Review: Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein

Title: Dear Cassie
Author: Lisa Burstein
Series: Pretty Amy series
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: ★★★★★

I love fairy tales. I love that perfect happy ending. I spent the first 10 years of my life wishing I lived in a land that mixed Sleeping Beauty with Beauty and the Beast and I still hold out hope that one day my prince will come and everything will be perfect and wonderful. Even with that hope, when I’m reading, I’d rather have real than happy. Why is this important to know?

Because Dear Cassie is not a fairy tale. It does not have a perfect happy ending. This book will twist your gut and punch your heart. Cassie’s life has never been wonderful, but ever since she became the fall guy for her friends and their prom night, it’s been worse. She’s made decisions she never thought she’d have to face and she’s still dealing with the repercussions.

I didn’t read Pretty Amy before reading Dear Cassie, but I didn’t feel like that took me out of the story at all. The events of Pretty Amy are talked about enough that I could get a good picture of what happened. Even if I couldn’t, Dear Cassie deals more with the aftermath of that prom night and the choices Cassie makes. She is set to this rehab camp as punishment for the prom night events, but she’s working through something even more important and life changing.

Cassie’s disdain for herself broke my heart. There was no “right” solution and she did what she thought was best, yet she can’t help but beat herself up over it. She blocks herself off from people, using language and attitude as a way to keep people away. When Ben works his way past her defenses, it scares her. She’s seen the bad side of men and not much of the good side. Ben works hard to make sure she can see that whatever happened in the past does not have to be her future.

I’m sure some people won’t like the ending. It’s not a fairy tale ending. Everything isn’t tied up in a pretty bow. But it is perfect. It is real life. If this book had ended any other way, it just wouldn’t have felt right.

Dear Cassie was a gut-wrenching read. My eyes filled with tears the more I read. But as much as it hurts, it also gives hope and forgiveness. I can’t think of words to describe after finishing this book, but that’s a good thing. I will definitely be reading more from Burstein.

If Dear Cassie sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
IndieBound

Thank you to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for a honest review.

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Review: Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols

Title: Levitating Las Vegas
Author: Jennifer Echols
Pages: 300 pages
Rating: ★★★★

Levitating Las Vegas is a departure from what I’ve come to expect from Echols. It has older characters and a paranormal aspect. As much as I love Echols, I wasn’t sure if this kind of book would feel right coming from her. I’m glad to say that after a bit of a shaky start, Echols definitely picked up and had me turning the pages as fast as I could.

Holly and Elijah tried to have that sweet high school romance, but their parents interfered. After they each are separately “diagnosed” with a mental illness, they avoid each other as much as possible. So when they discover the true about their mental powers, they once again find themselves drawn to each other.

From there it’s a whirlwind romance with a kidnapping with a twist, a road trip, and personal discoveries that change how they view the world. They have to make decisions quickly and hope that what path they end up on is the right one. They are at times unreliable, but that only makes the drama more heightened.

The first chapter or so felt a little off; it didn’t quite flow as well as the rest of Echols’ works. Once the setup has been laid out, the story gets going and the book flows much better.

Levitating Las Vegas is a fast-paced romance with a twist. Echols handled her venture into the paranormal in a way I would only expect from her and I can’t wait to read what comes next.

If Levitating Las Vegas sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon

Thank you to Pocket Star and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Pages: 419 pages hardcover,442 paperback, 437 ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

Jellicoe Road is one of those books that has been on my radar for a while, but I just never got around to reading it. So many people had fallen in love with this book that I was a little worried to read it. I didn’t want to be disappointed. Finally, I decided this book needed to be read.

For the first 100 or so pages, I didn’t get it. I was confused by the two viewpoints and the focus on the wars between the schools. It wasn’t this heartbreaking story I had been told about. I didn’t really care about the war or the boundaries or the negotiations. They were interesting, sure, but that wasn’t the story I thought I was going to read.

And then it changed. Suddenly, things made sense. Taylor’s story and Narnie’s story were tied together somehow and I needed to find out how. Taylor’s need to know who her father was and to know what happened to her mother becomes the only thing she is concerned with. Everyone seems to know something that she doesn’t, but no one will tell her the secrets.

I figured out quickly what the ties were between the present and the past, but I still wasn’t prepared for how much my heart would hurt when Taylor’s life caught up to her. Her reluctance to rely on other people and to lean on them when she needed help made it all the more apparent how much she cares for Jonah Griggs and I was immensely happy Taylor had someone be there for her.

Jellicoe Road is an amazing novel that tells two different heartbreaking stories coming together. As the stories get closer and closer, you know something is about to break and when it happens, no amount of preparation can help. But then Marchetta heals you enough to fall hopeless in love with the story she wove. Jellicoe Road is definitely a must read novel and I can’t wait to read more of what Marchetta has to offer.

If Jellicoe Road sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
IndieBound
Audible

Review: Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Redemption
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Series: Castor Chronicles series
Pages: 451 pages hardcover, 576 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

When I was in 9th grade, my English teach spent an extraordinary amount of time teaching us about the Hero’s Journey. We read books, wrote essays, and watched the Star Wars movies all so we could better understand this pivotal part of so many stories all around the world.

Beautiful Redemption is the conclusion to the Castor Chronicles series. It ties everything together. As I was reading, I noticed something. There was a Hero’s Journey inside a Hero’s Journey. Ethan must complete his own journey in order to get back to the person he loves most. More importantly, Beautiful Redemption is the final leg of the Hero’s Journey of Ethan and Lena together. That 9th grade English class made me appreciate this even more.

I don’t really want to talk much about how the story unfolds; I feel anything I say might give away a secret. I will say that my earlier complaint, about there being some filler instead of moving the story along, wasn’t even a minor issue in this novel. Something was always happening and each little thing was important. Every step Ethan takes leads him somewhere and every plan Lena forms gets them closer to the end.

Both Ethan and Lena grow in this novel. They have to face their demons in order to continue along their journey. They have to face a world where they aren’t together and find a way to get back to each other. They each learn that they are strong individually, but together there is nothing that can stop them. And they do all of this without having whiny teen moments.

Beautiful Redemption is exactly what I wanted from the end of this series. Loose ends are tied up, personal demons are faced, and Ethan and Lena learn to be the people they need to be going forward. Everything wasn’t happy, but it was amazing. Stunning conclusion that makes closing that last page wonderfully bittersweet.

If Beautiful Redemption sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
IndieBound
Audible

Review: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Chaos
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Series: Castor Chronicles series
Pages: 518 pages hardcover/paperback, 566 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

The thing I enjoy most about these books is also the thing that I like least. I like that mixed in with all the doom and gloom and supernatural, we get to see Ethan and Lena living their lives. There’s a bit of normal mixed in. However, this adds a lot of extra material that is somewhat filer and that’s the part I don’t like. I’m not sure which side will eventually win out.

Beautiful Chaos is the culmination of everything that happened in the previous two books and the price that must be paid. Everything that went wrong in the past two books comes to a head and Ethan and Lena have to figure out how to save the Mortal and Caster world. I did figure out the ending fairly early in the book, but that didn’t take me out of the story any. I wanted to see how the characters ended up, even if I wanted to let them all in on the secret.

Ethan and Lena are still the wonderful couple that can make it through everything. They’ve both changed though and that affect their relationship. They have to learn to trust each other again and to not jump to conclusions. They had to stop being teens in love and start dealing with being in love while in the Mortal and Castor worlds. I enjoyed reading how they grew as individuals and as a couple. Their challenges are only making them work better together.

The subplots were really something else in this book. I would love a Link and Ridley story all their own. With everything going on, getting this other little stories to focus on for a little while was a nice break from the bad things you know are about to come.

Beautiful Chaos was a fantastic book that ended on quite the cliffhanger. I can’t wait to get started on Beautiful Redemption and see how this series concludes.

If Beautiful Chaos sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
IndieBound
Audible

Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Darkness
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Series: Castor Chronicles series
Pages: 503 pages hardcover/paperback, 508 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

Beautiful Creatures was on my meh list. It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t horrible. It was a nice read, but it wasn’t one of my best. Beautiful Darkness was able to expand on the world created in the first novel and make the characters do things and grow in ways I didn’t see coming. I found myself losing sleep in order to read just a little bit more, rationing that decision with the power of caffeine. It takes quite a book to make me consider losing sleep.

The story of Ethan and Lena continues on shortly after the events of Beautiful Creatures. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to do much of a recap. I will say, however, that the events of the first book make everything that happens in this book make sense.

Lena is pulling away from Ethan and he doesn’t know why or what to do. She isn’t sure who she is or what she can do and that makes her worry about losing herself and hurting the people she loves. It’s more than the typically supernatural teen “I love you, but I can hurt you, so I’m going to leave” plotline. It doesn’t feel drawn-out or like the authors were trying to force something that wasn’t there.

I like that the story is told from Ethan’s point of view. It gives the complexity of the story just a touch of simplicity because we aren’t trying to figure out the Castor world as we try to figure out the problems the novel puts in front of us. We learn about the Castor world as Ethan does and as it ties into the story instead of trying to add more layers to an already complex story.

Beautiful Darkness makes up for what Beautiful Creatures lacked. There was a fantastic plotline, plus we got to explore Ethan and Lena as people. They grew and discovered things about themselves and the world that makes for a promising future in the next novels. I’m looking forward to getting started on the next book.

If Beautiful Darkness sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
IndieBound
Audible

ONE TINY LIE Cover Reveal!

I am honored to be a part of the cover reveal for K.A. Tucker’s One Tiny Lie. I loved Ten Tiny Breaths and can’t after reading the synopsis for One Tiny Lie, I can’t wait to get my hands on it and read it. I know it will be one that makes me stay awake for as long as it takes me to finish.

ABOUT K.A. TUCKER:KathleenTucker

Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

LINKS:

Blog
Website
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One Tiny Lie Goodreads
Atria

ABOUT ONE TINY LIE:

Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents’ tragic death and Kacey’s self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would…and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

And now, without further ado, I give you the cover of

One Tiny Lie

Tucker_One Tiny Lie cover

Isn’t it gorgeous?! I love it. The colors, the simplicity…it’s perfect.

So now that you’ve read the blurb and stared at the cover, it’s time to pre-order! Simply click on the link you need below