Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Wrap-Up and February TBR

The books I managed to read in January:
-Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore
-Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
-The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
-Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
-The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
-Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
-Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
-Sweaterweather by Sara Varon

This was such a great start to 2016!  The Love That Split the World was definitely my favorite of the month.  So beautifully written and bittersweet.

The books I plan to read in February:

There are a few more February and early March releases on my TBR, but I'm trying not to overwhelm myself, especially because February will be such a short month.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Years ago, many bloggers retired GFC on their blogs and moved onto new forms of following.  I stuck with it because that's how I personally prefer to follow.  I may follow a good amount of blogs on Bloglovin', through email, or over Twitter, but I like seeing everything on my Blogger homepage.  I've added other forms of following to my blog since, but my highest follower count has always been on Google Friend Connect.

Yesterday I noticed a significant drop in followers (nearly 200) at once, which I've never experienced, even when the blog was inactive for a year and a half.  I wasn't sure if I'd done something wrong to deserve it or if it was just glitching, which has happened before...So I decided to google the problem and came across a blog post that explained what was going on.

If you've noticed a decrease in GFC followers on your own blog, it's because Google is getting rid of all accounts who don't use Google to follow.  Meaning if you used Yahoo, Twitter, etc. to follow through GFC, you will no longer be able to follow your favorite blogs.

This isn't okay with me.  After all these years, why now?  Numbers aren't everything, but it's taken a long time to build a following, and now some of those people won't see my posts.  If you are seeing this, I would like to encourage you to follow in any other way.  There's always Bloglovin', Twitter, Facebook, Instagram... 

If there are any other ways that would be easier for you to follow, please let me know and I can try to make that an option!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

That's What Chey Said: Let's Talk About ARCs

There have been many opinions floating around the blogosphere regarding advance review copies, especially as of late.  I'm not going to lie, I've noticed a big change upon coming back to my blog last year after calling it quits in mid-2013.  While it was always exciting to receive a book you coveted months before it hit the shelves, it seems that there's so much more pressure now.  Not only that, but there also seems to be a stigma that comes with sharing that excitement

No one is going to tell you "I started blogging to get free stuff", but I'm willing to bet that there's a good number of bloggers who have and are very motivated by that.  Is it a bad thing?  Not necessarily.  As long as people are sharing their own opinion and putting work into their blog, who cares if they view it as a reward?  When I began my blog in 2011, I didn't even know what an ARC was, much less how to get one.  I never loved books as much as I do now, but I loved the fact that there was a community that helped me broaden my horizons.  I've picked up dozens, if not hundreds, of books I may have never even looked at twice if I were browsing in a bookstore, all thanks to bloggers who have taken the time to share their thoughts.

Do I blog solely to get review copies from authors or publishers?  No.  Do I view it as a huge perk?  You bet your ass I do!  I'm not afraid to admit it.  

While I didn't start blogging for ARCs, once I learned of a way to get them, I worked harder to increase my readership and get to that point where other people would want to work with my blog.  Five years later, getting book mail still makes my day and I feel lucky to have those connections.  I genuinely enjoy helping promote new titles because I know it could help other readers find a new favorite just as it helped me when I wasn't sure what to read next.  I don't mind being used as a promotional tool, because I'm getting something out of it--gratification.

I've seen a lot of shaming going on recently, and it makes me kind of sad, especially since the book blogging community has always been pretty tight knit.  It's okay to feel ARC envy, but bashing is not.  There are certainly people who abuse the opportunities they are given, but what matters are the ones who want to do good.  Even if I don't find the time to read every review copy I receive, I try to find some way to spread the word.

Let me know what you feel about ARCs and their place in the blogosphere; I'd love to hear your opinion!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January Book Haul

-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated edition
-Harry Potter coloring book

-Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
-Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (signed)
(hardcovers from Fuelled By Fiction)

-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (signed)
(hardcover from Of Spectacles and Books)

-Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
(hardcover from Me on Books)

-Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
-Alive by Chandler Baker
-Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
(hardcovers from Nori's Closet)

-All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
(paperback from Stuck in Books)

-Zodiac by Romina Russell (signed)
(paperback from The Eater of Books!)

-Forbidden by Eve Bunting
- Deadly Design by Debra Dockter
-Death Date by Victoria Laurie
-The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
-Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
-Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
-Madly by Amy Alward

Becky is the best!  I won a mystery box of 2015 releases from her, and not only did she go through my wishlist to make sure they were books I wanted/didn't already have, but she included Revenge and the Wild, which is a February 2016 release.  
Thank you so much, and thanks to everyone who has sent me stuff!  ❤️

-The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
-Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
-The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
-I Was Here by Gayle Forman
-Just One Day by Gayle Forman
-Just One Year by Gayle Forman
(ARCs, paperbacks, and hardcover from Penguin)

-Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh
(ARC from Random House)

(ARC from The Novl newsletter)

-Firstlife by Gena Showalter
(ARC from Harlequin Teen)

-In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen
(ARC from St. Martin's Griffin)


-Burning by Danielle Rollins
-When We Collided by Emery Lord
-The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
-Anything You Want by Geoff Herbach
-Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick
(eGalleys from Bloomsbury, Delacorte, Sourcebooks Fire, and Little, Brown)


-Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
-Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
-Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker
-Eleven Things I Promised by Catherine Clark
-Dark Energy by Robison Wells
-Front Lines by Michael Grant
(eGalleys from Simon Pulse and HarperTeen)

With a few small exceptions, 2016 has gotten off to an incredible start!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Blog Tour: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry (Book Soundtrack)


Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Blog Tour: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz (Excerpt & Giveaway)


In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson's shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #107

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: The Square Root of Summer
Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she's hurtled through wormholes to her past: 

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory. 

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie's past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone's heart is about to be broken.

I can't wait for all the new summer romance stories to come out.   It also sounds like this one deals with a little time travel, too, so I'm quite excited!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Life Lessons from Gayle Forman & Giveaway

What I love most about Gayle Forman's books is that they're always packed full of emotion.  If you know anything about me, you'd know that I'm a very sensitive and empathetic person, and these are the types of stories that hit me right in the feels.  Sometimes you just need a good cry, and her writing will do that to you.

“Love, it never dies. It never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.” 
-If I Stay, Gayle Forman

If I Stay is one of the books that has stuck with me for years after putting it down.  Having lost many loved ones, it struck me in a way that many other stories haven't.

One of the songs that has always reminded me of If I Stay is Misguided Ghosts by Paramore.  I think it fits perfectly.

Gayle Forman's latest novel, I Was Here is set to release in paperback on January 26th.  To help Penguin Teen celebrate, I'm sharing a giveaway in which 5 readers will win a complete set of Gayle Foman's paperbacks!  Read more about I Was Here below and enter the Rafflecopter to win.  Sorry, US only!

Cody and Meg were inseparable. 
Two peas in a pod. 
Until . . . they weren’t anymore. 

 When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

Title: The Mystery of Hollow Places
Author: Rebecca Podos
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary/Mystery
Release date: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 304 (ARC)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It's the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters. 

When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn't come back. Neither Imogene's stepmother nor the police know where he could've gone, but Imogene is convinced he's looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she's gleaned from a lifetime of her father's books to track down a woman she's never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she's carried with her for her entire life.

Imogene has never known her mother--nothing more than the story of how her parents met.  She can't even remember what she looks like, since she left before Imogene was even two years old.  When her father disappears on Valentine's Day, leaving behind what she believes to be a clue, she knows that if she can track down the woman she knows so little about, she'll be able to find him, too.

The Mystery of Hollow Places is a wonderfully written novel that handles heavy topics- such as mental illness, broken families, and abandonment- in the most graceful way.  Imogene is a brilliant character that I could empathize with.  She has incredible determination and does the best with what little she has.  The relationships are what make this story worthwhile, not only with family and what lengths they will go to for each other, but her friendships with Jessa and Chad, as well.  Although the stress puts everyone on edge, it's clear that their bond is strong enough to hold them together no matter what.

I really enjoyed the journey, even though I already had a hunch as to how this story would end.  Imogene used her dad's mystery novels to help her, but real life doesn't always work out the way you hope it will.  This book is about so much more than the mystery behind her parents disappearance and why.  The author tries to show readers what it's like to suffer from a mental illness and how it's different for everyone; how others who are on the outside might not be able to understand why someone would choose to make certain decisions.

While this isn't the kind of mystery that makes your heart pound, it will keep you turning the pages.  Quite possibly my favorite thing about The Mystery of Hollow Places is that although it's a little on the heavier side, topic-wise, it isn't overwhelmingly sad.  It's a solid, entertaining read, but I don't feel that it will stick with me in the long-run.  I would definitely like to read more from this author in the future, because she has great potential as a storyteller.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

That's What Chey Said: Bookish Resolutions

Here we are, halfway through January, and I'm just beginning to figure out what changes I would like to make to the blog and my reading habits.  
This is what I've come up with so far...

Read more: Surprise, surprise.  The goal is to reach 70, at least, since I only hit 68 last year.  I started off my Goodreads reading challenge with 50, because sometimes life happens, but I also want to make time for other people.  I know that either way, I'll be happy with whatever number is shown on December 31st.

Blog makeover:  May 2016 will mark my 5 year blogoversary.  Since I began blogging, I haven't done much to change the appearance.  Honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing with HTML!  I think I've only had two layouts, and this one has been here since 2012.  It's definitely time for a change.

Reviews: Last year I got into the bad habit of not reviewing books right away.  I didn't even take notes, so it was very hard for me to remember enough about the story in order to write a proper review.  This year I'm going to get back in the habit of reviewing one book before I finish another, just to keep myself on track.  
No more procrastinating!

Different posts: Lately my blog has been all reviews with a few blog tours, book hauls, and discussion posts sprinkled in.  I love posts that make a blog stand out, so I've been trying to think of ways to do that, myself.  Maybe I could find a way to make more personal posts or include other hobbies monthly.  What would you like to see more of?

Write more: I don't talk about this too often, but one of the biggest things I want to focus on this year is my writing.  I'm in love with the story I'm working on now and would love to turn it into something more in the future.

What are some of your bookish resolutions?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #106

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: The Darkest Corners
Author: Kara Thomas
Release Date: April 19th, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them. 

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good. 

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch. But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth. 

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Everything about that description sounds so mysterious and chilling...I need to know more!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Title: Firsts
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: January 5th, 2016
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself. 

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed. 

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process.

Mercedes likes to keep everyone at arms length.  Her father left when she was young, her mother spends most of her time bar-hopping like she's 20 years younger, and she only has one true friend who still doesn't know Mercedes' deepest secrets.   While she's an intelligent girl, she makes some questionable decisions involving over a dozen boys she doesn't know much about, other than their names.  What happens when one of them becomes one of the only people who truly cares for her?  She began these sex lessons for one reason only, but over time, she realizes that she may have been doing it for herself, as well.

This book will be a hit or miss, and I'm not sure if there's much of an in-between.  Firsts really pushes the boundaries without being too inappropriate.  It's interesting to read about a teenage girl who exudes confidence the way Mercedes does.  I know that I didn't at that age.  While boys in relationships seek her out to get their first time over with and learn how to properly woo their girlfriends, it didn't sit wrong with me like the way that other books portray cheating.  In fact, I could empathize with Mercedes, especially the more the author delves into her story.

Zach is my favorite character, because he's so unlike the person I expected him to be from his first scene in the story alone.  When Mercedes is struggling, he's always the one at her side.  He did things for her that no one else would have, and I loved that about him.  Faye, the new girl at school, also falls into the category of awesome people who make Mercedes life better.  The author created so many interesting characters and relationships, which is probably the main reason I was so drawn to this book.

Firsts is so much more than just a controversial book about sex.  It's about a lost girl who comes to terms with her own problems.  It's about the way people often use others.  It's a rocky ride to the end, but an entertaining one, to say the least.  Many people will have a problem with Mercedes sex-positive attitude, but I found her to be refreshing.  This is a great coming-of-age story full of more complex emotions than you would imagine upon first going into it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Title: Shallow Graves
Author: Kali Wallace
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Paranormal/Horror
Release date: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 368 (ARC)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Breezy wakes up in confusion, remembering only a few things from her death one year prior.  She knows that she can't go home, so she runs.  So much has changed for her now that she's dead, but one of those things is that she now has the ability to see people for who they really are.  This helps her at first, but soon she falls into the wrong crowd, trusting the only person she shouldn't.  Breezy finds that she's not the only one of her kind and that there's an entire world hidden from most humans.

Fast-paced and bone-chilling, Shallow Graves will keep many readers invested in learning more about its main character's afterlife.  As Breezy begins her journey to figure out who she is now that she's lost it all, she takes you on a ride that you won't forget.  From serial killers to kind strangers, cult-leaders and ghouls, there seems to be one of everything.  Though Breezy no longer needs to breathe, eat, or sleep, it's surprisingly easy to be able to relate to her and her emotions.  She may be just another teenage girl, but she's a powerful voice for young readers.  She's self-aware, ambitious, and quite intelligent, which are qualities that I love to see in any female character.

The writing is by-far my favorite part of this story.  Beautiful prose will always make me hold on until the very last sentence.  Many of the descriptions alone gave me goosebumps.  Personally, I loved the beginning and the end, but the middle lost me for a while.  It may have just been me, though, and I would definitely love to give this one a reread in the future.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Review: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore

Title: Thicker Than Water
Author: Kelly Fiore
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: January 5th, 2016
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated. 

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills. 

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

CeCe's story is told in two parts, before and after.  Before, her brother was her hero until addiction took over his life.  After, Cecelia was charged for murder.  CeCe's entire life began to spiral when her mother passed away.  Since then, the family struggled with debt and each other, but worst of all, Cyrus got hooked on Oxycontin.  She couldn't stand to watch him drag himself up from his cave in the basement, knowing he was blitzed, wasting what little money her father made on pills.  As a senior in high school, she knows that the only way she'll ever be able to go to college is if she gets a scholarship, but even that isn't very promising.

This story is intense.  Not only does it deal with the problems and emotions that accompany losing someone close, but the hard drug usage made the story even more heartbreaking.  The author did a great job informing readers about addiction, as many of the scenes involving Cyrus were very well written and eye-opening.  I truly felt for CeCe, because his struggle was hers as well.  When an offer is made, Cecelia finds that not only will selling the drugs get her a good chunk of cash, but it leaves a few less pills for her brother to take.

Thicker Than Water is unlike many YA books I've picked up lately.  It's so dark and tragic that it will stick with you for days.  I think that drug abuse is such an important topic to discuss, especially because so many people start with the idea that they can stop anytime.  Many don't realize the toll it takes on their loved ones, which is why CeCe's perspective is so unique.  This book will hit you hard with raw emotion.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: What's Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass

Title: What's Broken Between Us
Author: Alexis Bass
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: December 29th, 2015
Pages: 241 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon Author

A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart's brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he's coming home from prison. 

Amanda's been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother's recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he's a monster. Still, she loves him. It's her dark secret, until she starts getting close to Henry again--whose sister is paralyzed from the accident. 

A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she'll let his choice destroy hers.

Amanda is used to being "the good one".  She dresses herself up and always knows how to smile with sympathy.  She has to overcompensate for the mistake her brother made that killed one classmate and nearly paralyzed another.  If she doesn't put on this act, Amanda fears that the whole town will look at her the same way they look at Jonathan.  Once he comes home from prison, an old flame finds his way back to her with the intention to warn Jonathan away from his sister, but one spark reignites everything they lost 16 months ago.

What's Broken Between Us is a very dark, realistic contemporary showcasing what could happen to anyone if they make one bad decision.  The Tart family is clearly trying to hold themselves together in the aftermath of Jonathan's drunk driving accident.  Although they're not the ones grieving over the death of a son and brother, that doesn't mean they didn't lose him.  He's wracked with guilt once he returns home and he's not the same charismatic person he used to be.  He lost his best friend, his girlfriend, and his entire life.  His parents turn a blind eye to his self-destructive behavior, but Amanda makes it clear that she's not going to stand for it.

The book is full of ups and downs.  Although Amanda wants to make all the right decisions, she's far from perfect.  She makes some unforgivable mistakes, but then, many people do.  I think that these characters all came from a very deep and honest place, which makes this story all the better.  As readers, we get to see where they started and the steps they'll take to get back to that place.

This author did a great job creating a gripping story with such a thought-provoking message.  Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things to give- especially to yourself- but necessary to live a happy life.