Review: Confessions of An Almost Girlfriend by Louise Rozett

coaagCONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND (Confessions #2)
Louise Rozett
Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 25, 2013

From the Back Cover:

Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around…

…but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all…the almost-girlfriend.

When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.

CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL was one of my favorite reads from 2012, so I couldn’t wait to read the second installment. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint! CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND was every bit as engrossing as the first book in the series, maybe even more so, in that readers start to see Rose come into her own as she fights some new battles as well as some old ones.

Louise Rozett does an amazing job with planting the reader so firmly in Rose’s head that we get to know her on such a deep level. She becomes real, and as a result, we become so emotionally invested in her story that it’s impossible to stop reading. Ms. Rozett doesn’t shy away from giving Rose flaws — she’s frequently impulsive, she makes bad decisions, and there are moments when she may even veer into unlikeable territory. And yet, strangely enough, she’s still extremely likeable and extremely relate-able. That’s the magic of Ms. Rozett’s beautifully done narrative.

The romance between Jamie and Rose is wonderfully complex and layered, and ends on a cliffhanger guaranteed to have readers pulling their hair out, desperate for another book in the series (there better be one!). CONFESSIONS OF AN ALMOST GIRLFRIEND is a must read. If you haven’t read ANGRY GIRL yet, remedy that right away and grab them both!

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Review: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins

belongingBELONGING (TEMPTATION, BOOK 2)
Karen Ann Hopkins
Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 30, 2013

From the back cover:

I left everything I knew behind.

But it was worth it. He was worth it.

No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren’t even allowed to see each other. Not until I’ve proven myself.

If I can find a way to make it work, we’ll be NOAH & ROSE

together forever.

But not everybody believes this is where I belong.

I’ve never been particularly interested in the Amish culture, but when Karen Ann Hopkins’ first book, TEMPTATION, was released last year, I was intrigued by the story of an ordinary, outspoken teen girl falling for a quiet, Amish boy. I felt the premise brought a fresh perspective to young adult romance, one that was rife with conflict — both internal and external — and the book didn’t disappoint. At the end, I was invested enough in Noah and Rose’s romance to look forward to BELONGING.

In BELONGING, Rose is living the Amish lifestyle, trying hard to fit in and adhere to all their strict rules because she firmly believes that making the drastic change will allow her and Noah to be together for good. Ms. Hopkins brings the Amish culture to life, and Rose’s struggle to change who she is to be Amish not only on the outside but on the inside as well, are extremely well done.

However, while TEMPTATION had all the compelling moments of first love, BELONGING doesn’t seem to go anywhere for most of the book. It’s all about how Rose needs to change, needs to be perfect, and fit into the Amish way, and meanwhile, Noah sacrifices nothing. He appears completely selfish throughout–his only thought revolves around getting Rose accepted into the church so that they can get married and start sleeping together, and unfortunately, this is his main drive for the entire book. It became very frustrating for me as a reader, and also made me start questioning whether he was really in love with Rose or just in lust.

I also wasn’t thrilled with the addition of the love triangle. BELONGING had plenty of opportunity to provide real, emotional conflict solely between Noah and Rose without adding in another love interest for her. While I understand the reasoning for doing so — it’s making Rose choose what kind of life she wants for herself — I just didn’t feel it was necessary, and it made Rose seem wishy-washy to me.

The funny thing is, though, even with all the reasons that I disliked this book, there was something about it that compelled me to keep reading. I had to know what happened. And I still want to know how Rose and Noah’s story will wrap up in the third book. So, kudos to Karen Ann Hopkins for writing something that invests the reader even when they’re not liking the direction. That takes talent.  I anxiously await the conclusion to Rose and Noah’s story!