Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Favorite Authors

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015.

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1) Emma Mills – First & Then

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2) Renee Ahdieh – The Wrath & The Dawn

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3) Julia Heaberlin – Black-Eyed Susans

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4) Allison Leotta – The Anna Curtis series

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5) Rebecca Sherm – Unbecoming

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6) Nicole Baart – The Beautiful Daughters

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7) M.J. Alridge – Eeny Meeny

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8) Taylor Jenkins Reid – Maybe in Another Life

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9) Barry Lyga – I Hunt Killers

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10) Ashlee Mallory – Her Backup Boyfriend

What new authors have you discovered this year?

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Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Maybe in Another Life will be available July 7, 2015

I’ve read a couple of multiple universe stories before and I feel like this one was unique. While the other books I’ve read always had the “real” universe and the “other” universe I didn’t feel like this book had that. Maybe in Another Life focuses more on the possible journeys than on which path is “right”.

Hannah Martin’s life is a bit of a wreck. She is moving (again), has no job, no car, barely any money, and has just broken up with her boyfriend – who she found out was married. She moves back to Los Angeles to stay with her best friend, Gabby, and her husband. On her first night out she sees her high school boyfriend, Ethan, who she’s never really gotten over. As the night progresses she’s given the choice of taking things slow with Ethan and going home with Gabby or staying out and letting Ethan take her home. From there the chapters alternate between what would happen next in each possible “universe”.

It’s hard to discuss what happens in each scenario without revealing some major spoilers. I will say that I thought the synopsis indicated that Ethan was her soul mate no matter the universe, but the majority of one scenario includes another possible “soul mate”, Henry (I’m TOTALLY Team Henry!) There are a lot of good and bad things that happen in each scenario and each leads to similar conclusions, though some of the major players are different.

While reading, it seemed to me that one scenario was the right choice and the other was the wrong choice. Even though some big, horrible things happened in the right one, it just always felt like the best one to me. I liked the development with her family, her friends, and her love interest in one much more than the other one. Except for the last couple of chapters when I started to warm up to the other universe, as well.

I liked that there were similar things that happened in each universe. Like in one chapter there was an example of a pain scale of 1-10 and Hannah’s answer was 6. In the next chapter there was a scale of embarrassment where she answered 6. There were a couple things like that peppered throughout the story, though they were more prevalent at the beginning and the end.

While I didn’t really like Hannah very much at first, she grew on me as the story went on. I felt like her character really developed and grew throughout and finally started making smarter choices. I also really liked her best friend, Gabby. I almost felt like the idea of soul mates wasn’t necessarily about a guy, but about friendship. In each universe Hannah and Gabby are absolutely there for each other and I loved it.

Overall, I did enjoy Maybe in Another Life. I like the idea of multiple universes and I think this book handled it better than others have. One big thing that bothered me, though, is that it was not a definitive ending. I didn’t feel like there was a point where we find out which decision Hannah picked and how she ended up (though after reading some other reviews, others people felt like one ending was suggested as THE ending, but I didn’t get that). Since there was so much discussed about fate and how things happen how they’re supposed to happen, I felt that not having an obvious ending, but two possible different scenarios wasn’t very impactful and is the reason I’m giving this less than 4 stars. Still, if you enjoy multiple storylines/universes and cotemporaries, you would probably enjoy this.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 2015

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I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads

Introductions (The Ghost Bird, #1)

Introductions (The Ghost Bird #1) by C. L. Stone. Read May 31-June 1. 3 stars.

This is probably more like 2.5 stars, but I’m rounding it up to 3 because I’m looking forward to the next book. I’ve read a lot of reviews that list this series as a “guilty pleasure” and I think it will be the same for me.

The book does just what it says, it introduces all the main characters – which include SEVEN guys. And one girl. The guys are super protective of Sang (yes, stupid name) right away – like Edward Cullen level protective. Like made me a little uncomfortable level protective/possessive. But still…I’m intrigued.

Sang kind of got on my nerves. She kind of fell for every single guy she met and goes on and on about the tingly feelings she gets whenever one of them touches her in any way – which is often. I feel bad for the abuse she faces at home (and her mother isn’t just agoraphobic as the synopsis states – she’s a pill addicted, paranoid, crazy person), but it almost feels like her relationship with the boys is a little abusive in that they tell her what to do, what not to do, insist on following her around, etc.

Overall, though, I’m interested to find out what exactly this Academy is about. While the writing wasn’t exactly great, it was still fast and kind of addictive.

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First Days (The Ghost Bird #2) by C. L. Stone. Read June 1-3. 2 stars.

Oh dear. This series is driving me crazy, but I still plan on reading the next book. It’s like a train wreck you can’t look away from.

Sang still drives me crazy. The majority of the book continued to focus on how she feels whenever one of the guys touches her. She’s also verrrry immature. There was a random student who “proposed” to her and she actually wondered whether or not he was serious.

The boys continue to be protective/possessive of her in an unhealthy way. She now asks them for permission to speak and apologizes for trivial things. Bella Swan looks like a feminist hero compared to Sang.

All this said, and I still want to know what happens next. That’s the only reason it’s getting 2 stars from me instead of 1. The final chapter finally gave some answers, though I’m still a little confused.

Maybe in Another Life

Maybe in  Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Read June 6-7. 3.5 stars.

A full review of this will be posted closer to it’s release date (July 7). For now I’ll just say that it’s an interesting twist on alternate universes that I found enjoyable.

Her Backup Boyfriend (Entangled Bliss)

Her Backup Boyfriend by Ashlee Mallory. Read June 7-8. 3.5 Stars.

I was looking for a good fake relationship story and this definitely fit the bill. It was cute and the characters were likable.

Magnolia

Magnolia by Kristi Cook. Read June 9-10. 3 stars.

Cute story with likable characters. At times it felt a little rushed and there was a lot of subjects that could have been more explored, but instead it only scratched the surface. Overall, though, a quick read that works for my contemporary kick.

Friends vs. Family (The Ghost Bird, #3)

Friends vs. Family (The Ghost Bird #3) by C. L. Stone. Read June 4-13. 2 stars.

So there was some good which is why it’s getting 2 stars instead of 1. Finally some stuff happened towards the end of this book. Some answers about Sang’s family are finally revealed. Her crazy mom is finally getting some help (for now). Sang finally realized that “normal friends” don’t act like how the boys act like her.

However, then there was the ridiculous. They play truth and dare and Sang’s dares are to sit on one boy’s lap and give another hug and get her teeth brushed by another…Then in the end they *SPOILER* vote on SHARING her.

This series is weird, guys. But it’s kind of an addicting read. I’m going to have to take a break for awhile, though to see if I still want to continue it.

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. Read June 13-15. 4 stars.

A full review of this will come out closer to it’s release date (August 11), but for now I’ll say, Heaberlin effortlessly weaves together past and present into one suspenseful tale of a woman trying to outrun her monster. Ignore the Gillian Flynn comparison. Julia Heaberlin’s Black-Eyed Susans is so good it doesn’t need it.

Discretion

Discretion (Anna Curtis #2) by Allison Leotta. Read June 20-21. 4 stars.

I am so loving this series! Discretion is everything a DC based crime/mystery should be. The city’s top escort is found murdered outside of a powerful Congressman’s office. Anna and her (secret) boyfriend Jack investigate, filled with surprising twists. Added to the team is FBI Agent Samantha.

I loved both the progression of the case and Anna and Jack’s relationship. I had a lot of issues with Jack being condescending to Anna and I’m glad some of those came to light. I’m really looking forward to the next book!

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RE-READS

A Good Killing (Anna Curtis, #4)

A Good Killing (Anna Curtis #4) by Allison Leotta. Since I read this book before reading the beginning of the series, I wanted to re-read it to see what I thought once I read books 1-3. I still love it and knowing the background added some more emotional depth for me.

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Do not ask me what possessed me to pick this book up again. I do credit it for getting me back into reading several years ago, but the last time I tried to re-read the series I just couldn’t make it through. I feel like enough time has gone by that I can look at it more objectively. I don’t think it deserves all the hate it gets. Sure it’s ridiculous and not brilliantly written and we can all talk about the damaging relationship Edward and Bella have, but this book is really no more ridiculous than most YA books out there today, it’s just been much more hyped and has terrible movies.

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West. I won this in a giveaway and it came right after I finished reading a series and seemed just the ticket to help me transition out of my book hangover. So cute.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan. No other books were sounding good to me, so I decided to start re-reading this series. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read the first two books in this series, but I only read the third book once and never reviewed it, so I think I’m going to try and review it after it’s re-read.

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

The Other Typist

The Other Typist by Susanne Rindell. This was recommended to me and I thought it looked interesting, but I just could not get into it. There’s supposed to be a good twisty ending, though, so I don’t want to write it off completely in case I feel like trying it again later.