Revisit: Behind the Falls by Brenda Zalegowski

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No doubt you’ve heard of this book, especially if you’ve been following our little blog for awhile.  And while I don’t often do reruns of past reviews, in this case I feel it’s something I must do for our dear readers.  You see, the highly anticipated follow-up to this brilliant story is soon to hit the world.  And if you haven’t read this amazing story, now is the time to do so.  Therefore, I give you my original review of Behind the Falls…

Disclaimer #1: This book was reviewed several weeks earlier by our very own Urania. This is my perspective on it.

Disclaimer #2: The author is a friend of mine, and I’m sure she’s a friend to many of you as well. That’s both good and bad. Good because it’s an honor to share someone’s creative work. And bad because, well, if it’s really no good how do you address that? It’s like seeing someone’s really ugly baby. What do you say? But there are no such book-related worries in this case because the book truly is exceptional on so many levels.

Noah is barely sixteen but yet has faced so many issues in his young life. Burdened with panic and anxiety disorders from a very young age, he struggles with how exactly to be normal. And then his somewhat predictable world is shaken up as his family decides move to a new town. Not only that, but Noah will be going to public school for the first time. Enough to send even the most well-adjusted (if there is such a thing) teen over the edge.

Thankfully there’s a friendly face in the crowd. A hand reaches out to him on his very first day, and Noah doesn’t feel so lost anymore. When Max welcomes Noah into his world, it’s more than he could have ever hoped for. He begins to feel “normal” for the very first time in his life, whatever that word truly means.

Noah’s inner demons aren’t so easily silenced, though. His struggles continue as does his battle to hide it from his new friends. If he could only find the strength to be honest with them as well as with himself, and about so many different things.

And this is where my summary ends. Because to give anything else away would spoil it. And this is a book that you just have to read and feel for the very first time without any preconceived notions or ideas about what you’re supposed to think. I’m glad I didn’t when I read it, and I’m doing the same for you.

So the obvious…
This is a very long book, clocking in at just under 700 pages. And I admit, as have several other reviewers, that the length was a bit daunting at first. I found myself getting bogged down in the beginning, wondering if the lengthy narrative and internal dialogue were really necessary. But I felt a pull, something compelling me to keep going. And yes, part of the reason was because, well, friends.

Still, at about the halfway point I realized that it worked for this book. Noah’s story really couldn’t be told in a lesser manner. The sometimes rambling dialogue is surely reminiscent of what must be going on inside the head of somebody with a panic/anxiety disorder. And more importantly, such detailed descriptions of the characters as well as background info made me feel for them, connect with them on a level not achieved by all authors. In fact, I’m so invested with Noah and Max, even Tabitha, that several days later I still can’t get them out of my head. I want more!

And another caveat. It’s a very heavy book. Heavy on the emotions, heavy on the subject matter. But so is life. Not a reason to avoid it. Still, it’s probably a book that’s best suited for older teens and adults. Now crossing my fingers and hoping there’s a sequel in the works…

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Behind the Falls

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Melpomene’s Top 15 of 2015

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I decided to stick with a top 15 instead of 25 this year. 25 seemed a bit overachieving, so I toned it down a smidge. And I was going to write this long and beautiful post, but then I realized I just can’t write long and beautifully, so you get short and sweet. Here you go.

1. Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story by Renee Carlino

2. November 9: A Novel by Colleen Hoover

3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

4. Iniquity (The Premonition Series Book 5) by Amy Bartol

5. Breathe (Colorado Mountain Series Book 4) by Kristen Ashley

6. Restless Waters: A Left Drowning Novel (Left Drowning Series Book 2) by Jessica Park

7. The Song of David (The Law of Moses Book 2) by Amy Harmon

8. Kyland by Mia Sheridan

9. The Forgotten Mountain (The Collectors’ Society Book 3) by Heather Lyons

10. The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

11. Where Sea Meets Sky: A Novel by Karina Halle

12. The Air He Breathes by Brittiany C. Cherry

13. Bad Romeo (The Starcrossed Series Book 1) by Leisa Rayven

14. Burned: Fever Series Book 7 by Karen Marie Moning

15. The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 13) by J.R. Ward

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The Gamble (Colorado Mountain Series Book 1) by Kristen Ashley

Elude (Eagle Elite Book 6) by Rachel VanDyken

Walk Through Fire (Chaos) by Kristen Ashley

Gus by Kim Holden

The Raven (Florentine series Book 1) by Sylvain Reynard

What were some of your favorites??

~Melpomene

Melpomene’s Top 10, in other words, Angstfest 2014

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I was looking through Goodreads and I decided to make a Top 10 list of my favorites. By the end, you will get a glimpse into what I look for in a book, as if you don’t already know.

#1 Beautiful Disaster: A Novel, by Jamie McGuire
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Travis is my very first book boyfriend and no one will ever take his title. This book was my first introduction into the New Adult, angst filled romance books, and it set a pretty high standard. It is usually one of two books I always tell people to read. Beautiful Disaster is pure perfection. My review doesn’t even do it justice. It’s just perfect. Read it for yourself and you will fall in love with it. I promise you.

#2 Poughkeepsie (The Poughkeepsie Series), by Debra Anastasia
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This is by far the wildest romance book I’ve ever read. I am in love with this book so much, I can’t put it into words. I made the tattoo as my phone cover, a poster in my reading corner and even a book bag. I just love all thing Poughkeepsie. It’s real and raw and so very romantic. It’s basically the perfect combination of everything I love in a romance book. I judge every other romance book against this one.

#3 Point of Retreat: A Novel (Slammed), by Colleen Hoover
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I am a lifetime CoHort. Seriously. I love EVERY book Colleen Hoover writes, but Point of Retreat is my all time favorite. I can’t pinpoint the reason, but the emotions that this book caused was so overpowering, I was devastated. This is another NA/romance book that will not disappoint. But be sure to read Slammed first, or you’ll be completely lost. 🙂

#4 The Edge of Never, by J.A. Redmerski
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I actually grabbed this book, based on the cover. I had no idea what it was about. I new it was NA, which seems to be my theme, but I never read the description. This book had a rather unconventional love story, but I think my review does it justice. It can be read as a standalone, even though she wrote a second book. This one was my favorite.

#5 The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel, by Katja Millay
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This was another book that I grabbed, based on the cover. And it shocked the emotions right out of me. It’s hard to put in words how I felt. I wanted to reach inside this book and hug every single person. They were so broken, my heart was breaking for them. Beautiful and gut wrenching. Another perfect book.

#6 Gabriel’s Inferno, by Sylvain Reynard
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I remember picking this up and thinking, “How in the world is a guy going to be able to write a romance and make it beautiful?” HA!! I was totally surprised. This book was absolutely beautiful. I was shocked by the tears that fell from my eyes. The words were so romantic and beautiful.

#7 The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
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OK. This book DESTROYED me. Honest to goodness killed me. I was ripped to pieces and shredded. I have never cried more in my life, than when I read this book, TWICE. This book gets into your soul and changes you. It’s beautiful and sad. If you need to release some pent up emotions, read this. You will feel whole, when you are done.

#8 When I Look to the Sky (The Rock and Roll Trilogy), by Barbara Stewart
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This is the second book in a trilogy and it was very hard to decide which book I liked more. The first one, Rock & Roll Never Forgets, I can’t even review. It was so beautiful and epic and I was sobbing by the end. I tried to write a review, but every time I think of this book I cry. Big, fat, ugly tears. This book killed me even more, but I HAD to post about it. I can’t have another day go by without people hearing about this book. My review took forever to write. In between all the tears and emotions that were pouring out of me. My family thought I lost my mind, after I was done. It was that good. On a side note, this story helped me get through one the hardest times in my life. I ordered a complete set of signed books and they arrived at my house on the day I received such horrible news. They were such a comfort to me. I can never truly explain how much I love Barbara for these.

#9 Easy, by Tammara Webber
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I remember searching for books similar to Beautiful Disaster, and stumbling upon Easy. I was completely blown away. I fell for Lucas, instantly. I love reading about broken guys who try desperately to put it all behind them and move forward. And I love the girls who help them. 🙂 I am anxiously waiting for Lucas’ story to come out, in May. I am already anticipating on needing tissues for that one. 🙂

#10 Left Drowning, by Jessica Park
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I remember reading Flat Out Love and completely falling in love with Jessica Park. So when I found out that she was going to write another book, I was super excited to read it. This book…..To quote the last line of my review, “I may never get over this book.” This was the perfect combination of romance, angst, silliness and devastation. Another perfect combination. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next from her. But it will be awesome.

WOW!!! Typing this out, brought all the emotions back to the surface. Now I need a tissue, or two…perhaps a hug.

~Melpomene

Announcing the Giveaway Winners! Muses’ Favorite Books of 2013

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Drum Roll Please….. The winners for our Best Books of 2013 Giveaway are:

Alice G for A Hundred Summers
Faith McLaughlin for Left Drowning
Sprite for I am Malala
Kimberlyn for N0S4A2
Jennifer for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Krista Irvin for Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Congratulations!

Winners, please send us your email address here on the blog, randommusesblog@gmail.com, or via private message on the Random Book Muses Facebook page.

This weekend we will send the winners their Kindle books.

Thanks for entering! Watch for more giveaways on the blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Muses’ Favorite Books of 2013

The six of us chose our favorite books reviewed by Random Book Muses this year. And we want to give away copies to YOU!

***Comment on this post (Facebook, blog or twitter) with the title you want to win, and the name of YOUR favorite book of 2013 and you’ll be entered into the giveaway.***

Contest ends December 20.

Melpomene: Left Drowning by Jessica Park
20131210-215516.jpg I fell in love with Jessica Park’s writing when I read Flat-Out Love. I knew I’d read whatever she wrote afterwards. But I wasn’t nearly prepared for the devastation I felt when reading Left Drowning. This story is about loss and love and learning to move on from both. The characters were so real, that I felt like I was sitting right with them, laughing when they laughed and crying when they cried. And when their hearts broke, mine did as well. I may never get over this book. This book totally killed me and I hope it kills you too.
You can read the full review here.

Thalia: My Name is Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
20131210-215528.jpg What a challenge, to pick just ONE favorite book from this past year. How in the world am I supposed to do that? Almost every book I’ve read has been a favorite in some way. Otherwise I wouldn’t have finished it. That being said…the book that has touched me the most and still resonates with me is “My Name is Malala.” When I first heard about this young lady and the tragedy that befell her, I was shocked like most other people were. But I couldn’t truly comprehend exactly what she went through up to the point when she was shot. Her book received a lot of publicity before it was released, and I was excited to read it. I don’t often buy books the day that they come out but this one was an exception. I have even more respect for Malala and her entire family after reading her story. What strength and courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in under the pressure of such danger. This family,and Malala in particular, is truly an inspiration!
You can read the full review here.

Pegasus: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
20131211-230709.jpg As you can see from many of my reviews, comedy isn’t a genre that I read a lot of.  With that in mind, I was a bit skeptical when I first picked up the book.  How wrong was I?!   A story with elements of comedy, mixed up with drama, family dynamics, cultural clashes, and prejudices that are dispelled as freely as they are assumed, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a refreshing, hilarious, poignant, and stark look on our lives and how we choose to live them.
You can read the full review here.

Urania: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
20131210-215537.jpgWith 2013 coming to an end, as I look back at all of my reads of the year, I realize just how lucky I am! There were so many great books! It’s almost impossible to pick my very favorite, so instead, I shall pick out the one that surprised me the most….This book is NOS4A2. This is a book that I went into not expecting very much. I put it off for months. I believed that Joe was published and popular because of his famous father. Wow! While it may be true that the apple does not fall very far from the tree…I suddenly know that sometimes, the old apple tree is surpassed by the fruit it has born…After reading this long novel that had a writing style that made it feel fast and quick, I look forward to reading many more by JH…and I think in the years to come he might be every bit as famous as his father….and not because of his father…but because he absolutely deserves it!
You can read the full review here.

Clio: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
20131211-230656.jpg Picking my favorite book out of the ones I’ve reviewed for the blog was difficult. So I chose the one that surprised me the most. The Coldest Girl in Cold Town surprised me in so many ways – and all of them are good! This was a 5 star book from start to finish. The world is dark, creepy and complex. The complexity is woven into the hopelessness, the technology, and even into the romance that this amazingly well written novel contains. Loved every bit of it!
You can read the full review here.

Calliope: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
20131211-230722.jpg I love all the reading I’ve done this year, but I loved reading A Hundred Summers best. Beatriz Williams wrote my favroite genre – romance – into literary fiction with such substance and chutzpah, I was astonished at every turn. My shoulders are tensing just thinking about it. And even though I have hundreds of unread books waiting for me, A Hundred Summers compels me to re-read it. I know I’ll hear myself gasp, laugh, and blush all over again on the beach with Nick, Budgie, Graham and Lily. 
You can read the full review here.