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Thursday, November 22, 2012

My love for YA.

I know I've been well...dead for the past few months, but there are opportunities I just can not miss, and this is one of them. By now I'm sure you've heard of Beth Revis's extraordinarily generous and incredible giveaway:

It's incredible not only because she is giving away a jackpot of YA books, but because she wants to share the love of YA, and I think that is amazing. This contest really got me thinking, because between work, school, and a strange, unwavering dedication to choir I haven't had much time or energy to read lately and I may have lost a little bit of my passion for YA. So why do I love YA?

Essentially, YA books are an escape for all people of every age and gender. They let us know we're not alone. They allow us to think and feel and understand things we've never even considered before. I love YA because vampires sparkle and give themselves completely to one girl, because a teenage girl is so dedicated to protecting her best friend that she's willing to kill numerous undead monsters. Because small towns become places filled with intricate tunnels and secrets. Because the impossible becomes possible. People transform before our eyes. Each book leaves fingerprints on our hearts. Characters are young, full of life, and not jaded. They're experiencing firsts, lasts, and everything in between. In YA, anything is possible, which kind o makes me believe that anything is possible in life.

But one of my favorite things is that YA brought together this whole community of YA-lovers. Sure there are are some rotten apples in the bunch, but for the most part, true, dedicated YA-lovers are kind, genereous, and always looking to share the love.

YA has helped me get through so many rough times and captivated me from the very first YA book I read. I was enraptured by the various different worlds that various different creatures were able to exist in. Sparkling vampires, brain lesions, fallen angels, dark casters and light casters. All of it is so amazing. The possibilities are endless. Sure, there are some books that seem to almost replicate the "popular" books, but there are some gold mines out there that just utterly blow my mind.

Why do you love YA?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - I'm not a supermajor fan of the first book in the series, but I do want to see where the story goes and if it will get better.

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - I lovelovelovelove this series. Beautiful Chaos ended with such a bang...I've waited my entire life for this, I swear.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken - I adore Alexandra's first book, Brightly Woven and can't wait to see what brilliance Bracken brings with this completely different novel.

Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick - Since Silence was so incredibly uneventful, I can only assume she included double the awesome in this final book.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes - The title, the cover, the smmary--all of it seems so epic!

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally - Catching Jordan was a great book, and I have confidence that her books are only going to get better.

The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook - I have made it a goal to read and own every YA book that Eileen Cook produces.

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez - OMG DID YOU READ VIRTUOSITY? Because if you have then you understand my overwhelming excitement. IF NOT GO READ NOW OR I SHANK YOU.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone - I have such a cover connection with this book, every time I see it I am compelled to stalk the author, find out where she lives, and go steal the manuscript and read it nomnomnomnommmmmm!!!

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler - Janet always ha incredible plots and I love her previous book, If I Tell.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Giveaway: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Poppy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased for giveaway
Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about. (Summary from

Happy Labor Day! To celebrate all the hard work you do, I'm giving away a copy of A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger. This is only open to residents of the US. Sorry, but I only get paid $2.63 an hour and the people of Harrison, Arkansas, are not big tippers. Anyway, just enter with the rafflecopter below. 

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Spotlight: Seaweed by Elle Strauss

Seaweed by Elle Strauss
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication Date: June 15, 2012
Publisher: ESB Publishing
Pages: 233
Dori Seward can’t wait to get out of Eastcove, a sleepy fishing village on the border of New Brunswick and Maine. She bides her time by hanging out with friends, attending swim club, and holding her biggest competition, Colby–who wants more than just friendship, at arm’s length.

Then Tor Riley comes to town and he has everything Dori dreams of in a boyfriend–looks, athleticism and mystery.

But Tor also has a tantalizing secret and Dori is determined to find out what it is. The truth is crazier than her wildest imaginations and more dangerous, too. Dori has new enemies, and they will do anything to get to her.

Her life, her dreams and her love for Tor are all weighing in the balance. Will Dori risk it all in order to have it all? (Summary from

A huge thanks goes to AToMR Tours and the fab author for hosting this tour! Want to see what other bloggers have to say about Seaweed? Check out the tour schedule.

And of course, enter to win a signed print copy of Clockwise, which is another of Elle's books, a print copy of Seaweed, and a nifty whale fin necklace like this one on the author:

This giveaway is open to US/Canada only, due to shipping purposes. 

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Format: ARC
Pages: 208
Source: Received for promotional purposes from publisher
It's the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She's not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn't sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn't start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn't want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn't want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself  spending more time with Inggy's boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves. (Summary from
I will be blunt and say that Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman is not fit for all YA readers. In fact, it's probably not fit for most YA readers. This book deals with teens having sex in a casual, frank manner. It will make many teens uncomfortable, and it will make any adults uncomfortable. But for me, this honesty is one of the only redeeming qualities of this book.

Sex happens amongst teenagers. That's something that everyone needs to face. Some teens are responsible about it, others are not. Angel Cassonetti has a lot of sex. With multiple guys. Well, you know, whatever, there are girls like that who exist. I didn't necessarily think of her as a bad person. But what really got to me is that she didn't really face all that many consequences for her actions. I'm not advocating slut-shaming, but Angel is pretty and popular and everyone thinks she's so sweet. Deep down, I believe she is sweet and she tries to do what's right, but the girl has to work through some serious issues. She continuously pushes her on-and-off boyfriend Joey away and then gets all upset when he finally refuses to take her back. So Angel turns to Cork, her best friend Inggy's boyfriend. They fool around while Inggy is only a short distance away--like right outside the car. Angel tells herself she can quit anytime she wants, but doesn't bother spilling to Inggy. Again, no consequences. Despite all of this, however, there's a little part of me that liked Angel (not connected with her, but liked her). Because it is obvious throughout the novel that she's reached that point of her life where she is trying to find herself. She wants to know what it's like to love and she's trying to decide what she's going to do with her life, and there is a pretty good amount of growth for her throughout the novel. And really, it's hard to blame Angel for the way she is, because her Mom sets the worst examples--at one point in the book, she's caught making out with a teenager. I don't really care much for any of the other characters, as they don't have much depth. Angel's little sister's are absolutely awful, making completely inappropriate jokes and use swear words, even though they are only, like, 6 years old.

There's kind of a lack of plot and, well, excitement. I guess the plot is Angel maturing, discovering that she wants to be more than her mother. But there are no clear goals throughout the book. The entire time I was reading, I was thinking, "What is she trying to accomplish?" This got better toward the end when she secretly hopes to beat her friends for the position of "Miss Merry Christmas." But then I wonder, why does she want to win so bad, anyway? There is also a part of this book that involves a dead baby that creeped me out and quickly diminished some of the credibility this book maintains. Not only was it irrelevant to the plot, it was just plain unrealistic.

Overall, I expected to like Jersey Angel because the major thing I saw complained about was how disgusting Angel's actions are. But I didn't like it. This was not the fun summer read I was hoping for. Though this is probably a book I'll remember for a while, it lacks substance and I cannot recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books read during my blog life

a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

All titles link to the book's Goodreads profile. This was an extraordinarily difficult topic, so I narrowed my favorites down to books I read because of blogging, and even then it was nearly impossible to choose. Of course, this list is in no particular order.

1) If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle ForemanIf I Stay reviewWhere She Went review

2) Delirium & Pandemonium by Lauren OliverDelirium reviewPandemonium review

3) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Review

4) Don't Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble - Review

5) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick 

6) Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley - Review

7) Hushed by Kelley York - Review

8) Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez - Review

9) Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - Review

10) Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen - Review

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Line Chemistry

Sometimes the first line is all it takes to suck me into a book. Sometimes the first line of a book is so fabulous that I know the book will be unputdownable. First Line Chemistry is a feature created to showcase some wonderful first lines. 

Warm sun and robin's-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one's uncle to a lunatic asylum. - The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (Uncorrected proof)

I hadn't killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that. - Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (Uncorrected proof)

This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door. - Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Okay, so I realize all of these first lines are a little morbid, but they really jump out at me and make me want to read the novel they belong to. 

Which first line do you have the most chemistry with? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: eARC
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.  Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Sometimes there are books you fall in love with before reading. Sometimes you just see it and know that it is perfect for you, that it will enter your heart and sink its claws in and refuse to go away. That's how Pushing the Limits was for me. I saw it sitting on my kindle and, even though the release date was more than a month away, I could not resist. I started it. And devoured it. And never wanted it to end. 

Noah and Echo are two amazing, unforgettable characters. The narration switches between the two of them as we delve deep into their minds and their pasts. And even though it appears that the two have nothing in common, they are actually so perfect for each other. Noah has all the qualities that make up the cliche bad boy that is all too common in YA: player, loner, mysterious past, get the gist. But he does the bad boy thing so well it definitely doesn't feel cliche. Echo is uptight and she has obedience issues. She jumps at her father's every command. Total opposites, right? No no no. They both have dark secrets and goals that seem impossible to obtain. Working together, they discover they are capable of facing the most difficult challenges of their lives--and falling in love along the way. Both of these characters had so much depth, and I connected to them immediately. Noah and Echo made this novel such an emotional--and incredibly steamy--ride!

Aside from the marvelous characters and their sizzling relationship, my favorite part of Pushing the Limits is that we just keep uncovering secrets. There's always another betrayal, another tidbit of information that someone has kept hidden to protect another person. It makes the book unpredictable, intriguing, and addicting. 

Basically, this book is just amazing. One of the best contemporaries of the year. Actually, one of my favorite books of the year, period. These character and their story has stayed with me for months after I closed the book. If you like books with substance and lots of kissing, this is your book! And if you don't, Pushing the Limits might just convert you. 
Also, don't forget to check out my interview with the author, Katie McGarry. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Catching Jordan

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 "And I'm falling for you--I love how driven and serious you are. I can't believe how driven and serious you are. I can't believe everything that's happened between us. But if you're not going to be mature and serious about me like I thought you would be, I want out now." - Page 182 of Catching Jordan

Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: December 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback
Pages: 281
Source: Purchased

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Greeen moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bout of Books goals and updates

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 5.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. -From the Bout of Books 5.0 team.

I've recently emerged from a massive reading slump, and now I'm sort of in a blogging slump, so I am also going to dedicate this read-a-thon to working on my blog!

I want to read at least half of these! 
Physical Books: 
Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman
Rift by Andrea Cremer

Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper
Between You & Me by Marisa Calin
Seaweed by Elle Strauss
The Scarlet Dagger by Krystle Jones

Write at least one review a day
Schedule at least two non-review posts a day 
Put together a fun giveaway

Find three new blogs to add to my email subscriptions
Comment on at least five blogs a day 
Be more active on Twitter

I will be tweeting my progress regularly (@bookbreather), but I'll update this post every night! 


Pages read: 0
Reviews written: 0
Non-review posts scheduled: 0
Blogs commented on: 1

Yeah, so I didn't do too hot, but I did sign up late and I was really focused on writing a short story for a contest, then I had to go to work. I will do better from now on! 


Pages read: 0
Review written: 0
Non-review posts scheduled: 0
Blogs commented on: 1

Once again, not the best progress. Actually, I spent most of my day at Walmart with my friend. We went to this aisle with beanbags, plopped down on them, and she played the ukulele while we sang. Loudly. A lot of people stopped and listened to us and I swear people walked by just so they could see who we are. It was fun, though I wish I could have, ya know, done something for Bout of Books. 


Pages read: 328
Non-review posts scheduled: 2
Blogs commented on: 2

I did much better today than I have been doing! I finished The Golden Lily!


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Book Review: Dante's Girl by Courtney Cole

Dante's Girl by Courntey Cole
Series: The Paradise Diaries #1
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: June 22, 2012
Publisher: Lakehouse Press
Format: eBook
Pages: 356
Source: Received for blog tour

I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring.
Until this year.

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes.
2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.
3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.
4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise.
5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference?

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl.

My heart just might be crazy.

Dante's Girl by Courtney Cole isn't a particularly stellar novel, but for some reason the characters and their stories resounded with me. This is a very cute and light summer read with a gorgeous setting, hot foreign guys, and a secret scheme occurring right behind the Prime Minister's back! Courtney Cole has included all the components for the perfect summer read, and yet I still had a few issues with it that prevented me from really falling in love with it.

My biggest problem is the whole cliche, "He so purrrfect and I so ordinary OMG!" Like, I'm sixteen, okay? I get it. Teenage girls can be insecure. But I am so sick of reading about how amazing, perfect, and completely gorgeous the guy is and how boring, ordinary, and plain the girl is. And seriously, every scene that Dante is in, Reece mentions how gorgeous he is at least once. I know it sounds stupid, but this small factor really did interfere with my enjoyment of the novel. However annoying her gushing got, though, I did like that Dante's actions provide support to how much Reece admires him. He proves himself to be sweet and a genuinely good guy that truly cares for Reece. The other characters were great entertainment--Gavin's flirtacious confidence, and Mia's need to rebel against her father--though Elena felt stereotypical and the drama with Becca was entirely unnecessary.

Despite all the fluff and Dante-gushing, there was a bit more depth to the plot than I had suspected going into the novel. It may be a little predictable in some ways, but in other ways I was shocked. Nate, Dante's "friend", is definitely up to something sketchy, but it's not overly emphasized throughout the book, which is good because it contributes to the shocked factor and keeps the mystery in the back of your mind.

Overall, this book was an okay read. This is the first I've read by Courtney Cole, and I'd probably read more from her.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quote Impressions: The Art-y Contemp Edition

These quotes are from books that have some sort of artistic influence in them, be it the main character or a painting in a house. 

“If you’re scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don’t walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here’s the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I’ll try.” - Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

“I guess love's kind of like a marshmallow in a microwave on high. After it explodes it's still a marshmallow. but, you know, now it's a complicated marshmallow.” - Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

“I don't believe in failure, because simply by saying you've failed, you've admitted you attempted. And anyone who attempts is not a failure. Those who truly fail in my eyes are the ones who never try at all. The ones who sit on the couch and whine and moan and wait for the world to change for them.” - Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen 

“Friends are how God apologizes for your family." - Zero by Tom Leveen

“'You can't beat yourself up anymore,' he says. 'And you can't compare your thing to my thing or to anyone else's thing on the how-bad-should-I-feel? scale.'” - Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Behind the Blog (4)

Behind the Blog is a feature I've created to allow my readers to learn more about me outside of the blogging and book world. My hope is to connect with readers outside of books, make friends beyond the blog. As far as I know, the title of this feature came from my own mind. I don't recall seeing it on a blog before, so if you have a feature with the same name, no copy intended.

(Otherwise known as: messes that frustrate my father)

1) There's the obvious: Books! I do my best to keep them all on my shelves, but sometimes it just doesn't work. They are in stacks on the coffee table, on the dining room table, my nightstand, my dresser. Books have pretty much taken over my world :D 

2) Shoes. I have this semi-secret and completely ridiculous rule  for myself that states I cannot where the same pair of shoes twice in one week. And when I get home, I just take my shoes off whenever and where ever I feel like it. There are shoes in the kitchen, the bathroom, behind the couch (I really don't even know hoe they got there), and under my bed. 

3) Half-full water bottles. I love water. But sometimes I only drink half a bottle then forget all about it. I have half-full bottles on the tables, couches, my bed, my floor, the living room floor, the kitchen counter. A lot of times, if we run out of water bottles, my dad just combines all the half full ones and puts them back in the fridge. 

4) Earrings. I have some frackin crazy earrings. A few examples: 
(Yes, those are adorable elephants. Betsy Johnson!)
And, just like my shoes, I take them off where ever my little heart desires. Then my dad moves them somewhere else so they don't get lost. But that mostly ends up with them getting separated and me having to search for the other one. 

What kind of stuff do you have scattered around your house? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Review: Streamline by Jennifer Lane (Blog Tour)

Streamline by Jennifer Lane
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Format: eBook
Pages: 460
Source: Received for review on blog tour

Seems like Leo Scott has it all: looks, brains, and athletic talent. He's captain of his high school swim team with a bright future in college and beyond. But Leo has secrets. His mother's crippling car accident has devastated his family and left Leo to deal with his father's abuse, battered and alone.

Leo's girlfriend Audrey Rose is poised for her own share of success. As one of Florida's top high school swimmers, Audrey dreams of college swimming stardom. But there's an obstacle to her glorious rise to the top. Her number-one supporter-her father-is in prison for murder.

Part murder mystery, part tale of young love in a military family, this gripping story takes readers on a journey from Pensacola to Annapolis. Leo and Audrey must band together to rise above the adversity they encounter and find their true selves in the process. When everything's on the line . . . streamline.
Streamline by Jennifer Lane is a book with a lot going on, and that threw me off a little, quite frankly. Not only were there several major conflicts (like, more than your run-of-the-mill contemp), but the point of view flipped from character to character quite frequently, and sometimes it took me a second to realize whose mind I was in, considering most of the narration sounded the same. I honestly felt like a majority of the POV switches could have been cut and that this book should have been split into two, which is something that rarely comes out of my mouth. I love when authors have the skill to tackle multiple daunting issues in one novel, but I honestly felt like the first half of Streamline and the second half were two different books mashed into one. 

In the first half, the characters face multiple horrifying challenges such addiction, child abuse, and teen pregnancy/miscarriage. Everyone is doing their best to overcome these monumental obstacles and desperately searching for a solution. There is a sort of frantic pace, accompanied by an underlying sense of dread for what comes next for the characters. It's like, okay, you took down the big bad wolf, seemingly defeated him, and sure there are a few other things that need to be resolved, but take a breather, leave that to the next book. But then the second half of the book all of a sudden transforms into a murder mystery. The main character Leo has moved to a Navy academy in Annapolis while Audrey, his girlfriend, is in Tallahassee at FSU. So there's less Audrey, a whole lot less swimming, and Elaine and Alex (two of his friends who make frequent appearances in the first half of the book) are never mentioned again, which really blows because all of those components were so vital in the first half (Okay, maybe Elaine and Alex weren't vital,  but they were around a lot and then it's like POOF! They no longer exist). A whole new cast of characters is introduced, and the pace is much slower as Leo strives to concur the Academy. His stellar Navy skills begin to slip, however, as the lingering effects from the previous events in the novel set out to destroy him, and he breaks all the rules to uncover the truth about a murder Audrey's dad was blamed for. Like I said, they were almost two completely different books. 

But aside from all the crap happening, the book really did contain some commendable qualities. The romance, for example. Leo and Audrey have already been dating for two years by the beginning of the novel, and you can easily fall into the comfort of their relationship. You can tell that their feelings are genuine through even the simplest of exchanges. And no matter what tribulations their relationship faces, you can tell that, really, they're rock solid, and they'll get through it. And, while their feelings for each other do play a significant role throughout the novel, in no way does the romance dominate the story or overshadow the plot(s).

The characterization is also executed pretty well. There was a lot of times when getting through this book was admittedly pretty difficult, but what spurred me on were the characters. What would happen to them? Each character has to face different results and repercussions for the events that occur through the novel. Leo is a swimmer, a perfectionist, a Navy-son, smart, tough, and willing to accept blame for basically everything, even if it's obviously not his fault. He has to learn from his father's mistakes and come to terms with the fact that imperfection is not the equivalence of being a horrible human being. I love that he rarely lies. Like, absolutely adore that quality about him, though it gets him in quite a bit of trouble. And I gotta say--for such a smart kid, he sure as hell makes some really dumb decisions, but such is life I suppose. Audrey, aforementioned GF, has a lot in common with Leo (swimmer, smart, and a Navy-daughter), but definitely balances his out in really essential parts of his life, being extraordinarily forgiving and supporting him every step of the way. Never doubting him when he doubted himself the most. Jason, Leo's brother, goes from a homeless alcoholic to a guy seriously getting his shit together, protecting his brother, and doing his best to protect others who suffer child abuse. There's even a significant change in Mary--Leo's mother--who is finally recovering from the accident that flipped her family's life upside down, and James, the abusive father who realizes a little too late what a dumbass he is. 

So yeah, I had some complaints about this book, but overall it was a really gripping and emotional story (or two ;]) about three families that severely suffer from the ripples caused by one man; a story of family, love, an consequences. And most importantly, a story with engaging characters that will keep you immersed in the story. 

Thanks so much to Omnific Publishing and AToMR tours for hosting such an awesome event, and of course, offering a FANTAB prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to follow along with the rest of the tour and stop at all the other blogs!