Friday, April 22, 2016

Mini Reviews - Creative HeArts Series

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

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

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

Because crushing on your annoying stepbrother? So not cool.

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

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

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

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

They’d never work for real

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

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pieces of You and Me by Erin Fletcher

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

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

Five seconds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, April 15, 2016

The One That Got Away by A.J. Pine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

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

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

But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.

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

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

And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

When We Collided by Emery Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Cover Reveal - The Summer Games: Settling the Score by R.S. Grey

Title: The Summer Games: Settling the Score
Author: R.S. Grey
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: May 2, 2016
Find it on Goodreads
As an Olympic rookie, Andie Foster has spent far more time in her cleats than between the sheets. For 21 years, her Friday night have consisted of blocking shots rather than taking them. But now that she’s landed in Rio, she’s ready to see for herself if the rumors about the Olympic Village are true:

- The athletes are all sex-crazed maniacs…
- The committee passes out condoms like candy…
- The games continue long after the medals have been handed out…

As Andie walks the line between rumor and reality, she’s forced into the path of Frederick Archibald, a decorated Olympic swimmer and owner of a sexy British accent—too bad he’s unavailable in a way that “it’s complicated” doesn’t even begin to explain.

In other words: off limits.

It doesn’t matter that he has abs that could bring peace to the Middle East and a smile that makes even the Queen blush; Andie fully intends on keeping her focus on the soccer field. But the Village is small. Suffocating. Everywhere Andie goes, Freddie happens to be there—shirtless, wet from the pool, and determined to show her a whole new meaning of the phrase “international affairs”. 

About the author
I am a lover of books, chocolate, reality TV, black labs, and cold weather. Seriously, if I had it my way, I would be curled up on the couch with all of those things…everyday.

I live in Texas where I spend my free time writing and reading. My favorite authors include Mindy Kaling & Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m a comedy geek and love all things “funny”. Women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are definitely the biggest inspirations for my writing, though I think my work tends to skew a bit smuttier than theirs.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Blog Tour - His Country Bride by Debra Holt

Title: His Country Bride
Author: Debra Holt
Publisher: Tulip Romance
Release Date: April 11, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon
“Sheriff’s Deparment! Raise your hands above your head and don’t move.”

She’s a runaway bride who left her two-timing fiancé at the altar. He’s a county sheriff determined to keep the peace in his country and leave city girls alone after his won fiancé left him for the bright lights of the city. neither of them planned on running straight into each other…over a burning wedding dress.

Ellie and Lucas planned on never trusting their hearts to love again. When danger follows her from the city , the sheriff must do his duty to protect her. However, it isn’t long before he discovers the real danger may be to his heart. Ellie just might teach him that even a city girl can be country girl at heart.

With my recent foray into the world of contemporary romance, I’m always on the lookout for more books to read. When I was first told about Debra Holt’s His Country Bride, I thought it sounded like just my kind of story. And it was. His Country Bride was a sweet contemporary romance that hit the right notes.

After finding her groom in a compromising position with one of her bridesmaids, Ellie Perryman drives off to the country farmhouse left to her by her great aunt. While burning her wedding dress in an effort to put this horrible day behind her, a run-in with the local sheriff makes her day go from bad to worse. Lucas McCann doesn’t know what to make of the young woman burning her wedding dress like it’s no big thing. And he doesn’t know what to do about the feelings the keep coming up every time their paths cross. Neither one of them was looking for romance, but they might have just stumbled into it even if they don’t want to admit it.

I think what made my reading of Debra Holt’s His Country Bride so great was that I didn’t really have any expectations about the book when I started it. All I had really been told was that it was a sweet contemporary romance. And that’s definitely what this book was. If you’re looking for a steamy romance, this isn’t it and you should go look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a change of pace and something a little sweeter, then this is it. His Country Bride was a fun story that had more going on than I thought it would. It was definitely a sweet romance (am I sounding repetitive yet?), but that’s not all it was. At the centre of it all, there was an element of mystery, a crime that needed to be solved. That element of mystery helped keep me engaged, because I wanted to see how it would all be resolved. And that mystery was also woven into the romance in a way that one wouldn’t really have happened without the other. It made for some interesting dynamics between Ellie and Lucas and added another dimension to their relationship. 

Speaking of Ellie and Lucas. I’ll be hones and say that at first I wasn’t sure what to make of either of them. Like I wasn’t sure how I was going to read a whole book about them. But my worries were for nothing. The more I read, the more I realized that I actually wanted to find out what would happen to them. Ellie would crack me up while also making me respect her desire to do things on her own after everything that happened to her. And Lucas, I warmed up to him once he started being less oblivious about pretty much everything. I mean, I could understand where he was coming from, but there were moments when I thought he couldn’t possibly act any more clueless and stubborn. But it all worked out in the end and Ellie and Lucas were adorable together.

If you’re on the lookout for a fun and sweet contemporary romance, then Debra Holt’s His Country Bride is the book for you. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it has a bit of a mystery and a whole lot of southern charm.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Undecided by Julianna Keyes

Title: Undecided
Author: Julianna Keyes
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Source: ARC from Author
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Nora Kincaid has one goal for her second year of college: be invisible. Last year’s all-party-no-study strategy resulted in three failed classes and two criminal charges, and if she messes up again she’ll lose her scholarship. But there’s one problem with her plan for invisibility, and his name is Crosbie Lucas: infamous party king, general hellraiser…and her new roommate’s best friend. 

Crosbie’s reckless reputation and well-known sexcapades aren’t part of Nora’s studious new strategy, but as she’s quickly learning, her new plan is also really boring. When Crosbie’s unexpected gestures of friendship pull her head out of her books long enough to see past his cocky veneer, she’s surprises to find a flawed and funny guy beneath it all. The muscles don’t hurt, either.

But as Nora starts to fall for Crosbie, the weight of one of last year’s bad decisions grows even heavier. Because three failing grades and two misdemeanors are nothing compared to the one big secret she’s hiding…

I’ve been on a roll lately with reading awesome NA romances that have been flying a little under the radar. I’ve read so many good ones lately and I seriously hope this trend keeps up. The latest in my series of NA wins? Julianna Keyes’s Undecided.

After almost failing out and getting arrested in her first year of college, Nora Kincaid has a plan to get back on track. This year will be different: no partying, no skipping classes, and her free time is being spent studying in the library. And that plan would be great if only she wasn’t now living with Kellan McVey, campus track star and notorious party boy. Because where there’s Kellan, there’s also his best friend, Crosbie Lucas. And the last thing Nora should be doing is spending time with someone like Crosbie Lucas. But Crosbie isn’t who Nora thought he was. And the more she gets to know, the more she’s surprised by who Crosbie really is. But falling for Crosbie isn’t part of the plan. Especially after what happened at that one party the year before. Nora can’t help the feelings that are developing, but if what happened at that part comes out, the rest of her past mistakes are going to seem minor in comparison. 

It’s kind of weird. I hadn’t really heard anything about Julianna Keyes’s Undecided and didn’t really know about it but then all of a sudden it was popping up everywhere (and by everywhere, I mean the various social media platforms I manage to spend hours on each day). And when I found out more about it, I just knew it was going to be my kind of book. It also didn’t hurt that everyone kept saying fantastic things about it. So of course I decided to read it. And all those glowing reviews? They weren’t lying. I got totally sucked into Undecided. I don’t know exactly how to explain it. There wasn’t one specific things about the story that drew me in, or one specific moment that hooked me. I was just into whatever Julianna Keyes was doing with Undecided right from the beginning. Everything about the story came together in just the right way to make me love this book, plain and simple. But the biggest selling point (because I’m still me, after all) was the romance. The romance between Nora and Crosbie exactly what I needed and I loved every page of it. 

If Nora and I were to meet in real life, I think we would be good friends. I just felt like I really clicked with her when I started reading Undecided. With some books, it can take me a while to click with a narrator (if I even click with them at all). But not with Nora. I just love her right from the start. I understood her, the way she felt like she could either be crazy party Nora or boring and studious Nora, as opposed to something in the middle. I understood her complicated feelings about a certain hookup even when she was still confused about them. But Nora wasn’t the only person I loved in this story. Do I really need to say that I loved Crosbie? I feel like that should be a given. Crosbie wasn’t who I thought he was going to be. I loved the different layers to his personality, how to teh world he seemed like the super confident and cocky guy, but when you got to know him, you realized that’s not who he was at all. My only wish is that I could have gotten to see some parts of the story from his perspective because I just wanted to know everything there was to know about him. I also loved the friendship that  developed between Nora and Kellan. And I loved Kellan himself. I loved how shameless Kellan was because at the end of the day, he meant well. And I hope I get to read his story someday.

Julianna Keyes’s Undecided was the best kind of surprise. It was the perfect story with just the right amount of heart, romance, and humour. I loved every page of it and look forward to any new new adult novels from this author.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Edge of Chaos by Molly E. Lee

Title: Edge of Chaos (Love on the Edge #1)
Author: Molly E. Lee
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: March 28, 2016
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Blake Caster has been in an emotionally abusive relationship with Justin for so long, she can’t tell what is normal anymore, and so she clings to the one thing that is solidly hers—her passion for extreme weather.

Three years into her Meteorology degree, Blake meets professional storm chaser, Dash Lexington, who is as gorgeous as he is daring. Instantly recognizing her passion and skills in analyzing weather data, he makes a spot for her on his tight-knit storm chasing team. Dash and Blake form a fast friendship and it forces her to realize just how toxic her relationship with Justin is. She can’t deny the lightning-worthy chemistry she has with Dash or how her heart stalls every time he gets too close to a tornado. 

With each chase and the cherished moments with Dash, Blake discovers her own self-worth and gains the strength to end things with Justing for good. But he won’t go easily. As Blake tries to sever ties with one man, she fears she’ll lose the other to his dangerous obsession—and she doesn’t know if she’ll be enough to save him from the impending storm that could end them all.

Every so often, I read a book that I want to yell about from the rooftops because it’s kind of a hidden gem. It’s a book that not many people are talking about but I feel like everyone should be reading. Most recently for me, that book was Molly E. Lee’s Edge of Chaos.

After spending so many years in a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship, Blake doesn’t know what normal is anymore. Everything in her life is connected to Justin. The only thing that’s truly hers is her passion for weather. When she meets storm chaser Dash Lexington, Blake starts to see the world outside of her dysfunctional relationship. With Dash, Blake realizes all the friendship she missed out on over the years, all the things she could have done for herself. And she finds a chemistry she hasn’t had with Justin in a long time. Blake knows she needs to move forward, that she needs to leave her toxic relationship behind, but joining Dash on a tornado chase feels less terrifying. After years of questioning her own worth, can Blake choose herself once and for all without losing the one person who has quickly come to matter more than anyone else.  

There is nothing I love more than reading books I’ve heard very little about. You know, the kind of book where you come across it and something about the description or the cover catches your eye and you just know that you need to read this book. Or maybe it’s something just one person has said about the book that has you convinced that you need to read it. That was me with Molly E. Lee’s Edge of Chaos. Until just over a week ago, I had no clue this book existed. But after seeing one of my favourite authors mention it, I had to go look it up. And I was sold. Guys, Edge of Chaos is what I want all my NA to be. There was humour, there was drama, there was romance, and there was serious emotional baggage that hit you right where it hurts. The premise for Edge of Chaos is one that is likely to turn a lot of people away. For most of the book, Blake is in a relationship, dysfunctional and toxic as it may be, with someone who isn’t the love interest. i know plenty of people who would be turned off by this. But give Edge of Chaos a chance. It’s worth it. Blake and Dash make it more than worth it.

As you might have guessed based on some of my previous remarks in this review, the romance in Edge of Chaos is kind of tricky. For a good chunk of the book, Blake is actually in a relationship with Justin. Granted that relationship is all kinds of wrong, toxic and emotionally abusive, but it’s a relationship nonetheless. But there’s Dash, and Dash (thankfully) helped Blake see just how long her relationship was. The fact that she was in this completely abusive relationship made parts of Blake’s story hard to read. My heart was completely breaking, reading some of what she went through. But the most painful part was seeing how she knows she needs to get out of this relationship, she just doesn’t know how to do it. Because if it wasn’t for Justin messing with her self-esteem, Blake was such a strong, passionate, intelligent, capable and brave person and there was nothing I loved more while reading than seeing her actually own that about herself. And though she came to that on her own, a lot of it came from spending time with Dash. And Dash was pretty freaking dreamy. Who knew storm chasers were so hot? Dash was fantastic on his own, but what made me love him so much was how he was the complete opposite of Justin. And I loved the way he treated Blake. Even not knowing anything else about him, I would have loved him because of the way he treated Blake.

I can’t sing the praises of Molly E. Lee and Edge of Chaos enough. I absolutely love this story and could not get enough of it. You can bet that I will be talking about it for a long time and that I’ll be impatiently waiting for the next book in this series.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Title: The Great American Whatever
Author: Tim Federle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
From the award-winning author of Better Nate Than Ever comes a laugh-out-loud sad YA debut that’s a wry and winning testament to the power of old movies and new memories—one unscripted moment at a time.

Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imaging his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.

Tim Federle is one of those authors I’ve known about for a long time, but hadn’t read any of his books no matter how many great reviews they were getting. But when I found out he was (finally) writing a YA, I was all over that. And The Great American Whatever went above and beyond any expectations I had.

For the past six months, Quinn Roberts has been hibernating in his room, (not) dealing with his grief after his older sister’s death. But his best friend has finally had enough and is determined to bring Quinn back into the land of the living. What happens when Quinn leaves his room? He goes to a party, drinks his first beer, meets a hot guy, and, most importantly, he starts thinking about the future again. But for Quinn, that future is like a screenplay, perfectly planned out with just the right dialogue. But sometimes, real life isn’t like you imagine the movie of your life to be.

Though I haven’t actually read any of Tim Federle’s middle grade titles, he’s an author who’s been on my radar for quite some time. I mean, I love reading his tweets. So when it was announced that he was releasing a YA novel, I was all over it. I wanted to read The Great American Whatever pretty much from the moment I found out about it. There was just something about the synopsis that caught my attention and made me want to read this story. And now months after originally finding out about it, I have finally read The Great American Whatever and I can say that it was fantastic! If you’ve read the synopsis, then you know that this story has the potential to be kind of dark. I mean, it’s about a teenage boy dealing with the death of his sister. That’s hardly a light and fluffy subject. But the story didn’t feel heavy while I was reading. The Great American Whatever was written in a way that depicted the reality of grief while still having plenty of funny moments. On more than one occasions, I actually felt like laughing at some of the things Quinn would say or do. And when I think about it, Quinn is really the reason this story didn’t get as dark and heavy as it could have. And I loved Quinn.

Quinn was such an unexpected character. It’s not that I went into The Great American Whatever thinking that I wouldn’t like him, I just didn’t expect to like him as much as I did. I loved the way he talked about his life and told his story, at times it felt like he was talking directly at me as opposed to me just reading his story. It allowed me to get that much more into the story. I loved his snarkiness and his deadpan humor. I loved the way he would imagine how moments in his life would play out in a screenplay. I just loved Quinn. He completely creeped up on me over the course of this story and by the time I reached the end, I would have been very happy to just keep reading about him. As much as this was Quinn’s story, I also found that it was also very much a story about Annabeth, Quinn’s dead older sister. Though she’s been dead for close to six months at the start of the story, she’s very much present throughout. Whether it’s because Quinn is constantly thinking about what his sister would think about what he was doing or because people are constantly referencing her, Annabeth is just always there. It just made for an interesting dynamic and added another layer to this story. 

Can a book be both sad and funny at the same time? Because that’s exactly what Tim Federle’s The Great American Whatever was. This story went above and beyond my expectations and I loved every page of it. 

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