Review: The Edge of Falling – Rebecca Serle

Review: The Edge of Falling – Rebecca SerleThe Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: March 18th 2014
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five-stars

Sorrow can be seductive—but can hope triumph over heartbreak? A dark and searing novel from the author of When You Were Mine.

Caggie never wanted to be a hero, but some things are decided for us. Growing up among Manhattan’s social elite, Caggie always had everything a girl could want, including a storied last name. But after saving a girl from the brink of suicide, Caggie becomes infamous, and now all she wants is to be left alone.

After all, she’s still reeling from the death of her younger sister last January, the subsequent destruction of her relationship with high school boyfriend, Trevor, and the way in which her family has since fallen apart.

So when mysterious Astor appears on the Upper East Side, he just might be the rescue she needs. But what is he hiding? As life as she knew it begins to unravel, Caggie realizes Astor’s past may be as dark as her own. And in a world in which she’s been branded a hero, Caggie will soon discover that no one can save you…not until you save yourself.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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First and foremost I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of Rebecca Serle’s other novel, her debut, When You Were Mine. I seriously loved that book to pieces and have been dying for her to publish something else. So I was super super excited when I saw her next book show up on Edelweiss as an advanced copy. I immediately requested it and thanks to some help was approved fairly quickly. And thank goodness for that because the book was fantastic! It was everything that I loved about When You Were Mine but with more. Rebecca Serle has grown as an author (which I didn’t think was possible after finishing her other book) and has truly entered the world of young adult books with her sophomore novel The Edge of Falling. Between the characters and her use of New York as almost a character itself(more on that to come) she definitely has mastered the art of young adult literature.

The Edge of Falling is the story of Caggie, a privileged girl from Manhattan that is carrying around the guilt of her younger sister’s drowning. Wanting the pain of her sister’s death to go away Caggie does something drastic only it doesn’t go as planned. Instead she finds herself labeled a hero and has a whole lot of unwanted attention on her. Feeling trapped Caggie begins to self-destruct and in the process meets Astor, the mysterious new boy at her school. Soon Caggie is on a path that may lead her to more danger than she could have imagined and she has to make a choice if she wants to let the guilt take over or if she wants to live her life.

Oh Caggie! Caggie, Caggie, Caggie! Will someone please give this girl a hug! Man did she break my heart. I mean she was just so lost and so vulnerable and so…sad. She was plain sad and in turn that made me sad. But the thing about Caggie was even in her sadness she was so unbelievably likable. And that is a testament to Serle’s writing and how she makes the reader identify with Caggie. Instead of just wanting her to let go all of that emotion she was feeling and to get on with her life, I wanted to take the journey with Caggie while she figured out what her place was in this world now that everything she once knew was gone. She was the epitome of a lost soul when the book started and those glimpses of light she would have every now and then really brought her to a new level.

Now right from the start I knew Astor was bad news. I thought he was a creepster right from the start. He was too familiar too quickly and I’m not one to believe in those kinds of coincidences. He felt off from me from the start and that was without even reading the description for the book. What I didn’t expect was really how deep his darkness really was. I kept trying to figure out what his deal was and I never would have guessed it in a million years. That made his character kind of fascinating to read in a weird way. I knew I disliked him, but I also wanted to know more.

I also really liked Caggie’s best friend Claire and her ex-ish boyfriend Trevor. Both of these characters seemed to ground Caggie in their own way even when Caggie did everything in her power to push them away and get them to turn their backs on her. I often find the best friends in books to be overbearing and annoying but this wasn’t the case. Claire was there for Caggie and supported her no matter what. Even when they fought and didn’t see eye to eye she knew her best friend needed her and at times did the hard thing which really made me like her.  And Trevor was just the cutest. It was so obviously clear how much he still loved Caggie. He did everything in his power to make up for his past mistake and to be there for her even when she refused everything he had to offer. The way he worried about her made me completely swoon. He was basically awesome!

But truly one of my favorite parts of this amazing book was how Serle used New York not as a setting but as a character itself. You have all heard how Sex and the City(the TV show, not the book) made NY a main character to the series, how Central Perk was a 7th friend on Friend’s, how Buffy the Vampire Slayer wouldn’t have been Buffy the Vampire Slayer without The Bronze. Well Serle has woven NYC into The Edge of Falling in such a way that you actually feel the life of the city jumping off the pages.  Whether it is the Hamptons or the Upper East Side or the MOA, you can feel the energy of the city that never sleeps and in turn makes it an integral part to Caggie’s story. It really was quiet genius and it made me want to make a visit.

Serle’s sophomore novel is a story of pain and love and growth. It has fantastic characters, a great plot and fantastic writing. I had no doubt after reading When You Were Mine, Serle’s debut, that she would become an auto-buy author for me, and The Edge of Falling has cemented that. I can’t wait to see what comes out of her next. She has a fan in me for sure and when you read her books you will undoubtedly feel the same way.

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Review: Faking Normal – Courtney Stevens

Review: Faking Normal – Courtney StevensFaking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperCollins
Published: February 25th 2014
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four-stars

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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First thing first, Faking Normal far exceeded my expectations. I obviously knew I wanted to read it as the description sounds emotional and deep and a pretty great concept of a book, and I wouldn’t have requested an advanced copy if I wasn’t interested, but even starting the book I didn’t let myself expect much. I was just rolling with it, even when the unexpected God theme popped up. But I have to tell you Stevens really did a remarkable job with telling this story of hurt and healing and I’m really excited that I read it.

Faking Normal is about Alexi, a high school junior that was completely changed over the summer and is hiding it from everyone. Something happened to her and she won’t talk about it. Instead she hides in her closet and takes control by hurting herself and counting compulsively. On the outside she seems normal to everyone, well almost everyone. Bodee, Lex’s neighbor dealing with this own tragedy, can see the truth. And when Bodee unexpectedly moves in with Alexi and her family she finds herself not only having someone to confide in, but a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, and someone she can trust. What starts out as two broken teens trying to putting back together the pieces of their shattered lives may just be the story of two people helping each other heal and survive.

It’s hard to put into words what I really loved about this book. I don’t want to get too deeply into the plot as there is some stuff that the reader needs to discover on their own. There are some twists and turns and a degree of unknowing that is involved in what happened to Alexi and with some of the ways she is coping. What I can say is that Alexi was a great character. There was something about her that was just likable. She was broken, no denying that, and she had trouble standing on her own, but it was understandable. And I really liked that she didn’t care what people thought when it came to Bodee. She brought him into her fold without really even thinking about it much. And through all of this you could still see and feel her pain and your heart went out to her as a reader.

However, as much as I liked Alexi, Bodee stole the show for me. Much like Corey Livingston in Colleen Clayton’s book What Happens Next, Bodee was exactly the right person for Lex at the exact right time. He had been in her life, on the peripheral, since they were small, but became a huge piece of her and her him, right when they both needed it most. I know to some it may seem fast how quickly they came to trust and rely on each other, but I actually found that to be a nice touch. Sometimes it’s possible to have someone always be there that you never noticed before and for them to be your best friend. Bodee helped Alexi heal in some way and they both showed each other goodness in the world. I seriously just loved Bodee and when you read it you will too.

Basically this book was a story of strength and loss and healing and faith(religious and in people in general). There were sweet moments mixed in with some painful situations and they all balanced each other out. The end felt a little rushed, but that aside, this book should be a definite must read. I know I’m glad I did it. I look forward to what the author has I store for us next.

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Review: Into the Still Blue – Veronica Rossi

Review: Into the Still Blue – Veronica RossiInto the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Series: Into the Never Sky #3
Published by HarperCollins
Published: January 28th 2014
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four-stars

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do—and they are just as determined to stay together.Within the confines of a cave they're using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival--he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review

Confession time…I almost didn’t read this book, the third and final in the series. I know, I know, why read the first two and not the last. Well I have to admit I just wasn’t crazy about the second book and it kind of turned me off. It was okay, but not what I had wanted/expected. With that said, when I was granted an early copy of Into the Still Blue, I knew I needed to read it so I did. Another confession…it was my absolute favorite of the three. So I guess there is that.

Into the a Still Blue literally picks up where Through the Ever Night left off. Cinder is gone with Roar out after him. Perry and Aria have just gotten back from the now extinct pod with a new group of dwellers and a whole lot of problems. Faced with the fact that the Aether is quickly folding in on them Perry has to make a decision for the Tides and he has to do it fast.  Unfortunately when Roar returns back to the Tides he doesn’t seem too pleased with Perry or willing to help him. But through him they learn that Hess and Sable have joined forces and all bets are off. Instead of just worrying about the Aether and the Still Blue Perry has another force to deal with and it could be deadlier than anything else…Sable’s thirst for power and control of everything.

First things first, Into the Still Blue was action packed. Everywhere you turned there was something going on that left you breathless and wondering how the characters were going to get out of the given situation. It definitely worked to keeping me on my toes and wanting to read more. And I think was a huge part of the reason I didn’t like Through the Ever Night as much as it seemed boring. But Into the Still Blue was anything but boring. Actually it was downright enjoyable. Was some of it unbelievable and staged, definitely. But it worked for the story so I didn’t hate it. All the twists and turns seemed unexpected and expected at the same time and it all worked well. I do with there was more to the Sable story, but I won’t get into that as I don’t want to give anything away. But even with all the action, what I liked the most about the story was the characters.

From book one we got to really know Aria, Perry and Roar. We got to hear their thoughts and feel their feels and live their lives. We saw where they started and where they ended and I have to say the transformation was remarkable. Rossi made them grow up right before our eyes. These three people were very lost in Under the Never Sky. They formed a bond but didn’t have a place. But as life moved on and circumstances changed each one of them adapted and become strong and independent characters that I know I personally appreciated. I will say I thought Roar being mad at Perry the way he was was a little strange, but I got the idea behind it and it did logically make sense. That aside it was remarkable to see the bond just strengthen between these friends, and in the case of Aria and Perry, lovers. They relied on one another and we relied on them and Rossi delivered.

Without giving anything away, Into the Still Blue will take your breath away and having you on the end of your seat while smiling and laughing and maybe even tearing up. It was the perfect way to end a great series and I’m thankful I didn’t skip this book. It washed away the icky feeling from book two and made me love all of them again. Well done Ms. Rossi, well done.

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Review: Heartbeat – Elizabeth Scott

Review: Heartbeat – Elizabeth ScottHeartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Published by Harlequin
Published: January 28th 2014
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four-stars

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I have gone back and forth on some Elizabeth Scott books in the past. The first two I read I really loved and the last one was just okay. It had been a while since I read a book by Scott and when I was trying to pick what to read over Thanksgiving a friend said you can’t go wrong with a Scott book. So I swallowed down how I felt about the last book I read by her and started Heartbeat. Actually, started and finished and cried my eyes out in a day would be more accurate. It was pretty fantastic.

Heartbeat is the story of Emma, a high school student that once had it all. She had the grades, she had the best friend, she had the great family. But now Emma’s grades are slipping, she is fighting with her stepfather, pushing her best friend away, and hanging out with the rich guy with the bad reputation. Emma wishes she could talk to her mom about all of this but the problem is that her mom is the cause if everything that is happening because her mother is dead. She is being kept alive by machines to keep the baby inside her healthy. Emma is so angry at the situation she has just fallen apart and doesn’t know what to do. And when bad boy Caleb enters the scene and there is connection between them Emma may just be in for more than she bargained for in the term of love.

I seriously wanted to just hug Emma from the beginning to the end of this book. My heart broke for this poor kid having to go through what she was going through while being filled with so much anger and sadness. She felt betrayed by her mother for leaving her Dan for making this life altering decision and by herself for having these feelings she was having. She legit broke my heart and as much as I loved her having her bestie Olivia by her side, I was thrilled when Caleb came into the picture. Unlike Olivia, who was supportive, Caleb was able to understand better. He was able to know more about what Emma was going through since he had been through a tragedy himself that led him down a path of destruction to himself and his reputation. To me their romance was perfectly timed and really well done and fit in well with the story. Caleb became her crutch but also just what Emma needed

The part of the book that got me the most was the premise. It actually got me thinking as I read and had me putting myself in both Emma’s shoes and those of her stepfather, Dan. It made me wonder what is the right thing to do in a horrendous situation like this one. What’s fair and what is selfish? Who is the right party and who is the wronged one? It’s both moral and ethical and a position no one ever wants to be in. I understood both sides which to me made the book all the more compelling and cry worthy. It told a story that was filled with emotion and feelings that felt real.

So yes, Heartbeat was a crazy tearjerker but a tearjerker that was worth the heartbreak in the end.

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Review: Fault Line – Christa Desir

Review: Fault Line – Christa DesirFault Line by C. Desir
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: September 30th 2014
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two-stars

Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Honestly I had a major problem with Fault Line. I found the subject matter intriguing and different but in the end I had trouble with the execution. Ani and Ben were these great characters with depth but I felt everything was just on the surface with them and I never was able to get to the real emotion, to connect with them. And I can’t help but wonder if this was because the book was written from Ben’s POV when it would have benefited more having been from both POVs.

Fault Line is about Ben, a high school student on the swim team destined to go to Iowa State on scholarship. One night Ben is out with his friends and he meets the new girl Ani and Ben is smitten faster than you can blink. Ani is like no one he has ever met before. She is fun and honest and has a way about her that completely blows Ben over. He falls completely head over heels for her and Ani for him. Then one night Ani goes to a party with a friend that Ben declines to go to. When something happens at the party, Ben and Ani’s world is blown apart and both are helpless to pick up the pieces and get back to what they had. As things begin to get progressively worse everything Ben has worked for is about to crumble and he has to decide what is more important, looking for a girl that may not want to be found, or going after what he has worked for his whole life.

For me, there was no connection at all with his characters. I didn’t understand either of their motives so I had a hard time feeling sympathy for either. What Ani went through was horrible and awful and I would never wish that on anyone, and how she dealt with it was completely normal in my opinion, but I just didn’t feel it. It all felt so clinical which made me sad as I was really excited for this book. I also couldn’t get behind Ben at all. He was looking like such a fool a lot of the time and I just didn’t understand why. I know he felt guilty, but he wasn’t to blame and he was doing all that he could. I just didn’t feel any compassion.

Like I said in the beginning I liked the characters as a whole at the start of the book but I just lost it in the middle and the end. I truly believe this is a book that would have benefited from having 2 narrators or the voice of the story being Ani. I really can’t say any more than that.

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