Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mini Reviews - The Deal & The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

Title: The Deal (Off-Campus #1)
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone, and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good.

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one expected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

Every so often, I hear a about a book so much that I just have to read it. Even if I know next to nothing about it and it wasn’t on my radar until everyone started talking to me about it. That was what happened with Elle Kennedy’s The Deal. I went from not knowing it existed one day, to telling everyone I knew to read it the next because it was just that good.

As much as I’ve been reading about football players lately, I hadn’t yet read a story about hockey players, where sports-themed NA was concerned. After reading The Deal, let me just say that I am sold on hockey players if they’re anything like Garrett Graham was. Because, guys, for real, you all need to meet the amazingness that is Garrett Graham. I don’t really know how to put him into words other than to say that he was probably one of my favourite boys I’ve read about in the last little while. And don’t even get me about Hannah. She was just so adorably charming and I loved her, plain and simple. So Hannah and Garrett together? There were moments when I couldn’t handle all the adorableness. Like that was a thing that happened. They were just too adorable. The whole time I was reading The Deal I just kind of had this goofy smile on my face, I just couldn’t help it. I loved this story, a whole lot more than I ever thought I would and I couldn’t be more thankful to whoever it was that put this book on my radar.

Do I really need to say that if you love NA and adorable romance you should read Elle Kennedy’s The Deal? I feel like it should be implied based on all the gushing about the book I just did. But in case you need me to say: if you love NA do yourself a favour and read The Deal because I can pretty much guarantee you won’t regret it.

Title: The Mistake (Off-Campus #2)
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dad-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

…now he’s going to need to up his game.

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

As much as I loved The Deal, I was worried that The Mistake wouldn’t possibly be able to live up to everything I had built it up to potentially be in my mind. I mean, how could anything possibly top the adorableness that was Hannah and Garrett. I really shouldn’t have worried because Grace and Logan were just as freaking adorable as the other two.

This whole review could basically be me gushing about Logan and complaining about the fact that no hot hockey player ever came by my dorm room by mistake when I was in university. Because The Mistake certainly made me wish that would have happened. I mean, my university had a hockey team, what happened to Grace could TOTALLY have happened to me. Except probably not, but in my head it could have, okay. And whoever would have shown up would have been the real, live embodiment of Logan. That’s just how it would go down in my head. Anyways, that’s all to say that I loved Logan just as much as I loved Garrett in the first book. Whenever I had seen him in The Deal I could clearly tell that there was something going on with him but I just didn’t know what. So it was really great to find out all about him in The Mistake. And it was especially great to see him do a lot of that with Grace. And I loved Grace. After what initially happened with her and Logan, she wasn’t afraid to make him work for it. She stood up for herself and that made me love her that much more. And I’m not going to lie, some of what she made Logan do was completely ridiculous but oh so enjoyable to read. So moral of the story, I loved Grace and Logan.

The Mistake was just as great as I had hoped it would be and it made for a great follow-up to The Deal. If I’m being honest, I could keep reading about the guys on this hockey team forever. But for now I’ll just be sitting here waiting for Dean’s story because that’s bound to be an entertaining one.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Title: Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1)
Author: Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park — star of TV’s hottest new teen drama — but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

Guys I love stories set in Hollywood. For real. All you need to tell me about a book is that it’s set in Holly or some part of it takes place in the TV and movie world and I am willing to read it. So why it took me so long to finally read Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes, I will never know. But I am so, so happy that I finally did. 

Despite being best friends with an actress, Ally has never had any desire to lead the kind of life her best friend Vanessa does. The last thing Ally wants is to have paparazzi following her around and be recognized everywhere she goes. What Ally really wants is to move to New York to study at Columbia and study abroad in Paris. And she was on track for doing just that before her dad got sick and the medical bills meant her parents had to dip into her college fund. To make her dream happen, Ally is forced to take a job as her best friend’s on-set assistant. Getting to spend extra time with Vanessa isn’t too bad, and neither is getting to spend time with Liam, her co-star. And finding out just how much she has in common with Liam is even better. Until Vanessa and Liam’s publicist decides the two of them need to “date” to generate buzz for their new TV show. Can Ally be okay with seeing her best friend and her boyfriend kiss even if she knows it’s not real? If she can’t, Ally will be losing her best friend, her first chance at love and her dream future. 

Guys. How did I not read this book sooner? Late last year, I read Dahlia Adler’s NA debut, Last Will and Testament, and absolutely loved it so I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up her YA debut. I mean, really. This book has my name written all over it. This is a contemporary romance set in Hollywood with awesome best friends and swoony actors. It could not have been a more perfect book for me. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise at all that I loved Behind the Scenes and read it in a day. This story completely sucked me in. Sure, I was a sucker for the Hollywood aspect, but I also really loved reading about the friendship between Ally and Vanessa. There needs to be more awesome female friendships in YA, even if they aren’t the sole focus of the story. The one in Behind the Scenes made me wish for that kind of friendship (paparazzi and fake relationships, aside) and whenever there were scenes with Ally and Vanessa just being great friends it put a smile on my face. It should also go without saying that the romance was great. I mean, it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing considering one half of the couple had to pretend to date the other half’s best friend. Things got messy, but that’s how relationships are so it felt real the whole time I was reading. And the fact that Ally and Liam were totally adorable together didn’t exactly hurt either. 

Right from page one, I loved Ally. Despite the fact that her best friend was a famous actress, she didn’t ever see herself as being in her shadow and I LOVED that. She was her own person outside her friendship with Vanessa and she was driven and had a determination that I really admired. I mean, this girl was willing to do what it takes to make her dreams happen. But what I loved about Ally was that I also got to see her more vulnerable side while I was reading. There were moments where she questioned everything, both in terms of her future and with what was going to happen to her dad. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that most of all I loved seeing her being all adorable and couple-y with Liam. And Liam wasn’t entirely who I thought he was going to be. It’s not like I expected him to just be a stereotypical actor-type, but he was so much more than I thought. And of course that just made me love him so much more. I loved how he just got to be Liam, teenage guy, with Ally and she didn’t expect him to be any more than that. And I really loved who that was. And I just loved Ally and Liam, that’s all there is to it. I will also say that what I got to see of Vanessa and Josh has made me plenty excited to read their story in Under the Lights.

Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes was such a “me” kind of book and I loved every minute I spent reading it. This was the perfect contemporary romance and the Holly setting was just an added bonus. And I can’t wait to read more of this story in Under the Lights!

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Bone Deep by Kim O'Brien

Title: Bone Deep
Author: Kim O'Brien
Publisher: SpencerHill Contemporary
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
When Paige Patterson travels to Arizona to spend the summer with her archeologist father, she expects answers. Why did her parents divorce? Why did her father choose his career over family? She doesn’t expect to be reunited with her best friend Emily Linton, a girl she has always admired and secretly wanted to emulate, or to find herself falling for the project manager’s son, Jalen Yazzi.

But the summer takes a terrible turn when Emily vanishes. As the police struggle for answers, Paige sets out to find the truth.

The search takes Paige from Cliffside ruins of prehistoric Native Americans to the Navajo Nation to the horrifying possibility that the answer is much closer to home. Emily, it turns out, was not the only one good at hiding things.

Her father has no alibi of the night Emily disappeared. An intern with the motive insists he’s innocent. And Jalen has some secrets of his own.

Old bones might not be the only things buried in the ruins. As Paige digs deeper into Emily’s disappearance, she realizes that uncovering the truth may cost her everything—even her life.

I love stories with suspense and mystery, I just don’t tend to read them as often as I watch them on TV. But when I find out about one that interests me, I’m usually all over it. And that’s how I found myself reading Bone Deep by Kim O’Brien and getting sucked into the mystery.

Paige isn’t looking forward to spending the summer in Arizona on an archeological dig with her father. After he chose his career over her and her mother and moved across the country, Paige wants some answers about what exactly went down during her parents’ divorce. But her dad isn’t really ready and willing to give her the answers she wants. Instead, Paige is reunited with Emily, and to find herself falling for Jalen, the project manager’s son. Paige’s summer is shaping up to not be so bad after all. But then Emily disappears and everyone starts blaming everyone, especially Paige’s father who doesn’t have an alibi for the night Emily disappeared. Paige is trying to figure out what happened to her friend, but in the process she’s discovering more than she bargained for.

When it comes to my TV viewing habit, I watch a lot of TV shows that include an element of mystery or suspense. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that at least half of what I watch falls in that category. So, yeah, I love mystery and suspense. But when it comes to my reading choices, I find that I don’t read as much mystery and suspense. It’s not because I like it any less in book form, I just don’t gravitate to the books as much as I gravitate to the TV shows. But every so often, I will pick a book up that falls in that category, and that’s how I found myself reading Kim O’Brien’s Bone Deep. I was intrigued by the premise, about how archeology would play into the story and into the greater mystery. And it definitely turned out to be an interesting story. I loved hearing about the history of the site where they dig was taking place and seeing how that history fit into the greater mystery that was at the heart of the story. And on the topic of that mystery, I had some guesses as to who was responsible for Emily’s disappearance but I was never able to see it coming completely. And I loved that! So often, I’m able to guess the twists before they happen, but this time I didn’t figure it out until it was pretty much all laid out in front of me.

As much as I enjoyed Paige as a character by the end of the novel, I didn’t really think much of her at first. I could understand her being upset about her parents’ divorce and being forced to spend the summer with her father when all she really wanted to do was stay home with her mom, but it just felt like she complained a lot. But that eventually worked itself out, when Paige reluctantly accepted her faith for the summer and started spending time with Emily. And thinking that maybe she should do something about the feelings she may or may not have had for Jalen. But then Emily disappeared and Paige pretty much felt at a loss. But at the same time, she became determined to figure out what happened to her friend and I respect that. And I liked seeing her struggle with what to do with the information she was finding out, especially where her dad was concerned. Generally speaking, I really enjoyed seeing Paige’s evolution over the course of the story. She went from being this really closed off, angry person, to someone who was okay with letting other people in again and was willing to give a second chance to her father.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Kim O’Brien’s Bone Deep. If you’re looking for a book where the mystery will keep you guessing with a good dose of history thrown in, then this is the book for you.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book Expo America 2015

Unless you've been living under a rock in the book community, you probably know that BEA is happening next week in NYC. This will be my third year attending and I couldn't be more excited. If you're going to be there too, let me know because I would LOVE to meet you. It's always exciting to finally meet people I've been talking to online and it helps me put a face to the Twitter handle. 

So here are a few places you might find me while at BEA:

Top 5 signing lines you are likely to see me in:

1. Firewalker by Josephine Angelini (Thursday)
2. Truly Madly Famously (Thursday)
3. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (Friday)
4. A Step Toward Falling (Friday)
5. Royal Wedding (Friday)

I will be going to a number of events outside of BEA-proper as well, including Teen Author Carnival on Tuesday night. Otherwise, I'll just be hanging around NYC trying to get in as much time in the city as possible before I leave to go home.

So if you see me, come say hi! I promise I'm a friendly person...I may just end up talking your ear off because I talk a lot. 

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Galgorithm by Aaron Karo

Title: Galgorithm
Author: Aaron Karo
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
A romantic comedy about high school, heartbreak, and having all the answers.

What if the secrets of dating and love were revealed in one simple formula? That’s the tantalizing proposition highs school senior Shane Chambliss offers the hopeless and hapless guys who come to him for relationship advice.

After the girl of his dreams breaks his heart, Shane devises a mysterious formula called the Galgorithm and establishes himself as the resident dating guru at Kingsview High School. But his attempts to master the art of romance go outrageously awry.

As Shane tries to navigate the ensuing drama, he must follow his heart, abandon all the rules, and ignore his own advice in a quest for true love. What he discovers, no formula could ever predict…

A formula that helps the less socially adept talk to girls? Sign me up! But for real, the moment I heard about the premise of Aaron Karo’s Galgorithm, it got added to my TBR. It just had the potential to be so much fun. And, spoiler alert, it totally was.

After getting his heartbroken as a freshman, Shane Chambliss made it his mission to find away to help others avoid the kind of heartbreak he felt. And so Shane became an observer, gathering all the information he could about girls so that he could better understand them and uncover the secrets to dating and romance. Fast-forward four years and Shane is now the dating expert of Kingsview High School. Guys come to him when they want help getting the girl of their dreams, and Shane helps them get the girl. Though he might be an expert at helping other guys find romance, his own love life is growing more and more complicated. Maybe it’s time Shane starts following his own advice.

From the moment I heard about Aaron Karon’s Galgorithm, I was curious about reading it. The premise of the book sounded like it had the potential to be a lot of fun and like it could lead to some interesting situations. I mean, a high school senior takes it upon himself to basically coach the less socially adept guys in his school so that they can get girlfriends. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that? If you’re thinking “everything,” you’re on the right track. This story was entertaining to say the very least. It was full of awkward situations and humorous moment that often had me smiling, if not actually laughing. And the best part of it all is that it was told from a guy’s perspective. I love books that are from guys’ perspectives but there never seem to be that many of them. When I find out about one, I tend to snatch it up right away. And I wasn’t disappointed with Galgorithm, both with the perspective it was told from and the story itself. Of course, though, a lot of that had to do with Shane.

I really enjoyed reading this story from Shane’s perspective. It was interesting to see him help all these guys by building up their confidence so they would be able to talk to girls they otherwise thought of as unapproachable. And really, Shane’s advice could have helped anyone who just needed a little boost of confidence. What I found interesting about Shane while reading was that as great as he was at giving advice to other people, he wasn’t all that great when it came to figuring out his own love life. I’m not saying I enjoyed seeing him struggle, but it made him come across as more real and showed that even so-called “experts” aren’t always what they claim. Which brings me to Jak. I loved that Jak wasn’t the “typical” female love interest you tend to see in books told from a guy’s perspective (namely the cool and unattainable girl). And I loved that her relationship with Shane was first and foremost an awesome friendship. I really enjoyed seeing the constant back and forth between the two of them and reminded me of my own relationship with my best friend (even if our relationship never evolved beyond friendship and he’s now happily married). So Shane and Jak were adorable and I really liked them.

Aaron Karo’s Galgorithm was a cute and fun story. I highly enjoyed reading this story and would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something a little different from your typical light and fun contemporary story. 

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