Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cover Reveal - Falling For Alice Anthology + Giveaway!

Today I am taking part in the cover reveal for Falling For Alice, a new anthology all about Alice in Wonderland. For more information about the book, its cover and its contributors, and a giveaway, just keep reading!

Background Information
2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s beloved adventure, Alice in Wonderland—and as you might imagine, a lot of literary peeps are celebrating the occasion.

This story has a special place in millions of young (and old) hearts, including those of the five Young Adult authors in the FALLING FOR ALICE anthology. Today, as we launch the awesome cover for FALLING FOR ALICE, we also celebrate our publisher’s actual birthday (Happy Birthday, Jessica Bell at Vine Leaves Press), and all of YOUR unbirthdays. We hope you get to have your cake and eat it too.



Title: Falling For Alice
Contributors: Dawn Dalton, Shari Green, Denise Jaden, Kitty Keswick, Cady Vance
Publisher: Vine Leaves Press
Release Date: April 24, 2015
New Alice. New Wonderland. New stories to love.

From the modern Alice dumped int eh Aquarian Age of the late sixties, to the present day Alice, tormented by body image and emotional issues, to the Alice of the future, launched forward through time and space, FALLING FOR ALICE offers five fresh takes on Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. For 150 years, people all over the world have fallen under Alice in Wonderland’s spell. Now, follow five Young Adult authors down the rabbit hole to discover Alice like you’ve never seen her before. One thing is certain—this is not your mother’s Alice. 

Keeping up with the birthday theme, the authors were all kind enough to answer a birthday-themed question. Here's what they had to say!

IF YOU COULD ONLY HAVE ONE THEME FOR YOU BIRTHDAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Dawn Dalton
My birthday isn’t anywhere near Halloween, but I wish it was because I’d have a haunted theme every year. Hubs and I go crazy at Halloween, often winning neighbourhood awards for most creepy d├ęcor—my husband even built a coffin where he hides to “scare” the older kids. Plus, we put on an annual feat for out friends that includes spooktacular appetizers like the devilled spider eggs, mummy hot dogs, cheesy bone biscuits, shrimp brains, and so much more. Our guest list increases every year—last Halloween, we had 55 people at our house. 

Shari Green
“Life’s a beach.”

Denise Jaden
I’d probably choose superheroes. There is so much variety within that theme, and my whole family are superhero fans. We’re already stocked on T-shirts and cups, and other fun party supplies. One year it could be Wonder Woman, the next, The Avengers…Plus, it would be a lot of fun to see our friends dressing up as they favorite superheroes.

Kitty Kreswick
Something beach themed—I love the ocean/beach. We’d have the party on the beach and stay well after sunset and have a bonfire. Some great food, sticky fingers BBQ—with a great potato salad and lots of choices of drinks. Maybe even some chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallow for s’mores.

Cady Vance
It would definitely be Harry Potter because it’s my favorite thing in the entire world, and I would never get tired of dressing up in my Gryffindor garb!

Trailer




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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker


Title: Becoming Rain (Burying Water #2)
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo / B&N
Luke Boone doesn’t know exactly what his uncle Rust in involved in but he wants in on ti—the cars, the money, the women. And it looks like he’s finally getting his wish. When Rust hands him the managerial keys to the garage, they come with a second set—one that opens up the door to tons of cash and opportunity. Though it’s not exactly legal, Luke’s never been one to worry about that sort of thing. Especially when it puts him behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 and onto the radar of gorgeous socialite named Rain.

Clara Bertelli is at the top of her game—at only twenty-six years old, she’s one of the most successful undercover officers in the Washington D.C. major crime unit, and she’s just been handed a case that could catapult her career and expose one of the west coast’s most notorious car theft rings. But, in order to do it, she’ll need to go deep undercover as Rain Martines. Her target? The twenty-four-year old nephew of a key player who appears ready to follow in his uncle’s footsteps.

As Clara drifts deeper into the luxurious lifestyle of Rain, and further into the arms of her very attractive and charming target, the lines between right and wrong start to blue, making her wonder if she’ll be able to leave it all behind. Or is she’ll even want to.

I am such a huge K.A. Tucker fangirl and I will read and will very likely love just about anything she writes. This was true of her Ten Tiny Breaths series, and it’s been true with her Burying Water series so far. I loved the first book, and the second one, Becoming Rain, completely blew me away.

Luke has always known there was more to his uncle Rust’s business than just an auto-repair shop. Sure, the garage is successful, but there’s no way it could support his uncle’s lifestyle. And Luke wants in on it. He doesn’t care that the dealings may are shady, he wants the women, the cars and the money his uncle’s business seem to bring in. Especially when he meets Rain Martines. What Luke doesn’t know is that Rain isn’t exactly who she says she is. Rain is also Clara, an undercover cop on assignment. And her target? None other than Rust, Luke’s uncle. Clara knows what she has to do in order to take down Rust’s car theft ring. Her assignment is clear: seduce Luke Boone and gain access to the operations. But lines becomes blurred between where Rain ends and Clara begins, especially as she spends more time with Luke. When the time comes, will Clara be able to do what she needs to? And if she does, will Luke ever be able to forgive her?

Oh how I love reading a new K.A. Tucker story. There’s just this feeling when starting a new book by a favourite author that I just won’t ever get tired of. And that feeling was definitely there when I started reading Becoming Rain. When I first received my copy of the book for review, I told myself I would just read a few pages and then go back to what I was supposed to be reading. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I got completely sucked in, and before I knew what was happening, a few pages turned into a few chapters and then that quickly turned into me staying up way too late because I couldn’t put the book down. To say that Becoming Rain was captivating and engrossing would be a serious understatement. With this new series, K.A. Tucker has included an element of mystery to the stories, giving the books an almost thriller feel. And I love it. The whole time I was reading, I was waiting for things to be explained, to see if how I had pieced things together was the way they actually were. And as with any good K.A. Tucker book, the romance was there and it delivered. But of course I can’t talk about the romance without talking about Clara and Luke.

Let me just preface any talk of Clara and Luke by saying that my feelings about them were complicated. I knew what I felt, but there were times when I was conflicted about what I was feeling. But by the end of it, there was no doubt in my mind that I was rooting for Luke and Clara. But rooting for them when for the better part of the book one of them was pretending to be someone else was hard. At first I just felt very conflicted. I was reading and I could see the chemistry between Clara and Luke and I could see that they were attracted to each other. But at the same time, Clara was so against the idea of being attracted to Luke that I started to feel that way. But I still wanted them to be together. Did I mention that my feelings were complicated? Beyond wanting Luke and Clara to be together in spite of everything happening around them, I really loved them as their own people. Sure, there were plenty of moments when I wanted to yell at Luke. When I wanted to tell him that he should turn around now before he got in way over his head. Hell, I’m pretty sure there were times when I was straight up talking at the book as if Luke could actually hear me (I swear, I’m not crazy). But at the same time, I knew that Luke was a good person. He was just stuck in a bad situation. And I could understand Clara’s struggle about the way she felt about Luke because half the time I was right there with her. Through it all Clara was being pulled back and forth between her feelings and her duty as a cop. I really enjoyed seeing her work through all that, and I kept hoping that whatever decision she came to would involve her being with Luke. Because as confused as I was about my feelings about their relationship, I would have been seriously angry if Luke and Clara didn’t find a way to work it out.

K.A. Tucker’s Becoming Rain was absolutely fantastic. If anything, I loved this story even more than I did the first one in this series. It’s a little darker, it’s sexy and it has some of the best characters I’ve read about recently. I”m excited to see whose story K.A. Tucker will be tackling next!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill


Title: When Joss Met Matt
Author: Ellie Cahill
Publisher: Balantine Books
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Ellie Cahill is poised to coin the term “sorbet sex” with her charming twist on the age-old ‘friends-with-benefits’ story.

Dating can be fun, but it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. For Joss, ever since her longtime boyfriend cheated on her, she doesn’t want her last memory of a guy to be that jerk. Enter her college friend, Matt. They come up with a theory: after a bad break-up, a person needs to cleanse the palate with a little sorbet sex. Lovers for a night, but always back to being friends in the morning. The two can handle it because they have a contract: rules they wrote, rules they follow and rules they can sometimes bend. The arrangement works: everyone needs a little sorbet now and again…until it starts to be the only thing you want. And then Joss breaks the one rule they never wrote down: don’t fall in love.

It’s not a secret that I love New Adult stories. But sometimes, it can start to feel like they’re all similar. That’s not to say that the stories aren’t original, but at the same time it can feel like the same themes and ideas are explored in each of the stories I read. Ellie Cahill’s When Joss Met Matt was refreshingly different and made for a compelling read.

When Joss and Matt met their freshman year of college, they didn’t think they would be anything more than friends. But when Joss’ longtime boyfriend breaks up with her, they make a pact: anytime one of them goes through a break up, the other will be there to offer sex. That way, their last memory of sex won’t be with someone they don’t care about. And that’s how sorbet sex was born. And for a time the arrangement works: Joss and Matt have a contract and rules they follow where sorbet sex is concerned. But what happens when the person you want more than anyone is the person you’re not allowed to have for more than one night? After all, the most important rule of sorbet sex is to not fall in love.

Every so often, a book’s premise sounds so different from what I’ve been reading that it draws me right in and wants me to read the book right away. That’s what happened when I heard about Ellie Cahill’s When Joss Met Matt. I was intrigued by the idea of sorbet sex and how two friends could possibly make this idea work. And then when I started reading, I really liked the way the story was told. The best way to describe it is to say that the story is told in a semi-linear way (or at least that’s how I see it). Basically the story switches back and forth between chapters starting when Joss and Matt first meet during their freshman year of college and chapters set in what I think of as present day. And then eventually the two timelines join up towards the end of the book. Having the story told this way allowed me to really see the history these two characters have together and how they got to be where they are in the present. In a way, it was almost like I was getting two stories. And the one set in the present sometimes had me worried. I knew what I wanted to happen and though I was pretty sure I was going to get what I wanted, there were definitely moments where I started doubting it. But it all worked out and I was one happy reader. Needless to say that When Joss Met Matt was exactly the romantic read I was hoping it would be. Though the romance worked because Joss and Matt just worked together.

I really enjoyed getting to know Matt and Joss over the course of the seven years they’ve known each other. It really allowed me to see how both characters changed and grew to become the people they were in the present. Not only that, but it made their relationship feel that much more realistic. It didn’t happen all at once, it was built up over the course of seven years. So when I say that the romance between Joss and Matt was a slow-burn kind of romance, I mean it. Like I said, their relationship develops over the course of SEVEN YEARS. All that to say I believed in the friendship, and the eventual “more,” between them. On their own, Matt and Joss were great too. And even though I’m feeling a bit like a broken record, getting to know them over the course of seven years allowed me to get a real sense of their respective personalities. In a way, it made me wish that more books were written to cover suck a long timespan. It was just really fun to read their story and I would have gladly kept on reading more about Joss and Matt but, sadly for me, the book ended.

Ellie Cahill’s When Joss Met Matt was just what I was hoping it would be: a New Adult read filled with romance and heart. If you are looking for a romantic read that will cause you both to swoon and pull at your heartstrings, then this is the book for you.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor


Title: Better Than Perfect
Author: Melissa Kantor
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either. 

Last year, I read Melissa Kantor’s Maybe One Day and had my heart completely broken. In a completely good way. When I started reading Better Than Perfect, I was prepared to have my heart broken by Melissa Kantor once again. And while that didn’t happen, this was still an emotional story to read.

Juliet thought she had her whole future figured out. On the eve of her senior year of high school, she has the perfect boyfriend and a plan to ace her SATs so she can get into Harvard early and start her happily ever after with her boyfriend. But not everything is going according to plan. When her dad moves out, Juliet has to deal with her mom completely losing it. When everything gets to be too much, Juliet starts questioning everything she’s always believed in. What if there’s more to living than always working towards the next goal? Is that the way to happiness? When Juliet meets Declan, the one person who hasn’t known him her whole life and makes her want to be spontaneous, she starts being torn between her old life and the possibility of a new one, one where perfect is the last thing Juliet has to be.

I was very excited to read Melissa Kantor’s Better Than Perfect if only because of how much I loved Maybe One Day last year. Though I didn’t have quite the same emotional reaction to Better Than Perfect than I did to Maybe One Day, it was still a story that I really enjoyed and drew me in completely. Before I say anything else, though, I will say this: there is a fairly good chance that many people will lose interest in this story because of a certain behaviour on the main character’s part (see the post I wrote earlier this week if you want more on that). But that didn’t stop me reading or make me like the story any less. Aside from that, this is a very relatable story. Or at least it was one I could relate to and one that got me thinking. Is reaching goal after goal the only way to happiness, or is there a way to be happy without always striving to be everyone’s idea of perfect? Better Than Perfect definitely explores this question and got me thinking about it a lot, to the point that I’m still thinking about it over a week after having finished reading the story. The most relatable aspect of the story for me, though, was definitely Juliet.

When you first meet her, Juliet is your typical type A high school student. Or at least that’s how she appears to everyone around her. But from the moment I started reading, I realized that it was more of a front she was putting on than anything else. She wasn’t happy being what everyone wanted her to be. In fact, she was pretty miserable. Much like the story is one many people will be able to relate to, Juliet is someone many people will be able to see themselves in. I know I was. That’s what made this story so interesting to read. The one aspect of the story I didn’t really like though, was Jason, Juliet’s boyfriend. Looking back, I don’t actually think I was supposed to like him all that much to begin with. To be completely honest, he’s a bit of a prick and has slightly controlling tendencies. And at this point in her life, her relationship with him was clearly making Juliet miserable. In all honesty, I was kind of rooting for her to dump him. Declan, though, him I liked. A lot. I kept wanting for more to happen with him, but due to the circumstances, it never really did. The way the story ended, the door was left open for something more to happen with Declan and Juliet. In my mind, they get to have their happily ever after and that’s all that really matters.

Melissa Kantor’s Better Than Perfect is a story many people will be able to relate to, whether it’s that they relate to the overall themes or to the characters in it. This story about finding out perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be is one you’ll want to give a try.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On the Topic Of...Cheating in Books

It’s been a while since I’ve written a discussion post, but there’s been something that’s been on my mind recently. I’ve noticed that there are certain topics in books that get people to automatically write off a book, even if it was a book they had initially been very excited about. Now, I’m not here to say that anyone’s opinion isn’t right or not valid. That’s the last thing I want to do. But sometimes it just seems like there are some things that happen in books that get people in an uproar, while there are others that, in my opinion, are much worse that get justified or explained away as if it were nothing. And I’m just trying to understand it all.

So what I really want to talk about is cheating. Before I say anything else, let me just say this: I DO NOT condone cheating. It’s not something I’ve ever had a direct experience with and it’s something I hope I never have to experience. But finding out that one character in a book cheats on their significant other is not going to make or break the story for me. If anything, it almost makes me more curious about the story. Because in my experience, and with all the books I’ve read that involve cheating, there’s always something more going on than just straight up cheating.

That’s not to say that I’m trying to excuse or justify the cheating happening, but at the same time, based on the context or the other things happening in a character’s life, I can see why the cheating happened. And more often than not, at least with the books I’ve read that deal with this subject matter, the character who does the cheating typically tends to regret it and struggle with it. The most recent book I read that involved cheating saw the character struggling with it throughout the whole book, almost hating herself for what she did. In another book I’ve read, it turned out that one character had just been led to believe the other one had cheated and no cheating had actually happened. In another case, the two characters were doing everything in their power to fight their attraction for each other, out of respect for the person one of them was with. But just because the word “cheating” was mentioned, some people were all “Nope, not reading this. Cheating is absolutely unacceptable.”

And that’s fine. People are entitled to their opinions on any number of topics, cheating included. So if they don’t want to read a book because cheating is part of the storyline, that is their right and I am not going to force them to read something they don’t want to read. But there’s a flip-side to this. And that’s that there are other questionable behaviours that get taken in stride, even legitimated. As one of my friends put it “Smack your love interest around and you’re damaged and need saving. Cheat and you are the devil.” Why is it that someone who cheats gets metaphorically crucified, but someone who beats people up gets by with people saying “Oh, he’s had a rough life, it’s not his fault”? That’s the part that bugs me. That a character can be abusive, physically or mentally, but because of reason X, Y, or Z that behaviour gets excused and the person is seen as damaged and that makes them all the more attractive. But the second even someone THINKS, we’re not even talking about acting here, about doing something with someone who isn’t their significant other, it’s like they’ve committed the worse crime there is. 

And that brings me to the point I’m trying to make. If you try hard enough, you can justify or legitimate any behaviour. Believe me, I’ve seen it done in some fandoms and the things that get excused or justified or legitimated scare me sometimes (but that’s a story for another day). But why is it that some behaviours that are, in my opinion, horrible get a free pass while others get a snap judgement, most often one that’s negative? I know there’s no clear-cut answer to this question. Whether it’s with the TV shows and movies we watch or the books we read, everyone brings their own baggage and background to the table and that’s going to affect how they judge something. 

So maybe this is my question: Why are some behaviours more excusable or justifiable than others? And why are we so quick to judge some arguably morally questionable behaviour while we work tirelessly to legitimize other equally morally questionable behaviour?

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Monday, February 9, 2015

One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin


Title: One of the Guys
Author: Lisa Aldin
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / B&N
Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She’ll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she’s sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her.

Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.

But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends—the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she’s built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love. 

I love stories where friends become something more, and I am always on the lookout for more stories like that. When I heard that Lisa Aldin’s One of the Guys was just that, I knew I had to read it. Not only that, but it sounded like it had the potential to be a fun stories. And it absolutely was!

Toni Valentine knows how to handle boys. After all, her three best friends are all guys. It’s girls she’s not sure how to handle. SO when a prank goes wrong and she finds herself being sent at the Winston Academy for Girls, Toni is terrified. She’s at home in basketball shorts and having belching contests with her friends, not while wearing a skirt and learning how to be a lady. But unlike Toni, the other girls at Winston don’t have access to boys the way she does. So when one of her new classmates has boy troubles, Toni volunteers herself to help, staging a fake date with one of her friends. Before long, everyone at Winston hears about what Toni did and they all want in on it. Now, Toni finds herself renting out her three best friends to her new classmates, the whole system quickly becoming a profitable business. And all is going well until Toni realizes that she might be falling for one of those friends, the one everyone is after. But is he going to see her the same way?

There is nothing I love more than a story featuring two friends who gradually become more. And I love stories that feature realistic friendships between boys and girls. That second part probably has a lot to do with the fact that my own best friend is a guy and I fully believe that guys and girls can be JUST friends. My best friend and I have been doing it for over a decade. But that’s not the point here. The point is that Lisa Aldin’s One of the Guys caught my eye because it feature boy-girl friendships AND because it’s about best friends falling in love.  Of course it also sounded like it had an interesting story. I mean, this girl ends up renting out her three best friends for dates—there’s just so much that can go wrong there and I was excited to see how it would all play out. At the end of the day, One of the Guys was just a fun story. One that I enjoyed from start to finish. It was just so fun to read about all the relationships that were developing, regardless of whether they were romantic or not. And of course all the drama surrounding the boy rental service was pretty fun to read about. But ultimately, what made me enjoy the story as much as I did (and as is often the case), were the characters.

Toni was a great character to read about. And in many ways, she kinda of reminded me of who I was in middle and high school. Though I’ve always been friends with girls, I’ve always gotten along better with guys and my closest friends were all guys. So that’s definitely something I could relate to while reading Toni’s story. And seeing her struggle to make sense of the girl world she entered at her new school was just entertaining to watch. At times, I definitely felt bad for because she seemed so confused about what was going on around her, but at other times her reactions to things and her inner monologue definitely had me smiling. Beyond just Toni herself, I loved finding out more about all the other characters in the story because none of them were who I first thought they were going to be. Emma in particular took me (and Toni for that matter) completely by surprise. She was just so different than what I thought she was going to be. And of all the boys in Toni’s life, Loch (well, Micah if you want to call him by his actual name), was my favourite. Without saying too much about him, I’ll just say that he wasn’t the kind of boy I expected and that worked out for the best. And his obsession with mythological creatures was just adorable. 

Lisa Aldin’s One of the Guys was a fun read about love and friendships. I really enjoyed seeing all the relationships evolved and grow, trying to predict what was going to happen. If you’re looking for a lighthearted contemporary story, than I strongly recommend this one.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Love, Lucy by April Lindner


Title: Love, Lucy
Author: April Lindner
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

I haven’t read any of April Lindner’s previous novels, but when I heard about Love, Lucy, I knew it had to go on my TBR. I mean, a contemporary romance partially set in Italy? Yes, please! As it turned out, it was the perfect, fun read I was looking for, and in the process gave me a major case of wanderlust.

Lucy made a deal with her dad: she would go to his alma mater and give up acting in exchange for a summer spent backpacking through Europe. When she gets to Italy, Lucy falls in love. She falls in love with the history, the culture, the art, everything around her. What she didn’t expect to fall in love with, or more specifically who she didn’t expect to fall in love with, is Jesse, the street musician whose room she steals in the hostel. During those last few days in Florence and Rome, Lucy and Jesse have a whirlwind romance. But when Lucy returns home, she’s ready to put her trip behind her and start university. Though as much as she tries, she can’t seem to stop thinking about Jesse, about the few days they spent together in Italy. Could it have been more than just a holiday fling?

I am an absolute and total sucker for any story that involves summer, romance and travel. With April Lindner’s Love, Lucy I got all three and it made for a story I highly enjoyed. In all honesty, I didn’t really know all that much about the book before I started reading. I had a vague idea that it involved a trip to Italy and a holiday romance, but that’s pretty much all I knew. But once I started reading, I was hooked. If only because of all the descriptions of Florence. I’ve been fortunate enough to have gone to Florence twice before and reading the descriptions of the city, it was like I was transported back there. I could picture it all. And it made me want to go back there like you wouldn’t believe. The same thing can be said for the descriptions of Rome. Though I may be going there soon, so that desire to go back will be satisfied. Beyond the beautiful setting, what I liked about the story in Love, Lucy is that despite being YA, the story is set immediately after high school and during the first semester of college. In the case of this story, having it set during that time worked really well. It’s a time of change and figuring out who you are, and that’s exactly what Lucy is doing over the course of the story. Just like the synopsis says, this is a coming-of-age romance, and thanks to Lucy and Jesse it’s a pretty adorable one.

Figuring out what you want to do in college is hard. I remember when I was a senior in high school, trying to decide what I wanted to major in while I was applying to university. At the end of four years, the degree I graduated with was not the one I had thought it would be. So I could understand how Lucy was being pulled in all these different directions. How she wanted to be an actress, but at the same time had spent most of her life hearing her father talking about how much he had to work to get to where he was and that a business degree was the way to go. But the whole time I was reading, I could tell that Lucy was miserable doing what her father wanted her to do. The only time she wasn’t miserable was when she was with Jesse. Lucy and Jesse were absolutely adorable together. I loved watching them explore both Florence and Rome with each other. My only wish is that I could have found out more about Jesse. About who he was, about where he came from. I just wanted to know more about his story. But at the same time, the slight mystery around him worked well for the story, making Lucy question whether or not what she’d had with him while in Italy was real or not. 

If you’re looking to escape to Italy without breaking the bank, you should pick up Love, Lucy. Not only will you get to explore Italy with Lucy, you’ll also get and adorable romance out of it as well.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand


Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone—a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

This is where I admit that I’ve only read the first book in Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly trilogy (I know, bad Emilie), but when I heard about The Last Time We Say Goodbye I just knew that I had to read it. It sounded like the kind of story that I love and that would give me all the feels. And believe me when I say it did.

Lex thought she had her life figured out. Her family might not have been perfect, but she had one. She had friends who understood her, and a boyfriend she thought she might even love. But then she came home one day to find out her brother had killed himself. Now Lex had to find a way to get on with her life. But how do you do that when you’re holding on to a secret you haven’t told anyone, a secret that could have changed everything on the night her brother killed himself. As she tries to put the pieces back together, Lex becomes obsessed with understanding why her brother committed suicide, reliving every memory to try and find what she missed. But eventually, Lex is going to have to let go, even if it’s the hardest thing she ever does.

It seems like (or at least it does to me) there are a lot of books dealing with teen suicide coming out this year. Or at least there have been a fair amount that have come out in the last few weeks alone. And that’s not a bad thing. At all. It’s great that we’re talking about topics like this one and bringing ore attention to them since they have been relatively taboo within our society. And that’s where Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye comes in. It’s a book about teen suicide. But it’s not about the person who committed suicide, nor is it about what led the person to commit suicide. Well, in a way it kind of is. This story is about the aftermath of suicide, the people who are left behind. In this case, the sister who is trying to make sense of what led her brother to commit suicide, and finding a way to go on with her life from that point onwards. And that’s what this story is about: finding a way to cope with your grief and the fact that you probably won’t ever know why that person made that decision. That’s what I liked so much about The Last Time We Say Goodbye, that even though suicide is a crucial component of the story, that’s not really what the story revolves around (does that even make sense?). And of course, Cynthia Hand knows what she does. This story was fantastically written and at times very understated which is where a lot of the story’s power came. Because this was a powerful story. One that at times punched me right where it hurts. Especially that ending. The ending that I had trouble reading through all my tears. And a lot of that had to do with Lex and the way she is dealing with everything that is happening in her life.

Lex doesn’t understand why her brother committed suicide. No matter how she looks at it, she can’t figure out the reasons behind what he did. But that still means she has to find a way to get on with her life, to figure out where she goes from there. In a way, Lex was someone who was a little hard to connect to at first. She’s a very logical and mathematically-minded person and because of that, she almost comes across as a little closed-off emotionally. After everything that’s happened, her being closed off emotionally isn’t necessarily that surprising, but still. Eventually though, I very much warmed up to Lex. You find out more, that she’s struggling with so much in light of her brother’s suicide, that her way of dealing with it is to try to find a clear and logical explanation for what happened. She’s a mathematical person, so she’s looking for the equation that eventually equalled suicide, not that she’s going to find one. But I felt for Lex while I was reading. Seeing her struggle to come to terms with her brother’s death was at times very hard to watch. And again, that’s what ultimately made this story so powerful: seeing Lex’s who belief system come apart as she comes to terms with her new life. And what made my feelings hurt so much. But in a really, REALLY good way.

Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye was a powerful and emotional read. It’s one that left me in a puddle of my own tears, but I wouldn’t have asked for it to be any other way.

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