Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blog Tour: Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner | Review + GiveawayCan't Look Away by Donna Cooner
Published by Scholastic on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey's sister is killed in an accident -- maybe because of Torrey and her videos -- Torrey's perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn't know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey's internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there's Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?

picadillyblueCan’t Look Away, Donna Cooner’s sophomore novel, shows promise for her as a writer.  I found it to be an extremely quick read that captivated me from start to finish.

Torrey’s story was one that is very relevant to todays teens.  Torry has a great online presence through her Youtube beauty channel as well as Facebook and Twitter.  When her sister is hit and killed by a drunk driver, Torrey’s personal life takes center stage and she’s forced to take a step back from the internet to evaluate her life and where she goes from there.

Surprisingly, very little of the story centers on Torrey’s online life.  After the accident, Torrey takes some time to reevaluate things and she’s not sure how to approach her fans online.  However, that doesn’t stop her from reading articles about herself as well as looking at comments on her old videos or on blogs.  Many people online blame Torrey for her sister’s death and very few of the comments are supportive.  Add to that that Torrey has just moved across the country, started at a new school, and has to deal with some rather bitchy popular girls and she really doesn’t have a lot of joy in her life.

What joy she does have comes in the form of some unexpected friends.  Torrey’s cousin and neighbor, Raylene, is a wonderful source of comic relief.  She is completely quirky and 100% okay with who she is.  She cares very little for popularity and she doesn’t let people hurt her feelings.  She does what she wants and she encourages Torrey to do the same thing.  Raylene’s cat, Stu, is pretty much another character.  Stu cracked me up.  There was also Luis who was not exactly who Torrey needed to be hanging out with to gain popularity.  He works at his family’s mortuary and he plans to one day take over the family business.  Torrey is warned off him from the start but for some reason she just can’t resist him.  Luis is another person who does what he wants.  He’s smart, funny, and kind but he does have a bit of a mystery to him.  He brought out the darker side of Torrey but he helped her a lot with her sister’s death.

Torrey herself was not the greatest character for most of the book.  She was rather shallow and kind of self-centered.  However, it’s easy to forgive those things about her once you understand what she is going through.  What comes across as self-centered at first actually makes sense the more you get to know Torrey.  She’s hurt by her sister’s death and her parents have done very little to help with the grieving process.  She closes herself off from people so she doesn’t have to deal with her emotions.  It was heartbreaking how she blamed herself for her sister’s death.  They fought a lot (like any siblings at that age) but they never got the chance to make up and grow closer.  That hurt Torrey a lot more than she let on and she really was a much deeper character than I originally perceived.

My favorite part of Can’t Look Away had to be all the history and stuff surrounding el Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.  When Torrey first finds out about the Day of the Dead she’s a little creeped out by it but as she learns more about it’s history and it’s purpose she becomes intrigued by it.  I’ve always been interested in the Day of the Dead and finding out more about it’s background definitely kept me reading.

Overall, Can’t Look Away has its flaws but is all around a great contemporary novel.  I’m definitely planning on checking out Donna Cooner’s debut novel, Skinny.

What others are saying about Can’t Look Away:

Rather Be Reading YA’s review: “Can’t Look Away is fairly predictable in its storyline, but the Youtube angle, the character of Luis and,Día de los Muertos give it a little more of an unusual feel.”

Nick’s Book Blog’s review: “Can’t Look Away was a decent YA contemporary novel that I tackled an issue that I didn’t know much about.”

Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “Torrey’s story will keep turning you pages.”

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About the author:

Donna Cooner was born and raised in Texas. She is a three time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She’s a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).

Donna is the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children’s television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. SKINNY is her debut novel for young adults.

To contact Donna try:  
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Giveaway:

5 winners will receive finished copies of Can’t Look Away!  US only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

Week One:

8/18/2014- Such a Novel Idea– Interview

8/19/2014- A Book and a Latte– Guest Post

8/20/2014- The Book Belles– Review

8/21/2014- BookHounds YA– Interview

8/22/2014-Fictitious Delicious Review

Week Two:

8/25/2014- Shayna Varadeaux Books & Reviews– Review

8/26/2014- The Cover Contessa – Guest Post

8/27/2014-Katie’s Book Blog- Review

8/28/2014- Swoony Boys Podcast– Review

8/29/2014- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview

Monday, August 11, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins | Review

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins | ReviewIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Penguin Teen on August 14, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

picadillyblueDoes it really come as a surprise to anyone that I absolutely adored the final book in the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy?  No?  Didn’t think so.  Isla and the Happily Ever After may just be the best book of the trilogy, in my opinion.

Isla and the Happily Ever After brings the trilogy full circle.  The story is once again mainly set at the School of America in Paris and the Paris scenery is just as wonderful as it was in Anna and the French Kiss.  However, the book isn’t fully set in Paris.  There is a little side trip to Barcelona as well as some time spent in New York City.  Stephanie Perkins’ books may just be contemporary romances but the setting always makes things interesting.  While I loved the Paris setting, I think Barcelona was my favorite part of Isla and the Happily Ever After.  Just like Anna and Etienne have Point Zero in Paris, Isla and Josh have La Sagrada Familia and so many other places throughout Barcelona.  They also have a few places throughout New York City and while a good portion of the book was set there, I felt more like their relationship was centered around Paris and Barcelona.

Part of the reason I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After so much was Isla.  Josh too but Isla was really a mystery before this book and she quickly showed to be a complex character with a story that I really connected with.  Isla never felt like she was good enough for anyone.  It was pretty clear that she didn’t think much of herself and so why would anyone else?  Her self esteem was beyond low but she was never a depressing character.  She had her best friend, Kurt, who suffered from Autism.  Kurt was a fantastic character.  His personality was perfect for Isla.  They grew up together and so they knew each other as if they were siblings, which they pretty much were.  I also loved how much Kurt meant to Isla.  She was willing to give up other friendships if the other person couldn’t accept Kurt.  They showed true loyalty to each other.

As for Josh, he was a much more complex character than I ever could have imagined.  Readers only get a glimpse of Josh in Anna and the French Kiss but you get his full story in Isla and the Happily Ever After.  He seems totally carefree at first but it quickly becomes clear that that is just a facade.  Josh is a deep character that balanced Isla perfectly.  Josh and Isla were pretty much opposites but they worked together.  Josh brought out a fun side of Isla and challenged her to try new things.  Isla brought out a more serious side to Josh and forced him to really look at why he did some of the things he did.  Their romance was a bit of a whirlwind but it was so much fun.  I wanted to see them both happy and it was clear that they brought out the best in each other.

The cameos from Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket were minor but perfect.  I expected a bit more of them than I actually got but I was actually okay with that.  Their parts in the story were absolutely wonderful.  Isla and the Happily Ever After tied things up for all three of the couples and I couldn’t have asked for more from Stephanie Perkins.  The brief glimpses of Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket definitely left me with a smile on my face.

Overall, Isla and the Happily Ever After could not have been better.  It’s the perfect ending to this trilogy and it left me eager to read whatever Stephanie Perkins writes next.  If you haven’t already started this series, you should really get on that.

What others are saying about Isla and the Happily Ever After:

Reading Teen’s review: “Isla and the Happily Ever After is a charmingly sweet addition to the trilogy.”

Lite-Rate-Ture’s review: “Stephanie Perkins knows how to end her story so well, I just felt my tiny heart clench inwards.”

Jenuine Cupcakes’ review: “Isla And The Happily Ever After is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection!”

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin | Review

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin | ReviewBlind by Rachel DeWoskin
Published by Penguin Teen on August 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

When your life as you know it is taken from you, how do you go on?

Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her manysmall victories as she returns to high school in her home town and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow.

picadillyblueBlind is an interesting take on how your life can change in an instant.  Rachel DeWoskin’s young adult debut is a wonderful story about a girl learning to go through life blind.

I think the hardest thing for readers to enjoy about Blind is the style of writing.  The writing is not bad at all but it is very wordy.  Reading from the perspective of a blind girl makes things very interesting but also very different.  The way Emma sees things now is through touch, smell, taste, and sound.   Because of that, the style of writing must encompass all of these things.  Every page of Blind is wordy and it took me a while to look past that and just enjoy the story.  I think some readers will have difficulty overlooking the weighty style of writing but it is worth it to get past.

The characters are a wonderful mix of people.  Emma, the main character, is a very hard person to like.  She is rather whiny at first and ever since her accident she’s had trouble looking past her own problems to see that other people care about her and that she is not the only one with issues.  Emma automatically assumes the worst about people but what’s even worse is that she assumes the worst about herself.  She assumes that nobody will ever love her because of her blindness, that she’s worthless without her sight, and that her life will never get better.  The only thing that kept me from getting really annoyed with her attitude was to try and see things from her point of view.  Emma’s best friend, Logan, was always there to help Emma see the bright side of things.  She was a good friend who stuck by Emma’s side after the accident and didn’t let Emma’s blindness change things in their relationship.  Sure they had their ups and downs but I considered their friendship one of the stronger ones I’ve read about.  Another friendship I liked was that of Emma and Sebastian.  Sebastian didn’t have a huge role in the story but he made an impression in the small amount of time he was there.  He was blind, like Emma, but didn’t let it stop him from trying to live a normal life.

The family relationships were by far the best part of the book.  Emma was part of a very big family consisting of 7 kids: 5 sisters and a brother.  Her brother, Benj, was my favorite of them all.  He was so adorable!  He brought some lightness to the story.  Emma’s sisters also played quite a big role.  Leah, Naomi, Jenna, Sarah, and Lily were very important to Emma no matter how often she got mad at them or how she pretended to feel about them.  Seeing how their relationships changed with Emma’s blindness only helped show how important family was to all of them.  Emma was the only one injured in the accident but not a single person in her family wasn’t affected by it.

The story was quite slow and with the addition of the wordy writing, it dragged quite a bit.  For the most part there wasn’t a great plot to the story.  Everything was all about Emma learning to live with her blindness.  Sure that was interesting but the story would have moved along a lot quicker if there was something else going on.  There was a little bit of mystery early on regarding the death of a classmate but that was cleared up pretty quickly.  This truly is a story about Emma coping with her new disability as well as learning to move on and realize that life isn’t over for her, in fact it’s only really just beginning.

Overall, Blind was a very unique story that shows things through a very different perspective.  Readers who don’t mind a slower paced story with a lot of character development will enjoy this one.

What others are saying about Blind:

A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall’s review: “The premise and story and character development are strengths of this book.”

Bunnies and Books’ review: “Rachel DeWoskin has a real gift for writing.”

June Cleaver Reads YA’s review: “Blind tries to cover too much ground for one novel.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dearest Clementine (Dearest #1) by Lex Martin | Review

Dearest Clementine (Dearest #1) by Lex Martin | ReviewDearest Clementine by Lex Martin
Series: Dearest #1
on May 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 232
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
2 Stars

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn't mind being called bitchy and closed off. It's safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out...in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

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When I saw Dearest Clementine on sale on Amazon, I decided to give it a shot.  It was free, what could it hurt?  Well, I realized there was a good reason it was free: it’d be a complete waste of money to actually pay for it.

Clementine was a grade A bitch.  She was only nice to a handful of people and those people were her close friends.  Hell, one of her roommates was even scared of her.  When she first meets Gavin she’s not even willing to tell him her name and he’s nothing but nice.  Clementine really didn’t have much personality either.  It seemed all she had going for her was her looks.

Speaking of looks, the author spends way too much time talking about Clementine’s.  It’s all about how gorgeous Clem is, how skinny, how lightweight, etc.  We get it, she’s pretty!  No need to mention it on every page.

There was also way too much going on, plotwise.  There was this whole storyline with Clementine’s professor, another storyline about a missing girl, another storyline about Clementine being a YA writer but nobody knows it, another storyline involving Clementine’s cheating ex, etc.  Holy crap!  The sad part was that the book still wasn’t very gripping even with all that going on.

As for the love interest (or three) I didn’t mind him but I didn’t particularly like him either.  He was very secretive and his secrets ended up being really stupid.  If he had just talked to Clementine they would have had no drama in their relationship.  Of course he couldn’t do that and Clementine freaked out because she had trust issues.  Those trust issues revolved around her ex, Daren, who I actually maybe liked more than Gavin.  And that is saying something.  Sure he messed up but he apologized and seemed like a really sweet guy.

Overall, Dearest Clementine is one new adult novel that I cannot recommend.  This is one series that I will not be continuing.

What others are saying about Dearest Clementine:

Aesta’s Book Blog’s review: “Overall, this was a really sweet read with a little bit of humor, fun, drama, and mystery.”

Insightful Minds Reviews’ review: “All in all, Dearest Clementine earns 4 stars from me.”

Lite-Rate-Ture’s review: “You have to read Lex Martin’s Dearest Clementine, she has a beautiful writing style and DEAREST CLEMENTINE is one of a kind.”

Monday, July 28, 2014

Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover | Review

Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover | ReviewPoint of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
Series: Slammed #2
Published by Atria on February 25, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 215
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
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3 Stars

Layken and Will have managed to overcome the obstacles that threatened to destroy their love, proving that they are destined for one another. What they are about to learn, however, is that the things that have brought them together may be the very things that ruin their connection forever...

Layken is left second-guessing the relationship whilst Will is jumping over hurdles to prove his love for her. What the young lovers discover about themselves along this journey may change their entire world, and the lives of those who depend upon them the most...

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I recently caved and read Colleen Hoover’s book, Slammed.  I was hugely impressed with it and I was really looking forward to checking out the sequel, Point of Retreat.  While I did enjoy the book, I was actually quite disappointed with it.

Will and Layken’s story was actually pretty wrapped up in Slammed but I was still interested in reading more about them so I decided to give Point of Retreat a shot.  After loving Slammed, I had really high expectations for the sequel.  Sadly, the book just couldn’t live up to them.  Everything went downhill right from the start.  The story was dull, the characters didn’t have any development, and everything was way too predictable.  I think the only thing I liked about Point of Retreat was the addition of Kiersten, a very quirky young girl who becomes friends with Calder and Kel.  She was hilarious!  She fit in great with their group and I really did love her.  However, from there on out, things weren’t so great with Point of Retreat.

First off, I wanted to slap both Will and Layken.  Will starts taking some college classes and his ex-girlfriend, Vaughn, is in the class with him.  Does he tell this to Layken?  Of course not.  So when she finds out, (like she inevitably will) she flips out.  Rather than give Will time to explain, she completely blocks him out and sets into motion the whole rest of the book.  Will and Layken handled things like teenagers.  If they expect to be parents to their younger brothers, they need to grow up and handle things like adults!  I mean, really, how hard is it to take a little time and just talk things out?  And I will admit, Will handled things a lot better than Layken.  Layken acted like a whiny little brat.  It really got on my nerves and I lost a lot of respect for her after her temper tantrums.

Then there were Eddie and Gavin.  While I actually didn’t have a problem with them throughout the book, it was their storyline that got to me.  I won’t give anything away but let’s just say that it’s rather predictable and overdone.  I did still love Eddie and Gavin’s relationship and their relationships with Will and Layken though. Eddie is just as hilarious as ever and when you put her and Kiersten together, it’s a total riot.

Like I said earlier, the story was rather predictable.  I won’t give anything away but I will say this: I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read the second half of the book!  It was really cheesy and rather than finding things romantic, I just wanted to roll my eyes and laugh.

Overall, Point of Retreat just wasn’t for me.  I should have stopped with Slammed and just enjoyed how much I loved that book.  However, tons of people have enjoyed this one so if you think you’ll like it, definitely check it out.

What others are saying about Point of Retreat:

Bookish Sarah’s Literary Meanderings’ review: “All in all, this is a truly stellar follow-up novel.”

Obsession With Books’ review: “Colleen Hoover writes memorable, believable characters, her writing is perfection and holds my interest throughout and the slam poetry is fabulous!”

Clear Eyes Full Shelves’ review: “If you, like me, enjoyed Slammed (perhaps, also like me, despite yourself), I’d recommend simply letting Layken and Will’s story end for you at that book.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Deceiving Lies (Forgiving Lies #2) by Molly McAdams | Review

Deceiving Lies (Forgiving Lies #2) by Molly McAdams | ReviewDeceiving Lies by Molly McAdams
Series: Forgiving Lies #2
Published by William Morrow on March 4, 2014
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Rachel is supposed to be planning her wedding to Kash, the love of her life. After the crazy year they've had, she's ready to settle down and live a completely normal life. Well, as normal as it can be. But there's something else waiting—something threatening to tear them apart.

Kash is ready for it all with Rach. Especially if all includes having a football team of babies with his future wife. With his line of work, he knows how short life can be, and doesn't want to waste another minute of theirs. But now his past as an undercover narcotics agent has come back to haunt him ... and it's the girl he loves who's caught in the middle.

Trent Cruz's orders are clear: take the girl. But there's something about this girl that has him changing the rules and playing a dangerous game to keep her safe. When his time as Rachel's protector runs out, he will turn his back on the only life he's known, and risk everything, if it means getting her out alive.

picadillyblueDeceiving Lies, the much anticipated sequel to Forgiving Lies, was a let down after the total awesomeness that was Forgiving Lies.  Every part of this book was lackluster compared to the first book and I ended up wishing that Rachel and Kash’s story just ended with the first book.

Rachel and Kash are back but their relationship is far from perfect.  The strong relationship they had at the end of Forgiving Lies is completely torn apart shortly into Deceiving Lies.  Their relationship is severely tested in Deceiving Lies and I spent a lot of the book wondering if they were going to make it through or call it quits.  As if the events of the first book weren’t bad enough for Rachel, shortly into this book she is kidnapped by a gang that Kash formerly infiltrated while undercover.  She’s held hostage and she spends most of her time wondering if Kash will make it to her in time.  When she’s not worrying about getting out alive though, she’s spending all her time getting closer to her captor, a guy who just happens to be sexy and smart with a dark past that he’s completely ashamed of.  Ugh.

The first part of the book is spent showing how strong Rachel and Kash’s relationship is and the next part of the book completely contradicts the first part.  Rachel is help captive and she slowly starts to maybe develop feelings for her captor, Trent.  Really?  I get that he is trying to help protect you and all that but he put you in that position to begin with!  How could you possibly fall for a guy like that?  Of course, there is more to Trent than meets the eye.  He’s not really a bad guy, he’s just in a bad situation.  Sure.  I’m not buying it.  I felt no sympathy for Trent or Rachel because while they were busy making eyes at each other, Kash is being torn apart by guilt and doing all he can to get Rachel back.  It’s made very clear that Kash loves Rachel and is willing to sacrifice his own life for her.  And he’s repaid with her thinking about cheating on him.  What a great relationship.

Lucky for me I had Kash and Mason to help make the book better.  Their relationship was as great as ever.  I truly love reading about friendships between guys because they are so different than friendships between girls.  Kash and Mason clearly loved each other like brothers and they were always there for each other.  Sure they fought but they always got past that.  Their friendship made me like this book a lot more than I would have otherwise.

There were some other things that bothered me about Deceiving Lies but I really can’t get into them without spoiling part of the story so I’ll leave them out.  Just know that the part of the book leading up to the ending really doesn’t help make it better.  There were a lot of little things with Kash and Rachel that got on my nerves.

Overall, Deceiving Lies was nowhere near as good as I’d hoped.  I felt like there was no need for the love triangle and honestly there wasn’t a lot of need for this sequel at all.  I was happy to read more about Kash but that’s all this one really had going for it.

What others are saying about Deceiving Lies:

The Bookpushers’ review: “All in all, this was a very good but difficult read.”

It’s Andrea’s Book Blog’s review: “I give this book a solid 4 stars for its suspense and action and a well-rounded story that has you swooning at the end.”

Anna’s Book Blog’s review: “I really enjoyed Deceiving Lies and I look forward to reading more from this author!”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blog Tour: London Falling (International School #2) by Chanel Cleeton | Review + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: London Falling (International School #2) by Chanel Cleeton | Review + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: London Falling (International School #2) by Chanel Cleeton | Review + Giveaway!London Falling by Chanel Cleeton
Series: International School #2
Published by Harlequin on July 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

We weren't a relationship, we were a ticking time bomb...

Maggie Carpenter walked away from the hottest encounter of her life when she left the seductive glitz of England for summer break in her South Carolina hometown. Now that she's returned to the International School in London--and sexy, privileged Samir Khouri is once again close enough to touch--she can't help but remember the attraction, the drama...the heartbreak.

She can't help but want him even more.

Samir can't afford to fall for someone so far removed from his world, not when his time in London is running out. It's his senior year--his last chance at freedom before he returns home to Lebanon. There, he'll be expected to follow in his father's footsteps--not follow his heart to Maggie. But when a scorching secret hookup becomes a temptation neither can resist, they'll both have to fight to survive the consequences...and find a future together.

picadillyblueChanel Cleeton seriously surprised me with the first book in the International School series, I See London, but that was nothing compared to London Falling.  London Falling was everything I could have wanted in a sequel and it left me with the biggest smile on my face.

The cast of characters from the first book is back and better than ever.  Maggie has grown more confident in herself but she still has her small town charm.  She’s still a bit clueless when it comes to some things (which I loved) but she’s changed a lot from the scared girl at the beginning of I See London.  Samir has also changed a ton.  He’s no longer the cocky manwhore from book one.  He’s still cocky as ever but he’s set his sights on one girl and one girl only.  Watching him put forth a real effort to get Maggie was great.  He’s definitely a guy who has always had things handed to him so it was good to see him work for something.  He and Maggie really were perfect for each other.  Their differences were enough to keep things interesting between the two of them but they had enough in common that they never ran out of things to banter about.  Their banter was seriously adorable.  As for the rest of the characters, I think Fleur was my favorite.  Fleur was cocky and kind of cold in the first book.  She is nothing like that in London Falling.  Readers really get a glimpse of the vulnerable side of Fleur this time around and it left me hoping that she will get her own book soon.

The story was nothing spectacular or pulse pounding but it was enough to keep my attention.  The different settings throughout the course of the book really helped move things along.  If you’re a fan of travel in your books, the International School series is definitely perfect for you.  I’d also definitely recommend this one if you are a fan of steamy romances!  Samir and Maggie have some amazing chemistry that makes from some definitely sexytimes.

Overall, I really have no complaints about London Falling.  I can’t recommend this duology enough for new adult fans.  I look forward to reading more from Chanel Cleeton especially if it centers around any of the characters from these books.

What others are saying about London Falling:

Becky on Books and Quilts’ review: “Chanel did a nice job of getting them to a satisfying conclusion, with plenty of realistic drsma along the way.”

A Bookish Affair’s review: “This was definitely a fun read!”

Rampant Readers’ review: “A well-written novel about breaking free for the ones you love, this novel will captivate you from page one.”

Also, as part of the blog tour, the lovely people at Inkslinger PR as well as Chanel Cleeton have set up an awesome giveaway.  Enter for your chance to win: London Falling coffee mug, Tea, (4) signed London Falling bookmarks, (4) signed I See London bookmarks, (4) pens, a London case, and a $25 Amazon GC.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer | Review

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer | ReviewThe Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Harper Teen on May 13, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

picadillyblueThe Secrets of Lily Graves is one of those rare YA books that actually manages to surprise me.  I expected to enjoy this one, and I did, but I didn’t expect to by stumped by the mystery and up late into the night reading to the very end.  Sarah Strohmeyer wove a fantastic mystery that kept me guessing until I turned the very last page.

The Secrets of Lily Graves is a supremely unique YA novel.  Not only is it a mystery, it’s got a totally non-typical romance, a wonderful family relationship, and a heroine who took me by surprise multiple times throughout the course of the book.  The mystery had to be my favorite part.  I very rarely find young adult suspense novels to be suspenseful but that was not the case at all with The Secrets of Lily Graves.  I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book!  Erin’s murderer is at large throughout the book and it’s dang near impossible to figure out who it is.  Even if you do figure out who it is, the motive will totally take you by surprise.  There were multiple layers to Erin’s murder and it seemed like as soon as I peeled away one layer, another one would pop up.  Sarah Strohmeyer really did a great job with the mystery aspect of The Secrets of Lily Graves.

The romance was cuter than I expected.  Matt and Lily have had some sort of relationship for a while but Erin was always in the way of them taking it any further.  Erin’s death might not have been the greatest way to bring them together but it did work.  Everyone blamed Matt for Erin’s death except Lily.  Lily took it upon herself to prove everyone wrong.  That brought her even closer to Matt and their friendship started to turn into something more.  The build up of their relationship was so realistic and they were adorable together.

The family aspect of the story was something else unique about The Secrets of Lily Graves.  You don’t see a lot of close knit families in YA books and you do in this book.  Lily is very close with every member of her family.  Sure she keeps some things from her mom but what teenager doesn’t?  Her aunt Boo is always there for her when she doesn’t want to talk to her mom but needs an adult.  Her grandmother was a bit crazy and she really cracked me up.  The Graves women were totally fun.

Overall, The Secrets of Lily Graves is a great young adult mystery that I definitely recommend checking out.  Sarah Strohmeyer definitely deserves every bit of praise she’s been getting for this one.

What others are saying about The Secrets of Lily Graves:

The Book Nookery’s review: “This wasn’t a terrible book, but it was completely generic, lackluster, and half-assed in every way.”

Words, Pages, and Books’ review: “Oh how I adored The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer!”

Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “The Secret of Lily Graves is great read for mystery lovers.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Make It Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson | Review

Make It Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson | ReviewMake It Count by Megan Erickson
Series: Bowler University #1
Published by William Morrow on June 3, 2014
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

picadillyblueThe first book in the Bowler University new adult series was adorable. While it didn’t rank among my favorite new adult novels, it hooked me with the characters and has me excited for the follow up books in the series.

Kat is not your typical character.  She acts like an airhead but deep down she’s really smart.  However, she’s an undiagnosed dyslexic who might have ADD.  Not a good combination in college.  Kat hates it but she does require tutoring for some of her classes.  It gets worse when her newest tutor is also her boyfriend’s roommate and best friend.  Kat doesn’t let many people know about her struggles and she doesn’t want her boyfriend to find out.  That’s the main reason she hates that Alec is her tutor, at least at first.  It gets worse when Kat starts to be attracted to Alec.  I won’t get into the specifics of their relationship but I will say this: there is no physical cheating in Make It Count.  Woo hoo for that.  I know emotional cheating is kind of worse but you’ll just have to read the book to judge it for yourself.

While Kat came across as a ditz at first, Alec is very clearly a smarty pants from the very start.  He’s a major nerd and he’s not afraid to show it.  Yay for nerdy boys!  Alec is also a very loyal friend and he’s not willing to do anything that would compromise his friendship with Max, Kat’s boyfriend.  However, it’s pretty obvious that Kat and Alec have some crazy chemistry and they really get each other.  It was wonderful seeing Kat and Alec’s friendship progress since they were kind of stuck as friends.  They took the time to get to know each other and look past the physical attraction.

The secondary characters were some of the more awesome characters in the book.  Sure I loved Kat and Alec but they weren’t the only ones.  Alec’s female friend, Danica, provided a lot of the laughs throughout Make It Count.  I know she doesn’t get her own book but I really hope she plays a prominent role in the next two books as well.  The introduction of Lea, the main female character in the second book, was also great.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about her at first since she does come across as rather quiet and kind of standoffish but I think she’s the perfect balance for Max.  I look forward to reading their story in Make It Right.

Overall, Make It Count is a fun, fast-paced read that will leave readers with a smile on their faces.  If you’re a fan of new adult novels I definitely recommend checking this one out.

What others are saying about Make It Count:

Ramblings From This Chick’s review: This one was hard for me to rate, because there were things that I liked and didn’t like and my opinion of the book was constantly changing as I read it.”

Emilie’s Book World’s review: “This was a fun story that kept me turning the pages almost faster than I could read them.”

Lilybloombooks’ review: “Megan has created such a fun, fresh and unique romance.”

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sharing You (Sharing You #1) by Molly McAdams | Review

Sharing You (Sharing You #1) by Molly McAdams | ReviewSharing You by Molly McAdams
Series: Sharing You #1
Published by William Morrow on July 1, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
1 Stars

Twenty-three year old, Kamryn Cunningham has left all she’s ever known and moved to a small town where no one knows her name, who her parents are, or her social status in the horseracing world. Months after opening her own bakery and evading attempts of being set up by her new best friend, she meets Brody. Kamryn fights the instant pull between them because there’s a detail she can’t dismiss. Brody’s married.

To say that twenty-six year old, Brody Saco has had a rough marriage would be an understatement. After marrying his pregnant girlfriend, he spends the next six years in a relationship filled with hatred, manipulation and guilt involving a tragedy that happened five years earlier. When he keeps running into his sister-in-law’s best friend, Kamryn, he can’t ignore that she makes him feel more with just one look than his wife ever has; and soon he can’t continue fight his feelings for her.

When staying apart proves to be too difficult, Brody and Kamryn enter a relationship full of stolen moments and nights that end too soon while they wait for Brody to file for divorce. But the guilt that comes with their relationship may prove to be too much for Kamryn, and Brody might not be strong enough to face the tragedy from his past in order to leave his conniving wife.

picadillyblueI don’t even know where to start with this book.  Sharing You was one of the worst books I have ever read.  I know a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with Molly McAdams’ books and after reading this one, I can certainly see why.

I knew going into this one that it was about cheating and that I have issues with cheating.  However, I had just finished another book about cheating that was done rather tastefully and didn’t feature any physical cheating.  I hoped for a similar type of story with Sharing You but that was so not the case.  Sharing You was completely tasteless when it came to the cheating aspect and it played a huge role in the story.  I kid you not, the two main characters were sleeping with each other within a few weeks of meeting each other, all while one of them was married.  I get that you can be unhappy in your relationship but that is no excuse for cheating.  How hard is it to get a freaking divorce before you start sleeping with some random chick you just met?

Also, let me tell you about the worst case of insta-love ever.  Yeah, it’s in this book.  Kamryn and Brody bump into each other in the hallway and are immediately drawn to each other and neither of them even know why!  They can’t explain it and they don’t even try to.  They just immediately decide they have to be together even though Brody is married.  I could not even understand why they were together.  As the book progressed I continued to wonder what it was they saw in each other.  It never became clear to me.

As for the whole horrible, manipulative wife situation; it got old really fast.  Molly McAdams painted Olivia as this horrible villain that nobody could possibly like and I guess she figured that that would help readers justify the fact that Brody cheated on her.  It didn’t.  Brody kept saying he was going to leave Olivia but that she was depressed and suicidal and he couldn’t leave her until he got her help.  Then he decided that she was just manipulative and he was going to leave her without getting her help.  Then he decided not to leave her because she really did need help.  This went on and on and on.  The book could have been so much shorter if Brody would have just made up his mind to leave Olivia.

Oh and don’t even get me started on Kamryn.  She was the whiniest, neediest, most annoying character ever.  All she did was cry.  Holy crap I have never read a book with more crying.  And it was always over the same things.  Brody had to go home to Olivia, she didn’t get to spend enough time with Brody, she couldn’t tell anyone about her and Brody, etc.  Maybe if you weren’t sleeping with a married man you wouldn’t have these problems.  I felt absolutely no sympathy for her.  She was just annoying to read about.

Overall, I’m amazed I even finished Sharing You.  I honestly can’t tell you why I kept reading.  There is nothing about this book to redeem it.  I wouldn’t recommend this even if you had nothing else to read.  Skip this one and try something else by Molly McAdams.

What others are saying about Sharing You:

Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “Everything within the pages I was able to handle and enjoy every page I turned.”

Reading Lark’s review: “All in all, I enjoyed Sharing You, but not as much as some of the other McAdam’s titles.”

Nocturne Reads’ review: “If you don’t mind insta-love or some angst, then you should give this story a go.”