Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review | Lola and the Boy Next Door - with Audiobook Notes

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Published by Dutton
Publish Date: September 29, 2011
338 Pages
Source: Print - Bought, Audiobook - Library

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. (from Goodreads) 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

My Thoughts: I did an audiobook + print read of Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins early this year after struggling through Anna and the French Kiss three times. After the third time, I finally felt good enough about Anna to move on with the series. (See what I'm talking about here.) Instead of reviewing this book, I just want to put down a short list of my thoughts. 

1. Honestly, part of the reason it took me so long to read Lola is because of the old cover. But this orange cover is LOVELY. All of the new covers are lovely, in fact. 

2. Although I don't often have so much trouble with characters, I had some trouble with Anna and St. Clair with regard to their lack of communication in the first book. BUT: I feel great about the progress they've made in their relationship after reading Lola and the Boy Next Door! I did not realize that they were so heavily featured in Lola, and had I known -- I might not have tried so *painfully* hard to understand where these two were coming from in the first book. Now I want to hug Anna and St. Clair, although I'm not entirely sure why--I just feel so much better about them now, kind of like they've released me from being locked up in a great non-understanding of their relationship. That makes total sense to me, but maybe not so much to you guys. Just trust me. They've matured and I've moved on. 

3. I loved that Lola has all of these wonderfully warm and awkward feelings about Cricket (the name Cricket, yall, WHY). However, I again found myself in this place of frustration with the main characters: LOLA, PLEASE TALK TO MAX. AND ALSO TALK TO YOUR FRIEND CRICKET. YOU GUYS HAVE ISSUES TO WORK OUT. What I see is a little bit of a lack of communication between the guys and girls in this series. (I really don't want this to happen again in the Isla-book. Sigh, sigh, sigh.) 

4. I L-O-V-E friends-to-romance stories. High-fives, forever. I love them. 

BUT -- 

5. I felt a bit sorry for Max in this story. He's the one that Lola's parents don't like so much. Heck, even Lola ends up not liking him. It's obvious that he isn't the best choice for Lola, and I agree that I also liked Cricket best for her. But I felt like Max got dealt a bad hand in the way that everything was handled or written or whatever. 

However -

6. Cricket is all kinds of adorable. I love so much about him, especially the way that he isn't squeaky perfect, like Etienne St. Clair. (His deal with the rubber bands? GAH, I love that especially.) I completely understand why Lola falls for this guy. 

I realize that so many people felt so many swoony moments during this book, and while there was a moment or two where I felt my heart swell over some wonderfully-written lines. I still feel like I'm the odd-man-out, sitting by myself in the corner because I am not head-over-heels in love with the romance in these books. I WILL SAY that I loved this book in comparison to the first book and I WILL SAY that I really liked Cricket. I do plan to read Isla and the Happily Ever After, but I do not own it yet so I'm waiting for my library to have a copy for me to read. 

I've heard good things about the final part of this series and I'm eager to see how everything ends for everyone, but I'm also nervous about it because I want SO BADLY to love one of these books and now I'm down to the last one. No pressure or anything, Isla! 

ReRead Notes: I did go back and reread this book via audiobook + print after I initially wrote this blog post because I just felt so unsettled about Max. My feelings were only supported and intensified on my reread with regard to how his character was handled. I have no closure on how Max fared as part of the love triangle and I doubt that I can read this again to try and feel better about it like I did with the first book. BUT HEY: at least I gave it a second chance. That has to count for something, right? 

Note: I am not anti-love triangle in books. 


Lola and the Boy Next Door will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary Romance
Romance: Love Triangle. 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
is currently available for purchase.


Audiobook Notes:  The audiobook format of Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is published by Listening Library and is 8 hours and 59 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Shannon McManus who was a wonderful Lola! I think that going with a different narrator for this second book in the series was a good choice since Lola and Anna had such different personalities. The narrator captured Lola's quirky personality vividly and I feel like I got to know her a little better by the way she was portrayed in voice. I also love the way that this narrator did such a wonderful job speaking the male parts - they did not seem forced or cheesy at all, and with this book the male speaking parts are so important. I would highly recommend this audiobook for a first read or a reread.  

I really wanted to love Lola and the Boy Next Door
especially after having a so-so time with Anna, 
but I feel like I've also had a so-so time with Lola, albeit slightly better. 

I'm going to finish the series, but I have to 
admit that I feel a little like the ODDBALL in
the reading world because everyone else loves these. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

*An update for you.

Hi everyone! I wanted to write a quick note of thanks to you guys and also to update you after I posted this personal note from a little over one week ago

First of all...thanks to everyone that has asked about Dad! Thanks for reaching out to me in every way, I have read and reread all of your messages. You all are so encouraging to me and so supportive. 

We've had so many appointments lately for various reasons, but the one we had this past Monday was huge. It was stressful, we did not receive a diagnosis or any answers regarding Dad's issues, and ultimately I came home and just fell apart. We still have more appointments, more waiting. This may end up being a long road but my sisters and I are committed and in it for the long haul. 

One positive from Monday's appointment experience is that I tweeted out a picture of us, and some of you guys tweeted back some really positive replies! I read them again and again, I also read them to Dad - he was happy and felt encouraged so THANK YOU. Thank you guys so much. 


I've always been a big cheerleader of you guys, my reading friends, but I've NEVER felt as much love and support and just good stuff as I have from you all as I have in the past week. Do you know what a kind word, an encouraging word, a "Hello!" can do for someone that needs it? IT DOES EVERYTHING. Everything! I cannot tell you how much it means that you even read my thoughts, much less remember that I have sometime going on. I am humbled. It was so scary to put myself out there like that when the world doesn't really know these new vulnerable parts of me, how I'm freaking out all of the time. After I put down my words >> encouragement and book recommendations! I have no words, no words, because even though this situation is hard for me, knowing that you guys have my back makes it a little more bearable. I feel like I'm not alone with my thoughts, they aren't trapped in my head. I think there have been a couple of times when I've blown up a few people's messages. I apologize but I love the grace you've all shown in just letting me get these things out, both on this blog and also behind the blog. 


You guys, my friends from the Internet - you're so important! It's so weird sometimes, I think, for people that do not participate in a large community to understand what it is like to build relationships with people that they do not get to see regularly. On the contrary, I think it is not that hard; many of us communicate so often. That is why I knew I could come here and say HEY, I FEEL THIS THING, THIS IS WHAT I'M GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW, PLEASE HELP ME. And you all have, and I adore you for it. I still need you guys.

But this is a book blog, I know that, and I appreciate that you haven't minded the small departure here and there, and that you have interacted with me anyway. One of the best things about me opening up is that I got some book recommendations, and these are helping me to get back into the swing of reading, which helps me not over-think, not obsess over unpleasant things. Books are my escape. I have loved your book recommendations, because they are helping. This is one thing I really needed, one thing I was really hoping for when I wrote the first time - without something to read, I feel so lost. I'm still floundering around a little bit when I open some books that I have beside of me. (This very second, I have 19 books beside of me in a couple of piles, I've started them, then stopped a few paragraphs in. NINETEEN.) I've been collecting some of the recommendations you guys have given me either in the comments on that blog post or in various messages or tweets, and they look like such happy and comforting books, such great recommendations. You guys took the time to think hard about what you suggested, you really understood what I was trying to say, what I was asking for, and I love that so much. I hope you will continue to recommend to me. 

You guys are the best, the very best. I appreciate you all so very much, those that have supported me by reading and also those that supported me by speaking. Both feel like hugs because you're listening, you're listening. Sometimes when we feel things, we just need encouragement and conversation. 


Do you have any more happy-book recommendations? 
OR summer books, I've read one or two of those and they're actually helping too.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review | Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way 
by Shauna Niequist 
Published by Zondervan
Publish Date: July 14, 2010
Source: Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 

'The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.' 

'It's the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy.' 

'This is what I've come to believe about change: it's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all long, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be.' 

'I've learned the hard way that change is one of God's greatest gifts, and most useful tools. Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we've become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I've learned that it's not something to run away from, as though we could, and that in many cases, change is a function of God's graciousness, not life's cruelty.'

Niequist, a keen observer of life with a lyrical voice, writes with the characteristic warmth and honesty of a dear friend: always engaging, sometimes challenging, but always with a kind heart. You will find Bittersweet savory reading, indeed. 

'This is the work I'm doing now, and the work I invite you into: when life is sweet, say thank you, and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you, and grow.' (Goodreads) 
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist 

My Thoughts:  I was so fortunate to have stumbled upon Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist when I did. I actually found this book during a sale for Kindle books a couple of weeks ago, and this was at a time when I felt like I was kind of crumbly under the weight of so many different things going on in my life. I'm absolutely one of those people that - when there is something specific in my life that is an issue, I find a book to read that tackles that subject. I love non-fiction books, I love reading about things that challenge me, books that can teach me things, things that are real. 

Author Shauna Niequist penned Bittersweet as a set of short essays about various things that occurred in her life, changes in her life. Prior to the release of this book, she had experienced a large move back to her home city and this was something that was stressful for her family - there was a change in jobs, and there was a sense of loss in moving away from a city she loved but also a sense of joy at moving closer to family. This is such a bittersweet and mixed-up feeling - I know it, because I'm feeling the same feeling right now. With a change like this is the loss of the geographic closeness of the relationships from the previous city, which is like a big empty void. There is also a time of confusion and adjustment while you try to figure out where your place will be in your new city (again, I know this). Because this move has been sort of an over-riding theme in my life throughout the past year, and has had its hand on everything I've done, everywhere I've been, everything I've bought or not bought, EVERYTHING EVERYTHING - I feel a little bit like I could be this author's best friend or at least her family member. I feel like I know her that well. (I don't, okay? I'm not weird or anything like that. It's just nice to read about someone going through something like me. That's all.) This author also lived in a temporary place until she could get her family settled, which is THE THING. It is THE THING. Everything is temporary right now, and this is a change. I need to learn to roll with this and give myself grace for both loving it and hating it, and this is one reason why this book spoke to me so much. 

Moving on from "the move" -- 

The author had also experienced other things like loss in the form of miscarriage, so devastating, and loss of the geographic closeness of friendships as friends moved away, as she moved away. She writes about her struggles and apprehension with finding closure in these areas, and her words are beautiful. 


I began to feel, as I read, that there was someone here that understood some of the things that I know to be true, on at least some level. True, I haven't experienced the same things as this author but I feel grief and despair and hope and reluctance and everything else that she feels in the same way, except with regard to my own life issues. I can relate to her stories, even if I haven't experienced them, because she has made them relatable. She has made them relatable by incorporating bits of life into them. 

It's amazing how it happens, really, that we can find comfort in the words of other people. I do this so often in fictionalized stories and I love to tell you all about this. But there is something so very different about being able to picture another someone that is trying to sell a home that she is no longer living in while having to also make massive repairs on it that she will never get to enjoy, the financial strain of it. To read about how she was intentional about trying to not let these things strain her marriage, but oh my how life's stresses did anyway, and here's how we were even more intentional about getting things back on course. I read the accounts from the author's experiences, I read about the things that helped her and the things that did not help her, about the things that she realized along the way, and the ways she prayed and changed her routines, AND THIS HAS HELPED ME. 

*NOTE: You do not actually have to be going through anything hard or any "changes" at all to enjoy this book. It is really a great book to go into if you just want to read it and enjoy the author's work. It just worked well for me because I identify with the author and I love that. 

I really think that I'm living in the hardest time of my life right now, the most stressful time. This isn't the worst thing ever, it isn't a bad thing at all really. It's hard, yes. But I'll be fine. It's just some icky things mixed in with the good, you guys. That's what Bittersweet is about. I appreciate that this author chose to document her bittersweet times because this has comforted me. 

And her words are lovely, they really are. This lady has a great knack for writing and telling stories. A teensy bit repetitive at times, but that's okay. She is gifted in essay-writing, and was able to make me smile and even chuckle while I also clutched at my heart for what she had experienced in her life. Shauna sort of makes the point that life is full of the good mixed with the bad, and it's okay to experience all of it, to feel each way when life throws these bittersweet moments at us. 

You guys, I highlighted so many things. So many quotes that I want to remember because I want to carve them on my heart and also so many because they just sound pretty. There are some non-fiction books that I read because I want to feel challenged to better myself, and while I wanted to come out better on the other side of this book, what I really wanted was to find the grace to feel the bad and the good and everything in between when I'm feeling the tough stuff in life, because it is there - thrown in when you least expect it. That goal was achieved, and I am thankful. 

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist is a book that I will read again. Actually, I would love a print copy so I can mark it up and fold pages over, because this is how I end up treating the non-fictions books that I own, the ones that make me feel this way, the ones that I come to over and over to feel better or to learn things. I've seen that this author has written some other books, a happier book that appears to be in a style similar to this one and also some cookbook and devotional-type books. I'd love to get my hands on them all. 


Bittersweet will appeal to fans of:

Non-fiction, Christian 

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
is currently available for purchase.


Other titles by this author: 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Review | The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan

The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan
Series: Summer #1
Publish Date: December 17, 2012
Source: Purchased

It seemed only natural to nickname them the ‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him... Toby Morrison.

Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.

To Tess, summer is when everything happens: riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.

How did she let her friends talk her into working?

After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking chaos.

All with the one boy she has never been able to forget. 
It will be a summer she will always remember.  (Goodreads) 

The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan

My Thoughts:  OK SO FUN STORY: Because of the colder-than-normal temperatures around here lately, because I've had some less-than-fun things going on lately concerning Dad's health, and because I think a bit of sunshine is part of the cure to what ails me -- I made a list of summer reads to go ahead and start reading. I'm just too doggone cold so often and my toes can barely take it anymore. The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan has been on my reading list for ages; when my Kindle chose it first after a search for "summer" -- I was excited to begin reading it.  


Tess McGee is excited to be out of school for the summer, ready to spend time in the cool waters of the nearby lake, soaking up the sunshine. However, she reluctantly agrees to take a summer job in the restaurant and bar of the Onslow Hotel with her two best friends Ellie and Adam, sure that time spent with them is nearly as good as time spent in the sun. Tess gets more than she bargains for when she realizes that the Onslow Hotel is hangout to a group of guys that come to be known as "The Onslow Boys." Between her job and these boys, her summer will be nothing like she originally planned. 

In the beginning of the book, Tess is a little on the awkward side. Having been on the receiving end of a mean joke at a schoolmate's expense, a mean nickname had followed Tess around for a long time - this had weighed on her self esteem a bit. But Tess is a lovely girl and over time, she came into herself and began to see herself the way others saw her. Best friends Ellie and Adam helped with this, along with those adoring Onslow Boys. As they grew to know her as part of the wait staff at their favorite hangout, then as their friend outside of the Onslow Hotel, their acceptance helped her to gain the confidence to make quick decisions, carry her head high, make snappy verbal comebacks, and assert herself in all sorts of ways. I loved this. What I also loved about Tess was her normalcy in making the mistakes that we all make/made in our years of high school - having disagreements with friends, a few jealous moments here and there, making assumptions that we later realize are stupid, and doing actual dumb things. Things like this make us GROW, you guys, and Tess is an example of a character that experiences the great coming-of-age up and down parts of high school. 
FREE for Kindle!

She also experiences LOVE. Early in the book, Tess admits to a crush and what what, this boy happens to be one of the super-swoony Onslow Boys! It's great, really, because it causes her to fumble a bit when she's waiting tables, to say dumb things when she speaks around him, things like that. I LOVE THIS PART OF ROMANCE, the awkward and clumsy part. The relationship between Tess and Toby begins as not-a-romance at all, because Toby has a girlfriend in the beginning of the book. This is such a bummer to Tess, but as many of us know, we sometimes have crushes on people that are attached to other people. I loved how Toby handled Tess and his already-girlfriend, though, because he made what I think are respectable decisions and followed through with respectable choices in order to avoid what could have been a pretty nasty love triangle. The romance between these two was so swoony and romantic and reminded me of how I felt when I was falling in love and OH THOSE KISSES! Yes, I realize that I'm an adult, talking about two young people kissing, but this book really delivered on a very romantic, very sweet relationship that I enjoyed reading and cheered for. 

One of the best things about this book was the great friendships - I LOVE THEM SO HARD. Best friends Tess and Ellie have a third BFF -- Adam. What a glorious thing to see a male best friend that remains friend-status without crossing any lines! I am all for friends-to-lovers stories, but I'm also all for friends that know where the boundaries are when they aren't romantic, and guys THIS IS ONE OF THOSE STORIES. Adam is one-of-a-kind in terms of friends, so fun, and I think he's kind of swoony too. (I peaked ahead, I know who he is going to end up with - I so rarely do this, but I LOVED him so much! I'm so excited! I need to read quickly to get to his story.) 

I was really excited to see that Author C.J. Duggan is an Australian author - I know that over here in America, Australian authors are SO loved and adored. This has been an Aussie favorite. I just had a blast reading about a summer romance with realistic relationships and characters, and it was so easy for me to visualize their summer unfolding in my head. I'm so excited that I read this book when I needed a great warm-weather read because I feel like I've got a great kick-start on my summer reads (yes, in February) and I'm so eager to continue with this series. I've fallen kind of hard for these characters already; even though other characters have their own chances in the spotlight in subsequent standalone companion books, they all were developed well from the beginning. This book is likely one that I'll reread in the future for summer reads or beach reads, perhaps. I recommend C.J. Duggan's The Boys of Summer from her Summer Series for fans of Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary stories with Romance, fans of summer reads, and fans of Australian authors. 


The Boys of Summer will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary 
Romance: Slowly developing. No triangle. 
Great friendships. 
Australian author.
Australian setting. 
Summer books. 

The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan
is currently available for purchase.


Summer Series: 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review | Unmarked by Kami Garcia - with Audiobook Notes

Unmarked by Kami Garcia
Series: Legion #2
Published by Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: September 30, 2014
384 Pages
Source: Book - Lauren from Love is not a triangle. Thank you, friend! / Audiobook - Library

He is here... and he could be anyone.

Kennedy Waters lives in a world where vengeance spirits kill, ghosts keep secrets, and a demon walks among us–a demon she accidentally set free. 

Now Kennedy and the other Legion members–Alara, Priest, Lukas, and Jared–have to hunt him down. As they learn more about the history of the Legion and the Illuminati, Kennedy realizes that the greatest mystery of all does not belong to any secret order, but to her own family. With the clock ticking and the life of someone she loves hanging in the balance, Kennedy has to ask the question she fears most: what is it about her past that has left her Unmarked?
 (from Goodreads)

Unmarked by Kami Garcia

My Thoughts:  After enjoying Unbreakable by Kami Garcia so much, Unmarked was one of my most highly-anticipated releases of 2014. (Here is my review.). I even recently reread Unbreakable via print + audiobook before tackling Unmarked because so much happens in the first book. I wanted to be ready. 

Unmarked begins just a few weeks after the end of the previous book. Main character Kennedy has been separated from her friends in the Legion after demon/bad guy Andras was released to wreak havoc on the world. This is for the best, Kennedy thinks. She's sure that she is the reason for all of the bad things that have happened and are happening out in the world - she's the very reason Andras was set free to do all of these bad things. Weird weather, missing girls, things like that. It's not a pretty place out there right now. 

Kennedy begins the book at a boarding school for girls, having been sent there by her aunt (remember her mother is killed in the beginning of the first book and her dad is nowhere to be found). Her friends from the Legion soon come to rescue her, and they go off to fight the good fight, the Good vs. Evil fight, to defeat Andras, the bad guy. 

There are a couple of key problems: 

1. Kennedy doesn't have her mark, the mark that identifies her as part of the Legion. They actually don't know who the missing fifth member is - but until Kennedy gets a mark, it certainly isn't her. SO WHO IS IT? 
2. Love interest Jared, also in the Legion, has been taken over by the bad guys - by taken over, I mean that he is currently demon-possessed. He isn't alone inside of his body. It's completely creepy. 


Unmarked by Kami Garcia is, in my opinion, a little bit less strong book than the book before it. I loved all of the returning characters, and the new faces are fun too, but it felt like what they were working toward in this book was just a little bit narrow. What I mean is that YES, they're looking for the last person carrying the mark, the last member of the Legion, and YES, they're looking to defeat Andras - but that's kind of what they were doing in the last book. I felt like I wanted a little bit more. 

To be fair, there are some twists and turns in the plot. There is a little bit MORE that does come, but it takes a little while to get there. By the end of the book, I certainly felt closer to what I feel is the end goal, so I can appreciate that overall. But the twists felt a little bit smaller than what I wanted out of Unmarked. I'm hoping for something big in the final installment, because THAT END, wow. The plot twist at the end left me holding my breath, actually. I'm ready for the final part of the story to feel like this series is completed, to feel some resolution for these characters because they've been through so much, particularly Jared. 

As far as the romance goes - the first time I read Unbreakable, SOMEHOW I didn't really consider the love triangle a strong one. I'm not sure how I came to that understanding with my reading-self...because on my reread, the love triangle felt pretty big. I also stated in my review of Unbreakable that the romance didn't really take up a major part of the plot line, but on the reread I found myself wishing that it would take a little less of the plot. SO INTERESTING, right? That a reread can feel so different? Anyway - 

- the romance in Unmarked is way better, I think. The feeling of a potential love triangle felt suspended, at least for this second installment. The un-involved brother never felt like a threat to the romantic relationship between Kennedy and Jared during the portions of the story in which Jared is incapacitated (and he is for much of this story). It is easy to see that Kennedy's heart lies with Jared. I loved this affirmation because I do like the two of them together. 

I can't wait to see what comes in the finale. I'll admit that this story was almost too creepy for me. Demons are a place that I don't tend to go in my reading, but I have enjoyed this series so far. 

I recommend Unmarked to fans of young adult paranormal/supernatural stories. I'm ready for the next part of this story because I feel like I'm just holding on, holding on, holding on after WHAT HAPPENED AT THE END. Doggone it. Next installment, please! 

Audiobook Notes:  The audiobook format of Unmarked by Kami Garcia is published by Hachette Audio and is 8 hours and 48 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Christine Lakin who I already knew and loved from listening to her performance of Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This narrator was great for this part because she made an already-creepy book sound a little bit creepier; this isn't a negative thing at all. What I mean is that she did such a great job of pausing at the right places and placing accents in the right places - I feel like she represented Kennedy well at this place in her life, so stressed and scared. This reader is different from the reader that read the first book in the series. Both do a great job in their respective books and I would recommend both as first reads or rereads. 


Unmarked will appeal to fans of:

YA Paranormal/Supernatural
Romance:  Already established from the first book,
the love triangle present in the first book seems to have gone away
for this installment.  

Unmarked by Kami Garcia
is currently available for purchase.


The Legion Series: 

Review | Love On The Lifts by Jill Santopolo

Love On The Lifts by Jill Santopolo
Series: Follow Your Heart
Published by Speak
Publish Date: January 22, 2015
Source: Publisher

What better way to spend your vacation than on the slopes? In this unique romance, the reader’s in the driver’s seat—creating her own path through the narrative and ending with one of eleven different guys. By making selections at the end of each chapter, the reader decides who will be her perfect match. It could be the athletic ski instructor, one of the adorable twin brothers in the lodge, or the sweet guy with the broken leg by the fireplace. Finding your dream guy couldn’t be easier, and it all takes place against the snowy backdrop of a romantic ski resort. And if not all readers are looking for love, there are other options: to hang with your sister, make new friends, or spend some time alone. But any way you slice it, every reader will have their love on the lifts! (Goodreads) 
Love On The Lifts by Jill Santopolo

My Thoughts:  When I was young, I used to love to read Choose Your Own Adventure stories. I'd read them over and over, making sure to arrive at the different endings each time. I wanted to see what adventures were possible within the book. One just wasn't enough. The concept of this type of story was so exciting to me, one where I was in control of how things turned out. This is what Jill Santopolo has done with Love On The Lifts, except we're not choosing adventure - we're choosing a chance for love.  


As the story begins, you and your sister Angie are at the airport, on your way to a ski vacation with your parents. Your boyfriend Nate has broken your heart, and you just aren't feeling the fun of the upcoming vacation. Angie tells you that she has a plan - you need to kiss someone you meet on the ski mountain, you need to fall in love on the lifts

Hmm, you're not so sure! You'd rather ski and hang out with your sister and just not think of romantic things. BUT Angie convinces you that it takes a boy to get over a boy, and you eventually agree to try out her plan. The "choose your own adventure" part of the story begins once you both make it out on the slopes. 


When Love On The Lifts by Jill Santopolo arrived, I read it immediately because it sounded like so much fun - and it was. It was a quick read that left me smiling and flipping pages, but in a really fun way. There are something like eleven choices for an ending - a ski instructor, a handsome twin, deciding to hang out with sister Angie instead of finding a guy, hanging out alone - so, yeah, several possibilities. AND true to what we all know of these types of "choose your own adventure" books, the opportunity to decide what to do next pops up every few pages, which made me feel in control of what was going on. 

I ended up "finding love" with Charlie - he's a nice guy out on the slopes that I spot and decide to spend the day skiing with. He is hilarious and charming and loves old movies. It's a good match and helps me take my mind off of my awful ex-boyfriend. 

*SO while I've been taking care of my Dad recently and because this book was so fun to read, I picked up Love On The Lifts and read it again - twice. I ended up with two very different endings, both a lot of fun. I ended up hanging out with my sister Angie, which is always a good time of course (YAY sisters, I absolutely love mine) and I also found love with a guy named Orion, who happens to be the son of the ski resort owner. 

Love On The Lifts by Jill Santopolo is fun. It isn't a long read or a heavy read. It's perfect for someone that is looking for something light, cute, and happy - EXACTLY what I've needed in my life right now, actually. I haven't made it through all of the options for endings yet but there does not appear to be any love triangles so far. The book is written from a perspective of YOU being the main character, YOU are looking for love, YOU are choosing your own adventure. I recommend Love On The Lifts by Jill Santopolo for fans of young adult contemporary with romance that enjoy fun story structures. 


Love On The Lifts will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary 
Choose Your Own Adventure

Love On The Lifts by Jill Santopolo
is currently available for purchase.


Did you read Choose Your Own Adventure 
books when you were young?

I DID. I loved them!