Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Title: Wildlife
Author: Fiona Wood
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of for life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating.

New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can’t help but be drawn back into the land of the living.

Fans of Melina Marchetta, Rainbow Rowell, and E. Lockhart will adore this endearing and poignant story of first love, true friendship, and going a little bit wild.

Every so often, I get really excited about a book and it feels like I'm the only one who's even heard of said book. That's kind of what happened with Fiona Wood's Wildlife. I've seen a few things here and there about the book, but for the most part I haven't heard all that much about it. In reality, lots of people should be talking about Wildlife because it was a really great read about friendship, first love and grief.

Sib isn't particularly looking forward to spending a whole semester out in the wilderness, even if it means spending a whole semester away from her family. But things are looking up after her face appears on a billboard thanks to her godmother and an unexpected kiss from popular boy Ben. Now if only she knew how to navigate her new found popularity and the potential for a first love with Ben. Lou isn't interested in fitting in at her new school, she only wants to get through this semester in the wilderness and go home. She doesn't want to get dragged into anything, but as drama starts to unfold in front of her, she can't help be drawn into it. The semester doesn't turn out anything like Lou and Sib thought it would, but they learned a lot more than they thought they would.

I feel like Fiona Wood's Wildlife has pretty much flown under the radar. Maybe it's because the book has already been out for over a year in Australia, but I just haven't heard all that much about it on this side of the world. Or maybe I just haven't been paying enough attention and people have actually been talking about Wildlife. The point I'm trying to get to here is that more people should really be talking about Wildlife because it was a great book. It focused on everything I like my contemporary stories to to focus on. There was romance, there was friendship, there was drama, there was grief. Really, this book had it all. But it didn't feel as heavy as you would think. Through it all, there was a good dose of humour, from both Sib and Lou. Each girl had their own way of telling their story and that's part of what made Wildlife so interesting to read. While parts told from Sib's point of view were written in what I would consider traditional first person narrative, the parts from Lou's perspective were written as if she were talking directly to the reader. And in a way, she was. Lou's part of the story was written as if she were writing her journal, and that journal is all about what she would be telling Fred, if she still could. There were moments when what Lou was "writing" would simply break my heart. But then a few sentences later, she would make me smile through the tears that were threatening to fall. All that to say, it was all written a way that always managed to pull at my heartstrings.

Sib and Lou were very different. For a good chunk of the story, it felt like they were complete opposites, or at the very least, that they had completely opposite goals for their semester away from home. It felt like Sib was doing whatever she could to try to fit in, to make sure she was doing the right thing so she could continue going out (or as much going out as you can do when spending a semester in the wilderness) with popular boy Ben. But it never seemed to be enough, or that's what her best friend (and I use the term loosely) Holly would lead her to believe. Sib and Holly's friendship was the definition of toxic. The whole time I was reading, I was just waiting for Sib to finally realize that the last thing Holly had in mind was Sib's best interest. On the flip side of all this, there was Lou who was pretty much determined to be a wallflower. She definitely had a lot to deal with and I loved seeing her work her way through her grief and join the world of the living again. Through it all,  I found it interesting to see that despite their different goals, Lou and Sib actually had a lot more in common than they would have originally thought. It just took them a little longer than me to realize it.

Fiona Wood's Wildlife was a different kind of book, but in the best way possible. It was a great story that dealt with all the subjects you come to expect from contemporary YA: friendship, first love, loss, and finding your way in the world, all with nature as a backdrop.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

Title: Five Ways to Fall (Ten Tiny Breaths #4)
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intension of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plan and leave that mistake behind her. 

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s read to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumour has it she’s trouble. The only problem, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

I'm a complete sucker for K.A. Tucker and her New Adult stories. I've loved every one that I've read, and each time I get more excited about the next one. By the time I got my hands on a copy of Five Ways to Fall, I was pretty much dying to read this book. And it most certainly didn't disappoint me.

Reese MacKay has a long history of bad decisions. When her latest bad choice, an impulsive marriage, ends in heartbreak, she knows she has to turn her life around. So Reese packs up her bags and moves to Miami, with all the good intentions in the world. But a one night stand in Mexico with a bouncer named Ben quickly derails her plans. Reese never thought she would have to see Ben again after that humiliating night. That is until he walks into her office a few days later. Ben Morris is ready to put his days as a bouncer at a strip club behind him and start his career as a lawyer. But when he walks in to work on his first day and comes face to face with the crazy girl he hooked up with in Mexico, Ben knows this is going to be interesting. Both know they should stay away from each other, but Reese and Ben can't help but be drawn to trouble. After all, both know the other is trouble.

It's no secret that I have loved every other one of K.A. Tucker's New Adult books. So believe me when I say that I was excited about Five Ways to Fall. And I mean, counting down the days and checking available stock at nearby book stores for days before the official release date, excited. I wanted this book. Badly. When I got my hands on a copy of the book, it took all the willpower I had to not just start reading it at my desk at work. Needless to say, when I got home that night, I jumped right in. And I loved every last page of Five Ways to Fall. With this series, I love each book more than the last. It was no different with this one. I enjoyed seeing Reese and Ben's story develop. I loved that they were totally not on board with each other at first. This is a story that made me laugh and put a huge smile on my face, but at the same time, it also made me tear up. Both of these characters have so much baggage that's so important to who they are and I loved the way it all played out in the story. And of course, the romance was just perfect for me. It made me laugh, while at other times it frustrated me to no end (and I mean that in a totally GOOD way), but in the end I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Going in to Five Ways to Fall, I knew Ben. I already loved him and I couldn't wait to finally read his story. I had gotten glimpses of him in Ten Tiny Breaths and Four Seconds to Lose and I just knew that there was more to him than just his good looks and arrogance. And I was totally right. I absolutely loved seeing the other sides of his personality that I saw in Five Ways to Fall. He could be a total Mama's Boy and I loved him for it. His softer side is just as great, if not better, than the side of himself he typically shows the rest of the world. But as much as I knew about Ben, and as much as I was looking forward to reading his story, I didn't know anything about Reese. And I enjoyed getting to know her. Reese was the perfect match for Ben. She wasn't afraid to call him out on his bullshit, and she was more than willing to go toe to toe with him. I really enjoyed seeing this relationship play out and go from two people who are basically using each other, to two people who truly belong together.

I absolutely LOVED K.A. Tucker's Five Ways to Fall though I was sad to see this series come to a close. Just like the previous books, this one gave me a great story with characters I won't be forgetting any time soon. I can only hope that I'll get to see some of them again in the future.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blog Tour - Stay With Me by J. Lynn

Title: Stay With Me (Wait for You #3)
Author: J. Lynn
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo / B&N
At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement part. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carried the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she’d left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal…and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that I absolutely love everything that Jennifer L. Armentrout/J. Lynn writes. And In the past year, I've been loving her New Adult contemporary romances. Unsurprisingly, the latest one, Stay With Me, did not disappoint me.

Since leaving home at 18, Calla hasn't looked back. She wanted nothing to do with her hometown and all the bad memories it brought up. In the years since leaving, Calla has made a new home for herself in college, with friends and a future. But that all threatens to fall apart when Calla discovers that her mother has stolen all the money she planned to use for college and accumulated a large amount of debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back home, to the place she thought she would never return. But when she walks in to her mother's bar, it's not her mom she finds but Jax. Jax immediately gets in Calla's business, whether she wants him to or not. But the most time she spends with Jax, the more Calla realizes that she's got to deal with everything that's happened in the past, it's the only way she'll ever be able to move forward.

Stay With Me is one of those books that kept me up until the early hours of morning because I just couldn't bear to put it down. No matter how late (or early) it got and even if I knew that I had to be at work the next day, I just kept reading. It's no secret that I love J. Lynn's books, I've devoured every one of her NA contemporary romances. But every time I know there's a new one coming out and I pick it up to read, there's always this concern in the back of my mind that I won't enjoy it, or that it won't be as good as the other ones were. This was definitely true with Stay With Me. But, as per usual where J. Lynn is concerned, I really shouldn't have worried. I got sucked in to Stay With Me just like I did with the previous two books in this series. Like I mentioned in my review of Be With Me, it helped that I already knew some of the characters in this story. I had seen Calla in the background of Be With Me and I really enjoyed getting to read her story and find out more about her. And I'm not going to lie, I really enjoyed seeing how her story fit in with Jax because he was completely new to me. And the romance between these two was just what I've come to expect from J. Lynn and her books. It was just the right mix of sweet, hot, intense and complicated. If I'm being honest, those are kind of my favourite kind.

I had previously gotten a glimpse of Calla in Be With Me, and all I really knew about her was that she was friends with Teresa and she had a pretty obvious scar on her face, which isn't all that much. But once I started reading and she began describing Cam, Jase and Ollie as the Hot Guy Brigade, I knew I would like her. And the more I read about Calla and her story, the more I liked her. She had a difficult past that led to her understandably having some trust issues. And no one brought on the trust issues more than Jax did. I'll admit that I wasn't sure how to feel about Jax at first. He just seemed so pushy and intent on getting involved in Calla's business without her inviting him to do so. He just kinda rubbed me the wrong way. But the more I learned about him, the more grew to like him. I don't really want to say that he took me by surprise, but he was worth sticking around for. And of course, I loved getting a glimpse of the couples from the other books (including a surprise appearance!)...though I'm still waiting for Ollie and Brittany to get their own.

As you might have guessed by now, I loved J. Lynn's Stay With Me. It was another great NA contemporary romance that sucked me in and made me fall for some new characters. I already can't wait until the next book in this series.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Sway by Kat Spears

Title: Sway
Author: Kat Spears
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or “Sway,” as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her ice, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion—until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

I love books that are told from a boy’s perspective and there just aren’t enough of them in YA. Because of that, I was really excited about Kat Spears’s Sway. It was even one of the boys I was most excited about this fall. And I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint me.

Jesse Alderman is the person to go to no matter what you need. He’s made quite the name for himself when it comes to getting people what they want. But he never thought that would mean having to get Ken Foster, football captain and major meathead, a date with Bridget Smalley, the nicest girl in school. It shouldn’t be a difficult job. After all, Jesse is an expert when it comes to reading people. And everything would be going according to plan if Jesse wasn’t suddenly developing feelings for Bridget. Now Jesse finds himself spending time at an old folks’ home and in an unlikely friendship with Pete, Bridget’s belligerent younger brother. No one expected this to happen less than Jesse. Especially since he’s supposed to be getting Bridget to go out with Ken, not himself.

Have I mentioned that I loved books that are told from a boy’s perspective? Because I do. I really do. And it often feels like there just aren’t enough of them in YA. Or at least I’m not finding and reading them (as a side note — if you’ve any recommendations, just leave them in the comments). All that is to say that I was initially really excited about reading Kat Spears’s Sway because of the boy perspective. But it also sounded like it had the potential to be quite an interesting story, considering the main character is trying to get the girl he’s in love with to fall in love with someone else. And that definitely turned out to be true. It definitely led to some interesting situations. What disappointed me a little was that there wasn’t as much humour as I thought there was going to be. Considering the premise, there definitely could have been more honour injected in the story. Instead, the humour that was there was more dry and the story was more angsty than I thought it was going to be. And though at first that disappointed me, by the end I really loved that about the story. Because angst, when done well, really makes for some awesome stories. And Jesse brought all the angst. Granted he had his reasons, but he was on angsty boy.

In case you missed it ten seconds ago, Jesse Alderman was one angsty guy. From the bits and pieces I got about his family’s past over the course of the story, I totally understand where the angst came from. In his situation, I probably wouldn’t have been the happiest person ever. At times, though, Jesse was borderline self-destructive. And I don’t know what it says about me, but I kinda liked this angsty, slightly self-destructive boy quite a bit. I really wanted him to get over himself and actually fell something for a change. Because of that, I really enjoyed seeing him come to terms with everything that was happening between him and Bridget, and almost even more so between him and Pete. The friendship between Jesse and Pete was kind of an unexpected relationship, but it might just be my favourite relationship in the whole book. In a way, Pete challenged Jesse to actually feel something, and in return, Jesse didn’t treat Pete in a special way just because he has cerebral palsy. And those two together led to some of my favourite moments in this story. 

I really enjoyed Kat Spears’s Sway. It was a great story that had just the right balance of humour, heart and angst. And to make it even better, it was a great story that also happened to be told from a boy’s perspective. So if you’re looking for a book with any and all of these things, than Sway is the book you should be reading.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

Title: Anatomy of a Misfit
Author: Andrea Portes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
This emotional, hilarious, devastating, and ultimately triumphant YA debut, based on actual events, recounts one girl’s rejection of her high school’s hierarchy—and her discovery of her true self in the face of tragedy.

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it all under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the results of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

Anatomy of a Misfit is a Mean Girls meets Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika—from laughter to tears, and everything in between.

Andrea Portes’s Anatomy of a Misfit is one of those books I had really high expectations for, it was one of the books I was most looking forward to getting my hands on at BEA earlier this year. Though it didn’t quite meet those expectations, Anatomy of a Misfit was still a very interesting read.

To the outside observer, it would look like Anika Dragomir has everything going for her, after all she is the third most popular girl in school. All she has to do to stay in that position is stay in line, otherwise Becky Vilhauer will make her life miserable. On the inside though, it’s a completely different story. On the inside, Anika has the makings of a freak. Dark thoughts, evil plots and even the DNA of a vampire is rumours around town are to be believed. And that all leads Anika to Logan McDonough. Previously a loner, Logan comes back at the start of the school year looking better than ever and he seems to want Anika. Anika knows what will happen to her social position if she shows interest in Logan, but she can’t help but be drawn to this mysterious nerd. There’s something more going on with Logan, Anika just knows it, but will she do something about it and risk being miserable the rest of her high school life. 

As I’ve already mentioned, I had pretty high expectations for Anatomy of a Misfit. It was one of those books that when I first heard about it, I knew I absolutely wanted to read it. To the point that it was one of a few books that I most wanted to grab when I was at BEA earlier this year. So needless to say that I was really excited at the prospect of reading Anatomy of a Misfit. When I started reading, I quickly realized that it was going to be different than what I thought it was going to be. That’s not to say it was a bad kind of different. I really enjoyed this story. Granted, I had some issues with it at times, but it still didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. This story is to the point. Anika is blunt in the way she tells her story, but she’s also quirky and has a rather dry sense of humour. I will say this though, the story ends up packing quite a punch. Though there were many hints dropped along the way, the ending still took me by surprise. As emotional as it was, it was the appropriate ending for this story. And much like it was a good ending for the story, this story wouldn’t have worked with someone other than Anika as the narrator.

Anika was interesting. As I’ve already mentioned, she was quirky and had a rather dry sense of humour. But I liked the way her brain worked. The only thing that really bugged me was the amount of emphasis that was put on keeping things hidden in the name keeping her social standing. Granted that was kind of the point of the story and she needed to go through that to where she got by the end, but at times I felt like I was being hit over the head with that aspect of the story. My other complaint would be that I could have gotten to know the other characters a little better. As much as I could see the appeal of both Logan and Jared, but I feel like I didn’t know them well enough for everything that happened with them to make complete sense. Though I feel like that could be said more about Jared than Logan. In a way, it felt like Jared kind of came out of nowhere, just to make Anika rethink everything to do with Logan. But again, that didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.

I really enjoyed reading Andrea Portes’s Anatomy of a Misfit. Though the story wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, it was a story with a message that is ultimately an important one. If you’re looking for something a little different with a quirky narrator, than this is the book for you.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding Fate Trilogy by Chelsea Fine

So I did that thing where I binge read an entire trilogy in just a few days again. I figured the best way to talk about Chelsea Fine's Finding Fate trilogy review would be to do another video review. So to find out more about my thoughts on these books, just watch the video below! Enjoy!

About the Books

Title: Best Kind of Broken (Finding Fate #1)
Author: Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Indigo
Sometime moving on means moving in…

Pixie Marshall wishes every day she could turn back time and fix the past. But she can’t. And the damage is done. She’s hoping that a summer of free room and board working with her aunt at the Willow Inn will help her forget. Except there’s a problem: the resident handyman is none other than Levi Andrews. The handsome quarterback was once her friend—and maybe move—until everything changed in a life-shattering instant. She was hoping to avoid him, possibly forever. Now he’s right down the hall and stirring up feelings Pixie thought she’s long buried…

Levi can’t believe he’s living with the one person who holds all his painful memories. More than anything he wants to make things right, but a simple “sorry won’t suffice—not when the tragedy that scarred them was his fault. Levi knows Pixie’s better off without him, but every part of him screams to touch her, protect her, wrap her in his arms, and kiss away the pain. Yet even though she’s so close, Pixie’s hear seems more unreachable than ever. Seeing those stunning green eyes again has made one thing perfectly clear—he can’t live without her.

Title: Perfect Kind of Trouble (Finding Fate #2)
Author: Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Indigo
Sometimes when perfect falls apart, a little trouble fixes everything…

Twenty-one-year-old Kayla Turner has lost everything. After spending most of her life taking care of her ailing mother, she just wants to spot a glimmer of light t the end of the tunnel. So when her late father—a man she barely knew—leaves her an inheritance, she finally breathes a sigh of relief…until she learns the inheritance comes with strings. Strings in the form of handsome playboy Daren Ackwood, her father’s protégé. To see any of her inheritance, she’s forced to team up with him. From his expensive car to those sexy dimples, Kayla’s seen his type before. But Daren isn’t who he seems to be…

Struggling to make amends for his family’s mistakes, Daren has a life more Oliver Twist than Richie Rich these days. He’s beyond grateful that James Turner included him in his will, but working with Turner’s princess of a daughter to fulfill his cryptic last wish is making Daren wonder if being broke is really so bad. Still, she’s just as beautiful as she is stubborn, and the more time he spends with Kayla, the less it feels right being without her. Soon Daren and Kayla being to wonder if maybe the best gift Kayla’s dad could have left them…was each other.

Title: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3)
Author: Chelsea Fine
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Indigo
Sometimes wrong can feel oh so right…

Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets…or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to lee her safe—but what’s not safe is her prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.

Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him—and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in…and how much she already has.
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Title: Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and rules by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian…Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

It’s no secret that I absolutely ADORE Josephine Angelini and her books. When I heard she had a new series coming out, I couldn’t help but be excited. But at the same time I was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to all of my expectations. Trial By Fire completely surpassed all my expectations and I loved every page of it.

For as long as she could remember, Lily Proctor has barely been able to leave her house without suffering from severe allergic reactions to the world around her. Her whole life, this has kept her from being able to experience the things normal high school girls would get to experience: things like going to parties, going out on dates. But she may finally be able to cross one off her list when her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan, agrees to take her to a party. Except the party turns into a big humiliating event for Lily and she wishes she could be anywhere but there. Without realizing it, Lily’s wish becomes a reality when she is transported to a different Salem, one where everything that once made her weak now make her incredibly powerful. With that power, Lily has to go up against the most powerful of all the Crucibles in this alternate Salem, Lillian, her other self. Will Lily be strong enough to do what it takes to protect a city she can barely recognize and find her way home?

So here’s the thing. When I first heard about Josephine Angelini’s Trial By Fire I was under the impression that it was about witches, and that the main character got transported back in time and met her past self. I was right about one of those things, sort of right about another, and wrong about the last. Trial By Fire is totally about witches, or Crucibles in this case. The main character, Lily, doesn’t get transported back in time, she gets transported to an alternate universe. And it’s her alternate self she meets, not her past self. That meant that when I first started reading, this made it so I was a little confused, but once I worked it all out for myself, I more than enjoyed this story. I was already a huge fan of Josephine Angelini’s before reading Trial By Fire, but this book made me love her even more. This story was captivating, and layered—every time I thought I had something figured out, something new was thrown in and I was trying to figure it out all over again. And I of course have to talk about the romance in this story. Having read (and being a huge fan of) Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed trilogy, I was definitely looking forward to whatever romance was going to be in Trial By Fire. I’ll be honest and say that the romance here felt a lot more understated. I expected it to be more in my face, but in the end I really liked the way it played out. It fit in perfectly with the story, and it made me like those characters that much more. But obviously there were also some very sensual moments. One in particular involved paint and well, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I really liked reading about Lily. I liked that once she was thrown in this world where magic was a thing she didn’t just take it in stride. Much like she never let her health issues stop her from doing what she wanted in her world, she fights back against what people are telling her in this new world. And that’s what I loved most about Lily’s character, she didn’t let anything get her down, and considering everything she was going through, that was a great attitude to have. It was also interesting to see the differences between Lily and Lillian, her alternate self. The two may have played the same role in their respective worlds, but they couldn’t have been more different. Or at least that’s how it seemed while I was reading Trial By Fire. Knowing what I know about Josephine Angelini and her books though, I might be thinking differently by the end of the next book. The same can be said about the differences between the two Tristans I met, granted I only saw one of them for a very brief period of time. The one character I only met one of was Rowan, and one was more than enough. I don’t even know where to start with Rowan. At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about him. I honestly thought he might turn out to be one of the bad guys. But I was clearly wrong because by the end of the book I was ALL ABOUT ROWAN. I definitely want more Rowan in future books and I can’t wait to have more Rowan in future books.

In case you hadn’t figured it out by now, I absolutely loved Josephine Angelini’s Trial By Fire. It completely lived up to all my expectations, and it brought a fresh and new perspective to a subject that has been dealt with previously. I absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens next.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Tour - The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura Langston

Title: The Art of Getting Stared At
Author: Laura Langston
Publisher: Razobill Canada
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Indigo
Sixteen-year-old Sloane is given the biggest opportunity of her life—a chance for a film school scholarship—but she has less than two weeks to produce a video. She also has to work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history.

Then comes a horrifying discovery: Sloane finds a bald spot on her head. The pink patch, no bigger than a quarter, shouldn’t be there. Neither should the bald spots that follow. Horror gives way to devastation when Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia areata. The autoimmune disease has no cause, no cure and no definitive outcome. The spots might grow over tomorrow or they might be there for life. She could become completely bald. No one knows.

Determined to produce her video and keep her condition secret, Sloane finds herself turning into the kind of person she has always mocked: someone obsessed with their looks. She’s also forced to confront a painful truth: she is as judgemental as anyone else…but she saves the harshest judgements for herself.

On a personal note...

Before I get to my review of Laura Langston’s The Art of Getting Stared At, the people at Razorbill Canada asked that I share one thing that I wish I could tell my high school self about body and self image. It hasn’t been all that long since I’ve been in high school (I graduated 5 years ago), so I thought this would be pretty easy to do, but it’s not really the case. 

Looking back, I had a pretty good high school experience, but like everyone, I had my insecurities and my concerns with self-image. I was an athlete in high school, I ran track and cross-country from grade 7 all the way until I graduated, so I wasn’t concerned with body image as I was with self image. As cliché has it is, I would tell my teenaged self not to worry so much about what other people think and to just be happy. In middle school, I was the girl who always had her nose in a book and didn’t really have all that many friends. Once I got to high school, I had a good group of friends but I always seemed to end up hanging out with the guys more than the girls. Because of that, I would find myself questioning why I had more in common with guys than with girls. I would worry that I wasn’t being enough of a girl, that there must be something weird going on with my if I didn’t really get along with girls. And what other people would think about the fact that I was always hanging out with guys.

In hindsight, there were better things I could have spent that much time thinking about. But at the time, that felt like such a big concern. So that’s what I would tell my teenaged self, to stop focusing so much on what other people might think about who I hang out with, and instead enjoy the fact that I have the great friends I do have. Those friends turned out to be some of my best friends today, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful. 

And now for the actual review...

When I first heard the premise for Laura Langston’s The Art of Getting Stared At, I was intrigued. It seemed like it had the potential to be a powerful book about our ongoing concerns and insecurities when it comes to self and body image. After reading it, I can safely say that this is a book with a strong message that rings loud and clear.

Sloane has always had one goal: to go to film school. When a video she produced goes viral on YouTube, Sloane gets the opportunity of a lifetime. If she produces another video, in the hopes of getting a film school scholarship. She will do anything to get that scholarship, even if it means working with Isaac Alexander, the boy with who she shares an uneasy history. But just when it seems like her dreams will be coming true, Sloane discovers a bald spot on her head. Soon, Sloane gets diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder causing her to lose all her hair. Though she always prided on not worrying about her looks, Sloane become horrified at the idea of people finding out she is going bald. Determined to hide her condition from everyone at school, does what she has to in order to finish her video and keep her diagnosis a secret. But when everything falls apart, Sloane faces a difficult decision: give up on everything she’s ever hoped for, or accept her fate and finish her video.

When I started reading The Art of Getting Stared At, I knew what the story was about, I just didn’t know exactly how the subject matter would be dealt with. I’ll be honest and say that at first, I thought this story would revolve mostly around Sloane having to deal with being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. But the story ended up being a lot more than that. Sure, a lot of it was focused on Sloane coming to terms with everything that was happening to her. But it was also about how different people deal with their respective setbacks and how society puts so much emphasis on appearances. For that reason alone, The Art of Getting Stared At was a powerful book. It really showed than even when we try not to focus on the way we look just to make a point, it’s still focusing on appearances. Whether we want to or not, no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to get away from appearances. Throughout the book, Laura Langston contrasts the idea of appearance with the idea of beauty and shows that though we often associate one with the other, the two aren’t one and the same. Over the course of the book, that idea is embodied in Sloane and how she deals with her alopecia diagnosis and that’s what made her such an interesting character to read about.

Sloane was a very interesting to read about. In many ways, I was a lot like her when I was in high school. She was someone who prided herself on not worrying about what people thought of what she looked like, but when it came down to it, she was just like everyone else. Once she found out that she was most likely going to lose all her hair, she became focused on what people would think, on what she would look like with all her hair gone. Over the course of the book, it was interesting to see her growth, and how she was slowly coming to terms with her diagnosis. A lot of that came from support in places she didn’t expect it. It really enjoyed seeing her relationship with her Kim, her stepmother, as the two of them figured each other out and realized that there was a lot more to the other than they originally thought. The other person who ended up being really there for Sloane was Isaac and I wish I could have seen more of him, because I feel like there was so much more to him than I got to see. But from what I did get to see, Isaac was just the person that Sloane really needed.

Laura Langston’s The Art of Getting Stared At is the kind of book in which everyone can find something to relate to. But it’s also a book with a fantastic message about body and self image that should be read by everyone, regardless of what they think of appearances.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

K.A. Tucker's One Favorite Moment Event + Giveaway

Today I’m very excited to be participating in the One Favorite Moment event to celebrate K.A. Tucker’s Ten Tiny Breaths series. I have read and loved the four books in this series and they are among some of my all-time favorite reads. This is truly one of the best New Adult series and I couldn’t think of a better way than this event to share my love for it.

To give you a taste of it all, here’s how I fell in love with this wonderful series.

I first read Ten Tiny Breaths, the first book in the series, when I was only just starting to read New Adult titles. I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up this book, and I had no idea just what I was getting myself into. But once I started reading, I absolutely could not stop. This book dragged me in and I didn’t want to ever leave the story. It was engaging, suspenseful and came with characters that quickly wormed their way into my heart. Here’s a bit of my review, to give you an idea:

This was a story that completely broke my heart. Everything the characters had gone through just didn’t seem fair. But at the same time, through everything that happened, there was still a light at the end of all. But what will stay with me are the characters who felt completely real.

What I felt when reading Ten Tiny Breaths, though, was nothing compared to how I felt about One Tiny Lie. My love for the series just kept growing the more I read. Once again the characters got to me, and it wasn’t long before I was falling for Livie and Ashton. As I put it in my review, Ashton and Livie gave me ALL THE FREAKING FEELS. My love for K.A. Tucker and these books has only grown over time. Four Seconds to Lose and Five Ways to Fall have only reinforced that.

This series has more than just fantastic stories, though. It’s the characters that get to me EVERY SINGLE TIME. All the characters I’ve met in this series, no matter how big or small a role they play in the story, have all felt completely real. And the main characters? I love them all and they are among my favourite. Whether it’s Livie, who’s just trying to live up to the promise she made to her dad before he died, or Ben, the arrogant, manwhore bouncer who works at the strip club, these characters all hold a special place in my heart. 

And now I can’t wait to see what K.A. Tucker will do next. Because reading her stories, are some of the best times I have. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the series

Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty year old Kacey and her fifteen year old sister Livie escape Grand Rapids, Michigan to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smouldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.

Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents’ tragic death and Kacey’s self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would…and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a loveable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t wan tin a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fit Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinning about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

I believe you don’t have years, or months, or weeks to impact a person’s life. You have seconds. Seconds to win them over, and seconds to lose them.

Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine-year-old Cain is starting to second-guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with his staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control…and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl, but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her can’t get distracted by romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, and that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.

Sometimes you can’t change—and sometimes you just don’t want to. Discover Ben’s side of the story in this fourth novel by the beloved, top-selling indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths, One Tiny Lie, and Four Seconds to Lose.

Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’ plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumour has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

IN HER WAKE: A Ten Tiny Breaths Novella
Author’s Note: Although it is a prequel, In Her Wake is best read after completing Ten Tiny Breaths.

Before you knew him as Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, he was Cole Reynolds—and he had it all. Until one night when he makes a fatal, wrong decision…and loses everything.

When a drunken night out at a Michigan State college party results in the death of six people, Cole must come to terms with his part in the tragedy. Normally, he’d be able to lean on his best friends—the ones who have been in his life since he could barely walk. Only, they’re gone. Worse, there’s the shattered body of a sixteen-year-old girl lying somewhere in a hospital bed, her entire life ripped from her because of a case of beer and a set of keys.

Everyone assures him that they know it wasn’t intentional, and yet he can’t ignore the weight of their gazes, the whispers behind his back. Nor can he shake the all-consuming guilt he feels every time he thinks of that girl who won’t so much as allow him near her hospital room to apologize. As the months go by and the shame and loneliness festers, Cole begins to lose his grip on what once was important—college, his girlfriend, his future. His life. It’s not until Cole hits rock-bottom that he can begin to see another way out of his personal hell: forgiveness.

And there’s only one person who can give that to him…

About K.A. Tucker
Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Guest Post - The Death of Us by Alice Kuipers

Today, I have the pleasure of having author Alice Kuipers here on the blog to talk about writing from multiple perspectives in her new novel, The Death of Us. So without further ado, here is what Alice had to say.

Today, I’m posting about writing a story from multiple perspectives. The Death of Us is written from the points of view of three main characters — Ivy, Kurt and Callie. The shift from one character to the next starts at the very beginning and follows that pattern throughout the novel. It was really tricky to write and there were times during the process that I wondered what I’d got myself into with this structure. Here are the three things that were most difficult:

1 — I had to make each character sound different and unique. If, at any point, they started to blur in my head, I had to step away front eh book and spend a bit of time with the character I was working on. I used character interviews and tried to think about how the story seemed from that character’s perspective. I could hear the characters in my head clearly if I made time to do this, so that helped, but it wasn’t always easy.

2 — The book also shifts through time and it wasn’t until a later draft that I realized keeping that as simple as possible was going to help me and a reader navigate this story. Now, I hope, it all works well, but moving from Kurt to Callie to Ivy WHILE not following a chronology made for some messy earlier drafts.

3 — Hardest of all was making each character feel like the star of their own story. As a writer, it’s natural to feel closer to one character, and, initially, that character was Callie. But as I redrafted, I started to really see the story from the points of view of Kurt and Ivy and I think that’s when the book finally came into focus.

All this to say, that the writing process was much harder than anything I’ve tried before. Although in my first book, Life on the Refrigerator Door, I shift from Claire to her mother in the notes they write to each other, jumping from two to three characters was infinitely more challenging. And even more fun. Once I got into it, the writing was exciting. I hope readers feel that excitement and natural tension on the page. There’s nothing more thrilling for a writer than the moments when the story begins to take off. All the hard work and character interviews and complications faded, and The Death of Us came to life. So, yes, it was hard work, but it was very satisfying.

If any of you are writers yourselves and you’re trying out multiple points of view, have a look at the character workshops I’ve posted on my website under Classroom. It might seem silly to know that your character loves sushi and doesn’t believe in the death penalty, but actually having all that texture and detail in your mind will make for a richer writing experience.

Thanks, Emilie, for hosting me today as The Death of Us heads out into the big wide world. It’s nerve-wracking and exciting having a new book out and I’m glad to make a stop with you on the blog tour. I really appreciate the support. 

And thank you to Alice Kuipers for taking the time to share insights on writing from multiple points of view. If you missed it earlier this morning, be sure to check out my review of The Death of Us to find out more about my thoughts on this fantastic book.

About the book:
A recovered friendship, a dark secret, and a love triangle with a deadly angle…

Callie is shocked when her friend Ivy reappears after an unexplained three-year absence, but the girls pick up where they left off, and suddenly Callie’s summer is full of parties, boys and fun. Beneath the surface, things aren’t what the seem, however, when a handsome boy with a dark past gets tangled up with Ivy, the girls’ history threatens to destroy their future.

About the author:
Alice Kuipers is the bestselling, award-winning author of three previous novels, Life on the Refrigerator Door, The Worst Thing She Ever Did and 40 Things I Want To Tell You, and the picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best-Ever Bookworm Book. Her work has been published to critical acclaim in twenty-nine countries. She lives in Saskatoon. Find her here: www.alicekuipers.com

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Blog Tour - The Death of Us by Alice Kuipers

Title: The Death of Us
Author: Alice Kuipers
Publisher: HarperTrophy Canada
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Indigo / HarperCollins Canada
A recovered friendship, a dark secret, and a love triangle with a deadly angle…

Callie is shocked when her friend Ivy reappears after an unexplained three-year absence, but the girls pick up where they left off, and suddenly Callie’s summer is full of parties, boys and fun. Beneath the surface, things aren’t what they seem, however, and when a handsome boy with a dark past gets tangled up with Ivy, the girl’s history threatens to destroy their future.

I’m always intrigued by books that have a synopsis that doesn’t reveal much. That’s exactly what Alice Kuipers’ The Death of Us was. Despite it’s short length, this was a powerful novel, one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any contemporary lover out there.

After Ivy’s sudden departure, Callie never thought she would see her friend again. But three years later Callie can’t believe it when Ivy just shows up on her doorstep. It’s like no time has passed since Ivy left. The two fiends go back to things the way they were before everything happened. Before long, Callie finds herself going to parties and hanging out with boys, things she would never feel comfortable doing without Ivy by her side. But things with Ivy aren’t what they seem. There’s a lot more going on, and soon enough Ivy’s past is threatening to take away Callie’s future. 

Before being offered the opportunity to read and review The Death of Us, I hadn’t previously read any of Alice Kuipers’s books. I’ve realized now that was a mistake. If they are anything like The Death of Us was, they are definitely books I need to read. The Death of Us was an absolutely fantastic read, and one that was completely different from what I’ve been reading recently. This was a story that was told from multiple perspectives not just in terms of characters, but also in terms of timelines. The story starts off on one night, but soon after it jumps back in time and features the events of the two weeks leading up to that one night. It was a very interesting way to tell the story and it definitely kept me reading because I wanted to know what had happened that led the characters to where they are at the very start of the story. Which I know sounds like a weird thing to say, but it makes sense when you read the book. The Death of Us was also a very short story, barely over two hundred pages, but it packed a major punch. I don’t want to say too much because doing so would give too much away, but know that this a story that will most definitely surprise you.

It’s difficult to talk about the characters in this book because the whole time I was reading, there was a bit of a mystery surrounding each one of them. That is to say, that it wasn’t until the very end of the story that it became clear exactly what was going on with all of these characters. That didn’t stop me from enjoying reading it all from their perspectives, because I really did. I really enjoyed seeing Callie come into her own and figure out exactly who she was and who she wanted to be. Ivy kept me guessing the whole through the story, I just never knew what she was going to do next or whether she was being honest or not. And Kurt I just kept rooting for. It felt like I only got short glimpses of him, never enough to fully satisfy me. Until I finally got as much as I wanted and it pretty much gutted me. I didn’t know what to think anymore. But getting to read about Kurt the way I did because of it was completely worth it.

Alice Kuipers’s The Death of Us was an absolutely beautiful and powerful story. I enjoyed absolutely every page of this book and I am still trying to process everything that happened, days after I finished reading. If you are a contemporary love, I can’t recommend this story enough.

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