Every Wrong Reason by Rachel Higginson

Happy release day to one of my all time favourite authors!!!  This is another heart-breaker, and so beautifully written.


unnamedFirst comes love.

Then comes marriage.

Then comes the… really nasty divorce.

Kate Carter thought she married her soul mate. She thought she had her happily ever after. But seven years into Kate’s marriage, she realizes that her husband Nick is not what she wanted. He’s selfish, he’s oblivious and he doesn’t love her anymore.

Maybe she doesn’t love him anymore either.

Divorce is the only option if either of them wants to find happiness.

Kate and Nick thought they knew what they wanted, but neither is prepared for the heartache that separating will bring them. The journey they embark on is not the freedom they wished for, but a painful look at the people they’ve become.

At the end of it, Kate has to decide if this is really the life she wants or if maybe there’s a way to salvage her broken heart.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25997383-every-wrong-reason
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1KLjEIj

My Review:
4.5 stars — Another beautiful beta read!!

This book is soooooo hard to review. I seriously spent a lot of time thinking about it after I finished the book, which is a sign of a book that really captured you. It had the usual beautiful prose of Ms. Higginson, so if you’re a fan of her writing style, you will definitely appreciate that.

In the end the book may have been just a bit too real for me. I ended up talking about it with my husband, and about the lead character Kate, and how unbelievably stubborn she could be. And some other things I can’t mention in this review without ruining the story…and his answer was simply “so it was real then.” And that is exactly it. This story was heartbreaking in so many ways. To watch a character go through something this traumatic and life-changing… Well, it definitely doesn’t always bring out the best in us, does it? And it didn’t always in Kate either. And I guess in the end I grew frustrated with her. In so many ways you could see her grow and learn from her past and her mistakes, but she would stubbornly hold on to some misconceptions that just drove me nuts. But real people do that, don’t they? Sometimes it’s so easy as a reader to see how all the pieces are coming together, but in real life we’re clouded by our past and preconceptions. Tricky stuff….

And while Ms. Higginson’s usual humour and snark is in this book, I did find myself wanting a bit more (though that may change before the final version). But it’s a difficult subject matter, and I guess (again) real life isn’t always afforded those moments of levity.

I really can’t say much more, b/c I want people to go into this book with fresh eyes, not knowing what’s going to happen. I can guarantee that I was kept on my toes right until the end. It had it’s usual cast of secondary characters, most notably Kate’s best friend Kara (who often brought forth those moments of levity). The parents were also an interesting pair — more complicated than we usually see in stories.

In some ways I almost found this story more heartbreaking than Five Stages….just b/c the heartbreak was due to the actions of people, not an outside force (such as death). And it was a slow subtle heartbreak. So I guess what I’m saying is prepare to have your heart broken, prepare to be moved, prepare to be frustrated, and prepare for a book that will make you think.


Bidding on Brooks by Katy Regnery


25545588Bidding on Brooks is the first of four books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome Winslow brothers who are all on the look-out for love.

(Except Preston. He’s been down that road before and only escaped by the skin of his teeth. And maybe Cameron, because he’s super hot, but too hot-headed to be decent boyfriend material…)

Railroaded into a bachelor auction by his sister, Jessica, Brooks Winslow asks his friend, Skye Sorenson, to bid on him to avoid the possibility of any romantic entanglements. Fiercely competitive and protective of those he cares for, Brooks was profoundly affected by the loss of his father at an early age. A witness to his mother’s terrible loneliness and his siblings’ grief, the ex-Olympian has never allowed himself to fall in love.

Skye Sorenson, the plucky mechanic at Sorenson Marina, where Brooks moors his three sailboats, is a credible sailor in her own right…and has quietly lusted after Brooks for years. But her longstanding friendship with Brooks has always made romance seem impossible.

When Skye agrees to bid on Brooks, the two cast off for a weeklong ocean adventure on Brooks’ sailboat, The Zephyr.

And…what happens in Zephyrland stays in Zephyrland.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25545588-bidding-on-brooks
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1YvXnEu

My Review:

4 stars — You know what I love about this series of books by Ms. Regnery? They are consistent….I know that sounds like a lame word, but when you *really* need a book to give you a certain kind of experience, it’s nice to know of an author that will give that to you. And this book was no exception. I used to be a huge reader of Harlequin novels, and I get a similar experience from these books, only plus plus, if that makes any sense…. I want intriguing characters dealing with their own issues, and guaranteed great chemistry. Brooks and Skye totally fulfilled that for me. I liked how the issues were resolved as well (wasn’t sure how the escort one would be, but it left me satisfied).

My only negative? is that I had certain expectations going in about Skye’s tomboy character and her unrequited love for Brooks, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Though, I suppose in some ways that’s good, b/c the author broke the mold I’m used to. My problem is that it’s a mold I really love, so I was looking forward to that. Skye’s tomboy-ish-ness just didn’t play as big a role as I wanted.

Regardless, if you’re looking for a classic romance tale, this is definitely the book (and series) for you!!


Never Never part two by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never part two Synopsis: “Never forget that I was your first real kiss. Never forget that you’ll be my last.
And never stop loving me between all of them.
Never stop, Charlie.
Never forget.”

Silas races against time as more truths unravel, while others twist tighter together. And now, the stakes are higher as Silas’ control slips and others begin to point fingers. Charlie is in trouble and he must be the one to bridge the chasm between their past and their present. Because somewhere between I love yous and Never Nevers and Never Agains, a truth they can’t imagine, beckons to be found.

“Where are you, Charlie?”

Get it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LIx4kR

Add it to your TBR list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24422492-never-never

4 Stars:

I felt the urgency in this book, knowing Silas only had hours to find someone he didn’t remember losing.  I don’t know how they managed to surprise me in the end but they did.  I am beginning to like novellas better than full size books right now. Except the cliffhanger endings, gah, make the cliffhanger endings go away!

Charlie and Silas were apart for most of this book but they somehow were able to find each other in the end.  This book made me think about what I would do in a situation like theirs.  What would you say to the ones you love if you knew you were going to forget them in a few days’ time?

Side note: I always had a skewed view of cliffhanger endings; my view is that the writing should be good enough that you don’t need a cliffhanger to make the reader want to buy the next one.  We will buy it because we liked your book.  Now I know that is a weird way to look at things but I can’t help the way I feel.  I like when everything is tied up at the end like a neat little package with a bow.

Curly Carla_small

Bully (The Fall Away Series) by Penelope Douglas

BullySynopsis: My name is Tate.

He doesn’t call me that, though. He’ll barely refer to me at all, and he’ll hardly ever speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got worse as time wore on. I even went to Europe for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way I’ll allow him to ruin another year. He might not have changed, but I have.

It’s time to fight back.

Getr it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1OJCIs7

Add it to your TBR list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20803953-bully?ac=1

Rated:  3.5 Stars

This was an interesting read for me.  It could really go either way for me.  And I like it when I can’t decide if I liked it or not because then the book did what few others do and that is really make me think.    This is an NA romance running a little over 300 pages.  Suitable for ages 18+ due to sexual situations and some violence, also, there is an attempted rape scene so, trigger warning.

This book started out great! I was all revved up to cheer Tate on while she didn’t take any more crap from Jared after her year abroad.   But then it kind of got all out of whack.  She was doing well with taking back her life, she was quite literally fighting back!  I do love me an assertive female lead.  Then the guilt started, and I think she was right in her feelings of guilt, two wrongs don’t make a right.  Once she started to find out the real reason why he was so cruel to her, she realized he was only taking it out on her and he didn’t really hate her.

I think I resent his controlling alpha male personality.  He showed no vulnerability in the first half of the book.  And I was looking for a little foreshadowing so I tried to withhold my judgment of him.  But, alas, it was too little too late.  The theme seemed to be forgiveness.  He went too far is his bullying in my opinion.  You know the saying, “you always hurt the ones you love”?  I am a believer in this saying and even though in the end he came around and apologized (Which, IMO, he didn’t do well enough for me) I just didn’t feel the sincerity in his actions. I am an emotional reader and go based on how the book makes me feel.  And while I am well aware this is fiction, I think this book hit a little too close to home for me and I like to have an escape.   I still recommend this book to read.  I liked it.  It just didn’t blow me away in the way I was expecting.

Curly Carla_small

Kaleidospoce Hearts by Claire Contreras

Kaleidoscope HeartsSynopsis: 

He was my older brother’s best friend.

He was never supposed to be mine.

I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.

One of us did.

One of us left.

Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.

He broke my heart last time. This time he’ll obliterate it.

Get it on Amazonhttp://amzn.to/1LqLeLz

Add it to your TBR list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24624247-kaleidoscope-hearts

I gave this 3 Stars:

So, GR didn’t save my review, and I really liked it. Ah well, hope I can remember what I wrote. This was a NA romance with a decent page count of about 300.

Honestly (I don’t like being honest sometimes) I got bored about 2/3 of the way in. Usually I enjoy the back and forth of the characters but this time not so much. Elle was a bit whiny for my tastes. She kept going back and forth with Oliver and I think that’s what got me disinterested.

This author can write some great chemistry scenes let me tell you! Whoa! I was blushing on the train while reading this. The character depth was good as well. When Elle makes an effort to move on from Wyatts death and sell some of his painting’s really hit me. And how she resists getting sucked in to her mother matchmaking ways shows good growth.

Oliver was the star in this one for me *swoon* His parents divorce taught him to not get into a relationship too young. Which is why he was ‘having fun’ with Elle in the first place. He still hasn’t had a serious relationship when he sees Elle again after a few years seperation. He wants her for the long run this time but she is hesitant because she is afraid he will leave her again. This man is determined to show her he is willing to stop ‘having fun’ and commit. The ways he shows her how he feels are just brilliant!

Sidenote: There is something that didn’t ring true with me in the storyline. They both agreed that were ‘having fun’ in the first place but she is mad at him for leaving when she knew he was going to. I didn’t get it. I wish I would have because I really wanted to love this book and had to settle for liking it instead.

So to sum up I am glad I read the book. Would I read another bu this author? ::shrugs:: Probably, I like to give second chances because I am usaully surprised.

Curly Carla_small

Repaired by Melissa Collins


25733268Liam Davis is a man without a past. That’s what he wants everyone to believe, anyway. Hell-bent on erasing any memories of his previous life, he knows that starting over is all he can do. Hiding who he is, where he’s from, why he’s running, and especially who he’s left behind, Liam has run away from everything he’s ever known. His plan works perfectly until one day when Parker Ryan threatens to expose his carefully concealed world.

Parker Ryan is a man without a future. Sure, he’s a partner in one of New York’s most prestigious law firms, but he’ll never be more than a failure in the eyes of his boss, his father. Rather than break away from his father’s standards, he finds himself mindlessly pursuing them, in turn sacrificing anything that would actually make him happy.

When Liam’s and Parker’s lives collide, the ugly truth about who they really are, and who they hope to become reveals itself when they least expect it. As both of their lives become wrecked beyond all belief, they’ll learn how to rely on each other in their journey to become Repaired.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25733268-repaired
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1V3XBDy

My Review:

4.5 stars — Now that’s what I call a birthday present.  Fantastic M/M romance — a mix of light moments, delicious off-the-charts chemistry, and a hint of darker subject matter….left my heart aching, but by the end of the book it was in a good way.

I was a bit worried about how I would like the characters, as neither started off on the best foot (well, I mean, I was already in love with Liam after that first chapter, but that’s not to say his brokenness didn’t make him a bit of a jerk at times).  But once you really got a feel for who Liam and Parker were, and once they got a feel for each other, I kind of forgot about their initial dickishness.  And seriously, the steamy scenes were wicked….

Had some great secondary characters, though they didn’t play as prominent a role as I’d expected from the beginning…but still loved Paulie, Annie, and Gabe…heck, even Zan was great.

All in all, exactly what I was needing — a deeper story with a delicious romance.


Roomies by Lindy Zart

I actually won a copy of this book a little bit ago, and it was the perfect book to pick me up.


23152710Graham Malone is my roommate, my personal eye candy, the reason I get up in the morning smiling (that could be from the illicit dreams I have about him too, I suppose. Let’s move on.). He’s also beautiful to look at, but his heart is where his true beauty lies. Take away the exterior and the interior still shines.

I love him. I mean, I’m pretty sure I do, having never been in love before. Anyway, it seems legit.

And now his brother Blake is here, and, well, he’s the complete opposite of Graham. Sarcastic, brooding, and totally available. But he’s leaving soon, and Graham’s the one I want. I shouldn’t have to remind myself of this, right? I wouldn’t have to if Blake would quit looking at me like I’m something yummy and he’s starving.

Here’s a toast to roomies; the ones you should never fall in love with. Or something.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23152710-roomies
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LmYfpz

My Review:
4 stars — OK, this was way crazier than I was expecting.  Kennedy’s inner monologue was HILARIOUS.  Sometimes I felt like it got in the way of what was going on (in the serious times), but I guess that’s just the way she was.  She is by far the most sarcastic, snarky heroine I have ever read…and I feel like I’ve read a lot of them.  Honestly, the things she thought and the things she said took my by surprise (and mostly made me laugh).

I only vaguely remembered reading the synopsis for this one, but I had a pretty clear idea of what I thought was going to happen based on what I remembered reading.  NOPE!!  Totally did not play out like I was expecting.  And yes, I know this is vague, but this is my review, I’ll write what I want!

Both male leads gave me tingles in this one….not to mention the feels.  I didn’t expect some of the deeper aspects of this story, but Ms. Zart totally tackles them in her own unique way.  I really appreciated how Kennedy saw when one of them really needed a friend, and offered that to him even when it made things complicated.  It was kind of a strange love triangle in that sense, b/c both boys were looking for something that Kennedy could provide.  But back to my original statement about tingles, seriously people, the swoon factor was high in this book.

In the end what prevented this from being a 5 star read for me was Kennedy’s oddball behavior…which is weird, b/c I also liked that about her.  I couldn’t always relate to her b/c she was so odd….there were some cringe-worthy moments where I just wanted to hide my kindle or skip to the next part.  But I guess most of all, I just wanted her to lay her heart on the line at the end, and I didn’t really feel like she did that.

I still highly recommend this fun read — it was quick, it was hilarious, and it gave me the feels.  And I wouldn’t mind seeing the “losing” boy get his own book….


Fractured Suns by Theresa Kay

Happy release day to one of my favourite authors of all time!!!  This review is for book *2* of the series, so you might not want to read it if you haven’t read book 1 yet — and trust me, you should go read book 1 RIGHT NOW (buy it here: http://amzn.to/1inEhiN).


20535475We came in peace. Lie.
We had no role in the Collapse. Lie.
I have always been honest. Lie.
I never lied to her. Truth.

Reunited with her brother, and surrounded by Flint, Peter and her new-found grandfather, Jax Mitchell has still never felt more alone. The choice to follow Rym back to the city to find answers and see Lir is an easy one, but their reunion is cut short and Jax is forced to leave Lir behind. She finds herself traveling with some unexpected companions and heading back toward a place she’d hoped to never see again.

After being imprisoned—and tortured—on the orders of his uncle, Lir hasn’t seen daylight or linked to anyone in weeks. After a lifetime of connection, the pain and loneliness is almost too much to bear. Elated that Jax actually came, Lir finds renewed hope and the strength to continue fighting his uncle’s influence over the E’rikon, even when things look hopeless and Lir’s been branded a traitor by the very people he’s trying to save.

While Jax and Lir fight separate battles, their missions have more in common than they realize. It’s a race against time to stop men driven only by greed and power. But the ones they trust the most might be the very people working against them—and “family” doesn’t mean what it used to. Will they recognize their friends from their enemies in time to save the people they love or will they lose each other in the process?

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20535475-fractured-suns
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LmRW5l

My Review:

5 stars — OMG EPIC!!!!!!!!! Yes yes yes, I feel your jealousy and I understand… I was honoured to be a beta reader for this book. And thankfully this time I had people to talk to about it so I didn’t have to go insane waiting for release!

OK, so back to the important stuff — I’ve actually just finished my second read through of this gem, and let me tell you it’s even better a second time through. It’s like one of those movies that is awesome the first time through, but on each viewing you start noticing more and more. The intricacy of the plot left me a bit dazzled the first time through, and holy cow do you notice all the little subtle setups even more the 2nd time around. I’m not saying it wasn’t amazeballs the first time through, I’m just stuck in happy land over here and amazed at all the little nuances that I may not have noticed b/c I was a bit greedy when I first got this in my grubby little hands. *snort* I know, shocker right?

Quite frankly, I’m still reeling. Ms. Kay sets a perfect pace in this book — not too fast that things get lost, but a steady build that keeps you clamouring for more as you go along. Jax is still as fiesty yet broken as ever….but you actually got to see her gain strength as the book went on. Not without setbacks, but that’s kind of realistic right? And we get Lir POV!!!!! Still totally in love with that alien boy. I was soooooo worried at the end of book 1….I mean, most of me knew there was an explanation for the bond break, but I was so heartbroken that I wasn’t sure I would be able to forgive him. But I did!! While his role in the book is not as prominent (this is still mainly Jax’s story), I liked getting to learn more background about the E’rikon through Lir, and I felt like we got to see more of who he is…the struggles he’s dealt with.

And that brings me to secondary characters…and specifically how much I LOVED them. Rym turned out to be so much more than I was expecting — I AM IN LOVE! What’s with these E’rikon boys? He was hilarious, and yet had his own depth. Then there was the surprise of Stu! Did NOT see that one coming, and yet his role fit so well. Especially when we got to meet Ethan! LOVED him and what he brought to the story. Still learning to love Emily, but immediately fell in love with Gavin. Can’t wait to see more from some of these newbies. And then there’s Flint….I did NOT expect how big his role was going to be in this book.

So yeah….another book hangover book. By the time the ending comes, my mind was just whirling with all that we’d learned, and it’s going to take a while to process it all. If you fell in love with Broken Skies (and how could you not), then you will not be even remotely disappointed with this book. Solid characters, intriguing world building, fast paced plot, fabulous imagery, and an author that takes risks. The downside? Waiting for book 3 is going to be a bitch….


Broken Skies by Theresa Kay

So to celebrate the release of book 2 coming out TOMORROW!!!! I thought I’d post my review for the first book in the series to entice everyone to join the fandom.  (Also seemed appropriate since it’s TBT)


20764638Thirty years ago, civilization collapsed. Few survived.
Ten years ago, the aliens arrived…and stayed.
One year ago, I killed two men and went a little crazy.
Today, the aliens took my brother and I will do anything to get him back.

In seventeen-year-old Jax Mitchell’s world, humans are nearly extinct and alien settlers have arrived.

Until recently, the E’rikon have remained segregated in their city and ignored the few humans who have tried to engage them… but now they have taken Jax’s brother. To rescue him, she forms an uneasy alliance with a teenage E’rikon left stranded in the woods. She agrees to guide him to the city if he sneaks her past the human-proof barrier. Too bad it’s not that simple.

Jax, who cannot stand to be touched, finds that she’s drawn to the alien boy with bright green hair and jewel-like scales on his back. And he’s equally affected by her, the courageous redhead with haunted eyes. But she doesn’t know the alien’s true motives and he has no idea that she is much more than she seems.

With the aliens and the humans at odds, the connection forming between the two teens has consequences. What started off as a rescue mission sets a chain of events in motion which threatens not only the remaining humans and the growing alien society, but Earth itself.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20764638-broken-skies
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1FQCWq0

My Review:

5 stars — I received a digital arc of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review….and now I may never recover.

Well….I am currently in epic book hangover mode. Not only did I stay up until the wee hours finishing this book, I have also just spent most of today sitting around, staring blankly at the walls, trying to recover. Have you ever watched the Sing-Off?? Shawn Stockman always talks about how when you hear a good song, sometimes you get the stank face (where it looks like you smelled something bad), b/c the song is just so good. This book gave me the stank face. And now I have the great burden of trying to figure out why I loved it so much so that you may also be convinced.

I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi’s, but not for lack of interest. More b/c I’ve been caught up in this paranormal trend, and so I just haven’t sought out any recommendations for good sci-fi.

I’m not sure where I was going with that….let me start again. Characters. Characters are the meat of a book for me — they will make or break a book on my personal taste scale. Well great big check mark there. I really fell in love with Jax….she was so damaged and broken, yet strong, sassy, willful…. And all the secondary characters were well developed….enough to make me intrigued by them — Emily, Jace, Flint…. Even the bad guys effectively made me rage in hatred for them.

And then there’s Lir. OH Lir. What were you thinking??? OK, I don’t think I can talk about him b/c he made me feel so much and I’m still recovering. But seriously, the chemistry between Lir and Jax was off the charts….such a subtle build up, packed with the occasional roadblocks. Enough to make me fall for them as a couple and thus feel all the heart ripping out agony as they went through their troubles.

LOVED the world that Ms. Kay built. I could really visualize it, from the Bridgelake settlement, to the abandoned towns, to the alien city, and even the aliens themselves.

Now my only problem is that I need the next book NOW NOW NOW, and this book hasn’t even been released yet. The conundrum of reading an arc. I guess that’s not my only problem….my more immediate problem is — what in the world am I going to read now??? Epic book hangover.


Has to Be Love by Jolene Perry

A potentially spoilery review in places, you’ve been warned.


25407275Years ago, Clara survived a vicious bear attack. She’s used to getting sympathetic looks around town, but meeting strangers is a different story. Yet her dreams go far beyond Knik, Alaska, and now she’s got a secret that’s both thrilling and terrifying–an acceptance letter from Columbia University. But it turns out her scars aren’t as fixable as she hoped, and when her boyfriend begins to press for a forever commitment, she has second thoughts about New York. Then Rhodes, a student teacher in her English class, forces her to acknowledge her writing talent, and everything becomes even more confusing–especially with the feelings she’s starting to have about him. Now all Clara wants to do is hide from the tough choices she has to make. When her world comes crashing down around her, Clara has to confront her problems and find her way to a decision. Will she choose the life of her dreams or the life that someone she loves has chosen? Which choice is scarier?

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25407275-has-to-be-love
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Yh1MuB

My Review:

3.5 stars — I received a paperback ARC of this book from the author!!

I’m having a tough time deciding whether to round up or down on this one, and I think I’ll surprise even myself if I can make a decision…. The thing about this book is that the first half (maybe more than half, I don’t remember) was a solid 5 star read!! But it didn’t remain that way, and I actually had a lot of not so liking feels for a portion of the second half. But then it ended kind of 4 star for me. So I’m trying to balance my overall feels and decide what my overall view is. How much did that second half take away from my enjoyment?? Hmmm….

So this review is going to be hard in more than one way because I ended up laying in bed analyzing why I felt the way I did, and I can’t decide if what I want to share is spoilery in any way. So please proceed reading this paragraph with caution (I won’t put spoiler tags around it, but you’ve been warned). See, a significant part of the problem for me lie in my own *expectations* for this book. I expected a romance, and what I got was a coming of age story…. Not that there weren’t elements of romance in this book, but I still wouldn’t personally call this a romance book. Because, and maybe this is just me, in every romance book I read there is a formula. There is a book *boy*. (I mean yes, I know, there are love triangles and all that stuff, but let’s just simplify for a moment). And so when I’m expecting a romance *book*, I can’t help but in the back of my mind spend a lot of time wondering who the book boy is going to be. But that’s not really what this book was about. And my expectations kind of sabotaged my reading. I’m not sure if I’m even making sense, but I guess I just wish I’d been more open going into it, then perhaps I would have appreciated parts of the story more instead of getting myself confused.

OK, so I feel better having that out of the way. So what did I love (especially in that first half)?? Ms. Perry knows how to pull out all my feels, and I really did feel for Clara and all the choices that she was bombarded with. I went in knowing I was probably going to get a very realistic teenager, and so I wasn’t as frustrated with Clara behaving in a way that, let’s be honest, many of us would have behaved at that age. I felt like her struggles were very real, and something that many teenagers face, so it was refreshing to have a relevant story. It was refreshing to have a girl feel those raging hormones just as much as a boy….and to have them affect her judgement at times. I didn’t go through that as a teenager personally, but I’ve always felt like it was kind of a double standard the way boys and girls are portrayed in so many books. It was refreshing to have a story where religion played a part, but where it wasn’t all that the character was about — where her being religious did not make her a perfect character. She experienced doubt and struggled with her beliefs. But most of all it was refreshing to read a story that was all about the choices that a teenager faces about their future, from the future of their current relationships, to deciding who they want to be and facing the fear of where that might take them.

So, other than my expectations tainting my reading, where did it go wrong for me? I guess I just didn’t feel like I got to watch Clara grow as much as I would have liked. I would feel like she was starting to grow, but then it would halt and she would revert back. And again, I guess that’s kind of realistic, but part of why I read a coming of age story is to see their growth. And in the end I didn’t feel like I got that from Clara. Maybe it’s because I decided I didn’t want to put the book down, so I read until 3am and my mind was cloudy. But there were parts where I know I was supposed to feel one way, and I ended up feeling another. [SPOILER]Like in the first half I didn’t feel the genuine conviction from her about wanting to wait for marriage…it felt like she just believed it because she was supposed to believe it. But then so much of the disgust she felt after the incident with Rhodes came from that supposed conviction, and I guess I just wish that at some point I was shown how that conviction was reinforced for her…I don’t think I’m making sense, but I guess I just didn’t like how much shame she felt, and how she felt so gross b/c it felt like an outside force instead of something coming from deep held beliefs.[END SPOILER] Looking back I can see what the author was trying to do at certain points, but for some reason it fell flat to me. Maybe I just wanted to see her start making more conscious choices, instead of having those choices be so reactionary.

So now that I’ve written the world’s longest essay review (though not really, b/c I’ve seen some of the reviews on goodreads), how in the world did I still come up with a 3.5-4 star review? The problem is that it’s so much easier to explain where things go wrong than where things go right. I laughed in this book. I smiled. I bawled with Clara along her ride — I felt for her even when she made the bad choices and had to deal with them. I enjoyed how the writing made me feel — there was a lot of beautiful imagery. And I really liked the way the book ended. It felt like I got something back at that point that I was really wanting. And when a book starts and ends with a bang, sometimes the middle doesn’t matter as much in the overall scheme of things.