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

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

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

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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

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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.

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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ARC Review: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Invincible Summer

GoodReads Summary:

Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien graduate in 1998, into a world on the brink of the new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and keen to shrug off the socialist politics of her childhood, Eva breaks away to work at a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to do a physics PhD, and siblings Sylvie and Lucien pursue more freewheeling existences–she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partier. But as their dizzying twenties become their thirties, the once close-knit friends, now scattered and struggling to navigate thwarted dreams, lost jobs and broken hearts, find themselves drawn together once again in stunning and unexpected ways. Breathtaking in scope, this is sure to be the book of the summer.

My Review:

Invincible Summer takes place over a 20 year period. Each chapter is a glimpse into Eva, Benedict, Lucien, and Sylvie’s every day lives. When I first read the synopsis for Invincible  Summer it sounded in curious. I have been friends wit people I went to college with, going on 11 years now (whoa!) so a story about their lives felt like the right thing to read. It can be difficult to keep in touch with people, life drives you in different directions. Their growth over the novel mostly felt like small hills, but by the end it is clear that they have grown up, that the events that take place in their lives affected their life trajectory.

I had a difficult time  connecting with the characters. I’m not sure if it was because of the location- London- or the language usage- not American slag- or the fact that this really took place during a time period when I was really only a child. As a twentysomething myself, I understand lost dreams, heartbreak (maybe not so much haha), change, world image, and ultimately happiness. These things change over the course of one’s life and can change one’s life as well. So while I did have a difficult time connecting with the character’s, the themes behind them I could understand. These things change over the course of one’s life and can change one’s life as well.

I will say that these character’s felt very selfish, self-centered, and it was difficult to watch them make choices… maybe that is the point. Not every decision is the right decision. Taking the easy way out can result in unintended consequences. Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in, to fight for what you want. And what you want you can’t always have or aren’t meant to have.

It’s funny, when I started writing this (and it took several days to gather my thoughts) I had intended to give this novel a 2 out 5 stars. But while writing this review, I finally understood the purpose to the book. So while I may not have connected to the characters directly, their stories are engaging, the themes are responsive, the final product is meant to understand- not move mountains.

Rating: 4 out 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read and review this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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