Book Review: A is for Abstinence – Kelly Oram

Title:  A is for Abstinence
Author: Kelly Oram
Genre: NA – Romance
Blurb (from Goodreads): 

Best selling YA romance author Kelly Oram takes her first dive into new adult romance with this heartfelt and hilarious tale of a rockstar and a virgin.

Rockstar to the core, Six-time Grammy Award-winning musician Kyle Hamilton has it all—money, fame, talent, good looks, and a job he loves. His only regret in life: walking away from a certain notorious virgin because he was too prideful, stubborn, and even afraid to give her the only thing she asked of him—his abstinence.

Four years and a broken heart later, Kyle realizes that sex isn’t everything, and he suddenly can’t stop thinking about the girl that got away. Virgin Val Jensen got under his skin like no one else ever has. He wasn’t ready for her then, but things are different now. He’s grown up, he’s learned a few things, and he’s finally figured out exactly what he wants, or, rather, who he wants.

Kyle Hamilton wants a do-over, and this time he’s willing to do—or not do—whatever it takes.


My Review:
So I broke my rule TBR Challenge rule.  Kelly Oram is NOT on my “pre-approved to buy” list for this year, but I couldn’t leave Val and Kyle up in the air like that.  I lasted 4 months.  That’s pretty decent, right?  And it doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and buy all the books…not necessarily. 
What I Loved:  Getting the rest of the story.  
I loved what Kyle was willing to do to prove to Val that he loved her and wanted to be with her.  I loved the growth his character went through between the two books in understanding Val’s perspective and even as far as understanding just why waiting was so special.
Not So Much:  I didn’t really feel like there was much of a story arch in this second book.  There were some minor issues and a little drama, but this was mostly a story about how Val and Kyle got their HEA.   I expected some kind of grand gesture from Marissa that would mess up something between Val and Kyle, or maybe someone from Val’s side. 
The Verdict:     
I really glad I picked up and read this book, but kind feel like it could have been more.  This book is still clean, despite the NA category.  Mild cussing, and of course there is sex talk.

Book Review: V is for Virgin – Kelly Oram

Title: V is for Virgin
Author: Kelly Oram
Genre: YA – Romance

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/B00AJUVJN8

Blurb (from Goodreads): 
When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.
After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?

My Review:
Kelly Oram is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I am loving her YA stories so much. I recently re-read Cinder & Ella for the 3rd time since November, and once I was done I decided to pick up V is for Virgin.

What I Loved: Well, for starters I loved Val from the start! She was such a strong person with convictions that I could relate to. I had a somewhat similar experience to her, not in the standing on lunchroom tables sort of way, but I did have my best friend at the time basically indicate that I either hung out with her new group of friends, (and partook of the drugs and alcohol) or I didn’t. I didn’t and I wouldn’t all through Jr High and High School. I grew up with that stuff around me – I knew what the results could bring, I wanted nothing to do with it. So ….I just didn’t. I didn’t get ridiculed for it, but I did lose someone who was very important to me. Anyhow, I digress, I loved Val not only because she was strong, but because she was funny. She was quick witted, and passionate. All admirable qualities.

I loooooved the heat between Val and Kyle. I’m a little bit of a sucker for the ‘all up in your personal space’ kind of passion. I enjoy it in books almost as much as I enjoy it when my husband surprises me like that. And that is pretty much Kyle’s signature move.

I think the issue of being/feeling pressured to have sex as a teenager is tackled pretty well in this book. It is a BIG deal. And honestly, I hated how many of the characters were portrayed as whining that they weren’t ‘getting any’ because – why has this become such an everyday occurrence? What is wrong with this being special. And I mean really special? Not something that is expected of you with every passing boyfriend or girlfriend. I felt like both ends of the spectrum were laid out pretty well. I felt like my personal convictions were adequately portrayed as well as how others feel on the matter. A very fair assessment.

Not So Much: I didn’t realize when I picked this book up that it was a part of a series. (If two books can be considered a series.) The first book stands alone well enough, but no one is NOT going to want to pick up A is for Abstinence. But I really wanted it to be a stand alone. ::insert my own pouty face here::

The Verdict:        

Go buy Kelly Oram’s books! Clearly this particular book has sex talk in it…but it is a clean book. Good for teens.

Book Review: Prince of Wolves – Quinn Loftis

Title: Prince of Wolves
Author: Quinn Loftis
Genre: YA – Paranormal, Romance

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/1463685688

Blurb (from Goodreads): 
Jacque Pierce was just an ordinary 17-year-old girl getting ready to start her senior year in high school in Coldspring, Texas. When a mysterious foreign exchange student from Romania moves in across the street, Jacque and her two best friends, Sally and Jen, don’t realize the last two weeks of their summer are going to get a lot more interesting.

From the moment Jacque sets eyes on Fane she feels an instant connection, a pull like a moth to a flame. Little does she know that the flame she is drawn to is actually a Canis lupis, werewolf, and she just happens to be his mate; the other half of his soul.

The problem is Fane is not the only wolf in Coldspring, Texas.

Just as Fane and Jacque are getting to know each other, another wolf steps out to try and claim Jacque as his mate. Fane will now have to fight for the right to complete the mating bond, something that is his right by birth but is being denied him by a crazed Alpha. Will the love Fane has for Jacque be enough to give him the strength to defeat his enemy, will Jacque accept that she is Fane’s mate and complete the bond between them?

My Review:

I have heard a lot about The Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis, and how much I need to read these books. I’m all about the paranormal romance genre, but I’ve been sitting on Prince of Wolves for a while. Mostly because I did start the book over a year ago and stopped reading it. At the time I just wasn’t getting into it. BUT with much persistence I picked the book up again.

What I Loved: There was a lot of playful banter in this book. Especially between Jacque and her best friends Sally and Jen, and even a bit between her and her prince wolf, Fane. While it came off very young at times, or a little over the top on the valley girl meets wanna be thug, it still made for some comedy.

The action in Prince of Wolves was pretty good, there was tension and the story line moved along at a fast enough pace to keep the reader interested.

Of course there is that cover.  Isn’t it gorgeous??

Not So Much: Well, I had a hard time biting off the easy acceptance of there being werewolves in existence. I mean it wasn’t just the main characters, but even some of the supporting characters took the news in stride and just kept right on going as if it were nothing. Jacque (I really had a hard time with her nickname too, if I’m completely honest) would have these mini-panic attacks about the situation and all the things she was learning, but they seemed more like young teenager tantrums than a real reaction to the events surrounding her life.

Another thing I didn’t quite understand was the fluctuation with how cussing was handled in this book. At times it seemed like the characters were using word replacements for cuss-words, other times it was like “he cursed and…,” then there were times a cuss-word was actually spoken out loud (no replacement word used), and at least once I saw the characters indicating a cuss-word ($*%#). This probably could have at least used some consistency throughout the novel.

The Verdict:     

While I did not absolutely love this first book of the series, this is an (almost) 10 book series, that has a bit of a following. I was already warned that the first book was a little iffy, but that Quinn’s writing definitely gets better with time (and I’m 100% sure that it does). So this isn’t me writing off this series. As I stated before, the book moved along and was interesting, I just had a hard time with some minor things that could be viewed as personal preference rather than flaws with the book if you think about it. As a whole, I’d say if you like paranormal and romance, and fun banter – pick this book, and series up. It is clean with mild cussing, but okay for teenagers.

Book Review: Dead Girl – Tessa Marie

Title: Dead Girl
Author: Tessa Marie
Genre: YA – Coming of Age, Bullying, Romance

Buy Link:

Blurb:  If her mother wasn’t watching, Kylie Presby would punch Queen Bee, Natalie Silvers, in the face -again. But as Kylie wipes her tears away with the layers of toilet paper encasing her car, she knows she can’t retaliate like she did last time. Her dead mother wouldn’t approve. Kylie no longer cares about popularity. Invisible would work just fine.

Then the new kid, Braydon, mysterious, good looking and too clever for his own good, shows up and sacrifices his social status, becoming Kylie’s shield from the front line assault. After enough chocolate ice cream and movies it’s as if they’re best friends. Crazy, since Kylie knows so little about him.

As Natalie continues her relentless attacks on Kylie another person deals with his own line of bullies. Jack Stine was popular until his deepest secret was revealed and his friends abandoned him. Kylie and Jack bond over their tormentors and form an unbreakable friendship.

Three lost souls each with a story that binds them together, but will it be enough when the bullying goes too far and secrets are revealed?

My Review:
I’m on a roll here.  It is completely unintentional that I keep picking up these books that have to do with school bullying, self-esteem issues and the like.  Maybe I should start paying more attention to blurbs, but when we’re talking about already loved and trusted authors – I rarely find the need to do so.

What I Loved:  I will never get tired of authors writing about things that matter.  I’ve already said it, but books speak volumes, and change lives.  If only we could get the books that matter into the hands of as many people as possible.  I love sparkly vampires as much as the next person, but I also love books that compel me to be a better person, to love others more and to not give in to mainstream.  And that is what Tessa Marie does in Dead Girl.

I really liked the fact that Kylie is not a flawless person.  She makes mistakes, and there were times I wasn’t very found of her as a person.  Every character in this book had lessons to learn and character development, and at some point, they all said or did things that made me think, ‘what the heck, man?’  But I felt like this contributed to the story and made it more realistic.

If I am completely honest, I feel like this is the best book (that I’ve read) by Tessa Marie to date.  I was engrossed from the start and I had to know what happened to Kylie, Braydon, and Jack.  I was intrigued by their secrets.

Not So Much:  I really would have liked to have seen some additional consequences for the biggest culprits of bullying.  I know that there are some ‘natural consequences’ at play, but gosh – expulsion from school or something.  Or I might have been happier if the school started a campaign or something proactively against bullying.

The Verdict:          

Even if I did want more at the end, I do feel like this story was perfectly executed.  I loved it!  I look forward to whatever is next from Tessa!  This is another book perfect for younger and older teenagers.

Book Review: Get Lucky – A YA Anthology

Title: Get Lucky
Authors: Ali Dean, Kristen Kehoe, Cassie Mae, Tessa Marie, Kelly Oram, Ginger Scott
Genre: Young Adult – Romance

Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B01D0XY1OO

Blurb (From Goodreads):
A YA anthology featuring some of today’s hottest Young Adult authors!

Doubles Love by Ali Dean – Mackenzie Bell loves two things: tennis and the Kendrick family. She doesn’t want to be anything like her mother, who hops from one husband to the next. It’s one of many reasons why she’s never dated. The other reason? She’s in love with her best friend’s older brother, Jesse Kendrick.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not by Kristen Kehoe – Kennedy Russo has had it rough. She’s become a pro at being invisible. But when she’s paired up for a 5 week assignment with golden boy, Gage, she starts to realize that anonymity may not always be the best option. Gage is on a mission to make her his friend, but will their tentative friendship bloom into something more?

Stroke of Luck by Cassie Mae – Jensen is well on his way to the PGA, if only he could focus. Getting stuck with his best friend as co-counselor at the golf camp will help—Penny’s always been one to push him. But when their alone time turns romantic, Jensen wonders if she’ll just be another distraction.

Someone I Used to Know by Tessa Marie – Charlotte was not looking forward to Spring Break. No technology and a boy she can’t stand. But when she realizes the boy is actually a hot guy now, and wants to hang out with her (!) she cant help but think this break may turn into something pretty awesome. But, is he harboring a secret that will challenge their budding relationship?

16 Kisses by Kelly Oram- All Cassie Caldwell wants for her sixteenth birthday is to finally be kissed. When Cassie’s older brother and his best friend—the lovable, sexy cowboy, Jared—discover her secret, Jared takes it upon himself to make sure her birthday wish comes true.

Four Letter Words by Ginger Scott – Dakota Wright has been making Jace Padgett look good for years…and she’s tired of it. What started as a favor has turned into a habit—one that she’s justified in her mind because Jace also happens to be six feet of gorgeous hunky quarterback, green eyes and a smile that can swing a girl to the moon. But the last favor she did for him may have finally tipped the scales, and Dakota’s ready to call it quits. One small hiccup—her heart can’t seem to let her. And when Jace starts to share pieces of the real him, Dakota begins to think her heart might just be smarter than her head after all.

My Review:
So, here’s a secret: I have never read an anthology. Can you believe it? My best friend is even in one (and I’ve read her story). My reasoning is simple; I like the whole story, not a snippit. I’m not a huge fan of novellas either, though I have actually read a few of them. Anyhow – some of my favorites were a part of this particular anthology, so I had to at least give it a fighting chance…

What I Loved: What I loved the most was the silly smile on my face at the end of each story. I’m a big sucker for HEA’s and sweet romance stories, therefore this book was right up my alley in all the right ways. “Lucky” was the common theme of the book – thus the title and the St. Patrick’s release day, so it was interesting to see how each of the 6 authors utilized the theme. Another semi-theme I noticed in the first 3 stories: each of the male characters in had a “goal” to make or at least was enamored with their leading ladies laughing. I just thought it was a funny happenstance.

So I was surprised by how satisfied I was with the short stories. Like I said, I want a whole book worth, not really a small taste. However, these shorts were perfect for the kind of week I was having when I started the book. It was nice to not feel like I had stopped in the middle of something – and I could actually put the book down for a day while my-crazy-life proceeded on. Twice, though, I was up until early AM hours finishing up a story. I LOVE when authors do that to me. I also hate it, because I pay for it the next day!

Not So Much: Alright you authors, please no jealousy for not getting specifically mentioned..had I divided this review up by story it would be a very long blog post that most people wouldn’t read due to length. BUT I have to say that Four Letter Words by Ginger Scott: I LOVED this more than you could know, I want the book. The WHOLE book. I think the main reason is because of Jace’s learning disability, and his home life – I wanted so much more than was given in back-story in moving forward, in overcoming. This needed an entire book, and I’m actually really sad it was just a short! Seriously.

The Verdict:        

First, I am wrong not to give anthologies more of a shot. Not only did I get 3 wonderful shorts from 3 of my favorite authors…but I also found 3 more that I MUST check out. Yes, I’m going to be stalking them and figuring out what they’ve already published and getting my hands on some new material…soonish. I’m not supposed to be buying anything new this year! Second, this anthology is perfect for YA lovers, Romance lovers, people who like sweet stories, happy endings, and goofy grins. Honestly, it would be a perfect vacation, or beach read. Get it! The whole book is clean, perfect for younger and older teens.

Book Review: You Can’t Catch Me – Becca Ann

Title: You Can’t Catch Me
Author: Cassie Mae writing as Becca Ann
Genre: YA – Romance, Coming of Age, Self Image, Bullying

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/B01C0SEWDA

Blurb (From Goodreads):
My body suuuucks. After lounging around on my butt all summer (okay, so maybe that was my bad), this body decided to become something completely foreign. So now I’m trying to make the track team and I feel like I’m a baby learning to walk again.

A couple pounds wouldn’t have been so bad. Work those off, run like a mad woman, no problem, yeah? But no. I’ve also developed a couple of things that I definitely didn’t have before. And now my guy friends are all sitting in a pool of drool as they not-so-subtly stare at my chest.

Combine all that drama with the fact that the new track coach is getting major flack for being a little chunky, and all I’m trying to do is convince the team that I’m not running slower because of her coaching style.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m totally falling face-first in “like” with some guy I met in a cemetery? And no one understands it just because he’s also a little chunky. But he’s also adorable and wonderfully weird and I don’t care what they say, his look sure does it for me.

But… I don’t know… how can I be in “like” with someone, when I have no clue how to like myself anymore?


My Review:
Cassie Mae (Becca Ann) is on my exceptions list for 2016, so naturally I couldn’t wait for You Can’t Catch me to be released.  I even pre-bought the book, but then was also given a ARC copy for review!  Part of the excitement I felt for this book was Cassie’s own excitement for it’s release.  Obviously, she’s excited about all of her releases, but the purpose behind this book, I think, made it just a bit more exciting, or at least that was my perception.

What I Loved:  A theme that seems to be reoccurring in the books that I’m reading this year is that they seem to have a bit to do with self image and bullying.  It’s not purposeful, but it just seems to be happening, and honestly I love it, because it means authors are starting to write about these things a bit more. I am one of those people who can be ‘spoken to’ via books, they become so real to me and there are times when the message shatters me as much as my own life experiences do.  That is why I love this growing trend, and hope that it continues and we see more and more books dealing with the hard things in life and that empower our youth and even adults to take action, or make a change.

I always love Cassie’s writing.  She is a pro at writing characters that I want to know in real life.  I especially loved both Ginger and Oliver because of their awkwardness.  The rambling while nervous, and goofiness of these characters is so perfect.  Ginger is so positive, even though this book deals with her own self-image issues, even in all of that she is positive.  She sees good in people that others can’t see.  She is an inspiration to be a better person.  She’s also real; there is nothing more real than someone who has trouble accepting things about themselves – even if they can easily accept those same traits in someone else without a second thought.  Ginger did what I did as a teenager, and probably most teenagers still do; she looked at others and wondered if they are going through the same things, if they are having the same self conscious thoughts.  (To any teenager who happens by this review – yes.  They are.  Yes.  They do.  If there’s anything I’ve learned as an adult, it’s that no matter how alone you feel in your skin – it’s so very likely that someone close to you is struggling with the same things.  Maybe not in the same exact way since we are all different, but they are.  I promise!)
Oliver, I could picture Oliver immediately from his dark hair to his freckles and tall robust build.  He was a bit self-deprecating and a Momma’s boy – and I loved him.  He was sweet and, yes, awkward.  But I loved his role in this book, and that was to provide Ginger with a place where she felt like herself, and not judged by her body or her abilities, or the expectations she felt she had to live up to.  
Not So Much:  Ginger had some friends, specifically boy friends, who took notice of the physical changes in her and reacted like…boys.  In the end, I kind of would have liked to have seen them realize how their behavior might have hurt Ginger.  I think it was eluded to, but maybe it just wasn’t as fleshed out as much as I would have liked.
The Verdict:         
Yet another book I implore you to get into the hands of all the teenagers around you.  I feel like this message on self image, and learning to love yourself for who you are is beautifully done.  The story is not bogged down with too much sadness, but there are parts that make you really hurt for the characters in this book, not just Ginger.  Mostly though you’ll be smiling and giggling at the antics and rooting for Ginger to win this race.  You Can’t Catch Me is a clean book – and appropriate for younger teens as well as older.

Book Review: Sell Out – Tammy L. Gray

Title: Sell Out
Author: Tammy L. Gray
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Coming of Age

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/B015UZVJPE

Blurb (From Goodreads):
Like many elite private schools, Madison High has a legacy steeped in traditions, none of which revolve around learning. Survival is simple: keep your head down, don’t say a word, and never question school royalty.

Cody James, a former victim of Madison’s vicious brand of hazing, wants nothing more than to graduate without breaking the unspoken rules that could land him back in social exile. Cody has breached the elusive inner circle, and he has no intention of losing his hard-earned security. But a beautiful new student shakes up his plan to coast by and causes him question his role as sidekick to the king of the school.

As the only daughter of rock legend Donnie Wyld, Skylar has been homeschooled her entire life. Now she wants normal, and she hopes that Madison High will offer her an escape from her father’s deteriorating health. She never intended on catching the eye of the school’s self-elected king or falling for his confusing best friend. But one look at Cody James, and she is drawn in by his guarded vulnerability.

When an average Friday night party turns into a nightmare, Cody is forced to make a decision—fight or follow. But standing up for the bullied and broken means facing a past he’s long buried and risking the future he’s worked so hard to achieve.

My Review:
So I’ve had Sell Out for a while, but unfortunately Tammy L Gray books are ones I sort of avoid…not because they are bad, not even a tiny, little bit. Because they are so heart wrenching, and compelling. They inspire me, and make me want to take action, or they convict and call me to repentance. These aren’t bad things. These are very, very good things. I feel they are also kind of her purpose. But it doesn’t mean that they are always easy books to read.

What I Loved: I want to take this book and put it into the hands of every single teenager and force them to read it. If not this one, then one like it. Sell Out tackles the growing issue present in schools – bullying. As a parent of three pre-teens who attend public school, it’s a topic I discuss semi-frequently and it’s one very, very close to my heart.

I feel like Mrs. Gray really took this story and wove it to make it so real and believable, and still spoke a message to the readers. The message being – take action. Do not let it continue. I cannot get behind this stance enough. If we allow people to be bullies, if we allow people to be bullied, it will do nothing but grow out of control. But the issue aside, the story itself was beautiful. I so enjoyed watching Cody grow as an individual, I felt his struggles and understood his reactions. I loved Skylar, and, gosh, she was written to be such a wonderful, down to earth individual, especially for being a rock-star’s daughter.

Not So Much: I cried in my soup at lunch. I’m not kidding.

So yes, the book was heart wrenching. And sad in all the appropriate places. But it was necessary for the story.

The Verdict:        

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book. Give it to your teenagers. I would only hope it would instill some hope, and empower people to talk. It might not work – but who knows…it just might.