Author: Courtney C. Stevens

BOOK REVIEW – The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens

BOOK REVIEW – The Lies About Truth by  Courtney C. StevensThe Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.

“Here’s a secret. I want to matter. I want to be known. I want to be myself. I want you to write this day on a piece of paper and put it inside Big. And one day, when you open him, you’ll read about me and think, ‘God, that day with Trent was one of my favorite days ever.”

LIE : This novel was an instant favorite of mine.
(hard) TRUTHS : a) There’s nothing really original about this synopsis : a teenager overcoming grief, been there, done that.
b) The first 30% bored me to death.
Yet the multiple layers of this story drew me in little by little – email by email, flashback by flashback, envelope by envelope. The unraveling of all the little things we call our life, of all the little lies we use as a blanket protection every day gradually won me over.

: Sadie May is an easy character to relate to.
: I’m not gonna lie, I spent most of the book feeling disconnected to the MC : not out of hate or from a lack of understanding on my part, but I couldn’t shake off the unpleasant impression that I didn’t really know her, and it took me a while to realize that the reason lay in the way her characterization was handled. Indeed throughout the novel Sadie is defined by her relationships with others (her parents, her friend, her ex, Max) rather than as an individual, and I had a hard time to connect with her at first. Yet if I can’t say when I started to care, it did happen. She let me in and from that moment, I couldn’t stop the flow of my emotions.

: The Lies About Truth is a fast-paced, feel good novel.
: It captures perfectly how messy grief is. How appealing the numbness is. How closed-off our heart can be. I strongly believe that life sometimes offers us moments where there’s no such thing as understanding.
There’s no such thing as selflessness.
There’s no such thing as empathy.
There are blame and anger and despair.
There are shame and guilt and confusion.
Yet somehow, someday, our heart starts beating again, and it’s so beautiful.

“Step one : Change happens. (The wreck.)
Step two : Pretend the change doesn’t exist. (What wreck?)
Step three : get angry the other person can’t be who they used to be. (You’re a wreck.)
Step four : Create change. (Wreck this.)
I wish I could hate them and mean it”.

LIE : Grief is a solitary process.
: I’m not saying that introspection isn’t needed, because it is, and Sadie understandingly goes through lonely phases. Yet the strength of this novel lies in the truthful way relationships are portrayed, without sugar-coating anything but always showing how support is important, whether from her parents or her friends : Family ties are rarely well-done in young adult, that’s why I can’t stress enough how much I appreciated the endearing relationship between Sadie and her parents. Moreover, friendship was pictured in a honest manner without hiding the pain and resentment, and I found it really refreshing. Gray, Trent, Max, Sonia, Gina… I cared for every one of them.

“It took millions of years for that ocean to beat rocks into sand.
We’re not that broken.”

LIE : Love heals all.
: What bothers me in books that imply that we need a love-story to overtake a traumatic event is the fact that it considerably (and falsely) simplifies what is complex by essence : we humans beings. I can’t accept a story in which sex heals everything and where some huge issues are dealt with by the mere presence of some man (and his big dick). This being said, I do believe that the love of someone can help, and that’s why the romance between Max and Sadie moved me : no instalove, but a slow growth that we are unconventionally following backwards, mostly through the emails they sent each other the year before. It doesn’t hurt that Max is supportive, sweet, and all kinds of adorable.

Forgiveness (n.) releasing the toxins of bitterness.

The Lies About Truth is a very character driven novel that took its time in making me feel invested, but from the moment I started to care, it never wavered.

BOOK REVIEW: The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens

BOOK REVIEW: The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. StevensThe Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.



Peace hid from me this year, and I’d searched for it at Metal Pete’s, in therapy sessions, in long runs on the beach, and hours of Star Time. I hadn’t found it hiding among that dark, black sea of sparkles or anywhere else. But tonight, in the gentleness of my friend stretched out next to me, breathing in and out so rhythmically that he sounded like breaking waves, it felt within reach again.

Okay so….I’ve been undeniably excited about another Courtney Stevens book coming out. After Faking Normal she became an instant favorite and I knew I would never pass up a book if she was the one who released it. I can’t say this blurb intrigued me like it did all of my friends…but this was more of a ‘I’m reading this because I am in love with this author always and forever’ type of thing. And while I want to say I loved this new addition despite my earlier trepidation about the lack of connection with the blurb, I just…didn’t. And it makes me sad because there was so much that I did like about it.

For one, I haven’t really had the time or patience to be reading new books lately, and I was hoping this would pull me out of my stupor and new book reading hiatus. Alas, this was not the case. As always, her writing was beautiful and her male lead was over the top perfect-two things with which I find to be without flaw in each of of her novels-making this a page turner…even if the story wasn’t as gripping as I’d hoped.

That’s not to say I didn’t love the idea of the story (once I delved into it), but there was a matter of living in the past for most of the novel and while in some books I tend to love this if done correctly, most books I find it to be rather tedious. It just so happens this book fell in the latter category, and that makes me incredibly sad. And it’s not so much the content of the story as much as how it’s delivered. Flashbacks and old emails encompassed the story to lead the readers into her life and why she is the way she is and what makes her tick, helping us to grasp onto a circumvent view of the girl that is Sadie (Love that name, by the way).

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And I guess it’s not even the flashbacks. I hate them, but I could have made it work. No, my biggest problem is the lack of…hmm….presence? The lack of presence when we were in her current state. I felt like most of the story relied on those flashbacks and old emails to pack emotional punch in the story and make us fall in love with the people they all used to be…and while I did find some enjoyment out of these moments, I was bored more often than not when we were in the ‘now’. I think I noticed this about 40-50% in.

But, like I said, I love this author and her writing so it pretty much evened out for enjoyment level. That being said….there was a certain boy named Max, who stole my heart. I don’t think it’s possible for Stevens to create a boy that doesn’t break my soul and immediately cause me to pledge myself to him within a measly amount of numbered pages.



“Cassiopeia was a queen,” I said.
He took his eyes off the sky. “Like you.”
“Um, not exactly, Romeo, since she went around boasting about her unrivaled beauty.”
He laughed. “That does sound like you, but…” He turned back to the sky. “You should boast about your beauty.”
“Max.” I didn’t mean to sound so condescending, but it came out that way before I could correct my tone.
“I’m not joking.”

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Loyal, sweet, kind, confident, and supportive, Max is everything Sadie needs in her life. She is in a shell and doesn’t show any signs of leaving said shell, but Max is determined to bring her back to life again. He, too, was in the wreck that killed their friend and his brother, leaving him with a permanent loss of regular voice, causing excessive whispering and raspy speech tendencies…ummmmmm….Am I sick? Because….yum. Oops. My favorite thing in a guy paired with a Courtney Stevens character? Shoot me dead, because I have fallen.

He huffed.”God, I’d like to kick Gray Garrison in the nads.” He sat up and forced me to do the same. His hands cupped my face and he locked eyes with me. “Look at me.”
We were inches apart. There was nowhere else to look.
“Your face is beautiful, but I’m not some shallow asshole who falls in love with a face. You hear me?”
That rasp in his voice was perfect.
I braved an answer. “Yes.”
“Sadie, you could go through a million windows and nothing would change.”

So, this book isn’t without it’s positives *cough* writing *cough* boy. But it definitely lacked the passion of Faking Normal. I fell so hard for FN and even want the hardback (DESPERATELY) for my bookshelf. But all I could think while reading this was how I couldn’t wait to start a new book. And it’s not fair because I am obsessed with Max and I loved everything to do with him. I got uncontrollable butterflies and could hardly breathe as they were falling in love….but that’s not enough to make me love a story. I need to fall for the substance, not just for the boy. And in this case, that’s really all the book had going for it, for me. And OKAY FINE I’LL ADMIT IT: I. FELT. BAD. FOR GRAY. There. I SAID IT. I adore Max. He’s the best….but still. I’m forever a bleeding heart.

BOOK REVIEW: Faking Normal (Faking Normal #1) by Courtney C. Stevens

BOOK REVIEW: Faking Normal (Faking Normal #1) by Courtney C. StevensFaking Normal (Faking Normal #1)
by Courtney C. Stevens
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.


Now there are tears in my eyes. “I’ll make you a promise, Bodee. Long as you’re with my family, you won’t run out of Kool-Aid.”

He blinks up at me. “And I promise you, I’ll stop whoever’s hurting you.


This book was perfection. I didn’t know what I wanted, but somehow this book always went exactly in that right direction-it went where I didn’t even realize I wanted to go, and that, to me, is amazing. Just wow. Perfectly perfect– It’s not often I find myself grinning like a deranged loon in the dark back drop of our bedroom after the lights go out.

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I mean, lots of books make me happy, everyone knows that, but it’s rare to feel such strong, giddy feels that you can’t contain a smile too big for your face. Those moments are unheard of, fleeting, almost non-existent. And I guess it’s even more surprising because of the content of this novel. It wasn’t light or fluffy or full of rainbows (well, I lie, Bodee’s hair was a myriad of colors throughout the book), yet it made me feel happy all throughout. And I think that’s the making of a true author-turning something horrible into something hopeful.

Me: a girl who was raped. Him: a boy whose dad killed his mom.
Us: a girl and boy who survive.


Last Friday I was on the search for a book that would help me get through the moments where I haven’t had time to read my lengthier novels lately. I already had decided I was taking a break from the series I was on, seeing as I was ruining the epicness of it, and wanted something that was more like what I had been obsessed about throughout the summer. I don’t know how to say this without sounding ridiculous, but, I’ve been in the mood for books that aren’t….quite….right. Like, for instance, my absolute favorites this year have been all over the board like I Hunt Killers to realistic drama such as Some Girls Are all the way to realistic fiction centered around mental health (I know, it sounds so bad spelled out like that) like this book here, or My Heart and Other Black Holes. Things like that. And don’t even get me started on my dystopian and fantasy favs this year-we’ll be here all day. Anyway, I knew I needed a good book…I just didn’t know what.

If only I could make the outside hurt more than the inside.


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I was scrolling through the feed and saw someone reading this-it was a book I had passed up a year ago, or who knows how long, and all of a sudden I was curious. My tastes have changed quite a bit, even from September 2014-September 2015. It’s so funny to me how you just know what you love and then all of a sudden you are reading completely different things and rolling your eyes at what you used to love. I am so fickle. But, as it is, I am obsessed with this new and interesting genre (for me it’s new) and don’t see myself giving it up too easily. It almost always touches me deeply in ways I never imagined possible, and there is always so much heart. These books have depth that is so hard to find these days..and I can’t get enough of them.



A wad of crime scene tape, meant for the trash. Left behind.
My mind wraps the same yellow tape around the pool in our backyard.
What if I had called the police? What if everyone knew a crime had been committed? Everything would be different. Everything is different-even without the yellow tape.

I didn’t know if I’d love this or not…but I had a good feeling, you know? It popped up on my feed and it just felt right. This is the story of a girl who has a secret. A girl who, despite her front, is broken. She goes through day to day life, smiling and nodding and acting as if nothing in the world is wrong….when, in reality, everything is. Something happened to her over the summer, something that irrevocably changed her life forever, aging her beyond her years. She longs to be normal, to not want to continually cause herself harm to repress the horrible recounts of that fateful night…but, really, she just wants to move on and



Once I’m behind two closed doors, I curl into a ball and suck in the familiar smell of the closet carpet. When I can’t make myself smaller, I cry and pound my fist on the floor. There’s an art to crying without a sound, and I’m a master.

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If you don’t like books where the main character causes harm to themselves or where rape is a factor in the story, this won’t be for you. I’ve never had to deal with these issues, nor have I ever met anyone who does, but I felt the pain, the deep hurt, our MC felt on every single page-That fear of other men and the self loathing that came with the doubt of her resolve-or lack thereof-in the matter. She blames herself for not saying no and for letting it happen….but what she doesn’t realize is it’s not her fault, it was never her fault, and it never will be her fault. And I guess I’ll never know if the author handled it correctly, but, to me, it all seemed right.



Something is hiding in my childhood. Something off.


Keeping this monumental secret is taking a huge toll on her. She doesn’t smile without it being forced, her neck is in shreds (secretly), and she walks through the halls with no sense of purpose, just going through the motions. I didn’t know what role her friends would really play in this-they seemed almost like the type to cause problems, in the beginning-but as the story progressed, you could see how much they cared for her, how they would do anything to keep her happy, and how they noticed….but didn’t know how deeply her hurt went. They have their flaws, but what person doesn’t?



The rape has devastated places in me that even Bodee’s magic can’t fix. If he were to put his heart in my hand, he might never find it again. And I’m not cruel enough to let him break while he tries to heal the impossible.

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And I think it goes without saying that I loved a boy in this story, hmm? His name is Bodee, and he was perfect-literally. He was perfect. I have not one complaint with this caring boy-He was beautiful, inside and out. But, he has his own personal tragedy-his mother was murdered by his father, and it weighs on him every single day. At the start of the book, we open with Bodee’s mother’s funeral. Lexi’s parents, being good friends of his mother, offer to let him stay at their house since he really doesn’t have anywhere else to go, making Bodee and Lexi closer than they ever could have imagined.

”She’ll take Collie back, so….be careful.”
“Thanks, Lex, but my sights aren’t on Heather.”
“You have sights?”
“Every guy with a heartbeat has sights,” he says.
“Who’s in yours?” My heartbeat betrays my calm voice, and this close, I know Bodee can feel it spike.
“Well, now”-he flashes me the coy grin that I love and rarely see-“you have your secrets, and I have mine.”


I think what I liked most about their relationship, though, was how they both did their best to try and help the other heal. And, even more than that, Bodee was an outcast at school-‘Kool-Aid Kid’, as they call him, and had no friends-it was utterly heart-breaking and soul -wrenching seeing him explore his new found friendship with Lexi-and Heather and Liz, by default. Even more than that, though, I loved seeing his protectiveness of Lexi-his best (and sometimes only) friend. It was absolutely adorable. I wanted to reach in the book and steal him for myself, hug him until all his pain went away….but now I’m getting creepy, and that just won’t do. So…moving on.
”Alexi…I know…I don’t know you well enough to ask, but….could you, I mean, would you maybe…help me with something on the way to your house?”
The starts and stops, the painstaking precision of words, and the sheer length of time it takes him to ask make it clear that this boy never asks anyone for help.
Bring out the dull knitting needles, stabbing my heart, again.


They aren’t perfect-far from it-but they are trying to move forward with their lives-Or, in Lexi’s case, to forget-and are doing it together. Two souls who lost themselves along the way…guiding each other back to the light. I know a lot of people hate the ‘love cures all’ trope, but I don’t know that that was the case here. I think it was more of a guidance and healing type venture, and it was utterly heart-warming to see how they grew, each giving the other strength where they couldn’t gather it themselves. I fell in love with them together as well as when they were apart…their story is one I can say I won’t forget quickly, like I do with a lot of books. I really and truly fell in love with them-permanently.



If a heart can smile, mine does.
“Bodee, thanks,” I say, though I know he doesn’t need it. “I’m sorry you lost her.”
“At least I found you,” he says.

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I think it goes without saying, though, that there was plenty I had a problem with. Well, one thing, really: Kayla, her sister. What a bitch. I’m sorry, but no sister should ever come at their sibling like that. It was disgusting, vile, and completely uncalled for. I must admit, though, I liked what the sour taste added to the story-I’m not sure why. Maybe I liked the diversity. Maybe I liked that things were that much more complicated, or maybe it’s because I got to see Bodee, the knight in shining armor….either way, I loved it.

Bodee Lennox is never really anything. I’ll bet most kids in our class didn’t know his name before the murder. And yet his face is not expressionless the way I once thought. That slight twitch of lips, a little half grin, says more than Heather does in a week. But the full-teeth smile, the one I saw today at his house, is like a work of Tolstoy.

And then finally, the Captain Lyrics angle. I loved this. Not necessarily the lyrics, per se, but the idea of who was behind it. Yeah yeah, there’s really only two or three people it could be, but don’t you love a little side of mystery to go along with your story? I mean, a predictable mystery, but, mystery nonetheless-knowing you know who it is but still wanting to play along anyway…it was too cute. Gah I already want to re-read this!

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Faking normal is a skill I learned seventy-seven days ago, but tonight it’s going to require everything I have.


So, anyway, that’s all. There was a ton I wanted to say even though I really didn’t know how to say it. I think my long intros have a lot to do with me stalling and trying to find the right ways to express how much I really and truly loved something. I’m not perfect, my review isn’t perfect, but I loved this book and I wanted to do it up right for Bodee and Lexi. I hope you all can find something you like about this review that will make you want to give this one a try. And if not…oh well, I tried.

…5 hours of tortuous wait until I could finally read
…4 interruptions once I started
…3 (million) giggles and sighs
…2 hours of lost sleep I’ll never get back so I could finish this at any cost
…1 brilliant story…and a very happy Chelsea.

I never understood life could be so dramatically sectioned, but it can. And is. There is only after. And before.

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