Tag: Young Adult

Review: The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris

Posted April 22, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Natural History of Us by Rachel HarrisReviewer: Rowena
The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris
Series: The Fine Art of Pretending #2
Published by Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 297
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four-stars

One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who's forever owned his heart.

Justin Carter has a secret. He's not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy...and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she'd ever forgive him.

Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she's done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she'll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.

For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate's given him a shot at redemption, he's determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton...well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.

When I read The Fine Art of Pretending a few years ago, I was very interested in seeing if Justin ever got the girl that he was hung up on. I didn’t like Justin for Aly as much as I liked Brandon but thought he was a memorable character. I wanted this book so I was stoked to finally get it.

Freshman year at Fairmont Academy introduces Justin Carter to Peyton Williams. They were drawn to each other from the very first time they set eyes on each other and Justin was very much attracted to the new girl. With each passing day, they find themselves getting closer and closer and Peyton being Justin’s new coach’s daughter doesn’t stop them from hooking up. Of course, they keep things on the down low but the feelings that crop up between the two of them are very much real.

Their relationship really takes off and when things get really complicated, Justin blames himself and the way that he was raised so he makes a decision that affects him, Peyton and their relationship. Now, it’s senior year (three years later) and they’re about to graduate and leave Fairmont Academy behind for good. Peyton is counting down the days but Justin…he’s running out of time. His feelings for Peyton have never gone away and because of that, he wants his girl back. When a class project puts them together as partners, Justin has found his way in to win back Peyton’s love. He’s got just a few weeks to make things right, to explain what really went down Freshman year and hopes that it’s enough to fix what he broke.

Oh man this was a cute YA romance. I really came to love the hell out of Justin and every time he messed things up with Peyton, I wanted to give him a quick kick to the ass. The poor guy just couldn’t catch a break but I knew that Peyton still returned his feelings for her so I was excited to keep reading, to see them get it right after all this time.

Peyton was a great character. She was strong and she was smart and even when I thought she stayed with Cade too long, I liked her. I liked that she was young and trying to figure things out. I liked that she tried to keep things between her and Justin friendly, to not get caught up in the old romance between them and then I also liked that she couldn’t help the way she felt for him. I loved when Justin told her that they were inevitable and all those years later, it was still true.

Justin was everything that I hoped he would become. I loved seeing the guy that wasn’t all that beat up when his relationship with Aly didn’t work out. I loved that there was so much more to Justin than everyone knew. There was a depth to him that warmed my heart and charmed the socks right off of me. His story really lived up to the hype that I was building around it in my head.

The romance between Peyton and Justin was cute, it was fun and I wanted to cuddle this book close. I enjoyed the ride and was completely satisfied when the book ended. If I had a gripe with this book, it would probably be how long Peyton stayed with Cade, knowing how she felt about Justin but I chalked that up to her being young. Still, this was a fun book of two characters finding love again after heartbreak and I’m glad that I read this book.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Paper Princess by Erin Watt

Posted April 20, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Paper Princess by Erin WattReviewer: Rowena
Paper Princess by Erin Watt, Jen Frederick, Elle Kennedy
Series: The Royals #1
Also in this series: Broken Prince
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: April 4, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 370
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four-stars

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.

Two of my favorite New Adult authors wrote a book together and I have been anxious to get my hands on it ever since I found out. I’ve been hearing good things about this book everywhere that I go and I went into it thinking that I was going to get one of those guilty pleasure books that is filled to the brim with drama and memorable characters. I’m happy to say that that is exactly what I got.

Ella Harper’s Mom just died of cancer and she’s never met her Dad so she’s on her own. Her plan is to work as much as she can to scrape by, graduate from high school and stay under the radar so that she doesn’t find herself in the foster care. She just wants to work hard, get good grades and hopefully land a scholarship for college. She wants a life she can be proud of and she’ll do whatever it takes to get it. If it means that she has to work as a stripper to make money than that’s what she’ll do. Everything was going according to plan until Callum Royal shows up and ruins everything.

When Callum offers Ella a chance at a bright future, Ella decides to go for it because what else she does she have to lose? She was prepared to keep her head down and get through the next two years with the promise of that future she always wanted in reach but she wasn’t prepared for life as a Royal.

When Ella is introduced to Callum’s five sons, she wasn’t expecting them to hate her on sight but whatever, she’s a survivor. She’ll survive anything they throw her way and she’ll do it with a smile on her face and I think that, above anything else was what I really liked about this book. How strong Ella was. She wasn’t a weak flower who let others get away with treating her like shit. She woke up each morning and just handled her shit. It didn’t matter how hurt she was or how much she was grieving, she handled her shit and made no apologies for it. She faced down the bullies and the whispers behind her back and she just went about her business.

Reed Royal was a mystery that I wanted to solve. I can’t wait to delve into his story in the next book. I wanted to know everything about him and his brothers. What in the hell happened to make him act the way that he does? Because hands down, Reed Royal was a complete dick to Ella when she first shows up in town. The shit that him and Easton did to her made me want to punch their lights out but as the story continues, for some reason (I have no idea what reason) your heart softens toward him. There’s a story behind all of his sneers and his cold attitude toward everything and everyone and I want to know it all. The Royals are an interesting bunch and I want to know everything about all of them. Easton, the twins and Gideon. What in the world is Gideon’s story? Who is the girl that Easton is in love with but can’t have? What’s the real deal behind Reed and that cliffhanger? I know there is one and I’m so bloody excited for the next book.

There’s a lot of stuff packed into this book. Lots of drama, lots of angst and a whole lot of attitude but Erin Watt did a great job of making room in the story for it all. It didn’t feel like too much, too soon. The story at the center (Ella finding her way in this new world and trying to navigate this new attraction to Reed Royal) doesn’t suffer with all of the other additions to the overall story being told. Whoever said that this book was a mix of Cruel Intentions and Gossip Girl hit the description right on the head because that’s exactly what this book reminded me off. It had the best parts of both movie and TV show and I’m wrapped up in it all. I need more…now. If you’re looking for a book with a deliciously cruel and interesting cast of character, look no further. This is for you. 🙂

WARNING: THERE IS A CLIFFHANGER IN THIS BOOK!

4.25 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Posted March 31, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarryReviewer: Rowena
Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road #2
Also in this series: Nowhere but Here
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: April 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 304
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three-stars

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds

Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyberbully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.

Walk the Edge is the second book in McGarry’s Thunder Road series, a series that follows the children of MC brothers. This book follows Thomas “Razor” Turner, the newly patched in brother to the Reign of Terror MC.

Razor hasn’t been the same since his mother died a few years ago. The whole thing seemed off to him and he hasn’t been able to move on from it. When a detective starts sniffing around, planting theories in his head about his Mom’s death and with those theories come a whole lot of doubts that surround the MC. His issues throughout the entire book center on him learning to open himself up to trust those around him that love him. It’s not an easy road, especially when those people that are supposed to love you making it so hard to trust them.

Breanna is #5 of 9 children. She’s stuck in the middle and doesn’t fit in with her older siblings and is too old for her younger siblings. Her parents rely on Breanna to pretty much raise her younger siblings and her older siblings are a bunch of assholes that are too busy to help her. Breanna takes the cake when it comes to being smart. Her brain works in a very special way and it has made her the laughingstock at school. The whispers, the laughing and everything gets pretty bad at school that she has spent a number of years hiding how smart she really is so that she could fit in.

Being laughed at and made to feel like a freak show at school is bad enough but a kid should not have to live with it at home. When Breanna comes across Thomas Turner, known around town as Razor from the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club, she isn’t expecting the relationship that blossomed between them. Razor wasn’t prepared it either.

Their lives are night and day. His is filled with motorcycles, parties and girls but her life is nothing like that. Her life is filled with kids and obligations and responsibilities that shouldn’t be hers but are anyway. They shouldn’t have been right for each other but they were and I really enjoyed the romance between them. McGarry really shines at writing the complicated romances that will gut you with feelings.

Two completely imperfect characters, young characters at that really get put through the wringer in this book and it was a hell of a ride. The book itself was compelling as I couldn’t put it down but I was frustrated as shit throughout a huge chunk of this book.

There’s a lot tackled in this book and I enjoyed it but more than once I wanted to punch someone’s lights out and it was a different person every time. The MC and their idiotic ways of “protecting” their own. Breanna’s never around parents and her older siblings (Clara especially). The whole blackmailing thing. Everything comes together in a complicated way to end the book but when I closed the book, I was still frustrated with Breanna’s family. I was still frustrated with the whole Kyle thing but the one thing that I absolutely loved was the love between Razor and Breanna. It was the one thing that completely worked for me.

Razor really came into his own in this story and I liked seeing him come to terms with his mother’s death. My heart hurt for him. I wanted to hug him close and never let him go.

Breanna’s story is one that I connected with. It’s something that I understood being one of 9 children myself. Getting lost in a crowd of kids, fighting for attention and more often than not, losing. Where her siblings kept her at arms lengths, my siblings supported me and each other through everything. Dance recitals, soccer games? All of my siblings were there to support me while my parents were busy with work but Breanna didn’t have it like that so my heart hurt for her as well.

I was really glad that Razor and Breanna had each other. I loved seeing them fall for each other because they were there for each other when nobody else was and we all need someone in our corner so I was glad that these two had each other. They were great characters on their own but they were better together and I dug their romance.

It’s saying a lot about McGarry’s writing style that I can still be completely obsessed with this series even after being frustrated with this book. Its saying a lot that I cannot wait for the next book to come out and I hate the heroine right now. I wanted to karate chop her in both this book and Nowhere but Here but damn if I’m not excited to tackle her and Chevy’s book. So while this book wasn’t without its frustrating bits, I still liked it enough to want to continue the series.

3 out of 5

three-stars

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Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Posted March 30, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarryReviewer: Rowena
Nowhere but Here by Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road #1
Also in this series: Walk the Edge
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: June 1st 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns into an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

When I first heard that Katie McGarry was writing an MC series that followed not the adults in the MC but their kids, I was mighty intrigued to see how she’d pull it off. I bought the first book with every intention of reading it but a year passed and nothing. Then the second book popped up on my radar and I read the blurb and my interest in the series picked right back up, only this time I read the first book.

I liked it.

I like the MC world that Kurt Sutter created for Sons of Anarchy and I’m happy to say that I like the MC world that McGarry has created for her characters. These Reign of Terror kids are complex and gritty in a way that will keep you turning the page and I was all about that in this book.

Emily’s father is in a motorcycle club and lives a life that she knows nothing about. She grew up in Florida and loves her life there. She’s close with her Mom and Stepdad, she stays out of trouble and she’s got a good life but when her biological father’s Mom gets cancer and dies, Emily is shipped to Snowflake, Kentucky to attend the services. Things escalate quickly in the Motorcycle Club world and when danger presents itself, Emily finds herself not just attending her Grandmother’s wake but staying for the entire summer…for her safety.

Oz is so close to becoming eligible to join the Reign of Terror. He’s wanted to be a part of the brotherhood for as long as he can remember. He grew up in the MC world so he was around and knows all about Emily’s history with the club. More importantly, he remembers who Emily’s mother was and he doesn’t want to have any part of either of them. When Emily shows up for Olivia’s wake, she’s all hoity toity and snooty so he dislikes her on site, he doesn’t even care how hot she is but when her safety is threatened, Oz is put on babysitting duty and his summer just got a whole lot complicated because with each passing day, he softens in his attitude toward this girl.

I really enjoyed the whole forbidden romance between Oz and Emily. I liked that they grew from strangers who didn’t like one another to semi-friends to friends to something much more than either was expecting. Oz knew that Emily was off-limits because Eli (Emily’s real Dad) laid that out for him but there’s no telling your heart a damn thing. It wants what it wants and his wanted Emily.

The romance between Oz and Emily was great. It slowly unraveled and I was a huge fan of the two of them together. I loved seeing Oz struggle with his feelings for Emily and his loyalty to the club. I also really enjoyed seeing Emily come into her own. The life she knew back in Florida was so far gone but she bounced back and adjusted well for someone so young.

The one gripe that I had were the adults in this book. They were really dumb. They kept secrets to protect the kids but those secrets put the kids in danger. I felt that if they had warned the kids instead of kept them completely in the dark that the kids wouldn’t have been in as much danger as they were. I mean seriously! Emily’s curiosity and Eli and her Mom’s refusal to tell her the truth is what landed her in all that trouble to begin with. Ugh, it was so frustrating but holy cow was there a lot of drama that had me sitting up and saying, “HOLY SHIT!” a lot of times. I was highly entertained and my heart hurt for Eli and Olivia and Emily and Oz and just…everyone. Everyone except Emily’s Mom and Violet. I wanted to punch the both of them repeatedly throughout this book.

But overall, this was a great read and it’s got me all anxious for more. I’m even anxious for Chevy and Violet’s book and I hate Violet right now. Haha.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton

Posted March 25, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Trailer Trash by Marie SextonReviewer: Tracy
Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton
Published by Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: March 21st 2016
Genres: Gay, m/m, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.

Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.

Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.

Due to his parents divorcing Nate has been uprooted from his home in Austin, Texas and moved to a little town called Warren, Wyoming that’s dying a slow and painful death. He meets Cody not long after moving and they hang out together for a few weeks before their senior year starts. Cody tells Nate that he won’t want to hang out with him after school starts but Nate assures him he will.

When school starts Cody makes himself scarce even though Nate looks for him constantly. Nate lives in an area of town that is upper middle class called Orange Grove and Cody lives in a trailer in an area they call The Hole (short for shit hole). The kids from the Orange Grove are preppy, petty and snobby and Nate really doesn’t like them all that much – especially when they talk trash about Cody. Of course now that Cody avoids him he really has no true friends.

Eventually Nate finds out that Cody is gay and in Wyoming that might as well have been the plague. No one wants to be around Cody, especially with AIDS big in the news for the past few years. Of course small town thinking means that Cody possibly has AIDS just because he’s gay – doesn’t matter that he’s a virgin. When Nate starts to analyze his feelings about Cody he finds that he’s attracted to him and soon admits that he’s gay as well. It’s not something he’s comfortable with at first but if it means he can be with Cody then he’s all for it. Of course once Nate’s father finds out all bets are off and soon the boys are being torn apart in more ways than one.

This was a very powerful YA story that really touched me. I can so easily see all of this happening in a small Podunk town in Wyoming and the prejudices that Cody had faced his whole life – from being trailer trash to being gay. It was assumed that he was a bad kid just because of his parents and where he lived and that broke my heart as in this case he was just minding his own business. Even Nate’s dad, a local cop, had his own prejudices against Cody and he’d talked to the boy only once.

Nate and Cody together were a great couple. It was hard for Cody to see the light at the end of the tunnel but Nate gave him the hope that he needed to do what needed to be done so that they could be together. I loved the two of them to pieces, both separately and together. They each brought distinct personalities to the relationship that were so different in so many ways but blended perfectly together.

The story was very sad in a lot of places but had a theme of hope running through it that kept me reading. I really liked the flash back in time to the late 80’s and that was a fun aspect of the story with all the fashion that is mentioned. This young adult, coming of age story is so good and one that you won’t want to pass up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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