Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Aftercare Instructions
Author: Bonnie Pipkin
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen’s decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing début follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.


Reading Aftercare Instructions was a bit of a weird experience for me. I entered a Goodreads giveaway for it without having read the blurb. I know that’s a little weird, but I do it sometimes. When I won and received the book, I still didn’t read the blurb. So when I started reading it, I had no idea what I was in store for. Aftercare Instructions was a really sad story. It wasn’t a bawling my eyes out sad, but more of a depressing sad.

Aftercare Instructions, as the blurb statesis about an almost eighteen-year-old girl who finds herself in the tough position of having an abortion. Gen knows having one is the right decision for herself and her boyfriend, Peter. But when Gen walks out into the waiting room after the procedure and finds Peter gone, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

I’m going to jump right into my impression of Peter. I don’t care what his reasons for leaving Gen at the clinic by herself were, they weren’t good enough. No one should have to go through what Gen did, and then be left to suffer alone. I hated Peter and wished someone would have kicked the crap out of that kid. For someone who was supposed to be so good, he was pretty horrible. I understand his reasoning and beliefs, but Gen deserved better.

As for Gen, I understood her emotions and rationale. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she was making, but I didn’t fault her for them. She made a very tough, adult decision and the ramifications of it hurt. Gen had every right to be as broken as she was. She had every right to do anything she could to feel better.

One truly great thing about Aftercare Instructions was the bond between friends. Gen had a few people on her side that were willing to do everything they could to make sure Gen was in a safe emotional and physical state. They showed up when she wasn’t expecting and took charge. I applaud the author for showing how friends can support each other when a character can’t reach for a parent.

Another really great thing about this book was the way the title, chapter headings, chapters and story all meshed together. Obviously, the title Aftercare Instructions refers to the guidelines Gen needed to follow after her abortion. Each chapter is headed with one of those instructions. That instruction fit what Gen was going through physically and emotionally at the time. By the end of the book, we can see the way all of these instructions and Gen’s actions led to her moment(s) of healing. This was genius. I also really enjoyed the way the author used a play script as the method of delivering Gen and Peter’s past. That was so unique and cool.

Aftercare Instructions is an important book. Never before have I read a young adult novel that so honestly deals with the topic of abortion. Not only does it cover the emotional aspects of having one, but it details the physical. I’m not just talking what happens the moment of the procedure, but also in the week to come. It’s not romanticized. It’s not over and done. This is a good thing. It gives teenagers (and adults) down and dirty look at life after. I think that’s important. It gives girls/women who have gone through it a book they can identify with. Maybe it will give someone who might be making a similar decision peace or make them re-examine the decision they’re making. I don’t know. Like I said, I think it’s an important book.

I do have to admit I had some problems rating Aftercare Instructions — no matter how important I thought it was. I almost didn’t give it a rating at all. How do you rate a book that’s written so well, but wasn’t a fun experience? Honestly, this book depressed the hell out of me and made me so angry at Peter. Those aren’t fun emotions. I ended up giving it 4 stars because I think it deserves to be read.

Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame
Series: Love Unexpectedly, #4
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.


As always, Lauren Layne crafted a beautifully written, entertaining story. I liked the way the narration in Walk of Shame was set up. Most of the story was in Georgie’s first person perspective. She had this fun, overly cheerful way of presenting everything. It was a privileged but down to earth perspective. I don’t know how Lauren Layne was able to combine those two things, but she did. Other, smaller parts of the story were told from Andrew’s point of view. Instead of being in first person, his was in third. I liked the way Andrew’s third person contrasted with Georgie’s first.

The love-hate thing Georgie and Andrew had going on was awesome. I loved every minute of their witty banter and comebacks. The progression of their relationship was perfect. It was a sweet slow burn.

Georgie was your typical famous heiress. She didn’t have a day job. She sent most of her time shopping, doing charity work, maintaining her beauty regimen, and partying with friends. Georgie could have easily been shallow, but she wasn’t. She appreciated her life and was constantly examining it. There was a depth to her I wouldn’t have expected. Georgie was always trying to prove herself.

Andrew reminded me a tiny bit of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory without all of the crazy ticks. He was a thinker. Everything was looked at logically, and his decisions were based on fact not feeling. Andrew was smart in everything except people skills. He had no clue what to make of Georgie, and his figuring it all out was so much fun. I would have liked a little more insight into Andrew’s cynicism. I felt there should have been more to it than just his job.

I loved every minute of this cheeky romance. Walk of Shame was ridiculously fun, fresh and exciting. I couldn’t put it down, and read it in one night. Fans of Layne’s Love Unexpectedly series are sure to fall in love with Walk of Shame.

Review: Confessions of a Puck Bunny by Cindi Madsen

Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny
Series: Taking Shots, #4
Author: Cindi Madsen
Publication Date: May 8, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Confession #1: I used to be a puck bunny, but after a hockey player broke my heart, I gave up all things hockey. Now I’m just focused on finding a way to pass my math class so I can graduate college.

Confession #2: Ryder “Ox” Maddox’s deep, sexy voice sends fuzzy tingles through my entire body, and I’m powerless to stop it. Which is a big problem since the hot, surprisingly funny hockey player is my new math tutor.

Confession #3: I can’t stop thinking about how ripped Ryder is from all his hockey training, and how fun it’d be to cross lines with him.

Confession #4: I kissed a hockey player and I liked it.

Confession #5: If I’m not careful, I might relapse and fall for Ryder, and then I’ll be totally pucked.


I couldn’t resist reading Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny. The title and the idea of a former puck bunny confessing her sins really appealed to me. Plus, the book was from an author and series I enjoy, so I knew it was going to be a lot of fun.

Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny stars Lindsay and Ryder. Lindsay is a former puck bunny who fell in love and got burned. Since then, she’s done everything she can to stay away from hockey and its players. That worked well until she needs help passing math class. The only tutor she can understand just happens to be the hottest guy on the ice. Ryder would do anything to get a chance with Lindsay including giving up some of his precious time to tutor Lindsay in math. He’s hoping that spending time with him with show Lindsay that he’s not just another heartless hockey player.

Out of all the Cindi Madsen books I’ve read, Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny is my favorite. I loved the first person dual points of view, and the direction the story took. All of the little confessions sprinkled through the story were cute and fun.

Ryder, or “Ox” as some people call him, was a sweetheart. He knew what he wanted (Lindsay) and went for it. I loved how he didn’t let anything or anyone stand in his way. The way he treated Lindsay was really special.

Lindsay had so much inner strength. She wanted to change her life and did everything she needed to make that happen. I couldn’t blame Lindsay for wanting to stay away from hockey players, but I’m so happy Ryder weaseled his way into her heart. They were perfect for each other. I loved their romance.

I also loved seeing my old friends from the previous Hot Shots books. Catching up with them was fun, and I loved what they added to Lindsay and Ryder’s story. And I can’t leave out the hockey. There were some very fun hockey scenes in this book!

Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny was everything I hoped it would be based on its title. It was a great college hockey romance that fans of sports romances will love. I did.

Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

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

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

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

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

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Tour Review: Maybe Never by Sadie Allen

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

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

 About Maybe Never:

One golden boy…

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

One goal-oriented girl…

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

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

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My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Sadie:

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

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Review: Meant for You by Michelle Major

Meant for You
Author: Michelle Major
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Single mom Jenny Castelli has a temper to match her red hair. When the former mean girls of her high school insult her son, Jenny fires off a big lie—that she’s engaged to a rich, handsome guy and is bringing him to their ten-year reunion. Now she needs to find the perfect fake fiancé for one night. And only one man fits the bill.

Geek turned tech entrepreneur Owen Dalton already had his heart-broken by Jenny Castelli. Still, he finds himself agreeing to her proposition—even as he struggles to remember that the chemistry sparking between them isn’t real. But when Jenny’s ex makes a play for custody and Owen is forced to deal with the family who always treated him as “second best,” their arrangement suddenly becomes very personal. And that lie they’ve been telling everyone? It isn’t nearly as big as the one they’ve been telling themselves.


I was really excited to win Meant for You in a Goodreads Giveaway. I’ve never had the opportunity to read one of Michelle Major’s contemporary romances, but I have always wanted to. Luckily, luck was on my side.

Meant for You is a second chance romance. Jenny and Owen briefly dated, but when things started to get serious, Jenny made a horrible mistake. They have been able to avoid each other until Jenny tells the resident mean girls from her high school that she’s engaged in an effort to protect her fatherless son. In order to keep up appearances, Jenny must ask Owen to be not only her date, but her fake fiancé. Owen’s not exactly happy with the lie, but he can’t say no to Jenny — if it means she might break his heart a second time.

This book had everything I like in an adult contemporary romance. Michelle Major’s writing was excellent. She had me invested in the story from the moment I met Jenny, and continued to reel me in when I met Owen. It was also a fast-paced read filled with just the right amount of drama. The characters were unique and intriguing. I loved getting to know the mysteries behind their pasts.

Jenny was a great female lead. She was a strong, but delicate woman. She may have had a mouth like a sailor, but inside was a woman wanting to be accepted. Her fears were very real and east to relate to. I adored her relationship with her son, Cooper. They had such a sweet mother-son connection.

Owen was a great guy with a dark past. It wasn’t dark in the he-used-to-be-a-bad-guy way, but in a never feeling like he fit in way. His family was all sorts of messed up. That combined with his first rejection from Jenny had shaped who he was now. Owen had a lot to deal with, and I found this to be one of my favorite parts of the story.

Jenny and Owen’s second chance at romance was bumpy, but cute. I loved how perfectly they fit together as a couple. Owen was someone Jenny could count on, and Jenny was someone who truly saw Owen. Add in Owen’s instinctual fatherly relationship with Cooper, and it couldn’t get any sweeter.

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of in Meant for You was Jenny’s betrayal. She was in a state of fear, but it still didn’t jive with my perception of her character. Jenny was a tough, no non-sense person. She ran from her fears, but she wasn’t a disloyal person. It just didn’t seem natural for her take the actions she did. Or maybe it was, and I was just disappointed in her. Jenny was lucky Owen was able to forgive her.

Overall, Meant for You was a well written, entertaining contemporary romance. I’ve read a ton of second chance romances, and this one felt fresh and new. I loved it, and will be checking out Michelle Major’s other books in the future.

Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

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

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

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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