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Saturday, March 15, 2014

5* Review: SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy @BalzerandBray @andimJULIE @ABBalzer

Release Date: March 18, 2014
Hardcover, 336 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? 

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories).
But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Side Effects May Vary is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time. Fans of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The F-It List by Julie Halpern will be drawn to this unique premise.

What happens when you have terminal cancer and create the ultimate Bucket List? One that encases multiple acts of revenge, sprinkled with the occasional good deed. Main character, Alice, sees this as a prime opportunity to accomplish things she’s only ever dreamed about…without worrying about the consequences. 

The list includes revenge on the popular, teasing bullies at school, helping a young neighbor, and learning more about her childhood best friend, Harvey, than she ever imagined.

Enlisting the help of Harvey, Alice sets in motion a series of events that will change everyone’s lives – especially hers as she learns she has miraculously gone into remission. Yes, now Alice has to face the effects of each item completed from her Bucket List.

Julie Murphy’s writing is brilliant and the flow between characters and time is seamless. Her writing leaves you wanting to read “just one more chapter” until before you realize it; you’ve finished the entire book! Side Effects May Vary is the perfect blend of emotions that keeps you reading long into the night. Murphy tells a wonderful story of friendship, loss, rebelliousness, and ultimately discovering first love.

The only downside to this novel, in my opinion, is the lack of an epilogue. While Murphy ties up loose ends, has the final outcome alluded to, it just feels like one of those novels that would benefit from seeing how the characters and their respective families are doing, say one year later. An update on Alice’s health and her friendship with Harvey would be especially nice.

Perhaps we’ll revisit them in a sequel or companion novel? One can hope.
Guest Review by: Victoria Lucas

Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her and her cat who tolerates her.

When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library.

Julie loves pocket change, but she likes to keep it in a jar, and not in her pocket. When she was little, she was on a bowling league.

Moxie is her favorite word. If she won the lottery, the first thing she would buy would be a photo booth. Julie likes outer space. She believes in karma. She's terrified of cicadas and loves school. She doesn't pick up her house phone.

Julie likes getting mail. She's the funniest person you know. 2+2=5. She lives in Texas with her husband who loves her, a dog who adores her, and a cat who tolerates her. 

Baseball aficionado. Professional potty mouth obsessed with movie trailers.

And movies, too. And books. DUH. Let's be friends. 

SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is Julie's debut novel.

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