Blog Tour for After Us (Before & After #2) by Amber Hart (& Giveaway)

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After us by Amber Hart
TITLE: After Us
SERIES: Before & After #2
AUTHOR: Amber Hart
PUBLICATION DATE: December 30, 2014
PUBLISHER: K-Teen
PAGES: 368 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Blog Tour via NetGalley
RATING: 4 bows
BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

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DESCRIPTION

“Beautiful, lyrical writing and a dangerously suspenseful plot. . .an unforgettable novel that readers will love.” –Lucy Connors, author of The Lonesome Young

Sometimes secrets kill. Maybe slowly, maybe painfully. Maybe all at once.

Melissa smiles. She flirts. She jokes. But she never shows her scars. Eight months after tragedy ripped her from her closest friend, Melissa is broken. Inside her grows a tumor, fed by grief, rage, and the painful memory of a single forbidden kiss.

Javier has scars of his own: a bullet wound, and the memory of a cousin shot in the heart. Life in the States was supposed to be a new beginning, but a boy obsessed by vengeance has no time for the American dream. To honor his familia, Javier joins the gang who set up his cousin’s murder. The entrance price is blood. Death is the only escape.

These two broken souls could make each other whole again–or be shattered forever.

Our time will come. And we’ll be ready.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber Hart grew up in Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She now resides on the Florida coastline with family. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand. She’s the author of BEFORE YOU, AFTER US, UNTIL YOU FIND ME, and sequel to UNTIL YOU FIND ME (untitled as of yet). Represented by Beth Miller of Writers House.

Contact Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | GoodReads

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MY REVIEW

Melissa is a flirt. The entire world is aware of this. What the entire world is not aware of is what she hides behind that flirty persona. They don’t know how broken and scarred she is. They don’t know the pain she’s suffered and what it’ll take to recover from the blow the world has dealt her. Javier is also scarred. He escaped from a life in Cuba without being forced into a gang, but that is exactly what he’ll do now. It’s been 8 months since MS-13 ratted Diego out and got him killed. In that time, Javier has made a decision. He’ll do whatever is necessary to find Wink, the asshole who is responsible for Diego’s death and take him out. Nothing else matters. To do this, he’ll need to talk to Diego’s girl, Faith, who witnessed his death. To get to Faith, he’ll need to befriend Melissa. What he doesn’t expect is his attraction to flair up so quickly and with such force. Can they make it work?

Melissa was a character I loved in Before You. She was always watching out for Faith and supporting her when she needed it. That made this so much harder because Faith has ran off. She left because she couldn’t take Diego’s death and now she’s not answering Melissa’s calls. Right when Melissa needs her, Faith has shut her off. Leaving Melissa to deal with her problems alone. It’s not that she blames Faith, but she needs her best friend. Those of us who read Before You, we know why Faith is avoiding Melissa. We know the truth Faith is hiding, but that doesn’t make this any less heartbreaking. Melissa is hard not to sympathize with. What she is going through is traumatizing and she just carries on like nothing is wrong. She gets up and goes to work and tries to take care of her debts.

Javier was a character I was on the fence about. On one hand, he has lost his best friend and that is hard to take. On the other, he is a damned moron. How is taking out Wink going to solve anything? Diego will still be dead. It won’t bring him back and it won’t bring you closure. It’ll just get you enlisted in a gang with the naive assumption you can get out with no consequences. His one shining point is his loyalty to his family.

His family, by the way, astounded me. The idea that any one woman would willing submit herself to the trauma of giving birth to 12 children is just crazy. Not to mention how much it costs to raise that many children. 12 mouths to feed plus Mom and Dad? How do you do that? The thought of the extra expense of a single child sends me into a mini-panic attack, much less 12. Beyond that, the pure racism and sexist nature of the household infuriated me. Javier’s mom flat out refuses to allow any of her children to date anyone who is not Latina. She will not accept a white girl or a black girl or a Native American or anyone but a Hispanic girl for her sons. Period. That is appalling. People have the right to love who they love, period. Love doesn’t know age (though relationships with a big age gap do kinda weird me out) or race or gender. The other thing is the fact that the girls are all pushed into the role of care-giver. It is the daughters responsibility to take care of the boys. Excuse me? Do we not live in the 21st century? Javier’s mom needs a serious reality check. Though the girls don’t seem to complain, I was floored by the role they were pushed into. What if the girls don’t want to cook and clean and serve the food? What if the girls want to play soccer instead? What if one of the boys wants to learn to cook? What is wrong with that?!?!?

This novel a great sequel to the first, though it doesn’t quite live up to the awesomeness that was Faith and Diego. I think that may have been because I wasn’t as big of a Javier fan as I was a Diego fan. It might also be because I know that everything Javier was doing was in vain. There is no reason to do these things. Plus, I think it’s incredibly stupid to believe there will be no consequences for joining a gang. To truly believe that you can join a gang and expect to get out without putting your family and friends at risk is fucking idiotic.

Besides being appalled with his family and not loving Javier quiet as much as I did Diego, this was a wonderful novel. Melissa and Javier have just enough tension to keep you begging for more. It’s a novel that is hard to put down, even when you are disagreeing with what the characters are doing. I recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary YA or fans of Simon Elkekes Perfect Chemistry series.

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

4 bows

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Release Day Blitz: Saving Quinton by Jessica Sorensen (with review & giveaway)

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Saving Quinton by Jessica Sorensen

TITLE: Saving Quinton
SERIES: Nova #2
AUTHOR: Jessica Sorensen
PUBLICATION DATE: February 4, 2014
PUBLISHER: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
PAGES: 262 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows
BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
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DESCRIPTION

Nova Reed can’t forget him-Quinton Carter, the boy with the honey-brown eyes who made her realize she deserved more than an empty life. His pain was so similar to her own. But Nova has been coming to terms with her past and healing, while Quinton is out there somewhere, sinking deeper. She’s determined to find him and help him . . . before it’s too late.

Nova has haunted his dreams for nearly a year-but Quinton never thought a sweet, kind person like her would care enough about a person like him. To Quinton, a dark, dangerous life is exactly what he deserves. And Nova has no place in it. But Nova has followed him to Las Vegas, and now he must do whatever it takes to keep her away, to maintain his self-imposed punishment for the unforgivable things he’s done. But there’s one flaw in his plan: Nova isn’t going anywhere . . .

EXCERPT

I suddenly realize that I’m in my room. Awake. And Nova’s here. With me. My thoughts start racing as I try to recollect what happened. I was planning on those guys beating me to death. Why didn’t that happen? Because it was too easy? Do I deserve not to be let off so easy—do I deserve worse than death? But if that’s true then why’s Nova here?

“What are you doing here?” It’s painful to talk, but I force the words to leave my mouth. “Or am I dreaming?”

She repositions her hand on my cheek, but doesn’t pull away, the startled look in her eyes diminishing. “You’re not dreaming…you were unconscious but…are you okay?” She seems nervous and it reminds me of how innocent and good she is, and how she shouldn’t be here in the crack house that I call home.

“Why are you here?” I ask, my voice feeble as I try to sit up, but my arms aren’t working and I fall right back down on the mattress.

“I came here to see you,” she replies, absent-mindedly touching her lips, and I wonder if I really kissed her or if I was imagining it.

She stares at me with her fingers on her lips and it’s uncomfortable because she’s really looking at me. I’ve been so used to people looking through me, as if I were a ghost, seeing the drugs, the person that I am now, the worthlessness all over me, instead of who I used to be. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be really looked at and for a split second I enjoy it. Then she looks away and I feel like I’m dying, my brain registering the pain in my legs, arms, chest—everywhere. And I’m crashing. Badly. My hands start to shake, my heart rate picking up as soon as I realize this.

“Go put some ice in a plastic bag,” she says, snapping her fingers at someone.

I hear a mutter and then Tristan steps into my view. He glances down at me and the haziness in his eyes lets me know he’s high on something, but I’m glad he’s at least here and it doesn’t look like he’s been beaten up. “Dude, you look like shit,” he tells me with a dopey-ass grin.

“I feel like shit,” I mutter, managing to get my hand up to my face to rub my eyes. “You look like you got away.”

“I did, and you should have run with me, you dumbass…I thought you were for a while until I realized I was alone.” Tristan chuckles under his breath. “Wait until you see yourself in a mirror.”

His amusement seems to piss Nova off and she gets to her feet, tugging the bottoms of her shorts down, fury burning in her eyes. “Go get a fucking bag to put the ice in,” she says, not yelling, but her tone is cold, abrupt, harsh, and she sort of shoves him. This isn’t the Nova I remember at all and she kind of scares me.

She seems to scare Tristan, too, who surrenders with his hands in front of him and backs toward the doorway. “Fine. Jesus, Nova. You don’t have to get crazy about it.”

“You haven’t even begun to see me get crazy,” she snaps, pointing at the door. “Now go get a damn bag.”

After Tristan leaves, she turns to the doorway and says, “What am I going to do?”

I can’t see who she’s talking to and it makes me wonder who the hell is in here. Delilah? I doubt it, since I don’t think she’d be asking Delilah that question.

“I don’t know,” someone replies. I still can’t see who it is, but I can tell the voice belongs to a female and I hate how excited I get over the fact that Nova’s not here with a guy.

Suddenly a girl with black hair and big blue eyes steps in. “He looks…” She assesses me, then looks at Nova. “He looks like he needs to go to a hospital.”

“No hospitals,” I croak. “I don’t have the cash to pay for that.” And I don’t deserve to heal so easily. I should suffer for getting up and running away from my death.

Nova stares down at me with reluctance. “Quinton, I really think you need to go to a hospital.” She kneels back down on the mattress, sweeping her long brown hair to the side as she leans over me. Her fingers gently enfold my wrist and, moving slowly, she bends my arm so I can get a good view of my hand. It’s twice the size it normally is and my skin is purple and blue. Even where her fingers are, the skin is swollen and raw, and it seems like her touch should hurt, but all I can feel is heat—her heat. God, I’ve missed her heat. I’ve spent the last year wrapped up in coldness, feeling the numbness of drugs and sex with random women and now she’s here and I feel like I’m burning up.

“It’s just a bruise,” I say, not looking at my hand, but at her. I want to hold her, hug her, kiss her, touch her, but I also want her to go away. Stay. Leave. Right. Wrong. Lexi. Nova. Guilt.

Guilt.

Guilt.

Guilt.

It was all your fault.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Sorensen

Jessica Sorensen is a #1 New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author who lives with her husband and three kids in Idaho. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

Contact Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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MY REVIEW

Nova is finally managing a bit of normalcy, attending college, dealing with her grief, and fighting the need to obsessively count things when her life gets too stressful. Summer break is upon her, and even though it’s been almost a year, she still can’t keep Quinton off her mind. How is he? Is he still on drugs? Does he still carry around that sadness that was always hiding in his eyes. She learns he’s in Vegas and is hellbound to pull him out of the drug-addled world he is ensnared in. Quinton has moved on to harder drugs chasing that calming silence the high brings. He knows things are getting bad for him and those around him, but he’s unworthy of anything better. He deserves to rot him and kill himself one hit at a time. When Nova shows back up, he knows he should stay away from her. He knows that it’d be better for everyone all around if he just refused to see her and let her move on, but he is just too selfish to deny himself this small bit of happiness. Can she convince him to give up the drugs or will his habit get the better of him?

Quinton and Nova are the same characters they were before, just a little more extreme and a little more normal, respectively. They have changed quite a bite since Breaking Nova, but not in unexpected ways, with Quinton becoming more of a junkie than we could have imagined and Nova healing enough to be able to discuss Landon’s suicide without breaking down. Beyond that, though, their basic characteristics are the same, with Nova’s sweet nature and determination to help those she cares for and Quinton’s good guy lurking unwantedly around his head.

We get a great deal more from Quinton here because it’s told in alternating perspectives and it makes me sympathize with him even more. Even though I think he’s an idiot because that crash was a fucking accident and blaming himself helps no one, but I get the devastation that is associated with being involved in the death of your girlfriend and cousin. The fact that his whole family blames him as well (except Tristan) doesn’t help matters. I wanted to fucking punch Tristan’s parents for being such assholes. Speaking of Tristan, we get quite a bit more of him. He’s a jackass, but it’s kinda obvious that it’s mostly the drugs. I wanted him to get help as much as I wanted help for Quinton. Does he gets his own story? Please?
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I’d really like to see him get a happily ever after.

The thing that really stands out about this particular novel, is that it’s not really a romance. I mean, yes, Nova has feelings for Quinton and vice versa, but this is much more about Quinton’s struggle with drugs and Nova’s struggle to pull him out of it. This novel goes darker than any other, in the sense that we get right in the middle of the bad shit. Quinton’s situation is wretched, and knowing that he put himself here makes it that much worse. That this intelligent, caring boy allowed himself to sink so low is so depressing. This novel IS depressing. Nova and Quinton’s journey is difficult and terrifying and endlessly saddening. Nova is trying so hard to help him even though he doesn’t want it. What makes me love it even more is the realistic ending. I won’t give any spoilers, but I felt the ending was very fitting for the story. Things end on a hopeful note, but things don’t just magically fix themselves with hugs and love. Drug addiction is a serious problem and kicking that habit is far from easy or simple.

I think this may be Sorensen’s greatest achievement yet. Ella & Micha are still my favorite of her couples, but Nova and Quinton’s journey is touching on a whole different level. Their story couldn’t have been easy to tell and it’s obvious a lot of research was put into the subject of drugs and addiction and so on. It’s a little off from what I was expecting from her and what is better than being surprised in a positive way? If you are a fan of her previous new adult novels or just want to read something that will make you connect with the character on such a level that their pain is yours and their depression leaves you so sad you don’t see how you are going to recover, much less the characters. I highly recommend it to any new adult readers out there.

****Thank you to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

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