Tag Archives: Realistic Fiction

Bad Romance – Heather Demetrios

Bad Romance – Heather DemetriosTitle: Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 29, 2017
Related Posts: I'll Meet You There

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

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BAD ROMANCE was such a hard book to read but in such a good way. I haven’t read too many books that deal with the inside of a bad relationship but I think Heather Demetrios really captured all of the emotions, twists, and tangles that are involved in being trapped in a “bad romance”. Her experience with the matter really helped dig in to those dark corners and create such a realistic picture of this situation.

I wouldn’t say that it was enjoyable to read BAD ROMANCE because it’s so hard to read about these tough situations that make you cringe and cry and want to shake a main character… but in a way that made me feel for Grace, but in frustration for how stuck she feels and how other people are taking advantage of that vulnerability. Grace is stuck in her life at home and is just waiting for the day when she can move out and go off to college. Her mother suffers from OCD (which is not stated outright but more and more is revealed along the way) and things have gotten so bad with her mental state that she’s dependent on Grace’s step-father who uses all of that to his advantage. Both her mother and step-father continue to keep Grace under their thumb so when popular guy and long-time-crush Gavin starts to show interest in Grace, even after a suicide attempt, Grace can’t help but fall head over heels for someone who finally shows her some positive attention.

The book starts with Grace sort of telling a story to Gavin himself. The usage of the second-person narrative, essentially telling the story back to Gavin like it’s a narrative straight to him, created such a personal and tense connection and sets the story up for the devastation that is to come. The reader knows from the beginning that this will not end well, and the tension is set up right away so even though you see Grace falling for someone who seems so good to her at first, the reader knows it will not end well, and I just had that sinking feeling in my stomach. Things start off well  but there are also immediate signs of what’s to come, and it’s easy to ignore when you have hope and trust in a relationship. There are plenty of things that don’t have to spiral out of control, but Grace is surrounded by those who need more help than she can give them and too often she’s put in the position of being someone’s savior, and that’s exactly what Gavin pins on her.

I won’t go into the whole book, but long story short, I think Heather Demetrios did a really great job of laying this whole relationship out. I felt like Gavin really did like Grace but then it just turned into dependency and the need to control her instead of caring about her and having a nice balance. Gavin was in need of professional attention and support that Grace couldn’t give and all of his problems were being pinned on her, so instead of finding a freedom with Gavin, she became even more stuck. My stomach twisted and my heart sank as things grew even worse, taking an abusive turn, but I also saw Grace’s side of things! It wasn’t that she wasn’t strong or wouldn’t take action and leave Gavin… she really did care for him and she also wanted to help him. She thought he loved her, and maybe he did, but it reached an obsessive and controlling point to where it wasn’t real love anymore and it turned into an unhealthy need. Grace’s character had so much good in her heart but that doesn’t help someone who needs therapy or medication and it was so hard to watch her struggle between wanting to help Gavin, trying to love him and be the support that he needed, and just needing to get out.

I have a lot I could say about this book but I won’t go on forever with this review. What I will say is that I think it’s a very well-done story about abusive relationships, especially those that don’t seem outright abusive. There were emotional aspects here that bullied Grace into staying in the relationship (that did turn a little bit physical) and Heather Demetrios did a great job of writing each character so even if you knew they were in the wrong, you could understand their perspective and see the whole picture all at once. This was so well-written and very hard to read all at the same time, but the hard to read is definitely because of the difficult content. I haven’t had experience with this myself but I found it very realistic and would definitely recommend BAD ROMANCE!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic, non-contemporary fiction. So many realistic fiction I read nowadays is romantic so it’s always interesting to read more novels that are realistic but not a “contemporary romance”.
Left Me Wanting More: Help for Grace. This is usually where I put what I was missing from a book but I really felt that this was well-written and I wouldn’t have asked for anything different! I just wish Grace had someone to turn to who could offer her help and support, mostly from her parents. Your parents are supposed to be there for you especially in times like this and they only made things so much worse.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is a powerful read and absolutely worth picking up. I think it tells a really important story and shows that not all abusive relationships are purely physical. This bad romance was emotionally demanding and controlling and Grace was just as stuck.

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BOOKS LIKE BAD ROMANCE

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    ELEANOR & PARK

Throwing My Life Away – Liz Czukas

Throwing My Life Away – Liz CzukasTitle: Throwing My Life Away by Liz Czukas, Ellie Cahill
Publishing Info: December 20, 2016 by Independent
Source: Author
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 6, 2016
Related Posts: Ask Again Later, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless, When Joss Met Matt, Call Me, Maybe, Just a Girl

7 photographs, 2 weeks, an entire life to get back. No problem, right?
After her stepfather accidentally throws away her high school mementos, sentimental Mariska is pretty sure the world is over. That is, until she comes up with a plan. She's going to recreate her past, with a little help from her friends.
It's not easy to rally everyone into helping, especially Caine, who couldn't be less sentimental about anything if he were a park bench. But from a guerilla kite festival to convincing her ex-boyfriend to recreate her lost prom picture, Mariska is willing to do what it takes.
With a little nudging from Caine, Mariska starts to realize she can't actually get her past back. And maybe that's okay. Because while she's so focused on the past, she's missing out on the present, where her friends are busy having the summer of their lives. And where funny, quiet Caine might just be the future she never knew she wanted.

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I’ve read everything Liz Czukas has written and loved them all so I was so excited to hear about Liz’s newest YA release, THROWING MY LIFE AWAY! As usual, Liz Czukas brings to life some lovable characters, realistic situations, and of course, some amazing friendships. THROWING MY LIFE AWAY was one of the most realistic contemporary stories I’ve read that was on the fluffier side (i.e. not dealing with serious life issues). Liz Czukas did a great job of bringing the average teen to life! The friendships were fun but not over the top. The crushes were superficial and then something more. The parental relationships were complicated, but not too serious for the tone of the novel. It was a light, easy read full of fun, nostalgia, and a good message too.

What you need to know about THROWING MY LIFE AWAY is that it’s the story of Mariska, a girl who has just graduated high school and is enjoying the last summer at home before she and all of her friends leave for college. When her step-dad accidentally brings all of her old photos and memories to the shredder, Mariksa embarks upon an epic summer quest to try to recreate as many of those memories as possible. Now, I don’t doubt Liz Czukas but I was a little scared before I started that this story would be TOO perfect, imagining that Mariska would end up recreating all of her memories fairly accurately. Instead, I found an incredibly enjoyable story where Mariska’s memories got destroyed and her quest to recreate them didn’t totally work out. In fact, it actually came together in a much better way by ending up with new memories and different photos instead of her getting the exact pictures she used to have. I loved that she couldn’t recreate the past and instead, made a much better present and future.

I didn’t connect with this book AS much as I had with some of the other Liz Czukas books I’ve read, but that’s bound to happen when you read so many different and wonderful characters. I still loved everyone that I met and the situations were just delightful as well as insightful. I mostly have just connected with other books of Liz’s better, so that ends up affecting any future reads, this being one of them. I still think Mariska and her friends/family were incredibly realistic and they were so much fun to read about! The book was done so well and it’s such an enjoyable concept as well.

I’m a life-long fan of Liz Czukas and I’m so happy I got to read this book early! I’m always so happy to be able to read the latest from this wonderful author because I think in all of her books, whether that’s young adult or new adult (as Ellie Cahill), she does a wonderful job of keeping a light and fun tone but still incorporating some serious moments and realistic situations. I will forever be scrambling to pick up anything new from her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fluff yet real. “Real fluff” — this is my new favorite contemporary genre. Is a real thing? I don’t know. But Liz Czukas totally nails it if it is. It’s fun and light without being overly serious and yet it’s still very realistic and has a lot of thoughtful moments as well as life-lessons.
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. I don’t know why but I didn’t connect AS much as I had with previous books. But I guess I can’t very well have everything be a super favorite!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Start from the beginning and work your way forward through Liz’s books. She’s a gem and her books are too!

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BOOKS LIKE THROWING MY LIFE AWAY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE    THE CHAPEL WARS

Kids of Appetite – David Arnold

Kids of Appetite – David ArnoldTitle: Kids of Appetite by David Arnold
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 19, 2016

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

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I should have guessed that I’d be a little bit of a black sheep on this one. I know so many people who rave about David Arnold and though I still haven’t read MOSQUITOLAND yet, I did get to meet David Arnold last year at Anderson’s YA Lit Conference and he was just so delightful! I was really excited to receive a copy of KIDS OF APPETITE from the publisher (I actually received an ARC from Penguin Random House and audio from Listening Library) for review and for participation in the blog tour.

It wasn’t that I disliked KIDS OF APPETITE. It was very well-written, clever (especially the way the ending tied up), and displayed some really beautiful friendships… But I know that I’m not in the right place in my life to read this book. I’ve been avoiding more “serious” contemporary novels as of late as a personal preference and prefer lighter, fluffier contemporary novels to balance out some more serious things in my life right now so I just didn’t appreciate some of the heavier moments in KIDS OF APPETITE that others may connect or sympathize with.

It was a little bit of a style clash too. There were just little things in the book that went against the grain of what I connect with as a reader that really stood out to me. There was just something about this group of kids that I just can’t put my finger on that I just really didn’t connect with. Maybe it was the audiobook narrators that played into that a little bit but despite the detailed character histories, uniqueness, and diversity, I just had a hard time feeling like I really connected with them and I’m not sure why. Then there were little things like the many, many instances of repetition that really got under my skin. I just really hate when things are repeated over and over again and I know that it’s like a mantra but Vic’s “super racehorse” was repeated way too much and it started to bother me. Again, a personal preference that just happened to clash with this book.

I also just never really got into the book overall. I think it was almost too much for me. There was a lot going on which wasn’t BAD but I don’t know… I just didn’t quite connect with everything. Like the characters were somehow too distant for me to connect with or our personalities didn’t mesh. Everything came together really, really well and I was expecting how everything really clicked into place so that was really awesome! The writing was really quite good but I think it just isn’t quite my style, or at least not something that I’m looking for at this point in time. What’s even more sad is that now I don’t feel the pull to read MOSQUITOLAND since I didn’t quite connect with this book.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Digital review copy from Listening Library
Narrator: Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch, Ryan Vincent Anderson
Performance: Very good

The narrators weren’t my favorites but I still think they did a very good job with this book! I didn’t quite connect to the as much as I had hoped, though. I think there wasn’t as much energy and enthusiasm for each character like I always hope for and for some reason the narration for all of them just fell a little flat. It probably didn’t help that I wasn’t super connected to the story though. I’d be interested in trying more of Phoebe Strole’s narrations but I wasn’t super sold on Michael Crouch which is a shame because I think a lot of people like him!

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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: Bands of misfits. I really loved how this group of kids really came together because of their many differences. I love with “misfits” form their own group/gang and seeing how their relationships grow because of their uniqueness!
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. It’s just one of those books for me, I guess. I think maybe it was just too much in a few too many ways and it just wasn’t my personal favorite style.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I may or may not be a good resource for you on this. I know some people who have felt the same way and we are just the people who don’t jive here… But I have MANY friends who absolutely loved it. Check out your trusty reviewers and see what they had to say!!

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BOOKS LIKE KIDS OF APPETITE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    we are the ants

Leave Me – Gayle Forman

Leave Me – Gayle FormanTitle: Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss, BEA 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2016
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

view_from_goodreads1

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

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BOOKS LIKE LEAVE ME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT

The Cresswell Plot – Eliza Wass

The Cresswell Plot – Eliza WassTitle: The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 1, 2016

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

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I was really excited to start THE CRESSWELL PLOT and actually dug into it as soon as I got the approval from Disney-Hyperion on Netgalley! The book sounded extremely interesting and quite thrilling so I was incredibly curious to see how things played out. Once I started, I realized either the synopsis changed since the book was first announced or I was just totally off-based with my expectations because THE CRESSWELL PLOT really wasn’t what I had expected. 

The book was definitely hard to walk away from. I was sucked into the Cresswell’s world and intrigued with Castley’s role in it. The Cresswells are an ultra-religious family but they basically have their own religion. They follow the rules of the Bible but their father also has written his own Bible of sorts so there’s this weird, blurry line of how much Father Cresswell believes his word is God and how much he believes he’s pulled from scripture. It was actually quite horrifying to read how terribly this family was controlled and made to fear the outside world.

Honestly, the controlling and abusive aspects made this book really hard to read and yet I also couldn’t pull myself away. I got incredibly concerned for Crestley and her siblings so I didn’t want to leave the story without knowing what happened to them, but I was constantly cringing at how her father treated them and the brainwashing that was involved to make the kids think that everything he was doing was God’s plan. I’m not sure how to classify the book —  realistic fiction, thriller, a mix, or neither — but I had set out with the mindset that it was going to be a bit more of a thriller so I had hoped for more there. Since it was so hard to read about the family life, I had been hoping to spend more time with Crestley or the other siblings outside of their property and exploring more of what “normal” life would be like.

The ending also happened a bit abruptly for my taste. There was a solid conclusion with a little bit of a lingering question but it all sort of happened so quickly that I was hoping for more of a transition.  I feel like the book could have benefited from a few more paragraphs or even a short chapter to tie everything up and explain what happened after the fast-paced sequence of events that led to the conclusion. I also would have really loved to know more about the father and exactly why and how he became the way he did. There wasn’t really much backstory or reasoning behind how he chose to raise his family so I would have really liked to see more explanation.

Overall, THE CRESSWELL PLOT was a book I couldn’t tear myself away from and yet I had a hard time reading it. The concept drew me in and I didn’t want to put the book down so it made for a super quick read and it was also something that made met think about lifestyles other than my own. Again, I think my expectations of what the book was somehow got thrown really off-base and I’m not sure if I would have picked the book up so soon if ever knowing that this was the actual plot. That being said, it was also interesting to read and I always like pushing the boundaries of what I might normally pick up so I’m glad I did read it.

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!

cresswell plot gr updates

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Father // Character Obsessions: Rules, purity, Heaven, scriptures. 
The father in this book was horrifying. I think the scariest thing is when a character or person is doing something that they truly believe is beneficial and right. He has so much conviction in his beliefs and doesn’t see the harm it’s doing and I felt like he actually reached a villainous level.
Crestley // Character Obsessions: Questions, family, good, opinions. 
Crestley ends up being the sibling that has the best balance of doing what is right and questioning what is really best for the family. She’s the one who really starts to break out of these harmful patterns and beliefs. I actually would have liked to see a better transition

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Kept Me Hooked On: Religious themes. I don’t usually pick up realistic novels with religious themes, no matter the topic, but I’m glad I read this!
Left Me Wanting More: Clues. I really am glad that I wasn’t able to guess anything as the book went on but I also like being just a teensy bit less in the dark. I would have loved to have pieced something more together by the end instead of a whole chapter to fill me in!

Addiction Rating
Consider it

If this sounds like a book that might hook you, it’s worth a shot! Honestly, the suspense really pulled me in more than anything else and I was glued to see what would happen. I think things could have been done a little better structurally but I did make quick work of reading it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE CRESSWELL PLOT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DEVOTED    ELEANOR & PARK

When We Collided – Emery Lord

When We Collided – Emery LordTitle: When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 10, 2016
Related Posts: Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

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Emery Lord is an auto-buy author for me. I fell in love with her debut, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and every book I read from her is a wonderful and thoughtful experience full of growth, friendship, and a little bit of romance. After finishing WHEN WE COLLIDED, one of the things that I’m really starting to appreciate is how incredibly individual each book feels from is predecessor. Emery Lord’s writing is deep and powerful but still allows each character to let their silly side show and really tells a very realistic story without getting caught up in the dramatics that some young adult books tend to overemphasize. Each book has had a very different story to tell and WHEN WE COLLIDED may be the most powerful one yet.

WHEN WE COLLIDED is the story of Vivi and Jonah but it’s also a story for anyone who’s dealt with grief, depression, mental illness, or really any hard times in their life. The reader learns that Vivi has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that Jonah’s father has recently passed away and his family is still grieving. WHEN WE COLLIDED chronicles the journey of these two characters throughout one summer as they crash into each other’s lives when they’re both at their very bottom and how they’re able to help each other grow and heal. The book is incredibly powerful. There’s so much emotion as Vivi and Jonah sift through their struggles individually and how once they start to open up, they’re really able to help and support each other by sharing their own personal hurdles.

What I loved the most about WHEN WE COLLIDED was how realistic everything truly felt. Sometimes I have a hard time connecting to big families like Jonah’s (especially young children for some reason) but just like Vivi, I easily fell in love with each and every one of them. Emery Lord is able to bring even minor characters into full color and share their dazzling personalities with the reader. I also really appreciated all of the personal experience as well as research that went into Vivi’s character. I haven’t personally seen the effects of bipolar disorder in any of my friends or family members (that I know of) but I felt like this was an incredibly realistic and thorough view of what someone with this disorder might be going through. Experiencing Vivi’s emotional highs and escalation as she went through her manic period was truly an emotional roller coaster and as an observer, I was incredibly nervous for her throughout the book. I was afraid of what might happen when that mania finally came back down and feared for when depression might hit. Vivi has a naturally spirited and unique personality so there was also this blur and question of whether her actions were simply because she was such a sizzling personality or whether some of her decisions were affected by her disorder.

I adored the relationship between Vivi and Jonah. It was such a sweet romance full of highs and lows and it was exactly what these two characters needed. Jonah needed someone who would break down the door and push themself into his life in order to really accept help and start to talk about what his family was going through. She opened Jonah up to acting a little silly sometimes and allowing himself to really act his age when there was so much weighing on his shoulders. Vivi needed someone a little grounded to reel her back in at times but still love her for exactly who she was. Jonah was able to offer her a peek into a big family and the loss of a loving father and these two really learned a lot from each other that they never set out to find.

I could really go on gushing about WHEN WE COLLIDED but it’s a book that really must be experienced. It was so incredibly well-written and I love how it shares some similar elements of Emery Lord’s previous books (strong female characters, great friendships, tons of growth) and yet it truly stands on its own. It was such an emotional ride for me and one that I will absolutely continue to recommend. If you haven’t read any of Emery Lord’s books yet, start anywhere but make sure you do read WHEN WE COLLIDED as soon as possible!
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 we collided goodreads

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Vivi // Character Obsessions: Costume design, staying unique, fun, adventure.
Vivi was such a wonderfully layered character. She has this struggle with bipolar disorder but she’s so spirited to begin with that at times it’s hard to tell where this disorder creeps in but then you realize that so much of Vivi is just that adventurous, free, and bubbly. I loved her unique personality and you will never find a dull moment with Vivi. She really brought Jonah out of his shell and truly loved who she was.
Jonah // Character Obsessions: Family, responsibility, cooking, his father.
I adored Jonah’s love of cooking (some of these things seriously made me hungry!) and how much I fell in love with his big family. He has the burden of being one of the older siblings and really taking care of the littles as well as his mom as she continues to struggle with the loss of her husband. The whole family is still grieving and I admired Jonah’s strength (although I’m sure it didn’t feel like strength to him) as he attempted to piece his family back together again.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mental health awareness. I thought the authenticity of Vivi’s bipolar disorder was so accurate. I read the author’s note at the end of the book so I know she put a lot of personal experience into creating this character but also really did a ton of research as well to represent it as well as she possibly could.
Left Me Wanting More: Fairy tale endings. Obviously I wish for a fairy tale ending where everyone rides off into the sunset but actually… I’m glad that it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies in the end. Things get real and the ending is realistic and not just smacking a happy conclusion on there just for feels. I loved that I was left with some great feelings but it wasn’t overly sappy.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

You NEED to read Emery Lord’s books if you haven’t yet. Every single one is truly unique and WHEN WE COLLIDED is such a powerful story.

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BOOKS LIKE WHEN WE COLLIDED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES    I WAS HERE

No More Confessions (Confessions #3) – Louise Rozett

No More Confessions (Confessions #3) – Louise RozettTitle: No More Confessions (Confessions #3) by Louise Rozett
Publishing Info: January 25, 2015 by Independent
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 25, 2016
Related Posts: Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1), Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend (Confessions #2)

For Rose Zarelli, freshman year was about controlling her rage. Sophomore year was about finding her voice. With all that behind her, junior year should be a breeze, right? Nope. When a horrific video surfaces, Rose needs the one person she wants to be done with, the person who has broken her heart twice—Jamie Forta. But as the intensity between them heats up, Rose realizes she isn’t the only one who needs help. The thing is, Jamie doesn’t see it that way—and that could cost them both everything.

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I’ve been a big fan of the Confessions series since I first read CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL back in 2012 on a whim. I was so impressed with main character Rose and Louise Rozett’s character portrayal and I’m so glad to see that continue throughout the entire series so far. I was thrilled to hear that NO MORE CONFESSIONS was still being published despite the series’ original publisher apparently dropping the series because these books are incredibly realistic, meaningful, and actually quite quick to read.

NO MORE CONFESSIONS went surprisingly quick for me! It looks like it is shorter than its predecessors but I also love that it wasn’t jam-packed full of unnecessary situations just to fill the pages. NO MORE CONFESSIONS gets straight to the point and sticks to the heart of the story which revolves around Rose, her family, and her relationship with bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold, Jamie Forta. I somehow forgot a lot of what went on in book two (it’s been a while!) but I easily fell back into Rose’s world and felt so comfortable picking up where I left off.

One of the things I love the most about this series is how realistic each character and situation feels. I love that so many reactions are based off of a character’s internal debate or personal involvement with a situation. It’s less conflict because of misinformation or unnecessary drama. These characters have gone through some really tough stuff but not so far that it becomes potentially unrelatable. I feel like if I haven’t experienced something that they’re going through, I know someone who has or feel a degree of connection somehow through my own experiences. The book addresses death, grief, addiction, relationships, friendship, and so much more in a way that really allows readers to connect on many levels. I love how relationships on all levels have changed and evolved throughout the book.

I really like how Rose’s friendship with her best friend Tracy has changed so much from the first book as both girls grow up, experience different things in their lives, and start to become individuals. They do drift a bit but they’re still friends and it was great to see that evolving element in their friendship, even if it does mean they’re not as close anymore. We’ve all grown out of friendships or have spent less/more time with a friend over the years and it was really nice to see that happen over time and not because of a blow-out fight. Situations like these are really well-represented throughout the course of this series and how people naturally change over the years. Some changes have happened quickly after major events but I really appreciate the slow and gradual changes that an individual might experience and how Louise Rozett really brings that aspect of growing up to life.

The ending of NO MORE CONFESSIONS was great. Rose and Jamie both converge and diverge — they’re really coming together as a couple but their current life situations don’t seem to be on the same path. Rose is looking at colleges since her senior year is drawing near and their relationship once again comes into question, proposing a big decision for the two characters on so many levels. Again, Louise Rozett does a great job at representing this and how a character might indirectly reaction to potential changes without that full-on confrontation. It’s just so beautifully represented in each book.

I forgot how much I loved this series and it was so wonderful to read another book about Rose, Jamie, and the wonderful cast of characters that supports them. This is some really great contemporary if you’re looking for that extra realistic element and I really hope there’s a Confessions #4 to really bring this series to a close (I’m guessing it would be the last one since we’ve been progressing through Rose’s high school years). I’m dying to see what happens after this book because NO MORE CONFESSIONS was just wonderful!

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!

no more confessions gr updates

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Rose // Character Obsessions: Family, singing, Jamie.  
I’ve always like that Rose has felt very mature, even at 14, but it’s also great how she’s matured since the first book. I’m loving her character growth and how she’s able to see things from other people’s perspectives now. She’s still quite the teenager and goes through some typical teenage experiences but she’s also gained some real wisdom over the course of this series.
Jamie // Character Obsessions: Work, protecting himself, alcohol.  
Jamie has always been a little rough around the edges but NO MORE CONFESSIONS really brings some of that rawness to the surface. Jamie’s never been really good at handling emotions or stressful situations and you see some of the pressures really take a toll on him this book. It’s so hard to watch him go through that but I also really liked how it was represented. It’s especially hard to see that his bad boy exterior is so much more than that and he’s really hurting inside.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character development. I just love each and every one of these characters. It’s amazing how Louise Rozett brings them to life! They all feel so incredibly really and I just get so invested.
Left Me Wanting More: Conclusion. I truly hope there’s one more book! I NEED to know what happens to Rose and Jamie after this book and where the story goes from here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think this is a highly underrated and unknown series and it’s one I’ve loved from day one. It’s always so delightful to read these again (even though the topics are not always delightful) and see such realistic representations of every day life.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE NO MORE CONFESSIONS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

I'LL MEET YOU THERE    SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL

The Rules for 50/50 Chances – Kate McGovern

The Rules for 50/50 Chances – Kate McGovernTitle: The Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Publishing Info: November 24, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 27, 2015

A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life's uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.
Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she's going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that tells her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington's disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother.
With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family's genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she'll live to be a healthy adult-including her dream career in ballet and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool and gets an audition for a dance scholarship across the country, Rose begins to question her carefully laid rules.

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I was recently on the blog tour for THE RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES and had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book. Honestly, I had been shying away from books surrounding serious ailments and illnesses lately because I’ve just been in the mood for some lighter topics so I was actually glad that this I did end up reading the book for the blog tour since it might have otherwise sat on my shelf for a while!

THE RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES was really well done. The main character Rose hits a crossroads in her life when she finally comes to the age where she can decided whether she wants to get tested for Huntington’s disease — a genetic disorder that she has a 50% chance of inheriting from her mother. I really appreciated Rose’s character and how mature she was about the whole situation. There was still plenty of typical teenager but I also got to see the maturity that Rose has acquired over the years, especially when helping out with her mom. It’s never an easy situation to be in and I thought Rose had some real strength to support her mother as well as dealing with the looming question of whether she would inherit the disease as well. I really thought she handled this looming decision about as best as a teenager (or anyone, really) can.

Throughout the book, Rose waffles back and forth whether to get the test — despite the fact that her parents don’t want her to either way — and really puts her life on hold until she knows what her DNA holds for her. As much as people told her to live her life to the fullest no matter what the outcome was, I feel like I would have reacted the same way. If I thought I was going to have this disease, I would probably feel wary of falling in live just like Rose did — mostly because of the fear of hurting a loved one when the disease takes hold. Because of her unknown future, Rose did keep people at a distance and that just felt really realistic for me. It was also hard to connect to her at times because of that and also incredibly frustrating to see people already getting hurt, but it felt genuine and true to how her life might go.

I think the distance that Rose puts between her and her loved ones sort of distanced me as a reader as well so I didn’t connect to the book as much as I had hoped on an emotional level. I think that was a great portrayal of the reality that could come from these situations though. It sounds weird but I actually enjoyed the fights (as tense as they were) between Rose and her family, friends, and new crush Caleb. Her family and friends merely try to support her but Rose still has that feeling that they don’t quite understand — even Caleb who has several family members suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia, another genetic disease. I think it prevented me from connecting with all of them just a bit but I actually appreciated that there was a sort of constant struggle and not just one big blow up fight. It just felt like a very realistic representation.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the ending but I also understand why Kate McGovern chose to end the book that way. The book really was about Rose’s feelings, her journey, and her decisions and I appreciated how all of that went! I would have loved a bit more closure but all-in-all, it was an enjoyable read.
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!

gr updates rules for 50/50 chances

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Rose // Character Obsessions: Ballet, Huntington’s, family, responsibility, decisions. 
Rose was a tough cookie! She was very responsible, no-nonsense in a lot of ways but that also sort of prevented me from getting to know her a bit. She was closed-off because she didn’t want to hurt people if she did end up finding out she has Huntington’s but then I as the reader wasn’t able to connect with her as much as I had hoped!

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Kept Me Hooked On: “Serious” realistic fiction. I’ve needed some lighter YA in my life lately and have been getting my “serious” topics through fantasy and sci-fi, just to distance myself from some serious issues at the moment. This maybe wasn’t the best time for me to read this book but it was really well done and enjoyable!
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. Well really, this book was plenty emotional but I wanted a bit more from Rose. I totally understand why her character was a bit more rational and a bit less emotional but that extra OOMPH of emotion would have really gotten me that much more invested.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re in the mood for some serious YA with a serious main character, this is a good choice! It was a nice portrayal of some more serious aspects a teenager can deal with without totally destroying my emotions.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD    THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS

Blog Tour: The Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern | Author Interview + Giveaway!

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Welcome to the blog tour for
The Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern!

Today I’m on the blog tour for THE RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES, hosted by Macmillan/Fierce Reads!! I’m really excited to share an interview with author Kate McGovern on today’s post! We’ll talk about the book, Kate’s personal experiences, and more! Before we hop into the interview, let’s have a refresher on the book first!

Blog Tour: The Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern | Author Interview + Giveaway!Title: The Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Publishing Info: November 24, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 27, 2015
Related Posts: The Rules for 50/50 Chances

A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life's uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.
Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.

INTERVIEW WITH KATE MCGOVERN

Brittany: The Rules for 50/50 Chances is your debut novel — congrats!! How did you choose Rose’s story for your first book? 
Kate McGovern: ​Thanks! RULES is a story that sat with me for years before I wrote it. I read an article about a young woman in a similar situation, and I couldn’t get her story out of my head. My college playwriting professor, who is still a mentor to me, always said to “write the things you obsess over,” and I think that’s very good advice. Rose’s voice came into my head fully formed–she was always herself, right from the first page–and I think it’s because her story just haunted me from day one. I needed to write this book.

B: The book follows Rose who has a 50/50 chance of inheriting Huntington’s Disease from her mother. The main thing she struggles with is when to take that test that will tell her how the rest of her life is going to go. What’s the biggest decision or event (that you’d like to share) that’s changed the course of your life?
KM:
​Ooh, tough one. This is cheating a bit, but I’d say that each of the major moves in my life was a defining experience: first when I moved to New York City after college, then when I moved to the UK at 26, then when I moved home and settled down in Cambridge, which is my hometown. The New York years were very formative for me as a writer–I had my first full-length play professionally produced, and I was published for the first time, although I didn’t write fiction yet at that point. And I also started working in education, which is my other passion (I now for an awesome education non-profit organization). Living in the UK for three years took me completely out of my comfort zone in all the best ways. There’s something about being an outsider that is ​indispensable for a writer. I loved it. After I finished grad school at Oxford, I taught in an elementary school in very, very far West London, which gave me a fresh perspective on public education in the U.S. And moving back to Cambridge was the start of a new phase of my life, where I feel much more settled and finally “grown up,” in a way. (It only took me until my 30s :))

B: I really admired Rose’s strength and how she was trying to find a perfect blend of head and heart when it came to the really tough decisions and moments with this disease. What do you hope readers take away from Rose’s experiences?
KM: Dealing with a parent’s illness of any kind is a singular, unbelievably difficult experience. Rose has to grow up in some ways before she should. I’ve had a lot of readers ask me what I would do in Rose’s position, and the truth is, I just don’t know. In some ways, I’m in awe of Rose, and of others who are in her shoes (including readers who have experienced similar circumstances). I hope readers empathize with her, and take away from her that it’s possible to live well and fully even in the midst of incredibly challenging and destabilizing circumstances. Rose might seem indecisive, but I think she’s just scared, and rightly so. She’s doing her best with the hand she’s been dealt, which is all any of us can do.

B: I read on this “Meet the Newbies” post from Dana Square and A Perfection Called Books that there are a lot of personal tidbits and likes from your life that appear in The Rules for 50/50 Chances! (I love when this happens. It’s so fun to identify!) How did you decide which favorites to include in the book?
KM: My cousin described reading the book as a “treasure hunt” because she could see the little bits that were taken from real life in the midst of all the fiction, and I love that. The truth is, it’s all fiction–because even the pieces that are based on my real experiences are taken out of context, mixed up, changed to fit the story, etc. Nothing in the book is taken directly from my life. But ​​I did have fun using some things in particular: Rose’s best friend, Lena, has pieces of several of my closest friends, but especially one of my college roommates/BFFs. So she was really fun to write. Rose’s mom is not like my mom much at all, but my mom does love trains, and so do I, so that’s where that detail comes from. The cross-country train ride Rose takes is based on my own experience–I rode the California Zephyr in 2012, and it was such an unbelievable experience that I knew I had to write about it somehow. I enjoyed reliving that train ride by writing those scenes.

B: What has been your favorite experience so far about being a debut author? Has anything really surprised you?
KM: ​This is going to sound obvious, but I was really surprised when I suddenly realized, “OH, now people are going to READ THIS.” I hadn’t really thought about that part, but it’s very exciting (and scary)! Beyond that, one of the best parts has been the incredible support I’ve received from my community, near and far. My family, my friends, my colleagues at my day job–everyone has just backed me up, and been so excited, which has been really humbling and wonderful. I’m very grateful for that. I’ve always, always wanted to write a book. So I’m just trying to soak up everything about this experience, because it really is living a lifelong dream.

B: We always like to know what else authors have in the works! Do you have any other projects you’re working on next? Are there other genres you’re considering or is contemporary/realistic fiction where your passion lies?
KM: I’m working on another book in the same genre–YA contemporary. I think that’s where I’ll stay for now, but I might branch out eventually. I love mysteries and thrillers–I don’t know if I’d be very good at writing them, but I’d love to give it a try at some point. My current work-in-progress is really a love story at its core, but it also deals with race and violence–some big stuff. As with RULES, I really started from the characters’ voices, and I’m just trying to do their stories justice.

A big, big thank you to Kate McGovern for this wonderful interview! It was an absolute pleasure and I loved hearing more about THE RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES!

GIVEAWAY

There is also a giveaway! One Winner receive a copy of THE RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES! All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter form below to enter!
Winner must be 13 years of age or older to win. US residents only, please

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The Lies About Truth – Courtney C. Stevens

The Lies About Truth – Courtney C. StevensTitle: The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
Publishing Info: November 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 22, 2015

Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.
As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.

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I had heard so many good things about THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH that I simply couldn’t wait for its release and I requested a copy from Harper Teen. The book fairies granted my wish and sent me a copy and let me tell you… the good things I heard? All true and then some! I started and finished this book in just a day because I couldn’t put it down! (Although I do regret that a teensy bit because I already miss the characters!)

THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH is just so well done all around. From the characters to setting to plot to emotion — everything was incredibly realistic and really came across to me as a real story, almost surpassing that feel of it being fiction. Aside from just connecting to the characters, I really got to know them inside and out, feel their grief and their joy, and every reaction just really felt so genuine. I was so impressed with the character development that Courtney C. Stevens was able to include in this book! I absolutely loved Sadie. Even though I haven’t been through nearly anything like what she did, I saw pieces of myself in her and I just felt like I really got to know her so well throughout the book. She was so realistic to me and I felt like she could have been one of my friends and not just a character in a book, which is something that rarely happens to me.
I also adored Sadie’s parents. Any avid reader of young adult will tell you that too often parents are absent in some way (it does amp up a story when putting a teen into that leadership or life-changing role) but it was so, so refreshing to see loving, caring, and present parents. Sadie’s mom was truly amazing and I loved the relationship she had with her mom. She didn’t seem as close to her dad but they were both really awesome parents and incredibly supportive as she went through this terrible grieving process for her friend and the way she used to look.

I didn’t connect to some of Sadie’s friends as much but it was so great to see how their friendships devolved, changed, and then evolved all over again throughout the course of the story. There’s such a tension between them after “The Wreck” and it was really great to see these characters go through the stages of working on their friendships as they try to figure out how to work on themselves and find that inner-peace again. I also really appreciated how they experienced this massive, life-changing event and it really did change their lives in the sense that no one was really the same once the book was done. Everyone was still true to themselves and they managed to really work on who they became after this incident but they also really did change and took on new roles even in their own friend groups. It was so refreshing to see that exponential change in the characters and really witness them move forward. A mantra that Sadie kept repeating throughout the book was something like “I do not have a time machine” and I loved how the book really carried this mantra all the way through to the end. The characters had to come to this true acceptance that they could never go back to the way things were and they really had to continue on towards the future, embracing who they are in the present day and who they will be once they’re able to move on from this.

The emotion captured in this book was simply fabulous too. I laughed, cried, and everything in between with Sadie, and these characters really had some dynamic personalities. Courtney C. Stevens did an amazing job of allowing those feelings to flow naturally and really let her characters carry the story to the reader through their experiences. It really was like peeking into their lives and I felt very emotionally invested in them.

THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH even had a few surprises and a small mystery! I’ll admit that a mystery always hooks me so the anticipation of figuring out that answer definitely kept me turning the pages in addition to my connection with the characters. There was even a small yet large surprise (I mean, it’s called THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH so naturally some lies are unearthed…) that I totally didn’t see coming in the book that really changed the course of the book for me for the better. When that little knowledge bomb was dropped on me, I became even more invested!

This book was great from start to finish. It was an emotional roller coaster in the best possible way, but it really flowed so well, allowing me to really experience everything naturally as the characters did. (And emotional… water slide? Terrible metaphor, I know.) THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH was so refreshing with its wonderful characters, meaningful story, and true character growth. This is one of my favorite realistic fiction novels in a while and I’m so glad I didn’t wait to read this!
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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!

the lies about the truth gr update

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Sadie // Character Obsessions: Her scars, avoidance, grief, lists. 
Sadie was SUCH an awesome character. It was so awesome to see her progression and character development throughout the book. I was so impressed with her and how much she changed, eventually finding the strength that she needed to push herself mentally and emotionally to heal and become a better person.
Max // Character Obsessions: Healing, Sadie, family.
At first I hadn’t expected to like Max as much as I did. I was a bit afraid of how he would affect the dynamic of the friend group after Trent’s dead and new romantic role with Sadie but he was super sweet and it ended up not being awkward at all. (Okay, maybe a little bit for the characters but not really for me.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Heavier realistic fiction. I haven’t really been drawn towards more serious or heavy realistic fiction lately but I’m so glad I didn’t put this book off! I really connected with it and it was so touching.
Left Me Wanting More: Attachment to Sadie’s friends. There’s not much to complain about with this book but I think the only thing that was really missing for me here was a bit more of a connection to Sadie’s friends. That’s also super hard when everyone is still healing and many of them are on the outs so that might just be how it goes with this book! (Or still could be me.)

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is owning-the-hardcover worthy, my friends. I adored this book and it was such a wonderful read. You may cry but you’ll also laugh, smile, fall in love, and really root for these characters. It was such a wonderful reading experience.

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