Review: The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott

The Butterfly Project
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Where you are is home…”

At age fourteen, Zelda Rossi witnessed the unthinkable, and has spent the last ten years hardening her heart against the guilt and grief. She channels her pain into her art: a dystopian graphic novel where vigilantes travel back in time to stop heinous crimes—like child abduction—before they happen. Zelda pitches her graphic novel to several big-time comic book publishers in New York City, only to have her hopes crash and burn. Circumstances leave her stranded in an unfamiliar city, and in an embarrassing moment of weakness, she meets a guarded young man with a past he’d do anything to change…

Beckett Copeland spent two years in prison for armed robbery, and is now struggling to keep his head above water. A bike messenger by day, he speeds around New York City, riding fast and hard but going nowhere, his criminal record holding him back almost as much as the guilt of his crime.

Zelda and Beckett form a grudging alliance of survival, and in between their stubborn clash of wills, they slowly begin to provide each other with the warmth of forgiveness, healing, and maybe even love. But when Zelda and Beckett come face to face with their pasts, they must choose to hold on to the guilt and regret that bind them, or let go and open their hearts for a shot at happiness.

The Butterfly Project is a novel that reveals the power of forgiveness, and how even the smallest decisions of the heart can—like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings—create currents that strengthen into gale winds, altering the course of a life forever.


The Butterfly Project has been sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read since February. I kept putting off reading it because I knew I was going to be in for an emotional ride. Emma Scott is an amazing author, but she packs a powerful emotional punch in all of her books. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the experience The Butterfly Project was going to give me yet.

I’m so happy I went ahead and started reading it. I loved The Butterfly Project! It was definitely an emotional read, but it immediately drew me and had me invested. I wasn’t willing to put the book down. I stayed up way too late reading it because I needed to know what was going to happen to Zelda and Bennett.

If you haven’t read Emma Scott’s Full Tilt duet, you may not know that Zelda was an employee of Theo’s Las Vegas tattoo shop. She’s decided to branch off on her own, and take her comic book to shop publishers in New York. The reception of her comic book is not what she had hoped, and she has to figure out how to spend more time in New York to make the revisions she needs to it. Zelda refuses to give up on the one thing that may help her entire family heal. A chance encounter with Beckett gives her the possibility to stay in New York.

Beckett isn’t super thrilled to have Zelda around. He’s got his own tragedies and regret to deal with. What begins as a partnership, slowly turns into companionship for Beckett. He realizes maybe he’s not as alone as he thought. His friendship with Zelda is the only thing heating up his cold and dreary days.

The more entwined their lives get, the more Zelda and Beckett want more from each other. Before they can truly fall, let will have to decide if they can let go of the past and live in the future.

Zelda and Beckett were really amazing characters. Both were living their lives by the day, trying to make it through. They were emotionally stunted by things they wished they could change in their pasts. The sadness and guilt connected them, but their different outlooks on each other’s situation brought a strength to their friendship. Zelda knew what Beckett needed and Beckett knew what Zelda needed. Their friendship turning into a romantic relationship was inevitable. They got each other and their chemistry was off the charts. I loved every minute of their romance.

All of the secondary characters were magic. Each brought a little bit of something special to the story. I especially loved Zelda and Beckett’s Italian neighbor lady. She cracked me up! I also loved getting a tiny bit of Theo in this story. I had forgotten how much I missed him.

One thing I thought was super cool in this story was the use of the comic book. I liked the glimpses of it I got to see and how the story created helped Zelda and Beckett heal. It was a cool way to connect two characters.

I don’t know what else to say about The Butterfly Project except that I loved it. I would highly recommend it to new adult romance readers. The healing and love in this story is amazing. I’m so happy I finally read it!!!

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: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?


I’m going to admit something very crazy. I had never read a book by Morgan Matson before Since You’ve Been Gone. I don’t have any good excuses. Since You’ve Been Gone has been sitting on my shelf for well over a year. I’m just happy I finally read it.

Since You’ve Been Gone is a coming of age novel about finding yourself. Emily has lived in her best friend Sloane’s shadow for the past two years. That’s been fine with Emily. She was more than happy to be the sidekick. But when Sloane suddenly disappears at the beginning of summer break, Emily’s distraught. Not only is she concerned about and missing Sloane, she’s suddenly all alone. The only thing Emily has left of Sloane is a random and scandalous list of things Sloane wants her to do. As Emily begins to work on completing the list, she find herself making friends with a guy from school, Frank Porter. Frank surprisingly offers to help Emily complete her list. As the summer goes on, Emily discovers more about herself and the world around her.

My love for Since You’ve Been Gone wasn’t immediate. To be honest, Emily really annoyed me at the beginning of the book. Her continued whining over Sloane and her absence drove me nuts. I know it was because I hadn’t gotten to know her before Sloane’s disappearance, but it grated on me for a bit. It wasn’t until she started working on the list and all of the supporting characters started showing up that I started to fall in love with the story.

Once I got past the beginning, I absolutely loved Since You’ve Been Gone. I was surprised to see a lot of my younger self in Emily. I, too, had a friend whose shadow I was content to live under in my school days. I empathized with Emily’s discomfort when she had to figure out how to be without Sloane, and make new friends. I can remember going through that and how tough it was. But, just like Emily, once I had been through it I was a stronger me. I loved the way Morgan Matson portrayed Emily’s growth as a person throughout this story.

Another thing I loved about this story were the other characters. Every one of them was so vivid and entertaining. I loved Collins and his absurdity. Frank was my favorite, though. His friendship with Emily was really sweet. He was a stand up guy. I loved their running program and the playlists they shared.

Since You’ve Been Gone may not have started strong, but it definitely ended that way. It had a great message and was beautifully written. It’s a book that I would highly recommend to teenagers (and adults!). I loved it.

Review: The Pieces of Us by Jennifer Loring

The Pieces of Us
Series: The Firebird Trilogy, #3
Author: Jennifer Loring
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Note:
 I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Aleksandr Volynsky thinks he’s experienced the worst life can throw at him, until the most devastating loss leaves him questioning everything…

One year later, Alex and his daughter, Anya, are still picking up the pieces. In the process, he realizes how far apart their mutual grief has driven them and how lonely he has become—especially when the Buffalo Gladiators’ beautiful anthemist, Hannah Kent, finally introduces herself.

Anya Volynsky is a high-school senior with plans—her father’s plans—to become the first woman on a professional hockey team’s starting roster…

But Anya is toying with the idea of staying in Buffalo and caring for her father rather than accept a scholarship to play hockey at Boston College. Her decision becomes even more difficult when she meets her school’s new athletic trainer, Lucas Donovan. Their experience with similar losses draws them together, and soon their friendship blossoms into a forbidden love that neither of them expected.

With lives torn apart by sorrow, Alex and Anya try to restore their bond, but it’s not that easy…

Alex’s attraction to Hannah keeps growing stronger, and he needs to decide if he’s ready to overcome his pain—but also if he’s willing to do it without Anya’s approval. Anya, on the other hand, is headed for trouble, and while Alex tries to do the right thing in order to protect her, all he manages to do is push her further away.

Can Alex and Anya find the courage to pick up the broken pieces of their lives, or will the heartache of the past ruin their chances at finding happiness again?


I’m a big fan of hockey romances. I’ve read so many of them, and yet, Jennifer Loring’s still stand out. The Firebird Trilogy isn’t filled with bubbly, sexy sports romances. It’s filled with deeper situations and an all-consuming love between the main characters.Alex and Stephany drown in each other, and I can’t help but drown in them, too.

The Pieces of Us is different from the first two books in the series. Alex has lost Stephany for good this time, and he’s not sure how to go on without her. He must learn to heal from the pain and be the father he needs to be to seventeen year-old Anya. Anya isn’t having an easy time either. She’s finally fallen in love, but it’s the forbidden type. She knows it’s wrong to love him, but she’s always been told to follow her heart.

Alex and Anya’s journey was emotional. Alex had so much pain he was dealing with. He couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel until he met Hannah. Navigating a new romance was really hard for him, and I felt like Jennifer Loring did an amazing job of capturing what it would be like for someone as devoted as Alex was to Stephany to move on. There were also so many great father-daughter moments between Alex and Anya.

I hate saying this, but I wasn’t a big fan of Anya’s relationship with her athletic trainer. The Student-teacher relationship trope is not one I’m a fan of. Anya’s relationship with Lucas was not quite a student-teacher relationship, but close enough. If it was in college, it wouldn’t have bugged me as much, but she was a seventeen year-old high school student. I didn’t like the line Anya and Lucas crossed. Anya was still so emotionally young. Her actions and thoughts proved it. I didn’t think her relationship with Lucas, who was five years older, was a good thing. I’m happy things worked out for her in the end, but it still wasn’t my favorite storyline.

The Pieces of Us was a story of healing and learning to live life again after a devastating loss. It was a story of finding love again and making mistakes along the way. It was beautifully written, and the perfect conclusion to an amazing trilogy. I highly recommend The Firebird Trilogy to hockey romance fans who like a darker love story filled with heart.

Blog Tour Review: Maybe Never by Sadie Allen

MaybeNever_banner_BT

Welcome to the blog tour for Maybe Never by Sadie Allen! I am so excited to share this sexy contemporary romance with you! Be sure to check it out and follow the blog tour!

Maybe Never Cover

Title: Maybe Never
Author: Sadie Allen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

 About Maybe Never:

One golden boy…

Judd Jackson had it all—star football player with a college scholarship, perfect family, tons of friends, and a beautiful girlfriend. He was the most popular guy in town … until a family secret burned it all to the ground. Now, he’s the object of scorn and ridicule, and the only thing he has left is his scholarship and counting down the days until he can leave town.

One goal-oriented girl…

Sunny Blackfox was alone in the world, but she had big plans and big dreams to keep her occupied. She didn’t have time for anyone in her life. That was, until she came to the rescue of the boy she always had a thing for.

They have everything going against them, but maybe, if they are lucky, they will make it out of town after graduation together … or maybe never.

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My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from Inkslinger PR in exchange for an unbiased review.

Some books scream new adult the moment you pick them up. They just have a certain new adult feel to them. They’re a little bit dark, a little bit angst-y and the characters are struggling through their world. Maybe Never was one of those books.

Maybe Never is set in a small town where anyone different from the social norm is considered a pariah. Judd Jackson learned that you didn’t even have to be the one different to be excluded. The people at his high school he once thought were his friends are now the enemy, waiting to pounce on his ever move. Sunny Blackfox has never been on the right side of the tracks. Her social status has never bothered her. All Sunny cares about is making it through high school so she can move on to better things.

When Sunny and Judd are partnered up in class, they realize they have more in common than they thought. There’s a spark between them that might just make surviving until the end of high school better — that is if those against them don’t ruin things first.

Maybe Never is one of those books that pulls you in with the story of the characters’ hardships.There was so much drama in this book. It didn’t feel overdone, though. The drama popped up at all the right times, and I enjoyed reading about what was happening through both Sunny and Judd’s eyes.

I loved the characters in this story. Sunny was trying to survive an abusive parent and the loss of her beloved grandmother. She wanted to leave her trailer park home life behind and make something of herself. My favorite thing about Sunny was her strength and grit. She didn’t really care what others thought. She knew who she was inside and that was all that mattered. Judd wasn’t as secure with himself. He was dealing with his dad leaving his family and all that entailed. Judd didn’t quite have the same type of strength Sunny did. He was able to avoid, but not confront his problems. I loved how he was with Sunny. I’m sorry for everything he went through, but it lead him to a beautiful person. Their romance was adorable.

As much as I hated some of the secondary characters, they were a great part of the story. The twins were horribly perfect. I wouldn’t have wanted to live in the same town as them. It made me happy that there were supportive characters like Sally around to hep Sunny and Judd out.

Overall, I really enjoyed Maybe Never. I thought it fit the new adult genre well and had characters it was easy to fall in love with.

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About Sadie:

Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her family and her dog Penny. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, catching up on her favorite shows, or chasing her family around the house.

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Review: Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Alex & Eliza: A Love Story
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnum’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

In the pages of Alex and Eliza, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.


I haven’t seen Hamilton. I don’t know much about Alexander Hamilton. What I do know is that I loved this take on his relationship with Elizabeth Schuyler.

I’m not one immediately pulled in by historical fiction. It usually takes me a while to get into the time period, but Alex and Eliza captured my attention from the start. It was beautifully written and completely enchanting. It may have been based in the past, but the writing felt fresh and new.

Everything about the characters made me want to know more about their story. Eliza was a strong, somewhat outspoken young woman of her time. The way she stood up for her beliefs was inspirational. Alex wasn’t quite the war hero he wanted to be, but his book smarts were impressive, as was the way he was infatuated with Eliza. I loved how Alex & Eliza began with their first meeting and impressions of each other, and then ended with their marriage. I’m not sure how much of Melissa de la Cruz’s account was real and how much she crafted, but the relationship felt like it naturally progressed. All of the little bits of drama were fun and important to the story.

Eliza and Alex weren’t the only stars of this story. I absolutely loved Eliza’s sisters. They had such strong personalities of their own. Their stories seemed just as important as Eliza and Alex’s. If Melissa de la Cruz were to write their stories, I would be quick to read them!

Alex & Eliza was a truly delightful read. It was a captivating historical love story that all readers are sure to enjoy.

Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?


I put off reading By Your Side for a while because I had read some reviews that weren’t all together positive about it. I didn’t want to tarnish my view of Kasie West’s outstanding writing, so I didn’t immediately pick this one up. I’m really sorry I did that. I should have had faith in West. I ended up really enjoying By Your Side for many reasons.

I do have to admit that By Your Side started out a little rough for me. I loved the idea of the characters being stuck in the library and forced to work together. My problem was that it took me a long time to connect to either character. Both seemed a little abrasive at first. It wasn’t until they started revealing their true selves that I began to connect with them.

Autumn had everything going for her. She had a group of amazing, popular friends and a close family. The guy she had been crushing on for years, Jeff, was interested in her. The only thing standing in her way of happiness is a closely guarded secret she hides from the world. Once I got to know Autumn’s secret I could completely identify with her. I understood why she kept her secret, but I felt so badly about how that affected her.

Dax wasn’t as lucky as Autumn. He, too, kept secrets. Dax would rather have avoided people than admit what his life was like. Despite his tough exterior, he was a sweet guy. He put himself on the line to help others. I loved how his friendship with Autumn developed and slowly turned into something more. I loved how he stood by Autumn. I also loved they way they ended up supporting each other.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my favorite part of this story wasn’t the library. It was what came after. The second half of this story was unbelievably good and completely made me forget those awkward library moments.

Overall, I loved By Your Side. Kasie West once again wove a beautiful coming of age story.