Genre: Young Adult

Guest Review: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Posted August 3, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Kissing Max Holden by Katy UppermanReviewer: Tracy
Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman
Published by Swoon Reads
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 304
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three-half-stars

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea...

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn't himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn't know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn't let him kiss her. But she can't resist, and when they're caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it'll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

Jillian and Max pretty much grew up together.  They were great friends until they got older and then grew apart.  Max was currently dating a horrible girl that treated him badly but yet he stayed with her.  Max is having family problems as his once vibrant father had a stroke and his whole world is in upheaval.  On Halloween night he knocks on Jillian’s window as he used to do and they talk.  Max is drunk (yes, he’s only 17) and then he ends up kissing her. She’s shocked but into it until her father finds them and is livid.  He kicks Max out and tells Jillian to stay away from Max as he’s no good.

Jillian’s not sure how to feel about Max.  She knows he has a girlfriend and she shouldn’t have feelings for him but she does.  Max comes clean to his girlfriend about the kiss and the girlfriend, Becky, actually treats Jillian worse than before, which she didn’t think was possible.  Jillian’s life at school and with Max is frustrating as she’s not sure how Max feels and all of the mixed signals he’s throwing her way.

As if the situation with Max wasn’t confusing enough her father and step-mother Meredith, who are expecting a child, are fighting constantly.  Her father is always gone at work and when he’s home he works on his computer or fights with Meredith.  Jillian finds out that her college money was spent and while she wants to hate the “leech-baby” as she calls it, she just can’t.  Jillian ends up being there for her step-mom when her father can’t be found and this creates a bond between the two that hadn’t been there before. Jill also ends up loving her little sister to death and that made me smile.  Oh, the power of an infant. 🙂  Meredith also understands about Max and feels that Jill should be with him if that’s what she wants.

This was a cute and sweet story about teenage angst.  To Max and Jillian trying to figure out the ins and outs of their relationship were major issues – and they were to the average teenager.  They were frustrating and unclear and while they were working them out it set them both into turmoil. I really liked how Jill was there for Max when he needed her.  She made him understand that his father having a stroke wasn’t his fault and that drinking himself into oblivion all the time wasn’t the answer.  Max truly had a good head on his shoulders, his emotions overwhelmed him regularly and that’s what sent him into his tailspins.

The issue with Jillian’s dad was, to me at least, quite obvious.  I was sad for Meredith as she was such an innocent in the whole situation.  I didn’t like that man at all and it was hard to see what Mer ever saw in him.  With the book being from Jillian’s POV only it was hard to look at it from other angles.

The POV was frustrating at times in this book.  When the book first starts and Max is knocking on Jill’s window it’s so out of character and something that he hasn’t done in a long while.  We never find out what he’s thinking or why he decided to knock at that time.  I wanted so badly to get into Max’s head, but alas it never happened.  Despite that I thought the author did a decent job of telling Max and Jill’s story and enjoyed the book overall.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 

three-half-stars


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Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Posted July 27, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie WestReviewer: Rowena
Lucky in Love by Kasie West
Published by Scholastic
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 333
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three-stars

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment --

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Kasie West, for me, is the writer that writes cute contemporary YA romances. Her books are cute and funny and the romances are sweet. The perfect beach read, for me at least.

Lucky in Love follows young Maddie as she watches her old life go up in flames when she wins the lottery and becomes rich overnight. Her bickering parents and no plans brother have been stressing her out and she’s been limiting her options for college to those colleges close to home so that she can take care of her family from school. Money is tight and she needs to work hard and get scholarships so she’s been pretty busy with school work, with working at the zoo and keeping her family happy and functioning and quite frankly, that’s a lot of stress to put on someone as young as Maddie.

The story as a whole gave me a lot of anxiety. The amount of money that her family blew through and then Maddie making mistake after mistake before she finally starts to get things right took a lot out of me which is surprising considering Kasie West books have normally been such easy, breezy reads for me in the past. I had to keep putting this book down because the mother in me could not stand all of the meaningless spending that Maddie’s family did and then the whole secret keeping from Seth didn’t win me over (I hate secrets) not to mention the burden Maddie carried with her where her family was concerned. Her father wasn’t working and her mother was carrying their family financially and being completely resentful over that and their careless attitude toward fixing themselves, even after they’re not struggling for money anymore, it all bothered me.

Maddie’s character was a little on the hard side to like because I didn’t like a lot of the choices she makes but all is well in the end. My favorite part of this entire story was the love interest, Seth Nguyen. I thought he was adorable and understanding. I loved that though he had his own struggles, he didn’t try to make those struggles, Maddie’s struggles. I love that he was just there for her, to lend a listening ear, to help her through whatever she needed his help with and he did so much for her while being grounded with no phone. Ha.

West does a great job of bringing the story together. There’s a lot of wrong before the characters start to get it right and even though I got a lot of anxiety, I still enjoyed the book overall. It’s not my favorite book by Kasie West but it was still a pretty solid read. I think younger people will enjoy this book a lot more than I did but still, it was good.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

Posted July 25, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Trust by Kylie ScottReviewer: Tracy
Trust by Kylie Scott
Published by Kylie Scott
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Young Adult
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four-stars

Being 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.

Edie is spending the night at her friend Georgia’s house and having a movie night during summer break. They’re in the middle of a Harry Potter marathon but end up driving across town at midnight to fill up on snacks.  Edie is dressed in pajamas but less revealing PJ’s than her friend so she heads into the Drop Stop to get the snacks.  Unfortunately for Edie she ends up in the middle of a robbery that leaves two dead.  One of the customers in the store starts talking to the robber and Edie starts to wonder if they’re together but she soon figures out that he’s trying to save their lives.  After a crazy standoff Edie and the talker, John, make it out of the store with their lives.

Obviously Edie’s not the same person coming out as she was when she went into the store that night.  Having a gun shoved into your mouth tends to make a person look at life differently.  Edie just wants to be left alone and refuses all interviews but her best friend…ex-best friend goes on camera and twists everything that Edie had told her about John and how he’d helped out the night of the robbery.  Edie is heartbroken.  When she gets back to her private school she starts to get teased but the resident bully – as she has been for the past three years – but she finds she’s not going to take it any longer.  After a horrible first day of school Edie ends up in the public school where she meets…John, her savior from the Drop Stop.

Everyone tells her to stay away from John as he’s the local pot dealer but John says he’s quite dealing and is trying to be a model citizen.  After the night at the Drop Stop and seeing what drugs can do to a person, John is determined to have a better life.  John tells Edie to stay away from him because she’ll look guilty for everything just by association. Edie doesn’t listen and soon the pair are inseparable.  Can the two learn to trust each other enough to take their relationship farther or will their past come back to get them in the end?

This was such a great story.  With the robbery scene happening right off the bat when the book begins it truly sucked me in.  Scott wrote the scene so very well and I was actually scared while reading it – on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened.  It was good.

The remainder of the story was Edie and John trying to deal with their lives and falling in love after their ordeal.  It was a time of distrust for both of them and the way they dealt with their issues was worth reading about.  John was what was considered a bad boy but he really had a good heart and was a good guy in the end.  Edie needed John’s strength so that she could find her own in the end and she did,  in a big way.

The story is a good and a book I definitely recommend.

Though only a couple of places were mentioned about the town that the book took place in, it was cool as I used to live in that town in Northern California.  It was cool to read about that small but great town. 😊

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First Book

Posted July 19, 2017 by Holly in Promotions | 3 Comments


The RITA Award is the highest award of distinction in the romance publishing industry and recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. Winners will be announced at the award ceremony held during the RWA National Conference at Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Thursday, July 27. Today we’re spotlighting the nominees for Best First Book.


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookAlterations by Stephanie Scott
Published by Bloomsbury Spark, Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 237
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Goodreads

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they'd think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn't know that all the plans she's made for them are just dreams, and that she's the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia's abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can't imagine leaving Miami--and Ethan--for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan's awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia grow closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The "new and improved" Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and a choice she never dreamed she'd have to make.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || iBOOKS || KOBO

About Stephanie Scott

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about TV and all things books on Twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA.

 


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookBefore Goodbye by Mimi Cross
Published by Amazon Publishing, Skyscape
Publication Date: January 1st 2016
Pages: 399
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Goodreads

Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.

Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in.

As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives…and, together, find a way to be whole again.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || INDIEBOUND

About Mimi Cross

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Born in Toronto, Canada, Mimi Cross is an author, singer, and songwriter who grew up in New Jersey. She received a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College and an MA from New York University. She is a performer, a music educator, and worked briefly in the music industry. Mimi is also a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and the creator of Body of Writing, a practice that adds an additional dimension to the body, mind, spirit discipline of yoga: story.

A two time Asbury Music Award winner, Mimi has shared the bill with artists such as Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Lauryn Hill, Jill Sobule, and Jon Bon Jovi. She enjoys performing for the benefit of others, and has played shows with many New Jersey musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, to raise funds for the Light of Day Foundation. She offers classes at Project Write Now, A nonprofit dedicated to helping people improve their writing and communication skills.

Mimi lives with her young son, across the street from the beach.


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookClose to You by Kara Isaac
Published by Howard Books
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || iBOOKS || KOBO

About Kara Isaac

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two children.


For a full list of RITA finalists, readers can go to: https://www.rwa.org/page/2017-finalists

To see a spotlight of each book being nominated, click here: http://bit.ly/RITA17BlogTour

Follow RWA on the following social media platforms for winner announcements:

facebook.com/romancewriters
twitter.com/romancewriters
instagram.com/romancewriters

What is the RITA Award?

The purpose of the RITA award is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.

The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.

For more about the RITA Award, click here: https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=528

The RITA Ceremony will be streamed live for people to watch from home! Readers can watch from 7 to 9 p.m. ET on July 27 by going to www.rwa.org.


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Review: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Posted July 17, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Coming Up for Air by Miranda KenneallyReviewer: Rowena
Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #8
Also in this series: Defending Taylor
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July 1st 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

It’s pretty amazing that this book is the eighth book in the Hundred Oaks series and I’m just as invested in these characters, from that high school as I was in the beginning. Sure, I’ve liked some books more than others but I’m still excited to read these books as if I’d read them for the first time.

This book follows Maggie and Levi. Best friends turned more than best friends. They’re competitive swimmers that grew up together, are always in each other’s pockets and with their schedules as jam packed as they are, they don’t really have much time for friends and relationships and what not. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem because Levi finds the time to hook up with girls and Maggie is too tired for anything more than swim and her weekly night out with her best friends. All of that is enough for Maggie until she goes on a college visit trip and becomes curious. She doesn’t have any experience with boys and now that the idea is in her head, she wants to hook up with someone. She wants to kiss and fool around and really, she wants more than just swimming.

Once that is decided, Maggie tries it on her own with disastrous results so she figures that she needs someone she trusts to help her out and who better than her bestie, Levi?

Levi is not excited about delving into this because Maggie is important to him and he doesn’t have the time and doesn’t want to risk what they have over kissing and hooking up. He’s scared of all of the normal things that will happen with other girls, things he doesn’t want to risk with Maggie but because he can’t say no to her, he goes along. He helps her out. They kiss. They make out. They learn from each other until things start to really heat up.

Maggie and Levi were adorable on their own and I really loved their friendship. They had a solid foundation as friends and I was glad that they were able to get back to that friendship once the waters were tested and their bond was shaken a little. Kenneally does a great job of telling both of their sides and helping them figure their stuff out and she does it all so easily. Not once was I bored. Not once was I frustrated with either Maggie or Levi and I really enjoyed seeing them come into their own while not losing what was between them. Sure, it wasn’t easy and their relationship wasn’t perfect but it was still pretty awesome and I really enjoyed being along for their journey.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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