Monday, August 31, 2015

Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler


Title: Infinite In Between
Author: Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler returns with this striking new novel that chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years…

Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

Echoing aspects of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens together to create a distinct and cohesive whole—a novel about how we can all affect one another’s lives in the most unexpected and amazing ways.

Considering the amount I read, there isn’t much about contemporary books that I haven’t said before. And that can make writing some of these reviews a little tricky. So I’ll just say this, I loved Carolyn Mackler’s Infinite in Between a whole lot more than I expected to.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor and Whitney all had their own concerns and apprehensions about starting high school. When they’re put in the same group at their freshman orientation, they decide to write themselves a letter that they’ll open at the end of high school. But a lot can happen in four years. As they go through high school, each of them goes through their own share of happiness and heartbreak, coming in and out of each other’s lives without thinking too much about it. What will they all think when they meet again at the end of their four years of high school?

Fun little story about Emilie for you: to this day, I still remember the first Carolyn Mackler book I read. I was in eighth grade and I would sit in front of my locker during my lunch break and read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. So it’s fair to say that Carolyn Mackler is one of the YA authors I’ve been reading for the longest time. And I still enjoy reading her books all these years later. As you can guess, I had a pretty good idea going in that I would really enjoy Infinite in Between. What I didn’t expect was to love it as much as I did. Infinite in Between was a story that kind of creeps up on you. At first, it’s a little tricky to follow since it quickly jumps around between five different characters. But at the same time, the story draws you in quickly. And before you know it, you’re curious about finding out more about these five people’s high school experiences and seeing how their lives intersect over the course of those four years. And by the end of the book, I was a lot more emotional than I ever thought I would be. Like I said, this story just creeped up on me in a way that I really didn’t expect.

What Infinite in Between really hit on the head is the way that people come in and out of each other’s lives in high school. How everyone always kind of seems to be on everyone’s periphery no matter how big the school is. And it really showed that no matter how much your life seems perfect from the outside, nothing is ever as it appears. And it also perfectly showed how, at the end of the day, everyone in high school is just trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in. That was more than the case for Jake, Mia, Gregor, Zoe and Whitney. Each one of them was basically trying to figure out who they were and who they wanted to be. And it wasn’t always easy, there were obstacles along the way and I was rooting for all of them throughout the book. Most of all though, I loved seeing the way their paths all crossed at different times during their high school career and how at the end of it all, they were able to come together in ways that I didn’t really expect. Reading from five different perspectives was a different experience, but it was definitely worth it in the end.

I loved reading Carolyn Mackler’s Infinite in Between in ways I didn’t expect. This story was understated in the best way possible and accurately portrayed the high school experience. This might be a quieter story, but it’s absolutely worth the read. 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher


Title: A Little in Love
Author: Susan Fletcher
Publisher: Chicken House
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Inspire by Victor Hugo’s classic, Les Miserables, A Little in Love beautifully conveys the heartbreaking story of street girl Eponine.

Paris, 1832

A girl lies alone in the darkness, clutching a letter to her heart.

Eponine remembers being a child: her swing and the peach tree, and the baby brother she loved. But mostly she remembers being miserable. Taught to lie and cheat, and to hate the one girl, Cosette, who might have been her friend. 

Now, at sixteen, the two girls meet again, and Eponine has one more chance. But what is the price of friendship—the love of a boy?

Though I may not have ever fully read the original text, I am a big fan of the different versions of Les Miserables. Therefore, I was excited about the idea of a book telling Eponine’s story. Though A Little in Love didn’t quite deliver in the way I had hoped it would, I still really enjoyed it. 

All Eponine has ever wanted was to loved and she would have done anything to earn her parents’ love. As a child, that meant stealing for the guests of her family’s inn and being mean to the one person who could have been her friend. She remembers nights secretly caring for her baby brother with Cosette when she was happiest. But that was before Eponine’s family was forced to flee to Paris and live a life of poverty. But Paris is also where Eponine falls in love with a boy and gets one more chance at friendship.

So I love Les Miserables and am more than happy to read or watch anything related to this story. And I’ll admit that when it comes to the musical, the one song that is guaranteed to get me every time is On My Own. To me, what you see of Eponine’s story is just heartbreaking. So when I heard that someone was writing a book that was all Eponine’s story, I was basically all over that. When the time came to read said book, I was fully prepared for all the possible emotions that were likely to come up while I was reading. I knew that there was a strong likelihood that tears should be shed by the time I got the end. Unfortunately, I’m sad to report that A Little in Love didn’t quite deliver the emotional punch I thought it would. While I was reading, I kept waiting for the big emotional punch to the gut to happen, and it never seemed to get there. At least not in the way I had hoped. But that didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. Because I did enjoy reading A Little in Love and seeing a story I’m very familiar with from a different perspective. 

Being a fan of Les Miserablesto begin with, I already had a good idea of who Eponine was. But reading A Little in Love, I got to find out more about her, and get a better understanding of who she was. And even if the story as a whole didn’t give me the emotional punch I had hoped for, my heart does go out to Eponine. All this girl ever wanted was to be loved, and from an early age she was told the only way she could do that was by stealing, lying and cheating. So whenever I saw her caring for her younger sister and her baby brother, basically giving them the love she wanted herself, my heart broke a little. As I got further in her story, I also had to admire how hard she was trying to make a better life for herself, even though it wasn’t exactly easy. So all that to say that even if the story wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be, Eponine herself still broke my heart little. 

Though the story wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be, I still found myself enjoying Susan Fletcher’s A Little in Love. If, like me, you’re a fan of Les Miserables, this book is worth checking out.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

In the Dark by Monica Murphy


Title: In the Dark (The Rules #2)
Author: Monica Murphy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC from WordSmith Publicity
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Stuck spending the summer with his screwed up family, Gabriel Walker is bored out of his mind and looking for adventure. And he seems to find it with the hot girl who lives next door. The attraction between them is instant. Electric. Soon they’re spending every stolen minute together. Talk about the perfect summer fling…

Lucy isn’t what she seems. She doesn’t live next door—she’s the girl who’s been hired to house sit for the summer while the family goes on a worldwide vacation. If Gabe wants to believe she’s a spoiled rich girl looking for some fun, she can go along with that. After the summer, she’ll never see him again.

They don’t count on running into each other at college. Now Lucy must keep up the prettiness of being a rich girl—and it’s exhausting. She knows she’s falling in love with Gave and she’s scared he feels the same. Will he still care about he discovers the truth?

Earlier this summer, I loved reading the first book in Monica Murphy’s The Rules series. It was fun, it was flirty and had some awesome banter. And the second book in this series, In the Dark, was just as good as the first.

The last thing Gabriel Walker wanted to do the summer before his last year of college was be stuck in a house with his parents. Gabe was counting down the days until the end of summer, but when he noticed the hot girl staying at the house next door, things started looking up. Lucy scored a great summer job: house sitting a house on the beach and spending her days reading by the pool. When Gabe, the hot guy staying next door, comes around and assumes he’s just a spoiled rich girl, Lucy goes along with it. After all, once summer is over it’s not like she’s going to see Gabe again. At least, that’s what should have happened. When they run into each other at school, Gabe and Lucy will have to come to terms with the fact that maybe what they had wasn’t just a summer fling after all.

When I read Monica Murphy’s Fair Game earlier this summer, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I mean, I knew going in that there was a very strong likelihood that I would enjoy the story. It’s New Adult and it’s romance, basically it had my name written all over it. But I quickly fell in love with what I was reading and by the time I finished, I was more than looking forward to reading more. So I was totally excited about In the Dark. And it absolutely didn’t disappoint me. Much like with the first book, I loved that this story was more than just a fluffy and flirty romance. Sure, the romance was fun and I loved every minute of it. But there were also deeper elements to the story, especially with the romance that only made me love it that much more. It’s all hard to explain without diving too much into the details and spoiling things, but just no that with In the Dark you’re getting more than just a fun romance. And I loved the way the romance happened. How it felt like it happened all at once, and then it happened all over again. Have I mentioned that the romance in In the Dark was great? In case it wasn’t obvious let me say it again, the romance and the relationship between Gabe and Lucy was fantastic and I loved it.

I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved Gabe and Lucy. I had gotten glimpses of Gabe in the first book and I’ll be honest and say that he didn’t exactly make a great first impression. But at the same time I had had the same thoughts about Shep and that turned out for the best. And the same thing happened with Gabe. As much as I didn’t think much of him in the first book, from the moment I started reading In the Dark, I really liked him. Sure, there were times when I questioned why he was doing certain things but that didn’t mean I didn’t like him. And I loved Lucy as well. Granted I didn’t always agree with her lying about her family and her background, but at the same time I could understand why she was doing it. Outside of that, I loved Lucy. And it should go without saying that I loved Lucy and Gabe together. I loved their summer relationship, and I loved their relationship once they were together at school. And when unexpected things happened, they were there for each other. Well for the most part, but it worked out in the end and that’s all that really mattered. So moral of the story, I loved Gabe and Lucy.

In case it wasn’t super obvious by now, I absolutely loved Monica Murphy’s In the Dark. This is the kind of book that you start reading and don’t want to put down until you’re finished. Though I’ll be sad to see the end of the Rules series, I still can’t wait to read Tristan’s story in Slow Play.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines


Title: Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1)
Author: Abbi Glines
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two year ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father, son the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

This is where I admit that I have never read a book by Abbi Glines. At least that was true until last week when I read Until Friday Night. And though there were parts of the book that weren’t my favourite, I still found myself really enjoying this story while reading it.

Everyone in Lawton, Alabama knows West Ashby as one of the stars of the high school football team. And that comes with certain expectations that West is more than happy to live up to. But at home, things are different. At home, West is trying to just keep it together while he slowly watches his father die of cancer. Just when he things he can’t hold it all in anymore, Maggie Carleton comes to town and West sees her as the perfect person to talk to. It’s not like the girl who doesn’t talk could tell his secrets to anyone. Maggie has been through her fare share of trauma and grief and she hasn’t spoken since she told the police everything that happened on the night her father killed her mother. But spending time with West, Maggie finds herself wanting to talk again, wanting to him because no one was there to help her at the time. And before either one of them knows what’s happening, a connection they both need and rely on forms between them. 

If you want a foolproof way to get me to read a book, compare it to Friday Night Lights. Or say that it’s for fans of Friday Night Lights. Basically, just mention Friday Night Lights in some way, shape or form in relation to the book and it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll want to read it. So I’m sure you can all guess what happened when I heard Abbi Glines’s  Until Friday Night being compared to Friday Night Lights. If you guessed that I suddenly desperately wanted to read it, you guessed right. I was excited about Until Friday Night, I couldn’t wait to read. But then I started seeing reviews and I got a little nervous. People seemed to either love the book or completely hate it. Based on that, I got a little worried I would fall on the hate side of things and then I would be disappointed because I had been so excited about the book. But as scared as I was, I started reading and quickly found myself enjoying the story. And that kept up throughout the whole book. Sure, there were some things that I wasn’t completely okay with, but that’s true for a lot of what I read. And some of those things along the way that I was really not  okay with, and many of those were addressed which made me happy. Until Friday Night might not have become quite the favourite I had hoped it would be, but it was till a story I found myself really enjoying while reading and got me curious enough to see where Abbi Glines will take the series next.

Despite having some issues with him along the way, I liked West pretty much right from the start. Granted, I would sometimes get frustrated with the front he would put up around people, I really liked his more vulnerable side, the side of him that saw his father as his hero and would do anything for his mother. That side of West I was more than happy to get behind and it was the side I wanted him to show to everyone. At least he showed Maggie that side of him pretty quickly so threw as that. And that brings me to Maggie. I can only begin to imagine the horror of what she had gone through and the strength it took to come out of it on the other side. So I was hoping that West would treat her right. And he did. Until some of his behaviour really rubbed me the wrong way. And without revealing too much, the behaviour in question was addressed in no uncertain terms. And that made me happy. Because it needed to be addressed. And then there were the other female characters in the story. Without getting too into it, let’s just say that they weren’t exactly portrayed in the best light and it felt like at times that was done to make Maggie look better. I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with the way the girls behaved, but there were some troubling elements to their depiction. So there was that. But other than that, I liked the characters and I’m curious about a good number of them and I’m looking forward to finding out more about them in future books. 

Though it wasn’t entirely what I had hoped it would be, I still really enjoyed reading Abbi Glines’s Until Friday Night. And I still very much look forward to seeing what Abbi Glines will do with the future books in the Field Party series. 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bounce by Noelle August


Title: Bounce (Boomerang #3)
Author: Noelle August
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Playing the occasional club gig just isn’t cutting it for twenty-two-year-old cellist player Skyler Canby, who’s trying to support herself and her mother back home in Kentucky. Persuaded by her best friend Beth to accompany her on an audition of rate first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment she figures why not? Beth’s a shoe-in for the lead, but maybe Skyler’s newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out enough to score a small speaking part.

Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she’ll land the lead role or that she’ll have her shoes knocked off her feet by the kiss her audition partner, Grey Blackwood, plants on her—a kiss that feels very real an not at all “acted.”

After throwing a party that causes thousands of dollars of damage to his older brother’s home, reckless musician Grey Blackwood gets roped into working off his debt on the set of his CEO brother’s newest project. Grey spends his days fetching coffee and doing odd jobs around the studio, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. Heinous if he can stay focused, success as a singer is just around the corner. But that’s tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought.

Skyler and Grey have every reason to resist each other. But, like a song neither of them can get out of their minds, they have no choice but to go where the music takes them. 

Though I haven’t reviewed the first two books, I have been loving Noelle August’s Boomerang series. I was really excited about the release of Bounce and I can now officially say that out of the three books, it’s officially my favourite.

Skyler loves the cello and performing in clubs, but it’s not easy supporting yourself only on club gigs. Unless she finds a way to make money fast, she’s going to have to move back home to Kentucky even if it’s the last thing she wants to do. When her best friend convinces her to join her at a film audition for Blackwood Entertainment, Skyler figures she has nothing to lose. But she also never thought that she would be cast as the lead or that she would feel an instant connection to Grey Blackwood. Grey has a lot to make up for. After throwing a party and trashing his brother’s home, Grey finds himself working on the set of his brother’s latest project. The one upside to working at the studio is getting to spend more time with Skyler. They both know they should resist the attraction that’s between them, but Grey and Skyler can only deny their feelings for so long.

I love fun and flirty New Adult. Don’t get me wrong, I also love my sexy-times filled NAs, but there are times when all I want is an adorable story that’s fun and flirty. And that’s why I’ve been loving Noelle August’s Boomerang series in the last year. Though I haven’t reviewed the first two books in the series, Boomerang and Rebound, I loved them and they only made me more excited about the final book, Bounce. And let me just say that Bounce is officially my favourite out of all three. With the second book, I had gotten curious about Grey and I wanted to know more about him. There was just something about him that drew me in so I was really excited to finally get to read his story. And his story didn’t disappoint me. Bounce completely drew me in, until a few hours later I realized that I had spent my entire afternoon reading the book. And I didn’t regret that one bit. This story was fun and the romance was everything I had wanted it to be. And that’s because Grey and Skyler became friends before they became anything else and those are my favourite kinds of romance. 

So Grey and Skyler. Can I just say that I loved them and leave it at that? I mean, that’s really all there is to it. I loved them as individuals right from the start, and then I loved the potential for a romantic relationship between them. And when that didn’t really happen, I absolutely loved them as friends. And then I loved them as something more than friends. Can you tell, yet, that I loved them? But for real though, I was curious about Grey based on what I had seen of him in the first two books. And when I started reading Bounce, I was pretty much instantly charmed by him. And even though sometimes there were moments when I sort of wanted to slap some sense into him, I still loved him and was rooting for him all throughout the book. And the same pretty much goes for Skyler. I loved her from the start, and I understood her tendency to want to take care of everyone around her, sometimes at her own expense. And like with Grey, there were certainly some occasions where I wanted to slap some sense into her. But at the end of the day, what they did is what ended up bringing them together and seeing all that happen was my favourite part of this story. So it’s not like I can really complain. 

Noelle August’s Bounce was absolutely fantastic. There was just so much that I loved about this story and nothing I could really say would come close to doing it justice. So just read it, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle


Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
For fans of We Were Liars and How I Live Now comes a haunting, sexy, magically realistic debut about a family caught between a violent history, a taboo romance, and the mysteries lurking in their own backyard.

Every October, Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident seasons—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

For most of 2015, I’ve been reading primarily contemporary books. But there are always a couple books that stand out to me in other genres and I’m curious about reading them. I had heard so many great things about Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season and those great things, and more, proved absolutely true.

To the outside world, Cara and her family just look like they’re extremely clumsy, especially when October rolls around. But they know better. For reasons they can’t explain, every October, Cara and her family become extremely accident-prone. Some years it’s not too bad, a few scrapes and bruises, maybe a broken bone. But there are other years when it’s especially bad, like the year her father died. This year, it’s hoping up to be especially bad. But it’s also the year that they may finally get some answers, about the accident season and about their family’s story. But Cara might not be ready for it all.

So here’s something you might have noticed if you’ve been following my reviews for some time. When I first started blogging, I read just about any genre of YA. But over the last couple of years, I’ve started reading mostly contemporary, forgetting that there are other genres out there. That doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention to other genres, because I totally am. And when a book catches my attention, I am more than willing to hit pause on all the contemporary and pick up another book. After hearing so much about Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season, I just knew that I had to read it. And here’s the thing, for the majority of the book, it almost felt like I was reading a contemporary story. Sure there was clearly something a little out of the norm happening, what with all the seemingly unexplainable accidents and the fact that Cara and her friends were the only ones who seemed to even know of Elsie’s existence. But there always seemed to be a logical explanation for what was happening. Until there wasn’t and then things took a little magical turn. Or so I thought. Even now, after having finished reading The Accident Season, I’m still not sure if there was something magical happening. But that only made the story that much more interesting and intriguing. And I loved it.

Here’s the thing about the characters in The Accident Season: because of the nature of the story, there were times when I questioned whether or not they were real. It made for an interesting reading experience because of the fact that I was always doubting what I was being told about the people in the story. It’s not so much that Cara was an unreliable narrator, because she wasn’t, but because she sometimes was starting to doubt some people’s existence. Like I said, it was interesting. But the good kind of interesting, the kind that makes you want to read more. Beyond Cara, the other characters in The Accident Season were interesting to read about. And I will admit that the whole time I was reading, I was hoping for some romance between Cara and Sam. And I sort of got my wish, but I also didn’t. This is what happens when I read too much contemporary romance, I start hoping for romance in everything I read. But in the grand scheme of things the lack of romance, didn’t take away from my enjoyment of The Accident Season. At all.

Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season was so different from everything I’e been reading lately and I loved reading it. It was mysterious, it was creepy and at times it even messed with my head a little. It was absolutely worth the read.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Series Review - The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen







Every so often, I go through a period where I read a series in a really short amount of time. That's what happened with Sarina' Bowen's Ivy Years series: I read the four full-length books that are out in the span of a week.

THE SERIES

This series revolves around the Harkness College men's hockey team, its players, and the people linked to the team. Thought there were some things in the books that weren't always my favourite, I still got completely sucked into the books and loved reading every single one of the books and I can't wait for more books in this series.


Title: The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: March 20, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be-real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

And he’s taken.

Nevertheless an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness—one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

Corey was supposed to play hockey in college but an accident during a game puts her in a wheel chair and ends her hockey career. When she gets to Harkness College, her dorm room is across the hall from Adam Hartley's. Hartley, the star of the men's hockey team, is out for the season with a fractured leg. There's an instant connection between Corey and Hartley, but there's one problem: Hartley's already taken.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the story in The Year We Fell Down because of the fact that Harley is supposed to be with someone else for a good chunk of the book. I'm not opposed to cheating in books if it's done right, in fact I've written a whole post on the subject. But I was afraid of what it would mean for Corey in this particular case. So I started reading, a little apprehensively, and I immediately fell in love with the friendship that Corey and Hartley had going. It was really fun to read the back and forth between them. But then the story took an interesting turn and I wasn't sure how to feel. I loved Hartley and Corey but I wasn't sure what to feel about what one of them does. There was some seriously questionable behaviour and I didn't know how it was going to play out in the rest of the story. By the end of the book, things had been worked out and I was happy with the way it all went down. Out of the whole series (or at least what's out so far), The Year We Fell Down wasn't my favourite, but it was still a story I really enjoyed reading and one that convinced me to check out the rest of the Ivy Years series.



Title: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: June 1, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day her father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new study ID—with a newly minted name on it—she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCalley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet. 

The two form a tentative relationship based not eh understanding that somethings must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it along just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep. 

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

College is going to be Scarlet's fresh start. She's changed her name to escape her family drama and she's hoping to fly under the radar when she gets to Harkness. Bridger was a star on the men's hockey team until last year. But now his family has to come first. That means protecting his little sister and hoping no one finds out she's been staying in his dorm room. Scarlet and Bridger tentatively start a relationship, but with the state of each of their lives, everything could quickly and easily fall apart.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I was really curious about The Year We Hid Away. I'd gotten to know Bridger briefly in the first book and wanted to find out more about him. And I wanted to know more about Scarlet based on the synopsis. There ended up being a lot more to the story than I thought there was going to be: Scarlet had to deal with the fact that her famous father was arrested on child molestation charges, while Bridger had to care for his little sister because their junkie mother was putting her in danger. It was really interesting to read these two people's stories individually, but also seeing them come together and support the other with what they were going through. In light of everything they were going through, I was really rooting for Scarlet and Bridger, individually and as a couple. Also, it should be said that Bridger's little sister was adorable and there were plenty of times when she totally stole the show for me. I loved The Year We Hid Away. There were many moments when this story broke my heart but in the end, I loved the way this story all came together. 




Title: The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years #3)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: October 15, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, imchael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenceless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused. 

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Richer didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, he’s former…best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

Graham and Rikker were more than friends in high school. But one horrible day changed all of that. Fast forward five years and Rikker is transferring to Harkness College and will be playing on the same hokey team as Graham. Rikker knows who he is and knows what he wants. Graham has been repressing who he is for so long that he doesn't know who he is anymore. Rikker and Graham are set to either self-destruct or finally find their way to another once and for all.

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Understatement of the Year is my favourite of the Ivy Years books that have been published so far. There is nothing I didn't love about this story. I loved that Graham and Rikker had so much history before this story even started. It made for some really interesting and entertaining interactions between them. And I of course loved Rikker and Graham themselves and I wanted for them to be together once and for all so badly. Basically, The Understatement of the Year gave me SO MANY FEELS and continued my streak of good luck when it comes to absolutely fantastic m/m reads this year. I just want to yell about my love for this book from the rooftops and tell everyone I know to read it because it is an absolutely amazing and beautiful stories that will give you ALL THE FEELS.




Title: The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years #4)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: April 12, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after they spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rate is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bellea is levelled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Good bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

Bella loves hockey players and isn't shy about it. She doesn't care about what people say about her behind her back, and sometimes even to her face. She's never had trouble with boys before, so she can't quite understand what went wrong after the night she spent with Rafe. Rafe doesn't do hook ups and he can't believe what happened with him and Bella. When Bella is the victim of a fraternity prank, Rafe is determined to help her, even if Bella isn't interested in his help.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I loved The Shameless Hour, especially because of the way Sarina Bowen handled the topic of slut shaming through Bella and what happened to her. I already knew Bella from the previous books in the series and already kind of loved her before I even started reading The Shameless Hour. So what happens to her in this book broke my heart and I was so angry on her behalf. What happened to her was horrible and I loved that is wasn't handled lightly or brushed away in the story. And I loved Rafe for how he was with Bella. I was immediately charmed by Rafe and my love for him just grew with every page of this story that I read. He was the best kind of guy you could ask for. And I also want to mention Lianne because she was fantastic and I can't wait to read her story. The Shameless Hour was a fantastic story and one that handles the issue of slut shaming right. And when it comes down to it, we need more books that do that.

VERDICT ON THE SERIES?

I am so totally loving Sarina Bowen's Ivy Years series. I love the sports romance just as much as I love the various topics and issues that have been handled in each of the books. I've loved each of the books I've read so far and I can't wait to read more. The Fifteenth Minute just can't come soon enough!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino


Title: Before We Were Strangers
Author: Renée Carlino
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in new York City.

To the Green-Eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. It died to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

M

Despite owning two of her books and having heard nothing but good things about them, I hadn’t yet read any of Renée Caroline’s books. But I was curious about Before We Were Strangers and its premise. And this book did not disappoint in the least.

Fifteen years ago, Matt and Grace met, became friends and fell in love. For a year, they were inseparable, spending every minute they could together. Playing music, taking pictures, and enjoying life in New York City. But after a year, it all fell apart and Matt and Grace lost touch. But a chance sighting on a subway platform brings back feelings both of them had long thought had been buried. A lot can happen in fifteen years, and this could be Matt and Grace’s second chance at love.

Before We Were Strangers is the first of Renée Carlino’s books that I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. When I first heard about the premise for this one, I was very curious about what the story would end up being. I wanted to know more about this story about two people who reconnect after fifteen years thanks to a missed connection post. And I love a good second chance romance story. Basically, it was like Before We Were Strangers was calling out my name and I had no choice but to read it. And this story, guys. I loved the way it was told, how I got to see Matt and Grace falling in love at 22 just like I got to see them reconnecting when they were 36. And I honestly didn’t think this story would affect me as much as it did. I expected romance, and lots of it, considering what the story is. And I saw revelations coming long before they were revealed, but they still hit me right where it hurts. There were tears involved. Lots of them. And by the time I finished reading Before We Were Strangers, I was basically a puddle of feelings and tears. 

Because of the way the story was told, it was like I got two couples for the price of one: Matt and Grace as college seniors, and Matt and Grace as 36-year-olds. And actually, it’s almost like I got to see three versions of them, because the story went from the present to the past and back to the present. Does what I’m saying even make sense? Hopefully it does. This is all to say that I loved seeing who these two people were as young adults who were trying to find their way in the world. And how, finding each other again once they were older, was almost like they were brought back to life, like they were finally living the life they had hoped to be living. Basically, there wasn’t a single moment  in Before We Were Strangers when I wasn’t rooting for Matt and Grace, whether that was in the late 90s or in the present day. I wanted these two people to be together and I loved seeing them together. And they were absolutely responsible for a lot of the crying I did while reading.

Renée Carlino’s Before We Were Strangers was a beautiful story of second chance romance. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and most of all I loved every single page I read. And those other Renée Carlino books sitting on shelves? They are absolutely getting read.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood


Title: Six Impossible Things
Author: Fiona Wood
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
1. Kiss Estelle.
2. Get a job.
3. Cheer my mother up.
4. Try not to be a complete nerd/loser.
5. Talk to my father when he calls.
6. Figure out how to be good.

Nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a whole heap of problems, including a reversal of family fortune, moving, new-school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and a massive crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things…

In this charming story of one guy’s efforts to get it together when his life is falling apart, award-winning author Fiona Wood introduces an irresistible voice and a delightfully awkward character who is impossible to forget.

Last year, I read Fiona Wood’s Wildlife which kind of flew under the radar. It was a quiet story that I enjoyed reading and left me looking forward to reading more from this author. And along came Six Impossible Things. Much like with Fiona Wood’s other book, it was a quiet story and it was one I enjoyed reading.

Dan Cereill’s life is falling apart. His father lost the family fortune and announced he was gay, his mother is trying to make a living as a wedding cake baker and failing, and he has to start at a new school where he doesn’t know anyone…other than the girl living next door who he has a crush on despite having never talked to her. There’s a lot happening all at once, but there are six things in particular Dan thinks he can handle, no matter how impossible they might seem. And if he can do those six things then maybe he can start putting his life back together.

So here’s an interesting bit of information for those of you who are curious: though it was published after Wildlife in North America, Six Impossible Things was actually Fiona Wood’s debut novel and it features some of the main characters from Wildlife before the events that happen in Wildlife. Did that make sense? All that to say that reading Six Impossible Things AFTER Wildlife made for an interesting reading experience. Nothing was really spoiled, thought that might have more to do with me sucking at remembering details sometimes, but there were moments when I was like “Right! This is such and such from Wildlife” and then just keep on reading. If anything, it might have even made my Six Impossible Things reading experience more interesting. Beyond that, Six Impossible Things is very much a quiet story. There isn’t much that happens in terms of action and it’s instead about the journey Dan goes through as an individual between the start and end of the book. It’s about the small moments that, when they’re all put together, help you move on when you feel like everything around you is falling apart. And all things considering, Dan does a pretty good job figuring it out.

When I started reading Six Impossible Things I wasn’t entirely sure about how I was going to feel about Dan. And that’s because of his age. I sometimes get nervous when reading younger YA. I’m never sure how certain topics are going to be tackled or if the story will feel realistic for the age of the character. But I didn’t have to worry about anything in this particular case. Dan felt like an almost-fifteen-year-old and the story felt right for him. Dan had a unique voice, and told his story in a way that was entirely his own. And he made me smile, just as much as sometimes he was totally pulling on my heartstrings. And joining Dan was a great cast of supporting characters, from his mother trying to make a living baking wedding cakes but turns all potential clients off of marriage to Estelle, the girl next door he’s crushing on and may have possibly accidentally stalked. So yeah, there were definitely some interesting situations in this book, but they were a lot of fun.

I really enjoyed Fiona Wood’s Six Impossible Things. Much like her with Wildlife, it feels like it has so far flown under the radar. If you’re looking for a quieter YA with a grate male narrator, this is the book for you.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Finding Center by Katherine Locke


Title: Finding Center (District Ballet Company #2)
Author: Katherine Locke
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: August 17, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Zed and ballet are my two greatest loves.

But a tragic accident ripped them from Aly’s life six years ago and it took all her strength to get them back. She’s had a long road to recovery and has returned, dancing full-time for The District Ballet Company and carrying Zed’s child. But Aly is slipping. Each day becomes a fight to keep her career from crumbling under the weight of younger talent, the scrutiny of the public eye, and the limitations of her ever-changing body. A fight she fears she’s losing.

I’m scared Aly is broken to her core.

Zed recognizes signs, but he doesn’t know how to fix her. The accident left him with his own demons, and while he wants nothing more than to take care of Aly, it’s getting harder the further she spirals. When Aly’s life is threatened and Zed’s injuries prevent him from saving her, he’s never felt so useless, so afraid he is no longer capable of being the man Aly and their child needs.

With new life comes new hope. And with their fractured lives already hanging by a thread, Aly and Zed must discover if they have what it takes—both together and apart—to rebuild and carry on.

Earlier this summer I finally read Katherine Locke’s Turning Pointe and Second Position and loved reading about these two flawed ballet dancers. And I wanted more. With Finding Center, I got everything I wanted and loved reading this story. 

Six years ago, everything fell apart for Zed and Aly. Slowly, they’ve been working and finding their way back to themselves. Now they’re together, and though it’s a battle everyday, everything is going well for them. But Aly is pregnant again, and all her old fears are coming back. Zed wants nothing more than to be there for Aly and to be what she needs, but he can only do thatZed has his own demons to fight. Zed and Aly are hanging on, but everything could fall apart again at any moment.

Just over a month ago, I read Second Position and pretty much tore through it. Though it didn’t end up being exactly what I wanted, I fell in love with the story and the characters that Katherine Locke wrote. I got attached to Zed and Aly, I got fully invested in their story. And when I finished reading, I wanted more of them. So Finding Center? Exactly what I wanted and exactly what I needed when I read it. Where Second Position was surprisingly dark, Finding Center was somewhat lighter. There were still plenty of moments where the story took a darker turn. I mean, how can it not being a story about an alcoholic and a ballerina who suffers from anorexia and anxiety, amongst other issues. While the first book was about Zed and Aly reconnecting after being away from each other for four years, Finding Center was about them finding their way. It led to many touching moments that warmed my heart, sometimes even bringing me close to tears. I was happy to be able to read this part of their story. And more than anything, I absolutely loved how it all came full circle and ended.

I already loved Zed and Aly after reading Second Position and I love them even more having now read Finding Center. When this part of their story starts, they’ve been together for two years and are slowly finding their way. Reading their story, I can see that it’s not always easy for them, but they do their best, being there for each other and supporting each other.  Even though it’s not perfect, and Aly and Zed both have their flaws, I just love their relationship, the way that they are there for each other and that being together makes them want to be their best self. I’m not going to lie, there were quite a few moments when Zed and Aly totally brought me to tears (the good kind) and that made me love them more. And, like I’ve said already, I loved the way their story came full circle and they more than got their happy ending. And that happy ending made me so happy for Zed and Aly. And there were more tears involved on my part, because that’s apparently how I roll. 

I loved Katherine Locke’s Finding Center even more than I loved Second Position. This story made me smile and it made me cry and it gave me the happy ending I was so hoping for for these characters. And even though they got their happy ending, I wouldn’t be opposed to more stories about Zed and Aly.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick


Title: The Boy Most Likely To
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Source: Borrowed ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
A surprising, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door—great for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house.

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To…well, not date her little bother’s baggage-burdened best friend for starters.

For Time, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Time has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting tow wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When those two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted…but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Time’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door is one of my favourite books of all time. When I heard that there would be a companion, I was over the moon. When I found out that the companion would be about Tim, my excitement level sky-rocketed. So The Boy Most Likely To? It exceeded any and all expectations I may have had.

Tim has never been someone people rely on. He’s always been a bit of a screw-up and he knows it. Now he has to face the consequences of his past. When his father decides that it’s time for Tim to finally man up, Tim finds himself living above his best friend’s garage and trying to put the pieces of his life back together. What he didn’t expect is that is for his past to come back and turn his life upside down in a whole new way. Alice Garrett knows better than to get involved with her little brother’s best friend. She has enough on her plate with her own family without getting caught up in Tim’s problems as well. But Alice can’t seem to stay away from Tim and before she’s able to stop herself, she’s in the middle of everything and she can’t deny her feelings for much longer. 

I’ve already said it, but My Life Next Door is one of my favourite books of all time. There’s just so much I love about the story and the characters and I will always want more. When I found out that Huntley Fitzpatrick was writing a companion about Tim and Alice I was over the moon. They were both characters I thought had their own story to tell and getting to read that story was absolutely fantastic. The Boy Most Likely To went beyond any expectations I may have had. The story was moving and emotional. While reading, I went through what felt like the entire range of human emotions. I would smile and laugh about Tim’s antics or Alice’s exasperation with him. But then a few pages later it would feel like I had just been punched in the gut. I was basically a mess after I finished reading. I was smiling through my tears. And when I say tears, I mean full on ugly crying. As much as I loved the story, there was more than one occasion when I wanted to yell at the book or throw it across the room because I was NOT HAPPY with what was happening. But I knew it was what needed to happen in the story which only made me cry that much more. The Boy Most Likely To was just an emotional read, there’s no way around it. But it was so worth it and I couldn’t have asked for better for Tim and Alice’s story.

After reading My Life Next Door, I already had a huge soft spot for Tim. Even though he might not have been the main focus of that story, I was curious about him and I wanted to know more about him. It just felt like he had so much to tell and I am so happy he got to tell that story in The Boy Most Likely To. Tim was the furthest thing from perfect. For the better part of his life he was a screw up and he knows it and he wants to do better and he was trying. And that made me love him so much. And Tim was responsible for so many of the emotions I had while reading, the happy ones and the heartbreaking ones. I could seriously go on about Tim all day long because I loved him that much and he has officially become one of my favourite book boys of all time. And Alice. Well, Alice was not quite who I thought she was going to be. She always seemed like someone who doesn’t take crap from anyone. And she didn’t. But at the same time, she was someone who would always put everyone else ahead of her, regardless of the sacrifices she had to make in the process. So while I was reading, I wanted Alice to finally do something for herself. And I wasn’t the only one who wanted that for her and that made me happy. And in case you were wondering, George and Patty, the two youngest of the Garrett family, are just as hilarious and adorable as in the first book.

Huntley Fiztpatrick’s The Boy Most Likely To was so much more that I could ever have hoped it would be. It was an emotional read that hit all the right notes and left me wanting more. I can only hope that Huntley Fitzpatrick will continue writing about the Garrett family in the future.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cover Reveal - Missing Dixie by Caisey Quinn + Giveaway





I am so excited to be part of this weekend cover reveal blitz for the final book in Caisey Quinn's Neon Dreams series, Missing Dixie. I've been lucky enough to read the book already and I can tell you that it was definitely the kind of conclusion I was hoping for for this series. So keep on reading for a look at the cover, some teasers and a giveaway. And if you haven't seen it already, be sure to head over to the USA Today cover reveal featuring a chat about NA with Caisey Quinn, Cora Carmack and Sophie Jordan.


Pre-Order Missing Dixie
Fighting for redemption…

I’ve lived most of my life in darkness, beneath the shadows of secrets and addictions. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt the only girl I’d ever loved—the one who brought me into the light. In my entire life I’d made one promise—a promise I’d intended to keep. I’ve broken that promise and now I have to live with the fallout. Dixie Lark hates me, and I have to tell her that I love her. I also have to tell a truth that might destroy us forever.

Can she love me even if she can’t forgive me?

Learning to move on…

Gavin Garrison broke his promise to my brother and he broke my heart in the process. I may never love anyone the way I’ve loved him, but at least I won’t spend my life wondering what if. We had our one night and he walked away. I’m finally beginning to move on when my brother’s wedding and a battle of the bands brings us back together.


Our band is getting a second chance, but I don’t know if I can give him one. How do you hand your heart back to the person who set it on fire once already?

Teasers!

Want a glimpse at some of what's to come in Missing Dixie? Check out the teasers below, they won't disappoint you and will definitely leave you wanting more.






Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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