Tag: Harper Teen

Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Posted February 14, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: By Your Side by Kasie WestReviewer: Rowena
By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Collins, HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Kasie West writes cute, fun and fluffy contemporary young adult romances and this book was no different. This wasn’t my favorite Kasie West story but it was still a solid read.

Autumn Collins got locked in the library. She was also left behind. She had weekend plans with her friends at her best friend’s cabin and those plans went right out the window when she had to pee just as the library was closing and she got locked in the library…for an entire weekend. First off, this was totally unrealistic since I just don’t see this happening in real life but still. I went with it.

Autumn is stuck in the library over the weekend with Dax. The school’s loner who has a reputation for fighting. Nobody really knows Dax but they do know that he was sent to juvie after getting into a fight. Autumn has a crush on Jason and she was looking forward to hanging out with him over at the bonfire that her group of friends was heading over to after leaving the library. When she gets locked in the library, she starts to wonder when her friends will notice that she’s not with them. When the first night goes by and her friend’s don’t come back for her, she covers up what that might mean by trying to get to know the guy she’s locked in the library with…Dax.

Dax hasn’t had an easy go of this life thing. His mother liked drugs more than him, he’s been through a bunch of different foster homes and he’s trying as hard as he can to keep a low profile so that he can stay out of a group home and the minute he turns 18, he’ll be free. If that means that sometimes he’s got to sleep in weird places so that his latest good for nothing foster parents can get their party on, he’ll do it because what Dax wants more than anything in his life is his freedom.

Autumn and Dax develop feelings for each other but after they return to their regular lives, they slide right back into the lives they led before getting locked in the library. There are things that make things that way on Autumn’s side but it was still disappointing. Especially because Dax was disappointed in the way things were with Autumn.

My disappointment in this book stems from Autumn and how long it took for her to get her head out of her ass. The whole thing with Jason and then with Dax pissed me off because she was leading them both on while she took her sweet ass time to make a decision. It didn’t take long for me to read this book, it was really easy to fall into and even though it took me a little bit to warm up to Autumn, I liked Dax from the jump and I didn’t want to stop reading the book but even through all of that, this book isn’t my favorite Kasie West.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Posted July 29, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie WestReviewer: Rowena
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 5th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, Friendship
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable…convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. The task is simple: two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

The problem is that days after prom, she can't stop thinking about her fill-in boyfriend. But can Gia turn her fake boyfriend into a real one without exposing her lie and possibly destroying her friendships and her newfound relationship?

Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Kasie West's talent shines in this tale of one girl's unexpected quest to find love…and possibly herself.

Kasie West delivers another winner for me. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that I enjoyed this book. Kasie West is one of those authors that I will binge read like crazy because I love her stuff. The Fill-In Boyfriend was another great read and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Gia can’t believe that she just got dumped by her college boyfriend in the parking lot at prom. He doesn’t even have the decency to walk her in and then break up with her in front of her friends (that don’t believe he exists) and to save face, Gia begs some random guy sitting in his car to be her date for prom and pretend to be her boyfriend Bradley. Sounds kind of dumb, right? Well, Kasie West makes this story line work.

When we first meet Gia and she’s more worried about her friends thinking she’s a liar than about being dumped on prom and then becoming the liar she doesn’t want her friends to think she is by bringing a fake Bradley to prom with her, I thought I wasn’t going to like her but I did. I liked her and wanted her to get her crap together…with Fill-In Bradley.

This book took me back to my high school days because who didn’t obsess over a boy? Seeing Gia’s crush on Fill-In Bradley grow with each passing page had me grinning like a school girl because Fill In Bradley was a great boy to crush on. I loved seeing them become friends and I really enjoyed seeing her friendship with Bec grow. I thought Bec was a far better friend than any of her regular group of friends and she was a great sister to Hayden too.

This was such a fun read and it took me no time at all to read it because I couldn’t put it down. It’s not a book that takes itself too seriously or is bogged down with angst, it’s the perfect summer read with characters that will make you laugh a sweet romance that will make you happy sigh. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Harper Teen. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

four-stars

Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Posted July 13, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

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Rowena’s reivew of The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi.

A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

This was a really quick read so I wondered if that played a key in me not being able to connect with any of the characters. The main focus is on Ella and Matt. These two dated for a little bit and then Matt disappears. He moves to Texas and just dropped out of Ella’s life, breaking her heart in the process. Now it’s six months later and Matt is back and wants to reconnect with Ella by recreating the most memorable night from their past. The night they said yes to everything. Every idea. Every suggestion of what to do, they said yes and did it. Matt is trying to recreate the perfectness of that night and it doesn’t work out the way he hoped. There was too much unresolved business and resentment to make that happen.

I’m not really sure what to say about this book. It wasn’t a long story but it was slow going for most of it. At first, I was interested in what happened between Matt and Ella, hell even Meg and Jake but as I kept reading, I kept thinking, “Who cares?” Meg and Jake are on a never ending emotional rollercoaster of a relationship that isn’t healthy at all but she keeps taking him back and my first thought? “Meh”. Matt’s back in town and we’re finally getting some answers and once we get them, I think, “Meh”.

I didn’t understand the characters and the further I got into the story, the more I didn’t care to understand them. These were the things that stood out to me while I was reading the book.

  • Matt didn’t have his wallet at Wing King to pay for the food there….but at their next stop, the liquor store, he found his fake ID in his car and went into the store to buy their alcohol. What did he use to pay for the drinks? His fake ID?

  • Matt’s been gone for six months and is back. Ella goes with him to get some answers and they play truth or dare but only do dares so they don’t have to do what they were supposed to do all along and TALK? Hmm.

  • Everyone yells a lot. Mostly Meg and Ella though. Meg’s yelling is low-key annoying.

  • Matt’s reasons for disappearing didn’t make sense. I get that something huge went down in his family and it was embarrassing. He didn’t want to involve Ella in his family drama but how could she have been involved from Florida? How would telling Ella the truth about what was going on have involved her in the whole thing? Would the Texas cops think that she was what? Hiding more drugs in Florida? Make sense Matt!

  • I can’t even with Matt. WTF? Instead of just telling Ella what happened, give her some closure, he just kept giving her trash? Seriously, WTF?

When the story finally ended, I was glad. Now I can move on to the next book and put this one behind me. Nothing in this entire book worked for me. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some.

Grade: 1 out of 5

This book is available from Harper Teen. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rowena’s DNF Round Up

Posted July 2, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 7 Comments

I’ve never been one to review the books that I didn’t finish but after reading Kat’s post about her DNF reads over at Cuddlebuggery, I thought I’d take a page out of her book and do the same here. Mostly, I just want to remember why I didn’t read certain books, gave up on them or whatever.

Thanks for the inspiration, Kat.

1
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand.

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

This book was one that was really slow going for me. I kept waiting to connect with the main character Lex but that never happened and then about 35% through the book, I threw in the towel. It’s not a bad book, the writing is actually good but it’s one that was really sad and I just wasn’t in the mood for it so I put it down. I haven’t wanted to pick it up again either so I doubt I will, not any time soon anyway.

You can purchase this book here or here in e-format.

2
Better than Perfect by Melissa Kantor.

Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either.

This is another book that I thought I’d like but just couldn’t get into. The beginning was slow and after trying and not being able to read past the 20% mark, I gave up.

You can purchase this book here or here in e-format.

3
Still the One by Jill Shalvis.

Darcy Stone is game for anything — except sexy Navy veteran and physical therapist A.J. Colten, the guy who’d rejected her when she’d needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately, Darcy can’t refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.

A.J. admits it — Darcy is irresistible. But he’s already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he’s not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they’d ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What’s the real thing? And where does it go from here?

This is a DNF that surprises me because I love Jill Shalvis’ books. I adore her contemporary romances and her heroes but Darcy got on my hot damn nerves in her brothers book and the first part of this book, she did the same until I just couldn’t be bothered to finish her story. Poor AJ, I just know that I could have loved the hell out of him but I just couldn’t connect with Darcy and all of the lovey dovey crap that Wyatt and Emily were pushing. I get that they’re happy but it felt like every time they were mentioned, they were ALWAYS all over each other and being completely annoying in their love that I gave this one a pass.

You can purchase this book here or here in e-format.

4
Kissing Ted Callihan by Amy Spalding.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.

This is a book that I probably would have loved but every time I picked it up, I thought about the YA Reviewer Bingo Card she put together, the one where she’s making fun of reviewers/readers and I got pissed off all over again so I kept putting it down. It’s been months since that went down and I’m still not over it so nope, I’m not touching this book.

You can purchase this book here or here in e-format.

These books are available from Harper Teen, Berkley and Poppy. Buy links are provided below each review. These books were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Posted June 26, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

emmy oliver
Rowena’s review of Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway.

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

I read this book in one sitting.

I enjoyed it so much that I just kept right on reading until I was finished with the book and it was 2 in the morning. There was so much to love that if it wasn’t 2 in the morning, I probably would have read it again.

When I picked this book up for review, I thought that for sure we’d get a cute contemporary YA and while the romance in this was cute and sweet, this book was about so much more than Emmy & Oliver as a couple. This book was about new beginnings, growing up and learning that things aren’t always what they seem.

Emmy and Oliver were best friends as kids, up until Oliver was kidnapped by his father at age 7. Ten years later, Oliver is back and things are different. They’re both all grown up and not at all the same people that they were ten years ago but whereas Emmy grew up in a community that was shaken by Oliver’s disappearance, thereby cementing him in her brain, Oliver grew up having forgotten a huge chunk of the people from his past – Emmy included.

Emmy wants to be there for Oliver because she knows that he’s got to be going through some heavy stuff right now. I mean he found out that the father he’s known all these years and was there for him through the good and the bad things lied to him and kidnapped him. Took him away from the life that he had with his mother. Emmy starts offering Oliver a listening ear and seeing Oliver open up to her as the story progresses just broke my heart.

Oliver says something to Emmy that really sums up what he was feeling being back in his old home, with a new family.

He says,

“Coming home is like being kidnapped all over again,”

I teared up when he said that because I couldn’t imagine going through what he went through in this book. He’s back with his mother and the things that his father told him about his mother when he was little and they first disappeared were hard for him to forget because he grew up being mad at his Mom. Was it his fault? No. But how do you hate your kidnapper when he’s your father? You had a good life with him and to find out that the man that was your best friend growing up, took you way from your mother? Holy cow.

It’s especially hard when Oliver’s father is on the run and your mother wants him to pay for everything he’s done. Should he pay for his crimes? Of course but at the end of the day, he’s still Oliver’s father…and it was a hard place for Oliver to be. Stuck in the middle of his parents.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the characters, the story itself and the writing. I thought Benway did a fantastic job of telling Oliver’s story through Emmy because Emmy was pretty awesome. I freaking loved her. The loyalty she showed toward her friends, the good daughter she tried to be for her parents even with all of the lying she did to them. I just enjoyed her characters so much. I loved that she was able to be there for Oliver the way that he needed her to be. I loved that she knew what was right and what was wrong but was able to put her opinions aside to help her loved ones.

There were times when Emmy would drive me crazy with her lies to her parents but I couldn’t even be mad at her because without the lies, she wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Her parents leash had gotten incredibly tight since Oliver’s kidnapping and I loved when she finally had the talk with them. Oliver’s disappearance affected so many people and it was felt by everyone in their community. I really liked that Robin Benway touched on the way it hurt and changed everyone, not just Oliver and not just Emmy.

This book was a good read and I feel like this book will be one that I return to over and over again. It was well written and eye opening. An overall great read.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

This book is available from Harper Teen. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.