Review: The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

The Last to Let Go
Author: Amber Smith
Publication Date: January 6, 2017
Publisher: McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, LBGTQ
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

How do you let go of something you’ve never had?

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.

But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.

In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.


Amber Smith’s The Way I Used to Be was one of my top reads for 2016. I couldn’t get over the fact that a début author had written such an emotionally raw book. I loved everything about that book. It touched me so deeply. I’ve been waiting for her next release from the minute I finished that book, so I was very eager to read The Last to Let Go.

Everything about The Last to Let Go was so raw. Brooke had too much to deal with in this book. Her mother killed her abusive father, she’s worried about her siblings, she’s making unexpected friends, meeting new family members, and she might just be finding love. Everything is more than she can handle. She was doing everything to hold onto her family and what she thought was important.

I felt so bad for Brooke. As much as I wanted her to get herself together, I completely understood why she was falling apart. It broke my heart. Luckily, I’ve never been in Brooke’s situation. It’s one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Obviously, I can’t relate completely with her life, but I felt like her feelings of needing to control and having a hard time letting go were something everyone can identify with at some point.

The Last to Let Go was so good — in a painful sort of way. What I mean is that it was utterly heartbreaking. Amber Smith has a way of writing that makes me feel the emotions her characters are feeling. It’s breathtaking and it’s brutal. The Last to Let Go is a book that’s going to stick with me for a long time, and it’s one I definitely recommend.

Mini Reviews: Miss Mechanic, Caraval, The Vincent Boys, The Vincent Brothers

Miss Mechanic
Author: Emma Hart
Publication Date: December 12, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Two mechanics. One rivalry.
She’ll prove she’s as good as she says she is.
He’ll prove her place isn’t under the hood.
It’s over it.

“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”
For twenty-six years, I lived by my daddy’s motto. Which is why “Mechanic Wanted” is all it takes for me to apply for the job at the garage we once owned.
And I meet the biggest bastard of them all.
Dexter Ryne. Hotter than Hell in July and a firm believer that my place is on reception, taking phone calls and looking pretty. Not getting dirty under the hood of a car.
Determined to prove each other wrong, we make a deal.
I have three weeks to prove my worth as a mechanic. If I don’t, I’m on telephone duty.
If I do, he’ll accept defeat and make my job permanent.
Now, all I have to do is fight my attraction to the cocky little… beep.
Problem is, an engine isn’t the only thing he knows how to make purr…


A while ago my blogger friend Cristina told me I needed to read Emma Hart’s Miss Fixit. I completely trust her opinion on books, so I immediately read it…and fell in love with it. When I heard Emma Hart was coming out with a new book, I had to pick up Miss Mechanic. Unfortunately, it took me a month or so to get to it.

I was hoping Miss Mechanic was going to be a spin-off of Miss Fixit. It wasn’t, but that ended up being okay. It was still hilarious. It made me smile and laugh so much. I adored the love-hate thing Jamie and Dex had going on. They  had such chemistry! Miss Mechanic was such a fun read. It got me out of a book slump I was in. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to readers who like romantic comedy.



Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Welcome, welcome to Caraval! Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.


My feelings about Caraval are complicated. I enjoyed it for the most part. The world of Caraval was beautifully created and the story well crafted. My issue with it was that parts of it dragged. I felt myself getting bored right before all the big action parts. If it wasn’t for those action parts, I might have not finished the book. Which would have been sad because the ending was quite good. I also want to mention that the narrator, Rebecca Soler, was amazing.

I’m really happy I decided to listen to Caraval. It was an interesting ride!



The Vincent Boys
Series: The Vincent Boys, #1
Author: Abbi Glines
Narrators: Kirby Hayborne, Shayna, Thibodeaux
Publication Date: October, 12, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any hotter…Beau and Ash’s sinful romance now includes super scandalizing, never-before-published scenes in this special, eBook-only companion to the steamy printed original.

There was something wicked about Beau that drew me to him. What was wrong with me? Why did I want to sin so badly?

Ashton is getting tired of being good, of impressing her parents and playing ideal girlfriend to Sawyer Vincent. Sawyer is perfect, a regular Prince Charming, but when he leaves town for the summer, it’s his cousin Beau who catches Ashton’s eye. Beau is the sexiest guy she’s ever seen, and even though he’s dangerous, Ashton is drawn to him.

Beau loves his cousin like a brother, so the last thing he wants to do is make a move on Sawyer’s girl. Ashton is off-limits, absolutely. That’s why he does his best to keep his distance, even though he’s been in love with her forever. When Ashton wants to rekindle their childhood friendship in Sawyer’s absence, Beau knows he should say no.

Ashton and Beau don’t want to hurt Sawyer. But the more they try to stay away from each other, the more intense their urges become. It’s getting way too hard to resist…


OMG. The Vincent Boys is a total guilty pleasure. I was surprised at how much I loved it. I decided to listen to it because it was the only book I was slightly interested in on Overdrive. I wasn’t sure I would like it because of the love triangle, but I did. The love triangle didn’t bother me at all. I think it was because of the nature of Sawyer and Ashton’s relationship. Plus, for most of the book Sawyer wasn’t even around. I loved Beau and Ashton together so much. If you’re looking for a fun YA contemporary romance, you should try this one out!



The Vincent Brothers
Series: The Vincent Boys, #2
Author: Abbi Glines
Narrators: Kirby Hayborne, Shayna, Thibodeaux
Publication Date: June 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Getting a boy to fall head-over-heels in love with you isn’t easy. Especially when he’s been in love with your cousin for as long as you can remember.

Lana has lived her life in her cousin’s shadow. Ashton always made perfect grades, had tons of friends, and looks model-perfect. And she’s always had Sawyer Vincent—the only boy Lana’s ever wanted—wrapped around her finger. But now things are different. Lana has a chance to make Sawyer see her, and she’s taking it. If only he’d get over Ashton—because Lana is sick of second-best.

Sawyer’s heart is broken. He’s lost his best girl to his best friend. And then Lana comes to town. Ashton’s cousin has always been sweet and soft-spoken, but now she’s drop-dead gorgeous as well. Sawyer doesn’t know if Lana can heal his broken heart, but spending time with her might at least make Ashton jealous.

What starts as a carefree fling becomes a lusty game of seduction. Sawyer and Lana may have different motives, but their scintillating hookups are the same kind of steamy. . . .


The Vincent Brothers was a great follow up to The Vincent Boys. It was just as addictive. I was so happy that Sawyer got a book. His feelings were so raw and brutal. After his loss in the first book, I wanted him to find his truth. I love that Lana was the one to help him find it.

Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Nowhere But Here
Series: Thunder Road, #1
Author: Katie McGarry
Narrators: Marguerite Gavin, Sean Pratt

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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 to 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.


Nowhere But Here has been out for a couple of years. I’ve seen it around, and wanted to read it. I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. When I saw it was available as an audio book through my library system, I jumped on the chance to listen to it. I’m really mad at myself for not starting this series earlier!

Katie McGarry is a phenomenal writer. The way she puts words together and the story she tells… I’m trying to think of something to compare those to, and all that comes to mind is chocolate. Smooth, silky, and oh-so yummy. The plot of this book and how it was strung together was perfection. I loved the twists, turns, and revelations that were made. Somehow how Katie McGarry made a story involving a motorcycle gang sweet. That’s talent.

I adored Emily and Oz. Their points of view were so distinctive and had so much personality. Emily was this girl who started out seeming really small and scared. I thought she was going to be a delicate snowflake throughout the entire book, but she wasn’t. Emily had more backbone than I expected, and I loved it. It made for so many fun moments! And Oz…I absolutely adored his character. He was such a mature 18-year-old. He was more a man than a teenager. Honestly, his parts were my favorite. The way he articulated his thoughts was just so cool.

The rest of the cast of characters were just as good as the main characters. I liked Emily’s relationship with her parents, especially her father. Their closeness was sweet. I did wish I got to know Emily’s mom a little bit better, though. I also liked Eli, Olivia and that side of Emily’s family. The entire Reign of Terror group won me over immediately. Their family ways were so cool. I’m excited to read more about them in future books.

Why did I wait so long to read this book??? If you’re like me and haven’t read it yet, you need to bump it up your list. Everything about it was amazing. I highly recommend the audio version. The narrators are so good — especially Sean Pratt. I could listen to his voice all day.

Review: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List
Author: Kasie West
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.


Kasie West is one of my go-to YA contemporary romance authors. I love her writing. It’s cute, heartwarming, and addictive. I’m always excited to start one of her books because I know I’m in for a fun time. That’s exactly how I felt when starting Love, Life, and the List, and that’s exactly what I got.

Love, Life, and the List is all about friendship, love, and growing up. It’s about letting go of the things that hold you back and discovering who you really are. Abby had to do a lot of that in this book. She had to navigate an unrequited crush on her best friend. She had to deal with disappointment and learning how to express her emotions.

I loved how the Heart List helped Abby open herself up to new experiences and find who she was. I also loved that it helped her identify unhealthy relationships she had, and helped her stand up for herself.

The biggest one of those was with Cooper. Cooper wasn’t a character I liked. That was because I adored Abby and saw how destructive their relationship was. Yes, there were the cute times they shared. And, yes, I could see what Abby saw in him. I just didn’t like how he treated her. It wasn’t that he didn’t do nice things for her or treated her horribly. It was because he led her on. I know he wasn’t exactly trying to, but he took advantage of her love for him.

I do have to admit that I liked that Cooper didn’t hold Abby back on the love front. He pushed her to date other guys. I loved that he tried to set her up with Elliot. Elliot was an amazing guy, and I loved what he had in common with Abby. They were cute together.

Love, Life, and the List was almost perfect. Almost. The one thing that drove me nuts was the ending. I can’t say why, but I will say that it didn’t jive with what I wanted for Abby. It didn’t feel like it completely fit in my opinion. The end wasn’t my favorite outcome, but I do have to admit it was still cute.

Overall, I adored this book. It was cute, fun, addicting — all the things I mentioned before. I couldn’t put it down, and I didn’t want to. I am so excited that this is the first in a series of three crossovers. I can’t wait to see who shows up in those books!

Review: Ryan’s Bed by Tijan

Ryan’s Bed
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: January 22, 2018
Genre: (Mature) Young Adult , Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t.
I didn’t jump out.
I didn’t get embarrassed.
I relaxed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.

Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.


WOAH. I cannot stop thinking about this book. I actually had a hard time falling asleep after finishing it I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Ryan’s Bed was an interesting book. It definitely fit the Tijan YA mold. Girl who is deeply scarred from an emotional death/family event. She’s tortured by it, but finds comfort in a guy willing to go the distance for her and protect her at all cost. Mackenzie had a little bit of both Samantha (Fallen Crest High) and Alexandra (Broken and Screwed) in her, but that’s where the similarities end. I couldn’t help comparing her story to theirs, but this one was actually very different.

You see, Mackenzie didn’t just lose a sibling, she lost a twin. She lost what she considered to be half of herself to suicide. It sent her over the edge. Mackenzie no longer felt like herself. Her family no longer felt the same. The destruction in the wake her twin’s death felt catastrophic to her. Mackenzie’s grief and anger made Ryan’s Bed a very dark YA read.

I have to admit I had no idea where the story would go even at half way through. Mackenzie was so messed up mentally that I feared there wouldn’t be a good ending. Everything about it was heartbreaking. The sadness of it all consumed me. I didn’t like feeling the way it made me feel…and then there was a subtle reprieve. Slowly, things started coming together in a way I could see some relief.

And then the end came. I have to say I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t prepared.

Ryan’s Bed isn’t a joy to read, but it’s a very well crafted book. If I’m going to be honest, I probably would have given Ryan’s Bed three stars if it wasn’t for that ending. I couldn’t tell where this book was going for the first several chapters. I didn’t know if I wanted to know where it was going at that time. But the progression to the end was good, and then that damn ending was spectacular. So, four stars it is.

You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about the romance in this novel. Ryan’s Bed has a romance, but it’s not the front and center star of the show. Mackenzie’s journey is, and I think it needs to stay that way. All I will say is that I loved Ryan and his support of her.

I can’t end this review without saying that the Author’s Note at the end was worth reading. It helped me process what I had read, and I loved how Tijan’s thoughts about the beginning of this book reflected how I felt. I applaud her for her courage in writing this book.

TIJAN’S ULTIMATE RYAN’S BED GIVEAWAY:

https://tinyurl.com/ryansbedgiveaway

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Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Narrator: Eileen Stevens
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.


Hmm…This is going to be a tough review to write. Get ready for a long one.

Dumplin’ started out strongly. I loved Willowdean and her declarations about weight. I imagine anyone who has ever been overweight or self-conscious can relate to many of her thoughts and feelings. But…there were so many things that bothered me.

Willowdean’s negativity about herself and others got to me quickly. Her thoughts made me uncomfortable. Listening to them was rough. Mostly, I hated how she thought about and treated people.

I hated how she discounted Mitch and his feelings. Mitch was a nice guy. He didn’t deserve to be led on by Willowdean. She used him for his companionship, and I think she generally liked him, but she let him think they were more than they were. That made me sad. I don’t get why she didn’t feel a spark for him. I felt like there was a spark between them.

I hated how Willowdean thought about all of her new friends. She looked down on them. I didn’t get why she thought she was so much better than them. They were there for her when she was friendless and supported her. I was happy she learned what great people they were, but her thoughts were hurtful and upset me.

I hated Willowdean and Bo. There were some sweet moments between them, and they were a good couple. I just didn’t like how she thought of herself in relation to Bo. I didn’t understand her embarrassment of being seen with him. I get not liking to be the center of attention, but I figured she was be elated to be seen with someone who was so good-looking. (I only say that due to her low self-confidence and how she talked.) It was like being with Bo made her feel bad about herself, and that’s not healthy. Mitch didn’t have that same effect on her.

Last, I hated the way Willowdean handled everything with Ellen. I completely understood it because I’ve felt the way Willowdean felt at times in my life, but I feel like she should have apologized a whole heck of a lot sooner. Friendship is worth more than how she treated it.

This has been really negative so far, so let me tell you some of the things I loved.

I loved Willowdean’s new friends. They were all good people. They added so much to this story.

I loved Willowdean’s rocky relationship with her mom. I could relate to both Willowdean and her mother. You always want what’s best for your kids — want more for them than you had yourself.

I loved Mitch and all of his wisdom. He was a great human being who deserved more.

I loved Bo’s step-mom. She was a little kooky, but sweet.

I loved the performers and bouncer from the gay bar. Oh, and I can’t leave out Dolly. I loved all the Dolly Parton stuff.

I loved the narrator and the way she voiced Willowdean.

I loved how Elle and Willowdean worked out their friendship.

I loved how everything worked out with the pageant and her mom.

Most of all, I loved the many times Julie Murphy gave incredible thoughts and insight.

Despite all of these great things, reading Dumplin’ made me kind of miserable. Maybe it would have been better to read than listen to it. I don’t know. I felt consumed by Willowdean’s negativity and that was just so hard. I don’t know what else to say about this book. I think it will probably resonate differently for each person who reads it.

Review: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Once and For All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Listening Library
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!

Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happy-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.

Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily ever after.


Wedding related romances have been all the rage lately. I’ve read books about wedding planners, bakers, photographers, etc. finding love a lot in the past year. They’re all different, but so similar. Each was focused on falling in love. That wasn’t what Once and For All was about. It was about more. That was surprisingly different — and in a great way.

Once and For All was a story about love, but also a story about dealing with the loss of love. Louna is the wedding planner’s daughter. She’s worked at weddings for as long as she can remember, but this year being surrounded by love isn’t easy. After losing her first love, Ethan, Louna has lost her faith in that forever sort of love. Louna doesn’t believe she will ever find a love as perfect as the love she had with Ethan.

Unfortunately (or fortunately!) for Louna, the newest employee of her mother’s business isn’t about to let her abandon love forever. Ambrose is annoyingly in love with the feeling of falling in love. He’s determined to prove to Louna that one bad breakup isn’t the end, and that there’s another great love out there for her.

I’m happy I listened to Once and For All. Karissa Vacker is an excellent narrator. I loved the way her voice brought Sarah Dessen’s words alive. It felt like a close friend was personally sharing her story with me. Louna was a great main character on her own, but hearing her thoughts through someone’s voice made it feel like she was a close friend personally sharing her complex feelings. All her thoughts and feelings felt that much more real and raw.

Ambrose was an interesting character. I loved the things he taught Louna. For someone I thought was going to be shallow, he really wasn’t. He may not have always made the smart decision, but everything he did was with good intention. Ambrose had more heart than I expected.

My favorite thing about this book was the way that it was written. One and For All alternated between the present and the past. Sarah Dessen shares both Louna and Ambrose’s, and Louna and Ethan’s love stories. There’s a natural progression of both couples’ stories and how one leads to the other. It was done in such a way that made Louna’s beliefs about love completely understandable and so easy to relate to. I was so impressed with how Sarah Dessen described the act of falling in love and all the excitement and emotion that goes with it.

Speaking of  Ethan… I am sad he and Louna didn’t get a longer love story. I loved him for so many reasons. I can see why Louna wasn’t sure there would be another love like his for her. I wish there had been a happily ever after for them, even though I’m happy how the story ended.

Another thing I loved was all the detail included about wedding planning. Some of those details brought back memories of my own wedding. It’s definitely harder planning a wedding than one would think. There are so many little things to organize and keep track of. I can’t imagine being a wedding planner and dealing with people getting married. You would have to be able to tolerate a lot!

With Once and For All Sarah Dessen continues her streak as the Queen of young adult contemporaries. It was a brilliantly written story filled with so much heart. I highly recommend it!

Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King
Series: The Raven Cycle, #4
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


I bought The Raven King when it was originally released. Several factors kept me from immediately picking it up and reading it like I wanted to. One of those factors was that I wasn’t quite ready to be done with The Raven Cycle. Blue, Gansey, Adam, Noah, and Ronan are some of my most cherished characters. I didn’t want to say goodbye yet. It took me over a year to pick it up. I’m happy I finally devoted the time to say farewell to the gang.

I really enjoyed The Raven King. The story from the previous books was continued, but everything still felt fresh. There were new discoveries to be made, and so many “ah ha” moments to enjoy. The complexity of it all was a little overwhelming at times. I had to take my time reading to really examine what each revelation meant to the story.

While I loved the journey The Raven King took me on, there were some things that struck me as strange and left me wanting more explanation. Blue’s father is the first one. The whole tree thing was just plain weird and I didn’t get what it meant for Blue. The second one was Piper, Henry’s mom, and Mr. Gray. Their last scene together left everything feeling really up in the air. The big ones, though, were Glendower and the Gansey-Blue kiss. Those two things left me wanting more.

Despite feeling a bit confused and possibly let down by the end of the story, I did appreciate the epilogue. I liked knowing what possibilities were ahead for my favorite characters. I did wish that we had been privy to what the ladies at Fox Lane had in store for them.

Overall, The Raven King was a strong ending to a great series.

Review: After the Game by Abbi Glines

After the Game
Series: The Field Party, #3
Author: Abbi Glines
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl that no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgens finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?


In the last Field Party novel, Under the Lights, I felt bad for Brady. He was on the losing end of a love triangle. I was excited to learn After the Game was going to be his story and chance at love. What made me even more excited was that Brady’s love interest was going to be Riley. I liked what I learned of her in book two, and was excited to get to know her character better.

After the Game wasn’t simply a love story. It was a story about growing up. For Brady, that meant dealing with the harsh realities that some things in life might not be what they seem. The things Brady had to deal with were a slap in the face to a boy who had lived a charmed life. For Riley, After the Game was a story of redemption and moving on. She had been falsely accused of lying and lost all of her friends in that moment. Now, she was getting a chance at not only friendship, but love.

I loved that Riley and Brady first found friendship. They rekindled their relationship just when they both needed it. They were a support system for each other that no one else could have been. I loved that Brady wasn’t put off by Riley’s teenage motherhood. In fact, it was just the opposite. Riley’s determination and dedication to her daughter impressed him. That was very mature for a high school senior. I also loved that Riley was willing to forgive Brady and those who had thought poorly of her. The peace she offered Brady in his time of need was special. I loved that all of this lead to a romantic relationship between the two of them.

After the Game was a great addition to The Field Party series. Brady and Riley’s story was one I really enjoyed reading. I hope there are more books to come in the series.

Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.


Genuine Fraud was an interesting tale. E. Lockhart continued to give the reader the unexpected with it. Genuine Fraud began in the present and each chapter went back in time. The effect was that I felt like I was reading the story backward. The story continued that way all the way until almost the end. It made for a great guessing game. Each chapter divulged just enough to make me keep reading.

I have to admit that I got a bit bored in the middle of the book. I think it’s because I was frustrated. I just wanted to know what the deal was with Jule and Imogen! Once I got to that part, the story flew again for me. I loved the ending, and thought it was very clever.

Overall, Genuine Fraud was a fun read. It was a darker read, but light at the same time. It had great foreshadowing and a cool set up. It was the perfect book to read on my vacation.