Release Day Review: Saving Me by Sadie Allen

Title: Saving Me
Author: Sadie Allen
Genre: Mature YA Romance
Release Date: February 21, 2018
On the outside, Ally has everything any teenager could want. She’s beautiful, popular, and athletic. She has the right friends, an adoring boyfriend, and the picture-perfect family. 

Too bad it’s all a lie.

Every day she’s dying a little on the inside, drowning in everyone’s expectations and opinions, the weight of it all pulling her under. 

She wants to do the unthinkable … until a boy with shaggy hair, unusual eyes, and a lip ring changes her plans.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Ally has always been the best. She’s popular. She’s the best hurdler on the track team. She has the the boyfriend every girl desires. Life should be easy, but it’s not. Her life is driven by the pressure of her peers and parents — until an injury sidelines her from the track team. The carefully crafted life she was living falls apart in one big swoop. Tired of living a life she doesn’t want, Ally makes some desperate decisions.

I was impressed when I read Sadie Allen’s début novel. I am even more impressed by her second novel, Saving Me. It was beautifully written and packed with emotion. Being a teenager is hard. Sadie Allen showed just how hard it can be. She also showed how the kindness of others can change the course of a life, and how important having supportive  friends (and family) is.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen in Saving Me was a greater focus on the feelings Ally felt at the beginning of the book. She was being so drastic, but those feelings seemed to greatly lessen so quickly.

Overall, Saving Me was a great YA novel. It was so much more than just another contemporary romance. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy books by Tijan, Ginger Scott or other authors who tackle deep issues.

“Wow, I love this book! A beautifully uplifting coming-of-age story with a vulnerable yet strong heroine that you cannot help but love, and an absolutely gorgeous YA romance that had my heart pounding, and a huge smile on my face.
Ally’s story captivated me from start to finish. I loved her as a character, and I thought this was a beautifully written story of family, friendship and love, of learning who you are and fighting for what you truly want.
Absolutely beautiful – 5 stars!” – The Escapist Book Blog

 

“You know that you have found the perfect book when you find that you can relate to the story and characters in such a way that it feels like the author could be retelling your own story. We are allowed access to the very soul of Ally, and we can feel her emotional despair, her hopes, desires and what will ultimately be life changing moments. I wept for her, felt anger for her, but I also felt moments of extreme happiness for her. The reflective message contained within the pages of this book will stay with readers of all ages.” – YA Book Divas
“This book was hella melodramatic “to the nth degree”—the amount of drama in this book could have kept a teenage soap/drama from The CW spoon-fed for a complete season.” – Goodreads Reviewer 
“SAVING ME by Sadie Allen is a beautiful story of finding strength, trusting in others and learning what love truly is, whether it is romantic or familial. Prepare to have your emotions twisted, to become angry, to smile and to have hope for the future of these characters.” – Tome Tender Book Blog
“This is a gorgeously written mature YA book – an emotional, dramatic and romantic story that deals with some pretty heavy themes, but that is also sweet, funny and uplifting. This book captivated me from start to finish, and I loved it!” – The Escapist Book Blog

Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her husband and three young children. 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: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Long Way Home
Series: Thunder Road, #3
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.


Utter devastation. That’s what I’m feeling right now. I am so, so sad the Thunder Road series is over. Done. Caput. No more books. Finishing Long Way Home has given me book hangover.

Long Way Home was just as amazing as the first two books in the Thunder Road series. The plot was brilliant, the characters continued to shine, and it was just so much fun to read. My experience with reading it was a little different from my experience with the first two book because I listened to them. I enjoyed both formats. I do have to admit that I did miss listening to the narrators’ accents, though. They made the first two books exceptionally fun.

Katie McGarry had to up the ante in Long Way Home. We don’t just get one Reign of Terror / Riot plot with this one, we get two. Violet and Chevy face a life changing ordeal together. It faces them to deal with lingering questions they’ve had over the years. Each forced to deal with an issue they have regarding the clubs they’re dealing with. This made Violet and Chevy’s book more stressful than the last two books.

I can’t say I was particularly a fan of Violet in the past couple of books. I felt a dedication to the Reign of Terror like the other characters did. I wanted her to get over her problems with them. Long Way Home had me rethinking my judgement of Violet. I finally understood her point and got it. She was right in a lot of ways I didn’t realize. I loved how Violet stood her ground and didn’t back down based on tradition.

Chevy was as lovable as I knew he would be. He had a happy-go-lucky feeling to him. I enjoyed getting to know him better. I loved the realizations he came to in this book. He really matured from a teenager to a young man during Long Way Home.

Violet and Chevy’s relationship had a special magic to it. They were childhood best friend, practically siblings, who grew to love each other. I hurt for them when they weren’t together, and knew how tough their decisions to be apart and together were. Their love was cemented down deep, and I couldn’t imagine them not ending up together.

As for the other series characters, don’t worry, they make appearances. There were some great moments between both Violet and Eli. I especially liked the touching moments between Violet and her mom and Eli and his mom and Cyrus.

The only slight frustration I had with Long Way Home was some unanswered questions that lingered after finishing it. I had some confusion surrounding Issac’s mother in relation to his father. I didn’t how she ended up somewhere based on his job. It didn’t add up to me. Also, who was the new prospect mentioned toward the end that was mentioned with Addison? I really needed the fourth book we didn’t get to make things clearer for me. Dang Harlequin Teen for keeping it from me! 😉

Long Way Home was everything I expected it to be. It reunited Violet and Chevy in the best way possible. It was a fitting ending for the series, even if I wanted more. I guess the sadness of losing this series will motivate me to read the rest of McGarry’s books (I didn’t really need motivation. Her writing speaks for itself.).

Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Walk the Edge
Series: Thunder Road, #2
Author: Katie McGarry
Narrators: Callie Dalton, Andre Eiden
Publication Date: April 1, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.


Last month, I listened to Katie McGarry’s Nowhere But Here. It was my first book by McGarry, and I fell in love with her writing. I couldn’t wait to continue with the Thunder Road series. Walk the Edge was just as amazing as Nowhere But Here. Everything about it was incredible.

I loved the plot of Walk the Edge! It had a similar feel to Nowhere But Here, but was completely different.  Both books are about bonds and trust between family members and friends. They’re also about the characters finding their own truths, and learning to live with what they have discovered. Oh, and falling in love. What sets each book apart is the characters and their situations. The blackmailing plot and the mystery of Razor’s mother’s death were addicting!

Razor and Breanna were extremely lovable. Razor was a young man on the edge. The mystery of his mother’s death had left a piece of him missing. He never felt like he was truly happy until he met Breanna. Breanna was the insanely smart girl who everyone knew of but few really knew. She was one of nine kids and was completely lost in the middle. The last person Breanna ever thought she would find a connection with was Razor.

Razor and Breanna seemed like an unlikely pair, but I immediately felt their connection. I loved how they became their true selves with each. There was a sweetness between them that I loved.

Just like the first book, I also fell in love (or more in love) with the rest of the characters. I grew to love the Reign of Terror family even more. I loved Razor’s relationships with Violet, Oz, Chevy, and Rebecca. Breanna’s family was harder to love. I mostly loved the younger kids, but I appreciated the roles of her older siblings and parents for what they brought to the book.

Walk the Edge was such a great book. I can’t even properly write about how much I enjoyed listening to it. The writing was amazing and addictive. I adored the characters and their story. The narrators were fantastic. I could go on and on. I can’t recommend this book and the Thunder Road series enough. I am not so patiently waiting for my library hold to come through on the third book. I can’t wait to continue the series.

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: Briarwood Academy series by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Today, I’m reviewing an entire New Adult series:

Briarwood Academy
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

Publisher: Little Dove Publishing


Very Bad Things
Book #1

Publication Date: September 7, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect…

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate. But he doesn’t want her.

When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year-old Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love. His gym and his brother are all he cares about…until he meets Nora. He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.

As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things.


For a debut new adult romance, Very Bad Things was very good. It had everything I would expect a book in this sub genre to have. It was filled with romantic angst. I could feel the deep connection between Leo and Nora. Their chemistry vibrated off the pages. The only thing that I wasn’t sure if I liked or not was Nora’s brother Finn’s storyline. It made me a little sick. This book has been out for a while, so I’m going to add a

**SPOILER / TRIGGER WARNING RIGHT HERE**

There is talk of incest in this book. If you can’t handle it, you may want to avoid reading it.

**END SPOILER / TRIGGER WARNING**

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Nora, Leo, and Leo’s brother Sebastian. It’s made me excited to read more of the story.


Very Wicked Beginnings
Book #1.5
Publication Date: May 11, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A ballerina from the wrong side of town…
The wealthy football star who can’t forget her…

Meet Cuba Hudson, the heartbreaker of Briarwood Academy:

I’m the tattooed bad boy girls think they can change.
I have it all: a football career, a stellar GPA, and a family that owns half of Dallas, Texas. Everyone wants to be me, but all I want is to forget…

Then she shows up.

Dovey Beckham arrives at Briarwood Academy and looks right through me, unconcerned that I rule the school. I wasn’t part of her precious plan, and it drove me insane…so I made it my mission to claim her, to put her notch on my bedpost.

She would be mine and her heart would be broken.

I didn’t plan on falling for her, and I sure as hell didn’t plan on losing her…

Welcome to Briarwood Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Wicked Beginnings.


Very Wicked Beginnings made me want more of Cuba and Dovey’s story. I liked everything I learned about them in the book. I also like seeing Spider. When I read his book, I didn’t realize his character originated in this series.


Very Wicked Things
Book #2
Publication Date: May 10, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Born on the poor side of town…

Ballerina Dovey Beckham is a scholarship student at Briarwood Academy, determined to prove she’s more than just a girl with the wrong pedigree. She does whatever it takes to succeed in her endgame, even if it means surrendering her body…but never her heart.

Until the day she meets him, and he rips apart all her well-laid plans. Suddenly, the girl everyone thought unbreakable might just shatter.

Born into wealth and privilege…

Cuba “Hollywood” Hudson is rich, spoiled, and a star football player. With his fast cars and superficial girlfriends, he lives the high-life, hiding his secrets from the world.

Until the day he meets her, and she offers him something he’s never tasted…love.

But once in a lifetime kind of love doesn’t come easy. When trust crumbles and doubts creep in, both will have to decide to either love or let go…forever.

Welcome to Briarwood Academy, where sometimes, only the wicked survive.


Very Wicked Things was so angst filled I almost couldn’t handle it. When I started it, I felt like I missed something from the Very Wicked Beginnings. The story didn’t start off where I was expecting. I still liked Cuba and Dovey as a couple, and I loved their back stories. The only thing I didn’t like was one major ARC of the story. I wasn’t into the whole mob thing and the choice Dovey made. It made me sad. Very Wicked Things stressed me out too much!


Very Twisted Things
Book #3
Publication Date: February 27, 2015

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A sassy violinist who lives next door.
An obsessed rock star who watches her through binoculars.
And one night when she bares it all.
Life will never be the same in Tinseltown.

Vital Rejects front guy Sebastian Tate never imagined his YouTube music video would go viral, sky-rocketing him to acting success in Hollywood. Okay, maybe he did. After all, he’s a cocky dude who knows he’s hot-as-hell, and it was only a matter of time before his stars aligned.

But life in Tinseltown is never what it seems.

After being cheated on by his ex-lover, his only rule to falling in love is simple: Keep Calm and Don’t Do It. So, spying on his mysterious new neighbor with binoculars seems innocent enough, but quickly escalates into an erotic game between two very unlikely people.

Twenty-year-old Violet St. Lyons is a world-renowned violinist who’s lost her mojo on stage. She hides away in a Hollywood mansion, trying to find her way through her twisted past in order to make her future.

He’s the life of the party with girls chasing him down for his autograph. She’s the introvert with a potty mouth who doesn’t even know who he is.

When they meet, stars collide, sparks fly, and clothes come off. Yet, giving his heart to a girl isn’t Sebastian’s plan; falling for a guy who craves attention isn’t Violet’s.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy—Hollywood style—where sometimes the best things in life are VERY TWISTED THINGS.

This book is a standalone even though it’s part of a series. Everything you need to know is in this book. Genre: 18+ Hot New Adult Romance.


Ever since I met boisterous Sebastian in Very Bad Things, I’ve wanted his story. Everything that’s happened from the moment I met him in that first book to the kind of cliffhanger of his ARC in the second book had me wondering who he’d end up with. I liked Violet as his love interest from the moment I met her. Her story started off in a heartbreaking fashion, and I couldn’t wait for Sebastian to fill the hole in her heart. This book was my favorite in the series.

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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