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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz This is the one time that I'll encourage you to judge a book by it's cover. Look at it. From the author's name, to the title, to the illustration and the calligraphy - everything just screams beautiful. 

Then this dedication:
To all the boys who've had to learn to play by different rules.

And this preface:
Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?

It is this honest language seeping through the entire book that made me fall in love with Ari and Dante. The dialogues consist mostly of short, simple sentences (that sometimes threaten to fall into monotonous territory) but the words used are always hard-hitting. The writing is simple but always insightful. If I had used an actual marker to highlight a physical copy of this book I would've dried it up from overuse. 

The novel is such a page-turner even without being plot-driven. It's about Ari, a fifteen-year-old boy who is angry and sad but has learned to hide his feelings well, and Dante, the confident boy who becomes his best friend. Their summer is spent getting to know each other and making self-discoveries but a near-tragic accident and Dante's imminent move to Chicago brought on confused feelings and tested their friendship. I can't say more than that because of spoilers but I can tell you that apart from themes of growing up and friendship, this book also touches on family, acceptance, loyalty, culture, bullying, sexuality, among others. 

Gawd, these boys. I want to be friends with them. I want my phantom kids to grow up to be like them. I want to tell the average YA/NA character, 'hey, being a teenager with a shitty life and repressed feelings or being sulky and angry does not give you an excuse to be mean.' These are boys who have character. They possess strength in the face of peer pressure. They have a good sense of what is wrong and right - always trying to do the right thing. They're not a pair of goody-two-shoes. They're just good. And they're not abnormally strong. They hurt like every other person, which only makes me want to hug them and tell them that it will get better and they will find the niche where they belong. 

This is truly one of the best coming-of-age stories I've ever read. The romance is so sweet - a lot of heart and zero cheese and the happy ending more than makes up for the moments of sadness throughout the book. If you want to take a break from unpleasant characters, pick up this book. And while you're at it, gift this to everyone you know.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes What else can I say about Me Before You that hasn’t been said already? It’s as beautiful and moving as everyone says, yet instead of the depressing read that I was expecting it turned out to be funny and witty and uplifting, for the most part. If you haven’t read this yet, STOP READING REVIEWS, including this. Go in blind, shut out the hype and expectations, and don’t believe for a minute that this is a romance novel.

Lou just radiates positivity and goodness that it’s impossible not to be affected. She started out as this young woman who was content, but not without dissatisfaction, until her world was shook. I felt her helplessness and related to her fears, but I also cheered for every transformation she made.

And gawd, I don’t know if I’ve ever read a character as fascinating and as unique as Will. This is a man who knew himself completely, a man who wouldn’t settle for anything less than what he wants. He led a big life; however, his quadriplegia has now trapped him in a life he doesn’t want to live. Pain, depression and loneliness plague him every day, which makes his bitterness and bad temper easy to understand. The decision he made was not surprising, and even though I was happy for the efforts that Lou made, I don’t think I would’ve loved the ending had she succeeded. People will always fail you, despite their good intentions and best efforts. If Will had chosen to back out, he’d be living for her, not for himself. Whoever wrote the song Love Will Keep Us Alive was greatly disillusioned, because it really won't. If Will had believed in a higher being or found purpose in his predicament it might have been a different story, but he had a vision of life that he would not betray. For him, he was already dead. And the remainder of his life would only be a lifetime of mourning for the person he once was.
And no matter what anybody says about grief, and about time healing all wounds, the truth is, there are certain sorrows that never fade away until the heart stops beating and the last breath is taken. – Tiffanie DeBartolo, God-shaped Hole

And can you judge Lou and the rest of his family for trying their best even though it’s not what Will wanted? It’s not selfishness. How can you live with yourself if you knew that you didn’t do everything? Who gets to judge whose happiness outweigh the other? In the end, I can’t accuse Will of being a hypocrite for urging Lou to live when he won’t, because his experience and feelings are his own. Who are we to judge what’s best for him when we have no idea what it’s like?


This really is a thought-provoking novel that’s more suited for a book club discussion rather than a recap of my thoughts and feelings so I’ll leave this as it is. It has its sad moments, yes, but I think it’s highly unfair to judge the book based on the crying-feels alone. This has humor, clever dialogues, and completely relatable characters. It’s definitely one of the most thoughtful and inspiring books I’ve read this year.
Succubus Revealed - Richelle Mead 4.5 stars!

I know this reaction is a bit late, but THAT EPILOGUE!!!

This was a great ending despite the revelations being mostly predictable. I loved the plot twist with the contract and the relocation problem that threatened to pull Seth and Georgie apart again. As with other series enders that I've read, this left a bittersweet taste in my mouth, especially since I don't know if I'll ever read about a hero with Seth's personality and charm again.

Unsurprisingly, I cried. Surprisingly, Seth and Georgie weren't the culprits. That hobo angel just knows how to push my tearduct buttons!
"I have faith in some more than others. And you? I've always been one of your biggest fans. If you believe nothing else, believe that."

I will miss the Mortensens, even the pretentious Ian, but most especially the girls. RM, can you please write a series with a Kendall-like heroine? Even if it's middle-grade I'll read it!

And though I couldn't have asked for a better ending, I can't help but be saddened about the break-up of the gang, which I once thought had a pretty solid friendship. I didn't see that part about Jerome coming at all! Yasmine and Roman's roles here were also heartbreaking. This book tied up most of the loose ties although some of my earlier questions about the technicality of Georgie's occupation were still left unanswered. And like everyone else, I was also curious to know what ring Seth gave her!

I'm glad I finally got to read this series. I love RM's addictive storytelling skills, her awesome characters and her quirky humor. I will definitely miss everyone!
Succubus Shadows - Richelle Mead Since I didn't immediately write a review after finishing this my thoughts may be a bit muddled.

You want a mindfuck? You got yourself one in here. Did the Georgie-bashing by Maddie and Seth actually happen? I thought this was another great installment but after coming down from the drama-filled epicness that was [b:Succubus Heat|5148720|Succubus Heat (Georgina Kincaid, #4)|Richelle Mead|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1363643447s/5148720.jpg|5215692] (which should really be called Succubus in Heat), this one just didn't stand a chance to be a 5 for me.

The beginning and the end were probably my favourite parts. And yes, even though I am completely anti-Maddie, I liked the angst and the constant heart-squeeze every time Georgie looked at Seth, or the other way around. I was especially touched with Roman's concern for Georgie, even though it seems as if he's had a personality transplant, and I really, really liked him before.
"I don't like this. Like I said, it's like...it's like watching you die. Over and over."
I still loved the gang. Even Cody had his aww moments. But Carter? Gawd, I love him and his cryptic messages, especially his and Georgie's last scene.

As for the ending, I think I would've been more excited had I not seen that coming. It was an awesome chapter nevertheless and I'm just glad that Maddie's out of the picture already. *fistbump*


Untitled (Rock Chick, #8) - Kristen Ashley
I've never hidden the fact that the Rock Chick series was my least favourite out of all the KA series I've read. I get that readers enjoy it for the fun and sexy romp, but oftentimes I'd find myself poorly tolerating certain heroines' decisions and the ridiculousness of some situations. Despite my issues, however, I've grown to love the family that KA created in this series and want all of the characters, main and secondary, to have their happy endings. Rock Chick Revolution satisfied me in that regard, but as for the main storyline, it just didn't grip me enough.

Now, I don't need a strong plot to enjoy a book, because I've loved many that are relationship or character-driven. In my opinion, Rock Chick Revolution started out strong, what with the complicated relationship that Ren and Ally had. To my relief, there wasn't the usual, unnecessarily long chase denial courtship that transpires between the ladies and the Hot Bunch. Okay, it was long, but at least we don't witness it through pages and pages of going back and forth. Ally was a stubborn but decisive woman, and after she got over her initial issues with Ren, that was that. Mostly.

My lack of 5-star-lovin' has to do with the shift of this story from being about Ren and Ally to being mostly about Ally. Like I said, I love character-driven stories, but only if I love the character. And sadly, Ally doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's because I've witnessed enough of her silly shenanigans throughout the past seven books to form an invariable opinion of her. Maybe I just didn't find her newly found vocation interesting enough. Or maybe I'm just too jealous of the fact that she snagged the most perfect guy ever. Yeah. I think that's it. After all, eight books later, I'm still hung up over Lee and Indy. *cries*

But that's just me. If you've loved the Rock Chick series through and through I've no doubt you'll love this one as well. It still has the hilarity and the steaminess found in the previous installments. The multiple appearances of past characters alone are enough to make you smile like an idiot from the first page to the last. And gawd, the dreamy Ren Zano is like no other. He is perfection!!! I would give 5 stars for his character alone. Next to Lee, he's definitely my favourite among the HB. Aside from the above, you'd also love the subplot going on with Darius, and the family dynamics between the Nightingale siblings. They're moving and heart-wrenching, true to KA-style.

I did find some parts slow, but the lure of a fantastic epilogue kept me going. Thankfully, it did deliver. It truly was a bittersweet ending, but I think I'm ready to grow up, move on and call this series quits.

As long as some characters here make cameos in KA's other series.
Succubus Heat - Richelle Mead 4.5 stars

What did I think?

I think that with all the Tim Hortons name dropping, Richelle Mead should have at least made a shout out to sour cream glazed donuts.

I think that Georgie has the best friends anyone could ever wish to have.

I think that there is evil lurking behind Maddie's facade. I bet you she knows. Hence, the insistence on Georgie's move.

I think that I am now more convinced than ever that Seth is a reincarnation of Kyriakos.

I think that my initial indifference towards Georgie had to do with finding her too perfect and now that she's shown weaknesses and vulnerability I'm team Georgie all the way. I want to hug her and cry with her.

I think that Roman's return is AWESOME!!!

I think that Seth should've ended it with Maddie already.

I think that cheating never felt so right.

I think that I SHOULD NEVER EVER DO REVIEWS ON SERIES-INSTALLMENTS THAT I PLAN TO READ BACK TO BACK.

I think that I should relearn how to write reviews.

That is all.
Succubus Dreams - Richelle Mead 4.5 stars

Playlist (on loop): The Chain, Ingrid Michaelson (my hiccups and sobs in the background)



I know I asked for this. But still...


- Yasmine and Vincent. Oh gawd, the pain!

- Seth and Georgie. Was this because I whined over the cheating in book 2? I feel like I'm being punished.


I don't know if I can review this. Ever.
Succubus on Top - Richelle Mead 3.5 stars

I won't lie. The beginning of the book brought back memories of a certain movie...



But let's not make this all about Georgie and Seth. Doug's been acting weird lately and Georgie's old friend, Bastien, is in town for a special mission requiring her assistance.

Ugh. Who am I kidding. I don't want to talk about Doug and Bastien. I caught on to their problems way before Georgie figured it out. What I really, really want to talk about is my problem with how the whole thing with Georgie and Bastien was glossed over. I feel that Seth has been so lenient with her, and inasmuch as I love him, I hate that he was so darn good and understanding! I wanted fury! Jealousy! Relationship drama! I don't hate Georgie for what she did but I can't help but feel that she got away with it.

Favourite parts:
1. The flashbacks. I love nostalgia, and I connected to Georgie more in her past life. I love the scenes with Seth and Georgie, I really do, but the memory of Letha and Kyriakos gave me goosebumps and heart flutters.

2. The scenes with the gang. Gawd I love Jerome and Carter.

3. Georgie's present. *blush*

4. Painting with the Mortensens.


Up until this book I thought the series was a little too chick-lit for my reading mood but towards the end I finally saw the angst building up. I"m probably just saying this because I missed Roman but I liked this a little less than the first book. But I'm definitely hooked, evident in my unplanned reading of Succubus Dreams. Can I just finish the series and do a series review instead?
Wrong Ways Down (Downside Ghosts, #1.5) - Stacia Kane
I started this novella expecting to fangirl the entire time. After all, it's Terrible's book, yo. And I did squee and swoon a lot, but my heart also felt like it was being ripped to shreds again. I cried, I ached, and I smiled.

Similar to Chess and her Church cases, this book took us behind the scenes to one of Terrible's assignments. One of Bump’s dealers was brutally murdered and a prostitute was attacked, and it’s up to Terrible to find out who’s behind all these and deliver the proper punishment.

There are no fade-to-black scenes when we see Terrible in action. It made me wince at times because the visuals that Ms. Kane’s writing provides are so vivid and clear you can almost hear bones cracking. And now I know why Terrible doesn’t want Chess to see him when he’s doing his job. It’s not pretty. Then again, nothing in Downside is.

This book continues the gloomy, dark feel of the series. Faithful to the Downside world, Terrible's POV was done entirely in Downspeech. How brilliant is that? Not only did he manage to sound incredible male (finding Chessie's grooming bag "cute"), he also sounded well... like himself. Bump is still Bump, still speaking in third person, and still providing comic relief when I need it the most.
"You fuckin' out with she all the fuckin time, yay, buzzin around she like a fuckin fly with a hard-on, so why he ain't would fuckin assume on it?"

I thought I’d get some reprieve from Chessie’s self-loathing by taking a break from her POV but Terrible’s thoughts were just as sad and heartbreaking, if not more. If Chess found her escape through drugs, then Terrible found it by beating people up. Fighting is second nature to him, and it’s important that we saw how this wasn’t just a job to him. It’s who he is and what he does to fight the memories that continue to torture him every so often. We got a glimpse of his past and got to know him better (notebook? He could be a detective or PI in an alternate universe! Oh, and he makes sandwiches.) We also got to see when he realized his feelings for Chess and what went on his mind every time he was with her or thought of her. I wanted nothing more than to take this book and physically show Chess my highlighted passages to show what Terrible thought of her so she could ease on the self-deprecating thoughts already!
Iffen he'd been asked two months past he'd have said she may have been the prettiest dame he'd ever met but she seemed like one of the bitchiest too. But turned out she weren't a bitch at all. She was fucking amazing, and iffen he could spend all his time with her he would.

And seriously, if I thought that I couldn’t love Terrible even more then I was so, so wrong. He just further proved to me how he’s become one of my favourite fictional male characters ever! I don’t know how Stacia Kane did it, but somehow, somewhere along my reading adventure, she’s made this unattractive, seemingly emotionless thug into a multi-layered, swoony anti-hero who gives me the heart flutters all the time. I care for him so much, I just want him to be happy and to succeed, you know? And he has to know – I think the world of him. (So does Chess.)

I think I’m gonna go reread [b:Home|13484974|Home (Downside Ghosts, #3.6)|Stacia Kane|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1329243338s/13484974.jpg|19020414] to make myself feel better now...

Terrible,




~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


OMG!!! SK just announced the release date and it's... *drumroll* AUGUST 6th!!! That's 3 freakin' weeks from today! I am sooooo excited! ❤❤❤






Unteachable - Leah Raeder 3.5 stars

I haven’t read many student-teacher romance novels but I do love themes of forbidden love. There’s something thrilling about pursuing something that’s considered immoral in the eyes of others. What I loved about this was that for the two main characters, there was no moral dilemma about what they got themselves into. The cliché situation would be them trying to fight their feelings and convincing themselves that a relationship between them would be wrong. The exact opposite happens here.

Maise O’Malley is quite an interesting heroine. I liked her from the get go. She was the rebel with a cause, determined to turn her back from her unpleasant upbringing. I was instantly drawn to her unique “voice.” Have you read the blurb? She sounds exactly like that the entire time. I thought she’d turn out to be a surly, self-destructive teenager at first but she was actually very self-aware and wise beyond her years. On one hand I admire her boldness and her fierce determination, but on the other hand she seems like the character I love to hate – that girl who thinks she’s better than everyone else (and has but one friend as a consequence.) She’s a cynical, sardonic bitch one moment and then an innocent girl talking about stars and galaxies with childlike wonder the next.

If I was rating this book for the story alone, it would have easily been a 4-star read for me. The plot was very engaging and the whole feel of the story is very romantic. Evan doesn’t say much but everything he says and does carry so much weight. A look here, a touch there – they’re all electrifying. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to learn much about him since this story was very heroine-centred, but I’d have loved to know what caused him to be as broken as he was. He may have the upper hand in years and experience but he seems to be the one who is less assured, the one who has more needs, and the one who’s more emotionally unstable. Between him and Maise, I worry for his heart more, which is why I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending. The reason why this wouldn’t have been a 5-star for me is that it didn’t really take me to places emotionally. I felt the angst, yes, but I never doubted for a moment that Maise wouldn’t be able to get herself out of whatever rut she was in. I never saw any weaknesses, (even her decision to leave Evan was an act of strength and bravery to me), never saw any vulnerability for a believable amount of time. I guess I just prefer my characters to have life-altering realizations that would take them from Point A to Point B in the character development scale. I want to see them make their own mistakes and learn from them, not just surface from problems thrown at them by external factors.

Lastly, I decided on that rating because the writing style and some inner monologue really bugged me (to the extent that I almost DNFed this.) I felt that I should be impressed by the poetic narration and uncommon choice of words (e.g. lugubriously, catharsis of rain, xyphoid process, liminal space, mellifluous voice, diaphanous sundress, ephemeral, post-coital tristesse, sepulchral loft, chthonic horror, etc.) but I thought they were a bit overdone. I know, I know. I should be thankful that I’m forced to expand my vocabulary but the narration just sounded unnatural and bizarre to me at times.

I was also bothered by the halting, fragmented sentences that were prevalent throughout the entire book.
But right then, that sort of teenage boy angst was comforting. Familiar. A simple toy I could pick up and understand, instantly. Ballast against Mr. Wilke and whatever was happening between us.
The final bell rang.
My teacher stood up, smiling. An open, ordinary smile.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A car drove past, a face turning to us.
We were utterly still.
Another icy dagger, this time hitting the crown of my head.
Then it all came at once, the sky exploding into water.

If Ms. Reader intended for those scenes to be cinematic in order to blend with the filmmaking theme in the story then I guess that was a brilliant idea. But for me? It was very hard to read. It was very cut-and-paste and lacking fluidity, like reading an illustrated storyboard instead of a script.

I don’t know... I have mixed feelings about the writing. I thought some parts were beautiful and that some thoughts were really introspective and smart and funny.
Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with dick.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The sky was so full and pregnant you could punch a hole in it and douse the world with blue paint.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Oh my god,” I said. “You’re the mob wife. You won’t leave me, even though there’s a price on my head.”
(my favourite line in the book)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I was still a teenager, and part of being a teenager was constantly checking your answers against everyone else’s. What did you get for number four? Is falling in love with someone twice your age gross, weird, amazing, or all of the above?

And then there were parts that were just begging for an eye roll. I love that Ms. Reader owned up to the fact that she wrote pretentious, lyrical stuff because it did feel, at times, crammed with pompous dialogue and narrative.
I felt disembodied again, but this time because my body was too full to contain me, too crowded with light and stars and shimmering galaxies like pinwheels studded with diamonds, spinning their brilliance into the void without caring whether it would ever be seen, just needing to shine. The bed beneath me was cloud, my skin a sheet of moonlight lying atop it. And this man, this amazing, impossible man, was the sun.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I closed my eyes. Pushed my senses to the tips of my fingers and toes, and felt like I held the world in my hands, a luminous sapphire veined with light and revolving slowly in the sun, ridiculously, absurdly beautiful.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

My skin stretched tight. My heart pressed right up against the bars of my ribs. I lay in the snow and watched the stars and even the Earth wasn’t strong enough to hold me down. A stronger gravity pulled at me. And pulled. And pulled.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Raising the camera was his first impulse; mine was to feel, to let the world crash against my skin.

If you don’t find anything absurd with all that then forget it, it’s obviously just me. It's not that I don’t appreciate poetic declarations of feelings or the use of magical imagery to convey emotions. I do love them in fiction... in small doses. Here, they feel misplaced.


Again, maybe it's just me.
The Gorgon in the Gully - Melina Marchetta Review to follow.


**July 25 edit**

THIS greeted me in the mailbox today!




Why am I reading children's lit?

1. It's MM. Duh.
(Not M/M, perverts!)
2. The main character, Danny, is Jonah Griggs' brother, which makes him awesome by default.
3. A Jonah sighting is expected. *squeeeeeee!*

I can't wait to read this! =)
Succubus Blues - Richelle Mead Lazy recap of thoughts because I accidentally deleted my review without saving it.

4*!!!


I loved RM's VA and Bloodlines series so I thought it was high time I gave her adult series a go. Like the pilot books for the two, I found Succubus Blues easy to understand. The plot was easy to follow and the heroine was easy to like. I thought there was an interesting mix in the cast of characters. Even though I know who Georgina's OTP is I kinda liked that there was another love interest. After all, I still have 5 more books to go through before I reach her HEA.

Instant likes:

1. Seth. I mean, how could you not? I must admit, I was conditioned to like the guy prior to meeting him. I'm just glad that he lived up to my expectations! He's just as cute and adorkable as everyone says. Come on. Who wouldn't fall for someone who writes you letters (e-mails) and holds your hair back while you make friends with the toilet seat?

2. Roman. Shuddup. I like the guy especially when he was his mortal self. He'a cute and charming and I don't care if he seems too perfect. I loved the crappy job on the bookcase and his persistence. Plus, I don't entirely blame him for wanting to wreak havoc given his shitty past. And I believed that his feelings for Georgie were sincere. The only turn-off I found at this point was his sister.

3. Pop culture references and the normalcy in day-to-day motions. Eating pho, salsa dancing, birthday parties, BtVS (I thought there were even parallelisms between Georgie/Seth and Buffy/Angel), the shirts, the music, John Cusack. (Why wasn't Conair nor Say Anything included in the collection? Hmph.)

4. The camaraderie between Jerome and Carter. It's just a really fun idea. I bet they're more than drinking buddies though. Carter has feelings for him, no? The concern and the feelings of protectiveness seem more than friendly vibes to me!


Need some warming up to:

1. Georgina. I related to her hero-worship of Seth (as an author) and enjoyed reading the funny banter between her and the others. I also loved reading about her defiant and stubborn ways. However, I can't connect to her quite yet. Certain things confuse me. As Carter pointed out, if she didn't want the attention, why make herself look that attractive? I mean, if she needed the hot looks to aid her in the seduction process she can just shapeshift into one prior to going on the floor, no? And it may seem that she did the noble thing by giving up her mortality in exchange for Kyriakos' happiness (by erasing herself from his and the town's memory) but there's just something a bit self-righteous about that decision that bugs me. Then again, she was vulnerable when Lilith approached her with the proposition so I doubt she had time to really think about anything other than undoing the mess she created. So, whatevs.

2. The mechanics of Georgie's job. I don't know if I missed the explanation but I don't understand how her role as a succubus completely works. I know she has sex with mortals to win their souls over to the dark side but that's as much as I know. Does she age? She's the only one of her kind in Seattle, right? Does she get reassigned or does she simply change her looks so she can stay in the city and not raise suspicion?

3. The lack of female characters. Is this a trend in UF series? Surround the heroine with male characters so she's the most interesting female around? I'm not complaining about Georgie's friends at all! I'm just wondering if it's possible to have a larger female presence without outshining the main character.


The crackpot theories have started. I'm VERY curious to see how Georgina and Seth's relationship plays out. Is Seth a reincarnation of Kyriakos? There were hints in the "familiar" touches. I'm also interested to see how Georgie deals with her internal struggles. Overall, I thought this was a fun and light read. Shit hasn't hit the fan yet and no threatening villains so far. Looking forward to reading the next!
Mud Vein - Tarryn Fisher Auto-buy author! I hope there's another destructive villain!
Sweethearts - Sara Zarr I bought three more Sara Zarr books immediately after finishing [b:How to Save a Life|10757806|How to Save a Life|Sara Zarr|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1337211222s/10757806.jpg|14982110] - this being one of them. Her writing spoke to me like a Marchetta novel does, although her stories seem sadder. I saved them for when I craved something emotionally distressing to read, but unfortunately, this didn't quite hit the right buttons.

[b:Sweethearts|2020935|Sweethearts|Sara Zarr|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1336053590s/2020935.jpg|2799404] was the story of Jennifer and Cameron, childhood best friends who were separated after a tragic event. Jennifer was the kid whom no one wanted to hang out with. Her mom was a single mother who worked long hours and went to nursing school at night, leaving her on her own most of the time. As a result, she didn't always have clean clothes, didn't always eat right and didn't always behave. She shoplifts, steals food, and binge-eats when she feels sad. She often gets bullied at school and had no friends until Cameron befriends her. They had each other, and it didn't matter that they didn't have any other friends. But Cameron was harboring a secret. He'd often miss school, or come to school silent, and a few days later he'd come around and act his normal self as if nothing happened.

One absence turned out longer than usual and Jennifer started to worry about him, especially after they had a shared experience which led to her finding out his secret. At first she thought that he moved away and just didn't say goodbye, but the bullies at school told her that he died. None of her teachers or even her mom denied this, and so she believed that Cameron was truly dead. After that, she mourned him and buried herself along with her memories of him.

Fast forward to eight years later, Jennifer Harris is now Jenna Vaughn. She's no longer the overweight kid who had no friends. After her mom started working as a nurse and remarried, they moved to a nicer neighborhood. Jenna switched schools and was able to reinvent herself. She was a popular kid who did well in school, had a group of friends and a cute boyfriend. Life was steady and good until her 17th birthday when she unexpectedly receives a letter from Cameron saying that he was back.

There were parallels between this and HtSaL. I particularly thought that Zarr uses the mother-daughter relationship subplot quite effectively. They're neither close nor are they enemies, but there's a level of discomfort and a need to sweep things under the rug rather than confront each other. At first glance the main issue seems to be about Cameron - why he disappeared, what happened to him in the years between and why he's back. But the discovery to be made is really about Jenna and the effect Cameron's leaving had on her. When he came back, her life was turned upside down and memories started flooding back. Feelings of hurt, confusion and abandonment resurfaced and these made her question her relationship with her mom, her friends, her boyfriend and even how she views herself.

I easily connected to Jenna but had trouble understanding Cameron. I appreciated that he was not made to look like a pitiful character despite traumatic events in his life but in the end, I felt that the unfinished business remained unfinished. For instance, he said that he came back for Jenna. Okay, and then what? I didn't feel that there was any ploy to pull what they had in the romantic direction (like in [b:Eleanor & Park|15745753|Eleanor & Park|Rainbow Rowell|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1341952742s/15745753.jpg|17225055]) but I also didn't understand what he wanted to achieve in terms of their relationship. I liked that he was an independent man-child who genuinely loved Jenna and was concerned about how his presence affected her life. Jenna, on the other hand, appeared like a shallow teen who was mainly concerned about pleasing others. She may not be a victim of abuse like Cameron was, but she was also a victim - a victim of neglect. I've learned that they too can have equal or greater lasting scars only they're not as obvious because you can't see the consequences physically.

Despite falling short of resolutions I still enjoyed this book in its entirety. I LOVED the writing. It didn't have the emotional pull that I was looking for but I still loved reading about the closeness between Jenna and Cameron. This would be one of the few instances where I think a sequel/companion novel (in a future setting) would be a good idea. I wouldn't mind if it were to be in Cameron's POV either.
Thief (Love Me With Lies, #3) - Tarryn Fisher ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

How often do you find yourself loving a book and disliking its narrator? The main characters? It's happened to me thrice - all in the same trilogy.

I'd have to warn you that this review will contain spoilers. There's just no way I can write about my thoughts about it without giving away certain events that happened. I'll spoiler tag those which occur in this book, but I'll take it as a given that you've read the previous two books already.

This is truly a bittersweet ending for me. I've had a love-hate relationship with Olivia and Caleb the moment I started The Opportunist, and since then, I eagerly anticipated this moment when I'd finally get into the head of the one guy who was responsible for hurting me with his betrayal. And it has little to do with what Olivia walked in on that fateful night at his office. The ultimate betrayal was marrying someone who wasn't Olivia.

In this series ender, a lot of revelations were uncovered - many of which had me thinking, "if only..." If only he fought for her harder. If only those text messages were sent. If only she let her guard down a little. If only they communicated after that night. But if the resolution was that easy I wouldn't have gotten the chance to struggle with Olivia, wish harm on Leah (without feeling guilty) or cry with Caleb. Plus, it wouldn't be a Tarryn Fisher novel if it didn't make me want to hurl my reader against the wall now, would it? Everyone in this series made mistakes and decisions that were just propelled by their obsession and their need to protect themselves from heartbreak.

To me, this didn't end in a HEA, and it's not because they didn't get married nor have a baby of their own. I had an idea of how it was supposed to end (one that included creative ways of killing off a certain character). I wished for Olivia and Caleb to end up together like most did, but I would've been satisfied had Olivia and Noah worked out despite my belief that a huge factor of their marriage was just due to the pleasure of shared company. I wasn't pleased with the direction that Noah's character took. Where was my charming, self-assured sexy Ghandi who was good for Olivia? I was also disappointed with how convenient Estella's relationship with Caleb came to be. I never had a memory of my parents being together, but I remember being six years old and crying and refusing to spend a Saturday with my mother who was a stranger to me then (I'm close with mummy dearest now, by the way.) I believe in separation anxiety and abandonment issues and all those psychoanalytic crap, which is why Estella's reactions don't feel realistic to me. Then again, she is a different child, and maybe her issues will come out later, when we can't witness it anymore.

There was also a point when I was so mad at Caleb for deciding what role he would play in Estella's life based on her blood. Like, one moment he was so in-love with his daughter and the next he wouldn't even fight for her? He's her father regardless of whose biological child she is. Then again, that's who Caleb is, right? The one who never fought for Olivia. I'm bitter, I know.


But despite all my issues, I understood why it ended the way it did. I say that it's not a HEA because there would always be a void in their hearts which can never be filled by the other. They had a vision of life that will never be a reality. I don't know if forgiveness and trust can be fully given, or past hurts forgotten. I look at Olivia and see how much she's changed from all she has lost. For me it's not a betrayal of character but a surrender to the fact that some wants just outweigh other wants. Same goes for Caleb. I still don't like him, but I'd be lying if I say that I wouldn't want a Caleb for myself who knows me the best and who's still there despite everything that has happened. He's as much a victim as he was a perpetrator and observer. I think he carried the heaviest guilt and because of that I can never bring myself to hate him. And lastly, while I hate Leah to pieces, I understand some of her behavior and I don't think it was unreasonable of her to not want Olivia in the picture if Caleb and Estella were to have a relationship.

While Olivia and Caleb's behavior may be initially alluded to their obsession and their selfish wants, the later years proved that they only acted based on what they thought was best for the other and not necessarily what the other person wanted. I would normally hate this self-righteous mentality, but in this case it just wasn't enough for me to write this book off. I feel that they both settled for less, yes, but I also know that there was a transformation in them. If I questioned their relationship before, this ending just proved to me that they are good for each other, flaws and all. And honestly, I just don't need a perfect ending all the time. I loved this. I LOVED the entire series. I loved its originality and its bravery. I loved the nostalgia and the sentimentality. I loved the risks that Tarryn Fisher took with this. For me, they all paid off.
Finding Magic - Stacia Kane Review to follow.