ARC Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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Release Date: September 6, 2016

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Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

review

4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Children’s Delacorte Press

+++Triggers: Self harm, violence, assault, sexual situations, graphic scenes

From the first few pages, I knew that this book would be something special. At 10% on my Goodreads update my status was: “This book. That voice.” I haven’t read such an emotionally gripping and poignant book in a long time. Charlie’s voice is rich, broken, and beautifully tragic. She bares her soul to the reader and has overcome so much that you’ll want to weep for her pain.

This book is intense and not for the faint of heart. The subjects are raw and gritty and graphic. There are times when, if you’re even remotely queasy when it comes to blood, that you might feel a little sick. Self mutilation/harm plays a major role in this story and the psychological reasoning behind it is dark, honest, and could be dangerous or cathartic to some readers. 

Sometimes contemporary books can feel contrived, this is seedy, and twisted, and full of anguish and suffering that many young people, unfortunately go through. It feels absolutely real and honest. Heartbreaking and yes, it will make you angry and maybe even open your eyes to all of the hurt around you that you overlook everyday. 

The writing style. Holy sinful writing gods. Beautiful. Potent. Full of soul. It’s imperfect. There’s some poetry thrown in here and there, but that voice. It reads like a diary. 

Girl in Pieces reads like two books. The time that Charlie spent during her recovery and the life she builds after. There are flashbacks sporadically as well. The first half of the book is like therapy. You’re introduced to everything that got Charlie into the position she’s in. You meet other girls who also self harm for whatever reasons. Each character is unique and memorable. You’ll want to know them, to get to the heart of why they feel the way they do. 

The second half was not my favorite. It slows down considerably. Charlie is building a new life for herself and everyday is a struggle not to cut. The memories of her past haunt her, but so is oh so strong. She’s a fighter, through every negative thought, every memory, she battles herself. You see the struggle and wonder how she copes, but there’s hope for a future where she’s better, where she can be and love herself. 

There’s a stunning plot twist. I was so surprised and disgusted. Just wow. You never know people. 

The romance is messed up. Toxic in some instances and good for her in others. Through love, Charlie begins to see a new side of herself, a beautiful side. She begins to truly look at herself, but the risks and decisions she makes, the way she puts herself in danger is most definitely not okay. She sees it, but doesn’t feel worthy or secure in herself enough to say no. THIS is so important. An examination of why people stay in bad situations and how to rediscover your worth. 

Side note: I strongly dislike this cover.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

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Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway: ReCap by Danielle Pearl

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ReCap (Book 1.5)

Rory and Sam fell in love in NORMAL, and we all fell in love right along with them. Now see it all unfold through Sam’s eyes, and learn just how the new girl with anxiety issues stole the heart of the gorgeous heartthrob, and turned his world upside down.

You already heard the story. The one of how Rory and I fell in love, supposedly, even if she couldn’t handle it in the end. You know how it all went.

Or you think you do.

You only know her side. But I have my own point of view, and even Rory couldn’t know my thoughts in those few months it took for her to go from being a stranger to my whole entire world.

Every moment is permanently ingrained in my memory. In my goddamned soul. From the moment I stumbled upon the girl panicking outside of calculus – the one with the tight little body, the angelic face, and the fierce attitude – to the night she abandoned me in Miami. It was the sum of those moments that changed me irrevocably.

Our story isn’t over. I won’t let it be. But this, this is what happened so far, the way I saw it.

I’m Cap. Or Sam, to Rory. And this is my story.

review

4/5 Stars

***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author.

From the first page of this series, I’ve been hooked. I love everything about Rory and Sam, their complex relationship, the past trauma, how they heal each other’s wounds and see how strong they truly are just by being loved. It’s beautiful, uplifting, heartbreaking, everything you could ever want in a story and so so so important. The Something More series deals with crucial issues that are not voiced enough, that people look away from rather than take action against like domestic abuse and rape. In many ways, when we do hear these stories, they’re from one side, or maybe two, the victim and the attacker, but what about the people who are there after, those who love and cherish those who have been hurt so deeply? ReCap is that other story. The powerful and life-changing POV of those who fall madly in love with someone who has been abused and the everyday struggles that come up.

Sam is…I mean, he’s amazing. That word somehow seems less. Sam is empathetic, strong, fierce, protective, and soul-crushingly, swoon-inducing, devoted to Rory. He sees her scars and worships at the altar of her strength. Rory is something holy and angelic to him. No matter how broken she sees herself, she’s the epitome of perfect to Sam because she has overcome so much.

It’s intense reading Sam’s emotions as he watches Rory fight for control of her PTSD. The thoughts that race through his mind, his struggle to understand, and the way he beats himself up when he makes mistakes are incredibly raw and honest. The fine line between treating her like she’s fragile and comforting her is hard to master and Sam makes tons of mistakes. 

It’s all the things you don’t think about that are brought to your attention in this book. The way we take things for granted, like casual touching, or grabbing someone when you want to get their attention. It’s eye-opening to witness how things we brush off can trigger someone who has been through trauma. 

How Sam sees Rory. It’s like seeing the sun for the first time. That bright, almost startling brightness, the magic of its beauty, the way it warms and occasionally burns, but brings so much comfort. That is what Sam feels every time he looks at Rory, like he’s awake for the first time. The emotions are off the charts, almost too much. I might be a little in love with Sam. 

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ReCap and the Alternate POV 

I’ve heard every opinion you can think of regarding the highly controversial alternate point-of-view companion novella, or novel in many cases. They’ve been published by some of the best in the genre–Hoover, McGuire, Stephens, Evans, and countless others. Some readers love them with their whole book-loving hearts, thrilled to get more of their favorite characters however they can get them. Others hate them with every cell in their one-clicking finger–or perhaps a decidedly different finger, considering the sentiment–frustrated to pay to read a story they feel has already been told.
 
Personally, as a reader, I’ve been on both sides of the book aisle. For me, I find that whether or not I enjoy reading the same story from a new vantage has a great deal to do with how much I enjoyed the original novel. It also helps to know what to expect. Sure, it’s always nice to get access to some new scenes, but I’ve found that rare in these kinds of books. Instead, what you’re getting is access not to new plot points, but to new insights. 
 
Sam “Cap” Caplan is deeply special to me. He’s the first book boyfriend I published, and he will always be one of the loves of my life (don’t tell my husband). He’s gorgeous, yes, and he should be–I invented him. But he’s also incredibly patient and compassionate, strong in all the ways I love a man to be strong, yet sensitive in all the ways a girl like our heroine, Rory, desperately needs. When you’re writing a girl who struggles with PTSD, and a debilitating anxiety disorder as a result, you need a special kind of hero to make her feel safe enough to open herself up again. When that girl’s trauma was caused by the worst kind of betrayal by the men in her life who were supposed to love her the most? Lets just say it was a challenge to find that balance between alpha protectiveness and patient empathy in a way that would both do justice to the subject matter, and be organic for the development of their relationship. 
 
But–*sighs dreamily*–oh, Sam
 
Let’s just say, as far as I’m concerned, he’s it
 
So when I posted on Facebook asking readers if they would be into a novella retelling some scenes from Normal from Sam’s POV, and the response was a resounding, “hell yes!”, I was immediately in. 
 
ReCap (which I realized too late almost no one realizes is a play on Sam’s nickname), was written in about a week and a half. Once I jumped into Sam’s head, there was nowhere else I wanted to be, and it flowed out of me with barely a conscious thought. I loved being in there. I loved seeing Rory through his eyes, and experiencing his extreme emotions–the consternation of his strong reaction to this girl he didn’t even know, the inexorable affection he couldn’t quite explain, the rage as he slowly uncovered just what she’d survived, and most epically, the love that started as a small spark, that gradually kindled until his heart was being consumed by an inferno he had no way of escaping. 
 
I always new Okay (Book 2) was going to be told in dual POV, but it was writing ReCap that really made me understand how critical it was to experience these stories through Sam’s observant, insightful eyes. He just sees so much, feels so much. And I wanted readers to feel it with him. 
 
ReCap is book 1.5 in the series, and it isn’t necessary to read it between Normal and Okay. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t my favorite in many ways. You don’t lose anything by skipping it, but you do gain so much by reading it. 
 
So my final thoughts: If you enjoyed a novel, embrace the alternate POV book. Go in knowing what to expect, and not hoping to read an entirely new story. Because in real life, we never get to see through anything other than our own eyes, and how incredible is it to have the chance to do that with the characters we already love? 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES (INCLUDED IN BOXED SET)

eBook-Normal-by-Danielle-Pearl

It’s the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That’s what I’m counting on.

A year ago, Aurora “Rory” Pine was just a normal teenage girl – just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.

But this isn’t a year ago.

Rory is broken, and suffering from a new debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that’s easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There’s a witness – and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly can’t ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory’s past won’t just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they’re lucky – love. This is not a flowery romance – not for the faint of heart.

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After the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for her and Sam, love means letting go.

Can two people hopelessly in love ever revert back to just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam knows for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have.

As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Excerpt

I climb into the passenger seat of Carl’s Audi. She tells me that Tina is already at the party and we’ll meet her there. I look at the clock on her dashboard and estimate that I’ll need to kill about three hours before Mom goes to bed and I can sneak back home.

When we arrive, Tucker hands us both red plastic cups and points us to the keg, but I set mine down on the first flat surface I can find. I haven’t taken a pill today, but I still don’t really like to drink. Tina and Andrew are laughing and talking with a group of people and Carl goes off to join them while I hang back a few feet from the crowd. I watch as a minute later Tuck jogs over, slings his arm around Carl and plants an exaggerated wet kiss on her cheek. She playfully pushes him away, but it’s clear she doesn’t mean it. Everyone looks so happy and carefree… normal.

I don’t belong here.

“Having fun?”

I startle but catch myself quickly. Somehow I recognize Sam’s voice instantly, and his tone tells me he can tell just how much fun I’m having.

“Didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”

I shrug. “Tons,” I murmur, unenthused. “You?”

“A blast.” He matches my level of excitement. “Can I get you a drink?” he offers.

“I don’t really drink.”

“How about some water?”

“I- uh-“

He hands me his unopened bottle of Poland Spring, and my lips part to thank him, but for some reason I stay silent.

“You don’t seem to want to be here,” he observes.

I frown. He’s right, I don’t, but it’s rude of him to point it out, isn’t it?

“Neither do you,” I counter. Sam smiles, and it’s an unexpectedly wistful smile. I’m surprised by it. I’d expect something more cocky from such a gorgeous, confident guy.

“Touché… I have a lot on my mind.”

If he expects me to ask him about it, he’s going to be disappointed. Even though I find that I am interested to know what’s plaguing the mind of this beautiful boy, I worry that if I ask about his problems, then he’ll have the right to ask about mine. But he doesn’t give me a chance to ask, and I think maybe he didn’t want me to after all – maybe he didn’t even mean to say it.

“You wanna go for a walk?” he asks, nodding in the direction of the open grassy area that leads to what appears to be a pond.

Is he seriously hitting on me?

He doesn’t even know me, and the one thing he does know is that I obviously have issues. He probably thinks the crazy ones are easy. My eyes narrow. I straighten my shoulders indignantly and square my stance. False confidence all the way.

“No. I don’t want to go for a fucking walk. I’m not gonna fuck you, or hook up with you in any way. Or anyone else for that matter. Spread the fucking word,” I growl. My throat is suddenly desert-dry, so I take a swig from his water bottle to soothe it, praying it doesn’t betray my anxiety.

Sam stares at me like I’ve just grown another head, so I turn and stomp away from the hordes of people, toward the pond, marching in the exact direction I just insisted I did not want to go. My heart pounds mercilessly, but this isn’t panic, this is anger.

Ugh! Guys! They’re all the fucking same.

“Hey!” Sam calls after me.

Can’t he just take no for an answer?

He catches up to me and his unexpected grip scorches the skin of my arm like wildfire.

I don’t think. I wrench out of his hold, turn, and smack him across his face. “Don’t touch me!” I hiss. “Don’t ever touch me!” We’re now far enough away from the crowd that no one notices us, but if I scream, they’ll hear me.

Sam’s fingers caress his cheek where my palm made contact, eyes wide and round.

“What the fuck is your problem, Rory?! I wasn’t fucking hitting on you!” He rubs his reddened cheek again. “Damn it!”

He wasn’t hitting on me?

My boiling blood starts to simmer and shame floods my veins. All of a sudden I can’t for the life of me remember what made me so certain his invitation for a walk was code for a hook-up – what made me think he’d want me that way at all. God, if he didn’t already think I was crazy…

Damn it, Rory, don’t panic.

Sam is glaring at me, but something in my mortified expression must warrant pity, because he sucks in a deep breath and I can sense his anger begin to dissipate.

“I was… you just didn’t seem like you were up for a party. I thought you’d want to get away from all those people.” He gestures to the crowds, now off some distance, and shoves his hand through his messy chocolate locks in frustration. “I wasn’t trying to fuck you. I realize that we don’t know each other very well, but what about me that you know so far, exactly, makes you think I’m the kind of guy who would lure you down to a lake, lay you down on the dirty ground, and have sex with you with a hundred of our friends not fifty yards away?”

I swallow anxiously. I’ve offended him. Moisture pricks the back of my eyes and I will it to stay put. It’s beyond reason how much I’ve humiliated myself in front of this guy in just one week.

“I-” I choke back what threatens to be a sob, close my eyes, and silently count back from ten in double time. When I open them again, I’m greeted by his expectant midnight blue gaze. “I’m so sorry,” I breathe.

Sam exhales sharply, his fingers raking that familiar path through his hair . “Look, I shouldn’t have grabbed your arm like that. I wasn’t thinking,” he murmurs. Now he’s apologizing and I’m more than certain he has nothing to be sorry for.

“Not just for slapping you.” Oh God, I freaking hit him!God, but I am so sorry for that. But I’m sorry for assuming- I wasn’t thinking. I…” I pause and look away. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” It’s a lie. I know exactly what’s wrong with me.

Sam’s expression warms, and it’s not full of pity either – it’s… compassion. Empathy.

He sighs. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Rory.”

I look away again, anywhere but at the deep blue oceans that unnerve me so. They seem to know more about me than they should. “Sure there isn’t,” I mutter bitterly under my breath.

Sam takes an abrupt step so he’s directly in front of me, silently demanding eye contact. His arm twitches, like he wants to touch me but thinks better of it.

“There’s. Nothing. Wrong. With. You.” He glares at me like he can convince me of this with just a look.

Everything in my gut screams that he’s a good guy. Like Cam. But if there’s anyone whose instincts can’t be trusted when it comes to guys, it’s me. I was even wrong about Cam. I thought I knew everything about him. But he was keeping his secrets, too.

But Sam saw me freak out. He knows I have issues, but no one else here does. Which means he’s kept my secret. Otherwise it would have been all over the school in a heartbeat. That’s got to count for something.

“Sam, you… thank you. I mean it, but you know that’s not true. And I know you didn’t tell anyone what happened my first day. When I…” I trail off and shake my head. He doesn’t need a recap, he was there. “Thank you for that. You’ve been nothin’ but nice to me. There’s nothin’ about you that would make me think anything bad about you,” I say meaningfully, answering his original question. “Except that you’re a guy,” I add quietly.

Sam looks sad for a moment, but offers me a weak smile anyway. “I was just hoping we could be friends. Just friends.” He covers his mouth and whispers conspiratorially, “no public fucking on the grass outside of parties. I promise Not even if you beg.”

I smile, but it’s a wistful smile, because I could never be Sam’s friend, even if something in my bones really wishes otherwise. But I no longer believe that guys and girls can really be just friends, and I’m too attracted to him to even try. I could never fully trust him, not really, and I could never trust myself with him.

“Why would you even want to be my friend?” I ask. Because really, if I were him I’d have fled screaming in the opposite direction.

He considers me a moment. “I don’t know, Ror, you just seem… real.” He shrugs. Something about the way he says “Ror” reminds me of Cam, and the memory of our friendship cuts me so deeply I wince.

“I wish I could be your friend, Sam,” I murmur.

His eyes are full of some unfathomable emotion, and I wonder how this conversation has grown so intimate. We barely know each other. When Sam speaks again his voice is so low it’s practically a whisper. “Who hurt you, Rory?”

I tell him the truth, matching his tone – barely audible. “Everyone.”

authDanielle Pearl

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Danielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her husband three delicious children. She is a life long book enthusiast who has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil.

Danielle went to Boston University and worked in marketing before self-publishing her debut, Normal, in August of 2014. She writes mature young adult and new adult contemporary romance. She is represented by Erica Silverman of Trident Media Group.

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If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Jordan

ARC Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

if i wasGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: May 3, 2016

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A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself–including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life–and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different–and a love story that everyone will root for.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this ARC as a gift via Goodreads First.

+++Contains triggers for: assault, suicide, hate crimes, violence

If I Was Your Girl is important and necessary in educating others about difference and all the many wonderful variations that color our world. 

PROS:

  • There are some truly beautiful and profound moments that will make your heart feel so full and bursting with happiness and sadness. Mourning. It’s not something that many people think of from an outsider’s perspective. The loss of a former identity that someone never wanted, but was a forced reality because of gender assumptions. There’s a scene where, after surgery, Amanda’s mother is looking through photographs and crying about the loss of her son, as if he died. In a way, he did. This hit me really hard because you don’t really think about how this feels to a mother. Not off-hand at least. Russo pairs this with a celebration, a rebirth of sorts, because Amanda is FINALLY becoming the person she was always meant to be, even if her sex said otherwise. This scene was bittersweet and so refreshing-hopeful. That all parents could be so accepting and loving. There are also offhand statements that are so blunt, and said so casually they’re jarring, but reveal the bleak reality of just how much trans individuals suffer through. There’s a line near the end about cutting off hair and being buried in a suit, and my heart literally stopped, it was just so horribly tragic and upsetting. 
  • Being accepted as a woman is like a revelation for Amanda, and validates her decision. She’s who she was always meant to be, and though she fears letting anyone know about her past, embracing her agency as a woman is an awakening and continuous experience for Amanda. Coupled with first love, it is written so honestly, so fresh. Amanda is confused and conflicted. Her feelings are so hopeful and uplifting, you’ll want to bask in the purity of this new love. Letting herself love fully, Amanda is insanely courageous, not just as a trans individual or a woman, but as a human. 
  • The author gets the narrative from multiple sides without switching POVs. From the main character, to her classmates, to how her parents, and the community feel, it all comes together to create a vibrant picture of the adversity and assumptions that are made about people who are different. The fear that parents feel for their children, it’s gripping and brutal and heartbreaking that parents should have to feel so scared beyond the normal fear for their children, but that there are people filled with so much hate that are searching for people to make an example out of. 
  • The diary scene. My heart shattered. 
  • Read the author’s note and the dedications. Trust me.

CONS:

  • Scenes ended abruptly and events were summarized briefly in the next chapter. I felt let down by this sharp transition, I wanted more. I would have liked to have been shown, not told about what happened. 
  • Connections between characters were loose. While you can see the blossoming of friendships, romance, and other variations, the moments together are so brief and fleeting that it doesn’t solidify into anything more than surface. It’s like you’re watching from the outside and the emotions are not as potent as they could have been. On one hand, it’s understandable because Amanda is scared. She’s never had friends, she doesn’t know who to trust, and she has been wronged so many times in the past that letting people see the real her is terrifying and withholding the truth is a defense mechanism. 
  • While I loved Amanda’s build up of affection for Grant, the moments were short, stunted, and full of drama. I felt a little disconnected from the situation (this also has to do with scenes getting cut off). It also felt like it was moving crazy fast. One minute just hanging out, the next clothing removal. It was hard to grasp the amount of time passing in sections that weren’t specifically labeled with year and date, so it felt like only a week or two before full-blown love.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Read on, 

Jordan

Review: Broken Heart by Tammy Faith

brokenGoodreads/AmazonsynI met Cris when I was five years old. He was my brother’s best friend. We started out as friends and eventually evolved to first kiss, first crush, first love. First everything.

I was an innocent little girl. Stupid. Naive. Cris and I promised each other forever.

Right then, we didn’t know that promises were so hard to keep. I was corrupted, each piece of me smashed against my foolish and childish wishes. Who would have thought that my boyfriend would become the vivid incarnation of my own personal demon?

Crisanto Tauli and Phoebe Stephen were happy.

Until that day.

The day she can’t seem to remember, and he can’t seem to forget. The day that she, ruled by her fears, left him. The day that she broke both of their hearts.

Now she has to face him, and her secrets, once again.

TRIGGER WARNING! DUE TO MATURE CONTENT, THIS BOOK IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR READERS UNDER THE AGE OF 18.teaserbroken teaserbroken tease

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author

CONTAINS TRIGGERS & Mature Content: rape 

PROS:

  • This is not only a story of heartbreaking recovery and love, but a coming of age story as well. Phoebe grows exponentially, she becomes confident in herself, her sexuality, and finds her worth as a person. At the same time, she’s mature enough to realize that she’s too dependent on her boyfriend and needs time to become who she’s destined to be (though this doesn’t last too long). Phoebe’s pain is palpable and raw, her memories of the incident are haunting and terrible. The words her rapist whispered to her stayed with me for days. 
  • Depictions of therapy and coping mechanism post-trauma are spot on and inspirational. They grant hope and show just how hard working through PTSD is, no matter how far you’ve come, there will always be triggers and memories. 
  • Cris and Phoebe’s romance is playful and sometimes extremely serious. It’s made of rough patches, and bitter fights, of pushing each other away and running back with open arms. There are tears, and pain, and oh so much happiness. They are a shining example of overcoming all obstacles for the one you love. 
  • Phoebe’s interactions with Giselle were hilarious. They show her spunky, sarcastic side and you get a true picture of their friendship. 

CONS:

  • Interesting side note: I’m from Florida, where this is set, and attended FSU, so I was excited that part of the story was set where I went to university…but there was ZERO description. Nothing. Like not even mention of local bars or buildings or even the name of the football stadium where the MAIN CHARACTER played football. This took away from the story. It’s not the only section that lacks description to make the story seem more real, more colorful, instead of a whole bunch of telling. The most description was actually of the sexual assault and sex scenes, which kind of displaced the whole story. 
  • The story digressed as it went. Instead of development, towards the end it became a whole slew of sex scenes, so many that it lost the magic of their romance and felt a little monotonous. 
  • The pacing was off. Some moments that felt like they should have been extended were too short. There are leaps in time that are a bit confusing and will take you some time to adjust. The story goes from high school almost to the end of college. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Read on, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Halfling by H.D. Gordon

halflingGoodreads/Amazon

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Being seventeen and an outcast is hard. Being seventeen and only half human is harder.

When Aria Fae gets cast out of the Peace Brokers, a secret supernatural organization that’s trained her since infancy, and is left to fend for herself in the human world, she finds herself in Grant City, intent on attempting a normal human life.

As a Halfling, Aria has abilities that are a little underused in the flower shop she lands a job at. And when her new friend Samantha Shy enlists Aria to help investigate her mother’s death, the two girls decide to become vigilantes.

A new drug called Black Magic is running rampant in the streets of Grant City, turning people into supercharged maniacs. With Sam’s mad computer skills, and Aria’s Faevian abilities, they may be just the heroes Grant City is in need of.

Or they may find out they’re in way over their heads, and their mutual crush on the same guy is the least of their worries.

review3/5 Stars

***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author 

The Halfling is an interesting twist on half-fae, much in the vein of Melissa Marr’s latest Seven Black Diamonds. X-Men meets paranormal magic, The Halfling is a thrilling, action-packed read that leaves you rallying for justice. 

PROS:

  • The story has a lot going on. Half-fae, sorceresses, a secret paranormal agency, human trafficking, hackers, and a horrifying new drug that makes users want to feed on flesh. 
  • Secondary characters are intriguing and make you want to know more about them. I loved that there were nerdy, tech obsessed BFFs that used their genius to make the coolest inventions and turn Aria into a fantastic super heroine. Samantha is awesome. Bullied but not defeated. She uses her mind and though she has some insecurity, it’s endearing. She can’t talk to guys to save her life and it’s hilarious. 
  • Aria is independent, courageous, fierce, and basically a crime fighting superhero. She takes risks and puts her life on the line to save the victims of human trafficking and other crimes throughout the city but at the same time, despite her fae powers, she’s just a teenage girl looking to belong. She doesn’t know how to deal with boys, she gets embarrassed, she abruptly leaves weird situations, and the tension is high but it’s very relatable. 
  • The chemistry. It’s all over the place. That neighbor. I’m not sure how to feel about it because he’s much older and sometimes seems like a fatherly figure/knight in shining armor, but oh man is he sexy. Former military, gorgeous, mysterious, and always comes to the rescue, what’s not to swoon over? There is some triangular action going on with the hot prep school boy whose father owns half the town but he’s flirty, playful, and has a big heart. You’ll feel for Aria because they’re both pretty perfect. 

CONS:

  • This felt more like the continuation of a series than the first book. So many key facts about Aria’s past were alluded to but never expanded on. Like the situation with her mother, a clearer picture of why she was banished, and who exactly her enemies were are all lacking in explanation. 
  • Focus gets lost somewhere between the superhero antics, Aria’s past, and the romantic tension. I’m not sure where the story was trying to go. Sometimes it felt like a pure romance, other times para, and others superhero adventure. The connection was loose. 
  • Some parts were predictable.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Excerpt Blitz: The Something More Boxed Set by Danielle Pearl

12802755_1757485517818067_3249192848912659730_n1544421_1752313128335306_6566959681867940611_nPre Order for only 99¢!!

(900+ page ‪#‎BoxedSet for ONLY 99 PENNIES plus a sneak peek of In Ruins at the end!)

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

eBook-Normal-by-Danielle-Pearl

synIt’s the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That’s what I’m counting on.

A year ago, Aurora “Rory” Pine was just a normal teenage girl – just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.

But this isn’t a year ago.

Rory is broken, and suffering from a new debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that’s easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There’s a witness – and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly can’t ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory’s past won’t just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they’re lucky – love. This is not a flowery romance – not for the faint of heart.Recap-eBook-2

synRory and Sam fell in love in NORMAL, and we all fell in love right along with them. Now see it all unfold through Sam’s eyes, and learn just how the new girl with anxiety issues stole the heart of the gorgeous heartthrob, and turned his world upside down.

You already heard the story. The one of how Rory and I fell in love, supposedly, even if she couldn’t handle it in the end. You know how it all went.

Or you think you do.

You only know her side. But I have my own point of view, and even Rory couldn’t know my thoughts in those few months it took for her to go from being a stranger to my whole entire world.

Every moment is permanently ingrained in my memory. In my goddamned soul. From the moment I stumbled upon the girl panicking outside of calculus – the one with the tight little body, the angelic face, and the fierce attitude – to the night she abandoned me in Miami. It was the sum of those moments that changed me irrevocably.

Our story isn’t over. I won’t let it be. But this, this is what happened so far, the way I saw it.

I’m Cap. Or Sam, to Rory. And this is my story.

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synAfter the horrors she’s survived over the past year, Rory never expected to find the one thing she certainly wasn’t looking for – love. But after the painful realization that her past has left her a dangerous liability to the person she cares for the most, she finally understands that for her and Sam, love means letting go.

Can two people hopelessly in love ever revert back to just friends? Neither Rory nor Sam knows for sure. But the one thing they do know – it’s the only choice they have.

As Rory recovers from a devastating assault, Sam will do anything to make sure it never happens again. But how far will he go to keep her safe? Their choices will change everything, and they will either bring them back together, or destroy them irrevocably.

Excerpt

Excerpt from Normal (Book 1)

I climb into the passenger seat of Carl’s Audi. She tells me that Tina is already at the party and we’ll meet her there. I look at the clock on her dashboard and estimate that I’ll need to kill about three hours before Mom goes to bed and I can sneak back home.

When we arrive, Tucker hands us both red plastic cups and points us to the keg, but I set mine down on the first flat surface I can find. I haven’t taken a pill today, but I still don’t really like to drink. Tina and Andrew are laughing and talking with a group of people and Carl goes off to join them while I hang back a few feet from the crowd. I watch as a minute later Tuck jogs over, slings his arm around Carl and plants an exaggerated wet kiss on her cheek. She playfully pushes him away, but it’s clear she doesn’t mean it. Everyone looks so happy and carefree… normal.

I don’t belong here.

“Having fun?”

I startle but catch myself quickly. Somehow I recognize Sam’s voice instantly, and his tone tells me he can tell just how much fun I’m having.

“Didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”

I shrug. “Tons,” I murmur, unenthused. “You?”

“A blast.” He matches my level of excitement. “Can I get you a drink?” he offers.

“I don’t really drink.”

“How about some water?”

“I- uh-“

He hands me his unopened bottle of Poland Spring, and my lips part to thank him, but for some reason I stay silent.

“You don’t seem to want to be here,” he observes.

I frown. He’s right, I don’t, but it’s rude of him to point it out, isn’t it?

“Neither do you,” I counter. Sam smiles, and it’s an unexpectedly wistful smile. I’m surprised by it. I’d expect something more cocky from such a gorgeous, confident guy.

“Touché… I have a lot on my mind.”

If he expects me to ask him about it, he’s going to be disappointed. Even though I find that I am interested to know what’s plaguing the mind of this beautiful boy, I worry that if I ask about his problems, then he’ll have the right to ask about mine. But he doesn’t give me a chance to ask, and I think maybe he didn’t want me to after all – maybe he didn’t even mean to say it.

“You wanna go for a walk?” he asks, nodding in the direction of the open grassy area that leads to what appears to be a pond.

Is he seriously hitting on me?

He doesn’t even know me, and the one thing he does know is that I obviously have issues. He probably thinks the crazy ones are easy. My eyes narrow. I straighten my shoulders indignantly and square my stance. False confidence all the way.

“No. I don’t want to go for a fucking walk. I’m not gonna fuck you, or hook up with you in any way. Or anyone else for that matter. Spread the fucking word,” I growl. My throat is suddenly desert-dry, so I take a swig from his water bottle to soothe it, praying it doesn’t betray my anxiety.

Sam stares at me like I’ve just grown another head, so I turn and stomp away from the hordes of people, toward the pond, marching in the exact direction I just insisted I did not want to go. My heart pounds mercilessly, but this isn’t panic, this is anger.

Ugh! Guys! They’re all the fucking same.

“Hey!” Sam calls after me.

Can’t he just take no for an answer?

He catches up to me and his unexpected grip scorches the skin of my arm like wildfire.

I don’t think. I wrench out of his hold, turn, and smack him across his face. “Don’t touch me!” I hiss. “Don’t ever touch me!” We’re now far enough away from the crowd that no one notices us, but if I scream, they’ll hear me.

Sam’s fingers caress his cheek where my palm made contact, eyes wide and round.

“What the fuck is your problem, Rory?! I wasn’t fucking hitting on you!” He rubs his reddened cheek again. “Damn it!”

He wasn’t hitting on me?

My boiling blood starts to simmer and shame floods my veins. All of a sudden I can’t for the life of me remember what made me so certain his invitation for a walk was code for a hook-up – what made me think he’d want me that way at all. God, if he didn’t already think I was crazy…

Damn it, Rory, don’t panic.

Sam is glaring at me, but something in my mortified expression must warrant pity, because he sucks in a deep breath and I can sense his anger begin to dissipate.

“I was… you just didn’t seem like you were up for a party. I thought you’d want to get away from all those people.” He gestures to the crowds, now off some distance, and shoves his hand through his messy chocolate locks in frustration. “I wasn’t trying to fuck you. I realize that we don’t know each other very well, but what about me that you know so far, exactly, makes you think I’m the kind of guy who would lure you down to a lake, lay you down on the dirty ground, and have sex with you with a hundred of our friends not fifty yards away?”

I swallow anxiously. I’ve offended him. Moisture pricks the back of my eyes and I will it to stay put. It’s beyond reason how much I’ve humiliated myself in front of this guy in just one week.

“I-” I choke back what threatens to be a sob, close my eyes, and silently count back from ten in double time. When I open them again, I’m greeted by his expectant midnight blue gaze. “I’m so sorry,” I breathe.

Sam exhales sharply, his fingers raking that familiar path through his hair . “Look, I shouldn’t have grabbed your arm like that. I wasn’t thinking,” he murmurs. Now he’s apologizing and I’m more than certain he has nothing to be sorry for.

“Not just for slapping you.” Oh God, I freaking hit him!God, but I am so sorry for that. But I’m sorry for assuming- I wasn’t thinking. I…” I pause and look away. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” It’s a lie. I know exactly what’s wrong with me.

Sam’s expression warms, and it’s not full of pity either – it’s… compassion. Empathy.

He sighs. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Rory.”

I look away again, anywhere but at the deep blue oceans that unnerve me so. They seem to know more about me than they should. “Sure there isn’t,” I mutter bitterly under my breath.

Sam takes an abrupt step so he’s directly in front of me, silently demanding eye contact. His arm twitches, like he wants to touch me but thinks better of it.

“There’s. Nothing. Wrong. With. You.” He glares at me like he can convince me of this with just a look.

Everything in my gut screams that he’s a good guy. Like Cam. But if there’s anyone whose instincts can’t be trusted when it comes to guys, it’s me. I was even wrong about Cam. I thought I knew everything about him. But he was keeping his secrets, too.

But Sam saw me freak out. He knows I have issues, but no one else here does. Which means he’s kept my secret. Otherwise it would have been all over the school in a heartbeat. That’s got to count for something.

“Sam, you… thank you. I mean it, but you know that’s not true. And I know you didn’t tell anyone what happened my first day. When I…” I trail off and shake my head. He doesn’t need a recap, he was there. “Thank you for that. You’ve been nothin’ but nice to me. There’s nothin’ about you that would make me think anything bad about you,” I say meaningfully, answering his original question. “Except that you’re a guy,” I add quietly.

Sam looks sad for a moment, but offers me a weak smile anyway. “I was just hoping we could be friends. Just friends.” He covers his mouth and whispers conspiratorially, “no public fucking on the grass outside of parties. I promise Not even if you beg.”

I smile, but it’s a wistful smile, because I could never be Sam’s friend, even if something in my bones really wishes otherwise. But I no longer believe that guys and girls can really be just friends, and I’m too attracted to him to even try. I could never fully trust him, not really, and I could never trust myself with him.

“Why would you even want to be my friend?” I ask. Because really, if I were him I’d have fled screaming in the opposite direction.

He considers me a moment. “I don’t know, Ror, you just seem… real.” He shrugs. Something about the way he says “Ror” reminds me of Cam, and the memory of our friendship cuts me so deeply I wince.

“I wish I could be your friend, Sam,” I murmur.

His eyes are full of some unfathomable emotion, and I wonder how this conversation has grown so intimate. We barely know each other. When Sam speaks again his voice is so low it’s practically a whisper. “Who hurt you, Rory?”

I tell him the truth, matching his tone – barely audible. “Everyone.”

authDanielle Pearl

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Danielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her husband three delicious chidren. She is a life long book enthusiast who has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil.

Danielle went to Boston University and worked in marketing before self-publishing her debut, Normal, in August of 2014. She writes mature young adult and new adult contemporary romance. She is represented by Erica Silverman of Trident Media Group.

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PSA: This is one of the best contemporary series I’ve ever read BUT it does contain serious triggers. For my reviews on Normal and Okay –> NORMAL review + OKAY review

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

this is where the world endsGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

synJanie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivien moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship—as long as no one finds out about it. But then Janie goes missing and everything Micah thought he knew about his best friend is colored with doubt.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss & Greenwillow Books 

+++Contains what may be triggers for some: rape

PROS:

  • I feel like writing an open love letter to Amy Zhang’s writing style. Absolutely stunning. That perfect blend of simple, spot on description, and poetry made the writer in me sigh in contentment. There are so many quotable sections ❤
  • Janie’s diary entries are thought provoking, magical, bittersweet glimpses into her mind that pull you in and make you love her. She’s impulsive and fun, romantic, quotes Virginia Woolf, and finds the beauty in simple things. Her entries are classic, once upon a time reimaginings of her life that say so much more than her POV sections do. They’re heartbreaking and brutal. Watching Janie lose herself, her hope, is agony. 
  • Micah’s selective amnesia is scattered and fleeting, it hits with a punch. The memories are bright places in his dark pain. How he sees Janie is like a revelation. How Janie explains her connection is Micah is beyond anything, everything. Think Philip Pullman The Amber Spyglass sort of infinite, universe-defying love. Micah is confused and hurting. His mind has locked away the truth and it’s one he doesn’t want to face. He can’t bear to face.
  • When “it” happens, it’s relatable, easy to understand how things can be taken too far. How trapped and hurt. All the emotions are there in bursting torture and memory. The guilt, the nagging that she should have fought harder, that she let herself down, that no one would listen, that her voice doesn’t count. All of this is so relevant and so important to talk about. I adored that Amy Zhang made Janie’s diary entries turn dark, almost Grimm, when this horrible incident happened. The shift made the emotions all the more powerful. 

CONS:

  • Micah flows through life on the outskirts. He doesn’t really have a purpose or a function other than orbiting around Janie’s sunburst personality. He’s a kind of take it or leave it character. Other than his gentle, laid back kindness and way he worships Janie, it’s hard to ship him. 
  • When Micah finally does know the truth, the processing is absent. Like nonexistent. He breaks briefly and THE END. I expected more. Arguably, his amnesia is the coping process but there was just something that didn’t sit right. It seemed too easy to go on. Fleeting.

***NOTE: I am using this to fulfill when the main character has the same first initial on the 2016 YA Reading Challenge 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan