Review for Third Degree by Julie Cross

Third Degree by Julie Cross

TITLE: Third Degree
AUTHOR: Julie Cross
PUBLICATION DATE: March 25, 2014
PUBLISHER: Flirt, a imprint of Random House
PAGES: 240 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Isabel Jenkins has always been a prodigy, picking up the science of medicine quickly and effectively. She is a PhD by 18 and she’s a psych test away from legally being able to practice medicine without supervision. Unfortunately, she fails the psych test. Now, she’s has to find something to occupy her time while she waits for the next opportunity to take the psych exam. She ends up going to college for her third degree, just trying to assimilate into the “normal” college experience. But she doesn’t really understand people, her roommate hates her, and the only person she seems to get along with is her extremely off-limits RA. Marshall (the RA) seems to be constantly flirting with her, but does he really like her? Maybe this third degree will be the most useful yet.

Imagine Gregory House as a teenage girl and that’s basically Isabel. Except without the Vicodin addiction. She’s crazy smart when it comes to medicine and diagnosing people, but less than skilled with the bedside manner. It’s not that she is insensitive or indifferent, but she just doesn’t see her patients as human. That sounds bad, but it’s what made her so relatable for me. I struggle to understand people as well and to fit into their roles. Sympathy and empathy aren’t things I’m good at displaying or faking. Watching her slowly and awkwardly find her place in this college environment was addictive and hilarious and endearing. Her medical training is never far even though she’s trying to conceal that part of her past and the situations she gets herself into range from funny to horrifying. Cross did a great job of taking a character that should have come across as condescending and making her completely down to earth. I’m imagine it would be hard to stay on cloud nine after having your dreams taken away, but she continues to hit the new challenges straight on which was more admirable than the ability to have a doctorate at 18.

Then there is Marshall. Strong and athletic with a great sense of humor and smarts and he’s probably at the top of many swoon-worthy male lists. The way he approaches Izzy, even when she’s being difficult, having an open caring nature that she can’t help but open up to him. He’s so sweet and strong, in spite of his problems and he never lets Izzy’s weirdness get in the way. This is all from her perspective so we never really get to see what he was thinking, but I imagine his inner monologue would just make the world fall for him even more.

The writing was intriguing. The chapters opening with a new and interesting medical fact really amusing me. I loved the whole idea of rich supersmart kid getting knocked down a peg. She’s led such a privileged life, with parents several steps above financially stable and every opportunity provided for her to make the quick ascend up the academic ladder. Watching her not get what she wants for the first time ever was beyond entertaining. This is a new adult romance, so that entails a love story at the core with a bit of smut on the side. Cross keeps the smut to a standard romance level, thankfully not venturing to fully erotica level. Not that I don’t like that, but lately it seems like every NA I pick up feels the need to go that far and sometimes I want it to be more about the romance than the sex. They are romance novels so let’s focus on that, shall we? Good.

Anyway, this is the first novel I’ve read by Cross and I’m wholly satisfied. I have The Tempest but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. If this novel is any indication, that will be pretty epic. This little romance enthralled me. I read the majority of it in one day, stopping only when it was absolutely necessary to go to sleep and then quickly finishing it the next day. Isabel’s story about what happens after your dreams fall apart is uplifting in a way I wasn’t expecting. Maybe what we think we want isn’t what we really want or, better yet, it isn’t what we need. Isabel really needed to get out in the world and experience people because she wasn’t an adequate doctor without that ability to sympathize with her patients. I really loved the whole and can’t wait to dig in to anything else Julie Cross plans to write! I think fan of the new adult genre will enjoy this immensely.

****Thank you to Flirt, an imprint of Random House, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

TITLE: OCD Love Story
AUTHOR: Corey Ann Haydu
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
PAGES: 352 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 5 stars

Bea is just your average girl with a weekly therapist appointment. She just likes to take notes, and is a bit obsessive….with a tinsy history of stalking. She meets Beck and he just might be perfect for her, but she can’t stop obsessing over Austin and his perfect life and she just needs to check in on him to make sure he’s alright one last time and then she’ll move on!

I’m a bit speechless. I was expecting an interesting love story about a girl with minor OCD tendencies, like a need for everything to be in its proper place and maybe a obsession with keeping everything including herself extremely clean, you know kind of a “Out damn spot!” kind of thing. I was so far off. Bea’s compulsions have nothing to do with cleanliness and everything to do with obsessing over everyones safety. It was both fascinating and terrifying to watch her stalking manifest. It started as something so small and then grew so massive.

Watching her struggle to fight her compulsions and losing more often than not was heartbreaking especially because she is fully aware of how insane she acts and she is helpless to stop it. Once she and Beck start dating, watching them both use the other to help fight the compulsions and also to comfort one another when that fails was endearing. I love that Bea fully accepts Beck as he is, with his fitness obsessions and the number 8 fixation. She realizes that she is just as damaged and knows that on the list of compulsions, those aren’t nearly as bad as they could be. Not to mention the fact that he a very compelling reason for developing those obsessions.

The really disturbing thing about this was how fixated on Austin and Sylvia she becomes. Even after she starts a relationship with Beck, she can’t stop watching them and taking notes on the parts of their sessions she overhears. Her fear that something bad will happen to them if she doesn’t make sure they are okay is so vivid that she physically cannot stop herself from going to them.

This novel gets 5 stars for shock value alone. This is the only YA novel I have ever read that portrays OCD and stalking…well with the main character is a stalker because I’ve read several where the main character gets stalked. My point is more of this is the first one I’ve read where the stalker is portrayed in a semi-sympathetic light and the first one that seriously discusses OCD as more than just a vague reference to someone with an obsession with order. I do not have OCD, but I did take several different college psychology courses and I feel like Haydu did an excellent job portraying this condition. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something outside of your typical YA contemporary and for anyone interested in mental disorders.

****Thank you to Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Wide Awake by AngstGoddess003 (Fanfic review)

Wide Awake by AngstGoddess003

TITLE: Wide Awake
AUTHOR: AngstGoddess003
PUBLICATION DATE:December 26, 2009
PAGES: 916 pages
SOURCE: Downloaded
RATING: 5 stars

***CAUTION: This review may contain possible spoilers, profanity, and rabid fangirling.***

With all this hype going on about Fifty Shades Of Grey by E L James, which for those of you who don’t know is an erotic novel that started off as a Twilight fanfic, I couldn’t resist the urge to reread my favorite Twilight fanfic. This story is probably one of the best things I have ever read. Fanfic or not, it is still an amazingly written story of loss and love.

It obviously follows the story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. It’s written in first person, alternating between Bella’s perspective and Edward’s. Both characters have serious flaws and are fucked up in more ways than one. Bella was the victim of a month long home invasion where her mom’s ex-boyfriend locked her in a closet and abused her mentally and physically. This event leaves her mom dead and Bella so traumatized that the simple touch of any man sends her spiraling into a mental breakdown. She refuses to sleep because when she does, she has the worst nightmares and wakes up in a panic. She spent a year in group homes before finally allowing her aunt Esme to convince her to move in with her and her daughter, Alice. Edward is equally fucked in the head. When he was nine, he was in a house fire and watched his father burn to death. Shortly after the fire, his mother put him up for adoption and he spent years in group homes before being adopted by Dr Carlisle Cullen. He blames himself for the fire and his father’s death. He is similarly afflicted as Bella in that he also refuses to sleep because of the horrid dreams. And speaking of Edward….DAMN. This version of him is lovingly referred to as “dark Edward” because he is a fowl mouthed, cocky, antisocial motherfucker. And I LOVED it.

The two are draw together when they realize they have a similar problem and start spending their nights together out in the cold at the gazebo that is between her house and his to help keep each other awake. Things continue in this fashion, with the nightly hangouts for a few weeks until Edward gets completely exhausted and falls asleep on Thanksgiving. Bella becomes so worried that she climbs the lattice to his balcony and finds him curled in the middle of his bed, deep asleep whimpering, shaking, and with tears streaming down his face. She tries to awaken him by yelling at him, but no such luck. Desperate to help him, she crawls into the bed, knowing that touching him means another mental break but needing to wake him, and starts to try to wake him with her touch. And then something amazing happens. She can touch him. She doesn’t feel the panic or have the mental flashes that she gets when anyone else touches her. She still can’t wake him, so she starts stroking his hair and humming the song his mother used to hum to him and he calms instantly. Eventually he unconsciously wraps an arm around her waist and she still feels no panic. Somehow, she ends up drifting off to sleep wrapped in his arms. They both wake up nightmare free many hours later and everything changes after that. She starts sneaking over to his house every night to sleep. Though she is attracted to him, it takes him a long time to admit his attraction to her for fear that he will fuck it up and ruin the sanctity of their sleeping. A lot of shit happens after this and things get better and then worse and then better and so on.

This story is so well written and it’s obvious the author put a lot of effort into the research behind the illness that affect the characters. Bella & Edward don’t just skate along carefree while being severally sleep deprived. That shit had serious medical consequences. As does post traumatic stress disorder which both characters obviously have. These issues are eventually addressed as the characters work towards a better relationship. The two finding solace in each other isn’t a cure-all for their problems even though they think it is.

You guys have no idea how much effort I am putting into not fangirling out right now. This story will make you laugh, cry, scream, and get so angry that you wish the characters were real just so you could punch them in the face and tell them how stupid they are. And it’s all worth it. This is just one of those great things that stick with you even as you read other things. This was my sixth time reading it and the wow factor still hasn’t worn off. I’m just blown away by it. Maybe it’s because I can relate (on a WAY smaller scale) to some of the issues that are faced, but this is one of those stories that is always in my head. Dark Edward rolls around in there along with Bella and Alice and Jazz. No offense meant to Stephenie Meyer, but this fanfic makes Twilight look like it’s deaf, blind, and retarded cousin.

It really is a must read, so go read it now. Seriously, you have no fucking excuse not to because it’s a fanfic so it is free, so go google “Wide Awake fanfic” and read it. NOW!

Random side note, I made a playlist for the epic story and it’s below, in no particular order.
1. All The Same by Sick Puppies
2. White Balloons by Sick Puppies
3. My World by Sick Puppies
4. Survive by Sick Puppies
5. Master Of The Universe by Sick Puppies
6. The Bottom by Sick Puppies
7. The Red by Chevelle
8. Forfeit by Chevelle
9. The Gift by Seether
10. Walk Away From The Sun by Seether
11. Never Leave by Seether
12. The Crow And The Butterfly by Shinedown
13. Beyond The Sun by Shinedown
14. Stop And Say You Love Me by Evans Blue
15. Possession by Evans Blue
16. The Tease by Evans Blue