Reviews

ARC Review: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Invincible Summer

GoodReads Summary:

Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien graduate in 1998, into a world on the brink of the new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and keen to shrug off the socialist politics of her childhood, Eva breaks away to work at a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to do a physics PhD, and siblings Sylvie and Lucien pursue more freewheeling existences–she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partier. But as their dizzying twenties become their thirties, the once close-knit friends, now scattered and struggling to navigate thwarted dreams, lost jobs and broken hearts, find themselves drawn together once again in stunning and unexpected ways. Breathtaking in scope, this is sure to be the book of the summer.

My Review:

Invincible Summer takes place over a 20 year period. Each chapter is a glimpse into Eva, Benedict, Lucien, and Sylvie’s every day lives. When I first read the synopsis for Invincible  Summer it sounded in curious. I have been friends wit people I went to college with, going on 11 years now (whoa!) so a story about their lives felt like the right thing to read. It can be difficult to keep in touch with people, life drives you in different directions. Their growth over the novel mostly felt like small hills, but by the end it is clear that they have grown up, that the events that take place in their lives affected their life trajectory.

I had a difficult time  connecting with the characters. I’m not sure if it was because of the location- London- or the language usage- not American slag- or the fact that this really took place during a time period when I was really only a child. As a twentysomething myself, I understand lost dreams, heartbreak (maybe not so much haha), change, world image, and ultimately happiness. These things change over the course of one’s life and can change one’s life as well. So while I did have a difficult time connecting with the character’s, the themes behind them I could understand. These things change over the course of one’s life and can change one’s life as well.

I will say that these character’s felt very selfish, self-centered, and it was difficult to watch them make choices… maybe that is the point. Not every decision is the right decision. Taking the easy way out can result in unintended consequences. Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in, to fight for what you want. And what you want you can’t always have or aren’t meant to have.

It’s funny, when I started writing this (and it took several days to gather my thoughts) I had intended to give this novel a 2 out 5 stars. But while writing this review, I finally understood the purpose to the book. So while I may not have connected to the characters directly, their stories are engaging, the themes are responsive, the final product is meant to understand- not move mountains.

Rating: 4 out 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read and review this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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Reviews

ARC Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves

GoodReads Summary:

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

My Review:

So I know this isn’t a YA novel, but when I read the synopsis I knew I had to have this book. Once I got it, back in February, I put off reading it. I think subconsciously, I wasn’t ready for the heartbreak and loss this book would bring… and it brought it hard and fast.

From the summary, you already know Emma had a husband who died. She eventually moved on, fell in love, and is engaged when news  comes that Jesse, her husband, is alive. It’s quite a shock. And that is really what this novel is about- how to come to terms with your past and your future, recognizing the person you have become. 

Moving through the novel, we experience Emma’s first true love, Jesse. Their relationship is a whirlwind romance. They are high school sweethearts, attend the same college, travel around the world together. You can see that their love could be a forever kind of love. But there comes a moment when Emma questions her future- kids, settling down, etc. And she is not sure of Jesse’s opinion. But in the end it doesn’t matter because he “dies”.

Emma eventually moved back to her home town and is able to move on with her life. Then she meets Sam Kemp. He is her second chance at love and she takes it. They have built a wonder life together, so when Emma gets the call that Jesse is alive, she is thrown for a loop. She now has the opportunity to go back to her travel life with hr first love. But when Jesse does officially come back, it’s different, he’s different, they are different.

When Jesse comes back into the picture, it broke my heart to see Sam believe that Emma would go straight back into her old life, forgetting about him. But Sam was gracious enough to understand that Emma needed sometime to work through her feelings and he gave her that (please go listen to Crash and Burn by Savage Garden– this is Sam and Emma’s song). And I got so mad at Jesse for assuming Emma would drop everything to be back with him, that he thought she shouldn’t have moved on with her life. He was very selfish and didn’t help Emma’s confusion.

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a wonderful job at showing the turmoil a person goes through when they lose someone they love. The book is fast paced, moving through Emma’s life quickly but also showing the most important parts of it. And the transition, that weird gray part of a person’s life right after tragedy strikes, is the most compelling piece of the novel. Reid hits the nail on the head of how the body and mind handles death and destruction. Her words are like a complicated musical, moving from moment to moment, heartache to heartache (please start singing Pat Benatar- love is a battlefield). These in between chapters flow and sway, a slow blooming crescendo to a new life, a new person.

The novel also shows that while tragedy and death do happen, you can move on, you can love again. Heartbreak is not forever.

Everyone should read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I received this ARC from Washington Square Press and Edelweiss. Receiving this ARC for free doesn’t sway my review.

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Reviews, Special Review

ARC Review: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

Recoil

Goodreads Summary:

When a skilled gamer gets recruited as a sniper in the war against a terrorist-produced pandemic, she discovers there’s more than one enemy and more than one war. The Game is real.

Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically.

Sixteen year-old Jinxy James spends her days trapped at home – immersed in virtual reality, worrying about the plague and longing for freedom. Then she wins a war simulation game and is recruited into a top-secret organisation where talented teenagers are trained to become agents in the war on terror. Eager to escape her mother’s over-protectiveness and to serve her country, Jinxy enlists and becomes an expert sniper of infected mutant rats.

She’s immediately drawn to Quinn O’Riley, a charming and subversive intelligence analyst who knows more about the new order of government and society than he is telling. Then a shocking revelation forces Jinxy to make an impossible decision, and she risks losing everything.

Recoil is the first book in a Young Adult dystopian romance trilogy, and makes great reading for lovers of Rick Yancey (The Fifth Wave), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), and Veronica Roth (Divergent).

My Review:

Recoil is the most recent work by Joanne Macgregor. It takes place in modern day United States, three years after a terrorist attack used biological chemicals to unleash a plague. The story is very realistic dystopian fiction. It’s full of elements that terrorist attacks cause- hyper-awareness of foreign residents, larger defense industry, mass media reporting on threats, politician comments about terrorists.

Jinxy starts out naive, playing a game that eventually leads to recruitment with the military. She takes the words of the media, politicians, and her unit commander Sarge for face value- believes they have the people’s best interests at heart. At 16, it makes sense that she would trust those older than her. It isn’t until Jinxy meets Quinn that she starts to question her missions, especially when he finds out she is a sniper. Jinxy understands why she needs to shoot the infected rats, but when she is required to shoot other animals, and eventually is given more classified missions, she has a difficult time, trying to reconcile herself and her values with the values of her unit and the military. Macgregor does an excellent job of showing Jinxy’s progression from being naive to doubting herself and her missions to taking matters into her own hands, making her own educated decisions.

Quinn is a fascinating character. He is also super hot with an Irish accent (swoon). He does what is required of him, but also has his own secrets that are kept from Jinxy. He helps Jinxy open her eyes and understand that her missions are not what she is being told. There is a strong attraction between them, but her missions separate them- pit on against the other. I will say I had a difficult time with the start  of their relationship. It just sort of happens and I couldn’t figure out what drew them to each other. But by the end Macgregor had me rooting for their relationship. And the way the book ends, I just need to know what happens next.

There is a quote in the book- “We’ve repatriated hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of foreign residents, refugees, and workers. We’ve insulated ourselves, sealed our boarders against immigrants and imports and competition… And as a nation we’ve channeled billions into a defense industry that was sitting idle after the last wars fizzled out.” It is scary how closely it describes our current country. We have a presidential candidate who wants to build a wall on the US/Mexican boarder to keep illegal immigrants out; we have alienated anyone who looks middle eastern and have grouped all those who practice Islam into the terrorist stereo type. This novel is so realistic I can see something like this possibly happening.

If you enjoy dystopian settings, this is a great start to a fascinating realistic series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Review:

The Wrath and The Dawn is a retelling of Scheherazade and One Thousand and One Nights. Renee Ahdeih’s story is colorful, imaginative, and full of magic. This is the first story I have ever read that has a back story belonging to anything Arabic. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, given that retellings of fairy-tales I read are from Europe- Cinderella, Snow White, Little Mermaid, etc. And I am so glad I wasn’t sure of my response, it made the story even better than I could have imagined.

The relationship between Shazi and Khalid is one of mystery, of twists and turns. Shazi is a stubborn girl with her own thoughts and ideas, not afraid to voice them or of the consequences. Khalid is a stoic figure, presenting a different image to the audience than one purported to his kingdom. The feelings these two have is something people dream of. And they are a perfect combination when working together.

As my first adventure in Arabic stories, my heart thoroughly enjoyed the emotional roller coaster Ahdeih led me on. Go read this novel, you won’t regret it.

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After Contemporary Conversations I did not want to read anymore contemporary, and that is a big deal as you all know my grand love for YA Contemporary Fiction. I decided to read this much raved re-telling as a way to distance myself from my much loved genre just enough so I could read it again. And now commences the unedited, not holding back, fangirling review that I hope you will identify with and laugh right along with me at my ridiculous outcry about my feels.

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Oh My Gosh. I CANNOT BREATHE. WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED.

*wheezes into paper bag*

My heart cannot take the ending. WHY DID IT HAVE TO END LIKE THAT. HIS HEART. ITS BROKEN. I CANNOT TAKE IT.

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about the beginning. My gosh was that not dramatic and full of everything I wanted and more. We have Shazi’s hatred fueling her ill decision of avenging her best friend by killing THE CALIPH, or in other words, THE FREAKING KING. That alone has you on the edge of your seat as the first night unfolds, and low and behold she lives to breathe another day.

The Wrath and The Dawn is a story full of action that the majority of time is driven by powerful emotions. We get to see Love, Hatred, and Happiness at its shinning moment, where the emotions are so pure they drive the characters to new heights. I feel like I’m preaching for some reason, but let me tell you that you will not be disappointed by The Wrath and The Dawn if you haven’t already read it. It will play with the strings of your heart into the utmost haunting and heart wrenching melody that will have you in a puddle of feels for days.

Have I intrigued you enough? Go read it! I will not spoil thee!
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Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Reviews, Special Review

ARC Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Tell the Wind and Fire

GoodReads Summary:

Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

My Review:

Gotta be honest… I didn’t finish reading this book. I managed to get through 50 percent before calling it quits. I just wasn’t able to get into the plot and I didn’t connect with the characters.

Lucie is a girl who did whatever it took to help free her father at the beginning of the book. And throughout the rest, she just stuck quietly by her boyfriend’s side, afraid he might find out about who she was… and who she wasn’t. For a character who could’ve been so strong and resilient, she felt quite 2 dimensional.

The world itself was colorless. I didn’t understand the true different been Light New York and Dark New York. Where were they in respect to each other? Side by side? Dark underneath? And it didn’t make sense that one day someone discovered light magic and that was it, the world changed. The world building needed to be more substantial and thought out.

I had a difficult time with the doppelganger idea. What is the plot point of bringing in a doppelganger at the start, having Lucie treat him as an equal, helping him, and then not seeing him again for half the book. I thought, maybe Lucie was meant to be with him. By meeting him, interacting with him, showing him her true self, she would finally allow herself to tell Ethan the truth about her past. The doppelganger would give her a chance to return to Dark City and she would help with the revolution. It is made quite  clear Lucie doesn’t agree with the counsel- those in charge of the laws in Light City. From what I scanned of the last 50%, this doesn’t happen.

The counsel itself was a confusing group. Did they make the laws for the nation? Or just for Light New York and Dark New York? How was the rest of the nation handling the magic? What were the far reaching implications of the doppelgangers and light/dark magic.

Lots of plot structuring didn’t make sense. And now looking at the description, it doesn’t make sense either. I think if there was more editing/re-reading the plot holes could’ve been filled and some of the run-on thoughts of the characters could’ve been deleted.

Rating: DNF (DID NOT FINISH)

Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, Clarion Books for giving me the chance to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Goodreads Summary:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Review:

This last week of March is a very busy week for me, so I decided to re-read an old favorite. One I knew would fill me with joy and would help my thoughts come to a halt. I tend to think a lot when I’m busy.

This is my fourth re-read of Anna and the French Kiss and it almost felt like I was reading it for the first time. I think each time that I re-read it, I love it even more. Anna is such a great character that can stand on her own without St. Clair. I love that she calls St. Clair out on his crap. She doesn’t just fall over and let him hurt her per say. Wow, I feel like I am talking bad about St. Clair, but trust me that is not the case. Loneliness does a number to people and while I am not justifying his actions, the feeling of loneliness causes people to do things that not only hurts themselves, but those around him.

After all these years, I still love Anna and the French Kiss and if you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. It is a fun ride; one you will never want to get off.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Contemporary Conversations, NA Contemporary, NA Romance, Reviews

ContempConvos: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

My Review:

Hopless is a roller coaster of emotion. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this book. All of Colleen Hoover’s novels deal with some kind of serious issue throughout the story, and Hopeless was no exception.

I do have to say that this book and the theme’s represented hit very close to home for. I don’t want to say too much about what happens because that basically gives away the entire plot of the book.

I can say that Holder is a very caring and concerned person. He truly only wants what is best for Sky and that basically means telling her the truth, which has been locked away for a long time, and exploding her world apart. Sky is very much a simple girl who wants to go to school, love her mother, and live her file. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible. When events take place they put a lot of pressure on Sky. But, with Holder by her side, even though he turned her world inside out,  she is able to face a past that was  suppressed. She came out on the other side stronger and more understanding of why her mother home schooled her and kept her in the dark.

Definitely know that if you have triggers for certain themes, this book may not be for you. But if you can handle serious life situations and learn from them, then read Hopeless.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ContempConvos: Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally

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Goodreads Summary:

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

Review:

Sigh

Absolutely adorable. I feel like Kenneally’s books are only getting better and better as time passes by. They are like fine wine. You feel good on the inside after you’ve read one.

Jesse’s Girl is about Maya and Jesse. Maya goes to Hundreds Oaks just like the rest of the characters in the Hundred Oaks series. Maya is Sam Henry’s little sister, Jordan’s boyfriend. We saw their story in Catching Jordan, the first book in the Hundred’s Oak series. I love that I get to see how my beloved characters are doing as time passes by. It makes my heart happy.

Anyways back to the main characters. Maya is the spunky girl who is on love with music of the eighties. She loves her Madonna and Prince. She dreams of making it in the music business so when shadow day comes up as Hundred Oaks High, she is paired with none other than Jesse Scott, the famous country artist that has taken over America’s teenage hearts, and also happens to be the principal’s nephew. You can only imagine how cocky Jesse is being used to getting all the attention, fame, and glory. But we all know deep inside he is a kinda southern gentleman.

Their story unfolds differently than other YA romance novels. No insta-love. Their relationship moves steadily forward throughout the course of the entire novel. We get to see the entire story from beginning to end.

Jesse’s Girl is like an ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day, a sweet melody that you unconsciously hum when you’re having a good day. I have all the praises for this book and I cannot recommend it enough.

Review: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ContempConvos: Under The Spotlight (The Jamieson Brothers #3) by Angie Stanton

Goodreads Summary:

After an embarrassing stint on a reality-TV music competition years ago, Riley vowed never to sing again. Now she’s behind the scenes, working at the prestigious Sound Sync recording studio, and life is looking up. But then Garrett Jamieson, the oldest brother in the famous Jamieson brothers band, crashes into her world.

Garrett has hit rock bottom, and he is desperate to reinvent himself. After calling in a few favors, he ends up working at Sound Sync to learn the ropes of record producing from the industry’s best. And he can’t believe his luck when he discovers that Riley has been keeping a secret—she is an amazing singer. By producing her album, he’s sure to top the record charts again. But Garrett is forced to use every trick in his arsenal to persuade the sassy girl to record.

Riley refuses to sing—or even entertain the thought of it—and sparks fly as Garrett finally meets his match. But in the heat of the moment, one stolen kiss changes everything. Will Riley be the first person to finally rein Garrett in, or will Garrett succeed in getting Riley back under the spotlight?

Review:

I picked this up on a wing. I didn’t even know that it was the third book in a companion series until I was halfway through. I loved that I could pick up any book in the series and I would not be lost whatsoever. (Great writing Ms. Stanton!!)

Alright, let’s get down to business.

I really really liked Riley. She is a great character. I was worried she would act a little too mature because of her life experiences, but nope. She was just a little bit more mature than a normal 18 year old and it was believable. Riley was the perfect person to pair with Garrett. Where he was fire, she was ice. They complimented each other and when Garrett needed to be put in his place, Riley was there to do the job and gladly.

And Garrett. Gosh that hunk of a man. Anybody know a Garrett they would like to introduce me to?  No. Okay. Fine. Anyways, I know that he is not perfect, but what makes a cocky, controlling, know-it-all hunk of a man attractive is that he sees he is wrong and chooses to CHANGE. A+ for that Ms. Stanton.

I wasn’t really expecting much to come from this book. I had set my expectations low as to not be disappointed, and let me tell you I was not. Now I want to pick up the first two books in the companion series to get more of Garrett. Can’t get enough of that man.

PSA: For those of you that stay away from insta-love, you can rest in peace. No insta-love in this book. Read Away.

Rating: 5 out of 5

NA Romance, Reviews

ContempConvos: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November 9

GoodReads Summary:

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

My Review:

I’d first like to thank Veronica for starting me reading Colleen Hoover. I have fallen in love with her writing and story telling, and November 9 is no exception. Also, November is my favorite month…

This story is magical, with heartbreak, and lots of character growth since it take place over the course of five years. Fallon and Ben meet once a year, on November 9th, to update each other on what has happened in their lives in the past year. It’s adorable how they come together, and tragic, due to the circumstances that follow their initial meeting. Fallon and Ben are both extremely complicated characters with pasts that haunt their present. Ben helps Fallon through her confidence issues; Fallon helps Ben through his writing.

Hoover provides many quotable moments, but my favorite is in the beginning, when Ben and Fallon meet on the first November 9th: “Goals are achieved through discomfort and hard work. They aren’t achieved when you hide out in a place where you are nice and cozy.” I think that quote sets the mood for the book. In order to understand yourself, sometimes you have to go through discomfort and pain to truly know, not only yourself, but what you are capable of. Fallon’s mother states, “You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.” And I wholeheartedly agree with her. Before you can love someone else, you have to love yourself.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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