All Laced Up – Erin Fletcher

32057113Title: All Laced Up
Author: Erin Fletcher

Series: Breakaway #1

Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Publication Date: October 10, 2016

Blurb: When the two are forced to teach a skating class to save the rink, Lia’s not sure she’ll survive the pressure of Nationals and Pierce’s ego. Not only can’t he remember her name, he signed her bottle of water like she was one of his groupies. Ugh.

But if there’s one thing Lia knows better than figure skating, it’s hockey. Hoping to take his ego down a notch—or seven—she logs into his team website under an anonymous name to give him pointers on his less-than-stellar playing.

Turns out, Pierce isn’t arrogant at all. And they have a lot in common. Too bad he’s falling for the anonymous girl online. No matter how much fun they’re starting to have in real life, she’s afraid he’s going to choose fake-Lia over the real one…

My Review: 
All Laced Up fell right in line with the YA Romance novels I have been reading lately, and it was recommended to me a long time ago –  so I decided it was next up on the list.  I fall into patterns, like most of us do of course, but also I choose these straight up YA-Fiction/Romances a lot because the escape I’m looking for is one that is simple, easy, sucks me into the story and out of reality.  Likewise, I tend to stay away from heavy books because life is so heavy on its own.  I know usually there are really great stories in them, and I would love them, HAVE loved them, if and when I read them – but I kind of have to be ready for it, you know.  Mentally I have to want to be in that place.  But, I digress…I fall into patterns, and some other patterns I fall in to tend to be sports themed romances, or fairy tales, or even dystopians or girlpower books.  Historical romances as well, maybe even a little bit of steampunk thrown in there.

What I Loved:  This is exactly what I was looking for, when I started reading.  Sweet romance, sweet characters; some but little conflict and a sappy smile at the end.  I always enjoy reading a little bit about the sports, and the passion that the characters have for their chosen sport.  A lot of times it makes me want to try it myself.  Not this time though, I don’t think I’d do very well with hockey!

I really loved how Pierce actually was pretty much as oblivious to Lia as she thought that he was, though she really went through lengths to make sure it was true for him and many others.  However, when he laughed about the whole water bottle story, that sealed it for me; I pretty much loved him from that point on.  He was this small-town superstar that had no idea he was embodying two different personalities.  Lia was as well, so the whole online persona thing was a fun way to bring this all together.

But my favorite moment between Lia and Pierce is when they skate together.  ONE TIME they skate together, that is weird to me since they are both skaters…but what a fun, YA/Teenagey scene!!!  Books need more fun and laughter and play and a little less of the wall-to-wall seriousness.

Not So Much:  This was another book where you can pretty much predict everything from the moment you pick up the book.  That is okay.  I mean I wanted a simple fun read, that’s what I got.  But I do love it when the author throws me for a loop now and then.  Also, we got ONE really good moment where Pierce blocks Lia in his arms in the ice ring, I kind of wish he had a little bit more of that in him.

The Verdict:  Another winner for me!  I’ll be searching out more of Erin’s books when I need that silly smile of a happy book for sure.  This book was perfect for YA’s – I wouldn’t mind if my 12 year old daughter read it.

Operation Prom Date – Cindi Madsen

33224662Title: Operation Prom Date
Author: Cindi Madsen

Series: Tactics in Flirting #1

Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Publication Date: March 13, 2017

Blurb: Kate ships tons of fictional couples, but IRL her OTP is her and Mick, the hot quarterback she’s crushed on since, like, forever. With only one semester left of senior year, it’s now or never if she wants to land him in time for prom. Since she’s flirtationally challenged, she enlists Cooper Callihan, the guy who turned popular seemingly overnight but who used to be a good friend.

Cooper lives and breathes rowing, but his partner just broke his wrist. When he remembers Kate’s good with a set of oars, he strikes a deal: help him train, and he’ll make sure her crush notices her. Only he didn’t know how addicting spending time with her would be. Or how the more successful the Operation is, the more jealousy he experiences.

The mission has been set. The troops have their marching orders. But what if the target is the wrong guy all along?

My Review:
Operation Prom Date popped up in one of the author Facebook groups I’m a part of, and even when the book was simply being talked about I just knew I had to have it!

What I Loved:  So there wasn’t much ‘new’ happening in this book that hasn’t happened before, guy helps girl land the guy of her dreams while girl is not realizing she’s actually falling for guy.  What makes this one a bit different is that the guy (Cooper) doesn’t already have a crush on Kate before they get started.  So watching them both get sucker punched with the reality was fun.

Cindi has written some major chemistry between Kate and Cooper, even from the beginning Cooper is pretty much swoon worthy, and you’re ready to leave whats-his-face in the dust.  As it should be.  But the first kiss…watch out for that one, its a dousy! 🙂  Cooper was so focused and determined, but I loved it when his jealous streak came out.  Kate was an intro-extrovert I guess.  She was kind of a loner, but at the same time had this great personality.  She is a fangirl, like most of us booknerds are, so there’s that too.

Not So Much:  I mentioned it above, but this book really isn’t new.  I kind of wish there were more un-redeemable qualities about Mick, besides his unfortunate name and just being a typical teenage jock.  But really that’s all I can come up with.

The Verdict:  This is a fun, sappy, super swoon-worthy read.  It took me…eh, a day to finish it (if you count 2am as the same day, that is).  It was very clean and appropriate for the YA genre, but does not skip out on the heat between Kate and Cooper.  I loved it!

Paper Hearts – Ali Novak

33584564Title: Paper Hearts
Author: Ali Novak
Series: The Heart Breaker’s Chronicles

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: July 4, 2017

Blurb: Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she’s had the full weight of her mother’s expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.

Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he’d flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he’d turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity’s missing sister. And she’s about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be…

My Review: Paper Hearts is actually book 2 of the Heart Breaker’s Chronicles.  I didn’t realize that.  Or maybe I did and decided I didn’t care, I can’t remember, but it didn’t reflect in the story at all.  Anyhow, every now and then I can’t resist the whole regular person/celebrity fantasy (um, duh, Cinder & Ella!).  Also road-trip books are another of my favorite tropes.

What I Loved: I always love when I pick up a book and it doesn’t let me put it down.  That is what happened with this book.  I started it Saturday morning, and I stayed up late Saturday evening to finish it (I had other stuff to do in the middle, or else it wouldn’t have taken me over 12 hours to finish it!)

So Alec’s personality was soooooo much swoon-worthy to me.  He lacked all the arrogant famous person thing, but at the same time he seemed to take it in stride.  He was mostly just nonchalant about it – which was nice since it didn’t really take over the entire story. He also stood out as introverted to me (which is opposite of what you would expect from a member of a famous band) but it made him more appealing.  I also LOVE the band and their camaraderie.  It makes me want to go back and read book 1.

I also really enjoyed Felicity when she was with Alec and her friends. She was friendly and fun.  The chemistry between her and Alec is what kept me going for sure.

Not so Much:  So Felicity was a little yo-yo on the personality front.  She would be so awesome and reasonable some moments, and then disappear into herself and her worries. Many times she was doing things she knew she shouldn’t be – and naturally it blows up in her face in a world of misunderstanding.  It was a little frustrating.

The Verdict:  Paper Hearts was a great read – and will make for an awesome book to take to the beach!  It was very older-teen oriented, but not inappropriate.  I do think I’m going to be looking up book 1, and following these Chronicles out.

**This book was an Advanced Reader Copy from Netgalley.com; other than the joy of reading – I was granted no compensation to review this book.**

 

Dream Chaser – Angie Stanton

13037321Dream Chaser by Angie Stanton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published November 4th 2011 by Vanguard Management

Buy Link:  http://a.co/3RraFCA

Blurb: Willow Thomas has a bad habit of running away from things that scare her. And most recently, she quit her high school cheerleading squad after a terrifying fall.

With time on her hands, she auditions for a musical production directed by a Broadway choreographer. Just as things are looking up, Willow discovers she will be performing opposite Eli McAvoy, the best friend she abandoned three years before. To make matters worse, the kids in the musical hate her, her singing sucks, and her dog is sick.

Eli has grown up during their years apart and now possesses confidence and good looks, as well as a giant chip on his shoulder. He is in no hurry to play nice with Willow, but their entwined roles in the musical lead to entwined bodies in the backseat of his car.

Just when Willow finally has her life under control, another surprise is delivered in the form of her greatest challenge yet. Will she run or finally stand and face her fears? And will Eli be there to help or turn his back on her for good?

I picked up Dream Chaser this week due to a recommendation by Lenore over at Celebrity Readers, because while Lenore and I don’t always read the same style books….we usually do. As is probably evident by the [lack of] activity on my blog, I’ve not only been having a difficult time finding moments to read/blog, but I’ve also found myself in one of those inevitable reading slumps where every book you pick up and start gives you that, ‘meh’ feeling. I’ve even been having a difficult time getting into audiobooks recently – and listening to audiobooks while I work is one of my favorite things! Regardless, I think the slump has been broken, because on Saturday November 19th I read not one, but two books in their entirety. Granted, I was also pretty sick and allowed myself to be confined to the couch for the day…but still.

What I Loved: I wouldn’t pick up a book about cheerleaders on my own, not because I have something against cheerleaders, but because most of the ones I have picked up have come off so very cliche in the ‘cheerleader’ personality of the characters. I just couldn’t get into them. Dream Chaser was not a cheerleader book, it was more of a theater book. I’m so glad I allowed myself to read past the beginning to discover this. I adore most theater type books.

Willow was also not the typical ‘over achiever’ character. She WAS an over achiever, apparently single-handedly throwing the cheerleaders into National Championship winner status, and also good enough to be thrown into the leading role of a musical that was already several weeks into practices – so yes, definitely over achiever. However, she struggled with subjects in school, and her self confidence was really pretty low. She was humble and recognized that while she may be good, in both of her activities she realized the important part of being just a part of an entity. She understood the value of practice and hard work, and just work ethic in general.

The chemistry between Willow and Eli is what really had me devouring this book. Their history as best friends and former partners really helped to play into the tension that built between them. I loved their director, Tyson’s, little comments regarding this tension, and his role at helping them overcome their past.

Another favorite part is that regardless of how awful Jilly and the rest of Willow’s friends were treating her because of her decision to move on from cheerleading, I’m glad that this wasn’t a transfer from one group of friends to another, and that there was some healing and understanding that started to happen.

Every time I think that I’m done with this section, I remember something else about the story that I love….Willow’s family is AWESOME! I loved their support and understanding. I think that my favorite scene is when they come home and catch Willow and Eli on the couch. 😉

Not So Much: I feel like the gravity of Willow’s cheerleading accident was either overplayed at the beginning, or underplayed throughout the book. She could have easily died, and yet so few of the cast of characters of this book seem to really take that into consideration when dealing with Willow about her decisions or fears. I also think that something like that would take you out of the ‘game’ longer than half a week.

The Verdict: This is everything I could have asked for in a ‘sick day’ book. It was entertaining, passionate, fun and serious at times. I even shed a couple tears… I’m so glad I picked the book up and started reading almost immediately. This book is clean and perfect for your teens!

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Through the Lens – Shannon Dermott

31834006Through the Lens by Shannon Dermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: August 25th 2016

Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B00AC2NSXM

Blurb: Being a twin isn’t all that bad, nor is it all that good. Being the fat twin makes things a little worse. Seventeen year old, Jessa Shelby has been all but ignored. Trimmed down, but not skinny like her sister, she has decided to make her mark in her final year in high school.

Things begin anew the summer before her senior year when she makes friends with Ethan Hart, a boy with a twisted past, and Allie, his near celebrity status girlfriend, while taking pictures with her new prized possession. Hanging out with them opened her eyes to a lot of new possibilities including Josh Macon, whom she’s secretly crushed on all through high school. No longer the ‘fat girl’, Josh now seems interested in her too.

Long before the day comes to graduate, Jessa finds herself gasping for air. With her vision clouded from tears born of pain as the straps from her precious camera tighten around her throat, clarity sets in. They say that just before you die your life flashes before your eyes. And on the threshold of death claiming her, she finds that partially true. Her flash begins as if to explain just how she ended up on Death’s door. With mere moments left, she has to wonder if trust had come at a very high price.

Every now and then I get it in my mind that I want to read a bit of a thriller. Nothing scary, just something that will keep my on the edge of my seat, trying to guess what is going to happen. That was what I was imagining when I picked up Through the Lens.

What I Loved: This story did keep me captivated. It starts off with the end…so when it jumps back to the beginning I spent the entire book wondering; who, what, when, where, why? (Yes, I did just list all the W’s…but it’s true, I spent the entire book making hypothesizes).

I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book, which is kind of rare for me. Usually, I have a few I like and a few I don’t, but everyone in this book seem to have their place and played it well. I loved Ethan’s mystery, and Jessa’s new found popularity, Josh’s appeal and Jenna’s jealousy.

Not So Much: I didn’t exactly get the thriller I was hoping for. Yes, I did contemplate the ending from the very beginning, but there was no real ‘danger’ or any thing overly suspenseful about the book until close to the end. It was more of a typical YA with troubled teenagers just learning to “life.” Some of the characters did have a little extra baggage than others, but there wasn’t the cat and mouse game I was hoping for.

The Verdict: Even if it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be, I still loved this book! The characters really make this book, 100%. There is some mystery to it as well, and a lot of different kinds of foreshadowing that keep you guessing the entire book. This book has some mild partying, drinking, and off-scene sex, nothing graphic though. Still upper YA in my opinion.

I received a copy of Through the Lens  from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion.

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Rainbows and Raindrops – Kelley Lynn & Jenny Morris

29444640Rainbows and Raindrops by Kelley Lynn & Jenny S. Morris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher:  CookieLynn Publishing
Published Date: April 18, 2016

Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/1530954851

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

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

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

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

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

This is book recommended by one of my favorite authors (Cassie Mae), and when she posted the pre-buy option on the book I one-clicked, because well…I trust her. And she didn’t steer me wrong.

What I Loved: From the onset, I could tell I was going to love this book. Rainbow was such a fun, bright, outgoing and charismatic character, but she had a thirst of adventure and danger, a natural thrill seeker. Perhaps it was because she trying to live up to her name, or perhaps she would have always been that way – but she was a force to be reckoned with, she’s even bright in her clothing and hair color choices. Her three best friends, all boys, are probably all just a little in love with her while at the same time have no idea what to do with her.

When tragedy strikes (come-on, not a spoiler, you can tell from the blurb!) Rain changes too. She is dark and depressed. I think the take-away from her transformation is the fact that she feels guilty and responsible, and turns in on herself, shutting her friends and the world out.

The friendship between the characters is one that I think everyone wishes they had, or reminds them of one that they did or do have. Friends how love each other, and get into trouble with each other and are just basically a single unit. Reading the first couple chapters, I smiled madly at the group and their bond. I love how this bond plays out and grows into something else as the story continues to move forward.

Not So Much: I mentioned that I loved Rainbows character, but I will say she was as little bit cliché in her outward appearance. I think if Rain was dark and depressed as she was written to be, her clothes would not have been all black and thought out, but just thrown together in a mismatch array and a hair color that had faded, washed out and with noticeable roots.  However I loved the imagery so I didn’t let it affect me too much.

I’m always wanting some kind of redeeming factor for bad parents, and I wished the same for Rainbow and her dad. But no, he was a drunk slob who barely served a purpose in the story at all.

The Verdict: This is not my favorite read of the year, but I really did enjoy it. I really would love to see more people get their hands on this book! While it’s dealt out in extremes, there is just enough happiness and excitement to balance out the sad. This is important to me, because I don’t typically seek out books that are overly sad. This is a good YA book, mostly clean.

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The Boy Most Likely To – Huntley Fitzpatrick

24611582The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Dial Books
Publish Date: August 18, 2015

Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/0147513073

Blurb: Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.

When I was in Jr High, there was this boy I went to school with. This boy was short and kind of crazy, and….well, he was a brat, to say the least. He was a trouble maker, a clown, he threw temper tantrums and always felt like things should always go his way. But there was something about this boy that made me think that his life wasn’t easy and he had a reason for the way he was acting. While I always maintained my distance from this boy, because no one wants to get caught up in that much drama, I always wanted things to sort of work out for him. Flash forward three to four years, the boy was still short, a little less wild, now a couple grade below me, and in with the wrong crowd. He was drinking, doing drugs and mis-adventures followed him around. Still, I remember wondering about his home life, and how he was treated and his attitude. There always seemed like there was more to the story than what one could see on the outside.

A really good story would end in overcoming and achievement…finding your place in the world. Unfortunately, here I am over 15 years graduated, and recently the boy’s name came up on Facebook among mutual friends. I’m not “friends” with this person, as I never was in real life either…just always an observer…but it seems that his life hasn’t gotten any better. There’s still just as much drama and temper tantruming, and probably substance abuse as well. I was a little disappointed to find out he never really found his way…however (getting to the point) that boy I knew from back when reminded me a bit of Tim, from The Boy Most Likely.

What I Loved: The difference between my story and the one told by Mrs. Fitzpatrick is that Tim did find is his way, he found a place to hang on and…hung on. I’ve been around addiction enough to feel very uplifted and empowered by Tim’s story. Any addiction is hard to shake, and you really have to want to do it before it can be successful. I love that Tim’s wasn’t this perfect linear progression, but he had his moments of weakness and failure. This is real.

Tim’s sarcastic way of dealing with life was simultaneously funny and sad. I hated how hard he was on himself. At times, I also hated how hard Alice was on him as well, however I loved who she was for him, and her way of helping him figure things out. Jace too, he was there in the moments when he was really needed. That seems to be the Garrett way overall actually.

Not So Much: And while it sounds like this is completely Tim’s story, Alice had her own troubles too. And the book dealt with them, but in some ways I felt like it didn’t deal with them enough. First Alice’s crazy ex really needed more than what he got. Then I kind of felt a little brushed off when the weight of responsibility was crushing Alice, but when her father finally addressed it, it seemed like it was done.

The Verdict: Another great read in this series. I can say that I loved My Life Next Door just a smidge better than I loved this one, but I really just love the Garret Family and these books are so hopeful. This is semi-clean; there are no details though sex is present, and there is cussing. Obviously there is drug and alcohol talk, but it’s real – there is no glamorization..it’s the down and dirty truth about what can happen, which we need more of rather than random drinking and sex at parties because that’s what high schoolers do type stuff. Anyway, I’d say reserve this for the older YA’s of the bunch.

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