Top 10 Tuesday: Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

This is weird, but all of my favorite quotes this year come from one book: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Mostly because the book has a ton of really great quotes, but also because I’m terrible at highlighting/saving/remembering quotes from books.


This was a book that really scared me when I first read it because, at the time, my life was so up in the air. I honestly still feel like my life is up in the air, or at least that I’m juggling 20 balls that are all up in the air, and I’ve come back many times to look at the quotes I’ve highlighted. Some of these are from towards the end of the book, but there are no spoilers.

(These quotes are also from the ARC so my apologies if they’re not in the final version.)

1. “I shrug, because it’s an impulse. It’s always my impulse to ignore the bad, to run toward the good. But I’m not feeling great about my own impulses at the moment. I’m not sure they are getting me where I want to go.”

2. “But back then, I just assumed it would all fall into place, that the big things in life would take care of themselves.”

3. “Life is long and full of an infinite number of decisions. I have to think that the small ones don’t matter, that I’ll end up where I need to end up no matter what I do.”

4. “In general, I find that when you are doing something you are not supposed to be doing, the best course of action is to act as if you are absolutely supposed to be doing it.”

5. “I think I’ve been jumping from place to place thinking that I’m supposed to find the perfect life for myself, that it’s out there somewhere and I have to find it. And it has to be just so. You know?”

6. “I don’t know, I’m starting to think maybe you just pick a place and stay there. You pick a career and do it. You pick a person and commit to him.”

7. “I guess because life’s short? And you just kind of have to get on with it.”

8. “If everything that happens in the world is just a result of chance and there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it, that’s just too chaotic for me to handle. I’d have to go around questioning every decision I’ve ever made, every decision I will ever make. If our fate is determined with every step we take…it’s too exhausting. I’d prefer to believe that things happen as they are meant to happen.”

9. “But I wonder how different my would would be if any of those things had happened. You can’t change just one part, can you? When you sit there and wish things had happened differently, you can’t just wish away the bad stuff. You have to think about all the good stuff you might lose, too. Better just to stay in the now and focus on what you can do better in the future.”

10. “It doesn’t matter if we don’t mean to do the things we do. It doesn’t matter if it was an accident or a mistake. It doesn’t even matter if we think this is all up to fate. Because regardless of our destiny, we still have to answer for our actions. We make choices, big and small, every day of our lives, and those choices have consequences. We have to face those consequences.”

And bonus because I couldn’t pick which one to exclude (I already whittled this down from a longer list):

11. “I’m learning not to read too much into the good things. I’m learning just to appreciate the good while you have it in your sights. Not to worry so much about what it all means and what will happen next.”

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Sequels I Can’t Wait to Get
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Books I’d Recommend to a Younger Me

Book Review: The Boy Most Likely To

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Title: The Boy Most Likely To
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: 08/11/2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Much of my reading/blogging slump of the last few months hasn’t really been about the books I’ve been reading, but about my lack of attention span to actually sit down and read the books. Take The Boy Most Likely To, a book I was so excited to read that I waited for for months at the library, and the moment I got the email saying I could take out the digital book, I downloaded it immediately. And then I just kind of sat with it. I probably read the first 20% in the first day I had it, but I had a difficult time getting into the story, partly because of the story and partly because of life, and it took me about three weeks to actually finish the book.

There’s not a lot that I remember from My Life Next Door and that definitely impacted my understanding and enjoyment of this book. We’re talking about my memory being so bad that I don’t really remember Tim. The Boy Most Likely To picks up a couple of months after My Life Next Door and I often found myself wishing it took place later, both so that more had happened in the characters’ lives that I did remember and because there probably would have been more explanation about what was happening overall.

The gist of the story is that Tim is finally clean and sober and trying to make something of his life. He’s living above the Garrett’s garage and his dad has given him an ultimatum of a few months to get his life together before he’s cut off financially. Tim is in love with Alice Garrett, but Alice mostly tells herself she thinks of Tim as her little brother’s best friend, even though she is attracted to him. Alice is busy trying to run her family’s life with her dad in the hospital and manage school and her loser boyfriend. Tim ends up getting the shock of his life (I saw it coming a mile away, but I won’t spoil it) and he’s forced to man up and really figure out his life.

The shock Tim gets is one of my least favorite things in a book and that’s partly why it took me so long to finish this one and why I never quite got into it. But I will say that I liked the way that Tim handled it and over the course of the book I really liked and respected Tim as a character. The story was told from both Tim and Alice’s perspectives, but the story felt much more leaned towards Tim. I don’t know about the actual percentages, but Tim’s voice was much more distinctive, I knew more about his life and his motivations, and his story was also easier to grasp in a way since there were fewer moving parts (although there was also a lot going on).

I did like Alice a lot and that made me wish for more of her. She is a much more closed off character, but since the story is a first-person story it would have been nice to feel like I knew Alice better. She was in denial about how she felt about Tim and about certain things with her family, but it’s still difficult to read a story told from two characters’ perspectives and have it be so heavily weighted towards one.

Bottom Line: Even though it took me a while and I didn’t enjoy it as much as My Life Next Door I am still happy I gave The Boy Most Likely To a go and ended up finishing it. I wish I remembered more about the characters, but I still felt like I knew Tim really well and I enjoyed watching him get his life together. I wish I knew more about Alice and that the story went a little deeper into their relationship, but I do think that, if you liked My Life Next Door, it’s worth giving this a read.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Sweet Filthy Boy
Two Years AgoBook Review: Not a Drop to Drink

Is This Thing On?

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Oh hi. Is anyone there?

I’m kind of at a loss to say. I mean, I have lots to say, but very little of it is actually book-related. You see, I moved to Minnesota two-and-a-half months ago and I’ve read 10 books since then. TEN. I can’t really say why I’ve read 10 books in 10 weeks (when you say it like that it doesn’t sound so bad), but even my previous much faster reading pace it makes me sad.

Yes, this is a major life change and even though I feel like I’ve adjusted pretty well I think it’s taken more out of me emotionally and mentally than I’ve realized. School is not really hard or even terribly time-consuming, but it is a change. And then there’s working, interning, volunteering, and attempting to have a social life.

When it comes down to it there are two main reasons I haven’t been reading and this space has been pretty silent. First, I seriously dislike my roommate and being home is not somewhere I can relax and feel comfortable getting things (like reading and blogging) done. There’s nothing really wrong with her, I think she is mostly a nice person, but she’s very unhappy and her unhappiness is our third roommate. I’m someone who’s very much affected by other people’s emotions and being around her is very difficult for me emotionally. BUT, good news, I am moving! TO A STUDIO! For the first time in my life I will live alone. Picture every really happy dog/baby/cat/whatever GIF you’ve ever seen and combine them together and that is my level of happiness. 11.more.days.

Second, my grandma passed away at the beginning of September. If you’ve read my blog for a while you know that I was very close to her. After my grandfather died two years ago (actually almost exactly two years ago, 11/12/13) we became even closer. When I was taking Organic Chemistry in the spring of 2014 I stayed with her one night a week (the campus was very close to her house) and I am immensely thankful for that time with her. She got sick in May of last year and was doing better, but eventually the cancer spread too much and she went into the hospital in mid-August, into hospice September 1st (my second day of orientation), and passed away September 10th (my third day of classes). She was coherent to the end (she called dying “a racket”) and insisted that I stay here and focus on school (which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done). Being in school actually reminds me of her all the time. She devoted nearly all of her time in retirement to helping disadvantaged communities in her neighborhood and I can only hope that by using my master of public health degree I can help one-tenth of the people that she did.

Anyway, I could talk about my grandma all day, but she would have been mortified by that. This post is to check in and to say that I intend to keep blogging. Because I really do enjoy blogging, reading, and being a member of this community. Plus, I’m joining an adult young adult book club at a local bookstore here and if I say I’m a blogger I need to actually be blogging :)

And I’ll have a review up tomorrow or Friday! (Fingers crossed).

One Year Ago: Book Review: All Broke Down
Two Years AgoWaiting on Wednesday: The Chapel Wars

Top 10 Tuesday: Books To Read If You Like Sarah Dessen

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

I was majorly torn about what to do as a topic this week. Actually as I started typing this sentence I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. I went with Sarah Dessen because to a lot of people, especially people my age, I feel like she is the YA romance queen. And she’s still pretty good at it! I had a harder time coming up with the list than I expected. I realized while doing it that Dessen’s books don’t really have a gimmick like many other books.


1. Anything by Katie McGarry: This might not seem like the obvious choice, but I think she’s an edgier (and Dessen can definitely be edgy in her own way) Sarah Dessen. I don’t think her books are quite as polished, but they both tackle difficult issues, have nuanced families, and strong romances.


2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: Another entry in the nuanced family category. This one might be the most Dessen-like story on the list, but it also definitely stands on its own. Plus the romance in this one is just so great.


3. Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins: This is more steamy than any Dessen book I’ve read, but like the others on this list there is an interesting family dynamic and a really strong, intense romance.


4. When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney: To my knowledge Dessen has never done a male protagonist, but I feel like if she did it would be Danny. Like a lot of Dessen’s books this romance isn’t hot and heavy, but it’s still pretty intense.

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5. The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: I’m pretty sure this book wouldn’t have been around if it wasn’t for Dessen (which is no diss for Amy Spalding whose books I generally love). The performing arts school and the moving in with a parent you never knew are classic Dessen.


6. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne: I was hesitant to put this on the list because a big part of this book is the traveling and I don’t think Dessen has ever done a book with a road trip or where the main character travels a lot, but still, this book had to be included. This is truly a book about the main character getting to know herself and her family and that is classic Dessen.


7. Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel: So far this is the only book that takes place on the beach, a Dessen-ian setting. There’s also a forbidden romance, a girl coming of age, and a quirky family.


8. On the Fence by Kasie West: If my memory isn’t failing me (which it probably is) I think Dessen has done a boy next door story. Maybe that’s even when I think this would be a good fit. With the protective older brothers and father and the small town setting this has all the makings of a Dessen story.


9. Bitterswet by Sarah Ockler: While this one does kind of have a gimmick with the ice skating I still think it’s a Dessen story between the town and high school we get to know really well and the family that Hudson is trying to hold together. Heck even the main character’s name is a Dessen name!


10. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker: This one also kind of has a gimmick and there aren’t really strong parents, but I could see Dessen writing this story. It takes place over the summer and very much features a main character discovering herself.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Were Hard for Me to Read
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Book Turn-Offs

Book Review: Better When He’s Brave

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Title: Better When He’s Brave
Author: Jay Crownover
Release Date: 08/11/2015
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Let’s get straight to the point (haha), Better When He’s Brave is my favorite of the Welcome to the Point (get the pun now?) series. I don’t want to say it’s because Titus isn’t a criminal like Bax and Race, but I’m going to say a lot of it has to do with the fact that Titus is a law-abiding cop and not a hardened criminal. For people who like male love interests who are criminals then this might be your least favorite of the series, but for those of you like me this one is where it’s at.

I knew I liked Titus going in, he played a pretty big role in the first two books as Bax’s older brother and the cop trying to keep Bax and Race out of too much trouble while also not cutting them any slack. Titus is a good guy in a tough job because of the truly terrible neighborhood where he works. The Point is fictional, but it is not a place I would ever want to go. Luckily I don’t even have anything to compare it to since my life has been relatively sheltered and The Point is no joke. Anyway, Titus’s love interest is Reeve a, wait for it, criminal! Call me sexist, but a female criminal didn’t bother me nearly as much as a male criminal.

Apparently Reeve was in the earlier two books as someone who worked with Dovie, but my memory is terrible and I have no recollection. Reeve was arrested for several things (some spoilers for the earlier books so I’ll leave those out), but cut a deal with the feds to testify against Novak’s guys and in exchange for that she entered Witness Protection. She discovers that a cushy life out of The Point isn’t necessarily as great as she hoped, plus one of the marshalls watching over her, Roark, turns out to be the not-so-good kind of cop and Reeve comes back to turn him in and she goes to Titus, pretty much the one person in The Point that she trusts.

Reeve is a criminal, but she’s a mostly reformed criminal. So much of why this book worked for me is that there isn’t any crazy criminal plots happening. There’s plenty of crazy other stuff, this is The Point, but we got to know Titus and Reeve as people, people who are really attracted to each other, and then as a couple without the criminal element distraction. And maybe I’m the only one bothered by that, but that’s the crux of why I enjoyed this installment more than the earlier ones.

That said, there is still lots of drama. Roark turns out to be a pretty terrible person who’s hellbent on destroying The Point and Titus soon realizes even with his best intentions and efforts there’s not a lot he can do to stop Roark. Watching Titus, who puts so much stock in the law and doing what’s right, come to understand the grey area was another highlight. He stayed true to himself, but it was nice to see more flexibility. Also, unlike the other two books things never felt too drawn out. It’s a 352 page book, but the pacing worked and nothing was harped on for too long. Except…

The only major criticism I have is that there were often long sections of the characters’ internal monologue (it’s told alternating between Reeve and Titus’s POVs) and that did make it drag. I found myself flipping ahead to see where the dialogue or action happened and groaning when I would turn the page and see another page-long paragraph of thoughts and descriptions. A true case of telling instead of showing.

Bottom Line: While Welcome to the Point certainly isn’t my favorite series it’s also not a bad series and Better When He’s Brave is certainly my favorite of the three installments out thus far. Even though there was suspense and action the fact that neither Reeve or Titus were active criminals made getting to know them and their relationship a lot easier. I would say it’s better to read this series in order, but this could also work as a stand alone (see: my inability to remember details from the earlier books).

Two Years Ago: Book Review: All the Truth That’s In Me

Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind

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Title: The One You Left Behind
Author: Jojo Moyes
Release Date: 08/20/13
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the first Jojo Moyes book I’ve read. I want to read Me Before You, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to be that sad, you know? Sometimes life is sad/stressful enough and I want to read something to escape that. I’m sure that means I’m missing out on a great story, but for the time being that’s what it is. That said, I can’t quite remember why I put The Girl You Left Behind on reserve in the library, I had to wait quite a while so it’s been probably a month or two since I originally did it. There were times when reading when I was worried the book would destroy me, and I won’t lie there were tears, but they were mostly happy tears and I’m so happy I finally read something by Jojo Moyes.

Once I actually got the book from the library I had a moment of wondering why I requested it in the first place. World War I isn’t really my sweet spot. I love historical fiction and the US during World War I is more of my thing, but France during World War I doesn’t really hold any interest for me. But, I love art and I was super curious about the connection between Sophie in the early 20th century and Liv in the early 21st century.

The story starts in France, with Sophie. She is married to an artist, not a famous one, but a good one who’s studied with Matisse, who has gone off to fight in the war. Rather than staying in Paris without him she returns to her hometown that’s now being occupied by Germany. Along with her sister she runs what used to be a hotel/restaurant but is now more of a bar where the locals meet to complain about the occupying Germans. The French people in the town are in pretty bad shape, it’s mostly women, children, and the elderly who are left and they’re not treated particularly well by the Germans. They have limited food rations and virtually no autonomy.

Sophie, and to a certain extent her sister, join with the townspeople to do some gorilla resistance against the Germans, but mostly they’re just trying to stay alive. Sophie was a fascinating character. The story really gets going when there is a new German commander who takes an interest in Sophie and in particular a painting Sophie’s husband did of her that hangs in the house. Sophie hates the new commander because he’s a German comander, but then their relationship grows more complicated. The commander makes Sophie and her sister cook for the German soldiers which brings him around often and, even though she would hate to admit it, Sophie actually seems to like him. They bond over art and, again she would hate to admit this, I think she likes having a man pay attention to her. However, as things grow worse in their town (less food, less freedom, more discontent) Sophie starts to come under scrutiny for her relationship with the commander.

Fast forward to the 21st century and Liv is barely getting by in London. Her husband, a well known architect, passed away several years before and she pretty much hasn’t moved on. She still lives in the same crazy house he designed barely making ends meet and pretty much just being miserable. One of the few things she loves is a painting her and her husband bought together called The Girl You Left Behind, the painting of Sophie by her husband that the German commander admired. When Liv goes out one night she meets a man she actually feels a connection with. A man as it turns out, by a cruel twist of fate, is working to find Liv’s beloved painting and return it to the artist’s family who only recently realized it went missing and believe it to have been stolen by the Germans during World War I.

That was kind of a longer explanation of the story than I wanted to write. This is such a nuanced story that it’s difficult to get into all the reasons I liked it without trying to get all the basic info out there. As someone who loves art and has a real sense of right and wrong it was interesting to see my feeling evolve over the course of the story. Sophie’s main goal is to be reunited with her husband and she truly believes that the German commander can help her. In an effort to gain his assistance she makes some truly insane choices and it’s really difficult to understand where she’s coming from and not just want to smack her over the head.

Knowing what we know about Sophie it makes what happens to Liv really difficult to reconcile. The looting by the Germans in World War II was obviously terrible and wrong, but was what happened to The Girl You Left Behind looting? And is it really right to take it away from Liv,  who loves the painting and who bought it in what she believed was a legitimate sale? In a lot of ways Sophie’s decisions in trying to be reunited with her husband are similar to the decisions Liv makes in trying to keep the painting. I absolutely understood why Liv wanted to keep the painting, but she’s broke and spending potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to keep one painting, a painting that might have been stolen, just seems utterly insane. But The Girl You Left Behind represents her husband and she absolutely still loves him.

Bottom LineIn the end this book is a love story. It’s a love story between Sophie and her husband, between Liv and her husband, between Liv and her painting (which represents her husband), and, in a really complex and interesting what I didn’t even talk about here, between Liv and the guy who’s trying to take her painting away. If you love art, history, romance, or just a good book I definitely recommend picking this up.

Two Years Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: This Side of Salvation

Top 10 Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

There are so many books I want to read right now. And I’m not reading them because I’m in my first semester of grad school and super busy and because I don’t want to spend money to buy them (because I’m in my first semester of grad school…) so I’m waiting (im)patiently for them from the library. So this list is a combination of what’s already out and books coming out in the next few months.


1. Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren: I have preordered all of their previous books because I love these ladies. I actually thought I had preordered this one, but when I realized I didn’t I thought about how much I disliked their last book and how I didn’t want to spend any money and I settled on waiting on this one from the library (one person in front of me on the hold list!).


2. Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre: Torre is one of my guilty pleasures in my reading life. Most of her stories are kind of dark erotica, but this one sounds more chick list-esque and I’m excited to see what she does with a more ordinary story.


3. The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev: I read A Bollywood Affair during my blog break this summer and I was so pleasantly surprised to find that I absolutely love it. I can’t wait to revisit Bollywood and Dev’s funny, smart writing.


4. Bounce by Noelle August: After not loving Boomerang, but then really enjoying Rebound I’m kicking myself for not picking up Bounce yet. I’m especially excited to get to know Adam’s brother Grey and read this take on Hollywood.


5. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick: Another victim of my move across the country. I had to wait until I got a library card in Minnesota to request this one, but now I can’t wait to read it. My Life Next Door was one of the first YA books I read a few years ago when I started reading YA again and I can’t wait to get to know Tim and hopefully revisit Sam and Jase.


6. Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus: I’m going to be honest and say that I just hope this is a better Charlie, Presumed Dead. Both take place in Paris, both have a love triangle, and both sound mysterious. Hopefully this one lives up to my expectations.


7. First & Then by Emma Mills: This just sounds like the perfect rom-com YA story. There’s a shy girl, there’s football, there’s comparions to Pride and Prejudice and Friday Night Lights. What can go wrong?


8. All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: I absolutely love this series. There’s nothing truly outstanding about it, but all of the books are so smart and well done that I just can’t help but by excited for what’s next for Cassie and the crew.


9. Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain: The Good Sister was one of my favorite books of 2014 so obviously I’m excited to see what Jamie Kain does next. Plus this one sounds really great on its own.


10. The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean: It’s Sarah MacLean, do I really need to say more? And it’s a pun! I love puns. I’m just sad I need to wait until the end of December to read this.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Books On My Fall To-Be-Read list
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Best Sequels Ever

Book Reviews: Lauren Layne

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Title: Blurred Lines
Release Date: 06/02/15
Genre: NewAdult Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Since I read many books during my blog break that I never reviewed I want to go back and review some of them. I’d love to go back and review all of them, but my memory isn’t that great and I don’t have that much time, sadly. One of my great discoveries during the break was Lauren Layne. I had requested Blurred Lines on NetGalley without really knowing anything about it. I feared that it would be the typical melodramatic new adult book, but I went for it any way and maybe it’s case of low expectations, but I ended up really loving it. The way I described it to Estelle was When Joss Met Matt but better.

Parker and Ben met in college and have been best friends ever since. Even though they’re a girl and a guy they’re truly just friends. After college, which is when the story takes place, they live together happily as roommates. Ben hooks up with lots of random (kind of ditzy) girls and Parker is in a long-term relationship with a guy she started dating in college. After Parker’s boyfriend suddenly breaks up with her everyone encourages her to go out and have some fun, but she realizes casual sex isn’t really her thing. Enter hooking up with Ben, a guy she loves and trusts, but is confident that they can have sex a few times and part as friends.

If you’re read any chick lit or seen a rom-com you can probably guess where this goes. Parker and Ben hook up, have fun, but then start to question if maybe there is room for them to be more than just friends. Enter chaos and some angst, but luckily for us, not too much chaos or too much angst. Parker and Ben are both just great characters. The story is told in their alternating perspectives and they’re normal 20-somethings (who are really attractive and great in bed). At the beginning of the story their friendship is great and then as the story goes on their sex and romance is also smart and engaging in a very real and honest way. Plus, the story isn’t just about Parker and Ben’s romance, there are also really relatable family situations, friendships, and careers. I loved this story and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for something light but smart.


Title: Broken
Release Date: 09/02/14
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After being totally impressed with Blurred Lines I knew I had to see what else Lauren Layne wrote. Happily I found the Redemption series (yes, it’s a cheesy name). Technically there is a novella prequel, but I started with Broken, the first full novel. The series is about three childhood friends, two guys and a girl, who are finishing up college and going through different things in their own lives. In Broken Olivia is dying to get away from the stuffy NYC society world she grew up in after she made what she considers to be a terrible mistake. Rather than finishing college she moves to Maine to work as a caretaker for who she thinks is an older, wounded veteran. The veteran turns out to be Paul, a guy who’s only a few years older than Olivia, who hasn’t come to terms with what happened to him in Iraq/Afghanistan (this is terrible but I can’t remember which country it was).

The idea of Olivia as a nurse/therapist was kind of silly, but I thought Lauren Layne did a good idea of embracing the fact that Olivia wasn’t trained for either of those jobs and finding out ways to explain around it. The story kind of has a Beauty and the Beast aspect to it since Paul refuses to leave the house or interact with anyone due to his injuries. Olivia does a great job of bringing him out of his shell and repairing both of their lives. The cheese factor in this one was definitely higher than Blurred Lines and there was some more melodrama, but I still enjoyed it and if you enjoy stories about soldiers (which I do) and redemption then I would recommend it.


Title: Crushed
Release Date: 04/14/15
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

However, I actually enjoyed the second book in the Redemption series much more. Crushed follows the third friend, Michael, to Texas where he’s trying to squeeze his way into his newly discovered half-brother’s life to get to know his biological father. Michael only recently learned that his mother had an affair and that the man she had the affair with is his father. That man has no idea Michael exists and Michael, who’s angry and bitter and hurt, goes to Texas to kind of ruin his life. In Texas Michael works as a tennis instructor/personal trainer to mostly middle-aged women who want to get in his pants (and at the beginning of the story many succeed). Michael coaches Kristen, a hot 20-something who is also his half-brother’s girlfriend. At first Michael wants to steal Kristin away from his half-brother (and Kristen is kind of a conniving, mean girl so it’s not as terrible as it sounds), but then he meets Kristin’s sister, Chloe.

Chloe is going into her senior year of college and she’s also been the sister in the background. She’s overweight and more introverted and when Michael first approaches her he challenges her by asking if she’s really living the life she wants to live. Maybe it’s because of my field, but I really enjoyed the way that Michael and Chloe’s friendship built (and developed into something more) and how Michael helped Chloe to lose weight not to look like her “hot” sister, but to be healthy and lead a full life. Chloe is also hilarious. The story alternates between their perspectives and even though Chloe seems more introverted compared to her sister she’s really very friendly, smart, observant, and funny. The story does veer into the melodramatic towards the end, but I still loved the characters and their journey.


Title: Only With You
Release Date: 07/29/14
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The last Lauren Layne book I read was actually one I forgot about. Only With You is much more of a traditional 30-something characters, told in the third-person mass marker romance. And it’s not a bad one, but it’s just not as interesting and well done as the other three books I’ve talked about here. The premise of the story is cute, Sophie is a smart girl who’s never been able to commit to a career or a guy and works as a cocktail waitress. When she’s in Vegas for a bachelorette party she ends up in an elevator that breaks down with a very attractive, stern businessman who, much to her horror, mistakes her for a prostitute. When she goes home to Seattle it turns out that her sister is actually casually dating that guy, Gray, and they’re both mortified (Gray doesn’t actually proposition her, he actually tells her something like he’s not looking to buy). Sophie then ends up becoming Gray’s PA at work and they hate each other and then hate leads to passion, etc. etc.

I did really want to like this, but I kind of just didn’t. Mass market romances aren’t really my thing so it kind of feels unfair to judge it, but it had issues outside of just its format. Gray is very cold and stern, he got his heart broken and he’s very sealed out to the world. Sophie is very much a free spirit who wants to expand Gray’s world and make him feel again. Because their personalities were polar opposites the two characters often felt like caricatures rather than characters. Also, and maybe I need to take it less seriously, but the whole Gray being Sophie’s boss and how the romance unfolded just made me uncomfortable. I would suggest passing on this one and sticking with the three Lauren Layne books I really enjoyed.

I also tried to read After the Kiss, but it suffered from a lot of the same issues as Only With You so I gave up after only a few chapters.

One Year Ago: Mini Reviews
Two Years Ago: Book Review: Deceived


Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

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Title: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Author: Sarah Ockler
Release Date: 06/02/15
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I went into The Summer of Chasing Mermaids with very few expectations. First, I haven’t really been reading much lately so even getting myself to pick the book up was a victory. Second, while I didn’t dislike #Scandal, it also wasn’t Twenty Boy Summer or Bittersweet so I questioned on which end of the spectrum The Summer of Chasing Mermaids would fall. Third, I don’t want to sound like an a-hole, but the story kind of didn’t do anything for me. A girl who can’t sing or speak? Mermaids? A boat race? I mean it didn’t sound bad, but it also didn’t sound like something right up my alley.

Happily, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids was definitely a step up from #Scandal, but it was still missing some of the magic that made me really enjoy Twenty Boy Summer and Bittersweet. I’m not going to lie, the whole main character not talking thing was kind of hard. Not only can Elyse not talk (which I mean I can’t really hold against her), but she’s also very depressed (again, can’t blame her) and spends a lot of time inside of herself or not communicating with the people she’s around. Even though that sometimes made the story drag Elyse definitely has a rich world inside of her head and she’s smart and observant.

Luckily for Elyse and for us the world she’s living in is rich and interesting. The setting and characters of the small Oregon costal town are fascinating and Sarah Ockler really makes their world come to life. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent some time on the Oregon coast, but I could completely picture their small town and the type of people who lived there (although I had a hard time picturing people vacationing year after year there from northern California and Texas like some of the characters). I also knew the real life touristy towns that the Elyse mentions.

As much as I enjoyed the town the whole winning a silly regatta to save the town story seemed a little contrived. Not only the whole part about the mayor or the town and this rich guy betting the future of the town on their children, but also Elyse and Christian’s relationship. Christian is supposed to be this reformed playboy and while his charm certainly comes across, his interest in Elyse never seemed to match up with his personality and the origin of his interest was never explained or shown. To me this comes back to the whole fact that Elyse can’t speak. Some of their written conversations are spelled out in the book, but most of the time they’re kind of together and Elyse mentions it or talks about it after the fact so it’s hard to see how they really are together and how their relationship evolves.

Bottom Line: It feels strange to write a review that places a lot of the blame for things I didn’t like on the main character’s disability. Which I suppose is technically true, but I think it has more to do with the execution of Elyse’s disability than the fact that she has a disability. Learning about someone coming to terms with not being able to speak or sing, something that made up so much of her identity, is a fascinating premise for a story and I do believe it could be a fascinating read, but for all the good parts of this story (the town, Elyse herself), the story of Elyse’s disability didn’t work.

One Year Ago: Book Review: In a Handful of Dust
Two Years AgoWaiting on Wednesday: Split Second

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

Oh, hi! It’s been a long time since one of these posts, or really any post, appeared in this space. Things have been kind of crazy. I mean I finished my pre-reqs for grad school, quit my job, took a vacation, moved halfway across the country, and started a grad school program. So silence was necessary although not always welcome.

I’ve been in a major reading slump the last month or so. I think I’ve read 3 books. My brain has just been everywhere and no where and my concentration is shot and my desire to give different things a try is non-existent. Looking at this freebie Top 10 Tuesday week I thought it would be fun to take a topic from back in 2011, Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time, and maybe use it as motivation to remind myself of books I’ve loved.


1. Where She Went by Gayle Forman: As one of my all-time favorite books how could I not want to re-read this? Learning about where Adam and Mia ended up was so special and I’ve love to re-live that again.


2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Another favorite. I cried when this book was over, not because the end is particularly sad or happy, but because it was just such an amazing book.


3 + 4. After I Do and Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid: These are together because they’re both by the brilliant Taylor Jenkins Reid. After I Do I would re-read because I absolutely loved it and Maybe in Another Life because I went into it with a lot of expectations and read it at a weird time in my life and I’d be curious what I would think without expectations and at a slightly less neurotic moment in my life.


5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: I am the only person in the world (I may seriously believe that) who didn’t love this book, but the expectations. Maybe without those pesky things I wouldn’t have been as bothered by Anna’s terrible personality?


6. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas: On the recommendation of a few smart people I read this prior to the rest of the Throne of Glass books and while I loved these novellas I wish I had read this after the novels (or the ones that were out at the time). I just think this collection is stronger than the novels so I ended up not caring for the novels, but I think if I hadn’t read the novellas first I would have liked the novels more.


7. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn: Another book foiled by expectations. This is by one of my favorite authors (Morgan Matson) and takes place around where I grew up so I wanted it to be amazing. But it wasn’t. Part of my (about 95%) thinks this is just a bad book, but I am curious what I would think without expectations.


8. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: This is one of the first YA book I read when I went back to reading YA book as an adult. I loved it, but having read so many YA books now I would be curious of my first impression with a more solid YA background.


9. All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry: I read this with zero expectations and I ended up loving it. But I also started it at like 9pm and stayed up until the early morning finishing it. I would have loved to have read it under more normal circumstances.


10. One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington: This is a weird book for me. I loved it, but then I kind of forgot about it and I feel like it’s flown under the radar in the general YA community.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Books on My Fall TBR List