Source: Netgalley

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Difficult Women Review

February 15, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Difficult Women ReviewDifficult Women by Roxane Gay
on January 3rd 2017
Pages: 260
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Bad Feminist
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four-stars

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

Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State—which earned rave reviews and was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, NPR, the Boston Globe, and Kirkus—and her New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection.
The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the marriage of one of them. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.

So this was a rating that I really struggled with. I feel like Roxane Gay is a wonderful writer who can do absolutely no wrong. Anytime I read something by her, I automatically want to read more and more from her. Seriously though, I google her to see what blog posts she’s written that I haven’t read yet. In other words, I will read her grocery list and be totally satisfied with it. On the other hand, this was a bit of a it’s me, not you situation. A lot of the times I picked it up, I wasn’t really in the mood to read these stories. A lot of Gay’s fiction stories are pretty dark and can be hard to get through. I think that you have to be the kind of person who doesn’t mind reading difficult subject matter. The writing is absolutely beautiful, but some of the content was hard for me to personally push through.

I’m so conflicted with this rating because I think it’s good to be made uncomfortable from stories. I don’t think that all stories should be these happy tales filled with perfect people. Roxane Gay is so fascinating because she takes broken people and displays it in such a real and heartbreaking way. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, she gives us the raw truth. I applaud her for doing this in such an unfiltered fashion. She’s a remarkable writer, that’s something that no one can deny.

Some of the stories completely punched me in the gut. Some of them sucked me in and made me want far more pages than what we had. Some of the other stories seemed to drag on a bit and I wasn’t sure where the story was going. A couple of the stories had such horrific events going on one after the other that I was just ready for something good to happen to the characters. But like I mentioned earlier, not all things are happy, and a lot of terrible things do happen so I’m glad that Gay isn’t afraid to include these things. I also feel like sometimes there’s a limit of how much darkness you want to read. That being said, I think you need to be well prepared for a dark book and I really wasn’t at that time so it was hard to push through. Some of my personal favorite stories were I Will Follow You, The Mark of Cain, Break All The Way Down, Best Features, The Sacrifice of Darkness, and Strange Gods.

In the end, I decided to give Difficult Women four stars. I enjoyed more stories than I disliked. There was only about three stories that I didn’t really relate to or understand. Though this is a heavy book filled with some dark subject matter like sexual violence, kidnapping, miscarriages, death, and gang rape, it’s also a beautifully written book. It took me awhile to read it, but I’m still glad that I stuck it out until the very end. Gay isn’t capable of writing a bad book and this was no exception. I can’t wait for Hunger to come out later this year.

four-stars

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Flying Lessons and Other Stories Review

February 9, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Flying Lessons and Other Stories ReviewFlying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, Jacqueline Woodson
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 3rd 2017
Pages: 225
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, The Great American Whatever
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four-stars

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

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.
From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

I haven’t read Middle Grade in a LONG time. I honestly missed reading it. When I read that We Need Diverse Books was going to be creating a MG anthology, I knew that I had to read it. I actually ended up reading it the day of the inauguration instead of watching that, I felt like picking up this diverse book was a great response to that. Anyway, I thought that this was a wonderful collection. I’ve only read one (maybe two) of these authors previously, but I definitely plan on reading more of them in the future after this awesome introduction. The way this review is going to work is that I’m going to briefly touch on and rate all ten of the stories the best that I can.

How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium by Matt de la Peña – 4 Stars

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this author, so I was excited to finally read something by him for myself. I felt like the use of the pronoun “you” throughout the story was a little weird and difficult to follow at times. However, the story itself was still really interesting and enjoyable. I thought that it was so cool how motivated the main character was to play basketball. He dedicated his entire early morning summers to improving his basketball skills. I found his character to be inspirational in general.

The Difficult Path by Grace Lin – 3 Stars

If I’m being honest, this was probably one of my least favorite stories in the collection. It’s really not anything personal, it’s just rare for me to love a fantasy/historical fiction story in an anthology. It’s typically the contemporary stories that stand out more to me, and it was no exception in this case. I thought that the writing itself was pretty good, I just didn’t feel extremely invested in this particular main character like I was hoping that I would be. I’m sure that some people will absolutely love this one because it involves pirates and some history mixed in there for good measure. The message is a solid one, but it just didn’t totally click for me.

Sol Painting Inc. by Meg Medina – 4 Stars

This was a wonderful and heartbreaking story that touches on a young girl who’s father works for a painting business, which she and her brother help out with in the summer, and she gets a big surprise when they get a job at her new school. This story is so important because it touches on the subject of racism in a heartbreaking and honest take on it. Though it touches on a heavy subject, it also had some lovely humor sprinkled in there. It was well written, and I’m going to be reading more from this author in the future.

Secret Samantha by Tim Federele – 3.5 Stars

I’ve actually read a YA short story by Tim in Summer Days and Summer Nights. It was one of my favorites in that collection so I was looking forward to reading this one as well. It was obviously a bit different just based on the genres alone, but it was still pretty good anyway. I personally preferred the YA story because I feel like it was longer and had more character development, but this was still cute and fun in it’s own way.

The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist – 4.5 Stars

This was easily one of my favorites in the collections! I looked this author up and it seems like this is the first thing she’s ever written. I find that completely astonishing. This author writes like an old pro writer, and I love it. I can’t wait to read more from them in the future! I think this is such a good book because it’s emotional and touching. I’m always a sucker for a wonderful and heartbreaking story. It focuses on poverty, death, and grief, which are always relevant subjects that never get old.

Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle – 2 Stars

I hate to say it, but this story just didn’t work for me. I can’t exactly pinpoint what it was, it just didn’t click for whatever reason. In my opinion, it was the weakest story in the collection. This is about an uncle telling a legend that’s been within the family for a long time now, and he’s telling the story to his young nieces and nephews. Maybe this particular story was just meant for younger readers and that’s why I wasn’t totally a fan of it.

Main Street by Jacqueline Woodson – 3.5 Stars

To be honest with you guys, this wasn’t all that memorable to me. I know that Woodson is a treasured author, and I am a fan of her writing and plan to read more from her. But the story itself didn’t completely make an impression on me. It wasn’t bad or anything, it just wasn’t one of the standouts from the collection for me. I do understand why other people have loved it though. I guess it just wasn’t my thing.

Flying Lessons by Soman Chainani – 5 Stars

If I had to pick only one, I’d have to say that this was likely my favorite story in the collection. It was filled with such memorable and lively characters, even besides the main character. This is a difficult thing to do in a short story, but somehow the author did it with ease. Nani is one of the funniest supporting characters that I’ve ever read. It’s about a grandma who decides that her grandson needs to have more adventure in his life the way that she does, so she takes him on an exciting trip. I think it’s also important and intriguing because it touches on the issue of sexuality and I believe that’s important to note even in MG books. I know that Tim Federele also does this wonderfully in the genre, but I think there can never be enough voices that are writing these stories. I will say that I was super confused by the ending, but I didn’t let that change my rating since the rest of it was so strong.

Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents by Kwame Alexander – 3 Stars

This was another story that wasn’t a standout to me. It started out pretty strong, and I love how unique the writing style itself is. It’s not written in traditional verse, which is obviously a very different choice to make. However, it got pretty weird around the middle part of it. I wasn’t sure what direction the story was taking at all. In the end, it turned out to be rather entertaining and funny. But it was A LOT longer than basically all of the other stories. I feel like this didn’t need the extra pages the way that some of the other stories really needed them.

Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push by Walter Dean Myers – 5 Stars

He’s the only author on here who I’ve read a complete work from. I read Monster and thought that it was just so powerful and striking. This short story followed the similar theme of heartbreaking and touching, like a lot of the stories in this collection have done. It’s such a sad story, but it’s also filled with hope. It was a story that I desperately needed to read right then. I’m not going to talk much more about it because I feel like I could ramble for days about its greatness. I’ll just say that if you choose to read one short story from this collection, it should be this one, if you’re in the mood for something sad but also filled with hope.

All in all, Flying Lessons and Other Stories was such a well written anthology. I’m so glad that it was put together! I think that Ellen Oh has formed such a diverse and lovely group of authors here who contributed such powerful and beautifully written stories. I truly believe that younger readers need diverse stories like these, and I’m so glad that this anthology is out there in the world. I can’t wait to read more middle grade this year, especially from this fabulous group of authors.

four-stars

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ARC Review: This Is Our Story

November 14, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

ARC Review: This Is Our StoryThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 15th 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

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

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

The concept for this one seemed intriguing to me so it’s been on my radar for awhile now. Once the early rave reviews started coming in, I decided that I had to put this at the top of my TBR list so I instantly started reading it. It turned out to be just as interesting and well written as I was expecting. I’m always a fan of YA thrillers, and this one wasn’t disappointing to me. I’ve read quite a bit of books in this genre plus I watch too much TV, so I didn’t find the twist to be all that surprising, but it wasn’t extremely predictable either. My point here is, this book was just as great as I was hoping it would be. The writing had a unique style to it that drew me in from page one. I’ve never read anything from Ashley Elston before but she’ll certainly be an author to watch for me in the future.

Kate was a rad character. She was ridiculously smart and perceptive. Let’s be real, if it was me this was happening to, I’m not sure I would have picked up on all the things that this girl managed to do. She was determined to get to the bottom to what happened out in the woods, and she didn’t let anything or anyone stop her from accomplishing just that. Kate was a cool and collected character, that’s for sure. She was a strong MC and I think that reads will really be able to connect with her.

Usually I talk about the romance at this point in my reviews, and this book does have quite a bit of romance in between the main plot. However, I don’t want to talk too much about it since I’m afraid that it might be a slight spoiler. It seems like other early reviews that I’ve read have left any names out, so I’ll do the same. I will say that there are some swoony boys, and just leave it at that. The romance truly isn’t the main thing since Kate has a lot of other things to worry about, but it’s a nice break from all the action when it does happen.

The writing style is a unique and fascinating one. The first narrator is unknown to us, and those are fairly short chapters that talk in a little bit more detail about what went down in the woods from a mysterious POV. Our narrator the rest of the time is Kate in first person. I felt like the second narrator really gave us some perspective on what was going on inside the boy’s head after the death of their friend while they were all out hunting. As the book progresses, we learn more and more about who this person is.

This was one of those books that I just had to read in one sitting. I’m not going to lie, I have a bad habit of skipping to the end of books just to see how everything ends up. I was tempted multiple times to do that here, but I’m glad that I was able to resist that temptation and just read it for myself. It was a well written novel that sucked me in instantly. I can’t recommend it enough to readers who love a good YA thriller that has strong characters that you will fall in love with immediately.

four-stars

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ARC Review: Unsportsmanlike Conduct

October 20, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

ARC Review: Unsportsmanlike ConductUnsportsmanlike Conduct (Pilots Hockey, #4) by Sophia Henry
Published by Flirt on October 18th 2016
Pages: 266
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.

It’s really no secret that I’m a huge fan of sports romances. My favorite sports to read about are easily baseball and football, but I do enjoy a solid hockey romance every now and then. Though this series does center around hockey players, I do need to make it clear that there’s hardly any hockey at all in this particular book. So yeah, there wasn’t much sports in this one at all, but I did enjoy it. I thought that it was a very entertaining and fast paced read. I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite, I did have some issues with connecting with the characters and with the plot itself, but it was still a decent story.

Kristen was an interesting protagonist for the most part. She has cystic fibrosis, which is something that isn’t discussed nearly enough in romance books. I felt like the author did a fantastic job at describing everything about this, and how it affects so much of your life. Anyway, I thought she was a strong and fierce character. I like how she didn’t back down for the most part when it comes to certain things. Her personality itself wasn’t extremely memorable, but she was still fascinating and I cared a lot about her future.

Pavel was an alpha male hockey player who had a lot of positive qualities to him, despite his less than stellar reputation. He had a really challenging and tragic past, and I truly sympathized with everything that he had to go through. There was quite a bit of drama that he apparently caused in the first book, but I haven’t read the other books in this series. I still liked getting to know more about him and his past. My favorite thing about him was easily how understanding he is when it comes to Kristen having cystic fibrosis. She expected him to immediately run when he found out about it, but he surprised her by accepting it without any questions. Though I wasn’t a fan of some of the choices he made, like how he chose to tell her about his true identity, but he wasn’t terrible overall. I think that he actually made a pretty great book boyfriend, just not an amazing one to me.

The romance between them was another big issue for me. I get that the author wanted it to move fast since they had a limited time together on the cruise, but it was still insta-love, which I can’t stand. On top of that, the relationship was already being deemed as serious after just a few days, which was absolutely mind blowing to me. Another pet peeve of mine is when the couple has major communication issues, and this was completely the case here. Some of the ridiculous drama could have been easily solved if they were just open and honest with one another. Despite all the bad that I’ve talked about, they actually didn’t make a terrible couple, I still thought that they were cute together and truly balanced each other out. I just wanted them to get it together A LOT sooner than they actually did.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct was the fast paced romance that I was looking for. Yes, it could have used more scenes dedicated to hockey, but I guess that I can mostly overlook that. I will admit that it was kind of confusing jumping into this standalone series when it’s already on the fourth book, but the author did clue us in on most of the drama that went on between those characters. I probably won’t go back and read the other two, though I definitely plan on reading any future books in this series. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was still entertaining nonetheless.

three-stars

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ARC Review: My Unscripted Life

October 12, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★

ARC Review: My Unscripted LifeMy Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte on October 11th 2016
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: The Trouble with Destiny, Being Sloane Jacobs
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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.

Perfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Huntley Fitzpatrick, you'll love this funny and sweet contemporary romance about a Southern girl ready for a ho-hum summer until she meets the boy of her dreams who happens to be an international pop star.
Sometimes love stories go off script.
Another sultry Georgia summer is about to get a lot hotter. Dee Wilkie is still licking her wounds after getting rejected by the precollege fine arts program of her dreams. But if she'd gone away, she wouldn't have been around to say yes to an unbelievable opportunity: working on the set of a movie filming in her small Southern town that just happens to be starring Milo Ritter, the famous pop star Dee (along with the rest of the world) has had a crush since eighth grade.
It's not like Dee will be sharing any screen time with Milo—she's just a lowly PA. And Milo is so disappointingly rude that Dee is eager to stay far away from him. Except after a few chance meetings, she begins to wonder if just maybe there's a reason for his offensive attitude, and if there's more to Milo than his good looks and above-it-all Hollywood pedigree. Can a relationship with a guy like Milo ever work out for a girl like Dee? Never say never. . .

Lauren Morrill is an author that I just really enjoy. I can always count on her for sweet, quirky, and mostly lighthearted romances. My Unscripted Life wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it had a lot more drama and it was rather predictable. I still thought the plot was a creative one that I truly enjoyed reading about. I want more YA romances between a famous actor and an average girl! Yes, I am well aware that there are already some out there, though how they meet differs, but there can never be too many. However, it was still yet another sweet romance that I’m happy that I read. Lauren Morrill is such a good author, and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Dee was an interesting protagonist. I wouldn’t say that she’s my favorite of Lauren Morrill’s, but she’s still solid. I liked watching Dee grow as a character as the summer progressed and she learned more about what it’s like to make a movie. The most problematic thing about Dee is how delusional she is when it comes to Milo. Like girl, he’s not your boyfriend when you went on literally one date. I get that she’s had a crush on him since middle school, but she still needed to come to terms with who he actually is and not who she’s fantasized about all these years. I know that a lot of teens fangirl in this way, so maybe it’s just my issue, but it stuck out to me.

Milo was a character that I didn’t like at all for the majority of the book. I don’t know exactly what it was about him that bothered me so much because he honestly wasn’t such a diva once Dee got to know him, but I didn’t find him swoony. He needed a bit more development going on, in my opinion. It felt like his character wasn’t as fully explored as it could have been. It makes me sad because I usually love Lauren Morrill’s love interests, this one simply fell somewhat short for me.

The romance moved WAY too fast. Like I said, Dee was delusional and automatically assumed that Milo was her boyfriend after one date. Really? You need to chill sister. The romance in general was very juvenile. Milo didn’t even give her his cell phone number until towards the end of the book, let alone did they actually define the relationship. It got to a point where I was honestly rooting for Dee to end up with Benny, a boy who was friend’s with her best friend’s older brother who also works on the movie. She ends up striking up a friendship with him, but I wanted more for them! I honestly didn’t feel the chemistry between Milo and Dee. I was more interested in the plot itself than all that drama going on with them.

My favorite part was definitely that Dee worked on the set of a movie. I thought it was really interesting to explore how production works. In my opinion, not enough of the romances between celebrity and an average person explore that side of things, so I felt like it was significant. The detail was awesome, and I enjoyed it so much. All of the other drama I could have done without, but the whole backstage thing that went down was beneficial to the plot and caused me to like this book a lot more than I probably would have otherwise.

Some of these YA books make me feel like I’m getting way too old for all of the drama that goes down. My Unscripted Life was definitely one of those at times, like some of the predictable drama that occurred between Dee and Milo. I feel like the book would have been much stronger without it. All in all, this was still an entertaining and fast paced read. I wasn’t able to put it down once I started reading it! I recommend it if this kind of romance interests you and you don’t mind a lot of high school drama.

three-stars

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ARC Review: The Lovely Reckless

October 3, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

ARC Review: The Lovely RecklessThe Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia
Published by Imprint on October 4th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-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.

I’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.
Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.
Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

I’ve actually never read anything by Kami Garcia before. The Beautiful Creatures series was something that didn’t interest me at all. I figured that The Lovely Reckless would be a little more my taste since it’s a contemporary romance YA novel. For the most part, I was definitely right about this book. Though it wasn’t the best YA book I’ve read this year, it still had some strong points to it. I think that this is a book that fans of this genre will really enjoy, especially if you like love interests that are bad boys. I highly recommend it for fans of Katie McGarry and Simone Elkeles. I hope that Garcia writes more contemporary books in the future!

Frankie was an interesting character for the most part. I respected the fact that she was never afraid to stand up for what she believes is right. I also sympathized with her over the loss of her boyfriend/childhood best friend. I thought the PTSD that Frankie had as a result of witnessing her boyfriend be beaten to death was pretty well done, though I would have liked to see it explored even more than it was. I didn’t think that her finding out who the killer was at the end was realistic though. In my opinion, this should have been done a little differently because it was unexpected but not in a good way. Meaning, there needed to be more details and lead-up to this big reveal.

Honestly, I personally didn’t find Marco to be all that swoony. That’s just my personal taste though. I’m not big on the street racer appeal. However, I did like that he had a little bit of Ryan Atwood and Tim Riggins in his personality. The things that he did were in order to help the person that he loves, in this case it was his little sister who he completely takes care of full time. There were certainly some major cliches concerning his character. As a whole though, I did like him, I just didn’t love him or find him all that memorable overall.

The romance didn’t work for me. Insta-love is a major pet peeve of mine and The Lovely Reckless totally has it. They fall in love after about two or three conversations. Nope, that’s not how love works in real life, especially not in high school. There was just a lot of the typical “forbidden love” cliches all over this romance and it got old pretty fast. To be fair, I will say that I did find it to be a cute romance at times, but other times it felt way too over the top.

Overall, this wasn’t really a bad book, it was just an okay one for me. I know I had quite a bit of critical things to say about it, but it really wasn’t terrible, I thought it was still pretty entertaining. I think that it could have had more depth to the characters and the plot in general. As already mentioned, I think you’re likely to really love this book if you’re a fan of Perfect Chemistry or Katie McGarry. That being said, I do plan on reading more Kami Garcia contemporary books in the future and hope that they fit my personal taste better!

two-half-stars

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ARC Review: This Adventure Ends

October 1, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: This Adventure EndsThis Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 4th 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: First & Then
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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four-stars

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

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

I’m not going to lie, I was scared to read this book. I enjoyed First & Then so much and I was afraid that this simply wouldn’t be as good. I shouldn’t have doubted this author. Emma Mills has written yet another memorable story filled with hilarious and quirky characters. This is a truly addicting read. If you’re planning to just sit down and read one chapter at a time, you’re likely to find that you can’t help but read yet another and another chapter until you’ve somehow reached the end. I was up until nearly two in the morning because I simply was unable to find a stopping point. Read this if you’re looking for a sweet and heartwarming contemporary.

Sloane is my girl! She’s such a relatable character. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s someone that I would have totally hungout with back in high school. She’s a sarcastic and hilarious girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. There were so many scenes throughout the book when I just wanted to give her a huge hug. Not to mention the fact that she’s such a loyal friend who does everything in her power to help the people that she cares about. Sloane never really had a true friend before she met Vera and company, but she’s still extremely great in this role anyway.

One of the great things about this book is all the characters. Some books are guilty of having supporting characters who are mostly in the background and don’t have much depth or development to them. Emma Mills doesn’t have this problem at all. Each character in This Adventure Ends has a pretty distinctive and memorable role. Yes, there’s some characters that you like more than others, but the majority of them all have some importance and aren’t just hanging out in the background with absolutely no purpose. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was the relationship between Sloane and her dad. Her dad was such a hilarious character. I loved how obsessed he became with fanfiction for a Teen Wolf like show. There were other awesome characters like Remy, Vera, and Frank.

Gabe was a character who I had some serious reservations about at certain times throughout the novel. On one hand, I felt like his general broodiness and attitude was fascinating and endearing. At other times, I wasn’t sure what to think about him at all. He was a good guy, but I didn’t always feel the chemistry between him and Sloane. Honestly, I think a lot of my issues come from him not being as great as Ezra from First & Then, but is anyone as awesome as him? Gabe wasn’t a guy that I could always read, and that wasn’t always a positive thing. I don’t know, I just think that I wanted to see more of the romance. I get that it was never meant to be the focus, but it’s simply a personal preference for me in this case. Ultimately, I felt somewhat disconnected from the romance between Sloane and Gabe.

All in all, this was a wonderful book that exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Emma Mills has done it yet again, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. This is definitely an author that I’m planning on reading for a long time. Anyway, this was an addicting book that I was totally sucked into. This Adventure Ends is a book that I’m sure that people will love just as much, if not more than First & Then. I highly recommend picking it up when it hits bookstores this Tuesday!

four-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
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
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: 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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Blog Tour: Wish Review

September 1, 2016 Blog Tours, Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Blog Tour: Wish ReviewWish by Barbara O'Connor
on August 30th 2016
Pages: 240
Source: Netgalley, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

I’m such a huge fan of middle grade books that I can relate to and that are filled with heartwarming moments. I definitely received all of that and so much more with Barbara O’Connor’s latest book Wish. Honestly, the story itself isn’t all that unique, there are middle grade stories out there about kids rescuing dogs and about kids in foster care. However, the way that it was written was so fresh and unique. I also loved all of the characters. If you’re looking for a book that’s bound to hit you right in your feelings, look no further than Wish.

The plot revolves around an eleven-year-old named Charlie who is being sent from Raleigh to a “hillbilly” town along the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina to live with an aunt and uncle that she’s never met. She has to live with them because her father is in prison and her mom was declared an unfit parent by social services. Once she arrives to this new place, Charlie finds herself just counting down the days until she can leave it again. But her opinions are changed after making a new friend Howard, and also by meeting a stray dog that she decides to take in.

So from the first page, it’s very clear that Charlie is a force to be reckoned with. I absolutely adored her unapologetic attitude and how she (for the most part) didn’t have any problem with being a tough little tomboy. Charlie has a pretty big temper at times, which naturally always gets her into trouble. In that respect, she reminded me a lot of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, who is one of my favorite fictional characters ever. Anyway, I loved how passionate and loving Charlie was towards her brand new dog Wishbone. I also love how she always makes wishes on weird things that she’s been told by random people that she should wish on. Her innocence was also insanely endearing, and I wanted to put her in a bubble and shield her from the world so she’ll never change.

Howard is the friend that she makes and I absolutely adored him. Charlie says that he has an “up-down walk” that causes all of the other kids at school to make fun of him and leave him out of games. He pretty much forces his way into becoming her friend, but she soon discovers that she likes his company and enjoys his huge family too. The most endearing thing about Howard is no matter how many times Charlie tries to push him away or says mean things to him, he always automatically forgives her and acts like nothing happened the next day. He also teaches Charlie that she should say the word “pineapple” in order to get her temper under control. He’s just a hilarious character all around and I wanted to give him a huge hug.

One minute Wish made me laugh out loud, the next it made me cry. It’s a seriously emotional and heartwarming book that I instantly loved. I recommend it for middle grade readers who enjoy realistic stories filled with fantastic characters. Though I’ve always been a selective middle grade reader, this book makes me want to be open to even more books in this genre! I’m particularly looking forward to reading whatever Barbara O’Connor writes next.

ABOUT BARBARA O’CONNOR:

Barbara O'Connor
Barbara O’Connor’s awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children’s choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Barbara was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She draws on her Southern roots to write award-winning books for children in grades 3 to 6.

She currently lives in Asheville, NC. Her latest book is Wish, a middle grade novel published by FSG.

LINKS: Website

Tour Schedule:

Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of WISH (US Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

five-stars

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