Series Review: Flat-Out Love (1, 1.5 & 2) by Jessica Park

Summary: 
Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance. It's not what you know - or when you see - that matters. It's about a journey.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer. 
Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.

Review:
I snatched up Flat-Out-Love purely due to cover love.  I was jonesing for a New Adult read and BAM this cover popped. I didn't realize just how symbolic the cover was until I finished reading and took another look at it. Cover praise is pretty impressive in and of itself.

Once I read the summary I knew it was something I would probably enjoy, I mean who doesn’t like to read someone else’s Facebook status updates for a good laugh (or self-esteem booster)! I quickly discovered that the funny wit was enough to keep me reading regardless of where the story would head.

Flat-Out-Love sees the Watkins family through the eyes of Julie Seagle, a brand new freshman transplant from Ohio. Julie has all the typical ideals of what her college experience will be like but quickly finds out that CRAP HAPPENS. In one day she finds that she is homeless in an unfamiliar city and alone. The events that transpire and the journey that Julie takes in love and life was epic! Julie was  fun, relate-able, quirky, smart(assy) and head strong. I really got her and the way she approached life and struggle.

I don't want to give any specific details to the storyline because I would hate to give away any detail that could potentially spoil the twists and turns.

A real enticement to power through these books was the wit! Julie, Fin, Matt and Celeste always seemed to get me! Each personality was so unique and different. Some of my favorite one-liners:

“If you can't stop thinking about someones update, that's called "status cling.”

“Then she did what any girl would do: she Googled him.”

“I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. It's the way I take them OFF that makes me better than you.”

“I hope that someday they invent a car that runs on inappropriate thoughts”

I would have read this book just for the wit alone!
 

Companion: Flat-Out Matt is a companion to Flat Out Love. This is totally for the fans! You get a few chapters from Matt's POV plus the ending that we all wanted! #devilisinthedetails

Summary:  
For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.
But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.
Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him. Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.
Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and—very much so— this is a story about first love.

Review:
Celeste was such an interesting character in Flat-Out-Love but I didn't really appreciate her until I read Flat-Out-Celeste. I honestly wasn't in a hurry to read this one because I thought I was okay with where Matt and Julie were headed and wasn't really sure what Celeste had to offer as the lead character, but she was awesome! I ended up more invested in her story than Matt and Julie. Celeste was so Einstein-y and black & white but in a world with nothing but blurred lines. 

This story is about the inner strength and risks taken by Celeste but in some of the most ordinary situations. 
One boy can change everything.

You will enjoy Celeste's methodical thinking and speech because it is really interesting to follow and unlike anything I had ever read before. She really is an oddity in the most unexpected way, in thought and action alone. Another perk is that this story is about firsts- first love, first experiences, first decisions, and first heart break. We can all relate to our first heartbreak. #istillhatethatboy

There was an underlying theme that I think will resonate with society at this present time. Equality.
What defines a family? Does the "traditional" family still exist? Does it even matter? 
Who is your family?

By the conclusion of this series, I was tired! I felt like I had lived through all their trials and struggles but most notable was my goal to beef up my Facebook status updates- I left having severe STATUS CLING! >insert a handful of emoji< 

 I would recommend this series to fans of  both YA & NA plus all contemporary fiction lovers. And I have added another author to my ever growing "auto-buy" list.

Book Review: Your Life Isn't For You: A Selfish Person's Guide to Being Selfless by Seth Adam Smith

Summary:
In this book, Seth Adam Smith expands on the philosophy behind his extraordinarily popular blog post “Marriage Isn’t for You”—which received over 30 million hits and has been translated into over twenty languages—and shares how living for others can enrich every aspect of your life, just as it has his. With a mix of humor, candor, and compassion, he reveals how, years before his marriage, his self-obsession led to a downward spiral of addiction and depression, culminating in a suicide attempt at the age of twenty. Reflecting on the love and support he experienced in the aftermath, as well as on the lessons he learned from a difficult missionary stint in Russia, his time as a youth leader in the Arizona desert, his marriage, and even a story his father read to him as a child, he shares his deep conviction that the only way you can find your life is to give it away to others.
 
Release Date: September 10, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
 
Review:
I liked Your Life Isn't For You from the very first paragraph, and that feeling continued for the entire book.  This book was moving and very inspirational.

Smith writes with a conversational style, one that's both easy and fun to read.  He starts off the book with some background on the "isn't for you" concept.  He wrote a blog post, titled "Your Marriage Isn't For You," in November 2013.  That post ended up going viral.  In his post (read it here) he talks about how his father gave him some life-changing advice.  Seth was getting ready to marry his long-time friend and love, Kim, and was questioning if he was making the right choice.  His dad told him that "you don't marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy." (quote taken from Seth's blog post).  This sage advice resonated with people as it spread around the internet; as of spring 2014, his post has had over 30 million hits.  Take a moment to read it, if you haven't already.  It's great advice for anyone, regardless if you're married or not.

Seth expounds on the advice he received from his father in Your Life Isn't For You.  Not only is marriage not about you, but your very life isn't about you either.  It's about your family, the people who love you, your friends, and the people you are put here to serve.  Seth learns this lesson the hard way, and shares his knowledge with the reader in an accessible, relatable way.

There are many personal revelations in this book, which served for me to understand Seth better.  But, the fact that he was so open about his past and his struggle with depression and attempted suicide made me really sit up and pay attention to what he had to say.  I too, struggle with depression, and while I've never been suicidal, I certainly understand what it feels like to be depressed and hopeless.  Seth's journey from attempted suicide to happiness was inspiring.  He shares the words of wisdom, advice, and thoughts that helped him along the way. 

Seth could have easily made Your Life Isn't For You into a 'preachy' type of book.  Instead, he imbues his book with sarcasm and self-deprecating humor.  This humor is evident in his footnotes, which really made me love the book even more.  The footnotes are what made me smile through some of the sad parts of the story, and kept the book feeling light in spite of the heavy subject matter.

Seth starts each chapter with a quote----I absolutely love it when authors do this.  The quotes set the tone for the chapters and bestow an air of gravitas to the book.  Your Life Isn't For You is a moving read---I found myself tearing up more than once while reading.

I really loved Your Life Isn't For You.  I found it to be surprisingly inspiring and moving for such a fast read.  I finished the book glad that I read it and motivated to make some changes in my own life.  And really, what more can you ask for from a nonfiction book: than to be galvanized to change?
 

Book Review: How To Date Dead Guys (Under the Blood Moon #1) by Ann M. Noser

Summary:
College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when cute Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.

Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn’t the only one…

Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a young man determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first. More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.

Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will appeal to the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.

Release Date: July 15, 2014
Age Group: NA
Source: Author
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
I am always up for a little witchery and was ready for a fresh series plus Kelli said she had a good feeling about this one, so naturally I downloaded it and dove in. I am starting to lean toward New Adult fiction a lot more lately because the characters are a little older and easier to relate too, plus I don't feel guilty when I want my characters to smooch... and stuff (wanting 15 year olds to fall madly in love with each other can just get weird).

Emma Roberts is your typical naive and insecure sophomore that gets tongue tied when any attention is thrown her way, but a lot of those qualities are pretty relatable for most girls and I really liked her. Her cluelessness when it comes to both college boys and majors was comical and had me thinking back to my college days. Ah, #nostalgia And of course she is pre-med! All freshman/sophomores are going to save the world and live the high adrenaline life of a Grey's Anatomy doctor :)  And college wouldn't be complete without roommate drama.

I absolutely hated her roommate Chrissy. It is nice to have a character that you can't stand right from the start, keeps things interesting. Each time Chrissy entered the picture, I thought to myself "What would Fat Amy say right now?" #fuelthehatefire There are always girls that treat college like an extension of high school and I loathe them. Why? Because high school is over, you twit!

The witchy aspect of Emma's life comes on quick but subtle. It didn't feel like she was a witch or Castor or whatever the new hip term is because she really didn't know what the heck she was doing, she's a self taught witch. She was not pre-destined or had a paranormal intervention, she just found a book and followed the instructions like a good little student. Granted she is bringing back guys from the dead but hey, I'm not judging where one chooses their dating pool, to each his own as the saying goes. With each guy that is introduced, you get to experience another piece of Emma growing up and coming into her own. I thought that was pretty neat and fun to read.

Each addition of a character and twist in the road kept me guessing and I really didn't know where anything was headed. This book is not a predictable tale but rather the breakout story of a modern day Nancy Drew, who happens to be a novice witch and is able to bring back dead guys (so far).

I would recommend this book to fans of paranormal and NA, it's a really fast and fun read. I look forward to Emma's future crises that she will inevitably stumble into whether she wants to or not.

I await the next installment and have my fingers crossed that we will see one dead guy again. #bringhimback #notmike 



Book Review: The Cave of Santa Clops by Gig Wailgum

 
 
Summary:
The Cave of Santa Clops is a rollicking holiday adventure in which a young boy explores the secret underground hideout of Santa Clops. It is the second Santa Clops book and it answers some questions that little ones might have about the cyclops Kringle. This rhyming picture book also has plenty of flying dino-penguins and holly-bats. Kids will love the action and adults will love the rhymes and message.
 
Release Date: October 29, 2014
Age Group: Children
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli & Kaitlyn
 
Review:
I really enjoyed Gig Wailgum's first Santa Clops book, titled A Visit From Santa Clops (Read my review here).  I loved the story for Wailgum's fresh take on the Santa Claus theme. 

Santa Clops is a Cyclops who delivers coal to children on the naughty list.  He lives in a cave along with some interesting dino-penguin birds--- the alternative to reindeer to pull Clops' sleigh.   

The Cave of Santa Clops was just as much fun as its predecessor.  In it, the kids from book one learn the story of Santa Clops from their neighbor, Mr. Bones.  After reading A Visit From Santa Clops, the kids ask their mother if Santa Clops really exists.  She tells them to ask Mr. Bones because he knows the truth.  I love that Wailgum referenced book one in this book.  It was clever and it make me smile.  It's this kind of inventiveness that makes these books so enjoyable for me.

The bulk of the book is Mr. Bones' retelling of his years-ago encounter with Santa Clops.  The story was exciting, and had a lot of action compared to book one.  I felt like this book was geared towards a slightly older audience due to the adventure aspect.  

Wailgum illustrates his own books---I love that.  There are few children's book authors who write and illustrate their own books and I love it when authors do both.  It just makes the book better, in an intangible way.  

The only caveat to The Cave of Santa Clops is that it might be a little scary for younger children, or sensitive children.  My 3 year old is really sensitive and already scared of Santa Claus, so I didn't read this one to her.  I was afraid that the illustrations of Santa Clops would scare her.  I think this series would be perfect for ages 4-5 and up.

The Cave of Santa Clops is a fun, inventive read.  Wailgum provides a unique alternative to Santa Claus, along with an entertaining story.  I recommend this book and will add it to our Christmas book collection.  I expect that by next Christmas, Kaitlyn will be ready for it.  
 

 

Book Review: Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays by Jill Smokler and Scary Mommy Contributors

Summary:
From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed “Scary Mommy” blogger Jill Smokler comes a funny and practical guide filled with essays, recipes, and tried-and-true tips sure to get any parent through the holiday season—without losing your marbles.

Ah, the holidays: a time of joy, celebration, serenity, and peace…

Unless, of course, you have whiny, screaming children demanding presents, attention, and a personal appearance by Santa or Judah the Maccabee. Then you’re screwed.

But wait, there’s hope: Scary Mommy Guide to Surviving the Holidays to the rescue!

Yes, in this handy holiday guide, you’ll find everything you need to survive the fall/winter rush of cheer in style, and without having a mental breakdown. From relatable, hilarious essays on everything from the Santa myth to being seated at the dreaded kids’ table, to easy-to-follow recipes that might include just a little something special to take the edge off (can anyone say Kahlua?), to fun and accessible gift ideas, this book is your ticket to peace of mind—and a laugh—during the busy, crazy holiday season!
 
Release Date: November 17, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli
 
Review:
Jill Smokler's website, Scary Mommy, is one of my all-time favorite sites.  The articles, the anonymous confessions, the community with like-minded parents, all of these elements combine to make a site that I visit at least once a day.  Jill hosts guest bloggers regularly and usually has a new article every day.  I love that! 

I bought this book because I knew it would be a fun read, but I also wanted to support Scary Mommy Nation's Thanksgiving Project.  Every year on Scary Mommy, families in need are provided with gift cards to grocery stores so that they can have Thanksgiving dinner.  Isn't that awesome?  Jill keeps Scary Mommy fun, but also helps people---not just at Thanksgiving---and I love that about her and her site.

I really enjoyed Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays.  It was a light-hearted, fast read, and I found myself smiling and laughing as I read.  This book consists of essays by different contributing authors (many of whom I regularly follow on their own blogs) and also recipes for holiday food.  Even the recipes were funny, as each contributor put their own spin on the instructions or the description of the food.  Not to mention, some of the recipes were quite mouthwatering just to read about!

The group of authors and the varied content kept this book feeling fresh and new the whole way through.  I never got bored and found myself loving the change in "voice" with each essay.  The perspectives from other moms, who get just as stressed during the holidays as I do, were comforting for me.  I often feel like I'm the only one who gets so overwhelmed by the get-togethers, the gifts, the busy-ness of the holidays. It was nice to read that other women, women whose writing I know and respect, feel the same way.

Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays was a light-hearted, fast, and fun read.  I had a good time reading it and would definitely recommend it!
 
 

Book Review: The Christmas Women by Elyse Douglas

Summary:
When 38-year old Trudie Parks learns that her high school drama teacher is seriously ill, she immediately contacts her two best friends in high school, Kristen and Mary Ann. Together, they'd been known as "The Christmas Girls." They'd produced and starred in the annual high school Christmas show, which their teacher, Mrs. Childs, had directed. Determined to show their love for Mrs. Childs, they plan a 20-year reunion to recreate the Christmas show for her. What they don't anticipate is the complicated emotions this provokes, as former sweethearts appear and rekindle romance, painful memories and the sting of unrealized dreams. All three women must reassess their lives and their friendships, while struggling to produce the show, even while Mrs. Childs seems to grow weaker by the day. As Christmas Eve approaches, The Christmas Women prepare for an event that will take them and the audience to the farthest reaches of the human heart and resonate throughout the rest of their lives.
 
Release Date: July 30, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli
 
Review:
I've read Elyse Douglas before---her previous book, The Christmas Town was a great read (read my review here).  I was looking forward to The Christmas Women, expecting a good story with great characterization and lots of warm-fuzzy feelings.  And Douglas definitely delivered!

The Christmas Women was such a sweet story.  It really tugged at my heartstrings, and made me laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time).  I loved that the main characters want to honor their teacher in such a huge way.  Speaking of the characters, Douglas did a great job with the characterization.  I loved each main character for their different personalities.  They were realistically flawed and all quite likable.  The cast of characters and their antics was my favorite aspect of this book.

The conflict resolution was perfect for the story.  I liked the way Douglas tied up all of the characters' stories, not in a too-perfect kind of way, but in a realistic yet still happy way. 

The Christmas Women was a great read, and it's sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.  I really enjoyed this sweet story and look forward to reading more from Elyse Douglas.

  

Book Spotlight: The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland

 photo ae47ce42-f28c-4205-8175-9f63fd44bde9.png


02_The Iris Fan CoverPublication Date: December 9, 2014 Minotaur Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Series: Sano Ichiro Mystery Series (Book 18)
Add to GR ButtonGenre: Historical Mystery

   

Japan, 1709. The shogun is old and ailing. Amid the ever-treacherous intrigue in the court, Sano Ichiro has been demoted from chamberlain to a lowly patrol guard. His relationship with his wife Reiko is in tatters, and a bizarre new alliance between his two enemies Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu has left him puzzled and wary. Sano's onetime friend Hirata is a reluctant conspirator in a plot against the ruling regime. Yet, Sano's dedication to the Way of the Warrior, the samurai code of honor, is undiminished. Then a harrowing, almost inconceivable crime takes place. In his own palace, the shogun is stabbed with a fan made of painted silk with sharp-pointed iron ribs. Sano is restored to the rank of chief investigator to find the culprit. This is the most significant, and most dangerous, investigation of his career. If the shogun's heir is displeased, he will have Sano and his family put to death without waiting for the shogun's permission, then worry about the consequences later. And Sano has enemies of his own, as well as unexpected allies. As the previously unimaginable death of the shogun seems ever more possible, Sano finds himself at the center of warring forces that threaten not only his own family but Japan itself. Riveting and richly imagined, with a magnificent sense of time and place, The Iris Fan is the triumphant conclusion to Laura Joh Rowland's brilliant series of thrillers set in feudal Japan.

The Sano Ichiro Mystery Series Titles

Shinju
Bundori
The Way of the Traitor
The Concubine's Tattoo
The Samurai's Wife
Black Lotus
The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria
The Dragon King's Palace
The Perfumed Sleeve
The Assassin's Touch
The Red Chrysanthemum
The Snow Empress
The Fire Kimono
The Cloud Pavilion
The Ronin's Mistress
The Incense Game
The Shogun's Daughter
The Iris Fan

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
IndieBound

About the Author

03_Laura Joh RowlandGranddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, Laura Joh Rowland grew up in Michigan and where she graduated with a B.S. in microbiology and a Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She is the author of sixteen previous Sano Ichiro thrillers set in feudal Japan. The Fire Kimono was named one of the Wall Street Journal's "Five Best Historical Mystery Novels"; and The Snow Empress and The Cloud Pavilion were among Publishers Weekly's Best Mysteries of the Year. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband. She has worked as a chemist, microbiologist, sanitary inspector and quality engineer. For more information please visit Laura?s website. You can also follow her on Facebook.

The Iris Fan Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, December 9
Book Blast, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 10
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse Thursday, December 11
Review at Buried Under Books

Friday, December 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads

Monday, December 15
Book Blast at Layered Pages

Tuesday, December 16
Review at Book Dilletante
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Wednesday, December 17
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, December 19
Review at Unshelfish
Book Blast at I'd So Rather Be Reading

Monday, December 22
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, December 23
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, January 5
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, January 7
Review at Book Babe
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Book-to-Movie News: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

One of my all-time favorite books is Unwind by Neal Shusterman.  I read Unwind for the first time over four years ago.  I was pregnant, emotional, and stunned at the intensity of this book.  It was unlike anything I'd ever read before.  I remember lying in bed sobbing as I read, and crying again when I tried to explain the book to my bewildered husband. 
 
I was thrilled when Shusterman announced he was turning Unwind into a series.  What could be better?  Well...now that the Unwind Dystology is complete, it's coming to the big screen!  This is a movie that I'll break my movie-theater ban for. 
  
There is a website devoted to the film, called Unwind Movie.  Visit it hereSo far, there are no official trailers, only ones made by fans.  But those are still fun!  You can watch the fan-made trailers on the Unwind Movie site.  You can also visit Unwind's IMDB page here, and Neal Shusterman's website here.  
 
So far, Unwind is still in development.  There isn't any casting information or even a concrete release date.  All IMDB tells us is that it will be released in 2016.  I can't wait!  What are your thoughts on the book to film adaptation?  Who are your cast picks?

Here's our favorite fan-made trailer.  I think the creator did an awesome job capturing the feel of the book!
 





Book Review: The Parts That Followed (The Parts I Remember #2) by A.K. Mills


Starting 12/16 and ending 12/21, download the Kindle version of The Parts I Remember (book one) for free here.

Summary: 
Act first. Think never. Remember nothing.

If only things were still that easy for Kelly Rockport. Enveloped in guilt after surviving the crash that claimed the life of her best friend Meredith, Kelly returns to Haysville University refusing to forget. In her mind, letting go of the accident would be like killing Meredith all over again. With therapy proving futile and sex leaving her emptier than ever, Kelly's attempts at rebuilding her life continue to fail. But just as she begins to accept hopelessness as her destiny, Kelly catches a glimpse of happiness—or something close enough to it. The only question is if she can hold herself together and rebuild a new normal. Or, in true Kelly fashion, will she crumble under the pressure and prove that happily-ever-afters don't exist for people like her? These are the parts that followed.

Release Date: December 15, 2014
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli

Review:
I enjoyed The Parts I Remember (read my review here) but I had a hard time connecting with Kelly.  Kelly is my complete polar opposite.  She's reckless, wild and impulsive.  I thought she was pretty selfish and her personal growth came too late in the story for my personal taste.  I liked The Parts I Remember but considered it almost a "what not to do in college" type of book. 

Because of my ennui about Kelly, I started The Parts That Followed not sure what to expect.  I really loved this book!  Kelly was so much more likable.  I thought she had a lot more depth and I really respected her, instead of shaking my head at her like I did in book one. 

The Parts That Followed starts with a prologue that is actually the end of the story, and the epilogue picks up where the prologue ended.  I usually don't like it when authors do that, but it really worked for this story.  Kelly's in the hospital again but for a completely different reason.  She has lost a lot of blood and succumbs to the darkness as doctors and nurses fight to save her life.  As she goes under, she goes back to the time right after the accident that killed her best friend, Meredith.  So, like The Parts I Remember, The Parts That Followed is told in flashbacks.  I like this style of storytelling and also appreciated the fact that it was consistent with the style of book one.

The Parts That Followed is an emotional story.   I found myself tearing up several times while reading, especially at the end.  Kelly changed so much throughout the book.  I was so happy to see her grow as a person and shift from her self-centered personality into thinking about others.  She really matured and that was awesome to read about. 

Mills had lots of surprises built into the plot. I was quite shocked a couple of times, and I love it when authors surprise me like that.  The pace was perfect: it was steadily exciting and it kept me reading every chance I got.  In fact, I finished The Parts That Followed in a day.  And it's been a while since I read a book that was so good, I couldn't put it down.

The epilogue was everything I wanted it to be and more.  There was the perfect amount of closure, and the conflict resolution was just right.  I was so pleased with how Mills ended Kelly's story---it was a surprise but a good surprise. 

The Parts I Remember is A.K. Mills' debut novel, and I highly recommend it and The Parts That Followed.  The books are so well-written and engaging.  I recommend reading the two books back to back if possible.  That's always the best way to get the most out of a series, and prevents the reader from forgetting details from book one.  Luckily, Mills provided enough flashbacks from The Parts I Remember that I easily remembered the storyline from book one.  

If you like contemporary fiction, you'll love this series.  I look forward to Mills' next book!  And even better, the Kindle version of book one, The Parts I Remember, is free from 12/16 to 12/21---get it here.