Monthly Archives:: June 2016

We Own the Night Review

June 30, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

We Own the Night ReviewWe Own the Night by Ashley Poston
on June 28th, 2016
Source: Netgalley
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two-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.

"Happy midnight, my fellow Niteowls..."
As a candy store employee by day, and mysterious deejay "Niteowl" by night, eighteen-year-old Ingrid North is stuck between rock 'n roll and a hard place. She can't wait to get out of her tiny hometown of Steadfast, Nebraska (population three hundred and forty-seven) to chase her dreams, but small-town troubles keep getting in the way. She can't abandon her grandmother with Alzheimer's, or her best friend Micah--who she may or may not be in love with.
But for one hour each Saturday, she escapes all of that. On air, she isn't timid, ugly-sweater-wearing Ingrid North. She's the funny and daring Niteowl. Every boy's manic pixie dream girl. Fearless. And there is one caller in particular-- Dark and Brooding--whose raspy laugh and snarky humor is just sexy enough to take her mind off Micah. Not that she's in love with Micah or anything. Cause she's not.
As her grandmother slips further away and Micah begins dating a Mean-Girls-worthy nightmare, Ingrid runs to the mysterious Dark and Brooding as a disembodied voice to lean on, only to fall down a rabbit hole of punk rockstars, tabloid headlines, and kisses that taste like bubble tea. But the man behind the voice could be surprising in all the right, and wrong, ways.
And she just might find that her real life begins when Niteowl goes off the air.

We Own the Night was a book that started out decent enough, but didn’t completely work for me personally. The book just needed more character and plot development all around, it should have been longer. Some of the language bothered me as well. I know that sounds extremely picky, but some of it became excessive as the book went on, which I’ll get into more later on in my review. Readers who like fairly light contemporary YA’s that also manage to have quite a bit of teenage angst in it will likely enjoy this one more than I did.

Ingrid North is a recent high school graduate who also has a secret identity as the popular radio DJ Niteowl. One night while doing a show, she receives a mysterious call from Dark and Brooding, a guy who quickly becomes a voice she loves hearing and can’t help but fall for. During the day, she works at a candy store with a girl she can barely stand. She also is secretly in love with one of her best friends, who begins dating the mean girl she sadly works with. Not to mention the fact that she has to take care of her grandma who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s all on her own. Ingrid must decide what’s most important to her, taking care of the one person who has always been there for her or go after her dreams of becoming a full time DJ.

There were some things that I liked about Ingrid and other things that didn’t work for me. I respected the fact that she put her grandmother first. Her mom left her when she was really young, and I get that she owes a lot to her grandmother for supporting her from a young age. There were a few specific scenes between her and her grandma that were specifically touching to me, and I think those scenes portrayed the horror and sadness that comes with this awful disease. However, I didn’t like her decisions when it came to Billie and Micah. She took way too long trying to fix things with Micah when she should have been worried about Billie. On some level, I do understand why the author wrote the events the way that she did, but on the other hand, it was still hard for me to agree with. I can’t completely put my finger on what it is, but I just didn’t like Ingrid as much as I was expecting to.

So the romance is what I truly had a problem with here. I get the whole falling for your best friend thing and then being crushed when he picks a girl that you can’t stand, but I still didn’t like how it was ultimately handled. I also disliked how long Ingrid spent hating on Heather, I was hoping for some more resolutions and even depth to the mean girl character. My problem was that it wasn’t interesting to read about and it got old pretty fast.

On the other hand, I really loved Billie’s character. He was a member of Ingrid’s friend group with Micah and her female best friend LD, who was a hilarious best friend. Billie was the golden boy and popular athlete of the group. He was also a bit more complex than that as well. Before the death of his dad, he was more of a punk rock kind of guy, but he changed into a different person in Ingrid’s opinion. Though he was one of my favorite characters, (LD is my other favorite) I still longer to know even more of his story. I felt like he didn’t get enough scenes in the book.

So in the end, this wasn’t a terrible book or anything like that. It was a pretty fast read and the writing wasn’t bad. Though I did have a problem with the language. Specifically, the fact that Ingrid said “bless” basically every other line of the book. Was that seriously necessary though? Like I said, this just didn’t turn out to be the book for me for a few different reasons. I still think that you should try the book out for yourself, because you might really love it!

 

two-stars

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First Comes Love Review

June 29, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★

First Comes Love ReviewFirst Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Published by Doubleday Canada on June 28th 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
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two-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.

In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.   Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.   Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.   On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.   As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.   Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.  Praise for Emily Giffin   “Emily Giffin ranks as a grand master. . . . She has traversed the slippery slopes of true love, lost love, marriage, motherhood, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption that have led her to be called ‘a modern-day Jane Austen.’ ”
—Chicago Sun-Times
  “A dependably down-to-earth, girlfriendly storyteller.”
—The New York Times
  “Giffin’s talent lies in taking relatable situations and injecting enough wit and suspense to make them feel fresh.”
—People
  “Emily Giffin is the creator of characters so real and so enthrallingly flawed that people sometimes forget they are fictional.”
—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  “When it comes to writing stories that resonate with real women, bestselling author Emily Giffin has hit her stride.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
  “Giffin knows a thing or two about writing a page turner.”Southern Living  “Giffin’s writing is true, smart, and heartfelt.”Entertainment Weekly

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Emily Giffin’s works, but First Comes Love was unfortunately a story that I just couldn’t relate to in the end. When I first started reading it, I felt like the concept was clearly an emotional one that I might enjoy, but it didn’t stay that way as the book continued. It’s entirely possible that those who have read books by this author in the past and loved them will really love this one just as much. In my opinion, the characters were far too unlikable, the romance was lacking, and the family dynamic was disappointing.

The book revolves around two sisters who are now living very different lives, but are both scarred from the tragic loss of their brother fifteen years ago. They are both still trying to move on from the loss of Daniel, but secrets regarding the real reason why he was out the night he got into an accident are continually weighing on one of the sisters. Anyway, Meredith and Josie have a strained relationship to say the least. On top of this, both sisters are individually contemplating making major decisions for their lives.

Josie is in her late 30’s, still single, and wants a child way more than she wants a husband. She’s a first grade teacher, and her last serious boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her classroom, which makes her want a child of her own even more. She takes matters into her own hands by taking on a sperm donor. Though there were some moments when I felt like Josie was extremely selfish and a little obsessive regarding her ex-boyfriend, I still was able to relate to her on some levels. The point is, she was very likable at times, and the times when she wasn’t only showed us that she was a human being who screwed up sometimes.

On the other hand, Meredith was a character who I wasn’t able to identify or even sympathize with. I felt like she criticized Josie far too frequently than she should have. No matter what her sister said, Meredith always reached the conclusion that she had to make everything about her. Look, I have a brother so I personally am unable to fully fathom what it’s like to have a sister. However, this relationship was just so dysfunctional and wrong, in my opinion. Meredith is living a lot different from Josie: she’s married with a four-year-old daughter. She’s unhappy in her marriage and unsatisfied sexually as well. The reason why I had no sympathy for her is because she married someone that she was never in love with. She knew before she even married him that she had no passion with him, so I don’t feel sorry for her. She was a character who I seriously cared next to nothing about, as bad as that sounds.

I didn’t like how the romance ended up for either of the characters. I get that this is more of a women’s fiction book than a full fledged romance, but I still expect romance to play a bigger part in the plot than it did. I won’t say much about what happens with Josie’s romance, but I will mention that I didn’t like that character at all and was surprised that he ended up being a love interest for her at all. My feelings about Meredith’s relationship status have already been discussed so I won’t ramble more about it, it was just really difficult to read about. Nolan was such a decent husband who was a great father to Harper, and I honestly felt like he deserved more than Meredith honestly.

I hate to say it, but First Comes Love was a disappointing read that I expected so much more from. For a book that was supposed to be about families, I felt like we didn’t even get to see the parents interact with the girls all that much. Instead, the author decided to focus on the angst and bickering between the sisters that never had a real resolution. Though I can’t say anything about Giffin’s other books, I still suggest that you skip this and check one of those out instead of this book.

two-stars

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Sweet Little Lies Review

June 28, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Sweet Little Lies ReviewSweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay, #1) by Jill Shalvis
Published by Avon on June 28th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, #2), One Snowy Night (Heartbreaker Bay, #2.5), Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay, #3)
Reading Challenges: Contemporary Romance Challenge
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four-stars
three-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.

Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .
As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.
Fall for him—hard . . .
Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.
And then tell him the truth.
Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

I feel like one of the only romance fans on the planet to not have read all of (or at least most) Jill Shalvis’s books. I did read the first book in her Animal Magnetism series but that’s it. Anyway, I’m glad that I decided to pick up the first book in her brand new series, Heartbreaker Bay. This was a wonderful introduction to a quirky cast of characters including: a hilarious and mysterious homeless man, an old noisy neighbor, and Pru’s cute little dog Thor. Not to mention that Finn had a great group of friends (and his brother) and I can’t wait to learn their stories in the next books. If you’re looking for a funny but also somewhat emotional story with a beautiful romance, Sweet Little Lies is probably just what you need.

Pru is an amazing and selfless heroine who I really loved from the start. She has a tremendous amount of guilt due to a major mistake made by her parents that hurt many lives. Since then, she’s done everything that she can to help those people out by providing them money, jobs, houses, and whatever else they need. You could tell just how caring and giving this girl is from the scene where she makes a wish in the famous fountain that Finn will find true love. There were so many parts in the story when I wanted to give this girl a huge hug. She carried a huge weight around because of what her parents did, and I hated that for her.

Now Finn is just something else entirely. You can tell from the physical description of him that this guy is seriously hot, and he’s also an incredibly decent and selfless man as well. Finn was on track to become a professional baseball player when his father was killed in an accident and he was forced to take care of his teenage brother so he wouldn’t have to go into foster care. They ended up opening a bar together and Finn has no time for anything not involving work. Things obviously start changing for him when he meets the beautiful new girl in town, Pru. However, Pru is keeping something major for him, and he must decide if he can continue on with her after learning this secret.

I’ve never been a fan of books that have some secret that one of the characters is keeping from the other one. This one did bother me to an extent because I was just not so patiently waiting for it to all blow up in her face, but it wasn’t unbearable to me either. Once I overlooked this part of the relationship, it was actually a very steamy and swoony romance. Jill Shalvis doesn’t get ridiculously descriptive with her sex scenes, but they definitely don’t disappoint. You could feel the chemistry from them pretty early on in the book, it felt extremely believable to me and I really enjoyed it as a whole.

Sweet Little Lies has certainly made me hooked on this new series and I can’t wait to read Willa’s story. There are so many supporting characters that are introduced which is honestly a little overwhelming for only the first book, but I still enjoyed the huge personalities that Jill Shalvis has already given them. I’m particularly looking forward to Sean, Archer, and Jake’s books. Even if you’ve never read a Jill Shalvis book before, you’re sure to love this if you’re a contemporary romance fan. This book is out today, so go and buy it for your Kindle!

four-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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DNF Reviews: June Releases

June 27, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 DNF

DNF Reviews: June ReleasesYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7th 2016
Pages: 248
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Every Day (Every Day, #1)
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dnf
Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.
Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

So it’s very rare for me to stop reading a book. If a book is seriously dragging for me, I might skim it some or even jump to the end. I’ve never even written any reviews for books that I’ve given up on just because I have so little to say about it. In this specific case, I’ve recently tried reading these two books but stopped reading them for similar but also somewhat different reasons. Hopefully I won’t be writing many DNF reviews in the future. However, here are my thoughts on why I didn’t finish You Know Me Well and The Loose Ends List.

David Levithan and Nina LaCour are both really great writers who have created beautiful and memorable books. You Know Me Well is a pretty short book, so I was hoping to read it in just one or two sittings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the whole insta-friendship thing. I was sure that I’d find it more convincing with a few more pages and possibly chapters, but that didn’t seem to happen. Basically, Mark and Kate share a class together, but they’ve never spoken outside of the classroom. On one crazy weekend out on the town in San Francisco, Kate ran into Mark and began spilling out personal details about herself. I found it hard to believe that they’d both more or less turn their backs on some of their oldest friends in order to spend more time with each other. It’s hard to explain, it didn’t feel convincing at all to me.

I think the plot was a solid enough idea and I love that it includes friendship and two LGBT characters. With that being said, the general execution didn’t work for me personally. Another main reason why I stopped reading is a huge spoiler because I jumped to the end and didn’t like what I saw. This is simply my opinion, I think that it’s seriously important for others, LGBT teens specifically, to read You Know Me Well. I really wish I loved this one, but I still plan on reading books from both of these authors in the future.

DNF Reviews: June ReleasesThe Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone
on June 7th 2016
Pages: 352
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dnf
Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.

The description of The Loose Ends List immediately caught my eye. I’m always curious to read books that deal with the death (or this case dying) of an important family member. Grief is a subject that I’ve personally had to deal with, so I think it’s interesting to read the different ways that authors address this terrible but realistic issue that a lot of teens have to confront.

From the very beginning, I could tell that I wasn’t going to like the main character. I hate to say it, but Maddie was a totally cliche character. She was a popular girl who had a steady group of friends in the same crowd who liked to party, and she was also dating the popular athlete who cheats on her. At first, I was thinking that her grandma was a cool character, but as the book went on, it was just extremely inappropriate to me. Look, her grandma openly talks to her granddaughters about her sex life and also talks (and touches) their boobs. I get that it was supposed to be funny, and it was to an extent, it just didn’t feel very realistic to me.

The worst part of The Loose Ends List for me was the romance. If you’ve read basically any of my reviews, you’ll probably know that I take romance very seriously. Truthfully, the romance here was not good at all in my opinion. I’ve made it clear that I’m not a fan of insta-love, but how it was portrayed here was something that I couldn’t bring myself to read. Maddie sees Enzo, and is instantly attracted to him, as you may have already guessed. So it’s the first time that they’ve talked, and all of a sudden they start making out. But it wasn’t some random hookup, they suddenly become a serious thing and Maddie can’t stop thinking about him.

I reached a point in the book where I didn’t care about the relationship and I didn’t have any desire to learn where they all end up honestly. That may sound harsh, but I knew that I needed to put the book down and not return to it again. I think this is one of those books that you either love or hate. Either way, you have strong feelings about what it makes you feel. In this instance, I’m sad that the book didn’t work in my favor.

dnf

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The Hardest Fall Release Blitz + Review

June 24, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Hardest Fall Release Blitz + ReviewThe Hardest Fall (Roadmap to Your Heart Book 3) by Christina Lee
on June 23rd, 2016
Source: Christina Lee
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four-stars
four-flames

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

Lee trades country ballads for show tunes in the next standalone book of her Roadmap to Your Heart series.
After licking his wounds from a painful relationship, Tate Sullivan is ready to move back home. He picks up where he left off as drag queen extraordinaire Frieda Love in a West Village bar in New York City. He doesn’t expect to be drawn to the mysterious man with the dark eyes who shows up to every single performance—flirtatiously eyeing Tate one second and disappearing on him the next. Why mess around with a guy who is clearly giving him mixed signals?
Sebastian Clark is on a mission the first night he shows up at Ruby Redd’s. He doesn’t anticipate his plan being flipped on its head by the charismatic drag queen and even more so by the mesmerizing man beneath the makeup. But the more he learns about the vibrant and brash Tate Sullivan the more intrigued he becomes. So he pushes aside his guilt about why he sought out the bar in the first place in order to get to know the guy behind the stilettos.
They’re opposites on many levels, but as Tate spends time volunteering with Sebastian at the shelter, he begins to feel good about himself in ways he hadn’t before. For Sebastian, Tate represents a sense of fun and freedom that is completely fresh and invigorating. Before they know it, their easy companionship catches fire, and Sebastian is kissing a man for the first time, while Tate is opening his heart to new possibilities. But Sebastian is still keeping a secret, and Tate will have to decide if he can trust again, or if the betrayal he feels from Sebastian’s confession is too much to overcome.

I’ve actually yet to read the other two novels in the Roadmap to Your Heart series, but they both look very intriguing and I can’t wait to give them a shot here soon! So this was my first introduction to the awesome and hilarious Tate. I loved Tate’s drag queen persona, Frieda Love. It was clear that Frieda was beyond comfortable on the stage at the club singing, and I loved how sassy she was each night when performing. The love interest here, Sebastian, was a fascinating character who had a heartbreaking background. I loved the relationship between Sebastian and Tate so much, though there definitely was plenty of drama between them that almost caused quite a bit of pain for them, but we’ll get to that later on. I feel like this was a steamy romance, but also an emotionally powerful love story that certainly made an impression on me as a reader.

Like I said, Tate is a great character and I also enjoyed when he became Frieda Love. Poor Tate is still heartbroken over a painful relationship that he had with a married man. This man was one of many “straight” men who only like it when Tate is dressed up as Frieda, not as himself. My heart hurt for Tate when this information came to light. I hated that all those guys made him feel so insecure with himself. Besides that, I just loved everything about Tate. I don’t have that many specific examples, I just feel like he was a memorable character just from how witty and interesting he was.

Sebastian comes to the club where Frieda Love works in order to deliver a message for Tate from a person that was a big part in both of their pasts in very different ways. Sebastian considers himself to be totally straight, he’s never really been attracted to other men. But there’s something about Tate that draws him towards him. The chemistry between them is instantly clear, but Sebastian feels so guilty that he has this huge secret that he’s keeping from Tate. Another one of my favorite things about Sebastian is that he’s such a selfless guy. He had a heartbreaking past that involved living on the streets with his mom and being in foster care. He was adopted by an amazing guy and though his dad has passed away, he still runs his shoe shop for him. On top of that, he also volunteers at a soup kitchen in order to give back to people in need since he’s been there himself.

Naturally, the relationship between Tate and Sebastian is automatically an extremely complicated one since Sebastian doesn’t come clean initially about why he starts coming to the club to watch Frieda Love’s performance. Honestly, I felt like it was a little naive on Tate’s part not to realize that something else was going on besides Sebastian struggling with his sexuality. Anyway, it takes a rather long time for the physical relationship to totally take off, but trust me, it’s very steamy once it does reach that point. Some of the drama between them was a bit drawn out in my opinion, but I was a fan of the relationship as a whole.

The Hardest Fall turned out to be an incredible book. I became completely sucked into Tate and Sebastian’s world. I was dying to know when Tate would finally learn the truth about Sebastian’s reason for entering his life. The secret was drawn out for a little too long for my taste, but it didn’t totally take away from my overall enjoyment of the novel though. I can’t wait to read the first two books in the series, because this one definitely was able to keep my attention!

About the Author:

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son–her two favorite guys.

She’s addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything. She believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.

She writes Adult, New Adult, and LGBTQ romance. More coming soon!

four-stars

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The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You Review

June 23, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You ReviewThe Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased
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four-stars
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

So I’m not going to lie, I’ve never read Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. I didn’t even know the general plot of it. I feel like this needed to be said since The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is a modern high school update on that classic comedic play. Though I had no previous background on it, I still felt like this was a totally refreshing book filled with awesome pop culture references. Trixie and Ben are both hilarious and witty teens who I seriously loved and related to. This was a stunning debut from Lily Anderson and I’m really glad that I read it. I recommend it if you’re looking for a quick book filled with nerdy characters and fandom.

I can’t say much about how similar this is to Much Ado About Nothing, so I’m just going to talk about what I thought about Lily Anderson’s main character, Trixie. She’s a hilarious and smart girl who also just so happens to love comic books and Doctor Who. She’s also a ridiculously intelligent girl who cares quite a bit about her grades and class ranking at the school that she attends for geniuses. Trixie is one sassy chick, and she’s definitely someone I’d want to be friends with in high school. Not only does she have incredible taste in TV shows, but she also is a loyal friend who will always be there for you. I loved seeing her complete dedication to her best friends Harper and Meg.

Ben is a character who we naturally have some mixed feelings about in the beginning since we’re viewing the story from Trixie’s side of things. Basically, the two have hated each other since elementary school. The main reason is because the two are just so similar that they end up clashing entirely. So we really start getting to know Ben and liking him later on in the novel. I’ll be honest, he isn’t the swooniest book boyfriend in the world, but I believe that he’s one of the more honest ones. He actually reminded me of a real high school boy, not someone that we wish we knew in high school.

Like I said, the romance begins as being a mutual hatred for one another. Every time they are around each other, they make rude comments and are just flat out cold to the other. They also have a competition between the two where they are both trying to take the third spot on the class rankings. Once the two are basically forced to be together more frequently when their best friends beginning dating, they call a truce and actually build an unlikely friendship when they find that they love Joss Whedon and similar comics. Anyway, the romance between them is one of my favorites because it starts out as being hate, but eventually becomes love.

As a whole, this was certainly a funny novel that I absolutely flew through. I ended up staying up until 3 A.M. because I just didn’t want to put it down, it was way too addicting to me! I loved both Ben and Trixie in different ways, but I felt like they made a decent but also realistic couple in the end. Sometimes relationships in high school aren’t these perfect love stories where they started out as best friends but slowly became more, sometimes it’s actually a really messy and difficult thing. I feel like Lily Anderson couldn’t have written this book any better. I definitely can’t wait to read her next book!

four-stars

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All the Feels Review

June 22, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

All the Feels ReviewAll the Feels by Danika Stone
Published by Swoon Reads on June 7th 2016
Pages: 336
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.
Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.

When I first saw this book on Swoon Reads, I didn’t read it because I wasn’t entirely sure that all the fandom stuff would be for me. I was pretty off base with that assumption, so I’m glad that I made the decision to read the book now. It turns out that how fandom was described in this book was actually one of my favorite parts of it. Danika Stone definitely convinced me that Liv was a fully invested fangirl who would stop at nothing to bring her beloved character back to life. Do I think that all of this was totally realistic? No, I really don’t, fandom is certainly powerful, but some aspects of the plot still weren’t entirely believable to me. All the Feels was a well written debut and I really enjoyed reading about a dedicated fangirl.

So Liv is a college freshman who would much rather read Starveil fanfiction and make videos about her fandom than actually doing her schoolwork. After seeing the newest Starveil film, Liv is heartbroken when her favorite character is killed. She goes into a deep mourning for a rather long amount of time. Finally, she gets back on the horse and decides that she has to make a campaign to bring back Matt Spartan. She makes a video starring her best friend Xander, and launches #SpartanSurvived online. This campaign soon goes viral, and Liv finds her life taking an unexpected turn, especially when she decides to join Xander at Dragon Con.

I really liked and identified with Liv. On one hand, I do fully get it when you feel so connected to a certain fandom. On the other, I kind of don’t get that she had literally no desire to focus on her schoolwork. In that regard, I did understand why her mom was frustrated that Liv wasn’t dedicating herself to her studies hardly at all. Some other things that I liked about Liv was her love for fortune cookies. It’s kind of a random thing to note, but I loved that she always searched for the perfect cookie that matched her the best. Anyway, I loved Liv’s dedication to Starveil, and I enjoyed seeing how involved she was in this community of diehard fans.

Xander is her hilarious and eccentric best friend, who she met at college in the fall. He’s an actor, and I loved how expressive and unique he was in general. He was always trying out personas with an accent to match it. I also loved how confident he was throughout the book. He showed Liv that the trick to flirting is just being confident with who you are, and then everything else will follow after that. I enjoyed the fact that he was bisexual, though they only explicitly say it once, but it’s still nice that it wasn’t a big deal or anything. I found him to be a very interesting character that I really enjoyed reading about.

My feelings about the romance here are that it should have been left out altogether. Personally, I think that Xander and Liv make better friends than being in an actual relationship. It was just complicated because for most of the book, the feelings between them were completely platonic, and then the feelings between them suddenly appeared and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. So in the end, I could take or leave the romance. I’m always a fan of friendships between boys and girls not developing into more.

Ultimately, this was a well written book that I ended up reading in just a few sittings. It’s one of those books that you’ll read easily in a day, it has less than 300 pages. I thought that Liv was a charming and witty character and I loved her passion for Starveil. Not all readers will likely be able to relate to that level of fandom, but I personally found it interesting. I did learn some new fandom related terminology that I didn’t know already! Honestly, I think it might be a little boring for you if you aren’t a fangirl for something, but I think this book is worth giving a shot.

three-stars

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Stripped Bare Review

June 21, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Stripped Bare ReviewStripped Bare by Emma Hart
on June 21st, 2016
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
five-flames
When unlucky in love Mia O’Halloran finds herself face to Sex God V-Lines with a chiseled, hot male stripper in possession of a package not even the postal service could lose, what happens in Vegas is definitely supposed to stay in Vegas.She doesn’t expect to find Mr. Multiple Oh-Oh-Oh as her client—and hell, how is she supposed to pitch a marketing plan when she can remember how easily he briefed her g-spot on an orgasm… or five?West Rykman has one rule: you don’t mix business with pleasure. They can look, but unless they’re shoving a dollar inside his pants, they can’t touch. He learned that lesson the hard way two years ago.He had no idea the flame-haired vixen with a penchant for hot, kinky sex and a mouth that would make a hooker cry would be the one to bend—and break—his rule.She’s sworn off men after ten too many heartbreaks.He’s determined he’ll never lose it all for a woman again.She’s pretty screwed.He’s really screwed.And not in the we’re-not-sleeping-tonight way…

From rockstars to athletes to photographers, Emma Hart writes some amazing book boyfriends. In my opinion though, the boy here is her best and most unique to date. I also don’t remember her books being this laugh out loud funny. The general humor and pop culture references were incredibly well done, not to mention charming. I never expected to love a book about a stripper as much as I did. However, the book is about so much more than just that, it’s also about friendship, family, and being afraid to fall in love. The love story of West and Mia was beyond swoony and I can’t wait to read Beck’s story next!

Mia finds herself in Vegas with her best friends for her virgin best friend’s bachelorette party. She decides to give her some fun by taking the girls to a male strip club, and also ordering a special lap dance for the bride to be. In order to get her revenge, her friend Allie orders a private dance for Mia with a hot stripper. The man turns out to be West, and she propositions him and they spend a glorious night together. She has no expectations for anything after, she knows that she lives hours from Vegas and is unlikely to see him again. Suddenly though, she has to return back there in order to do a marketing job at a strip club down there. Turns out, it’s the same one West works at, and she’s forced to work with him when he turns out to be a co-owner as well. Soon enough, she finds it nearly impossible to ignore the chemistry between them. Mia has had such terrible experiences with love, and so has West, so neither of them are looking for a long time relationship.

Mia is a seriously hilarious main character. It’s difficult to explain, and easier if you just read the book. She’s extremely witty, sassy, and quick on her feet. On the other hand, she was also a character that I was able to relate to in some unexpected ways. I felt like her hesitation regarding love was definitely realistic considering her terrible past relationships. That being said, I still enjoyed seeing her be so honest about these challenges. I liked that Mia didn’t let anyone walk all over her. She was her own person with opinions that she wasn’t the least bit hesitant to voice. I will never not love these types of heroines.

Our boy West is ridiculously swoony. Yes, he’s a stripper, but there’s more to him than that. Based on the description, I was expecting this to be a book about a stripper who absolutely loved his job, and possibly used it in the past to get girls to come home with him. Ultimately, that wasn’t how West turned out to be. He only strips sometimes for some extra fun, his job also consists of a lot of the business side of things considering he’s one of the owners. After he was completely burned, he doesn’t take anyone home. He’d also never had a “one night stand” with a girl he gave a lap dance to like he did with Mia. The point is, I just liked that he turned out to be this complicated and totally likable love interest. Not to mention the fact that he had some really swoony lines.

The relationship between Mia and West did turn out to be a very sexual but also deeply emotional one as well. Obviously, the pair end up having sex before they know each other at all. Once they begin working together, the chemistry is so obvious that it’s distracting to Mia, and West doesn’t want to bother with ignoring it. Slowly but surely, the relationship naturally becomes about more than just the physical side of things, though that’s clearly an added bonus for them. So yeah, this book is basically filled with smut. To me, these scenes felt like Emma Hart’s hottest scenes to date! One of my favorite parts of this relationship was how West was a dirty talker, and also very commanding to Mia in the bedroom. I felt like this worked well since Mia isn’t controlled by anyone in real life, but another side of her entirely comes out around West. They also had some cute fluffy scenes that weren’t sexual, but definitely made my heart melt a little bit.

In the end, this was a fabulous book. Mia and West were both characters that I really enjoyed reading about. If you’re not sure about how the whole stripper thing will come to play in this book, trust me, Hart pulls it off in the best way possible. I’ve never disliked any books by this author, but this one impressed me in a way that her other books haven’t been able to. I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a fast paced book that’s well written and more than a little smutty.

four-stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far

June 21, 2016 Features 10

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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 favorite 2016 releases so far. I did my best to include some books that I haven’t talked about nearly enough, so this isn’t ALL of my favorites, just some that deserved more attention from me. I look forward to seeing your lists as well!

1. Some Kind of Perfect

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So this is one of those books where it’s absolutely essential to read the prior books before you read this one. There’s ten total, including this one. It’s important to read them all because you can’t help but fall in love with each of these incredible characters. Each book focuses on the importance of family, friendship, and most of all, love. Definitely one of my favorite series of all time!

2. The Problem with Forever

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This was definitely one of my favorites from Jennifer L. Armentrout, and she also happens to be one of my all time favorite authors. The story of Mallory and Rider is such a beautiful and important one. I just really loved every single word of this book for so many different reasons.

3. Walk the Edge

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This is easily my favorite Katie McGarry book to date, and she’s another one of those authors that I could read her grocery list and still be completely impressed by her flawless writing style. All I can say is: Razor is the man, I love him so much and there’s nothing more to say about that.

4. Firsts

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This was an extremely powerful novel. I could tell from the very first page that this was going to be something edgy and incredible. I basically want to be Mercedes when I grow up.

5. The Winner’s Kiss

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This was a stunning conclusion to a beautifully written series. In my opinion, it couldn’t have concluded any better than it did. I am totally hoping for more memorable stories from this awesome author!

6. Mister O

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So I hardly ever give New Adult or Adult romances five stars. I don’t know exactly what it is, I’m just really picky when it comes to a romance blowing me away. I can’t tell you exactly what it was that this book had, but somehow, it totally had it. Lauren Blakely is an incredible author, but she outdid herself with Mister O. I highly recommend this book if you like your romances full of steam and also some swoony/fluffy moments as well.

7. The Spiral Down

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This is a standalone M/M romance that truly impressed me. I’ve heard good things about Aly Martinez, but this is the first book that I’ve ever read from her. This one most definitely made a positive impression on me to say the least. I felt like the concept was super unique, and I loved both Henry and Evan from the start.

8. Lucky Few

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I loved this book! Stevie is just the coolest homeschooler ever, I love how she fights yet also somehow agrees with some of the stereotypes about homeschoolers at the same time. The new boy in town, Max, wants her and her best friend to help him complete his list of faking his own death without really dying. Yeah, that whole death part of the plot might sound weird and morbid at first, but it’ll make sense to you later on. Anyway, this was a fabulous book that I found refreshing.

9. Idol

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Kristen Callihan has never let me down when it comes to her super awesome plots and swoony book boys, and she didn’t start with this one. This is an incredible rockstar romance. I loved both Killian and Libby, and I loved seeing them make music and just be together as a couple. If you’re looking for a romance that isn’t filled with an excessive amount of drama and also has some hot scenes, this is the book for you.

10. Outrun the Moon

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I didn’t read Stacey Lee’s debut, but I was impressed by this one. I hate historical fiction books most of the time. Somehow, this one managed to keep my attention for the entire book. I just loved how feisty and selfless our girl Mercy Wong was. I can’t remember ever loving a character as much as I loved her!

Anyway, there’s my list for the week. Be sure to share your lists with me as well so I can go check it out. I hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

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Sunday Street Team: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame Review

June 19, 2016 Blog Tours, Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★

Sunday Street Team: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame ReviewThe Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen
Published by Macmillan/Swoon Reads on June 7th 2016
Pages: 336
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Taylor Simmons is screwed.
Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.
Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.

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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 read this book back when it was first posted on Swoon Reads. Back then, I was impressed by the writing, characters, and the romance in general. I was a little unsure about how the concept would work out when I first heard about it, but it did end up making more sense than I thought that it would. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is a witty and clever story that I truly enjoyed. I recommend this if you’re a fan of high school romances that promise plenty of angst but sweetness as well.

Taylor Simmons is a character that it takes a little while to warm up to. She cares A LOT about her reputation, like to an insane degree at times. I personally couldn’t completely wrap my mind around it, though I do understand that teens especially feel that pressure. Once you get to know her personality more, you begin to understand exactly where she’s coming from. More than that, she’s much more than just being this uptight smart girl. She’s also clever, witty, funny, and a little bit charming too. I really liked and related to her as the story progressed further.

Evan McKinley is a surfer dude with a serious reputation for being a total manwhore. If you base it only on this alone, then you miss out on how great he actually is. He turns out to be extremely swoony, along with being a smart and witty guy all around. Though Taylor thinks he’s this huge slacker with no ambitions, he turns out to surprise her. He actually dreams of being a marine biologist, and Taylor ends up helping him with his college applications. I really felt for him when it came to him dealing with his jerk of a step-father. So yeah, he turns out to be a rather incredible guy.

So the romance between Evan and Taylor is obviously very shady in the beginning. Taylor panics when she wakes up in bed with Evan, a boy that she only knew by reputation. They end up getting involved in a fake relationship in order to protect her perfect reputation. Anyway, they slowly begin to strike up a gradual friendship, which eventually leads to more. Like I already said, Taylor helps him figure out his whole college situation, which he initially doesn’t want to have anything to do with. I feel like the sort of slow burn thing they had going on was extremely realistic, not to mention full of swoony moments. It felt like your average high school romance, with clearly some not totally real drama thrown in for entertainment purposes.

This was an enjoyable read for me to say the least. It’s a fast paced read, I could barely put it down once I started reading it. Though I thought at first that it would be just another YA romance, it surprised me by also having great character depth and growth. I truly liked basically every character, and wanted the best for them in the end. The author was fabulous and I can’t wait to read more from her in the future!

About the Author:

Jenn Nguyen fell in love with books in third grade and spent the rest of her school years reading through lunchtime and giving up recess to organize the school library. She has a degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans and still lives in the city with her husband. Jenn spends her days reading, dreaming up YA romances, and binge watching Korean dramas all in the name of ‘research’. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is her debut novel.

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three-stars

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