Monthly Archives:: September 2016

The Goal Review

September 30, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Goal ReviewThe Goal (Off-Campus, #4) by Elle Kennedy
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on September 26th 2016
Pages: 350
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: The Deal (Off-Campus, #1), The Mistake (Off-Campus, #2), The Score (Off-Campus, #3)
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four-stars
She’s good at achieving her goals…
College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.
But the game just got a whole lot more complicated
Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

I’ve been dying to read this since I finished The Score back in January. This is the fourth and final book in the Off Campus series, but thankfully Elle Kennedy is working on a spin-off series next! Though I have to say that The Score is my favorite book in the series, this was still a delightful read. I fell in love even more with Tucker, and Sabrina was much more likable in this one than what we’ve seen of her in the previous stories. I’m sad to say goodbye to this hilarious group of hockey players, but I’m so glad that they all ended up getting an awesome happy ending. Tucker is definitely my boy! I highly recommend this if you’ve read the series, start with The Deal if you haven’t.

Sabrina came off as being this cold girl who was ambitious, but very vengeful and hateful towards Dean. It was interesting getting to learn more about her difficult background. The girl certainly doesn’t have an easy life, but she works extremely hard to get where she currently is. I have nothing but respect for her. However, I wasn’t too fond of some of the decisions that she made when it comes to Tucker. I get that she’s never been in a relationship before so I ignored some of her actions early on, but it got old after a certain point. She was still questioning Tucker and making him wonder if she had feelings for him at all. That happening towards the end of the book just seems wrong to me. I did like her, but I wanted to shake her at times.

Is there a guy out there better than Tucker? I sincerely doubt it. He might have just became my favorite Off-Campus boy, though I loved them all for different reasons. Tucker stands out because he’s a true gentleman. Sure, he’s had one night stands just like Dean and the other hockey stars at his school have, but he’s still a total romantic. He believes in love at first sight and wants to settle down sooner rather than later. He enjoyed his glory days, but he’s ready to find true love, which you got to love about him. I’ve never seen a guy be more supportive when finding out that his girlfriend (or just sexual partner) is pregnant. He’s such a genuine guy with a heart of gold. Tucker truly treats Sabrina like a princess, especially when she doesn’t deserve it and does everything she can to push him away.

Sabrina and Tucker make a fabulous couple, when they are actually together that is. Meaning, Sabrina gets cold feet quite a bit throughout the novel, but I absolutely adored how Tucker never once pushed her. He gave her space when she needed it because he didn’t want to freak her out completely. They made a lovely couple, mostly due to the awesomeness and swoony actions of my dear boy Tucker. The relationship between them is obviously forever altered when Sabrina becomes pregnant.

We saw the announcement to their friends at the end of the last book, but this book starts off on the same timeline that The Score began with. I’m not going to lie, it was confusing at first with Dean being single and hung up on Allie after their first hookup. However, I understand why Kennedy wanted to start there instead of jumping ahead of time. Sabrina isn’t pregnant until about halfway through The Goal. Though I will admit that it was extremely difficult having to see the whole Beau thing go down except through a different perspective. Including the epilogue, this book covers about a three year time period total. Honestly, that seems like quite a bit of time to me, but Elle makes it work pretty smoothly.

While this wasn’t my favorite book in the Off-Campus series, I can’t deny that it was still an amazing read. I really wanted to savor this one, but instead I ended up devouring it all in just one day. As I’ve already mentioned plenty of times in this review, Tucker was way more incredible than I was expecting. He turned out to be a total Southern gentleman, and I love how he showed Sabrina what real love looks like. Sabrina was a decent character, though she can definitely be frustrating at times. I just was more than ready for her to wake up and see what was clearly right in front of her! I’m so glad that I read this one and I can’t wait for the spin-off!

four-stars

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The Season Review

September 29, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Season ReviewThe Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer, Stephen Dyer
Published by Viking Children's on July 12th 2016
Pages: 326
Source: Library
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three-stars
She can score a goal, do sixty box jumps in a row, bench press a hundred and fifty pounds…but can she learn to curtsey?
Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters her in the 2016 Dallas debutante season, she’s furious—and has no idea what she’s in for. When Megan’s attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, she’s got a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family. The perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse. If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl.
The season has officially begun…but the drama is just getting started.

I was instantly fascinated by the description of this book, so I’m glad that I was able to borrow this from Overdrive. I thought The Season was really adorable and fast paced. Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was a Pride and Prejudice retelling until after I’d already read it and looked at what some of my friends thought on Goodreads. I must admit that I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice, but I do know the general plot of it. I’m mentioning this because I think that this will likely appeal to fans of P+P. It appealed to me because of the cover and cute sounding summary. Though I did have some issues with it, I still thought it was an enjoyable read.

Megan was definitely the highlight of the book! She’s so hilarious, and I love how she was never the least bit hesitant to speak her mind. This book is confusing: it’s labeled as YA but Megan isn’t a teenager. She and her twin sister are both 20 years old and in college. I do understand why it’s classified as YA and not NA since Megan is honestly pretty at times. But there’s also some mature-ish content that happens, but it’s all fade to black. That being said, I still enjoyed Megan’s personality throughout the book. She also really grew as a person as the book progressed. She starts out as a tomboy soccer player but evolves into a true lady who totally fits in among the other debutantes.

Like I said, Megan was one of the most memorable parts of The Season. The other characters are interesting, though some are obviously more likable than others. For one, I really liked Julia, who is Megan’s twin. She has such a different personality from Megan, they are basically like night and day. While Megan is into soccer and is a tomboy, Julia is a lot more of a girly girl and fits in more with the debutante lifestyle. The relationship between Megan and Julia was such a strong one. I’m always a fan of books that have sibling bonds, so this was great! As I mentioned, there are some characters that I didn’t like as much. There’s a mean debutante girl who we obviously weren’t supposed to like from the start, but I kind of wish there was some development there. Was there more to her than just being a stuck up rich girl who hated Megan? I get that the author didn’t want to explore her character, but that’s something I personally would have liked to see.

The romance was probably the weakest part of the book, in my opinion. If you can’t stand love triangles, pass on this one! I’m going to spoil the details about this romance, so only read it if you REALLY want to know more about the love triangle specifics. View Spoiler » I felt like Andrew and Megan’s relationship developed WAY too quickly. She hates him for most of the book, so they actually only have a handful of interactions throughout the story. However, he says near the end that he LOVES her. Wait, what? How can you love her when you’ve barely spoken? That’s way too much insta-love for my personal taste.

I liked this book, but sadly didn’t love it. I’m glad that I read it because Megan was such a hilarious and memorable character. The situations that she found herself in were totally cringe worthy at times, but it was great. My biggest complaint was definitely the lack of development with some of the supporting characters. I also wasn’t a fan of the romance at all. I think the author might have been trying a bit too hard for the romance to be exactly like Pride and Prejudice, but I feel like that wasn’t necessary. Anyway, I recommend this if you’re looking for something funny and fast paced.

three-stars

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ARC Review: Unrivaled

September 26, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: UnrivaledUnrivaled (Beautiful Idols, #1) by Alyson Noel
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 10th 2016
Pages: 420
Source: Edelweiss
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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.

Everyone wants to be someone.
Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.
She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.
That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.

To be completely honest with you guys, I put off reading this one for a ridiculously long time because I wasn’t sure whether or not the subject matter truly appealed to me. I read the first couple of pages and just wasn’t able to get into it, but I’m glad I went back and gave it another shot. Though it’s far from being my favorite character and plot wise, I have to admit that it’s still an addicting story. Once you get into it, it’s basically impossible to put it down. Is it top quality? Nope, but it’s still quality entertainment, and that positively impacted my rating. I’m definitely going to read the next book in this new fascinating series! I recommend it for fans of Pretty Little Liars, because I don’t believe that this story will be for everyone, but certain readers will also find it compelling.

Since this is a book filled with mystery and some twists, I’m not going to say much about the plot itself. I will just say that the book focuses on three different characters who enter a club promoting contest for very different reasons. Tommy dreams of being a famous musician, Layla dreams of becoming a famous journalist and being able to afford journalism school, and Aster dreams of becoming a famous actress. There’s also famous actress Madison, who the other characters end up meeting as they all try to get her to go to the various clubs that they are each individually promoting. Things take a dark turn when Madison goes missing and no one knows what happened to her.

So the characters were all far from being likable. If you’re a reader who absolutely HAS to like the main characters, I can tell you right now that you will likely despise this book. If you like complicated and ridiculously flawed characters, then you should at least try this one out. None of the characters are perfect, but in my opinion, that’s what sets them apart from other characters. I will admit that at times I still found them unbearable, and I did want to give up on the book at times. But I was so fascinated by everything going down that I simply couldn’t put the book down.

The romance in this book is basically nonexistent, as you might expect from a YA story that’s labeled a mystery/thriller. That being said, I don’t recommend this if you’re not a fan of cheating or love triangles. It’s actually not really that bad, meaning there’s so much else going on that this just isn’t a main focus. However, I know that this is still something that people like knowing before they read a book. I wasn’t a fan of the romance since I despise both of those things, but I was mostly able to overlook it.

Like I said, Unrivaled isn’t a book for everyone. Only certain kind of readers out there are going to enjoy this book, and that’s totally okay. It ended up simply being an okay book since I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters or the writing. This story reminded me of Pretty Little Liars in a good way, meaning it provided some nice entertainment. This is a fast paced read that will only take a few sittings to read.

three-stars

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ARC Review: Sparking the Fire

September 23, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

ARC Review: Sparking the FireSparking the Fire (Hot in Chicago, #3) by Kate Meader
Published by Pocket Books on September 27th 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
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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.

Kate Meader’s blazing Hot in Chicago firefighter series has “everything you want in a romance” (RT Book Reviews, Top Pick)! The flames of desire burn out of control in this sexy third novel when ex-lovers unexpectedly reunite for a sizzling affair that will have the director yelling, “Quiet on the set!”
Actor Molly Cade, America’s fallen sweetheart, finally has her shot at a Hollywood comeback with a dramatic new role as a tough-as-nails firefighter that promises to propel her back to the big time and restore her self-respect.
Wyatt Fox, resident daredevil at Engine Co. 6, needs a low-key job to keep him busy while he recovers from his latest rescue stunt. Consulting on a local movie shoot should add just enough spark to his day. Especially when in struts Molly Cade: the woman who worked his heart over good, and then left him in the Windy City dust.
Their story is straight out of a script: irrepressible, spunky heroine meets taciturn, smoldering hero. But these two refuse to be typecast, and when the embers of an old love are stoked, someone is bound to get burned…

I actually haven’t gotten the chance to read Kate Meader’s other books in this series. I decided to read this one after seeing it on Netgalley and thinking that it looked intriguing. I’m glad that I read it, but it made me want to stop reading and go back and read the other novels before continuing this one. I didn’t actually do that, but that doesn’t change my plans to read the others at some point. Anyway, this was a solid and steamy romance. I haven’t read many books about firefighters, so that’s always refreshing to see. I’m also a fan of when one of the main characters is an actor or actress. In my opinion, there aren’t enough romance books where the female is the celebrity, so that was unique to see as well. I recommend this to readers looking for a fast paced romance filled with some steam.

Molly was a fabulous character! As already mentioned, she’s a famous movie star. Unfortunately, she’s become more famous because of some sexy pictures that she took for her husband at the time and they were somehow leaked to the public. Now she’s trying to redeem herself by making a prestigious movie about a badass firefighter woman. I felt like the issue involving the pictures was very timely. It’s unfortunate how many celebrities have had their privacy violated by these pictures getting leaked, and I think this book addresses the issue in a real and honest fashion. Molly is a hilarious feminist, and I absolutely adored her personality. She was an extremely likable character from the first page until the last one.

Wyatt has the whole broody, mysterious sexy guy going on. Once he opens up though, he shows a different side to him entirely. I thought he was a swoony dude for sure. I loved how passionate and protective he was over the people he cares about. I’m not crazy about the alpha thing, so that might be why I wasn’t totally in love with him personally. However, I did like him for the most part. He was on the guarded side, so it would have been nice to see him open up a little more. He was a decent character, just not the best.

The romance made me feel conflicted in a way. On one side, I think they did make a good couple and I liked seeing them together and happy. On the other, things progressed really fast, and there was some unnecessary drama and communication issues, which I personally will always have issues with. There was quite a bit of sex going on, but I don’t think it was too much. My issue was that they had a hookup years ago before Molly became famous that lasted like a week before they went their separate ways. I feel like the summary makes it seem like more than it was. It says that Molly was, “the woman who worked his heart over good, and then left him in the Windy City dust.” I’m pretty sure it was a mutual thing. They didn’t even bother exchanging names. We find out that he actually did know hers because he went to see her play, but she absolutely didn’t know his. That might not seem like a big deal, but it still was somewhat problematic to me since I was expecting more of a second chance romance.

As a whole, this was an interesting book. I felt like Molly was a wonderful feminist character. I loved how strong and badass she was throughout the novel. Wyatt was kind of a mystery for most of the book, but I did enjoy that for the most part. The book had some unnecessary drama at times that I wasn’t too fond of, but that’s just my personal taste. I’m sure that other people will likely enjoy this book. I recommend it if you don’t mind swoon or alpha heroes!

three-stars

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ARC Review: The Trouble with Mistletoe

September 22, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

ARC Review: The Trouble with MistletoeThe Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, #2) by Jill Shalvis
Published by Avon on September 27th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay, #1), One Snowy Night (Heartbreaker Bay, #2.5), Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay, #3)
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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.

If she has her way ...
Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her ...
He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.
Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him ...
Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice ...
Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work ...

I didn’t like this one nearly as much as Sweet Little Lies, but this was still a pretty decent romance as a whole. I thought that Willa and Keane were such a cute couple, just felt like the angst went a little too far at times. This new series by Jill Shalvis hasn’t let me down so far yet, so I’m definitely eager to read more of these stories. I’ve been looking forward to reading Archer and Elle’s story since the first book, so I can’t wait to read it next! I recommend this series to romance readers who love small town stories with quirky supporting characters.

Willa was a character who immediately fascinated me in Sweet Little Lies. We could tell that she was a caring and loving friend from the start, who also worked way too hard. Anyway, it was awesome to learn even more about her upbringing and just her personality in general. I loved how seriously she took Christmas. Seriously though, this girl took Christmas spirit to an entirely new level. Once we learned more about her relatively crappy childhood, it made sense why decorating her business completely and taking the holiday ridiculously seriously was so important to her. I wouldn’t say that Willa is my favorite female character by any means, but she was still very well written and I thought her story was mostly pretty well done.

Keane was a super swoony guy from the beginning. I’m not sure I believe that he was so serious about Willa right from the start if he was known for being a playboy, but he was still a well developed character for the most part. He had a lot less baggage going on than Willa, he was fully (for the most part) involved in the relationship, while she was still partially holding back. I’ll admit that he wasn’t the most interesting and swooniest book boyfriend, but he was still a classic Jill Shalvis guy, which is a true compliment.

For the most part, the romance was a decent one. However, I did have some problems with the heavy drama going on. I absolutely can’t stand it when the couples are unable to be together and happy for more than a couple of pages before the major conflict pops up and momentarily ruins everything. I get that drama is inevitable, but in my opinion, there is something as TOO much and that was the case here. When they actually were together though, things were on the steamy side. There wasn’t too much sex or not enough sex, I felt like the author found a happy balance. I liked the romance, but I can’t say that I loved it.

All in all, this was a fun romance that I’m glad that I read. Jill Shalvis is still a fairly new to me author. Sweet Little Lies was the first book of hers that I ever read. I’m glad that I continued reading because she writes awesome romances and I love how she has dogs in her books as well. Willa is the definition of a pet person, and that was my favorite thing about her for sure! So the point is, I’m officially a Shalvis fan, right along with so many contemporary romance lovers out there.

three-stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Audiobooks

September 20, 2016 Features 8

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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 all about audio, and I went with audiobooks. I personally don’t listen to that many audiobooks, so my favorites list ending up coming a little bit short with only eight picks total. I hope you enjoy my list, and I look forward to reading what everyone else came up with as well!

1. Anna and the French Kiss

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This is such a beautiful book! I feel like the narrator captured Anna’s extreme angst in such a fabulous and real way. I listened to this while working, and I kept thinking that I should stop listening, but I was absolutely mesmerized by it all.

2. What I Thought Was True

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This book ends up appearing on basically every other TTT list that I make, especially if I’m talking about my favorites. I just can’t help it, this book is so amazing and I’m always looking for an opportunity to talk about it. Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut My Life Next Door is certainly more popular than this one, and I love that too. However, this one is just so unique and honest. I loved every second of it. The audiobook instantly sucked me in. It’s another audio that I listened to at work, and I don’t regret that a bit! The only bad part was the serious anticipation about what happened between the two main characters. If I had the physical copy, I would have totally peeked ahead to see what it was.

3. The Beginning of Everything

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Not going to lie, this book wasn’t my favorite. But I have to admit, I was still compelled by the audiobook itself. My issue was with some of the plot towards the end of the story. Some of it was extremely difficult to listen to, but I’m glad I managed to power through it anyways. It was a great audio!

4. This Lullaby

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Yet another book that appears on basically every list that I’ve ever made. I had to include it here because I had a great experience with the audio awhile back. I desperately wanted to listen to something that I’ve already read on paper, so I gave this a shot because I needed something feel good. Anyway, I was so charmed by the narrator in this one. She made the best Remy, and her Dexter voice was 100% spot on.

5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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Big surprise here, yet another one of my all time favorite books that was also amazing on audiobook. This one specifically stands out to me because of the narrators. There are so many of them, including Earl and Greg from the movie. They both did a fantastic job, as did the tons of other audiobook narrators. This book is ridiculously difficult because of the random screenplay parts thrown in throughout. Whatever, they made it work flawlessly!

6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Lin Manuel-Miranda narrates this one, need I say more? He brings Ari’s voice to life with such angst and pure emotion. My favorite voice was definitely Dante’s though. He ended up going quite a bit high pitched and a little nasally, but in an endearing way, not an annoying one. If you listen to any audiobook, listen to this!

7. Everything, Everything

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This incredibly well written novel was brought to life through the awesome voices of two very memorable people. This audiobook has a female as the lead, and also doing the majority of the other voices. But there’s a male voice for Ollie throughout the email parts of the book. If you’ve read it, you already know that takes up a large portion of the story, but it worked smoothly here.

8. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Yup, this ridiculously novel is going on another one of my lists. I felt like the narrator WAS Simon. He did a remarkable job at bringing that charisma Simon had on the page so effortlessly on audio.

So those are my main favorites on audiobooks. Some that I’m hoping to listen to soon include: Illuminae, The Scorpio Races, Every Day, and more! Do you have any recommendations that I should checkout? Let me know, and don’t forget to share your lists with me! Hope you guys have a fantastic rest of the week! 🙂

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Game On Review

September 18, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

Game On ReviewGame On (Lewis Creek, #2) by Michelle Smith
Published by Bloomsbury Spark on August 16th 2016
Pages: 328
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Play On (Lewis Creek, #1)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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four-stars
As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he’s only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.
Bri hasn’t talked to Eric in months— for starters, she’s been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric’s been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it’s a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.
In a town as small as Lewis Creek, nothing stays secret for long and their friendship and romance might mean bad news. But in this final, tumultuous spring before graduation, Eric and Bri are about to realize that nobody’s perfect alone, but they might just be perfect together.

It’s no secret that I seriously enjoyed Michelle Smith’s first novel Play On. It’s safe to say that Game On was yet another delightful read set in this extremely awesome Lewis Creek world. I really hope that we get more stories from some of the other baseball players! I would love for Blake or Kellan to get their own love story. Anyway, this was a sweet romance with relatively low angst going on here. This was a light read, and very fast paced, I was able to devour it fairly quickly. I’m glad I read this, and I recommend it to any YA sports romance fan!

Bri was an absolutely fabulous main character. We saw glimpses of her in Play On, so I’m glad that we get inside her head in Game On. I was surprised by how much I was able to relate to Bri on a personal level. I guess I shouldn’t be, because Michelle Smith has already proved that she can write these incredible female characters who have their inner demons that they try to conceal. Bri’s story was a sad one to say the least. My heart broke for her when we learned about how her mother verbally abused her before she left for good when she was only six. She was also in a verbally abusive relationship with one of Eric’s teammates for months until she finally reached her limit. I liked learning more about this smart and passionate girl. She also has such a huge heart, which we see through her community service of teaching little kids how to play soccer. Could this girl be a better human? I doubt it.

Eric was a pretty great main character as well. Michelle Smith is amazing at writing male POV’s. She makes Eric’s voice so hilarious, and he feels like such a typical teenage boy. I laughed out loud countless times while reading Eric narrated chapters. I can’t think of any specific lines off the top of my head, but take my word for it, it was freaking hilarious. He’s far from being a perfect book boyfriend, but what teenage boy truly is? He has his fair share of flaws, especially when it comes to relationships, but the guy has a great heart underneath it all. Eric has made lots of mistakes, but Bri helps him see that those don’t have to define who he is. I also loved how protective he was when it came to Bri. He didn’t hesitate to throw down if it was in defense of his beautiful neighbor.

Once things got started, the romance was pretty adorable. Take my word for it though, this is basically the definition of a slow burn romance. Eric and Bri don’t kiss until right about the 80% mark. Typically, I want the relationship to already be established by that point, but Smith made it work. The author took her time with reconnecting Eric and Bri as they strengthened their friendship. The feelings that they had for one another became obvious long before they get together, but the two fight it for different reasons. Like I already mentioned, the relationship is so sweet and adorable once it finally gets started. I definitely loved seeing them as a couple, they truly balanced each other out in the best possible ways.

Game On was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I feel like I’ve been waiting on it for such a long freaking time now, so I’m beyond excited that it was finally released! In my opinion, there can never be enough YA books out there about baseball. I’m such a huge fan of the sport, and Smith was able to bring it to life on the page yet again. Fingers crossed that there will be more Lewis Creek books released in the not so distance future!

four-stars

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ARC Review: Overexposed

September 16, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: OverexposedOverexposed (In Focus, #4) by Megan Erickson
on September 20th, 2016
Pages: 177
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Strong Signal (Cyberlove, #1), Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2), Daring Fate (Silver Tip Pack #1)
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.

Love runs wild on the Appalachian Trail in the latest from the author of Out of Frame and Focus on Me...   Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he'd planned to do with his sister.   His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs...

I’m such a huge fan of Megan Erickson’s In Focus series, and I have to say that this is probably my favorite. We were introduced to Levi as being the token gay guy on his reality show on the last book. In his book, we learn that he’s much more than that, the producers simply edited him that way. He’s just your average guy who needs a break from reality, so he decides to hike the Appalachian Trail, just like he always planned to do with his best friend/sister. Unfortunately, his sister recently died while fighting over in Afghanistan, but he feels like he still has to hike the trail in her memory. Anyway, this was such a lovely book! Both Thad and Levi were such well developed characters. I highly recommend this book if you want a beautifully written romance that will stick with you for a long time after reading.

Levi was such a fabulous main character. He’s suffering a great deal over the loss of his beloved sister, and I really identified with him. As anyone who has suffered the loss of someone close to them knows, we all deal with grief in different ways. Levi’s way was to do something that brought him closer to his sister, since this was something that he was only going to ever do for her in the first place. Levi ends up being pretty ill prepared for the trip, but thankfully he discovers Thad! Before I talk about him though, I want to say Levi is just incredible. I wanted to hug him over and over again throughout the novel.

Thad is a rather mysterious character to say the least. The entire book is told through Levi’s POV except for some texts at the end of some chapters that are between T and M. T is clearly Thad, and these are texts from someone back home. For a lot of the book, these texts are truly the only form of insight into the mind of this guy. From the time that he and Levi randomly meet in the woods, he never has much to say. Sometimes I’m not a fan of these characters because they are so closed off, but in this case, it completely worked. Thad is the only character I’ve ever read that identifies as demisexual. This means that you have to have a strong emotional connection with someone in order to do anything sexual. This makes them on the asexual spectrum. I felt like this was important to include because more people need to be educated with these terms.

As a couple, Thad and Levi are basically amazing. It starts off with Thad saying nothing to Levi as they journey on together. Levi is one of those people that just needs to talk at pretty much all times. So Thad just silently listens as Levi tells him stories. Slowly though, they do get to know each other more and I loved seeing their relationship develop both emotionally and physically. However, there’s naturally a huge roadblock that creates some drama between them. In some books, I tend to hate the drama. In this case, the drama completely made sense. I felt like Megan Erickson couldn’t have written it any better.

Overexposed is my favorite book in this entirely memorable series by a wonderful author. I have no clue why I haven’t written reviews for the other three books in this series, probably because I started it kind of late, but I still thoroughly enjoyed every single book. You don’t have to have read the others in order to enjoy this, but I do recommend it since there’s an incredible scene at the end that reunites all the couples. Read this if you’re looking for a fast paced M/M romance!

four-stars

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Roman Crazy Review

September 15, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★

Roman Crazy ReviewRoman Crazy (Broads Abroad, #1) by Alice Clayton, Nina Bocci
Published by Gallery Books on September 13th 2016
Pages: 336
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
two-stars
Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.
Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…
Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new again romance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?
A celebration of great friendship, passionate romance, and wonderful food, Roman Crazy is a lighthearted story of second chances and living life to the fullest.

I hate to say this, but Roman Crazy honestly made me really angry. I read Alice Clayton’s book Wallbanger and thought it was so hilarious and romantic. I was expecting such an amazing and clever romance here with the additional setting of Rome to be the icing on the cake. However, the setting and the wonderful food involved wasn’t able to save the book for me personally. I wanted to like it because of this alone, but I was so mad over some of the actions of both main characters that I didn’t care if they ended up together or not. I don’t anyone to feel discouraged by my thoughts because I seem to be in the minority here so far, but I have to be completely honest about my thoughts. I also want anyone who likes knowing potentially problematic themes in romance novels to be aware, just as long as they don’t mind major spoilers!

For starters, Avery isn’t a bad character. She’s actually quite funny and charming at times. I loved seeing her passion for art and how involved in her work she becomes while in Rome. Avery runs off to Rome to stay with her best friend after catching her husband having sex with his secretary. I liked seeing her get swept up in the beautiful country. It definitely made me want to go and eat some of that tasty food as well! However, it felt like the book was extremely slow, especially around the part where her job became so important to her. You’d think that everything about Rome would be exciting, but a lot of the descriptions after a certain point were just way too long to me.

Look, I didn’t like the love interest Marcello from the start. Avery had an affair (literally, she was still dating her boyfriend at the time, later husband) while studying abroad in Barcelona, but then she left him and never talked to him again. I’ll get to some of the problematic spoilers involving both of them later, but for now I want to talk about his character as a whole. I can’t tell you what it is, but I saw no appeal to Marcello. I know that he was described as this major hunk, and we’re supposed to like him because he’s this hot Italian man. Unfortunately, I found him to be rather boring because we knew nothing about him! Maybe that what supposed to add to the “mystery” of him, but both the readers and Avery know little about who he is as a person. Yeah, she ends up meeting his family towards the end, but that doesn’t count in my opinion. They had the entire book to get to know more about each others personal lives, and they chose to have sex instead.

As you can probably already tell, I wasn’t a fan of the romance. This is going to contain major spoilers about what I disliked so much. I encourage you not to read them if you plan on reading the book, but if you’d like to know going into it, then just proceed with caution! View Spoiler »

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t like this book at all. It ended up filling me with so many angry emotions. Alice Clayton is a lovely author and I’ll probably read another book from her in the future, but the wound is way too deep right now. I’ve already seen tons of positive reviews, so it’s likely that you’ll like it too. It simply wasn’t my cup of tea, I hate books that have these themes. If I’d known that cheating plays such a huge role in this book, I never would have read it in the first place.

two-stars

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Blog Tour: Phantom Limbs Q&A + Giveaway

September 13, 2016 Blog Tours 3

Blog Tour: Phantom Limbs Q&A + Giveaway

I’m beyond excited to have YA author Paula Garner on my blog talking about her debut novel Phantom Limbs. Big thanks to Hannah from The Irish Banana Review for allowing me to be apart of this awesome blog tour!

1. What are some male POV written books that inspired you to write your own?

Certainly John Green’s books would be among the boy-POV YA books that inspired me during the early years of writing Phantom Limbs. More recently, Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun and Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King were equally inspiring.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer or were you on a different career path first?

I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first story when I was six, as soon as I learned how to make words and string them into sentences. It was angsty and sad and had mature content (about a rose who became pregnant out of wedlock and was cast out of the garden). My fate as a YA author was sealed.

3. What made you want to write specifically for young people? Have you considered writing in any other genre?

I might at some point write for adults, but I chose to write YA because books were so incredibly important to me during my teenage years. Being able to read honest stories about tough issues was life-saving to me. I would like to pay that forward.

4. Are you working on any other projects currently?

Yes! In my next YA contemporary, Relative Strangers (Candlewick, Spring ’18), a tender-hearted teen who feels extraneous in her friendships and family discovers that part of her early childhood was spent in foster care. She sets out to find the family that cared for her, but when she meets her former foster brother, she develops romantic feelings for him that jeopardize the newfound sense of belonging she’s always longed for.

Later in 2018 my third book will come out, a YA contemporary co-authored with Audrey Coulthurst. Starworld is about two very different high school girls with painful home lives who fall into an intense text-message-based friendship built around an imaginary world, only to have that safe place compromised as their real lives unravel and one falls in love with the other.

5. How long did it take you to write Phantom Limbs?

YEARS. About seven, all told, from conception (cooking up story ideas while sitting at high school swim meets) through one billion drafts to finished copies.

6. What was the publishing process like for you?

Long. Rewarding. And, honestly, kind of charmed. I’m unbelievably lucky in the people I’ve had the privilege of working with. My writing friends, my agent, my editor, my publisher (so many amazing people behind the scenes working on this book), my critique partners, my readers… I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything.

ABOUT PHANTOM LIMBS:

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How do you move on from an irreplaceable loss? In a poignant debut, a sixteen-year-old boy must learn to swim against an undercurrent of grief—or be swept away by it.

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N

ABOUT PAULA GARNER:

paula_garner

Paula Garner spends most of her time making food, drinks, and narratives, despite being surrounded by an alarming TBR pile and a very bad cat. Her debut YA novel, Phantom Limbs, comes out from Candlewick in 2016. Paula is represented by Molly Jaffa of Folio Lit, and lives in the Chicago area with her family.

LINKS: Website | Twitter

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

9/5: Such A Novel Idea – Guest Post

9/6: The Litaku – Review

9/7: The Irish Banana Review – Top 10

9/8: Pretty Deadly Reviews – Review

9/9: Resch Reads and Reviews – Guest Post

Week 2:

9/12: The Plot Bunny – Review

9/13: Go Read A Book – Q&A

9/14: Buried Under Books – Review

9/15: Novel Novice – Playlist

9/16: The Young Folks – Review

Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of PHANTOM LIMBS (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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