Tag: Young Adult

Sunday Spotlight: Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Posted April 18, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 1 Comment

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: Better Than the Movies by Lynn PainterBetter Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 368
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In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.

Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO

“A woman friend. This is amazing.
You may be the first attractive woman I have not wanted to sleep with in my entire life.”
—When Harry Met Sally

Michael was back.

I propped my feet up on the kitchen table and dug my spoon into the container of Americone Dream, still beside myself with giddiness. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have imagined the return of Michael Young.

I didn’t think I’d ever see him again.

After he moved, I daydreamed for years about him coming back. I used to imagine I was out taking a walk on one of those gloriously cold autumn days that whispered of winter, the air smelling like snow. I’d be wearing my favorite outfit—which changed with each imagining, of course, because this fantasy started back in grade school—and when I’d turn the corner at the end of the block, there he’d be, walking toward me. I think there was even romantic running involved. I mean, why wouldn’t there be?

There were also no less than a hundred brokenhearted entries in my childhood diaries about his exit from my life. I’d found them a few years ago when we were cleaning out the garage, and the entries were surprisingly dark for a little kid.

Probably because his absence in my life was timed so closely with my mother’s death.

Eventually I’d accepted that neither of them were coming back. But now he’d returned.

And it felt like getting a little piece of happiness back.

I didn’t have any classes with him, so fate couldn’t intervene by throwing us together, which sucked so badly. I mean, what were the odds that we’d have zero occasions for forced interaction? Joss had a class with him, and clearly Wes did as well. Why not me? How was I supposed to show him we were meant to go to prom and fall in love and live happily ever after when I didn’t ever see him? I hummed along to Anna of the North in my headphones— the sexy hot tub song from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before—and stared out the window at the rain.

The one thing in my favor was that I was kind of a love expert. I didn’t have a degree and I hadn’t taken any classes, but I’d watched thousands of hours of romantic comedies in my life. And I hadn’t just watched. I’d analyzed them with the observational acuity of a clinical psychologist.

Not only that, but love was in my genes. My mother had been a screenwriter who’d churned out a lot of great small-screen romantic comedies. My dad was 100 percent certain that she would’ve been the next Nora Ephron if she’d just had a little more time.

So even though I had zero practical experience, between my inherited knowledge and my extensive research, I knew a lot about love. And everything I knew made me certain that in order for Michael and me to happen, I would need to be at Ryno’s party.

Which wasn’t going to be easy, because not only did I have no idea who Ryno even was but I had zero interest in attending a party filled with the jocks’ sweaty armpits and the populars’ stinky beer breath.

But I needed to get reacquainted with Michael before some awful blonde who shall remain nameless beat me to him, so I’d have to find a way to make it work.

Lightning shot across the sky and illuminated Wes’s big car, all snuggled up against the curb in front of my house, rain bouncing hard off of its hood. That assbag had been right behind me all the way home from school, and when I’d pulled forward to properly parallel park, he’d slid right into The Spot.

What kind of monster parked nose-first in a street spot?

As I honked and yelled at him through the torrential down- pour, he waved to me and ran inside his house. I ended up having to park around the corner, in front of Mrs. Scarapelli’s duplex, and my hair and dress had been drenched by the time I burst through my front door.

Don’t even ask about the new shoes.

I licked off the spoon and wished Michael lived next door instead of Wes.

Then it hit me. “Holy God.”

Wes was my in. Wes, who had invited Michael to the party in the first place, would obviously be attending. What if he could get me in?

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: April 2021

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 Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter Headshot

Lynn Painter lives with her husband and pack of wild children in Nebraska, where she is a weekly contributor to the Omaha World-Herald and an avid fan of napping. When working on a new book, she can often be found sound asleep on her office floor. Some might say she should grow up and stop randomly dozing off like she's a toddler, but Lynn considers it part of her writing "process."


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Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Posted December 28, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasReviewer: Holly
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Narrator: Philip Battley
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Romance
Pages: 485
Length: 11 hours and 36 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

This special ebook edition of Sherry Thomas's extraordinary romantic fantasy debut, The Burning Sky—the first in the Elemental Trilogy—features a repackaged cover for her legions of romance fans and an excerpt from the sequel, The Perilous Sea.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of the Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

At Tracy’s recommendation, I requested the audiobook from the library and switched back and forth between listening and reading. I really liked the narrator. I feel like I lost some of the connection to the story by switching platforms, however. For awhile I was fully invested in the story and characters, but that fizzled a bit by the end.

Iolanthe Seabourne has been living with her mentor and guardian since she was two years old. He was the perfect guardian…until he wasn’t. She doesn’t understand what changed him from an honorable, loving man into an unscrupulous addict. For years, she’s been covering for him and trying to keep them afloat. When he begs her not to complete a potion she’s promised to make in exchange for allowing him to keep his position, he ruins it. She ends up calling down lightning to fix it, and that sets off a chain of events she could never have predicted. Unbeknownst to her, she is one of the great Elemental Mages – a mage who can control all four elements. Her lightning brought The Inquisitor after her, along with several other agents of Atlantis. But it also brought Prince Titus, the ruler of the realm, and her personal savior. Only he has his own agenda, and Iolanthe will be forced to learn some hard lessons.

Titus has always known his purpose..to find and protect the last great Elemental Mage. He’s been preparing for this his whole life…except he never imagined she’d be a girl. He’s hiding her in the human realm as a boy, but only until he can convince her to take out The Inquisitor and take on Atlantis.

Thomas has built an engrossing world, full of magic and possibilities. I really enjoyed the action and the progression of the story. It was interesting to see Titus and Iolanthe circle around each other. I hated that he took advantage of her and treated her poorly, but I also understood why.

Parts of this were predictable, but I enjoyed it for the most part. I do think both main characters lacked a bit of depth. Things were very much on the surface, especially with Iolanthe. I’m hoping we see more change and growth from her in the next two books.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

The Burning Sky Trilogy

three-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: A Summer Like No Other by Elodie Nowodazkij

Posted August 13, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: A Summer Like No Other by Elodie NowodazkijReviewer: Rowena
A Summer Like No Other by Elodie Nowodazkij
Series: Broken Dreams #1.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 30, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

She’s his best friend’s little sister. He’s the biggest player of them all.

They shouldn’t be together. But this summer’s just too tempting.

Sixteen-year-old Emilia Moretti’s goal for the summer is simple: forget her brother’s best friend—Nick Grawsky—ever existed. It should be easy: He’s spending his summer in the Hamptons, adding girls in tiny bikinis to his list of broken hearts. Guarantee he won’t be telling them they’re like his little sisters. This summer, Emilia won’t stay awake at night thinking about him. She’ll need flawless ballet movements to have a shot at next year’s showcase, and she’s finally ready to search for her birth parents. But when Nick decides to stay in the city, Emilia’s resolve disappears in a pirouette. Maybe it’s the spin they needed to be together. As long as she doesn’t get stuck believing in happily ever after…

Nick is tired of pretending to be the happy, let’s-have-fun guy. His father wants him to change his career from professional dancer to…lawyer. He needs to put all of his focus on dancing to prove to Daddy Dearest he’s good enough to make it big. And he may have a case of the bluest balls in history courtesy of Emilia. She’s off-limits: The bro code with Roberto even forbids the dirty thoughts he has about her. Besides, he’s not boyfriend material. He only has time for flings, for girls who don’t expect much, for girls he doesn’t want to kiss goodnight. He knows he should resist her, but he’s not sure he wants to…

At least for this summer.

It’s going to be a summer like no other.

This review was originally published on August 6, 2015.

This was a quick read.

I wanted to read this one because it sounded like a cute summer read that I could sink into for a couple of hours and wouldn’t bog me down with angst and what not. I thought I could dive right in and enjoy a cute story and while I did like it, I didn’t exactly love it.

Em’s father got fired from his job so their summers in the Hamptons are a thing of the past. She’s stuck in the city for the summer and can’t stop thinking about her brother’s best friend, Nick who is probably sun-bathing and flirting with every girl in a bikini nearby – out in the Hamptons. She’s shocked as all get out when Nick walks into her rehearsal room to practice his own dancing. Turns out, Nick didn’t head out to the Hamptons either and when he starts showing genuine interest in Em, things get interesting.

This is a short story so things happened pretty fast. It’s implied that Em and Nick have a history together. A history of friendship with crushes on both parts. A crush that Em thinks is not returned and a crush that Nick can’t act on because of promises made to Em’s brother Roberto. For such a short story, there’s a lot going on. There’s the relationship brewing between Em and Nick, there’s the secrets that Nick doesn’t tell Em about then there’s the secrets that Nick and Em’s fathers are keeping about Em’s real mother. See? Lots of things going on…and when all is said and done, I don’t feel like much of anything got resolved. The ending felt more of the “read the next book to see what happens” kind of ending and I didn’t really dig that. It’s one thing to tease but this felt more like a build up that just stopped.

I also wasn’t much of a fan of Nick keeping that Jen secret, Nick’s Dad and then all of the secrets that both his Dad and Em’s Dad kept from…everyone.

This book wasn’t a bad book, it was a solid story with characters that were interesting but more than anything, I was left wanting more and not in a good way. Does that make sense?

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

two-half-stars


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Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted August 4, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Holly
Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #2
Also in this series: Stolen Songbird , Warrior Witch
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 464
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy #2) by Danielle L. Jensen picks up shortly after Stolen Songbird ends. I believe this trilogy needs to be read in order. CĂ©cile has escape Trollus and is now living in Trianon, performing at her mother’s opera house while she searches for the witch responsible for cursing Trollus. In the meantime, Tristan is still in Trollus plotting to overthrow his father and free the half-blood trolls.

I enjoyed Stolen Songbird and I immediately jumped into Hidden Huntress because I was anxious to see where the story would go. I found the pace quite a bit slower in this novel and CĂ©cile got on my nerves more. In the first book I felt like she made a lot of bad decisions out of desperation. Here, her bad decisions felt more deliberate. She wanted what she wanted, damn the consequences.

I enjoyed the world and really love the politics and intrigues of the trolls. I also thought Tristan grew quite a bit in this novel. I figured out early who the villain was, and I admit I was impatient for the characters to work it out.

In this book and the previous I really struggled with the romance. I never really felt a connection between Tristan and CĂ©cile outside the metaphysical bond that was forced on them. Their declarations of love didn’t really work for me, and nothing I read here solidified their connection for me. Tristan’s mistrust and CĂ©cile’s insecurities frustrated me.

I liked it enough to start the third book immediately, but it’s not a book I think I’ll ever re-read.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Malediction Trilogy

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols

Posted June 4, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Endless Summer by Jennifer EcholsReviewer: Rowena
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 626
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

Two irresistible boys. One unforgettable summer.

Lori can’t wait for her summer at the lake. She loves wakeboarding and hanging with her friends—including the two hotties next door. With the Vader brothers, she's always been just one of the guys. Now that she’s turning sixteen, she wants to be seen as one of the girls, especially in the eyes of Sean, the older brother. But that’s not going to happen—not if the younger brother, Adam, can help it.

Lori plans to make Sean jealous by spending time with Adam. Adam has plans of his own for Lori. As the air heats up, so does this love triangle. Will Lori’s romantic summer melt into one hot mess?

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on June 4, 2010.

The Boys Next Door: This book follows Lori as she grows balls to finally go after the boy that she’s always wanted, Sean Vader. She grew up with Sean but he’s two years older than she is and doesn’t see her the way that she wants him to but she’s determined to change that. He sees her as her older brother’s little sister and she goes through this transformation in order to get Sean to notice her and when that doesn’t work, she concocts a plan to make him notice her. She also enlists the help of Sean’s younger brother and one of her best friend’s, Adam.

So the plan is to use Adam to make Sean jealous. You could just imagine the kind of drama that caused. I mean, Lori’s in love with Sean. Adam’s in love with Lori. Sean is just well, Sean. He’s a pain in the ass and I could not for the life of me understand why Lori liked Sean. From the very beginning, it was all about Adam for me. It was Adam that I wanted Lori to end up with. Never once did I want Lori to get with Sean and after something pretty big happens at the very first Vader boys summer party, I could not understand why Lori didn’t stop her whole plan to snare Sean because after that happened, I didn’t even like Sean.

He commits a cardinal sin and it took me a very long time to forgive him for it. Over the course of this story, Lori proceeds to drive me absolutely insane. She made one boneheaded mistake after another and I just could not for the life of me figure out how she thought any of her stupid plans would work.

By the time Endless Summer begins, Lori has finally ended up with the guy she’s supposed to end up with and on the night that they make it official, they get grounded. Their parents are livid with them and they’re not allowed to see each other anymore. It’s kind of hard because they live next door to each other and they work together but their parents mean what they say and date, Lori could not.

In the first story, we get to learn a whole lot about the kind of girl Lori is. She’s strong minded, she’s fearless and she does what she needs to do to get what she wants. In some ways, it was good. She didn’t back down from going after Sean when that’s what she thought she wanted and then with Adam, she went after trying to solve their problems by being this no-it-all pain in the ass that got on my hot damn nerves.

In Endless Summer, we get to know Adam more. Adam saved this whole book for me because I adored him. I felt and saw the changes and the growing that Adam went through in this story and it felt sincere and it felt real. In the beginning, Adam is immature and he lets his ADHD rule his life. In the Endless Summer, Adam does some growing up because if he wants that future with Lori, he needs to man up and be the kind of boy that Lori’s father would be okay with dating his daughter.

All throughout the book, we see everyone cracking jokes or picking on Adam for his ADHD. Sean teased him mercilessly about it and never once were any of Sean’s jokes funny. Adam had a lot to overcome between his brothers always picking on him, his parents never believing a word that came out of his mouth and Adam just kind of taking it. More than once, I was livid with Adam’s parents for being won over by Sean. He’s nursing this crush that he’s had on Lori for years and when he finally gets her, he can’t be with her because he’s once again messed things up.

Watching the growth in Adam Vader is what made this book for me. It’s the one thing that at the end of the book, had me closing the book with a smile on my face because I knew that Adam was going to be okay. I was happy for Adam.

I can’t say the same for Lori because at the end of the book, I was still pissed off at her for all of her stupid ideas. It really pissed me off that everyone, including Lori didn’t have enough faith in Adam to do the right thing. I didn’t doubt that Lori loved Adam but for me, she didn’t deserve him. Yeah, he was immature and he was hot headed but he was also so intensely sweet and so passionately in love with Lori and I adored it. I felt like Adam was short changed but because I knew that he was happy because he ultimately got what he wanted in the end, I was happy for him.

This book reminded me of when I read Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I was fiercely addicted to that series and when Eclipse finally came out, I couldn’t read it fast enough and while I was reading it, I kept wanting to throw the book at the wall because both Bella and Jacob were getting on my nerves. Edward too but in this book, it was Lori and Sean that got on my nerves. Too bad in Eclipse, there wasn’t anyone in Eclipse that could save that story for me. In this story, Adam saved the book for me.

This book brought out all of the emotions in me. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me mad, annoyed and livid at times but it did entertain me as well. It’s also made me very anxious for more Jennifer Echols because I ate this book up, this book is weighs more than my nephew Luke but I inhaled this book in a day.

Kudos, Jennifer Echols for writing a complex character that I will remember for always…Adam Vader.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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