Review for Model Misfit (Geek Girl #2) by Holly Smale

Model Misfit by Holly Smale

TITLE: Model Misfit
SERIES: Geek Girl #2
AUTHOR: Holly Smale
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 400 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC / Paperback
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Won from Zili In The Sky
RATING: 5 bows

After Harriet Manners summer plans are ruined, she decides that modelling in Japan is the best alternative to sitting at home waiting on her life to change when the new baby arrives. Once she arrives in Tokyo, she is overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and her new flatmates. Plus, she sees Nick EVERYWHERE and since Lion Boy dumped her, that is not ideal. As she navigates her way through a summer away from home, she worries how life will be once she returns and the new baby arrives. She also wonders how she’ll make it through another day listening to her flatmate go on and on about how perfect Nick is. One thing is certain, after this summer, her life will never be the same!

Before I started this, I didn’t think it was possible to love this series more. I adored Geek Girl. It was one of the best books I read last year. I know, it technically came out in the US this year, but I read it last year. You can read my review for it here. Anyway, I loved it to pieces and generally books don’t step up the content much with a sequel, but that is not the case here. I loved this even more than I did Geek Girl. It’s pages contain everything you loved about GG and more. You get the wit and the snark and the awkwardness and the brave girl trying to step out of herself, and you also get so much heart and love and realistic situations that you can just imagine these things happening. There will be more fangirling later in this review, but I just wanted to get that bit out of the way first.

Harriet Manners is the same girl we learned to love in Geek Girl. She’s smart and funny and 100 % an unrepentant geek. We get to see a more morose side of here because Lion Boy has dumped her. She doesn’t understand why. She thought they were getting along well and she was always happiest in his company, but his mind seemed to be made up and there was no changing it. She soldiers on. Even when her epic plans of a fun summer with Natalie and Toby crash and burn. Nat & Toby both have other plans. With nothing better to do, she heads to Tokyo to do some modeling. She has always been fascinated with Japan anyway, so why not? In this installment, Harriet really puts her all into trying to be the best model she can be. While that may not work out as fabulously as she planned, it’s nice to see her really put effort into doing as she is directed.

We get to see some of the old cast as well as a few new members. We don’t get as much of Toby as we did in Geek Girl. The book was perfect, but I did miss his stalking a bit. He is such as amusing character. Nick is present, though we are not very happy with him. Harriet gets two new roommates, who I won’t say anything at all about because doing so might spoil something. And then we have Harriet’s dad and Step-Mom. Once again, I am in awe of that woman. If I am half the mom she is to Harriet when I have kids, then I will be satisfied with myself. The way she handles everything on top of her pregnancy hormones is phenomenal. And that scene, the one at the very end, with the list. Let me just say ALL THE FEELS! Also, I love their baby name…just sayin! 😉

Have you ever read a novel that was just so perfect that you actually cried after it was over? I don’t mean sobbing because the story was depressing a la The Fault In Our Stars, but just at the sheer perfection of this thing you have just read? That this book for me. I literally cried after it was over because I loved it so much. I don’t think that was the intended response, but that was what it got. This book is bloody perfect. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it has an ending so well written that I am just in awe of it. I’m a little surprised I worked up all the words you see in this review because my brain is more or less just screaming “IT’S PERFECT! GO BUY THE DAMN BOOK!” So that is what I’ll leave you with. This book is perfect and it’s a must read to everyone with the ability to comprehend it.

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Letters To Nowhere (Letters To Nowhere #1) by Julie Cross

Letters To Nowhere by Julie Cross

TITLE: Letters To Nowhere
SERIES: Letters To Nowhere #1
AUTHOR: Julie Cross
NARRATOR: Erin Spencer
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2013 / March 20, 2014
PUBLISHER: Long Walk Press / Long Walk Press
PAGES: 288 pages / 10 hours 30 minutes
FORMAT: Ebook / Audio
SOURCE: Gifted from Julie Cross / Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

All Karen has ever wanted was to be an elite gymnast, but that’s not the path she is on. To please her parents, she compromises and instead trains towards the goal of competing in college gymnastic. Then, after a horrible car accident, Karen is left orphaned and all their plans go to hell. She ends up living with her coach and his oh-so-attractive son. So, on top of trying to decide which path in life to take and grieving the loss of her parents, she also has the added bonus of fighting an unwanted attraction to her new housemate and just dealing with boys in general. When you are in an all girls gymnast group and do school online instead of in a traditional classroom, you don’t get many encounters with the opposite sex. Despite the fact that she knows a relationship with Jordan is out of bounds, she can’t help the desire to spend time with him. Jordan makes her feel normal and he understands what she is going through. What is more important: staying in the lines of normal or being able to finally breath again?

I have to applaud Karen’s dedication to her sport. I don’t know that I have ever been as dedication to one thing enough to spend so much time perfecting it. Okay, maybe I’m that dedicated to reading, but that’s not really the same, is it? This girls spends hours at the gym every single day conditioning and training and practicing just to make sure every single move is perfect. If you didn’t see inside her head and watch her go through emotions like a normal human, I’d think she was a machine. Beyond being driven to be the best gymnast she can be, she is also pretty damn smart and driven to do well with her school work. How anyone can manage to succeed in online school and really take the information in is something else that is beyond me. I’m not a self-teaching person. I cannot learn on my own. I need a real person to explain things to me. Even if it’s just reading straight from the text book, that’s what I need. So maybe I’m fascinated by Karen because she is so different from me. That, plus the enormous grief that I cannot even really begin to comprehend. How she manages to get up in the morning astounds me, much less practicing for meets and doing schoolwork without turning into a ball of helplessness and tears on the floor. This is all my rambling way of saying that I admire Karen a great deal. She has a strength that I envy.

Jordan….oh Jordan. What is there to say about Jordan? I love him? A bunch? The way he connects with Karen is adorable. The way he goes out of his way to help her is swoon-worthy. Want to know what else I love? He’s not perfect. He is flawed and has secrets and problems all of his own. He’s smart and sweet and just a touch cocky. Also. there is a reason why he is in such good physical shape. I hate novel’s where the boys are overly buff with no logical reason to be that way beyond the fact that they are trying to play to every girl’s fantasy. Newsflash! Washboard abs don’t just magically appear out of nowhere! Trust me, if you could wish you’re body into shape, I would look A LOT different right now. Regardless, Jordan is just the type of character I love to read about.

I have wanted to read this for well over a year now. Early last year I was awarded a eARC of Third Degree, Cross’s NA romance and I feel in love with that novel. It was absolutely perfect and I immediately wanted to read everything else Cross had written. I didn’t even make the connection that this was the same Julie Cross that wrote the Tempest series until I was adding her books to my GoodReads TBR pile. Since then, I have vowed to read all of her work and I’m happy to say that I’m over halfway there. I just need to read the rest of this series and Whatever Life Throws At You and I’ll all caught up…..until she finishes whatever she is working next comes out. I don’t mean Halfway Perfect. I’ve read that. You should read that as soon as it comes out. That novel has me trying to come up with legitimate excuses to miss work work on May 8th and make the crazy 10 hour drive it would take me to get to New York City to attend it’s launch. You can read more about that here….and if you are in NYC and able to attend, well I kinda hate you because I would love to go. My point is that I had high expectations for this. Julie was nice enough to gift me a copy and I planned on reading it the old fashion way until I saw that there was an audio copy available on audible and I immediately bought that. I’m happy to report that this exceeded those expectations.

I really found this world utterly fascinating. Not only is Karen 100% committed to her sport, but so are the other girls on the team and all the things they go through to succeed in a sport that has a very limited number of spots that can be attained. The chances of actually making it big in gymnastics is slim and even knowing that, they give it their all. The spend the vast majority of their waking hours training and when they aren’t training, they still do things in a specific way to better their gymnastic abilities. They are all on crazy diets and have regular meetings with nutritionists and it just astounding me. Cross has intimate knowledge of this world and it really shows through. I don’t think anyone outside this community would really understand the trials and tribulations of it well enough to portray it to an outside.

Normally, I worry a little when starting a novel that has a heavy focus on anything athletic. I have never been a fan of any sport and, despite my efforts to be more active now, that has not changed. I always worry that the focus will be so heavy on the sporting aspect that I lose the parts that I like or that I won’t understand the rules of the sport and simply can’t follow the plot because of that. It doesn’t make sense when I put it like that, but it’s like me watching a football game. I literally know nothing about football. I know that a touchdown is a score but that is the end of my knowledge on that subject. So when someone starts throwing around terms (ie punting or gaining fields or whatever) that are widely understand without explaining it, I’m immediately lost. I need it explained in the simplest terms possible and it’s hard for an author to do that successfully. I knew that probably would be an issue here because Cross is great at putting things in terms I can understand, but the apprehension was still there. I worried for naught though because that wasn’t an issue. The sports aspect was beautifully interwoven with the other issues Karen was facing.

Basically, this novel is the same level of perfection I have come to expect from Julie Cross. It’s smart, it’s emotional, and it has those perfectly flawed characters that we can all relate to. No one here is perfect, not even the coach who should have all the answers and that quality grounds the novel in a way that nothing else can. I have already bought the next novella in this series and I look forward to seeing Karen and Jordan’s journey continue.

Audio Notes:
This is my first Erin Spencer and I’m definitely satisfied with her. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like her. I didn’t immediately love the sound of her voice, but the more I listened, the more I felt like it suited Karen. She has great pacing and pronunciation. There was nothing about her narration that irritated me. Conversely, there was nothing about her narration that made me go super fangirl-y about. I’d give her 4 out of 5 stars for her performance. She’s great and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her work in the future.

5 bows
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Review for Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love #2) by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

TITLE: Flat-Out Celeste
SERIES: Flat-Out Love #2
AUTHOR: Jessica Park
NARRATOR: Tavia Gilbert
PUBLICATION DATE: May 22, 2014 / January 28, 2015
PUBLISHER: Independent / Flat Finn, Inc
PAGES: 336 pages / 8 hours 43 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Wordsmith Publicity
RATING: 5 bows

Celeste Watkins finds high school to be the most trying part of her life. Every day she is surrounded by people who don’t know her and don’t really care to. She is surrounded by people who don’t really care about getting a education as much as they care about getting through this phase. The fact that she speaks a little differently and has very little social finesse doesn’t help matters any. She is certain that if she can just make it to college, everything will be different. Kids in college are more educational focused, right? Then a chance encounter with a college sophomore offers up a bit of hope. Justin Milano is just as odd as she is and with each responded email, he pulls her a little more out of her solitude. Together they might be able to save not only each other, but two other people who mean the world to Celeste.

I loved Celeste immediately. She’s so smart and dedicated and I can definitely relate to the low people skills dilemma, though maybe not on such an extreme level. Beyond being majorly intelligent, Celeste is also sweet and kind and more lonely than she’d care to admit. Her little quirks are what quickly endeared me to her. I love her aversion to contractions and the love of research. It’s really hard not to empathize with her in many moments because she is forced to keep up a charade of being socially accepted at school to prevent her parents and brother from worrying over her, but she’s really an outcast. Who wants to be friends with the girl who throws off the grading curve? The one who does so ridiculously well on the class presentations that no one else will even come close to that level of success? No one and therein lies the problem. Once she receives that first email from Justin, watching her banter back and forth and attempt to ease some of his obvious distress for how his emails are turning out, I feel a bit in love with this girl. She’s awesome, just as she is, and the thought that the world wants her to change infuriates me.

I was head over heels for Justin almost immediately. He’s the perfect match for Celeste. He’s a better at interacting with people, but he’s over-energized and that leads to many an awkward moment. He’s smart and so very sweet. He goes out of his way to make her feel comfortable and she does the same for him. There is a great scene with spilled sodas that just melted my heart. Just trust me on this, k? He’s awesome.

This is one of those novels that you read (or listen to, in my case) and absolutely adore but can’t seem to articulate why exactly you love it. It’s intelligent and witty and cute and emotional and heart-breaking and all the feels! Portraying a character like Celeste is a very thin line to walk and Park pulls it off flawlessly. From the moment I started listening, I was hooked. I wanted more of Celeste and Matty and Justin and the whole world Park has created for us. I have not yet read Flat-Out Love or Flat-Out Matt yet, but I desperately want to at this point. This novel can definitely stand on it’s own, but I think the ending will have a bit more meaning for those who read the previous novels. It was still sob-inducingly romantic from my perspective, so I can’t imagine how much more powerful I would have felt if I was even more attached to Matt and Julie.

Speaking of Matt, can I have a brother who is so devoted to me? I mean, seriously, this guy goes through hell to make Celeste’s life more bearable and I love him for it. He’s a big part of why I want to read FOL. I’m even more excited now that I know exactly how his relationship with Julie will end up.

I had relatively high expectations when I started this. I have heard/read great things about this series (and about Park’s writing in general) and I was dying to see what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say I wasn’t disappointed. This novel is one I will be recommending to everyone I know because it’s perfect, absolutely perfect. I wish I could lay it out in more detail for you than that, but I just can’t. If you like contemporary YA romances with a touch of heart-break and an ending so imperfectly perfect that it makes you cry, then this is what you want to pick up.

Audio notes:
Tavia Gilbert was the perfect Celeste. I’m just a little worried about how I’ll react to her in other novels because she just seems so perfectly Celeste that I might have trouble believing her as anyone else. I hope that isn’t the case because she’s pretty awesome. She has a great voice with good pronunciation and timing. She gives you just enough time to absorb what she has laid before you before continuing on with the story without being overly slow. I know Audible allows you to speed up or slow down your narrator but I just don’t like to do that. I like to listen at the pace the narrator sets. I also think the narrator feels a bit choppy when using those features so I avoid them. Regardless, Tavia was great and I’ll definitely be checking out more of her work in the future!

****Thank you to Wordsmith Publicity and Jessica Park for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

TITLE: Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
AUTHOR: Becky Albertalli
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 320 pages
SOURCE: publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 5 bows

Sixteen year old Simon Spier is gay, but only Blue (his internet pen pal) is aware of that. It’s not that he is ashamed or scared, he just feels like it’s his business and he prefers to leave the drama for his part in the school play. Then a fellow student stumbles across his email to Blue and starts blackmailing him over it. Simon must either help set this scumbag up with a girl he likes or have the whole school know his secret. It’s not that he really cares so much, but Blue is reluctant to chat anyway and a scandal like this might scare him away completely. Simon couldn’t handle losing Blue, who has become his best friend and just might be his soul mate. Can Simon find away to keep Blue’s privacy safe and not compromising his integrity without have his business blasted through the whole school? Or will the blackmailer do what he promised and force Simon to be his eternal wingman?

What to say about Simon? He’s perfect? He’s smart and sweet and loyal….and just perfect. He is the perfect teenage boy. It’s impossible to not empathize with him while he’s on this journey. The whole Martin situation would infuriate anyone and Simon handles it about as well as can be expected. He’s email conversations with Blue had me swooning pretty early on. Trust me, that only continues as the novel progresses. Things don’t really go according to plan for Simon, but it’s how we handle things when we aren’t at our best that show our true character and Simon is someone I’d be proud to call a friend.

One of the many things I loved about this was Simon’s family. Simon has a present and supportive family. A mother, a father, and two sisters who all love him to bits. They don’t know about his homosexuality yet (no one but Blue does), but it’s pretty obvious that they would support him in whatever he endeavors to do. Even better? They aren’t perfect! They make mistakes and assumptions and generally annoy Simon, as all good parents should. Even so, Simon loves them and there is an overall positive family aspect that is just absent from most YA right now. I know that many people are stuck in less than ideal home lives, but that doesn’t mean that normal ones don’t exist and shouldn’t be showcased.

Simon also has a great group of friends. They are funny and sweet, and have that weird this person likes that person, but that person likes this other person and that creates a somewhat awkward dynamic at times. I generally liked all of them, but there isn’t one that stands out so much that I need to comment on them.

Obviously Martin was not a favorite character of mine. I do applaud Albertalli for giving him a full character arc. It would have been so simple to have Martin just be an asshole and leave it at that. Albertalli does us one better, she makes him fully human. He’s far from perfect (duh) and he fucks up a lot and does things that he regrets, things that infuriate Simon (and me), but you still manage to not completely hate the guy. Or maybe you do, but you can kinda see his side a little. There is no question that what he does is wrong and he isn’t easy to sympathize with, but he was so far from the parameters of a normal villain that I had to comment on it.

The writing here is mesmerizing. I will definitely be following Becky Albertalli’s career from here on out because this novel was written beautifully. It was very believable and the further in you get, the deeper you fall into Simon’s world. The more you need to know who Blue is, how the Martin situation will resolve, and finally see that kiss that Simon has been dreaming of for months now. Without saying anything, let me just say that the real life meet between Simon & Blue is just as adorable as you hoped it would be. That note that Blue writes Simon? I melted into a swoony puddle in the floor.

This novel is amazing and cute and everything I could want. It’s smart and funny and heartfelt. Simon goes through ups and downs and you go right along with him. You celebrate his successes and lament his failures and hope everything will turn out okay for this guy. It you like contemporary YA and diverse characters, then this is for you.

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for The Secrets Of Attraction by Robin Constantine

The Secrets Of Attraction by Robin Constantine

TITLE: The Secrets Of Attraction
SERIES: The Promise Of Amazing Companion Novel
AUTHOR: Robin Constantine
PUBLICATION DATE: April 28, 2015
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 384 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Won
RATING: 5 bows

Madison Pryce has her life all figured out. She is working on her portfolio to make sure she can become the architect she dreams of, she has a close group of friends, and a hot boyfriend. Then she finds out something that changes everything. Suddenly she isn’t so sure she knows what she wants and who she wants it from. Jesse McMann still hasn’t gotten over his last girlfriend. She smashed his heart to smithereens when she dumped him in favor of his best friend….who also happened to be his drummer. He lost his love and his band in one fell swoop. Now that his finally gotten around to auditioning a new drummer, fate steps in. The new drummer just happens to be Grayson Barrett, boyfriend to Wren who is besties with Madison (AKA, the girl who comes in every Thursday for a chai). The more time Jesse & Madison spend together, the more they feel the pulls of attraction. Can they get over their issues and make things work or will their problems get in the way?

Madison was a character I liked instantly. She’s smart, fun, driven, and she knows exactly where she wants her life to go. She’s also so artsy, which is something I admire. I can’t draw a stick figure or imagine an awesome new lay-out for a house, or take dynamic photographs (though I can snap near perfect concert pics). Madison can do all those things. Though she wants to go into architecture, she’s always trying to do other things to add to her portfolio to showcase her willingness to take risks and try new things. She also doesn’t take things too seriously. She likes to keep things light and fun, never really the type to get into a serious relationship. Even when she starts getting closer to Jesse, she just wants to hang out and fool around with him, enjoy his company. The thought of a serious commitment doesn’t really enter her mind. That’s thrilling for me because I was the exact opposite. I was more of a Wren than a Madison, but it’s fascinating to read from an entirely different perspective. The way she handles her feelings about the changes and new information in her life was so heart-breakingly realistic. She’s in a no win situation. This is something that should make her happy. It’s definitely not bad news and yet, she can’t come to terms with it. I loved it so much. I also loved how confident she was in herself. In YA, we get a lot of girls who don’t think much of themselves. We get those girls that think they are ugly but all the guys swarm telling the oh so clever audience that the girl is far from ugly. That is not to be found here. Madison knows she’s attractive. She isn’t overly cocky about it, just confident enough to admit she looks good. It was entirely refreshing to read that after all the Bella Swan character types I’ve been seeing.

Jesse may have been more swoon-worthy than Grayson was….at least until Gray shows up here and starts stealing my heart again.
Cluesless swoon gif
Nope, must focus on Jesse! Part of what I loved about Jesse is his dual personality. There was normal Jesse and then there was Stage Jesse. I loved that he was entirely aware of how confident he became onstage and tried (and failed) to emulate that in normal life. That is something about the lights and the crowd and the guitar that allows him to let go and know it’ll be okay. It was wholly adorable. Everything about him is adorable. I’m sure that’s not what he’s going for. He’s going for that hot rock god thing and, while he succeeds at that, I’m more a sucker for the adorable-ness that comes around when he isn’t on stage. Plus, you kinda just want to give the guy a hug. He literally had his heart torn out and stomped on. He’s best friend stole his girlfriend from underneath him. Losing your girlfriend is hard enough, but knowing your best friend cares so little about you that he’d take that away and ruin your band in the process (because no high school band can survive that kind of drama) is beyond devastating. Plus, neither one of them seem sorry. They both act as if Jesse’s feelings don’t factor in to the equation. Which is really shitty. I’m not a fan of that whole “love makes it okay to fuck with people thing.” Love is important and I’m behind that emotion 100% but it doesn’t negate basic courtesy. If things weren’t working, Hannah should have said something instead of fucking around with Jesse’s friend. Said friend should have turned down Hannah’s advances because he knows better. I kinda wanted to bitch slap both of them. But it’s okay because Jesse’s better off. The only thing I didn’t love about Jesse was his taste in music. I’m probably the only rocker on the planet who can’t stand Nirvana or Pink Floyd, but I despise both of them. Every time I see them mentioned anywhere, I can’t help rolling my eyes. I do applaud Constantine for putting in actual band names. I know people say specifying the bands or songs can date a novel, but I prefer that. Even if it’s songs I hate, at least I can ground the novel more by listening to what the characters are. And it can introduce me to new music which is always a plus.

This was possibly better than The Promise Of Amazing. Me saying that is a huge thing because I loved TPOA. My only issue with it was some of the dialogue felt a bit off. I did read an ARC of that, so it’s quite possible it was fixed before publishing and my issue became a moot point, but sometimes Gray’s words bugged me and pulled me out of the story. That is not the case here. All the talking (verbal or otherwise) felt very realistic. I loved that the cursing wasn’t just limited to the guys. Madison and Wren both say fuck at least once and that makes it more believable for me. I know that’s not the case for everyone, but I cursed in high school (and still do ^-^) and though I know there are people who don’t, I find that hard to believe and relate to. Sometimes in life, I feel like swear words are necessary. When you stub your toe and it hurts so bad you think you might have broken it “oh poo” just doesn’t cover it. So I loved that the characters spouted real swear words and not stupid substitutes. That’s actually a pet peeve of mine that I blame on the House Of Night series. At no point in life should one ever utter the words bullpoop in lieu of bullshit. It doesn’t work. If you must refrain from cursing, simply say BS and let it be. Mini-rant over.

This should have annoyed me in many ways. I hate love triangles.
Alan Rickman annoyed gif
But this was done so differently that I couldn’t be mad at it. Besides, it was more like a love….what kind of shape pentagon. It make me think of that Amanda Bynes movie She’s The Man. Zack loves Madison, who likes Jesse, who is hung up on Hannah, who is with Duncan. It’s hard to be mad at Madison for the triangle when its clear that she never meant for it to happen. It’s obvious to annoying who pays attention that she just wanted things to be causal with Zack and he just couldn’t handle that. And Jesse isn’t really in a triangle, he is just mopey over HannaDunk, which is understandable. Fuck, poor Jesse. I just feel so bad for him.

What it comes down to is this: this is the perfect contemporary YA romance. You get angst, drama, wit, charm, and, of course, romance. It’s fun, it’s heart-breaking at times, and it has that perfectly imperfect ending that we call crave. Things end on a good note, but there is still enough room for growth and development for the characters that you know everything won’t be 100% perfect. I loved it so much, I don’t think there are words. Basically, if you are a fan of Stephanie Perkins or Kasie West or Claire LaZebnik, you’ll love this!

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa Meyer

TITLE: Cress
SERIES: The Lunar Chronicles #3
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
NARRATOR: Rebecca Soler
PUBLICATION DATE: February 4, 2014 / February 4, 2014
PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Audio
PAGES: 550 pages / 15 hours 40 minutes
FORMAT: Hardback / Audio
SOURCE: Gift from my husband / borrowed
RATING: 5 bows


Cress has spent most of her life orbited Earth in a satellite. She has been alone with only netscreens for company and has become a rather talented hacker. She has mastered anything with net access. She dreams of being rescued and going to Earth. Seeing the beautiful world and all it’s treasures up close. But when Cinder’s band of misfits tries to rescue her, things go horribly wrong and the group gets separated. Now, in addition to trying to save 2 worlds, they must also find their way back to each other. Plus, each character has their own troubles and turmoil to deal with. One thing is certain, they will stop Levana or die trying.

What can I say about Cress? It might possibly be my favorite of the series yet. I loved Cinder and I really enjoyed Scarlet, but Cress may just have topped both of them. It was excited and intense. It was that book that you ignored the world for just one more chapter because you had to know what happened next. Does Cress get Thorne to like her? Can Cinder stop Kai’s impending nuptials? Will she ever tell him that she is Princess Selene? Can they rescue Scarlet? And, most importantly of all, does Iko ever get a real android body?!?!?

Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne are all present and accounted for, with the new additions of Cress and Jacin. Cress, I must say, is a character I immediately adored. She reminded me a bit of Iko because of her enthusiasm for certain things. She’s smart and sweet and completely obsessed with Thorn in the most adorable way. Thorn, by the way, really shows his swoon-worthy side here. I already loved Thorne he’s smart and cocky and sarcastic, but he’s even better here. We really get to see him fight to protect Cress and that was a sight to behold.

I’m still unsure about Jacin. On one hand, I like him and I know we are setting up to give Winter a love interest for the final book, but I’m not sure I trust him. Though he is loyal to his Princess, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is loyal to Cinder and her cause. I feel like he might just throw a wrench in things and fuck the plans up if it suits his needs or desires. I guess only time will tell. I’m pretty anxious to get my hands on Winter. Why does it have to be so much longer until it releases?

Levana just needs to die. That bitch needs to die bloody and she needs to die now. I’m a little apprehensive to read Fairest because I know it’s going to try to shed a sympathetic light on Levana and I don’t want to have any sympathy for her. I want to continue hating her as I do now. I don’t think Fairest will truly change my opinion of her, but I think it will try.

If I could only use one word to describe this novel, it would be intense. This thing is jam packed with action and adventure and danger and tension. From the moment you start this and get inside Cress’ mind, you just want to continue. As with the rest of this series, I have listened to it with my husband, which means that we have only listened when we were together and neither one of us had anything pressing that needed to be done. We would use any excuse to get into his car and go on a trip, driving slow and going to long way around just to get in a few extra minutes. We would get home and sit in the car trying to find just a minute more time to get more of this compelling story. Because once we go into the house, real life kicks in and I have reviews to write and he has work to do and we can’t just sit and listen anymore. Anyone who has enjoyed the series thus far will fall in love with Cress. Anyone who read Cinder and loved it, but didn’t love Scarlet the same way, will fall back in love with the series here. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Audio Notes:
In Cinder, I was okay with Rebecca Soler. In Scarlet, I liked her a bit more. Here, I almost loved her. The more I listen, the more I like her. She does an excellent job of differentiating voices here, which is quite a feat considering that there are six characters I would describe as main characters and a handful more that are a bit more than minor. Her pacing is just a touch fast at moments. There was more than one time I had to skip 30 seconds back and relisten to discover what I had missed. And she still says Nancy weird. I can’t help but snicker every time she says it. Still, I enjoyed her narration and will be looking to sample more of her work.

5 bows
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Review for The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

AUTHOR: Kody Keplinger
PUBLICATION DATE: February 25, 2015
PUBLISHER: Hodder Children’s Books
PAGES: 288 pages
FORMAT: eARC / Paperback
SOURCE: publisher via NetGalley / Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Bianca Piper is smart, snarky, and about as cynical as a 17 year old girl can be. She will be the absolute last person to fall for Wesley Rush’s womanizing charms. He’s a pig who nicknames her Duffy and she hates him. But when home life gets complicated and she needs an escape, kissing Wesley (and later doing much more) doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. The boy may be a jackass, but he is a talented jackass. The more time she spends with him, the more she notices that his life isn’t exactly perfect and he happens to be a damn good listener. She can’t possibly be falling for the guy she’s hated for so long, right?

I have been dying to read this since the moment I step out of the movie theater. The film was just my level of awesome. I’m a sucker for those high school rom-coms about finding yourself, so it’s no surprise I loved the film. I deliberately didn’t read this before seeing the movie. I’ve found that reading the books first can severely impair my ability to enjoy their film counterparts. Once I’ve read it, I want the film to be exactly like the book, word for word. I’m one of those people that would be deliriously happy if the film adaptation of all books were 4 hour long experiences identical to the books. I think most bookworms feel that way, but I can’t let go of the details. There are some things I can understand why it gets changed, but a lot of times there seems to be no logical reason behind changes and those anger me. It was harder to avoid this book before the movie than I thought it would be. The movie tie in edition of the novel is everywhere. It’s available in bookstores, WalMart, Target, even the tiny grocery story book section! It stalked me, but I resisted the urge to crack it open. I highly recommend anyone who has not read the book already to wait until after the film to read it. Though I adore the film, the changed a great deal of things and, if you are anything like me, it will make you angry if you read the book first. But this is supposed to be a book review, right? So let’s get back to the book!

I loved Bianca immediately. She reminded me a great deal of Katarina Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You and that is a high compliment because Kat was my role model throughout my entire high school career. She’s intelligent and sarcastic and opinionated. She has no qualms about sharing those opinions with everyone around her and she doesn’t care about what they think of her. I went in thinking she’d be somewhat insecure, but she really isn’t. I’d say she has more self-esteem than the average teenage girl. She truly doesn’t give a fuck about how other’s see her. She knows she isn’t very pretty, but she has made peace with that fact and she plays to her strengths. I do think she was a bit harsh sometimes, but that also what I loved. She wasn’t afraid to say exactly what she was thinking, no sugar coating required. She has no qualms about throwing a drink all over Wesley when he tells her she is the DUFF and she has no problem consistently telling him what she thinks of him (hint: it’s not usually pretty).

Wesley….what do I say about Wesley? The start of the story portrays him as a cocky jackass, but since I was already half in love with him because of the slightly altered film version of him, I couldn’t help but be amused by his shenanigans. He is a dick, but I think he’s a loveable dick and he makes no promises. He may be a man-whore, but he’s completely honest about that fact. He makes no promises for more than meaningless sex and he doesn’t string unsuspecting girls along. But once you start really seeing him, how he tries to comfort Bianca (and that scene where he defends her?)…well, let’s just say I swooned. I was a Wesley fan from page one. Even when he was being a jackass, I loved him. I couldn’t help it.

Jessica and Casey were both very interesting. They are loyal friends, sticking by Bianca when she needs it and getting angry with her when she starts avoiding them. They are probably the only people on the planet whose opinions Bianca actually cares about. They aren’t perfect. Casey is a little pushy and Jess is a little ditzy, but they are both very lovable and it’s easy to see why Bianca has stuck with them.

What I really loved about this was how realistic it felt. There was no censoring to dumb things down to a “high school” level. Bianca swears and has sex and is a normal teenager. This doesn’t try to hide that side of her. I also liked that there weren’t a bunch of cliches all over the place. Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention to the other students in my high school or maybe I just went to an abnormal school, but I don’t remember a set of “popular” people from my high school or the jocks and the geeks and whatnot. I liked this Bianca’s main goal in life wasn’t to climb a social ladder. She was just biding her time until high school was over and she could get on with her life. Plus, I loved how Keplinger played the whole love triangle aspect. Toby isn’t a bad guy. Toby is actually the perfect guy. Toby is the one Bianca wants, but sometimes what we want and what we need aren’t the same thing.

I don’t know what took me so long to find this novel and read it. Though I’m very happy that I waited until after the film to read it, I’m also sad that I went years without this awesomeness in my life. This novel is perfect. There is not a single thing about it I would change. It smart and funny and heartfelt. It has the perfect level of teen angst. And it has that I hate you until I love you thing going on that we all secretly crave. Seriously, it’s perfect.

****Thank you to Hodder Children’s Books for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Unbeautiful (Unbeautiful #1) by Jessica Sorensen

Unbeautiful by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: Unbeautiful
SERIES: Unbeautiful #1
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: December 23, 2014
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 300 pages
FORMAT: ebook
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Emery’s was raised to be the perfect daughter. Pretty and obedient, she knows better to ever question her parents or act anything less than perfect in public. Now, at 18, she is leaving for college, against her families wishes. She’s not going far, a mere hour away, but the freedom is enough to see that the world she has been raised in is drastically different than the outside world. Ryler looks like the typical bad boy. He’s tattooed and pierced and plays the strong silent card pretty well. That’s pretty easy for a mute guy to do. Society has labeled him as dangerous and he is determined to get away from that label and start over. Step 1? College far from home. And then he bumps into Emery and the connection is immediate. She dumps shredded paper on his head and the few tidbits he read astound him. It’s like she is writing directly to him. As the two are drawn together, will their pasts tear them apart or will they fight to stay together?

Emery was entirely astonishing. This girl has been abused for her entire life and she never even realized that there was any other way. There are loving parents out there who don’t strap their kid to their beds each night?
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It’s a shocking concept, I know. It’s hard for someone like me to really imagine a life like that, but Sorensen does her usual amazing job of putting me in Emery’s mind. She walks a fine line of raging against the abuse of her life and feeling honor-bound to keep her families secrets. Her fear is completely understandable. Her crazy family is definitely capable of killing her should she spill their secrets, but you just want to see her escape this life. Her attraction to Ryler is immediate. He’s her opposite in so many ways, but they have so much in common. Also, the fact that this girl has never listened to music just flabbergasts me. No music? Nothing? No stupid pop phase? No epic moment of realization when you listen to your first great rock song?
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The torture is bad enough. The emotional conditioning and the meds and forcing her to be with someone she really has no interest in, but to deny that simple pleasure? I have no words. I cannot fathom people this cruel and I hope to hell I never meet anyone like them. If I have one aim as a parent, it’s to be nothing like them.

Ryler’s past isn’t much better. Bounced from foster home to foster home until he gets sent to juvie for something that is misconstrued by everyone. But that’s in the past and he can’t change that. He can look to the future and do whatever necessary to ensure a better one. If that means being an informant and having to do things he doesn’t like to get there, then so be it. You have to give the boy props for his dedication to that end. Living with a record, especially one proclaiming you are violent, is far from easy. Even though Emery’s past is much worse, you can’t help but sympathize with him. He just tries to do what is right and help those he cares for and gets punished in return. He knows getting close to Emery is something he should avoid. The life he leads right now, it’s not on he would want her involved in, but those words and the haunted look in her eyes makes it impossible to stay away.

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I totally didn’t realize this was The Coincidence adjacent. I kinda felt like a moron because I didn’t realize this even after reading scenes containing both Violet & Luke.
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I know, I’m the lowest form of stupid. It wasn’t until Greyson and Seth showed up that the light bulb clicked on. Seth? Greyson? OH! Violet! Luke! I haven’t yet finished The Coincidence series, but I’m glad to see you guys will work it out…eventually.

At this point, I wholly believe that it is impossible for Jessica Sorensen to write a story I won’t love. She’s a master of the contemporary romance/new adult genre. She knows exactly how to reel you in and then hit you where it hurts. Especially with cliffhangers. I am very happy I never tried to read this before I got my grabby hands on the sequel because that ending was not good. In fact, had I not already had book 2, this might have gotten demoted a star. But, I did have the sequel and I recommend you do as well before attempting this story. I finished this on my kindle and immediately pulled up the next book. There was no waiting period or allowing the fact that it was already 1 in the morning to prevent me from finding out what happens next.

This novel is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Jessica Sorensen, which is awesome. Unbeautiful lives up to it’s title. It’s raw and ugly and heart-breaking, but beautiful anyway. Ryler & Emery have a lot to overcome before they can really be together, but it’s worth it in the end. Trust me, I’ve already finished the next book and they make it to their happily ever after. What more could you ask for?

5 bows
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Review for Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes

TITLE: Liars, Inc
AUTHOR: Paula Stokes
PUBLICATION DATE: March 25, 2015
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Won from Street Team Contest
RATING: 5 bows

Max Cantrell’s life just got a little better. It all started with a lie to get himself into detention. That lie showed the possibility to profit off of similar lies. Suddenly Max, Parvarti (his girlfriend), and Preston (his best friend) are rolling in money and esteem. Forging permission slips and creating alibi’s is, apparently, a very profitable business. Then Preston needs a cover story for a weekend getaway and Max is happy to provide one. But something goes wrong and Preston is missing and Max is now the prime suspect. Then Preston turns up dead and Max is really under fire. He knows he didn’t do it, but can he find the real killer before he takes the fall?

Max Cantrell was someone I fell for instantly. Max isn’t the popular guy or the hottest guy in school or the brain or the clown. He’s just your average, decent looking guy with a passion for surfing. He’s an adopted kid who has a nice family, not an abusive bunch of jackasses. He lucked out with an awesome girlfriend, though they have their minor issues. It’s hard for me to really put Max into words. He’s just an average guy and I loved that. We never get stories about average guys. It’s always the popular boys or the brainiac or the dark brooding guy with the ripped body. I image Max has decent muscles because surfing is a serious sport, but it’s not the focus. And he doesn’t have girls falling all over themselves to get with him. He’s also kinda a loner. He’s fine with quiet and solitude.

Parvarti is his opposite in a lot of ways. She’s smart and super-sexy and oh so confident. She’s the school’s it girl. I liked her, but I was always unsure of her. Something felt a bit off from the very beginning. I was convinced pretty early on that she had something to do with Preston’s disappearance, but you’ll have to read for yourself to find out if she did or not because I’m not telling! I will say that I do like her by the end.

This is the type of review where I want to rave about how awesome it was, but I can’t say a whole lot of anything because it’s almost all spoilers. I will say that I absolutely loved it and I didn’t see the end coming. That final twist just blew my mind.
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I also will say that I know changes were made for the final book and from what I can tell, there were nothing really major. A few things I can see why they were changed for the better, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t really notice problems. This book is so good that none of the things that were changed caught my attention while I was reading. I was too enraptured in the story and finding out exactly where this was going to go to care if a line or two didn’t make complete sense. I got the gist and that’s the important part, right? After the fact, when I got a summery of the changes, I was all “yeah, that makes total sense!” and I think they’ll make the story a bit more cohesive. As far as the small consistency errors, I tend to either not notice them or be entirely forgiving of them when I read an ARC/eARC. I know that what I have is not the final product. I know more work goes into it. I also know that I sometimes have consistency errors in my 2 – 3 page reviews that I do not ever edit, so I can’t imagine how many would crop up in 300+ pages after revisions and edits!

What can I really say? This book is awesome. It has mystery and intrigue with a bit of romance and just a small touch of humor. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d love it going in. I tend to skew more towards the happily ever afters and, for a while, I wasn’t sure that was going to happen. I wanted to read it regardless because I loved The Art Of Lainey and knew I could expect great things from Paula. For those like me worried about the conclusion, it does end on a happy note. Not everyone gets to ride off into the sunset consequence free, but the important people are on the right track. All you really need to know is that this is an edge of your seat, must keep reading kinda book that makes you completely forget reality for however long it takes you to finish it. What more do we need? Is that what we all look for? To get lost in a fictional world? I hope you love it as much as I did.

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Wreck Me (Nova #4) by Jessica Sorensen

Wreck Me by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: Wreck Me
SERIES: Nova #4
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: October 22, 2014
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 350 pages
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 bows

Tristan Morganson is constantly battling his addiction to drugs. He’s doing better, they call to him every single day. The only thing keeping him straight now is that night three months ago when an intriguing lady gave him the choice of taking his drugs back or allowing her to flush them down the toilet. He doesn’t know why exactly, just that that particular moment keeps floating back to him when he thinks about finding more drugs. Avery Hensley, the intriguing lady, has had a bad life up until the past few years. She followed her heart as a teen and ended up married with a son before she became legal. Then Conner, the man of her dreams, started showing his darker side and suddenly things are falling apart. She has managed to get her life back together, but she swore she would never again allow a man in her life. That leaves too much up to question and life with a 5 year old son just isn’t up for that. Then she meets Tristan and he’s so different from Conner. He’s real and sweet and fighting an addiction she understands too well. The more time they spend together, the more she longs to break her rules, but is she brave enough to really give it a try?

I think we’ve covered how much I like Tristan in past reviews, right?
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K, so I’ll skip the over the top gushing about how awesome he is. I may even like him more than Quinton…maybe…I’m not sure. Either way, he’s that sweet, flirty guy who manages to be both cocky and vulnerable flawlessly. He perfectly captures that inner debate I think everyone can relate to, that “Am I really good enough” thing. Besides that, he’s, you know, hot.

I sympathized with Avery immediately. This girl is just trying to better herself and enrich her son’s life. And she’s working her ass off to do it. Balancing school, work, a kid, and helping Habitat build a house to repay them for building her one is nothing to joke about. I don’t know how she manages to do it without falling apart. She was in such a bad place and she’s come so far. She’s a fighter and a lover and she’s so determined to do what’s right by her kid that her wants and needs don’t factor in at all. It was admirable, even when it was infuriating because I know how much Tristan wants to be more than friends and I know his intentions are far from nefarious and I just want her to realize that. JUST GET IT ON ALREADY! ::coughs:: I mean, you know, talk it out….

I think what makes me love Sorensen’s characters, and work in general, is her ability to make perfectly flawed characters. She writes characters that have been through bad shit and manage to keep breathing every day. She writes characters that have serious problems and yet I never dislike them. You just don’t understand how amazing that it because I have serious issues with drugs and their users. I am also incredibly unforgiving in real life, but somehow Sorensen makes me love her characters even with their addictions and their pasts. I mean, Tristan has done terrible things for drugs. Fuck, Quinton did terrible things for drugs. And yet I love both of them.

This has everything you could want in a contemporary romance. It has love, angst, and just the right level of smut. It’s written in that highly addictive way we’ve all come to expect from Sorensen. I’m being to think that it is impossible for her to write something that I won’t love intensely. This one can be read as a stand-alone, but I think it’ll mean more if you’ve read the first three books in this series. Reading the earlier ones also helps set the tone for this. Though Sorensen has delved into dark and disturbing places before, this particular series is more heartbreaking than the rest. Nova and Quinton’s story is more brutal than the others and I think knowing that helps you set the stage for this one. Bottom line? Read it. If you’re a romance fan at all, you won’t be able to stop yourself from loving it!

5 bows
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