Review for Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

TITLE: Brown-Eyed Girl
SERIES: Travis Family #4
AUTHOR: Lisa Kleypas
PUBLICATION DATE: August 11, 2015
PAGES: 340 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Publisher
RATING: 4 bows

Summary from GoodReads:

Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn’t believe in love–at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can’t resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can’t afford distractions. She’s been hired to plan the wedding of the year–a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he’s not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything–including her well-guarded heart–will she find out what matters most.

Avery Crosslin was a character I could sympathize with immediately. She is overworked by choice and very hesitant to ever love again. She’s taken the once burned twice shy motto a bit too far. She won’t even contemplate the idea of dating again, much less more. She is also a curvy girl instead of a stick which had me rooting for her from moment one. She is smart and has a level head on her shoulders, which is a refreshing change from all the empty-headed idiots I’ve been reading about in YA.

Joe wasn’t my favorite male character, but he seems right for Avery. He’s smart and funny and goes out of his way to encourage Avery to follow her dreams. On my part, there was just nothing about him that stood out to make me swoon over him. He’s devoted to his family and he’s attractive, but there was no extra umph for me. Maybe he was a bit too cocky? I mean, I’m fine with swagger, but it just felt like he had nothing backing it up.

The rest of the cast was fairly interesting. I really enjoyed Avery’s sister and all of Joe’s family. The villain role was appropriately played. I knew something was up early on, but I didn’t see the full extent until it was revealed at the end. This novel opened my eyes, in a way, to some opinions of wealthy people. Bethany, one the brides for Avery’s wedding planning business, just absolutely floored me. The amount of money they can spend on extravagant things while many of us are left to live paycheck to paycheck is completely astounding. But that is a rant for another day.

Plot and writing-wise, this is everything you’d expect from Lisa Kleypas. Though her contemporaries aren’t quite as magical as her historicals, it’s still very easy to get swept away in her world. She has this fabulous way of writing that just ropes you in. My only really complaint was that the ending felt a bit forced. Once you get the big reveal, everything just flies by. You don’t get any falling action. You get a resolution, but I felt like it didn’t give you enough time to really absorb it before the novel ended.

Although, every time I read a novel about a girl who isn’t confident about her looks and her homosexual/metrosexual bestie gives her a make-over that makes her see herself in a different light always ruffles my feathers a bit. Seriously, when is Jack McFarland going to show up at my door with Karen’s credit card and declare that I’m fabulous and he won’t rest until I see it too? That would be nice. I love a good make-over as much as the next girl, but they always make me incredibly envious. Leaving out the whole shopping spree, it just fascinates me that someone can change their opinion of themselves that drastically in one afternoon. Please, someone, explain this sorcery to me because I’d really like to buy in.

If you are in the mood for a fun contemporary romance that shows you what you’ve been dreaming of all along may not be what you really need, then this is the novel for you. It’s smart and sexy and everything you could really want in a romance!

****Thank you to Piatkus for providing me with a physical in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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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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Mini Review for Nothing Personal (The Kincaids #2) by Rosalind James

Nothing Personal by Rosalind James

TITLE: Nothing Personal
SERIES: The Kincaids #2
AUTHOR: Rosalind James
NARRATOR: Emma Taylor
PUBLICATION DATE: October 18, 2013 / May 19, 2015
PUBLISHER: Independent / Audible Studios
PAGES: 337 pages / 11 hours
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Audible
RATING: 4 bows

Summary from Audible:

When you wish upon a star… Alec Kincaid has never met the obstacle he couldn’t overcome – or the woman who could resist him. And it’s not going to happen now, not with his star shining more brightly than ever in the high-stakes arena of San Francisco’s software industry. Desiree Harlin doesn’t believe in fairy tales, and she doesn’t waste time wishing. She’s learned the hard way that dreams don’t come true. And with her reputation and hard-won security on the line, succumbing to temptation isn’t an option. But things aren’t always what they seem. And even stars sometimes fall. Note: Despite the fog San Francisco does get hot at times. If you prefer your romance without steam, you may want to visit a different city…er, book.

You guys know I have been having issues writing reviews for a little while now, so I’m giving the mini-review idea a shot. What that means is I’ll be pulling the description directly from Audible (or GoodReads) and then giving you my thoughts in a shorter manner than we are all perhaps accustomed to. I hope this will help get my creative mind back to flowing!

You get a good peek at Alec’s personality in Welcome To Paradise, so I was pretty excited to get to see through his eyes this time. I knew his character would change some because he was portrayed as a bit of a man-whore in WTP and that mind-set doesn’t really work in a romance. The guy has to give up the idea of sleeping with any woman other than the heroine. His change is subtle and believable. I found I liked his perspective quite a bit, but maybe not as much as his twins. The other side of this is Desiree. She’s smart and spunky and very professional. She has really fought her way up to be where she is. She had very low beginnings in life and had to work her way through college, but she did it and she is awesome at her job.

The romance had a very believable feel. Though there is immediate attraction, there is no insta-love or immediate falling into bed together. Ray is very (VERY) attached to the rules and she doesn’t like to break them when her job (and therefore her well-being) is on the line. It’s a slow-build with an excellent payoff.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I only had a few issues with it. The main one was this is has a suspense element, but it was introduced a little too late in the novel for my tastes. You don’t even get a hint of it until over halfway through the book. By that point, I was way too focused on the romantic element to care about someone trying to do bad things to harm Alec’s business. Maybe that was just me, but I just didn’t care and I thought the guilty party was extremely obvious from the first moment it was revealed that there was a foul-play being made.

Audio notes:
Emma Taylor does a good job narrating this. I’m very satisfied with her performance. She doesn’t really go above and beyond, but she does a good job and I would definitely be okay with listening to more of her work.

****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Welcome To Paradise (The Kincaids #1) by Rosalind James

Welcome To Paradise by Rosalind James

TITLE: Welcome To Paradise
SERIES: The Kincaids #1
AUTHOR: Rosalind James
NARRATOR: Emma Taylor
PUBLICATION DATE: August 15, 2013 / May 19, 2015
PUBLISHER: Independent / Audible Studios
PAGES: 340 pages / 12 hours 32 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Audible
RATING: 4 bows

Mira Walker and her boyfriend, Scott, have entered a competition to win a million dollars. They are going on a reality show where they have to live like it’s 1885. That means no modern electricity, no modern plumbing, and spending each day working to do things exactly the way they did it then. Mira is hoping this experience will bring her closer to her boyfriend and inspire her to once again be excited about her job. Gabe Kincaid has also entered the competition with his twin brother Alec. He is sure they have a better shot at winning than Mira and Scott because everyone wants to knock Scott’s lights out from moment one. As the competition starts to heat up, all the contestants are thrown many unexpected twists and soon it’s unclear who will win this competition and the money. One thing is certain, the more time Mira spends here, the more sure she is that she doesn’t want to go back to the life she had before entering this competition.

Mira was someone I sympathized with pretty quickly. It was clearly from the first moment you see her alone with Scott that he was an asshole. It was equally clear that she just doesn’t realize the extent of his dickheadedness. It’s fascinating to realize how few people really see the signs of mental abuse and don’t recognize that backhanded compliments for what they are. Just because Scott has a nice attitude most of the time doesn’t mean he isn’t breaking her down mentally. You hear an insult enough times, you start to believe it. Beyond that, it’s clear that this girl has never been appreciated in her life. Her parents are lackluster, to put it nicely, and she really seems to have no one really in her corner. We don’t hear her talk of her friends back home or siblings. Her parents don’t really care and her boyfriend is a jackass. And yet, she seems to have a relatively positive attitude towards life. I don’t know how she manages it. The one thing I know for sure is that she deserves better than Scott.

Gabe is her opposite in a lot of ways. He is confident and has the love and support of an entire family. He’s a successful doctor with a level head on his shoulders and a knight-in-shining armor complex. I like him immensely more than Scott. He’s smart and sweet and just a little cocky, but not in an obnoxious way. Even though we do get a bit of time in his head, I don’t feel like I know him as well as I know Mira. Beyond his love for his brother and his concern for Mira, I don’t feel like I know very much about him.

What was really fun about this was that it didn’t feel like your typical romance novel. For half of the novel, the focus was more on setting up the living situation and getting used to the way things ran back in the day over pushing Mira & Gabe together as fast as possible. Sure, they were aware of each other and the attraction was there, but it was on a smaller scale than most romance novels use. I rather enjoyed that. I’m more than a little fascinated by how the world worked when things were slower and harder to get. Just the act of lighting the stove and getting food started took hours to accomplish. Washing the cloths? Let’s just say I won’t be complaining about hauling all my stuff to the laundromat anytime soon.

Despite the slow start on the romance end, it does heat up at moments. This novel is definitely not without steam. You know what was awesome about that? There was nary a single comment on the largeness of a certain part of Gabe’s anatomy. Rosalind James, if you ever read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. In face, I’m not sure his size was mentioned at all and I’m very grateful for that. It also didn’t spend pages going on and on about how hot Gabe was. His attractiveness was mentioned on more than one occasion, but I didn’t feel like I was getting beat over the head with that particular observation.

Basically, this is an interesting contemporary romance that doesn’t focus overly much on the romance aspect. That is an odd thing for me to say and mean it as a compliment, but I do. It was a nice change to read listen to a story that wasn’t solely about the characters need to get hot and sweaty with each other. I make it sound like I read only erotica, which is far from the truth. I read mostly YA and romance, but a lot of it seems to put too much focus on the physical aspect of the relationship lately and it was wonderful to see something else. But I think anyone who enjoys contemporary romance will love this!

Audio notes:
Emma Taylor does a pretty great job of narrating this. She has great pacing and voice differentiation. I wouldn’t say she is my favorite female narrator because I refuse to give that rank to anyone who I’ve only listened to one book by, but she does rate pretty high up. I have no complaints at all about her performance.

****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Game For Marriage (Game For It #1) by Karen Erickson

Game For Marriage by Karen Erickson

TITLE: Game For Marriage
SERIES: Game For It #1
AUTHOR: Karen Erickson
NARRATOR: Deanna Hurst
PUBLICATION DATE: January 11, 2013 / January 13, 2015
PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing (Brazen) / Audible Studios
PAGES: 170 pages / 7 hours 36 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Wordsmith Publicity
RATING: 3 bows

Sheridan Harper is the textbook definition of struggling artist. She loves her work and is very talented, but she is barely scraping by. So when Jared Quinn makes her an offer that promises a lot of money, she really doesn’t have any choice but to take it. After a one night stand with explosive chemistry, Jared’s publicist makes offers her a truckload of money to fake a marriage to Quinn so they can improve his image. The only problem? The contract has a no-sex clause and despite how much they fight it, both parties feel the attraction.

Okay, so that description sucks and I am well aware. Maybe after reading this, you guys will understand why I am taking a that review-writing break. Why am I writing this as I am on said break? One of the conditions of reviewing this audiobook was to have the review up within 30 days of the download and I endeavor to be a woman of my word. I’m also a tiny bit scared that I’ll take a longer break from reviewing than I originally intended and I don’t want this review to be late. It’s bad enough that this is not going to be a 5 star review as I did not love the book. Let’s not add injury to the insult of a mediocre review.

Sheridan was someone I could pretty easily empathize with. Though I can’t draw (or paint or color or doodle) to save my life, I understand the situation she was in. Struggle to get all the bills paid is a pretty common situation to those of us in the upper lower class/lower middle class life. I could immediately see why she would want to take the deal. But then she starts annoying me. The no-sex clause, first of all, was a moment of pure idiocy. It’s obvious you want to sleep with him again. It’s also obvious that Jared is a man-whore of the highest order. He can’t sleep with anyone else during this year or the press will paint him a cheating scum-bag and you aren’t allowing him to sleep with you. Are you expecting him to take a year-long vow of celibacy? That seems like a disaster waiting to happen and we both know it. Completely ignoring that fact, it’s clear that you want to sleep with him again and it’s equally clear that a lack of bedroom activity is not enough to keep you from falling in love with the man. It’s just an idiotic plan from top to bottom, so you should go ahead and wave the white flag now. Basically, from the moment she was offered the deal, I wanted to shake her.

I wasn’t that much more fond of Jared. He’s arrogant and controlling. He is determined to make everything his fault and he refuses to accept help. He makes a big deal on how everyone is counting on him, but when they bring someone in to take the stress off him, he resents it and gets mad. Also, he acts like a caveman when it comes to Sheridan. He shows the occasional sweet side, but most of the time he just wants to throw her over his shoulder and haul her into his bedroom and never leave. I found that….irritating.

My biggest issue with this is same one I’ve had with the past few romance/erotica novels I’ve read. I’m so sick of hearing about how huge his cock is. I get it! I understand that the man has a dick the size of my forearm. Mental image received. I don’t need to hear about it ad naseum and I certainly don’t want to either.
Misha Collins shut the fuck up gif
I understand this is a fantasy for many a housewife, but what part of that sounds appealing? It sounds rather painful to me. Also, life is just about sex.
Andrew Garfield seriously gif
There are many things that cause people joy beyond the physical pleasures, but I feel like that is all the contemporary novels focus on lately. Maybe this is why I’ve stuck to YA for so long because YA never puts all the focus on sex. There is the meeting and getting to know you and mutual interests. There is a general building of a relationship in contemporary YA. Not necessarily in other parts of YA where instalove is everywhere, but I digress.

This is also a novel about a hot man meeting a beautiful woman and each loving the other’s perfect body. The pretty people make sweet sweet love and, I’m sure, will some day have gorgeous children.
Krysten Ritter eye roll gif
At some point, is anyone else going to get tired of this? I mean, I get it, fantasy-world, we want the guys to be super tall with six-pack abs and a gorgeous face. Fantasy-world us would be slim with hug tits, a nice ass, flat tummy, and slim thighs. But life isn’t a fantasy and isn’t it exhausting trying to live up to that image? What kind of message does that send? Women doing millions of crunches because we believe no “hot” guy would want us as is. Men spending hours at the gym because what “attractive” female would want them if they don’t have a six pack and enough arm strength to carry them around. Besides the idea of fantasy is that we can live it out ourselves in our heads and how can we do that if we believe the leading man would want us once he glimpses our not perfect body? ::end rant::

Basically, this had some good in it. I did listen to it quite quickly, so it was interesting enough to keep me going. I did have that hope that the main two would eventually work things out and ride off into the sunset. I am vaguely curious about the rest of the series. But I didn’t love it like I expected to. In fact, I didn’t love it at all. I like it, but definitely not love.

Audio notes:
Deanna does a pretty fair job narrating this. There is nothing about her that stands out as irritating in my mind. I enjoyed her voice and her pacing. I didn’t especially love her, but I did enjoy her work. I would definitely be okay with listening to more of her work.

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

3 bows
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Review for Trouble From The Start by Rachel Hawthorne

Trouble From The Start by Rachel Hawthorne

TITLE: Trouble From The Start
AUTHOR: Rachel Hawthorne
PUBLICATION DATE: April 28, 2015
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 400 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Avery is your typical good girl. She’s smart, she’s driven, and she’s college bound. She has no business getting involved with the school bad guy. You know, the one with a smart mouth and constant bruises from all the fights? But Fletcher is pushed into her life anyway and soon the two start feeling an unlikely attraction that gets continually harder to fight. The more time Avery spends with Fletcher, the more she realizes that there is more to this guy than the facade he shows the world. But she’s leaving for college in a few months and Fletcher is staying here, so would courting a relationship now just be flirting with disaster or do they have what it takes to go the distance?

Avery is a character I wanted to be annoyed at. She’s a goodie two-shoes and those typically aren’t my type of characters. I like snark and sass and goody-goodies typically don’t display those characteristics. But Avery is strong and smart and she has not problem standing up to Fletcher when he is in the wrong or letting her opinions be known. There is one scene where she dumps her drink on Fletcher’s head and from then on, I was in love with her. Any girl who has the balls to do that is one I like a lot. She’s also much more conflicted about what she wants to do with her life than she lets on. There is the path her parents want her to take and that’s the one she is heading down. It doesn’t matter that her heart lies elsewhere because what she wants most of all is to please her parents.

Fletcher was your typical bad guy hiding a messed up home life. The more you learn about him, the more you see why Avery’s dad takes him on as the “summer project.” I liked him a lot, but nothing particular about him that stands out for me to comment on. He’s smart, but lazy. He’s the bad boy, but he is also surprisingly nice. He’s misunderstood and rides a motorcycle. He was cool and I loved getting in his head, but again, there is nothing specific about him that sets him apart of the rest of YA bad boys.

Writing-wise this was great. It has that readable quality that has you flipping pages as quickly as possible to find out exactly how this all works out. You’d think with the premise of a YA love story you’d know the outcome, but there are always those moments of uncertainty that have me speeding my way through to make sure this is going to make me happy. The only real complaint I have is the strobe-light quality to Avery and Fletcher’s relationship. I completely understand that there are extenuating circumstances, but you either want to be together or you don’t. Fletcher was mostly to blame here and I wanted to run over they guy with his own motorcycle. Be a man and make a choice! Beyond that, nothing particular stuck out that had me irritated. It’s rated four stars because it was pretty good, but there was nothing over the top amazing about it. I completely enjoyed it, but it didn’t have that indefinable spark that gets me swooning with love.

This was my first Rachel Hawthorne novel and it definitely won’t be my last. It was heartfelt and funny and exactly the contemporary YA story that I’ve been devouring like candy. I don’t know what it is about contemporary love stories that have grabbed my attention lately, but that is all I want to read. I used to hate contemporary because they felt boring. With paranormals you had alternate plot lines to follow, with historicals you could get swept away in the language and the manners, but contemporary? PASS! But that has changed and I find myself fascinated by these coming of age stories with realistic characters going through realistic situations with slightly less realistic but completely satisfying happy endings. If that sounds like your thing, then pick this up. You won’t be disappointed.

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

4 bows
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Review for Seth & Greyson (The Coincidence #7) by Jessica Sorensen

Seth & Greyson by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: Seth & Greyson
SERIES: The Coincidence #7
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 300 pages
SOURCE: Via Author
RATING: 4 bows

Seth has been betrayed by everyone he cares about and he can’t hang around after such an event. Early summer semester at college is his best option and so off he goes to college he goes. It really was a great decision for him because he meets Callie and they become fast friends. Bonding over the shitty ways of the world. The fall semester starts and he meets Greyson. Greyson is everything he could want, but after all the betrayal, Seth hesitates to really be with Greyson. With Callie’s encouragement, Seth knows he is going to have to get over his fears and make the commitment leap, if he can just leave his fears behind.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that this is novel I have been waiting for. I love Callie, Kayden, Violet, and Luke a lot, but Seth was a favorite character of mine from the very start. Seth’s character is just what we expect. He’s smart and sweet and so concerned about Callie that it melts my heart even more. He is so scared of the past repeating itself that he has trouble moving on. The decision to be open about his life choices in public is a hard one when he knows it’s not all going to be rainbows and sunshine. There are many stupid and close-minded people in the world, something Seth knows first hand. It’s an infuriating thing because the world has come so far in accepting homosexuality and yet there are so many out there who think they have the right to judge and call it wrong. What’s so hard to understand about love being love? Beyond that, it’s nobody’s business who anyone else decides to be with! Sorry, mini-rant over. It’s just a touchy subject for me.

I loved Greyson already, but it was interesting to get more of him. I loved being about to see inside his head. He’s smart and strong and comes from an incredible family. Greyson has more or less lived the dream for a boy coming out. He’s parents were very supportive and his hometown wasn’t as closed-minded about it. He has no horrors in his past like Seth does. Even so, he is incredibly understanding of Seth’s fears and goes out of his way to try to help assuage them. He’s exactly the type of guy Seth deserves.

What I loved about this was not only finally getting to see through Seth’s eyes, but also getting to see more of the rest of The Coincidence cast. I’m very character driven and Sorensen excels at creating an entire cast of people that I love and want to see more of. I don’t know how she does it, but she never fails to make me care about her perfectly flawed characters…even the ones I despise, like Delilah from the Nova series.

Seth and Greyson’s relationship progresses at a reasonable pace, but was a bit hot and cold. Seth has every right and reason to be cautious, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to shake him a time or two for being so stupid. Even though Greyson wasn’t happy about it, he was understanding and would have been happy to keep things quiet if that was what Seth needed. I know that Seth’s reasons for avoiding a relationship were deeper than normal fear, but it still bugged me…a lot. I’ve never been a fan of that on again off again thing, so it always bugs me even if there is a logical reason for it.

I was a little worried when I started this that it would spoil me for some of the rest of the series. I’ve only read the first three and I was apprehensive about skipping three books to read this one, but I’m happy to report that it spoils nothing. I do recommend that you at least read The Coincidence Of Callie & Kayden before this or it will spoil that storyline, but I don’t think it will have an impact the rest of the series.

This novel is exactly what I was hoping for when I heard about the possibility of a storyline for my favorite side character. It’s smart and sweet and not overly dramatic. It has the romantic moments we were all imagining as we read The Coincidence, but with enough conflict to really feel like a well-rounded story.

****Thank you to Jessica Sorensen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

4 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 Kissing Ted Callahan (& Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

Kissing Ted Callahan (& Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

TITLE: Kissing Ted Callahan (& Other Guys)
AUTHOR: Amy Spalding
PUBLICATION DATE: April 14, 2015
PAGES: 320 pages
SOURCE: publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 4 bows

After walking in on their bandmates making out, Riley and Reid are a little freaked out. Everyone knows that relationships between band members are a bad idea. This also points out that they are both lacking in relationship experience. They make a pact and start a journey to help each other find someone to make out with and win over their crushes. Since this is an experiment, it’s best to record it all, right? So they keep a journal of romantic events, as well as tips for each other. While Reid struggles to catch the attention of a girl he likes, Riley is suddenly surrounded by cute guys. Ted Callahan is really the one she wants, but there is no harm in playing the field while your young and that is what she does. But both Riley and Reid may get more than they bargained for with this pact. Can they make it all work out or are their love lives (and the band) doomed to failure?

This novel is pitched as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Gif
meets Easy A
Easy A A is for awesome gif
Naturally, I wanted to read it immediately. Those are easily two of my favorite movies. You know those movies that you want so many times that you have memorized all of the dialogue and can speak along with the film? Yeah, that’s me with these films. I’d devour anything even remotely similar to them. Conversely, that is also part of why this gets 4 stars instead of 5. I has super high expectations. You can’t compare something to those films and expect me to go in with low expectations. This was one of those books that I was overjoyed to be approved for. I couldn’t wait to dive into the beautiful pages and dig into the the story. Once I started it, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it like I expected to.

I was initially on the fence about Riley. On one hand, she is totally dedicated to her band and music in general. On the other, she seemed a bit shallow. Maybe that’s just my take, but I found her to be a bit annoying. The fact that she was freezing out her best friend infuriated me. Yes, she fucked up, but you aren’t perfect either and things are never going to be fixed if you don’t speak. If you just ignore her every she shows up or refuse to tell her anything about what’s going on with you even when that is your first instinct, things will never improve. Her obsession with music was also a bit….unbelievable? Or maybe it was the fact that there seemed to be a gig for a band that she loved every single night. Maybe things are different in Los Angeles, but how is it possible for there to be so many gigs? Some of them are local bands, but seriously, every single night? That seems a bit farfetched. Either you are exaggerating your love for these acts or you love everything. This is probably just a personal issues since I’m particular about my music, but still. Every time a new show was mentioned, it drew me out of the book and back into real world thinking land and that isn’t where I wanted to be.

I think Ted Callahan was actually my favorite character of the novel. It might just have achieved 5 stars if it has been told from his perspective. He’s smart and cute and honest. He has an almost sweet quality to him that I loved immediately. I wanted him to be with Riley because she wanted it so badly, but I almost felt like he deserved a little better. Riley wasn’t necessarily cheating on him, but she was definitely lying to him. He’s so honest and I hated the idea of someone he obviously liked lying to him.

The rest of the cast were all interesting. Riley has a fully functional, normal family. Parents, sibling, all present and accounted for. The parents even pop in here and there to lay down the law and we see Riley actively checking in with them when she is out or won’t be home. I really liked that small detail. The parental units seemed like a nice bunch and they are pretty easy on Riley, letting her go out and be a teen more often than not.

This story was pretty good. It has a good plot, good writing, and it’s populated with a group of entertaining characters. I feel like that is the best word to describe the novel, good. It wasn’t spectacular and I wasn’t blown away by it or grabbed by it in that must keep reading sort of way. It was just good. There is one more thing that influence me, whether I intended to allow it to or not. It’s something I’m hesitant to speak about because it’s a generally agreed about rule that author behavior should never influence your opinion of the book itself. Or rather, you can allow it to influence you, but it’s frowned upon to speak about it. I think that is unfair because no one berates you if your sole reason for reading a book is because you meet the author and they were awesome. No one turns up there nose at anyone who picks up a John Green novel simply because his youtube channel is amazingly entertaining. Either way, I was affected by a certain minor scandal and I’m compelled to mention that here for the sake of honesty. A little while back, the author of this novel posted a self-made bingo card online, poking fun at the reviewers of her work. I won’t go into the whole thing, but you can read more about it here. I tried to not be offended by that. I get that authors need a way to let off steam because people are ripping their work to shreds. Even though they must be aware that negative reviews come with the territory, I’m sure it’s a hard thing to take. However, I still found myself turning that over in my mind. I think my big issue was that she made it a public thing. That was something you should have shared via email with other author friends. That is not something that should have been published on any form of social media. It made me feel she would rather I didn’t read her book at all as opposed to reading it and not loving it. That whole controversy stayed in the back of my head the entire time I was reading this. I felt like she was mocking me and everyone like me. I can’t speak for all reviewers, but for me, this is a hobby. This is not my job. This is something I squeeze into whatever spare time I can find. I don’t have the time or the patience to read over my reviews endless times looking for errors in syntax or grammar. I try to stay grammatical, but I also try to write as I speak and we all know that is never as grammatical as we’d like it to be. I also don’t have a league of copy-editors proofing my work for these and other types of errors. I tried to ignore it. I tried to not think about it and concentrate on the novel and it’s qualities. But every time the story hit a lull, I was brought back to that.

Regardless of all else, this novel was pretty entertaining. It was funny and emotional. It will never be my favorite thing and it doesn’t quite live up to the standard it’s tag line created, but it was still an enjoyable read. I think anyone who enjoys contemporary YA will like it. Just try not to get bogged down in the drama and you’ll be fine!

****Thank you to Poppy for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

4 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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