Review: First and Forever (Jay McLean)

First and Forever
Series: Heartache Duet, #2
Author: Jay McLean
Publication Date: July 12, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

First and Forever is the second book in the Heartache Duet, and must be read after Heartache and Hope.

Duet Synopsis:
Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy she sits next to on the first day of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.


First and Forever is the second book in the Heartache Duet. It is the conclusion to Ava and Connor’s story. You have to read Heartache and Hope prior to reading this book because First and Forever picks up where the story left off.

Connor and Ava’s relationship was full of ups and downs. There were lots of moment of back and forth in relationship status. It was both frustrating and understandable. As high school students, they lacked the maturity their situations called for at times. I got frustrated with Connor for keeping important secrets. I was irritated with Ava for avoiding everything she should have been facing head on. Even though I thought the characters needed to grow up, I understood their immaturity and struggles. I liked how they shaped the story. They both learned some valuable lessons.

First and Forever made me love Connor even more. I didn’t always get his dedication to Ava, but I loved the way he supported her. He stood by her when others had walked away. He developed an amazing relationship with her mother and it wasn’t just to win Ava over. I loved that he was always looking at his end game.

Ava wasn’t my favorite, but she grew on me. Like I said before, she was good at avoiding. Some of the things I learned in this book helped explain her, and I was able to make some connections with her actions.

I have a couple of things I want to say that don’t really fit well anywhere in this review. The first is that I didn’t like how the whole Peter thing was dealt with. There was a big build up to it, but when it came time to go into it I was told rather than shown. I wish there had been more attention on that moment. Second, Heartache and Hope was definitely YA. First and Forever felt liked it moved from YA to NA. It was definitely a more mature read.

First and Forever was a great ending to the Heartache Duet. It brought Ava and Connor’s story full circle in a way that felt organic to the characters and the story. Jay McLean did a great job with Ava and Connor’s end game.

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Heartache and Hope
Amazon Global: mybook.to/JMacHH
Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy she sits next to on the first day
of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.

First and Forever
Amazon Global: mybook.to/JMacFF

About the Author:
Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New
Adult and Young Adult romance, and skilled procrastinator. When she’s not doing
any of those things, she can be found running after her three little boys, investing
way too much time on True Crime Documentaries and binge-watching reality TV.
She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make
her hurt and make her feel.

Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in her dream home where music is
loud and laughter is louder.

For publishing rights (Foreign & Domestic) Film or television, please contact
her
agent Erica Spellman-Silverman, at Trident Media Group.
Writer • Reader • Mom • Wife • Master of Awkward Sarcasm. 
Contact Jay:

Review: Past Perfect Life (Elizabeth Eulberg)

Past Perfect Life
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.
But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s-make that Amanda’s-ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?


Past Perfect Life is the first book I have read by Elizabeth Eulberg. I was drawn to it after reading my friend Stephanie’s review. I also liked the comparison to Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree, which I adored. I probably would have compared it to Benways’ Emmy & Oliver as well. I’m really glad I had the chance to read it because it was one of those books that immediately grabbed my attention and had me not wanting to put it down. The writing was that good! I loved the story and all of the characters.

Ally was easy to relate to. I can only imagine what it would be like to find out the life you were living was real, but also a lie. The problems she had accepting all of the changes was understandable. I liked the way Ally coped with everything and all of the choices she made.

One of my favorite things about this book were the side characters. Ally had a really amazing group of friends who were more like family. I loved her relationships with each and every one of them, especially Neil. Their new-found romance was adorable. I also really loved Ally’s new relationships. Her step-father was so understanding and cool.

Ally’s relationships with her parents was so interesting to me. I could easily put myself in both of their places. As a parent, it was hard to look at Ally’s dad in a negative light even though I didn’t condone what he had done. I found myself frustrated with her mom while understanding her actions. I felt so torn over everything.

There was only one thing keeping me from giving this book 5 stars: the ending. Everything wrapped up so quickly. It was too quickly for my taste. I was left with so many unanswered questions. I needed at least an epilogue. Don’t let detour you from reading Past Perfect Life, though. It was so very good and definitely worth a read. I’m looking forward to reading more of Elizabeth Eulberg’s books.

Review: The Rest of the Story (Sarah Dessen)

The Rest of the Story
Author: Sarah Dessen
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?


Do you want to know why I ALWAYS read (or listen to in this case) books written by Sarah Dessen? She really can do no wrong when it comes to writing an amazing young adult contemporary novel. That was proven once again with The Rest of the Story.

As with all Sarah Dessen’s books, The Rest of the Story is set in the summer. This time it’s Emma’s turn to discover who she is. Emma grew up with her dad and now deceased mom in Lakeside. She’s slightly uptight and always does what’s expected of her. She craves control.

Emma isn’t just Emma, though. She’s also Saylor. At least that’s what her mother’s family and friends who live in North Lake call her. This other persona is confusing to Emma because she doesn’t remember being Saylor or the people who think of her this way. When Emma suddenly returns to North Lake, she has to figure out not only what being Emma and Saylor means.

I loved everything about this book. I loved how the past and present collided. It was fun to go along with Emma on her journey to find out more about her mother’s past as well as her own. The mystery of it all was so interesting. The family connections and friendships Emma made along the way were so important and heartwarming. I loved her new-found relationship with Mimi and her cousins. I especially adored Emma’s friendship with Roo. There was such an ease to it. I could imagine them being connected at the hip as young children. I even loved the drama Emma had to go through with her dad. It was such a great coming of age story. I highly recommend it.

Review: Heartache and Hope (Jay McLean)

Heartache and Hope
Series: Heartache Duet, #1
Author: Jay McLean
Publication Date: June 28, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy she sits next to on the first day of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.


From the blurb, it sounds like Heartache and Hope is an enemies to lovers (for a lack of better word for a YA book). The line “Maybe first impressions don’t always last…” is accurate and this story quickly shifted away from that trope. Heartache and Hope was really about two high school students who have heavy burdens to carry. Ava and Connor should both be avoiding distractions, but they can’t get past their attraction for each other. Their relationship can’t be what a normal high school relationship should be, so there’s some heartache and some hope.

Since this is a duet, I don’t want to say too much about the plot. What I will tell you is that Jay McLean is back in a big way. She’s given us an emotionally charged romance filled with angst. There are so many ups and downs my head was spinning. I have to admit the angst was hard for me at times — but that’s because of some stuff I have going on in the background, not the book.

Ava and Connor… Man, their lives were tough. They each had something big they were dealing with and I was actually pretty amazed at how they handled things. I don’t know that I always agreed with their decisions, but I understood them. They were a very sweet couple.

As for the rest of the gang, there were characters I loved and characters I loved to hate. Trevor, Rhys, and Corey were my faves. Peter needs to go. I don’t like him and his being involved in the story makes me nervous.

Heartache and Hope ends in a cliffhanger. It wasn’t one that completely shocked me, but it did make me wish I already had the second book to read. I’m very curious to find out where things are going to go for Ava and Connor. I’m not just talking their romance. I am curious how life is going to evolve for them separately as well.

Review: The Other Side (Kim Holden)

The Other Side
Author: Kim Holden
Publication Date: June 5, 2019
Publisher: Do Epic LLC
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Mental Health, Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Denver, Colorado
1987

There are two sides to every story.
The surface reality that’s presented to the world.
And then there’s the other side.
The real one.
The one that matters.

Seventeen-year-old, self-proclaimed asshole, Toby Page, is alone.
No friends.
No family.
He trades maintenance work in exchange for room and board.
Every day he fights demons no one else can see.
Every day he wants to give up.
But he can’t.
Not yet.

When Alice Eliot moves in downstairs, she offers Toby some light in his dark world.
At a crossroads and barely hanging on, it’s hard to have perspective.
It’s difficult to see your own worth when you’re the villain in your story.
Luckily for Toby, Alice brings things out in him that no one else ever has.

As the two sides of Toby’s story are revealed, and the full reality comes into view, truth is gained.
Improbable alliances prove that kindness is fundamentally human.
Unlikely heroes emerge.

The question is, Will it all be enough to save him?


When I have to answer the dreaded “What’s your favorite book?” question, I always respond with Bright Side by Kim Holden. There hasn’t been a book since I read Bright Side that has affected me as much. I’m telling you this for a couple of reasons. One, so you know how brilliant of a writer Kim Holden is. Two, because while The Other Side wasn’t exactly another Bright Side, it just as impactful and even more important.

The Other Side is a story about a young man living with suicidal thoughts. I am not going to go anymore into the plot because it’s one of those books you have to read for yourself. (There are some amazing surprises in store!) What I will say is that I was impressed with the story Kim Holden told and the way it was delivered. It definitely made me think about my daily actions, the people around me, and the people I come in contact with. It’s truly one of those stories that young adults (and adults) need to read. I loved what this book gave to me, and I want it to give even more to others.

Review: Something Like Gravity (Amber Smith)

Something Like Gravity
Author: Amber Smith
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderry Books
Genre: YA, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC an is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?


The minute I heard Amber Smith was releasing another book, I knew I wanted to read it. I have been obsessed with her writing ever since I read The Way I Used To Be when it was released. Her stories are so beautiful and heart wrenching. She takes tough topics and dives in deep. I felt so emotionally touched by her first two releases. I couldn’t wait to start Something Like Gravity.

Something Like Gravity touched on a topic I haven’t read before. Chris being transgender was something I haven’t come across in any contemporary YA romance before. It was very interesting to me, but I cannot tell you whether or not the representation was done appropriately. I hope Chris’ thoughts about his body and feelings he had about everything were done in the best way possible because I can see them being easy to relate to. I also liked his thought process when it came to Maia and his interactions with her.

While I felt like Chris, his story, and his relationships with everyone were important and interesting, the rest of the book kind of bored me. Remember that boring summer you had at your grandparents’/aunt’s/uncle’s growing up? This book had that vibe. It’s set in a small town during the sleepy days of summer. I had to really push myself to read it. Almost everything Chris and Maia did was boring. And Maia…

Well, Maia is where the book lost me. Her point of view didn’t delve as deep as Chris’. She was grieving her sister’s death, her parents’ divorce, and a change in herself. I don’t feel like I got the nitty-gritty on any of those things. Everything with her felt surface level. I was missing something in some of her thoughts and actions. It’s not often I say this, but Something Like Gravity would have been better with only one point of view. I would have been more interested in hearing everything from Chris’ point of view.

Something Like Gravity had a lot of potential. It was written by a talented writer. There was a main character who was unique and had some experiences I was truly curious to find out more about. It just didn’t hit me on the emotional level it could have. It was still a good read, and I know there are going to be readers who it hits home with.

Review: Serious Moonlight (Jenn Bennett)

Serious Moonlight
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


Serious Moonlight is a really hard book for me to review. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t. It started with my having a hard time getting into the story and connecting with the main character, Birdie. I didn’t liker her all that much in the beginning. Birdie was big on avoidance and self-centered. Both are understandable teenage traits, it was just hard to for me to read about over and over again. Plus, it took a longer time that I expected for Birdie and Daniel to connect and get the story really going. I didn’t feel connected to Birdie, Daniel, or the story until about half way through.

Why didn’t connect as quickly as I would have liked? I’m going to blame it on the setting of Seattle. I can tell from both this book and her author’s note that Jenn Bennett has a big love for the city of Seattle. I love that, but Seattle was a character and not a setting in this book. Serious Moonlight felt more like a random tour through Seattle than a story set there. I feel qualified to say this since I have lived in a suburb in between Seattle and Tacoma pretty much my entire life. It’s not that I don’t like reading about the Space Needle, Benaroya Hall, or Safeco Field (which no one in Seattle calls “the Safe” other than the newscasters and is now T-Mobile Park). I do. It just felt like there was a lot of name dropping of sites that took away from what was actually happening. 18 year-old Bridie, who was supposed to be sheltered and lived on Bainbridge Island, knew a lot more about the hidden parts of Seattle than I knew at that age. I also had issue with Birdie  referencing something like June Gloom. I don’t ever remembering hearing that term before. I had to Google it to make sure it was a thing. Washingtonians don’t talk about June Gloom. We just know that the rain and cloudy weather starts the end of October and we don’t expect sun until after the Fourth of July. Maybe someone with less Seattle knowledge wouldn’t be as bothered by it all as I was. (I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. I have read reviews by other people who have lived in WA, and they felt the same about some of this stuff.)

I started connecting more with the characters and their story when they started connecting. When Birdie stopped avoiding Daniel and they developed a friendship, I became interested. It’s then that I found the mystery they were on the quest to solve interesting. It was then that I started caring about Birdie and her narcolepsy, Daniel and his secrets, Birdie’s relationships with Mona… I could go on and on. Everything interested me after that. I ended up enjoying the second half of the book rather than wanting to abandon it. I’m happy I stuck with it and kept reading because there were a lot of good things in it.

Would I recommend reading Serious Moonlight? Yes. It wasn’t my favorite Jenn Bennett book, but there is a story worth reading in its pages.

Review: Legendary (Stephanie Garber)

Legendary
Series: Caraval, #2
Author: Stephanie Garber
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Publication Date: May 9, 2019
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling and breakout debut Caraval, following Scarlett’s younger sister, Tella, on a journey to the empire’s capital to fulfill a mysterious bargain.


A while back I listened to Caraval. It wasn’t a book I loved, but I didn’t dislike it either. I found it to be interesting and well crafted, but boring because it lagged in places. What made me decide to keep reading this series was the fact that Caraval‘s ending was so good and I thought the narrator really made the story come to life. I also had read some great reviews for Legendary, so I decided to request the audiobook from my library.

I had almost the same reaction to Legendary as I had to Caraval. Tella’s story was fascinating. I liked all of the things she had to go through and decisions she had to make. There was just something that kept me from loving it. This time there wasn’t a lag in the story where I lost interest. It was more that writing was too…flowery? Maybe a better way to say it is overly descriptive. It was also very redundant. The way Tella thought of things over and over and over again drove me a little nuts. It also made it very hard to follow the story at times. I had to stop and think about what happened and where the story was going next after Tella did her ruminating over whoever she had just talked to or what had happened. I just wanted to get to the action!

That being said, Stephanie Garber does paint a beautiful picture with her writing. I do really like the Caraval world and all its eccentricities. The journey Tella went on and the mystery she had to solve was entertaining. Once again, Rebecca Soler did an amazing job bringing it all to life. I just wanted a little less of Tella’s redundant self-talk. I will definitely be listening to Finale when I get the chance.

Review: Bred (Ginger Scott)

Bred
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: May 10, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations.

My life was irrevocably changed the moment I stepped foot inside Elena Alderman’s grand front doors. A lifeless tomb on the edge of Chicago’s Southside, the Alderman home sat in one of the city’s oldest and wealthiest neighborhoods, and Elena Alderman was the queen.

She was also mad.

Not the kind of madness that’s readily apparent. No, her psychopathy was far more surgical—more…insidious. She was surrounded by beautiful things—most notably her grand piano and her adopted son, Henry.

I fell in love with both.

My gift blossomed when my fingers touched her black and white keys. But my life began when I became haunted by the boy. Henry Alderman was a handsome blend of arrogance and seduction, and as we grew up together, I found it more and more impossible to separate him from my thoughts. I envied his life. I imagined how my name—Lily—would look with his. I became his closest friend…and more. I gave him my kiss, locked away his secrets, and loved him even when it was hard to.

But we were just a game. Elena Alderman made the rules. And when she decided to change them, she broke everything.


If you read the blurb, you know that Bred was inspired by Great Expectations. I haven’t read that book, but I did read some of the classics in my Humanities 302 at Arizona State (The same college Ms. Scott went to, at the same time! If only I had known her then, right?). That being said, the ones I have read had the same tone. I wouldn’t say it was dark, but more of a gloomy, waiting for something bad to happen feel. That’s how I felt reading Bred. It also felt like it could have been set in the past. Some of the details would have had to change, but it could have been a classic all on its own. I was really impressed by this. Ginger Scott nailed the whole inspired by a classic thing with Bred, in my opinion.

Bred kept me on edge while I was reading it. I worried for Lily the entire book. Lily was this orphan who was trying to make the best out of what life had tossed at her. She was an insecure rule follower who had a rough path to discovering herself. Lily was both fortunate and unfortunate to have a benefactor. Elena was an odd, calculating woman. She gave Lily many opportunities, but they had a price tag. I was just as scared by what Elena might do as Lily was. She instilled a quiet fear and directed the story even when she wasn’t on the page.

What made things even more stressful was the fact that Lily had this are we or aren’t we friends(hip) with Henry, Elena’s adoptive son. Henry was this mysterious troublemaker who acted indifferent towards Lily. He was Lily’s opposite, and yet they also had similarities. Henry was so well written that I had just as hard a time as Lily trying to figure out his true feelings and intentions. Lily had a gigantic crush on Henry that I didn’t see ending well.

Despite being nervous for the characters, I loved Bred. It was a unique coming of age story. I don’t think I have personally read anything quite like it. I loved the growth of the characters and their march towards adulthood. I truly didn’t know which way Lily’s story was going to go, and that was cool because that doesn’t happen often.

I was expecting greatness from Ginger Scott, but I didn’t expect this story. I think that’s because I never know what she’s going to come up with next. Each book she writes is new and engaging in a completely different way. Bred is definitely a book I would recommend.

Purchase Now:
#Free with #KindleUnlimited
Excerpt from BRED By Ginger Scott
A coming-of-age love story inspired by Great Expectations
(Copyright Ginger Scott, 2019)“You know this stuff…” he starts, but I interrupt with an emphatic shake of my head. When his fingers splay out over my back I freeze. I follow the path my book takes back to the place it started in front of me as Henry slides it in place, flipping open to the chapter I’m trying to memorize. Knelt down next to me, he leans closer, resting his right arm next to my left one—we are touching.

I swallow. I’m going to fail. I cannot memorize something like the varied historical degrees of differences between a Protestant hell and a Lutheran one while the master of all hotness is sharing a desktop with me. My arm hairs are literally electric, standing up and reaching to plant themselves in his skin. I’ve gone completely primal—my body convinced that I am the gatherer in need of this hunter.

“Look,” he says, leaning in even closer and reaching to flip the pages. I barely register the movement of his thumb under a bold section of words. When his eyes catch mine still stuck on his face, I jump in my seat a little.

“Sorry,” I say, clearing my throat. “I’m just overwhelmed. Maybe a little slow, too, from being in here so long.”

It’s partly true, but I’m also just crushing. Crushing—that’s what Nicki calls it. She rolls her eyes every time she catches me doing it too, then labels it with that word. I crush in the dining area. I crush between classes when Henry pokes my arm with his index finger as we pass in the halls. I crush when I watch him sprint across the lawn every day at three in the afternoon, late for rowing. It’s literally become how I know it’s three o’clock! My body just instinctually glides toward my window at exactly 2:59. Pathetic!

At this point, we should just say that I’m crushed rather than crushing. Crushed and utterly destroyed of all pride.

I am gatherer.
“What you need to do is make up a rhyme. Something that will help you keep all of the key words in your brain so when it comes time to write them down in order, you’ll have them there.”

I draw in my lips and let the acid climb up my throat.

“I don’t even understand that. Ugg, I’m hopeless,” I say, letting my head fall flat against the book. I bounce my forehead there lightly while I eke out a desperate laugh at my own expense.

“You aren’t hopeless.” I feel the warm breath from his chuckle and smell the mint of his gum, and it’s intoxicating enough without his touch, so when the warm hand slides the hair from my cheek I go full hypnosis. His fingers trace my jaw, and my head lifts from the light pressure of his hold. For a moment, I believe in myself just because of the look in his eyes when our stares meet. He’s dead serious—and God, the way he’s looking at me, hair all tousled, smile soft and true, cheeks lifted as if they’re glad to see me.

Like a drunk, I lean closer, my lips parting and ready—my mind imagining everything I’m about to feel—Henry’s mouth on mine, the graze of teeth against my lips, us standing as his arms sweep around my back before his hands rush up my spine into my own messy hair.

None of that happens.

I get an inch away from his mouth, my eyelids fluttering with nerves and uncertainty whether they should close or remain open, and Henry turns a few inches to his left, stiffening and backing away just enough to keep me from making this worse—as if I can make this worse somehow. The rush of heat that coats me isn’t from passion—it’s from humiliation. My eyes remain open just long enough to see the movement in his neck as he clears his throat. His soft smile is replaced with a hard line, drawn under the pity that slants his eyes.

I think I understand hell a little better now. It helps that I’m in it.

“I’m just tired. I…” Why I try to speak, I don’t know.

“It’s fine.” His voice is laced with discomfort. In one blink I erased everything that was easy between us. All because of my damn fantasies.

Fine. That word—so short, so four-lettered. Such a lie. I ruined everything.

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, The Hail Mary, 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, A Boy Like You, A Girl Like Me, Memphis and Cry Baby.

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:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GingerScottAuthor/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

Review: Pretty Reckless (L.J. Shen)

Pretty Reckless
Series: All Saints High, #1
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: April 21, 2019

Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Sports, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an intense, high school enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist.

Penn

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced.
I took her first kiss.
She took the only thing I loved.
I was poor.
She was rich.
The good thing about circumstances? They can change. Fast.
Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project.
Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much.
Yeah, baby girl, say it—I’m your foster brother.
There’s a price to pay for ruining the only good thing in my life, and she’s about to shell out some serious tears.
Daria Followhill thinks she is THE queen. I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess.

Daria

Everyone loves a good old unapologetic punk.
But being a bitch? Oh, you get slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot you put in your adversaries’ way.
The thing about stiletto heels is that they make a hell of a dent when you walk all over the people who try to hurt you.
In Penn Scully’s case, I pierced his heart until he bled out, then left it in a trash can on a bright summer day.
Four years ago, he asked me to save all my firsts for him.
Now he lives across the hall, and I want nothing more than to be his last everything.
His parting words when he gave me his heart were that nothing in this world is free.
Now? Now he is making me pay.


Pretty Reckless is the first book in the All Saints High series. This series is a spin-off of the Sinners of Saint series. You don’t have to read that series to read this one, but since Daria is the daughter of Melody and Jamie from Deny, it doesn’t hurt to know their back story.

The connection between All Saints High and Sinners of Saint is actually the reason I chose to read Pretty Reckless. I was a little on the fence because of the reviews I read. They were either completely gushing or completely negative. There wasn’t really an in between and worried me for some reason. I loved those Sinners of Saint books, so I didn’t want to hate Pretty Reckless. Weird rationalizing, I know. As you can tell, I decided to give it a go. Here are my feelings about it.

What I liked:

  • Daria’s relationship with her mother, Melody. To be honest, it was a horrible relationship. What I liked about it was that it was a real relationship. Both had made mistakes over time with each other, and it was interesting to see how they maneuvered through the tension.
  • Daria’s relationship with her father, Jamie. This was actually really sweet. I liked the support system he was for her.
  • Via. That girl was the perfect girl to keep Daria on her toes. I loved hating her.
  • Daria was another girl I loved to hate. This MC was HORRIBLE. I mean, wicked. I thought I was going to hate her, but I grew to understand her. Her backstory really set her up well. I ended up feeling sorry for her, which is saying something considering the terrible things that came out of her mouth.
  • Penn. His situation was messed up, which made him messed up. I loved his truths, though.
  • The enemies to lovers thing Daria and Penn had going on. The story behind it all and their current situation fascinated me.
  • The ending. I liked the trajectory of the story, and everything it took to get to the ending.
  • Seeing all of the Saints’ kids. I am looking forward to reading all of their books.

What I didn’t like:

  • Daria is the child of one of the toughest, most ruthless men in town. I knew her book was going to be dark like his. What I wasn’t expecting was there to be so much shock value. It was like L.J. Shen threw in every twisted scenario she could think of. There was almost too much. I think what threw me over that edge was this secrets thing. I won’t go into it, but it brought this cheesy feel to something that was super dark… Maybe that’s what gave this book the YA feel it needed.
  • YA. Yeah, this categorization is pushing it. Pretty Reckless was set at All Saints High, but with all the nasty things going on it felt more like one of Shen’s NA novels. The reader would have to be a VERY mature YA reader to read this one, in my opinion. (Re: Sex, partying, emotional/physical abuse, etc.)

Overall, I enjoyed being back in the world of the Saints. Pretty Reckless was a dark but surprisingly uplifting teenage romance. It has me excited for what’s to come. This new generation at All Saints High is going to be about an interesting bunch of teenagers.