Hope Was Here Review

January 29, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Hope Was Here ReviewHope Was Here by Joan Bauer
on June 2nd, 2005
Source: Library
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four-stars
Hope is a 16-year-old girl, living a nomadic lifestyle with her aunt Addie. Addie is a chef and restaurant manager, and Hope works as a waitress. They're always moving from place to place, and the story opens with them up-rooting from Brooklyn, New York. Before she leaves, Hope scribbles 'Hope Was Here' onto the menu board - it's become her motto, a ritual she carries out whenever they have to hit the road - again. Hope's a city girl and she isn't sure how she's going to tackle life in 'cow country'. Things start hotting up for her, though, when she gets embroiled in the local politics of Mulhoney, Wisconsin while working at the Welcome Stairways diner- Soon, Hope is tackling big issues about her own past, while grappling with some surprising developments in her new home town.

This was a wonderfully short yet beautiful novel that I really enjoyed. It only takes you a few hours to read it, which is a definite perk to picking it up in the first place. I’ve only read one book from Joan Bauer in the past and that was Rules of the Road. I found that one to be completely touching and a fun read as a whole. Not going to lie, it definitely made me cry. Hope Was Here also had similar emotions: funny but also sad. Strangely, this one was rather accurate to what’s going on in the world when it comes to politics. Really though, there’s a rather crooked politician who manipulates pretty much everyone in the town except a few good people who are made aware of what exactly is going on. Sounds familiar, right? Anyway, this was a nice read and I’m happy that I picked it up.

Hope was easily the highlight of the book for me. She has a wonderful and fierce personality from the very first page. She just had some of the best and laugh out loud funny lines. She was a character that I was personally able to identify with. Though she could be a little immature at times, she was still relatable and fascinating. She’s one of my new favorite female characters! She’s an inspirational character, and she reminded me a lot of a Sarah Dessen heroine.

There isn’t much romance in this book so I’m not really going to touch on that at all. However, the romance between Hope and a cute cook at the restaurant where her and her aunt worked. That wasn’t really that big of a plot point, but it was still a sweet little side story that went on. A lot of the romance isn’t actually between Hope and anyone, it’s actually between her aunt and the kind owner of the restaurant who is also running for mayor. The main focus of the story is really about non-romantic relationships. Hope doesn’t know much about her mother besides the waitressing tips that she gives her when she visits her every now and then. Her aunt Addie is the one who takes care of her and does everything she can to provide for her. They move to a lot of different places and work at a lot of different restaurants but this place is one of their favorite places yet.

I found Hope Was Here to be a wonderful and charming short little read. I’m happy that I had the chance to read another book from Joan Bauer. She’s written yet another memorable story filled with a fantastic cast of characters. I mentioned it earlier, but this story reminds me a lot of a Sarah Dessen book, specifically Keeping the Moon, which also featured characters who worked in a restaurant. This was a refreshing and enlightening read. Though it was written awhile ago, it still felt just as timely as ever. It wasn’t a perfect book by any means, it could have been a little longer which would have allowed for more character growth. However, it was still pretty freaking good and I look forward to reading more from Joan Bauer.

four-stars

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ARC Review: The Room Mate

January 26, 2017 Reviews 0

 

 

 

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room-mate_amazonThe last time I saw my best friend’s younger brother, he was a geek wearing braces. But when Cannon shows up to crash in my spare room, I get a swift reality check.

Now twenty-four, he’s broad shouldered and masculine, and so sinfully sexy, I want to climb him like the jungle gyms we used to enjoy. At six-foot-something with lean muscles hiding under his T-shirt, a deep sexy voice, and full lips that pull into a smirk when he studies me, he’s pure temptation.

Fresh out of a messy breakup, he doesn’t want any entanglements. But I can resist, right?

I’m holding strong until the third night of our new arrangement when we get drunk and he confesses his biggest secret of all: he’s cursed when it comes to sex. Apparently he’s a god in bed, and women instantly fall in love with him.

I’m calling bullshit. In fact, I’m going to prove him wrong, and if I rack up a few much-needed orgasms in the process, all the better.

There’s no way I’m going to fall in love with Cannon. But once we start…I realize betting against him may have been the biggest mistake of my life.

 

 

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My Thoughts:

Surprisingly, I’ve never read a book by Kendall Ryan before. I’ve met to, and I definitely have some of her books on my Kindle, but I haven’t gotten around to reading any of them for whatever reason. Anyway, this was a great introduction to her work and I really look forward to reading more from her in the future! The concept of this book isn’t a new one to me. In fact, I’ve read several books here lately that basically revolved around a guy and a girl who were platonically connected in some way had to move in together.  The description of this one still managed to stand out to me and I just knew that I had to read it. This turned out to be a fast and fun read and I recommend it if you’re looking for that type of story.

Paige was a solid main character. I thought she was a funny and interesting character. Sometimes I felt like she tried a little too hard to please people instead of just standing up for herself and doing what she wanted, but I still respected her for some of the choices that she ultimately ended up making. I also thought that she was a great friend to Allie, Cannon’s sister, maybe too good at times. As a whole though, she wasn’t super memorable to me. She was a good character, but not a great one.

Not going to even lie, Cannon was pretty swoony. He might be a little too perfect at times, but he’s still rather human other times. Believe it or not, he actually makes a lot of crazy but real mistakes that made me want to kick him. He was swoony through the things that he did for Paige. He also was just an all around smart dude who also happened to be insanely hot. I feel like he had a lot of character growth going for him as well. He became more fascinating to me as the book progressed.

I’m a big fan of the best friend’s brother trope. I haven’t read a lot of books that have this set up: the female lead’s best friend’s little brother who used to be a major geek. I typically read it where the heroine has a huge crush on her older brother’s best friend that eventually develops into something more. I feel like this story really worked here and I was pleased with how the trope was used as a whole. He’s only a few years younger than Paige and Allie, but she didn’t see him that way when he was just the boy that followed them around back then. Paige was the first girl that Cannon fantasized about in that way, and that made a huge impact with him. I felt like the romance moved at just the correct pace. It wasn’t too fast, but them getting together didn’t drag on either. The romance was pretty hot and I thought those scenes were well written. The chemistry between them was very much there. There was maybe a bit too drama for my taste, but most of it was still realistic for the most part.

The Room Mate was a nice first book for me to read from this popular romance author. It featured a different spin to a trope that I truly enjoyed, and I thought it was well done here. Cannon and Paige made a hot and intriguing couple from the start. They definitely ended up balancing each other out in the end. Though her attitude towards her best friend bothered me at times, I still want Allie to get her own story and I hope that we get to read that book in the future! Despite the angst, this is still a relatively light and quick read that I enjoyed. three-half-stars

 

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kendall-ryan-headshot-1-picA New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

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ARC Review: Casanova

January 25, 2017 Reviews 0

 

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00027]I loved him more than life.

He broke me and he didn’t even know it.

I ran from him.

He didn’t chase me.

He never needed to, because he knew I’d come back.

He was right.

Death brought me home to him.

Brett Walker.

Drop dead gorgeous and filthy-mouthed with a smile that turns saints to sinners.

A casanova to his core.

My ex-best friend.

And the bad boy whose reputation precedes him—the same reputation I’m tasked with turning to gold… Or so they think.

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My Thoughts:

So Emma Hart is really really great at writing characters that you care about and relate to. She also never fails to write stories that are seriously laugh out loud funny. I have never read a book by her that I disliked. However, this one does have a bit more angst than some of her other ones. Casanova is a fast and entertaining read that I’m happy that I picked up. All in all, this is still a charming and sexy novel that fans of hers are sure to truly enjoy! If you’ve never read any of her books before, you should really try one out for yourself and see if you like her writing style.

Lani is the kind of heroine that I’ve come to expect from Emma, but I still love her. Like a lot of her other heroines, she’s independent, strong, funny, and has a huge heart. She’s an awesome character and I really enjoyed the chapters that were through her POV because I was able to seriously connect with her character. I also liked the fact that she was a journalist, since that’s a career path that I personally love reading about in books. I’m not sure if she was my all time favorite Hart heroine, but she was still a solid, enjoyable, and fun one anyway.

Brett was a little more complicated for me. I didn’t always enjoy reading his POV just because I’m not a huge fan of playboys in general. For the most part though, he was a pretty great guy underneath it all. I’m still not fully convinced that he’s a “bad boy” since he was a nice guy, just made some bad choices along the way. I didn’t always support the choices that he made for sure, but he was still a decent and interesting character. I thought his character development was pretty great as a whole.

The romance between Brett and Lani was definitely electric. They had great chemistry from the very start. I’m always a fan of characters that have real history, and these two have just that. I think that it was really slow learning about the history of their friendship and why it ended way back when. Once they got past all the drama that happened, they did have a wonderfully hot romance to say the least. Emma Hart is also fantastic at writing these scenes and she’s done it yet again here. They weren’t my favorite couple, but they were still a decent and believable one for the most part.

I’m happy that I read Casanova. Was it my favorite? No, but it was still very funny and charming all around. Lani and Brett were fascinating characters that had great and memorable character growth throughout the story. The romance was sizzling and I really enjoyed that side of the plot. I recommend this if you’re a fan of fairly light romantic comedies and have loved Emma Hart’s previous novels in the past. three-stars

 

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1p0a9045By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies – usually wine – and writes books.

Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.

She likes to be busy – unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

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ARC Review: Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

January 24, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★½

ARC Review: Here We Are: Feminism for the Real WorldHere We Are: Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen
on January 24th, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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four-half-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.

Let’s get the feminist party started!  Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it means to be a twenty-first-century feminist. It’s packed with contributions from a diverse range of voices, including TV, film, and pop-culture celebrities and public figures such as ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia and politician Wendy Davis, as well as popular authors like Nova Ren Suma, Malinda Lo, Brandy Colbert, Courtney Summers, and many more. All together, the book features more than forty-four pieces and illustrations.
Here We Are is a response to lively discussions about the true meaning of feminism on social media and across popular culture and is an invitation to one of the most important, life-changing, and exciting parties around.

I’ve been tremendously picky about giving five star reviews, I have still yet to give one out in 2017. However, this one comes about the closest to getting one so far. I really enjoyed this because it’s a beautiful and intriguing take on feminism. It’s also the most inclusive collection about the topic that I’ve seen yet. Kelly Jenson did an incredible job at picking from such a huge variety of voices from all walks of life. Regardless of your thoughts on feminism, this is an important thing to read. This was extremely easy to read, I read it in just a sitting or two. Like I said, you need to read Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, that’s honestly all there is to say on the matter.

So I could go on and on about how important this is, but I won’t bore you with those repetitive details. Feminism is something that people have very strong opinions about. A lot of people that I know, particularly girls my own age, think that it isn’t important. There’s this one article in particular that a Facebook friend recently shared (she called it ridiculous thankfully) that made me absolutely crazy. The author says that she’s so “over” feminism and that she completely twists around basically everything that feminism stands for in the first place. I personally learned even more about feminism and how much I needed it when I was a junior or senior in high school. At the same time though, I’m still constantly learning more about feminism and how exactly it works. My rant about this subject here is to show my own personal history with feminism. The reason why I think this is such an important matter to talk about is due to people like the college student who wrote that piece totally trashing it. At it’s core, feminism simply means that both men and women are equal, and what’s so wrong about that? Yes, there is obviously a lot more to it than just that, which I think the book explains in a fabulous and informative way.

I never really know how to review anthologies like this one. In this case, I’m not going to go over them one by one since there’s a lot of them, but just going to discuss some of my personal favorites. After reading the introduction of the book, I was afraid that there would be tons of essays that were previously published elsewhere. For example, an excerpt from Roxane Gay’s book Bad Feminist is included here. I loved Bad Feminist and highly recommend that you read all of it. I was afraid that there wouldn’t be a lot of totally creative content here, but I was definitely wrong about that. Though they’ve included some other work that was previously published somewhere else, each of them makes complete sense in this specific collection. I love that Lily Myers’ “Shrinking Women” is included here. I heard this spoken word poetry a few years back and absolutely loved it. At the same time, I feel like I understand the true meaning of it a lot more clearly now that I’m a little bit older. Some new content that I loved were fantastic essays by Senator Wendy Davis, Sarah McCarry about growing up hating girls, Siobhan Vivian’s personal letter, Ashley Hope Perez about being a nice girl, and Brenna Clarke Gray’s take on fandom and fanfiction, and many more!

This book was a wonderful and unique take on feminism. I truly hope that it will make a difference on the lives of teenagers who know very little about the topic. I’m not sure if it will change minds that are already fully against feminism, but I think that it just might be able to do that. If you want to read a more in-depth and powerful review about this collection, go check out Emily’s because she makes some awesome points that I didn’t touch on. As I keep saying, we need this book now more than ever. Feminism shouldn’t be a dirty word, we need to embrace that and I hope that this book will help get that started even more than it already has. I can’t recommend it enough!

four-half-stars

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The Female of the Species Review

January 22, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Female of the Species ReviewThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 20th 2016
Pages: 341
Source: Library
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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three-stars
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

So this book was a difficult book for me to rate. On one hand, I really adored the message of this book and basically everything that this story represented. However, I also personally wasn’t completely able to look past some of the plot and characters. In my opinion, this story isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s especially not for people who aren’t into dark books or strong violence. This contains a solid amount of violence, and even some acts against animals, which I think people will likely have the most issues with. I also found myself struggling with the animal violence in the story, which I’ll explain more later on in my review. That being said, this was a fast paced story that was extremely intense, but it was far from perfect. I can’t say that this is my favorite, but I’m still happy that I read it.

There’s three main POV’s in this story. First we have Alex, who’s older sister was brutally raped and murdered years ago and her killer wasn’t arrested. Alex ends up taking matters into her own hands and killing him herself. I don’t consider this to be a spoiler since we learn this very early on in the book. Anyway, we can basically consider Alex to be like a younger Dexter who isn’t really a serial killer, she just believes in getting justice for those who are being wronged. We also have Peekay, which isn’t her real name, but everyone calls her that because she’s a Preacher’s Kid. I liked her, but I wasn’t sure what to make of her views on her parents and religion. She talked a lot about how she no longer believed in religion and said bad things about her parents, but I didn’t really understand why? I did think that she was a strong and powerful character as a whole. She was also a solid friend to Alex, and I enjoyed their friendship. Our final main character is Jack, who I probably liked the least. However, I do think that he evolved a lot as a character throughout the story. At the beginning, he was a major douchebag who only acted on his hormones. By the end of the story, he still was very much dominated by those hormones, but he was still a better person who had changed his way of thinking to an extent.

So one of the problems that I had with this book was the animal violence. Though it wasn’t exactly a major point of the plot, it still disturbed me that it was included at all. In the beginning, I was excited that Alex and Peekay both volunteered at the animal shelter. Though Alex can be a ridiculously violent person, she shows nothing but pure kindness towards animals. There were a few brief scenes that featured some really graphic instances of what happens when the shelter has to deal with dead animals. I think the point of the scene was that it showed extreme violence towards these animals, which brought out some equally violent images from Peekay, who views these as awful and wrong thoughts. Though I’ve tried to justify it to an extent, it still doesn’t make sense to me. I also felt disconnected from the characters a lot of the time. I respected the fact that this was a take on rape culture, but that still doesn’t mean that I really identified with the characters. I also realize that characters being likable isn’t a reason to like or not like a story, in this case though, I just wasn’t able to feel that much of an emotional attachment to the characters, mostly Jack. The ending also caused me to knock about half a star or even a full star off of it. It honestly caught me off guard entirely, it just didn’t feel like an appropriate ending to me!

The Female of the Species is a different kind of book to say the least. I’ve never read anything by Mindy McGinnis before but I’m sure I’ll pick up her stories in the future. This book was pretty well written. I think she did a solid job at making all three of these POV’s unique. That can be a particularly difficult thing to pull off, but the author did this with ease. This was an interesting take on rape culture that I’ve never really seen before. I seriously enjoyed this aspect of the book. There were just some other parts that I wasn’t a huge fan of and so that affected my rating. I do recommend it, but only to those who are okay with a good amount of violence.

three-stars

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ARC Review: History Is All You Left Me

January 19, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

ARC Review: History Is All You Left MeHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on January 17th 2017
Pages: 320
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: More Happy Than Not
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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four-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.

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

So I read this book back in August and I planned on re-reading it closer to the release date, but haven’t had the time to do that yet. Luckily though, this book is such a powerful one that it’s still managed to stick with me all these months later. I think that this is a compelling and beautiful story. Yes, it’s a highly emotional one and you’ll probably cry throughout most of the story. Regardless, Griffin’s story is so important and it needs to be told. I strongly recommend reading this one. You just have to be prepared to read it all in just a few sittings because you won’t be able to put it down.

My heart was totally broken for Griffin throughout the novel. On top of the fact that his first love and best friend just died, he’s also doing his best to manage his OCD. Though I personally am not OCD, one of my best friends is and I feel like he would be pretty pleased with Silvera’s portrayal of it here. I’m not entirely sure if the author does have this or not, but either way, he still managed to capture how scary and overwhelming it is. It’s not something that you can just turn off, and I loved how realistic Adam showcased this. Like I said, the dude is also understandably a hot mess over the death of his best friend and first love, who he never really got over. I definitely wanted to give poor Griffin so many hugs as he struggled with this huge loss. I really liked Griffin and found him easy to relate to, but at the same time, I wanted to shake him before he made some terrible choices. Although it was sad to see him make some of these choices just due to how hurt he was, it was also very real. As humans, we all make some huge mistakes that we probably wouldn’t under normal circumstances. Maybe it’s frustrating, but I like that he’s messy and flawed just like everyone else is.

So talking about the other characters is where it gets a bit more complicated. We have Theo, who is the ex-boyfriend that I keep mentioning. Though he isn’t alive at the start of the book, we do get to see a lot of him through flashbacks. There we get to learn about how adorable the friendship and relationship was between them. Part of the reason why I shipped it despite knowing that it wasn’t going to end well was because of all the nerdy references that this relationship was basically built on. There’s so many perfect references to things like Harry Potter and Star Wars. I wasn’t a fan of how things ended between them just because I was so invested in them as a couple. Then more characters are added to the equation like the boyfriend that Theo had in California named Jackson. I wanted to hate Jackson since he was with Theo, but it slowly became more clear that his feelings for him were extremely genuine in an entirely different way so I ultimately sympathized with him as well. Although Griffin knew Theo much longer, Jackson was suffering a tremendous amount as well.

In the end, History Is All You Left Me is a book that you need to read. Adam Silvera has written such an emotional story, but it’s also a beautiful and hopeful book as well. So you should prepare to get your soul completely crushed over much of this writing. Griffin was a wonderfully complex and fascinating main character to read about. He made some devastating choices along the way, but that’s what made him even more human and perfectly flawed to me. I don’t know about you guys, but I love reading books that contain realistic characters. I prefer not to read stories with characters that contain these wonderful qualities that you never come across in real life. The point is, you need this book in your life and be prepared to weep over it.

four-stars

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Retreat Review

January 15, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★½

Retreat ReviewRetreat (The Getaway Series Book 1) by Jay Crownover
on December 28th, 2016
Source: InkSlinger PR
Also by this author: Rule (Marked Men, #1), Built (Saints of Denver, #1)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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

Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.
I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart. My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.
She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses. It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.
Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.
I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.
I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.
Retreat is a standalone novel, the first in the Getaway series which centers on the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women that dare to love them. These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.

So guys, the awesome romance author Jay Crownover surprised all of her fans with a brand new book right towards the end of 2016. I’ve recently became a big Crownover fan so I’m totally late to the party. Oh well, better late than never, right? Anyway, I think she writes some steamy romance filled with flawed yet beautiful characters that stick with you long after finishing the book. Although I haven’t read all of her stories, it’s pretty obvious that this one is like nothing that Crownover has ever written before. This is a very unique and great story that I really enjoyed. It wasn’t a perfect story, but it was still completely fascinating from the first page until the last. I think you should definitely give this a chance if you’re looking for something a little different.

From the first page, Leo was an easy character to relate to. She’s still extremely broken over her last terrible romance. After that romance, she ended up shutting out a lot of important people in her life, and she clearly regrets that strongly. You really feel for Leo as she’s doing the best that she can to piece herself back together after this devastating breakup. Leo’s best friend Emrys pretty much makes her go on this retreat with her because she wants her best friend to be happy again. I thought that the friendship between Em and Leo was pretty great and memorable. I can’t wait to read Em’s story next!

Cyrus is our broody cowboy who doesn’t look like your typical cowboy. He’s an intense and mature alpha male who I really liked. Yes, it’s hard to like him at first due to how closed off he is from the start. However, he slowly but surely opens up to Leo and we get to learn more about why he is the way he is. He probably isn’t my absolute favorite hero, but he’s still a pretty great and memorable one as a whole. I think that a lot of people will really enjoy his character!

The romance moves really fast as you might expect since all of this happens over a pretty short amount of time. I’m typically very hesitant when it comes to any books that have even a little bit of insta-love to it. In this case though, this wasn’t done in such a terribly unrealistic manner. I felt like both of the characters were so mature and had been through so much, that this pace wasn’t so hard to believe. As mentioned, the romance was definitely on the steamy side of things. Cy and Leo made a dynamic couple for sure. The chemistry was so clear between them from the first interaction between them.

I thought that Retreat was a fabulous first book to this intense and fun new series. I can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters that Crownover has created here. Cy and Leo are both broken characters who somehow were able to find love through all of the pain that they’ve had to overcome. This was a fast paced and well written novel. Once you pick it up, you’ll probably not be able to put it back down. It’s a great read and I’m happy that I read it!

three-half-stars

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Replica Review

January 12, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

Replica ReviewReplica (Replica, #1) by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on October 4th 2016
Pages: 544
Source: Library
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Two girls, two stories, one epic novel
From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a “flip book" that contains two narratives in one, and it is the first in a duology. Turn the book one way and read Lyra's story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma's story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. Even the innovative book jacket mirrors and extends the reading experience.
Lyra's story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family's past and discovers her father's mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.
While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.

I’m not a big Science Fiction reader, but I knew that I had to give Replica a try once I heard that it was a “flip book.” In this case, if you read the book from one side, you get one of the girl’s perspective. Then when you turn it over and flip it upside down, you get the other perspective. With this type of layout, you can really read it in the style that appeals to you. I personally read it by alternating between Gemma and Lyra every chapter, but that definitely requires a lot of flipping on your part. I liked doing it this way because the stories do start to come together at a certain point in the novel, and so I think it’s helpful to be able to see what each girl is thinking about these similar situations that they face. Though it wasn’t my favorite, I have to admit that Replica is still a unique and cool concept. I will likely read the next book in this duology just to see how things end up for Gemma and Lyra.

Gemma was easily my favorite character out of the two girls. I felt her to be much more relatable, and I’m sure that other teenagers who’ve also been through high school will probably think the same. She’s your pretty average awkward high schooler who is dealing with some awful and disgusting bullying due to her weight. Though this is a Science Fiction book, Gemma’s perspective does make this seem a lot closer to a contemporary novel, which is something that really stuck out to me about the story. Gemma was a consistently solid and memorable character as the book progressed. She was honestly the reason why I pushed through some of the more boring parts of the story.

On the other hand, Lyra was not as easy to warm up to as Gemma. This might be just me, but I had a difficult time with being able to truly cheer for this character. Yes, I realize that she’s had a tough life and I was totally able to sympathize with her, but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of her chapters were straight up boring. Her character was also very closed off and extremely brainwashed, which obviously isn’t her fault, but it still made it difficult for me to become invested in her. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but she wasn’t my favorite to say the least. Her chapters were typically shorter than Gemma’s, so they did go by relatively fast, I just wish the pace itself moved faster than it did.

There is quite a bit of romance in this book for both of these girls. As you can probably guess by now, I also enjoyed Gemma’s romance a lot more than I did Lyra’s. I felt like Gemma’s romance happened at a much more realistic and convincing pace. There was no insta-love, Gemma had little to no interest in Pete at the beginning of the novel, but she slowly warms up to him which I loved seeing. Pete also wasn’t your typical love interest, which I thought was refreshing. I have a soft stop for nerds, and Pete totally fits into that category easily. I wasn’t completely convinced by Lyra’s romance. I felt like it progressed WAY too quickly. Lyra has been taught for most of her existence that love isn’t a thing yet she’s suddenly able to almost automatically confess her love for someone that she barely even knows? It didn’t feel the least bit realistic to me.

I wouldn’t note this as being one of my favorites or anything, but it was still a decent book nonetheless. It took me a lot longer to read than it takes me to read most books. I think this was mostly due to the kind of slow start that happens in both of the perspectives. Once it got started though, the book did become a lot more intriguing to me. I doubt that this genre will ever become my thing, but I’m still happy that I read it in spite of this. This is my first Lauren Oliver and I don’t plan on it being the last one. I’m for sure going to pick up Before I Fall before the movie comes out in a couple of months! Anyway, I do recommend this, but only if you don’t mind books that have a slower pace at the beginning.

three-stars

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ARC Review: The Secret of a Heart Note

January 11, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: The Secret of a Heart NoteThe Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on December 27th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: Outrun the Moon
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-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.

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.
At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

So Stacey Lee’s book Outrun the Moon was one of the only non-contemporary books that I really enjoyed last year. It had a memorable and touching plot, and also an incredible main character. Although this book is absolutely nothing like her last book, I knew that I had to pick up this one since it has more of a romance and contemporary vibe to it. Besides, Stacey Lee is such a beautiful writer, I can already tell that I’m going to be picking up basically anything that she writes. The Secret of a Heart Note was a fast paced and well written book all around. I highly recommend it if you don’t mind a little bit of magical realism. It’s a great and fun read overall!

Mimosa or Mim was such a cool character, and I loved her right off the bat. She’s such an honest and real character. She has her flaws for sure, but she always means well. I definitely sympathized with Mim as she longed to fit in at her school. Being an aromateur, or a love witch (what the kids call her) can’t be an easy job, but she does the best that she can. Her and her mom are the only aromateurs that are left. They both have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and they use that to mix special perfumes that help the right people fall in love. Though Mim does enjoy her job to an extent, she also wants to be a typical teenager, not someone that most teens are afraid of being around. I feel like a lot of teens can relate to her desire to fit in on some level. She’s a realistic and fascinating character. She’s certainly one that I’m not going to be forgetting anytime soon!

You guys, the romance in this book is all kinds of different levels of adorable. I absolutely loved it and felt like it couldn’t have been written any better. It’s actually a rather small part of the novel in the grand scheme of everything else. However, I still liked it anyway because of how subtle yet memorable it turned out to be for me. Court is just a downright nice guy, though I would have enjoyed learning and seeing more of him in the book. But I have to say that I completely understand that this is Mim’s story, not Court’s. So in the beginning, Mim is afraid of letting him in because boys automatically get a crush on her if she accidentally contaminates them with her perfume somehow. She keeps a special perfume that her and her best friend call “Boy Be Gone” which gets rid of the feelings. This side of things make it very complicated once she falls for Court.

There’s a lot of themes in this book that ultimately stay with you as a reader. One theme is the friendship that Mim has with her best friend Kali. Kali is pretty much Mim’s only friend, but she’s an incredible one to her. I really thought this friendship was beautiful and real all the way around. It wasn’t a perfect one, but what friendship or relationship in general ever is? I thought Kali was a fabulously diverse and fantastic character, and her friendship with Mim was fun to read about. Another theme revolves around family. Mim’s mom is nothing but tough on her about pretty much everything. This makes it basically impossible to have a normal teen life with her mom constantly pushing her and wanting something from her. This might seem like your typical teen parental problems, but I felt like it was much more complicated and compelling than just that. We also have the relationship between Mim’s mom and her twin sister, who gave up being an aromateur for love, which caused the sisters to stop speaking. I thought this was another unique and cool theme to have.

As a whole, I’m happy that I read this one. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d like it since I’ve never read a magical realism story before. I thought I’d take a chance on this author since it paid off the first time around, and it definitely paid off this time as well. Have I mentioned that I’m happy that I read this one yet? I also don’t really care much about scents or flowers, but Lee made me actually care about all of this information. Though an aromateur isn’t an actual thing, it still seemed like the author did so much research on what it was. In other words, she made it seem totally real to me, which isn’t an easy thing for an author to achieve. This should really be a book that you don’t miss and I recommend trying her other stories while you’re at it!

four-stars

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Blog Tour: Lucian Divine Review

January 10, 2017 Blog Tours, Reviews 0

 

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luciandivine_03-1-1-1“My guardian angel is a drunk.”

Evelyn Casey’s life is at a standstill. She’s in her mid-twenties, struggling with the dating scene in San Francisco. Nothing seems to be working out, and she’s starting to think that she’ll live out her days in her crummy apartment with her overbearing roommate, Brooklyn. It’s absurd, but sometimes Evey longs for a guardian angel to show up and save the day.

And then he does. Seriously. His name is Lucian and he’s a guardian angel, been on the job for two thousand years. His sudden presence in her life is both good—he’s brilliant, witty, and warm—and bad—he’s brilliant, witty, warm, and hot as —-. But as perfect as Lucian seems, he’s got problems of his own. He’s taken up drinking and he’s brazenly inserted himself into Evey’s life, going against the greatest cosmic law ever created.

For Evey, the rules are simple: You are not allowed to hook up with your guardian angel. But sometimes fulfilling your destiny requires a leap of faith, a confrontation with God.

Yes, God as in God.

iTunes | B&N | KOBO | AMAZON PRINT | AMAZON KINDLE

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REVIEW:

I’m not a fan of paranormal books typically. I do my best to stay clear of them most of the time. However, I thought I’d take a chance on this one because I know that this author is really popular and the premise sounded really intriguing. It was definitely something different, and I’m glad that I read it. It was a nice change of pace from my usual contemporary romance reads. It was extremely fast paced, maybe a little too fast paced at times. Anyway, it was still a quick and actually a really fun and unique sort of read. Some people might not be interested in this book since it does touch on religion in a way and that can be a sensitive topic to say the least. That being said, I don’t think that this book will likely be for all romance reads. But I think you’ll be able to judge whether or not you’ll like this book depending on what you’re open to as a reader. My point is, I think you should read this book, but it ultimately comes down to your personal preferences when it comes to these types of stories.

What made this book worked for me was mostly the main characters. I thought that Evey was a funny and interesting main character. Not going to lie, it did bug me how judgmental she was towards her friend Brooklyn at times. For the most part though, she was still a steady character, though not particularly memorable as a whole. She just made the plot more lighthearted in a way because she had some humor and wit that was fun to see as a reader.

To put it simply, Lucian was a hot mess. As the description says, he’s an alcoholic angel which is very strange. It’s also quite humorous to see, as you might imagine. He was a funny guy for the most part. I enjoyed his spirit and the way he treated Evey for the most part. It was a little weird that at the very beginning, he’s already in love with Evey, so we don’t really get to see him actually in the process of falling for her or anything like that. I won’t spoil anything, but I wasn’t always a fan of some of the choices that he made, but I mostly was able to understand these choices. He was a fun character to read about, that’s for sure.

So the romance between Lucian and Evey moves pretty freaking quickly. I kind of understand why the author chose to do this, but I personally wasn’t a huge fan, that’s just me though. I typically hate insta-love, and I didn’t hate it exactly, just didn’t completely love it. As I mentioned, we don’t actually see Lucian falling in love with Evey since he already has these strong feelings for her when the book begins. As a whole though, I do think they made a compelling couple. It was definitely the definition of forbidden love: a guardian angel and a human. I think forbidden love is always intriguing to read about and the author totally pulled it off.

Lucian Divine was a different kind of book, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. As mentioned, I’m not a usual reader of paranormal romances. I also have read literally no books about guardian angels prior to this one, but this did work out for me. I think the romance was a fun and fascinating one. I really liked reading this book. As I’ve already been over, I don’t recommend this for everyone. But I do think people who are fans of this author, different kinds of romance, and don’t mind reading about angels, you’ll probably like this one.

three-half-stars

Renee-121Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

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