

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STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was such a fun read for me! I was in the mood for something delightfully dark and yet not too scary (since I’m a total chicken) and this was the perfect blend of history, mystery, and gore. Kerri Maniscalco brings the story of Jack the Ripper to life in this book with some real-life facts (including photos of actual items/evidence from the original Ripper cases) and blends them with some historical fiction to create an overall wonderful read.

The characters in this book are just excellent. I love main character Audrey Rose for so many reasons. She’s intelligent, independent, and generally doesn’t care what society thinks. She tries to do right by her family, especially after the death of her mother several years ago, but her father highly disapproves of her favorite hobby — apprenticing with her uncle in his laboratory and studying forensics. I personally love it! I loved the darkness and gruesomeness of Audrey Rose’s passion but I also loved how well it ties into the Jack the Ripper case. Audrey Rose becomes so invested in the case that she ends up often taking things into her own hands which is where another favorite character of mine, Thomas Cresswell, comes in.

Ah, Thomas Cresswell. He’s also an intellectual type but where Audrey Rose follows up with passion, Cresswell comes in with reasoning and cold logic. He’s a tough shell to crack and I loved trying to figure him out throughout the book! There were times when I loved him, times when I feared him, times when I was suspicious of him, and times when I couldn’t get enough of him! I really enjoyed the partnership he had going on with Audrey Rose and I cannot wait to see more of them working together in the second book!

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I’ve had some really good luck with historical aspects and true facts being adapted to fiction novels lately, and this falls into that category! I really enjoyed reading the afterword from Kerri Maniscalco about the actual facts of Jack the Ripper and pieces of the case and how she adapted them to the book. It’s neat to see real pieces of a mystery incorporated into this exciting adaptation!

I also loved how the identity of Jack the Ripper really kept me guessing throughout the book! I had several suspicions which waxed and waned throughout my read and the ending was so exciting!!! I was so hooked waiting to see how this all wrapped up and it beautifully set up the next book (for which I cannot wait)! The reveals were just great and perfectly timed and there were some really exciting and stunning moments!! I just really enjoyed STALKING JACK THE RIPPER from start to finish and I can’t wait for the next book.

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

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction – and reading extra notes! I don’t read a ton of historical fiction but when I do, I’ve been enjoying reading the extra notes from the authors — what was true, what was bent to fit the story, and what could have possibly happened. I’m really loving the true history belnded with fiction!
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. Okay, I actually really appreciated that swoons that I had weren’t rushed and were delightfully gradual (which also killed me a little) because it has me even more excited for future books! I’m just being greedy!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I really, really enjoyed this book and Kerri Maniscalco is just a lovely person. I’ve had so much fun flailing and reading and speculating and I can’t wait to continue this series when the next book comes out!

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BOOKS LIKE STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    this dark endeavor

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2016, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 7, 2016
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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One of the exciting things about being a book blogger is being able to read review copies before a book or series is published. There are a few drawbacks to ARCs (advanced reader copies) sometimes and I had a huge upset while reading THREE DARK CROWNS in the sense that I didn’t realize it was a series until I finished the book… BY finishing the book and finding a cliffhanger. Book info doesn’t always get updated right away and I started reading THREE DARK CROWNS before realizing it was a series.

Aside from the “surprise” of a series, the book definitely had a feel like things were taking a long time to go anywhere. Looking back, I can see where this would be a natural part of a series opener BUT I also felt like I shouldn’t have been so disconnected, even without that knowledge. I was so excited for something dark and sinister, magical and mysterious, and THREE DARK CROWNS really missed the mark on a lot of those things for me. With a concept of three sister queens pitted against each other and only one surviving, I was expecting a lot more darkness and a lot more intrigue. I was actually rather interested in the beginning. The book has this overall eerie, misty, inky feeling that you get when you watch creepy movies. I really picked up on the darker vibe, especially in the Poisoner chapters, but I did want a little bit more of it from the other two sisters as well. It was towards the middle of the book where I started to feel like things really weren’t going anywhere and I felt like even being the first in a series, it could have been a little better-structured.

The story just didn’t quite feel exciting. The sisters are separate (alternating but still third-person POVs) so there’s not much crossover with their story and once they do meet, things seem to bob around and not really flow. I almost felt like I was missing chapters the way things jumped around. The romances felt really rushed, unfinished, and one was plain unnecessary (in this book) and I just didn’t like it at all. The characters were also very hard to keep track of, with each girl having maids and priestesses and aunts and mothers and townspeople… it was just a LOT of names and with some people even described so similarly, it was hard to remember the name with the proper association to each queen, much less who they actually were.

I also was kind of disappointed in the concept of each ability, maybe because I didn’t see how the other sisters stood a chance against an elemental. If you’re trying to kill each other, poison just seems like too easy of a thing to avoid. And I don’t really know what the Naturalist powers can do since they’re not really explained too much (not as much as the others). But despite all that, I actually liked Katharine (the Poisoner) and Arsinoe (the Naturalist) the best. I loved their stories and their settings the most and their relationships really expanded in the best ways. Maybe I also liked them better because they were the underdogs, with Elemental sister Mirabella being the favorite and highly doted upon.

Overall, I just didn’t feel anything blending in THREE DARK CROWNS. The story lines for each sister felt like three very separate stories, even when they all converged. The only way they really felt connected was the basic concept that they’d have to go head-to-head eventually. I really wanted more twists and just didn’t feel that dark, twistiness that I really wanted. UNTIL the very last sentence. (I actually said WHOA. And then the book ended.) So will I read the next book? Maybe. Probably? I love where the ending was heading but as of right now, I don’t feel the draw to read more. I guess we’ll see when it comes out how I feel.
view_from_goodreads1

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

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Katharine // Character obsessions: Poisons, proving herself, first loves.
I was hoping for Katharine to be a bit darker… But I also understand why she wasn’t! Katharine was the Poisoner queen but she also was still struggling to come into her powers. She kind of seemed like she was on the sweeter side and and was trying to be “bad”!
Arsinoe // Character obsessions: Nature, finding her familiar, best friends.
Arsinoe was the Naturalist queen and I really enjoyed her chapters! I loved her best friend but I also found these chapters difficult because the best friend really took the spotlight with more power and the love interest so that kind of put Arsinoe in the background for me.
Mirabella // Character obsessions: Elemental magic, freedom.
Mirabella was actually my least favorite queen. I felt like they praised her so much that I wanted to root for the underdogs more — and she also ended up being sort of sweet. I was wishing for the book to be dark and sinister so I shied away from the “sweet” of this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Family feuds. The battle between sisters was interesting! I was wondering how it would all play out and since it’s a series, it’s still not over! I’m curious to see how it goes.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness! It’s Three DARK Crowns! Let’s get some serious darkness up in here!!!

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people really loved this one while I struggled with some structure and pacing. I feel like maybe if I had known it was a series that might have helped… But I think I still would have found parts to be slow either way. It was literally one of my most-anticipated reads of the year and those are always hard when they’re a bit of a let down!

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BOOKS LIKE THREE DARK CROWNS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE STORYSPINNER

Heartless Blog Tour | My Marissa Meyer Collection/Shelfie

Welcome to the blog tour for
HEARTLESS BY MARISSA MEYER!

To say that I’m obsessed with The Lunar Chronicles and all things Marissa Meyer MAY be an understatement. My collection started when I had the opportunity (thanks to Macmillan/Fierce Reads) to have my blog name in the paperback copy of SCARLET! I read CINDER a bit later than other readers since it A) came out before I started blogging and I didn’t know about it yet and B) was hesitant about a cyborg Cinderella (how wrong I was)!

I had already owned CINDER and SCARLET in hardcover but of course I needed to purchase a paperback copy of SCARLET since it had my name in it! Because I had the paperback of SCARLET, I needed a paperback of CINDER. Then I received an ARC of CRESS and couldn’t let it go so I kept my ARC (actually ended up trading to get a different ARC since I sent my copy out on loan and the post office LOST IT) and of course, needed a hardcover and a paperback of CRESS to match my other books. My read of CRESS was stupendous. It was such an amazing read for me and I fell even more in love with the series (even though I didn’t think that was possible). I loved the books so much that I started collecting different editions and well… I’ve got that collecting personality so one thing led to another and soon I was hunting down foreign editions, old ARCs, and more! I have a ridiculous amount of books now and I regret nothing.

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MARISSA MEYER COLLECTION BY THE NUMBERS

I’ve never really posted about my collection a blog post before and I thought it would be fun to expand upon all of the books in my collection where I have room to write a large caption!

Top shelf, from left to right: CINDER – German hardcover, CINDER – US hardcover, SCARLET – US hardcover, CRESS – US hardcover, WINTER – US hardcover, FAIREST – US hardcover, STARS ABOVE – US hardcover, CINDER – US paperback, SCARLET – US paperback, CRESS – US paperback, FAIREST – US paperback, CRESS – Target special edition
Merch: Button, lip balm, gloves, and comb – promo items from Fierce Reads, bookmark from Marquis du Soleil, candle from Novelly Yours, mug from Evie Bookish Designs

Bottom shelf, from left to right: CRESS – Greek edition, CINDER – Italian hardcover, CINDER – German paperback, CINDER – UK ARC, CINDER – Scholastic teaching edition, SCARLET – Scholastic teaching edition, CINDER – US ARC, SCARLET – US ARC, CRESS – US ARC, CINDER – Polish edition, SCARLET – Polish edition, CINDER – Spanish edition, SCARLET – Spanish edition, HEARTLESS – US ARC
Merch: “Read Me” note and HEARTLESS promo box from Fierce Reads, bookmark from Behind the Pages, bracelet from Rich Love Shoppe, Queen of Hearts box is a family heirloom

  • Total number of books: 28
    • Cinder: 10
    • Scarlet: 6
    • Cress: 5
    • Winter: 1
    • Fairest: 3
    • Stars Above: 2
    • Heartless: 1
  • Foreign Editions: 9
  • ARCs: 6 (including STARS ABOVE manuscript)

lunar chronicles collection

Am I crazy? Quite possibly… but I can’t contain my love for Marissa Meyer’s books and once I started collecting, it just became an obsession — I HAD to have them all! Poor, gracious Marissa has actually personalized and/or signed a lot of these for me and I felt so bad bringing her so many books! But she was the sweetest and willing to sign everything for me (although at her next tour stop I won’t make her do so many. I feel bad! And don’t worry guys, I went at the end of the line so as not to hold up the link with a million books for her to sign).

lunar chronicles collection

When I fall in love with a series, I dive headfirst into it and I just can’t help but share the love for these books! I’m honored to be on the HEARTLESS blog tour today share my (extreme) love for all things Marissa Meyer! (And if you know of any more awesome TLC swag, you MUST let me know!)

the book addict's guide

Q&A WITH MARISSA MEYER

I also get to share an exclusive Q&A with Marissa Meyer! (And they saved me some awesome Lunar Chronicles questions heeheeheehee). Check it out below!!

 

  • How was writing HEARTLESS different from your experience writing The Lunar Chronicles?

 

Heartless felt a lot easier to write… not because there was any difference in love or enthusiasm, but I think just because it’s a simpler story. There is only one main character and one love story, not four. And being a stand-alone novel, it was easier to limit the various subplots, ensuring that I could wrap everything up by the end of this story. It was just a lot less complicated. And of course, there was the difference in genre—from writing a world full of science and technology and all the research that went into that, then to write a world that was intentionally lacking in any science or technology, in which the crazier the world got, the better! It was a big, refreshing change.

That said, I think I also felt a lot more pressure with Heartless to do justice to the original source material. While fairy tales are certainly just as beloved and time-honored as Alice, there are so many fairy-tale retellings out there that it is accepted—even encouraged—for writers to take the stories and spin them and twist them as far away from the originals as possible. I felt no qualms whatsoever in changing the plots, themes, and characters of  fairy tales if it suited my story and world better. But with Heartless, I really wanted it to feel a believable prequel to the Alice stories. I carefully avoided doing or saying anything that would be in direct opposition to anything Lewis Carroll wrote, and I hope that the book will please both those readers that are unfamiliar with Alice, but also the die-hard Alice fans.  

 

  • Do you think Cath would get along with Cinder and the rest of the crew from the Lunar Chronicles?

 

For the most part, yes, especially if she offered to take up the cooking aboard the Rampion! I think she would especially get along with Cress, who would hang on her every word as she told her about the crazy wacky Kingdom of Hearts that she came from.

That said, I do think she would get on Scarlet’s nerves—Scarlet just wouldn’t tolerate her indecisiveness and frightened hesitation when it comes to going out and getting what she wants. It would drive her nuts. (Though Cath may yet win her over with a slice of lemon cake.)

 

  • Who would win a game croquet match? Thorne or Jest?

 

Jest. Thorne would be too distracted, wondering if he could pull off the skin-tight leggings and three-pointed jester’s hat thing quite as well. (Answer: Yes. He could.)

 

  • What is next for you after HEARTLESS?

 

I have a two-part graphic novel coming out called Wires & Nerve. They are set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles and feature Iko as the main character. I loved writing them so much, and seeing the artwork has been one of the most rewarding parts of my writing career to date! The first will be out in January.

Beyond that, I am currently working on a new series, a trilogy, about teenage superheroes. The first should release next fall!

Thanks for the awesome interview, Marissa!! Firstly, let’s all flail for ALL THE NEW BOOKS. I haven’t ever read a graphic novel before (never! I know!) so I’m super excited for my first one to be Wires & Nerve! Also OMG SUPERHEROES TRILOGY. I’m dying. And will someone please make some fan art with Thorne dressed up in skin-tight leggings and a jester’s hat? You would make my life forever! 

39 DAYS UNTIL HEARTLESS!

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Only 39 more days until HEARTLESS! Are you SO excited!? I’ve already posted my review and you can check out my full thoughts in the link below! Plus, check out even more Marissa Meyer with some Lunar Chronicles flailing on The Book Addict’s Guide too!

 

Heartless – Marissa Meyer

Heartless – Marissa MeyerTitle: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 8, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 5, 2016
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1)

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

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If you know me or my blog, I’m sure you know how big of a Lunar Chronicles fan I am! I’ve basically grown obsessed with Marissa Meyer’s books so naturally when I heard about HEARTLESS, I was freaking out. When I received a glorious, glorious copy of HEARTLESS at BEA this year (as well as getting the chance to meet and chat with Marissa), I knew it was the first book from BEA that I was going to start! I was a bit apprehensive but wholly excited, as one usually is when starting a new book by their favorite author. I really love prequel and sequel adaptations of classic novels as well as the “what might have happened” retellings but prequels have a special place in my heart for some reason. I was doubly excited to start HEARTLESS because of this reason and also because it promised to be a little bit darker since the book revolved around the beginnings of the Queen of Hearts!

The first thing I’ll say is that this not The Lunar Chronicles… But I’m glad that it wasn’t! I think it’s easy for a writer to stick to a style or tone that they know and that’s definitely great to sort of make a name for yourself with a specific style. You could say that Marissa Meyer is getting that niche of fairy tales and retellings since HEARTLESS is different in so many ways but it still is a fairy tale adaptation. I’m really glad to be able to read such a different tone, setting, and context for this retelling than what we had see in The Lunar Chronicles! I’m impressed with how different this book was and how it really stood on its own, even after following such a massive series. Marissa really did an amazing job at bringing HEARTLESS to life and having it stand on its own!

I’m not a huge Alice in Wonderland fan so I don’t know the story inside and out, but from what I do know, I feel like the book followed the general story quite closely. This was nice to see so many things from the original tale pop up throughout the book and yet I felt like I was missing that sense of originality that I felt in The Lunar Chronicles (as an easy example) that really developed a story of its own and wasn’t just a straight retelling. Even though HEARTLESS is a prequel of sorts, it still really felt quite similar to Alice in Wonderland in many ways and I would have loved to see a few more original aspects that truly had the book standing out from Alice. On the flip side, it was cool to see how something could be used in the Queen’s time as a teenager/young adult that later comes back when Alice enters Wonderland. HEARTLESS was much more of a closely-following adaptation than just an inspiration.

One thing I worried about with an Alice adaption is how whimsical the original story is and that’s not something I always get along with in books. I enjoy adaptations so I was hoping HEARTLESS would be like The Lunar Chronicles in that way — the fairy tale inspires the book but it’s a bit more modern. HEARTLESS was definitely more like Alice than The Lunar Chronicles in this sense. The tone, content, and whimsy were all reminiscent of the original book. Rather than being a prequel concept, this was written as a true prequel to mimic the original Alice story itself. I did have a hard time with some of the whimsical fantasy in the book (as I have with Alice). Well, I shouldn’t say that I had a hard time. More like it wasn’t something that I particularly enjoyed. I didn’t dislike it but sometimes those things end up feeling more silly to me than fun.

The characters were really quite lovely. We get to see pre-madness Hatter (who was always one of my favorite Alice characters) and glimpses of characters like the White Rabbit and other Tea Party guests. Cath was so interesting throughout the book and I kept trying to take a peek at what might turn her into a heartless queen later on in the book. It actually did make me rather anxious because I just knew that the book couldn’t have a happy ending!! Every hope she had I was nervous for and of course that went doubly for the romance. Jest (the romantic interest) fought for my favorite character (against Hatta) in HEARTLESS and I didn’t know whether I was supposed to be wary of him at first or fall in love with him! And the King of Hearts was just so bumbling and cringe-worthy that it truly made every scene with him unbearable and nerve-wracking since you know that Cath is supposed to end up as the Queen!!

I really did enjoy HEARTLESS from start to finish. I thought the tale of the (future) Queen of Hearts was quite interesting and very well done. I liked how Catherine was a seemingly normal girl right from the start of the book and I spent the entire read really wondering how this whole thing was going to flip and turn back on itself to inspire a personality change. The concept was handled really well and even though I was expecting this to read a bit more sinisterly as if from a villain’s point of view, I did enjoy that I was really kept guessing until the end how that switch was going to happen!
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Catherine // Character obsessions: Baking, friendship, love, avoiding the king.
I’m not gonna lie… I was hoping this book would have Catherine as a villainous character right from the start. I was excited to read something a little dark and sinister… But I also did appreciate seeing the “true” history behind the Queen of Hearts and how she came to end up so ruthless when she was once normal Catherine. Marissa Meyer did a great job with her character and I really loved that slow creep of doubt slip in and then the sudden flip!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Prequels. Prequels are SO cool. I really, really love seeing what a world was like before the story even begins ad all of the backstories of everything. It also adds a whole separate level of world building that I LOVE.
Left Me Wanting More: Originality. I know that it’s a fairy tale retelling and this definitely felt more like a retelling than an adaptation, which I was surprised to find in a prequel since those usually build their own stories a bit more. Granted, I’m not SUPER familiar with Alice so I’m not sure what changed and what was the same but I did feel a lot of Alice elements that I did know and I just wanted more of the Queen’s story than Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It wasn’t my favorite book from Marissa Meyer so far but it was fun and absolutely enjoyable. I loved reading a different fairy tale adaption and like always, she did a great job with the characters and really pulling a story together! It’s also so nice that it’s a stand alone so you won’t have to wait for future books!

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BOOKS LIKE HEARTLESS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

NANTUCKET BLUE    TIGER LILY

Leave Me – Gayle Forman

Leave Me – Gayle FormanTitle: Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss, BEA 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2016
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

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.
Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.
With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

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I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan so any book of hers, no matter the age range or genre, will be on my radar. When I heard that LEAVE ME was adult contemporary, I had to admit that I wasn’t super excited about it since I haven’t been reading as much “serious” contemporary lately and I don’t really read it on the adult level — I’m more of a YA gal. Either way, it was Gayle Forman and I knew no matter what, I was in good hands so I was excited to receive a copy of LEAVE ME at BEA this year! Upon finishing, I don’t really know how to feel about this book. If we’re being perfectly honest, if it wasn’t Gayle Forman’s book, I wouldn’t have read it. The entire premise of the book is that overworked, overtired Maribeth Klein whisks herself away for time to recover both mentally and physically after a heart-attack in her early 40s. She leaves her husband and two four-year-old twins with only a note, no way to contact her, and actively avoids ways that she can be traced so she can just take some time for herself. This really isn’t a topic I’m drawn to but Gayle Forman is the master so I was along for the ride!

This book (and entire concept) is so confusing to me as I try to sort out my feelings towards it. I know how I personally feel about Maribeth’s actions but there are just so many ways to look at it. The beginning of the book before Maribeth leaves was actually kind of hard for me to read with so many situations hitting a little too close to home. Having been in a similar situation with a medical emergency turning your life completely upside down, I just had a very hard time with the decisions that Maribeth made. I was not the person who was directly medically affected but I was a big part of that whole situation and yes, it’s always hard but my thoughts were constantly directed towards, “How can I help?” and “How can I understand?” On the flip side, no matter how close you are to a person, you’re not that person going through the medical issues and there are things and feelings you won’t understand. You have fear of your own but may not understand the level of anxiety that person is feeling, in which case, I did identify with Maribeth. Her heart attack was such a complete disruption of her life in so many ways and her only way that she was finally able to handle everything was to leave all responsibilities behind, including her family. Leaving I had a hard time with. Leaving and cheating are two situations that I really struggle to forgive or forget and even if things did end up working out in the end of this book (I won’t give anything away), I knew I wouldn’t be able to forgive Maribeth for up and leaving.

But then there’s the question of what strength is in this situation. Is strength staying and pushing through, working through all of the things with your family? Or is it leaving, taking some time off and gathering yourself up first? Honestly, I think either one could be the right answer but I had such a hard time with the fact that she literally abandoned her family. I know that she was not in the right mental state to really assess things, and that falls on her husband too since he didn’t really try to help around the house or with anything after Maribeth’s surgery, but it was hard for me to support Maribeth when her solution was to run. I guess we wouldn’t have much of a story if she spoke with her husband and took some sort of retreat instead of simply running… But that would have been a workable situation for me where I wouldn’t have hard feeling towards Maribeth. We’ve gone through some very hard things and our family is still in tact… but I’m also not a parent and don’t have that added responsibility and role in my family so I can’t speak on how that might affect a situation either. Life is messy and each situation is unique and complicated. I’m not in Maribeth’s family so maybe I would have handled things differently if I was in her shoes but from a reader’s perspective, it was really hard for me to fully understand.

My feelings for Maribeth aside, I thought this was a very good story and as always, Gayle Forman does an amazing job of bringing so many things to light. Maribeth’s situation was definitely more complicated than just the heart attack too and these things really added to why she ended up running in the first place. I won’t say hard things justify abandonment but it does help you understand where she’s coming from a little bit more. Gayle Forman also just has a way of making these characters come to life. I felt like I really got to know Maribeth, all of her new friends, and I could easily picture Maribeth’s life with her husband and children in so many ways.

I started and finished the book in one day. It was really easy to read and like so many of Gayle’s books, just so easy to get lost in. She does an amazing job of making you really feel a setting, getting you invested in a character’s story, and bringing raw, real emotions to the table. Her stories are about the more challenging sides of life and I’m actually glad she wrote this book because I wouldn’t have read this story by another author. It’s outside of my normal comfort zone — both being adult contemporary and also the “leaving factor” — and it was refreshing to think about things in a different way as I read. It’s also a bit scary, to be honest. I’ve only been married for two years and we’ve already been through a lot. I have amazing confidence in my marriage and I’m not really worried for us in the future but it does make me wonder what our life will be like in five or ten years which isn’t something I normally do. Life has taught me that there are too many thing you can’t plan for so I don’t map everything out but all I can do is hope that we grow together and build a solid foundation for our home and books like LEAVE ME really leave readers to reflect on their relationships/marriages/friendships. Even if you have an amazing relationship, there’s always a little bit more you can take into account and it’s interesting to have that reminder of what even the closest person to you might be going through without you even realizing.

view_from_goodreads1

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

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Maribeth // Character obsessions: Work, responsibilities, letting it all go.
Maribeth’s character really hits me hard because I feel like so many of us feel like this so often. I think we as a society have such a focus on work and career that it consumes so much of our lives. So many people’s places of employment expect them to take their work home with them or be available at the drop of a hat, in and out of the office, and people aren’t getting relaxation time anymore. Add to that a family life which can be so fulfilling but still adds responsibilities, chores, and duties to one’s life and it can easily be overwhelming. Maribeth was easily identifiable for me in that sense. I work from 7:30am – 5pm and it takes me an hour to get to/home from work so work consumes twelve hours of my day. Then I come home and make dinner, do laundry, make candles for my second job (essentially) and by the time I’m done with everything, it’s time for bed. I’m not complaining about it at all and my husband does help out but it’s so exhausting and I can’t imagine doing that with kids. I absolutely see where Maribeth is coming from and has a life-changing experience with her heart attack… But even with all of that I still can’t get over leaving. Maybe leaving her husband would be more forgivable (okay, really not for me) but she left her children and I really can’t get over that either. I understand that she needs to take care of herself first but to just LEAVE like that, that’s so, so damaging to everyone. She could have handled it totally differently, communicated with her husband, gone to therapy, went on a retreat even, and I would have been fine with it. I personally couldn’t forgive the leaving. I know she healed, I know she helped herself, but you can’t just run away form responsibilities. You discuss, you face them, you figure out a solution, even if it’s hard. Plenty of people go through such things without leaving their families. I guess I’ll never quite understand it but it’s a strong feeling of mine. As much as I grew to like her as a person, I couldn’t let it go.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary/realistic fiction. I really don’t read many adult realistic fiction novels because it’s just not my bag but I’m glad I read this one. I read it simply because it’s Gayle Forman and I really enjoy how she crafts a novel.
Left Me Wanting More: Understanding. The lack of communication between these characters killed me. It wouldn’t have been easy but if Maribeth and her husband had just talked, they could have figured things out without her having to run away. I know it’s not an easy thing to do and especially having that feeling like Maribeth, I know it’s hard to ask for help, but it was something I couldn’t shake.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It was a very good read and as always, a well-crafted story from Gayle Forman. I love her big-picture novels and books that take you through the messier parts of life. It wasn’t my favorite topic but I enjoyed the novel from start to finish.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT