ARC Review - Damage Done

Title: Damage Done
Author: Amanda Panitch
Publisher: Random House
Series: n/a
Published: July 21, 2015
Source: For review via local indie
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Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.
After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.
Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.
One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning...


This book has been on my radar for quite some time; in fact I featured the book and interviewed the author last year as part of a month-log spotlight on YA horror/thriller books for my previous blog (see that interview here) so I had some pretty high hopes for it.  Thankfully it didn't disappoint.  

I'm currently racking my brain trying to think of a book that, plot-wise, is similar to this one but honestly I'm coming up empty.  The closest thing I can think of is the upcoming anthology VIOLET ENDS which focuses on the people around the shooter and tells their stories, but even that's not really what this book is about.  Yes, there's the element of the school shooting but it goes beyond that in the sense that someone from Julia/Lucy's old life appears to be following her and attempting to stir up trouble.  And the twists!  Yes, I did suspect what the twists were, at least some of them, but when they were revealed it was still like a punch to the gut because OH MAN.  Honestly this might be up there with the craziest twists I've ever read, because while you might guess one or two I highly doubt you will guess them all.

Almost, if not all, of those twists revolve around Julia/Lucy and she is a FANTASTIC main character.  She's so different from the rest of the female out there in the YA world and that honestly makes me so happy because I personally believe there should be more of them like her.It's hard to explain why she was so different without spoiling it, but I promise you that if you make it to the end of the book you'll see why she's so unique, especially for a teen novel.  The relationship she has with Alane, her best friend, is also something I loved.  Actually the one relationship I didn't love as much as I probably could have was the romantic one between Michael and Julia/Lucy.  It was there, and it was cute, but I will admit it seemed a little too fast for me.  Granted, considering the book is a thriller and things have to happen quickly to keep the reader engaged I can see why it went down like that.

Being such a fast paced book I was a little surprised to find that the book bounces between both the present and the past as well as including reports on Julia/Lucy's twin brother done by his psychologist.  Despite the fact that past and present are woven into the same chapters it's not as confusing as you might think and honestly it flows really well.  Bits and pieces of the story of the shooting, of Julia/Lucy and Ryan's background, are expertly placed to give you a better understanding of things you might have questions about.  It was also great to get a glimpse into both the twin and the his psychologist, seeing as they play such a large role in the story but are relatively absent throughout it.  The reports paint a horrifying picture that, despite being fictional, make you wonder about the people who do these things in real life.

In the end I was just so happy with this book; it was fast paced and engaging, the characters were terrific, and the twists were unbelievably well done.  When I finished I actually sent a tweet to the author saying that this was the kind of book I one day hope to write, which to me is just so cool.  I'm sure that doesn't mean much to any of you though, so I'll leave you with this; if you want a book with twists that is likely to leave you wide-eyed and maybe slightly weary of the people around you I suggest you at least give this one a shot, either way I'm pretty sure you'll be thinking about it for a long time to come even after you finish.

Review - Trouble From the Start

Title: Trouble From the Start
Author: Rachel Hawthorne
Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: n/a; companion
Published: April 28, 2015
Source: Purchased
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One of two companion novels from beach-read favorite Rachel Hawthorne, this cute, romantic paperback original is about a good girl who falls for a bad guy.
Avery knows better than to fall for Fletcher, the local bad boy who can’t seem to outrun his reputation. Fletcher knows he shouldn’t bother with college-bound, daughter-of-a-cop Avery. But when their paths cross, neither can deny the spark. Are they willing to go against everything and let their hearts lead the way? Or are they just flirting with disaster? 


I went into TROUBLE FROM THE START expecting a fluffy, feel-good romance and that's exactly what I found.  This book is a quick read with a cute premise and because it's a paperback original it's not expensive.  There's also the added bonus that there's a companion novel to it which came out at the exact same time and is also a paperback original.  In fact, I bought both novels at the same time and my only complaint is that they both proclaim that they're the companion novel to the other, which left me a little confused as to which one I should read first.  After reading the first few pages of both it became clear that TROUBLE FROM THE START was, chronologically, the first book.  So I started there.

The plot was nothing special; it was your regular run of the mill bad boy meets good girl book, that being said it might have been predictable but there were enough bits and pieces that had been tweaked that I was interested enough to keep turning pages.  There wasn't really any suspense in the book either, seeing as the ending was not in question, but I for one don't read books like this because I want to be kept guessing or worry about the outcome, I read them because I want to smile, and I did.

One thing I especially liked about this book was the dual POV it was told in.  Nothing makes me happier than getting both the guy and the girl's perspective when said guy and girl are falling in love.  I think it's the best thing ever and I wish more books did it.  Personally I would have loved a little more of Fletcher's POV (the male), but seeing as he's the stereotypical "bad boy" he is a man of few words, so it does make sense that his chapters would be shorter.  Thankfully I liked Avery's POV as well.  Sure she was a little petty at times but overall I related to her because I, like her, am very bookish.  Other than the tutoring and being third in the class we had a crazy similar high school experience so it was fun reading about a girl just like me.  The other thing I really loved was the fact that the parents were around and they paid attention!  Seeing as this is like, unheard of in a YA novel, it's pretty amazing that the parents were paying attention to the kid and that they were nice.  The little brother was a lot of fun too, it's always nice when there's a good relationship between siblings and they appear authentic.

As a whole it was a fast, fun read that left me with a smile on my face.  I'll probably be reading the companion novel, if only to see more of the main characters from this book, and would recommend it to those of you wanting a feel-good romance.  Just because it wasn't the best thing ever doesn't mean you won't like it, and for about $10 you can't do much better in terms of adorable.

Welcome + A Giveaway

Before I do anything else I want to take a minute to say hello to each and every one of you, whether you've followed me from my original blog (Peace, Love, Teen Fiction) or if you've just stumbled upon this new one today.  The fact that you took even a second to look at my little blog makes me so happy because it means I might be able to share a book that I loved with you.
In terms of blogging I've been silent for a little over four months trying to get this new website up and running, all while juggling school, work, and a vacation.  
Now that I've finally pulled everything together I hope that I'll be able to bring all of these big ideas I have for this blog to fruition and create an environment where everyone will fell free to interact with me and each other about fantastic (mostly YA) books.
In the next few weeks I hope to get up some mini-reviews of the books that I read over my "break" along with some full reviews for the more recent ARCs I've read and all the books I'll be reading from now on.  I also plan on having at least one interview up on the blog a month and am in the process of setting up several that I hope you guys will love.  
It's also my goal to get on top of going to the post office in a timely manner after a giveaway, which I think I'll start right now.

Below you can enter to win either an ARC of Amiee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff's upcoming book ILLUMINAE (which I recently read and is unlike anything out there right now) or a blind date with a book that I will personally pick for you based on your goodreads shelf (or you can give me a genre and titles that you liked).  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*The giveaway will run from 7/18 to 7/27/2015.  The winning entry will be verified.  ARC only available to those living in the US and Canada; blind date with a book open internationally.  Winner will have 72 hours to respond to an email or the prize will go to another person.

I also want to give a shout-out to Asma from Design 9A who created the absolutely fantastic blog layout I'm using.  If you need excellent web design work done for affordable prices she's the person to contact!