Friday, April 17, 2015

The Truth About Jack by Jody Gehrman

Title: The Truth About Jack
Author: Jody Gehrman
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Dakota McCloud has just been accepted into a prestigious art school. Soon she’ll leave behind the artists’ colony where she grew up—hippie dad, tofu since birth, yurt—and join her boyfriend and best friend on the East Coast. It was the plan…until Dakota finds out her boyfriend and best friend hooked up behind her back.

Hurt and viciously betrayed, Dakota pours out her heart on a piece of paper, places it in a bottle, and hurls it into the ocean. But it doesn’t quite go where she expects…

Jack Sauvage finds the bottle washed up on the shore and responds to Dakota’s letter. Except what if his straight-laced life doesn’t jive with the free-spirited girl he’s only seen from afar? As Jack creates a persona he believes she’ll love, they slowly fall for each other with each new letter. Now Jack is trying to find a way to make this delicate, on-paper romance happen in real life…without revealing his deception.

Every once in a while (well, a little more often than that if I’m being totally honest) I just want to read a light and fun contemporary romance. I don’t want too much drama and angst, I just want a story that’s going to take me out of my own head and leave me happy and satisfied when I finish. And that’s exactly what I got with Jody Gehrman’s The Truth About Jack.

When she gets her acceptance to the art school of her dreams, Dakota McCloud thinks her future is set. She’s going to leave the artists’ colony where she grew up behind and move to the East Coast to be with her boyfriend and her best friend. But on the day she receives her acceptance letter, Dakota also finds out that the best friend and boyfriend she was looking forward to seeing have been hooking up behind her back. Feeling lost and betrayed, Dakota writes a letter, puts it in a bottle and throws it into the ocean. Just after Dakota leaves the beach, Jack finds the message and finds himself completely intrigued by the girl who threw it. Determined to get to know her but unsure of whether she would like him, Jack invents a new persona and starts writing Dakota. As the two exchange letters, they start to fall for one another. But when they start spending time together in real life, Jack worries that his deception could cause him to lose the one person he really cares for.

Sometimes you just want a light and fun contemporary romance and that’s exactly what The Truth About Jack was. When I first heard about the book and read the description, it sounded like it could be a really fun story. Granted I was a little worried about how the whole inventing a person was going to work, but it worked in the story once it was all going down. Beyond that, the story was just the light and fun read I thought and hoped it was going to be. There was just the right amount of drama and angst to balance out the fun and lightheartedness of the story. While I enjoyed reading The Truth About Jack, though there were times when I found it hard to let myself get lost in the story, though that might have had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t seem to spend more than a few minutes at a time reading this book. Had I been able to sit down and read it for large chunks of time, my experience might have been better. But still, I enjoyed this story a lot. And though it wasn’t quite the escape I had hoped it was going to be, I found myself really liking all the characters.

Dakota was a fun and different character to read about. I mean, it’s not everyday that I’ll read a book where the main character grew up in an artist colony. In that sense, Dakota wasn’t exactly your typical YA heroine and it just made it fun to read her story. While reading, I felt absolutely horrible for her when she found out about her boyfriend and her best friend. I can’t say it’s something I’ve experienced, but I felt her pain and how lost she felt after having the one thing she was looking forward to sort of get taken away from her. And Jack just came across as a nice guy, even if he needed help coming out of his shell a little more. It was always entertaining watching him attempt to force himself out of his comfort zone and stumble through it. My only wish as far as characters are concerned was that I could have gotten to see a little more of the secondary characters, especially Anya, Attila and Joaquin. Yes, this was Jack and Dakota’s story, but I couldn’t help but feel like those three need more attention.

Jody Gehrman’s The Truth About Jack was a light, fun read that I found myself thoroughly enjoying while reading. If you’re in the mood for a cute and quick contemporary romance read, then this is the book for you.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Aimee and the Heartthrob by Ophelia London

Title: Aimee and the Heartthrob (Backstage Pass #1)
Author: Ophelia London
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
He never noticed her before, but now she’s all he can see…

Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister—and off-limits—but won’t even give him the time of day…

As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested. Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.

But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…

Just give me all the cute and adorable romances because I will read them all. Seriously, I will read them ALL. Whenever I hear about a new one, it automatically gets added to my TBR (which probably explains why my TBR is so big) and that’s what happened with Ophelia London’s Aimee and the Heartthrob. And it definitely delivered on the cute and adorable fronts.

Miles Carlisle is part of the biggest boy band on the scene. And to fans, he’s known as the heartthrob of the band. Between his good looks and the British accent, Miles is every girl’s fantasy. Including Aimee Bingham’s. But Aimee was in love with Miles long before he shot to fame with Seconds to Juliet. She’s been in love with him since her brother brought him home and introduced him as his best friend. But after Aimee found out Miles made fun of her for always tagging along, she decided it was time to get over Miles. Fast forward two years and Aimee is forced to spend three weeks on tour with Miles and his band. Aimee is determined to show Miles that she doesn’t care about him anymore. But that would be easier to do if Miles didn’t seem interested all of a sudden. If anything is going to happen between them, though, Miles and Aimee will both have to learn to give away their trust again, even if they were burned in the past.

Have I mentioned that I love cute and adorable romance stories? Because I do. I really, really do. But if you’ve been following me or my blog for any length of time you probably know that already and don’t need to hear me say it again. But I just can’t say it enough. Cute and adorable romances are where it’s at. So Entangled’s new Teen Crush imprint? I am ALL over that. And that happens to include Ophelia London’s Aimee and the Heartthrob. When I read the synopsis for this book, I knew it was something I had to read. I mean it’s about a boy who’s in a boy band and a girl who happens to be his best friend’s younger sister. This had all the makings of an “Emilie book.” And it totally was! I sped through Aimee and the Heartthrob. The romance between Miles and Aimee was just adorable and I couldn’t get enough of it. And not gonna lie, I was totally loving the boy band aspect of the story as well. I mean how could I not? Boy bands are the best. And I want more of the boys in the band, and I am totally getting my wish in the form of another book in this series, but written by a different author. And I am definitely looking forward to it.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but compare myself to Aimee (and vice versa). I wasn’t a teenager that long ago, but if I were still a teen today, I would totally be her, or I like to think that I would be quite similar. Except maybe minus the part where my older brother is best friends with someone in a boy band (because my brother is younger, and as far as I know he isn’t friends with anyone particularly famous, much less someone in a boy band). All that is to say that I really enjoyed Aimee as a character. She was a girl who wasn’t afraid to say what she thought and stand up for herself. But at the same time, she had her insecurities and I really liked seeing that side of her mixed in her with more confident side. And Miles. Well. He’s British. He’s in a boy band. And he’s a sweetheart. Do I really need to say more? But for real, I loved Miles. Despite his fame, he still came across as pretty grounded, even if he needed Aimee to keep his ego in check every so often. Put Aimee and Miles together and you get a very happy Emilie. I loved seeing these two together. They were just so cute and adorable (I need to find new words to use, I know). I was really rooting for them the whole time I was reading and i was so happy with their story came together.

In case you couldn’t tell I totally enjoyed Ophelia London’s Aimee and the Heartthrob. It was exactly the cute and adorable (I swear it’s the last time I use these words) romance I was in the mood for when I picked it up. And I can’t wait to find out more about the band in the next book in the Backstage Pass series. 

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Title: The Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
“I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier an more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become. 

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the even of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love—her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself—will have been for nothing.

I’m not going to lie, I basically didn’t know about The Royal We until I was offered a chance to review it. I might have seen it here and there, but it was never a book that I paid attention to. But once I read the description, it sounded like it could be a lot of fun. What I didn’t expect, was how much I absolutely loved this book.

The last thing Rebecca Porter expected when she decided to study abroad at Oxford was to fall in love. In going to Britain, she was looking for adventure, for new experiences. Not romance. The one thing she was definitely not looking for was living down the hall from Britain’s next king, the prince she just so happens to fall in love with. But after spending time with Nick, Bex can’t help but fall for him. But being with a prince also means being thrown into a world Bex never thought she would be a part of. Dating Nick isn’t simple. As much as she just wants to spend time with Nick, Bex also has to share him with the rest of the world. A world that doesn’t exactly think she’s what’s best for the future king of Britain. Together, Bex and Nick find a way to make it work, but on the day before they are set to get married, things are about to fall apart as Bex starts questioning everything she’s had to sacrifice to be with the person she loves.

I’m kind of a sucker for anything involving royalty of any kind. I blame it on the fact that I spent most of my middle and high school years reading Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series (to this day, it’s still one of my favourite series of all time). But despite my love of all things royal in books, I hadn’t really heard about Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We. When I did finally hear about it, I thought it had the potential to be a book that would be right up my alley. So I gave it shot. I started reading. and the next thing I new I just couldn’t stop. I knew I was very likely to enjoy the story, I just didn’t expect to love it as much as I did and to get so caught up in it. I was having trouble resisting the urge to just read it while I was sitting at my desk at work, trying not to count down the minutes until I would be able to read it again. This was just such a fun story. I loved the way it was set up, how it was spread out over the course of seven years and I got to see Nick and Bex’s entire relationship, the ups and the downs and everything in between. It made me that much more invested in their story, made me want to root for them that much more. But the other great thing about the story was just how fun it was. So many times while I was reading, I would find myself laughing at the situation the characters were in, at something Bex would say, or at Freddie’s antics. I just had a good time while reading The Royal We.

Be was seriously the best. I loved reading this story from her perspective. She just came across as very genuine. When the story starts, she’s just a girl looking for adventure while studying abroad. And then she met a prince and things got infinitely more interesting. But the thing that I loved about Bex was that she wasn’t in love with Prince Nicholas, she was just in love with Nick, the guy who lived down the hall from her and who she watched horrible supernatural soaps with. Granted as the story moved forward she had to accept that being in love with Nick also meant being in love with Prince Nicholas. And Nick, well he was a prince, so there’s that. But really, I loved Nick when he was just being Nick as opposed to forced to be Prince Nicholas. And he and Bex were just great together. I loved seeing them together and seeing their relationship develop, even though it wasn’t without it’s ups and downs. But as much as I loved Bex and Nick, the character who stole the show was Nick’s brother Freddie. Any time Freddie was in the story, a smile just broke out on my face, I couldn’t help it. He was easily my favourite character in the story, and honestly I want him to have his own book. I would love to see everything that goes on behind the fun and goofy facade he puts on for the world. Any time I got a glimpse of what was behind that facade, I loved him even more. So Freddie needs his own book, simple as that.

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We was unexpected. It’s the book that I didn’t see coming and took me completely by surprise. I enjoyed every single page of this story and if you’re looking for what has got to be one of the most adorable love stories I’ve read recently, than give The Royal We a try. Odds are, you’ll have the best time reading it.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

Title: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)
Author: Amy Spalding
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever—His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.

Cute romances that get compared to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Easy A automatically get added to my TBR. Ad to that a blurb by Stephanie Perkins and I am sold. And that’s how Amy Spalding’s Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) found itself on my radar.

Until Riley and Reid caught their bandmates in a compromising positions, neither one of them thought much about their lack of experience when it comes romance. Now, both of them decide that it’s time to do something about it. Together, Riley and Reid make a decision: they are both going to put themselves out there and document the results in a shared notebook, that way they can both learn from the experience. But things don’t exactly go as planned. Reid ends up with a new dog while Riley is struggling to make progress with longtime crush Ted Callahan. Instead she finds herself with two other prospects. And before either one knows what’s happening, Riley and Reid’s love life take off in a way they never planned.

I remembered when I first heard about Amy Spalding’s Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) and immediately wanting to read it. Fast-forward a few months when people start reading it, and all the reviews coming in were just making me want to read the book that much more. So I was excited when I finally got a copy for the book. And I had certain expectations when I started reading. And I’ll be honest and say that those expectations weren’t fully met. I definitely got a really fun story. I got sucked in right away, curious to see where their plan would lead Reid and Riley and what kinds of situations they would get into. I also really enjoyed the way the story itself was told, split between chapters from Riley’s perspectives and excerpts from the notebook they shared their experiences in. Most of the time, those notebook excerpts were from Reid’s perspective so it was really great to get some insight into his character as well. What I wasn’t completely sold on, was the romance, which makes me a little sad because that’s a part of the story I had definitely been looking forward to. By the end of the story, I was a little more on board with it, but there was a large portion of the book I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

As much as I might have had my issues with the romance throughout the story, I really liked Riley. Her voice was great. I loved reading about her slight neuroses when it came to figuring out what exactly was happening (or not happening) in her love life. She was just a really fun character to read about and she was the perfect voice for this story. It was fun to see her with the different guys she went out with, and her passion when it came to music. The one aspect of Riley’s character I struggled with for a while was her feelings for Ted Callahan. For a while, I just didn’t really get it. I mean, Ted seemed like a nice enough guy, but compared to the way Riley would talk about Milo and Garrett, the other two guys she ended up going out with, I just couldn’t seem to understand the obsession with Ted. And maybe that was sort of the point? That it started out more as an obsession than feelings based on actual interactions with the person. The more I read, I the more I got on board with the relationship between Riley and Ted because I could see her realizing that she was going from being “obsessed” with someone form afar and actually liking them from who they are. But even by the end of the book, I still felt like I was only just getting a handle on who Ted was and I would have wanted to find out more about him. And maybe that’s it, I feel like I didn’t get to know Ted enough for me to really fall for him the way Riley does.

Amy Spalding’s Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) was a fun and quick read. Though it wasn’t quite the story I hoped it was going to be, I still found myself enjoying the story as I was reading it. 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blog Tour - Play On by Michelle Smith + Giveaway

Title: Play On
Author: Michelle Smith
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / B&N / IndieBound
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially of all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball out and out of Lewis Creek—he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the fa├žade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together. 

I am a complete and total sucker for any book that involves sports. I will read pretty much any and all books that someone recommends if they feature sports in some way. I wish that were an overstatement, but it really isn’t. So Michelle Smith’s Play On? Totally up my alley.

Baseball has always been a part of Austin’s life and he knows it’s the only way he’s ever going to get out of Lewis Creek. He has it all planned out, so long as he gets through this final season, his scholarship is guaranteed. But with his chemistry grade dropping, Austin’s baseball future might not be as sure a thing as he thought. Falling chemistry would mean spending the baseball on the bench. And just when Austin is starting to get desperate, he meets Marisa, the new employee at his mom’s flower shop and chemistry genius. What starts out as simple tutoring, quickly becomes more as Marisa and Austin spend more time together. And much to his surprise, Austin quickly realizes he might want more than to just leave Lewis Creek and play baseball. With Marisa, he can see a future he never considered before. And that future is the one he wants.

I thought I knew what I was going to get when I first started reading Play On. I was totally expecting a cute romance story with baseball. And I was all over that. Because, hello, romance AND sports? This book had my name written all over it. So I started reading and I was getting all the adorableness I had come to expect from the description. And then I got to finding out about Marisa’s past as hinted at in the synopsis. And that’s when I went from liking Play On  to full on loving it. What you will not guess from reading the synopsis is that Play On deals with mental health in a way that felt completely realistic and organic. As a reader, I wasn’t hit over the head with the mental health aspect of the story. Instead, it was woven in throughout the story. As hard to read as some parts were, it just felt natural in the greater context of the story. Yes, there were some serious subject matters being dealt with, but never idd it make the story feel heavy. And that’s why I loved this story so much. Not only was the romance and adorableness completely on point, it dealt with mental illness in a completely realistic way.

How do I even begin to explain how much I loved Austin. I mean, he’s a baseball-playing, Southern momma’s boy. What was there not to like? It took absolutely no time at all for me to fall for his charm. He was basically the embodiment of all my weaknesses when it comes to book boyfriends (and real boys, if I’m being completely honest). So basically I loved Austin and I loved his voice. Reading his story, he just felt so completely genuine. And sweet. And goofy. And adorable. And kind. And considerate. And supportive. Austin was basically all I wan in a book boyfriend. Which I’ve said already, but that’s the point. Austin was great. And that was especially true when I saw him interacting with Marisa. These two were just so completely adorable together. Reading about them, I just had this big goofy smile on my face, I just couldn’t help it. Even in the more serious moments, I loved the way Austin and Marisa were together. They did their best and were there for each other as best as they could. Basically, they are one of my new favourite couples. I should also mentioned that I loved so many of the secondary characters. Even if they weren’t as big a part of the story, they all felt fully fleshed out. Would it be getting my hopes up to ask for a story about Jay and Brett? Because I would so totally read that. Or one about Eric. 

In case you couldn’t tell, I totally LOVED Michelle Smith’s Play On. This story was absolutely perfect. It was a mix of adorable, heart-warming romance and just the right amount of serious. I really couldn’t have asked for a better story. And I want more, plain and simple. 

About the author:
Michelle Smith was born and raised in North Caroline, where she developed a healthy appreciation for college football, sweet tea, front porches, and a well-placed “y’all.” She’s a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and fully believes that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.

Michelle lives near the Carolina coast with her family


Do you want to read Michelle Smith's Play On? Then enter the giveaway for your chance to win a paperback copy using the Rafflecopter form below. US only.

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