Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Posted July 17, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Coming Up for Air by Miranda KenneallyReviewer: Rowena
Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #8
Also in this series: Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2), Guys Do Not Do Secret Santa, Defending Taylor (Hundred Oaks #7)
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July 1st 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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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Review: You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross and Mark Perini

Posted August 12, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross and Mark PeriniReviewer: Rowena
You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross, Mark Perini
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 400
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her "good girl" persona, so she'll try Eddie on for size.

New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.

Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

I haven’t read too many books by Julie Cross but the ones that I did read, I enjoyed so I looked forward to digging into this one.

Finley is a model who can’t land any big time jobs because she’s too sweet and too cute and fashion designers are booking the edgy models, the hint of bad girl models for their photo shoots and it’s pissing Fin off because she needs work. In an effort to shake her good girl vibe off, she has a one night stand with Eddie Wells who is new to the model scene.

Eddie is supposed to be at Princeton but his pretty looks have landed him with a modeling job, an agent and a life that he needs to spend some time trying to figure out. He’s got a secret that he’s keeping and Fin knows that she should stay away but like I always say, the heart wants what it wants and Eddie and Fin want each other so it’s hard to stay away when you really don’t want to.

Seeing these two try to figure out their futures made for a really interesting read. I was prepared for a lot of shallow characters that smoked too much pot, drank too much of everything and got on my nerves but what I got was people getting their hustle on. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of partying going on but Finley and Eddie were too focused on their lives and their jobs to partake in anything offered at any of those parties that all the other models were going to.

I liked both Eddie and Finley. I liked them individually but I also really liked them together. I loved that Eddie didn’t kid himself when he would think about Finley. He kept track of how many times he accidentally (not even remotely accidental) bumped into Finley in their apartment building and I loved how much Finley cared about everything and everyone. She was a nurturer and I loved seeing her with her family. I also really liked seeing Eddie fit himself into Finley’s family too because his family sucked big donkey balls.

I loved how he went from having on support system in his life to having Fin and her brothers and her Dad. His problems made my heart hurt and I loved how him and Fin became a team and tackled their individual problems together. The love that blossomed between them was too cute for words. I loved how they supported each other in the big things but even in the small things. I just loved them to pieces.

I was a bit bummed with the way that things worked out in the end because they didn’t end the way that I was expecting it to end but still, this was a great story about two models finding themselves and love in New York City. It was a hit for me.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Posted October 30, 2012 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Who I Kissed by Janet GurtlerReviewer: Rowena
Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
Published by Sourcebooks
Publication Date: October 1st 2012
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Janet Gurtler's latest contemporary YA novel is by turns gripping, heart-wrenching, and joyous as one teen girl has to find the courage to carry on after a devastating tragedy.

She never thought a kiss could kill...

As the new girl in town, Samantha just wants to fit in. Being invited to a party by her fellow swim team members is her big chance...especially since Zee will be there. He hasn't made a secret of checking her out at the pool. Sam didn't figure on Alex being there too. She barely even knows him. And she certainly didn't plan to kiss him. It just kind of happened.

And then Alex dies—right in her arms...

Consumed by guilt and grief, Sam has no idea what to do or where to turn when everyone at school blames her. What follows is Sam's honest, raw, and unforgettable journey to forgive herself and find balance—maybe even love—in a life that suddenly seems to be spinning out of control.

I was curious to see how I’d like this book, given the premise behind it. I can’t even imagine the kind of guilt and grief a girl would feel after making out with a guy and having him die because you ate a peanut butter sandwich before the party. I found that while reading through this story, Sam’s reaction to everything that happened rang true. It felt real and my heart was broken for her, for Zee and for Alex’s family. There were so many things going on in this story, so much guilt that it was hard not to get emotionally attached to everyone in the story.

There’s Sam’s guilt over kissing a boy she barely knew. There’s Chloe’s guilt over staying with her boyfriend than checking on her brother like she meant to. There’s Zee’s guilt over the crappy way he treated Sam that led to her kissing Alex. So much guilt and so many people drowning in it.

The story goes like this: Sam is the new girl in school and she swims (exceptionally well). Sam likes Zee. Zee seems interested in Sam. Zee and Alex are best friends. They all go to a party. Zee and Sam talk, hit it off. Zee is pretty drunk. Sam is not. Zee’s ex-hook up bulldozes her way into Zee’s lap. Zee does not push her off. Sam is hurt. Alex makes himself known. Alex and Sam talk. Alex makes Sam feel better about Zee’s rejection. Sam tries to teach Zee a lesson. Alex and Sam kiss. Alex dies. And then guilt…all around.

The bulk of this story deals with what happens after Alex dies. It’s told through Sam’s point of view but Gurtler did a great job of inserting the other characters and their emotions in as well. The sub-plot about Sam’s mom’s death is thrown in there which I thought added more depth to Samantha’s character.

I couldn’t put this book down. I started it long after I posted on Goodreads that I was reading it but once I opened it up, I couldn’t put it down. I was too interested in getting to know Sam, in getting to know what happened after that party at Taylor’s house. I was invested in Sam’s story and I thought the author did a great job of sucking this reader right into Sam’s world. She’s the new girl in school and she didn’t know about Alex’s peanut allergy. She was the new girl in school and she was trying to live down a false reputation at her last school that was started by girls who were jealous of Sam’s ability to swim faster than some fish.

Sam was a good person and she didn’t deserve any of the treatment that she got before she came to Tadita and after the party at Taylor’s but what gutted me was that she thought she did. She thought of herself as a murderer and she just took the treatment that the kids at school threw her way. She took the treatment that Zee gave her on the chin because she thought she deserved it and that made my heart hurt for her in a way that it hasn’t hurt for a character in a long time. I was so glad when her Aunt Allie finally came into the picture because even though I knew that her father loved her and wanted to help her, it was more than a little obvious that he didn’t know how to help her. Sam was drowning in a sea of guilt and it wasn’t healthy and I was super glad that she had people in her life that loved her enough to want to get her that help. She was also very fortunate to have a good friend in Taylor. Taylor was the best friend that Sam had and seeing her stand up to the people who stared and murmured behind their hands at Sam made me want to pay for her college tuition or something.

I really liked that even though Sam thrashed out at those around her (the people that didn’t deserve her attitude), she knew that she needed help and she didn’t waste anyone’s time when that help was presented to her. This is one of those stories that could happen in real life. It’s real and it’s something that we could have heard on the news and this book takes us into that what happens next situation and tells the story of a young girl who was a good person that went through some really bad crap. I came to love Sam as if she were my own daughter and was happy that she had a good support system through her family and her friend. Sam learns a lot about herself and about life and I thought Gurtler did a great job with the writing of this book. I really liked it and what I liked most about it is that it made me think about how I’d react if something like this happened to me. Not just to me but what if it happened in my town, when I was in high school. I know that I wouldn’t have been one of the people that treated Sam like she was a killer but what would I have thought? How would I have reacted?

This was a good story and I thoroughly recommend it.

…and that’s your scoop!

This book is available from Sourcebooks Fire. This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://goodreads.com

four-stars


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Review: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Posted October 23, 2012 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Stealing Parker by Miranda KenneallyReviewer: Rowena
Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2) by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #2
Also in this series: Guys Do Not Do Secret Santa, Defending Taylor (Hundred Oaks #7), Coming Up for Air
Published by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: October 1st 2012
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 242
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

I’m going to hide my review since there are going to be major spoilers (sorry, I couldn’t help it) so if you’ve read the book and want to go ahead and read my review, feel free to highlight the review and read it that way.

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MAJOR SPOILERS: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

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One of my hot buttons is the teacher/student relationship in books. I’m just flat out, not a fan of it. Actually, I should clarify that I’m not a fan of a minor student and teacher relationship. Professors and college students I’m not really against but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read those books unless they come highly recommended but with minors (and 17 is still a minor in my opinion), I don’t like it.

So with that said, I wondered how I would like this book because it’s got one of those relationships in it. Now, I’m a fan of the author because I absolutely adored Catching Jordan so despite my reservations going into this book, I had to read it because I enjoyed the last book by Kenneally that much.

The verdict is in: I liked it.

I liked the book in general but the part of the book that deals with the coach/student relationship, I wasn’t a fan of that. But that wasn’t what made this book. Or the entire book anyway so I was happy about that. The book focuses on the main character, Parker who’s mother came out of the closet and left the family with her lesbian lover. Parker, who grew up as a strict Christian has been shunned by her best friend, her friends and a lot of families at Church. Rumors fly around her school about how she’s going to follow in her mother’s footsteps and how she’s a slut as well. All rumors start with her ex-best friend Laura. Try as she might to ignore it all, Parker is very affected by the rumors, by her mother’s betrayal (which is how she sees it) and everything else going on in her life. Her father stubbornly insists that the family go to the same Church that turned their backs on them and that frustrates Parker to no end because a place that is supposed to be forgiving is anything but and really, the people at this Church pissed me the heck off.

Parker is trying to keep things going in her family now that her mother left. She cooks, she cleans and she runs things at home while her brother turns to drugs and alcohol to make it all go away and her father works and drowns himself in the Church which isn’t good for anyone. Parker turns to kissing boys and what I want to know is when did kissing boys make you a slut? That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

But what I really enjoyed about this book was the friendship that blossomed between Will and Parker. I thought Will (Corndog) was such a cutie patootie but when the crap hits the fan with Parker and Coach Hoffman, the way that both Will and Drew turned on her made me so angry on her behalf. They should have had more faith in her because they were supposed to be her friends. She already had bad luck with shitty friends and for the two guys that I liked the most in this book to do what they did, gutted me because I was good and pissed at both of them. Nobody is perfect and Parker wasn’t any exception but she was a good person at heart and it really sucked that not one person outside of her family knew this. Everyone should have known that because to know her and Drew and Will knew her was to see how awesome she really was and so I hated that she had to deal with so much stupidity from the people at school and the people at Church….and then the people in her circle of friends.

Watching Parker deal with everything thrown at her made my heart hurt because she didn’t deserve all of that. Coach Hoffman, as cute and hunky as he was, made me want to puke. He was an adult that acted like a straight up douchebag and I couldn’t like him to save my life. Did I see what Parker saw in him? Totally. Did it justify what Brian let happen between them? Hell no. He was a no good, piece of shit that needed to get punched in his freaking face for taking advantage of Parker the way that he did. He had no flipping excuse for carrying on with her the way that he did and each trip to the laundry mat made me want to find him and punch his face in. He stopped being hot the minute he took advantage of Parker and he took advantage of her. Whether she was willing or not, he was the adult and the teacher, he should have put a stop to it and if they weren’t caught, he probably would have kept right on meeting her late at night across the street and doing what they were doing. Ugh.

After everything was said and done, I admired the heck out of Parker. She blossomed into such a strong person by the end of the book and I was really happy that things worked out for her but I wanted to see Will grovel more, I wanted Drew to suffer more for not having more faith in Faith and really, I wanted Drew to apologize to Parker for not trusting her. For not having her back when she needed him to have her back, especially since she was going to walk away from the one guy that she actually wanted a relationship with…FOR HIM. But still, Kenneally can write the heck out of a story so despite all of the things that made me mad in this book, I enjoyed the book and I cannot wait for more from this author.

She does good stuff, Miranda Kenneally does. I’m a total fan.

…and that’s your scoop!

This book is available from Sourcebooks. This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://goodreads.com

four-stars


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