Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Never Always Sometimes


Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Published: August 4th 2015 by Harlequin Teen
Source: Finished copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Add it on Goodreads

"Never date your best friend

Always be original

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love."

Thoughts: This is actually the first book I've read by Adi Alsaid, but it will not be my last. NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES is a novel about growing up, figuring things out, and mostly about friendship and what that exactly means. It's a novel that will have you feeling nostalgic and thinking of those past co-ed friendships where it sometimes felt like something more. We all have them, am I right?

First off, let's talk about the duo. The novel starts off at the summer before freshman year and quickly jumps to their senior year. While the novel is told through both Dave and Julia's point of views, it's told in sections rather than alternating. Dave is the yin to Julia's yang. He's the calm, cool, laid-back type of guy whereas Julia is the outgoing, quirky one. Julia actually doesn't know Dave's full name and makes up some pretty great ones for him. It's Dave who initially develops feelings for Julia. He's felt this way for a while, but remember rule number 10? Never date your best friend? Yikes.

Okay, you know and I know that something will eventually develop between them. It's inevitable, even if it's just to see where things go or if there's more. The romance between the two was a bit...I don't know. To be honest, I think I enjoyed them more as friends than something else. Dave is very much the sweet one, and clearly the more mature one of the two. Julia, to me, still had a lot of growing up to do. A lot of her personality and actions, I believe, is based around her distant, adventurous mother. She is raised by her two fathers (LOVE THIS!), and often talks about her mother's tales. With that being said, Julia definitely has this hilarious side to her, and I died laughing over some of her antics. The author definitely knows how to tell a fun story, and Julia is a great example of this.

also, I have to tell you guys that I adored the writing. I know I say adore a lot, but I don't know how else to put it. It's just a lively, interesting, well-written story from start to finish.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering why the 3.5 stars. To be honest, this story is a fairly predictable one. There's nothing wrong with that. I mean I love a good, lighthearted, fun book as much as the next person. The thing is, I just wasn't wowed by it. It's a good book, but there's nothing that particularly stood out to me. Would I reread it? Sure, especially if I've been traumatized by another novel. Is it something I'd reread over and over and over again? Probably not.

Overall, I recommend this novel for YA contemp fans. If you're looking for a funny beach read, this is the book for you. If your favorite character just died in another book and you need some healing, this is the book for you.


Rating:

3.5 Stars


Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Strong Enough by M. Leighton


Title: Strong Enough (Tall, Dark, and Dangerious #1)
Author: M. Leighton
Published: August 4th 2015 by Berkley
Source: Copy sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Add it on Goodreads

"From the author of the New York Times bestselling Bad Boys novels comes the first in a dark, sexy contemporary trilogy.

Is she strong enough to trust the most dangerous man she’s ever met? And is he strong enough to let her?

How would I describe myself? Well, I’m Muse Harper. I’m a twenty-something painter who loves red wine, quirky movies, and men with a fatal flaw. But that was before I met Jasper King. He became my fatal flaw. Eight months ago, I had a choice to make—abandon everything I’ve ever known to protect my family, or stay and risk someone getting hurt. I chose the former. My plan was working just fine until I found out my father had gone missing.

That’s when I met Jasper. A bounty hunter with the eyes of a tiger and the nose of a bloodhound, he was supposed to help me find my father. What I didn’t know was that meeting him was no accident. Hunting people isn’t all that Jasper does. And helping me was only part of his plan. I just wish I’d found out sooner, before my heart got involved. But even then, I don’t know if I’d have done things differently.

Now, I have another choice to make—trust the man that I’m falling in love with and hope that he’ll do the right thing, or run as far away from him as I can get."

Thoughts: This is actually the first book I've read by M. Leighton. I have a couple of her other books but have yet to pick them up. No reason outside of just haven't gotten around to it. When I initially picked up STRONG ENOUGH, I was really excited. I loved the idea of bounty hunters and figuring out what makes Jasper one of the tall, dark, and dangerous ones. Well, now I'm wondering why I waited so long to read any of M. Leighton's books, because she is a fantastic story teller. More, please!

First off, the prologue really kicks the story off into an emotional roller coaster. I almost burst out into tears, and I was only three pages in. The point of view alternates between Muse and Jasper's. Muse is looking for her father and with the suggestion of her friend, decides to hire Jasper the bounty hunter. The two immediately have sparks flying between them. It's almost comical how many times they come close to doing something only to have Jasper pull away. It doesn't last too long though, because all it took was one steamy kiss before the two are no longer able to hold back.

What I was surprised by and enjoyed the most were all of the plot twists and discoveries. I honestly went in expecting a classic romance-contemp-erotica novel, and STRONG ENOUGH delivered more than that. The writing was great, and flowed really nicely. The sex scenes were sexy, but some (I must admit) were a bit too much for me. I'm all for dirty talk, but Jasper is on a whole different level. It's all about personal preferences, and some of these scenes just weren't for me.

Also, while I generally liked the characters, I have to admit that I never truly connected with either of them. I liked Muse and I liked Jasper just fine, but I didn't love them. To be honest, I found myself more drawn to the plot and where the story was going rather than how the characters would turn out.

All in all, I liked STRONG ENOUGH and also enjoyed the preview at the end for the follow-up. It's a solid book with a unique story line. If you're a fan of Katie Evans or K.A. Tucker, this is the book for you!

Rating:

3 Stars

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Before We Were Strangers Blog Tour: Review + Excerpt + Giveaway


Hey all! Today, I will be discussing and sharing bits and pieces to the fabulous novel that is BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS. You guys, this book touched me in many different ways, and I can't wait to discuss it with you! Without further ado, let's get the party started!


Title: Before We were Strangers
Author: Renee Carlino
Published: August 18th 2015 by Atria Books
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Add it on Goodreads


From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.
You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.
We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.
After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

M

Thoughts: Renee Carlino is most definitely one of my absolute favorite authors. I love the witty way she writes these complex characters that are so darn easy to fall in love with. Proof comes from characters from her previous novels, and that includes Matt and Grace. These beautiful people had me laughing, cringing, cheering, loving, and crying for them on multiple occasions. By the end of the book, all I wanted for the both of them is a slice of happiness. Let's go into depth, shall we?

The novel starts off in the present. Matt is in his thirties, living in New York, and wondering what happened to his life. He has his dream job, a prize winning photographer and all the things he always wanted, but that doesn't mean he's happy. It's not until a flash from the past reappears that he starts questioning what happened his senior year at NYU.

It's then that the novel jumps back to Matt and Grace's first day senior year at NYC. This is also when the novel starts rotating between Matt and Grace's point of views. One of the things I loved about the novel is the relationship building between the two. It started off sweet- Grace helping Matt move his ginormous desk into his dorm at Senior House. I adored watching their friendship grow and how lighthearted and easy everything was. Though things started off great between them, issues with finances and their families slowly started getting in the way.

I'm not going to lie, I began twirling my thumb a bit towards the middle. You knew they both had deeper feelings for each other, and it's clear there's chemistry and attraction between the two, but Grace kept pulling back. I think part of her didn't think she was good enough for Matt, even though she said she wanted to focus on her music career. Even their friends thought they were an item when they weren't! I guess that's college for you! Anyway, whenever they finally did get together, it was fabulous! Steamy yet slightly awkward, and I loved how Grace asked Matt questions about how he knew "what to do". More awkwardness, but it's totally something I would've done (insert winky face here). Oh, and I just have to talk about the hilarity in Matt's character. There's a scene involving jump ropes that had me grinning from ear to ear.

Now, you know from the first movement that things clearly take a wrong turn somewhere. I'm not going to go into details, but I will say that it was very hard for me to read. My heart ached for the both of them, and all I wanted to do was yell and scream why. WHY?!

In the third movement, you get to see Matt and Grace again, older and wiser. Grace is more standoffish than she used to be. The lightness of their youth is gone. Secrets are slowly revealed, and not once do you truly know how things are going to end. Just the ash. This, my friends, is one of the many reasons why I love Renee Carlino's writing. She's just so good at building these realistic, compassionate characters, and all you want to do is go to NYC and possible have a cup of coffee with them. Carlino is amazing at writing raw, pure, fabulous emotions any of us can relate to.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to fans of Samantha Young, Jill Shalvis, and all of the other amazing contemporary writers out there. It'll have you reminiscing over those unforgettable youthful college days with the highs, the lows, and everything in-between. It's a fabulous journey, one you don't want to miss.


Rating:

5 Stars



BUY LINKS:
Amazon
B&N
iTunes



ABOUT RENEE CARLINO:
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of romantic women's novels. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

FACEBOOK
WEBSITE
TWITTER
INSTAGRAM


EXCERPT:


20. You Remembered . . .
Grace
The present is our own. The right-this-second, the here-and- now, this moment before the next, is ours for the taking. It’s the only free gift the universe has to offer. The past doesn’t belong to us anymore, and the future is just a fantasy, never guaranteed. But the present is ours to own. The only way we can realize that fantasy is if we embrace the now.
I had been closed off for a long time, and I hadn’t allowed myself to imagine the future because I was still stuck in the past. Though it was impossible, I had tried to re-create what Matt and I once had. I wanted nothing else; he was all I could imagine.
But Orvin once told me that time is the currency of life. And I had lost so much of it. It was that idea of lost time that finally made me realize I needed to move on, that I would never have what I once had with Matt. I had to mourn our relationship and move on.
At least, that’s what I told myself.
Two months ago I was walking around in a thick fog of regret. I was going through the motions but wasn’t feeling anything. I’d stare at my new wrinkles in the mirror and wonder where they came from. I wasted more time, repeating the same thing day in and day out, barely present in my own life. I wasn’t looking to break out of the cycle in search of anything meaningful.

Until I saw Matt in the subway station.
Everything changed. I could see in color again, every image vivid and crisp.
Over the last fifteen years, the pain of what had happened to us waxed and waned. Many times I tried to force myself to stop thinking about him, but there were too many reminders. I thought, if I ever saw him again, he’d look right through me, like I was a ghost from his past. That’s how he made me feel that summer after college: someone who no longer existed.
But when I saw him in the station, his eyes locked on mine. He recognized me instantly, and all I could see in his face was pure wonder. It was like he was seeing the sunset over the ocean for the first time. As my train disappeared into the tunnel, his expression turned to desperation, and that’s when I knew there was a missing piece to our story. What was behind his desperation? What had happened to him in the last fifteen years that would send him running down the platform, his hand outstretched, his eyes full of longing?
I needed to find the answer. I had an idea of where I could find Matt, but I was too scared to look.




Also, be sure to check out Matt's Missed Connection Ad. It's too cute to miss.

Giveaway:

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is the Top Ten of Your Auto-Buy Authors. Umm, I have more than ten, but let's not tell my husband and keep it between us, yeah? Here we go!


1. George R. R. Martin
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the wonderful world of Westeros, George wrote A Song of Ice and Fire series also known as Game of Thrones. My brother actually got me into the books whenever we were in college. Fun fact: GRRM names J.R.R. Tolkien as one of his favorite authors and says the series will end in a bittersweet Lord of the Rings way. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN, GEORGE? I need to know!




2. Miranda Kenneally
I know I have a picture of us somewhere, but I can't seem to find it. Bleh! Anywho, Miranda writes the Hundred Oaks books, and they are fantastic! If you feel like laughing and swooning, pick one of these books up immediately!




3. Veronica Roth
Because Divergent.




4. Renee Carlino
For the longest time, all I heard about was how good SWEET THING, Renee's debut, was. Once I finally read it, I completely understood why. I then purchased NOWHERE BUT HERE, loved it, and will now immediately buy every book she writes.




5. Marie Rutkoski
For those of you who don't know, THE WINNER'S CURSE books are my current obsession. I'm absolutely in love with them. THE WINNER'S CURSE held my #1 spot for best book last year, and I'm fairly certain THE WINNER'S CRIME will hold it this year. I still need to check out THE SHADOW SOCIETY (which I have, heh), but it goes without saying that I'll buy anything Marie writes.




6. Colleen Hoover
I seriously love these lady's books. They're hilarious and so well written. The only issue I've had with some is the fact that her main character often cheats on their boyfriend/girlfriend, and sometimes it's understandable, yet other times- not so much. At any rate, I love how generous Colleen is with both her fans and the book community and will continue buying her books for as long as she's writing.



7. Sarah J. Maas
Umm, Throne of Glass series. Enough said. Also, how freaking cute is she? I need her to give me styling tips and to also hand over the QUEEN OF SHADOWS...if she's feeling generous and whatnot, heh.



8. Huntley Fitzpatrick
Huntley's books are easily some of my favorite YA contemps. I just love her writing and how she can write both light and complex novels all smashed into one. Every summer, I look forward to what she has in store for us. .



9. Katie McGarry
This lady is both an amazing writer and fabulous person. I know my list is filled with contemporary authors, and I simply couldn't leave Katie out. Needless to say, my McGarry collection is growing, and I couldn't be happier about it.



10. Stephanie Perkins
Everyone should have Stephanie on their auto-buy list. EVERYONE!




Who are some of your auto-buy authors?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Boy Most Likely To Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


Title: The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door companion)
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Expected publication: August 18th 2015 by Dial Books
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review
Add it on Goodreads

"A surprising, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door—great for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns."

Thoughts: Whenever I first read MY LIFE NEXT DOOR back in 2012, I just completely fell in love with it. The Garretts are probably one of the best fictional families out there and most certainly one of my favorites. It didn't surprise me that Samantha fell in love with both Jase and his eclectic family. Whenever I heard a book was being written from Tim and Alice's point of view, I pretty much fist pumped the air and shouted YES! Not only did this novel exceed my expectations, it melted, broke, and healed my heart multiple times. Needless to say, I loved this novel!

Of the two points of views, Tim's is probably my favorite. It's funny how distinct his voice is compared to Alice's, and his thoughts are both complex and simple, just like almost every guy I know. What I mean by this is girls tend to elaborate and go into details and stress about the smallest things. Boys? They worry about the bigger issues but don't like to talk about it, and they also enjoy giving simple, one word answers. Yes, I know I'm stereotyping, and I'm completely pulling from my own experience, but I liked that I could relate with this book in that way. Alice and Tim both fit into these categories beautifully, and I loved them for it.

Like MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, there's a twist in the novel I wasn't expecting transforming it from lighthearted romance to a deep coming of age story. While I knew Tim had an unstable family life, I didn't realize the depths of it. I'm glad he had someone like Alice to both admire and swoon over. Speaking of these two, let's talk about their chemistry!

From the very beginning, you knew they had something special brewing between them. While they're romantic relationship is fantastic overall, this book isn't one based around romance. It very much as to do with family and finding yourself. The hint of romance is an added bonus.

Also, and I'm just going to say it, little George is still my absolute favorite character in these books. I just love that adorable, sweet kid!

Though this novel is very much a companion, I personally wouldn't read it without reading the previous novel only because there are a few spoilers that might ruin the first one for you. Yes, it can be read as a standalone, but I wouldn't recommend it if you haven't read the first one. If you're a fan of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, you'll surely be a fan of THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO. It very much as a John Green feel to it that I think readers will enjoy.

Rating:

4.5 Stars


Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at Penguin, I am giving away a copy of THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends at the end of the month! Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Ransom Riggs Tour + Tote Giveaway

You heard right! The fabulous Ransom Riggs is going to make FIVE stops this fall with special guests and everything. Sign my books, take my money, hugs for all! Not stopping in your town? That's okay, because the amazing people at QuirkBooks are giving away a VIP trip for two to any stop of your choice. Ever wanted to visit the Big Apple or hang out with all of the stars (Ransom included) in LA? Here's your chance!

All you have to do is snap a photo of yourself in your most peculiar costume and send them the link (www.quirkbooks.com/los). Really, it's that easy. Don't forget to use the hashtag #StayPeculiar.

Now, while we wait for Ransom to pack his bags and get moving, I'm giving away a #StayPeculiar tote courtesy of QuirkBooks.



This giveaway is only open to US participants. You're going to need something wicked to carry all of your Miss Peregrine's books in, am I right? Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Not After Everything Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


Title: Not After Everything
Author: Michelle Levy
Published: August 4th 2015 by Dial
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange
Goodreads

"A gritty but hopeful love story about two struggling teens—
great for fans of The Spectacular Now, Willow, and Eleanor and Park

Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?"

Thoughts: You guys, I cannot tell you enough how much I absolutely adored this novel. I wanted to cry and scream and so many other things with the main character Tyler, but mainly I just wanted to hug him. This novel truly touched me, and now I feel that it's my job, no, my duty to inform you guys of how extraordinary NOT AFTER EVERYTHING is.

Tyler has pretty much given up. He's angry and simply tired of it all. OVER IT! Once upon a time, he was the football star and had plans to go to Stanford. That all changed the instant the moment his mom killed herself and destroyed their dreams for him. She clearly didn't want to see it through, so why should he? Now he's working at Subway, trying his best to avoid his former friends, and while he's still sleeping with Sheila, it doesn't mean he's into it or into her. Ham and cheese sandwich, anyone?

Little did he know that even though he was through with his life, his life wasn't through with him.

It wasn't until he was fired from Subway (for getting into a fight!) and starts working at a photography studio that things started falling back together.

First off, I have to tell you guys how much I loved Tyler's point of view. Have you ever read a book where the main character was suppose to be angry but wasn't depicted as so? Half-assed, even? Well, this isn't the case. You know from the beginning how extremely devastated and furious Tyler is. He's not afraid to let his outrage out. On top of that, his abusive father simply doesn't give a hoot. Get a job, feed yourself, because he's certainly not spending money nor helping Tyler. He just doesn't care about him. Not even one iota. Anyone would react to grief and abuse the way Tyler did, and the author does a fantastic job of portraying all of this. Plus hey, male point of view? My favorite!

Also, I just want to take a minute and tell you guys how much I adored Henry (aka Jordyn's stepfather) and Jordyn herself. They were definitely the highlight of this novel, and NOT AFTER EVERYTHING wouldn't have shined as brightly without them. Oh, and hello, Tyler's dog? I don' know about you guys, but I love it when an author writes about a character's fabulous furbaby. Captain, I wish you were my dog!

There will be heartache, and there will be pain. You'll hate people and fall in love, and probably feel all sorts of mixed emotions, but isn't that the best? I just love it when a novel touches me the way this one did. Gah, just talking about it makes me want to pick up my copy and reread it all over again. Will there be a sequel? There should be a sequel. Just saying.

I highly recommend this novel to fans of SAVING JUNE, THE SURVIVAL KIT, and IN HONOR. This is one of those books that will stay with you long after you read the last page.

Rating:

5 Stars


Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at Penguin Random House, I am giving away a copy of NOT AFTER EVERYTHING. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is only open to US participants, so HURRY...enter now before it's too late!

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