Review: Sweet Summer Love by Sierra Hill

Sweet Summer Love
Series: The Sweetest Thing, #3
Author: Sierra Hill
Publication Date: January 27, 2017
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Logan Everyone’s had a summer crush. One that’s etched into your memories so hard that it leaves an indelible mark, like a scar on your heart. For me, that crush is my first love, Carver Edwards. I met him at fifteen at summer camp, and for three perfect summers, he was mine. Until the blazing heat of the summer sun faded and reality crashed in. Carver went off to college, leaving me trapped in my small farming town, with no way of reaching him and a problem I needed solving. Carver As the senior captain of my college basketball team, all I’ve been focused on the past four years has been playing, school, getting drafted in the NBA, and steering clear of relationships. I didn’t want them. I had nothing to give another girl. I’d given it already. So, I built my rep as a player, and honed my natural ability to charm the pants off girls. It’s what I did. Who I was. Who I am. Until March, when a lay-up during a tournament landed me in an emergency room, under the care of Logan Shaw – my first love. Of all the people I could run into, why did it have to be her? Not only did my face get split wide open, but so did the locks that held the pain I’d attempted to bury for so many years. Now that she’s back in my life, we must face the truth and the consequences of our actions – even if it could destroy us. We must uncover the truths that have kept us shackled from moving forward. That could possibly set us free.


A rating was really hard for me to come up with for this book. It’s the first book I’ve read by Sierra Hill, and I actually loved reading it. The writing was really good, and I immediately fell in love with the characters. Logan and Carver’s story sucked me in right away starting with the foreshadowing in the prologue. I loved the little bit of mystery behind the history of their relationship and the way Logan and Carver came back into each other’s life. That’s where things get a little sticky for me.

I couldn’t keep some big things from staying in the back of my mind for the rest of the book. First, Logan and Carver’s previous relationship was based off being together at summer camp for two weeks a year for three years. They had no contact in between those summers. I honestly couldn’t understand how they were in love back then. Lust and like I get, but love? I just didn’t think their bond could have been as strong as it was. That leads to the second thing that bugged me. There was a major event that split them apart. Both were harboring some bad feelings from it. It only took one brief conversation for them to get over it and jump back into things. I had a hard time believing they could get over the negative feelings they had been keeping inside for five years in one conversation. All their troubles seemed to easily be fixed.

There was one other thing that threw me off a bit. Graduating college senior Carver was into kink. Like really into it. I mean, I guess I could understand it since he became quite the ladies man in college. Experimentation and all. What surprised me was that it didn’t seem to shock Logan. She hadn’t been with him since she was seventeen, yet she was willing to give him everything and anything. It made for some sweet sex scenes, but I have to admit shaking my head in wonderment a couple of times over how easily Logan was up for it. I think I would have been more questioning.

Despite those things, I really did love Sweet Summer Love. It obviously had some issues for me, but they didn’t stop from my enjoyment. I would still recommend reading it. It was a cute second chance romance. I want to go back and read the first two books now.

Review: Fallen Crest Family by Tijan

Fallen Crest Family
Series: Fallen Crest High, #2
Author: Tijan
Narrator:  Saskia Maarleveld

Publication Date: September 15, 2014
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Samantha and Mason are together. Everyone knows it. But not everyone is dealing with it. While Mason is ready to give them all the middle finger, there’s one who is not going away: her mother. Threats are issued. Ultimatums are given. Even blackmail is used. But only Samantha can put a stop to Analise. However, when a trauma from her past is triggered, she may not have the courage or strength to do what’s needed. And if she doesn’t, Mason’s future could be destroyed.


I was going to wait for my library hold on Fallen Crest Family to come available, but I just couldn’t. I had to buy the Kindle book and add the Audible option because I needed to know what happened next in the Kade/Stratton family saga. I’m so addicted to this series already that it’s not even funny.

Fallen Crest Family is the second book in the Fallen Crest High series. It begins immediately following Fallen Crest High, and continues Sam’s story. Sam and Mason have been forced to reveal their relationship to everyone. No one is excited about them being together. (Well, except Logan and maybe Nate.) The person taking their relationship the worst is Sam’s mother. Analise is willing to do everything and anything to keep Sam and Mason apart. Sam knows she’s the only person who can put Analise in her place, but her mother is crazy and conniving. Poor Sam isn’t sure she has what it takes to stand up to her mother.

Okay, so first I need to tell you that Sam’s annoying man-ish voice from the first audio book did not appear in the Fallen Crest Family audio book. (Or maybe I just didn’t notice it?) Sam sounded like a normal girl the entire time. Well, at least her voice sounded normal. Sam’s not exactly normal.

Sam changed a bit in this book. She lost some of the hard edge she had in Fallen Crest High. She was a little bit more whiny and more sullen due to the new memories and living situation she was facing. That didn’t really bother me. I felt like Sam’s evolution throughout the story made sense, and that she’ll continue to grow throughout the series. What did still bug me was her obsessive running. Did no one in her life find all this running to be a problem? Three and four-hour runs until she’s collapsing seems extreme. The only thing positive about it (maybe) is the possibility of a track scholarship. Oh, and I have to mention her obsessive lusting after Mason, too. I wish I would have kept a tally of how many times she mentioned she was wet. It felt like she said it at least once a chapter. I’m probably wrong, but it felt like it was mentioned a few too many times. I get it, girl. Your body melts for him. Not that I’m complaining about all the sexy times. I would never complain about that! 😉

I still don’t know what’s going on in Mason’s head, but I don’t care. He’s such a rock for Sam. I love what he’s willing to do for her. Same with Logan. He’s like a big brother and best friend all wrapped into one. He loves Sam in his own way, and I love the words and humor he brings to every situation. I even found myself liking Mason and Logan’s buddy Nate in this book. He surprised me with how much he was willing to go to bat for Sam. The four of them are like one big family.

All of the friends and nemeses were back to add to the fun of this story. Sam’s main problem wasn’t with her friends this time, but with her mom. That lady was bat$#!t crazy. I loved everything that was revealed about her in this book. Sam also made some new friends. Heather and the Manny’s gang were amazing! I enjoyed what they brought to the story, and I can only imagine how they’re going to influence things in the next book.

Fallen Crest Family was just as much fun to listen to as Fallen Crest High. I can’t tell you enough how obsessed I am with this series. I am going to continue to binge listen to it until I finish all of the books. I’ve fallen in love with Sam, Mason and Logan. I want to know how their story ends.

Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters-in her faith and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp-one for troubled kids-Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.


I’m going to apologize before I start this review because it might be a little scattered. I had a hard time reconciling my thoughts and feelings after reading The Names They Gave Us. On one hand, I loved what Lucy discovered about her faith and the world around her in this book. On the other hand, this book might have tried to accomplish too much.

Religion and faith make up a huge part of this book. That wasn’t a problem for me. I grew up going to church. I’m not part of organized religion now, but I do have my own personal beliefs and faith that was shaped by my early years in church. Even though I wasn’t as religious as Lucy was growing up, I found myself identifying with some of the teenage questioning of her faith. I liked the way her doubts and confusion regarding certain decisions were portrayed. At times, I did feel like Lucy’s faith felt overly dramatic or built up, but then I had to remind myself that Lucy’s experiences may be another reader’s, even if they weren’t mine. Overall, I really liked the message this book sent.

As for the accomplishing too much…This will sound bad, but there might have been too much diversity and too many issues included. I know, how can I say that when everyone is crying for more diverse books these days? While I applaud Emery Lord for trying to include someone from every walk of life in this book, it felt forced in the time span of a summer. It was overwhelming for both Lucy and me. There just wasn’t enough time to devote to every separate person or issue.

One more thing I need to talk about is the ending of this book. It left me reeling. And crying. Yes, crying. It was perfectly imperfect. I wasn’t exactly happy with it, but I got it. I just needed more. I was disappointed that I didn’t get more. You’ll understand if you read this book.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Names They Gave Us. I was immediately immersed in Emery Lord’s writing, and I couldn’t wait to find out how things would turn out for Lucy. I loved Lucy and Jones’ new found relationship, and all the friendships she made. The Names They Gave Us felt relevant and important to today’s teens, even in moments that felt like too much.

Review: The Last Time I Checked, I Was Still Here by Lark Griffing

The Last Time I Checked, I Was Still Here
Author: Lark Griffing
Publication Date: April 1, 2017
Publisher: Wind Lark Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

“Hey, Skank”

Amy’s day was starting off just great.  Ronnie was already giving her grief, she’d had an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, and it was only first period.  Sitting in class fuming, while the word skank filled her head, Amy made a choice. From now on, things were going to be different. Amy was done — done with it all, her school, her endlessly grieving dad, and the always annoying Ronnie and her bevy of friends.

Amy’s decision to take off may not have been her finest moment, but she had to save her sanity.  Her grief-stricken father wasn’t going to help in that department.  Escaping to her childhood sanctuary was Amy’s only hope to save herself and heal.

Irresistibly engaging, The Last Time I Checked, I Was Still Here, is a journey of heartbreak, hope, and adventure that will leave you wanting more.


The Last Time I Checked, I Was Still Here is Lark Griffing’s début novel. It’s a young adult coming of age journey. Amy, harassed by classmates and emotionally abandoned by her father, sets out to her maternal grandmother’s house. Her grandmother’s house was her happy place growing up, and Amy hopes spending time there will help her find what she needs.

The majority of The Last Time I Checked, I Was Still Here was written in Amy’s perspective. She was a young woman struggling with the loss of her mother, being constantly uprooted to new towns by a grieving father, and finding herself under constant ridicule by the mean girls of her newest school. Amy was unhappy, and she sought out her happy place to find solace. What she found at her grandmother’s house was a link to her mother, and a way to discover more about herself. I admired her strength and willingness to try something new, liking hiking.

Smaller sections of the book were told in Dan’s perspective. He was a young man who was trying to make decisions for the next phase of his life. Dan was very into hiking, and much of his point of view were his hiking journeys with his friend. I have to admit that Dan’s chapters threw me off at first. They were linked loosely to some of Amy’s through the sport of hiking, but it wasn’t until almost the very end that Amy and Dan’s connection became apparent.

That leads into my biggest issue with this book. The majority of the book passed by at a very slow pace. There was way too much set up for me. Nothing very exciting happened until almost 80% into the book. There were tons of details about Amy learning about hiking, but not a whole lot of action. I wasn’t really invested in the story until that 80% mark. And then, the wrap up at the end flew by too quickly for me. I think the story would have worked better for me had the big event happened toward the beginning or middle of the book, and had more time spent on the connections between the characters after. I felt like I missed a bunch of healing and friendships developing at the end.

The Last Time I Checked, I Was Still Here was a strong début novel. I found the writing to be good, and the third person narration flowed well. It’s a book anyone interested in hiking or adventures in the great outdoors would appreciate.

Review: Fallen Crest High by Tijan

Fallen Crest High
Series: Fallen Crest High, #1
Author: Tijan
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Publication Date: August 25, 2014
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Mason and Logan Kade are two brothers who did their own thing. They were rich and expected to attend Samantha’s school, Fallen Crest Academy. They chose public school, and now Samantha has to live with them. The problem is that she doesn’t care at all-about them, about her friends, about her cheating boyfriend, or even about her parents’ divorce. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe change is a good thing.


I have a new obsession: Tijan’s audiobooks. I can’t get enough of her writing. Listening to her books adds another dimension to the experience that I really like. I am so addicted. It’s not even funny.

The Fallen Crest High series starts out with this book (Well, unless you count the Mason novella I haven’t read yet.), and introduces the reader to Sam Stratton. Life as Sam’s known it has changed. Her parents are divorcing, and Sam has to move to her mom’s new boyfriend’s house. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s going to have some new “step” siblings: Mason and Logan Kade.

Mason and Logan may not go to Sam’s school, but she knows all about the Kade brothers. Everyone does. They’re rich, powerful and good-looking. Any girl would die to be in Sam’s position, but Sam would rather no one know about her new living situation. Sam likes her anonymity and would like to stay out of the spotlight. That’s easier said than done as the rest of Sam’s life and everything she’s always thought to be true implode.

Fallen Crest High reminds me a lot of a teenage soap opera. It could easily be a television show on a network like the CW. There was so much drama, angst, and sexual attraction going. I couldn’t wait to find out what the characters were going to do next. It was one big reveal after another in this book!

The characters in this book are perfect for this story. Sam was deeply disturbed by everything going on in her life. Things just kept getting worse and worse for her, and I just kept waiting for her to break with the “I don’t care.” attitude she had going on. I loved that the two people she thought she would detest the most were the ones who helped hold her up when she needed extra strength. I loved the “family” dynamic between Mason, Logan and Sam. It was really cool and so much fun.

Mason and Logan Kade are still a mystery to me. They’re points of view aren’t included, so I only got to know them through Sam’s eyes. I liked what I saw, but I’m really excited to read the novellas in their points of view in the future. I want to know them better. I loved Logan’s way with words. I adored Mason’s silent strength. I can understand why all those high school girls were drooling over them the entire book.

It wasn’t just the main characters who made this story so addicting. Tijan created some interesting side characters. Adam, Becky, Sam’s other friends, and the popular group all added so much drama. I loved it! I couldn’t wait to see what all the snotty characters would do next and how Sam and the boys would react. Plus, there was great stuff going on with the adults in this book. So. Much. Drama. Fun.

There were only two things that annoyed me about this book. One was Sam’s running. I know it was her coping mechanism, but three-hour runs? And her mom mentioned a past issue with Sam’s eating and running. It was never concretely addressed. Did Sam have anorexia before? Did she have it during this book? I have no clue! But she ran all the freaking time. I understood why, but it would have been nice to know more about her history with it. The second thing that bugged me wasn’t anything the author wrote. It was actually an issue I had with the narrator. Every voice she used was perfect — with the exception of Sam’s speaking voice. It went from normal to almost manly. Whenever Sam was angry she sounded like a guy. That wasn’t a huge deal because I got used to it as the book went on, but it wasn’t my favorite narration.

Fallen Crest High was so much fun to listen to. I found myself finding every excuse to keep listening. My house is now thoroughly cleaned. Our entire family’s laundry is washed, folded and put away. I can thank this book for that. Now, if the person who has the Fallen Crest Family (Fallen Crest High, #2) audiobook checked out from my Overdrive library could please return it, I would appreciate it. I need that book now!!!

Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada
Author: Ernest Cline
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Publication Date: June 14, 2015
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

A cinematic, inventive, heartwarming, and completely nerdtastic adventure from the best-selling author of Ready Player One.

Zack Lightman is daydreaming through another dull math class when the high-tech dropship lands in his school’s courtyard-and when the men in the dark suits and sunglasses leap out of the ship and start calling his name, he’s sure he’s still dreaming. But the dream is all too real; the people of earth need him. As Zack soon discovers, the video game he’s been playing obsessively for years isn’t just a game; it’s part of a massive, top-secret government training program, designed to teach gamers the skills they’ll need to defend earth from a possible alien invasion. And now…that invasion is coming.

Soon Zack and a handful of top gamers find themselves in a bunker beneath the Pentagon, hearing about our planet’s vast secret history over the last forty years-ever since a NASA probe first discovered evidence of intelligent life in our solar system, hidden beneath the ice of Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

As he and his companions prepare to enter their ships and do battle, Zack learns that the father he thought was dead is actually a key player in this secret war. And together with his father, he’ll uncover the truth about the alien Europans, race to prevent a genocide, and discover a mysterious third player in the interplanetary chess game he’s been thrown into.


I’ll be the first to admit I am not a science fiction fan. A couple of months ago, I listened to the audio book of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. I loved that book, but I had no idea he had written another novel. It wasn’t until I saw another blogger saying she was going to read it that Armada was on my radar. I immediately looked it up, and when I saw Wil Wheaton was once again narrating, I requested the audio book from the library.

When I first started listening to Armada, I was hit with familiarity. Armada was reminiscent of Ready Player One from the beginning. Wil Wheaton’s narration sounded similar, and sometimes I had to remind myself that this was a new character and story. His voice was once again perfect for the genre, though. I couldn’t imagine anyone else narrating. I think he should continue to do all of Ernest Cline’s audio books.

Another thing that felt familiar was the writing. Ernest Cline once again centered the story around video games and a young adult male character. I liked Zack. Like Ready Player One‘s Wade Watts, Zack was a high school senior on the verge of graduating. He was just as obsessed with video games as Wade was. The difference between the their stories was their missions. Instead of fighting for a fortune, Zack was fighting to save the universe.

Here’s where I have to admit that I wasn’t into Armada‘s deadly alien invasion story line as much I was into Wade Watt’s quest in Ready Player One. This has nothing to do with it being good or bad. It has everything to do with me not being into aliens. I didn’t really care about Zack’s plight to save Earth and humanity. What I did love, though, were the relationships in this story.

There were so many amazing relationships going on in this book. First, there was Zack and his mom. I loved the easy relationship they had. Then, there was Zack and his schoolmates, friends and fellow alien fighters. The moments Zack spent with them lead to some really great revelations. But the relationship I liked the most was the one Zack had with his dead father and his dead father’s things. That probably sounds weird, but so much of this story was wrapped up in Zack’s dead father’s past and suspicious journal entries. I learned a lot about Zack in those moments, and he did, too.

Overall, I really enjoyed listening to Ernest Cline’s Armada. It was well written, well narrated and addicting to listen to. It wasn’t quite as good as Ready Player One, but I could appreciate it for what it was. Anyone who enjoys video games, aliens and references to old alien movies is bound to love it.

Blog Tour Review: A Girl Like Me by Ginger Scott



We’re celebrating the release of A GIRL LIKE ME by Ginger Scott! Readers have fallen in love with these characters!
 
A Girl Like Me by Ginger Scott
Like Us Duet, #2
A mature YA romance, and a little something more…
Release day: May 26
Purchase links:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | BN

Blurb:

I’m not supposed to be here.

Death has come for me more than once, and each time it’s been a boy who’s
stood between me and my final breath.

I called him Christopher when he saved me as a child. When he came into my
life again, only months ago, I knew him as Wes. Just as he did the time before, he disappeared the moment he made sure I was out of harm’s way; as if I didn’t need any more saving.

This time, though, death left me with a reminder of how powerful it is. I
know it meant to strip me of my spirit again, but it failed.

Even so, I know I need Wes to survive. Our souls are woven together
somehow, our every breath in sync. I feel it, even though everyone says I
shouldn’t.

The world thinks he’s missing.
His loved ones don’t want to believe he’s dead.
Only I know just how special he is.

I’m going to find him and bring him home, where he belongs. Together,
we’ll face impossible—we’ll rewrite our ending.

And when the bad guys come calling, we will always win.

My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: I received an ARC from the author via WordSmith Publicity in exchange for an unbiased review.

Wow. Someone give Ginger Scott an award for best sequel or duet – something! She deserves it. I don’t think I could have imagined a more rewarding conclusion to the Like Us Duet than what she gave us in A Girl Like Me. I knew it would be epic after reading A Boy Like You. I just didn’t know how epic.

A Girl Like Me picks up where A Boy Like You left off. All of our favorite characters are back. Joss is setting out to search for Wes. She’s still the snarky, attitude giving girl she was in the first book. She’s matured a bit, but hasn’t lost any of her fire. Wes is still…missing. Joss’ friends and family are still amazing, and they’re determined to help her find all the answers she’s looking for. Kyle is especially helpful in Joss’ search for Wes (and deserves his own book). And that’s all I’m telling you because I’m not ruining this book for anyone!

I absolutely loved this book. I devoured it, even when I wanted to savor every moment. A Girl Like Me was everything I expected it to be and more. More because I couldn’t have imagined some of the surprises it had in store. Each new revelation blew my mind. Many hit me emotionally, and I found myself holding back tears several times. It broke my heart so many times, and yet, it always put it back together. I don’t think I’ve experienced a book quite like this before. If you loved A Boy Like You, you’re going to be mesmerized by A Girl Like Me.

NOW AVAILABLE!
 A BOY LIKE YOU
YA Contemporary Romance
Released on: March 3, 2017
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About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

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