Friday, October 3, 2014

Blog Tour: As Long As You Love Me (2B Trilogy #2) by Ann Aguirre | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: As Long As You Love Me (2B Trilogy #2) by Ann Aguirre | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: As Long As You Love Me (2B Trilogy #2) by Ann Aguirre | Review + GiveawayAs Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
Series: 2B Trilogy #2
Published by Harlequin HQN on September 30, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. There are the justifications she gives to everyone else—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. And then there’s the reason Lauren can’t admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend’s older brother.

Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He can’t pinpoint exactly what’s missing until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. But he’s the guy that women love and leave—not the one who makes them think of forever.

Though she’s terrified of opening up, Lauren’s ready to take that chance. Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.

picadillyblueAs Long As You Love Me, the second book in the 2B trilogy, cemented my love for Ann Aguirre’s new adult books.  I enjoyed I Want It That Way but it seems like nothing compared to my love for As Long As You Love Me.

Rob and Lauren stole my heart from the very first page.  I really connected with both of the characters.  Rob is a very attractive but not so smart guy.  He’s always been looked at as the dumb jock, not just by outsiders but by his whole family.    His confidence is nonexistent and he sees himself going nowhere in life.  Lauren is really one of the only people who sees potential in him.  She is just as messed up as he is though, just in different ways.  She has severe social anxiety and it has practically crippled her.  She has moved back home from college and Rob is one of the only people in town for her to hang out with.  What starts as a sweet friendship quickly develops into something more and the two of them bring out the best in each other.  However, things are never smooth sailing so they face many trials, making you wonder if these two are destined for a happy ending or better off on their own.

Rob and Lauren’s flaws are what connected me to them because I could so easily relate to them.  Ann Aguirre created characters that readers will easily be able to understand and sympathize with.  It doesn’t hurt that Rob is also a dream guy.  Lauren’s not too bad herself! She’s got a fabulous sense of humor and the banter between the two of them really just made me smile.  I really liked that their relationship was far from perfect but they worked through their issues together.  They didn’t keep anything from each other.  If Rob did something that bothered Lauren, she let him know, and vice versa.  They were very open about things and it was really refreshing.  For once I didn’t want to reach into the book and knock some sense into the characters.

The story is far from action-packed but it’s still completely unputdownable.  Rob and Lauren are enough to hook readers.  I just wanted to know if they’d get their happy ending and if so, how everything would work out.  It didn’t hurt that there were cameos from the characters of I Want It That Way.  There was also just enough drama to keep things interesting.  Things were far from perfect in Sharon, Nebraska and the honesty of the small town setting really added to how much I loved As Long As You Love Me.

Overall, As Long As You Love Me is a wonderful new adult novel that I think fans of the genre will adore.  It’s a sweet contemporary story that will leave you with a smile on your face!

What others are saying about As Long As You Love Me:

Fic Fare’s review: “Overall, this series is a wonderful addition to the new adult genre – not as heavy as some of the books you’ll find in this genre, but I really like that we’re getting some that aren’t all angst, angst, angst.”

Nomi’s Paranormal Palace’s review: “Although I liked the first book, As Long As You Love Me is definitely my favourite in the series so far.”

Closet Geeks and Slow Mo’s review: “So I got to admit, when I finished. I did sigh happily.”

Ann Aguirre

 About the author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | Review

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | ReviewForgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Published by Little Brown on August 13, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 273
Format: ARC
Source: ALA, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.

Nor to his mum who's moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour.
A teenage violin virtuoso.
A pastor's daughter.
A teacher.

Most of the time, Leonard believes he's weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he's not.

He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a really hard book for me to review.  It’s one of those books that you think you should like because the subject matter is tough and it’s honest and well done but I found myself disliking a lot of things about it.

I’ve Had Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock on my shelf for over a year now and the only thing that made me finally pick it up was my YA Lit class.  It was one of the optional books and I figured I’d give it a try since I already had a copy.  I’m definitely glad I read it but it’s not a book I’d ever take the time to read again, if you know what I mean.

Leonard Peacock is turning 18 and as a gift to himself he decides he will kill his former best friend and then end his own miserable life.  But before all that can happen, he has 4 gifts to deliver to the only people he really considers friends.  It’s definitely a plot that will grab readers’ attention but it’s not a very realistic one.  Why would no one think it odd that Leonard is giving out these random, extravagant gifts?  It’s out of Leonard’s nature and while everyone does question this, no one takes the time to dig deeper or figure out that it’s Leonard’s birthday.  I found this part highly unlikely.  There’s even a scene where someone asks if Leonard is going to kill himself but does nothing really to prevent Leonard from leaving.  I truly feel that in this day and age, if someone is suspected of having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, someone will do something to try and help.  That was not the case in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

Leonard is very much alone.  His dad ran out, his mom lives in another city (leaving him a whole house to himself), and his “friends” don’t actually care much for him.  Walt was the only person Leonard really seemed to have a relationship with and that relationship was totally strange.  The other three friends Leonard has gifts for are almost more like close acquaintances.  Also, I don’t really blame them for not liking Leonard all that much.  He was a really rude kid.  He even calls himself an asshole multiple times throughout the book and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.  There was one point where he was so mean he almost made someone cry.  Hard to have sympathy for someone like that.  (Not that I was rooting for him to kill himself, or anything.)

The story is fast-paced but also a little hard to get into.  Most of the story is told regularly but there are footnotes interspersed throughout, as well.  The footnotes were really distracting to me.  It was almost like Leonard’s thoughts didn’t quite fit in with the pace of the story so he threw them in as footnotes so readers wouldn’t miss out on them completely.  It’s something I’ve never seen done before in books like this and I had trouble getting used to it.

I think the best thing about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is how honest it is.  It portrays a very real teenage boy who thinks he has the biggest problems in the world.  Sure, he has some pretty big issues but he never manages to look outside himself and see that there are bigger problems than his.  He may not be an easy guy to like but how many high school guys are wonderful people?  For that matter, how many high school girls?  Matthew Quick shows the darker side of the teenage mind and it was spot on.  However, he still managed to leave readers hopeful.  I didn’t think that was going to be possible but I love how he did it.

Overall, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is not going to be a book for everybody but I think it has many merits that will make it appeal to some readers.  Fair warning though, it’s not for younger readers.  There is a lot of profanity and many tough subjects are brought up throughout the course of the book.

What others are saying about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “All in all, I’m really glad I decided to check Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock out.”

Once Upon a Bookcase’s review: “I implore you to read this novel, let Leonard tell you his story.”

Steph Su Reads’ review: “FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK is arguably one of the most explosive and important books of this year, but if you knew nothing about Matthew Quick, most famously the author ofSilver Linings Playbook, you probably wouldn’t expect it.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton | Review + Giveaway

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton | Review + GiveawayAdrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on September 23, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.

Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.

picadillyblueBefore reading Adrenaline Crush, I hadn’t heard much about it but what I had heard wasn’t the greatest.  I went in with low expectations and the book definitely surpassed them.  I found myself really enjoying Adrenaline Crush and I powered through this book!

Dyna isn’t an easy character to like for a while.  She’s fearless, at first, and totally willing to go after whatever she wants.  However, after her accident, she’s scared of all the things she used to love and she thinks safe is the best way to go.  Her new boyfriend, Jay, totally embodies her new philosophy of taking things safe.  He’s sweet and kind and pretty corny.  He had no flaws and that in itself was totally a flaw for me.  As for being fearless, Dyna doesn’t see her ever being that way again.  That changes when she joins the Ulyssess center for physical therapy and meets Pierce.  Pierce and the rest of the group force Dyna to realize that maybe being safe isn’t the best way to live the rest of her life.  Pierce definitely had some flaws and I loved that about him.  He was strong but could be volatile.  He brought out the best and the worst in Dyna.

Dyna’s family was one of my favorite things about Adrenaline Crush.  Her parents are originally introduced as two people who don’t pay much attention to their kids but I did not see them that way at all.  When Dyna was in her accident, they would not leave her alone.  They were super overprotective but they were awesome.  Her dad’s protective attitude towards Jay was so funny.  As for Dyna’s older brother, Harley, he cracked me up.  He was a total stoner, going nowhere, but I thought he was adorable.  They had a very strong family and I loved seeing that.

The story is super fast-paced.  The book itself is only around 190 pages and it flies by.  I seriously sat down, started this one, and couldn’t put it down until I was done.  I wanted to know what Dyna would choose and how the other Ulysses center patients would overcome their issues.

Overall, Adrenaline Crush is a really cute story with a little bit of a deeper story.  I will definitely be checking out more from this author.

What others are saying about Adrenaline Crush:

Lili’s Reflections’ review: “If you enjoy characters with haunted pasts, a love triangle done right, incredibly strong heroines, and a family dynamic that is absolutely to die for, I highly recommend this book.”

Rather Be Reading’s review: “All in all, the book kept me interested and was definitely enjoyable, even if it won’t be a forever favorite.”

Books Are Vital’s review: “Adrenaline Crush definitely lives up to its name.”

Giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Macmillan, I have a copy of Adrenaline Crush to giveaway to one US resident.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson | Review

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson | ReviewI'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial Books For Young Readers on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. 
 
This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

picadillyblueI’ll Give You The Sun is Jandy Nelson’s highly anticipated sophomore novel.  With my love of her debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, I had supremely high expectations for I’ll Give You The Sun.  To be completely honest, my expectations were probably even a little unrealistic.  However, Jandy Nelson definitely delivered and you completely met my expectations and more.

I’ll Give You The Sun is told in a unique way.  Each chapter is told from either Jude or Noah’s point of view.  However, not only does it switch points of view, it also switches from past to present.  Jude’s chapters are about the present and Noah’s chapters are about the past.  It’s an interesting way to tell their story and after reading the book, it’s really the only way that could possibly work.  It’s also very obvious to readers who is narrating each chapter and whether or not it’s in the past or present.

Jude and Noah are twins who couldn’t be more different.  Jude is a bit of a conformist, doing whatever it takes to fit in.  Noah is the opposite.  He doesn’t care what people think of him as long as he likes himself.  At least, that’s how it is at first.  When you switch from the past to the present you realize that the twins have kind of switched roles.  Jude is now the unique one who doesn’t do things to please other people anymore.  As for Noah, he is almost unrecognizable as the boy he used to be.  Every unique aspect of him is gone.  It takes almost the whole of the book to find out what exactly happened to the twins to cause these changes.

The twins are the focal characters of the story and for a while I had trouble connecting with them.  I honestly thought about giving up on this one because I wasn’t sure how I felt about Jude or Noah, past or present.  Jude came across kind of bitchy all the time and Noah came across a bit whiny and immature at first.  However, as the story progressed, new people came into each of their lives and helped them grow and develop.  The addition of these new people in each of their lives also helped bring them back together.  Their stories were so interwoven it was sometimes hard to see how the two of them could ever have such a rift between them.  Their bond always showed through no matter how they outwardly felt towards each other.

I’ll Give You The Sun is a story of family.  At it’s center is the story of Noah and Jude and what happened to tear them apart.  However, the twins weren’t the only ones affected by what tore them apart.  It affected their whole family and throughout the course of the book their family is torn apart and put back together again, in a new, not necessarily better or worse, way.  Also, I’ll Give You The Sun shows that maybe you can choose to add members to your family but that you can’t ever get rid of the originals.

Jandy Nelson’s lyrical writing style is showcased in I’ll Give You The Sun.  Part of my love for The Sky Is Everywhere was for Jandy Nelson’s writing and I knew I would read this one regardless of the subject matter.  That being the case, the writing didn’t overshadow or take a backseat to the story of Noah and Jude.  Also, I mentioned above that I had trouble connecting to the characters.  The writing really helped me move past that.  I honestly felt that I would be missing out on an amazing story if I did not finish something with such beautiful writing.  And I was right.

Overall, I’ll Give You The Sun is really just one book I feel that everyone should read.  My review will never do it justice.  All I can say is that I feel like readers will be missing out if you don’t give this one a chance.  I’ll Give You The Sun has definitely earned a permanent place on my favorites shelf.

P.S. I feel like I left some things out of my review but I just figured I should probably stop now so you can get your hands on a copy.

What others are saying about I’ll Give You The Sun:

Teen Librarian Toolbox’s review: “For me, this is one of the best books I have read in 2014.”

Forever 17 Books’ review: “I can’t wait for everyone to meet and fall in love with these characters as much as I did.”

Jenna Does Books’ review: “In the end, I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is an excellent story about coming of age, finding yourself and falling in love.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + InterviewEvidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

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Evidence of Things Not Seen might be one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read.  It’s unlike anything else in the YA market and while it wasn’t my favorite, I truly enjoyed reading it.

The story focuses on the disappearance of Tommy Smythe.  Tommy is a strange boy with a fascination for particle physics and alternate universes.  One of the quirky things about the book is that you never actually meet Tommy.  You get to read his journal entries but that is all you have of Tommy other than what other people have to say about him.  Each chapter is told from a different point of view, some people who knew Tommy and some people who stumble upon items of his after his disappearance.  While it took some getting used to, this style was awesome and probably my favorite aspect of the book.

Each chapter is almost like a short story.  Each person has something to do with Tommy, whether they know it or not.  It’s also a way to see how everyone is connected by just one person.  All of the people were very different but they all tied together somehow.  There were times when I wondered why I was reading about a certain person but later on in the book I’d see the bigger role they played.  It was really fascinating and such a unique way to tell this story.

The mature content in Evidence of Things Not Seen really got to me.  I don’t usually have a problem with this kind of stuff but in this case, there was a lot of it and some of it seemed unnecessary.  There was rape, incest, child prostitution, abuse, and all kinds of other stuff.  I just felt like there was an over abundance of mature content and at times it made me really uncomfortable.

The ending is not perfect, it’s not tied up with a bow, but it’s perfect for the story.  It’s very open ended and it has definitely got me thinking.  Also, I won’t tell you what it is but I adore the last line.

Overall, Evidence of Things Not Seen is a promising young adult debut from Lindsey Lane.  I look forward to more unique stories from this author.

What others are saying about Evidence of Things Not Seen:

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “I will say that it is definitely unlike most books I read.”

Bewitched Bookworms’ review: “The writing was crisp, sometimes stark, but beautiful at the same time.”

Read.Sleep.Repeat’s review: “Overall, I recommend this book to people looking to read fresh and interesting contemporaries, and books with a large feeling of community and family.”

lindseylane

 

About the author:

Award-winning author Lindsey Lane is proud to announce her debut YA novel EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers on September 16, 2014. Her picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion, 2003) is now available as an iTunes app, which Digital Storytime describes as “heartwarming and adorable with rich illustrations and lyrical text.” In 2010, Lindsey received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Lindsey is a featured presenter at many schools where she gets kids (of all ages) excited about writing. When she is not writing, reading or being a mom, Lindsey loves sweating at Bikkram yoga, seeing movies and plays, and enjoying some of the outrageously good food at Austin restaurants with friends.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

Interview with Lindsey Lane!

First off, thanks for stopping by the blog.  =)

Thank you so much for hosting me. It’s an honor.

Describe Evidence of Things Not Seen in 140 characters or less!

Without hashtags? Okay, here goes:

Tommy is missing. As the community searches, their lives are affected by the loss & the only clues they find are pages from Tommy’s notebook

What made you decide to write YA?

I’m not sure I decided to write YA. I think stories come to us and we have to figure out the best way to tell them. That said, one of the things that I am most proud of about EVIDENCE is that it is tough, gritty and honest and I think that young adults sometimes want a story that doesn’t have easy answers and big bows. Sometimes they want to look behind the wizard’s curtain and see the machinations of what makes life messy and magical.

Your character, Tommy, is a genius when it comes to physics.  Do you have a physics background?  If not, how did the idea come to you?

I do not have a background in physics but I have a fascination with the ideas in physics.  So do a lot of other writers. Steven Moffatt (Dr. Who) Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass), to name two of many.

The first story I wrote about Tommy was called Particles and, in it, I hinted that Tommy might have disappeared by going into another dimension. When I expanded the story and wove it through the entire book, I had to entertain all the possibilities of how Tommy might have disappeared.  As Tommy writes in his journal:  All Possibilities exist. When I make an observation, all possibilities collapse into one. So is it our observation that limits possibility? What if there is absolutely no observer? Then anything is possible. Anything. I could be anywhere. I could be dead. I could be sleeping. I could be on Ruby going to class. I could even be in class because that’s one of the possibilities that exists as long as no one is observing me.

Do you have any must haves while writing?

A cup of strong black tea (Yorkshire Gold or Scottish Breakfast) with milk and a comfortable chair. Other than that, I love hearing my animals breathing nearby and, if the weather’s good, the windows open so I can hear the birds.

What has been your best experience being part of the YA community?

I have to say that the Kidlit/YA community has the most enthusiastic and generous people on the planet. As far as best experience, well, being on this blog tour is pretty great and when I reached out to blurbers, I was welcomed heartily into the fold. Because this is my debut, I am looking forward to many more great experiences.

What are you working on now?  Anything else YA?

I am working on the next YA novel. The working title is Inside The Notes.  The protagonist is a musician who is set on a path to meet the man who killed her mother fourteen years ago: her father.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blog Tour: Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair | Review + GiveawayLouder Than Words by Iris St. Clair
Published by Swoon Romance on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 310
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson's life lately. Her dad died, her mom numbs the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends have slowly abandoned her.

Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe and should NOT have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt that made her desperate to escape the final moments of Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details to herself and trust no one.

Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky boy, recently transplanted from New York City and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she can't let him get too close. And summer is just long enough and hot enough to keep a boy like that at arm's length.

But by the time Rex's charm wears down her resistance, it's too late. He's put Ellen on the "just friends" shelf and has shifted his romantic attentions to the impossibly annoying and perky anti-Ellen. Even worse, the teacher who tried to get her to sleep with him is still at it, preying on other girls while Ellen struggles to come to terms with what happened.

With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about the well-liked teacher and risk retribution, tell Rex how she really feels about him and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside. After all, it's the only safe place she knows when the only thing louder than words is the fear of being rejected.

picadillyblueStraight contemporary romances haven’t really been wowing me lately and I was hoping Louder Than Words would change that.  While I enjoyed the book and I devoured the story, it just didn’t stand out to me as anything all that special.  It’s a fun read but there could have been a lot more to it.

Louder Than Words does not have a promising beginning.  It’s cheesy and not the best writing and it doesn’t do a good job showcasing what the book contains.  If I had picked this one up at the store and read nothing but the first chapter, I would not have bought it.  However, once I got past that, things got better.  The writing is really rather juvenile but that does help to speed the story along.  However, it doesn’t do justice to the characters or the story.  I honestly felt like I could have been reading something written by a student rather than a published work.  I was not impressed by that aspect of Louder Than Words.

The characters have a lot of growing up to do when readers first meet them.  Ellen and Rex meet during the summer before their senior year of high school but when I was first introduced to them I thought they were much younger.  They were both really immature and Ellen was extremely naive.  That was something I was able to look past though since I expected them to do some growing throughout the course of the story.  Luckily, they did.  Ellen has had a rough couple of years and she is rather cynical.  She’s unwilling to trust most people and Rex is no exception.  In fact, she probably trusts him least of all.  He’s new in town and she has no clue what he could possibly see in her.  Ellen’s lack of confidence in herself was heartbreaking.  She thought very little of herself.  The only thing she ever really liked about herself was her intelligence.  It’s a strong quality of hers but it’s definitely not all Ellen had going for her.  She was also strong, funny, and a tad awkward (which I totally related to.)  Rex was a total sweetheart but he was definitely a bit of a player.  He knew what he looked like and he was willing to use that to his advantage.  Once he saw that his charm and looks weren’t going to work with Ellen though he became a much more honest version of himself.  He was quirky, funny, smart, and kind.  He appealed to me a lot even with his horrible decision making skills.

The secondary characters didn’t stand out a ton to me but they were not bad.  Gracie was annoying and bitchy but I’m pretty sure that was done on purpose.  Lizzy was supposedly Ellen’s best friend but she played a very minor role in the story until the very end.  She wasn’t present for most of the book and I didn’t care much for her when she was introduced to the story.  Robbie, Ellen’s brother and guardian, was a great guy who very obviously cared a ton for his little sister.  However, he tended to underestimate her knowledge at times and it got on my nerves a little.  Mr. Hamer, the creepy science teacher, came across totally like he was supposed to.  He gave me the creeps from the start.  I wasn’t sure how to feel about Leanne for most of the book but she ended up being a good person and a good friend to Ellen which I really liked since Ellen did not have enough of those.

There were parts of the story that seemed almost as if they were thrown in as afterthoughts.  For the first half of the book the story surrounding Ellen and Mr. Hamer went absolutely nowhere and that bothered me a lot.  Then there was a side story about a little boy who was maybe being abused at home.  That story didn’t really go anywhere or play any role in the bigger story.  There was also the story about Rex and his father that took up maybe a chapter but never really came up again after that.  Same with Ellen’s mom and her drug habits.  That story was introduced at the beginning, disappeared for most of the book, and then came back again at the end.  For someone so affected by her mom, you’d think Ellen would mention it more than she did or even think about it more than she did.

Overall, Louder Than Words is an all-around mediocre read that I found entertaining but none too meaningful.  If you’re not looking for a story with any hidden agendas or extensive development, check this one out.

iris st claire About the author:

Iris St. Clair is the pen name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day, a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night. (Her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that’s another bio.)

No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes able to break through to the gooey heart inside.

In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding.

Iris believes in the two-year “fish or cut bait” dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenaged sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

Author Links:

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley | Review

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley | ReviewRites of Passage by Joy Hensley
Published by Harper Teen on September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
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4 Stars

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

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Rites of Passage is a strong debut novel from Joy Hensley.  I was seriously impressed by this contemporary novel and I’m already looking forward to whatever she writes next.

Rites of Passage combines a few of my favorite things: strong females, forbidden romance, and a school setting.  And it just so happens that all three of these things are done well.  Sam is one seriously kick -ass female.  She knows it’s going to be tough being one of the first female students at Denmark Military Academy but she doesn’t let that stop her.  She’s never backed down from a dare and this is not going to be the first time she does.  She is determined to honor her brother’s memory by making it through the first year and paving the way for future generations of young women.  She is severely hazed, to the point of injury.  She’s looked down upon by almost everyone, including her older brother.  To top it all off, she has no clue who to trust seeing as there is a secret society determined to get her and all the other girls to leave.   None of that stops her though.  She is smart, funny, kind, and one tough cookie.  She’s the kind of heroine girls can definitely look up to.

The forbidden romance aspect was pretty steamy.  Sam and her cadet drill sergeant have a lot in common and he’s one of the few people at the school who treats her just like anyone else.  He doesn’t look down on her because she’s a female and he doesn’t make any special concessions because she’s a female.  To him, she’s just another person, one that he is attracted to though.  The attraction between them is definitely made clear at the beginning of the book but it takes time to build and nothing happens for quite some time.  Even after things are more out in the open, Rites of Passage really isn’t a romance centered novel.  Sure there are some steamy and some super sweet scenes between Sam and Drill but it’s not a focal point.  It was well done.

The school setting was awesome.  Rites of Passage is a lot like any other boarding school novel except that it’s set at a military academy where things are crazy strict.  To be honest, while I was reading I kept picturing the set of the Disney Channel Original Movie Cadet Kelly.  I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about, with Hilary Duff.  Scenes from that movie kept popping into my head while reading Rites of Passage and that was not a bad thing.  Denmark Military Academy was a really well-developed school setting that I could easily picture in my head.

The story is completely pulse-pounding.  I read Rites of Passage in one sitting because I was dying to know what was going to happen.  You won’t want to put this one down once you start it.  The ending was a little abrupt though and I was left with a few questions that I would love to have answered, maybe even in a second book.  While I don’t think Rites of Passage necessarily needs a sequel, I’d greatly enjoy one.

Overall, Rites of Passage is a fabulous debut and a wonderful contemporary novel.  I can’t wait to see what Joy Hensley has planned next!

What others are saying about Rites of Passage:

Jenuine Cupcakes’ review: “Sam McKenna is the perfect blend of fierce determination, vulnerability and feminine strength.”

The Bookish Owl’s review: “Rites of Passage, without a doubt, is a phenomenal debut.”

Love is not a Triangle’s review: “I stayed up until 1:30 am finishing Rites of Passage because I couldn’t go to bed until I got to the end.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + GiveawayRight Kind Of Wrong by Chelsea Fine
Series: Finding Fate #3
Published by Forever on September 2, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

Sometimes wrong can feel oh so right . . .

Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets . . . or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to keep her safe-but what’s not safe for her is prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.

Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him-and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in . . . and how much she already has.

picadillyblueRight Kind of Wrong, the third and final book in the Finding Fate trilogy, lived up to my expectations.  After reading two of Chelsea Fine’s previous novels, I’ve come to expect steamy romance, well-developed characters, and fun, fast-paced stories.  Right Kind of Wrong is not lacking in any of these.

Jenna and Jack take center stage in Right Kind of Wrong.  Their story is a bit different from Pixie and Levi’s and Kayla and Daren’s seeing as they already have a sexual relationship.  They’ve known each other ever since they started working together and they were both immediately attracted to each other.  One drunken night led to them hooking up but their relationship remained just friendly, at least on Jenna’s part.  Jack wants more and he’s willing to push Jenna until she gives in and admits she does too.  Jack really does everything in his power to push Jenna to her limits and admit she’s not as independent as she’d like to think.  He’s fine with her following her dreams but he wants to be there with her along the way.  He’s beyond sweet but he’s by no means perfect.  Jack has a very messed up past that takes a main role in Right Kind of Wrong.  It was refreshing to see someone with such a bad past take the role of the good guy.  It was also refreshing to see how the darkness in Jack’s past didn’t push Jenna away, that she was strong enough to handle anything he threw at her.

Jenna was my only issue with Right Kind of Wrong.  She was such a hypocrite!  She preached to Kayla and Pixie about letting love into their life and letting themselves be happy but she wouldn’t do the same for herself.  She did everything she could to push Jack away, all because he didn’t fit into her life plan.  She was actually downright rude about it to Jack and I hated that about her.  Also, it became a little repetitive with all the talk of her life plan and how Jack would just ruin things.  I wanted to reach into the book and slap Jenna right across the face.

The story was fast-paced and had me laughing a lot.  Jenna and Jack brought out the best and worst in each other and it was quite hilarious.  Jenna’s inner monologue was pure comedic genius.  There was a darker side to the story as well.  Jack’s little brother got messed up in some bad business and it was up to Jack to find out what happened to him and try to save his life.  It was a very different story from the first two books and actually appealed to me more than the other two.  If you’ve read Jay Crownover’s book, Better When He’s Bad, it’s a little similar to that.  And since I loved that one, I loved that aspect of Right Kind of Wrong.

Overall, Right Kind of Wrong has made me a Chelsea Fine fan for life.  I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I’m hoping for more steamy new adult novels from this author!

What others are saying about Right Kind of Wrong:

One Click Bliss’ review: “You’ll have to read it to find out what happens, but Chelsea Fine’s writing grips you from page one and has you fully ensconced in their lives and pulling for their happily ever after.”

Love Between The Sheets’ review: “While I didn’t love Right Kind of Wong, I did like Jenna and Jack’s story enough that I think I’ll go back and read the previous books in the series.”

LovLivLife Reviews’ review: “Really cute story – I enjoyed this one a lot – it was different than the other two books since Jenna and Jack already had the connection.”

Guest Post from Chelsea Fine!

Atrocious, awkward, and amazing: Road Trip Tales

by Chelsea Fine

 

Ah, road trips. An American pastime and a part of most everyone’s vacation memories. They’re romanticized, televised, and idealized, but they almost never go according to plan.

 

When you lock people up in a vehicle for an extended period of time, you’re bound to end up with a good story. And the term “good” is used loosely here because, in my opinion, road trips fall into one of three categories: Atrocious, Awkward, and Amazing.

 

Here’s a brief glimpse into three road trips I’ve taken that fall into each of those categories:

 

ATROCIOUS: Let me set it up for you. My husband and me, traveling late at night, with three children, two of which were 3 years old and both vomiting, while the other child (who was 1 year old and still in diapers) was screaming. We were driving an old SUV, lost on a pitch-black road somewhere between California and Arizona, without any food or diapers, running low on gas, with the car heater broken and one headlight out, during the middle of winter, in the RAIN.

 

It was three hours of pure atrocity.

 

AWKWARD: In high school, a group of friends and I decided to go camping one weekend at a spot three hours away. The camping trip itself was fun, but on the day we packed up to leave, there was some confusion and two people got left behind: me and my ex-boyfriend. Now, you all know how dramatic high school breakups can be and this particular boyfriend and I hadn’t spoken since we called it quits. We made the three-hour road trip journey back home in my little car, driving the entire way in tense silence.

 

Awk-ward.

 

AMAZING: The best road trip I’ve ever been on was, by far, with my husband. A few years ago we attended a wedding in Northern California and rented a car for our stay. We set out to find lunch one day, but took a wrong turn and ended up lost. At the time, neither of us had GPS on our phones so we had no way of knowing where we were. We tried to find our way back to the main roads, but all our turning-around only led us farther away from civilization and, soon, we were headed down a skinny dirt road in the middle of nowhere, tired and hungry. A few hours passed and  suddenly, the scenery changed from dirt roads and scattered shrubbery to winding hills of colorful trees, and rows of manicured vines stretched before us. In all our lost confusion, we’d accidentally driven right into wine country! Just off the dirt path to our left was a lone building that looked like it belonged in Tuscany. It resembled a cottage, with shutters and an oak door with iron hinges, and on a sign above the door was the word: RISTORANTE. Parking, we wandered inside the quaint building and were greeted by a pleasant old man and his wife, the owners of the small restaurant. They sat us on the patio, overlooking rolling hills of vineyards, and served us the most delicious lasagna and wine. We ate and drank to the beautiful rays of the setting sun and marveled at how we’d set out to find lunch and ended up on the best road trip ever.

 

Simply amazing.

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have any of you ever had an atrocious, awkward, or amazing road trip? Or perhaps all three? 😉

Chelsea Fine Headshot

About The Author:
Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen.

 

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Shatter (True Believers #4) by Erin McCarthy | Review

Shatter (True Believers #4) by Erin McCarthy | ReviewShatter by Erin McCarthy
Series: True Believers #4
Published by Berkley Trade on September 2, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Goodreads
4 Stars

Kylie Warner prides herself on being optimistic, but after finding her best friend in bed with her boyfriend and flunking chemistry, her upbeat attitude has taken a dive. Even an impromptu hook-up with her sexy new chemistry tutor only brightens her mood slightly. After all, it’s not like she’ll ever see the tattooed scholar again…

While he’s a whiz at complex equations, Jonathon Kadisch has trouble when it comes to figuring out women. So when Kylie tells him that she’s pregnant after their night of passion, he’s at a complete loss. He’s prepared to be a good father—unlike his own deadbeat dad—but he’s less prepared to fall for the genuine and alluring blonde bearing his child.

With emotions running high, Kylie wonders if Jonathon’s devotion is out of growing love or looming obligation. And when heartbreak threatens to tear them apart, Jonathon will have to fight for the only girl who’s ever made him feel whole…

picadillyblueShatter, the final book in the True Believers series, was a wonderful conclusion to the series.  Erin McCarthy’s new adult series is full of romance, heartbreak, and tons of laughs.

Kylie wasn’t the best at first but she quickly grew on me.  She definitely put a lot of emphasis on what happened with Robin and Nathan but that was deserved.  Maybe not so much on Robin’s part but for sure on Nathan’s.  What made up for that though was Kylie’s great sense of humor.  That was by far my favorite thing about her.  One annoying trait of hers was how self conscious she was about her looks but that got better as the book went on.  The love interest, Johnathon, was adorable.  He was totally nerdy and so awesome.  He didn’t know anything about girls, especially non-nerdy ones like Kylie.  It was funny to see him fumble with Kylie.  He was a really great guy though.

The one thing that wasn’t so great about Shatter was the drama.  There was constant drama throughout the book and it got extremely annoying.  I wanted to hit both Kylie and Johnathon.  They were both smart people who did and said some very dumb things.  I felt like a lot of the drama was unnecessary and  just used to move the story along.

The ending was the best part.  The epilogue tied everything up, not just for Kylie and Johnathon but for Riley, Jess, Robin, Phoenix, Rory, and Tyler as well.  It was super cute and left me with the biggest smile on my face.

Overall, the True Believers series is fabulous for new adult fans who like fun stories with steamy romances.  I hope Erin McCarthy continues to write new adult novels!

What others are saying about Shatter:

Paperbook Princess’ review: If you have read the other books in this series, you might as well read this one too… you do get full closure on all the characters at the end of this which was cool and although the story didn’t meet my expectations I loved Jonathan (hot nerd!)”

Fresh Fiction’s review: “SHATTER is yet another in a long line of well-written, very hot romances by Erin McCarthy.”

Margay Leah Justice’s review: “Erin McCarthy has done it again.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

Blog Tour: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre | Review + GiveawayI Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre
Series: 2B Trilogy #1
Published by Harlequin HQN on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

picadillyblueI Want It That Way is Ann Aguirre’s first foray into the young adult genre and she definitely did it right!  Nadia and Ty’s story captured my heart and this series has some serious potential.

Nadia reminded me a lot of myself.  She’s hardworking, driven, and pretty hard on herself.  She is a full time college student who also has a part time job.  She has very little free time but she still manages to maintain some great friendships and care about her family.  Ty is similar to Nadia in that he’s working as well as putting himself through school but he’s also got a 4-year-old son to take care of.  What little free time he has he spends with his son and his parents.  Nadia and Ty don’t seem like they’d work since neither of them has much free time but what little time they do have they spend getting to know each other.

Nadia and Ty’s relationship seemed a little instalovey at first but that changed quickly.  It was more that they were both instantly attracted to each other even though they both knew they couldn’t possibly work out.  They decided to be friends and they really spent time getting to know each other.  They definitely had chemistry though and I was just waiting for them to give into the attraction.  They were not meant to be just friends, no matter what they thought.

The story wasn’t action-packed but it was still fast-paced.   Once I started reading, I could not stop.  I fell in love with Nadia and Ty’s story and I wanted to know if they’d get their happy ending.  The story also does a great job introducing the characters that will be center stage in the following two books in the series.  I wasn’t very impressed with Lauren but Max’s story is one I can’t wait for.

I Want It That Way is definitely a new adult book.  There are some serious sexy times.  I knew that Ann Aguirre could do romance but I had no idea they could be this steamy!  She’s right up there with Jennifer Armentrout and Erin McCarthy in that category.

Overall, I Want It That Way is a fabulous new adult novel that I highly recommend.  Ann Aguirre has been added to my list of favorite new adult authors and I can’t wait to read the second 2B novel.

What others are saying about I Want It That Way:

The Book Vixen’s review: “The cast of misfits in apartment 2B are also fantastic!”

The Reading Date’s review: “I think Ann Aguirre is a great addition to the New Adult scene and adds a fresh point of view.”

Talk Books To Me’s review: “At times the story does move slow and the ending was rushed but I still really enjoyed it.”

Ann Aguirre

 

 

About the author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

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