Silence by Natasha Preston

Blurb:
31676476For eleven years, Oakley Farrell has been silent. At the age of five, she stopped talking, and no one seems to know why. Refusing to communicate beyond a few physical actions, Oakley remains in her own little world.

Bullied at school, she has just one friend, Cole Benson. Cole stands by her, refusing to believe that she is not perfect the way she is. Over the years, they have developed their own version of a normal friendship. However, will it still work as they start to grow even closer?

When Oakley is forced to face someone from her past, can she hold her secret in any longer?

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Well.  Hmmm.  So the thing about this book is that I started it before bed and stayed up until 4am finishing it in one sitting…and then I felt disappointed and underwhelmed.  Which doesn’t make much sense right?  Basically there were aspects of this book that were 4+ stars, and there were aspects of this book that were 2 stars.  But given I was sucked in and just kept going and going, I figured I’d give it a slight nod above the average of 3 because I do tend to rate based on overall enjoyment, not on the actual quality of the book.

This book reminded me a LOT of The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window.  The relationship between Oakley and Cole and how it develops, and the damage done to Oakley, were surprisingly similar in feel.  That’s another book that I can’t necessarily say is superbly well-written (lots of editing issues common in early self-publishing), but I just LOVE it, you know?  Like a guilty pleasure.  And it was the same for this book.  I was super intrigued by Oakley’s secret, and didn’t even mind TOO much the way it was revealed slowly over the course of the first half of the book, though the false leads were a bit annoying.  And I really adored the sweet nature of Oakley and Cole’s relationship, and how close they could be without her ever speaking (or communicating in any way really).  I actually really believed that he understood her based on years of paying attention to her body language and facial expressions.

But here’s where this book falls short of TBWSIMBW: the pacing.  Seriously, that is my number one issue with this book.  I found I was staying up reading just to finally find out what happened, what was going to happen, b/c we know from the blurb that her past is going to catch up with her.  Seriously, I was like “OK, more relationship, more normal everyday, more sideplot…anytime now…”  I don’t think it was until like 87% that we got even a hint of the dark turn, and that’s just not enough time to give what should be a satisfying climax a lead up and solid conclusion.  And it really wasn’t.  It was super rushed.  I’m torn about how it all happened…there is a part of me that loves it, but there is another part of me that’s wholly unsatisfied that we didn’t hear from Oakley.  And then the ending.  OMG.  I don’t think I fully realized this was a series, or maybe I thought it was a series of connected characters, but nope…the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying.  Not a cliffhanger so much as a non-HEA.

And so there I am, laying in bed, just bummed.  Because you know what?  Even not having read the second book, I can tell that it didn’t need to be a 2 part divided story.  There was so much repetition in the meat of the book that really could have been pared down.  I enjoyed getting to see the emotional impact of what Oakley went through, but I still think it could have been shaved down and still been effective.  And I didn’t mind not knowing the details of what happened, b/c that’s a bit hard to take, and I enjoyed the focus being on how it impacted Oakley’s life.  But there was so much extraneous material in the book that honestly could have been either taken out or, for goodness sake, it should have had a purpose!  Like Julian!  What the what?  What was the point of that storyline?  Either it should have had a conclusion and a development that made sense, or it shouldn’t have been that large.  And Lizzie?  What was with that?

So while I would really *like* to have the conclusion of Cole and Oakley’s story, from what I can gather from looking at the lower starred reviews of the next book (when I take out all the annoying reviews that just talk about the grammar…seriously, that’s the whole reason you rated it 1 star?  Why did even read the second book then?), the pacing is fairly similar and unsatisfying.  So it’s not really worth it for me.  Maybe if it was free, but it still costs my time, you know?

Weird review right?  It was a weird reading experience.  To have so much love for the characters and to be simultaneously sucked in and impatient, it’s just odd.  It’s happened to me before, but it is always vexing when it does.  Oh well.  *shrugs*  I don’t regret it, I just wish it had been better.  Especially because I enjoyed the handling of the tough topic.

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Armored by M.A. Wilder

Blurb:

17619234When seventeen-year-old Beckit Wright joins Aaron, a mesmerizing and mysterious knight, on a dangerous adventure to a world that she is destined to save, things get complicated when her safety and heart wind up in jeopardy. As the two struggle to keep their professional relationship from turning personal, Beckit and Aaron begin to wonder how long will they be able to fight both their enemies and their fierce attraction for one another before one of them ends up hurt or worse.

WARNING: This book contains some adult language, violence, and sexual content. Reader and parental discretion is advised.

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My Review:
3 stars — Wellllll…*beep*  I mean seriously.  I am a big ball of torn.  I don’t even know what that means, good start Lenore.

So here’s the thing.  There were two things about the way this book was written that just bugged the crap out of me.  I mean SERIOUSLY drove me batty.  And I will get into them.  And then there were a handful of things that kind of annoyed me, but not horrendously.  And then there were things I loved.  I spent the first half pretty sure that I would just finish the book, give it an OK rating, and move on with my life.  But the problem is that the good things have me compelled!  I want to know where the story goes!  And it ended on a pretty big cliffhanger…sort of…I never know the definition of cliffhangers, but it wasn’t all neat and tidy.  So I’m going to read the next one!  Even though GAH!!  JUST GAH!!!

OK, so let’s get the really bad out of the way and work our way to good.  Bad thing #1: this book was written in what I believe is 3rd person omniscient, and I do NOT read 3rd person omniscient, so I’m not sure exactly, but I don’t think it was done very well.  MOST of the time, and for a good chunk of the beginning it was in 3rd person limited (Beckit’s head), and I was enjoying that.  And then all of a sudden we definitely weren’t in Beckit’s head.  And it confused the crap out of me.  First because I wasn’t entirely sure whose head we were in, or if we were in any head…and it happened sporadically for the rest of the book.  We’d be going along as Beckit, and then wham…something else.  Sometimes I could figure out it was probably Aaron, but other times I just couldn’t tell.  And because it was so sporadic, it was really jarring and I honestly feel like the book would have been better served to stick to Beckit only…I don’t think the switches really added much given how confusing they were.

Bad thing #2: Sort of related, because sometimes when the POV was switching, it would almost be sort of like a narrator, and so the author would continuously switch out Beckit’s name with “the human” or “the poh iverstant”…  It really didn’t fit.  I don’t understand the point of doing that.  It felt like when someone is given the advice to change things up to provide variety, but it just again made me confused about the perspective.

OK, so those were the bads that drove me batty.  Onto the meh things.  1) The pacing was a bit off for me.  I felt like things moved really rapidly at the beginning, but without much explanation, and so I wasn’t invested.  I tried to explain the book to my husband and he laughed because I sounded like a run on sentence (“and then they got to the planet, and then they were attacked, and then they ran to a village…”).  And I didn’t like that the chapters would end with a sort of cliffhanger, but then would not immediately resolve in the next chapter.  Like (and this is not an actual example, b/c I don’t have one handy), she would turn around and scream, but then the next chapter would start off with her lounging hanging with her BFF, and eventually they would explain what made her scream.  It felt like contrived tension.

2) The love triangle was unnecessary in my opinion.  I mean, yes, it’s no secret I don’t like love triangles, but this one really didn’t serve a purpose, or at the very least it should have served a short purpose and been resolved.  (it kind of felt like we were getting into the trope of everyone falls in love with the heroine who thinks she’s an ugly duckling, and that’s just not my fave…especially because I kind of liked that Beckit was not a usual size/shape).

3) Aaron.  He was inconsistent as all heck.  He would have a few swoony moments, but I really didn’t know enough about him to really understand why he was drawn to Beckit, or what he was thinking, or heck, what he was like (which given that the perspective jumped, we could have had more moments in his head to enlighten us)??  And then he would become childishly possessive.  For a thousand year old Knight, he behaved like a child with a temper tantrum too often for me to swoon.  And I just didn’t get the pull that Beckit felt for him.  It felt like a crush and lust, I don’t think I got enough interaction to get where it turned into more.  Heck I don’t understand if they’re even friends.

4) The sex scene didn’t fit the tone of the book.  I’m a proud reader of all levels of steam, from squeaky clean to erotica, but the sex scene was hella explicit for a book that felt more YA than NA.  And for characters that were goofier.  But maybe that was just me (and at least there is a warning in the blurb).

5) Beckit and Tameka (but mostly Beckit) were way too accepting of things.  And for Beckit it was based on some feelings.  If those feelings were then explained to be some magic pull between an erone and his poh iverstant, then I would accept it.  But just because you acknowledge to the reader that she should be more wary/skeptical, but just isn’t, doesn’t really satisfy me.  And what are Tameka’s parents thinking?  And does she not care about them worrying about her?

Damn this review is getting long.  Sorry guys.  THE GOOD!!!  1) THE WORLD!!  Colour me intrigued.  I kind of love that there’s this planet that contains all these supernatural creatures, and that’s just the way it is and everyone just lives together.  It amuses me, I enjoy it.  And I ADORED the way the Knights were added, and how they’re kind of shifter like with their armor being a part of who they are as creatures or something.  Like seriously cool.

2) When the writing was on, I really felt for Beckit and the things she was going through, and she got me in the feels.  It wasn’t consistent, but when it was there it was amazing.

3) The bits of sassy humour!!  Seriously, the characters had me grinning in a number of places.  And I know this is a downside for some readers, but I enjoyed the youthful slang that Tameka and Beckit used.  It just fit their personalities and brought out their teenagerness.  And the games night!  It was a great moment of levity that was sorely needed.

4) Beckit was smart!!!  I ADORED the scene in the council meeting!  I wanted to high five her all over the place!

5) While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance, and it was inconsistent, when the chemistry was there I really felt it.

6) The motley crew of friends!!!  Tameka was sassy and pretty funny (though she would probably get on my nerves after a while in real life).  Linnie was an interesting addition, and I hope we see more of her in the future.  I really hope Frost has a lot more secrets to tell, b/c while he’s interesting, he will be even more interesting if there is something to the little hints we see every now and again.  Royce is even intriguing, he’s a nice foil for Meka.  And RAN!!!  Ran is my total favourite.  Love that guy.  I can’t even.

7) Even the smaller secondary characters were intriguing!!! (Denzin, Dozen, Xoe, Hakeen, Gwon)

8) Particularly Atlas!!  I love me a father/son dynamic, and he really added to the story.

9) And I can’t stress this enough, DIVERSITY!!!  A black heroine!!  A hispanic BFF!!  A gay werewolf!!  A bi vampire!!  And even secondary characters were a colourful array of ethnicities.

And this can go in the bad and good: the overarching plot!  It’s intriguing, but it was really shuffled to the background a lot.  I mean, I still don’t understand what the Te-Trad even is, or what they’re going to do, or much about where the whole conflict is going to go.  But nevertheless I’m intrigued!  I want to know!

So there you have it.  Next book has been purchased, about to be started.  We’ll see if I can tolerate the bad enough to enjoy the good for the rest of the series.

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A Boy Like You by Ginger Scott

Blurb:

33543707They say everyone’s a superhero to someone. I’m not sure who I’m supposed to save, but I know who saved me.

We were kids. His name was Christopher. And up until the day he pulled me from death’s grip, he was nothing more than a boy I felt sorry for. In a blink of an eye, he became the only person who made me feel safe.

And then he disappeared.

Now I’m seventeen. I’m not a kid anymore. I haven’t been for years. While death didn’t take me that day, the things that happened left me with scars—the kind that robbed me of everything I once loved and drove me into darkness. But more than anything else, that day—and every day since—has taken away my desire to dream.

I wasn’t going to have hope. I wouldn’t let myself wish. Those things—they weren’t for girls like me. That’s what I believed…until the new boy.

He’s nothing like the old boy. He’s taller and older. His hair is longer, and his body is lean—strong and ready for anything. I don’t feel sorry for him. And sometimes, I hate him. He challenges me. From the moment I first saw him standing there on the baseball field, he pushed me—his eyes constantly questioning, doubting…daring. Still, something about him—it feels…familiar.

He says his name is Wes. But I can’t help but feel like he’s someone else. Someone from my past. Someone who’s come back to save me.

This time, though, he’s too late. Josselyn Winters, the girl he once knew, is gone. I am the threat; I am my worst enemy. And he can’t save me from myself.

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My Review:
5 stars — I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OMG, GINGER SCOTT IS A CRUEL AUTHOR!!!  I knew that it was going to be hard to wait for the next book in this series, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this!!  WHY?  WHY??!!!!

OK, so I was freaking HOOKED from the prologue.  And not just by the action and plot, but I always forget the way Ms. Scott write’s characters, and just the way she writes in general.  I don’t know what it is about it but it just gets me every time, and I’m sucked right into the story.  And seriously, like from the first page, I had a feel for who 8 year old Joss was, and I could picture their childish games, and the dynamics of their group, and just everything.  It was the absolute perfect way to start the story.

And then we dive into present day, and my heart just aches for the 16 year old (or however old Junior year is) Joss, and how unbelievably damaged she is, and how I could totally understand why she is the way she is, and why she acts the way she does.  She was so hard on the outside, and destructive, and just…I just got it, you know?  And I could feel all her emotions, and how she saw her life and how she saw herself.  She was an amazingly well described heroine, who I couldn’t help but love despite not being anything like her.  I felt everything with her, and that’s always the best journey an author can take you on.

And the cast of secondary characters was full and varied as well.  From her friends, Taryn and Kyle, and how the each interacted with Joss and helped or hindered her.  To the new boys, TK and Levi, who added to the Wes storyline, and gave such a great look at family (their father as well).  To her softball girls, who weren’t present a lot, but added to the depth of her story.

And then there’s her father.  Gah.  I don’t even know what to say.  I hated him.  I hated him, but I understood him, and I was disappointed in him, and I went through all the same emotions Joss went in as the story progressed.

And last but not least there’s beautiful Wes.  Who confuses the shit out of me, but whom I adore and has become one of my favourite book boys in no time at all.  He is just everything that Joss needed.  He is caring, and sweet, and forceful, and he has expectations for Joss.  But he’s left me so confused.  I don’t even know what is going on there.  Is there something more?  Is this more than just a contemporary?  And if it’s not, then what in the world is going on?

I wish I’d had more dedicated me time to read the end of this book, b/c it came out of nowhere and broke my heart and I didn’t get to bawl as I wanted to because I was reading in a public place, and when I bawl I go full on red eyes, look like death warmed over, snot everywhere…

And now I wait.  Damnit Ms. Scott, you are a cruel mistress, but I will keep coming back for more every time.  I highly recommend this book, but if you’re impatient like me, perhaps watch for a release date for book 2, and then devour it just before.

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Off the Ice by Julie Cross

Blurb:

25538649The NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Whatever Life Throws at You kicks off a brand-new series perfect for fans of Miranda Kennealy and Abbi Glines.

Next season was supposed to be his year. Junior Tate Tanley had big plans to ride the varsity bench most of the season, but when the Otters star goalie storms out of the arena during the first home game of the season, Tate is in the spotlight and under the gun.

Enter Claire O’Connor, the girl Tate’s admired for years, his sister’s best friend. Claire’s back from a year away at school to take care of her father and help keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. One semester off, that’s what Claire promised herself.

And then straight back to school, out of Juniper Falls. And she has dozens of reasons for wanting to get the hell out. Again.

Last year, the night before Claire left, she came to Tate’s rescue and what could have been a secret that distanced them ended up drawing them closer the moment she returned to town. For Claire and Tate, leaning on each other feels as natural as breathing but with Claire trying her best to leave again and Tate more rooted to his town than ever, it seems like the worst time to fall in love. Assuming either of them can stop it from happening.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

Wow, this book had so much depth and heart.  I think I get used to the Entangled Crush line of books, and I forgot this wasn’t one of those.  This book has two characters dealing with some pretty heavy stuff, and I really loved how the author took us through that and the reactions and actions all made sense to me.  It was just really well done.  It made me feel for both of them, and I was intrigued with how they were dealing with it and how their relationship with each other would either benefit or hinder them.  So it was kind of a coming of age story too…not super overt, but you do see these characters grow and come into their own more.

Before I go into more of what I enjoyed about each character, I will say that the ages in this book were kind of confusing.  At the very beginning Tate says that Claire is only a year older than him, but she’s his sister’s best friend, so I’m going to assume they are around the same age.  But for the majority of the book Tate is in his Junior year of high school, while his sister is in her first year of University.  So isn’t that like 2 years?  And so I never really understand Claire’s year at Northwestern.  Had she graduated high school a year early and gone to University?  Or was she at some special program that was neither high school nor University?  It’s not like it’s a big deal I guess, but it was just something that nagged at me throughout the book.

Claire’s situation was just freaking heartbreaking.  And the author did such a fantastic job of showing the many day to day struggles that a family would undertake in such a situation.  I could totally empathize with what Claire was going through, and how she was feeling about her future, and how torn she was.  Seriously, it was just so spot on.

And Tate gave me all the feels too!!  Seriously, I could totally understand how he was feeling, and why he dealt with things the way he did.  I couldn’t imagine what that must have been like, especially in that town.  And can I just say that he was seriously swoony?  Like kind of a beta boy…or if not beta, omega?  Is that a thing?  He was just so sweet and there was so much there there.

And Claire and Tate together definitely had interesting chemistry.  Normally there on again off again thing would have bothered me more, but it kind of fit for what they were both struggling through in their lives.  I was sometimes a bit disappointed in the time jumps though, b/c I kept wondering what happened in the interim: were they hanging out?  What was the development?

And all the side stuff!!  You guys!  Normally I don’t like a book to be too cluttered up, but it all just fit nicely for me!  I loved the stuff with Mike.  I loved the little bits we saw of Leo and Jamie.  I’m very excited to see if the next books in the series will be books about these other hockey boys.  I even enjoyed the way the Haley thing played out.  It was so much more real, and not over dramatic.  Where it could have devolved into familiar tropes, I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

And the PARENTS!!  I love it when parents play a role in YA stories.  And there are good role models!  I mean, yes, bad stuff too, but just some great stuff there!  Especially with Rodger.  Big thumbs up.

Honestly, the only reason I’m rounding down is because of the mood I’m in.  I didn’t get that 5 star feel at the end, and I think I’m just a bit distracted in my reading right now.  Oh, and the time jumps I guess.  But I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to more in this world.

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Sweet Tea and Summer Love by Regan Claire

Blurb:
sweettea_finalcoverIt’s been more than a decade since Anna Lynne graced the home where she spent every summer of her childhood. Now, she’s back and overwhelmed by memories of her last summer there. One defined by loss, love, growth, and change. A few short months that changed her forever.

Anna Lynne was mourning her father while most of her friends were thinking about college, making her question everything about the life she used to live, and the person she no longer wanted to be. She felt isolated in her grief—until she met Will and his sister, outcasts far outside her normal social circle. Through them, she learned about sacrifice and strength; about loyalty and love. Ultimately, they taught her that tragedy comes in more ways than one.

As she recalls that fateful summer and the reason she stayed away from the only home she ever knew, Anna Lynne can’t help but wonder how the people she left behind managed to navigate the heartbreak she helped create—and if they can ever forgive her.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — BETA READ!!  So much of what I love about this author from her paranormal series abounds in this fabulous contemporary romance.  Fabulous characters, some great sass, and so much growth and depth.

While this is an amazing (mature) young adult romance, it is also a bit of a coming of age story as well.  I loved the unique way in which it was told, with adult Anna Lynne telling the story of her summer of first love to her younger sister.  The narrative jumps back and forth between Then and Now, and it felt seamless, b/c you got to see Layla (her sister) reacting to the story, and occasionally see hints of what was to come.

Anna Lynne was an intriguing character in herself, b/c she’s struggling with her grief, and changes in her family, and we’re sort of seeing the aftermath of some earlier rebellion.  Her world has been changed, and not just that, but the way she sees the world and what she wants out of life.  So she wasn’t what I was expecting in the beginning, but I grew to love her and how she grew over that summer, and even beyond.

Will was super swoony.  Just, I can’t even describe it, he was just sweet, and charming, and protective of his sister, and admirable.  He wasn’t without his flaws, but he was just a guy on the cusp of manhood dealing with way more responsibility than he should have.

The romance between Will and Allie (as he calls her) is just spot on perfect.  It gives you all those young adult butterflies.  You can just feel them falling in love.  And it’s not all perfect, Anna Lynne is awkward at times, and it’s just funny and satisfying and all the good stuff.  All of it.

And the story is not without its share of heartbreak that turns everything on its head.  And there are hints that something happens to suddenly end the summer, but even with the foreshadowing, it still hits you right in the feels.

And finally, the secondary characters!!!  Ms. Claire knows how to nail secondary characters so that you want to hear more from them as well!!  Her grandmother and her younger sister were fantastic, and so fun and sassy in their own right.  Will’s pretend cousin (you’ll get it when you read it) Landon was just HILARIOUS and I could just picture him perfectly.  And Will’s sister Jill played just as important a role in Anna Lynne’s summer, and I loved seeing their friendship develop as well.

So basically awesomeness.  Go forth, buy, read, enjoy.  Thank me later.

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