SST: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

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TLTSTW
Goodreads

Synopsis (GR):
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Review
Guys, if this book is ANY indication of how awesome 2016 releases are gonna be, it’s going to be a GREAT year for books. Not so much for my wallet though.

Now the synopsis hints at something being “off” but I had no idea that it was a time travel book until I started reading. Come to think of it, I don’t think I even really read the synopsis before I started reading. I was thrilled that it was a time travel book because time travel is one of the most fascinating things to me in the world.

Natalie was instantly likeable to me and that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it takes me awhile to warm up to the main character. But not this time. I also really liked Grandmother, I found her to be fascinating and when Natalie would recount her stories, I found myself excited to keep reading. Normally having a character recount someone else’s stories would bore me, but not this time. Not with Natalie and Grandmother.

I loved that Natalie was adopted and that she was Native American. We don’t get a lot of Native American representation in YA, so this was really awesome to see. YAY for diversity! We definitely need more Native American representation in YA.

I was also worried that this book would focus “too much” on the romance aspect and that would ruin the book for me. I’m not one for the fluffy stuff. Yes this book had a lot of romance in it, but the time travel aspect of it made it much better. It was more compelling and I found myself excited to read and that’s a feeling I haven’t had lately.

I did like the romance between Natalie & Beau, but I didn’t love it. I know several people who mentioned the romance seemed a little insta-lovey. I didn’t see that, but I also felt like Beau’s development wasn’t as strong as it could have been. There were times that he seemed a bit bland to me. He was infinitely better than Natalie’s ex, Matt.

Matt was a piece of crap. Not only did he get physically rough with Natalie, but he also attempted to rape her. We later find out that he has issues, but that’s no excuse for the abhorrent way he treated Natalie.

Alice Chan was one of the side characters who was attempting to help Natalie figure everything out. I loved Alice. She was very fascinating and I found myself hanging on to her every word as she worked to uncover the reason behind Grandmother’s appearances and the reason behind Natalie slipping through time.

The writing was utterly gorgeous and I think that was one of the reasons I fell head over heels for this book.The writing helped pull me into the world that Henry created. The writing  actually made me want to STAY in this world. Well that and the cover. The cover is unique, eye catching and all around perfection. Whoever designed this cover is a freaking GENIUS.

Highly recommend this book. Pre-order it now.

About the Author:
Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

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Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

FIRSTS

Book Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published Date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Griffin via NetGalley.

Review
I think I underestimated the book and it’s importance. Because it is such an important book. It tackles friendships, sexuality and the infuriating truth that are double standards.

Mercedes is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s totally fine. People aren’t going to be okay with the fact that she basically helped these guys cheat on their girlfriends. As someone who has experience with cheating boyfriends, it took me a little while to get my head wrapped around Mercedes’ idea. It was a little uncomfortable to me for awhile, but I pushed through the discomfort because I was so insanely excited for this book.

I was really excited to see strong female friendships, not so much with Mercedes & her friend Angela, but with Mercedes and the new girl, Faye. I actually took to Faye immediately and even though I could tell Mercedes really didn’t want to let anyone else into her life, I was hoping she’d let Faye in. What I wasn’t expecting was the Mercedes/Faye flirtation throughout the book, but oh my god, did I love that.

Tonight was weird. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. This could very well be what regular teenagers do every day. But something was weird. I felt wanted.

What this book also did was explore the rage-inducing double standards that teen girls still experience today. Boys are applauded for having sex, girls are criticized for having sex. Boys are studs and girls are sluts. How does that make any sense? It’s no longer the 1950’s. Big surprise, even girls like sex.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about Angela’s boyfriend Charlie. Alarm bells related to him didn’t go off for a long time. But when they did, they rang like the church bells in The Sound of Music. I started getting a knot in my stomach around 70% through the book, and the knot did not go away through the rest of the book.

I’m torn on the romance aspect. On one hand, I really liked Zach and I loved how good he was to Mercedes. She really needed that. At the same time, I almost feel like the thing with Zach weakened the book for me. Like they were better friends than a couple. I think I’m the only one to feel like this though.

Yes, Mercedes had character flaws, but I think that’s what made me adore her even more. She was flawed, and awesome and I saw quite a bit of myself in her, and that surprised me. I didn’t expect to relate to her, but I did.

“…Nothing you do will make him leave, no matter how many times you push him away. And you’ll never have to be afraid of him.”

This book is so important to all teenagers, both boys and girls. I totally recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike. Give it a shot, it may surprise you like it surprised me.

Review: Queen (The Blackcoat Rebellion #3) by Aimee Carter

THEQUEEN
Book Title: Queen
Author: Aimee Carter
Published Date: November 24th, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Book 3 in The Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy
(Pawn & Captive)
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
PAWN…CAPTIVE…QUEEN?

Kitty Doe is a Blackcoat rebel and a former captive with a deadly connection to the most powerful and dangerous man in the country, Prime Minister Daxton Hart. Forced to masquerade as Daxton’s niece, Lila Hart, Kitty has helped the Blackcoats take back the prison known as Elsewhere. But Daxton has no intention of ceding his position of privilege—or letting Kitty expose his own masquerade. Not in these United States, where each person’s rank means the difference between luxury and poverty, freedom and fear…and ultimately, between life and death.

To defeat the corrupt government, Kitty must expose Daxton’s secret. Securing evidence will put others in jeopardy, including the boy she’s loved forever and an ally she barely trusts. For months, Kitty’s survival has hinged on playing a part. Now she must discover who she truly wants to be, and whether the new world she and the rebels are striving to create has a place in it for her after all.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review
I’ve been eagerly anticipating the final book in this series and I am so glad I finally got to read it. The anticipation was absolutely killing me. So when my copy became available at the library I promised myself I’d start it the minute I picked it up.

This book was an awesome ending to the series. I loved the series overall, and although the 2nd book, Captive, is still my favorite of the three, Queen had a whole heck of a lot of awesome inside of it. A whole lot of craziness and even an eleventh hour ship change, which thrilled me for reasons.

Kitty took a lot of risks in this final book, but they were risks that paid off for the most part. They were risks that had me breathless as I kept reading to find out the outcomes of certain things.

I don’t know who was more of the breakout star in this book: Greyson or Celia. They were both captivating and I could never figure out what their next plans were.  I had always liked Greyson so I was happy to see more of him. Celia had always interested me. I had always wanted to know more about her and what made her tick.

I want to talk more about other characters, especially Knox & Benjy, but I won’t. I don’t want to accidentally let something slip about their character arcs. I still love Knox and I grew to dislike Benjy in this book. That’s all I’ll really say.

I am so sorry to say goodbye to these characters, but I am so glad that I got to read this series. It was captivating, exciting and fascinating. I am giving it 4.5 stars. It was so freaking awesome and I would totally recommend this series to everyone who likes dystopian books.

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Book Title: What You Left Behind
Author: Jessica Verdi
Published Date: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author.

 Review:
I legitimately don’t know how Jessica Verdi does it. She creates compelling stories with interesting characters. Tosses in a lot of feelsy moments and voila, she’s got a story that I will fall in love with. What You Left Behind was definitely different than her previous books, but it followed her formula to a T.
 
Interesting plot. Check
Captivating characters. Check
Tons of feels. Check
 
It took me a bit of time to warm up to Ryden to be totally honest. He seemed to be struggling with everything and trying to do it all. He didn’t want his life to change at all and he relied heavily on his mom to care for Hope, his baby. I know it’s probably tough to assume so much responsibility so quickly, but his actions at the beginning of the book were a bit maddening. 
 
He was baffled that his daughter seemed to hate him, but babies at her age form attachments to the people who care for them the most. In this case, that was Ryden’s mom. Ryden is still in school, playing soccer and working. It doesn’t feel like his schedule was really changed at all and to be honest, he seemed selfish at times. It was probably his age, but it was definitely something that I noticed. 
 
Finally things started to change, Ryden had to make some decisions about Hope and his mom couldn’t make the decisions because she was not the baby’s next of kin.
 
Most of the reviews will probably focus on Ryden’s growing romance with Joni, and I will talk about her later, but right now I want to talk about Ryden’s relationship with his mother. We don’t usually get to see mother/son relationships in YA. In fact, I think this book may be the first one I’ve read with such a positive mother/son relationship. In fact, I think it was my favorite part of this book. She was just so supportive and kind to her son and to her granddaughter.
 
I really liked Joni. She was quirky, fun and she had a healthy self respect for herself. She was good for Ryden. I was excited for them to get together, and I rooted for them. They made sense as a couple. I wish we had seen more of Joni because I feel like we didn’t get to know as much about her as I would have liked.
 
The journals told a story. A story that we learned about right alongside Ryden. It showed that this whole situation was not as black and white as we all initially thought. I am a very black & white thinker, so this made me do a lot of thinking. I  didn’t love Meg, but her journals helped me understand certain things that she did.
 
Jessica Verdi had already earned herself on my auto-read & auto-buy author lists, and this one was certainly no exception. I really enjoyed this book and will be giving it 4.5 stars. I do recommend this book because not only was it unique, but it also had some diverse and interesting characters.

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Book Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Published Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway.

Review:
Legitimate question: How does Kasie West do this?

I mean, this is her 3rd contemporary novel and she just has this ability to create swoony boys and put them together with imperfect girls. God, her formula is awesome. The Distance Between Us is still my favorite Kasie West contemporary, but The Fill-In Boyfriend is fighting for 2nd place alongside On The Fence.

We meet Gia just as she’s getting dumped on prom night by her boyfriend, Bradley. That was rough to read. High school can be a cruel place, especially if you attend a promo solo. For Gia, the idea of attending prom on her own is not something she wants to face. Not when Jules, her frenemy, has doubted the existence of Bradley since the beginning. The last thing Gia wants is to be seen as a liar.

On a whim, she asks a guy who just dropped his sister off, to be her date to prom. She wants him to pretend to be Bradley, and after a little bit of bantering, he agrees. The night ends a little rocky, and Gia doubts that she’ll ever see Fill-In Bradley again.

Until it’s revealed that she’s been sitting behind his sister in one of her classes all year.

Now it’s time for Fill-In Bradley to pass Gia off as his girlfriend at a party that his ex will be at. Fill-In Bradley is clearly still in love with his ex, and is willing to do whatever he has to do in order to get her to come back to him. His sister is all for this plan although she intensely dislikes her brother’s ex.

More craziness ensues at the party, but my favorite part was seeing the sparks increase between Fill-In Bradley and Gia. I could feel the chemistry between them, I felt like I could root for them as a couple. That, right there is an awesome feeling. 

I loved the romance between Gia & Fill-In Bradley. It worked for me because there were things that balanced each of them out. When things went sour between Fill-In Bradley and his ex, his self-esteem took a nosedive. Gia helped his confidence. Gia started off the book a bit uptight and rigid, but Fill-In Bradley helped relax her.

I loved Gia’s character arc. At the beginning of the book she is so obsessed with doing everything perfect, being friends with the right people, never showing her true emotions, but as the book unfolds, Gia starts to crack, she starts becoming more flawed, she starts expressing her true emotions, especially around her family.

On the surface, her family seems normal, loving and supportive of each other, but as the book continues on, we realize that Gia doesn’t really share anything with her parents, and her mom especially, keeps her emotions bottled up, just like Gia does. I did love her dad though. Her dad was awesome and protective.

“I hate boys.”
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No, well, he just hurt my heart.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”

This book explored the complexities of sibling relationships as well. I spent most of the book detesting the hell out of Gia’s brother Drew. He just seemed like such a jackass and most of the time, the things he would say would enrage me. Things between Drew & Gia were complicated, but I liked how it ended.

Friendships in your teen years are difficult as well. For Gia, her friendships with Claire, Laney and Jules were difficult. I truly think that Jules was awful, but that she was also the Alpha. Claire & Laney were the Betas. I also feel like Gia was never her true self around these girls. Like she had to behave a certain way for these girls to even tolerate her. The exploration of teenage friendships was truly great.

I really enjoyed this book, and it was everything I’ve come to expect from a Kasie West book. I am giving this book 4.5 stars. I’m not actually sure why I cannot give it the full 5 stars, but I definitely recommend it very highly for contemporary lovers.

“We’re not perfect and we don’t have to be.”

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

1
Book Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published Date: March 9th, 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review:
To be honest, I don’t know if I am going to be able to keep this review in any kind of order. This book was indescribable in the best way possible. I had already DNFed it once before, but on the advice of Bekka, a blogger and one of my favorite people, I decided to give it another chance to dazzle me.

And it did dazzle me.

Normally I am not very patient, so the idea that I had to read 125+ pages before I really got into it, initially turned me off. I mean that’s a long time to read something before it gets really good. A lot of people don’t want to wait that long and I totally understand that. But with Jellicoe Road, it is so worth it.

There were two major storylines that were going on and then there were several other subplots. I was never sure how it would all play out, but I’m thrilled how it actually played out. I was a bit confused by the storylines and the subplots at first, but I finally was able to sort them out in my head. The secondary characters were every bit as fascinating as the main characters. Very rarely does that happen, so I was excited to see this.

JONAH GRIGGS! I think I fell in love with this guy quicker than I’ve ever fallen in love with any other book boy. He was hilariously funny one minute, and then sweet and kind to Taylor in the next minute. He wasn’t perfect of course, but he was pretty damn awesome. I now understand why everyone was always telling me about this guy.

I want to keep talking and talking about this book, but I have to be careful as so much of it could be considered spoilery. Make sure you have buckets of tissues for the ending because you will use them a lot in the final 50 or so pages. I wish I could give it the full 5 stars, but since it took so long to really get into it, I’ll be giving it 4.5 stars.  I recommend this book to everyone.

Review: The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows

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Book Title: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Book One in The Orphan Queen duology
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from a fellow blogger.

Review:
My number one goal this year is to read more YA Fantasy novels. I’ve read a few already this year, and was excited to read this one as well. This was to be my first Jodi Meadows book, and I fell in love with the cover, long before I cracked open the book. I was nervous because so many people loved it. I really didn’t want to be the black sheep.

It started off on the slow side, and I was nervous once again. I was so afraid that it wouldn’t pick up. I knew I had to allow for the story to be set up before I totally ruled against this book. Normally, I’m not patient, but for this book, I was curious enough to keep reading despite the slow pace in the beginning.

I liked Wil immediately. She was a total badass and I loved seeing that. I loved seeing her commitment to her people, I was quite jealous of her fighting talents. It would be totally awesome to have that kind of talent.

I never trusted Melanie. She always seemed to be hiding something, and she didn’t seem all that loyal to Wil, which pissed me off. Weren’t they supposed to be best friends? I constantly questioned her actions, especially towards the end of the book. To me, it was clear where her loyalty lay and that drove me insane. I was irrationally furious with Melanie by the time the book finished.

Oh Black Knife. SWOON! I seem to have a thing for the “darker” characters in fantasy novels. It’s definitely strange, but Black Knife was mysterious, sexy and captivating. He was actually quite a surprise as I didn’t expect to fall for him quite as hard as I actually did. Well played Jodi, well played. I cannot wait to see more of him in the next book.

The world building just got better and better as the book went on. In fantasy novels, the world building can make or break a book, and in this case, it definitely positively enhanced the book. I kept wanting to know more and more about this world that Wil, Melanie, Black Knife and the others were in, and that right there, is awesome.

There’s a freaking cliffhanger that will probably kill you like it almost killed me.

I’m so glad I got to read this book. It was so good, and I’m thrilled that I pre-ordered it last month. So I’ll have a shiny finished copy on my shelves this week. I am giving it 4.5 stars. I wish I could give it the full five stars, but the slow start moved it down a half star. Aside from the slow start, I’m telling you all to go read it ASAP.

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

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Book Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Published Date: September 27th, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Genre: YA Mystery
Series: Book One in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can. 

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. 
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. 
She’s wrong.

Disclaimer: This book was a gift.

Review:
Holy, freaking, crap. So. So. So GOOD!

I had no idea what I was getting into with this book. I was sure I was going to love it. Right off the bat, I was hooked. It started with a letter by Mara and then we dove into her life, both before the incident and after the incident. It was a book that kept me guessing all the way through. I never knew what to expect every single page.

Noah, holy crap he was adorable and hot. He was nothing like he was originally portrayed. He was sweet, kind, swoony and he deeply cared about Mara. I was worried that he was going to be an asshole, especially once he found out what she was hiding. I didn’t want to stop adoring him, and I hoped that it wouldn’t come to that.

Mara’s family was great. I loved that she had a close knit family that seemed to actually care about each other and be reasonably normal. So often in YA books we get dysfunctional families and while that’s not a big problem for me, it’s nice to read about families who have stuck together and whose parents are still married.

There are so many things that I want to talk about, but they are spoilery things and while this book has been out for awhile, I still don’t want to talk spoilery things for this book. So this book was awesome and everyone needs to read it. It was a bit slow in some parts, and that’s the only reason I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

Review: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

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Book Title: I’ll Meet You There 
Author: Heather Demetrios
Publish Date: February 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. 

Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

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

Review:
I didn’t know what to expect with this book. I’d heard from trusted bloggers that it was a beautiful book, chock full of feels. I was definitely excited to be approved for this book, but I was also a bit nervous. It was getting some major early buzz among my fellow bloggers and I could only hope that I wouldn’t be the black sheep for this book.

I absolutely love damaged characters. I know that may sound weird, but reading about flawed characters makes me happy because no one is perfect. Everyone has a flaw or an imperfection and having characters in books that are flawed is so, SO much more realistic.
I really liked Skylar a lot. She was so determined to make something of herself. She wanted to get out of the life she currently had. She was also extremely close to her mother which I totally understood as my mom and I have always been very close. So, I understood her instinct to protect her mom and try to get her mom back to the land of the living again when she lost her job. I understood Skylar’s fear of leaving her mom the way she was. It was really hard to read sometimes, but I had fallen in love with this story.

“I hate to break it to you, but your mom is an adult woman. How many times are you just gonna drop everything when she loses her shit?”

I understood this feeling as well. I kept hoping that Skylar wouldn’t allow her mother’s downward spiral to affect her. I was so afraid that Skylar would forget all about her own dreams and stay in Creek View. Skylar had put so much pressure on herself that she had lost some of herself as well.

Yet there was still one thing that hadn’t let her down. Pools. She loved to swim or even to just be in the water in some capacity. Swimming brought her peace, even if everything in the world was crashing down around her.

“Pools didn’t get you pregnant, and they didn’t die on you.Who needed anything more?”
Now, Josh Mitchell was hot. Normally I don’t go for military types, but there was more to him than just the military. Yes, he had a bit of a colorful past in Creek View. Before he joined the military, he’d had a bit of a promiscuous past.

“Yes Josh, everyone in Creek View is well aware of your sexcapades.”

When he returned from the military, missing a leg, he was different. He was hurting both physically and emotionally. He and Skylar had known each other for a long time, but it wasn’t until this summer that they begin working together at the quirky motel by the name of Paradise.

It was their trips to Dairy Queen that really sealed it for me. I could feel things changing between them and I remember hoping that Skylar’s growing feelings for Josh would not change her college plans. I had seen too many girls change their plans for a guy and that made me nervous. I loved the outrageous combinations they came up with. Josh’s was pineapple & Snickers and Skylar’s was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and mint. That definitely added to the quirky-ness of this book.

“I’m fucking crazy about you!”

I loved the ending so much. I think I cried a small river by the time the book was over, and I was definitely sad when the book ended. Demetrios rocked this story and I’m excited to read her other books. I’m giving this book 4.5 stars. I wish I could give it the full 5 stars, and I’m honestly not sure why I can’t. Everyone needs to read this book.

Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Welcome to the Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Book Title: Welcome to the Dark House
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published Date: July 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Horror
Series: Book One in Welcome to the Dark House duology
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Disney Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Now this is how you do a horror book. 

I probably enjoyed it even more than I would have originally, because I read it in the dead of night. It was so creepy and I couldn’t put it down. I was up until nearly 4am because I had to know what happened and I had to know how it ended. After finishing it, I found out that it was book one of a duology, so YAY. I cannot wait to go back into this story next year. It’s gonna be a long wait.

It started off normally enough, with us meeting Ivy, Parker, Shayla, Natalie, Garth, Frankie, and there’s a 7th contestant, Taylor, who we don’t see much of in this book. I am definitely hoping we see more of her in book 2 because I think she has a lot to add to the story. The book is split up into six different POV’s and I was worried that I would have difficulty following the individual stories, and I did at first, but it wore off quickly.

Things start getting creepy that night and it only continues into the next day as they arrive at an abandoned amusement park. A whole lot of stuff goes down, and it’s truly scary stuff, I mean I had nightmares after I finished the book because of the stuff that happens in the amusement park.

Oh let’s not forget Nightmare Elf, hands down the scariest part of the book for me. It made me think of what would happen if you mixed The Elf on the Shelf with Chucky, and that was enough to give me massive goosebumps while I read this book. The Nightmare Elf visited me in my nightmares after I finished the book.

I have to admit, I love being scared in books, so I was really glad I read this book. I am seriously excited for book 2, and it’s definitely going to be a long wait, especially given the cliffhanger that this book ended in. It was a near perfect read for me, and I’m giving it 4.5 stars. If you like the Horror genre, I would definitely recommend this book. If you are easily scared, I’d avoid this book.