Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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


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

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

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

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

Review: Run Away With Me by Mila Gray

Run Away With Me
Series: Come Back to Me, #3
Author: Mila Gray
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Emerson Lowe and popular ice-hockey player Jake McCallister have been best friends since third grade but just as their friendship starts to morph into something more, a terrible event occurs that heralds the end of innocence for both of them. Within a week, Jake’s living on the other side of the country and Emerson is left alone to pick up the pieces of her life in a small town determined to paint her as a liar.

Seven years on and Emerson is still living on the beautiful Pacific West island of Bainbridge, helping her family run their outdoor adventure company. The last thing she needs is Jake turning up, bringing with him old memories and opening up old wounds. But Jake—even better looking than Emerson remembered and on the cusp of a bright sporting future—seems determined to revive their friendship no matter how much Emerson tries to push him away and soon they’re in the midst of a passionate summer romance that neither of them wants to end.

But if they’re to have any kind of future, they’re first going to need to confront the past, a past that most people want to stay buried.


I have been a fan of Mila Gray’s Come Back to Me series since it was released. I love the physical and emotional healing that takes place in her books. The first and second books in the series were military based, so I was surprised to find that Run Away With Me was a sports romance. The writing had the same new adult angst feel, but otherwise the story felt different. The wounds of war were gone, and in their place were those of a different kind of tragedy.

In Run Away With Me, Jake has just returned to Bainbridge Island to make things right with Emerson. He couldn’t move past his childhood friendship and crush. He felt like something was missing from his life, and he needed to find out if it was Emerson. Their reunion wasn’t exactly a happy one. Emerson wasn’t exactly on board with it. She had a lot of anger deep inside that needed to be dealt with. There was a lot of healing to be done between the two of them.

Emerson and Jake had a shared history. I enjoyed the way it was unraveled. What happened to separate them in the past was a little bit of a mystery. There were some major revelations given throughout the story, and I liked that it was done through separate flashbacks. Getting to know what happened to both of them that way was really profound. Their experiences were so different and they both felt the fallout from what happened when they were fourteen. I was happy they could eventually get past the heart ache and find happiness with each other again. They both deserved to get their friendship and the possibility of more back.

One of my favorite things about Run Away With Me was the setting. The way Mila Gray described Bainbridge and the surrounding islands was beautiful. I felt like I was right there with the characters. I’ve been to Vashon, but never Bainbridge. This book made me curious to explore it since it’s not too far from backyard.

Overall, I really enjoyed this romance. It was full of deep emotions and strong bond between the characters, but also had a light summer feel to it.

Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

Things I loved:

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

Things I didn’t love:

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

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

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

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

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

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

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

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

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

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

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

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

He said nothing.

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

He slowly shook his head.

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

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

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

“This is crazy.”

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

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

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

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

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

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

About the Author:

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

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: 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.