Reviews, Special Review, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Book Review: The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley

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Goodreads Summary:

Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies’ man, fearless outfielder… Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways.

Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn’t it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it’s time to let a little bad into her life.

Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer—dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer—is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, “dating” Kyle will silence the rumors.

But Faith’s plan threatens to expose Sawyer’s biggest secret of all…and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take.

Review:

The Bad Boy Bargain exceeded my expectations. I was expecting for Kyle to be an actual bad boy, not a “fake” bad boy. To think he was the complete opposite of the persona he put off just so he could cruise through high school without having to be bullied or sought after for the wrong reasons is heart-breaking  and made him more adorable. Faith is a whole other story. She is Ms. goody two shoes who seems to be dating doochebags all the time. Especially this last one, Cameron, is a real piece of work. And the thing is that Cameron and Kyle have some unfinished business so when Cameron cheats on Faith and Faith breaks up with him, she decides to get revenge by going out with the notorious bad boy Kyle.

The Bay Boy Bargain is a story that deals with the pains of teenage life. It shows how one small action can change your school life. To us who are older it may seem silly that it’s so life or death per say in the teenager world, but we all know that in that point of our lives it feels like life or death.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

Reviews

ARC Review: The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle

The Sound of Us

GoodReads Summary:

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.

She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.

Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung.

But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.

My Review:

The Sound of Us is an emotional and compelling story about a girl who goes to music camp and finally understands what she wants out of her life.

Kiki Nichols takes the summer between her Junior and Senior year of high school to attend a music camp and attain a scholarship that will help to pay to go to college and study music. While at camp she meets a variety of other talented musicians in her program as well as other programs. She meets a boy to helps to open her eyes, see what really matters. Her parents on the other hand hope she fails so they don’t have to waste money on her education, like they did with her older sister. Through out the novel she learns more about herself and what she wants. She strives for her dreams

Julie Hammerle did an excellent job of making this story and it’s characters very real and very relatable. Not many teens know what they want to study and do for the rest of their lives. Seeing these students really push themselves for their dreams is really engaging. The friendships and challenges Kiki faces are the same ones any teen does. Questioning who you are as a person, what you want, who you want to be friends with are all important during this stage of life. And just as important is love and heartbreak. Knowing that you may love someone, that they could break your heart- whether it’s a boy or your parents- and that you can move past it.

I hope readers come away from this story knowing that they can do anything, that they can reach for the starts, and bring their dreams to life.

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Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to review this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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ARC Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves

GoodReads Summary:

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

My Review:

So I know this isn’t a YA novel, but when I read the synopsis I knew I had to have this book. Once I got it, back in February, I put off reading it. I think subconsciously, I wasn’t ready for the heartbreak and loss this book would bring… and it brought it hard and fast.

From the summary, you already know Emma had a husband who died. She eventually moved on, fell in love, and is engaged when news  comes that Jesse, her husband, is alive. It’s quite a shock. And that is really what this novel is about- how to come to terms with your past and your future, recognizing the person you have become. 

Moving through the novel, we experience Emma’s first true love, Jesse. Their relationship is a whirlwind romance. They are high school sweethearts, attend the same college, travel around the world together. You can see that their love could be a forever kind of love. But there comes a moment when Emma questions her future- kids, settling down, etc. And she is not sure of Jesse’s opinion. But in the end it doesn’t matter because he “dies”.

Emma eventually moved back to her home town and is able to move on with her life. Then she meets Sam Kemp. He is her second chance at love and she takes it. They have built a wonder life together, so when Emma gets the call that Jesse is alive, she is thrown for a loop. She now has the opportunity to go back to her travel life with hr first love. But when Jesse does officially come back, it’s different, he’s different, they are different.

When Jesse comes back into the picture, it broke my heart to see Sam believe that Emma would go straight back into her old life, forgetting about him. But Sam was gracious enough to understand that Emma needed sometime to work through her feelings and he gave her that (please go listen to Crash and Burn by Savage Garden– this is Sam and Emma’s song). And I got so mad at Jesse for assuming Emma would drop everything to be back with him, that he thought she shouldn’t have moved on with her life. He was very selfish and didn’t help Emma’s confusion.

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a wonderful job at showing the turmoil a person goes through when they lose someone they love. The book is fast paced, moving through Emma’s life quickly but also showing the most important parts of it. And the transition, that weird gray part of a person’s life right after tragedy strikes, is the most compelling piece of the novel. Reid hits the nail on the head of how the body and mind handles death and destruction. Her words are like a complicated musical, moving from moment to moment, heartache to heartache (please start singing Pat Benatar- love is a battlefield). These in between chapters flow and sway, a slow blooming crescendo to a new life, a new person.

The novel also shows that while tragedy and death do happen, you can move on, you can love again. Heartbreak is not forever.

Everyone should read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I received this ARC from Washington Square Press and Edelweiss. Receiving this ARC for free doesn’t sway my review.

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Reviews, Special Review

ARC Review: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

Recoil

Goodreads Summary:

When a skilled gamer gets recruited as a sniper in the war against a terrorist-produced pandemic, she discovers there’s more than one enemy and more than one war. The Game is real.

Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically.

Sixteen year-old Jinxy James spends her days trapped at home – immersed in virtual reality, worrying about the plague and longing for freedom. Then she wins a war simulation game and is recruited into a top-secret organisation where talented teenagers are trained to become agents in the war on terror. Eager to escape her mother’s over-protectiveness and to serve her country, Jinxy enlists and becomes an expert sniper of infected mutant rats.

She’s immediately drawn to Quinn O’Riley, a charming and subversive intelligence analyst who knows more about the new order of government and society than he is telling. Then a shocking revelation forces Jinxy to make an impossible decision, and she risks losing everything.

Recoil is the first book in a Young Adult dystopian romance trilogy, and makes great reading for lovers of Rick Yancey (The Fifth Wave), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), and Veronica Roth (Divergent).

My Review:

Recoil is the most recent work by Joanne Macgregor. It takes place in modern day United States, three years after a terrorist attack used biological chemicals to unleash a plague. The story is very realistic dystopian fiction. It’s full of elements that terrorist attacks cause- hyper-awareness of foreign residents, larger defense industry, mass media reporting on threats, politician comments about terrorists.

Jinxy starts out naive, playing a game that eventually leads to recruitment with the military. She takes the words of the media, politicians, and her unit commander Sarge for face value- believes they have the people’s best interests at heart. At 16, it makes sense that she would trust those older than her. It isn’t until Jinxy meets Quinn that she starts to question her missions, especially when he finds out she is a sniper. Jinxy understands why she needs to shoot the infected rats, but when she is required to shoot other animals, and eventually is given more classified missions, she has a difficult time, trying to reconcile herself and her values with the values of her unit and the military. Macgregor does an excellent job of showing Jinxy’s progression from being naive to doubting herself and her missions to taking matters into her own hands, making her own educated decisions.

Quinn is a fascinating character. He is also super hot with an Irish accent (swoon). He does what is required of him, but also has his own secrets that are kept from Jinxy. He helps Jinxy open her eyes and understand that her missions are not what she is being told. There is a strong attraction between them, but her missions separate them- pit on against the other. I will say I had a difficult time with the start  of their relationship. It just sort of happens and I couldn’t figure out what drew them to each other. But by the end Macgregor had me rooting for their relationship. And the way the book ends, I just need to know what happens next.

There is a quote in the book- “We’ve repatriated hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of foreign residents, refugees, and workers. We’ve insulated ourselves, sealed our boarders against immigrants and imports and competition… And as a nation we’ve channeled billions into a defense industry that was sitting idle after the last wars fizzled out.” It is scary how closely it describes our current country. We have a presidential candidate who wants to build a wall on the US/Mexican boarder to keep illegal immigrants out; we have alienated anyone who looks middle eastern and have grouped all those who practice Islam into the terrorist stereo type. This novel is so realistic I can see something like this possibly happening.

If you enjoy dystopian settings, this is a great start to a fascinating realistic series.

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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Adult Fantasy, Reviews, Special Review, ya romance

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Goodreads Summary:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Review:

A Court of Mist and Fury is passionate, heart-breaking, breath-taking, deeply-emotional, illustrative, immortal.

A Court of Mist and Fury is Sarah J. Maas’ follow-up to her A Court of Thorns and Roses. I adored the first novel in this series and the second blew my mind to pieces. Maas’ world building is enchanting. Every aspect is so detailed. It makes settling into the story that much easier.

At the start of the novel Feyre is heart breaking; she has such a difficult time accepting her actions Under the Mountain- living with killing innocent fae. In this rescued world, Feyre has to now handle being Tamlin’s consort, planning a wedding, parties, holidays. But, having faced and defeated Amarantha, Feyre is not the same person. For one, she is an immortal now. For two, she wants to help rebuild the Spring Court and Prythian. But she wasn’t the only one to out broken and battered. Tamlin is having his own nightmares and they revolve around losing Feyre again. So when Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court, comes to claim the bargain he and Feyre made, Tamlin loses it.

But that bargain between Feyre and Rhysand may be the only thing to save Feyre.

I loved, loved, loved the Night Court. It is so well built and protected. Within the Night Court, there are two separate courts- The Court of Nightmares and the Court of Dreams. Each is spectacular in their own right. Each is very different from other courts. And I unquestionably savored getting to know Rhysand and his inner circle- Cassian, Amren, Mor, and Azriel. They are the complete opposite of Lucien- Tamlin’s lap dog.

The relationship between Feyre and Rhysand is one of passion and power, but also one of respect and equality. When Feyre visits the Night Court, Rhysand doesn’t hold her captive, like Tamlin tried to do. Rhysand understands what Feyre needs to heal her heart and soul. And he doesn’t hold back. When she wants to help, he allows her, trains her, shows her that she is not a pet or pawn to be used willfully.

“No one was my master- but I might master of everything, if I wished. If I dared.”

This story captured my heart and soul. I couldn’t have asked for anything better and there is nothing I would rewrite. RATING: 6 OUT OF 5.

P.S. If you haven’t been to Target to read the exclusive story, go and read. It makes the story that much more juicy… and explains some things between two characters I now ship so hard.

***SPOILERS***

I do want to talk in depth about somethings. So if you haven’t read the novel, please don’t read below this.

***SPOILERS***

I had no clue that Rhysand and Feyre were mates and it blew my mind when the Suriel stated so. I could feel the passion building between them, the teasing and taunting, and I waited for the dam to break. (And if I am being honest, which I am, I shipped them so hard from the moment Rhys saved Feyre during the wedding to Tamlin- who wouldn’t fall in love with him). It took 75% of the book to do this. And when it did- WHOA. I know this book is advertised as Young Adult, but it definitely boarders on New Adult with the descriptive sexual scenes.

I also came to hate Tamlin by the end of the novel. And for good reason. He did nothing to help her while Under the Mountain. Rhys is completely correct, when Tamlin had the chance to help Feyre, he just kissed her in the shadows; he sat and Amarantha’s side idel, while Rhys had been her whore for 50 years and was doing everything in his power to get Feyre out. Knowing that they are mates makes the bargain even better now, while he couldn’t tell Feyre he loved her, he showed her in helping her win. Maas did an unbelievable job making me hate Tamlin more than I already did before Feyre was rescued at the beginning.

And finally- the end. I was stunned. The revelation that Feyre is the High Lady of the Night Court was shocking. The fact that no one new, that Hybern only removed the left glove, she was able to pretend to break their bond and go back to the Spring Court to bring Tamlin and the King of Hybern down is marvelous. Also shocking, was Elain being Lucien’s mate; now he has a higher stake in the war. He knows Feyre is lying about the bond, but at this point, he isn’t willing to risk Elain’s life- even if she is immortal now. And the fact that Elain and Nesta are immortal now changes a lot. My Nesta-Cassian ship can sail, sail, sail.

I could really gush forever about this book, but I’ll stop here. If you want to chat about spoilery things, let me know in the comments and we can email- booksinmybed@gmail.com, or find and DM on twitter- Liz_Anne_B.

Predictions for the third book:

  1. My Nesta-Cassian ship will sail
  2. Lucien will betray Tamlin to save and be with Elain
  3. There will be a war
  4. While I didn’t talk about the priestess above, Ianthe will die
  5. Tamlin will either die or be put in the Prythian version of jail
  6. Hybern will die
  7. Amren will be released
  8. I am worried that Cassian, Mor, or Azriel will die
  9. Rhys and Feyre will have children (in an epilogue probably- hopefully)

Rating: 6 out of 5

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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Reviews, YA Historical, YA Sci Fi

Book Review: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

My Review:

When I first started The Girl From Everywhere, I was really worried it was going to be so similar to other time-travel novels I have read.  Specifically, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. So I went into this novel with low expectations, not really sure I would like what I found. And I have to say I was extremely wrong! Which, in this case, feels amazing.

Heidi Heilig tells a very original, profound story.She grew up in Hawaii and took the tales and folk lore she learned and wrapped them into an adventure full of beauty and paradise. Also, Heilig’s idea of time travel, using maps of different places and times is quite imaginative. I haven’t read a story where that is how time is traveled by.

Nix, the main character, was born in Hawaii, but after her mother dies, her father takes her aboard his ship. This is where she lives for 16 years. Nix, her dad, and their crew travel to different continents through time. All the while, her father is in search of a particular map, to take him back to the time before Nix’s mother died. And this is how the story twists and turns, in search of a map.

The relationship Heilig presents between Nix and Slate (her father) is one that is truthful, distant, and full of regret. She regards him with distance. She is resentful of his dependence on her because she is the “expert” with maps. And she is fearful that when he finds the map, her life will change for the worse. He wants to go back to before her mother passed away, therefore changing her current life. Will she become a different person? Or will she disappear all together? And it is very clear that Slate doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions. He is very narrow minded.

The events that take place over the course of The Girl From Everywhere really show character growth. Not only from Nix, but from her father as well as crewmate Kashmir. Kashmir is an interesting character, with a very unique background. The relationship between him and Nix is full of tension. There were moments when, had Nix said something, their friendship could have moved to be more. But because she is fretful of her father’s plan, and her own longing to escape Slate, she keeps Kashmir as a distance as well. She is mostly worried about losing him, and becoming her father. She is witness to what happens when you lose the love of your life.

The Girl From Everywhere is refreshing and envisioning. I thoroughly enjoyed the intertwining relationships between all the characters.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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