Reviews, Special Review, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Goodreads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Review:

I was surprised by this book many times. At first I thought it would be an angsty “woe is me” book. Then I was like ahhh something horrible is going to happen towards the end and it will ruin my ship. But none of my theories or guesses happened (except for who Shay was).

We start of at the Police station. Tatum, her friend Ashley, and Ashley’s boyfriend are arrested. Why are they arrested? Because Ashley’s bae decided to steal a whole bunch of smartphones. Now Tatum is stuck with a fine and community service even though she knew nothing of what Ashley and her bf had planned on doing that day they went to the mall. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The story progresses as Tate struggles with being under house arrest under her stepmother’s watchful eye. Her stepmother Belen is very harsh on her and her step sister Tilly hardly acknowledges her existence. To make things worse, her father goes out of the country so she is left alone with her step-family. Throughout the entire book, Tate learns that the people closest to you can disappoint you, that making new friends may not be as bad as she thought it would be, that forgiving others is always good even though it takes time for the person you forgive to realize their mistake (Yes, I am talking about Ashley) and that you shouldn’t judge others, especially if you haven’t taken the time to properly get to know them (Her stepmother Belen and her stepsister Tilly).

My favorite character’s were Abby (Her new friend and journalistic wiz) and Blanche (Belen’s mother, Tilly’s grandmother). They both brought humor and the reality check that Tate needed. They were great support systems, yet they didn’t baby Tate. Loved this!

Overall, It Started With Goodbye, is a solid debut. I will keep a lookout for Christina June’s next novel.

(P.S. I didn’t write about the romance/ship in this novel because while it is in the story, I liked that it wasn’t the main point so I shall keep it that way.)

Rating: 4 out of 5

Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Blink/Harper Collins for providing me with an ARC of this novel. Receiving this novel for free does not sway my review.

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Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads Summary:

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Review:

So I’m not exactly sure why but I LOVED Lola and the Boy Next Door waaaaaaaay more than the first time I read it about 5 years ago. I remember being annoyed by Lola the entire time. This time around though I’m not sure what changed, but I was able to empathize with her. And I also think Cricket is part of the reason I like Lola and the Boy Next Door now.

As I am sitting here trying to gather my thoughts, and the one thing that stood out to me this time was the theme of forgiveness. Lola has to forgive the Bell twins, her biological mother, and her musician boyfriend (who becomes the ex thankfully because he sucked). The entire book is a journey of looking at the mistakes that were made, and finding redemption through forgiveness and understanding.

We also see the theme of second chances. Lola gave both her mother and Cricket a second chance. Having your heart-broken by two of the most important people hurts, but if both parties are willing to put in effort, relationships can be restored.

I was very into my feelings as I read Lola this time, and it could be why it’s gone on my “You should read this book” list (and why this review turned deep. Sorry guys, no fangirling today).

Rating: 5 out of 5

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NA Romance, Reviews

Book Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Goodreads Summary:

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

Review:

DEBUT. NOVEL.

How the heck is this Hoover’s debut novel. It’s so freaking good. *dead*

Many of you that have been following this blog for a while now know how big of a fan I am of Colleen Hoover. That woman writes masterpiece after masterpiece, making the book community talk about tough topics no one wants to talk about (Ex: It Ends With Us and Ugly Love). In my book this lady is boss!

Alright, I’m going on a tangent… let’s go back to Slammed.

We have Layken (aka Lake) and Will.

Did I mention Will?

Y’all I’m thankful I never had a teacher like him in High School because I would have been a goner like Lake. *Swoons*

The book starts of as Lake is making the move from Texas to Michigan. Her father recently died and her mom is moving everyone to Michigan to begin anew. Then enters Will, the hot boy-next-door who not so long after meeting her asks her out on a date, and of course she says yes. The rest of the book is their journey navigating the discovery of him being her poetry teacher in high school once she finally makes it to school, and many other challenges that come along the way. As I try to keep this as non-spoilery as possible, I appreciate the fact that Hoover kept this as PG 13 as possible, which I’m assuming relates to the sensitive issue of a possible romance between a teacher and a student. Lake is 18, so she is an adult, but the fine print that keeps them apart is that she is still a student… at least for the next year.

My only “ehhh” feelings about Slammed is that the secondary characters didn’t come to life for me except for Eddie. She was amazing and her story is one I hope Hoover expands on one day. And as a last note, I want to talk about the poems within the story. They are profound and moving. I only WISH I could write poetry like Hoover. It even makes me want to go to a poetry slam session. As a writer, I am very jealous of Hoover’s ability, but I do tip my hat to her. Talent like that needs to be recognized.

Slammed is Hoover’s metaphorical mic drop in the publishing world and one can only keep expecting great stories from her.

Rating: 5/5

Check out Colleen Hoover’s other books here:

My Reviews:

Maybe Someday, Maybe Someday (Re-read review), Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Confess, Ugly Love

Liz’s Review:

Hopeless, November 9

NA Romance, Reviews

Book Review: Come Back To Me by Mila Grey

Goodreads Summary:

Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend’s sister, Jessa – the one girl he can’t have.

But Kit’s not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa’s falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer’s over and it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa’s finally following her dreams and Kit’s discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

Jessa’s prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they’re forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.

Review:

Holy freaking crap. That ending. That entire book. Even today that I am writing this the day after, my feels still cannot be contained. I was so wound up last night, I ended up cleaning my entire house.

Jessa and Kit. Jessa… and… Kit. I can’t with them right now. I think we need a gif to explain my feelings.

From the beginning of the book where we are foreshadowed a character’s possible death (This is not spoilery because we are literally foreshadowed that in the first three pages. I. AM. NOT. JOKING.) to the amount of feels and sexual tension between Kit and Jessa at her birthday party you’re in for one hell of a ride.

I really liked how real the book was. As a reader you are able to relate to the characters even though A. You’re not a marine like Kit & B. you’re not even close to being Jessa. Let me give you an example about what I mean.

I can’t count the times I’ve thought about telling Jessa how I feel, but to be honest I’ve never been sure if she’s interested. And admitting something like that to someone is purely a one-time deal. If it’s not reciprocated then not only do you look like a prize fool, but you also lose a friendship. I don’t care so much about the fool part because she probably already figures me one, but I do care about losing Jessa as a friend.

-Kit, Page 19

No one can tell me that they have not been right there in that type of situation at least once in their life. My feels were dying then and it was only the beginning of the book. I had to read the entire book in chunks at a time or I would have been a pool of feels on my apartment floor for at least a week.

I don’t want to give away much of the book, but I do want to say that you need to read it. I had rated it 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads because the Epilogue did not give me what I wanted… but looking back now it really deserves a 5. It’s been a week by now and I’m still not over it. Now that is some impactful writing.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

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Goodreads Summary:

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Review:

I love reading an authors work as the years pass by because you see how their writing changes and how much better it gets overtime. It is pretty incredible really. At least I think so. From the very beginning I loved Miranda’s writing and that still has not changed. Especially if her writing keeps getting better which I didn’t think it could be possible. Alright enough gushing over her, let’s get to the real reason I am writing this review.

Defending Taylor is not your ordinary story. We get a glimpse into the life of a powerful family, yet it is not all the color of roses. The story also doesn’t follow your typical rich girl in a political world story. Taylor is just a girl who decides to cover for her boyfriend whom she loves and doesn’t want him to lose his scholarship to the private school they both attend. She thought she could cover for him because her father is a senator, but little did she know her father would not move a finger to help her. She ends up having to change schools and goes to Hundred Oaks now. There she learns to navigate the world and that any decision you make whether good or bad has the potential of being life altering.

I do want to point out that I loved how great and supportive Ezra is throughout the book. He is literally her other half. He is working through some issues and with encouragement and help from Taylor he is able to overcome his shame and get help.

Defending Taylor is about growing as a human being and being careful about the decisions you make. I know I may have made this book sound too deep maybe, but it is a great story with great characters. Like I said… Miranda’s writing is on point yet again.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Vero Signature copy

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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Goodreads Summary:

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Review:

So FREAKING Adorable. The title says it all. Love & Gelato. Gosh I want to go to Italy now. Maybe I will…

Anyways moving on… Love & Gelato. I can’t get over how adorable and heartbreaking [in a good way] it was. I just want to hug it and absorb all its wonderful energy. I think Korea is getting to me. LOL

So we start of the book with Lina. Something horrible happened and she is now moving to Italy where she meets many attractive guys, but Ren shows up and ahhhhh who needs a guy that’s hotter than him when he is the sweetest person ever? Am I biased? You bet I am!

Love & Gelato is more than just a fluffy YA contemporary book with romance. It deals with hard subjects like death of a loved one, first love, others past affecting your own, and how to navigate the world on your own. This book is not all sweet like gelato, it can be bitter like coffee as well. I will say the balance between the fluffy and the hard truth are perfectly balanced and you end up feeling with a sense of reassurance and happiness at the end of the book.

If you’re looking for something heavy yet delicious then look nor further. I assure you that you will like this book!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Vero Signature copy

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

Vero Signature copy

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.