More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

Summary:
Rev has managed. to keep the demons of his past at bay…until he. gets a letter from the abusive father he hasn’t seen in years, and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma. has only one escape from her parents’ fighting: the computer game she built from scratch…until an online troll’s harassment causes her to fear for her safety.
When Rev and Emma cross paths one night, they’re both longing to confide in someone-to share the weight of their worries. They connect instantly and deeply, vowing to help each other no matter what. But soon Rev’s and Emma’s secrets threaten to crush them, and they’ll need more than a promise to find their way out. In an achingly beautiful story from the author of Letters to the Lost, two teens find the courage to lift the burden of their scars-old and new.
Review:
Brigid Kemmerer has done it again. I adored this story. Rev and Emma pulled me, chewed me up, and spit me out. Their wonderfully developed characters with interesting and complex stories.
Rev has a complicated past, and not in a good way. I knew I wanted to know more about him when I met him in Letters to the Lost. I’m so happy that he got his own book. We really learn about what goes on in Rev’s mind. We learn his fears and doubts and the things he does to try to combat them. I loved the relationships with his family. I thought it was really interesting to learn about Kristin and Geoff adopting Rev and all the other kids that they’ve fostered over the years. The love they have for Rev was so heartwarming and wonderful to read about. I also really enjoyed seeing more of Declan. I thought it was interesting to see the other side of their relationship. I thought Rev was a strong, courageous character that faced his demons down and stayed true to himself.
Emma was stubborn. Sometimes to the point of annoyance. She gets herself into trouble because of the typical ‘not sharing information’ trope where she could have solved all her problems by telling someone the truth. She was shitty to her friends and didn’t appreciate the things she had in her life. Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but like her. By the end of the book, she knew she’s been an ass and start making amends with those she’s treated poorly. She had great growth and I really appreciated that. I also liked that she’s a gamer. It’s not that common of a hobby for girls and the fact that she created her own game is just fascinating.
Overall, I loved this book. It was heartwarming and heart wrenching at the. same time. I’m so invested in these characters I’d die for another book. I have information from a little birdie that there is potential for Matthew (Rev’s foster brother) to get his own book and I would flip. Kemmerer is officially an auto-buy author for me and I cannot wait to read her newest book A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s January Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! Happy February! This month is going to be filled with so many fun things. But before we can get to the fun I have to wrap up Contemporary January. I read so many great books this month and managed to knock a fair amount off of my always growing TBR list. So, without further delay, these are all the books I read in January.

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Physical Books
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

eBooks
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Love Looks Pretty on You by Lang Leav
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia
Beartown by Fredrick Backman
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Audiobooks
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

So I read a total of twenty books in the month of January. Mostly ebooks becasue of all the late nights up with my daughter that I had since she has decided she’d rather sleep during the day. I’m hoping to keep this pace up through February so I can read all the books I have on my TBR for this month. I’m not going to post a general TBR for February becasue I have two TBR posts going up for the two readathons I’m doing this month.

How did everyone do this month for reading? Let me know how many books you read in January down below! Did we read any of the same books?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Summary:
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life-or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum guard, Porter Roth-a.k.a her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than in the movies, especially when Bailey discovers those tricky fine lines dividing hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
Review:
After hearing nothing but rave reviews for any book that Jenn Bennett writes, I knew I needed to give her books a try. So seeing some of them on BookOutlet, I snapped them up without hesitation. Alex, Approximately is the first one of her books that I’ve picked up from the ones that I bought. It’s a favorite of one of my favorite bookish people, Jess, check out her blog here and her BookTube here.

“Sometimes you have to endure painful things to realize that you’re a whole lot stronger than you think.”

I read this story in one sitting. I was pulled into the story by these characters and they wouldn’t let me go until I hit the last page. I had so much fun reading this book. It was fun and lighthearted and entertaining. There was love to hate romance which I’m always here for. There was just the right amount of cheesy parts, and also just the right amount of serious parts. I want to mention here that I did not read the synopsis before reading this book, so I didn’t know that Porter was Alex going into it. I’m a little upset that the synopsis just drops this tidbit at all. I think the guessing game was one of the best parts. I totally guessed the Porter was Alex about 1/3 of the way into the story, but it wasn’t confirmed until way later in the story.

“It’s hard to think about next week when you’re not sure if you’ll even made it through today.”

I totally loved the characters. I loved their movie obsessions. I loved their sassiness. I loved the friendships that Bailey made with Grace. I loved the love to hate with Porter. I especially loved Bailey’s relationship with her dad. I have a similar relationship with my dad and I really loved seeing it portrayed in this book. On the other side of this, Bailey’s relationship with her mother upset me. I think this was because I can relate to that too. I had a mostly absent mother, so I understand the complex relationship, the disappointment, all of the feelings that come with this dynamic. I think my only complaint is that we didn’t really see any sort of resolution with this or really any sort of explanation aside from her mother being upset that Bailey moved to live with her dad. I didn’t like this because her mother is acting like a child and that made me mad probably because of my own personal experiences.

“We spend our lives trying to find other poeple. Sometimes we get confused and turned around by the distractions.”

Overall, I enjoyed this story. Binge reading it was so fun. It was entertaining and interesting and had all the right amounts of everything I love in a book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Summary:
From the bestselling author of All the Bright Places comes an exhilarating love story that asks: As scary as it is to go after dreams, is it even scarier not to?
Libby is the girl whose name everyone knows. But no one really sees her, except Jack.
Jack is the guy who’s friends with everyone. But he doesn’t let anyone in, except Libby.
The two make an unlikely pair. And yet…They just might be able to change each other’s worlds.
Review:
After reading Jennifer Niven’s other book All the Bright Places, I knew I needed to try some more books by her. So, I picked up Holding up the Universe with one of my Christmas gift cards. I’m so glad that I did.
This story focused on Libby and Jack, two characters that are very different but somehow find some common ground. I really liked learning about them. Libby was a girl who has dealt with hardships and still has managed to stay strong and pull herself together. She fights for what’s right, even when it’s not the easy thing to do. I really admired her strength in the face of bullies and those trying to put her down. She knows that she has maybe not made the best choices, but she does what she thinks is best. She loves deeply. I love her relationship with her dad. It was sweet and sometimes sad, but I loved it. I also liked her relationship with Bailey. Bailey was a sweet girl and I liked seeing them rekindle their friendship.
Jack was such an interesting character to me. He is face-blind, meaning that he cannot recognize faces. This is something that I’d never previously heard of. I honestly didn’t know this is something that exists. I liked Jack because he was so flawed. He did dumb things, mostly for the right reasons. A lot of the time he did things because it was the easiest thing until he meets Libby anyway.
I flew through this story. It was easy to read. It was interesting and I feel like I learned something after reading it. I loved that both characters are facing their own issues, but figure out how to work through them together. Libby and Jack got me invested in the story, wanting to know what was going to happen next.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was compelling, thought-provoking, relatable, and so much more. I definitely suggest this to anyone that enjoyed Niven’s other book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Contemporary January TBR List – Mystery Edition

Hi, lovelies! I am back one last time to share with you the books left of my TBR list when it comes to those fitting the genre of mystery and thriller. I know that these are really their own genre, BUT there are many contemporaries that only have a bit of mystery and  I felt they merited their own post, so here we are.

Contemp Jan

Adult Mystery/Thriller

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
The Girl Who Takes an Eye For An Eye by David Lagercrantz

Young Adult Mystery/Thriller

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
The Female of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

These are the books on my TBR list! I don’t know why I haven’t picked them up yet. I know I’ll fly through them once I start becasue I always get through thrillers so fast. So hopefully this month I’ll read at least a handful of these! Have you read any of these? Are any of them on your TBR list too? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ContemporaryJanuary and tag me & Alana if you’re joining in! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and/or GoodReads to keep up to date with any announcements and see what I’m reading!

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

GoodReads Summary:
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
Review:
I’m binge-reading all of Brigid Kemmerer’s books because I’m going to her book signing on the 28th and I want to have read the book that I’m going to have her sign. I have heard nothing but good things about her writing and I was certainly not disappointed by Letters to the Lost. This story was interesting and thought-provoking, compelling and heart-wrenching.
Juliet and Declan were both such captivating characters. Each of them dealing with the death of a loved one, each feeling in their own way like that death was their fault. I really liked both of them. Juliet, dealing with the death of her mother, trying to get through each day to get her life back to normal. She finds that she can’t do all of the things she loved before her mother died. She won’t pick up a camera. She’s basically just going through the motions each day. I thought it was really interesting seeing how the deal of a loved one can affect your passions. Grief is more than just sadness and Letters to the Lost really shows that with these characters. For Juliet, it’s being consumed by wanting her mother back and losing interest in things she loved previously. For Declan, it was different. He put the responsibility on himself. So along with grief, he feels an overpowering amount of guilt. His grief shows in different ways than Juliet. He’s abrasive and volatile, embracing the ‘delinquent’ reputation that he has.
I found this story so relatable. Showing that everyone grieves differently is such an important message and its one that is shared so well by this story. Kemmerer tells a captivating story of love and loss and how to move toward loving and living again after losing someone you love.
Overall, I’m so happy I read this story and I can’t wait to read more by Kemmerer. Her writing was beautiful. It was also super interesting to read about the area that I live in because Kemmerer lives in a town near me (how cool right?) I definitely recommend reading this book if you haven’t already.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Click on the book cover! It’s an affiliate link so we will make a small percentage from your purchase, feel free to support us!

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Summary:
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might die, but every day he also searches for-and manages to find- something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school-six stories above the ground-it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet forgets to count away the days and starts living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink…
Review:
All the Bright Places completely slayed my soul. I was not expecting to feel so many different emotions while reading this. Finch and Violet had me laughing on one page and then in tears on the next. I thought I was going to enjoy this book because of the recommendation of a friend, but I didn’t think it would be this much.
I thought Finch was so interesting. It was fascinating to be inside his head trying to fight to stay ‘awake.’ It was really eye-opening to see his thoughts and how they could so easily spiral and then be brought back into reality. He was such a complex character and I just couldn’t stop reading.

“And sorry wastes time. You have to live your life like you’ll never be sorry. It’s easier just to do the right thing from the start so there’s nothing to be sorry for.”

Violet was just as interesting but in a different way. She’s dealing with survivors guilt after the death of her sister and just trying to go through the daily motions until graduation when she can escape Indiana forever. I really liked Violet and enjoyed seeing her pull herself together and choose to really start living again.
Violet and Finch together were fiery and entertaining and a bomb waiting to go off. I think Finch really brought out all the good in Violet. He pushed her in the best ways to move forward, to get back in a car, to try new things, to try to live her life again. I think Violet wanted to be that for Finch too but didn’t quite succeed. I absolutely loved their dynamic. I loved the effect that Finch had on Violet and I loved that Finch wanted to be better for her, he tries so so hard to do better for Violet.

“The thing I realize is that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”

I also want to mention that I loved how Violet branched out after kind of realizing and accepting that her friends were shitty and made new friends. She sort of adopted Finch’s friends and I loved that because if I could change one thing I would have added more interaction with Finch and his friends. But we got the interaction with Violet, making new friends and trying new things.
Then this book went and broke my heart. Jaw dropped. Book almost thrown. I was not expecting certain events in this story and I am so not okay. I think it was the worst and best part of the story. It’s hard hitting and brings important conversations to the table. I’m not going to spoil it because that would be shitty, but it really changes the to conversation of the book. It was heartbreaking, but in the best way.

“What if like could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the midly unplesant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good?”

Overall, I adored this book. I loved the characters. I loved their adventures as they ‘wander’ all over Indiana. I love the lessons that are learned. I love the way the chapters are labeled. I love everything about this story and I’m sad that it’s over. I’m so thankful to Kim @ Troubled Bibliophile for getting me this story for Christmas.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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