Release Day Review: Cry Baby by Ginger Scott

We’re celebrating the release of CRY BABY by Ginger Scott! One-Click today!

Cry Baby by Ginger Scott

A Contemporary Young Adult Romance
Release day: June 22, 2018
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2rjlag4

Purchase here–>

“Cry Baby is brilliantly written. It’s hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking and will leave you thinking about it for days afterward. Bravo, Ms. Scott. This boy-man stole my heart and I don’t want it back.”- L.J. Shen, Bestselling Author
 

Blurb:

Tristan Lopez is loyal to his brothers. He doesn’t really have a choice, born into a gang that has a chokehold on every kid that roams its streets. He gave his life to them willingly, knowing if he did then one day this kingdom, led by boys drunk with power and ruled by fear, would all be his.
He was loyal through it all. Loyal when prison took his dad away. Loyal when his face was touched by the cold metal of the rival gang’s gun. Loyal even though his mom begged him to run the moment she returned home from rehab.
He thought about becoming someone else. It was hard not to crave the life of a regular 17-year-old. It’s the only reason he stayed in school—to pretend. But he always fell back in line.
Loyal.
Riley Rojas didn’t belong in Tristan’s real world. She should have only been part of the fantasy, one of the many faces he got to pretend with amidst rows of metal chairs and desks and whiteboards with assignments. But there she was, moving boxes from the back of an old pick-up into a house Tristan had shot up on a dare with his friends only a few months before.
Tall enough to look him in the eyes and strong enough to fill his shadow, Riley took up space on his streets, her loud mouth fearless in the face of the gang leaders who terrified everyone else. She pushed Tristan around on the hard court, and she balled better than his friends—better than him sometimes. She challenged him. She needed him. He liked it. And when her pale blue eyes stared into his, he quit wanting to pretend.
He couldn’t ask her to leave because she’d only dig her heels in deeper. He couldn’t ask because he didn’t want her to go. She was blurring his lines. She was testing his loyalty.
He was falling in love.
And it was going to tear him apart.
Review:
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC I received from WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased review.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know how I feel about Ginger Scott’s writing. It’s flawless, captivating and filled with heart. She writes books that touch my soul and make me think. Her characters are complex, and the situations they dealt with are relevant to today’s world. I’m always excited to hear she’s writing a new book because I wonder where she could possibly take me next.

When I read the blurb for Cry Baby, I knew my next Ginger Scott experience was going to be a tough one. I had a feeling Cry Baby was not going to be an easy read, and I was right. Cry Baby was not a happy book. It was this dark, gritty story about two high school students living in an area control by gang activity. Tristan has known his destiny is to be a gang member since childhood. He thinks he’s made peace with his future until he meets new girl, Riley. Falling for her isn’t an option. Riley isn’t meant to live in his world, and Tristan can’t be a part of hers. Pushing Riley away isn’t easy when she pushes right back. Tristan knew he shouldn’t fall in love with Riley, but somehow he couldn’t stop himself, and loving her could ruin him.

Cry Baby had me on edge the entire time I was reading it. The gang setting was a hostile environment, and not one moment felt safe for Tristan and Riley. I was constantly worried for them and everyone around them. The things they all went through…it broke my heart. Falling in love was so dangerous for them. I can’t even imagine having to go through what they did.

Tristan and Riley both surprised me. I didn’t expect to love Tristan as much as I did. He did things that made me cringe. I know he did them to survive, but it was still hard to accept. It was what inside his head and heart that made me adore him. Riley had this inner strength that I couldn’t get over. It was impressive when she wasn’t making decisions that scared the heck out of me. I loved Tristan and Riley as individuals and as a couple. I loved how their relationship evolved from not necessarily liking each other to a special bond. Their relationship wasn’t smooth or simple, but it was shockingly sweet.

Oh, and I need to just say how much I loved the basketball in this book! I can always count on Ginger Scott to portray a sport in a very real, fun way. I love basketball, and she wove it into the story in the perfect way.

What Ginger Scott did in this book was impressive. This was a tough topic, and she made me empathize with the characters in ways I never imagined. I’ve been thinking about this book for days after reading it. I’m not sure a book has affected me this way since I read The Hard Count.

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).
Social Media Links:
Twitter: @TheGingerScott

Series Review: Sea Breeze by Abbi Glines

Recently, I did a binge listen to the Sea Breeze series audiobooks. Rather than try to review them separately, I’m going to review them all here.

Breathe (#1): ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

This is exactly the type of book I want to read in the summer. It was a cute rock star romance in a fun, beachy setting. I adored both Sadie and Jax. They were perfect together. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and I liked that. Breathe was a very sweet story.

Because of Low (#2): ★ ★ ★ ★

After meeting Marcus in Breathe, I wanted to see him get is happy ever after. He deserved a nice girl after missing out on Sadie. Low was definitely that girl! I could see exactly how their story was going to play out, but I didn’t mind that. Because of Low was so much fun to read.

While It Lasts (#3): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This book was even better than the first two books. I was surprised because Cage wasn’t my favorite person in Because of Low. His womanizing ways disgusted me despite the fact that he was a great friend to Low. What made this book so amazing was Eva. Her story was so heartbreaking and I loved how Cage helped heal her heart.

Just For Now (#4): ★ ★ ★

I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked Preston and Amanda together, but Preston’s choices bugged me. I didn’t like his job and how he put Amanda at risk with it. It was just wrong. I couldn’t get past that.

Sometimes It Lasts (#5): ★ ★ ★ ★ 

I wasn’t prepared for this book. I was in this state of angst from the prologue. I loved Cage and Eva in While It Lasts and I wasn’t ready for them to be torn apart. I hated that, but I loved how everything worked out. Cage and Eva were so perfectly sweet together. I do have to admit that I had to switch from the audiobook to the ebook because I couldn’t handle listening to it. I had to read it so that I could get through it faster.

Misbehaving (#6): ★ ★ ★ ★

Jess surprised me in this book. She was the “bad girl”, but she went from bad to good very quickly. She didn’t seem much like the girl I met in the earlier books. That didn’t really bother me, and I enjoyed her story. I liked Jason, too. His story of trying to step out of the shadow of his brother was understandable. I also liked Jess and Jason together. What I didn’t like was Jess’ involvement with other people. I wish that would have been left out. Otherwise, I enjoyed listening to this book. I was happy this was finally a book about a girl who wasn’t so innocent like the rest of the series’ heroines.

Bad For You (#7): ★ ★ ★

I liked listening to this book. I loved Blythe. She was so sweet and sheltered. Her past intrigued me. I loved her with Krit. I loved Krit when he was with her. What I wasn’t so fond of was his hooking up with other chicks before they got together. It wasn’t very enjoyable reading about his exploits knowing Krit and Blythe would end up together.

Hold on Tight (#8): ★ ★ ★ ½

I loved Sienna and her story. I wasn’t so sure about Dewayne because I didn’t like him in all of the other books. He redeemed himself, but he was an idiot when it came to Sienna for most of the book. I am happy they ended up together. They were really too cute.

Until the End (#9): ★ ★ ★ ½

Throughout the Sea Breeze series, Trisha and Rock are there to support their friends. I heard stories of how their love originated through their friends’ stories, but those didn’t compare to getting their stories from them. I loved Trisha and Rock’s romance. It went back and forth between the past and present. The whole thing was so sweet. Their love story was a 5 star read — until the book abruptly switched half way through from being about them to mini epilogue novels about the characters from all of the other novels. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to catch up with all of them. (Although, it seemed everyone was engaged, pregnant, or having a wedding. Their stories were way too similar to each other right down to the men appreciating a certain asset of their woman.)  I just would have rather had more of Trisha and Rock. I thought maybe it would end with them to completely wrap everything up, but it didn’t. It ended with Bliss and Nate Finlay. I know that’s to prepare for the Sea Breeze / Rosemary Beach spinoffs, but it felt out of place. This book is definitely worth reading if you’re a fan of the series, though.

Thoughts on the Sea Breeze series:

Abbi Glines’ Sea Breeze series was one of those guilty pleasures to listen to. The books weren’t earth shattering or life changing, but they were fun and put me in a summery mood. My biggest complaint about the series was the pattern of sweet, innocent young women and guys who have been around the block several times falling in love. I kind of like it, but it also got a little redundant.  Each character had different life experiences, but their sexual ones mimicked each other a little too much. All in all, I enjoyed the experience of listening to Shayna Thibodeaux, Kirby Heyborne, and Sebastian York narrate. If you’re looking for some mindless summer reading, this is a fun series.

Review: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Say You’ll Remember Me
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve.


Say You’ll Remember Me is a tough book to review because it wasn’t exactly a happy read. It was chock full of deep emotional stuff. I was somewhat expecting that from Katie McGarry because she always makes great statements with her writing. What I didn’t expect was for it to make the story feel so heavy.

The forbidden love aspect of Say You’ll Remember Me was well done. It had me on edge the entire book. I’m a worrier, and I worried for Drix and Elle. I didn’t want anything ruining what they had, but I also didn’t want anything ruining their future. It was so stressful!

I adored Drix and Elle. Both were fiercely loyal to their family, even when they shouldn’t have been. They really loved and cared for the people in their lives, and wanted to do right by them. I also loved that they thought of the world outside of themselves. That was very mature for a couple of seventeen year olds. Drix and Elle weren’t perfect, though. They both let themselves be taken advantage of. That drove me crazy.

Surprisingly the parents were really involved in this book. Drix’s emotionally from afar, and Elle’s were all up in her business. I hurt for Drix because all of his siblings had been abandoned by their parents, but at least they were better off without them. Elle’s parents were too into what made them look good and not what was best for their daughter. That was really sad to me. I hope I’m never like that as a parent. Drix and Elle’s parents were exact opposites in parenting, and it was interesting to see how that shaped them and their lives.

Say You’ll Remember Me wasn’t quite the summer romance I was expecting, but I still really enjoyed it. It is a great book if you’re looking for a summer read with depth that’s not so light and fluffy.

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


If you’re looking for the perfect summer YA contemporary romance, this is it. Starry Eyes had everything I look for in that category. Let me break it down for you.

The writing: Jenn Bennett’s writing is amazing. I haven’t found a book of hers I haven’t loved yet. Each book she writes gets better and better. Starry Eyes is my new favorite of hers. I loved the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe it had going on.

Perfect summer setting: The whole glamping thing was hilarious. I want to glamp now so bad! I also loved the camping and hiking in the wilderness of Northern California. Lennon not only taught Zorie about a lot of things, he taught me too!

The characters: Zorie was a real girl with real problems. A lot of them were caused by avoidance and miscommunication, but that felt true to her age. I saw a lot of her in my younger self. Lennon cracked me up. His sense of humor and sarcasm made me smile.

Perfect summer romance: I loved the evolution of Zorie and Lennon’s relationship. It was sweet in the way only childhood best friend to more can be. They went through a lot together and apart. It made their friendship/relationship stronger in the long run.

Real life problems: There were so many different friendship dramas in here, and I could see them playing out in real life. Popularity wasn’t really a thing for either Lennon or Zorie, but you could see some of it in the side characters. The miscommunication could be trying at times, but it really fit well into Zorie’s personality. I

Parents: can’t leave out the parental units. They were some meddling parents, that’s for sure. Zorie’s dad took things to a whole new level. I haven’t quite experienced that in YA before, but I liked it even though I didn’t like him. Lots of parental drama, people.

Starry Eyes  was the perfect summer reading adventure. I loved every minute I “roughed it” with Zorie and Lennon. I was sad to finish it because I would have been happy to keep reading about them. I highly recommend reading Starry Eyes if you love fun summer YA contemporaries.

Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Lies You Never Told Me
Author: Jennifer Donaldson
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye–someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with–she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable–breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.


The picture above is of the ARC I received of Lies You Never Told Me. I felt it was important to include this picture because this cover’s claims are true. Lies You Never Told Me was shocking, thrilling, scandalous, unforgettable, and jaw-dropping. I didn’t see the ending coming until I was reading it. It was so cool that the ARC was marketed this way.

I was impressed with Lies You Never Told Me. This is Donaldson’s début novel, but it didn’t feel that way. The writing felt like it was written by an author with numerous novels under her belt. I loved her writing and flew through the book in one sitting. The story was so complex and addictive. I loved the way it was told from a couple of different characters points of view. It kept me guessing as to how they were all related and what all the lies were. The twists kept coming and I loved it.

I’m going to leave my review at that. Lies You Never Told Me is just one of those books you have to read yourself. The less you know going into it, the better. I would caution you to avoid any spoilers. Just jump right into it. You’ll be in for a fun ride.

Review: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Love Songs & Other Lies
Author: Jessica Pennington
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.


Every so often I read a tweet or blog post by someone wanting a young adult novel set in college. Love Songs & Other Lies might just fit the bill for those people. It’s set in two different time periods. The present is the summer after Vee and Cameron’s freshman year in college when they are 19 years old. Vee has been conned into touring with Cameron and the rest of her friends in the band. That wouldn’t be so horrible if Vee and Cameron hadn’t had a rocky break up a couple of years ago. The second is when they’re seniors in high school. That part is the story of how Vee and Cam got together and then fell apart. The mix of these two ages give the book a not quite YA but also not quite NA feeling. It’s actually a really great mix of the two genres.

It’s not very often you get a second chance romance in YA. Normally, there’s several a break up spanning several years before the characters get back together. I like that Vee and Cam didn’t have to wait that long. Both of Vee and Cam’s love stories were good. I liked getting to know how their relationship began, ended, and then began again. I also liked their individual back stories and how it affected their relationship. They were great characters.

I only had one problem with it all. The story started out great. I was instantly drawn into Vee and Cam’s lives. I was invested in their characters within a short period of time — in the present. I liked what was happening in the past, but I got frustrated with how slowly that part unraveled. What it comes down to is that Love Stories & Other Lies didn’t give me what happened in the past quickly enough for me to know why I should want Cam and Vee together. Their original love story was still unfolding — way too slowly and almost boring. I needed to know what the problem was so that I could root for them to get back together.

Once everything was out in the open, I was back to being entranced with the story. I loved the last third of the book. I felt like I was back in my YA summer contemporary happy place. I could forgive the moments of boredom in the middle because everything turned out exactly right. I gave it 4 stars because by the time I finished reading it, I was in love with Love Songs & Other Lies. 

Series Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

The past couple of weeks I’ve been reading the Pushing the Limits series by Kate McGarry. I’ve wanted to go back and read this series ever since I read the Thunder Road series. Rather than do individual reviews, I’m going to one big review for all of them.
Here we go!


Pushing the Limits (#1) ★ ★ ★ ★

I was impressed with Katie McGarry’s début novel. It didn’t feel like a début. It was so well written. Echo and Noah were adorable. They both had major family issues they were dealing with. Echo was recovering from an injury that she couldn’t remember. Her injury and memory loss unsettled her family, and caused all kinds of conflict between then. Noah lost his family, and he would do anything to get back the members he can. Echo and Noah were so different, but they related to each other in an important way. I loved how their relationship bloomed, and how they grew together and individually. I was especially fond of Noah. Pushing the Limits was a great start to the series.

Crossing the Line (#1.1) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Lila and Lincoln’s story wasn’t long enough in my opinion! I really, really wish Crossing the Line had been a full length novel. I loved Lila and Lincoln. How they met and kept in contact was so special. I wanted to know even more about their family lives and what made them who they were. They had such great back stories! I also wanted more of their futures.

Breaking the Rules (#1.5) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

I don’t know why, but this was the hardest book in the series for me to read. It was hard to go back to Echo and Noah’s relationship. I loved those characters so much, and I guess I wanted to believe they got their happy ending after Pushing the Limits. It was hard to see them struggle again. I don’t mean I didn’t like the story because I did. I loved it. Echo and Noah’s story went in a direction I liked. Breaking the Rules was bittersweet to read, but I loved what Noah and Echo learned about themselves and their relationship.

Dare to You (#2) ★ ★ ★ ★

Dare to You is one of my favorite books in this series. I loved Beth and Ryan’s journeys. Both needed to take a look at their lives and families. Beth needed love, support, and guidance when it came to her mother. Ryan needed the same things, but in a different way. He needed to figure out what his dreams were outside of how he had been raised. Beth and Ryan learned so much together, and that’s what made this book so special.

The only reason this book wasn’t a 5 star was because of all of the mystery around what was behind the door in the apartment. I easily guessed it, but I expected it to be something even worse. I don’t know. I just wasn’t a fan of that part of the story for some reason.

Crash Into You (#3) ★ ★ ★ ★

Here’s the thing… I loved Isaiah and Rachel together. Everything about their relationship was so sweet and cute. I adored how he treated her and stuck by her. I also loved getting to know Rachel’s family. There were several of her brothers I would love to read more about. What I didn’t love about this book was the street racing thing. That’s a personal preference. I’m just not into it. It didn’t have too much of an impact on my enjoying this story, though. Isaiah and Rachel were just that perfect for each other. 😉

Red at Night (#3.5) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Katie McGarry kills me with these Pushing the Limits novellas. I love them so much, but I always want more story from them!!! Stella and Jonah had such a great, little story. I loved their connection to each other and how it changed both of their lives.

Take Me On (#4)★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Take Me On was another one of my favorites in this series. Haley and West’s story was so much fun to read. I loved seeing the transformation in both their characters throughout the book. West’s were more apparent during the book, while Haley’s came more toward the end. They learned a lot from each other, and it made their relationship stronger. I especially loved West’s discoveries about himself and his family in Take Me On.

Chasing Impossible (#5) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This series got better and better as it went along. I loved Chasing Impossible! Logan and Abby totally surprised me! I knew they had great chemistry and already had a little bit of a relationship. What I wasn’t expecting was their back stories! Both surprised me. I loved what the newly revealed did to the story. Chasing Impossible was so much fun to read! This was definitely my favorite book in the series.


Overall, Pushing the Limits was an amazing series. I loved every moment I spent with it. I could go on reading books about every single character in it. I highly recommend reading it.

Review: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography
Author: Christina Lauren
Narrators: Deacon Lee, Kyle Mason
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.


Wow, guys…

I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did about this book.  I didn’t really have any expectations going into Autoboyography other than it was going to be a fun YA contemporary. That’s not what it was at all. Reading it was an experience I am grateful to have had. The duo behind Christina Lauren wrote a profound story about love, family, friendship, and faith. I’ve listened to a couple of their other adult books, and while those were fun, they never hit me like this one did.

Autoboyography was about Tanner, a high school senior who is bisexual. Tanner’s kept his sexual orientation a secret since moving to Provo, Utah due to the stigma it has in the predominantly Mormon city. It wasn’t hard for Tanner to hide until he met his writing class TA. One look at Sebastian and Tanner is infatuated. Tanner’s not the only one either. Sebastian seems to be just as into Tanner. The problem is Sebastian is a devout Mormon. A relationship with Tanner is completely against everything Sebastian has been taught.

(Almost) everything about this book was heartbreaking. From the moment their story begins, the writing is on the wall. Things will not be easy for Tanner and Sebastian. While Tanner has accepted his identity, Sebastian has not. His family and his religion does not allow him to. The closer they become, the harder life is for both of them. I was sad for Tanner (and Sebastian) so many times. I wanted a happy ever after for them, but I could never be sure that was going to happen for them. Their lives were so different. Their journeys, together and apart, were tough. I loved them and just wanted everything to be magically better for them.

My favorite character in Autoboyography wasn’t either of the main characters. It was actually Tanner’s dad. He had an openness to him that I hope my daughter will eventually find in me. He accepted Tanner for who he was and wanted to the best for him. That didn’t stop him from giving advice and establishing boundaries. In fact, it was his advice and guidance that I loved the most. His statements were so profound, truthful, and beautiful.

To be honest, I felt like I learned a lot about the Mormon religion/culture that I didn’t know before. Some things I had heard of, but others were new to me. I liked that while Autoboyography pointed out short coming regarding the religion’s lack of accepting diverse relationships, it was also respectful of the religion. It not only hit on its short comings but the positive aspects of it as well. The book didn’t bash the religion, just questioned aspects of it through Tanner and Sebastian’s characters.

The one thing I didn’t love about this book was Tanner and Autumn’s relationship. While their friendship was cute and totally supportive, I didn’t like part of it. It’s very apparent Autumn is in love with Tanner. They both try to ignore this so they can save their friendship. There are times when their friendship was uncomfortable for me because I felt that they shouldn’t really be friends. I felt that it was a lopsided friendship. Maybe that was just because Autumn didn’t have a POV, but I felt like it was an unhealthy relationship for her.

Sorry if this review feels a little discombobulated. I loved this book so much, and it’s really hard to put all of my thoughts and feelings into words. I really want everyone to read Autoboyography. It was a beautiful book.

Review: Cracked Kingdom by Erin Watt

Cracked Kingdom
Series: The Royals, #5
Author: Erin Watt
Publication Date: February 28, 2018
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

These Royals will ruin you.

Ever since Hartley Wright met Easton Royal, her life hasn’t been the same. There are enemies behind every corner and dangers beyond each door. When tragedy strikes and steals her memories, she can’t trust anyone, not even the blue-eyed boy who promises her that everything will be all right.

Because while Hartley’s memory is full of gaps, her instincts tell her Easton is dangerous. She doesn’t know if he’s the snake in the garden or her chance at salvation. The chaos he brings wherever he goes is too much to handle, the intense feelings he evokes are too confusing to unravel.

Easton wants her to remember. Hartley thinks it’s better to forget.

She might be right.

Tragedy. Treachery. Trust. Hartley has to face the facts—in this world, you can’t escape the Royals.

Either you live by their rules or you die by them.


Fallen Heir, book four in The Royals series, gave us an Easton we weren’t familiar with. Gone was the protector and friend we thought we knew. In his place was a womanizing alcoholic. It was hard to match the Easton of the first three The Royals books up with the broken boy from Fallen Heir. Because of this change in Easton, some people weren’t very happen with that book. I still really enjoyed it, but I was curious to know how Erin Watt would get us back to the Easton we knew and loved.

The answer to that was Cracked KingdomCracked Kingdom felt more like the first three books than the fourth. It had Erin Watt’s amazing writing, all of my favorite (and not so favorite) characters, a swoon-y love, and drama galore. I also can’t leave out the shocking surprises it had in store. Those are what make The Royals series so hard to put down.

I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about Cracked Kingdom‘s storyline at first. I’m not usually into amnesia plots. This one really worked, though! It was set up a little differently, and I loved that. Hartley was uneasy most of the book, and that was actually fun. I also found myself connecting better with her character as she got to know herself. I ended up liking Hartley a lot more than I did in Fallen Heir. Having her own point of view really helped.

Easton… Well, Easton still had problems, but what happened at the end of the fourth book and the beginning of this one seemed to pull him out of what held him captive. I truly felt like I had one of my favorite characters back. I loved how he was with his family and Hartley in this one. This book felt almost like a fresh start for Easton and Hartley.

As for the rest of the Royal clan, they were as fun to read about as always. I loved being back in their world with all the deceitful people surrounding them. Every character brought something I wasn’t expecting to the story.  I even liked seeing those characters I hate.

I flew through Cracked Kingdom and enjoyed every minute with it. I was surprised by some of the directions the authors went, but I liked how it all worked out. I’m sad The Royals series is over because I would have loved a book about the twins (I still need to know exactly what was up with them and Lauren.), but I understand why the authors are ending things where they did. Cracked Kingdom was a great end to a truly amazing series.

Review: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

Far from the Tree
Author: Robin Benway
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.


Far from the Tree is about three biological siblings who have been raised in three separate homes. After giving her own baby up for adoption, Grace is desperate to find her biological mother. In her quest, she discovers she has two siblings: Joaquin and Maya. Grace and Maya were each adopted at birth. Joaquin, the oldest of three, was raised in the foster care system. As they get to know each other, the siblings begin to discover their similarities, their differences, and what family really is.

So here’s the deal. I just… I don’t even know how to put into words how I feel about Far from the Tree. Please forgive me if this review rambles or makes no sense. Far from the Tree broke me in so many different ways.

First, it broke me because I ached for Grace. Grace’s story was the one I was most curious about. After having my own child, I cannot imagine giving up a child — especially one I desperately wanted — no matter how much I knew it would be the best thing for that child. It would kill me. Grace’s experience brought me to tears more than once.

Second, I’m an adoptee. While I haven’t been through much of what happened to Grace, Maya, and Joaquin, I have felt some of the feelings they felt. Maya’s thoughts were the ones I could relate to the most. Our situations were the most similar. We are both adoptees whose adoptive parents went on to have biological children of their own. Maya’s thoughts gave validity to ones I have felt in the past. Her feelings combined with those of Joaquin and Grace touched something deep inside me.

Third, Joaquin’s whole situation hurt. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in his world. It makes me ache for all the foster care children out there. I want an adoption as amazing as mine for them.

My review is making Far from the Tree a complete downer. It’s not. There’s heartache, but there are so many amazing moments. The characters learn so much about themselves and what family and loving someone means.

I was a fan of Robin Benway’s writing from her début novel, Emmy & Oliver, but Far from the tree blew me away. It is my favorite book I’ve ever read about adoptees. It encompassed so many different feelings surrounding being adopted. In my opinion, Far from the Tree was perfection. It’s a very special book.