Young Adult Book Review – SAVING IT by Monica Murphy

SAVING IT by Monica Murphy

SAVING IT by Monica Murphy

Synopsis

Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

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My Review
I love me a good freinds-to-lovers story, and I’m a huge fan of Monica Murphy, so this was a must-read for me. Eden and Josh are best friends who acknowledge that they find one another attractive, but are terrified of ruining the friendship with a doomed romance. I get it. I’ve been there. I found this part of the story to be so relatable. With senior year well underway, Josh doesn’t want to graduate a virgin, so he solicits the help of best friend, Eden, to help him find a girl willing to help him out in that department. The more time they spend together talking about sex, though, the more they begin to look at each other as more than just friends. The danger of destroying what they have is still there, but each of them starts to entertain more thoughts about what could be.

Plot
The story was cute and well plotted, but it was also pretty predictable, without any twists at all. There was also a fair amount of repetition that started to bog it down after a while. I understood their reasoning for not acting on their feelings, but it was explained over and over and over again. There was also a spot where Eden fights with Josh and it didn’t come across as authentic. The logic, timing, and even the words spoken didn’t seem to flow with the story. I think it was explained well in the end, but at the time, I kept thinking it was too forced.

Characters
Eden and Josh are beyond adorable and obviously perfect for each other. Everyone can see it except them. Their two other best friends, Molly and Abraham, are the only other main characters in the story. Everyone else is background noise, but that’s okay, because it’s about Eden and Josh. Both are believable as average, perfectly normal high school kids without a ton of baggage.

What I Enjoyed About SAVING IT
1. Friends of the Opposite Sex.
 This is so common with today’s teens, I love seeing it being explored more in young adult fiction.

2. Eden. I love her confidence and self-assuredness.

3. Josh. He’s a typical guy without being a player.

4. Oversharing. Some of the best moments were Eden’s thoughts on Josh’s oversharing of personal information. It added a great dynamic to their friendship.

5. The ending. I love how this wrapped up. It was perfect.

Bottom Line
A really sweet young adult contemporary romance from one of my favorite authors.

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About the Book
Title: SAVING IT
Author: Monica Murphy
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: November 6, 2017
Pages: 241
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble

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SAVING IT Teaser

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Author Monica Murphy

Author Monica Murphy

About the Author
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is a traditionally published author with Bantam/Random House and HarperCollins/Avon, as well as an independently published author. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance. She is also USA Today bestselling romance author Karen Erickson. 

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives with her family in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere, along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through many angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA..

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Where to Find Monica Murphy
Website | Blog | 
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
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Young Adult Book Review – MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES (School Dayz) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES (School Dayz #3) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES (School Dayz #3) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

Synopsis
Colette always tries to follow the school rules, except when it comes to chemistry.

Colette Rodriguez hates rules. Just ask her perfect, older, gorgeous, rule-following sister, Jana.

But now that Jana’s away at college and Colette’s a sophomore in high school, things are going to change. She’s gotta find a way to get out from under her sister’s shadow.

The problem is, everyone, including the boys, remembers perfectly-hot-Jana and they constantly compare Colette to her.

With Jana finally out of the house, Colette decides that sophomore year is the best time to make her mark on the world. She vows to follow the rules, although rule-following has never been her strong point. When a teacher asks Colette to lead a STEM Mentoring project, working with middle school kids, Colette sees her chance to stand out, though she doubts her ability to take charge.

Enter Will Gamen, junior football star. Looking for a club to boost his chances of a college scholarship, Will signs up for STEM. From the first meeting, when Will inadvertently takes over, Colette wonders if he should really be the person to run the project. And, in an even more confusing turn of events, Will starts to drop by her house for unplanned study dates. After the two spend one fabulous Saturday night together, he suddenly backs off.

But Colette and Will started out as friends and she’s determined not to let one meaningless kiss come between them. Plus, keeping Will on her team is the best thing for the STEM project. And it also gives her more time to convince him that they work better as a couple.

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My Review
This is the third book in Jennifer DiGiovanni’s witty and hilarious young adult contemporary romance series, School Dayz. It lives up to all of my expectations. Colette, the younger sister of Jana, from MY SENIOR YEAR OF AWESOME, tries to navigate her way through sophomore year. As the younger sibling of popular, high-achieving, beautiful Jana, Collette attempts to pave her own high school path by agreeing to take on the STEM club, mentoring middle school kids. She enlists the help of her best friends, Mila, Jake, and Ayden, along with Will, a junior she only knows by reputation, a reputation as one of the most popular guys in school, and on-again-off-again boyfriend of Becca from MY JUNIOR YEAR OF LOATHING and MY CLUELESS BROKEN HEART. With Becca and Will in off mode again, he seems to take an interest in Collette, something she isn’t quite sure how to handle, although she’s pretty sure she wants to.

Plot
The plot centers around Collette’s relationship with Will. She spends a good deal of the story not really understanding how to even define said relationship. They’re friends, but when Will unexpectedly kisses her, she’s thrown into a confusing blend of emotions which only gets more complicated after he acts as if it never happened. The push and pull is done with just the right amount of humor and angst.

Characters
The characters are delightful. Collette is a spitfire and I love everything about her. Will is more complex, and while he drives most of the conflict, he never comes across as a jerk. He may not be as forthcoming with Collette as he should be, but he doesn’t play her. Both suffer from serious communications issues they both resolve by the end. We also get to see snapshots of beloved characters from previous books, which is always fun in a series like this, although newer characters like Mila, Jake and Ayden, hold their own.

Top things I LOVED About MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES
1. Collette. She’s one of my favorite young adult protagonists. I love that she’s not a completely honest individual, seems hellbent on breaking rules, but she is so authentically teen girl, you can’t help but root for her.

2. Will. He’s the character I knew the best going into this book, and he’s been one of my favorite characters throughout. I love his easy-going style.

3. Collette’s “rules.” She has many, she’s just not very good at following them.

4. Flights. My least favorite part of running track when I was in high school, but somehow DiGiovanni makes them humorous.

5. Light-hearted angst. While angsty romance is my favorite young adult type, the author manages to wrap it up in funny moments that only add to my enjoyment.

Bottom Line
This is now my official favorite School Dayze novel. Will and Collette are absolutely adorable.

About the Book
Title: MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF RULES
Series: School Dayz #3
Author: Jennifer DiGiovanni
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Pages: 241
Category:
Young Adult Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Book 1 Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Book 2 Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

About the Author
Jennifer DiGiovanni is the author of the School Dayz Series. When she’s not writing or reading, she likes to try new sports and activities from archery to ballroom dancing, with varying degrees of success.

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Where to find Jennifer DiGiovanni
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – THE SMALLEST THING by Lisa Manterfield

THE SMALLEST THING Blog Tour

THE SMALLEST THING by Lisa Manterfield

THE SMALLEST THING by Lisa Manterfield

Synopsis
The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back.

But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit?

Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.

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My Review
Inspired by the actual plague in the 1600s, this contemporary story is filled with heart, fear, and the fighting spirit of a seventeen-year-old girl, anxious to escape her tiny English village. Emmott Syddall wants nothing more than to get away from the small village she fears will smother her, where she’ll be just one more Syddall buried in the village cemetery. Planning a future in London with her boyfriend, Ro, she and her father butt heads, their relationship strained as she prepares to leave. But before she has the opportunity, one-by-one, her neighbors become ill with a mysterious, lethal virus, requiring the town to be quarantined. Emmott’s sense of isolation only grows more powerful as she’s confined to her small village and the streets fill with bio-suit-clad healthcare workers. As more and more people she’s known her entire life succumb to the illness, Emmott begins to evaluate what really matters in life. One young aid worker, Aidan, takes a particular interest in Emmott and suddenly life isn’t quite so dull. But when the people closest to her are stricken, she’s forced to make choices she never imagined.

Plot
The story was well-plotted, but the pacing was slow in several spots. To the point that I ended up skimming some sections. However, the writing is elegant and filled with unique metaphors and similes that paint vibrant pictures and bring imaginary characters to technicolor life. The subject matter is serious and the author treats it with respect, not providing easy outs for anyone. She forces painful situations upon her protagonist and watches to see how the flawed Emmott will respond. The story is believable, at times heart wrenching, but all the more authentic for those difficult scenes.

Characters
The story is really about Emmott’s relationship with her father, and those two characters shine. Emmott is complex and a bit immature, but quickly rises to the challenges, that circumstances beyond her control, have thrust upon her. She may not always make the right choices (okay most of the time), but her mistakes lead to logical consequences that force her to grow up rather quickly. Her dad is amazing. He’s the village cheerleader, risking his own health to check on neighbors. He is true to himself throughout, his character rock solid, but through Emmott’s eyes we see who he’s always been evolve as she finally comes to understand him.

What I Enjoyed About THE SMALLEST THING
1. Emmott.
 She’s a rebel with a heart. I love her growth through the story. She takes two steps forward, and one step back, sometimes two steps, or even three, but she arrives at her destination exactly when she’s supposed to.

2. Setting. The small English village is as charming on the pages as it is on the cover. But it’s more than just the setting, it’s also a starring character in the story.

3. Reality. Nothing is sugar coated. A deadly virus in a small town leaves no one untouched.

4. Characters. The characters are well-developed, fully-dimensional, and are the heart and soul of the story.

Bottom Line
Beautiful writing and a heartfelt tale about a teen girl dealing with tragic events in her small English village.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE SMALLEST THING
Author: Lisa Manterfield
Publisher: Steel Rose Press
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Pages: 272
Category: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Lisa Manterfield

Author Lisa Manterfield

About the Author
Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. A Strange Companion is her first novel.

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Where to Find Megan Carney
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review – ALL IN (Full Tilt) by Emma Scott

ALL IN (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott

ALL IN (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott

Synopsis
SPOILERS FOR FULL TILT….

Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.

Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.

Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.

Part II of the two-part Full Tilt duet, coming Oct 2016

PLEASE NOTE, this novel is NOT a standalone. It is highly recommended one read Full Tilt first to get the entire arc of the story and to avoid spoilers.

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My Review
I needed some time to grieve and regroup after finishing FULL TILT, but then I was finally ready to read the rest of Kacey’s story. This time around, we hear from Jonah’s brother, Theo. It’s no secret to readers that Theo has it bad for Kacey, but it is a secret to her. The first half of the book deals with Kacey’s out-of-control spiral of pain and Theo’s guilt over his feelings for his brother’s love, even though Jonah told him to find happiness with her. The second half is them coming to terms with their feelings for each other. Everyone has an opinion on their relationship, which only drives more conflict. The pacing is great and the emotions are raw and real.

Plot
Primarily, the plot centers around the relationship between Theo and Kacey. It is less of a romance and more of an in-depth, emotional commitment from the get-go. They lean on each other as the cope with the loss of Jonah, and that connection builds into something more. So much of the story is about their internal struggles with loss, love, and letting go as well as acceptance and moving forward.

Characters
The characters are just as deep and wounded and broken as ever, but they get to heal in this installment. Healing leads to growth and some semblance of happiness, although the story has an edge of realness to it, meaning it’s not without the pitfalls that real life brings.

World Building
Once again, Emma Scott brings her settings to life. Everything from Kacey’s shotgun house in New Orleans to Theo’s tattoo studio in Las Vegas feels authentic and draws me deeper into the story.

What I Loved About ALL IN
1. Reality.
The author makes her characters work hard for every ounce of progress they make. Nothing is easy, but it’s rooted in reality, making it that much more satisfying.

2. Kacey. She’s so broken, and yet that fighting spirit is always there, just under the surface, waiting.

3. Tattoos. I don’t have any, but as a recent breast cancer survivor, I have a few in my very near future. The idea of Theo’s unfinished art to cover my scars is something that has had me scouring my local tattoo community for something similar.

4. Redemption. It takes a lot, but both Theo and Kacey get very satisfying endings to their stories. It’s a painful route, but oh so worth it in the end.

5. Theo. I liked him before, but I love him now. He’s complex, loyal, and has an underlying need to do the right thing. Always.

Bottom Line
A utterly emotional and satisfying conclusion to this duet.

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About the Book
Title: ALL IN
Series: Full Tilt #2
Author: Emma Scott
Publisher: Trillian
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Pages: 281
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Emma Scott

Author Emma Scott

About the Author
Emma Scott is a writer, marathon runner, and caffeine addict, who lives and writes in the California Bay Area. She has two smart, feisty little girls, a super-supportive husband, and is a demonstrated fan of the Oxford comma. She is also an unabashed Star Wars geek and comic book enthusiast who fell into romance novels when a writing contest prompt turned a 1000-word romantic story into a full-blown novel. She also writes epic fantasy that suffers an epic word count.

She hopes you enjoy her work, encourages readers to leave feedback, and thinks it’s amusing to write about herself in the third person. And if she has a driving force that fuels her work, it’s that love always wins.

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Where to find Emma Scott
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA by Marnie Lamb

THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA Blog Tour

THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA by Marnie Lamb

THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA by Marnie Lamb

Synopsis
Hilary has one goal for her first year in junior high: to become popular. But her plans are turned upside down when her best friend leaves for the summer and a quirky girl named Kallie moves in next door. Kallie paints constellations on her ceiling, sleeps in a hammock, and enacts fantastical plays in front of cute boys on the beach. Yet despite Kallie’s lack of interest in being -cool, – Hilary and Kallie find themselves becoming friends. That summer friendship, however, is put to the test when school begins, reigniting Hilary’s obsession with climbing the social ladder. As Hilary discovers the dark side to popularity, she must decide who she wants to be before she loses everything.

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My Review
This was a well-told tale of bullying and acceptance in middle school/junior high. Hilary has always wanted to be part of the in crowd, and now that she and her best friend, Lynn, are off to junior high, she feels as if this is her chance to get in with Chanel and the cool kids. But when Lynn takes off on vacation with her family for the summer and a weird girl, Kallie, moves in next door, Hilary’s path to popularity may be in jeopardy. Hilary’s story is one of personal introspection as much as anything else, as she discovers popularity comes with a steep price.

Plot
Hilary has a single goal — to be cool. It’s all she’s ever wanted. The plot centers around her attempts to achieve her goal while balancing the diverse personalities of the people in her life. She’s young at twelve, and even a bit immature at that, so she has a lot of growing up to do. Hilary discovers a lot about human nature, loyalty and the friendships that shapes her. A lot of themes are at play here as Hilary not only navigates the waters of tweenage friendships, but also her evolving relationship with her mother.

Characters
I’d say this is more a character-driven story than a plot-driven one. Hilary grows and evolves throughout the story. She’s rather difficult to like in the beginning, when she’s too focused on being popular and the clothes she wears, and movie stars, but Kallie forces her to think about something other than the superficial, which aids in her development. Most of the characters come across as very authentically young pre-teens. They’re childish one moment and determined to be mature the next.

What I Enjoyed About THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA
1. The Style.
 The author uses a diary format to tell the story of the summer before and the first year of Hilary’s junior high experience, several years after the events take place.

2. Kallie. Kallie’s free-spirited nature is a nice counterbalance to Hilary’s single-minded desire to be popular. She forces Hilary to examine her priorities from a different perspective.

3. Art. The inclusion and description of the art is colorful and helps drive some of the overarching themes.

4. Realistic Endings. It would have been easy for the author to show the mean girls getting theirs in the ending in a big “karma bites” kind of way, but without giving anything away, she creates a realistic ending to her story that feels good.

5. Subject Matter. I read a lot of young adult, but usually centered on older teen characters. This was a refreshing look at the younger teen years with all of the drama that comes with the jockeying for position in the social hierarchy of junior high.

Bottom Line
A well-written tale of a girl grasping to find her place in the social structure of junior high school without losing herself.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: THE HISTORY OF HILARY HAMBRUSHINA
Author: Marnie Lamb
Publisher: Iguana Books
Pages: 206
Category: Middle Grade/Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Marnie Lamb

Author Marnie Lamb

About the Author
A Journey Prize nominee, Marnie Lamb earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in various Canadian literary journals. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, is forthcoming from Iguana Books. When she is not writing fiction or running her freelance editing business, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out colourful fashions at the One of a Kind Show.
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Where to Find Marnie Lamb
Goodreads | Website | Facebook

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Review – TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers) by Jules Barnard

TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers #1) by Jules Barnard

TEMPTING LEVI (Cade Brothers #1) by Jules Barnard

Synopsis
Cade men are known for two things: arrogance and competitiveness. I grew up in one of the wealthiest, most dysfunctional families in Lake Tahoe, and all I wanted was to get the hell out. I thought I’d succeeded. Until an accident burned up my firefighter ambitions. Then Dad died and left me in charge of the family’s luxury resort. 

If it were only my inheritance on the line, I’d walk and never look back, but I’ve always taken care of my four younger brothers.

Now I’ve got financially uptight advisors telling me what to do, and I need someone I can trust working at my side. The perfect candidate walks through the door in her pencil skirt, fitted white blouse, and that mass of wavy blond hair she tries to contain.

The only problem? She’s my cheating ex’s younger sister.

Hell no. The last thing I need is another Wright female in my life.

But Emily’s good at the job, and she seems trustworthy. I should ignore the desire I have for her. But after all I’ve lost, I’m tempted by what I can’t have and ready to stoke the flame that smolders between us. As long as this Wright sister doesn’t betray me the way the last one did.

Then again, I always liked playing with fire..

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My Review
This first installment in the new Cade Brothers series, a spinoff of the Blue series, is worthy of it’s heritage. We meet Lisa’s ex-boyfriend Levi, brother of Adam, and Lisa’s half-sister, Emily. After the death of their father, Levi is put in charge of Blue Casino’s rival, Club Tahoe, with the help of recent MBA graduate, Emily. There’s a lot of baggage between the brothers and a reluctance on the part of both Emily and Levi to go where exes should never go, but that only adds a layer of forbidden love to this romance. Part sweet romance with just enough heat, part comedy, this book delivers another Jules Barnard treat.

Plot
The push and pull of Levi and Emily’s budding romance is the heart of the story, but there are solid subplots involving Levi’s relationships with his brothers and various business interests of the resort. All of it plays well together and help drives conflict. There’s also a quasi mystery to be solved, making this a fun, fast page-turning romance.

Characters
Levi and Emily are both complex, although Levi more so. Emily doesn’t have anywhere near as much baggage, which works out fairly well, because Levi has enough for the both of them. I loved reconnecting with some of my favorite characters from the Blue series as well. At times, both Levi and Emily came across as a little more angsty than I would think adults their age would be, but it wasn’t to the point of being distracting. Plus, I love my romance with a little angst.

What I Enjoyed About TEMPTING LEVI
1. Grace.
 What’s not to love about a giant, elderly rescue dog?

2. Boy Drama. There’s so much drama between the Cade brothers, it was refreshing to have that kind of conflict between boys for a change.

3. Levi. I love how he really needed to do the right thing, even when it wasn’t what he wanted.

4. Emily. She’s smart and funny. Maybe a little too straight-laced for me, but she was perfect for Levi.

5. Lisa. She’s the best sister.

Bottom Line
A solid new adult romance with a swoony alpha male and an equally alpha female.

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About the Book
Title: TEMPTING LEVI
Series: Cade Brothers #1
Author: Jules Barnard
Pages: 235
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author
Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports.

She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
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Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review – A SHOT WORTH TAKING (Worth Series) by Samantha Gudger

A SHOT WORTH TAKING (Worth #2) by Samantha Gudger

A SHOT WORTH TAKING (Worth #2) by Samantha Gudger

Synopsis
Emma Wrangton knows how to play basketball. She knows when to pass, when to drive, when to shoot. She knows how to read the defense, how to adapt when a game takes an unexpected turn, and how to fearlessly face an opponent and fight for the win. Basketball is what she knows; basketball is what she’s good at. What she doesn’t know is how to trust herself when she’s confronted with life-altering decisions off the basketball court. Is it right to turn her back on the only life she’s ever known to face a future of uncertainty? Should she sacrifice her dream to spare herself and others additional heartache? Can she let go of a lifetime of pain to find healing? Afraid to make the wrong decisions, she discovers shots worth taking aren’t always confined by the boundaries of a basketball court.

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My Review
This is the second book in the Worth series by Samantha Gudger. I adored the character and story in the first book, so my expectations were high with this one, but it doesn’t disappoint. There’s so much character development, it’s easy to get sucked into Emma’s world again. We pick back up with Emma, Riley, and the gang as well as a new character, Tyler. He’s a troublemaker living with Riley’s family, his parents hoping their influence will straighten him out. He’s the cause of more than a little conflict between Emma and Riley, but the conflict doesn’t end there. Once again, Emma’s dysfunctional family plays a starring role. We finally learn what happened to her mother and why her father and brothers ignore her. Gudger brings heartfelt emotion to her characters, making us care about them as if we know them.

Plot
The main plot centers around Emma’s familial relationships. They’re fractured, battered, broken shards, so putting the pieces back together is going to take a lot of work. The author never lets the characters take the easy way out. This is a gut-wrenching journey for all of them, and some of the best scenes involve painfully honest moments between Emma and members of her family. Subplots include Emma’s relationship with Riley and her future beyond high school. Both of those subplots strongly support the main plot.

Characters
The author puts her characters through the wringer and the come out the other side forever altered. Not only Emma this time, though, but also Riley, Emma’s dad and brothers, and even newcomer, Tyler. Gudger has a way of finding the grit in every character and bringing it to the surface in a way that makes her characters come alive in full color.

What I Loved About A SHOT WORTH TAKING
1. Riley.
 I didn’t agree with everything he did, but he always puts Emma first.

2. Emma. Her loyalty knows no bounds. She has a bigger heart than I ever gave her credit for and I love her journey in this second installment.

3. Tyler. He wasn’t my favorite character all the time, but he is complex and real and his heart is in the right place.

4. Family Drama. There is boatloads of it here and it’s well done. We finally get some answers about Emma’s mom and the events that tore Emma’s family apart.

5. Basketball. This is a little bit less of a focus this time around, but I still enjoyed how it threads through the story, binding all the fragments together.

Bottom Line
A worthy follow up to one of my favorite young adult sports romances.

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About the Book
Title: A SHOT WORTH TAKING
Series: Worth #2
Author: Samantha Gudger
Pages: 329
Category: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Samantha Gudger

Author Samantha Gudger

About the Author
A former three-sport athlete in high school, Samantha grew up with a ball in one hand and a book in the other. From the moment her first grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, Samantha knew she wanted to be an author.

Samantha currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, a ball-obsessed Australian Shepherd, and a cat that can’t get enough cuddle time. Books, writing, sports, music, and marshmallows top her list of favorites.

A Game Worth Watching is her first novel.

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Where to Find Samantha Gudger
Goodreads | WebsiteTwitter | Facebook
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Blog Tour – Book Review + Giveaway – GIRL ON THE VERGE by Pintip Dunn

GIRL ON THE VERGE by Pintip Dunn

GIRL ON THE VERGE by Pintip Dunn

Synopsis
From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.

In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

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My Review
Wow! It’s rare when a book exceeds my expectations. I was expecting more of a coming of age story, but this was pure thriller with a slice of romance. I devoured this story. After finishing, I have one thing to say — we need more young adult thrillers! Kan is a girl torn between two worlds. After her father dies, her mother becomes a workaholic, leaving Kan’s grandmother, Khun Yai to be her primary caregiver. Kan struggles to be a good Thai girl to make her grandmother happy, but she secretly wants to be like all the other girls at her American high school. Her life is turned upside down when her mother brings home a teen girl to live with them after the girl’s mother dies, and the boy she’s been crushing on for years finally makes a move. Kan has always wanted a sister, and Shelly seems like she might just be the perfect girl to fill that role. Except something isn’t quite right about Shelly.

Plot
The main plot is the mystery behind Shelly, but the romance between Kan and her crush, Ethan, is a strong subplot. Underlying it all is the Thai culture. So much of what drives the story is Kan’s search for which world she belongs in and living up to the expectations of her Thai grandmother. The author expertly weaves elements of mystery, romance, and straight up thriller into this tale, that includes far more character development than most thrillers. Told from alternating POVs, we get Kan’s in first-person present and the antagonist’s is told in third-person past. This technique is used as expertly as anything I’ve read by James Patterson. I was so impressed with myself for figuring out something early on, only to get to the end to find out I was completely wrong!

Characters
Kan and Shelly are exceptionally well-developed. I got less of a sense of Kan’s mother, grandmother, or even Ethan. The amount of growth Kan experiences more than makes up for the lesser-developed supporting characters.

What I Loved About GIRL ON THE VERGE
1. Everything.
 I’m just going to say that up front. The pacing is perfect, Kan is fascinating and easy to root for. Shelly is so complex, I have a deep need to know more about her.

2. Thai Culture. Other than the delicious food I eat on a regular basis, I admit to not knowing much about their culture. After reading this, I feel like I have a better understanding, to the point I want to learn more, because no doubt this only scratches the surface.

3. Competitive Dancing. Ethan is on the ballroom dance team, and I had no idea this even existed. It was fun to see the moves and dances through Kan’s eyes.

4. Secrets. Some are Kan’s, which the reader knows through her, but others are secrets of those around Kan which are kept from her. There are so many and they are revealed at a deliciously slow pace that only made me want to read on.

5. Young Love. This isn’t a traditional young adult romance, but I think in some ways that makes it more satisfying. There’s so much keeping these two apart, and yet they don’t respond in stereotypical fashion.

Bottom Line
One of my favorite young adult novels of 2017, a thriller, romance, mystery, and coming of age all rolled into one fantastic trope-free delight.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: GIRL ON THE VERGE
Author: Pintip Dunn
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 256
Category: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AUBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Pintip Dunn

Author Pintip Dunn

About the Author
When her first-grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, Pintip replied, “An author.” Although she has pursued other interests over the years, this dream has never wavered.

Pintip graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL.

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. She is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.
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Where to Find Pintip Dunn
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – REMEMBER ME FOREVER (The Lovely Vicious) by Sara Wolf

REMEMBER ME FOREVER Blog Tour

 

REMEMBER ME FOREVER (The Lovely Vicious #3) by Sara Wolf

REMEMBER ME FOREVER (The Lovely Vicious #3) by Sara Wolf

Synopsis
Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, forty-three weeks, and two days. Or so she thinks.

The boy she maybe-sort-of-definitely loved and sort-of-maybe-definitely hated has dropped off the face of the planet in the face of tragedy, leaving a Jack Hunter–shaped hole. Determined to be happy, Isis fills it in with lies and puts on a brave smile for her new life at Ohio State University.

But the smile lasts only until he shows up. The menace from her past—her darkest secret, Nameless—is attending OSU right alongside her. And he’s whispering that he has something Isis wants—something she needs to see to move forward. To move on.

Isis has always been able to pretend everything is okay. But not anymore.

Isis Blake might be good at putting herself back together.

But Jack Hunter is better.

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My Review
By far my favorite book in the series!!! While some of the plot felt contrived in the second book and it took me a while to warm up to both Jack and Isis in the first book, this one got everything right as far as I’m concerned. Isis was spunkier, which made her witty humor come across as more lovable and less defensive.

Still reeling from Sophia’s suicide, Isis leaves behind her mom and an opportunity at Stanford to got to Ohio State (THE Ohio State in case you’re from that area) University. She feels like a child in an adult world, which is exactly what she needs to grow up. she quickly befriends a couple of quirky characters before running into not one, but two ghosts from her past. Both Nameless and Jack turn her world upside down in different ways — ways that help her on her continued path to healing.

Plot
The main plot is the relationship between Jack and Isis, but Isis deals with her past with Nameless and her future. Jack has subplots involving his own demons as well as his employment with the mysterious Gregory. All of the loose ends from the previous two books are tied up neatly in a satisfying conclusion.

Characters
I love how much growth both characters experienced. They were so much easier to root for in this book. Isis is still snarky and Jack is still, well, Jack, but different. Isis’s self-deprecating humor and penchant for thinking out loud were more lighthearted and endearing than weird and dark. Jack comes into his own, and instead of being more mysterious, his actions make sense. He, too, is less dark and twisty. The new characters, Isis roommate and her girlfriend, contribute to the softer tone of this this installation that is more lovely than vicious.

What I Loved About REMEMBER ME ALWAYS
1. Isis.
 Right out of the blocks, she was hilariously eccentric in that way only Isis can be.

2. Jack. He finally has his sh*t together and has become the boy, or man, Isis deserves.

3. Revenge. Without giving anything away, there is a scene with Unnamed at the end that makes the build up through three books worth it.

4. Gregory. I didn’t know what to make of him in the second book, but his personality is revealed in REMEMBER ME FOREVER in a way that makes all of his actions understandable.

5. The Ending. I love the way the author wrapped up this book and the series. It’s completely satisfying, although I will miss Jack and Isis terribly.

Bottom Line
My favorite book in the series, it has a lighter tone and wraps up all the loose ends with characters I’ve grown to love.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: REMEMBER ME FOREVER
Series: The Lovely Vicious #3
Author: Sara Wolf
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 320
Category: Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled

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Author Sara Wolf

Author Sara Wolf

About the Author
Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things.

When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series.

She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

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Where to Find Sara Wolf
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY by Cindi Madsen

CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY Blog Tour

CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY (Taking Shots #4) by Cindi Madsen

CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY (Taking Shots #4) by Cindi Madsen

Synopsis
Confession #1: I used to be a puck bunny, but after a hockey player broke my heart, I gave up all things hockey. Now I’m just focused on finding a way to pass my math class so I can graduate college.

Confession #2: Ryder “Ox” Maddox’s deep, sexy voice sends fuzzy tingles through my entire body, and I’m powerless to stop it. Which is a big problem since the hot, surprisingly funny hockey player is my new math tutor.

Confession #3: I can’t stop thinking about how ripped Ryder is from all his hockey training, and how fun it’d be to cross lines with him.

Confession #4: I kissed a hockey player and I liked it.

Confession #5: If I’m not careful, I might relapse and fall for Ryder, and then I’ll be totally pucked.

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My Review
I loved the idea of this book — a girl who used to chase hockey players who realizes she doesn’t like who she’s become, is pursued by a hockey player. But the execution didn’t live up to my expectations. I found Lindsay to be extremely annoying, but I did like Ryder. Lindsay went back and forth between knowing who she is and being unapologetic about it, to being ridiculously unable to control her own hormones around Ryder while keeping him at a distance. I’m frankly shocked he put up with that. Especially because the only thing he seems to like about her initially is her appearance. He talks about how hot she is all the time. It’s almost as if he only wanted the challenge of the chase, except he didn’t really seem to enjoy that. The author writes well and the story is well plotted, I just didn’t like the characters. This happens sometimes and based on the other reviews I’ve read, i’m in the minority.

Plot
The plot is Ryder and Lindsay’s relationship. Ryder offers to tutor her in math and thus are forced together. Ryder pursues, Lindsay can barely control herself, yet somehow does, in a back and forth that seems to go on way too long. There are some decent subplots, like Lindsay’s family issues. Her mother relies on men to support her, and Lindsay swears she’ll never be like her mom. Ryder is also preparing for the playoffs, so a relationship may be the last thing he needs, and yet for some unknown reason, he still goes hard after Lindsay. Where the book really worked for me was the hockey aspect. Practice, athletic superstition, parental expectations, and the team dynamics all worked together to keep me invested in the story.

Characters
They both came across as shallow to me. Early on, Lindsay mentions a friend who settled down with a nerdy type, which she can’t understand at all. She’s all about the hard bodies and good looks. Same thing with Ryder. Lindsay’s relationships with other girls is unhealthy, although she does realize that as well as the fact that it’s her own fault. Where I liked Lindsay the most was when I read her confessions. These were heartfelt and honest. But then she’d do something completely stupid and I lost my tenuous respect for her. The rest of the characters intrigued me, though, to the point I want to read the earlier books in the series. I may discover I like Lindsay more if I can see her through the eyes of other characters.

What I Enjoyed About CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY
1. The Confessions.
 I liked Lindsay the most when she was being open and honest, when she was unapologetic about her sexuality and her reasons why.

2. Hockey. The hockey aspect was easily my favorite part of the book. It might be a subplot, but it still kept me engaged and I’m not really a rabid hockey fan. Although since the Chargers packed up and left town, the Gulls might be my new favorite local sports team.

3. Ryder. When he wasn’t being a jealous jerk or refusing to take no for an answer, he was a complex character that drove some of my favorite scenes in the book. His history and drama with his dad added a lot of interesting depth to his character.

4. Daddy Issues. Both Ryder and Lindsay suffer from this common young/new adult-ism, but in different ways. I like the way the author approached them differently — more subtly with Lindsay and more direct with Ryder.

5. Breakups. I love me a good angsty romance and while overall the romance was only a meh for me, the big dramatic breakup scene was what turned me around and made me invest in these two.

Bottom Line
Hockey, college romance, and a couple of kids with a lot of growing up to do.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY
Series: Taking Shots #4
Author: Cindi Madsen
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Pages: 310
Category: New Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AUBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Cindi Madsen

Author Cindi Madsen

About the Author
Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

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Where to Find Cindi Madsen
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramPinterest

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – NINJA GIRL by Cookie O’Gorman

NINJA GIRL Blog Tour

NINJA GIRL by Cookie O'Gorman

NINJA GIRL by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard...

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My Review
So much love for this book! I fell in love with Cookie O’Gorman’s writing and characters in ADORKABLE and couldn’t wait to read Ash’s story. Ash is a soccer phenom and the nemesis of the main love interest in ADORKABLE. So of course finding out not only is he in NINJA GIRL but we also get his point of view, and I was beyond excited. NINJA GIRL does not disappoint. Told from alternating points of view, we get to meet Snow-Soon Lee, a total bad-ass at martial arts, but not so much when it comes to romance. And then there’s Ash who is more than just a talented athlete. When Ash’s dad decides to run for congress, someone else decides that’s a bad idea and is threatening the family. Enter Snow, who is hired as Ash’s bodyguard during the school day, where she can blend with the student body. Ash is immediately smitten, but to say Snow is wary would be an understatement. With equal parts romance, humor, and action, the author’s signature style, the story moves at a light-hearted pace with more than a few swoony moments. While I did figure out who was after Ash’s family, I didn’t know the motive, and it all made perfect sense in the end.

Plot
Primarily a young adult romance, there’s a bit of a mystery, some danger, and a fair amount of action, making this a really fun read. The romance is sweet and angsty with a lot of back and forth. While Ash knows what he wants, the conflict is driven from Snow’s reluctance to get involved with her client as well as her wariness of someone like Ash being interested in someone like her and her general lack of experience with romantic relationships. Where Ash is all smooth and buttery, Snow is awkward and unsure, making these two perfectly adorable opposites.

Characters
I love the characters. Not only is Ash everything I hoped for, but Snow is one of my favorite young adult protagonists. Ever. She’s intimidating and unsure all at once and pulls it off in a thoroughly believable way. I adore her loyalty to her mother, her responsibility to her job, and her very vulnerable heart. Her growth through the story is slow and not necessarily dramatic, but enough that she realizes she has more to offer the world, and Ash, than just protection. Ash has less character development. He knows who he is and what he wants from the beginning. But I still loved reading his point of view. Helping us see Snow from a different perspective helped bring her to life in a way a single point of view couldn’t.

What I Loved About NINJA GIRL
1. Snow.
 She’s so interesting; a complete jumble of tough bad-assery mixed with teen insecurities and loads of angst.

2. Ash. Getting inside his head was deliciously good fun — he’s everything I hoped he’d be and more.

3. World Building. I love the diversity of the book, mixing Snow’s Asian culture with Ash’s wealth and privilege.

4. Action. The fight scenes were great. Either the author has a black belt in martial arts or she did extensive homework.

5. Quirky Characters. Cookie O’Gorman has a way of creating lovable characters that are just slightly off-balance. They’re endearing and more real due to their flaws.

Bottom Line
Once again, author Cookie O’Gorman delivers a fun story with adorable characters and a kick-ass plot.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: NINJA GIRL
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Release Date: March 30, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Cookie O'Gorman

Author Cookie O’Gorman

About the Author
Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE will be released in 2016.

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Where to find Cookie O’Gorman
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls) by Julie Cross

OFF THE ICE Blog Tour

OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
The NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Whatever Life Throws at You kicks off a brand-new series perfect for fans of Miranda Kennealy and Abbi Glines.

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart..

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My Review
Tate Tanley is the starting goalie on his high school hockey team in Minnesota, where hockey is a religion. Claire O’Connor is back in town from Northwestern University after her father is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. When she sees Tate for the first time in over a year, she realizes her best friend’s little brother isn’t so little anymore. Tate has had a massive crush on Claire most of his life, but he’s always been the kid brother. Not anymore. These two dance around attraction mixed-up with a lifelong friendship set against Claire’s dreams for her future and Tate’s goals on and off the ice. It’s a super sweet romance with deeply developed characters.

Plot
The romance is the primary plot, but it’s missing that teen angst that I’ve grown to love in Julie Cross’s stories. What it lacks in that department, it more than makes up for in the supporting plots. Tate’s hockey career, college recruiting, and his relationship with his town-legend father. Claire has her issues with her dad’s health and what she wants to do with her college career, saving her family’s business, and more. Told from dual-points-of-view, there’s a lot of territory covered.

The Characters
No one does characters like Julie Cross. Tate is complex, fascinating, and completely loveable. The author takes usdeep inside his head and I never doubt it’s a guy’s point of view. Unfortunately, Claire fell a little flat for me. I struggled to like her her. I felt for her, I mean, who wouldn’t with everything she was dealing with, but I just didn’t love her the way I do so many of Ms. Cross’s characters (Ellie from Chasing Truth, for example). This was a pretty character-heavy story and I had a tough time keeping some of the hockey players straight in my head, but Tate’s and Claire’s families came across in vivid color.

World Building
There’s a lot of hockey here, something I didn’t know that much about before reading Off the Ice. I feel as if I understand it better now. To me, it’s always been “soccer played on ice with sticks.” And maybe there’s a little bit of that to it still, but it sounds a lot more interesting. I may even try to take in a San Diego Gulls game and watch it live.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The romance. It wasn’t that it didn’t work so much as there wasn’t ever a doubt they might not end up together. The romance lacked much in the way of overt conflict. It’s almost as if these two teens were wise beyond their years when it came to relationships.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About OFF THE ICE
1. The realness. I love that nothing was glossed over. The emotions, and feelings, and events were all written with such intensity, they grabbed me and pulled me into the story.

2. Tate. He’s so deeply drawn, it’s hard not to get such a sense of who he is and I love him all the more for his flaws.

3. Hockey. And not just the games. The practice and politics surrounding high school hockey was fascinating.

4. Cancer. No, I don’t like cancer, but I love that the author didn’t gloss over the ugly effects of this heinous disease.

5. Roger. Tate’s stepfather grows more important in Tate’s life throughout the story, so we catch glimpses of him early on, that grow more frequent as the book progresses until we get to see him for who he really is. Hint: he’s one of the really good guys.

Bottom Line
OFF THE ICE is a sweet small-town high school romance. A Friday Night Lights for the hockey crowd.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: OFF THE ICE
Series: Juniper Falls #1
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 370
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS Blog Tour

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS by Casey Griffin

Synopsis
At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…

Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working.

Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people.

Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her.

The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.

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My Review
This book had it’s moments. Both really cute and funny, and a few that went on a bit too long. I loved Adrianna “Andy” Bottom, heir to the Bottoms Bathroom dynasty. She’s funny, quirky, and a little unsure of herself, but she’s also got a solid backbone that I loved. When her family moves from the Pacific Northwest down to Beverly Hills, subject of a new reality show based on their bathroom products, she becomes the Porcelain Princess. The victim of ridicule in her old school, she has a chance to reinvent herself in Southern California. But things go unexpectedly, hilariously wrong when on the first day of school, her new pencil skirt splits right down the back, revealing her Wonder Woman underwear for the entire world to see, literally, since the cameras are always there.

While she quickly makes friends, she sets her sights on cute, but nerdy, Kevin. Her new friend tells her that would be social suicide, so Adrianna finds a way to dodge the cameras and become someone else, someone Kevin might be interested in. The world of live-action role playing (LARPing) takes center stage as Adrianna attempts a Hannah Montana life of having the best of both worlds.

The romance is sweet and the life of a reality-TV star makes for some hysterical moments, but the LARPing was almost a distraction. I loved that side of the story, but a lot of attention was paid to the LARPing events. The first one was great. I loved seeing how their world worked, sort of like living Dungeons & Dragons. But by the third event, I found myself skimming those sections. I knew Adrianna and her friends weren’t in real danger, so the sword battles and treasure hunting didn’t hold my attention. I flipped past those, looking for the nuggets that moved the main plot along.

Plot
The plot centers around Adrianna’s relationship with Kevin with strong subplots involving LARPing and her family’s business. Themes include being true to yourself and loyalty to friends. The main plot was good. There isn’t much heat in the relationship, but it’s definitely cute and I was pulling for these two the whole way.

Characters
I liked all of the characters. Even the antagonist, the show’s camera guy, is more than a stereotype. Some seemed cardboard on the surface, but by the end of the story, it was clear what everyone’s motivations were.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Long LARPing Expeditions.
 These distracted me from the main plot too much.

2. Southern California Life. Some of it didn’t come across as authentic. Beverly Hills teens don’t take the bus. In fact public transportation in LA is pretty much a joke. I also have a hard time believing a small plumbing store could afford the rents on Rodeo Drive. And there are few empty lots anywhere in town that resemble a forest, but I could overlook most of this for the sake of the story.

What I Enjoyed About SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS
1. Adrianna.
 She was really complex. Part nerd, part cool kid, tough yet vulnerable, there was much to like about our heroine.

2. Kevin. Sometimes I wanted to shake him, other times I felt bad for him, but I always pulled for him to get the girl.

3. Comedy. The author does a fabulous job of weaving wit and humor throughout the story.

4. LARPing. While I didn’t need to read all the details of their quests, I absolutely love this idea of dressing up and becoming another character. Like Comic-Con on steroids.

5. Reality TV. I don’t actually watch any reality TV aside from competitions on the Food Network, but I loved the behind-the-scenes look at life in front of the camera.

Bottom Line
SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS is a cute, funny romance with lovable characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS
Author: Casey Griffin
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Pages: 354
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboGooglePlay | BAM! | !ndigo | IndieBound | Book Depository

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Author Casey Griffin

Author Casey Griffin

About the Author
Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

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Where to Find Casey Griffin
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – GOLD RUSH by Jennifer Comeaux

GOLD RUSH by Jennifer Comeaux

GOLD RUSH by Jennifer Comeaux

Synopsis
Liza Petrov’s entire life has been about skating and winning her sport’s top prize – Olympic gold. She’s stayed sheltered inside her bubble, not daring to stray from her destined path.

Until she meets Braden Patrick.

He makes her heart flutter with possibility, and for the first time she gets a taste of a normal teenage life. She longs to have both the boy and the gold, but stepping outside her bubble comes with a price. As Liza begins to question both her future and her past, can she stay focused on the present and realize her ultimate dream?

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My Review
Liza, daughter of Sergei and stepdaughter of Em from LIFE ON THE EDGE, gets her own story. At 18, she’s preparing for the Winter Olympics, her life resembling anything but a typical teen one. Until she meets Braden, a dreamy college freshman from UMass. It took me nearly half of the book to really get into it. The first half is almost completely devoid of any serious conflict, and I couldn’t even really identify the antagonist. But once the skating portion really got going at about the 50% point, the story took off.

Liza decides she can’t risk her Olympic dreams by giving into her feelings for a boy, so she keeps him at arm’s length. That doesn’t keep her from being possessive and jealous, though, when other girls pay attention to him. Braden decides to wait for Liza as she focuses on skating, ignoring the attention from may attractive girls, including his childhood BFF, Sam. Liza attempts to paint Sam as the bad guy, but I just never could see her that way. I found her quite sympathetic. So while the romance didn’t have me swooning, the skating sure did. The story hits the mark when Liza takes the ice in Detroit. Tensions ramp up between Liza and Kathy, one of her coaches.

Plot
While I think the main plot is the romance, the skating is probably a stronger plot. Liza’s grit and determination, her discipline and professionalism are front and center as she works her way through the competitions leading up to the Olympics. There is plenty of drama, conflict, and feels when it comes to this part of the story. The romance doesn’t fall flat by any means, it just wasn’t my favorite part of the story.

Characters
While I needed time to warm up to Liza, once I did, I rooted for her fully. She still had moments where she got on my nerves, but when it came to reaching her skating goals, I was behind her one hundred percent. Braden is definitely likeable enough, but he wasn’t developed to the point that I fully got a sense of him. There were times he came across as flat. The characters that I enjoyed the most, even though I didn’t particularly like them, were Kathy and Liza’s mom. Both were controlling in different ways, but I really felt as if I had a sense of who they were and why they did the things they did.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Lack of Conflict.
The lack of conflict in the first half of the book made it difficult for me to stick with at times.

2. Braden. I never got a good sense of his character.

3. Liza’s Angst. While pushing Braden away with one hand, she hated on every girl who paid attention to him. It seemed childish for someone of her age and with her level of maturity.

What I Enjoyed About GOLD RUSH
1. Skating.
 I love the competitive skating part of the story. The descriptions are detailed and draw me in.

2. Competitive Liza. When she’s not pining away for a boy she can’t even decide if she wants, she’s a fierce competitive with drive, who knows what she wants and goes after it full bore.

3. Kathy. This was more of a love-hate relationship, but she’s the true antagonist in the story, so I needed her. I would have liked more of her though.

4. Sam. I liked Sam a lot. No, I didn’t want her to end up with Braden, but I didn’t see her as a romantic rival, either. I saw her as a girl who was in love with a boy not in love with her. That’s a sympathetic character no matter which way you look at it.

5. The ending. No spoilers 🙂

Bottom Line
GOLD RUSH has a solid sports storyline that carries the weaker romance across the finish line.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: GOLD RUSH
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Release Date: January 9, 2017
Pages: 338
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

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Author Jennifer Comeaux

Author Jennifer Comeaux

About the Author
Jennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night. There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a diehard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. One of her favorite pastimes is travelling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing. Jennifer loves to hear from readers! Visit jennifercomeaux.blogspot.com for contact information and to learn more about her books.

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Where to Find Jennifer Comeaux
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Young Adult Book Review – The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg

The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg

The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg

Synopsis
Head down.
Don’t look up.
Never make eye contact.

Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.

Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.

But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.

And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.

Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?..

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My Review
I realized as I sat down to write this review, it’s been a little while since I last gave a book five stars, but The Tattered Gloves pleasantly surprised me. This is the first book I’ve read by J.L. Berg, who traditionally writes adult romances, but if this is any indication of what she’s capable of, it won’t be the last. Willow is the daughter of a prostitute with no idea who her father is. After a horrific event involving Willow and one of her mother’s “clients”, her mother packs her up and sends her off to live with an aunt Willow didn’t even know existed. Constantly wearing a ratty old pair of red gloves, Willow avoids touching and being touched by others, something she can no longer tolerate.

Willow’s Aunt Addy is everything Willow’s mother was not. Through her aunt, Willow learns her own family history, along with some valuable lessons about humanity. Willow may not have won the parent lottery, but family is so much more than just who gave birth to you. In addition, Willow is befriended by Allison, a popular girl with a heart of gold, and Sam, a swoonworthy boy who both infuriates and intrigues Willow.

Plot
The primary plot revolves around Willow coming to terms with her wounds, and she has a lot of them. Not only was she physically abused, but her mother neglected her, resulting in solid, well-founded trust issues. Subplots involve her relationship with Sam, the struggling bookstore Sam runs with his family where Willow works part time, and to a lesser degree, her relationship with her aunt. Nothing is glossed over and there is no easy path. About the only thing I found lacking was the involvement of a therapist in Willow’s journey. The fact that she had to figure it out all on her own was fine, but it felt too fast without someone there helping guide her through some of the tougher issues. Her epiphany was also out of the blue in a way that didn’t feel organic. Those are small criticisms though in an otherwise well plotted and executed story.

Characters
This is more a character-driven tale than a plot-driven one and the characters are outstanding. Willow is believable as the broken girl with the scars no one can see. Her aunt is perfect as the woman thrown unexpectedly into a role she never prepared for. Addy’s unease and fear at doing everything wrong is palpable. At times I found BFF, Allison, to be almost too good to be true, except everyone has had that one friend who doesn’t take no for an answer. Thank God for friends like that! And Sam…there’s so much to love about this broken boy with his own sad story who still manages to see so much more in Willow than she can see in herself.

World Building
Author, J.L. Berg expertly captures small-town life with all it’s good and bad aspects. The tiny Virginia town came to life in a way that allowed it to be the perfect backdrop for Willow’s story.

What I Loved About The Tattered Gloves
1. Willow.
 She’s complex, deep, and incredibly well developed. She’s the sort of girl I’d like to have been friends with as a teen.

2. Sam. He is sweet, loyal, persistent, and yet guarded and wounded. He’s the perfect foil and boyfriend for Willow.

3. Allison. She’s perky and pushy, but in all the right ways.

4. Addy. She takes on her new role with grit and determination and allows Willow to set the boundaries.

5. The ending. I love the way the story wrapped up. It wasn’t this nice, neat little package, but it left me satisfied.

Bottom Line
The Tattered Gloves is a moving young adult read with phenomenal characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided by a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Tattered Gloves
Author: J.L. Berg
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Pages: 268
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazoniBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author J.L. Berg

Author J.L. Berg

About the Author
J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.
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Where to find J.L. Berg
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Book Review – Wait for Me by J. Lynn

Wait for You (Wait for You #1) by J. Lynn

Wait for You (Wait for You #1) by J. Lynn

Synopsis
Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…..

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My Review
I’m a huge fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout, but this was my first book by her in the new adult genre. Once again she creates memorable characters, particularly swoonworthy guys, but Avery was lacking that special something that made Katy from the Lux series and Alex from the Covenant series so easy to root for. Avery is a college freshman who moved halfway across the country to escape her past, including her family. She meets Cam in the most awkward way possible, but he’s inexplicably smitten with her. Avery keeps to herself, clearly has a secret, and is haunted by her past, but because Cam is so swoony, she is understandably drawn to him. They begin an unlikely friendship that morphs into more before Avery’s secrets drive a wedge between them.

Plot
Pretty much a straight up romance. Girl meets boy, insta-attraction, boy pursues girl, girl pushes boy away, boy finally wins her over, only for girl to push him away again until she changes and wins him back. There are some underlying themes that are a little different, but nothing groundbreaking. What J. Lynn does well, though, is create amazing chemistry between her characters, and that is definitely in play here between Avery and Cam. There were no real twists or surprises, but as a romance, it’s very enjoyable.

Characters
Both the main characters are well-crafted with solid backstories that shape who they are. My problem was that Avery was too much of a victim for me to really be able to identify with her. I was hoping she’d grow on me through the story, but she never really did. Cam is definitely likeable, but he had some cliched moments, including the fact that he’s a bad boy except when it comes to Avery.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Avery.
 I just couldn’t identify with her. I realize her reaction to what happened to her is probably pretty authentic, but I would have liked to see a little more anger and Queen Mary (from Reign) than victimhood from her.

2. Editing. This really surprised me. The book was riddled with the wrong words, bad grammar (“between him and I” instead of “between him and me”) and missing words. So many that it was distracting.

What I Enjoyed About Wait for Me
1. The chemistry.
 This is a JLA hallmark and she does it really well here. The playful banter and the way she draws readers deep into the feelings of her characters is everything I love about her books.

2. Cam. He might be cookie-cutter JLA book boyfriend material, but why mess with perfection?

3. Ollie. He’s adorable and I’ve already peeked to make sure he’s getting his own story!

4. Romantic Valentines Gifts. I wasn’t sure about Cam’s V-day gift to Avery at first. It seemed awfully presumptuous, but it’s grown on me and now seems absolutely perfect.

5. Tough subject matter. J. Lynn deals with two very difficult topics with compassion and heart.

Bottom Line
Wait for Me is a decent new adult romance with boatloads of chemistry and a swoonworthy BBF.

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About the Book
Title: wait for You
Series: Wait for You #1
Author: J. Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout)
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Pages: 386
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Jennifer L. Armentrout

Author Jennifer L. Armentrout

About the Author
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
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Find Jennifer L. Armentrout
Goodreads | Website | Series WebsiteFacebook Twitter

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Book Review – Full Tilt by Emma Scott

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

Full Tilt (Full Tilt #1) by Emma Scott

Synopsis
“I would love you forever, if I only had the chance…”

Kacey Dawson has always lived life on the edge–impulsively, sometimes recklessly. And now, as lead guitarist for a hot up-and-coming band, she is poised at the brink of fame and fortune. But she is torn between wanting to be a serious musician, and the demons that lure her down the glittering, but alcohol-soaked path of rock stardom. A wrecked concert in Las Vegas threatens to ruin her career entirely. She wakes up with the hangover from hell and no memory of the night before, or how she ended up on her limo driver’s couch…

Jonah Fletcher is running out of time. He knows his situation is hopeless, and he’s vowed to make the most of the handful of months he has left to him. His plans include seeing the opening of his glass installation at a prestigious art gallery…they do not include falling in love with a wild, tempestuous rock musician who wound up passed out on his couch.

Jonah sees that Kacey is on a path to self-destruction. He lets her crash with him for a few days to dry out and get her head on straight. But neither of them expected the deep connection they felt, or how that connection could grow so fast from friendship into something more. Something deep and pure and life-changing…something as fragile as glass, that they both know will shatter in the end no matter how hard they try to hold on to it.

Full Tilt is a story about what it means to love with your whole heart, to sacrifice, to experience terrible grief and soaring joy. To live life with all its beauty, and all its pain, and in the end to be able to smile through tears and know you wouldn’t have changed a thing.

***FIRST BOOK IN A TWO PART DUET***

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My Review
Going into this, I knew there would be no HEA. It’s pretty much stated in the prologue, but I still wasn’t ready for the ending, and it gutted me in the most bittersweet of ways. Jonah and Kacey are soulmates, that becomes evident as the story unfolds. After Jonah rescues Kacey from her partying ways, their friendship is easy and natural. Stronger feelings develop, but because of Jonah’s health issues, he keeps her at arm’s length, but only for so long. Kacey knows what she’s getting into, but like the reader, she’s still not prepared for the ending.

Plot
As a romance, the main plot is the relationship between Jonah and Kacey. But Kacey’s relationship with her band, her life choices, and Jonah’s art installation are all solid subplots that help drive the main plot. There were times where I felt the pacing slowed down too much for my preference, but not long enough that I set the book aside to read something else. The romance is incredibly well done and heart wrenching. There’s so much emotion that is deep and raw, I was pulled deep into the story.

Characters
All the characters are really well developed, particularly Kacey, Jonah, and Jonah’s brother, Theo. Their backstories are complete and relevant and they lead to some of the most wonderfully complex characters I’ve read recently. Kacey, particularly, has her flaws as a result of deep family wounds. Jonah and Theo respond based on the illness the wrecked Jonah’s heart. There’s so much believable growth through the story, that I only come to love the characters more. So even though I knew how the story would end before the first chapter, it wasn’t any easier to read.

World Building
I love all the settings. Emma Scott makes the unbearable dry heat of Las Vegas come alive in a way that feels as alive as the real deal. And as a San Diegan, I loved the scenes set in my hometown. I loved the references to places I’ve been. And either she’s got some experience with glass blowing or she did her homework. I found myself googling images to see the beauty she crafted in my mind with my own eyes.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing.
 There were a few places where things slowed down too much for me, but that’s really my only complaint.

What I Loved About Full Tilt
1. The ending.
 Not really, but I did love that the author warned us ahead of time. I was mentally prepared even if I wasn’t emotionally prepared. But oh what a gut-rippingly beautiful, horrible, amazing ending it was.

2. Theo. I love dark and twisty characters and he’s definitely that, wrapped up in some serious tattooed hotness.

3. The art. I’m now fascinated by Dale Chihuly and his amazing glass art.

4. Jonah. It’s ironic that the man with the biggest heart is also the one with the failing heart.

5. Kacey. She’s a wonderfully complex character that was easy to root for.

Bottom Line
Full Tilt is an emotional new adult romance that will pull at your heartstrings in the best ways.

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About the Book
Title: Full Tilt
Series: Full Tilt #1
Author: Emma Scott
Publisher: Trillian
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Pages: 292
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author
Emma Scott is a writer, marathon runner, and caffeine addict, who lives and writes in the California Bay Area. She has two smart, feisty little girls, a super-supportive husband, and is a demonstrated fan of the Oxford comma. She is also an unabashed Star Wars geek and comic book enthusiast who fell into romance novels when a writing contest prompt turned a 1000-word romantic story into a full-blown novel. She also writes epic fantasy that suffers an epic word count.

She hopes you enjoy her work, encourages readers to leave feedback, and thinks it’s amusing to write about herself in the third person. And if she has a driving force that fuels her work, it’s that love always wins.

Where to find Emma Scott
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
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Book Review – Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Synopsis
Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But Fate has other plans, and it’s not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they’re dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

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My Review
One of my favorite Jennifer Crusie novels so far. The characters are the best! Min is wonderful and I love the fact that she isn’t beautiful, and that she doesn’t go through some makeover to become more attractive. I love that Cal isn’t shallow and sees the best in Min. The underlying bet is a fun thread that starts the story and is pulled through the plot to the very end. When Min’s boyfriend, David, dumps her, she’s not so much sad as she is distraught by what her mother’s reaction will be. Min has spent her entire life trying to please a woman who will never be pleased, but her mom loves David. Now with her sister’s wedding looming, she needs a date, fast.

Enter Cal. He likes to bet. So when David bets him ten dollars he can’t get “cold fish” Min to go to dinner with him, Cal takes that bet. But David takes it a step further, betting Cal he can’t get her into bed within thirty days. Thus begins a hilarious tale of two people who everyone can see belong together except the two themselves.

Plot
The plot centers around Min’s and Cal’s relationship, the push and pull of desire and the belief that the other person is wrong for them. Min believes Cal is only trying to win the bet. Cal believes Min hates him, and considering her biting wit, it’s easy to see why. But fate throws them together over and over again and it’s cute to watch what happens. The chemistry is palpable and the situations the author puts them in are deliciously fun. The cast is large, as most Cruise novels are, and there are several solid subplots involving Min’s friends, Cal’s family, and Min’s sister’s wedding. Each subplot supports the main plot and development of the main characters.

Characters
Once again, Cruise delivers quirky, outrageous, yet infinitely loveable characters. Min is outspoken and yet has an edge of self-doubt, thanks to her mother’s constant criticisms. Cal has his own issues, although they’re more subtle. Min’s friends are all unique, as are Cal’s and no one came across as stereotypical. I adored the interaction between Cal and Min’s friends. There was just enough development in the main characters to keep the story from being too comedic, bringing a sense of authenticity to them. Even Min’s sister gets her own arc, and her parents have a small one.

Ending
At first, I felt like the ending went on way too long, but in retrospect, it was perfect. Even though the romance was resolved, there is a hilarious scene at the end that really summed up all the themes in the book. And the epilogue was a cherry on top of this yummy story.

Bottom Line
Bet Me is my favorite Jennifer Crusie book to date, with adorable characters and witty dialogue.

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Title: Bet Me
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: April 1, 2007
Pages: 432
Category: Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound

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Author Jennifer Crusie

Author Jennifer Crusie

About the Author
Jennifer Crusie was researching her dissertation on the differences in the way men and women tell stories when she got sidetracked into writing romance novels.

Her first book was published in 1993 (which pretty much finished off any hope of her getting that PhD) and her twenty-second book, Maybe This Time, came out in August of 2010, all of which she considers a minor miracle, especially since she is also a New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller and a two-time Rita award winner.

Jenny is currently working on her new Liz Danger mystery series. She is a very happy woman..

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Where to Find Jennifer Crusie
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Young Adult Book Review – My Junior Year of Loathing (School Dayz) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

My Junior Year of Loathing (School Dayz #2) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

My Junior Year of Loathing (School Dayz #2) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

Synopsis
Junior year is supposed to be tough. Exams, term papers, homework, college tours, and participation in extra-curricular activities can all add up to non-stop stress. But Melinda Banner has goals to achieve and dreams to make real. This year, she’ll be unstoppable. But even over achievers need a break.

While walking in the woods to take a break from the stress of it all, Melinda meets a boy named Connor. After a few more run-ins, the two settle into an uneasy friendship, if you can even call it that.

But Connor’s closed and mysterious. Whenever Melinda asks too many questions, he suddenly has to go or is no longer interested in talking. When they’re together, she’s torn between wanting him to open up and running away as fast as she can. Still she can’t seem to shake her budding interest in him.

Connor has his own way of looking at the world, and his views often conflict with Melinda’s practical nature. Can you like someone and loathe them at the same time? Is he even worth the emotional tug on her heartstrings or distraction from all things Junior year?

And, as if she needs another project right now, Melinda starts to obsess over the abandoned estate she passes on the way to school each day. Between Connor and the old estate, Melinda’s beginning to think she’s taking on too much.

But Melinda’s smart. She finds a way to indulge her interest in the estate and fulfill her obligations. She will uncover the truth behind the aging edifice for an epic article in the school newspaper.

But when her investigation reveals a connection between Connor and a tragedy long-since forgotten, Melinda has a choice: put off her junior year achievements to save a local landmark and a boy who constantly pushes her away or put them both out of her mind for good and focus on making the grade.

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My Review
The second book in the School Dayz series, this is my favorite so far. Melinda, Sadie’s romantic rival from book one, is a smart, serious girl with goals. When her mom remarries, she moves into a virtual mansion where she’s forced to adjust to a different way of life. Her relocation also puts her squarely in the path of mysterious Connor of the Woods, a boy she meets lurking in the forested area behind her stepfather’s estate. Her best friend, Becca, begins dating Will, who pushes her to double-date his buddy, Ty. Ty is tall, cute, normal. Connor is anything but normal, but Melinda is inescapably drawn to him, setting up a showdown with her emotions. Will she choose Ty and security, or Connor and all the drama that surrounds him?

Plot
There is a bit of a mystery woven into the plot. Well, a couple of mysteries, actually. One being the secret Connor is hiding and the other is what happened behind the big wall of the old Westerly Estate. Some people say the old house is haunted, and Melinda is determined to find out what really happened. But the primary plot is the romance between Melinda, Ty, and Connor. It’s not a traditional love triangle, so if those turn you off, don’t discount this book just yet. It’s a great story, with Jennifer DiGiovanni’s signature quirky, funny characters, and lots of super sweet moments.

Characters
Once again, the author creates a cast of unique characters that are easy to love. Melinda is serious and driven with an incredible soft spot in her heart. Connor is an enigma until we find out his whole story, but he never comes across as anything other than fully developed. Will, Ty, Becca, the estate’s caretaker, Jack, and Melinda’s family all support the story. Jack in particular is an intriguing character who adds a lot to the story.

Top things I LOVED About My Junior Year of Loathing
1. The mystery. It was incorporated really well into the main plot.

2. Jack. The gruff landscaper provides some great moments with both Melinda and Connor.

3. Melinda. I love seeing more of her in this installment. She wasn’t my favorite person in My Senior Year of Awesome, but after getting her story and her point of view, I adore her.

4. Connor. The boy from the woods is strong, mysterious, caring, and more than a little hot.

5. Will. As the arrogant football player dating Melinda’s best friend, he provides some of the best comic moments.

Bottom Line
My favorite book in the series so far, includes great romance, a mystery, and fantastic characters.

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About the Book
Title: My Junior Year of Loathing
Series: School Dayz #2
Author: Jennifer DiGiovanni
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Pages: 186
Category: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

About the Author
Jennifer DiGiovanni is the author of the School Dayz Series. When she’s not writing or reading, she likes to try new sports and activities from archery to ballroom dancing, with varying degrees of success.

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Where to find Jennifer DiGiovanni
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Pinterest
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Book Review – Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys #1) by Jennifer Crusie

Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys #1) by Jennifer Crusie

Synopsis
Sophie Dempsey is content living a quiet life filming wedding videos until an assignment brings her to Temptation, Ohio. From the moment she drive into town, she gets a bad feeling; Sophie is from the wrong side of the tracks and everything in Temptation is a little too right. And when she has a run-in with the town’s unnervingly sexy mayor, Phineas Tucker, making a little movie turns out to be more than a little dangerous.

Yield to oncoming desire…

All Sophie wants to do is film the video and head home. All Phin wants to do is play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. They both get more than they bargained for when Sophie’s video causes an uproar and the proper citizens of Temptation set out to shut them down.

Welcome to temptation…

As events spiral out of control, Sophie and Phin find themselves caught in a web of gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, and really excellent sex. All hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble…and in love.

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My Review
This is a fun, fast read with quirky characters and a laugh-out-loud plot. When Sophie Dempsey and her sister head to Temptation, Ohio to help a b-list actress film a comeback, things go hysterically wrong. Everything from a phallic water tower to possible porn erupts. Throw in a mangy stray dog, the hot town mayor, and a dead body, and things go from interesting to downright complicated. Jennifer Crusie creates a place that is as screwed up as it is quaint, filled with equally messed up people, all with something to gain and something to hide.

Mayor Phin Tucker sees an uptight woman in Sophie that he can’t help but be attracted to, which means he should stay far, far away from her. Of course he doesn’t, igniting a tumultuous relationship that should remain physical, but turns into much more for both parties, despite their efforts to avoid it. There are so many great and funny twists and turns, I stayed up way too late to find out what would happen next.

Plot
This is essentially a romance, so the main plot is whether or not Phin and Sophie will end up together, but there are strong subplots involving a possible murder, the complicated relationship of Phin and his mother, the complex inner workings of the City of Temptation itself, and whether or not Sophie is making porn. All the plots are woven together expertly, resulting in a madcap story that just happens to be a romance.

Characters
The characters are the best. They are what make Jennifer Crusie’s books shine. Sophie is smart, funny, caring, and stubborn. Phin is complex, arrogant, and frustrated. The story is rounded out by a supporting cast that are a fascinating character study in small-town life.

Writing
Jennifer Crusie has a way with dialogue and character development, but her writing style took me a little bit to get used to. There’s a lot of combined dialogue and dialogue tags that I had to read more than once to figure out who was saying what. But overall, her writing is witty and engaging.

Bottom Line
Welcome to Temptation is classic Jennifer Crusie, a delightful romp with characters you can’t help falling in love with.

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Title: Welcome to Temptation
Series: The Dempsys #1
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: July 11, 2004
Pages: 416
Category: Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound

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Author Jennifer Crusie

Author Jennifer Crusie

About the Author
Jennifer Crusie was researching her dissertation on the differences in the way men and women tell stories when she got sidetracked into writing romance novels.

Her first book was published in 1993 (which pretty much finished off any hope of her getting that PhD) and her twenty-second book, Maybe This Time, came out in August of 2010, all of which she considers a minor miracle, especially since she is also a New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller and a two-time Rita award winner.

Jenny is currently working on her new Liz Danger mystery series. She is a very happy woman..

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Where to Find Jennifer Crusie
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter | Amazon