Friday, July 25, 2014

I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1) by Ann Aguirre

I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1)I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh ho ho! You deceptively tricky beginning, you! I confess it was the dark-ish tone that it started with that had me curious first. That last bit that Nadia as narrator tacked on  is so spot on as to why I read what I do these days; yes, I am one of those pulled in by things splintering apart. And while that's here, there's the after that as well.

And despite both, I felt the biggest plus in this is how not all of it is the melodrama of the girl loving the boy and the boy loving the girl and all is well and perfect if only! There's not much "if only's" here because the two provide a refreshing clear assessment as to what is versus what could be done versus what needs to be done.

Both know what they want (and I'm talking outside the romantic here, folks) and both are aware of the position they're in as well as the path they're on. What's even more real is the way their lives are laid out- they party it up sure but not just, as there were actual moments of her as student; those glimpses into what's required of her paint a more believable picture of her as the woman she's choosing to become. The same could be said for Ty only it's him as father. Basically, it's not all romance--- the things that came before there being a 'them' are still there. And it's how they fit themselves into the other's life that's different.

Thank you, NG! 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Bleed Like MeBleed Like Me by Christa Desir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bleed Like Me is not so different from other YA contemporary novels in that it's dark and gritty, except perhaps that more than one character is broken. Yet they're not just broken, for there's an awareness from both- the degree thereto the only variation. Add that they are not alone in being flawed; no one is 'faultless' here.

Yes, the two here are flawed; it's as such that they find the other. We see both their situations become the worst possible ones while together. If at first, her family reads good- adoptive parents of boys who need them- dig deeper and we find the lot of them floundering given all that's required of them, despite the goodness of their intent so that in the midst of that/because of that, her voice is lost. And if at first glance, too- he is a disaster- troubled youth, in conflict with everyone-everything; yet, they are both more than those. Only, it's when they each become become the other's ALL that things take an even darker feel. Yes, it is because of him then, with him, that she finds a measure of better, as does he in her. However, what is better exactly?

She knows from where her actions stem;  she sees her actions framed in what her experience lacked. He too sees her actions as is- not right, aware of the wrongness in the same, yet not putting a stop to it. And why? Like her, he has his issues too. Issues that she slowly becomes aware of. It's in that slow peeling back of layers by both of the other that makes this book what it is- different and truthful and multifaceted- because it's in their day to day, that they both manage to disappear. The business that others face have the two swept aside. It's there that the two begin what's obviously to be a co-dependent then destructive relationship (the latter only becoming evident to one first and then tragically, to the other.) 

The book is already dark with those in mind; but becomes a touch darker with each moment of her giving physical translation to her pain, and as well as of him being 'brave and out there.' Both aspects are felt even more, as there are others not necessarily sweeping them aside but too overwhelmed by things they have to face. In fact, it's this that makes reading BLM frustrating/riveting--- how things could have been otherwise, because there's a slipping through the cracks for both of them.

So, not one is faultless here... him, in goading her on; her, in clinging to him; and all else, in looking the other way (either because they just couldn't be bothered or because there were other things in the way.) Bottom line, BLM is different because it's more than them and their pain; there's the unfortunate truth that underscores its progression because things are allowed to continue- not just by people like the MC's but by the others around them (seeing but failing to act; or worse yet, not seeing at all.) 

Thank you, E! 

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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1) by Amy Ewing

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)The Jewel by Amy Ewing

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maaaaaaaan. Why do I feel like I've read bits and pieces of this book in other better told stories? I have yet to read Selection... so that's not it. But this has me thinking of Wither meets something meets something else. Despite this odd feeling of I've read (all) this before, overall I'm feeling 'Meh' over all of it. Mainly because there were so many elements to Jewel that it might have been better a reading experience had one or two or three things been taken out.

And what do we have? Royal blood line that's going to end if *gasp* no one is there to carry on said line. By some twist of fate/accident of science/something it's Violet and those like her  ("Surrogates") that can do the job. Also, Violet and girls like her magical. To this last we have them able to control "auguries" of color/shape/growth. Then all these take place in a world that's split in areas that include the Marsh, the Smoke, The Farm, the Bank, the Jewel... so predictably named that I wondered over why they the distinctions were even made. And in this already divided world, we have the Royals whose various lineage were likewise predictably named that I didn't even bother to keep track. And then throw in ladies in waiting -who weren't ladies, companions, and a host of other secondary characters all of whom serving the purpose of amping up the creepy. But failing to do so.

Given all those of those could have have been's: not much of this worked for me. Hell, not  even the 'surprise' romance between her and the one like her. And why? There were too many things going on;  a consequence we end up with a story wanting to tell too many things all at once so that it's personality and possibility was lost along the way.

But thank you, Edelweiss!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set aside the magic phone, it’s apparent that Landline is love and the issue of it being sufficient. My first encounter with Rowell was E & P. The pair there had me enamored; mere mentions of a certain time had me happy. This experience I immediately followed up with Fangirl. There I found myself likewise enamored with the odd yet endearing people that story was filled with.  Now, cute and odd as both those stories were, it was Attachments that clinched things. The one-two punch of pure nostalgia then pure ordinariness of the way they could all be is what worked for me.

There’s a little bit of the last in this; and despite the magic that could be that the phone in this served, Landline is less the about oddness that that represented AND more about the real connections, honest conversations, and deep-deep (as well as not-so-deep) musings they were all engaged in, particularly Georgie McCool.

Landline was all about Georgie: her life, her feelings on where her life was, how her life with Neal had turned up. Then there’s Neal as well: Neal of present and Neal of past…. both versions as seen through Georgie’s eyes. Only not just.

As in all her previous works, there were all those authentic connections made even more real with each moment one party had with another. There’s her link to her “partner.” (And no, it’s not Neal.) There’s that link she has with her family- each member remarkable one way or another- as well.  But mostly, it’s that connection she had with Neal~ where they came from and where they were now… and mostly, whether “love” as her sister asked it sufficed.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the EasyOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

That Jo is aware and not just of herself, but of the people around her and the circumstances as well as expectations she has and others have, is but one positive. That the place and the time come clear across is another. That Out of the Easy is not a one-track story of down-on-her luck girl trying to get out of where she’d started is yet another of its many selling points.

What we have is a very easy to like teenage girl who knows who she is, where she comes from, but does not flounder because of it. There’s honesty to her portrayal. Things aren’t all roses, true. She acknowledges the same, but isn’t limited by it as she works through and does what she has to and the same time keeps herself to what could be. Her juggling things as she does gets even more interesting with a mysterious death that pulls her in.

It’s that last complication that allow for the place and the time to become even easier to imagine. In getting to answers she’s not sure she wants, she comes up against certain characters, and those plus the people she works with as well as those already in her neighborhood make for a colorfully vivid image of New Orleans in the 50’s.

Yet more interesting: with each answer obtained, we have more and more instances of her doubting, questioning, wondering what the effects all these truths had on her and hers. So no, it’s not just Jo; it’s her and her family – the one she’s been born into and the one of her making.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Live (Burnside, #1) by Mary Ann Rivers

Live (Burnside, #1)Live by Mary Ann Rivers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LIVE includes a before and after; there’s how his before could be their after. Given both, what we have are two leads perfect in how real they’re laid bare. Every single aspect of this- him, her, and then them; as well as the people that surround them and the place (then places) they find themselves in- all of it are so perfectly drawn and made possible as a result.

HIM and HER. As said, his before, their after… or the possibility of that that has them being cautious then later not cautious at all. It’s a different story as what they are is never a simple one plus then two; there’s tremendous placed on weighing what is, what could be, as well as who they are; there’s thoughtful consideration on what they need versus what they want.

A BEGINNING. There’s simplicity to the start as River’s sets the two of them up on mutual attraction, but does not stop there; because it’s their slow getting to know the other that charges things further. It’s a newness that’s shadowed though by their pasts. So that this easy new thing that’s lovely, is not always that because of what they know and what they’ve learned: she and her family, has her pegged “the responsible one’; him and his past, has him more cautious about wanting-needing-sacrificing.

EVENTUALLY though it’s them working around those same things to see more in themselves  --- maybe first in the other and later in their own person.  Because the IN-BETWEEN? It’s that which has them exploring possibilities -- and me, swooning over their choice of words even their descriptions of event and action. There’s a quite quality to goings-on; the way they open to each other, allowing themselves a glimpse of each other’s past + character.

It’s all slow and soft but all that’s mixed together with their passion as they explore both the physical alongside the emotional. And all that, again, has me swooning as one look, touch, word between the two, about the other, for the other, allows so much to expressed, like those on Here and There and not being where you ought be; on Wanting and Needing; on  Smiles against kisses. Kisses against grins.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Half Bad (Half Life, #1) by Sally Green

Half Bad (Half Life, #1)Half Bad by Sally  Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We go from the first to the unusual second then back and forth and back again, later settling on the first. It’s  from this that we get a clear understanding of what he’s feeling and what he’s doing… eventually.

'Interesting' and 'different' are what first come to mind as I finished this, but also that it’s brutal. Not just in that jarring realization that it’s him in a cage, but everything else that follows from there, including the abuse he suffers and the perception others hold and the choice his faced with. There’s a softer side too, a not so obvious soft aspect in the longing he has, the relationships his built and loyalty he possesses… though there’s really not that much soft in that last aspect.

What I liked:

It’s brutal, vividly so, but it’s more too with Nathan- authentic as a guy; not alpha nor beta, not a “character,” but one who’s believable in who he is and what he’s going through.

What I didn’t:

Unexplained moments, conveniently placed help-mates... essentially more than one inexplicable that permits him to get from point A to B to C and so on.

I liked HALF BAD... mostly.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (Pseudonym), Abby McDonald

Dangerous GirlsDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dangerous Girls is a messy then messed up combination of self-entitled teens in a media circus drummed up by courtroom drama with its attending (re)interpretation of facts. Here we go from he said-she said of what might/could have happened to what she recalls. The depiction of who she is as well who the victim was diverges greatly from their recollections of who they were and what they did/ did not do. Not once do these two sides meet, so that it’s on us to piece things together. Because where one sees something as one thing, the rest see it as something else entirely. Between the two, one is never quite sure about what take as truth.

At first, DG is on girls and friendship: they’re complicated; it’s complicated.  Then DG’s on boys and girls: that combination is complicated as well. Later it’s on truth and presentations to that effect; yes, complicated, too. We have a simple enough start with new girl - new school scenario.  Said new girl is made slightly more interesting with family baggage and her dealing with the same in the face of her new-girl drama of mean girls, popular boys, and absent parents. But all that’s merely part of the  whole here, as the story is told with shifts from memories on all that brought in contrast to the media mess surrounding them as they sort through the aftermath of something unspeakable. But the question is: did it happen like she says it did… or not at all? If not, then what?

You may think one thing and have it confirmed time then time again; so that there’s a feeling of certainty, only events prove not quite as assumed. And it’s this aspect that had me pulling back. The work up toward the ending; the ending, really had me asking: was that really necessary?

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3) by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Ruin and Rising both character and plot are equally compelling. Thank goodness for the same. There’s few moments of the Darkling- Alina- Mal conundrum here since it’s already clear what the roles each have so that things become more than her as Saint, or Mal as friend then (reluctant) lover, or even Darkling as the one to overcome. What they all do is reveal sides unexpected (or maybe expected, as I have been conflicted over whom to root for since Day One.)

Because while Mal had me giddy over declarations and actions of a certain nature, it was still Darkling who had me considering possibilities. As did Alina, with her little moments of ‘who am I then who are you’ as well as the identity versus the distance she felt existed between her and certain key others. In fact, for a good chunk of this book, it is Alina alone then Mal alone then Darkling too; few instances is it really any of them together; it’s in that separation, that the unexpected unfold.

Things begin with Alina isolated and struggling to access her abilities. It’s in her isolation that things clear up regarding where loyalties are. But more, there’s clarity added to what she has to. And things really do fall to her, that she’s surrounded with so many does not take away from that. Yet, it’s also in being surrounded that the truth of purpose as well as history is revealed. And I tell you…. all those twists, all those reveals! Agh!  Thus, events begin then progress at a break neck pace: her alone, then them together and then her, then them, considering the next step, only to have more people joining in on the fray, and only for more revelations to be made.

In the midst of all that are secondary characters who add to the complication; yet they’re necessary complications that made for an even more compelling read. They each had a role, they all had a contribution- some more than others- but all of them propelled the reader forward. The people she’d chosen or the people who had chosen her make it clear the story really is more than her. Nikolai and Genya in particular stood out for me for that reason. In the two of them we have someone’s history connecting with someone else’s; in them, we have someone’s purpose coinciding with another’s. There’s connection here. And I loved that. In fact, it’s those connections, those reveals as well as those multiple swoon-moments that have me impressed. All aspects of the story are dealt with, not much is left untouched… whether it be who Darkling could be, or who Alina was to become, or even Mal, or hell, the rest of them; everything then everyone takes part in this conclusion. 

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5) by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5)Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not going to lie- the minute I skimmed over Cole’s name in the blurb, was the minute I clicked that glowing TBR button on GR; long have I been a fan of Cole then Isabel (but really, mostly Cole). SINNER has them both fully fleshed out, flaws and all… and they are both nothing if not flawed.

There’s this internal struggle for the two. For him, there’s that push-pull-pull between being his old self, performing and loving the same versus being more than that- the guy he’d learned to become in Mercy Falls. So, there’s this sad bit that could have gone poor little rich boy for him, except not really. It’s in performing for the crowd that he truly came alive; it’s not him as hapless something or other. No, not at all as the Cole here is totally aware of the game as well as the role he was to have in it. As a consequence, we have is him reveling in it. It’s this same thing that made things more complicated. Was he really more than just what he’d put on display? And if the answer is initially clear to him, the more time spent in LA, the more emotional hurdles cropped up for him to deal with (or not deal with as was sometimes the case), the less clear everything turned out to be. 

Then turn to Isabel, for her things are a bit more muted, but no less emotional. For her change abounds the same leaving her unsure as to how to go about things. First, that a shift in what’s become of her family; and then that shift in what to expect from Cole. While you’d think perception would play a big role in his end of the story, it seemed, to me at least, to play just as big a part in how things were unfolding for her… and if possible in an even more complicated manner. For her there’s Perception based on expectation, as well as Perception based on history and what’s familiar. The way she deals with things is… not at all. And that above all is what made her real for me. Yes, she’s the pretty sad girl, but she’s also the scary one, then the funny one, then the mean one. She’s more than the Isabel from Mercy.

This is more than just a werewolf in LA (though it starts that way.) What we have a guy standing in front of a girl asking…. Oh, Wait. What we have is both the guy and the girl seeing possibility in who they both could be as individuals then together but more importantly we why that is.

Thank you, NG!

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Monday, July 7, 2014

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2) by Sherry Thomas

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2)The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the Burning Sky we had Titus certain in the role he was to play paired up with Iloanthe who was still figuring out just what hers was. In this sequel, we have two come together again, but given certain developments, it’s the two shaken about who they were to become and why. Issues of fate and inevitability as well as interpretation are what shake them up, and so there’s uncertainty that extends beyond who they were for their world and their future to the more personal level of who they were for each other. There were some swoony moments because of this.

But more than uncertainty, there were a number of New things that had me speeding through. Foremost, a new pair suddenly introduced, who they were and why they were was a question that had to be answered. And though I had some inkling as to the answers, I was never quite certain. Suffice to say, their addition confused me, but also allowed something more of the “I think I know, but I’m just not sure” excitement. And it’s not just on account of this new but oh-so-familiar pair that got me excited, so many thing I thought were turned their heads. So many things I’d assumed, were not quite it either. I enjoyed that uncertainty. Nothing is nailed down here, each page, each chapter was open…

This same thing is both strength and weakness… too many new things after all, can get old after awhile. That said Perilous Sea has a whole lot of ‘You think you know, but think again’ going for it.

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just One Night (Just One Day, #2.5) by Gayle Forman

Just One Night (Just One Day, #2.5)Just One Night by Gayle Forman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books One and Two allow us more than a love story. Both pave the way for clarity in who they were both becoming- as to who they both were as individuals, and then who they both could become for each other.  Both books: Romantic, slow, and yes, all about the swoon, but not just. Because of both are about the journeys they both embark: her and her One Day, with him as her guide; and then him and his Year after that.

I loved Book One because of the possibilities opened to her; I loved Book Two because of the links to who he was and that time and again juxtaposed to who they could become; specifically a past found in the examples set by Yael and Bram and then the “who they could become…” Them.

But this One Night of theirs, is a sweet exclamation to all of the above, as it is an elaboration on the blurry bits for both. And I loved it for that reason: as within is a confirmation as to their truth: that he loves her; she is more to him than any other girl come before; that she loves him, he is more to her than just the First Guy/ the One who could have gotten away.

I have much love for this one.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

PointePointe by Brandy Colbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

POINTE. Every single dark thing a young adult novel could be about is in this one. It’s a wonder it all pulled through in the end. The character is not one to love but feel for. And feel for her...and him, we do. All the dark aside, there's how she is a product of what she fails to acknowledge; then there's how  it takes an outsider- one who who is unknown to her history- to call things as they are... While the first establishes her as being broken, it's the second that adds even more emphasis to the the fact that she's too broken even to realize it herself.

Notable are the almost casual additionsof sex, coarse language, and drugs... Not one of it is innocuous, each thing allowed to happen just further establishes that they're not just 'good' kids or 'bad' for that matter... a lot of them here have a good side and a bad side and a dark one. The non one-dimensionality of all of them had them reading more plausible; none of them are just jocks, just brains, or just drama queens, but are each all that... and more. Even more interesting: how non-clique they came off as. Pointe sheds off expectations of things like those; instead offers up a picture of The Flawed.

Except given the plethora of issues thrown in, I felt like Pointe was almost trying too hard; After School Special on steroids with rape, kidnapping, abuse, drugs, body-image issues, relationships, manipulation, expectation, and weven ambition to contend with... Well, there's a lot that a reader is made to contend with, yes? Yes.

The blurb hooks one in with the mention of an abduction then a return; but without setting the gravity of that aside this one comes to focus on who she is and why as well as how everything she's gone through has shaped her. This becomes most obvious though not immediately apparet in the romantic aspect- because first there's who she chooses but more importantly 'why.' In particular, 'why' she allows things to progress as they do. There's a sad realization given that unsaid connection between who she was and who she was with as it related to (and even mirrors) her present.

This was dark… then darker with each thing revealed.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Stray by Elissa Sussman

StrayStray by Elissa Sussman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wish I loved this. But mostly it's was me waiting and waiting and then waiting some more for the story to move beyond all the hating on what certain women could do plus a lot of asking why that was the case. There are glimpses into men and what they could do, as well as a hazy history of four sisters and interpretations of what they've come to, and in line with that- how their society is arranged:

Royals with power on one hand, the women in it bestowed with the same, only to be limited by so many from so many different angles (guided from the front,  warned from behind.) But it is the who is doing what that should have been fascinating but ended up frustrating because not much is made clear!

Sure there are interesting additions in taking the fairy god mother role and twisting it into something: less. There's even the predictable bits of benevolent father coupled with Man as Wisened man-guide (nothing new there), but frustrating nonetheless because ... Why? and How?! Basically, I'm left with lots of questions like Who is this Josetta? And what of this Talia? Etcetra.  Worse: the Aspects that were made clear--- felt unimportant. Like Brigid and her merry brigade of Do-gooders (of unclear allegiance and motivation.
I take it back! Nothing important or unimportant is actually made clear. Although... I must confess, the whole pain as release was an interesting angle... Too bad that got covered in this mess of paths and strays, peopled with more than one mean girl, more than one heartless  a man, and -dear lord!- more than one cold woman; all of whose presenece, it felt was made to keep the MC down; that is unless she wasn't busy baking! I didn't get this at all.

That said, much thanks E!

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Swap by Megan Shull

The SwapThe Swap by Megan Shull

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My main objection to Swap is the simplicity of most everything in it. A young girl, a young boy, and both their desire to be anything else but themselves.

But here's the thing: young does not have to mean simple, particularly in the manner that the good, bad, desirable, as well as the undesirable all line up. Sadly, all that happens here.

One thing that marked this different- how the romantic angle was worked in. All those other books I have read have conditioned me to anticipate the presence a love interest, that the same be pivotal one way or another... such is not the case here. Early moments had me assuming things would go a particular way. They didn't and that I appreciated... that bit on how there's some unexpected in Swap at least.

Much thanks, Edelweiss!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Feral by Holly Schindler

FeralFeral by Holly Schindler

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Feral. I wanted to like this, but found my experience with it largely boring. Little of what was supposed to be suspenseful managed to hit the mark.

At first, there are two parts to this story, amd as often  as the female MC alludes to it- it's how we have her 'before' and 'after' but mire importantly, how the first has left an indelible mark on the second. Later there's the addition of what makes this supposedly suspenseful (more like confusing, really) in how our MC's current life crosses with the life of another (or end of the same).

Then the presence of a maybe haunting, body-possession of the feline kind, and people with each their own agenda. It could have been so much, and I wish I was interested enough to keep track of every little thing that differentiated one character from the other; but the plain fact is- this bored me. And even when things were finally coming to fruition, well, I was still bored!

But thank you, E!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2) by Tammara Webber

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2)Breakable by Tammara Webber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

   It's been a long, LONG time me, reading a book  in one sitting (and yes, a two week stint of stop-starting-not finishing books is a long time.)

I have got to hand it to Webber- she's accomplished a couple of unexpecteds in this sequel (companion novel?) First, that she's got me considering NA once again. Second, she's served up a sequel I found worlds better than the first. Then third, (and primarily,) that this trend of retelling the same story from a different POV doesn't always have to be redundant or isn't just a matter of rehashing a sex scene (hot as they may have been) from the guy's point of view!

Because ---and yay! --- We have depth! We have back story! Hell, We have a whole new story from Landon/Lucas that's not just about the romance built up between him and his Jacqueline with the bulk of this on his past as it touched on more than just his heartbreak--- what we have here is the Unmaking he goes through because of said heatbreak.

I enjoyed this more for the story of who he was and how all that led up to his present and the oddness of his duplicity. This is an 'as told by' that works... because the author works with what worked in the first book, but did not get stuck there; endeavoring instead to add some depth to the narrator by making him stand out in this not just because he was 'Easy' to fall for in the first (and let's be clear: he really wasn't)... Clearly, he's so much more than that. 

Loved this!)

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