Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros

Blurb:
23706735Life’s too short to play it safe…

Since her sister’s death, twenty-year-old Paisley Donovan, who shares her sister’s heart condition, is treated like delicate glass by her parents. But nothing will stop her from completing her Bucket List—even if it kills her. And it almost does, until Jagger Bateman pulls her from the ocean and breathes more than air into her lungs—he sets her soul on fire.
Jagger is enrolled in the country’s toughest flight school. He’s wickedly hot, reckless, and perfect for a girl looking to live life to the fullest. Except that Paisley is the commanding general’s daughter, and her boyfriend is Jagger’s biggest rival. Now Paisley must decide just how much to risk for a guy who makes her heart pound a little too hard.
They’re flying through dangerous territory—and one wrong move could make them crash and burn…
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My Review:
Another reread getting ready to read the final 2 books in this series, and I can honestly say that I felt the exact same way the second time through!  So here’s my original review…

4.5 stars — Yup, Jagger’s story was even more than I was expecting!!  Wasn’t always impressed with keeping who Anna was a secret from the reader, felt like sensationalizing or something.  But then again, since I managed to guess who she was pretty early on, perhaps that was what the author was expecting….

And now that that’s TINY niggle is out of the way — LOVED the way this book played out.  You could really feel the chemistry between Paisley and Jagger, right from the moment he saved her.  I enjoyed that Jagger wasn’t some perfect book boy too — he had a horrendous temper that made me cringe in embarrassment at times.  I felt for Paisley.  It was nice to see her really get to him though, give him a reason to try to better himself.  I was truly surprised with how the Will stuff went…  I expected a different kind of drama there, but got something else entirely.  I always appreciate it when an author can surprise me in a good way.  He just ended up being a character that was more important than I was expecting, and not just to Paisley, but to Jagger as well.

Even Paisley was a character that made you cringe sometimes with her recklessness and her adamant belief that she wasn’t going to make it.  Sometimes I wish we could have seen her grow more, and maybe be shown her *wanting* to live to be with Jagger instead of always being resigned to die.  So in the end I guess she gave me a little niggle too…

All in all, LOVING this “series”.  I see there’s a 3rd book coming out….will it be Masters book?  I hope so, I’m intrigued by him!  Then again, Ms Yarros writes such compelling secondary characters that I want to know what happens with so many of them — Sam, Morgan and Will, and now definitely Masters.

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Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

Blurb:
Full MeasuresThree knocks can change everything…

“She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead.”

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.

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My Review:
This is actually a reread for me, but I pretty much feel the same way so I’m just going to copy and paste my review.  Can’t wait to finally be finishing this series!!  Also, check out Curly Carla’s review of this book here.

4.5 stars — well that was a whole lot of YES PLEASE!

I kind of forgot to reread the synopsis before setting out to read this book, and so imagine my surprise to find myself bawling my eyes out in the first chapter. And yet, despite that sneak attack (that wasn’t actually a sneak attack for, you know, normal people), I KNEW this book was going to be all that and a bag of chips. From that first moment when she runs into Josh at the grocery store, I knew I was going to be in love. Sometimes it was hard to reconcile the guy he was deep down from the reputation he’d earned through the years. I guess I couldn’t figure out why he went along with it all if he had that “better”ness inside him. (that would be one of those little niggles that had me rounding down instead of up). I LOVED the guy he was deep down…holy wow, do I want some Josh….

Ember was an interesting narrator. You felt her grief and struggles so deeply, and could really see how all of it was affecting her. It was interesting to take this tragedy and have it be a wake up call for her in so many ways — in the way she was living her life, or rather not living her life for herself. I loved how she was with her family, even when she was stressed and angry — it was all just so realistic and made her that much more genuine. One of my other round down niggles had to do with how she saw people in the military… I know that it was a lot of her grief talking, but at times she was sooooo opposed to it that it made it hard to reconcile the turn around in the end. But that might have been just me.

All in all, I LOVED reading this book and had so much ❤ for it. I really only lost a little bit of love when I sat down to think it through. Sometimes I prefer to just go with my gut and ignore the little things….b/c then this would be a solid 5 star read, and most of those stars would be for Josh. Can’t wait to read Jagger’s story. 🙂

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V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram

Synopsis:
18912102When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?

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My Review:
ORIGINAL REVIEW: 4.5 stars — what a great read. And it wasn’t about adolescent romance, but about one girl and what she goes through when she announces she plans to remain a virgin until marriage. And despite that, it’s not anti-sex, but pro-thought (like wanting people to *really* be making the decision that is right for them). You know what else I loved? The relationships in this book were realistic. Both friendship-wise and relationship-wise. Chemistry was definitely present, but it didn’t become the end all be all you know? And her relationship with Cara was fabulous and heart-breaking at the same time…and again, so real to life. LOVED the epilogue. It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, I hoped for it….and it was perfect for me. Will definitely be adding Ms. Oram to my authors to watch list, her teaser of her next book had me hooked….

Basically my husband periodically would glance over at me, and he would ask “are you ok? [silent nod] good book? [silent nod with shimmering tears]”, and then later he would walk be me and I could tell he was laughing at me grinning like a fool to myself. Good book indicators.

ON REREAD: 4.5 stars — Great coming of age YA.  It definitely had an element of romance to it (uh, Kyle *ahem*), but it wasn’t really a story about that, but more a story of Valerie’s journey.  Definitely held up to a reread.  I *might* round down instead of up nowadays because I felt like the ending kind of came abruptly (though I loved the epilogue), but other than that I have remarkably similar feelings to the first time I read it.  I still felt like it wasn’t nearly as preachy as I’d expected or that it could have been…  I guess some people could take Val’s personal beliefs and make them out to be preachy, but I really felt that that was just what she believed was right for *her*, and shaped out of her own personal circumstances and whatnot.  And while I don’t personally hold the same beliefs as she does, I really wish that more teenagers felt like they had the choice, you know?

I LOVED the way her strange relationship with Kyle worked out — I don’t think it could have ended in a better way, and I felt it was quite realistic (and I’m actually super anxious to finally read book 2 and find out what happens next, though it is completely unnecessary as this book stands perfectly fine as a standalone).  As a romantic at heart, I wish there had been a bit more romance at times…  😛

And again, I wholeheartedly agree with my earlier self — the friendships in this book were so realistically portrayed, and definitely a strong point in this novel.

So yeah.  Time to find out what happens with Val and Kyle (FINALLY!).

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Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram

Synopsis:
perf5.250x8.000.inddAn accident that should end in tragedy instead gives seventeen-year-old Jamie Baker a slew of uncontrollable superhuman abilities. To keep her secret safe Jamie socially exiles herself, earning the title of Rocklin High’s resident ice queen. But during a supercharged encounter with star quarterback Ryan Miller she literally kisses anonymity goodbye. Now the annoyingly irresistible Ryan will stop at nothing to melt the heart of the ice queen and find out what makes her so special. Unfortunately, Ryan is not the only person on to her secret. Will Jamie learn to contain her unstable powers before being discovered by the media or turned into a government lab rat? More importantly, can she throw Ryan Miller off her trail before falling in love with him?

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My Review:
ORIGINAL REVIEW: 4.5 stars — Oh Ryan. If I had book boy crushes, you would definitely be on the list. I love how I start the review with the boy. There is so much more to this book than just the romance, but it was seriously adorable. I really enjoyed that this wasn’t an alternate world where paranormal things are real, but our world with an accident-altered girl in it. I loved Jamie’s parents. Not all YA really show a lot of parents, and it was so nice to see them in this one and reacting in believable ways most of the time. There were so many different little ….themes isn’t the right word…topics that this book touched on besides being an enjoyable action romance. I loved the resolution with Becky and that tie in.  I will admit the nemesis caught me a little off guard, but in the end I could buy it. I loved that Jamie wasn’t always that….uh….stable in her reactions. With all she’s dealt with, it was just such a realistic way of dealing with things. Anyways, I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. And of course the Ryan POV’s just absolutely made my day. I really love that guy.

ON REREAD: 4.5 stars — Yup, I still loved it!!  Brett kept teasing me b/c I had so many moments where I had the biggest fricking grin all over my face.  The interactions between Ryan and Jamie were just so adorable sometimes.  I LOVED how positive he could be most of the time.  And Jamie was quite realistic.  Lots of teenage angst, but so believable in her circumstances.  I still wasn’t sure about the Becky/Mike resolution, but in the end I guess things can be handled in a multitude of different ways depending on the people and the situation.  Can’t wait to finally move on to book 2 now, and then soon book 3 will be here!!!

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Room for You by Beth Ehemann

Synopsis:
18069353Four years ago, my dreams were shattered in an instant.

I tried to pick up the pieces and glue them back together the best I knew how, but something was always missing.

A father for my two girls.

But then, Brody Murphy landed on my doorstep, literally. He was a carefree, playful hockey player who barged into my life and messed with my head. He left me more confused than I had ever been.

What if the one thing I thought I needed was the only thing holding me back?

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My Review:
ON REREAD: 3.5 stars — I just had a much harder time becoming captured by the characters and the story…they felt more flat for me.  I have no idea why.

ORIGINAL REVIEW: 4.5 stars — Actually a really cute love story. Brody was ridiculously adorable, and the chemistry between him and Kacie was off the charts. Strangely enough, I probably would have enjoyed it more if it had been a stand alone, b/c I loved the way it ended before the epilogue. I knew it was a series, but I guess I thought subsequent books would be about different couples, not a continuation of the story….so I have to debate with myself if I want to read more. It’s not that I didn’t love the characters, but I just wanted the HEA so badly that I’m not sure I can handle new conflict…:)

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Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon

Synopsis:
23867175.jpgDon’t just fight the system…burn it.

Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…

But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn’t a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.

Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Starts up RIGHT where book 1 ended.  Feels a bit more like one long narrative that’s broken into pieces than what I’m used to from series books…not that that’s a bad thing, but it means the endings of the books are kind of abrupt and don’t conclude in a clear manner.

LOVE having Bryn back.  That girl is awesomesauce, seriously.  I just want to high five her all over the place.  She goes through so many things in this book, and while she occasionally indulges in a bit of angst, it’s not long lasting or unreasonable.  My feelings are mixed with how she deals with some of the tragic news she receives.

I was COMPLETELY surprised with the direction of the love story.  And yet I really loved the directions it seems to be going — it’s kind of refreshing.

I LOVE the bond and friendship between Bryn and Valmont.  I always had a soft spot for him in book 1, so was excited to see his role expanded in this book.  Can’t wait to see where that’s going in the series….

Ms. Cannon continually surprises me with her secondary characters.  Whenever I think I have them figured out, she spins me on my head and says “nope”.  Ivy and Clint were awesome as usual, but am intrigued with Jaxon, Rhianna, Lilith, and her Grandmother.  I can’t help but wonder what happened to Merrick though…he just disappeared in this book….it surprised me when the Christmas Eve ball came and he wasn’t there.

All in all, lots of surprises that kept me on my toes, and some intriguing twists to the norm.  Had a few tiny niggles that bothered me, hence the round down, but seriously falling in love with this series.  Can’t wait to see where it goes!!!

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Going Down In Flames by Chris Cannon

OK, this is actually my 3rd reread of this book, and I’m back to rereading it because the 3rd book in this series came out yesterday (though I thought it came out today, hence I’m more behind than I was expecting to be).  My review hasn’t changed since the last time I reread it, it’s still all sorts of awesome with a few flaws!!

Synopsis:
22591993If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.

Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.

Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.

Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.

At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can’t have.

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My Review:
On reread, this is full 4 stars of goodness, maybe even more. The things I listed below still existed, but I just didn’t care as much b/c I LOVED all the rest of it. Bryn is an AWESOME heroine, so spunky and hilarious! Can’t wait to read book 2!!

Original review:
3.5 stars — OK this was a surprise in a few different ways. Crap, but first: I received a copy of this book through netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

OK, so I started this book and was immediately hit with a “wait, whoa!” And not in a good way. This book launches us immediately into Bryn learning about her dragon heritage….which can be a mixed bag. Yes, it’s nice to get right down to the meat of the story. My “wait, whoa!” moment came b/c I hadn’t had ANY time to get to know Bryn AT ALL, and then all this information was being blasted at both me and her, and I couldn’t help but think to myself “OK, I know the fire coming out her mouth is kind of hard to set aside, but wow she’s really accepting of this.” It all just seemed a bit…easy? Unrealistic? I mean, maybe if we’d had some background, and she’d always thought there was something strange about her family….or maybe if she’d started with little clues (like smoke coming out her mouth when she’s mad), but it’s like BAM! And she has a couple moments where she *thinks* she should be hysterical, but instead she just sort of shrugs and says “OK”. So I was worried. I really thought the plot sounded cool, but this was not starting off on a Lenore-approved note. Never fear readers, if you have it in you — STICK WITH THIS BOOK!

I ended up just going with the flow and accepting it, albeit with some wariness, and somewhere when she gets settled in the school I started to get a better feel for Bryn, and then the story really sucked me in. So while the beginning is still a nay mark for me, the rest of the book sucked me in and took me on a ride. In some ways it reminded me of a very strange cross between Harry Potter and Rachel Higginson’s Starcrossed series….just in a few basic ways. You have a 16 year old girl who gets the surprise of her life discovering a whole other world that exists (and she’s a part of)….she’s kind of an outcast, especially at school. She goes off and has to live away from her parents in a dorm. She learns a lot about this whole new world. There’s even a Hogsmeade type town. So it had a bit of homey familiarity to it that let me hunker right down.

Bryn was fun, and sassy, and holy fiery temper. I LOVED her huge appetite, and she had some great banter with so many of the other characters. Zavien was suitably mysterious and sexy. Ivy and Clint were ADORABLE together. Merrick amused me to no end. Even Jaxon, Rhianna and Lillith were intriguing characters “from the other side”.

In the end there were still a lot of things that bothered me about this book, but I think it has a bit of “first book-itis”. There were parts that maybe didn’t need to be in there (Keegan? Beth at the beginning?) unless they’ll be fleshed out in later books. And the book ended rather abruptly. I knew it was a series, so it wasn’t that I was expecting a huge wrap up, but….I don’t know. It felt like the end of a chapter.

Despite all that, I thoroughly enjoyed the world, thoroughly enjoyed the characters, and look forward to seeing where this series will go.

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Intuition by Amy A. Bartol

Synopsis:
13381357I don’t open my eyes so I can’t see him, but I can smell him. He thickens the air I breathe, choking me with his scent…his aroma. I shiver. I have to resist. If I’m not strong, then I will be relegated to the same fate as this predator whose sickness infects me even now. But now, I crave him and he knows that; he has been counting on my need to end the gnawing pain. How he would savor my surrender. I’m alive, but how much longer will it take until I beg him not to be?

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My Review:
Original review: 5 stars — Yup, loved it again.  In reality, there are quite a few things that bug me, but I love the books as a whole so much that the little things just slide on by and I still give it a 5.  In general though, I am not a big fan of love triangles, and this one is painful to watch.  But it was kind of fun to see Russell’s POV for a while.  Lovin all the characters, even some of the evil ones….loving all the new little side characters (Phaedrus intrigues me)….basically can’t wait for more please!!

ON REREAD: 4 stars — OK, so I don’t think I’m in the best mood for reading in general right now, so that definitely affected my enjoyment of this book the 2nd time around.  There were times where I felt like I was forcing myself to read, but then there were other times when I was so sucked in and enthralled that time just passed me by (and I truly notice that stuff when I’m biking while reading).

For me, where this book shines is Evie’s sass and spunkiness.  I even enjoy her self-sacrificing, but I can see why that might bug others.  I enjoy the personalities of all the characters (particularly my favourite angel squad), even the bad guys, though Brennus confuses me.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about him.  I’ve seen people be team Brennus online, but he’s such a truly evil guy that I don’t quite understand that.  I did enjoy the super tiny roles of Finn and later Pleben (that was his name right?).  And I’m still intrigued by Phaedrus…I enjoyed Evie’s conversation with him in the airplane.  My problem now is that I have even less tolerance for love triangles…or quadrangles?  In the end I’m all Team Reed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hate what Evie ends up putting Russell through as a consequence…I guess I just don’t like to see genuinely good characters tortured like that for reasons that are yet to be apparent.  I guess we’ll see how this is going to play out in the rest of the series, eh?

I think one other thing that drove my tired brain crazy is that a LOT happens in this book.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think the pacing threw me off in places.

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Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol

Synopsis:
12925064My name is Evie Claremont and this was to be the making of me–my freshman year of college. I’d been hoping that once I’d arrived on Crestwood’s campus, the nightmare that I’ve been having would go away. It hasn’t.
I may be an inexperienced seventeen-year-old, but I’m grounded…sane. I look for rational explanations to even the strangest circumstances. Since meeting sophomore Reed Wellington, however, nothing makes any sense. Whenever he’s near, I feel an attraction to him–a magnetic kind of force pulling me towards him. I know what you’re thinking…that sounds fairly awesome. Yeah, it would be…if he liked me, but Reed acts as if I’m the worst thing that has ever happened to Crestwood…or him. But get this, for some reason every time I turn around he’s there, barging into my life.
What is the secret that he’s keeping from me? I’m hoping that it’s anything but what I suspect: that he’s not exactly normal…and neither am I. So, maybe Crestwood won’t be the making of me, but it could be the breaking of me. I’ve been left to wonder if the dark future my dream is foretelling is…inescapable.

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My Review:
This was a reread for me, so I’ll include my original review first, and then my reread impressions.

5 stars — So so so good… The wide range of characters were delightful….from the boys, to Evie, to the brief glimpses of Uncle Jim, to the girls… Essentially it is Evie’s relationship with each one of them that is absolutely priceless… So much witty dialogue, and just hilarious situations. So much endearment. Evie was emminently likeable…I would love to be her friend. I had glimmers of the bad guy…didn’t completely see it coming, but felt something was off. Wow, the Russell and Reed thing is gonna kill me, but really? I want it to be Reed… Such a strange take on a love triangle that isn’t *really* a normal love triangle. Yup, thoroughly enjoyed it and will now go devour number 2.

ON REREAD: 4.5 stars. Finally getting back to this now that the series is complete! I still absolutely adored this book and was sucked right in. I’d actually forgotten a lot of what went on. Reading some of the more negative reviews for this book, I can see why some people might not enjoy certain aspects, but none of them were button pushers for me. The only thing that aggravated me this second time around was Russell’s accent….yup, could have done without that, it just made him sound like a stereotype.

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Unmaking Hunter Kennedy by Anne Eliot

Decided I needed to go back and reread this book, and I definitely enjoyed it even more than the first time through, so yay!  Definitely a solid 4 star read this time.  But I posted my original review below.

Synopsis:
15783623After a car accident–an event he considers a prank gone bad–pop star, Hunter Kennedy is forced to hide out with his aunt in small-town Colorado. He’s supposed to rest, heal his scars and attend high school in disguise until the press dies down. But he only wants to get back to work.

Worse, the girl who’s been assigned to make him over into a geek is a major geek herself. Vere Roth is a chattering pixie, a blushing tornado and a complete social disaster. He’s never met a girl who’s never-been-kissed, believes in romance and thinks Hunter’s a ‘nice’ guy.

Funny thing is…Hunter is nice around Vere because she’s his first real friend. He also can’t seem to stop sharing his secrets or keep her out of his heart. Knowing he’d never deserve a girl as sweet as Vere, he resigns himself to the friend zone, and helps his new bestie with her own makeover.

She tortures him daily for ridiculous guy advice on how to snag her life-long crush. A guy Hunter thinks is totally wrong for Vere, and sadly, one who has taken note of Vere’s transformation.

When Vere asks her best friend for some kissing advice, Hunter can’t resist…

And that’s when things get out of control…

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My Review:
Between a 3.5 and 4 stars…I waffle. On the surface, it’s 4 stars all the way baby! Great witty banter, Vere and Hunter/Dustin were adorable together and that first kiss….SMOKIN. I thought the backstory with Hunter and his Mom was interesting, and believable about a teen star. I waffled on some of the depression bits b/c I suffer from depression and b/c it starts after his 6 week stay, the book kind of glossed over what kind of help is out there…so you didn’t see Hunter’s transition on that part. That being said, I LOVED the beginning parts where she’s describing his mental states or whatever…. It was so fabulous to see Hunter fall in love with Vere too…just a whole bunch of awwwww all over the place. The ending…well, that’s where things go weird. I both loved and hated the ending. It came across very teen movie ending…I just can’t imagine it in the real world. So I would say it’s unrealistic that a star would do that…but at the same time *sniff* *blink blink* OMG, so sweet!!! See how Jekyll and Hyde I am? It was the same for a few different parts with the ending…like Jenna’s reaction when she found out….that was opposite, that was actually very realistic, but I wanted her to be more sensitive to Vere. And Charlie’s actions were a bit crazy, and then how easily Hunter forgave him…I guess I didn’t always get Charlie. Like how could he be best buds with such a lame guy like Curtis? On the other hand, I LOVE LOVED LOVED Charlie’s interactions with Vere and Jenna. The whole scene where they first meet Dustin just killed me… SO yeah, this was a big waffle read. I know most of this didn’t make sense, and probably would not help anyone decide whether to read it or not…but at this point I’m just babbling for me.

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