Review: Broken and Screwed by Tijan

Broken and Screwed
Series: Broken and Screwed, #1
Author: Tijan
Narrator: Jillian Macie
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When Alexandra’s older brother dies the night of his graduation, it changes everything for her. No longer is she the party girl. No longer does she care about being popular, and no longer is her family the happy unit she always thought existed. The only person who can help her heal is the same person who loved her brother as much as she did, his best friend. She only hopes to keep her heart from breaking when Jesse moves on, and she knows he will. After Ethan dies, Jesse focuses on basketball, partying, and girls. He uses it all to turn his emotions off, but the irony is that Alex is the only person who can do that for him. She helps him forget, but she is the one person he shouldn’t be with, because the secrets he knows could shatter everything. They could shatter her.


Broken and Screwed is an accurate title for this book. Every thing about this book was so messed up, and yet, I couldn’t stop listening to it. This is the first time I’ve read a book by Tijan, but I understand why fans flock to her books. It would be hard not to fall in love with her writing. Every word she writes drips with emotion.

Broken and Screwed is told from Alex’s point of view. Since the death of her older brother, Alex has been slowly drowning. She’s not the person she used to be before. The only thing holding her together is her brother’s best friend, Jesse. The scattered hours Alex spends with Jesse are the only peace either of them have. Alex knows they don’t have a normal relationship. She knows they never will. Alex takes what she can get from Jesse, hoping that when he truly leaves her she won’t be even more broken than she already is.

This book has left me emotionally drained. The entire book was one big ball of angst. Alex was truly broken inside, and keeping up with her feelings was exhausting. I was always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel for her, but I could never see it. The only time I felt comfort for her was when she was finding comfort with Jesse. It felt so messed up because both Alex and I knew she deserved better. She just didn’t want better. It was frustrating, but I got it. Not all relationships are healthy, and sometimes the love you feel for someone overrides everything else.

I didn’t like or dislike Jesse. He had moments of greatness when he was comforting Alex, but was also a jerk. It was hard not knowing what was going on in his mind. I felt like I didn’t really get to know him, and I wanted to.

Alex’s friends were a large part of this book. I hated them. When they were in a scene, I cringed. Neither was truly a great friend to Alex. Marissa was a backstabbing (self-proclaimed) slut. Now, I’m not slut shaming. I have no problem with Marissa hitting the sheets with multiple men. What I didn’t like was the way she disregarded her friends’ feelings and went after guys they liked. She had her moments of goodness, but the bad tended to outweigh the good. And then there was Angie. In some ways, Angie was worse than Marissa. She thought she knew what was best for everyone. Maybe she did, but no one wants to have her friend constantly trying to push a guy who’s not the guy she’s in love with at them. No one wants to have her best friend trash the guy she’s in love with and tell her he’ll never love her. That’s just messed up. Angie did help Alex out in some amazing ways, but I wish she could have been supportive in the way Alex needed the most.

There are two people I hated even more than Alex’s friends: her parents. Grief is a heavy thing, but come on. Alex may have been 18, but she still lived under their roof. I didn’t get the detachment. It was so damn sad.

Broken and Screwed has left my mind in turmoil. It was addicting but uncomfortable to listen to. My heart broke over and over for Alex…and Jesse, too. I knew this book had a cliffhanger at the end, but it was an odd one. There were so many questions left at the end, and I’m in need of the answers. On to book 2.

Sorry, if this review is disjointed. That’s exactly how Broken and Screwed left me feeling.

Review: The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, GLBT+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?


I don’t even know where to start reviewing this book. There are so many things to talk about! To me, it was utter perfection. The writing was fantastic, and the characters were perfectly flawed. I loved every moment of it. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one evening, sacrificing much-needed sleep to finish it.

The Upside of Unrequited is told from Molly’s point of view in first person narration and was very easy to relate to. She’s this sweet girl (everyone confirms it) with some extra weight on her frame. That weight defines Molly. It’s hard for it not to when her twin sister, Cassie, and the rest of their friends are thin. Molly feels like she’s always in the background. She’s always the sidekick, never the one the attention is on. Guys don’t like her, they like her friends.

Cassie disagrees with Molly on this point. She thinks Molly needs to abandon her meaningless crushes and put herself out there. When Cassie falls for a new girl, she takes the opportunity to hook Molly up with her girlfriend’s best friend. The opportunity excites Molly — or at least it should. Will’s cute and funny, but Molly can’t keep her mind off her co-worker Reid.

Weight is a tough topic. Everyone has one, but rarely does anyone seem happy with theirs. I’ve been fit. I’ve been fat. I’ve been somewhere in between. At all of those stages I felt like Molly did in this book. Feeling uncomfortable with your body and knowing it affects how people see you is tough. Not letting your weight dictate how you feel about yourself and the actions you take is really hard. I think it’s especially tough for a teenager. Becky Albertalli did an amazing job conveying the thoughts and feelings Molly had. They felt truthful and real. I could identify with each and every one of them. I applaud her for the way she wrote this book.

I’ve also felt the way Molly felt about her sister trying to hook her up with Will. I remember my best friend always being in a relationship. She would try to push her boyfriend’s friends at me. It was exciting, but also uncomfortable. No one wants to be forced on a guy (or girl) just because your best friend is dating theirs. It rarely works out and is so awkward. I loved watching Molly try to navigate through the situation and discover that maybe Will wasn’t what would hold her relationship with Cassie together.

Molly’s friendship with Reid made me smile so hard. He wasn’t the super cool guy Will was, but he was cool in his own way. The way he was unapologetic about his likes was awesome. I loved how that was Molly’s favorite thing about him. It was cute how Molly’s attraction to Reid came in bits and pieces.

Another thing that struck me as true was the evolution of Cassie and Molly’s relationship as girlfriends/boyfriends entered the picture. It’s so true that the dynamic of friendships change when one or both of the people are in a relationship. It’s no longer just the friends against the world. You do kind of lose part of your relationship. The way Molly and Cassie thought about this really made me think back to my younger years and how I handled that will all of my friends. I thought this was a great topic to include in the book because this happens to everyone at some point, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it discussed anywhere.

This is really random, but I also totally got the Molly looks like everyone thing. That is so me. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told by people they know someone who looks like me. It’s cool, but strange. Once, someone even showed me a picture of their friend. We did look exactly alike and it was creepy.

I know this review has been one big ramble, but I couldn’t help it. I loved The Upside of Unrequited so much. It’s a book I think every teenager (and adult!) should read. It’s filled with so many great moments and topics. It really made me examine some of my thoughts and feelings from the past and present that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t read it.

Review: Last Semester by Corine Mekaouche

Last Semester
Author: Corine Mekaouche
Publication Date: April 21, 2017
Publisher: Corine Mekaouche
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When Johanna ‘Jo’ Gold, witty college life blogger and senior at Rutan University, decides to move in with three male strangers her last semester of school, her life unexpectedly turns upside down. While dealing with her new roommates, A.J., the pompous rich kid who feels trapped in following his father’s footsteps; Rob, the prematurely engaged former womanizer who tries to force Jo out of the house at all costs; and Drew, the 21-year-old virgin genius whose encounters with women have been more than limited, Jo learns that change isn’t always easy and it’s up to her to learn how to survive the remainder of her time at Rutan the best that she can. Along with searching for her missing mother, figuring out a clever way to pay for school tuition on her own, and dealing with the childish pranks brought on by a certain roommate, Jo’s issues seem more complicated than the average 21-year-old. Can Jo endure the dramatic perils of college while planning for life after graduation?


When I started reading Last Semester, I was expecting it to be a lot like other books I’ve read where a girl or guy moves in with roommates of the opposite sex and falls for one of them. That wasn’t the story line for Last Semester. Last Semester wasn’t a romance, but a mature coming of age story.

In Last Semester, Jo decides she’s ready to make some big changes in her life for her last semester in college. Her first big change is moving out of the dorms. She rents a room in a house close to campus where her new roommates are three guys. The first guy, A.J., is a rich, womanizing manwhore. The second, Rob, is a major prick who proposed to the girlfriend he keeps cheating one. The final roommate is Drew. Drew talks like Sheldon Cooper and has kept his virginity in tact almost as long. Jo thinks she’s prepared to live with three guys, but she had no idea how challenging it would be — especially when her boyfriend Chris isn’t exactly excited about the arrangement. The longer Jo and the boys live together, the more they begin to learn from each other. Each roommate is graduating at the end of the semester, and each has something big to discover before then.

Like I said, this book wasn’t a romance novel. It was a story about four young adults finding their way into adulthood. Each character had a romantic or sexual relationship going on in the story, but those relationships weren’t the main focus. The main focus was on the four roommates’ relationships with each other and the things they discovered about themselves as they prepared for adulthood. I have to admit that I would have loved for Jo to have fallen for one of her roommates, but I respected that she didn’t. It made Last Semester stand out from other new adult novels. It was truly about the connections they made and the friendships they developed.

I really enjoyed the way Last Semester was told. It was written in first person and each of the four roommates narrated. Each voice was distinctive and had so much character. I loved Jo, A.J., Rob and Drew so much! There were also blog posts written by Jo sprinkled throughout the book. I understood their value to Jo’s prospective career as a writer, but there was only one or two entries that stood out to me. They were just an added extra to me.

My favorite thing about this book had to be the hilarious antics that took place. There were so many great moments that had me laughing out loud. Let’s just say there were several times I was happy I wasn’t a roommate at “Menstrual Mansion”. I’m not sure I could have handled everything that went down in that house. It sure made for an entertaining story.

The only big issue I had with Last Semester was the ending. To be more specific, the very end. It felt abrupt. I turned the page and couldn’t believe there wasn’t more. The author left the reader hanging when she could have resolved an important part of the story line. It made me wonder if there would be a sequel, but a sequel would be odd since all the characters are moving on separately with their lives after college.

If you’re looking for a new adult novel that’s not all about romance, Last Semester would be the one to read. It was fun, fresh and contained a ton of character growth.

Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

First & Then
Author: Emma Mills
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them – first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.


First & Then came out almost two years ago. What took me so long to read it? I don’t have a good answer, but evidently finding it for sale on Book Outlet was what finally made it happen. That’s sad because First & Then is such a great book. I loved every minute of this adorable coming of age story.

Devon is a character that just about any teenager can relate to. First, she’s got the whole avoiding the future thing down to a science. The future’s scary to think about until you can actually picture it. Second, who hasn’t crushed on a friend of the opposite sex? We always think we’re good at hiding it, but it’s never the case. Poor Devon’s crush on Cas was pretty classic. Third, who doesn’t have a relationship with their sibling where one moment they’re completely embarrassed by them and the next their standing up for them? I loved how of Devon I could see in my past self. She was such a fun main character.

Devon wasn’t the only remarkable character in First & Then. Every character was special. That’s one of the things I love most about Emma Mills’ novels. She makes the side characters shine. They all have so much personality and stand out. They become as important to the reader as the main character. My favorite Emma Mills’ character will always be Frank Sanger from This Adventure Ends, but Jordan and Foster from this book are both close runners-up. Jordan because he kind of had a Frank Sanger thing going on, and Foster because he was one of the good guys. I was going to stop there, but I can’t leave out Ezra. I loved that guy and his quiet persona.

Everything about First & Then made me happy. It was one of those YA coming of age stories that’s perfect for when you need a little sunshine in your life. I absolutely adored it and highly recommend it. It would be the perfect summer read.

Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It’s Real
Author: Erin Watt
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis: 

Wealth, fame and a real-life romance she never expected—seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett lands it all when she agrees to become a pop star’s fake girlfriend in this smart, utterly addictive novel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author duo Erin Watt  

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…


READ THIS BOOK, PEOPLE!

Seriously, read it.

The duo that makes up Erin Watt is back with another unbelievably addicting book. In When It’s Real, Vaughn Bennett becomes pop star Oakley Ford’s fake girlfriend. Vaughn isn’t exactly thrilled with the situation. Oakley’s cocky attitude and bad boy ways aren’t exactly her idea of fun, but the money she’s making is worth it.

Oakley Ford’s used to getting what he wants when he wants. People jump to his needs and wishes, and yet there’s something his fame and fortune aren’t getting him. Oakley needs to make a new record, but his inspiration has run dry. To make matters worse, his partying ways have his management hiring him a “normal” girlfriend.

Neither Vaughn or Oakley is thrilled with their fake relationship, but both know it will give them what they need. What neither of them counted on was the connection their fake relationship would build between them. They’re trying to fool the fans and the paparazzi, but they may also be fooling themselves.

When It’s Real is one of my most favorite fake relationship stories ever. This book was everything I expected it to be and, because it was written by Erin Watt, more. The writing was fantastic. It was super fast-paced, while also moving appropriately in time. The characters stole my heart. Their dual point of views were filled with just the right amount of emotion and personality. When It’s Real had so many great little surprises in store for the reader. I’m not going to go into too much depth in this review because of that. It’s definitely a book one has to experience for him/herself. All you need to know is that I absolutely positively adored this slow-burn romance.

When It’s Real sucked me in from the beginning, and didn’t let go of me even when the book ended. I keep trying to come up with ways the author could continue the When It’s Real world. It needs to be a series. There definitely needs to be a book for Paisley. Maybe an April Showers book? Or one for the twins when they get older? Please, Erin Watt! Give us more!!!

Check out this Pre-order Giveaway!

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.