A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become--her mark on this earth, her very existence--is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny--no matter how dark the consequences.

A Need So Beautiful is a book that's been on my to-read list since before it came out. I'm not quite sure why, because this isn't really the kind of book I would usually go for. But the premise seemed intriguing and the cover is just gorgeous (even more so after you read the book!)--so I bought it during one of my many Borders binges. While I don't quite think that this story will go on my favorites list, it was overall a solid read and I'm glad I read it.

Charlotte is one of the Forgotten. She feels these compulsions--The Need she calls it--to go and help a stranger in need. These Needs are all-consuming, and physically get more and more painful the longer she waits to fulfill it. When she goes to fulfill a Need, she can almost see into the person that she's helping, she knows their past, and she knows what she needs to do to help their future. Cool premise, right? I think so. This was an angel story that I haven't seen anything like before--definitely unique. But Charlotte isn't called a Forgotten for nothing...people forget who she is immediately after she helps them. Her job is to keep helping people until her duty is fulfilled, and she basically bursts into light. But there's a problem, Charlotte doesn't want to be forgotten. And while I did like this premise... some parts could've been explained better to make it feel more believable. Sometimes it felt as though the author just made up certain parts on the spot, just so it worked.

The writing overall was pretty good. The descriptions and action were okay, but the emotion aspect was extremely well done. I felt for Charlotte. I felt her confusion. I felt the conflicting emotion. I felt her pain. I felt her love--for Harlin, for Sarah, and for Mercy. This book did pack that punch emotionally, and I did feel a connection with Charlotte, so I do think that while the writing isn't perfect, it'll only grow from here.

Some minor character talk: Monroe is Charlotte's Seer...the only one who won't forget her, and is supposed to help guide her into the light. He kind of creeped me out, to be honest. I never really knew what his deal was, if he was trying to help Charlotte, or just wanted to send her off into the light so that he'll be free. Harlin was adorable...but I felt like he could've been further developed. I never really knew him, I just knew Charlotte's adoration and love for him. Though the way the book finished set him up for some major character development in book two, so that made me happy. And Sarah was just awesome. Loved her witty remarks. But to me--while I did like these characters, they still just felt one dimensional and flat to me in most ways.

The message of this book really is beautiful. How there are forces out there bigger than we are. And while I did have some issues with the plot and character development, overall I did really enjoy this book. It was a quick, unique read with a message. If you want to read a unique twist on an angel story, check out A Need so Beautiful. And that crazy cliffhanger ending will definitely leave you wanting more.

ARC Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing the eGalley
Saving June will be available in stores on November 22nd

You know when you read a book, and as soon as it's over, everything just like hits you so hard and then you're just so numb. No, this book did not make me cry. I came close to it a couple times, but overall I was just too blown away by the words in front of me to cry. Because despite all the sadness this book holds, there is still plenty of happiness, and just...just... I don't even know what to say. I'm having so much trouble forming coherent sentences right now. But I feel like I need to get this review out RIGHT NOW, in this moment where I just finished it. If I write it tomorrow, it won't be the same.

SAVING JUNE is simply beautiful.

Sixteen-year-old Harper is torn apart over her sister's suicide. Her emotions and thoughts and feelings and everything about June's suicide were so realistic and perfect. I felt the grief Harper was feeling. I felt the confusion, the not horribleness of not knowing, and how that tore her apart. The grief morphing into anger. The trust issues. Harper had so much depth to her. The guilt she felt for all the things she said to June that she didn't mean. In bringing her sister's ashes to California and thereby saving June, Harper being able to find herself on this journey is equally evident and important.

The road trip setting is my favorite setting of all time. It's such an underused concept...but the few books I've read with a road trip setting were all brilliant. It's such a perfect way to intertwine that physical journey with an emotional one. And Hannah Harrington does both beautifully. I love the 'on the road' feel of this book, the unexpected detours, visualizing the country through different eyes. I'm DYING to take a gigantic road trip one day, so reading this story made me even more anxious. But what makes SAVING JUNE so perfect is that this was a road trip with a purpose. Going to California meant something. Just, ah so good!

I think it's time to talk about Jake. Now, there's numerous reason's why I fell for Jake, pretty much right from the start. First, and stupidly enough, I just have this soft spot for the name Jake. Is that weird? Probably. Secondly, his obsession with music--particularly classic rock--was awesome. (He named his car Joplin!) And third, he has that whole tortured artist bad boy but really good thing going for him that I am just SUCH a sucker for. Yeah, I love Jake. He had his douchey moments, but when he said something it was typically so sweet or deep or meaningful and I'm just reading this thinking like 'I love you.'

Laney was a free spirit that the perfect best friend to contrast everything that Harper was. They were an unlikely pairing, but I loved Laney. Some of the things she said made me laugh out loud. And the fact that she was just so there for Harper. That she wanted to go on this crazy journey to California to support her, and that she would go was never a doubt in her mind. Best best friend ever.

The writing in general was so beautiful. The words were so deep and poignant. Touching and real. The language and tone of the entire novel was just so perfect. Seriously, I cannot rave enough. The voice, my god, it was like Harper was speaking to me. I felt everything she felt. This book had the ability to both make me laugh out loud and bring me close to tears. And I absolutely adored all the music that was mentioned throughout, the playlists, and how they'd all be singing in the car together. It was those little things that got to me. 

SAVING JUNE is everything I look for in a book and more. It's an amazing debut. One of the best contemporaries I've read in a while. I will definitely be looking out for future books by Hannah Harrington. If her debut is this fantastic, I can't wait to see what her future work has in store for us. This book right here is what I hope to aspire to write like someday. Going on my favorite shelf, definitely. Beautiful. Heart-wrenching. Memorable. Worth more than five stars.

And yes, I totally just pre-ordered it off Amazon.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Between Shades of Gray has been on my to-read list for a while now. World War II is just such a horrific yet fascinating time period to me. Hearing the stories of what people went through can be so heartbreaking yet moving at the same time. Those little threads of hope intertwined in all that horror is so incredible to me. Yet, while I know so much about Hitler and the Germany side of the war--I only knew tiny bits and pieces of what Stalin did from history class. Between Shades of Gray was a moving story--one that I'm so glad I got to experience.

It was all too easy for me to step into Lina's shoes. Being the same age as Lina, I could really relate to her narration. The writing itself was beautiful and oh-so poignant. Imagine being fifteen-years-old, and having your family being ripped out of their home, for absolutely nothing. Being called a criminal, forced to work at camps, for no reason. I thought the way Lina coped was realistic and believable. The waves of anger, the reiteration of hope. The love she had for her little brother, and the focus of family was so beautiful to me. Jonas was such a little cutie! I felt like Lina held onto hope for her brother.

The horrors throughout the book were real, I want to burst into tears when I think that this stuff actually happened.

I. loved. Andrius. 
That's all I'm going to say on that topic.
Moving on...

I only had one issue with this story overall. And that was the dialogue. The words were beautiful, but sometimes it just didn't sound like things people would actually say. I found this to be particularly true about the mother's dialogue. It just seems like Sepetys needed a way to rattle off facts at some points. Other times the language was beautiful, but it was those times where it just felt stiff and unrealistic to me. 

I loved how much depth was shown in this story, how Sepetys showed so many different sides with her characters. The separated families, the young children, the weak being forced to work. But she didn't only show the victims. There's NKVD officer, Nikolai Kretzsky, who's just a boy himself. He's tortured with guilt, and while it doesn't seem that way at first, as the book progresses, you find this Russian soldier going out of his way to help the Lithuanians. Also, I loved the fact that love still found its way and blossomed in these camps.

The ending is so incredibly moving.

It's truly amazing what Ruta Sepetys did here. The reason most people don't know too much about the Stalin and the soviet side was because victims stories weren't allowed to be told. They'd be imprisoned if they even mentioned the horrors that they went through. So the fact that these people were given a voice is incredible. Within these pages is a story I will never forget.
I was debating as I was reading whether this would be a four star or a five star for me. Up until the last fifty pages, I thought it was going to be four. But the ending truly moved me. I believe that this is a book everyone should read, and therefore I have to give it five stars.

Writers vs Storytellers

There are two kinds of authors in this word.
1) Writers
2) Storytellers 

Okay, so every author is a writer, and every author tells a story.
Some are just better at one way than the other.

Writers (Worship Worthy)
There are some authors that I don't care what their story is about, because the writing is so damn amazing it doesn't matter. The writers are poignant and include symbolism, and just everything they say really hits home. This is the kind of book that I am stunned upon finishing. Writers are the people who say things that we as people always think, but just don't say. The reader almost has a "did you just read my mind?" moment.

Some examples of people that I consider writers are John Green, Melina Marchetta, Sarah Dessen, Laini Taylor, and Sarah Ockler. 

I will read anything John Green ever writes. Upon finishing Looking for Alaska, I was literally MINDBLOWN. The emotion and intensity of the language was utterly beautiful. I had already loved and admired John Green as a person, through Nerdfighteria and the vlogbrothers videos, but now I can say this: John green pwns writing.
Same thing goes for Melina Marchetta, Sarah Dessen, and Sarah Ockler. The writing is so lyrical and meaningful and just LOVE.

And, Laini Taylor blew me away with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It's not a genre that I usually read, and I truly believe that I wouldn't have liked it as much if she hadn't written it. The writing is so gorgeous.

Storytellers  (Eh, it could go either way)
These are the authors, who while their writing may not be AMAZING, they sure have a fantastic story! These are the typical, action packed books that get made into movies later on. Their the stories that people tend to ignore the technical writing, and just get so utterly obsessed with the story and caught up in the actions.

People who I'd consider storytellers are Stephanie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, and James Dashner, just to name a few. 

Whether you're a TwiHeart or a TwiHater, please don't say you weren't obsessed with the story when you read it the first time around. Okay, maybe you really weren't but I guarantee most of you were. I was. Sixth grade me + Twilight = Obsessed. It's embarrassing *cringe*. Criticize SMeyers writing all you want, but she did write the kind of story that sucks a reader in. 

And then there's The Hunger Games. Now, I know some people will trash that book too, but I still love it on some level. Okay, it's not the best writing in the world, I'll give it that. And the ending was a massive disappointment. But what Collins did with that series was amazing. It took me somewhere I'd never been before, and had such a unique concept. And it totes started the dystopia trend in YA.

Full out Epicness
People, who in my opinion, have the whole package. They deserve to be worshipped.
-JK Rowling
-Richelle Mead
-Lauren Oliver
Just to name a few.

Where do you fall?
I think that everyone starts off a storyteller. Makes sense, right? It's easy enough to have a good story that you want to tell. And if you're a good enough storyteller, good enough in world building and crafting you're characters, than that's okay. Where the work comes in has to do with crafting the writing, and that takes time. I look at my first drafts now, and I laugh... my own writing has developed so much in the past two years. I myself am working toward becoming a writer. I want to one day publish a book that touches people the way my favorite books touch me.

Where do you stand?
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PS: This is the first *real* post I've done in forever. School is way too time consuming :P

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever.


It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

I'd heard so many good things about SHADE, and I've been so excited to read it. I can't believe how long it took me to get through this, though I blame that on school and the excessive amount of work. Because once I sat down and could really read, I couldn't stop. I was worried that this book would be a disappointment because of the hype, but it was anything but. SHADE is an addictive read, one that I would normally go through in a day or two.

The premise puts such a unique spin on ghosts. The idea of there being this one moment where no one knows exactly what happens...but just that everyone born after that moment, known as the shift, has the ability to see ghosts. And that ghosts have the potential to become Shades--something that everyone is afraid of. The thing that I loved was that everything about the world was so normal. Apart from the ghosts everywhere, obviously. But it was like it could take place today, and Ready did a wonderful job of making this plot line believable. Her writing was nice and carried the story effortlessly. And she has excellent taste in music.

Aura was a strong main character. She went through so much, and all of her emotions and reactions felt natural and believable. The grief over losing Logan, the new feelings that are slowly forming for Zachary. It felt real. Like, how she formed a true friendship with Zachary and didn't just use him to get over Logan. And how ghost-Logan still seemed very real to her, so she still felt that sense of commitment. I understood her confusion. There's still a lot of unanswered questions concerning Aura and her lineage, which makes me anxious to read SHIFT, the sequel. Overall, Aura was great.

Okay, here's the deal. There is a love triangle in this book. Well, a semi-love triangle. Because one of the boys is dead. But Aura can still see him--so he's alive all the same. And while love triangles can sometimes annoy me to no end, I must give a round of applause to Ms Ready, because this love triangle was pulled off extremely well *claps*. There was purpose to it, and it made sense. It wasn't the oh aren't I so special two guys are in love with me how will I choose? It was complicated and understandable all at the same time. She was in love with Logan. Then he was an idiot and died. Now there's Zachary, her friend and history partner first, hot Scottish boy who's there for her when she needs it. And Aura finds herself developing feelings for Zachary. My personal favorite? Zachary. Because he's sweet and SCOTTISH and most importantly alive. Logan made me so angry because he was just so stupid. His death was the most idiotic thing I've ever heard of, and I just wanted to scream "YOU MORON!"

The book started off with a BANG, slowed down a little too much for my taste, and then picked right back up around the halfway point. I became so intrigued that I couldn't put the book down. SHADE is a unique spin on a paranormal ghost story with a strong voice and a well-contrived love triangle. Win! It's one of those books where I don't realize how much I like it until I write the review. I can't wait to read SHIFT. Give me more Zachary!


Time to announce some winners for my first very successful round of giveaways!

The Grand Prize Winner of my 100 Follower Giveaway is...
You have won a book of your choice (up to a $10 value) or a $10 Amazon Giftcard AND a copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick! 

At the last minute, I decided there was going to be TWO runner ups...
They are Heather R. and Deena!  
Heather, you have won The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting and Deena you have won Just Listen by Sarah Dessen!

And then there's my POSSESSION giveaway. The winner of this is
Zoey Talbon!

Congratulations girls! Emails are being sent out, and you have 48 hours to respond or else I will pick a new winner.
Thanks so much to everyone who entered my giveaways. Stay tuned for more in the future! 

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded 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.

*Sigh.* I love Stephanie Perkins. I wish I could just say that and be done with this review. But do you know why I love Stephanie Perkins? I love what she is able to do. How she makes me fall in love with the characters, the BOY, the story, the everything. I've been so excited to read LOLA since I read ANNA and fell in love with everything about it *cough* especially St. Clair *cough*. LOLA most definitely did not disappoint! I loved this book!
First off, Lola herself is a fantastic lead. I loved her quirkiness. All the different costumes. And just her attitude in general. She was such a fun and fresh character, but she had her faults and problems too. Perkins's characterization is always so spot on. She knows how to make her characters come off the pages, and really makes them feel like real people, people that I could know or even be friends with. Lola has her problems to deal with, but don't we all. Though, admittedly, sometimes I just wanted to shake her, and make her see what was right in front of her.

Cricket was so adorkable. Yes, adorkable. He was just so cute and sweet and nice. A reoccurring problem I've noticed in YA is that a lot of the guys have this--attitude and aloofness about them. What happened to the nice guys? No, they don't always finish last! In my opinion, the world needs more of them! I LOVED Cricket and all of his awkwardness. His tallness, him being a science nerd. His pants (LOL). So cute!

Though Max creeped me out, majorly. Like dude, you're 22. What do you want with a 17-year-old girl? (Though, it wasn't the age difference so much that creeped me out, but just him in general.) But that's all I'll say on that topic.

I loved Lola's dads! Yes, dads. Gay parents are something that's rarely done in books, and I totally loved it. They were perfect, and I just love it in general when parents play an important role in a story. And they always do in Perkins's books. The characterization of Nathan and Andy were just so perfect and real and protective and awesome.

And then we got to see more Anna and St. Clair!!! Which, admittedly at first was the reason I was most excited to read this book. I liked how they weren't just thrown in as a random cameo, but they were actually a part of a story by working at the movie theater Lola worked at. Also, Cricket goes to the same college as St. Clair. They were given a purpose in this story, and it was still nice to see how they were doing as a couple (Awww!) Though, I did find it ironic that St. Clair was the one to tell Lola that she needed to start being honest with herself.

The writing is still witty and fresh. And the plot is fun and complex which leads to me not being able to put this book down. I can't believe how invested in these books I get. How in ANNA I was yelling at St. Clair, and in this book, I'm yelling at Lola. That's when I know a book is awesome. When I delude myself into thinking these characters are real people. (St. Clair, where the heck are you) I just couldn't get enough of this book. And I want to reread ANNA right now, despite only reading it a few months ago. The stories are fun, but the writing really strikes a chord. Like, it's both deep yet light at the same time. If that makes sense. All I know is that it saddens me when I realize how long I have to wait to read another Stephanie Perkins book. (WHYY IS THE PUBLICATION PROCESS SO SLOW?)