april book haul

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For my son’s 10th birthday, he kindly asked for books in place of cards with a little note written inside and family and friends came through with really amazing picks. I can’t wait to go through all these adventures with him; some for the second time, others for the first.

Stubborn Love

Five years ago, tragedy brought Jared and Mia together. A tragedy that was the start of an unlikely source of support, a true friendship and eventually, a deep heart-stopping love. Until the day something pushed them apart, forcing one of them to let the other go.

Now, over the course of a day and a night, Jared and Mia will finally talk about how it all went wrong. How something which seemed so perfect and true, was so easily broken. And just when they think they’ve found their way back to each other, their love will once more be put to the ultimate test.

Sometimes, you never realise how much you can hurt the one you love.

Sometimes, you never realise the lengths you’ll go to , to help someone you love.

And sometimes, you never realise how stubborn love can be.

Because it’s impossible to let somebody go, when you never stopped loving them in the first place.

331 pages – Kindle edition; New Adult/Romance; 2013Book 2 of I Love You series

“I Love You To Death” by Natalie Ward
Main Girl:
Main Guy: Luke
Main Guy’s Sister: Mia
Main Guy’s BFF: Jared

In my review of ILYTD, I stated that the main reason I moved forward with the series was to reassure myself that Ash was going to be just fine. I can’t go into further details because I can talk about that book forever. If you’re interested in learning more about the first installment, click here.

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ILYTD really weighed on my heart; it still does. There was so much pain and grief to sort through so I was desperate for some peace, some quiet, some uninterrupted happiness for Ash. SL was the breath of fresh air I was eager for. I was given a pink-cheeked, ever-smiling, still-very-much-in-love Ash and a new couple to root for on top of it all.

Natalie Ward approached the making of this installment differently than the first and I like that it stands out in its own respect, separate from its predecessor. The previous book was written solely in Ash’s voice because it was really just her story to tell. Here, we have the added elements of alternating, sometimes overlapping, past and present perspectives from both Jared and Mia.

The present chapters are centered on the central characters locked away in a bedroom, going through the sordid details of their love story – how they fell in love and how it all fell apart. Where do they each stand when they begin this painful stroll down memory lane?

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It was love at first sight for them both, if such a thing exists. The attraction was immediate and undeniable, blossoming silently in secret for fear that Luke would disapprove. Their joint concern turned out to be outrageously unnecessary, for there is no one Luke would have trusted his sister with more.

(Can I just say right now that this little family they’ve all chosen for themselves is an extremely fortunate one? The girls are selfless and strong-willed and the guys love with all that they are and all that they have. Oh, and the guys are best friends. Two guys who are so good to each other and are unapologetically adoring of their girlfriends. Is this real life?)

Jared and Mia fall deeper in love, arrange plans for a future spent side by side, when suddenly – their first obstacle emerges onto their path. One of Mia’s pieces has been chosen as part of an emerging artists series at the Art Institute of Chicago. Proud and content to revel in his girlfriend’s success, Jared offers to accompany Mia. Mindful of his commitments to the band, she vehemently insists he stays but promises to return. Two months turns into a full-fledged job and Jared, not wanting to be parted from Mia, announces his upcoming move to Chicago.

Things seem to be looking up perfectly for the happy couple until seemingly overnight, Mia puts a stop to their life together through the lowest form of communication – a crummy text message. Desperate and confused, Jared flees to Mia’s front door, determined to deter her from a life that didn’t include him.

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He pleads with her to reconsider, she pleads with him to leave her alone. But the one who wants out always wins and so Jared has no choice but to throw his hands up in defeat and head home.

But their connection doesn’t fade completely and as Luke plays a starring role in both their lives, crossing paths once more is inevitable, unavoidable. As previously mentioned, peppered throughout the novel are scenes from the present, as Mia hopes to win Jared back and Jared hopes to finally understand.

Closure is a big word. It defines unmistakeable, unambiguous endings that aren’t made unilaterally, and it marks new chapters, new beginnings. There is a quote from one of my favourite movies that continues to pop up in my life every now and then and it is this:

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The past is remembered – sometimes fondly, sometimes with a pain so palpable that it seeps through the pages and under your own skin. Mia tries her best to explain away her cold, unfeeling act that spanned over a year but will it be enough? Has she hammered away at Jared’s heart too many times to be completely forgiven? Or can she count her blessings once more as he enfolds her into his arms with every intent to forge a new life together?

I can’t even begin to imagine how it must be to sit across from someone you once loved and lay out the naked truth. To bare your soul and provide answers to questions that steal the breath from your lungs. To want nothing more than to reach across the table that separates you to place a hand atop his in want and need. To have the knowledge that you now need permission to do something as natural as that used to be sink in with every passing moment.

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Everything starts flooding back and you can’t help but wonder if the times that made your heart swell with pure joy were the same ones he found happiness in. You wonder what memories he can’t gloss over without that physical ache in his chest, the one the memory of you put there.

Just the thought of sitting down with an ex with the sole purpose of hashing out any past wrongs is a tough pill to swallow. Make it an ex you’re still in love with and it seems damn near impossible to do. Want to see what the mere idea of that brings to the surface? Meet Andrew and Ali, a former couple of seven years. Two years post-break up, The And project has them opening up about the good and bad parts of their relationship with the help of predetermined questions printed on cue cards to guide them along. One person randomly chooses a card and asks the other the question on it – a very simple but effective method. Perhaps the most intriguing portion was when a blank card was selected and any question was fair game.

The story of Jared and Mia was raw and real. You can’t help but want them both to be happy, you just hope they can be happy together. (Half a macaron away from five because I also closed this one wanting to start the next for Ash and not Jared and Mia.)

Ash’s past destroyed me.
Jared and Mia’s present devastated me.
Luke’s book will, hopefully, put me back together.

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screen-shot-2016-04-04-at-10-56-54-pm{ Note: These are the songs handpicked by the author to introduce each chapter. So this may be a playlist I haven’t put together but I didn’t need to come up with one because this is genius. }

 1. Opposite – Biffy Clyro
2. Let Her Go – Passenger
3. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
4. All I Want – Kodaline
5. The Scientist – Coldplay
6. Just Give Me A Reason – P!nk ft. Nate Ruess
7. The Reason – Hoobastank
8. Brother – Matt Corby
9. Sorry For It All – Dead Sara
10. Never Let Me Go – Florence & The Machines
11. One & Only – Adele


  • “It was like he understood, like he somehow knew how I felt, before I’d even worked it out.”
  • “I’ll always worry about Mia, I have since the day I met her and I will until the day I die. I guess that’s what love does to you, and even though she doesn’t love me back, I don’t think I will ever stop worrying about her.”
  • “Escaping from our father changed him, but music and Ash, those two made him.”


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Ode to Gilbert Blythe

{ note: In memoriam of the one year anniversary of Jonathan Crombie’s passing, I revamped my original post dedicated to his most prominent role: the untouchable Gilbert Blythe. }

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Can we put life on pause for five minutes’ time to swoon over the beauty that is Gilbert Blythe? In a modern world where the likes of Christian Grey, Gideon Cross, Edward Cullen, and Travis Maddox are incessantly praised, I like to revert back to a time when simply being a gentleman was enough to hasten a girl’s heartbeat.

Don’t get me wrong – the Greys, Crosses, Cullens, and Maddoxes of the world have some appeal, but there’s just something that tugs on my heartstrings about an Anne of Green Gables setting, the simplistic lifestyle, the motions of courting back in those days. Money wasn’t as blinding, a proposal could be made without ever even having shared a kiss, handwritten letters were (exquisitely) the norm. It was common to marry first and in love (if at all) later. Most lived in comfortable harmony and a fondness for one another formed out of deep respect, admiration, and companionship more than anything else.

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But like a rose that blooms unexpectedly and out of place within a crack in the concrete, somewhere out there in those years of modesty and propriety, are the few and supremely real Annes and Gilberts – a great and true love, not something that just closely resembled something like it.

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I Love You To Death

When Ash loses her boyfriend, she is consumed by grief, loneliness, and an overwhelming sense of guilt for her role in not only his death, but the deaths of everyone she has ever loved. Refusing to let anyone in for fear of losing them too, she becomes withdrawn, spending her days reliving the nightmares from her past.

Until she meets Luke.

Initially scared by his intensity and interest in her, Ash tries to push him away. But as Luke slowly starts to chip away at the walls she’s built, Ash finds herself doing the one thing she swore she’d never do again – falling in love.

When the familiar feelings Ash had hoped were long buried with her past begin to resurface, she is forced to ask herself if falling in love again is really worth the risk.

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