Thursday, April 30, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen


Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the start of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really see, for the first time.

The über-populär Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discover, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Reading a book by a favourite author is like reconnection with an old friend after not having seen them for a long time. And that’s exactly how I felt while I was reading Sarah Dessen’s latest release, Saint Anything

Sydney has spent her whole life in her older brother’s shadow. Peyton has always been the charismatic, commanding everyone’s attention. But lately, the attention that Peyton is getting isn’t for the right reasons. When everything takes a turn for the worse, Peyton ends up in jail for drunk driving and Sydney can’t seem to figure out where she fits in with her family anymore. Starting over at a new school, Sydney meets Layla Chatham. The Chatham family is so completely different from her own, and instantly Sydney feels comfortable and at home with them. And the more time she spends with Mac, Layla’s older brother, the more Sydney feels like someone is finally seeing her for who she is for the first time.

If I had to pick just two authors that are the reason I read YA, Sarah Dessen would be one of them, hands down (Meg Cabot is the other, in case you were wondering). I have been reading Sarah Dessen’s books since middle school, and every time she announces that she has a new book coming out, I get just as excited as I did the first time I read her books. And Sarah Dessen’s books are books I could read over and over again and never get tired of them. Which brings me to Saint Anything. I was so excited about this book when it was first announced. And then the early reviews started coming in and my excitement level went through the roof. And then I started reading and I was reminded (not that I really needed a reminder) of why I love Sarah Dessen’s stories so much. But Saint Anything is different. It’s darker than Dessen’s most recent titles. But it doesn’t hit you over the head with the darkness. There are parts of the book that are difficult to read. Parts that made me want to scream. Characters that drove me absolutely crazy. But put it all together, and I loved this story. It was understated, it was quiet, but it made me feel all the feelings I’ve come to expect when reading a Sarah Dessen book. Also, the title? When you finally find out what it all means? The feelings. Just all the feelings.

I absolutely loved Sydney and I felt for her. I can only imagine what it would feel like to grow up in her family, always feeling like you don’t matter all that much because your sibling has such a big personality. While reading, I just wanted to give her a hug, to tell her that even though her parents might not, I saw her and I cared about her. To be completely honest, for much of the book I wanted to yell at her parents. Her dad just seemed so oblivious to what was happening in his own home while her mom was so busy worrying about the son that got sent to jail that she forgot about the daughter she still had at home. Let’s just say that neither of Sydney’s parents are going to be winning any “Parent of the Year” awards. So I was really happy when she found the Chathams, this family that just took her in and pretty much treated her like one of her own. And the Chathams were pretty fantastic. I loved Layla’s bubbly personality and her obsession with French fries, the way she just took Sydney in without any questions and how she was there for her friend. And though he was more quiet, Mac stole my heart pretty early on. He was always there, sort of in the background, but you could just tell that he cared for his family and for Sydney. The whole Chatham family was just fantastic and I loved them all. 

I won’t ever tire of reading Sarah Dessen’s books. For me, reading them is like coming home and with Saint Anything it was no different. Fans of Sarah Dessen everywhere will love this book and new readers will discover just how fantastic a storyteller this author is. 

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cora Carmack - Rusk University Announcement

HERE’S THE SCOOP!

Fans of Cora Carmack’s Rusk University, we have a SUPER exciting announcement:ALL CLOSED OFF Coming 2016 

ALL CLOSED OFF, Book 4 in the Rusk University Series, is coming!!!
 

Check out this message from Cora!

*WARNING: This letter contains spoilers for All Broke Down. If you haven't yet read that book, read at your own peril. SECOND WARNING: this letter talks about fictional characters as if they are real people. Sorry I'm not sorry. THIRD WARNING: The letter below broaches a serious topic that could be a trigger for some people*


Hello beloved readers!

The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was "Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?"

At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own storylines. I thought they were too much alike. They'd make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end... I couldn't envision anything serious for them. So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again).

But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It's a wonderful experience, but in Stella's case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports.

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said... Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, "Mine. This is my story." I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn't take crap from anyone. She was everything I always hope to be. And I didn't want her to go through that. Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella was vibrant and enjoyed a wild party. She was not afraid of her sexuality, and she had no problem with casual sex. She was the kind of girl that probably had a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn't mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, "Someone needs to tell this story. And I'm strong enough to do it. Let me." And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I'd been adamant wasn't right for her. Because as it turns out... Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren't so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before.

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It's about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It's about the way that kind of event can change everything-- how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It's about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you're still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light. 

So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book…


ALL CLOSED OFF 

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.


*****

ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don't have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I'll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I'll be able to ensure that I'm able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won't be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you'll add the book on goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links.

Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella's story. When it's finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do.

All my best,

Cora Carmack  

*Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

And an opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s…

#WhenitHappened banner

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her. Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance.

If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard….

If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through….

If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours…

I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. Use the hashtag #WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this google document and tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself.

So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening.

#WhenItHappened Google Form: http://goo.gl/forms/4VRjWgZYSW



ABOUT Cora Carmack:
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook **Newsletter **Author Goodreads

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin


Title: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot.

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowed-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she’s devastated—he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona’s mother married and American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks…but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.

Remember a few weeks ago when I was complaining that there weren’t really any books out there that were even a little representative of my high school experience? Well, guess what? I found one! But beyond that, Meredith Zeitlin’s Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me was also a fun read that made me want to hop on a plane to Greece.

Bona Lowell has her sophomore year all planned out. She’s editor of the Features section of the school paper and she’s got a notebook full of idea to pitch, hoping to follow in her award-winning journalist father’s footsteps. But then her father announces that they are moving to Greece for the second half of the school year. That wasn’t exactly part of Zona’s plans. Neither was finally meeting her mom’s family, the people who have refused to acknowledge her for as long as she’s been alive. But Zona doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter. As reluctant as she is to move to Athens, Zona quickly finds out that this experience might not be as horrible as she thought.

A few years ago, I read Meredith Zeitlin’s debut Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters and really enjoyed it, enough that I was looking for more from this debut author. And then I never heard about anything. Until quite recently when I was given the opportunity to review Zeitlin’s newest, Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me. Having now read it, I’m happy the wait was that long because the story was worth it. If for no other reason, I loved this story because the school Zona, the main character, goes to in Athens was pretty similar to the high school I went to. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my own high school experience, saying that I struggled with finding books that reflected the experience I had. Any time I was reading descriptions of the international school Zona goes to, I was smiling. So many of the comments she made about the school and the people who attended were what my high school was like. So thank you Meredith Zeitlin for writing about a character who goes to an international school overseas. Beyond that, this story was just fun to read. Zona’s adventures with her estranged Greek family were nothing if not entertaining, especially when you start taking into consideration the cultural and language barriers. And as funny as it was, there were many instances when this story was touching, thanks to all the relationships in the story.

Bona was a fantastic character with a really entertaining voice. I loved the way that her journalistic aspirations could be seen in the way she told this story. Sure, she injected a lot of her own thoughts and opinions (this was her story, after all), but there were plenty of times where she felt more like an observer than a participant in her own life. Which is what people were telling her to do, to actually live her life as opposed to only focusing on writing about it. So it was really great seeing her start to do that. My favourite part of Zona, though, was the relationship she had with her dad. Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t read a lot of book where there is such a strong emphasis on a father-daughter relationship. I’m not saying there aren’t any, I’m just saying I want more of them. And while I’m talking about relationships, all the different ones Zona forged over the course of this story were among the best parts of this book. Seeing her get to know this family she’d never met, and see them as people who care about her as opposed to people who abandoned her mother was really touching. Relationships, of any kind, are just my favourite to read about.

Meredith Zeitlin’s Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me was a great read. I loved all the relationships that developed over the course of this story. And the fact that it was set in Greece and was filled with descriptions of the Greek islands didn’t hurt. It also made me want to hop on a plane to Crete. But that’s a different story.  

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Rules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins


Title: Rules of Seduction
Author: Jenna Mullins
Publisher: The Studio - Paper Lantern Lit
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: eARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
The first rule of seduction is: don’t fall in love.

Fresh out of college, Dani Young heads for the LA sun to chase her dream of becoming a screenwriter-director. So when her former BFF turned actress Elise offers Dani the opportunity to work on the hit teen show Vamp Camp, Dani can’t refuse, even if it comes at a price: Elise wants Dani to seduce her boyfriend, Vamp Camp superstar Tate Lawrence. Turns out Elise has some major trust issues, and needs Dani to test Tate’s faith. The only rule: don’t fall in love with him.

Sure, Dani doesn’t mind occasionally glimpsing Tate’s megawatt smile…or accidentally-on-purpose brushing up against his perfect torso…but she’s no fool. There’s no way she’d ever fall for a shallow celebrity and no way one would fall for her, a lanky movie nerd. 

But amidst vampire-crazed fans, a conniving fellow intern, and a devilishly handsome showrunner, Dani feels like all the rules she used to know have disappeared, except for one: Love doesn’t play by the rules.

Part The Devil Wears Prada, part How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, this story of friendship and romance is sure to appeal to fans of Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer E. Smith, and Anna Todd.

Stories set in or around Hollywood and that world are among my reading weaknesses. I hear about such a book and it automatically gets added to my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads. That’s how Jenna Mullins’s Rules of Seduction found itself on my e-reader. And, probably unsurprisingly, I found myself enjoying this story a lot. 

Dani Young is lucky. Right out of film school, she’s scored her dream job working for one of her role models. She’s ready to head to LA and start living her dream. But Dani’s not even in LA one day when things already start going downhill. The dream job is gone and now Dani doesn’t know show she’s going to be able to survive in LA without work. When she runs into Elise, an old friend form high school, who offers to get her a job on a hit teen TV show, Dani jumps at the opportunity, even if the job comes with certain conditions. Dani has to agree to seduce Tate, Elise’s boyfriend and the star of the show, to prove that he’s faithful to Elise. What should be relatively easy turns out to be much more complicated when Dani realizes she’s not sure who she’s seducing for whom anymore.

Guys. Hollywood books. I can’t get enough of them. Seriously. There never seem to be enough of them (though in reality, there are totally some I still haven’t read, I’m actually staring at them sitting on myself right now). But really, books with Hollywood-related storylines are totally one of my major weaknesses when it comes to reading. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for Jenna Mullins’s Rules of Seduction to be added to my Goodreads when I found out what it was about. Despite my excitement over the Hollywood premise, I wasn’t entirely sure how the rest of it was going to work out, especially willingly seducing someone else’s boyfriend because they asked you to. But it wasn’t as convoluted as I had thought it was going to be. It just added some fun drama to the story and upped the stakes, causing me to become more invested than I thought I was going to on some of the relationships. But as much as I enjoyed the Hollywood aspect of the story, what really made me appreciate and enjoy it was Dani.

Dani was fun. Though at times misguided. But more on that in a moment. I just really enjoyed reading her story, and not just because it was set in the TV world. What I liked about her, was that she never really let anything get her down, even when things were going really poorly for her. And I had to respect that because I don’t know what I would have done in her shoes. Actually, I do, I probably would have just given up and slunk back home. The one thing that did bug me was how long it took her to realize what was right in front of her. But then, if she had realized it sooner, there wouldn’t have been a story, so there’s that. So really, I shouldn’t complain. Moving on. Do I really have to say that I loved Tate, because it really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. But it’s what happened. Tate was not who I thought he was going to be, and I loved seeing how he was around Dani. Their relationships was just really fun to read about and see go from friendship to something more. Beyond just Dani and Tate, I really enjoyed Dani’s roommate, Brit, as a character. She was just so fun and different and sweet and I just wish I could have seen more of her.

Jenna Mullins’s Rules of Seduction was a fun Hollywood-set story. I highly enjoyed reading it and loved seeing all the on- and off-set drama unfold. If you’re looking for something to read this summer, this is the book for you.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

One Night by A.J. Pine


Title: One Night (Only You #1)
Author: A.J. Pine
Publisher: InterMix
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
When she lost it all, Jess decided to cope by living a lie.

But you can’t keep on pretending forever…

Twenty-one-year-old Jess used to have everything—a loyal best friend, a boyfriend she loved, and a future that was right on track. But in a single night, her whole world changed.

Now, Jess lives for the impersonal connection of drunken hook-ups and to-go coffee cups in the morning. All she needs is one night to pretend everything is fine…until she meets Adam.

Thanks to a sports injury, gorgeous, charming basketball star Adam Carson is stuck in physical therapy at the hospital where Jess interns—giving her the perfect opportunity to see his sweet, considerate nature and making her realize that maybe she does want something more.

But while Adam might be the best thing that’s happened to Jess in a long time, letting him past her carefully constructed walls means letting him know what happened…and why he’d never want her more than one night.

It’s absolutely no secret that I’ve come to absolutely love New Adult in the last couple of years. I just can’t seem to get enough. So whenever I hear of a new one coming out, I jump on it, even when I don’t necessarily know that much about it. And that’s how I found myself reading and high enjoying A.J. Pine’s One Night.

After what happened on that single night, everything changed for Jess. She used to have everything she wanted. Now she just goes on one day at a time, not forming any lasting attachments to anyone around her. It’s easier to deal with impersonal, one night, drunken hookups than to get attached. Because getting attached will mean getting hurt again. But then Jess meets Adam and she starts wondering if she might still want more than just one night. After meeting Jess in physical therapy, Adam can’t stop thinking about Jess. There, he sees a side of her no one else gets to see. And that only makes him more determined to break down the walls she puts up around her heart. But Jess isn’t ready to take down those walls, even if Adam could be the best thing that’s happened to her. After everything, how could anyone want Jess for more than one night?

Honestly, I knew nothing about One Night when I saw that it was available to be requested on NetGalley. All I knew that it was being identified as New Adult and the description made it sound like something I would enjoy. Even as the release date came closer, I didn’t really hear that many people talking about this book. So when I finally read it, I went in with a completely open mind and absolutely no idea what I should have expected. To give you an idea, despite it being mentioned in the synopsis, I hadn’t even picked up on the fact that sports were a part of this story. So yeah, I was going in with a very open mind. And I ended up being rewarded for that. When I first started reading, I thought the story was going to go in one direction, but that’s not where it went and I’m happy for that. If it had, it would have been a little too predictable for my liking. Instead, I got a heartfelt story about two people trying to pick up the pieces after suffering their own tragedies. A story about two people learning to open themselves up to others when they thought they wouldn’t be able to do so again. And despite what I’m making it sound like, One Night wasn’t a heavy story. Sure, there were some deep issues, but it didn’t overwhelm me when I was reading. Because that’s not what it was about. It was just about Adam and Jess and them finding and accepting themselves and each other.

Even though she was the one telling the story, it took me a while to get a handle on Jess. I knew right away that she wasn’t the one-night-stand girl she pretended to be. She just didn’t come across that way even if that’s what she insisted on doing. I just couldn’t seem to figure out why she was putting on that front. It just didn’t make sense. But the more I got to know her, the more I started to put the pieces together and make guesses at what she could be hiding both from me and from the people around her. Once I figured it all out though, my heart broke for her. I didn’t necessarily agree with what she was doing, but I could understand why she was doing it. And then Jess met Adam and things changed. Adam wasn’t who I thought he was going to be. Honestly, I expected him to be your typical cocky college athlete. And he was. But he also wasn’t. Which really doesn’t tell you anything about him. All you really need to know is that Adam was a pretty fantastic guy and it didn’t take long at all for him to charm me. The other character who was a standout for me was Zoe. Zoe was Jess’s roommate and so not what I expected. I loved her personality and how she was with Jess even when she didn’t know her that well. Don’t get me wrong, the romance between Adam and Jess was great, but Zoe and Jess’s friendship was even better for me. Maybe I’ll get a book all about Zoe in the future…?

A.J. Pine’s One Night was a pleasant surprise. I love when I can read a book without any prejudice and be happy with the result. This story was more than I thought it was going to be, and I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed in terms of who the sequel, One Life, is going to be about. 

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby


Title: The Truth Commission
Author: Susan Juby
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Open secrets are the heart of gossip—the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil. They are juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, and they have no fear.

They are the Truth Commission

But Normandy’s passion for uncovering the truth is not entirely heartfelt. The truth can be dangerous, especially when it involves her brilliant older sister, Keira, the creator of a bestselling graphic novel series, who has left college and come home under mysterious circumstances, and in complete silence.

Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed…

This dryly funny, knife-sharp novel, written as “narrative nonfiction” by Normandy herself, features footnotes, illustrations, and a combination mystery/love story that will capture readers from the first page.

When I first heard about Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission, I was seriously intrigued. It didn’t sound like anything else out there, while at the same time appealing to the contemporary nerd that I am. Though the style did take some getting used to, The Truth Commission is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Everyone has secrets. It’s a fact. It’s what leads to so much gossip. And though people know others are keeping secrets, most of the time, they prefer guessing and gossiping than actually asking the truth. But Normandy, Dusk and Neil have had enough of all the secrets and all the guessing about people’s secrets. The three of them make it their mission to seek out the truth, no mater what. And that’s how the Truth Commission is born. At first, it all goes well and Normandy, Dusk and Neil get a high from asking for the truth point blank. But sometimes, as the three soon discover, there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed even when on a mission to uncover the truth.

I’m not going to lie, The Truth Commission kind of threw me when I first started reading. I knew from what I had been told by others that this wasn’t a typical book, but it still took some getting used to. This book is fiction, but it was written as if it were a work of creative nonfiction written by the main character. Confused, yet? Because I was a little confused when I first started reading. For the most part, you can read this book like you would any other book. But because it’s written as if it were nonfiction, there are footnotes thrown in to the mix. At first it felt like right when I was getting into the story, I would get pulled out because I had to go read a footnote. And it’s not like I could skip the footnotes, because they did add to the story, often providing background information about some of the characters and events. Once I got used to them, they didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, there were times when I was looking forward to reading the footnotes because of the insights that Normandy provided in them. Beyond just the different format for the story, The Truth Commission went a lot deeper than I thought it would. Based on the synopsis, I knew that there were definitely going to be some issues brought up throughout the story, just not to this extent. And that was most definitely not a bad thing. The fact that the story went deeper is what led me to love it as much as I did.

Normandy was a really fun character. Though t the same time, she was also sort of the author. She has such a fun voice, and she wasn’t afraid of being completely and brutally honest with her reader (truth is kind of a recurring theme with this book, in case that wasn’t obvious). It just made it interesting to read a story where the main character and narrator doesn’t hold anything back. Now if she had been as honest with the people in her life as she was with her readers, she could have avoided a lot of the problems she ran into. But then there wouldn’t have been a story, so maybe not. Other than Normandy, the other characters also felt completely fleshed out. I could easily picture them all. And they were all so fun and quirky and unique. I loved reading about Neil and his obsession with 70s movies and fashion, Dusk’s determination to be exactly the opposite of what her parents wanted her to be. And don’t even get me started on Keira. There is so much I could say about her, but that would mean spoiling one of the major twists in the story so I’ll stay quiet. 

Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission was an absolutely fantastic read. It’s completely different from other contemporary YA stories out there in the best way possible. If you’re looking for something a little different and a little offbeat, I can’t recommend this one enough.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

All the Rage by Courtney Summers


Title: All the Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name of her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now—but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

There are certain books out there that I strongly believe people need to read. Not because it’s a heartwarming romance (that’s my usual reason) or because one of the characters is the best I’ve read in a while (typically, my second go-to reason), but because the story is powerful and needs to be read by everyone. And that’s how I feel about Courtney Summers’s All the Rage.

All the Rage wasn’t an easy book to read. In fact, at times it was downright painful to read and I had to take breaks before it got to be too much. That had absolutely nothing to do with the writing, because Courtney Summers’s writing, as usual, was absolutely fantastic. It had to do with the story itself and the subject matter it dealt with. All the Rage is a book about sexual assault, and the way that society has a tendency to treat victims of sexual assault. In this story a girl was sexually assaulted but no one in her small town believes her and instead chooses to bully her because she tried to speak up. It’s not right, not even close. But sadly, that’s how our society has a tendency to react when someone says they were sexually assaulted. In All the Rage, Courtney Summers did a fantastic job depicting this. For most of the book, I wanted to scream and get angry at the people in this town. Because the way they were treating Romy wasn’t right, but sadly, it was very realistic. That’s what made this story so difficult to read at times, how real it felt. How much I could see this happening in real life because it does happen to people on a daily basis. I could go on about this, and in fact I’ve already done so over at my friend Ciara’s blog, Lost at Midnight Reviews, as part of her month long feature for the book.

Much of the reason this story felt so real was because of Romy herself. Romy is flawed and imperfect and some people might find it hard to like her. But that wasn’t the point. For me, reading about Romy was reading about her struggle, both with what happened to her and going on with her life after what happened to her. Because of what happened to her, she has trouble opening up to people (understandably) and believing that her voice will be heard when she speaks up. It was hard to read about it all. The whole time I was reading, I felt her pain and I just wanted to be able to tell her that I heard her and that what she had to say mattered. When Romy finally had her voice heard, she couldn’t believe it. And that made me both extremely sad and extremely angry. No one should be made to feel like what they say doesn’t matter, that their experiences don’t matter. I did take some comfort in the fact that Romy did have a few people on her side. There weren’t many, but they were there. I wanted to hug those people for being there for Romy because she needed some people on her side. Desperately. 

Once again, Courtney Summers wrote a story that hits all the right marks, challenging her readers to think about issues that need to be talked about. I can’t recommend All the Rage enough and I hope that if this books gets into enough hands, we might start to change the way we view sexual assault.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Release Day - Play On by Michelle Smith Excerpt & Giveaway!

Today is the official release day for Michelle Smith's absolutely fantastic Play On. I've been lucky enough to have already read this book and I absolutely loved it. You can read more about what I thought in my review. In honour of the book's release, I have an exclusive excerpt and giveaway to share with you guys. Keep reading to find out more about the book, the author and to get a sneak peak!


About the book
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for 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 sone 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 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 and out of Lewis Creek—the 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 facade 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.

Get your copy of Play On today!



About the author
Michelle Smith was born and raised in North Carolina, 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.


Excerpt!

In this excerpt, Marisa surprises Austin on the baseball field…in more ways than one.
     I pass the bat to her, watching her face light up like a full moon on a summer night. “Now, it’s a little heavy,” I joke. “Think you can handle it?”
     Her eyes widen. “I don’t know,” she says breathlessly. “I may need the help of a big, strong, baseball player. Because we both know that baseball is so superior to softball.”
     I shake my head. “That’s not entirely true. You balls are bigger.”
We start at each other. Stare. Stare some more. She’s the first one who breaks, bursting out laughing. It’s one of the best sounds I’ve heard in a long time.
     “Here,” I say, still laughing. I carefully place my hands on her hips, helping her square up over the plate. “In case, you know, you’re too out of practice.”
     She bites back a smile. “Yeah. Because I’ve totally forgotten how to square up for a pitch.”
     “Two years is a long time.” Resting my hands on her shoulders, I remind her, “And relax these. You’re too stiff.”
     She hands her head. “You’re killing’ me, Smalls.”
     I walked right into that one. She relaxes her shoulders. Slowly, my hands move down her arms until they rest on top of hers. They’re so warm, fit so perfectly in mine that it almost hurts to let them go. But I do, because, you know, friends.
     “There,” I say on an exhale. “Ready?”
     Her lips curve up. “Let me have it, Floral Prince.”
     My mouth drops open. “All right. No mercy, Marlowe.”
     I grab the ball and jog out to the mound. I gotta say, she’s the prettiest batter I’ve ever been up against. Taking a deep breath, I wind up and let my fastball fly.
     That girl smacks the hell out of the ball.
     Holy…I turn, watching it sail all the way back to the fence. When I while back around, she grins, pointing the bat at me.
     “And that’s how it’s done,” she calls to me, setting the bat in the dirt. She wipes her hands on her jeans.
     All I can do is gape. Some of the guys on our team could take a lesson from her. It’s not like I thought she would be bad, but damn. I pull of my cap as I walk toward her. As soon as I tug it onto her head, she laughs.
     “Are you going to have any of these left?”
     “I have an endless supply.” I nudge the brim of the cap, so I can see her eyes. “And you’ve earned that one.”
     She quirks her lips into this little half-smirk that makes me pure weak in the knees. Takes a step closer. Another. And another. I swallow hard. My hands ache to touch her, to pull her to me and kiss the daylights out of her.
     But friends, though. 


Giveaway!

Does Play On sound like something you want to read? Then enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win a copy of the book or some other great prizes! US only.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Blog Tour - 99 Days by Katie Cotugno + Giveway


Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for…his brother.

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me. 

Katie Cotugno was a total standout for me in 2013. I absolutely adored her debut, How to Love, and have been (im)patiently waiting for more from her ever since. Needless to say that I was beyond excited when I got my hands on 99 Days and read it as soon as I could. And I am happy to say that I was not in the least bit let down by this book.

A year ago, Molly Barlow left Star Lake, attempting to outrun her mistakes. Now back for the summer, Molly has to face what she left behind when she ran away. Molly is hoping everyone has moved past what happened between her and the Donnelly brothers, but the moment she sets foot back in town, she finds out that nothing has changed. Patrick and Julia still hate her. The whole town is still judging her for what she did. The only person who seem to be happy to see Molly again is Gabe. The more time she spends with Gabe, the more Molly starts to put what happened a year ago behind her. But Star Lake isn’t ready to let her forget what she did, and everywhere Molly goes someone is there to remind her just how badly she screwed up.

No matter how awesome I think 99 Days is and how much I loved it, I know that unfortunately it’s not going to be for everyone. So much of this story revolves around cheating and cheating happens on more than one occasion. While this is something that doesn’t bother me when it’s done well, like it was in 99 Days, I know not everyone is going to share my opinion (and I have a lot of thoughts on this particular topic as you can see). In 99 Days, Katie Cotugno depicted cheating in a way that felt realistic and didn’t feel gratuitous. She didn’t just decide to have the characters cheat just for the sake of cheating, but instead showed that there are often so many other forces at play that can lead to someone cheating on their significant other. Though what made me really love this story, was the way she showed the aftermath, the way everyone treated Molly after they found out what she did. There were times that I wanted to throw the book or hit some people because of the way they were treating Molly, but the story always felt real. Knowing what I town for close-knit communities, everyone’s reaction was on point, no matter how angry it made me or how badly I felt for Molly. In 99 Days, no one is perfect, least of all Molly, but that’s what made the story feel so realistic. The ending also made the story feel realistic. The way the story ends, everything is not all tied up with a nice bow. things are left open, and if the story were to go on, it could go any of a number of ways. I know what way I would want it to go, but I don’t know for sure that that’s what would happen. It just felt like the most natural way for the story to end based on everything that had happened before.

Molly isn’t perfect. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s what made me like her so much. Even though I didn’t always agree with her action, hell sometimes I wanted to downright yell at her for behaving stupidly, I was always ready to stand by her side. Because as much as she screwed up, she didn’t deserve all the crap everyone in town was giving her. The double standard with how they treated her versus how they treated Gabe especially angered me and I could write a whole review on that alone, but I’ll spare you. The point is that Molly was flawed and she behaved like a teenager and I absolutely loved her for it. And I could also understand how she could be torn between the two Donnelly brothers. I’m not going to lie, right off the bat I was all in favour of Gabe, if only because he actually treated Molly like a decent person. But then there was a moment where he did something that completely sold me on him. Patrick on the other hand, I have seriously mixed feelings about. I pretty much spent 75% of 99 Days going back and forth between liking him and wanting to hit him. It’s like I couldn’t figure him out. He definitely had his reasons for being mad at Molly, all things considered, so I got that. But then a few pages later he would be really sweet to her and I would get all confused about MY feelings for HIM. Let’s just say that by the end of the book though, I finally figured him out.

Katie Cotugno’s 99 Days left me with a lot of feelings. I didn’t know what to do with myself when I finished because I just knew that no matter what I read afterwards, it just wouldn’t compare. Be ready to have your emotions be all over the place when you read this book, it’s going to happen no matter how much you try to stay calm and collected. But it’s worth it.



Favorite Quotes

As part of the tour, I was asked to share some of my favorite quotes from 99 Days. This is the kind of book that has so many amazing words and passages and it made it hard to pick just a few. So here are three of my favorites.





Giveaway!

Do you want to read Katie Cotugno's 99 Days? Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a signed copy of the book. US only.


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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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