Review for Unbeautiful (Unbeautiful #1) by Jessica Sorensen

Unbeautiful by Jessica Sorensen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 bows
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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
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Blog Tour via NetGalley
RATING: 4 bows
BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

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“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.


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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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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Review for Love And Other Theories by Alexis Bass

Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass

TITLE: Love & Other Theories
AUTHOR: Alexis Bass
PUBLICATION DATE: December 31, 2014
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 384 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 2 bows

Aubrey Housing and her friends live by a simple code: If you want more, you give less. Don’t be clingy, don’t be needy, and whatever you do, don’t let your heart into the game (GOTCHA). So when Nathan Diggs, the new guy, catches Aubrey’s attention, she knows just how to win him over. There’s only one problem: she thinks her heart is becoming involved whether her head wants it to or not. As she steals more and more time with Nathan, she begins to wonder about the dating rules and if they really are what’s best. Can she find a way to accept this new thing with Nathan or will she let the rules ruin it?

At first, I was in love with this novel. I loved the progressive feel, the I am woman, hear me roar thing it had. These girls are smart and confident and completely right in a lot of ways. Acting clingy in high school irritates a lot of guys and the best thing to do is avoid that. The problem starts to develop, though, when you aren’t allowed to move past the “player” phase. Feelings are a real thing and they cannot always be controlled. Falling in love in high school isn’t exactly the best idea. We all know the statistics of how well that will end (or the statistics you can overcome, as I married my high school sweetheart and don’t regret decision I made that lead to that), but that doesn’t mean you can wish it away if it happens. My opinion of Aubrey fell a little every time she refused to admit what this was, every time she refused to confront her friends about the bullshit, and every time she acted like it didn’t bother her to see Nathan flirting with someone else. I’m sorry lady, but no one has “evolved” past jealousy at seeing your not-boyfriend making out with your supposed best friend. That’s not how real life works, no matter how much you wish it was.

The same can be said of almost all the characters in this novel. Her besties, Nathan, anyone else they associated with. They way they made fun of the girls who actually desired a normal relationship instead of endless hookups pissed me off a lot. They basically did the opposite of slut-shaming. Relationship-shaming. If it’s perfectly fine for a girl to sleep with whoever she pleases (and it is!) and not become attached, then it’s perfectly logical to assume that a girl may sleep with someone she is attached to and that’s fine as well. And Nathan started off better than all their bullshit, genuinely wanting a relationship with Aubrey. He is sweety and a little dorky and I wanted to love him. That love, however, went kaput the minute he started hanging out with Aubrey’s bestie, the minute he start sleeping with Aubrey’s bestie. Dude, that’s wrong. Period. I know we watch TV shows where the same six people date and split and re-couple constantly, but that’s TV LAND. That’s not real life and that shit hurts. Period.

For me, this started out as a new and different contemporary YA, showing girls can be powerful and confident and that’s all well and good, but then it digressed into a hot mess of love triangles and confusing hookups. It gets 2 stars instead of 1 solely because it was extremely readable. For the first 75% of the book, I couldn’t put it down. I had to keep reading to find out what shenanigans the girls and boys got into next. For the last quarter, all that intrigue disappeared and the ending was completely disappointing. I feel like things were resolved, but not in a manner I could really get behind. So, if you are looking for a happy ending, look elsewhere. You will not find it here.

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

2 bows
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Review for Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

TITLE: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless
AUTHOR: Liz Czukas
PUBLICATION DATE: December 9, 2014
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 304 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Goodreads First Reads Program
RATING: 5 bows

Chloe’s Christmas Eve shift at GoodFoods Market just got a lot more complicated. Normally, it’s only inward swooning over Tyson, keeping up with her insulin levels, and preventing herself from making millions of lists that plague her work life, but not today. Today management has discovered that he donation box has been robbed and the six teen workers are the most likely suspects. Now, they must work together to clear their names or they’ll be locked in jail (AKA the breakroom) for who knows how long. Can they prove their innocence (and maybe even catch the bad guy) or will this Christmas be ruined by criminal charges?

I loved Chloe instantly. She’s sweet and quirky and has a compulsive need to make lists of everything. She is constantly making mental lists. She actually writes out physical lists. Top ten lists, top five lists, best moments, worst moments, movies, actors, everything you can think of, she has a list about. That quirk humanized her to me. It also make me extremely envious. I love things too much that I can never pick a favorite or really whittle it down to a comprehensive list. Asking me what my favorite movie or show or book is would send me into a tale spin of “I can only pick one?!?!” drama. Anyway, Chloe can not only make lists, but remember them long enough to jot them down later. She seemed like a completely real character, with the perfect amount of flaws to keep her grounded. Her crush on Tyson is so adorable that I was awww-ing constantly.

The writing is so readable that I had a hard time putting it down. From moment one, I wanted needed to know what happened next. Will Chloe finally get Tyson? Who actually stole the money? Will Chloe make it home without having to reveal her secret diabetes woe to her co-workers? WILL CHLOE FINALLY GET TYSON? I need to know. I have to know now. TELL ME! It’s also surprisingly short to be so detailed. I’m always amazing at how some authors can completely wow me with 200 – 300 pages. The last book that made me feel that was was Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram (which you should definitely pickup if you haven’t already). For something that speaks to me so much, I really expect a longer book, but Czukas manages to smack my emotional face in the best possible way in a scant 300 pages.

For me, this has a very Breakfast Club feel. Even though the situation is entirely different, it’s still 6 kids with little to nothing in common thrown together to become friends. It has that unity between the misfits feel and that had me loving it more. These six kids are from different lives, different backgrounds, some even different schools, and yet under this particular situation, they become the most unlikely friends. And when it’s over, you can’t help but feel that these kids will find a way to stay connected, that this is the type of friendship that will last a lifetime. Hell, it leaves you with the hope that friendships can last a lifetime.

This novel is perfect. You get friendship, love, humor, drama, and a decent mystery all wrapped up into one. It’s exactly what I wanted when I picked it up and much more than I expected. Anyone who is a fan of contemporary shenanigans, The Breakfast Club, or just a fun little novel with a bit of heart, check this one out. You won’t be disappointed!

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss and GoodReads First Reads for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

TITLE: Suspicion
AUTHOR: Alexandra Monir
PUBLICATION DATE: December 9, 2014
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press & Random House Children’s
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Imogen Rockford’s teenage life is very different than her childhood one was. After her parent’s death, she was ushered away to live with her new guardians and live a typical New York life. She was haunted by her parents death, but she has done her best to move and has managed to build herself a normal life. Then she learns that the rest of her family has died (which consisted of a Grandfather and a cousin) and she now much become the Duchess and take control of the family estate in England. As soon as Imogen makes it home to Rockford Manor, she realizes that something is quite off and until she figures out what is behind it all, she is in very real danger. Can she be figure out the mystery or will she fall prey to the bad guy(s)?

Imogen was a character I liked immediately. She’s made the best of a bad situation and she’s worked hard to leave the past in the past. Now, she’s stepping up to save her family home and she is swamped with guilt for not keeping up with her relatives. Lucia’s life could have turned out vastly different if Imogen had just keep in contact. But ignoring her family was the best way to avoid thinking about her parents deaths, something that was incredibly difficult to overcome. Everything in Rockford Manor is so different and so incredibly the same. It’s a lot to take in and then we add Sebastian in the mix and things get even worse. Sebastian was her childhood crush. Sebastian is also Lucia’s grieving boyfriend. Right before her parents death, Lucia’s announcement that she planned to pursue Sebastian caused a small rift. Sebastian was Imogen’s special someone and how could Lucia not see that? Apparently Sebastian didn’t see it either, though, because he was clearly in love with Lucia by all accounts. That makes things even more difficult because from the moment she sees him, she knows she never got over that crush. She knows that said crush may have morphed into more after years of pining. Said crush may be the reason that she never had a boyfriend in New York or really seemed to have to urge to find one.

Speaking of Sebastian…
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If you ever become and actual person and not just an imaginary character in an amazing novel, give me a call….wait, I don’t think my husband would approve of that. NEVERMIND! Sebastian was a difficult character to get a handle on because at first he seems to like her and then once she becomes the Duchess he’s so standoffish that I want to punch him. And then he’s not. And then he’s helpful. And then he’s doing things I can’t mention because of the spoilers. Let’s just say the more you see of him, the more swoon-worthy he comes, k?

When I read the synopsis of this, I knew instantly that I wanted to read it, that I needed to read it. Contemporary Downton Abbey with a supernatural twist and an epic romance?

Not many novels live up to the tag lines they get, but this one does. This was far better than I expected. Even with the annoying love triangle aspect, I was still enthralled. Okay, I’ll admit I was a bit enthralled by the love triangle, because, you know, Sebastian is going to end up with Imogen, right? He loves her, right?
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This thing has enough mystery and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The whole dynamic between Imogen and the manor and the servants and Sebastian is fulled with just the right amount of tension. I especially love the relationship between Imogen and Lucia (prior to her death, naturally). You don’t get to see much of it, but it’s obvious they were close and Imogen blames herself for so much even though it is obvious none of it is her fault.

GRRRHHH…This review is so hard to write when I’m giving away spoilers. I’m trying to avoid spoilers because it makes posting the review elsewhere difficult, but this is so intricate that minor comments I make could be constituted as spoilers. The mystery here is so good and you don’t really see it come (or at least I didn’t) and the magic is so underplayed instead of making it the center of the novel like I expected it. I loved that. The magic is there, but it’s not the main thing and it’s not at the heart of the problem.

What should you take from this slightly convoluted review? This novel is awesome. It somehow manages to give you contemporary with a historical feel and the perfect mystery to keep you ignoring life for just one more chapter. It’s that amazing, need to read quality that we all look for in a novel. What more could you want? This has hot British boys, mystery, romance, and magic! And it’s a stand-alone, so it’s blessedly cliffhanger free. Seriously, it’s perfect, so go grab a copy!

****Thank you to Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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