Rainbows and Raindrops by Kelley Lynn and Jenny S. Morris

Blurb:
29444640Before… They are the Musketeers–one for all and all for Rain, or however that saying goes.

Now that Rain’s sixteen, freedom is at her fingertips. Cliff jumping at the lake. Rain’s first tattoo. Spence finally asking her out. With her friends by her side, there’s no reason Rain can’t be happy in a world that constantly tries to extinguish her addictive, carefree spirit.

After… It’s just Rain. No misfits and no Musketeers.

Until Rain pulls up to her new summer job and discovers the two people she’s been hiding from–Spence and Landon– are her new cabin mates. Landon’s determined to help Rain overcome her guilt and remember what once was. As they become closer, he awakens a part of her soul she never thought she’d feel again.

Making Rain wonder if, despite all the mistakes she’s made, it’s worth trying to get back to the girl she used to be.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Oh you guys, this one just sucked me in and has now left me reeling…  This book had ALL THE FEELS.  I mean seriously, I didn’t just bawl once, I bawled at least twice with little mini crying bits in between.

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all just a cry fest.  It starts off really light and happy and I was just in love with the characters.  The first scene in the book just made me happy and had me wanting to know more about this little band of misfits.  Each of the 4 friends was so unique, though they all struggled with difficult home lives in some way…it’s kind of what brought them together I suppose.  They knew what it was to be outsiders in a sense.  And yet they fit with each other.  They pushed each other.  They wanted what was best for each other.  It was a great story of friendship, and how friendship can endure through tragedy (but not without stumbling blocks along the way).

Rain was a fascinating character…there were many parts of her that I related to (her love of colour, and her just giddiness I guess).  But at the same time, I can NOT relate to her sense of adventure and risk taking.  I was with Spence — NO NO NO!  😉  But I really felt how she felt those colours came from deep inside her soul, and I loved the contrast of colours to black before and after…it was a great use of symbolism, and really fit her character.

The grief and emotional upheaval that Rain experiences…heck that they all experience…was just so real.  I felt it in my bones.  I loved that they all reacted differently and dealt with it in different ways…they all had different journeys to becoming ok again.  And as someone who struggles with depression, while it wasn’t addressed head on and spelled out, I could recognize it in Rain, and I thought that it was dealt with superbly.  I really did feel all her emotions down to the core of myself.  And I especially loved Ms. Morris’s note in her acknowledgements at the end of the book about depression…

So why round down instead of up?  Well folks, I’m still me, and I’m still a romantic at heart, and so it was a personal taste thing.  And while I ADORED the different examples of love in this book, I also struggled with it.  My little simplistic heart wasn’t prepared to fall in love multiple times, and so my heart had a hard time accepting where the story was going to go (even if I loved where it went and felt it was the right place and all that jazz).  And in the end, I kind of wanted a “story” ending on the romance front, like some big declaration from Rain or something.  It’s stupid.  I still got what I wanted, I just wanted more.  I love the boy she ended up with…seriously, another beta boy — MEGA SWOON!!!  But it was just too realistic for me.  And sometimes I love that…and a part of me is even now arguing in my brain that it was better this way, and it fit the story better and all that good stuff.  But damnit!  My gut wanted more.  Maybe we’ll see glimpses of them in the next book and it will satisfy me.

Also, I wanted a bit more from some of the secondary characters (Knox and Ellis in particular).  I like mystery, but I needed a bit more of a hook I guess.  Not that I’m not all in from that teaser chapter of the next book…oh yeah, my one-click finger is ready, just put the buy link in my hands and I’m all over that shit.

On a final note, can I just say that the ending chapter was pretty much the most perfect way in the history of ways to end the book?  I mean, I never saw it coming, and it was just…EPIC.  Like EPIC EPIC.  Like, I can’t even go there epic.  Like you guys are all rolling your eyes at me but then you’ll read it and be like “awww, Lenore was right.  That was epic.”

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Paperglass (War of the Princes #2) by A.R. Ivanovich

paperglass.jpgBlurb: Surviving a narrow brush with death convinced Katelyn Kestrel that she must never return to the war-torn Outside World. Safe again within the sanctuary of Haven Valley, she has forced herself to forget Rune Thayer, the young Dragoon soldier who had sacrificed everything to save her.

Katelyn’s struggle to adapt to a peaceful life is undone when she is assaulted by a classmate, triggering her powers with devastating consequences. The authorities learn of her rare Abilities, and a web of troubling mysteries unravels around her. She finds that an unfortunate twist of fate has delivered Haven prisoners to the Prince of Shadows, and he will stop at nothing to discover the valley’s secret location. Katelyn must find and rescue the captives or witness the destruction of everything she has ever loved.

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Favorite Quotes: 

And just like that, I stepped firmly onto the hardened soil of my worst nightmare.

“Sometimes I dream that I don’t hate you.” His words were a cup, brimming with honesty and pain. “Then I wake up. It all comes back. I remember what you did to me—how wicked life is.”

“This is it,” Rune said, looking up at the mouth of the hall. “The moment where we live for our luck, or die for our decisions.”

5 Stars

According to Goodreads, this book has two different titles.  This one is called Paperglass, the other one is called Dragoon.  Both are titled as book 2 in The War of Princes series but they are the same book. I chose this one because this is the only one available on Amazon.

This book totally threw me for a loop. I wasn’t expecting the turn it was going to take.  The supporting characters take a more prominent role in this one. Which really makes this story deeper.  I mean, even if they didn’t have more spotlight time the story would have been great, it just added that extra layer to the story though, ya know? 

The stakes are higher, the love is deeper, and the magic is more powerful.  We learn more about the politics of the both worlds in this one and the author adds more world building as well; making this story really come alive to me.  The first book was great, this one was better.  

I’d like to point out that I loved how the author was able to change her characters temperaments and make me believe it.  This is a tough thing to do IMO.  I can’t wait to see what adventures Katelyn and Co. go on in the next book. 

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Turtle Bay by Tiffany King

Blurb:
24988193If you’re a teenager in a small, rural area, how do you exist when your eccentric, free-spirited parents are the town freaks everyone laughs at?

For sixteen-year-old Rainbow Honeywell—or Rain, as she insists on being called—the answer was to become the queen of all pranks. She never wanted to be a troublemaker, but the label quickly stuck when everyone in Huntsville, Kansas, became a target. All she wanted was to deflect the negative attention off her parents, but Rain’s plan backfired to the max, landing her in a heap of trouble with the local authorities and expelled from high school.

An unexpected inheritance offers Rain an opportunity for a new beginning when she and her family move across the country to the quaint beach community of Turtle Bay, Florida.

Determined to make the best of her second chance, Rain vows to walk the straight and narrow, hoping her parents will fly under the radar while she soaks up some fun in the sun, sandy beaches, and hot, tanned guys. Unfortunately, she picks the wrong new friends, and a late night party lands her back in the kind of trouble she had been hoping to avoid. As the newbie in town with a record, Rain takes the brunt of the punishment when an unforgiving judge chooses to make an example out of her and slaps her with enough community service hours to keep her busy until she is old and gray.

Facing the harsh reality of paying for the actions of others while atoning for her own past sins, Rain is paired up with Josh Shaw, a judgmental local lifeguard whose love for the beach and the environment is eclipsed only by his distaste for those who trash it. As far as Josh is concerned, Rain is guilty and got what she deserved, regardless of her side of the story. To make matters worse, a tropical storm sits in the Atlantic, threatening to wreak havoc on the small beach community.

Things slowly change as Rain begins to appreciate her surroundings through Josh’s eyes, proving she is not the person he thinks she is. Their feelings for one another blossom as the tropical storm grows into a hurricane and bears down on Turtle Bay. With impending danger looming, the small beach community must come together in order to ride out the storm.

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My Review:
4 stars — I absolutely adore Ms. King’s YA contemporary books, they are some of my favourites in this genre.  And for some reason while I bought this book immediately when it came out, I didn’t get to it right away.  But it was exactly what I always love about her books, so I shake my head at myself for leaving it so long. (also, it’s currently only 99 cents people — if you love YA contemps, I recommend checking it out)

This is probably going to be a bit of a lackluster review, b/c I finished this book 2 days ago, and have read 2 more books since then…I hate doing that, but travel always screws me up.  What can I say?  The romance was definitely sweet, and I liked how the relationship progressed from intrigue to “sort of” hate to understanding to crush to more.  It was the perfect YA romance in my opinion.  And we definitely got enough of it to keep me satisfied.

I really enjoyed both Rain and Josh, though this was really Rain’s story.  Rain could have easily annoyed me with her viewpoints on Josh and the aftermath of the party, but I thought in the end she was written very authentic teenager, and it didn’t last so long as to drive me nuts.  Just enough to make her believable, but then give us some growth.

There were some tiny side plots that I was a bit confused about.  I felt like Farrah was going to have a bigger part in the story, and then she just didn’t.  I really feel like she has more to say.  Maybe there was an initial thought to write more books and make it series-esque, and then it just didn’t pan out?  That makes me sad, b/c I would love to learn more of Farrah’s story.  And then there was the Evan storyline.  Part of me liked what was brought there, but I felt somehow off about it.  Like I wasn’t quite sure what all it brought to the story as a whole.  But I also read this book off and on with a big break in the middle, so that sometimes messes with how I see the story as a whole.

In the end the part that stood out to me the most and just totally made me love this story were Rain’s parents, Butch and Buttercup.  I LOVE when YA’s actually have parents that EXIST and are important to the story.  So many times they’re just written around and it’s just not realistic.  And while Butch and Buttercup were unbelievably unique and different, they were great parents and I really loved what they brought to Rain’s growth.

All in all, it was exactly what I was looking for from Ms. King.  She writes a lot of different ages, from YA to Adult, but for me it’s her YAs where she shines.

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Deadly Secrets by Kat Nichols

deadly secretsBlurb: Sophia Morganthal is in over her head. Her struggles with trying to run a corporation and lead her coven cause havoc in Sophia’s personal life — mostly with her boyfriend, Connor.

Amidst the chaos, a neighboring coven is attacked, pushing Sophia to assume her place on the local council. On the brink of a supernatural war, Sophia must take action as some of the coven leaders seem to have their own agenda.

Running out of options, Sophia seeks help from the last group the council wants to involve. Will the risk be worth the reward or will she lose everything she fought so hard to attain?

 

 

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4 stars

First off, let me apologize to KN for taking sooooo long in reviewing this book.  Secondly,  doesn’t this cover just exude attitude?!  I love it so much.

Sophia is still so young but her life has had so many obstacles she’s had to deal with.  I admire her perserverence and the fact that she doesn’t allow others to try and discount her because of her age.  This chic is a fighter!  I’m shocked this only has 10 reviews!  Seriously?

This book flowed really well for me.  There was no complex plots I needed to figure out, cause as we all know, sometimes I’m a bit of a dense reader.  I really enjoyed Sophia’s stubborness and her self-awareness.  She took the steps she felt were needed to get to where she needed to be.  She seems so confident from the outside looking in, but reading about how stressed she is and how she doesn’t know if she can succeed as the newest and youngest matriarch is very realistic to me.  Miss Nichols can write internal emotions really well.

Sophia uses her resources and shows incredible courage while doing it.  Coupled with her humbleness of her success makes her all the more attractive as an MC to me.  I will say this.  I was upset about Connor not having a more prominent role in the story.  Connor was a great character, but I didn’t get to see as much of him as I wanted too.

This book went deeper into the whole supernatural world than I expected and I was pleasantly surprised that it encompassed more than just witches in this one.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes strong, independant heriones in a great fantasy setting.

final2b22blargeThis is the third series I have finished this year.  Completing my self imposed goal on the Finishing the Series challenge over ot Bea’s Book Nook.

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Izzy Moffat’s Road to Wonderland (Wonderland series book 1) by Victoria L. James

izzy moffatsSynopsis:  Making it to seventeen in one piece isn’t usually a concern for your average teenager, but if there’s one thing Isabella Moffit has never been, it’s average. Dragged through life by parents who couldn’t care less and surrounded by violence on a daily basis, Izzy reaches that epic birthday milestone in her life with only one person to thank for getting her there: her best friend and soul sister, Paris Hemsworth.

Vowing to stand side by side through thick and thin since they were four years old, the two of them have made it this far and are confident that now is their time to tackle the world head on, one shaky, naive little footstep at a time.

Except they have no idea what awaits them both on the other side of adulthood, and before either one of them can strap on their hard hat, they’re taking so many knocks and bruises that Izzy’s childhood suddenly seems like a stroll in the park.

Dodging as many bullets as they can along the way, Izzy tries to hold on to Paris’ hand for as long as possible without either one of them slipping away. But no-one ever told them how rough their journey would be. No-one told them that friends and family would change or leave along the way. And no-one told them that for every good intention they have, there’s a thousand people out there with bad ones, waiting to rip them apart.

Follow Izzy’s journey in part one of the Road to Wonderland series – a coming of age novel with a difference, where you’ll face tears, tantrums, laughter and heartbreak, but above all else, hope. Hope that no matter what life throws your way, it’s all part of setting you on the right path to your very own Wonderland and that, more often than not, everything happens for a reason.

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4 Stars

I purchased this book after reading a review from a fellow blogger over at Books and Bindings.

What can I say about this book?  It was deep, like not just parts of it, the whole bloody thing!  Every chapter touched on a new emotional issue and how Izzy dealt with it, but it went into her mind in a detailed way and I appreciated that.  It had some serious soul searching in it.  A lot of heartache and a small dose of romance.  Too small if you ask me.  It seems to be a voyage and return plot book, and while I like those fine, I find that they are not exactly my cup of tea.  I have no closure in these kinds of books as they are often left open-ended.  And I hate that.

A great quality of this book is the psycological-ness of it.  I get Izzy, I understood her feelings of heartache and abandonment.  Her insecurity and her hopefulness, her feirce protectiveness of the ones she loves were described exquisitely.  Her life was a rollercoaster of emotions that I will gladly ride again.

Favorite Quotes:

We are soul sisters, connected by heart if not by blood.  I love her more that anyone else in the world.

Best friends don’t just ride through the good times side by side.  They fall when the other falls, too.  If she is going to get herself arrested, well then I’ll be right beside her, laughing the whole way through while Lori sits on the sidelines, shaking her head at us, no doubt laughing even harder.

Time takes away all those memories you try to cling onto, because new ones push past, bigger and brighter than the last and worm their way into their place.  Time makes you forget.  Time makes you question.  Time isn’t a healer.  It’s a destroyer.

Rumour has is that we, as a collective, should never say never.  They say (whoever they are), to place that kind of restriction upon our lives will only limit our experience and cloud our judgement in the future.

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Join Up by Tudor Robins

Synopsis:
26889950A summer at one of the poshest riding camps in the province. A hundred horses. Rolling hills ribboned with hacking trails and cross-country jumps.

It could be perfect. Unless you’re Lacey Strickland, and you’re leaving Salem, Meg, and Jared behind on the island.

The only thing that isn’t hard to leave is Lacey’s memory of her first kiss, delivered in a spring-scented hayfield, which sizzled, then fizzled into nothing at all.

The other thing making camp less-than-perfect for Lacey? She’s not a cosseted camper, but a staff member – teaching riding lessons from sun-up to sun-down.

In Meg’s first letter to Lacey, she writes: “I bet anything there’s at least one amazing horse waiting for you there. And maybe a new great – if not best – friend.”

Is Meg right? Could Lacey meet a horse she’ll love just as much as Salem? And are there new friends in her future? Maybe even somebody who could give her more than just one kiss in a hayfield?

Find it on Goodreads.
Order it on Amazon.

My Review:
3.5 stars!  I received an copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for my honest review!

I honestly didn’t initially realize that this wasn’t going to be a continuation of Meg’s story, but since I felt like her story was complete, I was happy to see that we have a new heroine — Lacey!  She was so bubbly and forthright, I was interested to see how it would be to read from her perspective…and in general I thought the author did a great job of being faithful to the Lacey we’d come to know, just grown up.

I’m not a horsey person, but I felt like I could want to be a horsey person after reading these books.  They really give you such a sense of how important these creatures are in some people’s lives….  LOVED watching Lacey get to know Night.  Enjoyed the little bits of horsey knowledge that was passed along in little places here and there…not so much to overwhelm someone from outside that world, but enough to give a sense of place and time if that makes sense.

I thought the romance was blended in nicely with the rest of the story.  It’s really such a minor role — it’s more Lacey’s coming of age tale.  Dealing with the aftermath of a first kiss, learning to be a leader and teacher….  But I did really like Fitch and the way they bantered back and forth.

I do wish the book had been a bit more something…either more romance, or more coming of age struggles for Lacey.  I don’t know, I just wanted something a bit more.

I also felt like the ending kind of snuck up on me — not that it didn’t work, but just that I turned to a new chapter and all of a sudden it was the ending.  Might have been nicer to say “3 weeks later” or to label it as an epilogue.  Just something.

All in all this was a great addition to the Island Trilogy.  I’ll miss the girls and their horses…

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Appaloosa Summer by Tudor Robins

A bit of a throwback review — I’ve started rereading these books in preparation for the last book in this trilogy, so thought I’d post my old reviews on the bloggy blog as I finish reading each book!

Synopsis:
22674837Sixteen-year-old Meg Traherne has never known loss. Until the beautiful, talented horse she trained herself, drops dead underneath her in the show ring.

Jared Strickland has been living with loss ever since his father died in a tragic farming accident.

Meg escapes from her grief by changing everything about her life; moving away from home to spend her summer living on an island in the St. Lawrence River, scrubbing toilets and waiting on guests at a B&B.

Once there, she meets Jared; doing his best to keep anything else in his life from changing.

When Jared offers Meg a scruffy appaloosa mare out of a friend’s back field, it’s the beginning of a journey that will change both of them by summer’s end.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22674837-appaloosa-summer
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1QSUf3G

My Review:
4.5 stars — OK, this was just all kinds of YA goodness. Oh crap — I was provided with a copy of this book through netgalley, and here is my honest review!!!

OK, now that that’s out of the way….I will admit, being a Canadian, reading a Canadian author, with a book set in Canada, with a few little Canadian quirks….might have made me a very happy camper. They weren’t overt or all over the place, but it is kind of cool to see colour spelled with a u (it might have been favourite….it was one of those words), Tim Horton’s mentioned, and heck I used to live in Ottawa, so it was like revisiting a magical place! What does this have to do with the book? NOTHING! I just wanted to gush. Now onto relevance….

Coming from the perspective of someone that knows NOTHING about horses and showing and all that stuff, I felt like it was explained really well and didn’t get so technical that I was lost…. Course that also means I can’t vouch for the authenticity, but it worked wonders for me! It had such a heartbreaking start, and I was really wondering how I was going to feel about Meg b/c she seemed so self-contained and a bit separate from her parents. But I really ended up loving Meg…and maybe that’s b/c I got to see her have a summer in her element, embracing who she is and what she loves and learning more about herself.

I LOVED Jared….he was just sweet, and a bit sassy (in a guy way), with his own bit of heartbreak to tell. And the romance in this book was just so sweet and innocent and BEAUTIFUL. LOVED it.

So yeah, it made me feel things, it made me happy, and even though it seems to be a part of a new series, I felt closure at the end of the book. I don’t know if the next book will be about Meg (and Jared), but I would love to see more of their story if it’s told!! Will definitely be watching out for this author in the future.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

cinder and ellaSynopsis: It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PeEYII

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22724488-cinder-ella

5 Stars!!!!!

OMG, you guys!  This book was so fecking delicious!  I ate it all up so fast!  I just want to scream at strangers, “YOU ALL NEED TO READ THIS BOOK NOW! NOW I SAY!”

I really liked how real it was with regards to her accident and working through all of her problems both physically and emotionally.  It showed more than just her side, it showed her sisters side too, giving a great contrasting element to Ella’s POV. It was interesting to see the changes that occurred in her as time progressed.

I liked all the issues that it touched on.  Societies idea of beauty, bullying, dealing with someone who may be suicidal.  It wasn’t superficial at all.  I felt her helplessnesss, her hopelessness and her anger toward her father.  The bullying she had to deal with. The pain she felt going through the physical therapy. There was a lot of pain in this book, a lot of pain.

The author’s references to other books and movies were both mainstream and classic.  Great nod to Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, two of my favorite high fantasy authors. And OUAT, one of my favorite shows!   It added a nice layer to the background.  There was also some pretty good diversity in the book.  Her Chilean background was a prominent point in the book with relating to food and language. I really want that recipe!  The two dads as well represented more diverse family units than I usually see in a book as well.

Okay, my favorite part!  Location 3689 people, that scene is the bestest!  I’m leaving it at that.  Muhahahahahahahah.

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Girl of Myth and Legend (The Chosen Saga 1) by Giselle Simlett

girl of myth and legendSynopsis: Leonie Woodville wants to live an unremarkable life. She wants routine, she wants repetition, and she wants predictability. So when she explodes in a blaze of light one morning on the way to her college, it’s enough to put a real crimp in her day.

And things only get weirder…

Leonie learns from her father that she is last of the Pulsar, a phenomenally powerful member of a magical species called the Chosen. It will be her sole duty to protect the Imperium, a governing hierarchy, from all enemies, and to exceed the reputation of the Pulsar before her. So – no pressure there, then.

Leonie is swept away from her rigorous normality and taken to a world of magic. There, she is forced into a ceremony to join her soul to a guardian, Korren, who is both incredibly handsome and intensely troubled; a relationship for which ‘it’s complicated’ just really doesn’t cut it.

But Leonie is soon to learn that this ancient world is no paradise. With violent dissidents intent to overthrow the Imperium, and dark entities with their own agenda, she and Korren find themselves caught in a war where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to survive.

Dare to dream. Dare to hope. Dare to be a legend.

Pre-order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1RHuNx5

Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26722146-girl-of-myth-and-legend

5 Stars

I received this copy from NetGalley and this book is amazing.  The main character is a teenager in every sense of the word. She is stubborn, hardheaded, she bucks authority.  She is contrary just to be contrary.  Doesn’t think things through and is pretty immature.  She definitely is a teenager and the author wrote her perfectly, it was just brilliant.  And her counterpart is written really well.  The whole book is just written flawlessly. It had a great balance of dialogue vs action vs internal and external struggle. It had it all.

And I’m kind of upset, honestly because this book isn’t even out yet and I want to read the next one  already so now I gotta put it on this list of authors that I follow so I can find out when the next book comes out.  🙂 There was a lot of intrigue in this book.  It had a lot of political aspects to it with regards to the government power versus the rebels and it threw a nice layer into the book.  For a book that is not romantic in any way I still felt some undertones to it.  The flashbacks and the visions were some of the best parts of the book.  While you don’t see them come to fruition it sits in the back of your mind.  I tried my hardest to try and put it together and figure out how it’s going to come to be but in all honesty I couldn’t.

The characters were very developed and I think the plot is complex.  But it wasn’t so complex that you can’t figure it out which I like, because I can be a bit dense sometimes.  I predict this series to have many side stories and twists in it.  I highly recommend it. I can’t wait till the next book comes out. I’m would go snatch up all her other books but this is her first one!!!!!  I have found that authors writing tend to progress the more they write.  I’m kinda floored because I can’t imagine it getting any better.

This is one to watch guys.

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Has to Be Love by Jolene Perry

A potentially spoilery review in places, you’ve been warned.

Synopsis:

25407275Years ago, Clara survived a vicious bear attack. She’s used to getting sympathetic looks around town, but meeting strangers is a different story. Yet her dreams go far beyond Knik, Alaska, and now she’s got a secret that’s both thrilling and terrifying–an acceptance letter from Columbia University. But it turns out her scars aren’t as fixable as she hoped, and when her boyfriend begins to press for a forever commitment, she has second thoughts about New York. Then Rhodes, a student teacher in her English class, forces her to acknowledge her writing talent, and everything becomes even more confusing–especially with the feelings she’s starting to have about him. Now all Clara wants to do is hide from the tough choices she has to make. When her world comes crashing down around her, Clara has to confront her problems and find her way to a decision. Will she choose the life of her dreams or the life that someone she loves has chosen? Which choice is scarier?

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25407275-has-to-be-love
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Yh1MuB

My Review:

3.5 stars — I received a paperback ARC of this book from the author!!

I’m having a tough time deciding whether to round up or down on this one, and I think I’ll surprise even myself if I can make a decision…. The thing about this book is that the first half (maybe more than half, I don’t remember) was a solid 5 star read!! But it didn’t remain that way, and I actually had a lot of not so liking feels for a portion of the second half. But then it ended kind of 4 star for me. So I’m trying to balance my overall feels and decide what my overall view is. How much did that second half take away from my enjoyment?? Hmmm….

So this review is going to be hard in more than one way because I ended up laying in bed analyzing why I felt the way I did, and I can’t decide if what I want to share is spoilery in any way. So please proceed reading this paragraph with caution (I won’t put spoiler tags around it, but you’ve been warned). See, a significant part of the problem for me lie in my own *expectations* for this book. I expected a romance, and what I got was a coming of age story…. Not that there weren’t elements of romance in this book, but I still wouldn’t personally call this a romance book. Because, and maybe this is just me, in every romance book I read there is a formula. There is a book *boy*. (I mean yes, I know, there are love triangles and all that stuff, but let’s just simplify for a moment). And so when I’m expecting a romance *book*, I can’t help but in the back of my mind spend a lot of time wondering who the book boy is going to be. But that’s not really what this book was about. And my expectations kind of sabotaged my reading. I’m not sure if I’m even making sense, but I guess I just wish I’d been more open going into it, then perhaps I would have appreciated parts of the story more instead of getting myself confused.

OK, so I feel better having that out of the way. So what did I love (especially in that first half)?? Ms. Perry knows how to pull out all my feels, and I really did feel for Clara and all the choices that she was bombarded with. I went in knowing I was probably going to get a very realistic teenager, and so I wasn’t as frustrated with Clara behaving in a way that, let’s be honest, many of us would have behaved at that age. I felt like her struggles were very real, and something that many teenagers face, so it was refreshing to have a relevant story. It was refreshing to have a girl feel those raging hormones just as much as a boy….and to have them affect her judgement at times. I didn’t go through that as a teenager personally, but I’ve always felt like it was kind of a double standard the way boys and girls are portrayed in so many books. It was refreshing to have a story where religion played a part, but where it wasn’t all that the character was about — where her being religious did not make her a perfect character. She experienced doubt and struggled with her beliefs. But most of all it was refreshing to read a story that was all about the choices that a teenager faces about their future, from the future of their current relationships, to deciding who they want to be and facing the fear of where that might take them.

So, other than my expectations tainting my reading, where did it go wrong for me? I guess I just didn’t feel like I got to watch Clara grow as much as I would have liked. I would feel like she was starting to grow, but then it would halt and she would revert back. And again, I guess that’s kind of realistic, but part of why I read a coming of age story is to see their growth. And in the end I didn’t feel like I got that from Clara. Maybe it’s because I decided I didn’t want to put the book down, so I read until 3am and my mind was cloudy. But there were parts where I know I was supposed to feel one way, and I ended up feeling another. [SPOILER]Like in the first half I didn’t feel the genuine conviction from her about wanting to wait for marriage…it felt like she just believed it because she was supposed to believe it. But then so much of the disgust she felt after the incident with Rhodes came from that supposed conviction, and I guess I just wish that at some point I was shown how that conviction was reinforced for her…I don’t think I’m making sense, but I guess I just didn’t like how much shame she felt, and how she felt so gross b/c it felt like an outside force instead of something coming from deep held beliefs.[END SPOILER] Looking back I can see what the author was trying to do at certain points, but for some reason it fell flat to me. Maybe I just wanted to see her start making more conscious choices, instead of having those choices be so reactionary.

So now that I’ve written the world’s longest essay review (though not really, b/c I’ve seen some of the reviews on goodreads), how in the world did I still come up with a 3.5-4 star review? The problem is that it’s so much easier to explain where things go wrong than where things go right. I laughed in this book. I smiled. I bawled with Clara along her ride — I felt for her even when she made the bad choices and had to deal with them. I enjoyed how the writing made me feel — there was a lot of beautiful imagery. And I really liked the way the book ended. It felt like I got something back at that point that I was really wanting. And when a book starts and ends with a bang, sometimes the middle doesn’t matter as much in the overall scheme of things.

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