Tag: Young Adult

Review: The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby

Posted September 13, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Other Side of Lost by Jessi KirbyReviewer: Rowena
The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media.

Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.

With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.

I got this book for review ages ago and Jessi Kirby is good enough that I got the book for the sole reason that she wrote it. I didn’t have to read the blurb or read other reviews on the book, I just wanted to read it because Jessi Kirby has not let me down yet and her streak is still alive because this book was good.

The Other Side of Lost follows our protagonist, Mari Turner, as she goes from being a popular internet influencer to finding out and learning all about who she wants to be, in an effort to honor the death of her cousin Bri.

When we first meet Mari, her life was plastic and completely fake. She knows all of the tricks to taking the perfect picture to showcase a life that is picture perfect, even if it’s completely false. She’s even got a fake boyfriend who is in love when the camera is on but once it’s off, so is he. Mari is trying to keep up with the demands of being perfect, even if it’s only for her fans and when she turns 18, it hits her really hard because it’s the first birthday that she will be celebrating without her cousin Bri in the world.

Mari and Bri were the best of friends. They were born on the same day and they grew up together. They did everything together but as they got older, they started growing apart, mostly on Mari’s part because she was much more interested in building her audience and Bri was all about the adventure. She lived her life to the fullest and was still planning on the big adventure her and Mari were supposed to do together when they turned 18. When an accident kills Bri before she could go on their epic hike, leaving Mari behind to deal with loads of regret and a huge heaping of guilt that she didn’t make things right before Bri died.

Mari’s journey starts when she gives up her IG account, her sponsors and all of the perks that come from being an internet personality for Bri’s hiking pack and goes on their epic hike on her own. She learns a great deal about herself, becomes reacquainted with Bri through her travel journal and really comes into her own while completing the biggest hike she ever did.

This book made me laugh, made me cry, and it put me back together again and though Mari frustrated me continuously throughout the book, I still really enjoyed the adventure we were able to go on with Mari. Jessi Kirby does a fantastic job of making us (the readers) a part of Mari’s journey and not simply a bystander. I was right in the thick of things with Mari and I felt my feet hurt when hers did and I was giddy right along with her as she was getting to know Josh and I felt her exhaustion at the end of each day. So even though I thought it was pretty unbelievable that with absolutely NO training, she finished hiking the John Muir trail, I still really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a satisfying personal journey of a story, this will definitely fit the bill. Kudos to Jessi Kirby on another fabulously written book.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

Posted July 29, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: The Accidentals by Sarina BowenThe Accidentals by Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

A YA novel from USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.

Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.

I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.

My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.

When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost. 

Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul.


There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.

My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.

Order the Book:

AMAZON | AUDIO | PAPERBACK | IBOOKS | KOBO | NOOK

Excerpt

After the last course—chocolate mousse—the three of us go tripping back across the cold lawn in the dark, Aurora in the lead. I’m the tiniest bit tipsy and wearing heels. So naturally I stumble on a frozen clod of snow and nearly fall. But Jake catches my hand to steady me. “Thanks,” I breathe.

Curiously, his warm fingers remain curled around mine until we reached the door of Habernacker.

I try not to feel ridiculously excited about it.

He lets go when we all reach the third floor. When Aurora opens the door, he follows us inside until we all collapse on the S.L.O., with me in the center.

“Oh! I forgot to steal my plate,” I realize.

“Me too.” Aurora sighs.

Jake reaches into his jacket and pulls out a plate.

“Well done, Mr. Jake!” Aurora laughs. “The party in the annex starts in fifteen minutes.” She heaves herself off the squishy couch. “I have time to redo my makeup.”

I watch her walk over to the stereo, where my phone is already ensconced, and turn on our Christmas playlist. Then she grabs her makeup bag off her desk and leaves the room.

When the door clicks shut, neither Jake nor I speak for a moment. The low chords of a Straight No Chaser song play through our little speakers.

Suddenly, it’s awkward. We’ve been circling each other for a while now—since the night he was trying to be nice and I wrecked it.
“You’re probably sick of a cappella by now,” I say, just to find something to talk about.

But Jake turns slowly toward me and says something unexpected. “Rachel, I need to ask you a question.”

My stomach does a little flip flop, and I turn to face those blue eyes I love so much. “What?” I whisper.

“Well…” He clears his throat. There is a very long pause, during which I hold my breath. “Will you come skiing some time?”

I exhale. “I guess so?” Another beat of silence passes. “That was your big question?” I ask, feeling like I’ve missed something.
His color deepens. “Well, no. I just…” His brow furrows, as if he’s trying to explain some point of astronomy. I love his look of concentration. I’ve missed it.

Jake’s blue eyes lock on mine, and I see how our own orbits might finally collide. This time, I will not send the moment winging back into space. Instead, I lean an almost imperceptible degree in his direction.

And that’s all it takes.

Reaching up, Jake cups his hand to the side of my face. I’m still processing the sweet touch of his fingers when he leans in farther, his lips brushing the sensitive corner of my mouth. His eyes are tentative, seeking permission. My heart thuds with expectation.

And then—finally—Jake kisses me for real. We come together the way a well-timed drummer kicks into the chorus of a song—swiftly, and without hesitation.

We broke apart a moment later, eyeing each other while I try not to smile. “Can I do that again?” he asks, his voice rough. “That was my real question.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely…”

Jake makes a low noise of approval, then draws me closer. I reach up for the back of his neck, my fingers grazing that golden patch of skin I’ve always wanted to touch. He kisses me again, his arm finding the velvet waist of my dress and encircling me.

My heart flutters, but not from fear. Warm lips tease mine gently apart. And when his tongue tangles with mine, I lose myself.

He tastes like champagne. Everything is wild and sweet, until the moment Aurora’s voice rings out. “Ay, caramba!”

I feel an unwelcome rush of cool air between us as Jake retreats.

“I did say I was going into the bathroom, right? And not on a trip to Fiji?”

Neither of us says a word; we only look sheepishly at Aurora.

“Just to be clear, now I’m ducking into the bedroom for my coat, which only takes a second.” She steps into the bedroom, and I hear the rustling of fabric. Then she peers dramatically around the door frame. “Good listening! Now I’m going to the party. Will I see you both there? Don’t answer that. We’ll speak later.”

Jake laughs. “Sorry, Aurora.”

“I’ve seen worse.” She departs, the door closing behind her.

And now I’m self-conscious. Rising, I decide to fiddle with the music playlist. “Do you want to go to the party?”

“I’ll go. But I’m not great at parties. It’s all shouting over the music, drinking warm beer out of a plastic cup.”

“Then let’s not.” My fingers shake as I adjust the volume. I go back over to the sofa and sit down.

“So.” He clears his throat. “Where are you going for break?” As he asks, he takes one of my hands in his, massaging my palm with his thumb.

His light touch is so distracting that I almost forget to answer. “Kansas City,” I manage. “To meet my grandfather for the very first time.”

“Um, what?” He squeezes my hand.

So I tell Jake the embarrassing highlights of my weird story—that I hadn’t met Frederick until this past summer.
“Wow. I’m sorry,” he says.

“Don’t be.”

“I guess I’m not that offended now that you wouldn’t introduce me. If the normal waiting period is seventeen years.”

My laugh begins with an unladylike snort. Ah, well. “With me it’s just all soap opera, all the time. Believe it or not, a year ago I was really a boring person.”

“I don’t see how.” He regards me with darting eyes. “You look beautiful tonight.”

“It’s Aurora’s dress,” I whisper.

But Jake doesn’t seem to care. He slips his arms around my waist. Scooting closer, he slides his lips from my forehead, down my nose and onto my mouth. And we begin again.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: July 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Sarina Bowen

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller’s list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina’s books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


Tagged: , , ,

Review: One Small Thing by Erin Watt

Posted July 17, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: One Small Thing by Erin WattReviewer: Rowena
One Small Thing by Erin Watt
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.

One Small Thing is the newest standalone book from Erin Watt and I didn’t know what to expect when opening it up. I was hoping for more When it’s Real and less Twisted Palace and I’m happy to report that I got more of what I wanted from an Erin Watt. This book was more like a romance novel with young characters and I’m a fan of that because at the end of the book, there’s no guessing what happens, there’s just a proper ending.

So this book follows a young woman named Beth who is starting her senior year under the very heavy watchful gaze of her parents. After her sister was killed in a car accident, the shackles are locked around Beth’s wrists by her parents. They’re so bent on keeping her safe that they have no idea how much their protective instincts is choking the life out of her. The harder they hold on to her, the more she wants out. I was really appalled at the heavy-handedness that her parents raised her. The whole college application thing was hella extra and then the door thing?? The more that I read from them, the more I wanted to smack some ever living sense into both of them. They were so focused on not losing Beth that they didn’t see that she was already halfway out the door, never to return.

To make matters even more complicated, the first boy to interest Beth is the one boy that she shouldn’t have anything to do with. The boy responsible for taking her sister’s life. Getting to know the boy that changed his name to Chase after he got out of prison made for an interesting read. There’s a lot of angst and a lot of things going off in this book and I was invested in everything going on.

This wasn’t an easy read, there was plenty of frustrations on my part but I’m super glad that I finished the book because all of the angst and the frustrations pay off in a huge way for me and I was glad with the way that this story ended, with the way that the story was told. Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick are a fantastic writing duo and they won me over again with this book.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young

Posted July 11, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha YoungReviewer: Rowena
The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

I am Comet Caldwell.

And I sort of, kind of, absolutely hate my name.

People expect extraordinary things from a girl named Comet. That she’ll be effortlessly cool and light up a room the way a comet blazes across the sky.

But from the shyness that makes her book-character friends more appealing than real people to the parents whose indifference hurts more than an open wound, Comet has never wanted to be the center of attention. She can’t wait to graduate from her high school in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the only place she ever feels truly herself is on her anonymous poetry blog. But surely that will change once she leaves to attend university somewhere far, far away.

When new student Tobias King blazes in from America and shakes up the school, Comet thinks she’s got the bad boy figured out. Until they’re thrown together for a class assignment and begin to form an unlikely connection. Everything shifts in Comet’s ordinary world. Tobias has a dark past and runs with a tough crowd—and none of them are happy about his interest in Comet. Targeted by bullies and thrown into the spotlight, Comet and Tobias can go their separate ways…or take a risk on something extraordinary.

The Fragile Ordinary is the second YA book that Samantha Young has released and it was just as enjoyable as the first book was. This book follows Comet Caldwell as she starts the new school year sitting next to the cute American transfer. She is a bit of a loner though she has two best friends and things at home are a little tough on her because her parents aren’t the supportive kind of parents that all young kids should have.

Comet was one of those main characters that quietly shined throughout her entire story. She was shy and avoided the spotlight at every turn but she was also caring and loving to those she held close to her heart. She worried that her personality didn’t fit with her friends and that it would make her friends realize that they didn’t want to be her friend anymore. She worried that the heartbreak she felt at home with her parents being so indifferent to her would do her in and she very much looked forward to escaping her town and her home to find her own place in the big world.

Comet was an interesting protagonist and I connected with her character, quite a bit. The way that she connected with the characters in her books more than her friends in real life, the way that she hurt at her parent’s distance and then seeing her develop and then nourish a crush on Tobias King made reading this book zip right through.

Everything that Comet felt was so intense and seeing her fall in love with Tobias and then come to care for Stevie despite how different his crowd was from hers made Comet grow up and come out of her shell. There was a lot of stuff happening in Comet’s life and the way that she dealt with the bullying, the shit from her parents, the new relationship with Tobias that came with its own complications, and then there were the insecurities she was dealing with surrounding her friends.

This wasn’t an easy book to read but boy does Samantha Young pack the goodness in this one. The romance between Tobias and Comet was sweet and seeing Comet really come into her own with the Stevie stuff, the friend’s issues and then all of the stuff that goes down with Tobias had me glued to the book. I couldn’t get enough and though there were times that I wanted to strangle Tobias and even Comet, in the end, I loved them both. I loved the resolutions that come forth with her parents and then her friends. I enjoyed Comet’s story and I loved the way that this book ended. Samantha Young is doing the contemporary YA thing right. Lots of feels and strong young characters that are smart and feel real. I definitely recommend this book.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Posted June 29, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-BrokaReviewer: Rowena
Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script.

Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?

I’m not reading nearly as many YA books as I used to but when I came across this book, I was anxious to read it. This book is surrounded by the Romeo and Juliet play but it features a main character that is more Rosalind than Juliet.

Megan Harper has always been the girl that guys date before they find their meant-to-be partners. She’s become a flirt, the girl that keeps things casual because of her status as the girl before but when she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring writer who teams up with her to write a play and hook her up with the guy she wants to hook up with.

I normally don’t have any trouble jumping into a contemporary YA because things happen sort of fast in those books but for me, this book started off really slow and it was hard for me to connect with Megan. I didn’t hate her or anything like that, I just didn’t really care for her and what she was going through. It took me a little bit to warm up to Owen but once I did, I really warmed up to him.

When Megan gets cast as Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo & Juliet, Megan freaks out because she wants to be a director, not an actress. She was hoping for a small role to add to her college application and now, she’s got to deal with the pressures of acting and acting alongside her ex-boyfriend who dumped her for her best friend. Sure, she’s over the ex but not over how the ex made her feel when she dumped her for someone so close to her.

This story was a character driven story and because I wasn’t that invested in Megan’s character, the story moved slowly for me. I did end up enjoying the book but it took too long for me to care and that was a bummer. Megan is written to be that fun protagonist who has a rep of being the school slut, which I thought was pretty unfair but she didn’t let that stop her from living her life and I liked that she was okay with the person that she was. She made no apologies and she was out there living her best life. My issues with her character was I wasn’t that logged into what was going on. I didn’t really care about the play, the secondary characters weren’t fully fleshed out characters that I could get behind and the love interest, well it took a while for me to like him because I was low key bored throughout the first half of the book.

I did warm up to both Owen and Megan, more Owen than Meg and the book ended on a high note for me so overall, the story was decent but not a favorite of mine. I will be willing to try out more from this writing duo though.

Grade: 3.25 out of 5

three-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,