Publisher: Atria Books

Review: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (+ Giveaway)

Posted January 10, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (+ Giveaway)Reviewer: Rowena
Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
Published by Simon & Schuster, Atria Books, Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: December 27th 2016
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary
Pages: 368
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For fans of The Nanny Diaries and Sophie Kinsella comes a whip-smart and deliciously funny debut novel about Kate, a young woman unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat world of New York City private school admissions as she attempts to understand city life, human nature, and falling in love.

Despite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews.

Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.

Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.

This book made it onto my radar when it came through in my email and I immediately added it to my review pile. I took my time getting around to reading it but then Grace over at Rebel Mommy Book Blog reviewed the book and I was super excited to start the book and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it.

Kate Pearson is our main character and the story follows her and the people in her life from her family, her friends and the people she comes across every day at her new job as an admissions director for Hudson, a private school in New York City. After a disastrous relationship, Kate falls into a deep depression that takes her out of commission for a while and when her sister sets up a job interview for her to kick her out of her funk, Kate goes along with it and is surprised when she finds so much more than a new job. She finds a purpose. She finds a new circle of people that come to mean the world to her.

The book follows quite a few different people. There is Kate, of course, but there is also her sister, her friends, her boss and some of the parents that are trying to get their kids into Hudson. This book was fun and it was interesting but I have to note that in the beginning, it was confusing as hell. At least it was for me. I couldn’t figure out why Chloe’s bit was in first person, while everyone else was in third person, including Kate’s bit since Kate is the main character. It was hard to keep everyone sorted in my head but I continued on and was glad for it because everything was sorted and the story really was a good time.

This book has a bit of everything to make it an enjoyable read. Crazy parents, bratty kids, bad friends, well meaning friends, supportive family members and a sister that thought she knew everything but made me want to smack her upside her head from time to time. Every time Victoria thought something bad about Kate, I wanted Kate to come out on top of something else that would drive Vicky crazy. Every time Silvia Blake came onto the scene, my eyes got bigger and bigger waiting to see what shenanigans she’d get herself into. Angela made me roll my eyes all over the place and Chloe frustrated me but I ended up really liking her. There was much to enjoy about this book. It made me laugh, it hurt my heart but in the end, everything worked out and I was entertained.

This was a good book and I definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for a fun chick lit book.

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About the Author

Amy Poeppel


Amy Poeppel is a graduate of Wellesley College. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she lives with her husband and three sons in New York City, where she worked in the admissions department of an independent school. She workshopped a theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into a novel.


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Review: Bad Boy by Elliot Wake

Posted December 6, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bad Boy by Elliot WakeReviewer: Rowena
Bad Boy by Elliot Wake
Published by Simon & Schuster, Atria Books
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, LGBT
Pages: 256
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Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

I wanted to read this book because I was in the mood for something different and after reading the blurb, this one seemed to fit the bill. I thought it would be interesting to get to know a character that is a vlog star who filmed his transition and shared it on his blog for the world.

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t all pretty roses and rainbows but I was very interested in Ren’s transition story. In Ren as a person. Getting into the story, I thought that I would feel a lot more for Ren as a person than I did but sadly, I didn’t. The story as a whole was interesting and it was what drove me to finish but Ren as a character was someone that I just couldn’t fully connect with. I’m not even sure why, he just, I don’t even know. He’s a pretty dark character, a character who has been through a hell of a lot but while I ended up okay with him, in the end, I still didn’t fully like him.

I wonder if I had read the other books before this one, if I would have felt different about it all because all of the Black Iris stuff had me rolling my eyes down the street. At first, I didn’t get it but the author did a good job in pulling it all together in the end. Once I was caught up with everything going on, I appreciated the story more so if I could recommend anything, it would be for readers to read Unteachable, Black Iris and Cam Girl.

I will say that Elliot Wake wrote a compelling story that was dark and twisted but necessary. The way that he made the dark and the light stuff in life come together was raw and gritty and that’s probably why I didn’t enjoy this book as much. I’m a fluffy contemporary romance reader at heart and the darkness in this book (and in Ren) was hard for me to get through, so while I’m glad that I gave this book a go, I probably won’t continue with the other books. This has nothing to do with the author or the book and everything to do with my reading preferences.

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

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About the Author


Elliot Wake


Elliot Wake (formerly known as Leah Raeder) is a transgender author of four novels: Unteachable, Black Iris, Cam Girl, and Bad Boy. Aside from reading his brains out, Elliot enjoys video games, weightlifting, and perfecting his dapper style. He lives with his partner in Chicago.


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Reading #November9 (+ a Giveaway!) by Colleen Hoover

Posted November 9, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Reading #November9 (+ a Giveaway!) by Colleen HooverReviewer: Holly and Rowena
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: November 10th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, General, Fantasy
Pages: 320
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Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.
Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.
Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?

Rowena and I agreed to read November 9 by Colleen Hoover so we could review it together. She started it in the morning. I started it in the afternoon of the same day. The Premise:

inigo montoya

Girl is having awkward and painful breakfast with her father when boy in the next booth over comes to her rescue and pretends to be her boyfriend. They spend the day together and agree to meet up every year for 5 years on November 9th. The story is only told during their November 9th meetups, so everything we learn about the characters we learn from their meetings one day a year.

We kept messaging each other as we read. Things like:


Me: OMG! This book is adorable!
Her: I KNOW! I’m loving this.

You guys, I’m serious. This book was freaking adorable. The banter. The wit! The romance! The humor!

giphy (1)

She was busy during the day and didn’t get much reading time in. I had the same problem. We were both frustrated because we just wanted to get back to the book.


Finally, around 8pm I had a chance to really sit down and dig into the story. It was freaking adorable!

giphy love

So there I was, cruising right along, loving this adorable story when BAM, I got to the Fourth November 9. I was like, WTF JUST HAPPENED RIGHT NOW!?!?

giphy Brave

I couldn’t read fast enough. I had to see what was going to happen. AND THEN IT GOT WORSE, YOU GUYS. IT FUCKING GOT WORSE.  MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!

I finished the book and texted Rowena:

2015-10-20 15.58.17


I was so overcome I took to Twitter:

Nov 9

Nov 2nd 9

I waited for Rowena to finish the damn book. Finally she messaged me around 11pm.

2015-10-21 10.20.03

Then I sat back and waited, because I knew what was coming. I knew.

2015-10-20 15.57.10

I know, Rowena. I know.

Finally I texted her around 12:30am to ask if she’d finished the book. She called me at quarter to 1.


Her: Holly! What was that?  I can’t even right now.
Me: I don’t even know. I…it..I just…
Her …
Me: …
Her: I fucking hated that book.
Me: Same.
giphy no

The next morning I sent her a message.

Me: I’m still thinking about the book.
Her: Me too.
Me: …
Her: …
Me: I fucking loved that book.
Her: Same.

giphy happy


Okay, so for all that, the truth is we loved this book. It was a wild roller coaster ride neither of us wanted to end. We laughed, we cried, we got so angry we wanted to smash something…

It was perfect.


Holly’s Grade: 5 out of 5
Rowena’s Grade: 5 out of 5


Giveaway: Win 1 of 5 prize bundles of one signed copy of NOVEMBER 9 and a pair of #November9 sunglasses! Contest is open until November 30th. Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter or click here*.

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*Please Note: This is not a Book Binge sponsored giveaway. Winners will be contacted direct via the publisher.

Gifs via GIPHY


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Review: Ugly Love: A Novel by Colleen Hoover

Posted July 31, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Ugly Love: A Novel by Colleen HooverReviewer: Holly
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books, Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 5th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, General, Family Life
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

#1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with a new heart-wrenching love story.
When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn't think it's love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.
Never ask about the past. Don’t expect a future.
They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.
Hearts get infiltrated. Promises get broken. Rules get shattered.Love gets ugly.

The only other thing I’ve read by this author is the novella Finding Cinderella. If these two are any indication clearly I need to more.

Tate moves to San Francisco to finish grad school and get a job. To save money, she moves in with her brother, who happens to be a pilot. Much to her surprise, he lives in a high rise in the middle of downtown. He’s out of town the night she arrives and she finds a man passed out in front of his door. He turns out to be Miles, another pilot and one of her brother’s friends. They don’t get off to a good start and Tate pretty much wants nothing to do with him. Except the pesky fact that she’s wildly attracted to him. He might be a jerk, but he’s a hot one and they have off-the-charts chemistry.

It isn’t long before they begin an affair. Tate doesn’t have a lot of time for a relationship, but the more she gets to know Miles the more she wants to make time. Unfortunately, he’s emotionally closed off. He made her promise she wouldn’t ask about his past or try to create a future with him, and it’s clear he isn’t going to change his mind. Which is too bad, since she knows they could be great together.

Miles dealt with something really tragic in his past, which has turned him off love and relationships. He’s deeply damaged and not really looking to get better. But Tate makes him want to love again. He just…can’t.

The novel is written in the first person with alternating POVs. The chapters from Tate are told in the present while the chapters from Miles share his past. Novels like this tend to frustrate me, because I hate waiting to find out what the big secret from the past is or I want more in the current tense. That wasn’t the case here.  I was completely riveted by both stories, their relationship in the present and Miles’ past.

Tate was a strong woman who was relatable and approachable. She was sure of herself and focused on her career. She wasn’t looking for a relationship when she met Miles, but she wasn’t closed to the idea. She had a sometimes smart-mouth and extremely quick wit.

Dillon doesn’t seem to take the hint. He just continues to stare at me until my sandwiches are made.
I’m not offering to make him a damn sandwich if that’s why he’s still here.
“I’m a pilot,” he says. He doesn’t say it in a smug way, but when no one’s asking you what your occupation is, voluntarily contributing it to the conversation naturally comes off as smug. “I work at the same airline as Corbin.”
He’s staring at me, waiting for me to be impressed by the fact that he’s a pilot. What he doesn’t realize is that all the men in my life are pilots. My grandfather was a pilot. My father was a pilot until he retired a few months ago. My brother is a pilot.
“Dillon, if you’re trying to impress me, you’re going about it the wrong way. I much prefer a guy with a little more modesty and a lot less wife.” My eyes flash down to the wedding ring on his left hand.

If I had a complaint about Tate it was how quick she was to lose herself in Miles. She didn’t give up her career or sacrifice her schooling, but she did put up with more from him than she should have, because she was hoping he’d fall in love with her. What saved her for me was how quick she was to realize it. No, she wasn’t able to walk away from him, but she wasn’t unaware of his effect on her.

If any other man ever treated me like he did, it would be the one and only time. I don’t put up with the things I’ve seen a lot of my friends put up with. However, I find myself continuing to make excuses for him, like something could actually justify his actions last week.
I’m beginning to fear that maybe I’m not so tough after all.

The Miles of today from Tate’s point-of-view and the Miles of the past from his own POV are entirely different. It’s clear he was deeply affected by what happened in his past. I felt like we got to know the real him from his chapters, as well as flashes of things he did or said to Tate in the present. The closed off, angry, guilty man who wants nothing but sex from Tate.

I can see why he hasn’t been in a relationship for six years. He’s obviously clueless when it comes to how a guy should treat a girl, which surprises me, because I get these vibes from him that he’s really a decent guy. However, his actions during and after sex seem to contradict his character. It’s as if pieces of the guy he used to be bleed over into the guy he’s trying to be.

Not only did I want to learn what happened to make Miles into the man he is today, I also wanted Tate to break through and form a true relationship with him. Once it’s revealed why he’s so broken, my heart hurt. I wanted him to open up to Tate, but I understood why he couldn’t.

Despite the heavy tone of the book, there’s a surprising amount of humor. The way Tate looks at life and the relationships she’s formed are very real. I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the scenarios she describes, expecially those involving her mom and brother.

Let me explain something about my mother. She’s a great mom. A really great mom. But I have never been comfortable talking to her about guys. It started when I was twelve and I got my first period. She was so excited she called three of her friends to tell them before she even explained what the hell was happening to me. I learned pretty early on that secrets aren’t secrets once they reach her ears.

The secondary relationships are all well-written. Tate’s relationship with her family and one of the employees in their building, Miles’ relationship with his friend Ian, and the way Tate’s brother Corbin fit in with them really stood out.

This novel is heartbreaking and poignant, with just the right amount of humor to keep the story from being bogged down. I laughed, I cried. It was beautiful..and it was ugly. A must read.

4.25 out of 5

This book is available from Atria Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Review: Torn by K.A. Robinson

Posted July 6, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Torn by K.A. RobinsonReviewer: Holly
Torn by K.A. Robinson
Series: Torn #1
Published by Atria Books, Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 17 2013
Pages: 268
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Chloe hasn't had the best life. With a mother who is gone more often than not, she has had to raise herself. After graduating high school, she leaves to start a new life away at West Virginia University with her best friends Amber and Logan, determined to leave her demons in the past.

On her first day, she meets a stranger who takes her breath away at first sight. Until she met Drake, no one had ever sparked her interest. Now this tattooed and pierced bad boy is all she can think about, no matter how hard she fights it.

Falling for Drake was never part of her plans, but when it happens, things seem to do anything but fall into place.

Dealing with a tragic past, Drake has never cared about anyone else but himself and his band. But when Chloe takes the empty seat next to him in class, things start to change. Instantly drawn to her, he begins to wonder if one girl can take a cold hearted womanizer and change every part of him?

Long hidden feelings are revealed and friendships tested to the brink.

This is a New Adult about Chloe, who goes to college with her two best friends, Logan and Amber. Logan is in love with her but she doesn’t know it. She falls for bad boy, Drake, who plays in a band – but who is really super sweet and not bad at all. She wants to go for it with him until Logan tells her he’s in love with her and Drake tells her he isn’t the kind for a relationship so she should go for it with Logan. She does, but the attraction between her and Drake doesn’t go away, so she ends up cheating on Logan. Twice. Which causes her to have much angst and guilt. Add into it drama from her mama, and it’s kind of a hot mess.

Chloe is childish and frustrating. She constantly falls back on the old “I have mommy issues” thing to excuse all of her terrible behavior. She whines, she cheats, she lies, she blows hot and cold. If she had stepped up and owned her behavior maybe, maybe I could have worked with it. As it stands? No. Just no.

Logan was controlling and pushy, so I’m not sure why she decided to start dating him. And don’t get me started on the way Amber bailed on Chloe as soon as the going got rough. Yes, she was acting like an idiot, but a true friend would have told her that, rather than giving her the silent treatment until Logan said it was okay to be friends again.

To be totally honest, I’m not even sure why I finished it. I should have stopped as soon as Mr. Maddox was referenced. I knew then I was going to have problems with the story.

It ends in a cliffhanger of sorts (with Chloe’s psycho mom coming back into the picture) and the blurb for the next book, Twisted, makes me want to poke my eyes out, so I’ll definitely be stopping here.

1.5 out of 5

This book is available from Atria Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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