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When Jade Eby Isn't Writing...

I write. A lot. But when I'm not writing...you can find me with my nose in a book. Or a Kindle.

Unteachable - Leah Raeder Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

Ever read a book that fills you so completely that by the time you turn (or swipe) by the last page, you feel every bit of yourself shattering into a million pieces, never to be put back together again? No? I just did. I want more than anything in this entire world (seriously) to make someone feel this way after reading something I've written. I went into this book low expectations, mainly because I'd just come off of a string of really crappy NA books. I figured this one would be no exception. Except, I was oh-so-wrong. So very, very, wrong. This book far surpassed my expectations and my desire for what a book should be. I gave myself approximately 45 minutes of a break before I opened up my Kindle and began swiping every beautiful, lyrical line I could find (hint...there's A LOT of them!)

Let me just say that this book made me simultaneously cry with happiness that there are still magnificent writers like Raeder in this world but also made me yearn so deeply to possess a fifth of her skill. The writing was that good. The language, metaphors, similes and imagery would be worth reading it alone, but the story and the character just add another level of awesome-ness to this story. It's risky, gritty, REAL. The character of Maise is a character that I see a lot of people disliking. She's complex, very flawed and up front about her desires and issues. I, for, one found this refreshing for a NA character. Actually, I haven't found a character that I felt this akin to in a long time. But Raeder created a character that I fell in love with in spite of her flaws. I also love the secondary characters. It's rare for an author to have such fully developed side characters as the main character is. So, not only were the main characters AMAZING but the story/premise itself was fantastic. It's not one that's particularly unique or new, but the way it was told and the power structure involved gave it a fresh new look. The whole teacher/student relationship thing is a very risky subject and many readers won't even touch books with subject for moral reasons but I, for one, LOVE to push myself and my boundaries of what is morally right and wrong. This book completely encompasses the idea that "life is an enormous shade of grey." There is not so much white or black in this world as people would like to believe. There is only varying shades of grey. I loved that Raeder took a taboo subject and not only dissected it, but dissected it in a completely new and dangerous way. I just love authors that push the boundaries.

The only thing I'd wanted to see in the book and didn't was a little more of Evan's backstory. There's a certain "something" in his past that I wish Raeder would have delved deeper into because I think it's important to fully understand characters as readers but I also think Maise deserved a little more knowledge of the subject. I also think it would have rounded out Evan's character just a bit more. Because of this "thing," he comes off skeevier than he really is, I think. But that's seriously the only thing I think I would have liked to see more of.

Overall this novel was incredible. It made me feel all the FEELS and I felt it down to the core of me. It reminded me why I want to write in the first place...so that readers like ME can respond to novels in a way that encourages deep thought, conversation and insane pimpage. This was one of those intoxicating, can't concentrate on anything because you are drunk on the words kind of reads. So really, what I'm trying to say through all this babble is... GO READ THIS BOOK! NOW!
Just One - Emily Hemmer After reading The Break-Up Psychic, I knew I was a die-hard Hemmerian (Not sure that's a word...but I'm going with it). When I had an opportunity to read an advanced copy of Just One (prequel to Plus None...coming soon!) I jumped at it. Not only did I fall in love with another one of Hemmer's characters, I fell in love with the entire tone/theme. Charlie is my favorite kind of female lead--sharp as a tack, quick-witted and full of flaws. Plus, she has a sexy side that I love.

And Alex freaking Ramirez. HOLY SHIT. I'm not kidding when I tell you I had to put the book down I was swooning so hard. Those damn dimples get me every time (kind of like Charlie).

If you've read The Break-Up Psychic, be prepared for an even sexier, funnier romp. And If you haven't read The Break-Up Psychic yet...what the hell are you waiting for? Buy yourself a copy, devour it and move onto this freebie so you'll be caught up for Plus None.

Hemmer's done it again.... and I'm a proud Hemmerian :)
The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

This is another book that came highly recommended. Several girls in my critique group read it and loved it. When I received The Raven Boys audio book, I knew I had to listen to it. And let me tell you, it lived up to every expectation I had.

The characters! The premise! The writing! Oh. My. God. Why has it taken me so long to read a Maggie Stiefvater book?! I LOVED this book. And listening to it on audio book was incredible. The characters came ALIVE. I loved how all the characters were so fleshed out. Blue was such a different female character than a lot of the YA out there. She felt more real, more mature. And even though there really *isn't* a love triange...yet... I wanted there to be because I loved two of the characters very much. I couldn't decide who I wanted Blue to love more. Or who deserved her love more. I know a lot of people commented that the build up was too slow, but I loved it. The world building in this novel is incredible and everything has personality. The town of Henrietta, Blue's clairvoyant mother and family members, the churchyard and vision tree. Ahh...it was all done SO WELL. There are some twists and turns I totally didn't see coming and I loved that. I want more of that.

It's hard to choose a "favorite" thing about this novel--but I think my absolute favorite thing is the words. There are some truly amazing lines in this novel. Words that make you feel ALL the feels. Words that make you want to bash your head against something because you didn't think of them first. Words that bring to life the scene in front of you. I'm so very glad this was my first Maggie Stiefvater novel because she's now on my auto-buy list!

Literally, I can't think of anything I disliked about this book. I loved every second of it and I can't wait until the next one is released. Okay, maybe the only thing I dislike is that now I have another series to keep on my radar and obsess over!
The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing - Jasinda Wilder,  Liliana Hart,  Tina Folsom,  Theresa Ragan,  Dorien Kelly,  Jana Deleon,  Jane Graves,  Colleen Gleason,  Deborah Holland, Denise Grover Swank Posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

I've been following most of these authors since they first started writing and self-publishing and a couple of them are my writing heroes. I've known for a long time that self-publishing was the way I wanted to go with my novels so this book seemed right up my alley. And you know what? It didn't disappoint. It was AMAZING.

This is how all self-help books SHOULD be. It's highly informative but backed up with real scenarios, actual facts and figures and easy to follow (and completely sensible) advice. Nothing they say its a "get rich quick" scheme thing. But the thing is--it all makes so much sense you wonder why most people aren't following this stuff. They are realistic to admit that luck plays into a lot of success but so does talent and hard work. Every single author that contributes to this book has worked their asses off to be where they are and I find it's so much easier to believe and trust their words because of that. Honestly, this is one of, if not THE, best self-help (especially for self-publishing) book I've ever read. They give you resources and steps to follow leaving you a solid path to follow if and when you decide to self-publish. Also, I REALLY enjoyed their personal touches on each of their sections. And their stories at the end were amazing. I found Liliana Hart and Jasinda Wilder's stories to be the most touching and profound.

I think this book is great for people interested in learning about self-publishing or want to learn more about the successful authors who wrote this book. It's MOST important for writers aspiring to self-publish. READ THIS BOOK. I promise you won't regret it. You'll thank me :)
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

This book came HIGHLY recommended to me and everyone was raving about it so I decided to use my B&N gift card to purchase this one. I have a tumultuous relationship with Eleanor and Park as there were some parts that I fell in love with and other parts where I wanted to throw the book.

There were some passages that made me hold my breath with awe. Seriously, Rainbow Rowell is a very gifted storyteller and she reminds me of John Green in the way she creates characters and writers her prose. Beautiful. Because of that, I think I became almost *TOO* invested in the characters so when they did something stupid, I got angry and annoyed. But that's one of the things I LOVED about this novel--is the way I felt about the characters. They were SO fleshed out and felt like two, very real people trying to navigate their situations in high school. I loved that their relationship had zero cliches. No insta-love, no love triangles. No love at first sight. It was built up very cleverly and I adored the way they eventually fell for each other. Their quips and banter were genius--and it was probably one of my favorite parts of the books.

The sheer use of ellipses in this book is RIDICULOUS. Honestly, I can't believe an editor or publisher let it go to print with it. I think that it's a stylistic thing...but it makes absolutely zero sense. She doesn't even use them to make a point, they're just there. Normally, I don't find ellipses to be a huge deal at all until they start distracting my reading experience and take me out of the story which they did in this book. Sigh.

Also the ending... to say I was disappointed is an understatement. I know, especially from my own experience as a writer, that endings are personal, intimate and are usually written a specific way for a reason. But this ending just felt like a cop out to me. I hated it. And it may be really superficial to say this, but if a book has a terrible ending--it really colors the entire novel for me. So that's one of the big reasons Eleanor and Park was knocked down a few notches in my "rating."

Overall, I really did enjoy this novel despite the few issues I had with it. I would recommend this novel to Contemporary YA lovers. It's worth a read for the language if anything. I'll be checking out Rainbow Rowell's next book for sure!
If I Stay - Gayle Forman Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

Gayle Forman is kind of like one of those "Godly" like names among YA readers/writers. I'm ashamed to say that it took me this long to read one of her books even though I bought the book on it's release day! Anyway, this book and Gayle Forman did NOT disappoint It's clear why so many people love her.

First of all, I loved the premise of this novel. It reminded me of Lovely Bones in the way that the characters are speaking from an other-worldly place. It's crazy to think about if that stage between life and death really happened. What if WE had the choice to stay or go? To live or die? I love that Mia is forced to think about both sides of the coin and the implications that both decisions would bring. Mia, the main characters is awesome. I love that she was kind of nonsensical, dedicated to her true love--music, but also had enough heart to fall in love with a boy. I loved their relationship and their story and I thought it felt realistic and true. It did feel like more of a "mature" love like her mom mentions in the novel and I liked that. I loved getting to know Mia and her family but I have to say, this is one of my all-time favorite "family" portrait books. Mia, her parents and her brother are all a tight unit and I love the way Forman wrote them. They're the type of family every kid wishes they could have. Mia's struggle to comprehend that life as she knew it is officially gone and decide whether or not she wants to be apart of a new life without her family is heart wrenching. I felt so many things with this novel but none so more than sadness and hope.

The only thing I really had qualms about in this novel were the flashbacks. I know they kind of needed to happen, but after the fifth or sixth one, I started to get rather annoyed. In my mind, I think I attribute the flashbacks to the fact that what else are you going to write about if your character is lying in a hospital bed dying and her soul is roaming about? But then I realized...there's A LOT she could have written about or done. It didn't need to be all flashbacks about Mia and her family. That's the part I felt was really missing from this novel. Action.

Overall, I really enjoyed this heartbreaking novel. I'm glad I finally picked it up and I can't wait to read Where She Went!
Losing It - Cora Carmack Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

I met Cora Carmack at RT Convention this year and she is one of the most intelligent, well-spoken, articulate women I've ever met. I immediately identified with her, felt like she was such a fantastic role model for writers. So to say I had BIG expectations for this novel is an understatement and unfortunately, I wish I could say I was happier with the end result.

The biggest thing I liked about this novel was the humor. Bliss had a few one-liners that had me laughing out loud. I also liked the setting for the novel--I'm a big fan of the New Adult genre but actually setting the story in college, with classes, is AWESOME! I think my favorite thing about this novel was the way Carmack described acting. When Bliss was getting into character or delivered a performance, it's like I felt it too. Makes me wonder what Carmack's background with acting is because it's hard to believe someone who doesn't have experience with stage managing or acting could describe it so accurately. I liked all the characters well enough, but I think my mental image of Garrick is probably my favorite :) Sexy and british. Yum. This was a pretty quick read and the writing was well done so I'm impressed with that in regards to it being self-published first.

Okay, here goes nothing. I was really hoping for a deep but sexy novel about a college girl's journey with her sexuality. But this fell so flat for me. It all felt very surface level with never daring to dip below the "I'm a virgin, oh-my-god, I'm so scared" type of thing. Carmack could have done brilliant things with novel but instead it felt very fluffy and unrealistic. It drove me nuts that in the first half of the book almost ALL the dialogue between characters included each others name. "Bliss, blah blah blah." "Oh, Garrick, I don't know blah blah blah." "But Bliss, you don't understand."
Sigh. It was really annoying. And then there was this whole thing about Bliss being awkward which she wasn't really. She really seemed like anything BUT awkward. Sure, some of the situations she got herself in were awkward and so was some of her dialogue, but on a whole, she was not awkward like she is portrayed to be. The whole relationship between her and Garrick is so.... non romantic and unbelievable there were a few times I rolled my eyes. Because A. I don't care if you're a young, hip TA or professor or whatever, you're NOT reading Shakespeare in a bar with a bunch of rowdy drunk people. You're just not. B. Insta-Love. That's what it felt like and I hate that. I'm not saying it's not true for .1% of the population BUT there are more interesting and believable ways to write about it than the usual insta-love connection plot line. C. The I-Love-You part???? WHAT?! Came ouf of NOWHERE. Not believable. I laughed. Anyways. I was hoping for a better novel than what I got BUT that being said, I'm still interested to see if her second book Faking It is any better.
Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

I fell in love with Courtney Summers when I picked up This Is Not a Test. I literally fell head over heels in love with her. I read and reviewed that novel here. I had no doubt when I had the time to pick up her other novels--I would gulp up each book in one sitting and fangirl all around the house because of how awesome she is. Friends, I cannot lie. I squeed. And squealed. And danced. And cried. I FELT ALL THE FEELS WITH THIS ONE.

From the first page to the last, I was hooked on this book. This was one of those I'm-going-to-start-a-book-and-not-do-anything-else-until-I-finish-it kind of books. I seriously started it and ONLY tore my eyes away from it when I was going to the bathroom. I read straight through and loved every single minute of this wretched (in a good way) novel. Summers has mastered the art of FEELS. What does that mean? It means that I laughed, cried, yelled, swore and threw my Kindle down because Summers wrote Regina so damn well. SO. DAMN. WELL. I loved her, I hated her. I loved to hate her and hated to love her. But I think that was the point. Reformed mean girl Regina ends up getting a taste of her own medicine. She's done her fair share of screwing up other people's lives and when it's her turn, she get's it back worse then anyone she ever messed with. This, my friends, is karma. It should be the theme of the novel. I'm just going to say it--Regina is a straight up bitch. BUT. She gets what hers and by the end of the novel--you know there is more to Regina than just being a bitch. But really, this book is horrifying in a way. It almost felt like voyerism watching the inside workings of how high school girls treat each other. It wasn't so long ago that I, myself was a high school girl. I was probably most like Michael or Liz in the novel. The kid who was nerdy, good at school and kept mostly to herself. Which made me a target for bullying. So while none of the things that happened in this novel directly happened to me, I have NO SHADOW OF A DOUBT--it can and HAS happened to a high school student at one point. Teenagers are cruel. Teenage girls are even crueler. They are the meanest of the mean and they will knock you down dead if you let them. Maybe that's why this novel affected me the way it did. Because I've been there--I've witnessed things like this. It made my stomach churn like butter when I read the things they do to each other in this novel. The way Regina feels about herself, about the other people. It makes me sad and angry. As it should. There are so many themes that run rampant in this book, it's crazy. From acceptance, forgiveness, self-realization, guilt, rape, drinking, sex and friendship. Really, it goes further than those even. Courtney Summers is the master of creating characters who make you rethink your moral compass and challenge what you thought you understood about yourself. I know a lot of people have complained that they don't like Summers' books because of the "unlikable" female characters but I have to completely disagree. I love that she doesn't make the characters nice, respectable or even friendly girls. She makes them REAL. And you know what? There really are bitchy, mean girls out there who are still human. Who still deserve compassion and love even if they haven't been the best kind of girls to give it in the first place. And that is why I respect Courtney Summers as a novelist so much.

Honestly... as much as I want to complain because I got so angry with Regina sometimes--I know that's part of how Summers wanted me to feel and I can't possibly think someone who is able to make me love all the FEELS has given me anything other than a stellar book. And that's the truth. I couldn't find anything I really didn't like about this book.

Overall, I'm in awe over this book. Complete and utter awe. I loved every moment of it and I highly recommend it. Just buy the damn book already and read it!
Breaking Beautiful - Jennifer Shaw Wolf Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

This was a book I went into without any expectations except that I liked the cover and I knew something bad had probably happened. This ended up serving me very well. I read this book in one sitting, it was that fast of a read. Addicting.

First of all, this has to be one of most addicting books I've read. I have no idea what got into me when I was reading this one, but I just couldn't stop. I read it straight through in one sitting. I was immersed in the story and I just HAD. TO. KNOW. what came next. I'll be honest--it wasn't one of those novels where the writing is super fantastic and there were some definite flaws going on, but omfg, was it addicting. The one thing I absolutely loved and have missed from YA novels is the closeness between siblings. I love that Allie and Andrew were incredibly close in this novel. It becomes of utmost importance but you can just tell by the way they interact and talk how close they are. While I did enjoy how fast-paced this novel was, there were some areas that could have been slowed down to allow for more reader enjoyment. The portrayal of an abusive boyfriend who was beloved by all was fantastic though I wish the author would have pushed it even further. It's like we got a little glimpse but not enough to feel the danger Allie was in. Not enough to feel Trip's accident was justified.

Sometimes Allie's inner monologue irritated me and there were some sentences/dialogue that seemed juvenile or perhaps like the author hadn't gotten a proper editor. Like I mentioned earlier, the slowing down of some sections and more exploration into Allie and Blake's relationship could have enhanced the novel more, but really I don't have any other complaints about the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed this fast-paced YA novel. It kept me hooked, it made me want to read more and by the last page, I was wondering what else Jennifer Shaw Wolf had written. If you like YA mysteries, this is a great place to start.

**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
The Book of Blood and Shadow - Robin Wasserman Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

This book was floating around the blogosphere like crazy last year, and I *finally* got around to reading it. I remembered people getting confused because it came in the rush of books with similar titles-- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (which I've read and reviewed) and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (which I haven't). I felt like people had great things to say about all three of these titles and I can see why this book got great reviews.

The first half of this book BLEW. ME. AWAY. The opening line! The characters! The beautiful, lyrical sentences! I fell for it all. Especially Nora. I really fell in love with her. She was an atypical character for me--a girl who was more concerned with ancient Latin than boys. A girl obsessed with letters from a dead girl instead of drinking or partying. I just loved it. I loved that there was a very creepy, mysterious element to the story right away and that Wasserman worked up to the action. I love historical, mystery type of novels so this one really hit the spot for me.

While I LOVED the first half of this novel, the second half started to sag. I felt bored and skimmed a lot. It's like once the action started--it didn't make things go faster--it slowed it WAY down. Also once the mystery started unfolding--I hate to admit that it started to go above my head a little bit. I felt like I was constantly missing some important piece of information that would make it all make sense but that never came. I had a feeling who the killer was but once it was confirmed--it almost felt anti-climatic. I wish that could have been hyped up some more.

verall, I enjoyed reading this novel. It reminded me of the YA version of The Da Vinci Code which I liked. So if you're a fan of books like The Da Vinci Code or the movie National Treasure (yes, I just went there), you'll LOVE this book. It's a bit different from the other YA stuff out there right now so I recommend giving this one a try!

**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
The Break-Up Psychic (Dangerously Dimpled, #1) - Emily Hemmer Posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

When I met Emily Hemmer at the RT Convention this year, I immediately gravitated towards her. She's this beautiful blonde woman with a vivacious laugh. And she's freaking hilarious. Like laugh out loud funny. She's smart, confident and such a humble woman. But enough about her. So she has this book, yeah? And she's told me she was self-publishing it and I saw her cover and I immediately knew she was the RIGHT type of self-published author. The kind that takes her time with the story, finds a great editor, great cover artist and takes pride in her work. So when she offered to let me read it before she published it...I jumped at the chance. I always get kind of nervous when writer friends ask me to read their novels because, well, what if I hate it? But I'm telling you... I did not hate this novel. Not even a little bit. Not at all. I loved it.

First of all, I realize after reading this book how much I miss funny romance novels. I spend a lot of my time reading dystopians or darker type novels and sometimes it's nice to be able to just laugh while you're falling in love. This was like one of those books where you digest a phrase and then you start busting up. Think Jen Lancaster but less snark and meanness. What I really loved was the characters. Ellie is the type of girl you can see yourself being friends with. She's got this way about herself that is just so relatable. I can see a little bit of Ellie in every girl. And Sam James. Oooh my word. Sam James. He's the quintessential sexy fictional character. I can totally see why Ellie thinks he's magical. But it's not just the main characters that are developed so well, the minor characters are also hilarious. I especially fell in love with Luanne and Amber. HILARIOUS. Not only are the characters great, but the premise is so much fun. Ellie thinks she is psychic because every time she's near a man who will break her heart she hears warning bells. (Don't you wish this were a real thing?! I could have used that when I was dating). I loved that Emily didn't go over the top with the ability...she included it just enough to be a fresh and unique take on a romance novel. Okay, so you see that drink on the cover? There's a reason for it. Whiskey and Tea. It's in the novel and it makes you want to be sitting on a front porch drinking it. Really there was so much more to this novel than I can accurately describe here, so you should just read it yourself!

The Break-Up Psychic is a wonderfully written story about a girl who is tired of heartbreak, tired of being let down and just trying to figure out how the hell to silence those damn bells. If you're looking for a romantic comedy that will have you on rolling on your ass with laughter...you NEED to pick this one up!
The Night She Disappeared - April Henry Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

There were 2 major things this book had going for it. 1. That cover. I LOVE it. It's dark, ominous and really beautiful. 2. The fact that it's a YA Thriller and there really aren't that many in the YA world right now. So I was pretty excited to dive into this one. The end result is mixed.

This was a really quick and fast-paced novel which was great. It did grab my attention right away and make me wonder "whodunnit?" My favorite thing about the novel was the way the story was enhanced by the use of external things like evidence sheets, newspaper clippings, 911 transcripts. These are all used to tell part of the story and it's unique and fresh and I loved that part. I also am a big fan of rotating POV's, so I appreciating being in the mind of each character, especially the bad guy.

I had a few really big issues with this novel, the biggest one is feeling like the book wasn't authentic. The bad guy just didn't really feel all that bad--some of the mistakes he made would have been caught by police immediately, he wasn't smart at all and he didn't seem very evil which seems pretty important to me when reading a story like this one. I felt the mystery was rushed and that the minor love subplot wasn't needed AT all. Henry could have gotten away with leaving that out entirely. Basically, I felt like the novel was missing deeper characterization on all accounts, it lacked some motivation and though it was an extremely quick read, I found myself not as excited with the ending as I should have been.

Overall, this was too bad of a YA thriller read, especially for someone just getting into the genre. As far as for someone who is an avid fan of mysteries or thrillers this probably isn't your cup of tea.

**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Pieces of Us - Margie Gelbwasser Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

I love this cover. Love it. It's so simple and intriguing. The solitary swing, the lush greenness surrounding it and the stoic font treatment. Then I read the blurb and I was very much in love with the thought of this book. When I finished it though, I realized how misleading the cover is. It looks happy... and this book is most certainly not happy. It's gritty, dark and haunting.

I honestly didn't know what to expect from this novel and when that happens, I'm usually pleasantly surprised like I was when I read this novel. First of all-- I have to commend Gelbwasser as a writer because the way I felt after reading some of the passages made me so angry, so disgusted means she did her job right. The novel is told in four alternating POV's, which I love...but what makes it even more unique is that in one of those POV's the author uses 2nd person POV. It's not done very often, but she does it very effectively here and I love it. It's especially perfect for the character because it just fits him and the way he thinks about things. One big thing I loved about this novel is Gelbwasser's tone throughout the novel and the way she doesn't shy away from the nitty, gritty details of things. There are some really graphic scenes in here and some really disturbing thoughts but I think she handles it so well in this novel. My absolute favorite thing about this novel though? The way she writes her characters. There are a few characters that you come to absolutely HATE and that's because Gelbwasser does such a good job writing them that way. There were times I seriously wanted to reach through my Kindle and punch the characters in the face. She's that good.

I wouldn't say there's really anything I really disliked per say. There were some slower passages that I think could have been taken out but other than that, I really enjoyed this novel.

Overall, this is a great book to flex your literary wings on. It's not a feel good type of book though, so know that I warned you. But if you want to read a book about self-discovery and growing up the hard way--this is a book for you! Give it a try!

**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

Per the usual, Jodi Picoult's new book was on my shelf the day it came out. She's on my automatic pre-order list and I own the books the day they are released. I was hoping with all my heart that this novel would be better than her last one. My kind readers, the Jodi Picoult I know and love dearly... IS BACK. (For now). Oh. My. Word. This book. It was SO good you guys. It was everything I hoped it would be and in perfect Jodi Picoult fashion, it was mesmerizing haunting and tantalizing. It was the type of story that made me fall in love with her books in the first place. Perhaps I have a bit of a soft spot for the subject matter since one of my novels also deals with WWII in a more contemporary setting, but it was really a breathtaking novel.

Ah. I'm not sure where to even start here. The characters, perhaps? I'll be honest, I didn't fall in love with the characters until the middle portion of the book. They are wonderful characters, but the first half, I feel like it's more plot driven than character driven, and for this novel--that works. But by the end of the novel, I really had fallen in love with Sage and Leo. Though Sage is the "heroin" per say, her grandmother is really the heart of this story. Minka is the meat to this haunting depiction of WWII and the Holocaust. The thing is, though Minka is fiction, the fact that the bones of this story ARE real, makes her seem more real than most characters I've ever read. Her story is not unusual for Holocaust survivors and THAT is what it so sad and horrifying. I did enjoy the slight love story that played out between Sage and Leo, though I saw it coming a mile away. Although, I also did like the whole Sage and Adam angle as well because it was written so much different than most "men-who-cheat-and-tell-their-mistress-they'll-leave-their-wife" situation. What Picoult does so well in this novel (and many of her other ones) is take an ethical/moral question or event and turn it on it's head. She twists it in a knot so intricately, by the time you're doing reading the novel, you forgot what side of the issue you stood on. Or maybe you don't. Maybe you still know what side you stand on, but you've been softened by the blow of the other side. This novel in particular though, goes beyond what she's ever written in a way because of the horrific acts she's talking about. She does an incredible job of showing both the evil and brutality of the Nazi's but there are a few shining slivers of humanity weaved in. Because you know what, I don't believe every single German was evil. Some were good. Some were kind. Some were rebellious against their own country. That's what this novel tries to explore. Quite possibly the best and in a way, worst, part of this novel is the way the lives of Jews and Nazi's during the Holocaust are portrayed. I've read my fair share of WII and Holocaust novels, but this one was utterly heartbreaking. I've never read such a novel that goes into such terrifying detail as this one does. (I know they exist and I'm sure there are plenty--I just haven't read those ones). There were literally moments I had to put down the book and walk away for a moment because what I was reading was so disgusting, so vile that I couldn't bear to read one more second. It's almost worse to read a novel where you know the events were actually true because you can't imagine how such evil, terrible people exist. My grandfather fought in WWII and liberated two concentration camps and it's not until reading this novel that I realize how huge that is. What a magnificent evil he helped squash. What an incredible future he gave to the survivors.
I haven't even touched on the "forgiveness" theme that is the belly of the novel... I guess because I'm still grappling with it. What would I do if I were faced with the same issue Sage is? Could I forgive someone who aided in the genocide of millions even if the individual amount of lives they took is far less? Could I forgive someone was directly linked to trauma of a relative? Is it even MY place to give forgiveness? What about the plea to help kill? Could I do that as well?

I don't know. That's what I gleaned about myself by the end of the novel. I don't know these answers. I've had a hell of a time trying to figure it out though. I hope I never have to be put in the position Sage is put in because it's an awful position to be in and one without an answer or solution I'm afraid.

Sigh. There's SO MUCH more I could talk about in regards to this novel, but I've been rambling for way too long about the good things.

Honestly, there's not too much I didn't like about this novel. Mainly they are a couple nit-picky things. As I mentioned, while I like the Sage/Leo love story--I felt that it happened a little quickly. Almost insta-love. One minute they're working on the case, and the next minute they are in bed together. Granted--the few short days they spend together are intense and emotional...and the sexual tension and attraction is evident BUT. I still think the relationship was a little rushed. On the other side of the coin, we have Sage and Adam. Adam is married. But unlike most of the stereotypical relationships like this one in novels, Adam seems different. Yes, he says he will leave his wife but that it's "complicated" and yes he says he'll "file for divorce," but it's the other things about him, the subtle things that make me think he truly does love Sage.

Also, in Jodi Picoult fashion--there are multiple POV's in this novel and I don't think all of them were necessarily...Leo's for one. I really enjoyed his character, but Picoult is a skilled enough writer to show his personality and quirks through Sage's eyes. I really don't think Leo's POV added anything to the actual story. The "story within a story" POV was a little confusing at some points until I understood what was going on but even then, I think it could have been weaved in better.

Overall, this book was INCREDIBLE. It was addicting, beautiful, horrifying, sad, hopeful and so many other things. It felt incredibly authentic, but I'm not an expert in WWII, so I couldn't say for sure. Honestly, this book SHOULD be a book that everyone reads. If only to get a fictional feel for what the Holocaust was and how it affected the lives of millions. Trust me on this one--this is one of Picoult's best novels. You should read it!
The Space Between - Victoria H. Smith This review was originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

I discovered the author through my cover artist who did the magnificient cover for The Space Between. I have to say--it was my lust for the cover and blurb that made me want to read the novel. I have to say, the book was better than a lot of self-pubbed novels I've read, but I wasn't all the impressed.

The interracial relationship, financial and class status and diversity of characters were awesome. I really appreciate Smith giving readers a chance to read a story where these elements are often overlooked. I think stories involving interracial couples are far and few between and that's crazy to me seeing as it's 2013 and it shouldn't even be an issue. It's highly under represented and I commend Smith for taking on topics that many have not touched up on in the YA or NA genre.
I thought the plot was interesting even if it was under developed. Lacey and Drake were okay characters and I didn't hate them, although I didn't quite love them either.

My favorite thing about this novel though, is that it's much more than a "romance" story. I think a lot of readers kind of stereotype NA as a genre that primarily deals with relationships and sex, but this novel is a great example of the NA genre going beyond that. It's about these characters dealing with some real-life issues while learning about themselves and growing in that process. This is what NA is REALLY about. Not just sex.

My biggest complaints with this novel starts with the writing. I really think it could have used another round with an editor and perhaps it's just my personal opinion, but I wasn't fond of Smith's style of writing at all. The tone, the language...it just didn't work for me. I found several passages where I was rolling my eyes and several sentences were just cheesy and over used.
I think I could have dealt with the writing if I loved the characters which I just didn't. I came *this* close to feeling that way about Lacey but I just never connected with her the way I should have for a main character. And Drake just pissed me off a lot of the time. Not fond of him. I had a hard time getting through the novel in it's entirety, I would pick it up and read a bit and set it back down to do something and wouldn't pick it up again until a few days later. It didn't keep my interest as much as I thought it would have (or should have).


Overall, I thought that Smith obviously has a talent for writing, but I think it will take a little more work on the craft and editing to see it really shine through in her novels. I'm interested to see her next project and I'm confident it will be awesome. Although this book wasn't my cup of tea, I think for readers who are new to the NA genre, this would be a great book to start with.

**I received this book free from the author in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Gone to Ground: A Novel - Brandilyn Collins Originally posted on my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

This was exactly the type of book I needed to get back in the swing of things...even if it was a little rocky to start with. Murder. Mystery. The South. Do I need to say much more? I was SUPER excited to start this one since the last murder mystery novel I'd read was Gone Girl and that sort of broke my heart a little. I was being vengeful by boycotting murder mysteries for a while. Anyways, this one restored my faith.

What I loved about this novel was how true to the south it felt. Through the descriptions, dialogue and writing, I truly felt like I was in Amaryllis, Mississippi drinking sweet tea with Cherrie Mae, Tully and Deena. At first, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this novel because it started off a little confusing. It's told in alternating POV's from Cherrie Mae, Tully and Deena--3 women in Amaryllis. After the sixth murder in their little town, all three women believe they know who the killer is. This is what makes the novel confusing at first--but ultimately, it's what makes this novel so interesting. You see the town and it's people through 3 different lenses and you wonder about all 3 men the women suspect is the killer. It really keeps you turning the page which is the most important thing in a novel like this. I loved the way their lives and the mystery intersected and even though I guessed who the killer was (I was right!), it wasn't until almost the end which is acceptable to me. Really, this was just a good, enjoyable read for me. I liked Collins voice and writing style throughout the novel and she's an author I'd like to read more from.

A couple of things irritated me about this novel as much as I liked it. Firstly, in Cherrie Mae's POV... she uses dialect that makes it apparent that Cherrie is an African-American woman. Like instead of the word "door" she uses "doh." But at the same time...it wasn't like her entire dialect was like this...just bits and pieces and it just rubbed me the wrong way. It was like, contradictory of the character and I wished she would have either used it consistently throughout or not at all. I think there were other ways to convey what she wanted without making Cherrie Mae sound like the stereotypical black southerner you see in movies/books. The other major thing that irritated me was when the identity of the killer was involved... it was like so anti-climatic. Even though it was *supposed* to feel like a big deal...I was like...hmm. okay. moving on. Just didn't hit the right climatic spots to shine. And the reasons for killing the woman were just plain stupid. Like...it's really hard for me to believe someone would kill for the reasons explained in the novel.


Overall, I had a good time reading this novel and I would recommend it for a quick, enjoyable read. If you're a hardcore murder mystery fan, this one might be a little too light for you.

**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.