A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers {Review + iPad Giveaway}

A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers {Review + iPad Giveaway}Title: A Little Too Far
Author: Lisa Desrochers
Series: A Little Too Far #1
Publisher: HarperCollins on September 17th 2013
Format: eARC, 371 pages
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
5 Stars
Summary

Have you ever gone just a little too far?

Lexie Banks has.

Yep. She just had mind-blowing sex with her stepbrother. In her defense, she was on the rebound, and it’s more of a my-dad-happened-to-marry-a-woman-with-a-super-hot-son situation. But still, he’s been her best friend and confidant for the better part of the last few years… and is so off limits. It’s a good thing she’s leaving in two days for a year abroad in Rome.

But even thousands of miles away, Lexie can’t seem to escape trouble. Raised Catholic, she goes to confession in hopes of alleviating some of her guilt … and maybe not burning in hell. Instead, she stumbles out of the confessional and right into Alessandro Moretti, a young and very easy-on-the-eyes deacon … only eight months away from becoming a priest. Lexie and Alessandro grow closer, and when Alessandro’s signals start changing despite his vow of celibacy, she doesn’t know what to think. She’s torn between falling in love with the man she shouldn’t want and the man she can’t have. And she isn’t sure how she can live with herself either way.

My thoughts

Lexi’s broken up with her cheating boyfriend for good. She thinks she’s over him until he tries to get back together with her, and she ends up crying in her bedroom. Comfort from her stepbrother Trent turns into great sex. The two are saved having to figure out what it means when Lexie travels to Rome for a semester abroad. Once there, she ends up working with priest-to-be Alessandro. What starts as a platonic working relationship turns into something more. Now Lexie’s torn between Trent back home and Alessandro in Rome.

I admit, I went into this thinking it was going to be only OK, or I was going to dislike it. Not sure why I felt that way, maybe I was just in one of those moods? Also, the bit from the blurb:

She just had mind-blowing sex with her stepbrother. In her defense, she was on the rebound, and it’s more of a my-dad-happened-to-marry-a-woman-with-a-super-hot-son situation.

 
That bugged me, because what else is a stepbrother if not someone your parent marries who has a son? At any rate, I distinctly remember being about a quarter of the way through and thinking “Wow, I’m really loving this book.”

Lexi was a fairly likable character. She was devastated over her breakup, but was starting to pull through with the help of her friends. She had a bit of strength to her, though she sometimes seemed to forget it. I think she was pretty brave for going all the way to Rome all by herself.

We didn’t spend a lot of time with Trent before Lexi went to Rome, but he seemed like a pretty decent guy. And also, he was pretty good in bed. On the other hand, we got to know Alessandro quite well, and I was totally crushing on him. He had confidence in Lexi even when she didn’t, and he knew when to push her out of her comfort zone. He was sweet, kind, patient, and totally sexy. You can count me on Team Alessandro.

Lexi was sarcastic, which I loved. I especially liked when her sarcasm met with Alessandro’s calm seriousness. It made for some funny moments. There was a bit of bad language (Lexi has quite the potty mouth), but there was also some sexy times. And they were very sexy. But it wasn’t just raunchy for the sake of being raunchy, it was romantic and dare I say, swoon-worthy. I don’t like to throw that term around willy-nilly, but this one deserved it.

I’ve never been particularly attracted to Rome (I’m more of a Greek Islands kind of gal), but Lisa Desrochers managed to make me want to see it. She described everything in such amazing detail, I could picture Lexi walking down a cobblestone path or Alessandro leading her up a flight of steps in an old church. Really, just fantastic descriptions. I could almost see Rome as another character in the story.

There was a bit of religion, but it wasn’t in your face. There was plenty of art and a little history, too. Even a touch of architecture.

This book didn’t end how I thought it would, but that’s okay. There’s no cliffhanger, the story was wrapped up nice and neat, which I appreciated. I was disappointed with the ending, just because it didn’t end how I wanted it to. But that didn’t diminish my overall love of the story.

The sum up

A sexy and sweet story perfect for art lovers, Rome lovers, fans of romance and New Adult.

About the author


Lisa Desrochers lives in northern California with her husband, two very busy daughters, and Shini the tarantula. If you’d told her five years ago she’d write a book, she’d have laughed in your face. As it turns out, she’d owe you an apology. Writing has become an addiction for Lisa and A Little Too Far, courtesy of HarperCollins, is her first novel for adults. She is also the author of the young adult Personal Demons trilogy from Macmillan.

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Audio Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Title: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
Author: Jenny Lawson
Narrator: Jenny Lawson
Publisher: April 17th 2012 by Penguin Audio
Format: Audio CD, 8 hrs and 41 mins
Source: Purchased
4 owls

Summary

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments-the ones we want to pretend never happened-are the very same moments that make us the people we are today.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing, yet darkly hysterical tome for every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started.

My thoughts

Everyone has read Jenny’s blog, The Bloggess (and if you haven’t, why the hell not?), and her debut memoir is just like it, full of crazy things she does, awkward conversations she has, crazy texts she shares with Victor or sometimes, dark places she finds herself when her anxiety or depression take hold. The chapters are individual stories, told in chronological order.

Jenny states in the beginning that most of the stories are true, and even though she says only names and dates have been changed, you have to wonder if everything else could really be true. If so, she’s had quite the life! There were a few stories or mentions that I recall from reading her blog, but most everything in the book was new to me.

The way she deals with the setbacks and disappointments in her life are wonderful; she is a great example of how humor can make most anything better. There are some truly sad parts, like her many miscarriages, but she continues on. Though it’s sad at the time, she can look back later and find the funny. She talks a lot about her husband, Victor, and I just adore him. He has (almost) the same sense of humor as Jenny, and he has the patience and understanding of a saint.

My only complaint is the audiobook. I adore Jenny Lawson, but her voice grates on my nerves. A lot of the time, she spoke in a monotone, with hardly any inflection. Several times, she would read a long paragraph or story (in a monotone), and her voice would get this gravelly sound. It got so bad I wanted to say “Clear your throat already!” And for some strange reason, she sang the chapter titles. Not very well. For those reasons alone, I would suggest going for the print version instead of the audio version.

The sum up

If you like The Bloggess, or awkwardly funny situations, check this one. Beware the salty language.

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Review: Flat-Out Matt by Jessica Park

Title: Flat-Out Matt
Author: Jessica park
Publisher: March 25th 2013 by CreateSpace
Format: eBook, 158 pages
Source: Purchased
Series: Flat-Out Love | Flat-Out Matt
5 owl rating

Summary

Matt is a junior at MIT. He’s geeky, he’s witty, he’s brilliant.

And he’s also very, very stupid.

When beautiful, cool, insightful Julie moves in with Matt’s family, why (oh why!) does he pretend to be his absent brother Finn for her alleged benefit?

It seems harmless enough until her short-term stay becomes permanent. And until it snowballs into heart-squeezing insanity. And until he falls in love with Julie, and Julie falls in love with Finn.

But … Matt is the right one for her. If only he can make Julie see it. Without telling her the truth, without shattering them all. Particularly his fragile sister Celeste, who may need Julie the most.

You saw Matt through Julie’s eyes in FLAT-OUT LOVE. Now go deeper into Matt’s world in this FLAT-OUT MATT novella. Live his side of the story, break when his heart breaks, and fall for the unlikely hero all over again.

Take an emotional skydive for two prequel chapters and seven Flat-Out Love chapters retold from his perspective, and then land with a brand-new steamy finale chapter from Julie.

My thoughts

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Flat-Out Matt is the companion novel to the best book ever, Flat-Out Love. It’s not a linear retelling of the story; it’s a few prequel chapters and a few of the chapters from Flat-Out Love, all told from Matt’s point of view. And though we are already familiar with the duplicate chapters, nothing feels repetitive because Matt sees things from a very different perspective than Julie.

Most of the characters from Flat-Out Love are back, and we even get to meet the elusive Finn. That part was sad, knowing what was coming, but it was nice to see the brother everyone was lost without. We learn more about Matt’s parents and their part in the Flat Finn fiasco, and we learn that Celeste was actually a pretty average kid before the events in Flat-Out Love. But most of all, we see the journey Matt took from being the brother in the shadows to the one who has to keep the family together, and all that cost him.

The writing was perfect, and you’d never know the books were written almost 2 years apart. It was just like stepping right back into that world. The same snarky dialogue was there and I still loved it. Unlike the first book, though, this one has sexy scenes. This was definitely not a book for the younger set. But don’t worry, the sex doesn’t replace the romance. There’s even more of that. *Swoon*.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I love Matt even more now than I did in the first book. I need a Matt in my life. Seriously. It’s been almost 2 months since I last marked a book as swoon-worthy and even longer since I declared a book a must read, but Flat-Out Matt is both. Read Flat-Out Love, then jump right into this one. You’ll thank me, I promise.

The sum up

The perfect companion novel.

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Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Losing It by Cora Carmack

Title: Losing It
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: December 5, 2012 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ebook, 204 pages
Source: Edelweiss
5 owl rating

 

Summary

Virginity.

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible– a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

My thoughts

Homina homina homina. You guys, I’m in luurrvve. This book made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS. It was romantic and sweet and funny and sad.

Bliss was your average college senior. She had great friends and exciting career aspirations. She was hilarious with a great sense of humor and always managed to have something snarky to say when she ended up in awkward situations. Which was a lot. Her best friend Cade was great; he was funny and nice and always there for Bliss. Kelsey was a bit annoying for me, but you could tell she really cared about Bliss. Garrick was one of my favorite male characters, and is now in my book boyfriend rotation. First of all, he was British. With a British accent. So, automatic yum there. He was smokin’ hot but also kind and thoughtful. He looked out for Bliss and gave her time when that was what she needed.

The romance was steamy. Bliss and Garrick had amazing chemistry and they sizzled when they were together. The “we should be together but we can’t… well, let’s steal a kiss” moments got to be a bit excessive for me. Either get together or don’t, but stop with the back and forth already!

The amount of drinking in Losing It was excessive. It seemed any time the group wanted to have fun, it involved getting drunk. Stumbling, fall down drunk. At one point, Garrick even tells them to cut it out. It’s a shame that they felt the need to do that.

Finally, am I the only one that hates this cover? Besides the fact that this is not the Garrick I picture, it looks like a porn video to me. “Young Virgins Losing It!”

The sum up

A fantastically awkward, fun and sexy read.

 

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Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

dash & lily's book of daresTitle: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
Publisher: October 26th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback, 260 pages
Source: NetGalley

Summary

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the “New York Times” bestselling authors of “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

My thoughts

Lily is (unhappily) all alone during the holidays, thanks to her parents ditching her for a long-awaited vacation. In an effort to find someone who “gets” her, she leaves a red notebook on the shelf of a public bookstore. Dash, (happily) alone at Christmas after leting each of his divorced parents think he was spending the holiday with the other, is enjoying this quiet time to himself when he stumbles upon a red notebook on a shelf in The Strand. The notebook challenges Dash to complete a task and once he does, he challenges the notebook’s author right back.  So begins a weekend of getting to know each other by writing their thoughts, dreams and desires in the notebook.

Dash and Lily were fun characters. They were both sweet and kind. They were each dealing with their own personal issues, though none were what I would call “deep”. They both seemed to know exactly what they wanted out of life, and how to get it. They had great senses of humor and were both willing to try something new and be adventurous. Before they met for real, you just knew they were going to get along fabulously.

There were a few things that bugged me, like the fact that Lily knew (or was related to) at least 1 person in practically every one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. That eventually became too unbelieveable. Also, their characters were just too hipster for me. Like David and Rachel were creating the coolest, most nonconformist characters they could think of. But there were also things I enjoyed about the book, like the alternating points of view (Dash and Lily, natch). They were both authentic and that made it easy to get into their heads. I loved the little snippets of New York sprinkled throughout the book.

The cover is adorable and perfect for this light holiday read. The snow, the city street signs and the little heart in the crosswalk sign all work together magically.

The sum up

A quick and fun read full of Christmas spirit.

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Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

speechless by hannah harringtonTitle: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: August 28th 2012 by HarlequinTeen
Source: Edelweiss
5 owl rating

Summary

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

My Thoughts

Chelsea was famous at her school for being the one who always had gossip. If you wanted to know who hooked up with whom, or who cheated on whom, she was the one who knew. And once she knew, there was nothing that could stop her from telling. But when she shares a super juicy secret that ends in near-tragedy, she declares herself speechless in an attempt to stop her rumor-spreading ways.

I loved the characterization in this novel. Every single person was believably real and flawed. Chelsea was your typical high school gossip girl. She wasn’t quite the queen bee, but she was the queen bee’s right hand woman and loved her status as such. She knew that spreading secrets would get her attention, and she loved it. Her “before” friends were typical jerky jocks and bitchy princesses, but her “after” friends were awesome. Kind and friendly people that I would totally want as my friends in real life. They played a huge part in helping Chelsea see that she had the ability to become the person she really wanted to be. I loved every one of them, even with their flaws. They were angry and flirty and bossy, but underneath it all, they were genuinely nice people.

Chelsea’s transformation from gossip queen to regular old teenager was real and honest. At first, she didn’t think she could go an hour without talking, but she stuck to it and managed to make it work. It was interesting to follow along as she learned how powerful words can be. You could really see that she was learning things about herself, and others, along the way. She started out thinking she was weak, but she really showed her strength as she learned to stand up (silently) to those who ridiculed her, some of them quite cruelly. There was a bit of romance, and it was yummy. Sweet and swoon-worthy.

Hannah Harrington has a gift with words and Speechless has made me put her on my auto-buy list. In fact, I was gifted her previous book, Saving June, several months ago and I’m kicking myself for not having read it yet. I can’t wait to dive in and see if it can live up to my high expectations.

The cover is perfect. The simple white with an absence of color or decoration matches the absence of speech in Chelsea’s life.

The sum up

I absolutely loved this and didn’t want it to ever end.

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Review: Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnhholdt

1672727Title: Two-Way Street
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Published June 26th 2007 by Simon Pulse
Format: Paperback, 296 pages
Source: Purchased

Summary

There are two sides to every breakup.

This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They’re even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.
Then Jordan dumps Courtney — for a girl he met on the Internet.

It’s too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney’s heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la — this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he’s got a secret or two that he’s not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can’t get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

My thoughts

Another road trip book, yay! Nothing creates immediate intimacy and strong feelings more than cramming two people into close quarters for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, Jordan and Courtney recently broke up and don’t want to be so intimate. But since it’s too expensive to buy last-minute plane tickets, they’ve got to take this trip together anyway. Which is fine, because as much as they try to deny it, they both still want to be together. But Jordan can’t because of a secret and Courtney can’t because she has her pride.

Because, let’s face it—no matter how much you tell yourself you’re over someone, your heart knows the truth.

Although there were other characters (her parents, his friends, her new boyfriend) in the story, Two-Way Street was all about Courtney and Jordan. So it’s a good thing they were likable! Poor Courtney was still heartbroken, but she was trying to move on with her friend-turned-rebound-boyfriend Lloyd. And poor Jordan was still heartbroken because he didn’t really want to break up with Courtney and he still loved her. The secret reason he did it was a bit of a letdown; I was expecting a huge revelation, and it was so inconsequential to me. It seemed to me if he had handled it differently (better), they could have avoided the whole breakup thing.

Two-Way Street was told from alternating perspectives, switching between Jordan and Courtney’s POV. I loved getting the different takes on their past and their current situation. Courtney was kind of spastic and sarcastic, while Jordan was more serious and stand-offish. But somehow, they worked together. The dialogue was funny, especially Courtney’s conversations with herself:

Conversations About Me Jordan Had with His Girlfriend (A Deluded Fantasy by Courtney Elizabeth McSweeney): Jordan: So I’m stuck going on this trip with Courtney. Mercedes: Okay. Jordan: Just so you know, nothing’s going to happen. Mercedes (starts taking her clothes off so she and Jordan can have sex): I know. Jordan: You want to have sex again? We just finished two hours ago. Mercedes (climbs on top of him): Yes. (Pauses.) This Courtney girl or whatever her name is, she’s not cute, is she? Jordan: No. Mercedes: Cool.

When Jordan and Courtney got into it, their verbal sparring was very funny, though you could actually tell how both of them were hurting underneath the witty banter. There were no sexy sex scenes, but they definitely had chemistry.

The plot was fine, though I have to doubt anyone’s parents forcing them to make a several-days long road trip with someone who had recently broken their heart. There were deeper issues involved than just the relationship between Courtney and Jordan, and for the most part, they were handled truthfully.

The cover is eye-catching, but the specifics don’t make much sense. But I won’t nit-pick (for once), I’ll just say it matches the idea of the book just fine.

The sum up

A fun road trip full of heart and chemistry.

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Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan Audiobook

6567017Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green, David Levithan
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, April 6, 2010
Format: 7 audio discs, 7 hrs and 52 mins
Narrators: MacLeod Andrews, Nick Podehl
Source: Purchased from Audible.com

Summary

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans.

My thoughts

Where do I start with this one? Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a lot of things: funny, sad, heartbreaking, true, romantic, sweet, loud, and so much more. Let me start by saying I had no idea what the story was about. That’s right, I went into the book without knowing anything about it. It’s gotten fantastic reviews, and I just finished something by David Levithan that I really liked, so I figured that was good enough for me.

So the bad thing is, when I started, I didn’t realize it was told from two different point of views. And I also didn’t realize that it was narrated by two different people, so when the second chapter started, I thought “Wow, Will sure did change all of a sudden. And why does the narrator’s voice sound so different?” (Yeah, I’m not so swift.) So, after finally reading the book description, I realized what was going on and could actually enjoy the story. And boy did I.

I liked the two Will Graysons as characters, though I preferred WG#1. He was kinder than WG#2, who had a bad attitude and was especially vicious to his mother for no clear reason. WG#1’s bestie, Tiny Cooper, was something, he was practically the star of the book. He was big, loud and proud. He was self-centered and completely unapologetic about it.

Tiny is talking about his blinding light spiritual awakening in a way that, nothing against Tiny, kind of implies that maybe Tiny has not fully internalized the idea that the earth does not spin around the axis of Tiny Cooper.

He was hard to like at first, but he eventually grew on me. All of the other characters were unique and interesting. No one-dimensional people here. They all had their own flaws and personality traits that made them so believable. Nobody was perfect or flawless or always said and did the right thing. The dialogue was full of cussing, and some of it felt unnecessary, but otherwise, I liked the way the kids talked to each other. They were real and (most of the time) honest. The story was full of one-liners and sarcasm that made me happy. There were several occasions where I laughed out loud and even once or twice I had to replay something I had missed because I was laughing too loud to hear it.

The plot was interesting; it focused mostly on the Wills (and Tiny), but also their friends, school, partying, and the choices they made in all of those areas. It really flew by, although there were maybe one or two spots I thought could have been whittled down for a more streamlined story. There was also a bit at the end I didn’t feel added anything to the story or the characters. It was supposed to be a big learning moment for Tiny, but I didn’t get it. It just seemed silly and pointless to me.

The narrators were amazing. They sounded similar, but once you know there are two different Wills (duh, Andrea), they were easy to tell apart and the two voices make it easy to know which Will was speaking in that chapter. They became the Wills so perfectly and completely, I can’t imagine anyone else playing those parts.

One of the plot lines involved Tiny and the musical he created. Throughout the novel, and at the end, songs were performed by the students. The narrators did such a fabulous job of bringing those songs to life, I can’t imagine reading the novel and not knowing how the songs sound “in real life.”

The sum up

Funny and touching, this is a one-of-a-kind gem. I highly recommend the audio version, you would be missing out on a lot if you skipped it.

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