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I find my crack with second-chance romances and angst-filled stories. Most preferably, always with sense.
In The Stillness - Andrea Randall 4 stars? 4.5 stars?

I've been thinking how to properly put into words what I feel for this book but I guess it's evident based on my rating that I loved it. So instead of babbling about what made this work for me, I could say what made me deduct a star from a perfect rating.

What made me not give [b:In The Stillness|17381391|In The Stillness|Andrea Randall|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1363617879s/17381391.jpg|24175213] 5 stars is the ending. This book has been on my to-read list for a while but I never got around to reading it. It was actually [b:Nocturne|23754|The Sandman, Vol. 1 Preludes and Nocturnes|Neil Gaiman|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1358923255s/23754.jpg|1228437] that sealed the deal; I know I had to read more of [a:Andrea Randall|6469137|Andrea Randall|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1367453664p2/6469137.jpg]'s works. And she delivered. I feel like Andrea Randall has the perfect formula that would always lure me in until the last page: perfectly flawed characters, too much angst, and just the right kind of dramatic writing (which is tbh, hard to come by these days). But same as with Nocturne, which I reviewed prior to this, the ending was too abrupt for me. I felt like a child baited with her ultimate favorite treat, and just when I was to savor the last bite, it gets pulled away from me. And the last bite is always the sweetest!

I read another review saying we could use an epilogue and I couldn't agree more. I need some time for bliss before leaving this kind of heart-wrenching story! Other than that, this book is the type of story that works as if it's made for me, and I can't help but notice that there couldn't be a title more fitting than In The Stillness.
If Forever Comes (Take This Regret, #2) - A.L. Jackson Liked it but didn't love it.

I was so excited for [b:If Forever Comes|17859033|If Forever Comes (Take This Regret, #2)|A.L. Jackson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1371798895s/17859033.jpg|25001549] when I found out [b:Take This Regret|11784281|Take This Regret (Take This Regret, #1)|A.L. Jackson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347389725s/11784281.jpg|16736232] has a sequel. I guess I expected so much because Take This Regret cut me to the core, and it's certainly one of the best heartbreak-from-books that I keep remembering.

If Forever Comes, on the other hand, is filled with so much pain. 80% of this book is filled with different descriptions of the sorrow our characters are going through. Don't get me wrong; I'm all for angst, but when a book throws so much heartbreak at me, I expect it to make up for it with loads of cuteness and happiness, preferably with rainbows and unicorns. If Forever Comes fell short on that and instead of uplifting me when things come to a head, it gave me a single conversation and fast-forwarded to my HEA. And I'm all for HEA too, but I need to see that it was deserved when people work for it, not when they have suffered enough. I just think it was too anticlimactic.

What I liked about it and what saved this book for me was the reality it portrayed. When I finished the book I thought, well it wasn't that bad, I guess that's what real people go through. I love the drama in my fiction but in reality, we don't always have grand gestures and perfectly scripted lines. We don't always get to recognize one true love. We don't always reach our happy endings by pouring out our hearts every single day, just to satisfy ourselves by thinking we've said and done enough. More often than not, real people reach their HEA by going through the motions one day at a time. That's what Christian and Elizabeth did. Unfortunately that reality can be boring when translated in books, so [a:AL Jackson|5784542|A.L. Jackson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1332905653p2/5784542.jpg] cut through the chase and presented to us our happy ending, without showing how the loose ends were tied up and triple-knotted to perfection.

Well while I like some sense of reality in my fiction, heartbreak, grand gestures and scripted words make up the formula for me to fall for a book hook, line and sinker. If Forever Comes only came up with one of those components and for that it receives 3 stars from me, meaning exactly as Goodreads say: not amazing, not really liked it, but liked it enough.
The Bet - Rachel Van Dyken I read this months ago. Now I wouldn't say it's a heartwarming or an emotional book, but it's just full of CUTE. Fun and light read.
Nocturne - Andrea Randall, Charles Sheehan-Miles I didn't know it was possible to feel this emotionally drained out when I didn't shed even a tear throughout the whole book.

Nocturne is the kind of book that would have its fair share of fans and haters, and it's that kind of book that could easily stir arguments. I would have easily turned into one of its haters because of one thing that I absolutely couldn't stand otherwise, if only I didn't watch our leads fall in love. But I did. I watched their love grow naturally, not the insta-love kind, and I found it beautiful that I was still rooting for them after watching their love turn to poison.

Gregory Fitzgerald is one of the most selfish character I've ever come across, going along the ranks of Olivia Kaspen and Caleb Drake from Love Me With Lies. I hated Gregory for the most part of the book but at the same time, I loved watching him make decisions, even bad ones, because he just has so much room to grow as a person that his redemption or demise, whichever comes, would satisfy me.

Savannah Marshall, on the other hand, could count as one of the most stupid female leads ever, in that she has become a slave to her love. But I couldn't hate her even after she chose to do wrong with Gregory, because I couldn't hate a character who can love so much she kept holding on to it, knowing it was going to end badly just for her. I pitied her, and just like I loved watching Gregory meet his end, I loved watching Savannah's development as a character.

But both our leads' character development took so long, ripping out my heart and letting it bleed dry in the process. I was so exhausted, I just wanted to see the end, whatever the ending may be. Do you know how big of a deal it is, when I say I don't care if I get my HEA?? Heck, I'd probably dance too if I get a sad ending. Me, who grumbles and rants and cries when an undeserving lead doesn't get the love of his/her life? Yeah, it's a pretty big deal for me.

But the resolution, though it could have been longer (yeah, I could use a few more pages of the calm after that storm!), was just satisfying to me. Like I said, it certainly took a while for our characters to get there, but heck, they DID get there. For the most part of the book it was Savannah doing all the fighting and to see Gregory give a fight - basically by giving up everything that mattered to him - it was a redemption sweet enough for me to overlook the wrong and to see what I saw at the start of the book: a beautiful love that lasts forever.
Anything He Wants: Castaway #4 (Castaway, #4) - Sara Fawkes This series (including Dominated by a Billionaire) started out as something that should turn my mind off from thinking and feeling when I just finished another emotional book. But with every novella, I got more and more hooked and in the end, it became my crack addiction - it feels so good but as to how good it is objectively, I don't care.

I can't help but compare this to The Arrangement by HM Ward which follows the same format - some 80 pages for every release around each month. But whereas I fell in love at first book of The Arrangement, I was detached with the first book of Dominated by a Billionaire. And whereas my love from The Arrangement diminished with each release, I enjoyed Dominated by a Billionaire and Castaway and grew more in love with each book.

Now if anyone would say that this series is shallow or stupid or say basically any argument against this series, I wouldn't disagree. I couldn't agree too. For the first time since I got into reading, I shut out any kind of rational thinking and just felt. I couldn't even think of any judgment - good or bad - about the plot, the writing, the characters. I just know that I enjoyed it immensely.

AH, I have one definite opinion: I love LUCAS! He's running for my most favorite character ever for his funny quips and strength and just all his awesomeness. So that ending? Yeah, Ms. Sara Fawkes, you'd have to give me more of that.
Beautiful Bastard - Christina Lauren I enjoyed this and found it to be a nice quick read, but not all fun has substance. Same nutrition as a piece of candy.
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes I've been warned about the cryfest and I purposely asked about the ending to know what to expect. I was so excited to finish this book after reading the reviews that I felt like I was racing towards the last page. Even so, I wasn't prepared for the ugly bawling that I did when I reached the last part of this book.

I'm a jumble of emotions right now that I'm afraid I won't make sense but I'm trying to convey my feelings through the same jumble of words so please bear with me..

Me Before You probably made most readers appreciate living life as fully as possible, or selflessness in the form of respect for a loved one's choices, but for me, it made me realize selflessness as someone like Will. Will is both selfish and selfless; selfish for only thinking about his happiness, for taking himself off people's lives, even knowing the pain he'd cause; selfless for taking himself off people's lives, knowing they won't live their remaining lives being bound by him. For someone who has many times thought of suicide, although I'm on a happy place now, I think for the first time I finally realized the magnitude of pain I could cause to people I love, should I made that choice before. I never once questioned my thoughts. Now I see the importance of selflessness in my part to find happiness and live my life for the people around me. That realization is jarring to me, and among all the beautiful lessons this book teaches us, that was what stood out to me and I couldn't think of anything else.

Over-all this is a heartwarming story that deserved 5 stars but I rated it 4 stars because of purely selfish-as-a-reader reasons, mainly as a sucker for true-romance-that-trumps-all.. Hey, I'm just a normal emotional female.
Forever Black (Forever Trilogy, #1) - Sandi Lynn Nice idea, poor execution. Horrible editing and bland characters.
Truth - Aleatha Romig I'm speechless and stunned and counting the days until October 8...
Stripped (Stripped, #1) - H.M. Ward This is exactly what a 2-star rating means for me - it's okay. Too early to completely put off the whole series but enough to feel unsatisfied. At the beginning I had high hopes because I live for this kind of drama - the "love turned hate" angst and second-chance stories always get to me. I loved Jon's hate towards Cassie until he learns the truth...I felt that that was anticlimactic. He sweeps it under the rug like he didn't just spend the last few years hurting and hating because he didn't bother to stick around for an explanation. Now the only thing that's stopping him from being with Cassie is her marriage? I can't help but think that I wasted my feelings and hope for the first 2/3 of the book.

But there really wasn't much that happened after the "big reveal,"
right? So that's where I decided I couldn't completely write this series off. It's been a sick game that I have with this author's books - I always say that maybe the next volumes will be better. It's a hit-and-miss for me; sadly with more misses lately..

I should probably just wait until the author's done with all her current series (I wouldn't be surprised if there will be another book for the Ferro cousin).. I'm okay with linked stories between different books (I love it when it's done right!) but when the characters from an incomplete and totally-far-from-being-finished series pop up, it just messes with my head :|
Infraction - K.I. Lynn I was wary of this series because Breach and Dissolution left me with conflicting emotions. Breach was a big mindfuck and it wasn't really the good kind. The first book felt like a big disaster because I thought the characters were dragging each other down.. But I loved the premise, so I was curious how the series would progress. Dissolution made me feel more positively towards the series because in just 30 pages it made me relate more to the characters and I realized how deep Nathan's and Lila's pain go.

Infraction isn't all rainbows too. I think the book as a whole still felt dark and depressing to me, but with the striking contrast against the ugliness of Breach, I appreciated this book a lot more. It sealed my connection to Nate and Lila such that even the little things that made them smile made me happy too. Their journey towards happiness is filled with sufferings (which I expect more of in the next volumes...) but with Infraction, I thought that finally they are doing the journey together.

I think this volume hit me hard, thus earning my 5-star rating, because for such a dark story I was surprised to have the warm fuzzies all throughout the book. It's twisted but the shadows around Lila and Nate's lives are so dark it's easy to see the light in between. I'm afraid of what's waiting for them in the future but as this is fiction, I'm fairly certain they would end up happy and as better people, making it worth the ride :)
Breach - K.I. Lynn I read this book a while back but only rated it now. I couldn't rate it back then because I loved the drama and I liked Dissolution, but Breach was too much for me - words too dirty, motives too questionable, reasons unknown. It didn't feel right to love a book with unlikable characters. But now that I've read Infraction, I can say for certain that I love this series (not necessarily this book, but after reading the latest volume it puts things in perspective for me)

Breach showed us two seriously flawed characters, which are everywhere right now (sometimes I wish I'm reading about a perfectly normal character with no baggage; they got to have a story too, right?). I think what makes Breach different is that it took "flawed" to the extremes. Nathan is so messed-up that I found the first book to be disturbing. I didn't get the concept of "too intense" whenever that phrase pops up in other books, but this time I understand it. Nathan can be summarized in those two words - too intense. He carries a heavy baggage that he uses against people who love him. All his issues border on being insane and with no definite reasons from the first book, it made me feel unsympathetic towards him.

Lila also has deep emotional scars; her self-worth is pretty much nothing. I normally scoff at the whole self-deprecating thing but Lila's issues mixed with Nate's just intensify everything, if that's even possible. Their physical connection was always aggressive and it only hurts them instead of helping them. It was painful to see Nate and Lila together because it was obvious they were bringing each other down.

My reading experience felt ugly and the first book didn't give enough answers to make me feel differently. But what it did was bait me with the drama. I wanted to know the reasons behind Nate's actions, how Lila could recover, if a happy ending is even possible, or if the whole thing will be disaster til the end. Breach left me with so many questions that I had to read the next volumes to satisfy my curiosity. And I'm glad it did! Breach felt more ugly after reading Dissolution and Infraction, but it also made the last two more beautiful and extremely satisfying for me. Can't wait to have this series finished!
Bad Things (Tristan & Danika, #1) - R.K. Lilley I was really curious about what happened between Tristan and Danika after reading the "Up in the Air" series! This first book is nothing really special, just the typical best friends-turned-lovers story but I guess it's a good foundation for the heartbreak later in the series. So despite the poor 2-star rating, I'm not dismissing this yet and I'm really excited to read the next volumes!
The Arrangement 9 (The Arrangement, #9) - H.M. Ward The Arrangement series is like a first love gone wrong for me. Being so simple but relatable, it was one of the books I absolutely adored and sang praises to when I first got into reading. I loved Sean and I understood his sorrow and self-torture, but I loved Avery too to know that Sean needed a lot more proving to deserve her.

I read The Arrangement 1-6 in one go. While waiting for the next volumes I was exposed to more books and better authors but this is the series that I'd get excited for. But I got TA 7..and I thought, "Maybe I'm just not used to novellas; let's wait for the next ones." So I waited for TA 8, then I said, "was that worth the wait?" But when TA 9 came out, all my pent-up frustration exploded into one ugly rant emailed to HM Ward (who knows if she actually reads fan letters?). I needed weeks to finally admit to myself that my first love isn't going anywhere (hence the late review and rating).

The thing is, it's not about the length of the novella or the long wait for each volume. It's about the original story being dragged on and on to milk the fan response, and what we get is all fluff with no nutrition. I don't care if The Arrangement goes on until Volume 20 IF there was anything happening that makes sense. But with each new volume, what we have are pointless monologues, unreasonable decisions from characters who used to think better, and more minor conflicts without resolution to the original ones - all amounting to a reading experience that is called PLAIN TORTURE.

I want so badly to fall in love with this series again. But if the characters are stuck in the same dilemma from around 4 volumes earlier, I could only be stuck with the same feelings that I have now - DISAPPOINTMENT and a love that is lost..
The Light in the Wound - Christine Brae I'm conflicted about this book.

While I felt the emotional connection with each character and cried to sleep after reading, I still had a certain detachment because at the back of my mind, I recognize the world and the characters are unreal. Which all fiction books are. But I found the fictional world in this one hard to grasp and imagine because I live around the same setting! And I could point out all the "wrong" scenes that I just don't see happening...

On the good side, I loved how The Light in the Wound presented a first love. Many love stories are obsessed with first loves! And at times where characters have gone through break-ups, when they meet "The One" they're quick to deny that they didn't feel "true love" with their past relationships! Why is it so impossible for true love having a sad ending when it happens very often in real life? Why do romance books refuse to reflect some basic form of reality?

On the bad/sad side, I cried a lot over Jesse and Isabel. We saw how exactly things went wrong, but it doesn't diminish the fact that they really loved each other. I got heartbroken with Jesse. And while I still wish he had a HEA with Isabel, I also know Alex deserves the good ending. Which is why in my mind what really happened was either Alex found another girl while Isabel was in love with Jesse, or Alex dies as a happy husband and Isabel moves on years later and finds Jesse again. I just want HEA both for Jesse and Alex!!

Unteachable - Leah Raeder
I’m not going to do the whole rollercoaster/falling in love metaphor. I didn’t fall in love with him up there. Maybe I fell in love with the idea of love, but I’m a teenage girl. This morning I fell in love with raspberry jam and a puppy in a tiny raincoat. I’m not exactly Earth’s top authority on the subject.

But when we crested the first peak and the world sprawled beneath us like a tangled-up string of Christmas lights and then we plunged toward it at lightspeed, the guy and I reached for each other’s hands spontaneously and simultaneously.

And I felt something I’ve never felt before.

You can call it love, or you can call it freefall. They’re pretty much the same thing.

I loved everything about this book. I was hesitant at first, thinking I probably couldn't go past that teacher-student thing and that 14-year age gap, but the way it was written, how everything happened, and how every feeling Maise had was presented, it all felt magical. I kept thinking of another word to describe my reading experience, but that was it - magical.

When I finish reading books that make me feel too emotional, I look for stupid and shallow cliched stories. That was what I expected of Unteachable - something to pass the time without me feeling anything. I didn't expect to have a mass of indescribable emotions that I have to try and write out what I think.

I love Maise. At first you'd think she's the same hopeless kid who had parent problems. Well yeah she was probably that, but what made her different was that she tries to find happiness. She makes her own mistakes but she didn't immediately write herself off as someone with no good future. And when she met Evan, I felt exactly how she felt - she became more alive. She found happiness, realized her dreams and saw a future.

I didn't relate much to Evan because I didn't see and understand his exact feelings all the time, but I felt their connection. I guess that's why I didn't find their relationship creepy. They felt perfectly right and connected to each other every single moment. I never felt so strongly for a fictional pairing! I was so afraid when I was about to reach the ending! I was preparing myself to not have my HEA, thinking it wouldn't be ruined for me either way because I loved the ride. But of course the ending had to be sweet and perfect too!

I love the writing! I'm pretty sure if it was the same story by some other writer it wouldn't have been good. The teacher-student relationship (with a 33-year old man and a high school student!) was a tricky subject to begin with and with the wrong writing it could easily be uncomfortable to readers. So to say that Leah Raeder being what made Unteachable a beautiful story is an understatement. She's the key to making the reading experience intimate and emotional. No one could have written this more magically (sorry, there's that word again!).

Definitely looking out for more books from Leah Raeder!