Tag: Young Adult

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Posted July 14, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda KenneallyReviewer: Rowena
Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #7
Published by Sourcebooks
Publication Date: July 5th 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 304
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four-stars

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor's always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that's what is expected of a senator's daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor's kicked out of private school. Everything she's worked so hard for is gone, and now she's starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor's escape from the pressures of school and family, but it's hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she's going through is her older brother's best friend, Ezra. Taylor's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it's hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Praise for Jesse's Girl:"A a fun, sexy, suck-me-in read."-Katie McGarry, author of Nowhere But Here and Pushing the Limits"An absorbing story...highly enjoyable."-Kirkus"Inspires as it entertains."-Publishers Weekly

This is how I felt after reading this book:

Miranda Kenneally wrote another fantastic contemporary YA book that I enjoyed a great deal. If she wanted to write nothing but Hundred Oaks books for the rest of her life, I would be quite happy. I haven’t been reading too many contemporary YA books lately but I can’t seem to stay away from certain authors and series and this author and this series is one of them.

This book follows Taylor Lukems after she was kicked out of her private school and starts school (and her new life) at Hundred Oaks High School. It’s her senior year and having to start all over at a new school is not going easy for her. It’s crazy how one lie could throw her entire life into a tailspin. Her Senator father’s campaign is thrown off course, she’s having trouble fitting in with her new soccer team and everything that could go wrong goes wrong.

The one thing that is different with this book than any of the other books in this series is that I thought the story revolved less around the couple and more around Taylor’s problems. I was totally okay with that though because I was interested in seeing her work through her problems and figure her shit out. She really comes into her own in this book and I was glad to have been a part of her journey. She’s smart and she’s strong and you really see her grow as a character, which I really enjoyed.

As much as I was okay with the romance being in the background (more so than I remember in the other books), it would have been nice to get more Ezra cause I liked him and wanted to know him more. I liked that he had that crush on his best friend’s little sister and I liked the way that he handled going about dating her. I also liked Taylor’s brother’s attitude toward his best friend dating his little sister.

There was much to like about reading this book. I liked Taylor, I liked the friends she made. I liked seeing the old characters again and I’m already looking forward to the next Hundred Oaks book. I can’t wait to dig into that sucker.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Put It Out There by D.R. Graham

Posted July 7, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Put It Out There by D.R. GrahamReviewer: Tracy
Put It Out there by D.R. Graham
Series: Britannia Beach #1
Published by HarperCollins, HarperImpulse
Publication Date: July 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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four-stars

Returning home to Britannia Beach a year after her life was shattered is bittersweet for Derian Lafleur. Although some things settle back into place, others don’t click like they used to…especially her friendship with Trevor Maverty.

Derian suddenly wishes the boy next door would see her as more than just a kid sister type. She tries to be everything she thinks he’s looking for―bolder, more experienced. But is that who she wants to be?

With the fate of her family’s historic inn on the line and Trevor making life more complicated by the day, Derian struggles to manage her unexpected feelings, and deal with a past she’s not quite ready to leave behind.

Derian grew up in Britannia Beach with her dad and her maternal grandfather. Her mother and father were married but lived separately – with the mom living in an apartment in Vancouver.  Unfortunately, Derian’s dad got in an accident while driving to see her mother and died.  Derian tried living with her mother for a year but she missed her grandfather and her friends too much.

She’s now back and starting her junior year in high school.  She’s happy to be helping her grandfather with his Inn even though it’s falling down around their heads.  She’s also excited about her next door neighbor, Trevor.  Trevor’s family is like her family so she never really thought of Trevor as anything but a friend but now she sees him and realizes that she loves him.  Derian’s not sure about Trevor’s feelings and in a typical teen fashion tries to get the information from him without actually coming out and asking him.

Derian is a sweet girl and pretty well liked at school.  She’s asked out by Steve who she thinks is cute but she’s not sure how she feels about him. She still ends up going out with him and becoming his girlfriend but she always has Trevor in the back of her mind. Then there’s Mason who is new to the school and she thinks is super cute but she gets tongue-tied around him.  He seems to go out with a lot of girls and has a rep but Derian sees another side to him that others don’t seem to.

Derian’s one confused girl when it comes to boys but she wants nothing more than for Trevor to tell her that he wants to be with her.  When Derian does something that Trevor specifically asked her not to do he’s pissed and it might ruin anything they might have had together.

This was an cute story.  It was definitely in the Young Adult category as it deals mostly with Derian and her high school friends.  Trevor is considered an adult but plays a big part in the story. Trevor confused me at times.  He obviously likes Derian but gives her total mixed signals.  I just wanted to smack him upside the head and say, “Make a decision already!”  Was she a friend or more?  Figure it out!

Derian confused me at times as well.  I couldn’t figure her out as she loves Trevor but still dates Steve and likes Mason as well.  I guess in high school I was the type of person that if I liked someone I didn’t go out with anyone else.  Not so with Derian.  She looked at it as getting life experience so that she could be more mature for Trevor but I thought it made her look a little wishy-washy.

There was also a slight paranormal aspect to the story.  Since Derian was little she’d been having visions.  She would see things happening but couldn’t figure out when they were going to happen.  Trevor tried to help her with this and as the story went on she did seem to be getting better with identifiers in her visions.  I felt horrible for her because she had a vision of the crash that killed her own father but couldn’t do a thing about it.  So sad.

Overall I thought it was a good start to this series.  I’m not normally a big YA reader but I will definitely be reading the other books about Derian.  I think DR Graham has talent for pulling people into her stories (I’ve read her Noir et Bleu MC books and loved them – adult contemporary) and this one was no different.  She’s got me intrigued and I’m curious to see how things pan out.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: 26 Kisses by Anna Michels

Posted June 15, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: 26 Kisses by Anna MichelsReviewer: Rowena
26 Kisses by Anna Michels
Published by Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
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three-half-stars

Kasie West meets Morgan Matson in this hilarious and heartwarming debut about a girl’s summer mission to get over her ex-boyfriend by kissing her way through the alphabet.

Getting dumped by her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. So she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, to move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.

From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the break-up doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.

This was a quick read for me as most contemporary YA’s are. If I had to describe this book in two words, they would probably be cute and fluffy.

Veda’s boyfriend Mark broke up with her right before summer kicked off and she’s heartbroken. She was expecting to spend this last summer with Mark, before he heads off to college but Mark made it clear that he wanted a clean break and so she was single for the first time in a long time. As soon as crying herself to sleep gets old, V is inspired to get over her broken heart by kissing 26 different guys throughout summer. One guy for every letter of the alphabet. The best way to get over a guy is to find a new one, right? With each passing kiss, V learns something new about herself.

As I said before, this was a quick read and I found myself curious about this book after reading the blurb. Kissing 26 different boys in one summer is a lot of boys to kiss and I wanted to see how that would all play out. It’s not exactly the wisest message to send to young girls and I was a little disappointed in the way that it played out. Mostly because I thought the kissing challenge went on for too long and then when Killian was helping her at the end? I wanted to smack some sense into him. You don’t encourage the girl you’re dating to go out and finish kissing more guys so that she’ll get over the last guy. I mean, seriously.

In a way, I guess I understood why Veda decided to go through with the kissing challenge but I guess when she was over Mark and started things up with Killian, I kind of hoped that she wouldn’t need the kissing challenge anymore. I hoped that she would respect Killian’s feelings and not need to finish the challenge.

Veda’s character felt real to me. She acted and reacted the way that normal teenage girls would (and I’m surrounded by teenage girls on the daily). I liked that she really learned about herself and really grew into the person she wanted to be in the end. She had a great support system in her friends and her Mom. I even liked seeing her relationship with her father and younger brother evolve.

Killian was cute and everything young girls would like in a love interest. I liked that he was who he was, liked what he liked and was trying to be okay with everyone not understanding him. The feelings he had for Veda felt real and I liked seeing him fit himself into her life and I liked that he stuck around even when things got hard.

Overall, this book was cute and while I didn’t enjoy every part of the book, it was still a solid read. Perfect for a lazy day at the beach read.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Posted June 13, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan MatsonReviewer: Rowena
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 528
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From Morgan Matson, the bestselling author of Since You’ve Been Gone comes a feel-good story of friendship, finding yourself, and all the joys in life that happen while you’re busy making other plans.

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school. Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around). Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else? Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

Morgan Matson wrote one of my favorite contemporary YA books a few years ago (Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour) and I have been reading her ever since. Every couple of years, she releases a new book and I have to read it. I always enjoy her books but I haven’t loved any the same way that I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour but they’re all still damn good reads. This was one of those.

Andie Walker has always had a plan. She’s got summer plans that include a pre-med study program but when a scandal involving her politician father derail those plans, Andie’s summer is up in the air and she’s without a plan for the first time…ever. Growing up as a politician’s daughter, Andie had to make sure that she stayed out of trouble, out of the spotlight and out of the media because her life could affect her father’s political aspirations. She’s a good girl and plays by the rules but when her father’s scandal starts to bleed into her life, she’s not at all happy about that.

Spending the summer with the father that has been largely absent from her life takes a lot of getting used to and Andie is in for one heck of a summer. On top of living with her father for the first time in years, she got a job as a dog walker. The very last job she’d ever thought she’d have but the upside to all of this was she could also spend her summer with all of her friends. It was the first summer that all of the girls in her foursome were together in the summer and that was something that she was looking forward to.

Then she meets Clark and her summer really starts looking up. He’s different from anyone that Andie has ever dated before and when her usual three week ending point comes around, Andie is surprised at how much she doesn’t want to end things with Clark. Things certainly are way different than Andie had originally planned for her summer.

There’s a lot going on in this book and I thought that was good because it kept the flow of the story going. Andie was dealing with getting to know her father again but she was also learning how to walk dogs and keep their leashes untangled and everyone happy, she was learning all there was to know about this new boy that she really likes and reading his books but she was also hanging out with her friends and getting grounded for the first time.

I really enjoyed Andie’s character. She was very mature for her age. She was smart and she was determined to succeed in life. She was also trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her future and figure out the kind of person she wanted to be. She was getting to know her father and all of these things were helping her really come into her own.

I loved Clark. I thought he was such an adorable love interest and so very perfect for Andie. I loved the way that he brought the real Andie out and showed her that being real didn’t mean losing herself. I loved getting to know him and my heart hurt for him where things were concerned about his father and his writing. He was a great book boyfriend!

Her friends were a lively bunch that I really enjoyed getting to know. They were all distinctively different from each other and yet together, they all made sense as a group. The whole Bri and Toby thing was disappointing. I was sorely disappointed in Bri and then later on Andie for her suggestion on how to fix everything but mostly with Bri because she tried to justify her relationship by belittling Toby’s crush on him. She kept saying that what Toby and Wyatt had wasn’t real, that they only kissed and maybe it was true for Wyatt but it wasn’t true for Toby and Toby was her best friend. Her feelings for him were completely real otherwise she wouldn’t have been as hurt as she was. But Bri’s whole, “Toby always came first when it came to Wyatt with you guys but what about me?” mentality drove me crazy because hello??? She had dibs on him, she spoke up about wanting him and if Bri wanted a chance at a relationship with him, she should have been upfront about it with Toby…from the beginning…or at least the night of the scavenger hunt. So in that whole debacle, I was Team Toby. It really sucked for Bri too because I wonder if she thought that whole summer and all of the lies were worth everything in the end considering how things end with Wyatt. I couldn’t help but feel like that was such a waste.

The way that the summer wraps up was interesting and yet very real. I loved that Toby chose herself and that not everything ended with a cookie cutter ending and bow tie. I’m kind of interested in a story with Toby at the center and a love interest named…Topher? Haha, that would be great cause I can totally see it. Toby choosing herself, spending a lot of time alone and then she runs into Wyatt months and months later and in her rush to get away from him, she runs into Topher and they strike up a conversation. She’s not a fan of him, he doesn’t really care for her but there’s something different about her these days and he finds himself intrigued so he turns on the charm. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with him because she’s not going to be another of her friend’s sloppy seconds and he doesn’t want to miss out on another girl so they bicker their way toward…a love match? Haha, I need to cut it out but that would be awesome!

Anyway, this was a great book with a charming cast and a lovely protagonist. Though it’s not my favorite Morgan Matson, it was still enjoyable.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

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Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

Posted May 26, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. SchneiderReviewer: Rowena
Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
Published by Disney Electronic Content
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 232
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three-half-stars

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle. These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she'd be spending at her mom's home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart. Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there's no reason Sloane shouldn't enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn't always play by the rules, she knows he's the perfect distraction from everything that's so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn't nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane's carefree summer might not be as easy to come by as she'd hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

I came across this book on Netgalley and after reading the blurb, my curiosity was piqued. The best friend and the boyfriend cheating? Needing a summer away? A summer in Hawaii? Yeah, I was in.

So Sloane and her twin brother Penn spend their summers in Hawaii with their mother and the day before she’s to fly out, her best friend drops a bomb on her. The, “I slept with your boyfriend” bomb and it completely knocks Sloane on her ass because not only does her best friend Mick sleep with her boyfriend, she’s having his baby too. Talk about a shocker! When she lands in Hawaii, she’s got a cast from punching her ex-boyfriend in the face and breaking his nose. She’s also got a big ass chip on her shoulder that she’s hoping a summer away will help her get over.

Determined to make this summer about her, Sloane sets out to make new memories with her Hawaii friends..and a new boy named Finn.

Going in, I hadn’t read any reviews or read much of anything outside of the blurb so I didn’t really have any expectations. This was a very readable book, meaning it didn’t take me long at all to just jump right in. All that drama in the beginning had me turning the pages real quick to find out what was going to happen. There were times when I wanted to strangle each and every single teenager in the book but it wasn’t so mad that my enjoyment of the story itself was ruined.

I liked Sloane’s character and I really liked Finn as a love interest. Sloane was really put through the wringer and I liked that she took time to herself to figure things out. When stuff like that happens, when you’re betrayed by the people that are supposed to love and support you, time away is necessary. Sloane had every right to take time to herself, to not talk to both Tyler and Mick. I liked the support system she had in her friends in Hawaii and in her family too. She had great relationships with both of her parents and her brother. Maya was a great friend to her and the secondary stories surrounding Maya and Penn (and Shep) and Sloane teaching Finn’s little sister how to swim, finding out truths about her parents and just everything filled out this book really well and made the reading experience as a whole for me, a good one.

The story itself was well written and the characters were written true to their ages which I appreciated. It was a solid debut by Schneider and if I had any gripe with the story, it would probably be more Polynesian characters since they were in Hawaii. It would have been nice if Sloane or even Finn was more Polynesian than the tiny bit of Hawaiian that Sloane was, especially since the author is Polynesian herself. Still, it was a solid read with an interesting premise and great characters.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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