Blog Tour – Book Review + Giveaway – THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK by Karole Cozzo

THE GAME CAN'T LOVE YOU BACK Blog Tour

THE GAME CAN'T LOVE YOU BACK by Karole Cozzo

THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK by Karole Cozzo

Synopsis
Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s focused on one thing and one thing only—being the best pitcher she can be.

But when a freak accident forces her high school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He cant afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher—even worse, to a girl.

As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
My favorite Karole Cozzo book to date, and the title, THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK, might be the most perfect title ever — it perfectly sums up the themes of the story. When Eve’s high school suffers a freak accident, she and the rest of her Bulldogs are forced across town to attend school with the rival Pirates. And the school rivalry is only the beginning of her issues. As the only girl in a family of boys, Eve’s mom told her if she wanted to play sports, she’d play with her brothers, because she didn’t have time to start carting a child off to girls’ sports as well. So Eve plays baseball, not softball. Problem is, the boys’ baseball team at her new school doesn’t want her anymore than she wants to be there, particularly rival pitcher, Jamie. Jamie is all smooth lines and cocky smiles, everything Eve despises. Eve glares far more than she smiles and has an attitude to match, everything Jamie despises. So of course these two enemies are fated to become something more.

Plot
The story is about Eve and Jamie on and off the mound. Their romance is the main focus, but with both of them vying for the Cy Young award at the end of the season, there’s no way things in the primary plot are going to go smoothly. With Eve’s stubborn need to prove she’s one of the boys and Jamie quiet determination to prove she’s more than that means there’s plenty of conflict. There’s also Jamie’s history as a player, Eve’s inexperience in that area, jealous girls who see Eve as a rival, and an unwillingness to allow their relationship to come under the scrutiny of their teammates, meaning their tender relationship is clandestine at best. Cozzo executes all of this with moments of laugh-out-loud humor and even a few that made me tear up.

The Characters
I absolutely adore Eve. She’s a refreshing departure from many female protagonists I’ve read lately. She’s complex and relateable, tough, determined, but with a vulnerable streak she wishes she didn’t have. I love her naivete with a solid streak of street smarts that makes her anything but typical. Jamie has a lot more baggage that drives him, but his walls crumble around Eve, making him vulnerable in his own ways. Eve is ultimately torn between what she wants on and off the field, and her growth comes when she figures out what matters most in life. The other characters are mostly minor players, a supporting cast that basically exist to prop up the main characters. They do their job without coming across as too flat.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK
1. First kisses. One of the all-time best first kisses in the history of young adult fiction.

2. Eve. I loved her stubborn streak, her need to win, the way she doesn’t care about dresses or makeup. She was so easy to relate to.

3. Baseball. I’m a big fan of the game and the way it was woven into the story got me even more fired up to watch my sad Padres this season.

4. Witty banter. Eve and Jamie had some of the best lines in the book when they were baiting each other. The dialogue was one of my favorite parts of the book.

5. Jamie. He was perfectly flawed in all the best ways to make him a natural fit for Eve.

Bottom Line
A fantastic young adult sports romance with fabulous characters and sizzling dialogue.

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 GAME CAN’T LOVE YOU BACK
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Pages: 315
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo

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Author Karole Cozzo

Author Karole Cozzo

About the Author
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.

 

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Where to find Karole Cozzo
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Review – NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN by Peter Golden

Synopsis
From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes a novel about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France as he finds love and discovers the long-hidden secrets about his heritage.

In 1950s New Jersey, Michael Daniels launches a radio show in the storage room of his Russian-Jewish grandmother’s candy store. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.

There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.

But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered in the candy store. Why anyone would commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman is anyone’s guess. But she had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out to Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.

Featuring Peter Golden’s signature “vivid characters and strong storytelling” (The Washington Post), Nothing Is Forgotten changes our understanding of the impact of World War II on its survivors and their descendants, and will appeal to fans of novels by Anita Diamant and Kristin Hannah..

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My Review
NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN is currently in my top five favorite books of all time, joining A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, SHE’S COME UNDONE, GONE WITH THE WIND, and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. At times, the book is a thriller, others a mystery, and still others, a romance, but at all times, it’s captivating, emotional, and incredibly well told. The story opens in Michael’s childhood and reads like a memoir until his grandmother is killed, and then it takes off like a thriller wrapped in a mystery as Michael tries to figure out who killed his grandmother and why. His search for the truth takes him to Europe and Russia where he meets and falls for Yuli, a smuggler and defacto spy. Together they seek clues about the death of Emma, which only raises more questions and puts them both in danger.

Plot
Impeccably  researched, there is as much history as there is storytelling going on between the pages. The story is expertly plotted and moves along at a steady rate. The pace picks up speed at the climax and keeps it up until the very end. And that ending…wow. For me, it’s perfect. Yes, I want to know what happens next, but I don’t need to know. It’s such a satisfying conclusion with just the right amount of uncertainty to allow me to imagine what comes after without feeling frustrated.

The Characters
The characters are a masterpiece. Michael, Yuli, Der Schmuggler…they’re deep, nuanced, and intriguing. Throughout the story, Emma goes from being an enigma to someone fully fleshed out as the reader learns through Micheal’s research who Emma really was. The characters seem so much a part of the era (late 1950s to 1960s), that I never once questioned the setting.

Top Five Things I Loved About NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN
1. Yuli. She was by far my favorite character. She’s so complex, strong and vulnerable, proud with fits of guilt, having lived through the horrors of the second World War, she’s hard to identify with, but so easy to root for.

2. Michael. His optimistic Americanism is the polar opposite of Yuli’s Eastern European post-war hopelessness. His quest to uncover the truth is both reckless and admirable, making him an absolutely fascinating protagonist.

3. History. I love history, but even more when it serves as a backdrop to a compelling story. The author’s meticulous attention to detail made history come alive, leaving me wanting to learn more about the events of that time.

4. The ending. One of the best endings ever.

5. Storytelling. The way the story unfolds kept me glued to the pages, but the characters made me care about what happened.

Bottom Line
One of my all-time favorite novels. I will be reading more by Peter Golden.

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: NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN
Author: Peter Golden
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Pages: 352
Genre: New Adult Historical Mystery/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 Peter Golden

Author Peter Golden

About the Author
Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, historian, and novelist who has written nine books and interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush (41); Secretaries of State Kissinger, Haig, Shultz, and Eagleburger; Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres, and Shamir; and Soviet President Gorbachev. His first novel, Comeback Love, was praised by the novelist and reviewer Caroline Leavitt as an “extraordinary debut.” Wherever There Is Light, his second novel, was featured in New York Magazine’s Fall Preview issue, widely reviewed, and selected by the New Jersey Star-Ledger as one of the best books of 2016. His third novel, Nothing Is Forgotten, which explores the connection between the Holocaust and the Cold War, will be published on April 10, 2018.

 

Where to Find Peter Golden
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Book Review + Giveaway – THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

THE DYLAN DILEMMA Blog Tour

THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

THE DYLAN DILEMMA by Patricia B. Tighe

Synopsis
High school senior Kenzie Harper-Shea has no time for dating, especially after the arrival of the basketball coach from hell. Now Kenzie has lost her confidence, is in a slump, and in danger of losing out on a scholarship to play college ball. The last thing she needs is her “vacation boyfriend,” Dylan McCoy, distracting her with warm smiles, inside jokes, and swoony kisses.

Dylan, however, is totally ready to date. He finally lives in the same town as Kenzie and is not about to lose the chance to let their relationship grow into something more. But for now, he’ll stay in the friend zone because he’s determined to find out what has her running scared. It can’t be just about basketball.

As Kenzie spends more time around Dylan, her feelings become a jumbled-up mess. It’s obvious they’re into each other. So, why does she panic whenever she thinks about dating him? Is it connected to basketball or to something deeper? She’s not sure. Does she have the courage to examine her heart, even if it means breaking Dylan’s?

 

 

 

 

 

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My Review
I’m a big fan of Patricia B. Tighe’s fun and flirty young adult contemporary romances, so I jumped at a chance to read and review this book based on the name alone. Seriously, THE DYLAN DILEMMA is the perfect title for a wonderful romance that blends light-hearted comedy with deeper issues. Mackenzie, AKA Kenzie, and Dylan have had an on-again-off-again relationship since first hooking up on a summer trip years ago. Kenzie lives her life according to plans. She’s not good with the unknown and especially surprises. So when her basketball coach surprisingly has to leave for a family emergency, the new coach rocks Kenzie’s world. And not in a good way. With Dylan a freshman in college now, surrounded by hot co-eds, and Kenzie’s status as a starter on her high school basketball team in question, Kenzie feels as if now is a good time to be in the “off-again” status. Dylan begs to differ, so when he makes a plan to get Kenzie to change her mind  things are only going to go from complicated to tangled and messy.

Plot
Alternating points of view give us insight into both Kenzie’s and Dylan’s motives. Dylan is calm and logical to Kenzie’s more scattered approach to the situation. Kenzie has a lot going on with her family and school without trying to bring a romance into the picture that she’s sure will only end in heartbreak for her. She has some serious trust issues that drive most of the conflict in a believable way. Dylan has a few things in his own life, but none as serious as what Kenzie is dealing with, but everything ties together to pull the main plot into a tight knot filled with plenty of drama mixed with some sweeter moments and even some pretty hot kissing!

The Characters
It took me a few chapters to warm up to Kenzie, but once I understood her, I couldn’t help but love her. Dylan, on the other hand, had me from the start. Kenzie is intense and needs to analyze everything. This perfectly fits with her need to know what’s going to happen. Dylan is the perfect foil with his easy-going, let’s see what happens style. These two seem like they should never work, except for that undeniable spark each of them feels in the other’s presence. Kenzie’s and Dylan’s families provide just enough of a hint at why each is the way they are, and friends on both sides round out a great cast of characters.

Top Five Things I Loved About THE DYLAN DILEMMA
1. Comedy. The author’s way of weaving lighter moments throughout made this a fun, fast read I was able to complete in one sitting.

2. Dylan. His go-with-the-flow style really resonated with me and I found myself instantly connecting with him.

3. Steamy kisses. From their first kiss to an emotion-filled teeth clashing snogfest, Patricia B. Tighe creates heat at levels not normally seen by fully-clothed characters.

4. The ending. I love how the author wrapped everything up, tying everything together, without being too neat and tidy.

5. Teen angst. My favorite kind of romance.

Bottom Line
THE DYLAN DILEMMA is an adorable contemporary teen romance with heat, heart, and humor.

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: THE DYLAN DILEMMA
Author: Patricia B. Tighe
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Pages: 339
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 Patricia B. Tighe

Author Patricia B. Tighe

About the Author
The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and two dogs. Her love of the written word caused her to get a journalism degree from Texas A&M University in 1980 and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2008. When not writing or reading, she can be found walking the dogs or yelling at the TV during an NFL game. She’s also a fan of British TV shows. Downton Abbey, anyone?

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Where to find Patricia B. Tighe
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Young Adult Book Review – SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES by Lisa Brown Roberts

Synopsis
Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

There’s a crazy guy running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting – in a good way. But I can’t even think about him that way because Crazy Guy says any fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous weirdo with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer..

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My Review
I love this book! Seriously, freaking LOVE! I’m a huge Lisa Brown Roberts fan and had the distinct pleasure of being her “seat filler” for all of five minutes at the RWA conference in San Diego a few years back; coincidentally, just a few days before San Diego Comic-Con. And though I’m sure she’s quite a bit younger than me, I still say I want to be LBR when I grow up. And SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES is the reason why. The banter, the characters, the pop culture tie-ins. This story is pretty much everything I love: young adult romance, teen angst, Star Wars, nerd geekery, pop-culture references, Comic-Con… Yeah, if I was a teen in 2018, this would pretty much be my life.

The summer before her senior year of high school, Laurel convinces her dad to allow her to work at his public relations and marketing firm so she can spend more time with him. She calls him Dad Vader, and at first I was worried this was due to a fractured relationship. But other than her father working a lot, the reference is to a mutual love of Star Wars and a time he dressed as Darth Vader to her Princess Leia. Initially excited, Laurel soon realizes this may not be the summer she was hoping for. Instead of sharing leisurely lunches with her dad, she barely sees him other than the commutes to and from work. And on top of that, she’s expected to report back on a group of interns who are all vying for a $100,000 college scholarship in a reality-TV-show inspired competition. Not only does she not want to spy on her contemporaries, but one of whom just happens to be Josh, the dreamy high school quarterback she’s been pining for since middle school.

It isn’t Jason, though, who gets her worked up. Instead Carlos, the boy with the Hershey Kiss colored eyes sets her pulse zinging. The “no-fraternizing with the interns” rule makes both boys completely off limits for Laurel, who soon finds her attention focused on discovering the culprit using social media to sabotage her father’s company. Before summer is over, Laurel will learn a lot about first impressions, what it means to really trust someone, and the power of persuasion.

Plot
The main plot is definitely the romance, but there are a lot of great subplots involving Laurel’s relationship with her father, her friendships with the other interns, and the mystery of who is trying to hurt the company. All are woven expertly together. The constant sprinkling of pop-culture references also played into the plot, including a Breakfast Club-esque scene in the building’s basement. My only real complaint with the story, and it’s not even so much of a complaint, is that the mystery was introduced with only one likely culprit. Even though the story isn’t primarily, or even secondarily, a mystery, once that element was introduced, I would have liked a little more to it.

The Characters
The characters are the best! Laurel is fantastic as the adorable teen nerd who loves Star Wars and refers to her dad’s right-hand-man, Mr. Mantoni, as “the Manicotti.” She’s confident, but with a reasonable number of insecurities which keep her grounded and utterly relatable.

Top Five Things I Loved About SPIES, LIES AND ALLIES
1. Laurel. She’s adorable, funny, and just neurotic enough to make her the perfect heroine.

2. Carlos. He’s witty and loyal and easy to love. Being insanely attractive doesn’t hurt either.

3. Star Wars. I’m a full on Star Wars geek, and like Laurel, I believe any movies with Jar-Jar Binks don’t really count. I like to pretend those were never even made. I adore the way the author wove in so many Star Wars references and compared their mission to blowing up the Death Star.

4. New friends. I love the whole Breakfast Club feel of the interns’ relationships with one another and how they evolve over the summer.

5. Standing up for what’s right. Laurel repeatedly risks her job and her relationship with her dad to do what she feels is the right thing; consequences be damned.

Bottom Line
Another fantastic LBR book that I couldn’t put down!

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: SPIES, LIES, AND ALLIES
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonAmazon UKAmazon CABarnes & NobleiTunesKoboBookDepositoryBAM

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Author Lisa Brown Roberts

Author Lisa Brown Roberts

About the Author
Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year.

This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.

Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several fourlegged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

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Where to find Lisa Brown Roberts
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter

Young Adult Book Review – HIDING LIES (Eleanor Ames) by Julie Cross

HIDING LIES (Eleanor Ames #2) by Julie Cross

HIDING LIES (Eleanor Ames #2) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
At Holden Prep, dirty little secrets always have a way of coming to the surface.

Eleanor Ames has never been what she seems. Average high school student on the outside, but reformed con artist trying to break free of her past on the inside. When Eleanor receives startling news about someone from her previous criminal life, plans for a new operation coinciding with her school’s upcoming field trip quickly consume her.

But operations rarely go according to plan. And this is one her irresistible teen FBI agent boyfriend, Miles, would never approve of.

Now, more than just Ellie’s reputation is at stake. If she fails, it could be her life.

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My Review
WARNING – Spoilers Ahead for Book 1
It’s been over 18 months since I read CHASING TRUTH by Julie Cross, yet the characters and story were still so vivid in my memory, I didn’t need any refreshers. HIDING LIES picks up where CHASING TRUTH left off, with life returning to relative normal, considering Ellie’s past and Mile’s future. With Miles returning to his military academy after spending the holidays with his family abroad, Ellie fills her time with her sister, Harper, Harper’s former Secret Service boyfriend, Aidan, and her classmates from Holden Academy.

When Miles fails to meet her as planned after returning from overseas, and Miles’s CIA Agent father makes an unusual request of Ellie, she can’t help but worry about Miles. Things get more interesting when Ellie’s past confronts her in her present, setting up an opportunity to undo the damage from one of the biggest regrets in her short life. With one twist after another, this was the first page-turner I’ve read in a while. I’m a huge fan of Julie Cross, and HIDING LIES reminds me why.

Plot
The plot is flawless. Everything flows with important information is sprinkled throughout so when something unexpected happens, you realize the hints were there all along. This is a “stay up late and read until your eyes blur” kind of story. While some of it on the surface seems implausible for teens, the author always explains it in a believable fashion. And if if she didn’t, I wouldn’t care, because it’s just that good.

The Characters
I have so much love already for former con-girl, Ellie, straight-laced Miles, flakey Harper, and G-man Aidan, but in HIDING LIES, Ellie spends more time with Dominic, the moody secret love interest of Ellie’s tragic friend, Simon. Dominic and Ellie forge an almost friendship and I grew to love him in this book. A number of new characters are also introduced who add a lot to the story, and I also got to know and respect Justice just a little bit more. All the characters are deeply drawn and realistic.

Top Five Things I Loved About HIDING LIES
1. Miles. He drove me nuts with his conflicted feelings, but he totally redeems himself in the best possible way.

2. Ellie. She’s changed by the events in the first book and is less confident, leading her to make choices I might not have expected before, but given everything she’s been through, they are completely within character. I loved seeing a more vulnerable side of her.

3. Surprises. There were so many unexpected twists, I couldn’t put this book down.

4. The ending. Well done and even more exciting and satisfying than the first book.

5. Teen angst. While different this time around, there is no less drama surrounding Ellie and Miles’ romance.

Bottom Line
Julie Cross upped her game and wrote one of my favorite young adult novels ever!

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: HIDING LIES
Series: Eleanor Ames #2
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/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 | Entangled

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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

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
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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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 – 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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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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Book Review – CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL (Writing Active Setting) by Mary Buckham

CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL (Writing Active Setting #1) by Mary Buckham

CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL (Writing Active Setting #1) by Mary Buckham

Synopsis
Readers usually remember the plot and characters of a story, but setting is every bit as important in creating a memorable world. Discover the difference between Ordinary Setting that bogs down your story, and Active Setting that empowers your story — creating a compelling story world, regardless of what you write.

* See how to spin boring descriptions into engaging prose.
* Learn to deepen the reader’s experience of your story world through sensory details.
* Notice how changing characters’ POV can change your setting.
* Explore ways to maximize the setting possibilities in your story.

WRITING ACTIVE SETTING is a powerful combination of fresh insights, practical examples, and how-to advice on the often overlooked but critical element of Setting … written in a quick-to-read and easy-to-understand style, and packed with useful application exercises. ~~ Kelly L. Stone, author of THINKING WRITE: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind

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My Review
This is my favorite book on the craft of writing so far this year. To say my scene setting needs work would be a massive understatement. This first in a three-book series, is a fast read packed with tons of helpful advice and examples to drive Buckham’s point home. I immediately applied the lessons learned to my latest manuscript and ran to Amazon to buy the next two books in the series. With chapters like, Subtext in Setting, and Revealing Character Through Setting, I was able to quickly grasp where my writing was lacking and make corrections. Every pass I make, I look for ways to incorporate what I learned from this book. The common sense approach and relatable writing style of Mary Buckham makes this an outstanding resource for the writer at any stages of their journey.

Bottom Line
An outstanding resource on writing setting for fiction and nonfiction alike.

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About the Book
Title
:  CHARACTERIZATION AND SENSORY DETAIL
Series: Writing Active Setting #1
Author: Mary Buckham
Publisher: Cantwell Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: October 7, 2013
Pages: 59
Category: Fiction Writing
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Mary Buckham

Author Mary Buckham

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham credits her years of international travel and curiosity about different cultures that resulted in creating high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories. Her newest Invisible Recruit series has been touted for the unique voice, high action and rich emotion. A prolific writer, Mary also co-authors the young adult sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon series with NYT bestseller Dianna Love. Mary lives in Washington State with her husband and, when not crafting a new adventure, she travels the country researching settings and teaching other writers. Don’t miss her latest reference book Writing Active Setting.

Currently she is neck-deep into writing an Urban Fantasy series centered around five women drafted to combat preternatural beings agitating for world domination. The INVISIBLE RECRUIT series combines a fantasy/paranormal element with high stakes and the pace of action adventure stories. Mary loves creating thrills, spills and spells as she follows the ups and downs of fascinating characters starting with Alex Noziak, the heroine of INVISIBLE MAGIC, INVISIBLE FATE and INVISIBLE POWER.

Where to find Mary Buckham
Goodreads Website | FacebookTwitter | Pinterest
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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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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
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

NINJA GIRL Blog Tour

NINJA GIRL by Cookie O'Gorman

NINJA GIRL by Cookie O’Gorman

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

One stolen kiss…

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

One interesting job proposition…

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

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

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author Cookie O'Gorman

Author Cookie O’Gorman

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

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

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg

The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author J.L. Berg

Author J.L. Berg

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

Liberation (Moonchild #2) by Kate L. Mary

Liberation (Moonchild #2) by Kate L. Mary

Synopsis
From two-time award-winning author, Kate L. Mary, comes the sequel to MOONCHILD, “a much needed breath of fresh air in the world of YA fantasy.” After surviving the auction and a near death experience at the hands of Asher’s father, Scarlett Moon is more than ready for life to settle down, and with each passing day she starts to feel more at home in Columbus. Even with Asher ready for more than Scarlett can give, she manages to fall into a routine that almost feels like a normal life.

But one distress call is all it takes to destroy the serenity the group has managed to build.

As far as anyone knew, Paget had moved on with her life after storming out months ago, but the fear in her voice when she calls the warehouse tells a different story. Even though Scarlett never liked Asher’s ex to begin with, she can’t help feeling a little bit responsible for Paget’s situation.

Searching in the seediest part of the city, the group picks up clues as they try to piece together what might have happened. The more Scarlett learns about what the other woman has been through over the last few months, the more concerned she becomes. Even worse: there’s no sign of Paget anywhere in Columbus.

With all the clues pointing in one direction, the group leaves the city and heads for Hocking Hills. Only it seems the danger may have followed them, leaving nothing but death and destruction in its wake and putting Paget in more danger than ever before. As Scarlett learns more about the woman who used to hold Asher’s heart, she suddenly finds herself unable to deny how she really feels about him. Only, with Paget in trouble, Scarlett can’t help wondering if Asher might still have feelings for his ex.

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My Review
I freaking love this series! I was delighted to find out that Moonchild was the first book in the series and bought the sequel the day it came out. Book 2 picks up a few months after the end of Moonchild. Scarlett is still convinced she’s bad for Asher and Asher is still convinced she’s wrong. Things have settled into a new normal until Asher’s ex, Paget, sends a distress call. With no idea where she is or where the call came from, the pirates set out to find her and bring her home. While there is no love-loss between Scarlett and Paget, Scarlett knows she must be part of the rescue effort. These are the moments I absolutely adore her. Her sense of duty and right and wrong is so much a part of who she is.

Plot
The plot centers around the search and rescue of Paget, but the romance is still a very strong subplot and incredibly well done! I love the angst and drama surrounding Scarlett and Asher’s relationship. There is so much action in the plot, the story moves at a clipped pace, only pausing long enough to allow us to catch our breath. Once again the story is well-plotted and expertly executed.

Characters
All the characters I fell in love with in the first book are back and a few new ones are added. Scarlett and Asher both undergo a decent amount of development, more so than before. The good news is, there’s still plenty of room for growth, so hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of these two. The author creates so much depth in her characters that there are still many unexplored depths to discover in this installment. We not only learn more about Scarlett and Asher, but Paget really comes into her own.

World Building
The world building continues to be one of the most impressive I’ve read in the past few years. Kate L. Mary’s attention to detail makes her settings come alive in very vibrant and realistic fashion.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The editing.
 Once again, both the content and copy editing disappointed me, pulling me out of the story more than a few times.

2. The cover. The cover still doesn’t grab my attention, but I’m so invested in the series now, it could be a plain brown wrapper and I’d still pick up the next book.

What I Loved About Liberation
1. The setting.
 Again the world the author has created just shines. I love everything from the settings to the costumes to the technology.

2. Scarlett. While I was slow to warm to her in the first book, I had no such issues this time around. I was already a big fan. It was great to see some true growth in her. While she’s still a teen and has plenty of angst, she’s starting to mature.

3. The plot. Another perfectly plotted and executed story!

4. Asher. If possible, I love him even more now. We get to see a new side to him, a softer, more vulnerable side and it made him more human.

5. Paget. She’s still the same romantic foil and no fan of Scarlett’s, but she has her own growth in this installment and seeing more of her, hearing more of her story, endeared her to me in a way she hadn’t before.

Bottom Line
Liberation is my favorite book of 2016 and with tighter editing, it would have been damn near perfect!

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About the Book
Title: Liberation
Series: Moonchild #2
Author: Kate L. Mary
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Pages: 280
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/SciFi/Steampunk Romance
Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Kate L. Mary

Author Kate L. Mary

About the Author
Award-winning author of WHEN WE WERE HUMAN and the Amazon best-selling BROKEN WORLD series, Kate L. Mary writes everything from post-apocalyptic tales of the undead to new adult contemporary romance. A mother of four and an Air Force wife, her days are divided between keeping her household in order and creating new worlds for readers to get lost in.

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Where to find Kate L. Mary
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Young Adult Book Review – My Junior Year of Loathing (School Dayz) by Jennifer DiGiovanni

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

Author Jennifer DiGiovanni

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

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Where to find Jennifer DiGiovanni
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Pinterest
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Young Adult Book Review – Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames) by Julie Cross

Chasing Truth Blog Tour

Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

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My Review
Ellie is a girl with a checkered past. Raised by her con-artist parents, she now lives with her older sister and her sister’s boyfriend who just happens to be a member of the Secret Service. When the sister’s boyfriend pulls some strings, getting Ellie into an exclusive prep school, she only manages to make one good friend who kills himself shortly after dropping Ellie off at home. Devastated, Ellie believes there’s more to the story than a simple suicide. Her friend, Simon, the son of the California Senator, wasn’t depressed.

When hot newbie, Miles, moves in across from Ellie, she fights a physical attraction and an emotional hatred of him. Miles is full of his own secrets and the two torment each other both consciously and subconsciously. Chasing Truth is pure Julie Cross — lots of angst, beautiful character development, and this time around a fun mystery.

Plot
The story centers on Ellie’s pursuit of the truth — what really happened to Simon. With her background, she’s able to follow the clues with relative ease, using her ability to con people to gain information. The only thing really complicating her efforts is Miles. I had Miles pegged from early on, even though the author managed to make me second-guess my conclusion more than a few times. Even so, the back and forth between Ellie and Miles is great — lots of that unresolved sexual tension Julie Cross is famous for.

The Characters
Ellie is fascinating. She had the potential to become annoying, but she never fell into that trap. Her background made her unique, resourceful, loveable. Miles was equally interesting, always one step ahead of Ellie, or so it seems. The rest of the characters are well-rounded and enhance the story. Ellie’s sister, Harper, is great as the nanny to a set of toddler twins of a wealthy couple, and her boyfriend, Aiden, is as sympathetic as he is hot. Some of Ellie’s classmates crossed the line into spoiled rich teen territory, but they all had more depth to them than the stereotype.

Top Five Things I Loved About Chasing Truth
1. The mystery. I love when I spend an entire book trying to figure out what really happened right along with the protagonist.

2. Ellie. She’s feisty, confident, and smart. Three things that make an excellent young adult protagonist.

3. Angst. I loved the romance aspect in this story. She had such control over almost every other aspect of her life, it was fun to watch Ellie squirm.

4. The writing. The pacing is perfect and the writing is tight, making this a fun, fast read.

5. The ending. It wrapped up giving me enough satisfaction while leaving me wanting more of Eleanor Ames and crew!

Bottom Line
Chasing Truth is a fast-paced teen mystery wrapped up in a romance that is hard to put down.

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: Chasing Truth
Series: Eleanor Ames #1
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Rating: 5 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

Young Adult Book Review – The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

Synopsis
True love can’t be strategized.

Romance book blogger Vivian Galdi is a girl with a plan: the Replacement Crush mission. After her longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of safe targets, determined to protect her heart and avoid anyone who pings her zing meter. But nerd-hot Dallas, the new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian’s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission, analyzing his target and taking advantage of the tactical errors in her strategy.

Does Dallas just like a good game of Replacement Crush Battlefield, or is he on his own mission to prove to Vivian that true love isn’t a matter of strategy? And how much collateral damage can they both sustain during the heat of battle?

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My Review
I’m a huge, huge fan of Lisa Brown Roberts and I might have gotten a little swoony when I met her at the RWA conference here in San Diego last month. Obviously I jumped at the chance to read and review The Replacement Crush and I was not disappointed. Vivian Galdi is broken hearted after a hot couple of weeks at the end of summer making out with her long-term crush, Jake, on the beach. But when school starts, popular Jake has already moved on to new surfer girl, Claire leaving Vivian not only devastated, but vowing to never allow that to happen again. How? By only dating boys that she could never have strong feelings for. Along comes hot, yet nerdy, Dallas, a recent transplant to Southern California from Wisconsin. When Viv’s mom hires Dallas to help them take their sleepy seaside bookstore into the 21st century, Vivian and Dallas are forced to work together and the zing cannot be ignored. Which means Dalls is completely undateable.

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I love the book blogging angle so much, it inspired me to use gifs for the first time in a book review. I might be hooked, although it takes longer to find just the right ones.

Plot
The plot centers around the romance between Vivian and Dallas and Vivian’s refusal to even give Dallas a chance because she knows they have serious zing. Something she’s not willing to indulge in again. It’s clear from the beginning the Dallas feels it, too, and he’s determined to get Vivian to change her mind, although his methods are subtle. These two fight a lot, about ridiculous things. Dallas tries to rile her up and Viv fights to keep Dallas at arms’ length, but that only increases the electricity between them.

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There are some cute subplots involving Vivian’s relationship with the son of her mother’s boyfriend, a guy she’s known since kindergarten, a crush by one of her closest friends, and a mysterious visitor in town who may or may not be a famous rock star hiding out from the paparazzi.

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Setting
I loved the sleepy seaside community north of Los Angeles. At times, it felt very much like Encinitas, a town only ten miles north of me. Particularly with the the crunchy, granola, hippy liberal vibe I got while reading about surfing competitions, yoga, smoothies, and more. The author created a town that was as much a character in the story as any of her human characters.

Characters
Speaking of characters, they’re all wonderful. Even Jake the snake, as the bad guy. He never comes off as stereotypical, although the author could have easily gone there without ruining the story. Dallas has depth that I haven’t seen in a love interest in awhile, even though the story is told completely from Viv’s point of view. There are times I wanted to shake some sense into Vivian for being “that girl” but the author even acknowledges that, taking away my ability to roll my eyes are her antics.

Ending
The ending is perfect. I love Viv and Dallas and the big romantic gesture was the perfect way to wind up this tale.

Top Five Things I Loved about The Replacement Crush:
1. Hot nerds. What’s not to love about a gorgeous, smart guy that loves all the geeky things you do?

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2. Toff. Viv’s surfing, sorta brother, is loyal, adorable, and a full of himself, and yet I can’t help loving him. I hope we get a book from his point of view soon.

3. First kisses. Viv and Dallas’s first kiss is one of the hottest teen kisses I’ve ever read, without crossing a line.

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4. Bookstores. Viv’s mom owns a bookstore and many scenes take place there, making me feel as if I’m in my home away from home.

5. The ending. Well done, sweet, funny, and hot. A hard trifecta to achieve.

Bottom Line
The Replacement Crush is full of fun, quirky characters, witty banter, and obvious teen sexual tension that is a delight to read.

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 Replacement Crush
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonAmazon UKAmazon CABarnes & NobleiTunesKoboThe BookDepositoryBooks a Million

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Author Lisa Brown Roberts

Author Lisa Brown Roberts

About the Author
Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year.

This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way.

Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several fourlegged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

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Where to find Lisa Brown Roberts
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter
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