Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols {Review}

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols {Review}Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse on July 16th 2013
Format: eARC, 273 pages pages
Source: Mundie Moms Blog Tours
3 Stars

Summary

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

My thoughts

Bailey and her sister were once a very popular duo, but Bailey is dumped by her parents and sister when a big studio requests Julie as a solo artist. Bailey starts acting out in anger (cutting and dyeing her hair, hanging out with the wrong crowd, taking it a bit too far with the boys…) and winds up barely bruised when her high boyfriend crashes the car in a lake. That’s enough of a wake up call for her parents to send Bailey to live with her grandfather. Of course, she is sent with the instructions to disappear, as having a left-behind sister wouldn’t look well for Julie’s new career.

Man alive, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a set of parents as much as I did Bailey’s. They were simply awful. The second someone saw a star quality in Julie, they hitched their wagon to her and literally dumped Bailey. The ignored her until they needed her to convince Julie to do something. They took away her online presence and basically told her to shut the hell up. It was awful and I felt so sorry for Bailey. I was amazed at how well adjusted she was, all things considered. She had her issues, as expected, but she also had her head on straight.

Sam, the love interest, was not a very likable character (more on him in a minute). He was a bit of a player, and he was hell-bent on using Bailey for her contacts. On the plus side, at least he wasn’t sneaky about it; he was very upfront about what he wanted from her. His bandmates, Ace and Charlotte, weren’t quite as complex as I would have liked, but at least they weren’t completely flat.

The plot was interesting, and I really enjoyed all the music information. There was a lot of it, including keys, instrument parts, music notes and trivia. Not enough to be boring, but enough so that it was clear Jennifer Echols knew what she was talking about.

I enjoyed the story overall, but I had a problem with the way some of the characters behaved. I thought Sam was sweet at first, but he kind of turned into a pushy, stubborn jerk. And while I appreciated how Bailey stood up to him in the beginning, she kind of rolled over and let him have his way, which irritated the hell out of me. I can point to at least 2 instances in the story where I would have told Sam exactly where he could put his guitar. But it turned out Bailey was much more forgiving than me.

This is my second book by Jennifer Echols, and while I liked it well enough, I wouldn’t consider her an insta-buy author.

The sum up

If you like country music and/or family drama, this is your book.

About the author

Jennifer EcholsJennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Purchase

The Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound

Other opinions

Book Angel Booktopia | YA Reads | Boricuan Reviews

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.

Burning by Elana K. Arnold {Review}

Burning by Elana K. Arnold {Review}Title: Burning
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Delacorte Press on June 11th 2013
Format: eARC, 320 pages pages
Source: Publisher
3 Stars

Summary

Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It’s good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he’s headed to San Diego, where he’s got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don’t have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447.

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash–especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala’s been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben’s cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

My thoughts

The town of Gypsum is literally about to close up shop. Nobody needs the gypsum from the mines, so the town has lost their greatest source of both income and jobs. Almost everyone has already moved away, but there are still a few families left. Ben is weeks away from leaving town to start college with a full ride. His friends are crazy jealous since they don’t have college to look forward to, they’re going straight into jobs once they move to Reno. Lala is a gypsy fortune teller, camping with her family on the side of the road leading to Burning Man. In an effort to placate his friends, Ben joins them on a trip to see the hot gypsy girl and ends up getting a Tarot card reading.

Ben and Lala were both likable characters. Ben was driven, and he knew he wanted to go to college and really make something of himself. He felt bad about leaving his friends (and his little brother) behind, but he knew that going to college was a great opportunity which he couldn’t pass up. Lala had recently become disenchanted with her lifestyle as a gypsy. She was dreading her upcoming arranged marriage and was dreaming of things other kids got to experience.

I’m torn on the love aspect here. On the one hand, it was so sweet and truly lovely. On the other hand, it was a classic case of instalove. Seriously, after 2 (very short) conversations, they were already in luuuuuurve. But, other than that, I really enjoyed the way it was handled. The two were mature and respectful of each other and the people around them. If it weren’t for the instalove, I might even have called it a great love story.

I found some parts of the book unbelievable. Lala did something completely out of her comfort zone that I almost rolled my eyes at. And now that I think about it, Ben did the same thing. He was ready to give up the thing he’d worked at all his life at the drop of a hat. His friends, however, were understandably jealous. Ben was actually going to college, going to make something different for himself. He had an opportunity that they never would.

I liked that the story was told from both points of view. It helped me understand not only what Lala was going through as she became more and more unhappy with the direction her life was heading, but what Ben was going through as he struggled with his decision to leave his family and friends and accept his brother’s differences.

We got to know a lot about Lala and her gypsy family. It all sounded pretty real to me, so I trust that Elana did her homework and researched their lifestyle and way of doing things. I found it all very interesting, how they view puberty, marriage and familial relationships. And the Tarot cards played a big part of the story, too. I’m only vaguely familiar with them, and I learned a lot about what all the cards mean, and even how their placement during a reading matters.

The sum up

Interesting background information and a sweet (if unbelievable) love story make this a quick, fun read. I think it lacks the emotional punch Elana might have intended.

About the author

ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse–a gorgeous mare named Rainbow–and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of the East/West Literary Agency. Sacred is her debut novel.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Purchase

The Book Depository | IndieBound | Amazon

Other opinions

Peace Love Books | birth of a new witch | Book Soulmates

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.

Review: Friends and Lovers Trilogy by Bethany Lopez

Title: Friends and Lovers Trilogy – Make It Last | I Choose You | Trust In Me
Author: Bethany Lopez
Publisher: CreateSpace
Format: Kindle Edition, about 584 pages
Source: AToMR Tours
Overall Trilogy Rating:
3 owls

Make It Last

 
In a small town, it’s hard to recover from being dumped by your high school sweetheart. That’s just what Briana has to do after Colin leaves her to follow his dreams. She focuses her energy into her friendships and the pursuit of her own goal of becoming a chef. Just when she finally feels like she’s on the right path, he comes back to town.

Colin knew breaking up with Briana before leaving for college was the right thing to do. He was determined to leave small-town life behind forever, and that included his high school girlfriend. But when a sports injury puts him on the sidelines, he’s forced to return home. Seeing Briana again brings back a lot of memories, and Colin wonders if he made the right decision. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he wants her back, and this time, he wants to make it last.

I Choose You


Up until now, Nicole’s life has been mapped out for her. She’d go to college, marry Jake and become the upstanding minister’s wife. When she leaves that life to begin again in a small town in Texas, she finally has the freedom to live as she chooses. There, she meets Kent, a guy whose charm and passion make it hard to stick to her morals.

Dodging his father’s fists and protecting his twin sister made Kent into the man he is today. He learned by watching his mother stay by his father’s side that it’s better to keep relationships simple. Then he meets Nicole. Her sweet smile and genuine response to him land like punches to his resolve. After a lifetime of learning to protect his heart, can he finally let down his guard?

Trust In Me


Roni’s dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer were smashed under the brutal rage of her ex-husband’s fists. Getting divorced and starting over at the age of twenty-two was never her plan, but maybe in Texas, she’ll find her path. When the town’s local player, Rich, opens a Rec Center, she sees a way to rekindle her dancing dreams…and maybe have a little fun with her sexy new boss.

Rich never expected to fulfill his dreams in the town he planned to leave behind, but that’s just what he’s doing. His reputation as a noncommittal ladies’ man might make it challenging to earn respect in the business world, but he’s willing to prove that he’s serious. In fact, when it comes to pursuing Roni, he’s more than willing. But she’s taking a page out of his book, not wanting to risk another relationship. Can he convince her that his playboy days are over and that she can trust him with her heart?

My thoughts

Rather than talk about each novella in the trilogy, I’m going to do the whole shebang at once.

The first novella was probably my least favorite. It lacked any conflict at all. The couple broke up in the very beginning, there was some heartache, fast forward a few years, a few awkward scenes, then bam, they’re back together. That all happened in probably the first third of the story, the rest of it was spent following them around as they flirted, talked and made out. That was it. That made for a bit of a boring story, with no action, tension or excitement. The rest of the novellas, though, had more content to keep me interested.

I liked the variety of characters. There were rich kids and poor kids, abused kids and privileged kids, nice kids and asshats. You knew from the beginning of each story how it would all end for everyone, no real surprises there. Some of the situations they found themselves in, however, were unbelievable: Briana forgave Colin awfully fast; for someone so virginal, Nicole got naughty pretty quickly; Rich’s Rec Center was just too perfect a solution…

There were some deep situations the characters got into that were handled nicely, although they were resolved a little too quickly and cleanly, in my opinion. All of the novellas were zippy and moved along at a fast pace. And I liked the 3 brief bonus chapters at the end of the trilogy that acted as epilogues for each novella. I enjoyed seeing the couples a bit later in their lives.

Overall, the trilogy was entertaining and fun, with a touch of substance. A perfect choice for a beachy summer day.

The sum up

Quick, flirty and fun.

Connect with the author

Website
Facebook
G+
Goodreads
Pinterest

Purchase

Kindle
Nook
Kobo

Other opinions

The Bookish Babe
Sweet Southern Home
Peace, Love, Books

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick {Audio Review}

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick {Audio Review}Title: Drowning Instinct
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Brilliance Audio on February 1, 2012
Format: Audiobook, 9 hrs and 46 mins
Source: Purchased
5 Stars
Summary

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain… magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

My thoughts

After reading Katie’s review of Drowning Instinct over at Blook Girl, I picked up the audio version, and I’m so glad I did.

Jenna is rescued from a near-drowning and while in the hospital, an officer gives her a tape recorder and asks her to record what happened, how she ended up in the frozen lake. So she starts at the beginning: her troubled home life, her arrival at a new school and everything that happens after. She pulls no punches and spares no details.

Jenna is a hot mess. She’s had an unfortunate upbringing which includes a fire that nearly killed her, being molested, living with a drunk mother and a super controlling father, being abandoned by her military-bound brother and self cutting. Unsurprisingly, she has some issues. She was a likable character, though. She had her moments of whining or brattiness, but she deserves some slack.

The infamous teacher, Mitch, well… I had some issues. He’s relatable and nice enough, and I understand he has his own issues, but he’s an adult. I’ve seen many reviews that say this story shows it’s not all black and white, that there are some gray areas, but I disagree. An adult is an adult is an adult. He should know better, no matter what’s going on in his life. But, let’s put that aside for now and just go with it, for the sake of this review. As a general character, I did like Mitch. He was kind and friendly and I think he truly wanted to be there for Jenna, who clearly needed someone to be on her side.

The other characters were there to be mean or bad to our 2 main characters, so we’d feel sorry for them. And they succeeded. They weren’t full characters, more like caricatures of people. But that’s okay, they served their purpose and I really just wanted to spend more time with Mitch and Jenna. Because even though I would oppose such a relationship in real life, I loved reading about it! They had some great scenes together, very sweet and romantic (if maybe a bit clinical).

Ilsa J. Bick has a way with words (not a surprise to me, having read her book Ashes), but I was still impressed with the way she weaved the story together. There was a bit of action, a lot of mystery, some romance and even witty dialogue. Several times I found myself anxious to know what happened next, and this was the only frustrating part about listening to the audio version – where I would normally skip a bit to get to the next scene, because I just couldn’t wait, I was forced to wait for the narrator to get there.

Speaking of the narrator, Kathleen McInerney did a fabulous job of bringing the story to life. At first I thought she sounded too young, but it worked and she soon became Jenna. Also, since the entire story is Jenna speaking into a microphone, there was a certain “rightness” of listening to the story, as opposed to reading it.

This is sometimes a hard story, for the subject matter, but it’s an interesting one. The writing is taut and kept me on the edge of my seat many times. And you know that bit from the book’s summary:

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Keep that bit in mind.

The sum up

I love everything about this book.

About the author

ilsa j. bickAmong other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I’m supposed to write things like, “Ilsa J. Bick is .” Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I’m not in the room. Helloooo, I’m right here . . . So let’s just say that I’m a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels. Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than I . . . unless you talk to my mother.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Purchase

Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | eBooks.com | The Book Depository

Other opinions

The Phantom Paragrapher | Stacked | Reading at Berkeley High

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.

Review: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Title: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: February 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback, 309 pages
Source: NetGalley
3 owls

 

Summary

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…

My thoughts

Blaze was a fun main character; she lived life on the sideline and was just fine living in her comic book world with her 2 besties, whom I really liked. They were total opposites: one was spoiled, selfish and boy crazy and the other was calm, kind and thoughtful. The three of them together made a great mix. Blaze and her little brother were close, and he was just about the cutest and most thoughtful little brother you could want. Though they had their disagreements, you could tell they really cared about each other.

Blaze was a diverse character, with flaws and quirks. She wasn’t perfect, and in fact made some very stupid decisions, one of which seemed out of character. But she was also a teenage girl, so we can chalk those up to hormones, I suppose.

Mark deserved his Mark the Shark title. He seemed like a good guy on the surface, and while he wasn’t a total douchecanoe, he also wasn’t a saint. He had a few redeeming qualities in the end. Blaze’s mom was clearly still hurt by their father leaving town, and I felt that aspect was well developed. She was a real character with real issues, and that was nice to see in a parental figure.

The comics play a large part of the story, and though I’m generally not a fan of comic books, I didn’t find their use in the book off-putting at all. In fact, Blaze made them seem pretty interesting. She and her fellow comic aficionados talked about the history and future of comics, and the artwork and stories behind them.

This was a fun book, and though the real meat of the story didn’t happen until after the halfway point, everything moved very quickly. I loved how the dialogue was spiced up by Blaze’s comic book obsession. Every once in a while, she’d think “Bam!” or “Mark the Shark strikes again!” or some other such nonsense. It made the story fun and more entertaining than it would have been otherwise. There are real lessons to be learned here, but they’re not preachy. This is a great story for our modern age

The sum up

Fast-paced and funky, this is a fun novel with depth and heart. Perfect for a fun vacation read or plane trip.

Connect with the author

website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Purchase

The Book Depository
Barnes & Noble paperback | Amazon paperback
Nook | Kindle

Other opinions

Escaping… One Book at a Time
YA Reads
The Reading Geek

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.

Review: From Ashes by Molly McAdams

From Ashes by Molly McAdamsTitle: From Ashes
Author: Molly McAdams
Publisher: April 16th 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Source: Edelweiss
3 owls

 

Summary

When Cassidy Jameson’s best friend Tyler took her to Texas with him when he left for college, she was expecting his cousin, their new roommate, to be a Stetson-wearing cowboy since his family owned a ranch; not this incredibly gorgeous guy with a husky Southern drawl that seemed to make the world stop whenever she looked at him. Because of her past, she’s only ever trusted two men in her life, Tyler and her dad whom passed away when she was six. But there’s something about Gage that draws her to him in a way she can’t explain, only problem? He’s always telling Tyler that he doesn’t want Cassidy living there and sees her as nothing more than his little sister.

Gage Carson was excited his cousin Tyler was coming to live with, and go to college with him. When he’d called to ask if he could bring his friend Cassi with him, Gage didn’t care. Gage had heard about this mysterious friend since they were kids and felt like he already knew her. Nothing would prepare him for watching her jump out of Ty’s Jeep though. Not only was Cassi the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, but there was something about her that within seconds of meeting her, made Gage want to protect her, and make her his. Too bad Tyler made it a point to remind Gage on a daily basis that he was dating her and she was completely off limits.

For a year and a half, Gage and Cassidy dance around their feelings for each other as Tyler continues to keep them apart; until one day Tyler unknowingly pushes her right into Gage’s arms. With Tyler unable to keep lying to them, they finally start a relationship both have been craving since their first meeting. But when an accident and disaster sends her back to Tyler and California, will Cassidy be able to come face to face with the demons from her past to live a life she and Gage deserve; or will the fact that she once again ran to Tyler be the final push that ends Cassidy and Gage for good?

My thoughts

**Mild spoilers ahead**

I’m going to break the book down for all you potential readers. Here’s the entire first half of the book, summed up in 2 conversations:

Cassidy: “I really like Gage.”
Tyler: “He doesn’t like you at all.”
Cassidy: “Are you sure? He looks at me like he really likes me.”
Tyler: “Nope. He can barely stand you.”
Cassidy: “Oh. Okay. I could go talk to him myself, but I’ll just take your word for it.”

***

Gage: “I really like Cassidy.”
Tyler: “She doesn’t like you at all.”
Gage: “Really? She looks at me like she really digs me.”
Tyler: “Nope. She’s my girlfriend and we have sex all the time. By the way, she can’t stand you.”
Gage: “Oh. Okay. I could go talk to her myself, but I’ll trust you.”

Now imagine those 2 scenes taking place in different places and with different specifics, but always with the same underlying message. So now that you have the gist for the first half, here’s the second:

Cassidy: “Oh, something happened [Gage looked at me the wrong way, I overheard something, I misunderstood something, et al]. I’m going to run away from the situation now.”
Gage: “Oh no, she’s run away again. I’m so unhappy. I can’t live without her. She’s the one. I hope she comes back.”
Cassidy: “I’m over it. I love you.”
Gage: “Love you, too.”

And there. No need to read the book now. You’re welcome.

Just in case you want the specifics (party pooper), I’ll go ahead and do a real review now. So, I understand instant lust and instant like, but I don’t understand instant love. When you feel the pull of someone before you even know they’re in the room, when you feel like they’re the one before you’ve even met them, that seems a bit much to me. At any rate, it appears Cassidy and Gage are meant to be but Tyler is doing everything he can to prevent that (and being a real douche canoe about it, too). But that wouldn’t have mattered if either one of them had taken the time to talk to each other at all. But they didn’t. They kept talking all around what they should have been talking about. I think one or two times would be forgivable, but that went on for a year and a half! You would think any normal person would have had the chance to talk about their feelings at least once during that time.

But Cassidy was frail and afraid after having a completely shitty upbringing. Quite possibly the shittiest upbringing ever, in fact. Maybe because of it, she was on the tentative and naïve side. Luckily (for all the guys) she was a looker who could cook and loved all sports. Which leads to another absurdity – every single guy Cassidy met fell in love/lust with her. They wanted her or someone just like her, whether for a roll in the hay or a lifetime commitment. She must have been exuding some sort of pheromones because she couldn’t keep the guys away. There were at least 14 guys hitting on her, expressing their connection with her or telling Gage how amazingly lucky he was, throughout the book. We get it. Everyone liked her.

Gage was a lot like Travis from Beautiful Disaster, except with a little less violence. He wanted to own Cassidy (and even said those exact words, I believe), not just be with her. And even better, he didn’t want anyone flirting with her, touching her or even looking at her. Though he did have a temper on him, and did get in a fight or two, that wasn’t his dominant instinct. Tyler was the real villain of the book, and he played the part well. At first you thought he was the greatest guy ever, for always being there for her when they were growing up. And truly, she needed someone to be on her side (I’m not kidding about the shitty upbringing). But once they were living with Gage, he turned into a completely different person. And once the truth was out, Cassidy (and Gage) forgave him so easily, much easier than I would have.

The plot was entertaining, I enjoyed seeing Cassidy become a stronger person and learn to accept her past trauma and even move beyond it. The hardest thing for her was to actually accept that it had happened, admit it to herself and then learn to talk about it with those closest to her. For the longest time, she just talked about it like she was an observer, not the actual victim. It was impossible for her to move on without that acceptance. And even Gage and Tyler matured and learned some lessons in the end, so that was nice.

I understand that Molly McAdams’ previous book ended on an unhappy note, but you don’t have to be worried about that here. There’s a satisfying conclusion, though it almost seems tacked on, with parts that feel unnecessary. I like the cover, it gives a real sense of what the book is about. Overall, this was an entertaining book that had some good and some not so good qualities

The sum up

If you like your heroes dominant and your heroines perfect on the outside while wanting to be rescued on the inside, From Ashes is your book.

Connect with the author

website
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Goodreads

Purchase

The Book Depository
Kindle
Amazon paperback

Other opinions

Swept Away by Romance
Lisa’s Reads
The Life of Fiction

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.

Review: Back to You by Priscilla Glenn

Back_to_You

Title: Back to You
Author: Priscilla Glenn
Publisher: October 20th 2012 by CreateSpace
Format: Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Source: AToMR Tours

Summary

When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.

Or that it would end so painfully.

Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.

As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?

My thoughts

Lauren has just started her new job as a Pre-K teacher. She’s still learning the ropes on her first day when in walks her old friend Michael. They were best friends throughout high school, until Michael did something unforgivable and they haven’t spoken since. Now they’re all grown up and Michael’s little girl is a student in Lauren’s class. Though Lauren tries hard to keep things professional, the two have a real chemistry that makes it difficult.

I liked Lauren’s character. She was kind and friendly, but also self-assured (even as a teenager). She was very likeable, and it was easy to see why Michael enjoyed having her as a friend. He was a classic bad boy – mean and gritty on the outside, with a sad story that made him want to hide from the world. And it was a doozy of a story. It was easy to see why he had become the person he was. In fact, I was surprised he didn’t end up more screwed up than he was. His little girl Erin is just about the cutest darn thing ever. She was mostly realistic, although I have to wonder what 4-year old doesn’t have at least 1 sleep-deprived meltdown or act like a brat at least once in a while…

The story took place in the present day, and every other chapter or so was told in a flashback. The flashbacks were not sequential, but for the purpose of the story, it fit. My one issue with the flashbacks was that I kept wanting to know what Michael did that was so horrible! They kept talking about it and talking about it, but we don’t learn what he did until about 3/4 of the way in. Also, I didn’t think what he did was as terrible as Lauren kept saying it was. Jerky, yes. But not unforgivable, in my opinion. I did like learning how they met and how they were with each other in school. And especially how wonderful Michael was to her when they were in private, when he could just be himself.

This was a fairly clean book – there was some sex, but it was pretty nondescript and glossed over. I don’t recall any curse words, though there may have been 1 or 2. This is being marketed as an adult book, but I would also consider it new-adult, since Lauren is still in school and just starting her ‘life.’

The sum up

Sweet and romantic, this is the perfect book for someone looking for a romance story with guts.

Connect with the author

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Purchase

The Book Depository
Kindle
Amazon paperback

Other opinions

My Life Through a Book
Book Nook
Book Reader Chronicles

Photobucket

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.

Review: Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

who i kissedTitle: Who I Kissed
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: October 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback, 312 pages
Source: Publisher, for review

Summary

She Never Thought A Kiss Could Kill. . .

Samantha is new at school and just recently joined the swim team. She’s been flirting with one of her teammates, Zee, who invites her to a party and just as quickly dumps her for another girl. Hurt, but pretending not to care, she turns to his best friend, Alex, and gives him a kiss. And he dies—right in her arms. Alex was allergic to peanuts, and Samantha had eaten a peanut butter sandwich right before the party. She didn’t know. Overnight, Samantha turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she will have to find the inner-strength to forgive herself for the tragedy.

My thoughts

Samantha moved to a new school to work with a better swim coach. She’s still the new girl and still getting to know everyone. Her teammate, Zee, on whom she has been crushing for some time, invites her to a party but ends up making out with another girl right in front of her. Samantha decides to make him jealous by making out with his best friend Alex, who seems more interested in her than Zee. Suddenly, he can’t breathe and they’re calling an ambulance. He dies on the way to the hospital and now Samantha is the girl who killed Alex.

Samantha was an interesting character to get to know. She seemed strong and confident, but struck me as a bit immature. After Alex’s death, she punished herself much more than anyone else could. She became introverted and lost all confidence and refused to be persuaded that his death wasn’t her fault. That aspect seemed a little out of character for her, when compared to the beginning of the story.

I liked Zee, Samantha’s crush, until he started making out with another girl. That was an asshat thing for him to do, and she seemed to forget about that part of the night rather quickly. Casper, who became interested in Samantha after that night, was a bit of a mystery to me (for a while). He was nice to her even after almost everyone else stopped speaking to her, but he could also be distant for no apparent reason. I loved Taylor, the one friend who stood by Samantha. She was nice and kind and there for Samantha no matter what. Samantha’s dad and aunt were wonderful parents for her. It was nice to have a dad who’s not only in the picture, but actually a very good dad! Aunt Allie was just quirky enough.

The plot was interesting, and I liked the direction Janet Gurtler took with it. It’s hard to imagine something as simple as a kiss causing someone’s death, but she made it believable. There were facts and statistics, and they help you see how often something like this may actually happen. One part I really liked was that Samantha started to see a psychologist, which was a smart thing for her to do. We see some of the things he did to help Samantha through her guilt.

One thing that bugged me about the story was that nobody ever called out Alex. Since he had such a severe allergy, I would think he might mention that to a girl before he started swapping spit. Maybe they never thought that was a concern, but surely his mother would wrestle with some guilt over not thinking about it?

There are scenes of underage drinking and drug use. There’s also a v-card losing situation, which was not at all graphic.

The sum up

A cautionary tale filled with sadness and hope.

Connect with the author

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Purchase

The Book Depository
Amazon paperback
Books A Million paperback
eBooks.com
Nook
Barnes & Noble paperback
Kindle

Other opinions

Reading in Winter
I Like These Books
Gone With the Words

Thanks for installing the Bottom of every post plugin by Corey Salzano. Contact me if you need custom WordPress plugins or website design.