Friday, October 23, 2015

Missing Dixie by Caisey Quinn + Giveaway!

Title: Missing Dixie (Neon Dreams #3)
Author: Caisey Quinn
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
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?

With the first two books in her Neon Dreams trilogy, Caisey Quinn easily became one of my favourite authors when it comes to New Adult romance. And Missing Dixie? Well it broke my heart, put it back together, and it was the perfect conclusion to this story.

Gavin Garrison has always loved Dixie Lark. In a life filled with darkness, she’s been the one constant bright spot. The last thing Gavin has ever wanted to do was hurt Dixie, but now he has and is determined to make it right. In order to do so, he first has to put his life in order so he can have a chance at earning her forgiveness. But Dixie is done waiting for Gavin to make his choice. She can’t keep living her life wondering if Gavin will ever stop returning back to the darkness. She will always love him, even if loving him means letting him go. With the band reuniting for one last chance at what they’ve always wanted, Gavin and Dixie are being given a second chance at being together. But after everything that’s happened, are they willing to risk heartbreak once again?

Early in 2015, I read Leaving Amarillo and absolutely loved it. I was ecstatic to find out it was the first in a trilogy and I was wondering how the next two books would live up to this one. Then in the spring I read Loving Dallas and I loved it even more than the first book and that took me completely by surprise. And of course after that I was worried that the final book couldn’t possibly be able to live up to what I had it built up to in my mind. And now, well, I’ve already read Missing Dixie twice and I’m honestly ready to read it a third time when I pick up my copy next week. That’s how good it was. Missing Dixie was definitely darker than the other two books in the trilogy. Considering this was Gavin’s story, it had to be. And because of that darkness, there were times when Missing Dixie seriously broke my heart. But just as much as it felt like my heart was breaking, this story was also helping preparing the damage it was causing. After having finished the book, I would even have gone so far as to say that Missing Dixie was heartwarming. This is just a story that will give you ALL THE FEELINGS. I could go on and on about everything I felt while reading Missing Dixie because this story was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. But it’s a rollercoaster that’s absolutely worth being on.

I have been rooting for Gavin and Dixie since the opening of Leaving Amarillo. I had high hopes and expectations for their romance. And had Missing Dixie not given me the happily ever after I so wanted for them, I would have been seriously angry. But Caisey Quinn didn’t let me down on that front. Getting to see so much of Dixie again was interesting. She’s grown so much since Leaving Amarillo, and in Missing Dixie she finally knows who she is and what (and who) she wants. I loved seeing that growth and the strength that came from that growth. And it’s just hard to not love Dixie what with the incredibly huge heart she has. And Gavin, well, he pretty much broke my heart. But in a good way. I knew from what had been said in the first two books that he hasn’t had an easy life. But getting to find out all about it from him just broke my heart. I wanted him to leave that darkness behind and do something for himself instead of always getting dragged back in his mom’s crap. But as much as Gavin’s story broke my heart, there were other times when he made my heart feel totally warm and happy. And he may have made me tear up once or twice. Just saying. More than Dixie and Gavin’s romance, the part of Missing Dixie that totally stole my heart was Liam’s story. I dare you not to have your heartbroken by this little boy’s story. But don’t worry, his story is not all heartbreak thanks to Gavin, Dixie, Dallas and Robyn.

Missing Dixie was everything I could have possibly hoped for. Caisey Quinn wrote a better conclusion than I could have ever hoped for these characters. This story broke my heart, put it back together, and took me on an emotional ride. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.


If you haven't started Caisey Quinn's Neon Dreams series yet, your are seriously missing out. Lucky for you, I'm giving away 3 copies of the first book, Leaving Amarillo (my review), on Kindle. Interested? Just enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Frosh: First Blush by Mónica B. Wagner

Title: Frosh: First Blush (Frosh #1)
Author: Mónica B. Wagner
Publisher: The Studio - Paper Lantern Lit
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
During welcome week at Hillson University, the FROSH will hit the fan.

Type-A aspiring journalist Ellie plans to take freshman year by storm. But hellbent on breaking a huge on-campus scandal, she risks becoming one herself—and getting the mysterious, heart-melting QB in serious trouble.

Grant, star quarterback and charismatic chick-magnet, is hiding a life-altering secret. The last thing he needs is an overeager (absolutely adorable) journalist asking questions. He’s got a reputation to protect.

High-society legacy student Devon is ready to catch the football hottie of her dreams. If the tabloids feature her with the “it” boy on her arm, her tainted past will be buried—or so she thinks.

Charlie, pre-med, is done being the sweet and funny geek that girls like Devon ignore. But if he tried to impress her with a new edgy, spontaneous attitude, will his heart end up in the emergency room?

FROSH intertwines the stories of Ellie, Grant, Devon, and Charlie in Mónica B. Wagner’s sexy NA debut series, about falling in love and falling apart. 

We all know by now that I’m a sucker for New Adult stories, especially when they’re actually set in a college. So I was really intrigued when I heard about Mónica B. Wagner’s Frosh: First Blush. Even if this story wasn’t quite what I expected, I still found myself to really enjoy reading it. 

Ellie is determined to make a good impression at the Hillson Daily Nexus and land that editorial assistant position. All she has to do is dig up dirt on the new starting quarterback. And Ellie is willing to do just about anything for her story. She just never thought that doing anything for the story would involve developing confusing feelings for her subject. The last thing Grant wants is to have a reporter following him around. He doesn’t need anyone finding out about his shoulder. But he doesn’t mind Ellie. In fact he likes her, too bad she’s the reporter trailing him. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s Devon who keeps popping up everywhere he is, determined to make him hers. The way she sees it, dating Grant would be the way to finally burry her family’s scandal-filled past. But even if she thinks she wants Grant, the person Devon can’t stop thinking about is Charlie, the cute and funny pre-med geek she hooked up with. Charlie didn’t think a girl like Devon would ever be interested in him. But now that something’s happened between them, he’s determined to keep it going. If only she would give him the time of day. Who said navigating the first week of college would be easy?

When I first read the synopsis for Mónica B. Wagner’s Frosh: First Blush, I was intrigued. I’m always curious about stories that weave together the plotlessness of different characters in a way that results in all of them intersecting in some way or another. That kind of story just appeals to me and I’m always trying to figure out how the different plot lines fit, or how they’re going to come together. It totally keeps me going when I’m reading. And that was absolutely true with Frosh: First Blush. From the moment I started reading, I was trying to piece it all together, figuring out who was who in each of the different’ characters’ chapters. And it was definitely fun seeing how it was all connected. My one issue with the book was how quickly everything seemed to be happening. Basically this entire story takes place between Wednesday and Saturday. And A LOT happens in those four days. I will say that the fact that the story was told from four different perspectives did help. It made it feel reasonable that so much could happen in such a short time if it was happening to four different people and those around them. And by the end of the book, it didn’t really bother me so much anymore. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing what would happen next.

The four main characters in this story were all interesting and so different. But they were also all just trying to figure out this whole college thing. And let’s just say that they weren’t all going about it in the best way. I mean, Ellie was so focused on getting her story for the newspaper that she was pretty much ignoring everything else around her. And she was so determined to only see things one way that she was missing what was right in front of her. Devon kind of had a similar thing going. She was so focused on appearances that she was ignoring the sweet, geeky guy who was pretty much perfect for her. And who she liked even if she wouldn’t admit it to herself. And speaking of that sweet, geeky guy, Charlie was pretty much my favourite. I was always excited whenever the story switched back to his perspective. Not that I didn’t like the other characters, but I pretty much developed a soft spot for Charlie pretty early on. Though, really, the same thing could also be said about Grant. Even if sometimes I wanted to yell at him to stop making stupid decisions. But I liked the decisions he was making by the end of the book so I’m just hoping everything works out for the best.

Even though it wasn’t quite what I expected when I went in, I still really enjoyed reading Mónica B. Wagner’s Frosh: First Blush. The story was fun to read and left me asking for what came next. So you can bet I’ll be reading whatever sequel comes along.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One Life by A.J. Pine + Giveaway!

Title: One Life (Only You #2)
Author: A.J. Pine
Publisher: InterMix
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
In the latest from the author of One Night, tragedy causes a young woman to struggle to keep her head above water, and the only one who can help her is the guy who’s been in the friend zone for the past year…

Every time life throws Zoe Adler a curve ball, she changes her appearance. Freshmen year—after almost following her mother’s alcoholic footsteps—she said good-bye to her blonde, girl-next-door image and opted for jet black hair and piercings galore. After her brother Wyatt’s death, she escapes to the city to teach a summer art program for kids. Her black hair goes blue, and she finds solace in the arms of a longtime friend, in his heart, and in his bed—but her guilt makes her unable to accept the love he wants to give.

Spock might the guy to save Zoe. But when she learns the truth about his past, the edge she’s teetered on since losing Wyatt drops out from under her. The girl who kept it together fore everyone finally fall apart. Now Zoe must choose between drowning in guilt about Wyatt or asking for help. But even if she gets the help she needs, Spock may not be waiting for her when she’s ready to let love in.

Earlier this year, I discovered A.J. Pine by reading One Night and I absolutely loved it. I was so excited when I heard there would be a companion novel, especially since it was going to be about one of my favourite characters from One Night. Needless to say that I absolutely loved One Life

Zoe Adler has always been the one who keeps it together. That’s how she’s gotten to where she is. But when her younger brother dies, Zoe isn’t sure how she’s supposed to be holding it together anymore. Her solution is to escape to the city and to throw herself in teaching art to kids for the summer. When Spock shows up on her doorstep, though, Zoe sees him as an escape. A way to keep going when nothing around her makes sense anymore. But as much as he might want to save Zoe, Spock has some secrets of his own. Secrets that, if they come to light, might send Zoe over the edge. Zoe can only keep drowning in her guilt for so long before she can’t find her way back to the surface. But asking for help could mean losing Spock, the one person Zoe has been able to hold onto in the middle of everything else.

Earlier this year, I kind of half stumbled upon A.J. Pine’s One Night. I say half stumbled because I hadn’t really heard about it when I requested it on NetGalley, but once it landed on my Kindle, I started seeing it everywhere, possibly because I was actually aware of the book at that point. The point is that I loved One Night and I was definitely looking forward to reading more from A.J. Pine, especially if it was going to feature a certain character from One Night. And with One Life, I absolutely got my wish. One Life was an emotional read to say the very least and at times it wasn’t always easy to read. I mean, within the first twenty person of the book, I had already teared up a couple times. Whenever a story revolves around a character losing someone close to them, you know it’s going to be emotional. Combine that with addiction issues, and you know the story is bound to pull at your heartstrings. But despite the serious subject matter, One Life didn’t feel like a heavy story. I mean, yeah, I was close to tears on many occasions, but there were just as many times when I was laughing at Zoe and Spock. And that’s what made me love this story so much. A.J. Pine could have written a story that was just pilling on the heartbreak, she wrote the heartbreak in a way that gave you hope for the characters and balanced the darkness that was there. And that made me love this story.

When I read One Night earlier this year, Zoe was a total standout for me. The story may not have been about her, but I loved her so much by the time I finished reading. When I learned that One Life was going to be about her, I was pretty much ecstatic. A whole book about someone I loved when they were just a secondary character? Yes, please! And finding out more about Zoe in this book only made me love her more. Zoe was such a strong person. And I admired her for that. But at the same time, it felt like she was hiding behind her strength. I just wanted her to let someone in, to let someone see that she wasn’t quite as okay as she let on. And that’s where Spock came in. I loved him. He tried so much to be there for Zoe, even when she was biting his head off for it. He just understood her in a way that no one else around her seemed to. And he was just so perfect for her and in the face of everything, I was totally rooting for them. And I loved getting to see Jess and Adam again. Seeing that they are getting the happily ever after they so deserve. And much like Zoe was a stand out for me in One Night, Dee was a total standout in One Life and I would totally read a book about her. Or one about Patrick because he was pretty amusing too. 

I loved A.J. Pine’s One Life. A story that had the potential to be dark and heavy ended up being a story that both broke and warmed my heart. I can only hope that A.J. Pine continues to write stories featuring characters from this world.


If you haven't read A.J. Pine's One Night and want to do so here's your chance. Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win one (1) of two (2) Kindle copies of the book! And if you want to find out more, check out the review I posted earlier this year!

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Slow Play by Monica Murphy

Title: Slow Play (The Rules #3)
Author: Monica Murphy
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Newly broke girl Alexandria Asher just wants to live a normal life. After her parents are sent to prison on embezzlement charges, she enrolls in college under her mother’s maiden name and tries her best to pretend she’s someone else.

Tristan Prescott is everything Alex is trying to avoid. A seemingly egotistical, lazy, rich jerk, she dumps her beer on his head when he comes on to her one night at a party. This only spurs Tristan into action. He loves nothing more than a challenge And the beautiful Alex is exactly the type of challenge that intrigues him.

Despite her reluctance, Alex finds herself quickly involved with Tristan. Underneath that playboy exterior is a good guy, a sweet and sexy guy who she is undoubtedly falling for. What they both don’t realize is the actions of Alex’s parents the reason for so much tragedy in Tristan’s family. And when Tristan discovers who Alex and her family really is, can he forgive and forget?

In the past few months, Monica Murphy has quickly become an auto-buy author for me. I’ve loved everything of hers that I’ve read and I’m always excited to read more. So it should come as no surprise that I dropped everything to read Slow Play on the day it came out. And I don’t regret that decision one bit.

After everything that happened with her parents, all Alexandria Asher wants is to go to college and have a normal life. But going from having everything to almost nothing is hard. But she’s doing it. And it would be going fine if it weren’t for Tristan Prescott, the campus manwhore and egotistical asshole. Alex doesn’t want anything to do with Tristan, but Tristan seems determined to get to Alex. Tristan enjoys the challenge of trying to get Alexandria into his bed. Girls don’t say no to him and her constant rejections just spur him on. Neither one of them was looking for a relationship. But the more they try to resist the attraction between them, the more they feel drawn together. But they post have things in their pasts they don’t want to talk about. When they finally bring it all into the open, Alex and Tristan realize they have a lot more in common than they ever thought. And that might just be what tears them apart. 

I am forever thankful for the Locker Room Facebook group (if you love sports romance, CHECK IT OUT) because it has allowed me to discover so many awesome authors and books. And that includes Monica Murphy. Before joining that group, I hadn’t really heard of her or her books. Which makes me very sad because, of the ones I’ve read, I’ve come to love her books and her writing. I mean, I devoured the first two books in The Rules series. I was really excited at the prospect of reading Slow Play, the final book in the series. From the moment I woke up on the day it released, I pretty much did nothing but read Slow Play until there was nothing left to read. And being finished made me sad because guys, I loved this book SO MUCH. Based on what I knew of Tristan, one of the two main characters, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this story. But I really shouldn’t have worried because it was the perfect story for him and Alex and I loved it. And if you like slow burn romance, than you absolutely NEED to pick up Slow Play. I mean, the title kind of suggests it, this is totally a slow burn romance. There is no love lost between Alex and Tristan when they first meet, and I loved seeing their relationship build and grow. It made my heart happy and I just didn’t want it to end.

From what I had seen of Tristan in the first two books, which admittedly wasn’t really all that much, I didn’t think much of him. In fact, I kinda wondered how I was going to be able to read an entire book about him and see him as a worthy love interest. I mean, the guy is basically an asshole and he knows it. But then I started reading Slow Play and it didn’t take long for me to start falling for Tristan. This guy, no matter how big of an asshole he could be, pretty much stole my heart. I wasn’t even a quarter of the way through the book and I wanted him to have all the good things. And that included having Alex in his life. Because Alex was perfect for Tristan. She wasn’t afraid to call him out on his bullshit and I was often amused whenever she did so. Beyond being perfect for Tristan, I loved Alex. I loved how strong she was, because it certainly takes a lot of strength to get through what she went through. And I just wanted her to be happy. Preferably with Tristan because they were so freaking perfect together. Also, it should be said that Shep, Jade, Gabe and Lucy are all in this story and I only love them that much more because of it.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED Monica Murphy’s Slow Play. this was a story with characters I didn’t think I could love, but I completely fell for them. And you can bet that I look forward to reading whatever Monica Murphy writes next...and go back to read what I missed out on before discovering her.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Red Girl, Blue Boy by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Title: Red Girl, Blue Boy (If Only... #5)
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Enjoy Red Girl, Blue Boy and the other standalone titles in Bloomsbury’s contemporary If Only romance line entered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can’t have!

Sixteen-year-old Katie and Drew really shouldn’t get along. After all, her father is the Republican nominee for President of the United States while his mother is at the top of the Democratic ticket. But when Katie and Drew are thrown together in a joint interview on a morning talk show, they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. With an entire nation tuned into and taking sides in your parents’ fight, and the knowledge that—ultimately—someone has to lose, how can you fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate?

This title in the If Only line is a frank and funny romance that shows how sparks fly when opposites attract.

I don’t really think I have to explain why Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s Red Girl, Blue Boy would be the kind of book I would enjoy? If you know me, it really should be a no-brainer. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say that Red Girl, Blue Boy was a fun and totally adorable story.

Katie has spent her whole life in politics. After all, she was only four years old the first time she helped her father campaign. Now sixteen, Katie is ready to go back on the road with her father as he embarks on his biggest campaign yet: the one for president of the United States. Katie is ready for it, she knows exactly what she has to do in order to help her father win. The one thing she doesn’t count on, though, is Drew. Drew who just so happens to be the sixteen-year-old son of her father’s competition. Drew never wanted to be in the spotlight. He’ll support his mother’s bid for president, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be out campaigning with her. But when circumstances make it so him and Katie are forced together, Drew becomes intrigued by her. Katie and Drew know nothing can happen between them, but they are the only ones that understand exactly what the other is going through. And there’s something powerful in that. But being together could screw everything up for both their parents. 

I’ve loved every single book I’ve read from Bloomsbury’s If Only line. I mean, this is a line of cute contemporary romances so how could I possibly not love them? They pretty much have my name written all over them. And so I love it when I find out that there’s going to be a new book coming out in the series. So I was really excited about reading Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s Red Girl, Blue Boy. Plus with the upcoming election in Canada next week and the one in the US next year, it felt oddly timely. But that’s not really the point. Red Girl, Blue Boy was a fast, fun and highly enjoyable story to read. I loved getting this sort of behind the scenes look at presidential elections, at the way the candidates’ families are affected by it all, even if it was a fictionalized account of it all. I liked seeing the relationship develop between Drew and Katie. How even though it started out being about their parents running against each other in the election, it soon became about a whole lot more than that. It was just the kind of story that puts a smile on your face and keeps you turning the pages because it’s fun to read. And there were totally times when I was chuckling at bit at what was happening or at what some of the characters (*cough*Katie*cough*) were doing. Red Girl, Blue Boy was just plain old fun. And that’s how I like a lot of my YA romance.

If I’m being completely honest, it took me a while to like Katie. She was just so into her father’s campaign that it got to the point where she came across as almost robotic. There’s nothing wrong with being into politics and campaigning. Heck, I have a degree in political science so I would fall into that category. But with Katie, I had to wonder if she actually enjoyed it and loved it as much as she did because that’s truly how she felt or because she hasn’t really known anything else. But as I got to know her more and as she started doing more than just politics-related stuff, I warmed up to her pretty quickly. She was an amusing character to read about because everything that would be normal to any other teenager was so new to her. One of my favourite moments in the story is when she goes shopping for “regular clothes” with her secret service agent. And Drew was pretty much her complete opposite. He didn’t care much for politics and wasn’t exactly excited about his mom running for the highest office there is. But he was the perfect balance to Katie’s character. And they were kind of adorable together. And I loved them together.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s Red Girl, Blue Boy was a whole lot of fun. This story was a quick read that put a smile on my face. It was exactly the cute contemporary romance story I wanted and I enjoyed every moment spent reading it. 

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Falling for the Wrong Guy by Sara Hantz

Title: Falling for the Wrong Guy
Author: Sara Hantz
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: October 12, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Ruby Davis has a crush on her brother’s best friend. At least, he was his bestie until the big betrayal. Now Drew is off limits to everyone, especially Ruby. She can’t stand the way people treat him, or the way he feels about himself. And those deep green eyes are calling to her.

Drew is scarred and damaged, and he has no business even looking at Ruby. But he can’t help himself. She’s beautiful, but he does his best to stay away. When they are assigned a school project, they become reluctant friends—even though they want so much more.

She’s torn between her feelings for Drew and loyalty to her brother. There’s no way they can ever ben together…but love just might find a way.

Stories that involve a girl and her brother’s best friend are pretty much my favourite thing to read ever. So whenever I find a book that features that kind of romance, I am all over it. And lucky for me, Sara Hantz’s Falling for the Wrong Guy was just that.

When Drew Scott shows up at school after a year away, Ruby Davis knows she should stay away, if only out of loyalty to her brother. After all, Drew was Blake’s best friend before everything changed. Now, Drew is off limits, but Ruby can’t deny the pull she feels towards him. When they get assigned to the same group for a school project, Ruby sees it as her opportunity to spend time with Drew without breaking her loyalty to her brother. As they become friends and quickly turn into something more, Drew knows he shouldn’t have feelings for Ruby. After everything that happens, he doesn’t deserve to be happy. But there are some feelings that are just too hard to deny.

I don’t really know why I love stories that feature a girl falling for her brother’s best friend. There’s just something about them that pretty much guarantees I’ll love the story every single time. As a result, I’m always on the lookout for stories that feature that particular trope and I’m always happy when I find a new one. So when I found out about Sara Hantz’s Falling for the Wrong Guy, I just knew I had to read it. I mean, not only was this a story about a girl falling in love with her brother’s best friend, but said best friend was also completely off limits and not for the typical reasons you see in this kind of scenario. So I was intrigued. I wanted to know what made Drew so off limits to Ruby. And what I got was a story with a lot more depth than I expected. And it make me like the book that much more. I mean, I love romance, but it’s always nice when there is something more below the surface. That’s exactly what Falling for the Wrong Guy was. And a lot of that additional depth had to do with what the different characters were going through.

Ruby was a great character. I loved her optimism when things weren’t always easy and I admired her loyalty to her brother. Even if at times that loyalty meant she wasn’t always doing things for herself. But most of all, I loved her compassion. To her, Drew was always more than his burn scars. It certainly helped that she had a father who was similarly afflicted, but for Ruby Drew’s car were just a part of who he was, not his entire personality. My only wish where Ruby as concerned was that she would push for what she wanted, instead of just going with everyone else’s wishes. There were times early on in the story where that side of Ruby would come out and I wanted to cheer her on. And I eventually got my wish which made me happy. And obviously I loved Ruby’s relationship with Drew. One of my favourite things about it was that they had a history. When there is a history involved, it just makes relationship that much better in my book. But outside of his relationship with Ruby, my heart really went out to Drew. The amount of guilt that boy carried over things that weren’t really his fault broke my heart. He deserved something good in his life, not to be treated like a leper because of the visible burn scars on his body. So when good things happened for him, I was happy.

I really enjoyed reading Sara Hantz’s Falling for the Wrong Guy. It was a cute romance between a girl and her brother’s best friend that made my heart happy. If you’re in the market for a fun contemporary romance with a little more depth, this is the book for you.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Title: The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years #5)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Source: ARC from Publicist
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Kobo
Freshman Lianne Chalice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky—the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There’s something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

Over the summer, I read the first four books in Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years series in the span of a week. While traveling. That’s how addicting the books were. And the moment I finished, I was dying for the next one. And when I got The Fifteenth Minute, I read it all in a day.

Lianne Challice hasn’t had the most normal life up until now. To most of the world, she is Princess Vindi, a sorceress in a series of blockbuster movies. Now in her second semester of freshman year, all Lianne wants is to be a normal college student. And that includes a boyfriend. But when you’re famous, finding a boy who won’t sell your relationship secrets to the tabloids is easier said than done. When she meets DJ, the guy in charge of music at hockey games, Lianne knows she can trust him. But DJ isn’t having the best year, and the last thing he needs is to be getting close to Lianne. But no matter what he does, Lianne keeps coming back. DJ can only keep pulling away for so long before Lianne doesn’t come back.

I binge read series pretty often. It’s kind of something you end up doing at some point or another when you’re an avid reader. But binge reading a series while also travelling with a friend is something I hadn’t done before. But it’s something I did when I picked up the first four books of Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years. Basically, any time I wasn’t doing touristy stuff, I had my face glued to my Kindle (thankfully, the friend I was travelling with reads just as much as I do so she understood). And once I finished those four books, I was DYING for more. And so the moment it landed in my inbox, I started reading The Fifteenth Minute. And Sarina Bowen did not let me down. I DEVOURED this book. Like, stayed-on-my-couch-all-day-couldn’t-put-my-kindle-down devoured. It was just that good. And it should come as no surprise that I totally loved the romance between DJ and Lianne. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the kind of romance that just puts a smile on my face and makes me hope they can overcome all the obstacles standing in their way. It was just adorable.

But one of the things that I have absolutely loved about Sarina Bowen’s books is how she weaves serious subjects into the story without taking away from the relatively fun nature of the book. And she did it again in an interesting way in The Fifteenth Minute. It’s a pretty well-known fact that universities everywhere have serious issues when it comes to sexual assault cases. When we hear about these cases, it’s typically because the schools aren’t doing anything to help the victims. But with this story, Sarina Bowen showed the other side of the problem. She showed how schools struggle to investigate cases and sometimes someone gets wrongly accused because the schools are so worried about making sure they don’t get any flack for not doing anything for the victim. Through DJ’s story, Sarina Bowen really showed that this can happen and how it can be really damaging to someone. 

I shouldn’t really have to say it, but I loved DJ and Lianne. They were just so freaking adorable together. On the one hand you had this girl who is an actress and has connections to all these famous people, but who really just wants to get away from all that. On the other, you have this boy who can’t believe that someone like Lianne would like him. But they were so perfect for each other. And I loved them individually as well, obviously. I just wanted people to stop giving Lianne grief about being a famous actress and just let her live her life. And I loved how much of a geek she was, whether it was writing scripts for her favourite video games or making pop culture references in conversation. I just loved her. And DJ might officially be my favourite boy that Sarina Bowen has written. I loved him, plain and simple. And I felt horrible for what he was going through. And I wanted everything to work out for him. And he was just adorable and I loved him. I don’t really know how else to say it. Maybe I should have gone to my university’s hockey games in case we had a cute guy in charge of the music. But that’s besides the point. The point is that I loved Lianne and DJ something fierce. And I loved all the glimpses I got of the different people from the previous books, and those just reaffirmed that Bella is awesome.

In case it wasn’t clear by this long and ramble-y review, I absolutely loved Sarina Bowen’s The Fifteenth Minute. This story had just the right amount of fun and serious that made it so I just couldn’t stop reading. If you love NA romance and haven’t picked up any of Sarina Bowen’s books, do yourself and favour and read one. You won’t regret it.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Madly by Amy Alward

Title: Madly (Potion #1)
Author: Amy Alward
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi—and ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAser megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I haven’t really been reading much non-contemporary this year. But there have been a few non-contemporary books this year that have caught my attention. And then I find myself completely surprised by how into them I get. And that’s what happened with Amy Alward’s Madly.

Samantha Kemi wants to bring the Kemi name back to its former glory. Once upon a time, the Kemi family were the most respected alchemists in the kingdom. But the rise of synthetic potions, there isn’t much of a demand for traditional potions. But that was before the Princess of Nova accidentally postponed herself with a love potion. Now, all of the best alchemists in Nova are called on a hunt to find a cure. And Sam is determined to win and save her family’s reputation. But that’s easier said than done when she has to compete with alchemists who have more power and more money than her. And then there’s Zain Aster, her enemy. Who also happens to be the boy she can’t get out of her head. Sam only has to much time to find a cure and the clock is ticking as the whole world looks on.

Remember a few years ago, when so many of the books being published in YA involved some sort of paranormal or fantastic element? I kind of miss those days. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my contemporary books and I will forever love them, but every so often I miss those paranormal books. So despite reading almost exclusively contemporary books in the last year or so, I still pick up the odd paranormal or fantasy book. The most recent of those being Amy Alward’s Madly. And guys, this book was awesome. I figured I would enjoy it, but I didn’t think I would get as into it as I did. Once the story really got going, I had trouble putting the book down. I got so caught up in the search for the cure, and the crazy adventures Sam was going on. Once the action got going, it didn’t let up. Sam was constantly getting dragged from one place to the next, putting her life in danger trying to save the princess and her family’s reputation. And I loved the different relationships that were present in the story. I loved seeing the family dynamics, and the friendships and the subtle romance that was present throughout. It drew me into the story that much more.

Sam was a total badass. This girl wasn’t afraid of anything. Or at least that’s what it felt like when I was reading. She was determined to win the Hunt and repair her family’s reputation. But she wasn’t as fearless as everyone thought she was. And seeing all those different aspects of Sam’s personality and character is what made me love her as much as I did. I loved how much she cared about her family, how participating in the Hunt wasn’t just about her making a name for herself but also about putting her family back on the map. It was always in the back of her mind what her parents or her grandfather would think about what she was doing. Sam was just a fantastic, layered character. And I loved her. And I loved all the other side characters in this story. Seeing Princess Evelyn fall in love with her own reflection was at times very amusing. The friendship between Sam and the Patel siblings made me smile and all the Kemi family moments warmed my heart. And as much as I typically love my romance, I loved how here, the romance between Sam and Zain wasn’t the focus of the story. It’s something that was there the whole way through, but it was understated and I hope I get to see some more of it in the future.

I was completely taken by surprise by how much I loved Amy Alward’s Madly. It’s not a book I would pick up on my own, but having now read it I’m so happy that I decided to read it. If you’re looking for a book filled with fantastic elements and action, this is it.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Title: Juniors
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Lea Lane has lived in between all her life.

Part Hawaiian, part Mainlander. Perpetual new girl at school. Hanging in the shadow of her actress mother’s spotlight. And now: new resident of the prominent West family’s guest cottage.

Bracing herself for the embarrassment of being her classmates’ latest charity case, Lea is surprised when she starts becoming friends with Will and Whitney West instead—or in the case of gorgeous, unattainable Will, possibly even more than friends. And despite their differences, Whitney and Lea have a lot in common: both are navigating a tangled web of relationships, past disappointments and future hopes. As things heat up with Will, and her friendship with Whitney deepens, Lea has to decide how much she’s willing to change in order to fit into their world.

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until her junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.

As much as I loved the movie The Descendants, I hadn’t read any of Kaui Hart Hemmings’s books. But then I heard about Juniors and I my curiosity was piqued. This book sounded like it had my name written all over it. And after having read it, I can say that it’s totally true.

All Lea Lane has ever wanted was to fit in. But constantly being the new girl at school doesn’t make it easy. Neither does having an actress for a mother. Fitting in is made all the more difficult when Lea and her mom move into the West family’s guest cottage. Being seen as a charity case is the last thing she wants, but there are some definite perks to living in the cottage. Like becoming friends with Whitney and spending time with Will, her older brother. Lea is the first to be surprised by how easily she gets along with the West siblings. But the more time she spends with them, the more Lea realizes that to stay in this world, she’s going to have to make some changes. But are those changes she’s willing to make?

Juniors was the first (and only) book by Kaui Hart Hemmings that I’ve read. Despite having loved the movie The Descendants and knowing it was based on a book she wrote, I just never got around to reading one of her books. But if I’m not mistaken, Juniors is also her first young adult title (but I could be completely wrong) so that might also be why. All that to say that when I first heard about Juniors I just knew that it was something that I would enjoy. And reading the synopsis, it also kind of reminded me of Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot which I loved last year. Basically, Juniors had all the makings of a book I would love. And for the most part, I totally loved Juniors. And it made me want to go to Hawaii, but that’s not the point right now. I loved this story of figuring out just who you are and where you fit in in the world. I loved that there was such a strong focus on friendship. Where it kind of lost me, was on the romance. It’s not that there wasn’t romance, because there was. It was more that the romance wasn’t really what I thought and later hoped it would be. At one point, I was even a little confused as to who I wanted Lea to be with because it felt like she should be with one person but was putting all her efforts into being with someone else. So I was a little confused on the romance, but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. Which romance aside, I loved.

It took me a little bit to warm up to Lea. It’s not that I didn’t like her right from the start because I did. It was more that it took me a few chapters to get used to her way of telling her story. Once that happened, I was totally on board with Lea and I understood a lot of her concerns. It’s concerns that ultimately everyone has. And I loved seeing Lea growth over the course of the story: seeing her go from someone who was constantly worried about fitting in to someone who was comfortable being who she was. That doesn’t mean that I always agreed with the way she handled things, and that was definitely true when it came to her relationships. I loved seeing her friendship with Whitney develop, and I was hoping that she would find a way to make everything right where that friendship was concerned. And then there was Will and Danny and they’re who I was talking about when I said that the romance kind of lost me. Right from the moment she first mentioned Danny, I knew that that was who Lea belonged with. And then I saw them together and that just reaffirmed that thought. But then she became so focused on Will and I liked Will but there was just always something that felt off about him. But by the end of Juniors, I was happy with the end result. It just took a bit to get there.

Even though it wasn’t entirely was I expected it would be, Kaui Hart Hemmings’s Juniors was still totally my kind of book. It was a slower and quieter story about finding yourself and finding where you belong and it was totally worth the read. Fair warning, though, this book will make you want to hop on a plane to Hawaii.

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