Reviews, YA, ya contemporary, YA Dystopian, YA Fantasy, ya romance

ARC Review: Refuse (Recoil #2) by Joanne Macgregor

Refuse (Recoil Trilogy, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Everyone wants Jinxy, except the one she loves.

In a near-future USA decimated by an incurable plague and tightly controlled by a repressive government, teenagers with special skills are recruited and trained to fight in the war against terror.

Now a rebellion is brewing.

All sixteen year-old expert sniper Jinxy James wanted was a little freedom, but now she’s trapped between the government and the rebels, unsure of who the real enemy is. When she uncovers appalling secrets and twisted motivations, Jinxy begins to question her allegiances. Soon she will need to choose between love and freedom, as she struggles to do the right thing in a world gone horribly wrong.

Refuse is the second book in the Young Adult dystopian romance that began with Recoil. This much anticipated sequel is filled with romance and heartache, shocking twists, and a thought-provoking examination of freedom, fear, loyalty and identity.

My Review:

SO back in May I was read and reviewed the first novel in this trilogy, Recoil, and really enjoyed what Joanne Macgregor brought to the table. It was quite a realistic dystopian story. The same can be said for the second novel in this series as well.

Refuse starts exactly where Recoil left off. Jinxy is sort of in hell. She has to convince the government that she isn’t some spy working for rebellion. She also has to decide which side of the fight she is on and who she can trust.

Macgregor’s story telling definitely improved with this novel. In a series like this the first novel is the setup and has to introduce you to a lot of characters and plot, but the second one is always better. You can dive right into the story, get to the nitty gritty of the characters and really focus on their decision-making process and character growth. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will just say this, I really enjoyed watching Jinxy grow as a person. In the first novel she was young and naive. In Refuse she has grown up. She sees the world for what it really is. She sees the government and her missions for what they truly are. She understands that her actions have larger consequences, effect more people, more families. She understands that not everyone can be trusted and that you should listen to your gut when it’s trying to tell you something isn’t right.

The follow up to Recoil really brings the themes of right and wrong to the forefront of the story. Nothing is black and white and the gray area is very hazy. It does not do to always assume your government has the best interest of the people in mind. You should always be watching and questioning.

Definitely check this novel out.  There is cliffhanger after cliffhanger that will keep you wanting more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

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Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: Outspoken by Lora Richardson

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Goodreads Summary:

Penny Beck is a girl who says yes when she means no. She keeps to herself, follows the rules, and does what she’s told. After a disastrous experience with her boyfriend, she’s determined to change from the spineless person she’s always been into the strong woman she wants to become. All she needs is a little practice.

On a cross-country trip to check on her grandpa, she strives to become bolder and more outspoken with the strangers she meets. Penny’s plan is to practice saying and doing what she wants without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

Then she meets Archer, an introspective loner to whom she finds herself drawn. She realizes she does care what he thinks, very much. Will Penny be able to stick to her plan, or will she revert back to her people-pleasing ways?

Review:

Let me start with a PSA. If you start reading this book and you think it’s a little slow, please keep reading. That was my mistake the first two times I tried to read it. Once you’re past the first 20 pages, trust me, you will be hooked. Lora’s writing style gives off a Sarah Dessen vibe, so if you like Sarah Dessen, please pick up her books!

Outspoken is Lora’s debut novel. As you may have seen, earlier this month Liz reviewed Lora’s sophomore novel which she loved! If you want to check that out after this review please click here! (Also, Liz interviewed Lora so that is also something you’re not going to want to miss.)

Outspoken starts of with Penny, a yes girl so to speak. She can’t say no for the life of her, but after a life-changing moment she decides she will no longer say “yes” even if it disappoints those closest to her. Penny has always tried to lead a life where she can make everyone happy, but herself. At the beginning Penny may not be your favorite person, you may want to scream at her and tell her what the hell is she doing, but as you go on this journey with her she starts to grow into a person we start rooting for and hope she gets the happy ending she deserves.

I will keep this review short as to not to spoil you, but if you are looking for a coming of age story that will make you question your own life’s journey then you should read it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Lora Richardson for providing me with a copy of Outspoken. Receiving this book for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

Interviews, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review & Interview: The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

The Edge of Juniper

GoodReads Summary:

“You’re off-limits, so why can’t I stop thinking about you?”

Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.

But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.

Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed.

Review:

The Edge of Juniper is a contemporary romance that analyzes family dynamics, friendships, and romantic relationships.I absolutely loved Lora Richardson’s writing. She was thought provoking and honest. There is a lot going on with the main character Fay, but Richardson manages to bring all of Fay’s thoughts and emotions to the forefront. Fay doesn’t hide who she or what she wants, but also  being 16, she still isn’t 100% sure of who she is what she wants.

I do have to say that because Fay is so open with her thought and emotions, her relationship with her parents is the kind I want with my kids. The aren’t afraid to discuss anything, and that includes sex. If/When I have children I want to make sure they can be honest with me. For example, Fay’s mother knows that teens have sex; instead of being crotchety about it, she literally buys her daughter condoms, explaining that Fay needs to be responsible and not just expect the guy to have them.

The Edge of Juniper is heartbreaking and eye opening. I absolutely loved it. Below is an interview I did with Lora. Guys she is fantastic and really gets into the nitty gritty of what the book truly represents.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Interview:

So I want to start off by saying thank you for joining us today at The Talking Bookworm. We are super excited to have you and to discuss your book The Edge of Juniper, which I absolutely loved.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with your readers.  I’m happy to be here, and I am delighted that you enjoyed my book!

Can you tell us a bit about The Edge of Juniper?

Fay, a 16-year-old Northeastern city girl, is sent to live with her cousins in Indiana for the summer.  She finds small town life charming, but she discovers some surprising things about her aunt and uncle’s home—not the least of which is the grudge her uncle holds against the Dearing family.  Fay is close with her feisty cousin, Celia, but must come to terms with the circumstances in Celia’s life, and her different style of decision-making. 

And then there’s Malcolm Dearing—strictly off-limits due to his last name.  Fay knows she shouldn’t spend time with him, because doing so will upset the delicate balance in her aunt and uncle’s home.  But the more she learns about him, and the more tumultuous Celia’s household becomes, the harder it becomes to stay away.

 This is a book about first love, the complexity of families, and a girl learning to trust herself.

What was the inspiration behind the novel?

I got the first spark of an idea when my mom told me about the time she spent a week with her cousins.  She had never been a houseguest before, and didn’t know what to expect.  She was surprised by some of the ways their household was different from her own.  I took that idea and ran with it, weaving in Fay—a strong character unafraid to speak her thoughts.  I wanted Fay to be open and genuine, wholly unguarded in her response to the world, and a little bit naïve.  I am curious about the various ways that households function, and how that can affect the behavior of the people inside them, especially teenagers who are making major life decisions, so I explored those thoughts in this novel.  

I loved that Fay and Malcom have no problem talking about sex and don’t feel the pressure to have sex. This is a really important message to both girls and boys. What prompted you to bring this into the story?

I, too, feel like it’s an important message.  I wanted to show a couple that is able to reveal their hearts, even when it’s scary.  I wanted a relationship to progress on its own timeline, without outside pressure—to show how amazing it can be to savor the current moment rather than rush to the next step. 

 I liked the idea of juxtaposing Fay and Malcolm’s relationship with that of Celia and her boyfriend, Ronan.  Celia is rarely honest with Ronan, and that mirrors the way she isn’t honest with herself.  She often hides from her own feelings.  Fay is someone who really examines her own thoughts, and shares them just as openly.  That can backfire, but mostly it draws her closer to the people around her.  Malcolm lives in a very connected, supportive household, where communication is paramount.  Between the two of them, they are able to simplify complicated things just by putting them to words. 

I also think the parent relationships and perception of other people’s families is super important. Can you talk more about that?

It’s amazing to think about all the houses in the world, each with its own group of people inside, all relating to each other and living in various ways.  The way a family seems from the outside can be quite different from what goes on inside.  That knowledge comes to a person slowly, beginning very young, in many big and small ways.  Through childhood and the teen years, I began to notice things, such as:  which households allow food in the living room, who has what curfew, which parents fight, who gets along with their siblings, who has a ton of chores, who always has both parents at the football game and who never has that parental support…and on and on.  Our differences can seem endless, but at heart, so are our similarities.  I think it’s important to think about how other people live, and to hold space and respect for those differences and how they influence a person’s behavior.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? I know I had a difficult time with Celia’s parents and Celia’s relationship with Ronan.

The hardest part was definitely creating Celia’s parents, Todd and Donna.  Every story needs an antagonist, but I didn’t want them to be caricatures—I wanted them to be complex and for their relationship to ring true.  I didn’t want them to seem evil, but rather, complicated—because those situations always are.  I hoped to show that fear motivated a lot of their behavior.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

I definitely write by intuition.  I had the bare bones of the story in my head, and thought it would be smart to make an outline before I began writing.  It didn’t work for me.  I know many writers love using outlines, but I only got through chapter two before I stopped trying to force it and just let the story take me where it wanted.  Some key scenes stayed the way I imagined them in the beginning, but most everything else took shape as the words hit the page.  What I do, is allow myself a truly messy first draft, which I write as quickly as I can.  I just throw all my ideas on the page.  Then I let it simmer in my head for a while before returning to it when the story has gelled in my mind.

If you were deserted on an island, which three people would you want to have with you? Why? Criteria:

One fictional character from your book

Marigold.  I’m an anxious sort, and she would stabilize me and keep me calm when I started to spiral out of control.

One fictional character from any other book

Jamie Fraser from Outlander.  Aside from being great company, he could build us anything we might need and would be great at finding food.

One famous person that is not a family member or friend

Betty White was the first person who popped into my mind.  She has lived a fascinating life and would keep me entertained with her humor and the stories of her life.

 Thank you so much for having me! 

Thank you to Lora Richardson for joining us to talk about The Edge of Juniper today. You guys should go out and buy it cause it’s totally worth it. This is now is my top ten contemporary YA reads!

I’d like to thank Lora Richardson for the opportunity to read and review her novel.Blog Signature

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

One Paris Summer

GoodReads Summary:

Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

 My Review:

One Paris Summer is a delightful read full of teen angst, love, heartbreak, and revelations. Denise Grover Swank does a phenomenal job of show how tragedy and heartbreak can take a toll on a person; that when a person leaves you it has lasting effects on your life; that by forgiving them can you then move forward.

Sophie Brooks is forced to spend the summer before her Junior year in Paris. She is forced to live with her father who abandoned Sophie and her brother, Eric, in pursuit of his dream to restore an old Parisian church. She is forced to get to know a new step-mother, and, share a room with an evil step-sister, Camille. But as the summer progresses Sophie is faced with obstacles and has to decide if she can forgive the people who hurt her, and if she can make her dreams come true.

From the start of the novel, the teen angst and anger is at 200%. Sophie and Eric have a difficult time handling the abandonment of their father. They also have a difficult time understanding how their father can marry someone else so quickly, someone else they have never met. It doesn’t have that their father hasn’t talked to them in 10 months. Sophie stews on things in her mind and that gave me anxiety. But I can also related to who she is feeling. To have your whole word ripped apart is devastating and learning how to handle that is overwhelming. So while it did get annoying that Sophie stewed a lot, I understand and could move past it.

Her step-sister Camille on the other hand I wanted to punch in the face. She is rude and inconsiderate from the moment she meets Sophie. She is always trying to humiliate her in an attempt to get to go home- back to South Carolina. And it doesn’t help that she ropes her friends into this plot as well. However, there is a bright spot… or two bright spots as the book moves forward. Her brother, who has shown very little interest in her life, starts to take an active role in their Paris excursions. He stands up for when it is needed and can empathize with the hurt of their father.

The other bright spot is Matthieu. He opens her eyes to dreams she didn’t think possible. He is truly a great guy for her. However, as always, there are secrets and heartbreak. But as with any good YA Contemporary novel… it only lasts for a little while.

Swank’s summer through Paris is wonderful. Not only do we see Sophie’s character arc and growth, but we see secondary character’s growth as well, showing that everyone at any age can learn new things about themselves and others. Acceptance is the big theme throughout the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Zonderkidz-Books for the chance to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my review in anyway.

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Book Spotlight, Giveaway, Other, ya contemporary, ya romance

Release Week Blitz: THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER – a young adult title about friendship, survival, and finding your voice. This incredible book is available today! Read more about this stunning new novel below and be sure to order your copy today to receive an amazing FREE fan pack while supplies last!

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Grab your copy of THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER Here:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1WMX5IM

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1SahjLo

iBooks: http://apple.co/1YcdPIf

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Tr8JDD

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1q32q1D

 

THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting new story about friendship, survival, and finding your voice.

 For some people, silence is a weapon.

 For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield.

Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

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JUST FILL OUT THE FORM HERE> http://bit.ly/24awVFw

EXCERPT:

Prologue

              Dusty, empty shoe boxes, stacked taller and wider than her slim body, wobbled as she pressed her back against them, tucking her bony knees into her chest.

              Breathe. Just Breathe. Breathe.

              Wedged in the back of the dingy closet, she didn’t dare make a sound as she sucked her lower lip between her teeth. Focusing on forcing every grimy breath into her lungs, she felt tears well in her eyes.

              Oh gosh, she’d made such a big mistake, and Miss Becky was right. She was a bad girl.

              She’d reached for the dirty and stained cookie jar earlier, the one shaped like a teddy bear that hid cookies that tasted funny. She wasn’t supposed to get cookies or any food by herself, but she’d just been so hungry that her tummy hurt, and Miss Becky was sick again, napping on the couch. She hadn’t meant to knock the ashtray off the counter, shattering it into tiny pieces. Some were shaped like icicles that clung to the roof during the winter. Others were no bigger than chips.

              All she’d wanted was a cookie.

              TPWFquote4Her slender shoulders jerked at the sound of the all cracking on the other side of the closet. She bit down harder on her lip. A metallic taste burst into her mouth. Tomorrow there would be a hold the size of Mr. Henry’s big hand in the plaster, and Miss Becky would cry and she’d get sick again.

              The soft creak of the closet door was like a crack of thunder to her ears.

              Oh no, no, no…

              He wasn’t supposed to find her in here. This was her safe place whenever Mr. Henry was angry or when he—

              She tensed, eyes peeling wide as a body taller and broader than hers slipped inside and then knelt in front of her. In the dark, she couldn’t make out much of his features, but she knew in her belly and her chest who it was.

              “I’m sorry,” she gasped.

              “I know.” A hand settled on her shoulder, the weight reassuring. He was the only person she felt okay with when he touched her. “I need you to stay in here, ‘kay?”

              Miss Becky had said once that he was only six months older than her six years, but he always seemed so much bigger, older than her, because in her eyes, he took up her entire world.

              She nodded.

              “Don’t come out,” he said, and then he pressed into her hands the redheaded doll she’d dropped in the kitchen after she broke the ashtray and rushed into the closet. Too frightened to retrieve her, she’d left Velvet where she had fallen, and she’d been so upset because the doll had been a gift from him many, many months before. She had no idea how he’d gotten Velvet, but one day he’d simply shown up with her, and she was hers, only hers.

              “You stay in here. No matter what.”

              Holding the doll close, clenched between her knees and chest, she nodded again.

              He shifted, stiffening as an angry shout rattled the walls around them. It was her name that dripped ice down her spine; her name that was shouted so furiously.

              A small whimper parted her lips and she whispered, “I just wanted a cookie.”

              TPWFquote5“It’s okay. Remember? I promised I’d keep you safe forever. Just don’t make a sound.” He squeezed her shoulder. “Just stay quiet, and when I…when I get back, I’ll read to you, ‘kay? All about the stupid rabbit.”

              All she could do was nod again, because there had been times when she hadn’t stayed quiet and she’d never forgotten those consequences. But if she stayed quiet, she knew what was coming. He wouldn’t be able to read to her tonight. Tomorrow he would miss school and he wouldn’t be okay even though he would tell her he was.

              He lingered for a moment and then he eased out of the closet. The bedroom door shut with a smack, and she lifted the doll, pressing her tearstained face into it. A button on Velvet’s chest poked at her cheek.

              Don’t make a sound.

              Mr. Henry started to yell.

              Don’t make a sound.

              Footsteps punched down the hall.

              Don’t make a sound.

              Flesh smacked. Something hit the floor, and Miss Becky must have been feeling better, because she was suddenly shouting, but in the closet the only sound that mattered was the fleshy whack that came over and over. She opened her mouth, screaming silently into the doll.

              Don’t make a sound.

Praise for THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER:

 “The intensity between Mouse and Rider is palpably sizzling… romance aficionados [will] lose themselves in Mouse and Rider’s smoldering glances and steamy kisses.” –Kirkus

 “Armentrout’s effort to gradually coax her protagonist from her shell via a supportive, loving community succeeds, and readers looking for an inspirational comeback story will find Mallory’s to be satisfying and hopeful” –Publishers Weekly

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About Jennifer L. Armentrout:

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

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Links:

Website: http://jenniferlarmentrout.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlarmentrout

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferLArmentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4476934.Jennifer_L_Armentrout

THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26721568-the-problem-with-forever

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Reviews, ya contemporary

ARC Review: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Wild Swans

GoodReads Summary:

The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past….

My Review:

Wild Swans is a true coming of age story. One in which Ivy Milbourn must reconcile herself with her past, her mother, her grandfather, and her future. After Ivy’s mother leaves her when she is a child, Ivy’s Granddad raises her. However the summer before her senior year of high school, Ivy’s mother returns, with two additional children in tow. With her mother’s sudden appearence, Ivy starts to question her own life. She believes she is not good enough, that Granddad expects too much of her due to the Milbourn legacy. But with the help of a new friend, Connor, she explores what she wants to do with her life, and figures out a way to forgive her mother, and finally tell her Grandad the truth.

From the synopsis, I thought this book sounded very interesting, and while there a lot of aspects that would make this a great novel, I think it had too much going on with the plot. Between Granddad’s expectations, Ivy’s mother returning, Ivy falling for a guy, her best friend Alex becoming a mute in her life, it felt like there was a lot going on. And for much of the book Ivy whined- about her mother leaving her, Granddad’s exaggerations of her talents, and her best friend Alex needing space after she starts dating a guy.

It’s important to note that Spotswood treated these characters as anyone would in a realistic way. There was a transgendered child, a family trying to come to terms with this child, and a lesbian. But these were side remarks that helped to understand the attitude of the main character, but also treating these things like a normal every day occurrence. I mean, in reality, we don’t run around screaming “My best friend is a lesbian and my other best friend’s sibling is transgendered!”. We just accept who they are and move on.

I also loved how Spotswood brought feminism into the story through Claire. She really pushed the idea that me and women are equal- especially in relationships. Claire points out, many times, when Ivy stood beside Alex when he was flirting/dating/hooking up with other girls, but the moment Ivy starts to do that, Alex becomes enraged and ghosts on their friendship. Friends don’t ghost on friends.

By the end of the novel I was tired of Ivy. I was also waiting for that big climactic moment most stories have. It doesn’t even have to be huge, but for me, the moment wasn’t there. It’s small and understated and I was left wanting more. We heard about the Milbourn curse so much throughout the novel, that I thought maybe something was going to happen with that. Nope it doesn’t. So while this is a good book about reconciling your past and coming to terms with who you are versus who people want you to be, I felt like something was missing.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this ARC in return for an honest reviw. Receiving this ARC for free does not  sway my opinion in any way.

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Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Review: Will You Won’t You Want Me? by Nora Zelevansky

Will You Won't You Want Me?: A Novel

GoodReads Summary:

Marjorie Plum never meant to peak in high school. She was Queen Bee. Now, 10 years later, she’s lost her sparkle. At her bleakest moment, she’s surprised by renewed interest from a questionable childhood crush, and the bickering with her cranky boss—at a potentially game-changing new job—grows increasingly like flirtatious banter. Suddenly, she’s faced with a choice between the life she always dreamed of and one she never thought to imagine. With the help of a precocious 11-year-old tutee, who unknowingly becomes the Ghost of Marjorie Past, and a musician roommate, who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama, Marjorie struggles with the ultimate question: Who does she want to be? Nora Zelevansky’s Will You Won’t You Want Me? is a funny, often surprising, novel about growing up when you are already supposed to be grown.

Review:

So this isn’t the usual type of novel we review on this blog- YA. And while I would classify this as New Adult, I think the themes Nora Zelevansky writes about can cross over to the YA genre. Self-growth and maturity. Communication. Coming of age. Disillusionment.

The main character, Marjorie, is basically having a midlife crisis at the age of 28. She isn’t that popular high schooler that can just get by on her looks and status in life anymore. Her best friend moves in with her boyfriend, and only gives her 2 days notice to find a new apartment (Rude! Don’t ever do this to your roommates). She also is fired from her job. So life pretty much sucks. I mean she is called “developmentally arrested” by her friends.

But with a midlife crisis comes the ability to re-evaluate your life. Where are you? Have you accomplished what you set out to do? If not, how do we fix this? Or is this something that needs to be fixed? Are the people in your life supporting you? Or are they dragging you down? All these questions are analyzed by Zelevansky through Marjorie’s story.

I will say, as a 28 year old trying to answer these questions myself, this book was exactly what I needed to read. I am at a point in my career where, depending on my next step, I will be in my field of work for the rest of my life. Is that something I want? And while my friends are moving on, marrying, having babies, I am not– and this is where Marjorie is as well.

This novel is really self-reflective and extremely relatable.  It reflects a time in our lives that not many people speak about. Not everyone has their life figured out by 28 and reading this helped me to realize that I don’t necessarily need to have it figured out.

Of the major things I took away from this book, one quote really stuck with me– “The important thing is this: to be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”

Rating: 5 out of 5Blog Signature

 

 

This book will be available on April 19, 2016 and can be purchased at Amazon and B&N.

Disclaimer: Thank you  St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not influence my opinion.

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Review: Undecided by Julianna Keyes

Undecided

GoodReads Summary:

Nora Kincaid has one goal for her second year of college: be invisible. Last year’s all-party-no-study strategy resulted in three failed classes and two criminal charges, and if she messes up again she’ll lose her scholarship. But there’s one problem with her plan for invisibility, and his name is Crosbie Lucas: infamous party king, general hellraiser…and her new roommate’s best friend.

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

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

My Review:

Undecided was an entertaining novel about life, overcoming past transgressions, and learning who you are and what you want.

Nora Kincaid spends most of the book reflecting on her previous year of college and trying to move past her failings. To help her move forward, she moves into a new apartment, with one of the hottest guys on campus, and then proceeds to fall for his best friend, the second hottest guy on campus. The interactions between Nora and Kellan, her roommate, are cute. While they don’t start out as friends, their relationship grows. I thoroughly enjoyed their witty banter.

Nora’s relationship with Crosbie is the usual- hot guy on-campus with a bad boy reputation meets uptight, bookish nerd. There is sexual tension right from the get go. She spends a lot of time worrying people will think she is a “crosbabe” and gain a reputation that won’t sit well with the dean… thanks to the arrests of the previous year. But what she learns is “Crosbie Lucas is not quite the cocky, smug ass that he pretends to be.” Same goes for her roommate Kellan.

The plot was very predictable, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the relationships, witty banter, and overall story. There are secrets that cause relationship problems, but as usual contemporary romances go, all parties get the endings they deserve.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Goodreads Summary:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Review:

This last week of March is a very busy week for me, so I decided to re-read an old favorite. One I knew would fill me with joy and would help my thoughts come to a halt. I tend to think a lot when I’m busy.

This is my fourth re-read of Anna and the French Kiss and it almost felt like I was reading it for the first time. I think each time that I re-read it, I love it even more. Anna is such a great character that can stand on her own without St. Clair. I love that she calls St. Clair out on his crap. She doesn’t just fall over and let him hurt her per say. Wow, I feel like I am talking bad about St. Clair, but trust me that is not the case. Loneliness does a number to people and while I am not justifying his actions, the feeling of loneliness causes people to do things that not only hurts themselves, but those around him.

After all these years, I still love Anna and the French Kiss and if you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. It is a fun ride; one you will never want to get off.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ContempConvos: Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.

That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola’s past be the love of her future?

My Review:

Of the three novels Stephanie Perkins wrote in this series, Lola and The Boy Next Door is my favorite. While I loved Anna and St. Etienne (their love is eternal), it was Lola and Cricket’s chemistry that had me hooked to this author. Also, it does help that I am a sucker for boy-next-door love stories.

Lola is quite an eccentric character- constantly changing her style to represent who she is that particular day. That really struck a cord with me. Most people tend to be very muted in their personal fashion style, a lot of the reason is constricted by society and code of conducts at work. I lived vicariously through Lola and her ever changing identity. She never once apologies for being who she is.

Cricket is the lovable, softly spoken, “nerd” next door who I immediately fell in love with. He truly is the opposite of Lola; and you know what they say about opposites… they attract. You can feel their chemistry right away and I knew they were meant to be together. There were some obstetrical for this to take place- Lola’s scumbag of a boyfriend, Lola and Cricket’s past history, the tension between Lola and Calli. Also, just the general blockage of Lola herself. She doesn’t try to be self-destructive, but sometimes she just can’t help it.

Some characters from Anna and the French Kiss make an appearance or two, which was super fun.

Overall, a fun, quirky, light-hearted read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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