Tag Archives: NA

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul KruegerTitle: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Publishing Info: June 7, 201 by Quirk Books
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 23, 2016

A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.
College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

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I immediately jumped on the chance to read LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE after seeing it in Shelf Awareness and at BEA 2016. Quirk Books asked me to be a part of the blog tour and with a description that calls it “Harry Potter for adults,” naturally I couldn’t refuse. I was also anxious to check out the new adult/adult feel of the book and watch magic and mixology collide!

What I loved the most about this book was the magic of mixology. There’s a magical underground where bartenders are the keepers of the paranormal and mixing just the perfect drink provides them with special powers in the form of some sort of physical or mental strength. I really, really loved this concept because it was something that I’ve truly never seen before. I loved the unique magical system and how there was a real structure for each power that the drink endowed. The type of liquor determined whether an ability was mental or physical and the various ingredients affected, enhanced, or shaped that overall idea. It was so neat and really well done! The only thing was that it was so well structured that I would loved to have had more details on each drink like maybe some sort of chart, or even just spent more time really getting into what each cocktail did. Most of them were mentioned as the characters were using them but I would have loved a little lesson within the book breaking things down even more. It’s the fantasy-nerd and school-nerd in me! If there happened to be a sequel (which I’d totally read), I’d love for even more detail!

I really enjoyed the tone of the book as well! It was quite entertaining and maintained a lighter tone with characters who made bad jokes, silly puns, fun atmosphere, and a just a really great cast. The terrors were dark but the feeling was light and I really love that sort of feel in an urban fantasy sort of setting. The book wasn’t terribly long but it was easy reading that also made it breeze by!

I think overall, LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE could have used a little “more” — a little more background, a little more detail, a little more plot, a little more romance — but despite that, I really did enjoy it! It was still a solid read but if there’s ever a sequel for some random reason, I’d love to see more development come in book two. I guess that means I just have to check out future works from Paul Krueger, which I am definitely interested in doing! 
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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: Mixology. I’m not a cocktail girl (I’m a beer girl)  but I loved the involvement of alcohol as a magical element in this book. It was just so much fun and so original!
Left Me Wanting More: Magical details. When it comes down to it, I just really wanted more details on the magic system. I’m nerdy like that and would have loved some sort of chart or a more detailed lesson in the book because it was so cool and I thought it totally deserved some more page time!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This book was just a lot of fun and if you’re up for something not YA and pretty original, you should really check this one out!

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BOOKS LIKE LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WHITE CAT    HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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** Warning: This is NOT a spoiler-free review like I usually write. I won’t give away twists from the very end but I WILL be discussing things that happened throughout the beginning and middle of the book! **

I was pleasantly surprised when I read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES last year because going into it, I knew it was a story with a strong fae presence. By this point in time in my reading career, I wasn’t new to fantasy but I was still a bit picky about what sort of fantasy I liked and fae did not fall into that category of selected themes… But knowing how much I loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series and the fae presence there, I dove into ACOTAR and loved it! It had a bit of a BREAKING DAWN ending so I wasn’t quite sure where the second book would go but naturally I had very, very high hopes for it since I hadn’t been let down by a Maas book yet!

I won’t sugar coat it — it actually took me a really long time to get into the swing of this book. I was enjoying the plot but the beginning felt so incredibly dramatic and I just didn’t feel like things were moving forward. There was a lot of time spent on Feyre’s PTSD from her time Under the Mountain and I absolutely understand and don’t think that her traumatic experience should be just brushed over. I do felt like there was too much time dwelling on it though. ACOMAF isn’t a short book and I think some pages could have been saved and still gotten the point across throughout a few sections in the beginning. If the book were more character-based instead of plot-driven, it might have been more appropriate but the plot really seemed to suffer because of this and this isn’t the first time I felt this way in a Maas book either. I understand that these characters have gone through something that truly does change them but I felt like I was reading about totally different characters when I started ACOMAF. Feyre and Tamlin were just not themselves and I think had ACOTAR ended with a bit more of this shadow or if it had slowly creeped in throughout ACOMAF, it wouldn’t have been as much of a surprise. I just really felt like I was thrown into a totally new environment and it was really hard for me to adjust to, especially since I had read ACOTAR over a year before I got to start ACOMAF.

I continued to have issues with Feyre throughout the book. I don’t know why but she was just really bothering me. Instead of snarky, witty comebacks, I felt like everything with her was taken as an insult and she was constantly being defensive and kind of hated everyone. It was really hard to watch her interact with characters and I started to latch onto new (or new-to-the-spotlight) characters like Rhysand and his gang. It did make me extra thankful for Rhys coming onto the scene and shaking things up, though! The interactions between Feyre and Tamlin were just unbearable and painful to read. Then I ended up on the flip side where although I didn’t want Feyre and Tamlin to still be together, I also felt really weird that Tamlin was almost totally absent from this book. He was there in the beginning and I won’t speak of the ending but this book was straight up about Feyre and Rhysand and it almost felt like a waste that we spent all that time building up a romance between Feyre and Tamlin in ACOTAR to have it totally change. I absolutely love where it went but it’s confusing to understand why the Feyre/Tamlin romance was so important and developed in ACOTAR and why Rhysand wasn’t more of a main character throughout that courtship to really get his foot even more in the door.

I’ve followed the romances in Sarah J. Maas’ books quite well, I think, considering they’re not always simple and straightforward. I know some people who have issues with love triangles or already have their OTPs with the first love interest really have trouble moving with the characters as they fall out of love or move from one interest to realize that their true match is someone else and I feel like I’ve followed along with that fairly easily. I can see where people feel like the romance in ACOMAF is a love triangle and I guess to a certain extent it is, but Feyre also does not have interest in both men at the same time. It is quite complicated though so if you’re sensitive about triangles, you almost definitely won’t like the romance.

I personally loved the development of Rhysand as a love interest, especially once Feyre really started to struggle with Tamlin. I found it telling that at the hardest points in their lives, Feyre and Tamlin drifted apart and just couldn’t find a way to even communicate instead of being able to rely on one another and get through a hard time together. That doesn’t always mean that you shouldn’t be with someone but in the case of story telling, it’s a pretty big sign that the main character isn’t where they should be. I’ve heard this complaint from other Maas readers but this is the first of her books where I really felt like the romance started to take over the book. While I did love the new Rhysand/Feyre development, I felt like there was a lot of back and forth between them before anything major (finally) happened and that could have been cut down to some more meaningful interactions instead of repetitive, similar situations that happened more than a few times throughout the course of the story. Their romance actually is a very important part of the plot so it’s not like I wanted it to be downplayed but I just felt like so many points of the large general story were pushed aside to develop the romantic moments and it started to turn more romance story than epic fantasy — and yes, there are some cheesy romance book-worthy moments. Let’s just say this is NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK, friends. There are some very explicit scenes so if you have teens or are directing/teaching teens who are reading this series, you may not want to put this book directly into their hands. (Not that I’m saying censor them but. Ya know. Read it first so you know what you’re giving them.)

The sections where the plot progressed were really quite delightful. Sarah J. Maas is still a master at layering stories and it’s so interesting to see how much of a previous book comes back in a different light in a subsequent book. There were so many moments that the reader is able to recognize from ACOMAF and see from a different character’s perspective or reassess it with more information and it makes the story that much deeper! Once things started to really take off around halfway through and a little thereafter, the book was simply addicting and I couldn’t wait to see where the entire plot of the series was going! Sarah really does have an amazing ability to craft an overall series arc and it’s so fun to watch that develop. The ending positively floored me and it was hard to remember why I had been so frustrated for a while throughout earlier sections of the book. So many things were revealed, actions taken, and trusts betrayed that I just really didn’t know what was coming. The twists and surprises were epic and once again, I was left in utter anticipation of the next book!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Performance: Very good! I might not seek out more narrations from her but I did like her narrator of ACOMAF.

Jennifer Ikeda was a great narrator for Feyre! I think her demeanor really worked well with the character (or she adapted her demeanor very well to Feyre’s tone) and she was great with the quips and sass and rudeness. There were times I wasn’t totally into her narration but overall she was very good. I’m not sure if I’d seek her out but if there was another book I wanted to listen to, I’d definitely listen to her again.
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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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Feyre // Character obsessions: Freedom, Rhysand, independence.
Feyre was just so hard to get along with throughout the beginning of the book. I remember significantly noting that I liked how she was strong and fierce but her character did NOT feel like Celaena from Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Once Feyre started to heal and move past her PTSD, she was understandably hardened from it but then she absolutely started to feel like the same character as Celaena and I was a bit disappointed. That essence that made her feel different was gone and I loved the badassery but and took that over the weird, rough Feyre that I couldn’t get a hold on.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult non-contemporary. Most of the New Adult books I read (when I do read them) are of the contemporary romance variety due to that being the main market for NA. It’s interesting to read New Adult as a fantasy! I guess it’s not really that much different than YA or Adult fantasy but it feels so much different when actually classifying it as such!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus on the plot. I’ll tell ya. I was really missing the plot in the beginning. The beginning and middle were quite character-focused which I don’t have an issue with… when I’m not expecting the book to be plot-driven. It really took me a while to adjust.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

The ending was just fantastic and really kind of made up for the rocky times I had in the beginning. If we have similar reading tastes, just beware of possibly having the same issues here!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE WINNER'S KISS    shadow and bone

Just A Girl – Ellie Cahill

Just A Girl – Ellie CahillTitle: Just a Girl by Ellie Cahill, Liz Czukas
Publishing Info: June 21, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Netgalley
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 28, 2016
Related Posts: When Joss Met Matt, Call Me, Maybe, Throwing My Life Away, Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

After getting kicked out of her own band—by her own boyfriend—Presley Mason finds herself back in Wisconsin, helping her parents run their renowned music store. Instead of belting out powerhouse vocals to sold-out crowds in L.A., she’s stocking shelves and inspecting rental violins. But the shop isn’t all bad: When she’s vacuuming up late one night, she bumps into the guitar teacher with the smoldering amber eyes and the killer tattoo. And that’s when things take an interesting turn.
Presley soon finds that Paul Kellerman is as good in bed as he is on guitar. So why isn’t he stoked to share his band, Jukebox Bleu, with her? Turns out Paul has crippling stage fright, which he’s been self-medicating without much success. But when Jukebox Bleu’s lead singer gets called for military service, the other members beg Presley to front them. Even though she swore never to mix men with music again, the temptation to perform is almost as intense as her chemistry with Paul. Now Presley must decide what’s more important: a second chance at love . . . or rock stardom.

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I don’t read a ton of New Adult but I do have my favorite NA authors and Ellie Cahill is definitely one of them! I fell in love with her YA debut ASK AGAIN LATER and her NA debut WHEN JOSS MET MATT and every book from her since has been an insta-read for me. When I got approved to read an early copy of JUST A GIRL, I started almost immediately because I knew the book would be fun, flirty, and just the kind of romance I was in the mood for!

I really loved the music hook/theme throughout JUST A GIRL and it added such a fun and unique vibe. I love books that can really pull off a music scene because I’ve read several that involve music but JUST A GIRL is one of those books that really pulls you onto the scene and makes you feel like a part of the action! Ellie Cahill does an amazing job at establishing the musical settings, from music store to concert stage to practice rooms, and creating characters that wholly encompassed the feel as well. I’m always so impressed with an author who can really bring music to life in a book because I feel like that’s the hardest sense to evoke when reading and I was constantly able to make up songs in my head or identify with already-existing songs when referenced. I also really loved Presley’s playlists in between chapters based on what had just happened to her! They really added a little extra something to the book and they were so much fun, not to mention totally spot on.

As with any New Adult read, you expect romance and that is surely what you get in JUST A GIRL! The romance was cute, fun, and realistic. Presley ends up falling for a guitarist that teaches lessons at her parents’ music store and the two instantly hit it off. I actually really liked that Paul (the love interest) was a bit shy and found it refreshing to see some social anxieties in a male character instead of stereotypically finding in a female character. Presley is strong and confident, loving the stage and while Paul loves music, he has incredible stage fright that really prevents him from sharing his music in any way. I really enjoyed seeing the two characters work together in a romantic and mental sense and how they grew from getting to know each other. Their relationship was easy-going and yet meaningful as they both worked through their own issues to end up better people on the other side of this story. I really appreciated how realistic the whole book felt even with a sense of celebrity attached.

The whole book was just a fun and easy read. I loved getting swept away by the romance and again, the musical aspect was also just such a great touch. I was nearly done with the book and things were going so well that I almost forgot there had to be a big conflict! I was afraid of a little self-sabotage on Presley’s part but I really liked how the whole story ended up resolving and I thought it was a great conclusion without being too over-the-top happy ending. It was a very satisfying conclusion and very grounded.

Ellie Cahill (or Liz Czukas if you’re reading YA) is always such a delightful author to read! I love the levity to her books while still addressing serious issues. Any book of hers is an instant read for me and I’m always waiting for more! If you’re in the mood for some fun romances, her books are exactly what you need! 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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Presley // Character Obsessions: Singing, performing, friendship, honesty.
Presley was a fun main character! She’s much more out-of-her-shell than I am so it was fun to have her take the lead in the story and I got to live vicariously through her a little! It was nice to see her have a little bit more of a confident and dominant personality over Paul and I kind of like that the stereotypical “norms” were flipped there.
Paul // Character Obsessions: Music, teaching, friendship, family.
Paul was a cute, boy-next-door-who-can-also-play-guitar type. He was a little bit edgy with his music a total softie and it was just adorable. I loved that sensitive side of him and that he had his own issues to work through that had nothing to do with relationship issues. It was great to see a different source of conflict and a thing to overcome that wasn’t a relationship hang-up.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Music in books. Gosh, it’s just so rare that music and a musical atmosphere really comes ALIVE when reading. I love how JUST A GIRL really made me feel like I was on the scene. I could totally picture everything!
Left Me Wanting More: Tender moments. There were plenty of swoony and sexy moments but I was hoping for just a teeeeensy bit more personal connection between Presley and Paul. Just a couple more cliche cutesy moments that didn’t relate to Paul’s anxiety would have sealed the swoon for me!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of any of Ellie Cahill’s books (well I guess this is the third NA so you only have two New Adult books to choose from so far…) then you need to grab JUST A GIRL! It’s fun, clever, and just a delight.

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BOOKS LIKE JUST A GIRL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

OPEN ROAD SUMMER    DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

Call Me, Maybe – Ellie Cahill

Call Me, Maybe – Ellie CahillTitle: Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill, Liz Czukas
Publishing Info: February 9, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Netgalley
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 21, 2015
Related Posts: When Joss Met Matt, Just a Girl, Throwing My Life Away, Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

Clementine Daly knows she’s the black sheep. Her wealthy, powerful family has watched her very closely since she almost got caught in an embarrassing scandal a few years ago. So when Clementine’s sent on a mission to live up to the Daly name, politely declining isn’t even an option. Of course, the last thing Clementine does before departure is grab a stranger’s phone by mistake—leaving the hunky journalist with her phone. Soon his sexy voice is on the line, but he doesn’t know her real name, or her famous pedigree—which is just the way Clementine likes it.
Despite all the hassles, Justin Mueller is intrigued to realize that the beautiful brown-eyed girl he met at the airport is suddenly at his fingertips. They agree to exchange phones when they’re both back in town, but after a week of flirty texts and wonderfully intimate conversations, Justin doesn’t want to let her go that easy. The only problem? It turns out that Clementine has been lying to him about, well, everything. Except for the one thing two people can’t fake, the only thing that matters: The heat between them is for real.

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I’m a huge fan of Liz Czukas’ YA novels and absolutely adored her first NA, WHEN JOSS MET MATT. When I heard about CALL ME MAYBE, I knew I had to get my hands on it quickly! Like all of her other novels, CALL ME MAYBE was a fun and quick read. It was also, however, the book of hers that I’ve had the most issues with to date.

CALL ME MAYBE started out incredibly cute. Readers get to know Clementine who seems just like the girl next door… if the girl next door’s family was filthy, filthy rich. Chaos and adorableness ensues when Clementine and mysterious hot stranger accidentally switch phones and end up making a connection while talking. The phone conversations were absolutely adorable and I was quickly falling in love with these two characters and their relationship! I loved how they got to know one another and since it’s New Adult, we got to dip more into the sexy side of flirting. Some of it actually really reminded me of text conversations I had while in college (well, maybe they weren’t sexy like that but the texts reminded me of my own) when I had all of the feelings for a new crush!

Fellow book bloggers might also love that Clementine is a book worm and blogger just like us! At first I was super thrilled because hey, she’s just like me! But as the story progressed, I sort of felt like I was reading something that I had written… but not really in a good way. Don’t get me wrong! This wasn’t the author’s fault, but I have a terribly, terribly bad habit of “writing what I know” aka, I fictionalize my own life when I run out of creative ideas when writing (seriously. This is why I’m a reader and not a writer) so it sort of started to feel like that for me. I also ended up having a hard time with Clem’s job choices and how easy/hard it was to find something in her field. Trust me — we as bloggers would love to write reviews and blog and get paid for it but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Some things just felt like they happened a little too easily since for me/us, the struggle is real.

My big hang-up, though, was that Clementine really ended up self-sabotaging and that was THE reason for conflict in the book. Things were going just fine until she started getting suspicious, jealous, and freaking out for honestly no reason at all. There really could have been some other conflict or maybe something more justifiable for her to freak out like she did but I really didn’t feel like her actions were warranted and that totally turned me off. I didn’t really feel sorry for her because any drama that happened, she really did it to herself.

I was so bummed that it started out so cute and really lost steam about halfway through. I just wanted so much more from this book considering WHEN JOSS MET MATT is still one of my favorite contemporary books and was easily a favorite from 2015. CALL ME, MAYBE just didn’t quite live up to its predecessor and was so sad that I didn’t fall in love with it.
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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!

call me maybe gr updates

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Clementine // Character Obsessions: Reading, blogging, family, privacy. 
Oh, Clem. We hit it off so well and then you had to go and get all paranoid. It was really such a bummer because I was positively glowing at the beginning of the book and you can really see how quickly things changed for me by my updates. Such a shame that she had to get so insecure.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New adult. I don’t really read a lot of new adult but these books always remind me why I love the ones that I do. Though really, where was all of the good new adult sexy times in this?
Left Me Wanting More: Confidence. Clem didn’t have to be crazy confident but I would have appreciated something there that prevented her from getting so paranoid. That was really hard to watch and totally lost me.

Addiction Rating
Try it

The beginning was super cute and I loved where the book was headed. If insecurity doesn’t turn you off as much as it does for me, hopefully you won’t have a big issue! I just couldn’t look the other way.

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BOOKS LIKE CALL ME, MAYBE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT    THINGS I CAN'T EXPLAIN

Video Review: Things I Can’t Explain – Mitchell Kriegman

Video Review: Things I Can’t Explain – Mitchell KriegmanTitle: Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman
Publishing Info: November 10, 2015 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 17, 2015

A complete re-imagining of Clarissa Explains it All as 20-something Clarissa tries to navigate the unemployment line, mompreneurs and the collision of two people in love.
She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads.
After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers?
All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?
Things I Can't Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties.

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I’ve been working on my booktubing and decided to do a video review for THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN by Mitchell Kriegman! It’s a Clarissa Explains It All continuation in her new adult/adult life and… well, I’ll let the video do the talking! Check out my video review on YouTube!


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!

things i can't explain gr updates

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Clarissa // Character Obsessions: Fashion, job-hunting, journalism.
I mean, that’s pretty legit Clarissa right there. There were some total Clarissa moments and then… some totally where I just wasn’t making that connection. It was hard! It’s also so so so weird reading about Clarissa’s sex life!! Adult + Clarissa was hard to reconcile.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Nah nah nah nah nah! (That’s the Clarissa theme song. For those of you who now have it stuck in your head, welcome to my world!) This was one of my favorite shows of the 90s. Heck, it still is. I need a binge watch…
Left Me Wanting More: Original feel. I just didn’t quite connect to it like I wanted to. Half the time the character just didn’t even feel like Clarissa… but I think it was hard to read and not SEE.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This didn’t QUITE do it for me but… but… Clarissa! It was fun regardless and I think people will have fun reading it. I was hoping for more of that Clarissa feel so I didn’t rate it as high as I wanted to but I think people will still definitely enjoy it!

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BOOKS LIKE THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ATTACHMENTS    WHEN JOSS MET MATT

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 25, 2014
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

     When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
    As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
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2014 was the year I became a Sarah J. Maas fan. Yes, I was a bit late to the game but I devoured the first three books in her debut Throne of Glass series and that made me even more excited for her new series releasing in the spring of 2015, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Thankfully, I got to read the first book in the series (of the same name) early. VERY early. In December, in fact, which I’m almost positive is the earliest I’ve ever read a book before it was published but I just knew I had to read it as soon as possible and I was definitely not wrong about this! A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is a book you will want to read as soon as you can get your hands on it because it certainly did not disappoint!

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is described as “a blending of Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore” and that’s a pretty accurate description — but what I loved the most about the book is that the Beauty and the Beast hints are very subtle. There are moments that definitely reminded me of the fairy tale (and even other fairy tales as well) but ACOTAR was very much its own story. Blending is absolutely the perfect word. It’s not a retelling and I suppose it could be described as a loose adaptation or interpretation but ACOTAR is absolutely unique, thrilling, and  mysterious.

For those of you who have known me for a long time, you know I NEVER used to like faerie stories. In fact, I actively avoided them, convinced faeries were just one thing I would never get along with as far as my fiction went but Sarah J. Maas not only made me excited about picking up a book about fae but absolutely had me falling in love with it. I think for me, part of the reason why it stuck was that Feyre — the heroine of the book — was not fae herself. After crossing the High Fae that rule the lands to the north, she avoids punishment by death by going to live with with the Prince of the Spring Court (see the subtle Beauty and the Beast feel there?) and the readers along with Feyre discover the mysteries and politics of the fae little by little. I really feel like the human aspect really kept me linked to the story whereas if there had been no human characters and only fae, I might not have had the same reaction.

The characters in this book were just phenomenal and the dynamic between each and every one of them was fantastic. Each character is so carefully crafted and it was fascinating to see just how entwined all of their stories were. I loved watching those connections unfold and how each new piece of the puzzle affected the friendships and relationships between each character and Feyre as well as amongst the rest of the cast. Each relationship is utterly unique, special, and important and these characters really just brought the book to life.

The overall plot of the book was just wonderful as well. The action picked up and slowed down at just the right times. There was plenty of time for world building while we were learning about characters and even throughout action scenes. Sarah J. Maas is a master at layering plots and outlining an overall series (as I’ve learned from her Throne of Glass series which is only on book three out of six and I’m already incredibly impressed) so with what I’ve already learned from one volume of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m already highly anticipating what else we will get to learn and what else will be built upon the things we’ve learned from the first book.

Every reveal feels perfectly timed. Every action scene feels perfectly choreographed. Every character feels utterly real. The romance aspects just made me melt and the struggle felt REAL. The forbidden romance aspect really heats things up and also brings tension levels too an all-time high. It stressed me out but also those moments where things finally fall into place — even if only for a second — give you just the best feeling in the world.

I just love how Sarah’s writing grows with each book she writes and I look forward to reading every single one of her works in the future. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES was absolutely delightful to read (agony and all) and I’m so glad I didn’t wait as long as I had to start Throne of Glass. I won’t make that mistake any more! This book deserves all of the praise and hype that it’s getting and I think it appeals to a wide range of readers — from YA to adult, fantasy to romance — A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES really has it all.

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!

A Court of Thorns and Roses updates

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Feyre // Character Obsessions: Her family, her vow, duty, love, freedom.
Feyre is another fantastically strong character from Sarah J. Maas and it’s wonderful to see the same confidence and strength that Celaena possesses but to be able to see the two heroines from each series as totally separate characters. I feel like too often it’s easy to compare characters from different series when they possess some of the same traits, but Feyre was definitely not Celaena 2.0 — she definitely had the strength and attitude to rival Celaena but she always felt 100% unique.
Lucien // Character Obsessions: Friendship, loyalty, bravery, passion.
I know that Tamlin is the main interest here but I absolutely LOVED Lucien. Tamlin was definitely a bit more broody and serious (which don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed) but I immediately latched on to Lucien’s snark and attitude. He was SO much fun and I loved how protective he was of Tamlin too. It was totally a great bromance between these two men and I really, really loved their friendship. I also loved Lucien’s character development throughout the book and how his interactions with each character evolved. Gah. I just loved him.
Rhysand // Character Obsessions: Amarantha, the Night Court, tricks, secrets.
Okay, Rhysand HAS to be mentioned because I actually kind of loved him too. I definitely had a love/hate relationship with him… except for that fact that I didn’t really hate him and actually loved him. But you WANT to kind of hate him. He’s a very complicated and complex character and along with Rhysand himself toying with Feyre, the pondering about his character and his actual place in the story sort of messes with you too. There was just something about him that was so appealing but also kind of made you want to hate him… So naturally I loved the conflict!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Faeries. I am NOT a fae person like at all… But I just totally click with Sarah’s stories and actually get EXCITED for books about faeries and THAT is something pretty magical.
Left Me Wanting More: X factor. Okay, I don’t even know what that means. But I don’t know how else to describe it! I LOVED everything about this book but there was just a teeny tiny bit of something that wasn’t quite five stars but it was honestly 4.5 stars to 4.75!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

This is definitely a book and series that you want to start! I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait to read more of this series. I’m so impressed by Sarah J. Maas’ writing and I am totally a big, big fan. Definitely an auto-buy author for me!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

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        SHADOW AND BONE   daughter of smoke and bone

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 // Goodreads
Date 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

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        LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT      JUST ONE DAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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 BUY IT!

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

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BOOKS LIKE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

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when joss met matt      the sea of tranquility


INTERVIEW WITH DAHLIA ADLER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler: Release Day!

Happy LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT release day!

LastWillandTestamentCoverHighRes

Today is the day that LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT by Dahlia Adler is available for purchase! WOO! (Well, purchase and instant gratification of owning it. Hopefully you guys pre-ordered it too!)

I’ve never been a big new adult fan up to this point. Mostly because I haven’t found the right book or exactly the right style for me. See, I’m more into the college side of new adult! Ever since I’ve been in college, I wanted to read books about college and I haven’t really found many that I really click with, mostly because they all seemed like romance novels (ROMANCE romance, not just contemporary) but at a younger age. Well romance novels aren’t really my thing. Yes, I do love a GREAT love story, but I don’t always need to know ALL of the details of the sexy times and sometimes things go a bit too far with the naughty bits for me. I’m not averse to reading them whatsoever, but the few new adult books I’ve read have just felt like overboard. Transition into my read of LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

I’ll have a full review coming later so I won’t say TOO much but I will tell you that this was a fantastic read for me. It had the college experience, a steamy romance (with just the right amount of details), a great conflict, wonderful friendships, diversity, family, and more! Honestly, it was the perfect blend of everything for me. I’m SUPER grateful to Dahlia Adler for the review copy and for having me be a part of this release day!

Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler: Release Day!Title: Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
Publishing Info: December 9, 2014 by Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 30, 2014

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

Purchase Links!
AmazonB&N | iBooks | Smashwords | Kobo

(UNOFFICIAL) ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(or my millions of thank yous to Dahlia Adler)

DahliaAdler (533x640)Dahlia didn’t give us an official “about the author” section but I just wanted to say a couple things! I haven’t read BEHIND THE SCENES yet (total shame on me. Dahlia already knows this and I have a copy and I PROMISE I am reading it soon. For real, cross my heart.) but when I saw on Twitter that she had review copies available for her new adult book (that would be this one!!!) and was also looking for bloggers to help out with promotion and spreading the word, I immediately jumped on the opportunity.

I explained a bit earlier that before LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, I hadn’t read a lot of new adult. So why immediately grab this book? Honestly, it was all because of Dahlia. We ended up tweeting back and forth a little bit closer to the release date of BEHIND THE SCENES (just about things in general and I won a copy of her book too! Yay!) and we actually met at BEA but I don’t think we really knew who each other were (or did we? If so, not well anyway). Ever since then, I’ve been following Dahlia on Twitter and we still tweet back and forth and she is SO incredibly wonderful. She’s replied to so many of my tweets whether they be about life in general, books (DANGEROUS GIRLS!!!), and everything else in between — and she’s even taken the time to comment on my blog! Just the little things like replying to tweets and chatting back and forth really helped me make a personal connection and that connection motivated me so much to not only pick up her books but help promote like CRAZY. I really like Dahlia Adler and wish her all of the success possible with her books so I made it a point to do everything I could to make sure people not only knew about this book but felt motivated to buy it and fall in love with it too.

Anyway. Long story short, I just want to thank Dahlia again not only for this opportunity but taking the time out of her day to tweet readers and people who haven’t even read her books yet! She’s been so kind and so responsive and it’s just been a pleasure talking to her, working with her, and reading her book! (Soon to be bookS!) So yes, I loved LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, but I also love Dahlia. Go forth and buy this book, you guys!!! It was such a fun read, a great love story (whew, I am still thinking about this romance, and steamy too!), and you’ll be supporting a fantastic author to boot.

Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for my official review of LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT AND an interview with Dahlia Adler coming up here soon too!

I Was Here – Gayle Forman

I Was Here – Gayle FormanTitle: I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: January 27, 2015 by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 16, 2014
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), Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

    Cody and Meg were inseparable.
    Two peas in a pod.
    Until . . . they weren’t anymore.
    When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
    I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

bookreview1It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan so needless to say, I WAS HERE was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015 that I hope to read way before 2015. Firstly, it was Gayle Forman so I knew I WAS HERE would not only bring a new level of intensity and maturity — since I’ve seen her writing grow each book — but also an onslaught of raw emotion that I fell head over heels for in books like IF I STAY and JUST ONE DAY.

I devoured I WAS HERE in a single day. Granted, I was home sick with a cold, but in a way, I was kind of thankful for it because this was a book I didn’t want to put down. My first reaction after finishing was that I WAS HERE definitely had a different feel than Gayle Forman’s previous books… But looking back, JUST ONE DAY and JUST ONE YEAR were also very different from IF I STAY/WHERE SHE WENT. I do have moments where reading a new book from a dearly cherished author is hard. Yes, IF I STAY and JUST ONE DAY (and their respective companions) both dealt with loss and relatives being taken from the main characters when they were far too young… but I WAS HERE deals with not only loss of life but someone you thought you knew inside and out choosing to leave this world and everyone else in it behind. (Of course those with experience dealing with depression know that it’s much more complicated than a “choice”, but since this is a review, I’m not going to get into that whole discussion!)

I WAS HERE felt quite a bit different than Gayle’s previous books in two noticeable ways for me. The first was that there was much more of a plot driven by the need to find an answer to a mystery. Obviously any plot has to have some sort of need for a resolution otherwise the book seems to have no point… but with Gayle’s previous books, it was much more about the characters finding an answer about themselves versus an outside motive, which brings me to the second big difference for me: the involvement of a third major character. Although Meg has already taken her life at the start of the book, she’s the driving force behind the whole novel and everything that Cody does. Cody and male lead Ben would never meet without the connection through Meg and it creates a sort of triangle (no, not a love triangle, although things do tend to get a little sticky with Ben and Meg being close at one point) or circle of events that tend to loop back around from person to person. IF I STAY and JUST ONE DAY certainly had other characters that played their own roles, but the focus was very much on a decision and self-discovery that the main character has to make and their romantic connection to another character. With a third element in the story, for some reason it just held and entirely different feel for me.

It may sound like this is bad thing but it’s definitely not. I think it’s hard to read an author’s work when you sort of sense a “pattern” and start to get comfortable with what to expect. It was a bit different for me to read I WAS HERE with this new “pattern”, new subject matter, and a brand-new feel but that also taught me not to get comfortable with what I read. My favorite authors will always be writing something new, constantly improving themselves and their writing, and bringing fresh topics to their readers and I’m so impressed with how no matter what Gayle Forman has written so far, I’ve fallen in love with each book she’s penned in very different ways. I love how I can read a book by one of my favorite authors and get something a little different each time, knowing that it keeps her growing as a writer and me growing as a reader. I’m getting a bit off-topic here, but from what I’ve heard when seeing Gayle speak at events, I feel like this is definitely something that’s important to her so I feel a small sense of pride when I notice something like that.

I got a bit technical with the review here, but don’t worry — there are also some major swoons! Yes, there is a bit of romance and it’s incredibly interesting to see how it unfolds. Cody meets Ben under some strange and tense circumstances (which makes sense considering she’s essentially looking further into her friend’s suicide and Ben was one of the people she talked to the most) so there’s quite the tension wondering what will happen between the two — and if anything COULD ever happen between the two — due to Ben’s previous interactions with Meg. Personally? I loved how everything was handled. I don’t want to say TOO much about it because it’s best for the reader to discover that for themselves, but I ended up explaining the situation to someone else and I really think it all unfolded in the best way possible.

Naturally in a Gayle Forman book, there is no shortage of gut-punching feels. The loss of Meg is just devastating to everyone she was connected to. I’ve never experienced a loss like that and I can’t even imagine what people have gone through that have felt like, but reading books that deal with topics such as death and suicide, I really tend to latch on to the families and friends of these characters pretty hard and I tend to sort of lose myself in the book. It’s definitely a heavy-hitting book as far as emotional roller coasters go but Gayle Forman knows exactly where to lead you on that journey. It’s really interesting to see different character’s reactions and I think she did a great job of showing a wide range of handling grief. One might thing it manifests only in sadness but some characters — especially Cody — experience anything from confusion to anger to depression to motivation. As always, I just really love how real every character felt and Gayle Forman always does an amazing job at bringing characters, setting, and emotions to life in her books.

When I sat down to write this review, I did NOT plan to write seven paragraphs. In fact, I had no idea what I was possibly going to say. I worried that it would sound like I hated the book since it was so hard for me to rate. I feel like usually “hard ratings” are due to overwhelming emotions for people — which yes, it was for me — but also that “different feeling” for me made it hard for me to assess my true feelings for the book. Obviously once I started writing about it, it was obvious how much this book really moved me and, well, I already knew it was a 4.5 to 5 star book for me, but being able to talk about it only convinced me more. Sometimes reviews just tend to take you on a journey you didn’t expect and my review for I WAS HERE certainly did that for me. Personally, I can’t wait to see what this book helps other people discover! I’m really looking forward to discussing this one with people. (Now that I’ve found the words, I know you can too!)

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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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Cody // Character Obsessions: Meg, looking into her suicide, grieving.
Oh, oh, Cody. I can’t even imagine what she went through after losing Meg and then feeling like she had to take it even further to investigate. That’s just so painful. Cody was a really interesting character, though. She possessed such strength and I was absolutely rooting for her as I witnessed her waffling from grief to strength and everything in between. I loved her loyalty to Meg, even after her death, and I was scared for her in more ways than one. I really loved getting to know her in this book and also just wanted to hug her.
Ben // Character Obsessions: Music, his sister, girls. 
There was a period of time that I wasn’t sure if we should like Ben… But the more I got to know about him, the more I did like and the more I found out, the more I got to see beneath the rough exterior. (Okay, it wasn’t really that rough, but he took a while to figure out.) Anyway. I don’t want to say TOO much about him because again — another thing for the reader to explore on their own!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Being so involved that I can’t stop reading. I love books that I can read in one day. I wasn’t exactly sure where this story was taking me and what I would read and what I would feel but I was just SO involved in what was going on. I couldn’t stop reading and I couldn’t put this book down.
Left Me Wanting More: Familiarity? Honestly, it’s hard to say. I really enjoyed this book a LOT but I was also missing SOMETHING (still not 100% sure what) that “felt” like a Gayle book. It was just a feeling that I couldn’t pinpoint. Like I said, not necessarily a bad thing, but something that happens as authors grow! Things change and hey, they need to from book to book so the books don’t get old and feel like they’re repeating themselves. I just can’t quite name what felt different and a tiny bit less familiar but it did.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I mean, it’s Gayle Forman. I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t be let down! I WAS HERE was a very emotional and moving read. I was completely hooked and utterly interested and it certainly made me think about a lot. Gayle’s characters always just feel so real. I think fans of Gayle Forman will love it and people who haven’t been totally sold on her previous books (I mean, I like to pretend that doesn’t happen, but I know you’re out there!) should definitely give this one a shot.

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BOOKS LIKE I WAS HERE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        the sea of tranquility       the sky is everywhere