ARC Review: Been Here All Along

August 28, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: Been Here All AlongBeen Here All Along by Sandy Hall
Published by Swoon Reads on August 30th 2016
Pages: 240
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Signs Point to Yes
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three-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.
Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…

Been Here All Along is a pretty adorable friends to lovers romance that I really enjoyed. I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite because I felt like the POV’s weren’t as well developed as they could have been and I wanted to see more character growth as a whole, but it still was a decent novel. It was ridiculously short and I was able to read it in just a couple of hours. I recommend it if you want to read a fluffy romance between two teenage boys that has its fair share of drama, but isn’t tragic either. I wasn’t totally blown away by this book, but I didn’t dislike it either. I think it was a solid read, I’ve still read LGBT books that I personally enjoyed a lot more than this one, that’s just me though.

My favorite part of the novel was likely the two main characters Gideon and Kyle. They were both relatively nerdy guys who were both completely likable for various different reasons. I thoroughly liked the friendship that was already established between them before anything romantic was ever going on. Out of the two, Gideon might be my favorite by a landslide, but both had extremely likable qualities about them. Anyway, Gideon was great because I loved how nerdy and adorable he was. As I’m sure I’ve made clear before, nerdy boys are my absolute favorite. At times, Gideon did drive me a little crazy, but he was still a pretty well developed character as a whole.

Kyle was a lovely character who I really sympathized with on some levels. Specifically, I felt so bad for him when it comes to his struggles in English class and just with reading in general. He was a basketball star, but at the same time, he was much more than your stereotypical jock. His only problem was his girlfriend Ruby, who I disliked the whole time. I understand why Sandy Hall wrote it this way, she wanted to make Kyle completely unattainable to Gideon, but I still feel like her personality could have been a bit more developed.

So the friendship turned romantic relationship that Gideon and Kyle had was ridiculously adorable. Truthfully, that’s really the best word I can use to describe them. They had such incredible chemistry, even as best friends. I also loved how they geeked out over Lord of the Rings together. Naturally, it was a rather slow developing thing since there was quite a bit of drama involving Kyle’s obnoxious girlfriend. But once everything finally worked out, it turned out to be just as adorable as I was expecting it to be.

While I did find this book to be a short and sweet read, it was far from being perfect. I had some major issues with the narration, the four POV’s didn’t work for me. I understand including Gideon and Kyle’s voices, but throwing in Gideon’s brother plus Kyle’s girlfriend made everything a bit of a mess. I couldn’t stand Ruby, and her voice wasn’t very well written in my opinion. Have I mentioned that this book is really short? It’s over 200 pages, and I feel like it’s just not long enough for all of the characters to be fully developed. Some of the solutions were just sloppy and not fully resolved. Unfortunately, I was expecting more from Sandy Hall. It was definitely a swoony read, but I was still anticipating a lot more from the plot and characters.

three-stars

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The Scorpio Races Review

August 24, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

The Scorpio Races ReviewThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on October 18th 2011
Pages: 409
Source: Library
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five-stars
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

So I haven’t read very many Maggie Stiefvater books in the past, only The Raven Boys, though I do planning on eventually reading the rest of that series. Anyway, I figured I should try this one out since it’s her only standalone, and I’m really glad that I did. Immediately, readers get sucked into this phenomenal world that she’s created in the mysterious island of Thisby. Puck and Sean are both such incredible characters and I loved being inside their heads. Besides that, there is also intense action that keeps you on the edge, adorable little brothers, a bakery, and super cool Americans. I hope that you’ve read this already since I feel like most YA readers already have, but if not, it’s definitely a must read! I totally understand the hype behind it all now.

Puck is a pretty badass heroine to say the least. Her parents both died, so she lives alone with her older brother and younger brother. Her older brother Gabe is slowly drifting away from her and Finn, and is now wanting to leave Thisby. On top of all that, Puck is on the verge of losing her house due to not being able to make payments on it. She feels like she has no choice but to enter the Scorpio Races, which no woman has ever done. Naturally, the response is not a positive one, and she doesn’t exactly help herself when she uses her longtime horse instead of a capall uisce, which is a deadly water horse. So the odds are stacked against her, but I love how passionate and determined she is. She doesn’t let absolutely anything get in her way, and I have nothing but respect for her.

On the other side of things, we have Sean, who is such an amazing book boyfriend from the start. He’s won the Scorpio Races four years in a row with his longtime fierce horse, and he also takes care of the horses in the stables. The thing about Sean is that he’s incredibly quiet, and I love that about him! You know that when he has something to say, it’s clearly important since he never opens up all that frequently. He isn’t all that swoony necessarily, he doesn’t deliver any big lines to win Puck over or anything, but he’s a real teenage boy. Meaning, he is just amazing by fully being himself, and that’s what wins both the readers and Puck over in the end.

My favorite part of the romance was how subtle it was. It wasn’t even close to being the main focus, the characters and their personal growth throughout the novel is, but I loved it anyway. There were very few sweet kisses shared between them, and that’s what makes them all the more special and precious. Sean and Puck don’t even interact for several chapters, so the buildup is extremely slow but also real. I love that nothing was ever rushed in their relationship. I don’t even know what all to say, it just all couldn’t have been written any better!

The action had me on the edge of my seat the whole book. Seriously, I was literally so nervous for both Sean and Puck’s safety. Those capall uisce would actually eat anything in their path, so it made me nervous for them and pretty much any other character that we were introduced to. So the thing that I wasn’t expecting was how little the actual Scorpio Races plays in the plot. Most of the book is just a lead up to it, and then the end is the race itself. Another thing that I was expecting based on the description that it was like The Hunger Games, only one person survived it, but that’s actually not how it is. Yes, it’s a super dangerous thing and a lot of people do die from it, but there are survivors as well. I was probably the only person who thought this, but whatever, I’m glad that it wasn’t actually like that!

From the first page, this book manages to intrigue you. Puck and Sean are both so well written, I wanted to be friends with them both. Not to mention some of the fabulous supporting characters, like Gabe and Finn, Puck’s brothers. I really loved some of the people on Thisby too, like some eccentric sisters who always tell Puck how it is. I loved George Holly, who is an American that is buying horses and becomes good friends with Sean. The point is, this book couldn’t have been any better. It’s filled with such intensity and emotions. What more could you really want out of a book?

five-stars

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More Happy Than Not Review

August 23, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

More Happy Than Not ReviewMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 293
Source: Library
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four-stars
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Wow, I had heard that this was a sad book, but I still wasn’t expecting how depressing it actually turned out to be. All sadness aside, this is an incredibly well written story, and the plot is pretty unique. While I definitely had to read something much more uplifting after this one, this is still an amazing and memorable book. I recommend this for readers who are looking for a story that is on the heavy side, but is also extremely informative and significant as a whole. Adam Silvera is a fantastic author and I really enjoyed this complicated but compelling debut.

For starters, Aaron Soto is a seriously heartbreaking character. I really loved what a major nerd he was, especially when it comes to comic books. He has such a witty and cool personality, and I loved that about him. The heartbreaking side of him is all the sadness that he has inside of him. The dude hasn’t had an easy life to say the least. His dad committed suicide just a few months back, and Aaron tried to kill himself at some point as well. I wanted to hug Aaron basically from the first page until the very last, the boy desperately needed some affection. As already said, he has a hard life, and the rough neighborhood that he comes from makes it all the more difficult for him.

Let me just say that I honestly wasn’t expecting the plot to go in the direction that it did. I had read in some other reviews that if you had seen the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Minds, you won’t be all that surprised by it, but I totally was despite the fact that I love that movie. So most people probably won’t be that shocked by some of the turn of events, but I still found them to be rather clever. I think what made it all flow together was Silvera’s impressive writing. It’s hard to put into words, but somehow it all clicked in this unique way. You really need to read it to truly get it, in my opinion.

The romance in this book wasn’t what I was expecting. I was anticipating that he and Thomas would have this big unrequited love thing going on, but that doesn’t end up happening at all. Thomas simply makes Aaron aware that he has feelings for boys instead of girls, which isn’t something acceptable in his harsh Bronx neighborhood. He knows that his friends will never accept him if he reveals this, so that’s when he turns to having that part of his memory erased. The point is, romance fans might be a bit disappointed that there isn’t more of one here. However, I was so wrapped up in the plot and characters, that it personally didn’t bother me at all.

So this book has been out for over a year now and I’m not so sure why I waited that long to read it. I think I was a little hesitant because I knew that it wasn’t going to be a light read. Despite the heavy subject matter at times, this was still a mostly pleasant read. Aaron is a character who will definitely standout in my mind for a long time. I wanted him to receive a happy ending, and though the ending here wasn’t what I was expecting, the author still wrapped it all up with tremendous care and thought. The ending felt true to what the book was trying to accomplish, another one wouldn’t have worked as well. I really recommend this one, especially for people looking for a unique and well done LGBT book!

four-stars

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Sunday Street Team: Girl in Pieces Review

August 21, 2016 Blog Tours, Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

Sunday Street Team: Girl in Pieces ReviewGirl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Published by Delacorte Press on August 30th 2016
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel about a girl who has lost everything—almost even herself.      Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.    Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.   A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

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Hey, everyone! I’m so happy to be a member of the Sunday Street Team. SST is hosted by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28 and you can learn more about it by heading over to her website.

I’m going to be honest, Girl in Pieces was not an easy read for me. It wasn’t one of those light and fluffy books that I could sit down and read in just a few hours. It ended up taking me a few weeks to read it, just because it’s such a heavy and downright emotional read from start to finish. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a worthwhile read and that Charlie’s story isn’t one worth telling. Though difficult, it’s still beautifully written, thanks to Kathleen Glasgow’s remarkable prose. This is only Glasgow’s debut novel, yet she manages to write like a seasoned professional. I highly recommend reading this book because it’s about such a relevant topic that people of all ages need to learn more about.

I’ve decided not to make my review all that long because I think the book really speaks for itself. Glasgow ends up tackling so many important issues in this book including: cutting, sexual abuse, alcoholism, and the main character is staying in a mental hospital. Yes, we have seen most of these topics be addressed in many YA books in the past, but the author still manages to make it all feel so unique and like it’s all being addressed for the very first time. Though it has been talked about before, cutting especially is still a topic that makes people really uncomfortable. I remember when I was in middle school, I picked up a book called Cut and my mom was extremely concerned for me, though I actually picked it because I knew some friends who were cutting and wanted to be better informed on the topic. Anyway, it goes to show that just the thought of cutting makes people uncomfortable, and that’s why we need to address it. There are teens out there who are doing it and not getting help because they feel too ashamed to speak up. I’m getting a bit off topic here, but I just think Glasgow’s sensitivity while still addressing useful information was very beautiful and refreshingly well done.

All in all, this was a wonderful book that wasn’t an easy read by any means, but it’s still one that is ridiculously important. Charlie is such a beautiful and heartbreaking character who I wanted to hug and comfort all throughout the story. I also want to hug and give a huge round of applause to the fabulous author, Kathleen Glasgow, for taking on such important topics that are always relevant to teens and also adults today. I think this will particularly stand out to readers who enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why or love Ellen Hopkins’s books. Though I do believe that it’s such an important and wonderfully written novel, I don’t think you should read it if these are topics that are triggers for you in any shape or form. This is a dark read, but I’m still glad that I read it anyway because it’ll definitely stick with me for a long time.

About the Author:
Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona. She writes for the radio show The Writer’s Almanac and can probably provide you with some interesting anecdotes about historical literary figures if you asked nicely. You can find out more about Kathleen by following her on Twitter: @kathglasgow, Instagram, @misskathleenglasgow (where she posts about sunsets, depression, spirit circles, and books) or her website: kathleenglasgowbooks.com.

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If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, please consider contacting:

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
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National Runaway Hotline: 1-800-621-4000

four-stars

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Stealing Home Review

August 17, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★

Stealing Home ReviewStealing Home by Nicole Williams
on July 10th, 2016
Pages: 275
Source: Purchased
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two-stars
Being the only woman working for a professional baseball team isn’t easy. As the San Diego Shock’s newest athletic trainer, Allie knows all about long hours, endless travel, and warding off players’ advances. Given she’s already the subject of a handful of rumors about how “lucky” she was to have earned such a coveted position, she can’t so much as flutter an eyelash a player’s way if she wants to be taken seriously.
But number eleven is doing more than fluttering eyelashes Allie’s way. Far more. Luke Archer is at the top of his game and doesn’t let the fear of striking out keep him from swinging. This is a motto he applies both on and off the field, but Allie appears immune, seeming to view Luke as nothing more than caution tape on legs.
He’s a player, and in Allie’s experience, they’re all the same. She won’t risk her job or her heart to another one, no matter how different this one claims to be. But as Allie gets to know him, she discovers the number eleven the public thinks they know is very different from the real Luke Archer. He seems too good to be true.
And maybe he is.
Allie will have to confront the stories attached to a player of Luke Archer’s stature and decide who she’ll put her faith in—The man she’s falling for? Or the rumors?

So this was a seriously disappointing book for me. I haven’t had all that much luck with Nicole Williams books in the past besides Lost & Found, but I was sure that this one would be just my cup of tea since it’s a romance between a baseball player and his trainer. Unfortunately, Stealing Home didn’t work at all, in my opinion. This book was nearly 300 pages, but I think it still could have used another hundred in order to properly explore the characters and the relationship in general. I’m sure other people will likely enjoy this since I tend to be in the minority when it comes to my negative thoughts on some romance novels, but it wasn’t my thing. I’m going to be a lot more hesitant with the next book that this author releases!

To be completely honest here, I truly didn’t like Allie as a character at all. I don’t think this book would have received such a poor rating from me if the main character wasn’t so immature at certain times in the story. Another reason why I didn’t really like her is because I couldn’t identify with her, this might be an unfair thing to judge, but I feel like it’s justified here since we get to know so little about her personality. Basically all we know about her is that she’s an athletic trainer for the team Luke plays for, but that’s basically it. Her personality aside from that consists of not being able to communicate correctly with Luke and generally running away from her problems.

Luke wasn’t exactly a bad guy, but at the same time, he was just way too much. Meaning, I couldn’t handle all the cheesy lines he through out there. They all felt pretty fake and unrealistic to me. Really though, what guy would actually say those things, let alone a pro baseball player who could literally get any girl that he wants? I’m not buying it for a second that he has to go to such extreme lengths to woe over the most special woman of all. I wish I had some specific quotes for you guys, but I honestly rolled my eyes so hard each time they appeared that I didn’t bother noting any of them.

Ashley from Nose Graze summed it up best in her review:

“With the main character, Allie, and the love interest, Luke, there is no “meeting” phase or “wooing” phase or anything like that. On page one, Luke basically jumps in with, “You know all those months we’ve been working together? I’ve been attracted to you since day one. Just haven’t told you.” And that’s it. Then they’re having sex.”

This perfectly describes the way I felt about the romance between Allie and Luke. I wanted to see exactly when Luke fell for Allie. I get that the early interactions were likely on the boring side since there was no actual romance happening, but it would have still been nice to see the actual buildup of feelings occurring. There was plenty of sex scenes here, but I would have preferred to see more of an emotional development going on. They just didn’t make a really convincing couple to me honestly.

Once they got together, it was difficult to actually enjoy them as a couple because of the ridiculous conflict. Seriously, I’ve never seen a more immature issue cause problems between a couple in a romance novel before. I wasn’t a fan of the problem because it turned out to be a misunderstanding, but that didn’t stop Allie from completely shutting out Luke when she “thought” he did something that he actually didn’t. This was such an insane reaction because the person who told her this information was clearly not a reliable source, but she still took his word over Luke’s. Worst of all, she didn’t even let Luke explain himself, which I simply didn’t understand. This is a grown woman we’re talking about here, not a teenager. Allie should’ve definitely handled it all SO much better.

If you can’t already tell, I had a lot of problems with this book. I’m so disappointed because I’ve seen extremely favorable reviews and ratings for it, but it just didn’t end up working for me. I expected to love this book since I’m a major fan of sports romances, instead it wasn’t great. Though I have a lot of criticisms here, it wasn’t a terrible story overall. It could have definitely been longer and more developed involving the plot and characters. Not to mention the fact that the baseball side of things could have been written a whole lot better, but I won’t get into that since it’d convince of so much rambling and this review is already long enough. This book let me down, and I’m not sure if I’m going to check out the next book from this author since maybe her stories just aren’t for me anymore.

two-stars

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ARC Review: You Before Anyone Else

August 16, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: You Before Anyone ElseYou Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross, Mark Perini
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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three-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her "good girl" persona, so she'll try Eddie on for size.
New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.
Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

This was a pretty cute contemporary read that I was able to read in just one sitting. Though not my favorite, I still enjoyed this book for the most part. I feel like the characters and the general plot wasn’t all that unique, but it was still a fun read. My standards were ridiculously high going in since I’ve absolutely adored Julie Cross’s books Whatever Life Throws at You and Third Degree. You Before Anyone Else doesn’t quite beat either of those works, but that’s probably not the most fair comparison anyway. I recommend this one if you’re looking for a YA book that is extremely fast paced and a pretty solid romance as well.

Honestly, I’m not completely sure how I feel about the plot. I think that more YA books should certainly explore the modeling and fashion industry. However, it seemed like too much was happening in the plot so there wasn’t much time to really go into more details about the industry and how it can personally affect those involved in different ways. I will admit that I didn’t guess the big secret that Eddie was keeping from Finley. I thought that the authors were mostly able to handle the twist in a well done fashion. Anyway, I’m glad that things like fashion shoots were explored in this story, I honestly haven’t read many (if any really) YA books that do.

Finley wasn’t a bad character or anything, but she wasn’t overly memorable either. I really did sympathize with her over the loss of her mother, and also having issues with dancing again. I had a lot of respect for her due to how she had to immediately grow up and help her father raise her little twin brothers. That being said, she was an extremely mature character and I totally enjoyed that about her. I also respected her for being able to communicate with Eddie when she discovers his secret, most girls would have likely ran in the other direction when they find something like that out. I wouldn’t say she’s my favorite female character, but she’s still a character that I was able to somewhat identify with and have a lot of respect for too.

Eddie was a fairly solid character too, though I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite either. He didn’t really have that many specific swoony moments throughout the book, but he still had a great personality and it was obvious how much he cared for Finley from fairly early on. I thought it made the book even better to also include Eddie’s POV in the story. Sometimes I feel like switching back and forth between the two main characters isn’t always necessary to the plot, but in this case, it made an important impact since we were able to have more insight into what his secret might have been. Though in the end, that didn’t really help me all that much and I wasn’t able to guess the secret, but the POV worked nonetheless. I liked Eddie a lot, and I felt like he also was rather mature for his age, and I respected some of the grownup decisions that he made throughout the story.

Finley and Eddie’s romance itself wasn’t all that unique, but I still liked it, just didn’t completely love it. I wasn’t a fan of the total insta-love between them. On top of that, it seemed like the romance moved at a rather fast pace. In the end though, I did cheer for them as a couple and wanted them to receive a happy ending. My favorite scenes that showcased them as a couple were the ones when Eddie hangs out with Finley and her little brothers and also her dad. Her little brothers were the best and I loved how Eddie naturally interacted with them. So I’ve read that You Before Anyone Else is kind of a crossover between YA/NA, but I consider it mostly YA due to the fade to black sex scenes. I know that not all NA books have a ton of sex, but this one had sex scenes, they just weren’t descriptive. All in all, I found myself rather invested in the romance here.

While I wouldn’t say that this book was a huge standout for me, I still found it extremely interesting from the very first page. Finley and Eddie were pretty realistic and intriguing characters in my opinion. Additionally, I found the supporting characters hilarious and endearing too! I was expecting to truly love this book since Julie Cross is such an incredible author from what I’ve read so far, but unfortunately it was lacking some of the unique elements that the others contained. I do think you should read this since it’s a sweet and fascinating story that you could easily read in just one day!

three-stars

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ARC Review: Hero of Mine

August 15, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

ARC Review: Hero of MineHero of Mine (Men in Uniform, #2) by Codi Gary
Published by Avon Impulse on August 16th 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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three-stars

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The men of Alpha Dog, a second chance program for at-risk teens, work hard and play hard. And when it comes to protecting the women they love . . . nothing stands in their way.
Danielle Hill used to live on the wild side, until a surprise pregnancy forced her to get her act together. Now her whole life revolves around her young son, and she will do anything to keep Noah’s heart protected, even if it means avoiding the Marine who makes her want to be oh so bad . . .
Tyler Best loves his family, his friends, and his life, and he plans on living it to the fullest after nearly losing it. But Tyler didn’t bank on running into a beautiful blond with blazing green eyes and temper to match his. Tyler always thought he wasn’t ready to settle down, but Dani and Noah make him rethink his playboy ways . . .
Only just as these two start to build something, a shadow from Dani’s past comes back to haunt them. But Tyler will do anything to keep her and Noah safe . . . anything.

Before picking up Hero of Mine, I’ve actually never read a book by Codi Gary. Though Gary might not be the most notable romance author out there, she still has some interesting looking titles that I definitely want to read sometime soon. I really enjoyed the concept of this, a romance between a single mom and a manwhore veteran who’s involved in an alternative to juvie program for at-risk teens. The whole concept of the Alpha Dog, which is also explored in the two previous books in the series. I thought the program was incredibly awesome, and I’ve never really seen anything like that in other romance books. Though I did have some minor issues with the story as a whole, I still found it to be a quick and fun read.

Dani is a single mom to a sweet and (naturally) adorable little boy. I love how responsible and dedicated she is baby Noah. You would think that this is to be expected out of any parent, but sadly that isn’t always the case. Anyway, Dani was one of the good ones who had him young, but still managed to make a life for him the best way she can. The father is out of the picture, he was a bad boy who told her that she should have an abortion. Though she’s lucky enough to have her mom around to keep him while she works, Dani is still mostly raising him totally on her own. I had a lot of respect for how mature and loving she was throughout the book. Every decision she made, she made out of her unconditional love and need to protect Noah. On top of all that, she’s also a feisty girl with an awesome personality. I really adored her character all around!

Tyler has a strong reputation for being a manwhore. He’s one of those guys who simply steers clear of any relationships whatsoever. Things start to change for him when he meets Dani and her son Noah. Tyler is a guy who has been through so much, he was shot while serving his time in the military, and unfortunately suffered the loss of his dog at the same time. After he leaves the military, that’s when he becomes involved with the Alpha Dog. As I already mentioned, this is where at-risk teens who committed some sort of crime go instead of a juvenile detention center. The kids get the chance to work with different dogs. The program demonstrates discipline and also gives the kids a different kind of outlet for their frustration. I thought the program was brilliant, and I loved how Tyler in particular interacted with the teens. He always treated them with respect, but also enforced the rules at the same time. He’s a fabulous character, and I liked seeing him become more mature as the book progressed.

The romance between Tyler and Dani was fairly well done. I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite by any means, but it wasn’t badly written either. Some parts weren’t believable, like how quickly Tyler changed from being a manwhore to suddenly so dedicated to Dani and instantly bringing her around his friends and family. I get that he has to settle down at some point, but I still think there would be more of a fight and hesitance instead of jumping in pretty much right away. It just seemed a bit out of character, in my opinion. Besides that, I liked the relationship, it was super heartwarming to see. It had some steam, but not too much either. Despite how quickly everything moved, there still was a good amount of development for them as a couple. I also liked that the drama that happened in the book had nothing to do with them, it was all outside forces. I like seeing that because I feel like so many romance books have the central conflict be secrets and lies that one of them is keeping, and I was relived that it didn’t happen here. Tyler and Dani made a sweet couple overall!

This was an interesting and fairly unique story that I’m happy that I read. I totally plan on getting the other books revolving around the Alpha Dog because I feel like it’s such a cool program, and I’d love to see more romance books that feature similar programs for youth who desperately need it. Another issue that I had was with one of the final chapters in the story. We never found out what happened to the villain in the story and that really bothered me. Aside from that and the other details I mentioned, I really liked this book. I look forward to reading Tyler’s friend and co-worker Blake Kline’s story next. I recommend this if you’re looking for something a little on the angsty side, but still filled with a memorable romance, plot, and characters.

three-stars

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ARC Review: Results May Vary

August 13, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: Results May VaryResults May Vary by Bethany Chase
Published by Ballantine Books on August 9th 2016
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.

So I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book, so I was a bit confused regarding the rather slow start that Results May Vary had. However, I still kept on reading, and was happy when the pace began to pick up and I became more invested in the story. I wasn’t exactly as impressed as a lot of my other Goodreads friends seem to be, but I can’t deny the fact that this was a unique and beautifully written story. I’m not going to lie, I found myself staying up until three in the morning finishing this because I simply couldn’t stop reading! I had to find out how things were going to end for Caroline. I look forward to reading more from Bethany Chase!

After discovering that her husband and only love cheated on her with a man, Caroline is forced to finally discover what she wants out of life for herself. Though it’s obviously an emotional and horrible situation, she gets to look back and realize that the marriage in general wasn’t as great as she originally thought it was. In reality, Adam was actually a total selfish jerk who was completely unaware of how terrible some of his actions were, and he never took full responsibility for any of it, and none of that has anything to do with his sexual preference. The situation is clearly a difficult one, but I was still glad that most of the book focused on the choices that Caroline made after that, not everything revolved around her divorce which I think was a smart move. It clearly still played an important role in her behavior, but it didn’t end up defining her as a person either, she was still able to get out there and find love again in a place where she least expected it.

I honestly wasn’t expecting as much romance as there was considering that this is about a woman getting a divorce. My favorite thing about the romance was that it didn’t happen totally instantly, there was still enough time that she focused on herself before diving into any new relationship. The love interest was a little predictable, but then I was a bit thrown by the existence of a hot male chef who has been her longtime best friend from college. Anyway, I was still satisfied with the love interest and how the relationship was slowly built. It was probably my favorite part of the book since I’m such a huge romance fan and I felt like this one was extremely well written.

Despite the fact that this probably isn’t my absolute favorite book, I can’t deny that it’s still a lovely read that I’m glad I didn’t give up on. Like I said, I wasn’t able to put it down once I got past the first couple of chapters, and I highly believe that you will likely feel the same one. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of women’s fiction, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be into Results May Vary. This is a different kind of book, and I definitely recommend it!

four-stars

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Close to You Review

August 12, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

Close to You ReviewClose to You (Fusion, #2) by Kristen Proby
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: Listen to Me (Fusion, #1)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
three-half-flames

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby comes the second novel in her sizzling Fusion series.
Camilla, “Cami,” LaRue was five years old when she first fell in love with Landon Palazzo. Everyone told her the puppy love would fade—they clearly never met Landon. When he left after graduation without a backward glance, she was heartbroken. But Cami grew up, moved on, and became part-owner of wildly popular restaurant Seduction. She has everything she could want...or so she thinks.
After spending the last 12 years as a Navy fighter pilot, Landon returns to Portland to take over the family construction business. When he catches a glimpse of little Cami LaRue, he realizes she’s not so little any more. He always had a soft spot for his little sister’s best friend, but nothing is soft now when he’s around the gorgeous restauranteur.
Landon isn’t going to pass up the chance to make the girl-next-door his. She’s never been one for romance, but he’s just the one to change her mind. Will seduction be just the name of her restaurant or will Cami let him get close enough to fulfill all her fantasies?

So this was definitely an entertaining romance read, though not my favorite from Kristen Proby. It’s still a decent book, and I’m looking forward to the remaining books in this series about a fun, unique, and ambitious group of friends who have opened a very successful restaurant together. This was a steamy best friend’s brother type romance, which is certainly one of my favorite tropes. Though it didn’t stand up to some of the other books in this trope, it was still a pretty good read as a whole and I’m glad that I picked it up! I recommend it if you’re looking for something fast paced and high on the steam.

I really enjoyed Cami because all of her sass and personality in general. She’s not nearly as fascinating as Mia, but she’s still a lot of fun to read about. She had a lot of compassion to her as well, like when a random cat pretty much forces her way into Cami’s life, she eventually comes around and grows to truly love the stubborn cat. Truthfully, she’s not all that memorable as a whole, but I was still impressed with the fact that she didn’t let Landon or anyone else walk all over her. Yes, I think she gave in to Landon a little too easy, that’s just me though. So she’s definitely not my favorite romance heroine or even my favorite from this author, she wasn’t a terrible character though.

Landon was a swoony love interest, though not particularly my all time favorite or anything close to that. I think that he managed to sneak in some swoony moments at certain times throughout the story, but other times I simply wasn’t all that impressed with him. Though I’m a total fan of the best friend’s brother (or vice versa) trope, I hate it whenever the brother either just suddenly wakes up and sees her differently, or he’s been suppressing these feelings for such a long time but suddenly wakes up when he thinks she’s moving on. This one mostly falls in the latter category. Anyway, I’m just not a fan of that because it’s such a huge cliche. I’d like to see the relationship happening naturally just like most other romances should build. So yeah, I liked Landon and felt like he was a strong love interest, but the way the relationship happened did rub me the wrong way to an extent.

Cami was actually married to someone that she wasn’t really in love with because she always had strong feelings for her best friend Mia’s older brother Landon. She was heartbroken when Landon went over to the Navy, so she got married to take the pain away but it obviously didn’t work very well for her in the end. Eventually, Landon finally gets it together and realizes that he needs to have Cami before someone else steals her away again. He makes him work for it for quite awhile before she finally comes around to actually being with him, which I did enjoy, though I think that she could have made him work even harder! I was surprised by how long they are a happy couple. There also isn’t really that much drama, which was a relief. I mentioned earlier that the romance is filled with steam, which was well done but at the same time wasn’t too much either. My only issue was that it also had quite a few typical cliches, which I’m not too fond of at all.

As a whole, this was a fun read, that actually didn’t have all that much drama. The romance was pretty solid, though certainly not the best, though I personally have high expectations since I’m a major fan of this author. Kristen Proby delivered on yet another compelling read filled with a strong romance with a fun cast of characters. I really hope Mia’s story is up next because I love her and want to see her get her own happy ending! My issue with the book was that it did contain a lot of cliches commonly found in romance novels, which I’m not going to reveal since some of these could potentially be spoilers, I just feel like some of it could have been more unique as a whole. Close to You is still a quick read that I’m glad I read!

three-stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon

August 9, 2016 Features 11

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there’s a different theme that we make lists revolving around, and then we share it with each other. It’s an awesome feature that I love participating in whenever I get the time! This week, the theme is to rewind and go back and do a topic that you previously missed. I decided to do top ten books that will make you swoon. I’m a huge fan of romance books, so naturally this is my kind of topic. I based my picks mostly off of the book boyfriends and just how amazing the romance itself was in general. I look forward to seeing what topics everyone else picked since there was so many incredible options to choose from!

1. The Truth About Forever

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I just had to include a book by my favorite author on this list. I would normally go with This Lullaby since it’s my all time favorite and I love Dexter, but this is one I don’t talk about enough. Wes is also such a swoony guy and I’ll forever be obsessed with his relationship with Macy.

2. P.S. I Like You

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This book just came out a few weeks ago, but I love it so much and hope that you pick it up if you haven’t gotten around to it yet. Kasie West is such a popular contemporary author and this is definitely my favorite from her. I can’t recommend it enough! It’s guaranteed to make you swoon for sure.

3. Everything, Everything

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Maddy and Olly are such incredible individual characters, so naturally them as a couple is just as great. Seriously, all I can do is repeatedly gush over them, because there just isn’t that much else to say about it.

4. First & Then

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So the romance in this one is quite a bit slower than a lot of the others on here so far, but it’s ridiculously adorable. Ezra starts out being this popular football player that everyone is obsessed with. But once Devin starts getting to know him better, she learns that he’s a lot more complicated than just that.

5. My Life Next Door

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It doesn’t really get much swoonier than Jase and Sam. Jase is such a sweet and genuine guy. Not to mention the fact that he’s obviously good with kids. If you’ve never read this book before, you need to pick it up right away.

6. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Is there a book out there that’s more adorable? This is such a light and fluffy book that I love so much. This is definitely one of my all time favorites! It just portrays falling in love in such a real and beautiful way, how can you not love this story?

7. The Unexpected Everything

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I could have put any Morgan Matson book on this list, especially Since You’ve Been Gone. I decided to go with this one because I really enjoyed Clark in particular. He’s such an incredible book character, and he totally brought the swoon here.

8. The Start of Me and You

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This is such a swoony book with a nerdy book boyfriend who I instantly fell in love with. Max is such an amazing character who I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

9. Sloppy Firsts

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The relationship between Marcus and Jessica is such an epic one that I just to include it here. He starts off as being this loser pothead, but Jessica later starts seeing a different, more worthwhile side to him. They definitely bring the swoon throughout this entire series.

10. Jellicoe Road

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I couldn’t leave this one off my list since it has such an incredible and unique romance. Jonah isn’t your typical boyfriend, he’s certainly super rough around the edges and he seems like a douchebag on the surface, but he’s really a passionate guy when it comes to Taylor. Taylor and Jonah just make such a dynamic couple, and I will never stop loving their relationship.

So there’s my list for this weeks topic! Which previous Top Ten Tuesday topic did you decide to do? I can’t wait to see what everyone came up with! Hope everyone has a great rest of the week and I hope to see you guys back here next week.

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