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I’ll Meet You There – Heather Demetrios

I’ll Meet You There – Heather DemetriosTitle: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Publishing Info: February 3, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 15, 2015
Related Posts: Bad Romance

    If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

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With all of the praise I’LL MEET YOU THERE has gotten — before and after its publication date — I knew I had to pick it up fairly quickly. I ended up starting and finishing it in one afternoon because I just didn’t want to put it down and although my love for this book may not be AS high as others, there’s no denying that I was totally engaged and all together hooked.

I’LL MEET YOU THERE is the story of Skylar who has just graduated high school and is dying to get out of her middle-of-nowhere town — that is, until her mother falls off the wagon again and she’s not sure if she can leave her alone. Josh has just returned from a tour in Afghanistan where he lost his leg, his friends, and a piece of the boy he used to be.
Now this may be an unusual review or an unusual thing to say, but really not much about that description appealed to me at first. I didn’t even include this in my requests to Macmillan because I was afraid it wasn’t a “me” book so I didn’t want to take the chance that I wouldn’t like it (I thought I wouldn’t). I feel like I’ve read the “stuck in a middle of nowhere town” story too many times and I’m not usually one for books surrounding war (pre, during, or post) but that was also what I thought with Something Like Normal as well… Looks like my tastes may be changing and/or I’m figuring out that my pre-conceived notions of how these stories will go are being proven incorrect! Long story short, I just LOVED that this was another book that took all of my expectations and shoved them right back in face.

I think the reason everything worked for me is that whenever I hear about themes like these, I always expect clichés and I’LL MEET YOU THERE was anything but. Skylar was instantly a likeable character for me. She’s “the girl from the trailer park” but she’s not “trailer trash”. She doesn’t drink. She has two best friends. She’s well-balanced, loves art, and wants nothing more than to go off to college. Little things pop up here and there that could easily have turned cliché (a teen pregnancy, for example), but Heather Demetrios does a fantastic job bringing each of these characters to life so no one ever feels flat or boring or stereotypical. Every character and every scene just felt so realistic to me and I was so grateful that I could just fall into this book and be wholly absorbed.

The romance here is so well done. I really liked that Skylar and Josh knew each other before he went off to war but they were never close. They had worked together but Josh and Skylar really weren’t very similar so their friendship was more an acquaintanceship and everything was mostly superficial with some real connections every now and then. Once Josh returns home, he’s not the same person he once was. Not only is he missing a leg, but as anyone does, he saw a lot in the war. He made friends and he watched the die. He matured and yet became even more vulnerable once he returned home. And though Skylar’s changes aren’t as obvious, she’s a bit different since Josh had left as well. It was so interesting to see how they end forming a friendship that really turns into a bond, and I think that’s why I enjoyed their relationship so much. I just really appreciate those romances that really show how the two characters end up bonding with each other and showing each other such unwavering support. I just loved watching that unfold between Skylar and Josh.

I also really enjoyed the alternating points of view! After finishing the book, it really did feel more like Skylar’s story but I really liked being able to see things from Josh’s POV. I think it really helped me connect with him and see all of those things he was refusing to share with other people. I don’t think I would have been as invested without his perspective!

While I didn’t fall totally head over heels, I did still fall in love with I’LL MEET YOU THERE. It was such a special story and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book that really finds its way to your heart. I’m SO glad that I picked this one up (even pre-ordered it for myself on the faith that my fellow reviewers loved it!) despite my initial impressions! It just goes to show you that you can’t always just a book by its cover — although this cover is pretty stellar so maybe you should! ;D

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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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Skylar // Character Obsessions: Leaving, college, collages, friendship, not falling victim to the stereotype.
I really loved Skylar. I loved everything she stood for and everything that she did. I have definitely not been in many of the situations that she has but there was just something so real about her that I felt a connection with her and I really felt like I was going on this journey with her. An outstanding character!
Josh // Character Obsessions: Getting back to normal, sanity, finding a new peace.
UGH, Joooosh. Just thinking about him gets the feelings all FEELSY again! (Okay, these aren’t even words. Just roll with it.) My heart just really went out to him and really, I can’t even imagine going through what he did (and what men and women in the services do every day. That just takes all kinds of mental and physical toughness). I was totally rooting for him and Skylar the whole way. Where they ended up after Josh came back home was just… they needed each other.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Military themes. Once again I find myself surprised that I really enjoyed a military theme. I don’t know why I always shy away from it! Clearly it’s something that I should start trying more of!
Left Me Wanting More: What everyone else felt! I REALLY enjoyed this book but I didn’t seem to come close to the heart-melties and OMGs that everyone else had! Either way, I’m still glad that I did enjoy it so much and I’m happy to have it on my shelves!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This one was really great. I think there’s so much to take from it and it really stuck with me! (The secret and extra-fun pre-order note from Heather Demetrios — I mean, JOSH — also totally got me even MORE invested!)

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BOOKS LIKE I’LL MEET YOU THERE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL     WHERE SHE WENT

All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places – Jennifer NivenTitle: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Publishing Info: January 6, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 9, 2015

     Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
     Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
     When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

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If there’s anything you need to know about ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, it’s that it’s a book that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading. I actually didn’t get around to writing my review until about a month after I finished reading and yet all of the emotions I felt as I was reading quickly came flooding back to me once I began to reflect on the book once more.

The tagline for ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES describes it as a mashup of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park and while I see elements of both and feel like it’s a lot to compare a new release to these two giant names in contemporary, I feel like those comparisons really don’t do the book justice. I can spot where the pieces of these two books that could have drawn up these comparisons but ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES is a book that easily makes a name for itself and stands on its own two feet, offering a unique and emotionally-charged story that reaches out to a wide audience.

When the book first opens, we’re presented with two characters: Violet Markey and Theodore Finch. What do they have in common? They’re both on the brink of suicide… and yet their stories are both very different. Immediately was invested but it actually took just a little bit for me to get into the book because I wasn’t quite sure where it was going — but that was a good thing. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES wasn’t predictable, or at least it wasn’t for me. Violet seemed to be suffering for a depression after the loss of her sister about a year prior but Finch… he had a bit of a different situation going on. He describes his struggle in unique way that I didn’t quite understand at first, saying he goes from periods of being asleep and struggles to find the periods where he can feel awake. This causes him to miss weeks of school, to seem like an oddball to his peers so what does he do? He shrugs it off. Plays into the “weirdo” comments of his classmates. Tries on new personalities. Finch is so unique and so wonderful and I got to know this charismatic guy who was really struggling with something in his life and didn’t know how or why he was feeling the way he was and couldn’t surface long enough to do anything about it.

I don’t want to retell the whole story because it’s a really wonderful experience that I want readers to have for themselves, but I will tell you that I absolutely fell in love with these two main characters and how they ended up forming a bond with each other. Violet and Finch were two kids who may have never come together without going through these incredible struggles in their lives and how they end up working through things with each other just really warmed my heart and soul.

That being said, the book isn’t without a dark side. Both Violet and Finch have their own personal demons and it’s no common sadness. They both have serious issues to work through on many levels and although it’s hard to watch them experience, it’s such an incredible story to witness. I absolutely love what they discover about themselves through their friendship and experiences. They learn how to open up to each other and to the world. They learn how to laugh again, how to let go, how to speak, how to enjoy each day. I just really loved both of them so much and they ended up feeling like real people to me. This wasn’t just the story of Violet and Finch, but every person — young and old — who has been in their shoes.

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES was a home run for me. I was an emotional wreck after this book, having experienced some real highs and some true lows. I laughed, I cried (so hard), and I loved. This book has stuck with me since I finished reading and I know it will stick with me for a long time. It already holds a special place in my heart and truly the emotions come flooding back to me just thinking about the book or hearing the title. It’s one I truly recommend for so, so many reasons and I can’t stress enough the importance of what you’ll learn from these two characters.

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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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Violet // Character Obsessions: Her sister, her fears, her grief.
I really felt for Violet. After losing her sister in car accident, Violet suffers from depression and survivor’s guilt… Except she does the best job that she can to hide the depression side of things. Her parents understand that things haven’t been the same since Violet’s sister died and yet I don’t think they really understood how bad things were. For that, I’m so thankful for Finch. He happened to have the same motives as Violet and yet, he went out of his way to save her that day and everything in her life changed. I was just really happy to see that person show up in her life that could really make a difference when she had shut everyone out.
Finch // Character Obsessions: Personas, living in the moment, Violet, words.
Oh, Finch. I really didn’t know how to understand him at first. He seemed a quirky — which he was — and I wasn’t sure how to take that. But the more you get to know Finch, the more you understand why he acts the way he does. What makes him tick. And I really just fell in love with his character. I loved the relationship he and Violet started. I really just felt for him in general and his story was just so heartbreaking.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mental Health Awareness. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES really demonstrates how mental health issues can really go unnoticed or even hidden. It’s really important to acknowledge that just because it’s an issue or disease that’s not physically manifested, it doesn’t mean that it’s not equally important. Both Violet and Finch struggled with psychological and mental health issues that were too easily kicked under the rug or not addressed. They found each other to help them through a lot but it cannot just be brushed off.
Left Me Wanting More: Hugs. I need a hug after reading this book. I want to give hugs after reading this book. It really put my emotions through the wringer but in a good way! It was such a powerful read for me.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

Buy this book. Read this book. Love this book. It was an instant favorite, an emotional journey, and a book I will be recommending for a very long time.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        ALTHEA & OLIVER     THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING

When Joss Met Matt – Ellie Cahill

When Joss Met Matt – Ellie CahillTitle: When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill, Liz Czukas
Publishing Info: February 24, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Edelweiss, Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 5, 2014
Related Posts: Call Me, Maybe, Just a Girl, Throwing My Life Away, Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

    Ellie Cahill is poised to coin the term “sorbet sex” with her charming twist on the age-old ‘friends-with-benefits’ story.
    Dating can be fun, but it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. For Joss, ever since her longtime boyfriend cheated on her, she doesn’t want her last memory of a guy to be that jerk. Enter her college friend, Matt. They come up with a theory: after a bad break-up, a person needs to cleanse the palate with a little sorbet sex. Lovers for a night, but always back to being friends in the morning. The two can handle it because they have a contract: rules they wrote, rules they follow and rules they can sometimes bend. The arrangement works: everyone needs a little sorbet now and again … until it starts to be the only thing you want. And then Joss breaks the one rule they never wrote down: don’t fall in love.

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I love Liz Czukas (sorry, I mean Ellie Cahill *wink*) and so I knew I would love WHEN JOSS MET MATT but I didn’t realize how MUCH I would love it. Her debut novel, ASK AGAIN LATER, totally won me over but WHEN JOSS MET MATT had me totally falling head over heels for these characters, the story, and how much I connected with absolutely everything (and I already have it pre-ordered).

WHEN JOSS MET MATT is everything I want New Adult to be. Always. We first meet the two during Joss’s first years of college and when a good relationship goes bad, she leans more and more on her new friend Matt who also helped her coin the new idea of “sorbet sex” (having sex with someone else after a bad encounter to wipe the slate clean). I’m not shy around sex in books but there are quite a few times in the new adult books that I’ve read that the sex scenes become tawdry and over-the-top and unrealistic, so although there is plenty of sex in WHEN JOSS MET MATT (hey, that is the whole concept of the book…), it never felt silly or awkward to read (well, except when it was supposed to be)!

The characters were fantastic too. I LOVE Joss and have been in her shoes so many times. I just really connected and although I may not have been in the exact same predicaments, everything was just so incredibly relatable no matter what it was. She and Matt are both just totally normal people. No one is over the top sexy or hunky but there’s enough attraction between the two to flirt with that line of best friends vs something more (MY FAV) and see how the two end up.

Books with flashbacks/flashforwards are often “take it or leave it” for me but I loved the back and forth in WHEN JOSS MET MATT. We start to get to know Joss & Matt in college but the story constantly flashes back and forth between their past and their present day (which also made me VERY NERVOUS but in a good way). It takes a great author to really make those scenes fit together plot-wise even though they’re not chronological and I love the way Ellie Cahill handled them.

But really my favorite part was just the overall feel. I loved that it took place in Wisconsin since I’m from Illinois (and one scene in Chicago!) and I felt that Midwestern vibe, which may not be much different than any other setting, but it really helps me connect that much more. Everyone is very down-to-earth and the situations these two ended up in felt like they could happen to me — or HAVE happened to me. The book was funny yet serious, sexy and sweet, and I absolutely love love loved the ending. If you’re not a fan of new adult, PLEASE try this book! I absolutely adored it and it’s one that I think could easily appeal to YA, new adult, and adult fiction lovers alike.

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!

When Joss Met Matt reading updates

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Joss // Character Obsessions: Friendships, her job, her cat, Matt, sexy underwear.
Joss is just your girl next door. And I absolutely loved her for that. She’s not what you’d necessarily define as traditionally beautiful but she’s still a normal-looking girl and has a normal life. I loved her little quirks — especially her love for sexy underwear (because let’s be honest. It makes us all feel super sexy even if no one sees it) — and I just totally clicked with her. She has a great sense of humor and may say a little TOO much sometimes but I loved that she reminded me of a combination of both myself and a few of my friends.
Matt // Character Obsessions: Family, friendship, dating, Joss.
OH MATT. I loved him. He was a great best friend, so funny, so nice, and yet still a “typical” guy. He was so funny and had really great chemistry with Joss. Also infuriating at times, but hey, that’s what happens with both guy best friends and when you’re interested in your guy best friend. I just loved how relatable he seemed as well!

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult. YAYYYY this is what I want all new adult to be! I know the “typical” thought about NA is that it’s sexed up and well… this definitely has a lot of sex in it but it isn’t overly-explicit and I really think that extends its appeal to so many more readers. It’s not just a romance novel — it’s so much more.
Left Me Wanting More: Of this book! I didn’t want it to end. I just loved every second of this book and it was so, so perfect.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

No, seriously. BUY THIS BOOK. If you’re a fan of YA or NA or Adult contemporary, you should definitely read this. And buy it. And hug it. I loved it!

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BOOKS LIKE WHEN JOSS MET MATT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT      JUST ONE DAY

My True Love Gave to Me – Various Authors

My True Love Gave to Me – Various AuthorsTitle: My True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins
Publishing Info: October 14, 2014 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 16, 2014
Related Posts: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you're going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there's something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love. 

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I love that these authors got together to put MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME out into the world. There are definitely some of my favorite authors’ works in here (Rainbow! Gayle! Stephanie!)  and I had soooo much fun reading all of these short stories (although some I wished would go on forever)! It’s hard to review a collection of short stories so I’ll just say a few things on each one of them!

MIDNIGHTS BY RAINBOW ROWELL

Sigghhhhh. Dreamy sighhhh. I just love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. Something about it just stirs up all of the butterflies in me and just feels so wonderful and comfortable and makes me feel like I’m coming home. MIDNIGHTS was a story about the New Years Eves that Mags and Noel share and their story just hit all the right places for me. I wished there could have been SO much more of this short story. It was truly perfection.
Rating: 5/5

THE LADY AND THE FOX BY KELLY LINK

I’ve never read anything by Kelly Link before so I had no idea what to expect, plus I think it’s REALLY hard to follow Rainbow’s beautiful story. THE LADY AND THE FOX was interesting but it had a weird feel for me… Like it was almost old and new all at once. I think this story could have been better (for me) if it was longer because I needed to really bury myself in some of the details and backstories a bit. Rainbow’s I wished could go on forever because I loved it and this I wished could go on longer because I just needed a bit more story to make that connection!
Rating: 2/5

ANGELS IN THE SNOW BY MATT DE LA PENA

I really, really liked this story! It was very different from the first two and I loved how the two characters — Shy and Haley — came together. I really liked Shy and really felt for him being away from his family and everything that was going on with his family during this holiday season. I really connected with this one (another one I wish there was more of!) and it was really interesting to get to know his character. I loved the male voice and I just really enjoyed this one a lot. And fresh snow! Sigh. It always gets me.
Rating: 4/5

POLARIS IS WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME BY JENNY HAN

This story was really cute. It definitely had a feel between Elf and The Santa Clause! The main character Natalie was adopted by Santa, lives at the North Pole with the elves, and has a crush on one of them. They don’t believe her when she says she’s kissed a real human boy before. The story is just sweet, very fun, and I love how it captures the spirit of Christmas and makes a YA story out of elves & Santa!
Rating: 3.5/5

IT’S A YULTIDE MIRACLE, CHARLIE BROWN BY STEPHANIE PERKINS

Oh, Stephanie. How does she alway write such wonderful and poignant stories? I just loved this one and everything it was about. The little romance was adorable and I loved how everything came together. It’s so funny because I never expect to find such deeper meaning in such short stories but yep, sure enough. Steph has it in there. Loved this one! Loved how it ended too.
Rating: 4.5/5

YOUR TEMPORARY SANTA BY DAVID LEVITHAN

This was definitely a little bittersweet but I loved the sentiment behind it. It was really interesting to see the family dynamic unfold in such a short story and I really would have loved to read more of this one too. Each person is not without their flaws and it was really great to see this cross-section of characters come together to keep a little girl’s dream of Santa alive, all the while trying to hold together their own dreams.
Rating: 4/5

KRAMPUSLAUF BY HOLLY BLACK

Man, I loved this one. I personally haven’t read KRAMPUS but my besties Alyssa & Amy have (and love it) so I was happy to read a little piece of Krampus through this short story. Krampuslauf was all about friendship, loyalty, and honor – including a little traditional Krampus justice. I loved the touch of magic and the feeling that there really can be magic in the world if you’re open to believing.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE, SOPHIE ROTH? BY GAYLE FORMAN

How very Gayle. I just love how she brings so many things together in one story so effortlessly (or maybe it just seems effortless). Gayle’s stories always seem to follow the vein of finding your true self and being happy with what you are, who you have, and where you want to go. So many times I’ve related to these things and I love the college setting for Sophie Roth. It’s such a big starting point for so many people to go and truly start becoming who they really are.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

BEER BUCKETS AND BABY JESUS BY MYRA MCENTIRE

A cute little story with Southern charm about a troublemaker and a pastor’s daughter. I really enjoyed this one (though always thrown off by a female author writing a male POV when I don’t expect it! Still love) and it was a riot to see Vaughn the perpetual mischief-maker try to bring together a Christmas pageant. I also love that not everything is what it seems in this story… Lots of ideas that your assumptions about people or what you see on the surface is not quite what a person’s character is truly about.
Rating: 4/5 stars

CHRISTMAS, CA BY KIERSTEN WHITE

Oh, I loved this story. I half-expected this to have another hidden magical meaning (like real elves or a real Santa) but it was definitely more just a story of the characters making the magic for themselves. I really loved seeing these small-town characters start to find their way, and somehow all of these Christmas stories end up being the main character finding out that what he/she thought ran far deeper than they thought. It was so heart warming and really very dynamic for me. I could just picture myself in Christmas, CA.
Rating: 4.5/5

STAR OF BETHLEHEM BY ALLY CARTER

That was such a sweet story. I love the Ally Carter feel to it and how much fun! The concept was great and I loved the way it ended. The setting was wonderful (I love books set in the middle of nowhere) and I absolutely loved the characters – from “Hulda” to Ethan to Aunt Mary. I think this was one of my favorites! I just wanted to read an entire book and I was even already picturing it as a movie haha!
Rating: 4.25/5

THE GIRL WHO WOKE THE DREAMER BY LAINI TAYLOR

Wow, this was wonderful. It actually took just a little bit to get into but I really, REALLY ended up loving it. It had a bit of a Daughter of Smoke and Bone feel (well, that’s all I’ve read by Laini Taylor) and yet still very much original. I loved Laini’s writing and I absolutely adored where this story went. It was such a beautiful tale and I really just dreamily sighed at the end of it. Outstanding.
Rating: 4.5/5

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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Kept Me Hooked On: Anthologies. I actually haven’t read many anthologies! Usually the novellas or short stories I read are part of a series and that’s why I pick them up. I love that these were all bound up together and even more so, that the authors took the time to team up for this.
Left Me Wanting More: Flow. Some of the stories didn’t really flow well from one to the next. I mean, of course that has to do with personal taste as well, but it was really hard to go from kicking it off with Rainbow Rowell (LOVED that one) into Kelly Link (sorry Kelly) which had a very, very different feel and totally different focus all together. I think they could have been arranged a bit differently to give the overall collection a better flow.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This collection was so much fun. I really loved getting twelve different Christmas stories and I wished some of them could have gone on for much longer! It’s the perfect book to read bit by bit during the holidays.

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BOOKS LIKE MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        top ten clues you're clueless       stardust

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) – Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 21, 2014 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Netgalley, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 14, 2014
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints

    There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

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I actually had to wait a while after I finished BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE before I could form coherent thoughts (well, coherent enough to start actually writing a review). I waited until Nikki was reading so I could re-live the book through her because HOW was I supposed to write a review about this book? I really loved THE RAVEN BOYS and I fell in love with THE DREAM THIEVES, but absolutely everything in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE was really stepped up a notch. My feels SKYROCKTED for just about every character and I was absolutely blown away by the things that went down in this book.

The character development for this book is out of this world. I absolutely love getting to know these characters more and more with each book I read in this series and of course, BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE was no exception to that. I think one of my favorite things is how complicated the relationship is amongst the friend group of Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah — that sounds like it’d be a negative thing, but it’s really not. It’s complicated because they really all are such a tight knit group that it’s like they become one entity. They always have each other’s backs, no matter the situation. They have such strong feelings for each other that they become so reliant on each person in the group and I love witnessing those bonds of friendship grown and strengthen with each book, and I’m so glad Nikki screen-capped this to me as she was reading because I had temporarily forgotten about it! (There is actually WAY more to that paragraph that adds to the LOVE but it’s long and you should read it for yourself :D)

Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want any other.

BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE sure had its share of “OMG moments” too. The book is chock full of FEELS of all kinds — rage, excitement, fear, passion, suspense, confusion, love. I was basically on an emotion-high the whole book. I loved how many new ideas were introduced as well as how elements from book one are still being built up. Maggie Stiefvater is excellent at prolonging suspense and maintaining mystery and as much as I’m DYING for answers, I’m still loving the fact that I don’t know everything yet. Maggie is also fantastic at “atmospheric writing” (is that a thing or did I just make that term up? I’m sure there’s a real term. Someone correct me!) — she has a knack for describing characters and emotions and situations without having to directly spell everything out. She creates a mood and a setting that takes the characters and the reader where they need to be and I just love being able to feel the book.

The mythology, fantasy, and paranormal aspects of the story all get a great boost in this book too. There were hints in book one, explanations in book two, and EVENTS in book three. The explorations — both literally and figuratively — of these supernatural players really drive the plot forward in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE, leading to some answers but even more questions too. Their presence floored me in many ways at many times and I cannot wait to see the reactions from readers as they discover them along with the characters!

Overall, BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE was absolutely a homerun for me. I absolutely loved every second of it and I already want to re-read it. I’ll probably have to re-read the whole series so far before book four comes out (to refresh my memory and just to enjoy them all again, especially knowing what I now know) and I am a ball of nerves until I get to read the next book! The wait will be long but no doubt worth it!

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

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Gansey // Character Obsessions: Glendower, friendship, mysteries, Blue. I had some major Gansey feels in this book. I think he’s the character that I really connected with most in BLLB because I got to see even more of his layers. We knew right from TRB that Gansey has at least two sides — nerdy, Glendower-obsessed Gansey and President Cellphone — but there’s so much more to his character than that too. I loved how he connected with Blue even more in this book (HONESTLY THE FEELS. I DIE) and there’s that ever-nagging thought that he’s STILL PROBABLY GOING TO DIE. Like, honestly. HOW CAN ONE PERSON HANDLE THESE FEELS.
Blue // Character Obsessions: The Raven Boys, finding her mom, family, friendship, security. I felt like I saw Blue’s character a lot in this book too. Not so much that she changed but that I really connected with her a lot more than I had in previous books and I felt like things got a little more personal than just her interactions with the raven boys. I got to know even more about her family, her past, and her inner-desires and there were even some hints at MORE things, but that’s something for the reader to discover on their own!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Shipping. Dear lord, my feels were a MESS with this book. So many feels for so many characters and I was shipping a few HARD.
Left Me Wanting More: EVERYTHING. OMG this book nearly killed me but I can’t wait to do it all over again. NEED MORE NOWWWW.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT

WHEW, what a wild ride this book was. I could not handle the feels but in a good way. I absolutely loved everything about it and I love how the series has progressed! Maggie Stiefvater fans, DO NOT WAIT TO READ THIS ONE!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        fairytales for wilde girls       grave mercy

Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

Open Road Summer – Emery LordTitle: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Publishing Info: April 15, 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 11, 2014
Related Posts: The Start of Me and You, When We Collided

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

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I don’t even like country music but somehow I end up falling in love with books about them. I was in the middle of a few super heavy books and wanted to start something light to combat the book hangover I was about to have… OPEN ROAD SUMMER was the perfect feel-good book but… well, it also gave me a book hangover because it was just SO good!! I had heard SO many good things about this book from my fellow lovely blogger friends before I had started so as I usually am, I was a tiiiny but scared that the hype of it so far would make me not love it as much. Thank GOODNESS that wasn’t an issue. Really from start to finish, I enjoyed every aspect of OPEN ROAD SUMMER. From the characters to the plot to the places the book could have gone but thankfully didn’t… And every scene just felt so incredible and magical. I was pretty much swooning the whole time — and that was even before I got to read about Matt Finch!

OPEN ROAD SUMMER follows Reagan as she spends the summer with her best friend Dee. And oh yeah, Dee just happens to be country superstar Lilah Montgomery and spending the summer together entails a 24 city concert tour. But this summer is exactly what Reagan needs to step away from her life and the decisions she needs to reconsider and try to start the next year with a clean slate. I really liked Reagan and I appreciated that she was really trying to turn her life around. She’s had some hard times in her life with her mother leaving their family when she was young and as much as she loves her dad, she isn’t a huge fan of her stepmom and they really just don’t get along.
I absolutely loved the celebrity and music super star aspect of this story which is not something I really would have ever expected. I really felt like I got an insight into the “normal” side of the celebrity life. I feel like celebrities are so built up in our minds that we often forget that they’re just normal people and it was really interesting to see the other side of that. Dee (to her friends, Lilah to her fans) loves what she does but that doesn’t mean she leads an easy life. She works hard to maintain a good, clean image to appeal to children and adults alike, so when a misleading scandal hits the news, Dee’s publicist decides to invite long-time friend and all-around good guy Matt Finch to open for Dee on tour.

Oh, Matt Finch. Count me in the Matt Finch fanclub for sure. I was nervous when we first met him, hearing that he had such a clean reputation and he didn’t even like lying even when helping out a friend — I was worried he would turn out to be a little too good for my tastes but don’t worry! There are many, many facets to Matt Finch and he easily had me swooning. Major swoons, guys. Major swoons. He and Reagan had such fantastic chemistry and don’t EVEN get me started on the forbidden romance aspect. It just KILLS me. See, part of the deal with Matt coming on tour is that he is supposed to be leading the press into thinking that he and Dee/Lilah are dating to help combat the bad press and rumors going around. Matt and Reagan have amazing chemistry but they can’t allow themselves to date because, well, Matt is supposed to come off as Lilah’s new love interest. AHHH. The tension. I died.

Okay, I don’t want to give away the whole story, but it’s so hard to write all the things about this book and not just GUSH. I absolutely loved it with very, very minor issues involving Reagan’s former path of rebelling and self-destruction. Overall, I really loved the characters, loved the romance, and loved the entire feel of the book. Each scene just really felt so genuine and I really felt like I was experiencing it as well. It’s everything I could possibly imagine that the perfect summer would be like! Great friendships, great romances, great adventures. I could honestly gush about this book so much more, but I’ll leave you to go pick it up yourself… (Which I hope you’re doing as soon as you finish reading this. GO! It’s okay. I’ll wait.)

view_from_goodreads1

“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! ors

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Reagan O’Neill // Character Obsessions: Shoes, boys, making a clean start.
I loved Reagan. She has so much going on in her life and got this new opportunity to turn her life around and it says so much that she took it. She didn’t have the easiest life but she also didn’t make it easy for herself and it was so awesome to watch her figure everything out and take control over her life again. Not to mention she made a GREAT choice to end up liking Matt <3
Delilah Montgomery // Character Obsessions: Music, her guitar, Jimmy, a good image.
I also loved Dee! She is SUCH a great friend to Reagan and she’s sort of like that friend who’s kind of like a mom. She’s always looking out for Reagan and tries to steer her to make good decisions but supports her even when she makes the wrong ones. They rarely fight and have such a wonderful friendship. The fame never goes to her head and she’s just a really good person.
Matt Finch // Character Obsessions: Music, his mom, his friends, Reagan.
I thought about just writing “SWOOOOOON” but I guess I should put some real words in here. Matt Finch is the good guy that girls hope exist but deep down think will they will never meet. Of course he has some flaws (what guy doesn’t) but please, they’re minor because Matt Finch is a ball of amazing. (Yeah, I can’t do it. SWOOOOOOON.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Music-themed books. I don’t even like country music and somehow books involving country music JUST GET ME. I just really loved the tour aspect, the song-writing aspect — just so many parts involving the music and how it played such a big role in the book in so many ways.
Left Me Wanting More: MATT FINCH. Just always more Matt, right? Right.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I looooooved it. So much. I instantly pre-ordered as soon as I was finished with my egalley because I NEEDED this one for my shelves.

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BOOKS LIKE OPEN ROAD SUMMER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Dirty Little Secret    The Book of Broken Hearts

Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion #1) – Aimee Carter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE PAWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Altered   Tandem

Also Known As (Also Known As #1) – Robin Benway

Also Known As (Also Known As #1) – Robin BenwayTitle: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Publishing Info: February 26, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 25, 2013
Related Posts: Going Rogue (Also Known As #2), Emmy & Oliver, Far From the Tree

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

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ALSO KNOWN AS was my first Robin Benway book and SHAME ON ME for waiting so long! I know you guys are all raving over AUDREY, WAIT! (which I own now, but still haven’t read yet) and praised Robin’s wit and delightful characters. NOW I GET IT. This book was flat out hilarious — jokes, sarcasm, banter — ALSO KNOWN AS had it all. I was literally laughing out loud reading this book and now I can’t wait to go read more of Robin Benway’s books!

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ALSO KNOWN AS, as you probably know, is about Maggie — a sixteen year-old-spy who gets her very first solo assignment. Maggie is clearly the highlight of this book. Her personality and sense of humor make the reader feel at ease and really invested in her story as well. I instantly wanted to be BFFs with Maggie and so I was right by her side as she went through wacky hijinks, flustering friendships, and her very first kiss.

We’re talking about spies here, so you know there are going to be some twists and turns! I actually did NOT see the twist coming. I had written it off as a cute but simple story. Turns out, ALSO KNOWN AS has a few more layers than I anticipated! The only complaint I can make about the plot is that I wish a few more twists had been introduced earlier on to gather just a little more excitement. I was totally invested in the story already, but that extra little twist would have added the “knock-me-off-my-feet” aspect to the book for me!

All of the characters were pretty amazing and stood on their own two feet. Each one had a big personality and leapt off the page! Obviously we know I love Maggie (duh) but I also liked her friend Roux (okay, she was a tad much at times, but that was the whole point), her love interest/assignment Jesse Oliver, her clueless-on-how-to-raise-a-real-teenager parents, and her almost mentor/family friend Angelo. I adored Maggie’s relationship with Angelo. He’s a great person for her to turn to when she needs to step away from her parents, away from her friends/assignment/distractions and get an honest yet gentle answer. He’s always calm and very wise.

ALSO KNOWN AS was a very quick read, but in a good way. I didn’t want to put it down! It was filled with everything I love: humor, suspense, romance, awesome characters, and a twist to keep me guessing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read and I cannot wait to read AUDREY, WAIT! and more from Robin Benway!

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MAGGIE: Maggie was a hoot. I loved hearing her story as well as her direct speech to the reader. It’s so much fun when I feel like the characters are talking to me (if it’s pulled off well — And of course Robin Benway knows how to create a very personable narrator). I immediately wanted to be friends with her and wished she was a real person because I know she’d be a blast to hang out with!
JESSE: Jesse was a pretty great match for Maggie. I LOVED that he accepted her for all her wackiness and that’s why he ended up liking her. Nothing like loving a girl for the way she is!! He got a little silly himself at times and it made my heart melt! I love fun & spontaneous things like that!
ANGELO: I loved Angelo as Maggie’s mentor! Welll, I’m calling him a mentor. Really, he’s a family friend and a great resource/shoulder to lean on (or cry on) when Maggie has no one else to turn to. He was definitely one of my favorite characters…. Although really, they all were pretty great!

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BUY IT!

This book was soooo much fun. I absolutely loved Maggie and I loved the comedy involved, keeping everything light. Absolutely delightful book.

book_recommendations1

     Heist Society      Going Vintage

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) – Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) – Robin LaFeversTitle: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin Lafevers
Publishing Info: April 2, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Netgalley, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 21, 2013
Related Posts: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1), Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)

The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her home to the life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of death himself, he must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

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DarkTriumph

Maybe I needed someone to fangirl with while I read this. Maybe my hopes were too high. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to read long books on my Kindle because for some reason they feel like they take forever. Maybe I needed help from the Recaptains to remember what exactly was up with Sybella in GRAVE MERCY — But for whatever reason, I was SO BUMMED that I didn’t enjoyed DARK TRIUMPH as much as I had hoped. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I really did; I just hard a hard time getting into it as easily as I fell into GRAVE MERCY.

I was incredibly excited to jump into the Sybella’s story in DARK TRIUMPH since her side of the story seemed much darker and mysterious than that of Ismae in GRAVE MERCY and I was not disappointed with the tragic details of Sybella’s past as well as her difficult current assignment for the abbey. For some reason I just had a really hard time getting totally sucked in like I had with GM. I honestly feel like if I had read this as a hardcover instead of ebook, I would have had a better time with it. It sounds stupid, but I just felt like I was not making any progress with it on my Kindle (which is another reason I sometimes have a hard time reading ebooks) at a point where I felt a lot of reading pressure, and I really felt like it wasn’t fair to the book. Excuses aside, I still felt like I should have felt more enthralled than I was.

A few of my closest blogging friends absolutely loved this one, so I know it’s not that DARK TRIUMPH was a bad story — Aw hell, even I don’t think it was a bad story, BUT Sybella’s life is very different from Ismae’s. Once her life starts to intertwine with the fate of Beast (remember him? Duval’s light-hearted right hand man?), the reader can immediately see the potential for a romance there, but the romance just didn’t capture me as much as I had hoped it would. Since Sybella & Beast are quite different than our original romantic couple, Ismae & Duval, their relationship develops in a vastly different way and I felt developed even slower than the slow burn of the first book. I think I felt like it took a while for that romance to start and although I wasn’t keen on rushing it, I also think I needed a bit more of that earlier on to really tug on my heart strings and pull me in.

The other issue I had was the chase. Why is there always a chase in book two? WHY? Our beloved characters are on the run, fleeing injustice, hiding from bad guys, and camping in the woods… And clearly this is something in books I have come to loathe. I think it’s the act of not having a grounded setting? Maybe? I’m not 100% sure, but characters on the run creates a lot of action, but scenes that just don’t hold my attention. Unfortunately, this made up the first half of the book, so maybe that’s why it took me so long to get into DARK TRIUMPH.

All complaints aside, DARK TRIUMPH is another great addition to the collection of books that make up the HIS FAIR ASSASSIN trilogy. Robin LaFevers does a great job with this historical fiction (considering that’s not usually a genre I enjoy at all) and the language is easy to understand considering it’s written as the 15th century and there’s quite a bit of humor as well. Although book two didn’t quite sell me as much as I’d hoped, this was clearly a personal issue (stress? personal preference? Kindle?) and not a plot or character issue so I think GRAVE MERCY fans will still fall in love with DARK TRIUMPH!

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Sybella: Sybella definitely has a crazy and difficult life. Even after seeking shelter in the abbey, she still doesn’t quite fit in. She’s never been accepted wherever she goes, so it was really interesting to see her reactions to various predicaments in DT. I really enjoyed how different she was from Ismae and that Robin LaFevers was able to create such a different POV for the readers to follow and enjoy.
Beast: I’ve always loved Beast! He’s just so much fun, he’s honest, he’s fierce. Beast is a pleasure to read about and it was great to see his interactions and developing relationship with Sybella too. I was really glad we got to see him in the spotlight in DT!

addiction_factor1

Buy it!

GRAVE MERCY is still my favorite so far but I really enjoyed DARK TRIUMPH as well! I think I need to re-read these books someday after they’ve sat for a while. I’d love to see how my feelings change or stay the same with a re-read!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE DARK TRIUMPH

     Grave Mercy      Born Wicked

Going Vintage – Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage – Lindsey LeavittTitle: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Publishing Info: March 26, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Netgalley, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 2, 2013
Related Posts: The Chapel Wars, Sean Griswold's Head

    When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to “go vintage” and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma’s list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out... no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy’s cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she’ll get it done. Somehow.

bookreview1This book was so stinkin’ cute!!! I honestly didn’t expect to have so much fun reading it, but it was light, funny, and just really easy to read. I simply adored the concept of Mallory’s idea to “go vintage”, mostly because of the rough break-up after finding out about her boyfriend and his “online wife”. I was a little unsure about the idea of going vintage at first because I was hesitant about throwing it back to the sixties… But so was Mallory, even though it was her idea. I really have to commend her character – Although she had a really valid reason to avoid technology, turns out it’s a lot harder than she thought! I TRY not to be glued to my phone & computer, but let’s face it. It’s kind of hard to avoid much less cut out completely! The idea made for some really cute moments in the book too with her sister “helping” her (aka hiding her stuff), talking on the home phone with a boy (it was so much more exciting that way! I mean, they had to call your HOUSE), and all the little silly ways it made her life a little more work!

I want to say THANK YOU to Lindsey Leavitt for NOT forcing us to like Jeremy, even a little bit – Here’s my story. I get mad when the boyfriend of the story does something bad and then our heroine spends so much time legitimizing what they’ve done or contemplating going back to him. We had a clear winner and loser in GOING VINTAGE and Jeremy stayed the loser so thank you!!

Now let’s talk about the winner. [Dreamy sigh] I loved Oliver!!!! It was ALL THE LITTLE THINGS that made him such a great love interest. He was “hipster” but really, he was just true to himself and owned it in a way that people didn’t question him. He knew he liked Mallory and despite the fact that he’s Jeremy’s cousin and she’s his ex-girlfriend, you can see that they’ve got a little something going on and you KNOW Oliver is going to make it work! It was all the little ways he listened to Mallory, made her feel comfortable, helped her… All of the little things added up into one awesome guy! Loved him as the love interest here!!!

I really think the concept was great, but Lindsey Leavitt has some truly great characters in this book. You already know my love for Oliver, but the supporting characters were some of my favorites too. In a way, I felt like I was a lot like Mallory, but a lot in the fact that although we’re perfectly fun girls, there’s nothing too… “notable”. Mallory’s support system was really what caught my attention: Ginny. Grandma. Of course Oliver. They really stole the show for me! I loved Mallory’s relationship with her little sister because my sister and I have always gotten along, but now that we’re adults, we really are like best friends! She truly is the one person who understands (and appreciates) all of my jokes and Friends quotes and movie references. Oh, and all those stupid made-up things from our childhood! I loved seeing that relationship. I also saw the dedication in the beginning of the book using the song lyrics from “Sisters” from White Christmas, which my sister and I used to sing ALL the time and that’s one of my mom’s favorite movies ever so SCORE for a personal note there!!!

Okay. Sorry for being long winded, so let’s sum up: Super cute. Loved it all. Oliver had me at hello. Not quite a favorite, but pretty close!

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Mallory: Mallory felt like ME. Of course, I was never internetally (yep, I’m going with it) wronged like she was, but I felt like I probably would have handled the situation pretty close to the same way (minus vintage clothes because I couldn’t pull it off). I really felt a kinship to her and although she wasn’t the character to stand out the most to me, I really got along with her well in this book!
Ginny: Ginny was definitely my favorite character. I loved the sisterly relationship she & Mallory had and she really made a name for herself in this book! Definitely spunky and so much fun.
Oliver: Oh, Oliver. He was cute and confident in a way that made me – erm, I mean, MALLORY feel confident as well. He just had that sort of personality…. You can’t be mad around him! Wow, I am honestly surprised at how much I liked him as a love interest in this book! Definitely did not see that coming! 

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Read it!

This book was just so much! I really had a blast reading it and I love so many things about it. It’s definitely on my list of recommendations!

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     BOOKS LIKE GOING VINTAGE

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