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
FORMAT: eARC
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
PUBLICATION DATE: April 3, 2015
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 300 pages
FORMAT: eARC
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 The Replaced (The Taking #2) by Kimberly Derting

The Replaced by Kimberly Derting

TITLE: The Replaced
SERIES: The Taking #2
AUTHOR: Kimberly Derting
PUBLICATION DATE: April 28, 2015
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
PAGES: 368 pages
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Kyra’s life was turned upside down when she was abducted by aliens. That 5 year disappearance managed to take everything she cared about away from her and then, just when she starts to make new connections, her new love gets taken away as well. Now, Kyra is on the run from the NSA with the other Returned, Kyra goes to extremes to find Tyler. When they discover an email that implies Tyler is alive and well….in NSA hands, Kyra is willing to risk everything to get him back. Together with a select few of the Returned, they make a plan to bust Tyler out of lockdown and maybe steal some classified info while they are at it. But these things rarely go as planned and Kyra quickly learns that every action has consequences. What kind of trouble does she find herself in? You’ll just have to read to find out!

Kyra is still a character I adore. She’s a bit stronger here than she was in The Taking, but still basically the same character. She’s smart and caring and her devotion to Tyler had me sympathizing with her all the more. If you enjoyed her perspective before, you’ll continue to do so here. I can’t say too much else about the characters without going into spoiler territory, so I’ll leave it at this: you get a decent group of people all with interesting stories and quirks, but all is not as it seems.

I really enjoyed The Taking. It was one of those books that I just could not put down. From page one, I was hooked. I was desperate to learn not only what the hell had happened to Kyra, but also how everyone would react to her return. So I was ecstatic to see the sequel up on Edelweiss and I didn’t hesitate to grab it immediately. This, I thought, would be awesome. This would be a novel that I would burn my way through as I did with the first one. That, however, was not the case. While I did enjoy it and I think it’s a fair continuation of the story, I didn’t love it like I did with the first one. Some of the magic was missing. I think there are several things that contributed to this. The pass was quite a bit slower here and not much gets accomplished. It seemed to have just a little of that middle book syndrome thing going on. We get action and adventure, but it’s pretty clear that nothing is really going to be resolved here.

My big problem was the missing Tyler. Tyler was the magical ingredient, in my opinion. The first novel had this great contemporary science fiction vibe that I adored. A big part of that was the romance between Kyra and Tyler. Tyler was abducted at the end of The Taking, in order to save his life, and we don’t get him back early on here. We don’t get him back until the novel is half over. Even then, let’s just say the reunion is not everything you have been dreaming of, okay? In Tyler’s absence, Simon tries to put the moves on Kyra, pulling us into that dreaded love triangle territory. It was skirted around in The Taking and I was hoping we could continue to avoid it here, but no such luck. Simon has no qualms telling Kyra how he feels and that she can’t wait for Tyler forever. Which, quite honestly, made me want to slap him. Kyra, for her part, wasn’t much better. I won’t say much because I don’t want to have to label this as a spoilery review, but her reactions to him aren’t always the resounding rejection that it should be.

Basically, this novel is good, but it doesn’t quite live up to the awesomeness that was The Taking. It’s entertaining and has some twists that you don’t see coming, but that gets bogged down in a slow moving plot, love triangle, and yet another cliffhanger. I still recommend it to everyone who enjoyed the first novel and I think highly of it, but I just a little disappointed because it didn’t live up to my expectations. Regardless, it gave me quite a few answers and another peak into this world that Derting has created. That’s enough to satisfy me….for now.

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

4 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
PUBLISHER: Poppy
PAGES: 320 pages
FORMAT: eARC
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 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
PUBLICATION DATE: April 7, 2015
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray
PAGES: 320 pages
FORMAT: eARC
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 Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

TITLE: Lies I Told
AUTHOR: Michelle Zink
PUBLICATION DATE: April 7, 2015
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 352 pages
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 1 bow

From the outside, Grace Fountaine has the perfect life. She’s smart, pretty, and comes from a well off family. But looks can be deceiving. Grace’s family is actually a professional grade group of con artists and they have set the sights on their biggest score yet. Grace’s mission? Charm the mark’s son to get inside information and find out where the payload is located. The problem? The time she spends with Logan (the mark’s son), the more she starts to have feelings for him. Before the end, she has broken a cardinal rule and she knows that this isn’t going to end well. Can Grace figure out a way to make it through the con without fucking up even more or is she doomed to get them all caught for her mistakes?

When I read the synopsis for this, I was pretty excited. I love a good con story. I’m addicted to several con shows. I was basically expecting something along the lines of this.
Matt Bomer White Collar Gif
But that was not what I received and I am utterly disappointed with it. This novel is compared to Ally Carter’s work and though I’ve never read a full novel by her, I have read a novella and even it was more thought out in it’s itty bitty 100 pages than this was.

Grace was a character I wanted to sympathize with but didn’t. She was adopted by a family of cons and we all know a 14 year old who has been bounced around the foster system isn’t going to give up a seemingly loving family just because they want her to steal things. She learns to do what they do and then they adopt Parker as well, creating the perfect family of four. This is fine with me. A family of cons? That sounds like a bunch of fun and danger. But this group that is made out to be on the professional level seem like a bunch of amateurs! Grace shows no restraint and immediately becomes genuine friends with people and school and truly starts to like Logan. I get the whole you can’t help who you love thing, but she should have at least come clean to her family about it. These attachments put the whole plan at risk. As does keeping a mementos box. Destroying every part of your old aliases is part of what keeps you safe. Any link to the past you and the cops or feds could piece it together and haul your ass to jail (or at least to juvie). Add to that the fact that she not only keeps things, but actually carries something around with her and I wanted to strangle her. From the first moment she mentions putting that old ID in her pocket, you KNOW she is going to lose it and it’ll fall into the wrong hands. That is obvious plot point numero uno.

Then we have Parker, her “brother.” Again, I wanted to like him, but I really didn’t. He felt stuck-up and had this weird vibe going with Grace. I was never quite sure if he felt brotherly towards her or romantically. He keeps convincing her to run away with him and leave the family of cons, and even with the creepy vibe, Grace should have taken that deal. I know how this will end for you both, so you know, run, and run now.
Mulan run away gif
And he was just as amateurish as Grace. He discusses the con in unsafe locations and he makes mistakes, though he doesn’t do anything as monumentally stupid as she does.

We have all the side characters, but I just mostly feel bad about the ones Grace genuinely befriends as well as Logan. This guy’s only fault is that he falls for Grace and has a dad with mental issues. He probably has no idea that there is a massive amount of gold hidden somewhere in his house and he gets duped for it anyway. He’s smart and sweet and a really good guy and I HATE that he gets caught in this mess.

Overall, I’m just monumentally disappointed in this. I had super high hopes and expectations and they were not met in the least. I had the hardest time finishing it! Anytime I’m reading a novel that I’m just not loving (or something just when I’m curious), I check out the book’s reviews. I see what other people are saying about it and that was a mistake of the highest order. About halfway through, I started looking at reviews and saw how upset people were with the ending. I didn’t find spoilers of what actually happened, just the basic doom that it was not going to have a nice ride off into the sunset for any of the characters. From that point, I only read a chapter here and there because I already wasn’t loving it and the doom ending was not motivation to finish it. After about 2 weeks of this, I finally managed to complete it and I was just as upset and disappointed as I imagined I’d be. I don’t know if this is just the way the book ends or if it will be a series and this is just to get us going, but either way, this is not my happy gnome face. That is no way to end a story, even if it is the beginning of a series. Nothing is really resolved and everyone is much worse off for their trouble. Well, everyone but one particular person and that makes it even worse. You get smacked with hurt and betrayal and then it’s over. Roll Credits. Story finished. And I’m left slack-jawed and upset.

Basically, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone I know. Even to people who don’t mind bad endings, but this felt like a non-ending. The story just stops and expects you to live with that. I don’t want to live with that! I want to know a few more things before you close that curtain, even if they are bad things. Beyond the bad ending, just felt misrepresented. These people are not professional con artists. They are hacks with a few tricks up their sleeves, but that’s it. It was also incredibly slow. You get dropped into the plot and then it just crawls by. Weeks of planning and getting in with the good crowd and then procrastinating. None of it was so enrapturing that I couldn’t put the book down and the only character I really cared for was the one getting screwed over! Plus, there were so many random things they left just hanging out there. Like Grace’s weird neighbor. There were clues throughout the whole novel that something more would come from this mysterious guy, but nothing ever does. We never learn what the hell is up with him! Or the whole Rachel bit. Bitch is crazy, but she is also onto them and I feel like she would have done more about it than just tell her father. Either way, this was not the book for me. If I had to describe it in one word, that word would be disappointing. That really says it all, doesn’t it?

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

1 bow
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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
FORMAT: eARC / ARC
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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