2017 New Adult Reading Challenge Update #4

I’m back again with another monthly 2017 New Adult Reading Challenge update! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the challenge, it’s hosted by Cátia @ The Girl Who Read Too Much. I’ve been steadily inching toward my goal of 100 New Adult novels this year. So far I’ve completed 49 books! I’m almost 50% of the way toward my goal.

I’ve also made great progress on the 2017 New Adult Reading Challenge Bingo. I just need 3 more books to finish the card. I’ve listed them below and linked them to their Goodreads pages in case anyone is interested in finding out more about them.

  1. book set in college: No Bad Days (Fisher Brothers, #1)
  2. a re-read: Confess
  3. book about friendship: Love Story (Love Unexpectedly, #3)
  4. book with only male POV: Undeclared (Burnham College, #2)
  5. book based on its cover: Maybe Never
  6. new to you author: Bossman
  7. diverse novel: Goodbye Paradise
  8. book you can finish in one day: Troublemaker (Prescott Family, #1.5)
  9. hyped book: A Boy Like You.
  10. book set in summer: Co-Wrecker
  11. book that makes you laugh: The Cad and the Co-ed (Rugby, #3)
  12. 2017 release: The Rule Maker (The Rule Breakers, #2)
  13. star (free choice): Sweet Soul (Sweet Home, #4)
  14. book with with music or art: The Feeling of Forever
  15. book about road trip: Unwritten
  16. book out of your comfort zone: Johnny and Jamaal
  17. book you knew nothing about: Sweet Home (Sweet Home, #1)
  18. new adult bestseller: Fake Fiancée
  19. start a new series: Lila (Boyle Heights, #1)
  20. debut novel:
  21. one word title: Cheater (Curious Liaisons, #1)
  22. book about sports: Cross Check (Bayard Hockey, #2)
  23. LGBTQ novel: Off Campus (Bend or Break, #1)
  24. book recommendation:
  25. bottom of your TBR: Sweet Fall (Sweet Home, #2)

If you have any recommendations for a debut novel, let me know! I have a recommended book lined up. I just need a debut novel.

Review: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

Saint Death
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he’s stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo’s help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death–and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.


Before I start my review, I would like to thank Kelly @ Here’s to Happy Endings for giving me the chance to read an ARC of Saint Death. We trade books often, and she’s amazing to trade with. She also runs an awesome YA book blog. Make sure to check it out.

Saint Death is the second book I’ve read by Marcus Sedgwick. I read The Ghosts of Heaven right after it was released, and it blew my mind. When I saw Kelly wanted to trade an ARC of his upcoming release, I had to talk her into trading me. I wanted to see if Saint Death with its creepy title and amazing cover would be just as good.

I can’t compare The Ghosts of Heaven with Saint Death. They’re so different. It’s crazy how different they are. Usually an author’s books at least have a similar writing style. These two don’t. They only similarity they have is the slower pace.

Saint Death is a dark book. Very dark. There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about it. It made me feel sad and unsettled. I can’t say I liked it because I didn’t enjoy reading it. Saint Death may have been fictitious, but I can imagine the life described in it is very real.It was eye opening, though. I hurt for the main character, Artutro. His life was not easy or happy.

I’m honestly not sure what else to say. I may not have enjoyed the Saint Death experience, but I do think it is an important book to read and very relative to everything going on in the world today. It’s worth giving a chance. It definitely made me appreciate the life I live.

Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 Seconds
Author: Jessica Park
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.


I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer screen for a while now trying to put together this review. It’s been hard because I don’t think I can adequately write about how 180 Seconds made me feel. Just thinking about this book makes me so emotional.

Jessica Park has been one of my auto-buy authors since I stumbled upon her novel Left Drowning. I’ve read every one of her books because they always manage to touch me in ways I’m not expecting. She has me wanting to know her characters and everything about them from the first sentence, chapter and page. I’m always surprised by what I find, but never by how much I enjoy the journey. And I loved the journey I took in 180 Seconds. There was so much raw emotion in it. I couldn’t help being swallowed up by all of the feelings. So many things touched me deeply. I tried to hold back tears so many times unsuccessfully. 180 Seconds made me feel more than a book has made me feel in a long time.

Allison was such a vulnerable character. Everything about her life had been and was hard. She wasn’t your typical college student. She craved privacy and anonymity. Allison was afraid to let people in. That made being pulled into a social experiment with the famous Ebsen Baylor all the more nerve-wracking. Spending 180 seconds with him did something to her, something big. It was exciting and stressful to be in her mind.

Ebsen’s point of view wasn’t included in this book, but I didn’t need it. His character was so open that his thoughts and feelings came across well. I loved his part in Allison’s awakening. Their connection was so raw. I could feel it. He was an exceptionally amazing guy, and learning what experiences made him who he was made me believe Ebsen could actually be as amazing as he was.

All of the secondary characters in this book were incredibly important to the story. I adored them all, and I would love to read future books about their stories. I do have to rave about one particular character, though: Steffi. Steffi was Allison’s best friend. She was a tough cookie and the only person Allison could rely on for a long time. I loved how they got each other as only best friends can. The way Steffi pushed Allison out of her comfort zone was very special. Their friendship was truly touching.

One of my favorite things about 180 Seconds was how it portrayed social media. It showed the good and bad of being so connected in this day and age. It also showed how easy it is to be happy about the positive recognition received and how hard it is to deal with the negative.

This is where I’m going to stop my review. I know I haven’t told you much about the story itself, but I don’t want to give anything away. 180 Seconds was such a beautifully written journey. It’s one that should be experienced for yourself. What I will say is that I absolutely adored this book. I didn’t put it down once I started it. I couldn’t. It was just too special to take a break from. 180 Seconds is going on the list of books I recommend to friends, and will be one I give often as a gift.

Review: Hot Shot by Kelly Jamieson

Hot Shot
Series: Last Shot, #2

Author: Kelly Jamieson
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Military Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

A former Navy SEAL and current bad boy bar owner learns to trust a free spirit in this steamy novel of unexpected romance from the bestselling author of Body Shot and the Heller Brothers series.

Marco Solis knows that if he gets too close to people they disappear. His parents were deported back to Mexico when he was fourteen, his fiancée married someone else while he was in the military, and now his business partner’s spending more time with his girl than with Marco. For better or worse, that’s how Marco meets Carrie Garner. She’s legitimately model-hot. She’s also a nut—a wild, artsy, unapproachable nut. So why is Marco so interested in cracking her shell?

Although Carrie Garner is a natural in front of the camera, her dream is to make it as a photographer. Soon she’ll be heading to Spain for design school, and she’ll miss her best friend, Hayden, like crazy. She’ll even miss Hayden’s boyfriend, Beck—but she won’t miss Beck’s partner, Marco. Bossy, brooding, and annoyingly sexy, Marco really pushes her buttons, though he obviously wouldn’t mind pushing her buttons in an up-against-the-wall, hard-and-fast kind of way. The craziest part is, if Carrie lets him do that, well . . . she may never want to leave.


I’m no stranger to Kelly Jamieson’s contemporary romance novels, but this is the first book I’ve read from her Last Shot series. To be honest, it took me a while to become invested in Marco and Carrie’s love story. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the enemies to lovers vibe they had going on. I just didn’t immediately feel their emotional connection. Looking back at the story after finishing, it was probably because there wasn’t an emotional connection between the two for the first half of the book. Everything was based on attraction. It makes more sense to me now, but didn’t help at the time.

Once Carrie and Marco decided to act on their attraction, there became an intense emotional connection between them. They were able to share parts of themselves with each other that they’d never shared with anyone before. It bonded them and deepened their sexual connection. This is when the story took off for me and I fell in love.

Carrie and Marco had some deep emotional scars they were living with. Carrie never felt good enough for her family, or that she was more than a pretty face. She hated Marco because he seemed to only see her for her beauty. Every suggestive comment from him felt like a smack in the face. Carrie didn’t realize Marco found her extremely attractive. Marco felt constantly abandoned. He kept his newer relationships with people on the surface to avoid the pain of losing people. Carrie was the perfect sexual relationship for Marco because there was a time limit. He knew when thing would end and that was safe.

What I liked most about Carrie and Marco’s relationship was that they weren’t looking for it to fix their insecurities. They had plans to do that on their own. In the end, their relationship helped them achieve their goals, but it wasn’t the only thing giving them strength.

Despite its slow start for me, Hot Shot was a great contemporary romance. It had two down to Earth main characters and some very fun secondary characters. While I would have rather it have been in first person, the third person narration was good. After reading it, I would love to finish reading the rest of the series.

Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Aftercare Instructions
Author: Bonnie Pipkin
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen’s decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing début follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.


Reading Aftercare Instructions was a bit of a weird experience for me. I entered a Goodreads giveaway for it without having read the blurb. I know that’s a little weird, but I do it sometimes. When I won and received the book, I still didn’t read the blurb. So when I started reading it, I had no idea what I was in store for. Aftercare Instructions was a really sad story. It wasn’t a bawling my eyes out sad, but more of a depressing sad.

Aftercare Instructions, as the blurb statesis about an almost eighteen-year-old girl who finds herself in the tough position of having an abortion. Gen knows having one is the right decision for herself and her boyfriend, Peter. But when Gen walks out into the waiting room after the procedure and finds Peter gone, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

I’m going to jump right into my impression of Peter. I don’t care what his reasons for leaving Gen at the clinic by herself were, they weren’t good enough. No one should have to go through what Gen did, and then be left to suffer alone. I hated Peter and wished someone would have kicked the crap out of that kid. For someone who was supposed to be so good, he was pretty horrible. I understand his reasoning and beliefs, but Gen deserved better.

As for Gen, I understood her emotions and rationale. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she was making, but I didn’t fault her for them. She made a very tough, adult decision and the ramifications of it hurt. Gen had every right to be as broken as she was. She had every right to do anything she could to feel better.

One truly great thing about Aftercare Instructions was the bond between friends. Gen had a few people on her side that were willing to do everything they could to make sure Gen was in a safe emotional and physical state. They showed up when she wasn’t expecting and took charge. I applaud the author for showing how friends can support each other when a character can’t reach for a parent.

Another really great thing about this book was the way the title, chapter headings, chapters and story all meshed together. Obviously, the title Aftercare Instructions refers to the guidelines Gen needed to follow after her abortion. Each chapter is headed with one of those instructions. That instruction fit what Gen was going through physically and emotionally at the time. By the end of the book, we can see the way all of these instructions and Gen’s actions led to her moment(s) of healing. This was genius. I also really enjoyed the way the author used a play script as the method of delivering Gen and Peter’s past. That was so unique and cool.

Aftercare Instructions is an important book. Never before have I read a young adult novel that so honestly deals with the topic of abortion. Not only does it cover the emotional aspects of having one, but it details the physical. I’m not just talking what happens the moment of the procedure, but also in the week to come. It’s not romanticized. It’s not over and done. This is a good thing. It gives teenagers (and adults) down and dirty look at life after. I think that’s important. It gives girls/women who have gone through it a book they can identify with. Maybe it will give someone who might be making a similar decision peace or make them re-examine the decision they’re making. I don’t know. Like I said, I think it’s an important book.

I do have to admit I had some problems rating Aftercare Instructions — no matter how important I thought it was. I almost didn’t give it a rating at all. How do you rate a book that’s written so well, but wasn’t a fun experience? Honestly, this book depressed the hell out of me and made me so angry at Peter. Those aren’t fun emotions. I ended up giving it 4 stars because I think it deserves to be read.

Review: The Playboy Bachelor by Rachel Van Dyken

The Playboy Bachelor
Series: The Bachelors of Arizona, #2
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

She’s no Sleeping Beauty. And he’s definitely no prince . . .

Margot McCleery could have lived her whole life without seeing Bentley Wellington again-her ex-best friend and the poster boy for Hot, Rich Man-Whores everywhere. But Margot’s whiskey-augmented grandmother “buys” Bentley at a charity bachelor auction, and now suddenly he’s at her door. Impossibly charming. Impossibly sexy. And still a complete and utter jackass.

Bentley’s just been coerced by his grandfather to spend the next thirty days charming and romancing the reclusive red-haired beauty who hates him. The woman he abandoned when she needed him the most. Bentley knows just as much about romance as he knows about love-nothing. But the more time he spends with Margot, the more he realizes that “just friends” will never be enough. Now all he has to do is convince her to trust him with her heart . . .


I love Rachel Van Dyken’s books, but The Playboy Bachelor was not one of my favorites of hers. I found it to be a bit lackluster. It had the whole fluffy contemporary romance thing going, but what it really could have used some new adult emotional angst.

Bentley and Margo have been forced to live under the same roof for a weekend thanks to their meddling grandparents. This wouldn’t be a problem for the former best friends if Bentley hadn’t disappeared from Margo’s life when she needed him the most. Margo hates Bentley and his womanizing ways with a passion, and Bentley has no desire to hang out with the woman who hates him. The more time Bentley and Margo spend together, the more they realize their past may not be what it seemed.

I don’t want to give too much away about Margo and Bentley’s past, but they were best friends until suddenly they weren’t. Their underlying attraction was still there after the ten years they spent apart, but there were so many unresolved feelings between them. The situation between them created so many emotional possibilities for the characters and their romance, but were they were barely brushed over. Just reuniting suddenly seemed to fix everything for them.

I needed more self-discovery from the main characters in this book, especially on Bentley’s part. Bentley was a weak man who used his mistakes as an excuse. He was unapologetic about his use of women. Bentley wasn’t a bad guy, though. He was actually a sweetheart deep down and just needed to get over his past. Margot was a little better. She had a reason to be angry with what life had thrown at her. I liked that she didn’t give into Bentley immediately and made him suffer through her anger. My main issue with Margo was how she approached a sexual relationship with Bentley. It felt so uncharacteristic of her.

While The Playboy Bachelor didn’t accomplish what I wanted emotionally, it was still an enjoyable read. It had a fun, fluffy contemporary romance thing going on. If you liked the first book in this series, chances are you’ll enjoy this one, too.

Review: Wrong Turn, Right Direction by Elle Casey

Wrong Turn, Right Direction
Series: The Bourbon Street Boys, #4
Author: Elle Casey
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Tamika Cleary takes a wrong turn up a one-way street—and straight into Thibault Delacroix’s leg as he steps into the road. But Mika’s in a hurry, and she certainly doesn’t have time for a guy who can’t even look both ways before crossing, even if he does have a cute face, a body to die for, and the darkest, thickest eyelashes she’s ever seen.

Unfortunately for Mika, fate has other ideas. When she’s threatened by her employer, a Russian mafia boss known as “The Thief”, she’s forced to accept Thibault’s help. As the co-owner of the Bourbon Street Boys security firm, he believes he can keep her safe. But Mika has a whole load of trust issues—and the pushier Thibault is about helping, the more stubbornly she tries to resist.

Mika may have taken a wrong turn the day they met, but will she finally let someone steer her in the right direction?


I love Elle Casey’s writing, but The Bourbon Street Boys series has been a little hit or miss for me. Wrong Turn, Right Direction was in the miss category. I wouldn’t say that it was horrible or that I didn’t enjoy reading it, it was just missing something major.

Wrong Turn, Right Direction started out strong.Tamika is trying to get out from under her horribly corrupt boss and ends up in a medical situation that has her turning the wrong way and into Thibault. Thibault wants to do anything he can to help the beautiful and tentative Tamika get on the right side of the law, but first he has to get her to trust him. Tamika’s background and current situation were very interesting and I wanted to know more about them. They made the plot of this story entertaining. I liked how Tamika’s involvement with her boss worked meshed with the Bourbon Street gang.

Where the story lost me was the romance between Tamika and Thibault. I didn’t feel any sort of connection between them at all. I know Thibault was there for Tamika during the most personal experience of her life, but I didn’t feel an emotional connection made at that moment. Nor did I feel one later on as they got to know each other. Tamika was too reserved and kept too much from Thibault. I didn’t understand how he could fall for someone he knew was constantly hiding something. She was so standoff-ish. Their relationship just didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t believe it. That was where this story failed for me. I wanted a stronger relationship for Thibault.

Despite not falling in love with Thibault and Tamika’s relationship, I did enjoy the twists and turns of the story. I also loved seeing the rest of the Bourbon Street gang and hearing what they were up to. So, overall, Wrong Turn, Right Direction was a good read.