Top Ten Tuesday (on a Wednesday)

It has been a hot minute since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday post. I used to do them religiously but then just sort of stopped. Yesterday, I noticed the topic, Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years (one book for each year), and I really liked the idea of bringing some old favorites to light. Since I had a post for yesterday I figured I would confuse you all and post a TTT on Wednesday because why not.

 

2019

Girls with Sharp Sticks || Review

2018

Brooklynaire

2017

Tower of Dawn

2016

A Court of Mist and Fury || Review

2015

I’ll Meet You There || Review

2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe || Review

2013

Parallel || Review

2012

What Happens Next || Review

2011

Froi of the Exiles || Review

2010

Anna and the French Kiss || Review

 

That was harder than I thought for some years. I didn’t expect to feel so torn about some.

*TTT hosted by That Artsy Reader  Girl

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New to You (14): Kim Reviews What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Kim from Kimberlyfaye Reads. Kim is mainly a romance/new adult book reader, but every now and then she reads a young adult book to the mix. When Kim signed up I had trouble deciding which book I wanted to give to her because I had a feeling she would love all three she expressed interest in. But after thinking on it I knew What Happens Next would be the right book for her. Let’s see what she had to say about it.

New to You (14): Kim Reviews What Happens Next by Colleen ClaytonWhat Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Published by Poppy (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Published: October 9, 2012
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
four-stars

How can you talk about something you can’t remember?

Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.

Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so she thinks.

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s stunning debut is a story about moving on after the unthinkable happens.

 

What Happens Next has been on my TBR for ages. I was drawn to it when it was first released, but somehow never got around to reading it. When Andi picked it for me to read for her New to You feature, I was thrilled I finally had a real excuse to force me to read it. Now that I did? I’m really grateful she selected this one for me. She anticipated I would love it and she was right. 

All that said, it’s difficult to put my thoughts about What Happens Next into words. If you’ve read it, you understand where I’m coming from on this one. If you’ve not, but want to, you’ll understand once you read it. My heart absolutely ached for Sid. She went through something no one should go through, and to say it changed her in a very real way would be a massive understatement. 

I’ve not read many books that deal with sexual assault or rape, so I don’t have much to compare What Happens Next to. But, I think it was handled very well here. Or as well as this subject matter can be anyhow. Because of the nature of Sid’s assault — she was drugged — we as readers are not forced to live vicariously through it with her. Thank goodness. Instead, we pick up the story afterwards as the fogginess clears and she begins to realize what she’d been through. That was real and raw enough for me and it broke my heart just a little. (Ok, a lot.) 

The rest of the book is Sid trying to find her new normal and, to be honest, making some pretty poor choices along the way. There were times I was incredibly angry with her, but mostly I was just concerned for her. I wanted her to TELL SOMEONE, but instead she focused her energies elsewhere. Exercising more? Probably not a bad way to cope. Doing it obsessively, at the expense of sleep and general health, not so much. Same with the eating disorder. Sid was struggling and no one really saw the extent of it at first because she was doing a very good job of hiding it. Of hiding herself, really. She lost so much to “Dax,” her rapist. I desperately wanted to see her get back at least part of it. 

The cast of characters in this book are something special. Of course, you know how I feel about Sid. I also adored her friends, Kristen and Paige, though I did spend several chapters side-eyeing them for their reaction to the fallout from the ski trip. But then, it’s not like they had the whole story… so I’d probably have felt similarly if in their shoes. The other star of the show here was Corey, the “stoner” Sid befriends after pushing nearly everyone else in her life away. I loved how they connected and got to know each other. The pace at which things moved from friends to more just worked, too. And, bonus, there was no focus on Sid needing Corey to become whole again. 

What Happens Next was a beautifully-written, moving book. It was raw and real and left me with a whole boatload of emotions I wasn’t sure what to do with. It’s not an easy read, but it’s an important one. I hope more people like me, who might’ve been on the fence about it, will make the time to read it.

Favorite Quotes:

My peace, my virginity, my friends, cheerleading, and now my pride: he’d taken it all. 

“It’s like this light coming out of you. I could be in a crowd of thousands and know right where to find you.”

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Thanks Kim for signing up for New to You! What Happens Next is one of the most underrated books in YA if you ask me so I’m happy I was able to give it a new fan.

My What Happens Next. And of Colleen’s latest, a self-published book about a girl with diabetes and a mother that is a hoarder, Doll Hearts.

Have you read What Happens Next or is this your first time hearing about it?

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Review: Doll Hearts – Colleen Clayton {+ a giveaway}

Review: Doll Hearts – Colleen Clayton {+ a giveaway}Doll Hearts by Colleen Clayton
Published: April 24, 2018
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

17-year-old Julianne Bell’s life is caving in on her. Literally. Her mother is a hoarder and shopping addict whose retail drug of choice is collectible dolls. She also dabbles in lesser fixations like snow globes, commemorative plates, kitchen gadgets, and never-to-be-used exercise equipment. Their house is not a home but more a bizarro game of Garage Sale Tetris in which flea market finds, Amazon boxes, and QVC shipments are puzzled together in a labyrinth of consumer excess and looming bankruptcy. It’s a situation Julianne has grown adept at hiding. That is, until the day her school cafeteria account slips into the red. Meal-skipping is not an option for someone with Type 1 Diabetes, so when Julianne has a seizure in class, her father claims custody. Living with her dad and annoyingly perfect step-mom is not how Julianne planned to spend her summer, let alone her senior year. Needing fast cash to help her mom avoid foreclosure, Julianne takes a job at an amusement park, and as luck would have it, her former classmate—heartthrob Brandon Wright—also works there. Between sweeping up cigarette butts at the park, racing to solve her mom's personal and financial disasters, a medical condition that needs constant monitoring, and a budding romance, Julianne Bell’s messy life just got a whole lot messier.

Set against a summery backdrop of roller coasters, pool parties, and cute boys, DOLL HEARTS explores issues of obsessive-compulsive hoarding, family bonds, and first love.

I have been a fan of Colleen Clayton since I read her debut, What Happens Next, over 2 days in 2012. There was something about her writing style and storytelling ability that fit well with me. Since then I have been dying for something new from her (I mean What Happens Next is on like 65% of my Top Ten Tuesday posts because I love that book so much). Fast forward to March 2018 when I found out my dreams were about to come true, Colleen was self-publishing her sophomore novel Doll Hearts. Well let me tell you something…it was worth the almost 6 year wait! Doll Heart was just a fantastic book with the same charm as WHN and another cute boy to boot.

Doll Hearts is the story of Julianne Bell, a seemingly average high school student with Type 1 Diabetes. She goes out with friends, she has big plans for the summer, and she knows she wants to go to college. What the outside world doesn’t know about Julianne is that her mother is a hoarder. Her house is literally filled to the brim with gizmos and gadgets of plenty…and lots and lots of dolls.  Julianne goes above and beyond to hind her mother’s illness from everyone until something happens and her father finds out. Julianne is then forced to live with him and her step-mother and living a life she never wanted.

What I loved about Doll Hearts that the romance (even though it was awesome and had a cute boy) wasn’t what the story was about when you get down to it. Doll Hearts was about Julianne learning how to deal with the risks or her diabetes and her mother’s illness. It was about her learning when to let go and how to let people figure out what they need to do themselves. Her story with her mother was so heartbreaking. Julianne wanted to fix her mother so bad, but really she couldn’t. Her mother had to fix herself and nothing Julianne said or did would change that. That was the main point of the book and I think Colleen pulled that off with flying colors!

Doll Hearts was filled with so much emotion and love. It broke my heart and reminded me about what I loved in Colleen’s debut, What Happens Next. Corey Livingston and Sid still have my heart, but Julianne has carved out a nice sliver for herself. Buy this one people, you won’t be sorry! And now I’ll be back to begging Colleen for a 3rd book. 🙂

In celebration of this day I have been waiting for forever, I have some giveaways for you. First up I am giving away 3 Kindle copies of Doll Hearts and Colleen is giving away a Yankee Candle created with a Doll Hearts cover on it. The giveaway is for US ONLY and will end at 11:59pm on April 26th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also as a bonus, if you decide to review Doll Hearts by May 11th, fill out the below form for a chance to win a broad strokes critique on your Work in Progress up to 80k words. All genres are accepted and you will get a 3 to 5 page editorial letter commenting on plot, characterization, pacing, tension, dialogue, setting, etc.. Then marginal notes with sentence-level suggestions. No proofreading! Winner will be randomly selected from all entries and notified on May 14th.

Colleen has an MFA in fiction writing and has taught fiction writing at Kent State and Youngstown State. Her debut novel, What Happens Next was an Ohioana Book Award Finalist (State book award) and earned a Kirkus star.

You can follow Colleen here: Twitter || Instagram || Facebook

This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss!

Click on the banner below to fill out the Google form! This is open internationally. You just need to have an email account!

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The Art of the Reread – The Books

Back in January I mentioned my love of rereading and some of the books I planned to reread this year. It has been 2 months since that post I have already reread 4 of the 7 books on that post.

Honestly I just can’t help myself. I get a book in my head, a book that I loved, and I can’t get it out of my system until I’ve read it again. And sometimes that doesn’t even work. I’ll Meet You There is an example. There are many times someone will say the name Josh and I immediately want to reread that gorgeous book. Truthfully, I just reread it and I want to do it again already (so if you haven’t read it, do it for me please!)

Since it is only March and I have read 4 of the 7 on my original list, I figured I should add a few more to go with the original 3 that are left:

Original 3

New Editions

The Sea of Tranquility: This is one of my favorite NAish books. The characters and the story break my heart but I love it all the same.

Something Like Normal: When ever I reread I’ll Meet You There I feel the need to read about Travis and Harper all over again. This Trish Doller book is one of my favorites.

What Happens Next: I still think this book is one of the most underrated books I have ever read. It is so great and it makes me sad that fewer and fewer people talk about it. Corey Livingston is the best!

Froi of the Exiles: Ah, the book that almost wasn’t. Probably my favorite books in the Lumatere Chronicles. When I reread this beast it will be on audio because the audio is fantastic.

The Program: I recently just did a post on why you should read this series. I finished The Adjustment not that long ago and I feel like I want to read all the books now. Stay tuned in the fall for when I plan to do a readalong.

What books do you think you will reread? Have you read any of these?

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First Reads

There is nothing like reading a book for the first time and falling in love. You really can’t explain it but that first read through is magical. You get to know settings and people and feelings and emotions. But after you read that book for the first time you never get to experience that feeling like you did. I mean a reread is great (I’ve read Anna and the French Kiss 11 times) but that first read is…♥.

I was thinking about this concept when trying to figure out a blog post and it got an idea brewing. If I could go back in time and read a book for the first time again what books would I love to read?

what
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton: This is probably one of the more quiet YA books that is on my TBR. I’m not sure how many people have read it but it isn’t talked about a lot. It was so fantastic though. I loved the story and the characters so much. How could I not want to read this for the first time all over again.

twenty
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler: TBS is one of my favorite YA books I have ever read. I read it for the first time when I was just starting to read YA back in 2011 and I fell in love with it. I have since reread it but there is nothing like the first read of this amazing story.

summer
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: This book broke my heart and was the first book I actually cried while reading. Like ugly cried. And you know what? I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was so fantastically done and made me fall in love with all of Morgan’s books.

winners3
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski: Out in about a month I was lucky enough to get to read this final book in the Winner’s Trilogy and I would read it for the first time all over again if given the chance. It was one of those series enders that just works.

open
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: My introduction to Emery Lord was perfect. Matt Finch and Dee and Reagan gave life to one summer. It was such a great friendship and love book that I would give anything to read it for the first time again.

parallel
Parallel by Lauren Miller: Another quiet YA on my favorites list. Parallel opened up my love of parallel life books. It was done so perfectly and I just loved everything about it. It was a YA-like Sliding Doors. I would love to have all those 1st read feelings again.

froi
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta: A book I almost didn’t read. I read the first one after a reading deal with a friend and I wasn’t in love with the book nor the character of Froi. But something compelled me to continue and see how it played out. Froi is by far the best literary character I have read and I would love to read this for the first time all over again.

And of course:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Like this wouldn’t have been on the list.

collection

What  book would you love to read for the first time all over again?

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