Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?


Earlier this summer, I read Alex, Approximately. It was my first book by Jenn Bennett and I knew it wouldn’t be my last. I absolutely adored that book. It’s what lead me to read The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.

I didn’t immediately fall in love with The Anatomical Shape of a Heart the way I did with Alex, Approximately. It took me longer to get into. I didn’t connect with Beatrix or Jack the way I wanted to at first. I’m not exactly sure why. My best guess is that I personally dislike getting in trouble, and Jack had trouble written all over him. Beatrix’s connection to him and his secrets made me nervous for her. It wasn’t until about half way through the book when I started to get a better understanding for the characters and the importance of the story.

From that point on, I was in love with The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. I loved that it wasn’t simply about Bex and Jack connecting through art and falling in love. It was about what made them who they were. It was about family relationships, and how their lives were shaped by them. There were so many great learning moments between all of the characters. I loved that!

While The Anatomical Shape of a Heart may have started off slow for me, it ended up pleasantly surprising me. It was a heartwarming young adult novel that was well worth reading.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Loved As a Teenager

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Throwback Freebie! I decided to go with Ten Books I Loved As a TeenagerI refuse to admit how long ago this was, but you can probably guess from the book choices. You’ll probably notice I was really into YA horror back in the day. I’ve come a far way from that.


1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

 

I don’t remember much about this book now, but I remember I read the entire series. I loved it. I can’t wait to reread it and see the new movie.


2. Remember Me by Christopher Pike

 

This was my favorite book back in the day. I loved it so much. Heck, I loved all of Christopher Pike’s books.


3. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

 

If you grew up in the decades I did, you remember the faces on the milk carton. I think we were all a little bit fascinated with them. This book took it to a new level.


4. Say Goodnight, Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver

My first tear jerker, I believe. I adored this book so much.


5. Double Love by Francine Pascal

My older twin neighbors gifted me a bunch of Sweet Valley High books growing up. I was too young to read them at the time, but luckily my mom held onto them for me until I could graduate from Sweet Valley Twins to High.


6. The New Girl by R.L. Stine

After falling in love with Pike, I found Stine.


7. The Awakening by L.J. Smith

Stine lead to Smith. I can say that I read this series WAY BEFORE it became a major TV show hit.


8. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Obviously, I read this one in my late teenage years.


9. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

All those Pike, Stine and Smith books lead me to discover this gem. Another book I read before it became a major motion picture with some famous stars. Even that movie is super old now! 🙁


10. Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

I could have inserted any Nora Roberts book here. In my very late teens, my mom introduced me to her books. I was hooked and read pretty much all of them I could get my hands on.


Did you read any of these books as a teenager or am I just too old?

Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.                                                                                                                                                                         After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.                                                                                                                                 While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.                                                                                                                             An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

Amazon US | Amazon Aus | Amazon UK | iBooks US | iBooks Aus | Kobo | Nook

My Review:

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Hmm…This was one of those books that’s hard to rate. It was a book I couldn’t put down, and yet, there were some things that bothered me about it. I’m going to break this review into things I loved about Trust and things I didn’t.

Things I loved:

  • I’ve read one other contemporary romance from Kylie Scott, but this book was way different from that one. It was way more raw and emotion filled. I don’t think I would have realized the two books had the same author if her name wasn’t on the front of the cover. I liked this darker novel more.
  • The explosive beginning of Trust was a great way to set up the entire book. The descriptions of everything that went on and Edie’s thoughts throughout the whole event were amazing. I loved how the incident changed Edie and set her on a different path.
  • Edie’s transition to public school opened so many new doors for her. I loved the new friends she made, and how it allowed her to reconnect with John. The friendship they developed slowly morphed throughout the story and I liked that path it took.

Things I didn’t love:

  • Edie was a “bigger” girl. She described herself as being flabby around the middle with thunder thighs. I could understand her body consciousness and thoughts relating to her body. I thought they represented true thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl who was larger in size than her peers. I appreciated that, but I also wanted more. If a writer’s going there with an overweight main character, I like to see some self-realization for the character. Maybe her body isn’t “perfect” in societal standards, but she comes to realize her body is just as beautiful as everyone else’s. I wanted something teenage girls who read this could learn something from body wise. I didn’t get that with this book.
  • It was a little weird was John’s character was a drug dealer. He was super popular and wanted by all the girls — for being a hot drug dealer??? That blew my mind. I get the cute part, but are drug dealers really super popular in high school these days? I don’t remember girls lusting after drug dealers in my high school years, but maybe I was oblivious to who was dealing drugs. Drugs and alcohol were prevalent in this book, and weren’t really a big deal.
  • Some moments I wasn’t sure I believed John’s attraction to Edie. It had nothing to do with her weight and everything to do with not having his point of view in this book. On one hand, John did a lot of sweet things for Edie. On the other, his only tell that he might have wanted more than friendship was the couple of times he checked out her boobs. Having his point of view included would have helped clear up John’s feelings a little better.

Overall, Trust was a book I truly enjoyed reading. It was dark, mature YA romance with a great cast of characters. I would love for this book to lead to a series. I was really interested in Anders and Hang’s relationship, and would love to learn more about them.

TRUST by Kylie Scott (Official Book Trailer) from FILM 14 on Vimeo.

Excerpt:

“You were going to give it up to Duncan Dickerson?” he sneered. “Are you serious?”

I halted, staring at him. This was not good. “How do you know about that?”

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

“Well?” he demanded, acting all authoritarian. Idiot.

“To be fair, I didn’t know his last name was Dickerson,” I said. “That’s unfortunate. Though, I wasn’t actually planning on marrying him, so . . .”

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

“Um, yeah. None of your concern. We’re not talking about this.” How mortifying! My face burned bright. People should just gather around and cook s’mores. “I appreciate that we’re friends. You mean a lot to me. But this is going to have to fall under definitely none of your damn business, so go away please.”

“We’re talking about it.” He advanced a step.

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

“You were going to let a complete stranger touch you.” Advance.

Retreat. “People do it all the time. You do it all the time.”

“But you don’t,” he said, taking the final step, backing me up against the side of his car and getting all in my face. “Edie, this is your first time we’re talking about. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, and it’s going to be messy and painful and probably horribly embarrassing and I just want it over and done with.” I tried to meet his eyes but failed, settling for a spot on his right shoulder. “You’re not a girl; you wouldn’t understand. Also, last time I checked, you’re not the gatekeeper of my hymen, John Cole. So back the fuck off.”

He said nothing.

Deep, calming breaths. “Look, someday I’ll meet someone I really like and we’ll have a deep and meaningful relationship and go at it like bunnies. But I don’t want to be the dumb virgin in that scenario.”

He slowly shook his head.

“Also, I do not want to die a virgin.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Hey, you and I both know death can occur at any time.”

“This is crazy.”

“I’m seeing a therapist!” I told his shoulder. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m a little bit messed up these days. It’s hard for me to trust people. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

“Well, you’re being ridiculous. None of this makes sense.”

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

In fact, he said nothing for so long that I finally looked him in the eye. The anger had left him, replaced by an emotion I didn’t recognize. Worst of all, he still smelled like summer. A little sweat and the open night air, everything I loved. Liked. I meant liked.

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

About the Author:

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/.

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.


Alex, Approximately has been on my radar since prior to its release. First, it was the adorable cover that caught my eye. Then, it was all the amazing reviews it was getting. Almost every blogger was raving about it. I knew I had to read it, so I requested it from the library. It only took two and a half months for my hold to come through, but I finally got to read it.

The book blurb pretty much gives the story away for Alex, Approximately. That should ruin the story, but it doesn’t. It only adds to the fun of it. While you know who Porter and Bailey really are, they don’t. Their relationship progresses naturally from enemies to friends to more. It was cute and sweet and oh so much fun to read.

This book is the perfect summer read. It’s set in a beach side town filled with great destinations, shops and the beach itself. Even Bailey’s accessories are somehow perfectly fitting for the scene. The setting adds so much to this story, and made me crave a trip to the beach.

Bailey has personality. She had her own style, her love of old movies and an evading tactic that made her stand out. Despite being an introvert, she shined the most in social situations. Maybe it was her awkwardness in them that made those moments so much fun to read. The best ones were with Porter. He brought out the best and the worst in Bailey.

Porter was a gem. I couldn’t help but love him. He could be a jerk, but it was in a slightly cocky way that felt perfect for a teenage boy. There was also a softer side to him that came out around Bailey. I loved how he was always trying to protect her. He was just so dang charming!

Alex, Approximately had more going for it than just Porter and Bailey’s romance. It was filled with important friendships and family dynamics. Bailey quickly made a new friend in Grace. They really clicked and I loved watching their friendship develop. Bailey was also rediscovering her relationship with her father, and each moment they spent navigating it was fun. I did wish I got to see a little bit of her mother, but her father more than made up for that. Porter’s relationship with his family was also included and I loved meeting all of them.

I loved everything about Alex, Approximately. If you’re looking for a cute summer YA contemporary romance, this is one you shouldn’t pass up.

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


This is Karen M. McManus’ debut novel? I’m having a hard time believing that because One of Us Is Lying was so well written. It’s rare to find a YA thriller/mystery that’s as intricately woven as this books was. That fact that a début author wrote it blows my mind! 

One of Us Is Lying kept me guessing from beginning to end. I thought I might have known the killer, but every twist and turn made me reexamine what I thought I knew. The four different points of view spurred that on. Every time the character narrating changed, something new and important was revealed. Those revelations were key in keeping the story moving and changing.

I loved every minute of reading this book. It’s one of best YA debuts I’ve read in a while. The fact that author’s inspiration was The Breakfast Club with criminal twist makes it even more of a gem! I can’t wait for Karen M. McManus to publish her next novel. I will definitely be reading it!

Review: Fallen Crest University by Tijan

Fallen Crest University
Series: Fallen Crest High, #5
Author: Tijan
Narrators:  Graham Halstead, Saskia Maarleveld
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Samantha, Mason, and Logan are all together and united with one common enemy: Park Sebastian, the king of fraternity douchebags. With professional football scouts eyeing his every move, Mason Kade has to walk the line for the first time in his life. Any move he makes against Sebastian has to be perfect and under the radar. One mistake, and his career is over. Sebastian has other plans. Mason’s career isn’t his target-not even close. Wanting to destroy Mason completely, Sebastian knows that he must hit him where it hurts the most: Samantha, who doesn’t give a rat’s ass that she’s the target. Sam is bound and determined to protect Mason herself, no matter the cost, but what if the cost is beyond her imagination? What if this time, the villain wins?


If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews recently, you’ve probably noticed I’m majorly bingeing on the Fallen Crest University series. Tijan has created a series so addicting and drama filled that I can’t put it down. I wouldn’t say the books are perfect, but they weave a tale so complex and fascinating that perfection doesn’t really matter.

Fallen Crest University is the next stage in the fearsome foursome’s life. No longer are Sam and Logan stuck in Fallen Crest while Mason and Nate are at college. All four of them are now at the same college. It’s a blessing and a curse for Mason. He loves have his family back at his side, but he worries about their safety. If his battle with Park Sebastian was simmering last year, this year it’s boiling. Mason wants to protect Sam and Logan, but they have other ideas. Both of them are willing to do anything to protect Mason from Park.

I absolutely loved having the family back together in this book! The Fallen Crest world just didn’t feel right with them separated by distance. Sam, Mason, Logan, and Nate feed off of each other and that makes for so many fun moments. I also liked the place Sam and Mason were in. There were still secrets, but Sam seemed to be back to holding her own. Her mental state was so much better in this book.

One of my favorite things about this book was that Logan got his own point a view for a couple of chapters! It was just as awesome as when Mason’s point of view showed up in book 3. I’ve always loved his cocky demeanor, but it was even more fun hearing it from his point of view. Logan rocked! I’m so excited to read his novella soon!

Now for my least favorite things about this book. I hate to say it, but Fallen Crest University is the weakest book in the series so far. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it — I totally did. I mean, I listened to it non-stop. It’s just that it was missing some of the things I’ve loved about the series in the past. It was also really over the top in the drama department. That’s saying a lot because this series is nothing but drama.

This book was missing so many things for me. I wanted more of some of the old characters. I wish at least one horrible person from one of Sam’s high schools had shown up at her college. I also wish Heather had gone to school with her. She visited for a second, but I still missed her presence in this book. Speaking of Heather, I really wanted to know more about her hook up with Logan. They had such chemistry, and I’m sad I only got to hear a tiny bit about it. Another thing I missed was Sam’s running addiction. I know that’s crazy because it has annoyed me in the past books, but I thought there would be more involving her track scholarship. And, finally, I missed the Mason-Sam sexy times. They were alluded to, but in the previous books I got more details. I was surprised that they weren’t more prevalent now that it’s a college romance instead of a high school one? I would say maybe they cooled off after being together so long, but that wasn’t it.

As for the over the top drama, I had a hard time buying into one major twist at the end. It helped with Park’s demise, but was too out there for me. I still don’t know what to make of it.

Overall, Fallen Crest University was another addicting read. I loved seeing Mason and Sam in a new phase in their lives. I’m excited for what’s to come in the rest of the series. I’m sad that I won’t be able to listen to the rest of the series because I have fallen in love with the narrators, but I don’t think they’re out in Audible yet. I’ll have to make do with reading them. 😉

Review: Fallen Fourth Down by Tijan

Fallen Fourth Down
Series: Fallen Crest High, #4
Author: Tijan
Narrators:  Saskia Maarleveld, Graham Halstead
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

My mother tried to destroy me. She doesn’t exist to me anymore and my father, the one who raised me and the biological one, are both works in progress. The only two people that I can trust are Mason and Logan, and they’re the two people who I could lose. It won’t happen. I won’t let it. No matter the truth, no matter who loves me, I won’t let anything or anyone come between us.
They’re my world. They’re my life.
They’re my family.


Surprise! (Not really.) I’m back with another Fallen Crest High audiobook review! I’m flying through these books. I can’t help it. The story has me so committed. I need to hurry up and finish all of the books so I can get back to real life!

Fallen Fourth Down was a weird transition book. Sam’s in Fallen Crest and Mason’s three hours away at college.The distance hasn’t lessened their love for each other, but it’s made it easier to keep things from each other. Sam’s trying hide the fact that she knows Logan’s in love with her. Avoiding the awkward conversations has made her tension and she hates keeping things from both of her boys. Mason’s keeping things to himself to avoid feeding Sam’s fears. They’re together, but living separate lives. When someone from Sam’s past ends up in Fallen Crest, things get even tougher.

Like I said, this was a weird transition book. Mason and Sam are apart most of the book, so I didn’t get to feast on their interactions. I missed them together. I love the intensity of their relationship. I guess it did make their times together that much more explosive, but I wanted more of the fearsome twosome and threesome.

Instead of basking in Sam and Mason’s relationship, I was stuck living through Sam’s fear of Logan’s love for her. There was so much uncomfortable tension between Sam and Logan. I worried a lot about how that was all going to play out. Sam was also dealing with a guy from her past who had a renewed crush on her. I really liked this part of the story. It was kind of sweet, and felt like it helped me get to know Sam before the Kades a little better. I liked the guy. That was probably because I knew he didn’t stand a chance next to the Mason Kade.

As for Mason, he was in a whole new world. His being at the bottom of the totem pole was cool. He had to prove himself for once, and I liked that. He was still Mason Kade, so he wasn’t an underling for long but it was fun to see him not in charge. I loved meeting all of Mason’s new football buddies and the camaraderie they shared. I even loved meeting Mason’s new nemesis, Park. I can tell their rivalry is going to amp up the drama of Mason and Sam’s college experience.

A couple of things surprised me in Fallen Fourth Down. One surprise was Nate. The Kade brothers’ relationship with him changed a bit, and I wasn’t expecting that. It made me a little sad, but I liked how it all ended up resolving itself. The second surprise was Marissa. I wasn’t quite expecting her to be as crazy as she was. I ended up hating her after this book.

Overall, I enjoyed Fallen Fourth Down. It did a good job answering some questions I had about both Sam and Mason’s pasts. It also finally cleared up Logan’s feelings about Sam. At times, it felt like a filler novella since Sam and Mason were apart, but it ended up doing a great job setting up things for Fallen Crest University.