Bleed Like Me

Finished Bleed Like Me by C. Desir.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.”

It took me a very long time to get into this book, but once I did, it made the earlier struggle worth it.

First, you should know that it felt almost gratuitous in parts.  Gannon’s a cutter, and it describes the cuts and their effects on her.

And there is insta-love between Gannon and Brooks.  They immediately click and go from being strangers to a couple in no time whatsoever.

And this is not a good relationship.  The two of them separately are incredibly damaged people.  The two of them together?  Well, as a friend of Gannon’s says (and I’m paraphrasing), “You’re Romeo and Juliet.  We’re just waiting to see who stabs themselves and who takes the poison.”

For roughly the first half of the book, I felt incredibly disconnected from Gannon, which kept me from being able to connect with any part of the story.

Now, though, I feel like that may have been a deliberate choice from the author.  Gannon is disconnected from everyone (including herself) and is determined not to feel anything.  Cutting is her way of ensuring that she only feels things on her own terms.  Once she stops cutting, she starts feeling everything and then I started connecting with her and the story.

(If it was a deliberate choice—and again, I think it was—that was brilliant.)

So be aware that this story takes a while but is absolutely worth the effort.

The second half of the story is much better than the first.  It also absolutely shows the results of being in an unhealthy relationship.

This story will hurt while you’re reading it.  But it serves as an excellent cautionary tale.


Finished Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother — whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop…

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler’s spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.”

I had heard really good things about this from my blogging friends and it took me about two seconds to accept the pitch to review it.  (Primarily because it’s hard to type “Yes! Thank you!” when you are excited.)

There are a lot of books that center around dangerous relationships, but almost all of them focus on romantic relationships.  I’m sure there are others that center on friendship (Choker, maybe?) but this is the first one I’ve read.

When we meet Emma, she’s Queen Good Girl of the incredibly nice people.  She is a dutiful daughter and is …well, not necessarily HAPPY to do whatever her dad wants, but she’s incredibly content not to rock the boat).  Her mom has died of a drug overdose (Emma never really knew her) and she’s determined to prove that she’s just like her dad and has nothing at all in common with her mom.

And then she and her dad move to LA and THEN she becomes friends with Siobhan.  All of a sudden, there are things that are more important than being The Good Daughter.  Like parties.  And boys.

I spent the whole book hoping that things would end well for Emma and getting increasingly anxious because it started to seem less and less likely that it would.  Ann Redisch Stampler slowly amps up the tension until, by the end, I was at risk for major paper cuts from turning the pages as fast as I could.

Now I cannot wait to read Where It Began (the author’s first book)!

Highly recommended.

Bleed Like Me Release Event

bleed like me

Title: Bleed Like Me
Author: Christa Desir
Date of Publication: October 7th 2014



About Bleed Like Me:

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy–like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers—even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks—until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.


Amazon // Barnes & Noble


Q&A with Christa Desir:

When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?

I usually start with characters and a very vague idea of what their problem is. For example, in my alcoholic girl boxer book, I had a voice in my head of a girl who was really angry and had just gotten out of rehab. The rest of it came out (including her being a boxer) as I started writing.

Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?

My first book FAULT LINE is a book about a girl who is gang-raped at a party and is told from the POV of her boyfriend who did not attend the party. BLEED LIKE ME is told from a girl’s POV who is in a very co-dependent and unhealthy relationship. BLM is not exactly an “issue” book in the same way that FAULT LIINE is and even the things that come up in BLM aren’t as polarizing as FL. Books about rape can be very tricky, particularly if people are sexual violence survivors. BLEED is a different sort of book because it leaves the reader with questions about what we’re willing to sacrifice in order for someone to love us.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I find the business of publishing to be very challenging and when all that noise gets in my head, I think it is hard to write. I miss writing in a vacuum of pure writing and nothing else. Every morning I try to recreate that vacuum by writing for a few hours with no noise or internet or anything else, but I still can’t stop thinking about the business side of things. (For example: will this book be too controversial? Will schools not want to shelve it? Will people hate it because it’s not a happy ending and therefore sales will suffer?

What are your current projects?

I have a book about an alcoholic girl boxer that is coming out in January 2016. And I have a collaboration with author Jolene Perry that comes out in May 2016. I’m also working on a long-term pet project that is just for fun and just for me. Which makes me very happy. :-)


Thirty-five days. Thirty-five fucking days. No Brooks. Be back in a month was a cruel joke. I deleted his text and stopped feeling anything at all.

Dennis had concocted a huge sale to get rid of the summer inventory. He wanted me to build wooden birdhouses to mark the sale aisles. It was the stupidest idea I’d ever heard, but he threatened to fire me if I didn’t do it and I thought he might be serious.

“Why don’t you just put sale signs over these aisles?”

“Shut it,” Dennis barked at me.

“I’m just saying, a bunch of birdhouses aren’t gonna let people know they can take fifty percent off of all the merchandise.”

“Quit your bitching. You’ve been in a surly mood this past month and you need to snap out of it.”

I gaped at him. Was I that obvious? “No, I haven’t.”

Dennis shook his head and exchanged a look with Ricardo. “Yes, you have. Now just finish putting your tools away and get your head in the game or I’m dropping you.”

I wasn’t the only surly one. Dennis had been on his period ever since Brooks had shown up drunk that day.

“You’re not dropping me. No one else can work the circular saw.”

“Ricardo can. And working the circular saw isn’t a requirement of the job.”

“It is if you have to build bullshit birdhouses,” I mumbled.

Dennis’s nostrils flared. “No more discussion. Tools away and you better be back here this weekend to work the sale.”

I opened my mouth to argue more, but Dennis held up his hand. When the hand came up, I knew Dennis was really pissed. I shut my mouth and moved to the storage garage. What did I care anyway? I had nowhere else to be.

The lights flickered as I stood surveying the piles of wood and tools littered along the floor. I sat down and started collecting nails, putting them into the tiny, labeled boxes Dennis housed them in. The door to the storage garage creaked open and my head whipped up.

Brooks. Heat I hadn’t felt in days surged into my body. My hands trembled and I clenched them into fists.

“Where the hell have you been?”

He took a tentative step toward me. “Rehab.”

“Really?” My hands unclenched and my eyes scanned his body as I got to my feet. He’d gotten thinner and something about his face looked not quite right.

“Yeah. Sue found some E in my duffel and sort of overreacted. I think fucking Ray tipped her off about it. She told me I needed to pull my shit together and get clean if I wanted to stay with her.”

He moved closer to me, and his hand reached out to trace the hoops in my ear. I shut my eyes for a second and allowed his long fingers to figure eight around the silver before I shook him off.

“You could’ve called me or returned my texts. It’s been thirty-five days. Longer than a month.” My breath came in short bursts, squeezed from the hole in my throat that had been shrinking since the moment he left.

His fingers moved to the now completely faded hickey on my neck. He circled it, his thumb brushing over the smoothness as he stared at me, took all of me in with his too keen eyes. Butterflies fluttered around my stomach. Then he dropped his mouth to my pale skin and sucked hard. My insides coiled, the butterflies stilled. I released a long shaky breath.

“They took my cell and it wasn’t the kind of rehab where you get to make a bunch of phone calls,” he said, nipping me with his teeth.

“Are you going to apologize?” I grabbed at my last vestiges of logic and pushed him off my neck.

“I don’t do apologies,” he said, and his hands circled my waist before he plunged his mouth onto mine. His tongue traced my bottom lip, pressing me to open.

Part of me wanted to push him away. Drop him before he bailed on me all over again. Make him beg for my forgiveness. But seeing him in front of me practically vibrating with want, everything fell out of my head. It was like an IV of Ecstasy pumped directly into my heart.

I clung to his neck. His hands slid beneath the back of my shirt, moving up and down my spine. I raked my fingers through his hair and opened my mouth wider. My entire body trembled with how much I’d missed him.

He pulled away for a second, dropping kisses along my jaw before whispering, “Does the door lock?”

I nodded, drawing in a quick breath. Dennis had installed a lock on the inside of the door a month after he realized how much time I spent alone working there.

Brooks released me and went to shut and lock the door.

“Let me see you,” he said, stepping toward me and lifting me on to Dennis’s work table. He moved his hands to the bottom of my shirt.

I stilled for a second and then helped him pull my shirt off. His hands shook a little when he lifted off the next layer of my thin tank top.

“You’re shaking.”

He grinned at me. “Anticipation.”

The lump in my throat got bigger. “Really?”

His hands moved over my stomach, sliding over old scars. “Really. It’s been a long thirty-five days.”
About Christa Desir:

christa desirI’m Christa Desir and I write young adult novels. I am an avid reader and have been in love with YA books ever since reading Judy Blume’s FOREVER (while hiding between the stacks in the library).

My first success with writing came at the age of five when I wrote a story about my sister and our neighbor Andy “kissing in the dushes.” My parents were so proud of this work, they framed it and showed it to every visitor who came to our house. My sister still has not forgiven me.

I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband, Julio, and our three children. When I’m not writing, I am an editor of romance novels. I am also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. It is a rare day when I don’t humiliate myself somehow, and I frequently blog about my embarrassing life moments.

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blog | Tumblr
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The Balancing Act

So I always mention that I have so many TV shows that I want to watch—and it keeps growing.  Currently it includes, but is not limited to, The Sopranos, The Wire, The Americans, Dexter, Friday Night Lights and the first seasons of Penny Dreadful and True Detective.

But I also really enjoy watching movies.  And I need a ridiculous amount of sleep to function.  And this is primarily a book blog (today notwithstanding).  I’m currently watching all the TV I can handle and still be able to do other things.

My TV schedule:

Monday: nothing

Tuesday: The Mindy Project, Sons of Anarchy (finally caught up, guys!)

Wednesday: Nashville, American Horror Story

Thursday:  Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder

Friday: The Amazing Race

Saturday: nothing

Sunday: nothing

That’s absolutely doable.  I’m also looking forward to Bates Motel and Parks and Rec coming back.

So I think what I’m going to start doing is watching shorter series (True Detective, Penny Dreadful) over the winter hiatus and then doing longer series (The Wire, The Sopranos) over the summer.  It’ll take forever, but that’s fine.  I have time.

Whisper From the Past Blog Hop

I’m happy to host Elizabeth Carsten Langston today!  She’s the author of the Whisper Falls series; the third book is out now.  (I have all three and am so excited to binge read them, hopefully soon.)

The Whisper Falls series has time travel elements, since all 3 books have settings in 18th/19th century North Carolina. I had to do a huge amount of historical research, which I absolutely love to do. Yet I also love reading historical fiction. When I was asked about doing a guest post on my favorite YA historicals, I was happy to agree. But there were two problems: (1) picking only ten and (2) deciding which were my favorites.

So here is my list of the most memorable YA historicals that I’ve read (with a few middle grades and one time travel thrown in). The books are in alphabetical order by title, because it wouldn’t be fair to rank them in any other way. They’ve all touched me as both a reader and a writer.

  1.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  2.  Fever 1793 by Laura Halse Anderson
  3.  The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams
  4.  Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  5.  Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  6.  Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac
  7.  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  8.  The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley
  9.  Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  10.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Book 10, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, has long been one of my favorites.  Its hero is named Nathaniel “Nat” Eaton.  In the Whisper Falls series, I have a secondary character—Senator Nathaniel Eton. I promise you—I didn’t do that on purpose (Senator Eton’s name evolved from several different possibilities), but I’m pretty glad that it’s true.

I also want to mention several authors that I love to read: Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Louisa May Alcott.  Although they were writing contemporary fiction at the time, their books are classics and give us a wonderful look at the 19th century.

I’m always ready to read more historical fiction—so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

The Young Elites

Finished The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This sounded very different than Marie Lu’s Legend series and initially I was a little worried about how I’d enjoy it.  (Turns out I was worried for nothing; while the two series are not at all similar, both are incredibly enjoyable.)

I liked the idea of there being these “young elite” people who have these incredibly creepy powers.  (I sort of picture them as being like the kids in Village of the Damned, in terms of being able to make things happen with their mind.)

They view themselves as being descendents of the gods; not surprisingly, “regular people” view them a little differently—they’re considered demons and are hunted and killed on a regular basis, typically in creepy ways.

I feel like I’m just starting to get a handle with what’s going on, and I am so excited for the second book in the series.

I’m definitely in love with this series and can’t wait to see where Marie Lu goes next.

Highly recommended.

GUEST POST: Lisa Amowitz (also giveaway!)

Before we get to Lisa, I just want to say that I absolutely love her newest release, Vision, and she’s been nice enough to give away SEVEN COPIES!  You can enter here, on Girls With Books’ blogAND, because Lisa is awesome, you can also enter here to win a signed copy of Vision, an e-book of Breaking Glass AND some swag!

Now here’s Lisa:

“I’ve noticed occasional murmurings and questions regarding sequels, so I am going to answer them here.

There will not be a sequel to Breaking Glass. It is a stand alone.

There will be a sequel to Vision, which is Book One of the Finder series. The untitled book is tentatively scheduled for early 2016.

That being said, I have not ruled out the return of Jeremy Glass and his snarky, ironic self. But, I’m not sure what Bobby will think when Jeremy turns up in his next book, or the possible Breaking Glass/Vision novella I am considering writing.

So, I figure I’ll start this rumor right on Kelly’s blog, because—well—Kelly is cool and such an enthusiastic supporter of all my work, published and unpublished.

As of now, I’m thinking Jeremy Glass is going to show up in the second Vision book. The Breaking Glass/Vision novella is merely a twinkle in my eye at this time. I don’t know how big a role Jeremy will have, if there is even a place for him or how the two boys will relate to each other—but I’m assuming sparks will fly.

Let’s put them in a room right now and see what they do.

Guest post: Jeremy from Breaking Glass and Bobby from Vision meet by chance in New York City.


It’s a winter day. Bobby is in the middle of his first year at the prestigious Morton Academy—his senior year—and enjoying it. He and his family have settled into their new home near the school, but Bobby is still undecided as to whether he can bear to leave Aaron alone with his dad to attend college. Gabe has already been accepted to the Columbia University School of Music in Manhattan, and has been invited by the University to perform with other students at a local venue.

Bobby has accompanied Gabe to other performances. He’s recovered well from his surgery, but has told no one about his final encounter with Maura Reston or the yellow gloves on the Scratch Lake dock.

Manhattan, Broadway and 105th Street, Early March

Bobby stood on the stage beside Gabe, frozen and trembling. Seated behind her piano, Gabe was too lost in the music to notice how his guitar was about ready to slide from his slick hands or how his fingers were as thick and unwieldy as a fistful of uncooked hot dogs.

After a heated argument, tears, and threats to break up, Gabe had finally convinced him to join her onstage for just one of her three songs at Student Review night at the Smoke Jazz and Supper club on Broadway and 105th street in Manhattan.

The stage lights stabbed so viciously that even his blind right eye registered the pain. It was a rowdy group, mostly Columbia students who’d come to cheer on their friends. The applause and catcalls of the crowd, hidden behind the painful white haze, roared and reverberated like a jet engine inside his head.

It was hard to tell if it was just nerves or one of those recent spells he hadn’t told anyone about—how on occasion the sight in his good eye doubled over like film shot through a rain-washed window. How on those rare intervals, the doubled vision would be joined by a deep throbbing pain along where the scar from his surgery had been covered over by a new growth of thick black hair.

So he stood, feet nailed in place, dutifully forcing a smile while the audience cheered and Gabe reveled in her virtuoso key-pounding glory. Gabe’s jazzy original songs had gained her a growing fan base, and the last thing Bobby wanted was to throw her off balance tonight.

Her love for him was the improbable thing he’d never believed possible. She’d been nervous about playing again in New York City after such a long absence. And he’d already caused enough trouble for her, as well as for everyone who cared about him. He’d rather, he had decided, lose his remaining sight than risk losing her.

But now, his surroundings swimming in a smear of light, the pain grinding at his eye sockets, Bobby soldiered through the song, his own voice barely audible over the blood pounding in his ears. “Stage fright can be fatal,” he thought to himself, and kept the idiotic smile pasted on his face. He hoped that if Gabe did happen glance up at him from her piano, she’d interpret his blank stare as his usual state of raw fear. Though forced to perform frequently at school, Bobby still hadn’t adjusted to it.

With his heart hammering behind his ribs, the song seemed to drone on forever. He blinked crazily into the unfocused abyss and willed his sight to clear, so that he could at least make it off the stage when it finally ended.

Then he saw it. Amidst the sea of misted lights and fog, in perfect focus, was the chalk-white face of a young man with hollowed-out sockets, staring straight back at him.

And he could see the thing with both of his eyes.

Bobby squinted at the terrifying sight, demanding his vision to return to its normal split screen view. But the apparition held steady, high-definition clear in the blurred soup of his sight. Somehow, he managed to keep his damp fingers on the chords and his voice in tune. Eyes squeezed shut, he hoped the audience would interpret this as a deep passion for music and not the state of panic it was.

At last, the song ended and the crowd, already noisy, erupted into even louder applause. Bobby bowed deeply, eyes still closed, and on opening them, found that, miraculously, the world had snapped back to his version of normal and that the headache had vanished like a receding storm. The awful face was gone.

Relieved, he turned to Gabe and received a melting smile from behind the damp strands of copper-gold hair that clung to her flushed face. He returned the smile and meant it, the warmth briefly flooding his chilled insides. Still shaken, he left the stage to watch the rest of the show from the sidelines. Gabe was to remain on stage as part of the band, and he hoped that by the time he had to face her, he’d have gotten a grip on himself.

He’d meant to sit at the back of the club and take in the rest of the show. Though the thought of standing around the streets of New York City still scared the wits out of him, the club’s noisy pulsing darkness with people pressed in all around started to strangle him. He needed air. Gabe would understand. She wouldn’t even notice if he slipped outside for just a moment.

He’d thought he might wander over to Riverside Park. He was in dire need of trees and open spaces. But it was late and the city was a dark and hungry menace to a half-blind country boy. Instead, he sat on the bench outside of the club and tried to get his heart to slow.

He couldn’t accept that it was happening again—that the visions that had nearly taken his sight a few months ago and made him the target of a crazed serial killer were returning.

Sitting and watching the occasional person stroll by, eventually, Bobby’s heart did slow and he knew he should go back inside to watch the rest of the show. He was just about to get up when a tall kid around his age burst through the door of the club, talking excitedly into his cell phone. and paced the sidewalk in front of Bobby with a slightly uneven gait.

“What did you expect me to do, Marisa?” the guy shouted into the phone, “Prowl the streets while you sit around talking philosophy all night? Can’t you tell them your boyfriend is a poor helpless cripple, alone on the streets of New York? This leg can only take so much. It’s not made of plutonium. I think—wait—what?

Bobby tried not to look like he was eavesdropping, but the guy was clearly having an argument with a girl and other people’s problems were sometimes the best distraction from his own. The combination of the limp and the lanky athletic build perplexed him.

“Jeez, Marisa. They’re not going to serve an underage—yes, yes, I remember that party. I slipped up—but I’ve been good ever since. It was just a—I was listening to music. That was all. It was—yeah, Yeah. I’ll meet you at the café at 11:45. Bye.”

The guy stuffed his phone in his pocket and whirled around. Lips clamped in a tight line, sweat stuck his curly brown hair to his brow. He was about the push back through the door to the club when his gaze fell on Bobby. He smiled and stopped, studying him with a brown-eyed gaze—shrewd, but not unfriendly. Bobby had the distinct urge to get up and run the other way.

“Hey. You were the kid that played with that amazing redhead. Not bad, man. Not bad.”

Bobby mustered a smile. “Uh, thanks.”

“Not from around here, are you?”

“Um, no. I mean, I’m not, really.”

The guy smiled and extended a hand. “Sorry. Just a little cranky tonight. I came in this morning on an epic bus ride from Duke just to see my girlfriend and she’s stuck in a study group with a bunch of other assholes. Oh. I’m Jeremy.” He sighed and plopped on the bench beside Bobby and rubbed his leg. “Too much walking today. Ouch.”

Bobby tried to keep his eyes from going wide as Jeremy lifted the leg of the black jeans to reveal a thin metal contraption instead of an actual leg.

Jeremy looked at him and smiled, clearly enjoying the shock value. “Nice, isn’t she? Meet Veronica. But she’s been sticking lately. I think I’ll have to bring her back to the shop. What’s your name?”

Bobby stared from Jeremy’s face to his metal leg. “Bobby. Bobby Pendell,” he choked out. At that moment all Bobby really wanted was to bolt back into the club, but that would be rude. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know how Jeremy lost that leg, though he was pretty sure he’d be happy to tell him.

Instead, Jeremy said breezily, “You were awesome, dude. Where’d you learn to play guitar and sing like that? Man, all I can do is run.”

Bobby swallowed hard and tried to choke down the obvious response. How could a guy with a fake leg run?

Jeremy laughed. “Ha! Most people are too polite to ask, but I’m not shy about it. I was a sprinter. Fastest in my school. Until—well, until the accident. But now I’ve got a Teflon blade. Like that guy from South Africa? You know, the Blade Runner, the one who they say killed his girlfriend?”

Bobby cleared his throat again. Something about this Jeremy dude was unnerving him. The guy eyed him with one eyebrow raised, as if he didn’t actually expect a response.

“Um, it was nice to meet you. But I really should be getting back inside.” Bobby rose to leave.

Jeremy continued to stare back at him. “Who’s your friend, then?”

A shiver rolled up his back. He wanted to get away from this Jeremy. There was something irritating about him, as if he could pull back Bobby’s skin and locate his deepest and most irrational fears. Ever since his last brush with Maura Reston, he’d been paranoid and had the distinct feeling he was being watched. Jeremy seemed to be probing him for something.

“What friend?”

Jeremy’s gaze shifted to Bobby’s left shoulder. He nodded casually with his chin. “That guy.”

Bobby’s blood turned to ice in his veins. He pivoted and saw a brief white flicker, then nothing.

Jeremy laughed. “Yeah. You’ve got to learn to ignore them. They’re everywhere.”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

Jeremy’s smile froze then vanished. “I don’t like it any more than you do. But I can always tell when I meet someone like me.”

“Like you?” Bobby got up swiftly, wanting nothing more than to escape this annoying one-legged person.

“You may have two legs, dude, and in that way we’re not the same, but you can see them, too. Things no one else can.”

Jeremy pressed a card into Bobby’s palm. He didn’t have to look down at it to know what it said. They’d gotten to him. This Jeremy guy was working with Maura Reston and her paranormal goon squad.”

Thanks again, Lisa!

Stars In Their Eyes

Finished Stars In Their Eyes by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy from the author for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A sexy and swoony new adult romance…

Celebrity photographer and college senior Jess Leighton desperately needs to crash the wedding of the year. Snapping just one pic of the A-list Hollywood couple tying the knot will pay her way through grad school. But with security tighter than the bride-to-be’s corset, she’ll need more than her camera and smarts, she’ll need help from her biggest rival–hot, British, motorcycle-riding William Harrigan, whose sexy accent can melt the panties off any woman. He’s the last person Jess should trust, but he’s her only ticket in.

William Harrigan wants one thing – to stay in L.A. past college graduation. With a student visa set to expire, the clock is ticking. When he lands a gig that pairs him with the beautiful blond spitfire Jess, he’s scored his best shot at living out the American dream. Winning her trust would be a whole lot easier, however, if he didn’t have ulterior motives…

But there’s no faking the intense attraction between them. Try as they might to resist each other, soon sparks are flying, as they devise a plan to sneak into the ceremony. But when Jess’ new celebrity client raises the stakes, she starts to smell blackmail, and soon she and Will are chasing down cheating directors, staking out clandestine trysts, and making fake IDs, all while sneaking scene-stealing kisses and hot nights together.

The audience loves a happy ending, but in a town where everyone’s acting and no one’s playing by the rules, can Jess and William find their own ever after in time?”

**STARS IN THEIR EYES is a spin-off of the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling CAUGHT UP IN LOVE series. It is the start of the new adult series WRAPPED UP IN LOVE.**

After reading the prequel,  I was incredibly excited to dig in to this one.

As pointed out in the story itself, this book perfectly mirrors your standard romantic comedy and deserves its place next to the best of them (in my mind When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail or pretty much anything by Nora Ephron).

One of the things I love best about Lauren Blakely’s books is the fact that pretty much every book features little cameos by the characters we already love.  This book is no exception (although I won’t be any more specific, because spoilers) and I love every time it happens.  I like imagining that these characters are real and that their stories go on even after their respective books are over. Yes, I’m weird; no, I don’t care.

I’m happy that this is the start of a new series and I cannot wait to spend more time with these characters.  (While I am told that the next books will feature different main characters, I have every reason to hope that they will pop up in other books.)

Highly recommended.

A Starstruck Kiss

Finished A Starstruck Kiss by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“A sexy and swoony new adult romance…

There are no two ways about it — William Harrigan is a certified babe. He’s sexy, smart, and British, and he wants nothing more than to charm the pants off fellow college senior Jess Leighton. Well, he does want other things; he just can’t tell her about the job he’s working on since it maybe, possibly involves her. Jess, who moonlights as a celebrity photographer, is laser-focused on earning enough money snapping pics to pay her way through grad school, but when the criminally handsome William starts moving in on her turf, she’s got to fend off the competition from him as well as resist her desire to smother him in kisses because William makes her heart race and her skin sizzle.

Too bad this man is not to be trusted.

Right? Except if Jess wants to snag the million-dollar picture she desperately needs, she’ll have no choice but to trust Will, and he’ll have to come clean about everything he wants from Jess. Including her.”

This book is sweet and fun and completely sexy—in short, just what I was in the mood for.
It’s no secret that I love celebrity gossip and so this story was perfect for me.  There are all these little winks and nods to real life celebrities and movies, and it was fun catching them.
But even better, of course, is the  immediate chemistry between Jess and William (who is, of course, British—because why not?).  Obviously they’re going to get together but how? And when?
It’s another perfect book from Lauren Blakely and I expect no less.
Highly recommended.

I’ll Give You the Sun

Finished I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.”

I read Jandy Nelson’s first book (The Sky Is Everywhere) when it came out and I remember really liking it.  There are no words for how much I love this book (only her second) and I’m thinking five stars are not enough.  A hundred stars are not enough.

This is one of those books that will take your heart, crack it wide open and remake it in its own image.

The book is told from Jude and her twin brother Noah’s perspectives, but from different points in time.  Jude’s story is in present day; Noah’s story is three years ago.  During Noah’s story, the two are incredibly close, as close as you’d want to be to your twin (were you lucky enough to have one).  In Jude’s story, everything has changed and we don’t know why.

While the plot is absolutely gripping and the characters are the kind of people we wish we knew (broken, yes, and sometimes complete jerks, but also real and wonderful), the  power here is in the writing.

I know that everyone and their sister has talked about Jandy Nelson and her power to wield a sentence, but I’m going to quote a couple of my favorites anyway.

“People die, I think, but your relationship with them doesn’t. It continues and is ever-changing.”

“Quick, make a wish.

Take a (second or third or fourth) chance.

Remake the world.”

I feel like a lot of times, we feel like things are pretty much set the way they are and many times things are impossible (or next to it) to change.  This book will prove that it’s not true and most of the time, all you have to do is try.

Because, to quote this book again, “A broken heart is an open heart.”

Highly, highly recommended.