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The Counting-Downers: Inventive, Perspective-Changing, and Beautiful

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The Counting-Downers

The stunningly poignant and life-affirming debut novel by A.J. Compton

Imagine if we could see how long everyone around us had left to live. But we weren’t allowed to know our own numbers…

Trying to make sense of life after the death of her beloved father, free spirit Matilda Evans meets Tristan Isaacs and discovers a marrow-deep connection with him.

No stranger to grief himself, lonely artist Tristan is in awe of Matilda’s fun and philosophical approach to life. With every second spent in her presence, he finds his views on life and loss changing, and begins to embrace the beauty of being alive.

As their friendship turns into something deeper, lessons are learned, memories are made, and legacies are created.

But with both of them knowing how long their soulmate has left in this lifetime, important questions have to be asked and tough decisions have to be made before time runs out.

The Counting-Downers is an inspiring story about life, loss, love, and making the most of every moment.

Goodreads Rating: 4.27 Stars
Contemporary/New Adult/Romance/Sci Fi/Fantasy
344 Pages
Publication Date: July 24th, 2015
Get a copy here!

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Quick Reasons: life-ruiner!; this book is just… SO many feels, SO much to ponder, SO powerful; a poignant, beautiful story of life, loss, love, grief, death…but most importantly, LIVING; there are no words for how much I love this book; gorgeous, atmospheric prose; beautifully description scenes; a landscape painted of words and emotions; this book touched me, deeply

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Firstly: JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER, oh my penguins it’s so exquisite and gorgeous and just… gaaaaah, so much yes!

I just… I mean, it’s a bit early in my relationship with A.J. Compton to be certain, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found a new favorite author. A new auto-buy. A new person to watch out for with impatience and childlike wonder in the future. Because A.J. Compton? speaks to me, so deeply. I’ve read two novels by her so far, and have been ABSOLUTELY blown away both times. Why? Because she leaves me thinking. She challenges me to view the world, and the subject she’s chosen to focus on, in different and vastly unique ways. She challenges me to think outside the box, to examine my reactions, and to WONDER. And that is a gorgeous, wonderful, awe-inspiring talent, in my opinion.

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This book? Focuses on some very difficult and abstract subjects. Time, for one thing–and how to handle the passing of it, when you can see exactly how much time everybody but you has left. The subject and plot of this book is so uniquely different from anything I’ve ever read before, because the characters start this book KNOWING that the world around them is dying. Knowing that they, too, have a finite number of minutes, even though they don’t know that number exactly. These characters are flawed, but courageous despite their fears. These characters are well-rounded, vibrantly written…and so, so heart-wrenching.

The world A.J. Compton has written within these pages is both believable and vibrant. There are some grammatical errors–things like missing words are a bit of an issue, though it’s easy enough to figure out from the context what words have been dropped, and it didn’t in any way hinder or take away from my reading. This journey–the growths, the strengths and weaknesses, the love of these characters–took me for a wild, thought-provoking ride. This is yet another book that’s bound to haunt me for years to come, and I adore that so much. I adore how much this one read has changed my perspective, has made me reconsider the world.

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If you guys haven’t picked up an A.J. Compton book yet… GO DO IT! Seriously, what are you waiting for?! Her writing is descriptive and vibrant, her characters are heart-wrenching, and the journey is ALWAYS inspiring and perspective-shifting. A.J. Compton knows how to make her readers think…and that’s a beautiful talent to have. I definitely recommend this book to lovers (or haters) of time; to readers seeking an unexpected but beautiful journey; and to those who think they need a new outlook on living and dying. Seriously, guys–don’t waste any more time. Pick this book up NOW; I swear it’s worth the risk!

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A Review of Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Twilight, #5), by Stephenie Meyer

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Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.
Packaged as an oversize, jacketed hardcover “flip book,” this edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes.
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Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: first half is pretty much word-for-word the original, with some interesting differences; a bit of disappointment in the gender swap; somehow I liked Beau much better than Bella?; an interesting and unexpected twist on the ending

I know what you’re probably all thinking right now: Really, Beth? Really?!

“You know I don’t understand what you mean, right?” I asked.

“I’m counting on it,” she said…

Yes, really. When I first discovered the Twilight books in college (with huge thanks to the roommate who owned them and forced all of us to read them!) I immediately fell in love with the story. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t such a big reader—which meant I appreciated them not for their artistic development or awesome plot, but because I enjoyed the STORY. The characters, the action, the love story—I was enraptured, at the time, with the idea of someone so extraordinary falling so completely for a girl who was almost ME. What can I say, I didn’t have very high expectations for my reading material at the time.

I have since then gone through several drastic changes in my reading preferences, and while I can admit I might not like the books NOW if I were to be only just picking them up…I still do hold them in pretty high regard emotionally. They’re the kind of books I turn to when I need a mindless read. The books I grab when I need to shut off my brain and just disappear for a while. So, yes. When this “retelling” was announced, I jumped at the chance to read it—I was SO excited about the gender swap, the potentials it carried with it for a new and intriguing story.

Seriously, though, this wasn’t a life and death situation—it was just high school. It’s not like anyone was going to bite me.

Unfortunately, it fell a bit flat for me regardless. You see, I didn’t realize going into this that it would be practically word-for-word the original story in the beginning. I was expecting a different type of drama, a different world unfolding! So to be thrust back into the original with some simple pronoun changes and just a few alterations to make it more “fitting”… Well, this didn’t take me over a week to read for nothing, I guess.

I LOVE Beau as a character, though—somehow, he comes across much more likable than Bella? I think part of this can be attributed to one very simple thing: he didn’t spend the ENTIRE book agonizing, beating himself up over stupid things, or comparing his supposed faults with the rest of the world. He was much better written, and more entertaining to read about, because he actually had a personality—instead of being the flat, paper-doll fit for molding like Bella was, Beau held his own against the world, and made himself known. I appreciated this quite a bit, and wish Bella had been written in a similar way. I also do wish that the gender swap hadn’t gone all across the cast of characters. While a few escaped this fate, I felt that swapping each and every character did nothing for the story overall. I’d have rathered only one or two specific characters were switched—it would have stood out much more, and made things more interesting.

“Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles.”

Now—while the ending of this matches (up to a point) the original book, there’s one HUGE and marked distinction that I wasn’t expecting heading into it. Having gone in blind, I’m not going to go into details about the specifics—I think it’s best readers don’t know about it when they head into this book. I will say, though, I’m not sure HOW I feel about the change. While I enjoyed it—FINALLY, the new and exciting changes I’d been seeking all along!–I also felt it was cut a bit TOO short.

Overall, this was an okay reimagining of the original story, but I’m not going to go crazy and call it my favorite, because it’s not. I appreciated some of the things Stephenie Meyer did here…but was also angered by others. I fell unexpectedly in love with one specific character…but the rest, overall, fell pretty flat. Still, I’d recommend for lovers of the original Twilight series—imagining the characters in a different light was interesting and, for the most part, entertaining!