Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – THE DATING DEBATE (Dating Dilemma) by Chris Cannon

THE DATING DEBATE Blog Tour

THE DATING DEBATE (Dating Dilemmas #1) by Chris Cannon

THE DATING DEBATE (Dating Dilemmas #1) by Chris Cannon

Synopsis
Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material.

West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.

 

 

 

 

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My Review
Nina, a self-described hippy-chick book nerd, and her newly single mom move in next door to brooding hottie, West. They share a backyard and a driveway, but on the surface, not much else. When an upcoming Valentines Day dance forces Nina to dodge her brother’s friend and West to evade his ex-girlfriend, they tell their prospective dates they’re going with each other. This launches a tentative friendship that becomes something more. Nina and West both have troubled pasts that interfere with their ability to be completely open with each other. But instead of this turning into one of those, “I wish they would just talk to each other,” stories, their secrets and half truths are plausible and heart wrenching.

Plot
The plotting is well done with just the right amount of drama and angst. Nina and West navigate what it means to be in a romantic relationship while their respective family issues play out around them. Both feel helpless about their situations, which leads them to make choices they may not otherwise make.

The Characters
I absolutely adored both Nina and West. Nina’s constant need to debate everything and her brutal honesty made her lovable instead of annoying. She sees the world in a positive light, a “glass is half full” type. West’s need to move far away from home as soon as possible is utterly relatable. Both characters experienced growth through the book, but West, more so, although I would argue he had more to overcome. Their relationship felt so authentically teen, without a lot of unnecessary drama.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About THE DATING DEBATE
1. Playful banter. Rather than the debates causing endless fights, the arguments between West and Nina were more flirtatious than not.

2. Honesty. This concept seems simple enough — always tell the truth — and yet it is fairly foreign in most contemporary romances. The heart of most conflict is the inability of the protagonists to tell the truth. But complete honesty brings its own conflicts that was a refreshing change from the usual.

3. West. So wonderfully complex and authentic in his teen boyness.

4. West. What’s not to adore about a book-loving hippie chick?

5. Gidget. Nina’s overly-shedding lab provided some fantastic moments of comedy.

Bottom Line
Delightful young adult contemporary romance that reads like a lighthearted comedy, but with more serious elements that keeps it from being fluff.

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

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THE DATING DEBATE Teaser

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About the Book
Title: THE DATING DEBATE
Series: Dating Dilemmas #1
Author: Chris Cannon
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: February 5, 2018
Pages: 242
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo | Entangled

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Author Chris Cannon

Author Chris Cannon

About the Author
Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and several furry beasts.

She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. You can find her online at www.chriscannonauthor.com.

 

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Where to find Chris Cannon
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Review – RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY (Offsides) by Natalie Decker

RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY Blog Tour

RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY (Offsides #2) by Natalie Decker

RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY (Offsides #2) by Natalie Decker

Synopsis
You’d think a girl with the most romantic name in the world would have her pick of boyfriends.

But Valentine’s Day sucks when you’re single. Just ask Juliet Valentine, whose last name happens to also be the name of the most dreaded made-up holiday ever.

A romantic at heart, this year is especially hard on Juliet. Her sister, Layla, is in a new relationship, her mom’s match-making business is doing great, and her school’s new fundraiser is “Love-Grams.”

Juliet’s miserable, a little jealous, and lonely.

Quarterback Jared Black is the most popular guy in school. A star athlete, Jared tops the most-eligible bachelor list year after year. But to Juliet Valentine, he’s all but invisible. She isn’t impressed.

Jared’s never had to work hard to get the attention of a girl before. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and he’s determined to ask Juliet out. After all, if Tyler can win over Layla, Jared ought to have a shot with Layla’s sister.

Unlike Tyler and Layla, charm, flattery and good looks won’t work on Juliet. So with the V-Day dance coming up, Jared uses the school’s Love-Grams to let Juliet know how he feels. Should be simple enough, right?

Wrong. Each attempt ends up either in the trash or thrown in someone’s face. Juliet won’t play his game.

Now, without a date to the dance Jared realizes it’s going to take a Hail Mary to win the girl of his dreams..

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My Review
Layla’s twin sister Juliet had her heart broken by boyfriend Mark at the end of RIGHT TEXT WRONG GUY, and now we get her story. Jared Black has been pining after Juliet for as long as he can remember, but he’s too afraid of rejection to ask her out. The fact that he and Mark are football teammates only makes it worse because Juliet has sworn she’ll never date a football player again. Add to that Jared’s overbearing father and high school football coach, and Jared doesn’t really have much time for dating anyway. That doesn’t stop him from doing everything he can to get on Juliet’ good side, though.

Juliet is angry at all boys. And love. And Valentine’s day. So when a bunch of love grams suddenly begin showing up for her, she assumes it’s Mark, still trying to apologize and win her back. Watching the push and pull of these two is cute and fun, but Juliet’s anger is palpable and there were times I honestly wondered why Jared didn’t give up. He goes all-in though, upping his game with each day that passes, until Juliet’s icy exterior begins to melt.

Plot
This is your basic teen romance. There’s not a heck of a lot more going on. It’s about Jared winning Juliet’s heart and Juliet doing everything she can to keep that from happening with Jared or anyone else. Some of it is predictable, but Natalie Decker’s style of writing is always entertaining. There were more than a few laugh-out-loud moments

The Characters
Jared definitely has a lot going on at home with his dad insisting he run drills in the backyard every night, lift weights three nights a week, and never, ever, stop working toward an NFL career, even though that’s the last thing Jared wants. Even though Juliet’s home life is a bit more settled, she actually goes through more growth than Jared does, coming to terms with the fact that she doesn’t really hate all boys and that Mark is not the poster child for the gender.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY
1. Chase. I love straight guy best friends and Chase is a great one, with his eyes and heart set on Adeline.

2. Perseverance. In this world of #metoo, there is a fine line between determination and stalking, but Jared goes right up to that line without stepping over. His dedication to winning Juliet’s heart is sweet rather than creepy.

3. Jared. He’s a good guy, which is a refreshing change from most romantic alpha males.

4. Juliet. I loved her in the first book, but it took me a while to warm up to her in her own story. Her anger was over the top at times. Not that it wasn’t understandable, I mean anyone who had their heart ripped out during the teen years knows how all-consuming that can be, but I hated that she took it out on everyone around her. It was hard to sympathize with her at first. However, by about the 33% mark, I remembered what I loved about her.

5. Love. As much as Juliet claims to hate love (often broadcasting it with her choice of wardrobe), it wins out in the end.

Bottom Line
This is a sweet young adult romance with plenty of laughs.

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

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RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY Teaser 2

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About the Book
Title: RIGHT KISS WRONG GUY
Series: Offsides #2
Author: Natalie Decker
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Pages: 313
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Natalie Decker

Author Natalie Decker

About the Author
Natalie Decker is the author of the bestselling YA series RIVAL LOVE and NA Scandalous Boys Series. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Avid reader of everything. She’s a huge Denver Broncos fan, loves football, and fuzzy blankets. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and misses her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!.

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Where to find Natalie Decker
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME Blog Tour

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME by Katie McGarry

Synopsis
“Doesn’t matter who did it. Not anymore. I did the time. It’s over.”

When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve..

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My Review
This was an intense rush, eliciting so many emotions. Drix is a troubled teen who was given a second chance by the Governor’s program. Although he was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he knows he was on the wrong path, chasing girls and drugs. Elle is the Governor’s daughter. But this isn’t your typical good girl drawn to bad boy story. Nothing is as it seems on the surface. Drix has a rough past, none of his doing. Elle’s life as the first daughter of Kentucky is anything but the glamorous life the media portrays. Sparks fly at first sight, but it’s not instalove. Instead, the two build a friendship based on mutual respect while battling against everyone who wants to keep them apart. There’s a lot at stake for both of them and nothing comes easy. Drix’s suspicions on who really committed the crime drive deep wedges in his closest relationships and Elle’s relationship with her parents becomes strained as they attempt to mold her into someone she has no interest in being.

Plot
The main plot is Elle’s and Drix’s forbidden relationship. But they mystery behind who really robbed the convenience store and whether or not Elle will push back against her parents’ wishes are both strong subplots. There’s a lot of personal growth and character development throughout that drives the story forward. There aren’t many romances that I find difficult to put down, but this was definitely one of them. Katie McGarry tells a compelling story and I was hooked from the first chapter.

Characters
The characters are everything. Elle and Drix are deep, complete, with rich back stories. While Drix has more baggage than Elle, her life isn’t as perfect as it seems, and that shapes who she is in so many ways. Drix’s family and Elle’s family are just as well developed, adding so much to the conflict in the story. This is only the second book I’ve read by this author, but I’ll be reading more just for her ability to craft such amazing characters.

What I Loved About SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME
1. Elle.
 She’s utterly relatable as a teen struggling to find out who she is versus who she’s supposed to be based on parental expectations.
2. Drix. He’s one of the most authentic male characters in teen fiction I’ve had the pleasure of reading. There’s nothing stereotypical about him.
3. The realism. Nothing is wrapped up too neatly in sitcom fashion. Instead, there is a realistic ending that deals with issues in a way that feels so much more satisfying than if they’d been tied up with a nice neat bow.
4. First love. The author captures the intense emotions and that overwhelming rush that accompanies first love.
5. Social Injustice. The way in which the legal system doesn’t work for everyone the same way is highlighted throughout and is a real issue I’m personally passionate about. I loved seeing the way it was dealt with  with such honesty and heart.

Bottom Line
An intense, moving, passionate portrayal of first love, finding out who you are, and fighting for what matters.

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SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME Teaser 4

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About the Book
Title: SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Pages: 464
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo | GooglePlay | BAM

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Author Katie McGarry

Author Katie McGarry

About the Author
Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

Where to Find Katie McGarry
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review – ON THE FENCE by Kasie West

ON THE FENCE by Kasie West

ON THE FENCE by Kasie West

Synopsis
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

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My Review
An absolutely adorable tale of friends to more. Charlie is the only girl in a family of boys. Her police officer father and three older brothers have shaped her into a tough-talking athlete who is more comfortable hanging with the guys than with other girls. When Charlie speeds one too many times, her dad forces her to get a job to pay her own ticket, landing her in the unfamiliar world of fashion and makeup  with the free-spirited owner who sees auras. Charlie learns more about herself and those around here through these new experiences, but most of all, her best friend and next door neighbor, Braden. Braden and Charlie often meet by the fence that separates their two properties for middle of the night chats. Charlie is haunted by her mother’s tragic death ten years earlier and Braden by the constant battles that rage within the walls of his home.

Plot
This is more than a basic romance. Charlie and Braden both have a bucketload of baggage. But as their relationship evolves and Charlie realizes her feelings for him run deeper than just friendship, she fears the changes that come with that. At least until Braden lets her know he doesn’t feel the same way about her. Crush, Charlie works through her issues, a complex relationship with her dad and brothers, and her greater place in a world that worships femininity over athletic prowess.

The Characters
I love Charlie so much. She’s complex and deep and wounded. Watching her work through her issues is both painful and emotionally rewarding. Her family dynamics made me smile and laugh more than once. I come from a big family, so I could relate to the interactions she had with her siblings. I loved their competitiveness and the little bets they were always doing. Even Charlie’s dad, as the reluctant single father to a teen girl, is so well-developed, I couldn’t help but sympathize with his attempts to relate to Charlie the best he knew how.

Top Five Things I Loved About ON THE FENCE
1. Deep characters. There is nothing light and fluffy about the characters, even though the story itself is more lighthearted than not.

2. Teen angst. The romance aspect between Charlie and Braden was my favorite part of the story.

3. Brothers. I have a couple of my own and the bond between the boys and their baby sister was beautifully done.

4. Father/daughter dynamics. The relationship between Charlie and her father rang the truest of all. It was both awkward and endearing, pretty much the definition of father/teen daughter interactions.

5. Being true to yourself. Charlie has many lessons to learn along the way, but foremost is figuring out how she fits into the broader world around her without losing who she is. This subplot is particularly well done.

Bottom Line
Sweet, deep, and moving, ON THE FENCE is more than just a teen romance. It’s about finding yourself and learning how to be real.

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About the Book
Title: ON THE FENCE
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Kasie West

Author Kasie West

About the Author
I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, and BY YOUR SIDE. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

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Where to find Kasie West
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Young Adult Book Review – RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER (Offsides) by Natalie Decker

RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER by Natalie Decker

RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER by Natalie Decker

Synopsis
High school juniors Layla and Tyler are complete opposites. Sure she’s a cheerleader and he’s a football player, but she thinks he’s the biggest jerk in the school and he thinks she is too high on her horse to even be worth of a second glance from him. And when the two of them are near one another, sparks fly in all the wrong directions. They are NOT interested in speaking to one another, let alone date.

But when Layla unknowingly sends Tyler a smack-down text meant for the girl sending naked photos to her then-boyfriend, Adam, Tyler has no idea it’s Layla and decides to play along. After all, Tyler cannot resist messing with the pissed off girl firing off texts about junk pictures, cheating, and girl code.

As the fallout from Adam’s sexting scandal plays out in front of the entire school, Tyler and Layla secretly continue to text one another using fake names. But as days and weeks pass, things take a turn for the serious between them, and suddenly, their texts mean more. They both begin to consider revealing their true identity to the other and taking the relationship from texts to dates, then kissing and maybe more.

They say there’s a thin line between love and hate. Can reality live up to the fantasy, or will Layla and Tyler be forever offsides?.

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My Review
This is a cute story with interesting characters, a fair amount of angst, and a decent romance. With a few exceptions, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a few questionable actions by the protagonists at the end that left me frustrated at times, but they weren’t bad enough to take away from the things I loved. What did bother me, though is the extreme number of typos in a professionally published book. To the point that they became distracting.

RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER is about two people who seem to be utterly wrong for each other on the surface, but deep down, they have more in common than either realizes. When Layla, a teen with dyslexia, accidentally texts the wrong number, she and the recipient of that text engage in a flirtatious screen-ship with no future. Until both of them realize they want more. The gentle and honest way the author addresses Layla’s learning disability is one of my favorite aspects of the story. Layla’s relationship with her identical twin sister, Juliet, is another favorite. As the mother of identical twins, the complex relationship of such close siblings is something I’d like to read more of in young adult fiction.

Plot
The plot centers around the relationship of Tyler and Layla. In real life, they hate each other. Or at least that’s what we’re led to believe. But things are far from black and white with these two. Their secret texting life is something completely different. Without reality getting in the way, they’re able to communicate on another, deeper, level, and learn more about the other. Except they don’t realize who they’re texting. So many things can potentially go hilariously wrong, that of course they do.

The Characters
Tyler and Layla are complex characters with rich backstories and solid flaws that make them fascinating. Unfortunately, Layla’s ex-boyfriend, Adam and a few of the female characters came across as stereotypical and two-dimensional. The clingy girl in the second half of the story was especially so. Because this is Tyler and Layla’s story, I could ignore those secondary characters to a point, but they influence the actions of the main characters enough that they can’t really be ignored for long.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER
1. Angsty teen romance. My favorite kind of romance. This is a 10 on the angst scale.

2. Learning disabilities. The author handles Layla’s dyslexia with honesty and heart.

3. Twins. As the mother of identical twins, I love the relationship Layla has with her identical twin sister, Juliet. Although mine are far more alike personality wise than these two, their special bond rang completely true to me.

4. Juliet. The loveable nerd is so much like my daughter, I took an instant like to her and can’t wait to read her story next.

5. Texting first. I love the idea of these two getting to know one another through written words before the whole physical attraction bit could get in the way.

Bottom Line
A cute, angsty teen romance.

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About the Book
Title: RIGHT TEXT WRONG NUMBER
Series: Offsides #1
Author: Natalie Decker
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Pages: 306
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Natalie Decker

Author Natalie Decker

About the Author
Natalie Decker is the author of the bestselling YA series RIVAL LOVE and NA Scandalous Boys Series. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Avid reader of everything. She’s a huge Denver Broncos fan, loves football, and fuzzy blankets. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and misses her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!.

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Where to find Natalie Decker
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Book Release + Review – BREAKING THE ICE (Juniper Falls) by Julie Cross

BREAKING THE ICE Release Blitz

 

BREAKING THE ICE (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross

BREAKING THE ICE (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
The second book in the Juniper Falls series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kennealy and Abbi Glines.

Haley Stevenson is pretty, popular, cheer captain, the princess of Juniper Falls, and voted most likely to get things done. Haley might appear to have rock-solid confidence, but her less-than-stellar GPA tells otherwise. Haley’s determined to turn things around this summer by acing the Civics class she’s been forced to repeat. Angsting over ex-boyfriends is a thing of the past—in fact, Haley’s sworn off all dating until college because the options in Juniper Falls are narrowed down to guys she’s known her entire life.

Unlike Haley, Fletcher Scott prefers to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. In fact, he was fine with his mediocre status on the hockey team. That is, until Coach put him in during the state final last season for a whopping thirty seconds. With the tension on the ice combined with Haley Stevenson’s gorgeous legs visible from the seat in front of him, it’s possible he won’t survive the summer. Not as Fletcher Scott, invisible guy, anyway. Not with Haley constantly talking to him, and making him glittery invitations to join her study group.

If he were a regular guy, maybe Fletch might consider asking her out. But he’s not a regular guy. Even Haley can see that right away. There’s something different about Fletcher Scott. Something that makes her want to work hard to break down all his guarded walls despite her pact to steer clear of local guys.

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My Review
Everything I loved about the first book, OFF THE ICE, and none of the things that bothered me, are included in this second book in the series. I absolutely adore this installment by one of my favorite young adult authors, Julie Cross. To say that Juniper Falls Princess, Haley Stevenson, and nerdy Fletcher Scott are opposites would be the understatement of the century, yet these two mismatched personalities are clearly soul mates. While they have gone to the same school for years, Fletcher avoids the social universe that Haley orbits in, so when they wind up in the same summer school Civics class, things heat up. Fletcher can’t ignore the fact that he’s attracted to Haley, but isn’t willing to change his ways to act on that attraction. Haley is infuriated by Fletcher’s obvious interest and unwillingness to do anything about it.

But Fletch has issues. Big ones that Haley will learn about in the worst way possible. But Fletch also learns that Haley is anything but the self-absorbed, superficial princess he’s always believed her to be. Julie Cross ramps up the angst in this book and it’s as delicious as anything she’s ever written.

Plot
For a romance, there was a fair amount going on. Haley has a personal journey as does Fletcher, but in addition, they both have external goals, including Fletcher’s position on the hockey team and Haley’s need to get a decent grade in Civics over the summer. Each subplot impacts the main storyline, making for a wonderfully plotted teen romance.

The Characters
I absolutely adored both characters. Haley took a good few chapters to grow on me, but Fletcher is total book boyfriend material from page one and only gets hotter through the story. Both have plenty of depth, though Fletcher has a lot more layers, which makes him infinitely intriguing. It was fun to see Tate Tanley, Jamie, Mike, Claire, and the rest of the group from the first book again, and it was especially nice to see Tate and Haley get a little closure on their relationship after it ended so abruptly in the first book.

World Building
Once again, the author drew me into the world of amateur hockey. It may not be a big sport here, but she has a way of making me want to watch it whenever I read one of her books. There’s also a little bit about Fletcher’s secret life that rounds the story out nicely and seems particularly well researched.

Top Five Things I Loved About BREAKING THE ICE
1. Food allergies. As the mother of three children with Celiac disease, it was refreshing to see this addressed in an open, honest, and non-judgmental way.

2. Heat. For a teen romance, there is plenty of heat without ever crossing a line. I love the way Julie Cross is able to consistently bring this in her books without it ever feeling stale.

3. Fletcher. One of the more interesting protagonists I’ve read in a long time. He’s introspective, angry, angsty, and oh yeah, hot.

4. Haley. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the Princess of Juniper Falls, but she made me care about her more than I thought I would.

5. Fletch’s job. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that the scenes at his place of employment are among my favorite in the entire book.

Bottom Line
BREAKING THE ICE is a wonderful young adult romance with plenty of heat and with a little something extra, that I won’t spoil, but you’ll know what I mean when you read it.

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: BREAKING THE ICE
Series: Juniper Falls #2
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: December 26, 2017
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | 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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Book Review – AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS (Love Unexpectedly) by Lauren Layne

AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS (Love Unexpectedly #5) by Lauren Layne

AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS (Love Unexpectedly #5) by Lauren Layne

Synopsis
She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com.

When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.

Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.

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My Review
Still on my friends-to-lovers kick, I couldn’t wait to get into this light-hearted romantic comedy. Add Lauren Layne as the author, a little bit of snow, and some holiday magic, and I was all in. Layne is known for her quirky characters and Kelly is no exception. A school teacher in a private New York academy, she lives and dies by the Magic 8 Ball, allowing it to guide her choices. So it’s not surprising that Kelly would take the prophecy of a subway psychic to heart. When Kelly discovers that the love her life is someone she’s already met, she makes a list of all of her exes to figure out which is “the one.” Things go hilariously wrong with each one, only frustrating Kelly. She can’t figure out how the psychic could possibly be wrong, so she works her way through one ex after another, with disastrous results.

Enter Mark. He’s been her best friend for the better part of a decade. Old high school friends who have never risked that friendship with something as temporary as sex. Not to mention the fact that Kelly is so not like any of the super hot girls Mark usually dates. So when she starts to have deeper feelings for Mark, she only amps up her search for the right ex before she acts on those feelings.

Plot
The plot is somewhat predictable, but it’s so adorably told, it doesn’t really matter. Much of the story centers around Kelly’s search for her perfect ex, but her long-term friendship with Mark is a strong subplot until it becomes front and center. Underlying it all is Kelly’s superstitious nature that drives most of the conflict.

Characters
Lauren Layne’s writing shines when it comes to her characters. Kelly is delightful as an elementary school teacher who relies on fate to chart her course in life. While this could easily come off as cartoonish, Kelly has more depth to her than that, making this aspect of her personality realistic. Mark is utterly believable as the long-suffering best friend. A man of few words, he lets his actions speak for him. The supporting characters are light, with Kelly’s exes getting most of the roles.

What I Loved About AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
1. Friends to Lovers.
 One of my favorite tropes.

2. Kelly. Her smart, spunky brand of quirky is a breath of fresh air.

3. Mark. He takes the strong, silent type to a new level of hot.

4. Christmas. I love all the holiday elements incorporated into this story. Everything from snow to decorations and a Christmas parade make the setting an essential part of the story.

5. Surprise Ending. So while I was pretty sure I knew how things were going to end, I didn’t know how it was going to get there, and the sweet surprise at the end was perfect.

Bottom Line
An adorably fun contemporary romance with the perfect amount of heat and humor.

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

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About the Book
Title: AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
Series: Love Unexpectedly #5
Author: Lauren Layne
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Pages: 204
Genre: Adult Contemporary Holiday Romance
Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Author Lauren Layne

Author Lauren Layne

About the Author
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren lived in Seattle with a cushy job in e-commerce/web-marketing. On a whim, she quit her job and moved to NYC to pursue a writing career. A year later, she had an agent and two publishing contracts.

She now lives in midtown Manhattan where she writes full time, although has been known to be lured away from the computer by a well-made cocktail.

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Where to Find Lauren Layne
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | TumblrAmazon

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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.

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

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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
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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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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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Giveaway
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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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