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.”


Check out:
The { } And Project

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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The Mason List

An epic love. An epic hate. An epic love story that would last a lifetime.

Today, 8:15 p.m.
I hurt. I hurt so deeply, I felt the searing in my bones and jabbing like a hot poker in my heart. I knew nothing would make it better as the memories pulled from the crevices of my mind, detailing the bad and the ugly, filling my thoughts with regret as I slipped into the darkness…

When I was eight, my mother was dying of cancer, my father lost his job, and the bank kicked us out of our house. I was forced to move to the strange town of Arlis, Texas where my father and I slept in our car in the hospital parking lot. Desperate and hopeless, we lived on fumes of our former life.

Then one night, everything changed forever. A knock on the car window brought a family into my life that I only wanted to shut out. I hated charity and I hated the Masons. Well, except one. He made it impossible to hate him.

Jess Mason had the biggest blue eyes and ornery smile of anybody I had ever seen. He was a ray of sunshine in my dark world. A boy full of adventure, dragging me across the meadow of Sprayberry Ranch; a beautiful Texas paradise full of horses and tree houses that got us into more trouble than anyone every imagined. 

Jess was my everything as a kid until we grew up and the rules changed. Instead of living happily ever after with a boy full of love …I destroyed it.
– Alex Tanner

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The Girl From Everywhere


Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it – and going there – could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

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Penguin Teen on Tour


When I first heard of this book signing I was a little hesitant to go. I had only read and loved “An Ember in the Ashes (5 macarons!) and I always feel awful about attending book signings for multiple authors and not showing them some love. The rest have been on my TBR list but I hadn’t gotten around to them yet, with a few chapters of “Rebel of the Sands” as an exception on my eReader.

I could also feel a bad cold coming on so the night before the signing, I was still flip-flopping between whether or not I’d go. At the very last second – I’m talking 30 minutes before the signing – I hauled my boys into the car and asked (begged) my husband to give me a ride.

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The Royal We


“I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame, and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks out adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love – her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself – will have been for nothing. 

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Glass Sword



If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red – the colour of common folk – but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to ignore.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince – the friend – who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver righters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she’s trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known – and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

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Red Queen


This is a world divided by blood – red and silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

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