Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Posted October 24, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley ElstonReviewer: Rowena
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?

What a fun book this turned out to be. I haven’t read too many books by Ashley Elston but I’m going to need to change that because if her other books are anything like this one, I’m all in. This book features Sophie who thought she’d be spending the holidays with her longtime boyfriend but ends up being dumped and spending the holidays with her big ol’ family instead. She shows up to her grandparent’s house and she’s heartbroken so in an effort to cheer her up, her family members set up her on blind dates, ten of them to be exact, and when she doesn’t completely hate the first date, she figures, why not?

Sophie really grows into herself over the course of this book and it was a lot of fun to be a part of her journey. As she learns more and more about herself, and as she grows closer to the family members that she drifted apart from, I grew to adore her more and more. She wasn’t perfect and there’s some shadiness going on that I thought was handled well by the author but overall, this book was a fun, holiday young adult romance. I’m super glad that I read it. It was a fast read, it was a fun read, and I closed the book with a giant smile on my face so needless to say, this was a successful reading choice and I am going to Goodreads right now to check out Elston’s backlist for more goodness to read. I really enjoyed the emphasis this book put on family relationships and I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Posted February 12, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Starflight by Melissa LandersReviewer: Whitley
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Series: Starflight #1

Publication Date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 309
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

This was quite a fun book, and I did enjoy the storyline and even the romance.  But I feel like every side character was phoned in, and the science fiction setting was not used to its full potential.  Plus, the final climax wrapped up a subplot instead of the main plot and apparently thought I wouldn’t notice.

First off, I did really enjoy the two main characters.  Solara is a tough, gifted mechanic who’s determined to make a new life for herself.  Doran is an entitled rich kid who desperately needs to be taken down a few pegs (and then that actually happens).  Both of them have some good nuance to their personalities, and I especially liked Doran freaking out about Solara’s criminal past (it’s over the top, but supposed to be and makes sense).  As the novel goes on, they complement each other well and their growing affection is … well, would have been sweet if Doran hadn’t laid on the jerkitude quite so strong at the start.

The setting felt very much like the series Firefly, with a quirky crew on a ramshackle, beat-up ship off to the outer edges of space to do slightly nefarious things.  Which, great! I love that shtick. It’s just…it was Firefly.  And that’s it.  Anything that wasn’t covered by that show was basically the same as modern day.  There were so many little details exactly the same as our time period that it just weirded me out a little.  (For instance, senior portraits. Not sure why that stands out in particular to me, but it does.)  I didn’t feel like this book added anything new to the genre, because it was just a vague veneer of sci-fi pasted on top of a contemporary base.  The side characters felt the same way.  They were quirky, they were kind of fun, but they were thin and nothing we haven’t seen before.

The plotline of the book was quick and action packed and interesting.  I was not fond of the “Solara accidentally married a pirate” bit, mostly because it was so awkwardly shoehorned in there.  (Also, the gross patriarchy required to make it work.)  But everything else worked.  It was a rollickin’ fun adventure.  Again, until the end, when this big major plot came to a head…and a subplot got wrapped up instead.  Now, it’s a series, so leaving things open ended is fine.  Except in the last chapter everyone acted like the whole “Doran was framed” thing got settled.  It…didn’t.  It got more information, but it certainly didn’t get even a fraction of settled.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: The Rules of Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Posted July 11, 2013 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Rules of Disappearing by Ashley ElstonReviewer: Rowena
The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing, #1) by Ashley Elston
Series: The Rules for Disappearing #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: May 14th 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

The blurb made the book sound really interesting which is why I chose to review it.  I didn’t know what to expect but I ended up enjoying this book.  I thought it was interesting to read about a character in the witness protection program.  Her name is Meg Jones this time around and she has no idea why she’s in this place and she hates moving from place to place, with no warning.  Every time they move, she tries to get the story out of her father and when he refuses, her anger toward what has become their life gets stronger and stronger.  By about the seventh time that they move, she’s furious at her father and she blames him for the way that their lives turned out.

Meg doesn’t have a clear memory of what happened before they were whisked away, leaving behind everything they knew and loved but she’s determined to find out.  Her family is put through the wringer in this book and my heart went out to each and every single person in her family.  From her Dad, who is trying to make the best of their situation and trying to do what he can for his kids, to her Mom who is having the most trouble dealing with their life as it is now.  Then there’s her little sister who is young enough that she doesn’t understand what’s going on and nobody will tell her so she’s scared.  She’s scared that her family is going to disappear and leave her behind and she’s tired of making new friends.

They’re in a new town and Meg is determined to not make friends and not have any close relationships because it gets harder and harder to leave people behind.  It’s easier to pack up and go, that way she doesn’t let anyone down.  But it’s a lot harder to not get close to anyone in this new town because there’s this persistent young man named Ethan who is determined to get to know Meg.  He keeps trying to get close to Meg and every time she tries to freeze him out, she’s unsuccessful.  Before she knows what’s what, she’s starting to remember things and she’s starting to like Ethan…a lot.

Things get really crazy for Meg once she starts remembering more about what happened right before they were thrown into witness protection and trusting those around her is getting harder and harder.

Meg was an interesting character to get know throughout the story.  She’s still a teenager so some of the teen angst that are common with YA characters is present in her but while there were times when I wanted to wring her neck, those times were very few in between.  I loved the hell out of Ethan and really came to love Meg’s family, oh and Aunt Pearl!  She was pretty great too.  It was interesting to see the dynamic between Meg and her friends from back home.  Before she left, she was really mad at them but when she came back, all of those feelings of resentment and what not were thrown out the window because she needed them and they helped Meg with whatever she needed, the way that friends are supposed to.

This was a really good story.  One that had me all caught up in what was happening, what was going to happen and all of the characters.  I thought Elston did a great job of wrapping the reader up in the world that she created for Meg and the rest of the cast of characters.  It was really interesting to get an inside look of what we can only imagine goes on when you’re in witness protection and seeing the dangers and the confusion made for a really interesting story.  I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely recommend this book to fans of contemporary YA and authors like Sarah Dessen, Jennifer E. Smith and Jessi Kirby.  This was a good one.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Disney-Hyperion. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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