Friday, April 22, 2016

Mini Reviews - Creative HeArts Series

Title: How Willa Got Her Groove Back (Creative HeArts #2)
Author: Emily McKay
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: February 22, 2016
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains an unbelievably hot bad boy, and unbelievably famous actress, and all the drama that comes with adding both to your family. Oh, and a forbidden flirtation with a soon-to-be stepbrother.

When Willa Schofer’s father comes home from a business trip with an über-famous new fiancée, Willa’s senior year blows up in paparazzi-fueled flames. Overnight, she has a new house, a new car, and a new soon-to-be stepbrother—the unbelievably hot, unbelievably arrogant, Finn McCain. Thank god he’s constantly pushing her buttons, or sh might do something irresponsible. Like fall for the jerk.

Just when Willa’s decided to avoid him for, oh, ever, Finn lands in the center of her senior project team. Seriously—how hard is it to shake a guy? At least her work on the project snagged the attention of the (second) hottest guy in school. He might only be into her because of her famous stepmom, and he’s not quite as exciting as a certain annoying housemate, but at least she’s allowed to crush on the guy.

Because crushing on your annoying stepbrother? So not cool.

Though How Willa Got Her Groove Back is the second in a series, it’s also the first in it’s own series within that series. Are you confused yet? I know I was a little confused when I first heard about the Creative HeArts series and the way it was set up. But it all makes sense now and I’m able to enjoy ALL the books in it. Well, the ones that are out. So. Emily McKay’s How Willa Got Her Groove Back. Let me preface this by saying that even though the story in the book has an actual ending, the romance is still up in the air by the last page. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Though it did make me really want the next book featuring Willa and Finn. Even though both of them tended to run hot and cold toward the other, I loved the relationship between them, the dynamics at play, the little things they would do that the other wouldn’t really know they were doing. What I wasn’t such a fan of? Willa’s dad. No jokes, I spent most of the book wanting to slap him. Or at the very least, yell at him to get his head out of his ass and realize that his daughter isn’t happy. Granted some of this was on Willa, too, since she wasn’t exactly doing so great at communicating with her dad. But still. All in all, though, I really enjoyed Emily McKay’s How Willa Got Her Groove Back and I’m really looking forward to reading the next part of Willa and Finn’s story. And hopefully have it work out the way I want it to. 

Title: Crazy, Stupid, Fauxmance (Creative HeArts #3)
Author: Shellee Roberts
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a kickass heroine, a boy so hot he’ll make you shiver, and a falling-in-love story fit for the big screen. You’ll want to settle in and have the popcorn ready.

After Mariely Hinojosa and Cabot Wheeler both break up with their significant others at the same party, Mariely sees a way to get even with both of their exes. Everyone knows that the best way to get over a breakup is a hookup—a fake hookup, that is. Three weeks, all fun, no strings, and definitely no heartbreak at the end.

But somewhere between the sweet hand-holding and melt-your-mind kisses, their fake relationship starts to feel less like an act and more like the real thing…but Mariely’s a free-spirited girl from the other side of the tracks, and Cabot’s the hot trust-fund guy from the Hills.

They’d never work for real

I pretty much loved Shellee Roberts’s Crazy, Stupid, Fauxmance. It probably didn’t hurt that I read it back to back with How Willa Got Her Groove Back so it kind of felt like I was reading one longer story as opposed to two books set in the same world. And, I mean, I love a good fake relationship that turns into a real one when it’s done well. And it totally worked with Marilee and Cabot. Granted, like their friends, I had my reservations about them doing this whole fake relationship thing to make his ex understand that he was over her and to show everyone that she was totally fine after finding her boyfriend with another guy. Those things alone are a lot of baggage to bring into a relationship, fake or not. And it’s not even scratching the surface of the baggage Marilee and Cabot were each bringing to the table. But that baggage is what made them work together despite their differences. Once I got my initial reservations and saw them interacting together, I pretty much spent the whole book rooting for them. And I can’t wait to read more about them. They were just fun. And as they put it themselves, they were awesome together. The only part that sucks? I have to wait until winter 2017 to read the next part of Mariely and Cabot’s story. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll keep getting glimpses of them in some of the other couples’ books.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pieces of You and Me by Erin Fletcher

Title: Pieces of You and Me
Author: Erin Fletcher
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Five years.

That’s how long I’ve been gone. Since I left my best friend—the girl I loved—behind.

Five seconds.

That’s how long it takes to realize I am completely, utterly, screwed. Because now that I’m back, my childhood crush has turned into so much more.

Rylee has changed. We both have. And now I’m drawn to her in a completely different way. To her smile. Her touch. To reliving old memories and making new ones. To the happiness she’s always given me that I haven’t felt since I left.

But her friends are hell-bent on keeping up apart. My dad is one drink away from destroying both of our lives, and maybe I am, too. It’s only a matter of time before I have to leave again, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I never get a choice.

The one choice I can make? Stay away from Rylee. Because if I don’t, I’ll break her heart—and mine—all over again.

With the weather finally warming up, it makes me want to read contemporary books even more than I normally do (which, let’s not kid ourselves, they’re pretty much all I want to read anyways). I just love contemporaries so much, I can’t help it. And the latest one I enjoyed? Erin Fletcher’s Pieces of You and Me.

Five years ago, Chase left town and didn’t keep in touch. Rylee was left behind and has spent the past five years wondering why Chase left and didn’t keep in touch. He was her best friend, her soul mate, and she never heard from her. But now he’s back and neither Rylee nor Chase knows what to do about it. Chase knows he should stay away from Rylee because he’ll just end up hurting her again, but he can’t resist her pull. Rylee wants answers about what happened to Chase in the last five years. She wants her best friend back, but she’s afraid of being left behind and getting hurt again. Before being together, Rylee and Chase are going to have to decide if they’re willing to take a chance one each other once again.

Hi, my name is Emilie and I love second chance romances in all their many forms. But I don’t think that’s really news to anybody at this point (if it is: Hi! You must be new here! Heads up, I love second chance romances. A lot). Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you more about Erin Fletcher’s Pieces of You and Me. YA second chance romances are always trickier than regular old second chance romances because there’s obviously less time that’s going to have passed between the first and the second chance. That’s just a byproduct of writing a story about 16- to 18-year-olds. But in Pieces of You and Me, Erin Fletcher made it work. And the ages of the characters made it an interesting kind of second chance. In so many ways, it felt like I was reading a story about Rylee and Chase getting a second chance at friendship. That’s because at their core, Rylee and Chase were best friends and that’s what allowed them to work so well romantically. And it’s what made me like their relationship even more.

I really enjoyed getting to read this story from both Rylee and Chase’s perspectives. It allowed me to better understand the way they were dealing with seeing each other again after five years with no communications. I understood their respective hesitations about starting something with each other, their fear of getting hurt again, and their desire to protect themselves and each other from that hurt. Sure, at times it led to be being a little frustrated with them because I just wanted them to be happy and together and they were not allowing themselves that for silly reasons (granted, it’s easy for me to say that as an outside observer to their relationship). My only wish where Rylee and Chase are concerned is that I could have seen more of them in the past, before Chase left town. The few glimpses of younger Rylee and Chase I got through their own memories made me think that I would have really enjoyed reading about them during their middle school years as well as their high school years. 

Erin Fletcher’s Pieces of You and Me was a fun contemporary story about a second chance at friendship and romance. I always love reading good contemporary stories and this is exactly what this one was. 

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Friday, April 15, 2016

The One That Got Away by A.J. Pine

Title: The One That Got Away (The Kingston Ale House #1)
Author: A.J. Pine
Publisher: Entangled Select
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
How far will one man go for the woman he’s loved since high school?

Jamie Kingston has been Brynn Chandler’s best friend since middle school. Only once was their friendship tested—when Brynn gave Jamie a single kiss. Since then, they’ve had an unspoken agreement never to cross that line again, and she’s ready to let go of the past and move on.

But Jamie has loved Brynn for as long as he can remember, and now that he’s ready to tell her, she has her sights set on someone else. Knowing this is his last chance, he asks Brynn to go on a two-week road trip. But their time alone brings old hurts to the surface, and Brynn has to decide if the one that got away lies at the end of the journey or if he’s been by her side all along.

Every so often I’ll read a book that I’ll keep thinking about long after I’ve finished reading it. If you ask me, those are the best kinds of book. The latest book I can’t seem to stop thinking about? A.J. Pine’s fun and adorable contemporary romance, The One That Got Away.

Brynn and Jamie have been best friends since middle school. They’ve been the constant in each other’s lives and except for that one night when they graduated high school, they never crossed the line beyond friendship. Brynn might have put that one night behind her, but that’s not the case for Jamie. He’s been in love with Brynn for as long as he can remember, but he’s never said anything. But now Brynn is ready to make a move on her dream guy and Jamie needs to speak up before it’s too late. His plan? Take Brynn on a two-week road trip in the hopes she’ll realize that she doesn’t want the guy at he end of the road, but instead the one who’s been right next to her all along.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve read A.J. Pine’s The One That Got Away and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It was just that good. Thinking about it now still brings a silly smile to my face. It was simply the kind of romance story that I love. And honestly, this story was kind of Emilie-bait. Or at least that’s how it felt when I read the description. I mean, it involves two of my favourite things: a road trip and a friends-to-lovers romance. It would have been almost impossible for me not to love this story. And love it I did. I loved the way the story played out, the way the relationship  between Brynn and Jamie changed and developed over the course of that story. And the romance. I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved the romance. There were so many moments where it was so adorable and perfect it hurt (in a really, really good way). I can’t remember the last time I smiled so big while reading about two people falling in love. And that’s because Brynn and Jamie were pretty much perfect.

Guys, Brynn and Jamie are the absolute best. It doesn’t hurt that I love reading about best friends falling in love, but seriously, they were awesome. I loved reading their story and seeing how their history played into everything that was happening to them in the present. Basically, I loved Jamie and Brynn’s relationship in all its incarnations. Despite the drama, they were just two people who cared about each other and had fun together. And no jokes, they made me laugh so many times. Beyond loving their relationship, I loved Brynn and Jamie themselves. I loved Brynn, even if there were moments when I wanted to yell at her to see look at what was right in front of her instead of pining for someone else (thankfully, she finally got it). And don’t even get me started on Jamie. Because Jamie might just be my dream guy. I pretty much fell for him right from the start. And the more I read the more I loved him. Even when he wasn’t always making the smartest decisions. So Brynn and Jamie? They’re my new favourites.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I absolutely loved A.J. Pine’s The One That Got Away. it was the perfect contemporary romance—it was funny, it was heartwarming and it put a huge smile on my face while I was reading. 

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

Title: The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions)
Author: Amy Spalding
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
A ridiculously cute, formerly-famous new guy dropping into your life? It’s practically every girl’s dream.

But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.

I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn’t get to be the editor of my school’s long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year—early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college—and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to “live a little,” or boys.

At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.

And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.

I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don’t understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I’m not going down without a fight.

*Okay, I sort of did. But it’s a sore subject.
**I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two year ago, Alex Powell was famous.
***Some people think I’m overreacting. But this. Means. War.

Filled with romance, rivalry, and passive-aggressive dog walking, Amy Spalding delivers a hilariously relatable high school story that’s sure to have you falling for The New Guy.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned that I can count on Amy Spalding when I’m looking to read a fun contemporary YA romance. And out of all of her books, I think The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) might just be my favourite.

Jules McCallister-Morgan had a plan for her senior year of high school. She was going too be the editor her school paper, keep volunteering at her local dog rescue, and get in early acceptance to Brown University. What wasn’t part of her senior year plan? Alex Powell, the former boy band member who, for reasons unknown to Jules, seems to like her. Also not part of her senior year plan? TALON, the new school news broadcast. But Jules is determined to get her senior year back on track and save the school newspaper from extinction. But that’s easier said than done with all those other distractions around. Especially Alex. 

I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions). I mean, I’ve read Amy Spalding’s books before so I kind of knew what to expect, and I’d seen the reviews for this one and I was still surprised. What surprised me? How addicting The New Guy ended up being for me while I was reading. I pretty much read this book in one sitting. I just kept turning the pages, curious to see what would happen next, what the newspaper staff would do to retaliate against whatever prank the news show last pulled. I wanted to see what would happen to Jules and Alex. And there was a former boy-band member involved in all of this. Honestly, it was almost impossible for me not to enjoy this story so I really shouldn’t have been as surprised by the New Guy as I was. In The New Guy, Amy Spalding wrote a fun story that had me smiling and laughing as I was turning the pages, I couldn’t help myself. The New Guy just made me happy, plain and simple. 

I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I enjoyed The New Guy as much as I did was Jules. She was such a fantastic character and I loved reading this story from her perspective. I totally understood her slightly neurotic, type-A personality because I have those same tendencies. And reactions to her own thoughts about Alex? I was laughing every time. I just loved Jules, her determination to keep the newspaper alive, her misguided attempts to help Alex (even though they tended to backfire). And Alex, the new guy himself, he was pretty dreamy. I mean, he had the whole former boy band member thing going for him for sure. But there was also so much more to him than that. He was just a boy looking to have a normal high school experience after the craziness that had been the whole boy band thing. I loved seeing thing develop between Jules and Alex, the back and forth between them as they figured out how to be a couple in the middle of everything else that was happening in their lives. Beyond Alex and Jules, The New Guy also had a fantastic cast of secondary characters who all brought something to the story.

If you’re looking for a cute and fun YA contemporary romance, then Amy Spalding’ The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) is the book for you. It will keep you flipping pages while you laugh and shake your head at all of the characters antics.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Title: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Seventeen-year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.

Though each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test…but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?

In just a few years, Emery Lord has become a household name when ti comes to contemporary YA romance. She writes fantastic stories and I’ve loved every one of them. So it should come as no surprise when I say that I absolutely loved When We Collided.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Emery Lord and her books. Both Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You are among my favourite books of all time. So as excited as I am whenever I get to read a new book by this author, I also put a lot of pressure on that book. I almost expect it to become a new favourite almost instantly and those are some pretty high expectations to have. Add to that everyone reading the book in question and having nothing but amazing things to say, raising your expectations even more. And now you pretty much know how I felt before reading When We Collided. Honestly, I was almost afraid to read it because I feared it couldn’t possibly live up to any and all of the expectations I had. But I should have known better. Because everything everyone has said about When We Collided? It’s absolutely true. Emery Lord has written a story that is both touching and heartbreaking, a story that felt achingly real and showed the realities of mental illness. But even though mental health is featured prominently in When We Collided, it didn’t feel like I was reading a book about mental health. And that’s where the beauty of this story lies. Mental illness is just one of the many parts that make up the characters in the story as opposed to being what defined them. And those characters are why I loved When We Collided so much. 

Vivi completely leapt off the page. I’m hard pressed to remember the last time I read a story where I saw a character come alive the way that Vivi did. It was honestly hard not to be completely charmed by Vivi. She had so much personality and so much of that personality wasn’t defined by her mental health. She was just a girl who enjoyed life and was always looking for her next adventure, no matter how big or small it might be. And I loved her, every version her. I laughed along with her when she was happy, and my heart broke when she was struggling. I couldn’t help it. And that’s the same ay I felt about Jonah. Compared to Vivi, he was quiet and reserved but he still leapt off the page. Seeing him struggle with his grief all while trying to hold his family together completely broke my heart. He needed someone like Vivi to bring back some life into his life. I loved their romance, as imperfect as it was. It felt real in a way that many young adult romances sometimes don’t. Even if my heart was completely broken by the time I flipped the last page, I couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying ending. One that was right for the story and right for the characters. 

If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and pick up one of Emery Lord’s books. Each one is amazing in its own right and will hit you right where it hurts in the best way possible. If you choose to read When We Collided (which you should really do), have a box of tissues handy, you’ll probably need it. 

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