Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff | Review

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff | ReviewPlaces No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Delacorte Press on May 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

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Places No One Knows is a step out for Brenna Yovanoff.  I’ve only read one of her other books (The Space Between, which I loved) but I felt like I got a sense of her writing from that one.  Places No One Knows is a completely different story from anything she has done before and anything I have read before.

Pros:

  • Writing: Brenna Yovanoff’s writing is what really grabbed me when I read The Space Between and while Places No One Knows is a completely different story, Brenna’s writing shines through.  Her writing is descriptive and can sometimes come across a little heavy but I have always loved that style and think it really worked well with the story here.  I can see why Brenna Yovanoff is Maggie Stiefvater’s critique partner because their styles of writing are similar.  Even if I had hated the story in Places No One Knows, I would have kept reading for the writing alone.
  • Story: The story had it’s strong points and it’s weak points.  When I started Places No One Knows, I was looking for a contemporary story set in high school.  Places No One Knows fits those criteria but it’s a lot more than that.  Waverly doesn’t sleep and in an attempt to get some sleep, she ends up visiting another classmate, without ever having left her room.  He’s the only one who can see her and he’s the only one she visits this way.  He doesn’t run in her circle at school but she is drawn to him for some reason.  They come from very different walks of life but they have more in common than either of them think.  Brenna Yovanoff doesn’t spend much time detailing exactly what Waverly does to be able to visit him but that’s okay because that’s not what the book is about.  It’s more about what happens when Waverly does spend time with Marshall and how that time together (away from everyone else) brings out the truth of who they are and who they want to be.
  • Characters: Pros and cons here, that’s for sure, especially with Waverly.  It’s odd because the thing I hated about Waverly also made me really like her.  She was very much a high school girl.  She let Maribeth put her down all the time, she cared so much about what everyone else thought of her, and she participated in all the cheesy school functions even if she didn’t care about them.  It may not be the case for everyone but I could relate to Waverly so much about those aspects.  It was almost exactly how I felt in high school.  As for Marshall, he was probably my favorite although Autumn gave him a run for his money.  I could understand why they were friends.  Autumn did what she wanted and didn’t care what anyone thought.  She was genuine and she cared deeply for her friends.  Marshall was the same way.  He had a seriously messed up home life and it showed through in everything he did.  He was a slacker and a bit of a nobody and he didn’t mind that until Waverly came into his life.  They both made each other stronger and brought out new sides of each other.  Waverly was finally willing to just be herself with him and he was willing to want more out of life when he was with her.  I loved that about their relationship.

Cons:

  • Waverly: While Waverly did have some pros about her, she also had some very big cons for me.  I almost gave up on this one at one point because I did not like Waverly at all.  She was so shut off from the world that she was kind of impossible to like or sympathize with.  I couldn’t understand her.  I didn’t get why she didn’t sleep and I think that impacted how she acted with people.  I would have liked a little more background about that.  I also would have liked more background about her friendship with Maribeth because it was obvious that she didn’t like Maribeth but she just put up with her, no matter what she said or did.

Overall, Places No One Knows may not be my favorite from Brenna Yovanoff but it’s still a solid addition to her books.  I think it really shows that her talent lends itself to any style story that she chooses to write and I look forward to seeing what she does next.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about Places No One Knows:

  • Wrapped Up In Books’ review: “It’s a complicated and nuanced look at how difficult it can be to inhabit your own skin, especially in high school, and how sometimes, the right person can make it easier to breathe.”
  • BookPage’s review: “Few writers delve as intimately into raw emotion as Brenna Yovanoff as she strips her characters of their practiced self-delusions and faulty coping strategies.”
  • Read.Breathe.Relax’s review: “Places No One Knows offers an intriguing mystery, romantic tension and incredible writing, and if you don’t mind the inclusion of some tough topics then I would definitely recommend it.”
Monday, May 30, 2016

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | ReviewOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: PLA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

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One True Loves was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid book and I’m glad I started with it.  While I don’t doubt her other books are fabulous, this one was right up my alley and completely blew me away.  I had some high expectations (some blogger friends of mine rave about her books) but not only did she meet them, she surpassed them.

Pros:

  • The story: I was hooked on One True Loves from the moment I read the synopsis.  A woman’s husband goes missing for years, she falls in love and gets engaged to someone else, her husband returns from the dead throwing a wrench in her life.  I wasn’t sure where things were going to go after he returned and I worried things would become a little stagnant but that was so not the case.  While there wasn’t much action, Emma’s dilemma was so interesting and so complicated that I couldn’t stop reading.
  • The romance: It’s hard to say which romance in Emma’s life was more appealing to me.  Both men were great for Emma but in very different ways.  Emma and Jesse fell in love as teenagers and explored the world together.  They had a wonderful relationship that had it’s flaws but overall was very successful.  Emma and Sam met when they were teenagers but didn’t develop a romantic relationship until after Jesse was gone.  Sam was a total sweetheart and, I must admit, definitely my type of guy.  Emma and Sam had a much more mature relationship with a more settled down lifestyle.  Sam and Jesse were very different guys but they both worked for Emma in different ways.
  • The storytelling style: I’m not sure how I really expected Taylor Jenkins Reid to tell Emma’s story but I was surprised by how she did it.  One True Loves starts with Emma and Sam at dinner with her family and Emma gets the call about Jesse being alive.  Then it goes back to high school when Jesse and Emma first met and how they fell in love.  After that it jumps ahead to Emma losing Jesse and eventually finding love with Sam.  Finally, it goes back to the present and shows what happens when Jesse comes home and how Emma decides what she’s going to do now that she has both a husband and a fiance.   I was worried with all the jumping around but it worked and I managed to keep up with Emma’s story no matter what was happening.
  • The writing: I was extremely moved, not just by Emma’s story, but by Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing.  I admit that I don’t typically read chick lit and when I do, I’m not really in it for wonderful writing.  However, that is what I got from One True Loves.  While her writing is not wordy or heavy, Taylor Jenkins Reid still manages to convey a powerful message throughout the book.  One True Loves is a book I could easily flip through and find tons of quotes that really make you think.  Sure it’s a book that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face but that’s not all it has to offer.

Overall, One True Loves has been added to my favorites shelf and I’m now going to hunt down the rest of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books.  Fans of the chick lit genre will fall in love with this one.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | Review

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | ReviewThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 519
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

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It’s been a while since I’ve read a Morgan Matson book (I know, I fail at life) and I’d forgotten how much I loved her writing, her characters, and the way she writes romance.  The Unexpected Everything was just what I was looking for in a summer contemporary novel.  I can’t help but smile just thinking about this book!

Pros:

  • The characters: This one is a little odd for me because some of the characters are on my pro and con list.  Take Andie, for instance.  I mostly loved her but she had some moments where I could not stand her.  I’ll get to that part later though.  For most of the book, I loved Andie.  I think the best part about her was the development she went through over the course of the novel.  She was almost a completely different person by the end of The Unexpected Everything and I think a lot of that had to do with her friends, her family, and Clark.  It just goes to show how the people around you help shape who you are.  Speaking of the people around her, I adored her friends and Clark.  Her friends were all really well-rounded and they were all so different but they just worked together.  I never had issues telling them apart because their personalities were so well developed.  As for Clark, he might be my dream guy.  He’s totally shy and nerdy and a little awkward and just so dang cute.
  • Family: Family plays a huge role in The Unexpected Everything and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first because Andie and her dad had a very weird relationship.  I didn’t like how her dad all of a sudden cared so much about what she was doing when he never had before.  He was a total absentee parent and then he decided to take a really active role in Andie’s life and came off a little overbearing at first.  However, once Andie and her dad hashed some things out between the two of them their relationship changed a lot and definitely for the better.  There were some absolutely adorable moments between them (the scavenger hunt!)
  • Friends: Andie and her friends were extremely close.  I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that showcases a friendship like theirs.  These girls interacted with each other daily.  They told each other almost everything and they had these rituals (like talking about love lives at the diner) and their friendship was seriously adorable.  They had issues (boy did they ever) but they were pretty much always there for each other.  Friendship goals right here guys!
  • Romance: I’m just going to gush here.  Clark and Andie were so adorable.  They had probably one of the most awkward first dates ever but I knew that couldn’t be the end for them.  Bertie (the dog that Clark is dog sitting) brings them back together and things really took off from there.  They didn’t have a picture perfect relationship and that is what I loved so much about them.  They had issues and they disagreed on things and they didn’t have to spend every waking moment together.  They were so real and neither of them was perfect.

Cons:

  • The characters: Like I said, a couple of the characters fit on both my pros and cons list.  Andie was one of them.  She was so uptight at first.  She was so unwilling to accept changes and she kept everything bottled up.  So many things could have been solved so easily if she was just willing to say something about it.  Her relationship with her dad was one of those things.  She was never willing to tell him how she felt about her mom’s death or their relationship without her and it finally just all bubbled over and she couldn’t keep it inside anymore.  She was closed off and just unwilling to let people in and it really bothered me.  But like I said earlier, she developed a lot throughout the book and by the end of it, I really did like her. One character that I still didn’t really like at the end of the book was her friend Toby.  I’m not going to spoil anything but Toby did some really crappy things and she was so selfish.  She only ever thought about herself and she made that very clear.  Also, I think I may have liked her even less by the end of the book.  She was a minor issue for me though.

Overall, The Unexpected Everything is another stunner from Morgan Matson.  I couldn’t read it fast enough and I never wanted it to end (and that’s saying something for a 500+ page book!)  If you’re looking for the perfect summer read, this is it!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann | Review

Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann | ReviewAsk Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
Published by Greenwillow on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.

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Ask Me How I Got Here ended up on my TBR because I needed a quick book to read.  I’m not typically a fan of books written in verse and I think that’s probably why I didn’t love this one.  It had potential to be more than it was though it was by no means, bad.

Pros:

  • Story: The story was fast and extremely interesting.  Addie is a teenage girl attending an all girls Catholic school when she gets pregnant and decides to have an abortion.  However, to get an abortion in her state, she has to have parental consent.  So not only do she and her boyfriend know, so do her parents.  The abortion causes Addie to lose a lot of motivation for things such as cross-country and she starts to become withdrawn.  Her relationships suffer and it takes a lot of introspection for her to really get past what she has done.
  • Verse: While I did mention that verse novels aren’t really for me, I think it fit well with this story.  Writing in verse really opens up a lot of different possibilities for the author and Christine Heppermann took advantage of that.  Not only was Addie’s story told in what she had to say but also in what she didn’t say or even what she crossed out.

Cons:

  • Characters: I never felt like I knew or could connect with any of the characters.  I understood that Addie was going through a very tough time but I couldn’t feel that much for her.  She shut herself off from the people that were there for her and she wasn’t willing to let any of them try to help her.  As for Nick or Addie’s parents or even Claire, they all played very brief roles and so I didn’t really get a feel for any of them.
  • Romance: The romance between Addie and Nick was cute but not very substantial.  The romance between Addie and Julianna seemed to come out of nowhere and didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I think Addie saw some of herself in what Julianna went through and so she was drawn to her.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Julianna just fine but I didn’t really see a connection between her and Addie.  Once again, probably a little due to the writing style.

Overall, Ask Me How I Got Here was not one for me but I can see why it’s been getting quite a bit of love from some other bloggers.  The poetry was great and the story was definitely something that appealed to me but it just fell flat in some areas.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | Review

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | ReviewTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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I’m a huge advocate for contemporary young adult literature.  I love it and I think it doesn’t get enough recognition or love from a lot of readers.  Tell Me Three Things is probably going to the top of my list of recommendations, especially for those readers that don’t necessarily like contemporary.

Pros:

  • Characters: All of the characters in Tell Me Three Things were pretty much perfect.  Don’t get me wrong, they had their flaws but that only made them better.  Jessie was a little self-centered but she kind of deserved it.  Her whole life had been uprooted and things were not great at her new school or home.  Theo was one I wasn’t sure about at first but he grew on me quickly.  SN was so funny and clever and adorable.  Dri and Agnes were great friends to Jessie although I really wasn’t sure they would be at first.  The same goes for Scarlett.  She and Jessie may have been separated by thousands of miles but they worked past that.  Ethan and Liam were so cute.  Liam was a little airheaded and Ethan was a little closed off but I liked them both a lot.  Probably Ethan more though because of the whole reading thing.  I’m all for the nerds.
  • Romance: The romance in this one was different.  Jessie and SN start out flirting and then it becomes something so much more than that.  Jessie doesn’t even know who SN is but she’s attracted to him on an intellectual level and their conversations were so cute and so real.  Not knowing who he was allowed her to open up to him in a way she wouldn’t have in real life.  It was a little stalker like at times since he knew who she was and sometimes made comments about what she was wearing that day or doing but it was a cute stalker way.  And once I found out who SN really was, I could see how they were perfect in real life too.
  • Family: Jessie’s family is broken and put back together in a new way and it was definitely weird for her.  Her mom died (I’ll get to that next) and now she’s living in LA with her dad’s new wife and her teenage son.  Pretty much none of them (except her dad and his wife) want anything do with each other and I really wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.  I appreciate that Julie Buxbaum didn’t make it work out perfectly.  They were a broken family when the book started and they were still broken when it ended but they were working on it and that’s what I loved.
  • Grief: Julie Buxbaum did a fabulous job with her representation of grief in Tell Me Three Things.  Jessie wasn’t the only one dealing with the loss of someone.  Her dad lost his wife.  Theo lost his dad.  Theo’s mom, Rachel, lost her husband.  Ethan lost a sibling.  Each of them dealt with it differently.  There is no right way to grieve someone and I loved that Julie Buxbaum could show all the different ways.
  • Pacing: Tell Me Three Things is a fast-paced contemporary novel.  At no point does it drag.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  The mix of texting, IM’ing, and email messages interspersed throughout the novel also helped to move things along making it an extremely quick read.

Cons:

  • Mystery: Let’s be real, here.  I figured out who SN was pretty early on and I think most readers probably will.  It’s not that great a mystery.  It was just a little too perfect and while there were some red herrings thrown in, I never really thought they were him.  I’m not really complaining though because the mystery wasn’t what kept me reading.  The story was and knowing who SN was before the big reveal didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, Tell Me Three Things might just make you change your mind about contemporary novels.  Julie Buxbaum’s young adult debut hit it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I hope this isn’t her only foray into the YA world.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + GiveawaySave Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer
Published by Delacorte Press on March 8th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father? This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.

Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn't exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom's wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won't let go.

On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.

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Save Me, Kurt Cobain is one of those books that popped up on my radar and I added it to my TBR without even really knowing what to expect from it.  I can’t tell you how many times I read the synopsis and I still didn’t know what I was getting into.  I don’t know if that made any difference on my feelings for the book but either way, I devoured it.

Pros:

  • The writing: Jenny Manzer’s writing style engaged me from the very first page.  While contemporary is my favorite genre, I understand that it can be slower to get into sometimes.  The story itself caught my attention, for sure, but Jenny Manzer’s way of telling the story is what really hooked me.
  • The music: If you didn’t already figure this out, Save Me, Kurt Cobain, has quite a few music references.  Each title is named after a Nirvana song and while I actually am not a huge Nirvana fan (don’t hate me!), I really enjoyed this aspect.  Jenny Manzer also managed to include a lot of actual Nirvana facts and events while keeping a lot of things fictional.  Music is a huge part of my life so the way it was woven into this story really appealed to me and helped keep me interested.
  • The mystery: There are a lot of questions brought up early on in Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  Who is Nico’s dad? Is it Kurt Cobain?  Is Kurt Cobain alive?  Nico manages to weave this crazy tale of what might have happened to her mother all based on the idea that Kurt Cobain is her father.  Jenny Manzer uses this and keeps readers guessing until the very last page.
  • Nico: Nico was my favorite part of Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  My heart went out to her.  She manages to come up with this crazy conspiracy theory to explain away the fact that she doesn’t know who her dad is and her mom abandoned her.  She’s lost and confused and alone and this is what she does to try and cope with all that.  I’ve never gone through an experience like that but I really think that everyone who reads Nico’s story will love her.
  • Everything!: I admit that I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and haven’t really wanted to read anything.  Save Me, Kurt Cobain fixed that.  This was one of the rare books I’ve read where I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  I loved Jenny Manzer’s writing, Nico’s story, the Nirvana history, every last thing.

Save Me, Kurt Cobain has a little something for everyone.  It’s one of those books that once you start, you’re not going to be able to put it down.  Jenny Manzer’s debut impressed me enough that I will definitely be checking out more from this author in the future.

Giveaway

US & Canada readers have a chance to win one of three copies of Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  Believe me, this is one you want to win!

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Blog Tour Stops

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | Review

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | ReviewDangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

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Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series put her on my radar when I first started blogging but I have to say, Dangerous Lies is the book that kept me interested in her work.  Young adult suspense novels pretty much always get added to my TBR automatically but they don’t always impress me.  I’m happy to say that I was pretty happy with Dangerous Lies, at least enough to check out her other suspense novels.

I know nothing about witness protection and I have to admit that I haven’t actually read anything or really seen anything about it.  Needless to say, I was intrigued when I read the synopsis for Dangerous Lies.  Stella’s life is turned upside down when she is forced to go into witness protection after witnessing a murder by a huge crime lord.  She has to leave everything she knows behind and take up a whole new identity in some tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  Needless to say, she’s not exactly happy about it.  She’s leaving her friends, her boyfriend (who also has to go into witness protection), and her whole existence behind.  She couldn’t care less about her mom (who got her into the whole situation) but yes, she does have to leave her behind too.

Dangerous Lies starts strong and has a pretty solid finish as well but the middle just dragged for me.  Like I said, I’m not always impressed with suspense novels and while this one is technically classified as that, it wasn’t really all that suspenseful or at least it didn’t seem that way.  I admit, towards the end there was a bit of a twist thrown in that definitely caught me by surprise.  However, that was really the only thing that caught me by surprise.  With this type of story, you know that the bad guys are going to eventually catch up to Stella.  For me, it just seemed like the middle of the book was a waiting game until they found where Stella was hiding.  That doesn’t mean it was bad, it was just a little slow at times.

The characters are what made Dangerous Lies hold up even with the slow middle.  Stella was a little bit of a bitch at first but it was kind of understandable.  Her mom was a total druggie who never paid attention to her daughter and was more upset about Stella testifying against the crime lord than about the murder that happened.  She made me so mad!  Every interaction she had with Stella just made me hate her even more.  Then there was Carmina, the total opposite of Stella’s mom.  She took Stella in (for reasons that come up later in the book and totally broke my heart) and she really came to care for her.  Carmina was harsh at first but it was what Stella needed.  She needed someone to drag her out of her funk and find a life in Thunder Basin.  That life came to include Inny, Chet, Dusty, and a few others.  I wish Inny and Dusty were more developed but I liked what I saw of them.  As for Chet, he was maybe a little too perfect but after finding out a bit about his past, I can see why he would be so perfect.

I also want to mention Reed even though readers barely find out anything about him.  He is Stella’s boyfriend who is also forced to go into witness protection and I have no clue how I feel about him.  Also, while Stella and Chet start a relationship of some kind, I don’t really consider it cheating since Reed and Stella are never expected to see each other again.  While they didn’t exactly end their relationship, there really was no future for it.  And hey, if you’ve read Dangerous Lies, did Reed’s ending bother anybody else?  I won’t say what happens but it’s pretty open ended and it’s one thing that really bothered me.

As for the setting of Thunder Basin, Nebraska; it was perfect.  Becca Fitzpatrick really captured the small town feel.  Everybody knew everybody’s business and it was impossible to keep a secret.  Maybe not the best place for someone in witness protection but I guess they figured that even if Stella’s secret got out in the town, it wouldn’t spread anywhere else.  The only problem with everybody knowing everything was that things did get around.  Especially when one person was involved: Trigger.  Trigger was a pain in the ass from the start and everything about him bothered me.  That was one person with absolutely no redeeming qualities.  He definitely caused a ton of problems for Stella and I felt terrible for her.  He seemed to be the one person who was nastier than Stella (in the beginning) and that took talent.

Overall, Dangerous Lies was an enjoyable read that will definitely have me checking out Becca Fitzpatrick’s other suspense novels.  If you want a pretty quick read that might surprise you, check this one out.

What others are saying about Dangerous Lies:

The Eater of Books’ review: “I loved this book, and I highly recommend it, especially to those who enjoy thriller/mystery/suspense types.”

My Bookish Fairy Tale’s review: “It was a thrill and I am actually upset that I finished it as quickly as I did.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | Review

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | Review

Blog Tour: Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey | ReviewLove and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
Published by The Studio on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

In this heartwarming debut by HelloGiggles blogger Kerry Winfrey, a young agoraphobe begins a journey of first love that leads her to the true meaning of home—just by taking one small step outside of her house.

My name is Mallory Sullivan.

My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.

My brother says I’m an “optimistic recluse.”

Everybody else says I'm a freak.

And they kind of have a point, because I haven't left the house in 67 days and only attend class via the webcam on my laptop. The person I talk to the most other than my mom and brother is the completely obnoxious BeamMeUp, and all we do is argue on New Mexico’s premiere alien message board.

But after yesterday, I have something: a chance. If I can win the homecoming crown by convincing resident hot popular guy and Friday Night Lights spawn Brad Kirkpatrick to go as my date, then maybe #stayathome will never appear next to the name @Mallory_Sullivan ever again.

First, I have to leave my room.

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Kerry Winfrey’s debut novel tackles the mental illness of agoraphobia with fun, flair, and facts.  Love and Other Alien Experiences is a strong debut that took me by surprise.  I can’t say what I expected but I think it would have exceeded those expectations that I might have had.

I don’t know what it is lately but this is the third book I’ve read recently about a girl who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave her house.  Agoraphobia is not something I’m familiar with but it is something that fascinates me and that was a big part of my draw to Love and Other Alien Experiences.  Kerry Winfrey chose a more lighthearted way to showcase this illness and I really enjoyed that take on it.  Mallory knows that there is something wrong with her and she knows she should do something about it.  She finally sees that chance to do something about it when she is nominated for homecoming court.  She could win some serious prize money if she actually won and that would be the perfect chance for her to set out to find her father.

Mallory’s life consists of classes taken via webcam and interactions on message boards about aliens.  Hence the title.  She has these crazy interactions with someone online named BeamMeUp and that’s pretty much her only socialization.  Her mom and brother play a key role in her life but they can’t possibly provide all the social interaction that a person needs.  That’s where Mallory’s love interest comes in.  It’s a bit of a reveal so I won’t say anything about who it is but I will say that they work perfectly with Mallory.  Mallory’s illness is something she’s always been made to feel bad about and that’s not what he does to her.  Mallory herself is a great character with a wonderful personality.  She’s sarcastic and open about her illness.  I kinda loved her.

Overall, Love and Other Alien Experiences has me eager to see what Kerry Winfrey writes next.  If you’re looking for a quick, fun read that doesn’t gloss over the details of having a mental illness, this one is for you.

What others are saying about Love and Other Alien Experiences:

Sleepsontables’ review: “If you were a fan of Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone or Made You Up by Francesca Zappia I recommend Love and Other Alien Experiences.”

Welcome to Ladyville’s review: “Love and Other Alien Experiences is a cheeky little tale about a teenage agoraphobe, who by a surprise to everyone gets nominated for prom queen, and decides to win.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens | Review

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens | ReviewThe Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperTeen on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.

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The Lies About Truth is the first book I’ve read from Courtney C. Stevens and let me just tell you, I’m impressed.  The Lies About Truth is a gorgeous story about loss, love, and learning to move on.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, and in the end, it made me smile.

The Lies About Truth takes place almost a year after a car accident that takes the life of Sadie’s best friend, Trent, and leaves her permanently scarred.  Trent’s brother, Max, as well as Sadie’s boyfriend, Gray, and best friend, Gina, were also involved in the car accident but they walked away with less visible wounds.  Max’s vocal cords were seriously injured but it was more losing his brother that caused him to leave town with his family for most of the next year.  Through emails and letters, Max and Sadie start to become close.  Everything comes to a head when Max finally returns for the year anniversary of Trent’s death, finally forcing Sadie to face what happened and her part in it.

Sadie was extremely messed up from the accident.  She had physical scars but she also had mental scars.  She was afraid to get behind the wheel of a car, afraid to show off her scars, and afraid to tell anyone the secrets she was keeping for her best friend.  She basically shut herself away from everyone but Max and she really only kept herself open to him because he couldn’t see her.  She could be the old Sadie behind the screen of a computer and when she didn’t want to be the old Sadie, Max was willing to take anything she would give him.  They were completely honest with each other because they didn’t have to face each other every day.  When Max finally came home, that all changed.  Sadie had already showed him the dark parts of her on the inside so it was just time to show him those parts on the outside.  As for Max, he didn’t care about Sadie’s scars, he just cared about her.  He had his own scars (less visible but still obvious) and as long as she could accept his, he was willing to accept hers.

The other two people involved in the accident, Gray and Gina, weren’t left physically scarred but they were mentally messed up from that day.  Gray and Trent were best friends.  Gina and Trent had been dating for a long time.  Everyone involved in the accident was somehow closely linked to Trent and they were all grieving him but it seemed like they didn’t know how to grieve him together.  They were all keeping secrets from each other and it tore them apart.  Honestly the secrets and secret-keeping were a bit overdramatic to me.  Gray had secrets from Sadie, Sadie had secrets from everyone, Max wanted to be in on all the secrets about his brother, and Gina was tearing herself apart by keeping Gray’s secrets.  They may have been friends at first but all their secrets were keeping them apart and they couldn’t seem to move past them or to share them.  The anniversary of the accident is what finally brought everything out and started the real healing process for everyone.

One of my favorite things about The Lies About Truth was Sadie’s relationship with Trent.  Obviously you only get to see flashbacks but those flashbacks were great.  It was so obvious how much they cared for each other and it truly was a friendship thing.   Trent and Sadie loved each other like family.  They accepted each other no matter what.  I think Trent would have approved of Sadie’s relationship with Max because Max was like Trent in that he accepted Sadie just how she was.  Neither of the brothers ever wanted to change Sadie.

Overall, The Lies About Truth is one novel that everyone should have on their TBR.  It’s just the right amount of cute, funny, sad, and moving.  Courtney C. Stevens is an author I’m definitely going to be reading more from.

What others are saying about The Lies About Truth:

The Book Bratz’ review: “The Lies About Truth is a beautiful story that I recommend anyone looking for a fairly quick contemporary read.”

Reading Lark’s review: “The universality of Stevens’ novels is what keeps me coming back, and why I keep recommending them to other readers.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | Review

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | Review

Blog Tour: Frosh: First Blush by Monica B. Wagner | ReviewFrosh: First Blush (Frosh, #1) by Mónica B. Wagner
Series: Frosh #1
Published by The Studio/ Paper Lantern Lit on October 20th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

During welcome week at Hillson University, the FROSH will hit the fan.
Type-A aspiring journalist Ellie plans to take freshman year by storm. But hell-bent on breaking a huge on-campus scandal, she risks becoming one herself—and getting the mysterious, heart-melting QB in serious trouble.
Grant, star quarterback and charismatic chick-magnet, is hiding a life-altering secret. The last thing he needs is an overeager (absolutely adorable) journalist asking questions. He’s got a reputation to protect.
High-society legacy student Devon is ready to catch the football hottie of her dreams. If the tabloids feature her with the “it” boy on her arm, her tainted past will be buried—or so she thinks.
Charlie, pre-med, is done being the sweet and funny geek that girls like Devon ignore. But if he tries to impress her with a new edgy, spontaneous attitude, will his heart end up in the emergency room?
FROSH intertwines the stories of Ellie, Grant, Devon, and Charlie in Mónica B. Wagner’s sexy NA debut series, about falling in love and falling apart.

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New adult has been my thing lately but I especially love new adult that takes place at college.  Obviously, when I saw Frosh, I had to add it to my TBR.  While I did have my issues with it, Frosh is definitely a fun read to start off a series I can see myself continuing.

Daniela (Ellie) is taking her freshman year by storm.  She’s determined to get the editorial assistant position at the Hillson Daily Nexus.  She’s focused and passionate and she knows that she’s the best candidate for the job.  She just has to prove it to everyone else and she has exactly one week and one assignment to do that.  It just so happens to be that her assignment is one rather distracting football player.  Grant is the quarterback of Hillson’s football team and it appears his passion is football, just like Ellie’s is journalism.  As a freshman, he knows he needs to stay focused on the game and make himself known at Hillson.  Ellie complicates that.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Ellie at first.  She seemed a little uptight and very focused on getting the position she wanted at the HDN.  I quickly warmed up to her though.  She was fun and bubbly and it was easy to see that she was just very passionate about journalism.  Sometimes she came across as a little rude towards other passions (such as football) but she did try and relate them to her own passion to help her understand people a little better.  I liked that she could see that football was to Grant what journalism was to her (or so she thought).  She wasn’t just a snob about anyone who wasn’t in to journalism and that worked in her favor for me.  As for Grant, he’s cocky but he definitely seems to have earned that cockiness.  He’s smart and funny and good at what he does.  It doesn’t hurt that he has a body of a Greek god.  And while he may be great at football, he’s not sure it’s what he wants to do with his life.  He’s a little lost and he’s not sure where his future is going.  When Ellie enters the picture he finally sees something he really wants and he’s willing to go after her.

Then there’s the other half of the story.  Devon is on a mission to catch a guy.  One guy in particular: Grant.  She’s determined to get her man so that she can bury the mistakes of her past.  Devon is a self proclaimed bitch and I could see it from the start.  She’d been hurt in the past and it made her completely close off.  She wanted no girl friends and she only had eyes for one guy.  Too bad that wasn’t the guy who had eyes for her.  Charlie was a geek.  He didn’t think he had anything in common with Devon but once he got to know her he quickly found out that wasn’t the case.  Devon is smart underneath the airhead facade.  She doesn’t want anything to do with Charlie and Charlie’s not normally the type to chase after a girl who seems way out of his league but he doesn’t want to give up on her.

Charlie was a total cutie and at first I thought he could do a lot better than Devon.  She was just so mean!  I understood that she had been hurt in the past and that she had secrets but she just seemed so cold.  She was very single-minded in her mission to get Grant and I felt like Charlie was going to get hurt because of that.  I didn’t love her ever but I did warm up to her and I liked the side of herself that she showed around Charlie.  She was a smart girl and she should have showed it more often.  Together they made an odd pair but I liked it.

And let me tell you there are some steamy scenes in this book.  Both couples really had some chemistry and I loved that.   Neither part of either couple really had the upper hand.  Grant was popular but Ellie was extremely smart.  Charlie was extremely smart and Devon was driven.  They balanced each other out really well.  It was definitely a couple cases of opposites attracting and I loved to see that.

Overall, Frosh: First Blush is a good start to this series.  I look forward to reading more about the students of Hillson University.  New adult fans should definitely check this one out.

What others are saying about Frosh: First Blush:

On a Book Bender’s review: “If you love New Adult, you will want to pick this book up.”

Fiktshun’s review: “This is one of those stories that will make you shake your head at some of the characters’ actions and decisions, want to throttle a few of them, root for the ones you adore and hope they get a happy ending.”