Review: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Book Title: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Author: Susannah Cahalan
Published Date: August 6th, 2013
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Memoir
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
A gripping memoir and medical suspense story about a young New York Post reporter’s struggle with a rare and terrifying disease, opening a new window into the fascinating world of brain science.

One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four year old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter. 

Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. As weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning her to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined her team. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history. 

With sharp reporting drawn from hospital records, scientific research, and interviews with doctors and family, Brain on Fire is a crackling mystery and an unflinching, gripping personal story that marks the debut of an extraordinary writer

Disclaimer: I bought this book for myself.

Review:
I had had my eye on this book even before it came out. It looked interesting and it combined some of my favorite things: medicine and memoirs. So I knew that I had to snatch it up as soon as possible. I was very much hoping that it would live up to all the hype that I had it built up to in my head.
It was amazing. It was raw and gritty which I feel is the mark of a wonderful memoir. The story was so scary and harrowing I couldn’t put it down for very long. There seems to be a real lack of these medical related memoirs which I find is a real shame.The way that the author wrote the book was so unique as very few books do it in this journalistic style.
The way that the illness was chronicled was fascinating. The seizures and paranoia and the violence seemed to come out of nowhere until Susannah was essentially catatonic. The doctors had clearly never seen this before which is what happens when a patient has a “zebra disease” and not a “horse disease” This is not uncommon in hospitals where doctors are trained to look for the obvious diseases (called the horses) and they don’t know about the zebras. So while Susannah’s family got frustrated at the doctors for not knowing what was causing Susannah’s behavior, from my extensive hospital experiences the doctors were ruling out the most obvious things first.
I really liked how the book was divided into three parts. The first part was the beginnings of her illness all the way up to a seizure on the hospital floors. The second part chronicled the desperate attempts to identify what was going on and all the measures that the doctors took in order to get there. Followed by the correct diagnosis and the treatment that followed. The third and final part of this book focused on Susannah’s attempts to assimilate back into her old life all the while reconciling herself to the idea that she’d never be the “old Susannah” again.
I loved how even though her parents had been divorced many years ago,they were able to come together and help Susannah through this. They had two great spouses in Giselle and Alan who were also part of Susannah’s support system. When things of this nature are going on,it is very important to have a support system and I loved that Susannah did have such a great support system. She also had her wonderful boyfriend,Stephen, who stuck by her when so many other men would have turned and ran for the hills.
This book is not one for everyone. Even those who enjoy memoirs because it is pretty heavy on the medical terminology and neuroscience. Things that I am able to follow very well,but not everyone else has the ability or the frame of reference to understand what is being said. Particularly towards the end of the book where the author goes into further explanation about the diagnosis.
I am giving this book 4 stars. Yes I enjoyed it,yes I will probably read it again but I think parts of this could be really hard for someone not in the medical profession to understand. I think it would have helped if the book wasn’t relying so much on the advanced medical lingo.

Top Ten Secondary Characters

Thank you to some blogger buddies of mine who gave me this idea.Jamie, Christina and Gillian, you guys rock. Like I said in my comments to the other posts that covered the same topic,my list will be essentially made up of 2 fandoms (yes I said the word fandom) It will also include a random as well,but as he was on many people’s lists,he’s not that random.

1. Severus Snape- Harry Potter
To this day, Severus Snape remains my absolute favorite character in any book. He was far more complicated than anyone would give him credit for. He carried with him burdens that no one would have ever guessed that he possessed.

2. Remus Lupin- Harry Potter
Remus Lupin remains really the only werewolf character that I have ever liked (yup not a big Jacob Black fan) He was another tortured soul. He dealt with job insecurity, being very poor and not having anyone to love him. He lost many of his friends in the first war against Voldemort. He also remains the best Defense Against the Dark Arts professor that Harry ever had (though Snape came close)
3. Sirius Black- Harry Potter
The one thing Harry really wanted and needed was a parental figure. The Dursleys were certainly not filling that role. However Sirius did. He was Harry’s godfather and he was just as reckless as he had been in school. Yet he did his absolute best to protect Harry while he could.

4. Nymphadora Tonks- Harry Potter
One of my all time favorite female characters. She was everything that female characters should be. Strong, confident and kind. I wish we had seen more of her but I think the end of the sixth book is really my favorite part. That’s when the reason for her strange behavior came to light.

5. Luna Lovegood-Harry Potter
Quirky,smart and loyal. Three words that come to my mind instantly when someone talks about Luna. Yes she was a little strange but she was also a loyal friend and she was unfailingly kind to everyone.
6. Finnick Odair- Catching Fire & Mockingjay (books 2&3 of The Hunger Games series)
There are not enough words to describe how much I love Finnick. He is the main reason that I loved the 2nd installment of The Hunger Games so very much. He ended up being so much more complicated than we ever guessed.

7. Cinna- The Hunger Games & Catching Fire (books 1&2 of The Hunger Games series)
Cinna was one of my favorite characters in the first Hunger Games book. Actually he was my favorite secondary character. He cared about Katniss and although he was essentially a employer of President Snow,his loyalty was clearly with Katniss and all she did to overthrow President Snow.
8. Johanna Mason- Catching Fire & Mockingjay (books 2&3 of The Hunger Games series)
Loved her to death. She was a total badass and honestly I grew to like her more than I did Katniss. Other than Finnick, she was my favorite of the existing previous victors.
9. Annie Cresta- Catching Fire & Mockingjay (books 2&3 of The Hunger Games series)
Oh Annie.She wasn’t really a secondary character but I put her in here anyway. I loved her even though The Games had done a number on her mind. I loved the love story between her and Finnick and how Finnick worked so hard to protect her. She clearly loved Finnick despite how crazy the Games had made her.
10. Kenji- Shatter Me & Unravel Me (books 1&2 of Shatter Me series) 
The one character in here that ISN’T a part of the two fandoms that I fangirl over. Loved Kenji. He totally said everything to Juliette that I was begging someone to. He seemed to have perfect timing for everything. He managed to balance the art of being kind to Juliette while not sugarcoating things for her. If he needed to say something,he would.

Release Day: Crossing Paths by Melanie Stinnett

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Synopsis:

The crossing paths of friendship, family, love, and loss are often complicated. June Deckert and Caroline Smith sparked a friendship in college that carried them through graduation. Although they are complete opposites in every way, they have spent the last four years inseparable. That is, until now. June finds herself falling for a man who seems unattainable. As she works side by side with him on a new media campaign, their feelings for each other come alive. But when his actions start to speak louder than words, she wonders if she’s missing something. Meanwhile, Caroline is fighting against her feelings for a recent acquaintance, and she decides to keep her new love interest a secret from June. Overwhelmed by these new emotions, her moods change swiftly, swinging up and down like a yo-yo. While June and Caroline try to maneuver their way through new relationships, Caroline starts lying to June to protect her from a truth that threatens to break her heart and tear them apart. In the end, Caroline’s deceit will test their friendship, and June will have to decide if her chance at love is worth putting her heart on the line.

Excerpt:

I’m not sure why I did it, but I got up two hours early, took an extra long shower, made sure my hair cooperated, and put on my good makeup. Okay, that’s a lie. I know exactly why I put so much effort into getting ready. Today, I am supposed to see Cohen. Not only am I supposed to see Cohen, but we also have plans to go out to dinner. Once again, I’m unsure about what he wants to discuss, but this time, I’m trying not to make any assumptions. Also on the agenda, I hope to not injure him or myself while we’re spending time together. 

I walk into the office with my chin up and a big smile on my face. If he is already here, I want to look like I’ve been fine. I sure as hell don’t want him thinking that I’ve been moping around and pining away for him since last Friday morning. Making my way through the maze of cubicles toward my office, I see no sign of him. I let out a sigh as I step through my door. I place my workbag next to the desk, and I turn to glance at the clock. Something moves in my peripheral vision. It scares me enough to make me jump back, causing me to fall into my large potted plant-tree-thing in the corner. To avoid hitting the ground, I sit cockeyed in the pot. My face is covered in limbs and large green leaves. Peeking through the human-eating plant, I can see Cohen sitting on the comfortable sofa with one hand held over his mouth. I don’t hear any sounds, but from the looks of it, he’s laughing. For some reason, my usual standoffish self takes a holiday. I launch myself up from my seat in the pot holding the plant, and I take brisk steps toward him. 

“What are you doing in my office? Do you enjoy scaring the crap out of women and causing near catastrophes? Or is it just when you see me?”
 His eyes grow wide, and those sexy wrinkles beside his eyes fade. Thank God. I don’t think I could hold on to my angry attitude if he kept smiling. 
“Mr. Hargrove wanted me to tell you that we’ll be meeting in the conference room at eight thirty. I have to leave by the end of the week, so we need to get started on the rest of our project. I came to tell you, but you weren’t here yet, so I made myself comfortable. I’m sorry if I scared you.” 
“Right. Okay. Well, you can go now. I’ll see you at the meeting,” I say, turning toward my desk. 

With my shoulders back and head held high, I walk over to my desk chair and sit. Looking back at Cohen, I give him the meanest stare I can muster.
“See you there.” He stands to leave, but then hesitates as if he wants to say something else. His mouth is open, but then he bites down on his bottom lip, holding back. 
“Did you need something else?” 
“Actually, I was just going to tell you that unless you enjoy the feel of sitting on bark, you should probably find a mirror and wipe off your skirt.” 
You have got to be kidding me! He walks out of the office with the wrinkles by his eyes reappearing.

Author Bio:

Melanie_Stinnett_author_photo

I have enjoyed reading and writing since I was very young. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are of spending time with my mom or grandma reading a good book. Over the years, it never crossed my mind that writing my own novel would be an attainable goal. After reading several independently published novels by Jamie McGuire, Colleen Hoover and others, I decided I needed to give that dream a chance.

When I’m not reading and writing, I enjoy spending time with my three favorite guys: my husband and my two little boys.

Review: Emma’s Secret: A Novel by Steena Holmes

Book Title: Emma’s Secret
Author: Steena Holmes
Publish Date: June 25th, 2013
Published By: Amazon Publishing
Genre: Family/Mystery
Series: Book 2 in the Emma series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
For two years, Megan, Peter, and their two older daughters, Alexis and Hannah, dream of nothing but being reunited with the family’s youngest child, Emma, who was kidnapped just before her third birthday. When Emma is miraculously found living with an elderly couple just miles from the family’s home, they are hopeful that her return will heal the wounds her disappearance created.

But Emma is vastly different from the sunny toddler they remember. She barely remembers her parents or her older sisters. She is quiet and withdrawn, and, worst of all, longs for the very people who kidnapped her.

Megan is consumed with bitterness, while Peter works later and later nights in the company of his gorgeous business partner. And in the middle of everything, Megan’s best friend has become suddenly distant and secretive.

Then a chance encounter in town leads to a secret that changes everything again for Emma. And Peter must decide between the happiness of his youngest daughter and the trust of his family.

Disclaimer: I received this e-book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Have you ever had that period of time where no book can hold your interest no matter how hard you try? Ever felt like you are forcing yourself to read something that you just aren’t feeling right then? Well,that’s what they call a “reading slump” Yup, no matter how much you want to read this book or that book,for some reason you just can’t. 

That’s what’s been going on with me the past week. I am even behind in writing & scheduling blogs because I haven’t done much reading. So when I scrolled through my Kindle, I landed on this book. It had looked interesting but I hadn’t read it yet.

Boy am I glad that I settled on this book. It was a great book with family as the center of it. Very few books that center around family weave other people into it well. First let me get this out. Megan drove me bananas. I understand the desire of keeping your child safe,especially since she had been away from you for 2 years. But I do think Megan took it to an unhealthy level. She wouldn’t do girls nights with her friends,preferring to stay with Emma. Yes I understand the need to be near your child who had just been returned to you,but like I said, Megan went overboard.

I felt horrible for Alexis and Hannah. They wanted their mom’s attention too but Megan was too busy catering to Emma’s needs to even notice her older daughters. I cannot blame Peter for the way he reacted either. Megan was hell bent on hating anyone who had anything to do with Emma’s disappearance. Megan’s friend Laurie was far more patient than I would have ever been. It was clear to me that Megan blamed herself and she was going to bend over backwards to make sure Emma was always safe.

What Peter did was nervy of him. I certainly wouldn’t have done it. I probably would have handled Jack in a combination of the way that Megan handled the situation and and the way that Peter handled the situation.

My heart ached for Emma though. She had spent 2 years with an elderly couple.She had bonded with them and suddenly she was thrust back into arms of parents she didn’t really remember and sisters that she didn’t remember. Her mom was pushing her to forget “Grandma and Papa” but Emma was clearly very attached to the older couple who had kidnapped her. Again I think Megan tried to rush things. I kept screaming at my Kindle for Megan to stop rushing Emma.

When kids are returned to their parents after a long absence such as being kidnapped,it’s not going to instantly go back to the way it was before the absence. I think Peter had a much more realistic view of the situation. Megan had significant tunnel vision.

All in all this book was an enjoyable read. I laughed and cried throughout it. It was also a very quick read,which made me super happy. There were a few issues with the formatting,that bugged me and all but Megan were enjoyable characters that had strengths and weaknesses. I toyed with giving this book 3.5 stars because I don’t think I’ll re-read it again but the character development of Emma was wonderful to watch. So I’m giving it 4 stars.

Review: OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

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Book Title: OCD Love Story
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publish Date: July 23rd, 2013
Published By: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a Summer Giveaway from Reading Teen.

Review:
As soon as I saw the synopsis for this book, I knew I had to have it. So I entered the giveaway and hoped that if I won,this book would still be available. And it was! I may or may not have jumped up and down like a crazy person.

I was excited to read this for the simple reason that I am OCD,but my OCD-ness is much milder than those depicted in this book. I was hoping that this book would do the tough subject justice as OCD is a very hard thing to deal with. To my pleasant surprise, OCD was handled very well and accurately throughout this book. It showed that OCD can manifest itself into different levels. It’s not just constant hand-washing. It’s far more than that.I was also worried that it would gloss over some of the unpleasantness of OCD and just pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. 

Again I was pleasantly surprised. The author handled it with candor and honesty. No sugarcoating here. She did an excellent job of getting to the nitty gritty about this stuff. While making sure that the portrayal of OCD was accurate,she also created likable characters. Despite not being as severely affected as Bea, I saw so much of myself in Bea. I didn’t take it to the level that she did,but my compulsions are very similar.

At times I found myself frustrated with Bea’s friend Lisha. I know it’s not easy to watch a friend deal with OCD,but she didn’t seem to realize that Bea didn’t want to have OCD. She wanted to be normal. Lisha seemed to be embarrassed by her towards the end. I kept yelling at the book (well technically at Lisha) that Bea needed support. She didn’t need her only female friend to be,excuse my french, a total bitch. I really wished that Lisha tried to understand OCD a bit better. She needed to be aware that Bea didn’t want to have to do all these things. She didn’t want to be essentially controlled by her compulsions.

Oh Beck, how awesome he was. Despite his OCD-ness, I really liked him and I think he really liked Bea as well. I think at times he grew frustrated with Bea’s apparent refusal to work on the compulsions. But I also think that Bea worried about Beck’s various compulsions.

I liked the other characters in the group as well. Watching the progress they made in therapy was wonderful. I think reading this book could definitely silence those who don’t put much stock into therapy. I liked Dr. Pat too. There were times, albeit, only a few times that I really wondered if she was really helping these teens or if they were helping themselves and each other.

Austin and Sylvia,the objects of Bea’s obsession were quirky. I am still not sure how I felt about them. Yes they were kind to Bea which was a good thing. Towards the end,they really started to drive me crazy.

Overall, I really, really loved this book. It was full of likable characters and I identified so much with the main female character. It’s not going to be a book for everyone because it’s definitely not a light and fluffy read. It’s raw and gritty and above all, it’s real. Five stars to this relatable book and wonderfully real characters.

Stacking the Shelves #8

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This weekly feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. Head over there and link up your Stacking the Shelves posts. Everything was kind of all over the place this week. A sloooow mail week BUT on the plus side I won a book that I have been dying for (review will be posted tomorrow.) I got some great books on Friday,one of which has been on my TBR for a long time. The other one just looked REALLY good, so I had to snatch it up.
Bought
Sister by Rosamund Lupton (paperback)
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (paperback)


Received for Review
One More Dance by Valentine Cardinale (hard copy from author) 
Six Months Later by Natalie Richards (e-galley from Netgalley)

Gifts
Won
OCD Love Story by Cory Ann Haydu (Thank you Reading Teen)
Fractured (Book 2 in Slated trilogy) by Teri Terry (Thank you Cuddlebuggery)

So let me know if you’ve heard of or have read any of these and if you have,let me know what you thought. As always, please leave a link to your STS post so I can stop by and see the goodies that you got this week.

Review: A Life, Redefined by Tracy Hewitt Meyer

Book Title: A Life, Redefined
Author: Tracy Hewitt Meyer
Publish Date: June 21st, 2013
Published By: Cerulean Publishing
Genre: YA
Series: Book One in the Rowan Slone Novels)
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Seven years ago, an innocent act by Rowan Slone turned her life into a nightmare. Since the age of ten she’s lived with the burden of her baby brother’s death. Now she is seventeen and all she wants to do is graduate high school, go to college, and escape the loveless family she has endured all these years—the same family that holds her responsible for his death. But no one holds her responsible more than herself.
When long-time crush Mike Anderson invites her to the Prom, suddenly her future looks brighter. Rowan’s younger sister, Trina, however, is determined to ruin her new-found happiness, no matter the cost. And when Rowan discovers her mother’s long-held secret, she finds herself teetering on the edge of an abyss. Can Rowan find the strength to move toward the future or is she doomed to dwell in the past?

Disclaimer: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Review:
I entered the Goodreads giveaway on a whim and was stoked when I found out that I had won. It was staring at me from my desk earlier so I looked at the page number and I guessed that I could finish it pretty quickly. I was right. It was a riveting, page turner that dealt with so many tough issues. Usually when a book tackles so many tough issues,the book ends up being subpar. Not this book.This book handled such tough issues as teenage pregnancy,rape,infanticide and depression, among other issues, well.
Rowan has been living with guilt for ten years. The book says that she is the one that punishes herself the hardest but I disagree. It was her father who punished her the hardest.She,along with her sister Trina and her mother are subjected to her father’s abuse constantly. It is no secret that things would be different if her baby brother had lived. 
Not only does her father abuse Rowan and Trina,he also emotionally abuses their mother. I got frustrated with their mother. She was so far deep in her depression that whenever her daughters were abused,she only put up a half-hearted effort to protect them.Not only that but Rowan’s mother carries with her a secret that will turn everything on its head. I cannot say that the twist was entirely unexpected but I was a bit shocked. 
Mike Anderson and Jess were good characters too. I wish we had seen just a pinch more of Jess but I did like her from what I did see. Mike had everything that Rowan didn’t have and I think that’s part of what drew Rowan to him in the first place.
This book is getting 4 stars from me. I really enjoyed it but it felt like some parts were just a teeny bit rushed.I think making the book longer would definitely have fixed the issue of certain rushed parts. If you are up for a quick page turner,give this one a try. I both cried and laughed during this book and to me,that’s the mark of an amazing book.

What I Hate About Book Blogging

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Okay so this feature used to have a name but I am no longer liking the name. So this weekly thing will just be a typical discussion post with the title of the discussion being the title of the post. The day it will be posted will stay the same so no one has to feel confused.

I sometimes struggle with coming up with a discussion post. It’s usually something that has been done to death or it’s something stupid. Thank you to Jenni of Alluring Reads who helped me with this decision. Several days ago she posted about what she hated about blogging. I thought it was a great topic because so few people realize and admit that, yes, there is a dark side to book blogging.

Number one is the pressure. I never in a million years expected to feel any kind of pressure when I first started this thing four months ago. I was simply looking for something fun that would combine my love of reading with my love of writing.Plus having a few friends that were already into this,definitely helped.

As a newbie book blogger I was surprised when people casually mentioned the pressure they were under. It wasn’t until I started to get emails from authors/publishers and discovered Netgalley. I swear Netgalley is the devil.  I realized how pressure inducing it was. Several times I have had to put myself on a Netgalley ban and a ban on accepting emailed requests.I never in a million years expected to be receiving requests on a regular basis. I was under the impression that only semi-seasoned and seasoned book bloggers (those who have been doing it at least six months) would be getting these emails.

Before I knew it, I had 8 hard copy books and around 12 Kindle books. I have never felt that kind of pressure before. Thankfully, right about that time our internet went out for a week and I was able to finish 11 books. A month later things are building up again and I’m drowning in a sea of books. The pressure is rough but thankfully I have surrounded myself with people who get it. Other book bloggers who totally get what I am feeling.

Now that I am following so many blogs via multiple different ways, a new sort of pressure is rising. Comment, comment, comment. My brain screams that at very inopportune moments and I have to beg my brain to shut the hell up. People have told me that the only way I’ll get more blog followers is to comment like crazy on other blogs. Then I just have to ignore them because just because I am not in school right now, doesn’t mean I have all the time in the world to comment like a crazy lady.

Writing reviews, I don’t think I am the only one who struggles the most with the books they loved. I literally spend 3-4 paragraphs gushing over a book if I loved it. If I didn’t like it, I am able to be so much more critical and those are the reviews that can, on a good day reach 7 paragraphs. Yes lengthy but overall I do write fairly long reviews.

The hard part about writing negative reviews is letting the author or publisher know that you didn’t enjoy the book and sending them a link to your review.If you’re like me, you feel terrible about doing that even if you know that it’s the right thing to do. Even if you make absolutely sure that you did not attack the author in any way,it’s still hard to let the authors and publishers know that in your opinion, the book was not good.

So what things do you hate about book blogging? Let me know in the comments.

Review: Catching Liam (Good Girls Don’t Book 1) by Sophia Bleu

Book: Catching Liam (Good Girls Don’t) Book 1
Author: Sophia Bleu
Publish Date: July 8th, 2013
Published By: Sophia Bleu Books
Genre: NA/Romance
Series: Book One in the Good Girls Don’t series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

Synopsis:
 Twenty-one year-old Jillian Nichols only has one rule when it comes to boys: catch and release. Boy-catching isn’t just a game for Jillian and her friends, it’s a lifestyle. After all, boys might be good for a dance or a drink and certainly a little under-cover action of the scandalous variety, but expect much else and you’re bound for heart ache.


So when her best friends and fellow boy catchers start dropping like flies junior year, Jillian is determined to keep boys in her bedroom and out of her heart. Until she meets Liam McAvoy, the kind of guy that sticks around to make waffles and who can’t—or perhaps won’t—take a hint. 

Study abroad student Liam doesn’t want to be another notch on Jillian’s bedpost. Actually he has much more interesting ideas for Jillian and her bedposts, but his student visa’s set expiration date means he can’t promise her forever. That doesn’t mean he’s going to walk away from the challenge of discovering why Jillian is hell-bent at keeping people at a distance. 

Before long, neither is sure who is catching who—or if they’re playing for keeps. Jillian knows one thing though: falling in love will not only break the only rule of boy-catching, it could also break her heart.


Disclaimer: I bought this book off of Amazon.

Review:
I had no idea what to expect from this book. I had heard that it was a good read and that Liam was swoon-worthy but never in a million years did I expect this book to resonate with me so completely. I loved Jillian for many reasons but the thing that most resonated with me were her medical issues and how she approached life because of it. 

Her system of “catch and release” made sense to me. I don’t think it’s the healthiest approach but as someone who has her own serious health issues I totally understand her not wanting to get emotionally close to any guy. She didn’t want to become attached to the guy only to have him leave when he learned of her condition. She didn’t think anyone would want to be with her if they knew of her diagnosis.

I understood that because I have felt the exact same way.I didn’t want a guy to feel obligated to stay with me just because I have health problems. I don’t want pity and that’s I’m sure,why Jillian didn’t share things with Liam for a very long time. When you have a serious illness you don’t want to be pitied. You want to be accepted and loved. Which is a Catch-22 if you don’t allow anyone to get close to you.

Which brings me to Liam. Holy hotness on a cracker. It’s one thing to have a guy who’s attractive or a guy that’s a sweetheart. It’s entirely different to have those things be in the same guy plus a million other amazing qualities.He cared for her in a way that Jillian never expected. 

Allowing herself to fall for Liam was an amazing thing to watch. Liam wormed his way into her heart and he made her happy. He did sort of coddle her towards the end of it but given what had happened, I couldn’t blame him. Oh and I have never had a craving for waffles as bad as I did every time I read this book.He was exactly what Jillian didn’t realize she needed.

Jillian’s friends were great. I wish we had seen more of Cassie but from what we did see of her, I liked. I absolutely adored Jessica. What an amazing young lady and friend she was to Jillian through the entire book. She kept an eye on her,she knew what to do if things went south(which they seemed to do whenever Jillian’s mother was around)

“Do you really think that boy would stick around if he knew you were going to be dependent on him someday.” Tara

This quote stuck with me for several reasons. Jillian’s mother, Tara hit on a big fear of Jillian’s that she hadn’t publicly acknowledged yet. She was terrified of what would happen between Liam and herself if she told him of her diagnosis. She was also being told,indirectly of course, that she wasn’t good enough to stick around for.

I know most people will say that Jillian’s mother was a real piece of work and yes she was BUT I saw her as very similar to my grandmother in the way that she tried to micromanage everything about her adult daughter’s life. So I could definitely relate to this as my grandmother has on multiple times tried to micromanage things and I’m 27 years old.

The end was amazing. Watching Jillian realize that, yes she was deserving of love, was amazing and I sobbed pretty much all the way through the last 5-7% of the book. Watching her realize that she wasn’t broken and that her disease was only a small part of her. I have always maintained that my health issues are only a small part of me but watching that click in Jillian’s head was amazing.

This book was absolutely incredible and I am so looking forward to reading the next book in the series. This book gets a resounding 5 stars from me for how much I related to it,the wonderful characters and the mix of both a tough subject and romance.

Review: Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend

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Book: Poor Little Dead Girls
Author: Lizzie Friend
Publish Date: December 18th, 2013
Published By: Merit Press
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Link: Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Is it a game? Or is it murder?

The first time she’s blindfolded and “kidnapped,” Sadie, a brand-new star athlete at a posh boarding school, is terrified. Luckily, it’s all a prank designed to induct her into a powerful secret society that her mom belonged to at Keating Hall. The circle has it all – incredible connections; fabulous parties; and, of course, an in with the brother society’s gorgeous pledges. The instant popularity is enough to make Sadie forget about the little marks on her arm, creepy black robes, and an unfortunate incident that befell a girl on the team years ago. So the next time Sadie is gagged and kidnapped, she’s only slightly annoyed – even though she should be extremely terrified of what’s to come.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Initially when I first started reading this the word pretentious was hanging around in my head. However pretty quickly I got sucked into this world that reminded me a lot of a darker version of Dead Poets Society, a 1989 movie that I love so much.All the mystery and intrigue in this book kept me guessing until the very end.Now that is the very thing that I look for in a mystery book.

Sadie has lived with only her father since her mother’s suicide.All this time she has believed her father’s stories and explanations about her mother and her illness. After only a few months at Keating,everything she has been told turns on its head.She is forced to figure out the truth. What really happened to her mother? Did the secret society that lives in the underbelly of both Keating and its brother school Graff, have something to do with May Marlowe’s death?  And what does the mysterious Anna who was the most recent casualty of Keating, have to do with all of this.

I really loved Sadie. She was not like the other girls of Keating.She was an esteemed lacrosse player and unlike the majority of the Keating girls, she was anything but rich. I am sure that’s what attracted her to the secret society initially. The secret society allowed her to appear rich when the opposite was actually true.It also allowed her to feel as though she belonged somewhere which was important to her as she was initially feeling like she didn’t belong at Keating.

I knew there was something up with Thayer almost immediately.I knew that she was probably involved in this group and in the initiation ceremonies as well. Her “boyfriend” Finn was an asshole as was his father Teddy. It wasn’t until the end that we realize exactly how important these two characters actually were.

“Try that again and all you’ll be seeing is the tip of my kneecap in your Cranston family jewels.” -Sadie

Finn was quite handsy with every single girl he seemed to encounter. On multiple occasions he attempted to “get with Sadie” but Sadie never fell for it. I felt horrible for Thayer. She was stuck on this guy who clearly didn’t respect her or any other woman.Near the end,I began to realize that Finn’s reactions and behavior was a facade for what he was really going through.

I loved Jessica so much from the very beginning.I had a feeling that she was one of the good ones and I was so glad that she stuck by Sadie through it all. As for the twins, I knew that there was more to them than met the eye. I had thought for the longest time that they were a part of this secret society and it wasn’t until the end that I got my answer.

Brett and Olivia were two other characters that were moderately important to the storyline. Brett more so than Olivia. I actually wished we had gotten to see more of Olivia than we did.

I adored Jeremy,he was a good guy,who like Sadie, got caught up in all this secret society stuff. When he realized the dangers of it,instead of simply continuing with it with no regard for Sadie or himself,he banded with Sadie to stop the craziness.
Something that Jessica said during the second half of the book really stuck with me.

“Trust me,the more you get to know these people,the more you realize that they’re really not untouchable at all. They’re just as screwed up as the rest of us-they just have better costumes to wear” -Jessica

This book was awesome. It was a struggle to put it down at night as I always wanted to find out what happened next.The pacing was great,the editing and grammar could use a little work but the book itself does not come out until December so many of the capitalization and punctuation issues will be fixed I’m sure.It was creepy and thrilling and so many questions were not answered until the very end of the book which I really liked.

So this book is getting 5 stars from me. If you like YA thriller type books,then you definitely need to give this book a try. With that, I will leave you with one final quote from the book.

“Don’t let them take you into the basement.”