Trust by Kylie Scott

Blurb:
35157260Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

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

Well shit.  That was just awesome.  I’m so sorry people, but this is going to be a fangirl review.  And not because I’m a Kylie Scott fangirl, b/c to be honest?  This is actually my first read of hers, even though I have been collecting some of her other books since they sound like my bag.  It’s a fangirl review b/c I just loved this book so much.  I was sucked in and just freaking enthralled.  It’s funny, b/c I really do rate just on overall pulled-from-the-gut feeling.  So was this book perfect?  Nah.  But by the time I finished, I had 5 star glasses on my face…  I don’t think that even makes sense.

I’ve been having a hard time staying focused on words lately, and I will admit that right at the very beginning I was having a hard time focusing as well.  But Edie’s voice just pulled me in, and the intensity of what she was going through in the robbery had me paying more attention to the book and forgetting to adjust my bike resistance (bad for my physical health, but good for my soul).  I just felt all of her emotions with her, even if I didn’t always understand them all.

And the book is about so much more than the robbery; it’s more about watching Edie struggle to deal with the aftermath and changes those events wrought in her personality and attitude.  All of which is conveyed in the blurb, but I guess I just never imagined what that would entail.  It’s not just about dealing with PTSD type symptoms (though those are there).  It’s that she honestly had a hard time finding importance in so much of life.  I will admit that I didn’t find her new self to be that wild.  Wild for her maybe, but not actually *that* reckless…or maybe it’s that her new friends and John helped to temper that wildness.

Edie was just everything for me.  You know how as a reader you just gravitate towards certain types of heroines?  Edie embodied so much of what I gravitate towards.  I could see some of myself in her.  She’s a bigger girl, and she was this perfect mix of content with her size most of the time (and how the choices she’s made in her life led to that, and not wanting to change those) and yet still damaged by her experiences being bigger (low self esteem, believing she wasn’t good enough, basically allowing the bullies to affect her).  I can totally vibe with that.  It’s a bit schizophrenic in some ways, b/c you’re both confident and insecure at the same time.  I thought those elements of her personality were portrayed beautifully, and that the development of her character as she navigated her relationship with John moved at a realistic pace.  And it wasn’t really the focus of the book AT ALL, but it was an element that just existed and influenced things.  I liked that.

And she was so beautifully snarky and sassy!!  GAH!  Love that so much.  I can’t tell you how many interactions I highlighted b/c they just delighted me to no end.  And part of that is that she ended up surrounding herself with some fabulous people.  I LOVE when a book has a great secondary cast (and a diverse one at that).  From her new BFF Hang, to Carrie and Sophia, to Anders…I just wanted them all to be real.  I was so glad that Edie had them in her life, even if it took her awhile to trust them and let them in.

I enjoyed the fact that there could have been incidences of horrible slut-shaming, but that the girls tried to cut it off at the pass.  I actually liked that the opportunities were presented, b/c I think it’s really hard as a society to change and get past slut-shaming, so the girls weren’t perfect, but they tried to adjust their attitudes.  It made them more real.

And then we get to John.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to be in his head…PLEASE LET THERE BE A BONUS SCENE FROM HIS POV, please please please!!  He was swoony in such a weird way.  He definitely wasn’t perfect, there were times when I thought he was a bit harsh on Edie, even if his heart was in the right place.  But my heart just broke for all that he had to struggle with.  I can’t imagine how hard it would be to overcome your own reputation and keep striving forward when everyone already judged you and painted you with one brush.  And even though it was only from Edie’s POV, you could really see how her friendship and love changed him…how unused to it he was, but how he craved it in some ways.

And their romance was just butterfly inducing.  Epic slow burn, but it really allowed you to become invested in their friendship as it developed and grew.  And there were lots of tummy tingles when things started to heat up.  *sigh*  *swoon*

So yeah.  Did I convince you?  You should totally read it before you get attacked by a rabid Pekingese.  😛  Insider book joke for the win.

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A Girl Like Me by Ginger Scott

Blurb:
35166507I’m not supposed to be here.

Death has come for me more than once, and each time it’s been a boy who’s stood between me and my final breath.

I called him Christopher when he saved me as a child. When he came into my life again, only months ago, I knew him as Wes. Just as he did the time before, he disappeared the moment he made sure I was out of harm’s way; as if I didn’t need any more saving.

This time, though, death left me with a reminder of how powerful it is. I know it meant to strip me of my spirit again, but it failed.

Even so, I know I need Wes to survive. Our souls are woven together somehow, our every breath in sync. I feel it, even though everyone says I shouldn’t.

The world thinks he’s missing.
His loved ones don’t want to believe he’s dead.
Only I know just how special he is.

I’m going to find him and bring him home, where he belongs. Together, we’ll face impossible—we’ll rewrite our ending.

And when the bad guys come calling, we will always win.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Technically I did receive an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review/opinion, but since I was so behind, I just read the copy that I preordered and showed up on my Kindle.  🙂

I ended up rereading book one before diving into this book, hence why I was behind on my ARC reading, but it was so nice to be fully immersed in this book universe again so I remembered absolutely everything.  I’m just that kind of girl.  I always worry that the sequel is not going to live up to the first book, especially when the first book blows you completely away.  I’m happy to say that for *me*, this book did NOT let me down!!  While I did find it to be a slightly slower read than the first book, I was still so ridiculously satisfied with all the answers I got and where the story ended up going.

For those readers that are curious about the paranormal aspect, I can definitively say that this is not a strictly contemporary read.  I’ll leave the rest for the book to dive into, but the hint of paranormal/sci-fi is definitely there.  I know that’s not everyone’s bag, but I actually really enjoyed how it felt very natural to the story, but also didn’t take OVER the story.  It’s hard to place this fully into a paranormal/sci-fi genre, b/c it still had a very contemporary feel despite that aspect.  It was, in some ways, a bit of a coming-of-age story, or a story about a character’s growth and struggles with some very real life problems.  So take from that what you will.  I can see folks who are strictly contemporary maybe not enjoying this, and I can see folks who are all-paranormal-all-the-time not enjoying it either.  But for those readers that like to cross into both, it was a delicious mix.  There is a part of me that maybe was still left with a whole schwak of questions as a result, but for some reason I was OK with that.  It fit the story.

Joss was entirely inspiring in this book.  You really get to see her shine, and I was raising my hands in solidarity for her choices for most of this book.  I honestly had no idea where this book was going to go after the ending of the last one.  And it honestly surprised me a LOT with the different twists and turns it took.  Certain plot aspects that I thought would be the main ones ended up being somewhat resolved and we were plunged into the next obstacle.  Other side plots I had never even considered were presented and really added to the story as a whole (Grace).  But I particularly loved what Ms. Scott did with Joss, and how Joss handled some of the revelations.  She reacted just as I expected her to, even if I didn’t realize it until after I read it.  It was like “yup, that’s Joss.”  The thing that I really love about this character is that she’s NOTHING LIKE ME.  Like, nothing.  I would have totally reacted in completely different ways, but because of the way she was written, I fully bought into every decision and action she made.  I empathized with her, and genuinely LIKED her.  That’s good writing yo.

And then there’s Wes.  Oh Wes.  You know what I loved about him in this book?  He wasn’t perfect.  He made bad choices, decisions that hurt the people he loved.  He was vulnerable, and afraid at times.  He was confused.  He had a lot going on in his own story.  But through it all I still loved him.  And I still rooted for him.

And I loved Wes and Joss together.  They make my heart so happy.  Their journey is just so fraught with obstacles that I really feel like Ms. Scott owes it to them (and us) to write them a little short story where everything is happy and awesome and we get to just revel in the fun that is them for like 50 pages.  I realize most people would find that boring, and thus it will never happen, but a girl can dream.  They’re so sassy and snarky with each other, but also so ridiculously sweet, and just REAL with each other too.

I LOVED the developments we got with Joss’s Dad.  I fully bought into his growth, and the growth of their relationship.  He still broke my heart, but I was all in.  And I loved that we got to learn more about Joss’s Mom, often through Grace, and that the answers weren’t all Hollywood/storybook clean and good, but that they felt real and believable and shed some light on other topics.  I loved Grace and what she added to the story (as I’ve already said).

And as always, I LOVED our secondary characters.  Kyle, Taryn, TK and Levi were da bomb dot com.  Even Bria had a tiny moment.  I love when a book gives us not only fabulous main characters to love, but an amazing supporting cast.

So yeah.  There’s my novel of a review.  This book left me happy and satisfied.  The only reason it’s not a full 5 stars is because I felt like the pacing could have been tightened up in places.  But I was so satisfied with so many other aspects, that it really didn’t affect me as much as it might have in another novel.  And on a strange final sidenote, I do not have any interest in baseball as a sport whatsoever.  But this novel actually made me consider watching a game with my Mom…that’s a miracle folks, a miracle.

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Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott

Blurb:
25059516Kensington Worth had a vision for her senior year. It involved her best friends, her posh private school in downtown Chicago and time alone with her piano until her audition was perfected, a guaranteed ticket into the best music programs in the world.

Instead, a nightmare took over.

It didn’t happen all at once, but her life unraveled quickly—a tiny thread that evil somehow kept pulling until everything precious was taken from her. She was suddenly living miles away from her old life, trapped in an existence she didn’t choose—one determined to destroy her from the inside, leaving only hate and anger behind. It didn’t help that her neighbor, the one whose eyes held danger, was enjoying every second of her fall.

Owen Harper was trouble, his heart wild and his past the kind that’s spoken about in whispers. And somehow, his path was always intertwined with Kensington’s, every interaction crushing her, ruining her hope for any future better than her now. Sometimes, though, what everyone warns is trouble, is exactly what the heart needs. Owen Harper was consumed with darkness, and it held onto his soul for years. When Kensington looked at him, she saw a boy who’d gotten good at taking others down when they threatened his carefully balanced life. But the more she looked, the more she saw other things too—good things…things to admire.

Things…to love. Things that made her want to be reckless.

And those things…they were the scariest of all.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Well, this book left me really torn.  The good stuff was REALLY REALLY GOOD.  Like really good (in case the capital letters didn’t sell you).  But the stuff that didn’t sit right with me is just hovering at the back of my brain, disallowing me from loving this book.

So what let’s do good stuff first.  I really love this author, and I love the way she can just drag out my feels and rip up my heart at times.  And she decided to go for the jugular right from the prologue.  I thought that the way she addressed Owen’s grief over his father, and the issues that he dealt with with his older brother was done REALLY well.  I really felt his confusion, and loss, and could kind of understand why he was such a dick and how he cultivated the attitude that he did, especially in the town he grew up in.  And my heart broke for everything that he was trying to do to protect his family.  And I could FEEL his pain.  Even though we don’t get in his head, I could feel it through Kensi.

I LOVED the way Kensi grew a backbone and remained steadfast with Owen through the tough times.  Even when her heart was breaking over things he was doing, she was still trying to be there for him, to try to pull him back.  And Owen was there for her too, trying to push her and not let her lose herself.

And I loved some of their sweet moments.  Particularly some of the sweet moments Owen had with Kensi, he could be so adorable because he just wasn’t used to normal relationships.  And hoo boy, when I eventually got on board with their chemistry, it was freaking hot!

I will also give a shout out to Grandpa, he was da bomb.  I wish we’d seen more of him.

OK, so that was all awesome.  I really did feel sooooo much with this book, and I enjoyed the moments when the characters surprised me and didn’t do what I expected.  BUT.  But…  *sigh*  While I *get* why Owen was a dick, some of the things he did to Kensi went too far for me to come back from, and I just couldn’t put him on my book boyfriend list.  It’s funny, b/c it’s not that I didn’t expect some of those bad things…he wouldn’t be an authentic “bad boy” if he didn’t have some slip ups, and people are complex creatures, so it’s reasonable to assume that he wouldn’t get it right all the time.  But I didn’t get to see enough of his transition, where he started embracing more of the sweet side and letting it shine through.  I didn’t get to see his regret over some of those bad decisions, some of those dickish moments.  And I needed that.  I really really needed more than we were given.

And along those same lines, b/c of the horrible initial encounters between the two, I didn’t understand what drew them together.  I get that she thought he was cute, but she was also terrified of him, so I needed some moment or action from him that changes her mind.  And not being in Owen’s head, I honestly don’t know WHAT he was thinking about Kensi.  I don’t know what attracted him to her.

And there were other little things.  Like Kensi’s side story was actually really heartbreaking, but I felt like it fell to the wayside in favour of the Harper story.  Which is fine, but then why have it at all?  It felt like it was unnecessary if you weren’t going to give it time and attention.  And while I get that she’s a teenager, I didn’t always appreciate how she talked to her Mom and didn’t seem to care about her, and I guess I just needed her to apologize and grow in that relationship.  It’s not that I didn’t agree wholeheartedly with Kensi, but there should be some respect there, or it should at least develop.  And I was kind of disappointed with how focused Kensi was on Owen, to the exclusion of her new friends.  It didn’t really feel healthy.  I guess that’s it, a lot of the things that bothered me were because they didn’t feel healthy.  Which happens in real life, but then I want some resolution to them, you know?  I want my characters to realize it’s not healthy and grow.  And I kind of felt bad for Morgan.  If you don’t remember who she is, then that’s exactly my point.  Why introduce an element, and then let it flounder.

I did really love Andrew though, so I’m excited to read his story.  *fingers crossed* that the little things don’t get in the way of my enjoyment on that one too.  I actually can’t decide how to round this one.  Up because I love the author and I loved all the feels and the chemistry?  Or down because the unhealthiness was too much?  Hmmm…

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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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