Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

224293501Title: The Start of Me and You

Author: Emery Lord

Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?


5 / 5 Stars


I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but The Start of Me and You  is the start of me and my love for Emery Lord’s books. Wow. Her writing is beautiful.

The title The Start of Me and You would lead one to believe this book is a romance. It is so much more than just a romance. It is a story of friendship and helping each other through the tough times in life. The romance most definitely played second string to the friendships in this book. Those tight friendships made the romance even sweeter.

I’m honestly kind of at a loss for words with this book. I feel like I can’t do it justice with this review. If you’re a YA contemporary romance lover, you should definitely read this book. It’s now one of my favorites. I can’t wait to read more of Emery Lord’s books.

 

 

Review: Hellion by Elle Casey

Hellion (Rebel Wheels #2) by Elle Casey

Publication Date: November 30, 2015

Publisher: Elle Casey

Synopsis:

Quinlan Torres is planning ahead for her future. She needs to finish college and get out on her own. She also has a lot of responsibilities: school work, her younger brother Jersey, and helping her best friend win back her deceased father’s company. The last thing Quin has time for is a guy.

If only Quin’s best friend didn’t have a boyfriend with a smoking hot brother. Maybe then she could actually stick to her plan. But each time they see each other, they get closer and closer to combusting…


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Last week I read Rebel, the first book in the Rebel Wheels series. I loved it. It was a fun NA romantic suspense. There were so many great one liners in it. It didn’t quite end in a cliffhanger, but there were still some unanswered questions. So, of course, I had to read Hellion.

Hellion was just as much fun to read as Rebel. Quin was just as snarky and hilarious as Teagan. She has such a potty mouth! I loved getting to know her and her family better. Her family — Jersey especially — was so cool. It was also fun to see her get all flustered by Rebel’s brother(s).

In keeping with the book description, I won’t tell you which brother Quin falls for. I’ll just say the tension between them was incredible. So were their hot and heavy moments.

I really enjoyed reading Hellion. It was almost as amazing as Rebel. My only big complaint was how quickly the story wrapped up. There was a huge build up to Quin and her hellion getting together, but once they were their relationship moved too quickly for me. I can’t explain it without giving too much away. It didn’t ruin the story, I just found it a little unbelievable. That being said, it didn’t ruin the book for me or keep me from wanting to read the next book in the series.

Other books in this series:

Rebel

ARC Review: How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

 How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

Publication Date: November 3, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Synopsis:

Georgia isn’t excited about starting her senior year of high school. She just lost her mother and isn’t quite sure how to go on. Her mother left her a letter telling Georgia who her mother would like her to be. Mostly, she wants Georgia to be brave and have the courage to try new things.

With the help of her best friend, Liss, Georgia decides to make a “Live Life List.” Together, they set out to complete the list. But nothing goes as easily as planned and soon Georgia find her life going places she never wanted it to go. Friendships are ruined, hearts are broken and trust is gone.

Georgia must be brave and take the steps necessary to put her life back together again.


My rating: 3 out of 5 stars


“It’s not you, it’s me.”

I feel like that pretty much sums up how I feel about How to Be Brave.

How to Be Brave started out strong. I really felt for Georgia and could identify with her. The writing was great. I loved the way Georgia’s memories were poetic. The issues in the story were important and relatable.  Then, it lost my attention fairly quickly.

To be honest, I think it was the tone of the book. It started out sad but optimistic. I was excited to see how Georgia was going to take her mom’s words of wisdom and where she would go from there. I had high hopes.

How to Be Brave just didn’t meet them. Instead of being a hopeful book about seizing life, it became Georgia’s decent into mischief and misery. It was depressing. While I understand why it took this direction, it wasn’t fun to read — at least for me. I kept reading in hopes that things would pick up and get better for Georgia. They did, but it just didn’t feel real to me. It felt like even her future might be depressing. I wanted to be uplifted. I wanted to see major growth throughout the entire book.

Something was just lacking for me in How to Be Brave. I have a feeling other readers are going to love this book. It was a good book — I just think it wasn’t for me.

**I received a copy of How to Be Brave from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Publication Date: October 12, 2013

Synopsis:

High school senior Fern Taylor knows she’ll never be beautiful like her best friend Rita. Fern’s got crazy red hair, glass and braces. If that wasn’t enough, she’s so tiny she could pass as a child. Fern knows she’ll never be beautiful enough to capture the attention of her crush, Ambrose Young.

Ambrose Young has it all. He’s not only tall and handsome, he’s smart and talented, too. The wrestling state championship has everything going for him, yet the pressure to be the winner his small town needs overwhelms him. So when the opportunity to be more presents itself, Ambrose grabs onto it. He enlists in the armed forces and convinces his four close friends to join him.

When tragedy strikes, Fern’s small town is torn apart. Five boys may have left for war, but only one will return alive.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I had to give Making Faces 5 stars. The message in this story is so important — especially to teens and young adults. It’s a story about looking past what you see on the outside to what’s on the inside of a person. Looks can be deceiving and words can be hurtful.

I almost gave it 4 stars because it took me a while to get into the book and understand its flow. I was a little confused by the different points of view. I thought there would be two: Ambrose and Fern. There were three. Bailey, Fern’s cousin / friend, was also a narrator. I wasn’t expecting that. There were also some flashbacks peppered throughout the book that I didn’t get at first. I knew it would all make sense, it was just getting further into the story to understand where it was all going.

The beauty and message of this story completely negated those complaints. Once I got a few chapters into Making Faces, I honestly didn’t want to put the book down. I forgot about my previous confusion. I read it in one day. The story was filled with such love and loss — not just for the main characters but for the entire small town. It was also filled with beautiful writing and a powerful message. It’s a book I wish I would have read in my late teen / early adult years when I put so much pressure on myself based on my looks.

Making Faces was an incredible story. It’s one that will stick with me for a very, very long time. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to consider it. To entice you, I’ll share one of my favorite quotes from Making Faces:

“If God made all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?

Does he make the legs that cannot walk and eyes that cannot see?

Does he curl the hair upon my head ’til it rebels in wild defiance?

Does he close the ears of a deaf man to make him more reliant?

Is the way I look a coincidence or just a twist of fate?

If he made me this way, is it okay, to blame him for the things I hate?

For the flaws that seem to worsen every time I see a mirror, For the ugliness I see in me, for the loathing and the fear.

Does he sculpt us for his pleasure, for a reason I can’t see?

If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?”

Beautiful, right? Read it!

Always Been You

Always Been You (Unforgettable You #3) by Beverly Kendall

Publication Date: October 15, 2015

Publisher: Season Publishing LLC

Synopsis:

Troy and April have been best friends since they were in kindergarten. They have always done everything together. They even chose to go to the same college. People always assume they’re “friends with benefits,” but their relationship has always been strictly platonic.

Until it isn’t.

When Troy chalks up their amazing night together to a drunken mistake, April is devastated. She’s had a secret crush on Troy since she was sixteen. So April puts all her efforts into getting over Troy.

Just when April thinks she ready to move on, Troy suddenly wants more. It should be April’s dream come true. But as soon as Troy reveals his feelings, his world comes crashing down and takes April’s with it.

Now, April’s stuck making a decision she really doesn’t want to have to make. Can she stomach posing nude for Playboy in order to help out her family? And if she does, will it ruin her relationship with Troy?


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I stumbled onto Beverley Kendall’s NA novella The Trap  (Trapped #0.5) back when it came out in 2014. I was instantly addicted to the story and characters Beverley Kendall created. Once I was done reading it, I couldn’t wait for the next book to come out. From there, I went on to finish that series and pick up the related Unforgettable You series. I have loved each book in this series and have been (im)patiently waiting for the release of Always Been You. It was definitely worth the wait!

Always Been You is one of my favorite kinds of romances: best friends to lovers. There’s just something so sweet about two best friends falling for each other. I mean, what relationship could be more perfect?

I loved the main characters in this story. April was the model that could have had anyone, but was so insecure when it came to Troy. She would rather ignore her own feelings than lose him as a friend. Troy was in total denial about his feelings. Yeah, his best friend was hot. No, he didn’t like any of her boyfriends, but they just weren’t good enough for her. He wasn’t into her at all. Right…

Not only did I love the characters but their story! April and Troy were so much fun and hot together! Even when they weren’t “together”, the chemistry they had impacted every scene. I couldn’t put the book down. I was sad when it was over — once again I’m stuck waiting for the next book in the series. (I’m hoping the wait won’t be so long this time!)

If you’re looking for a fun friends to lovers NA read, I would highly suggest this one. There are some characters from previous books in this series, but I think it could be read as a standalone. I would also recommend other books in this series and the Trapped series. The Trap is FREE on Amazon and Only for You is $0.99! So, it’s the perfect time to try out both series!

Other books in this series:

 

Related series:

 

Until Friday Night

Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1) by Abbi Glines

Publication Date: August 25, 2015

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Synopsis:

Maggie Carleton doesn’t speak. She hasn’t since she told the police her father killed her mother two years ago. Maggie chooses to stay silent to protect herself from the pain.

Football player West Ashby is cocky, popular and too cute for his own good. He has girls lining up for a chance to be with him. What people don’t know is that he uses it all as a front to hide his pain. West’s father is dying slowly of cancer. He doesn’t want anyone to know, so he hides it with football, beer and girls.

When Maggie moves to live with her aunt and uncle in Lawton, she has no plans to start talking. She’s content to hide her pain within herself. What Maggie doesn’t count on is West. When he takes his pain out on her at a post-game field party, it starts the beginning of a friendship. West needs someone to talk to, someone who won’t blab his problems around. Who better to confide in than a girl that doesn’t talk? But as Maggie gets closer to West, she feels the need to share her wisdom with him — by talking.


My review: 4.5 out of 5 stars


I loved this book. Really, truly loved it. Abbi Glines created a group of characters that were so much fun, even if the story was a little sad. I loved the strength both Maggie and West had. Their friendship was so sweet. It was so much fun watching them try to avoid falling for each other.

I also loved the dynamic between West and his friends. Their dialogue made me smile! I really want a book in this series about each of them! I’m hoping that’s what Abbi Glines has planned since this is the first book in the series. I’m not quite sure with the way this book ended.

That brings to me to why I didn’t give it 5 stars. Even though the storylines were wrapping up, the ending felt abrupt to me. It ended and I was like, “That’s it?!?!” I wish there would have been a little bit more.

I would definitely recommend this to YA readers (FYI – There is a few sexual acts mentioned. Actual sex was not described. There is also drinking in the story.). Until Friday Night captivated me from the beginning. The writing was amazing. I think it just might be my favorite Abbi Glines book that I’ve read so far.

A Stone in the Sea

A Stone in the Sea (Bleeding Stars #1) by A.L. Jackson

Publication Date: February 21, 2015

Synopsis:

Sebastian “Baz” Stone lives in deep despair. His only break from his troubled life is when he steps on stage as the lead singer for his band, Sunder.

When Baz is faced with assault charges, he’s forced to take a break from touring and hide out in Savannah, Georgia. One night, Baz walks into a local bar called Charlie’s. He’s just there for a drink, but what he finds is so much more. It’s more than he deserves.

Waitress Shea Bentley has given up a lot to live her small town life. She’s always been happy with her man-less life. Or she was until Baz walked into her bar. Now, Shea’s fighting the attraction she feels for a man she doesn’t know. A man she knows could break her heart.

Baz and Shea can’t seem to stay away from each other. There’s a chemistry between them that neither can deny. But each holds a secret that has the power to destroy them both.


My rating: 4 stars


I’ve had A Stone in the Sea on my bookshelf and TBR list since early this summer. I meant to read it several times, but it got pushed down the list thanks to library books, NetGalley requests and Goodreads Giveaway books.  Last week I put it on my WWW Wednesdays posts in hopes it would inspire me to finally read it. It worked. I read it this weekend between soccer tournament games.

Honestly, what sets A Stone in the Sea apart from other New Adult novels is the writing. It’s simply beautiful. It’s almost lyrical. The whole thing could be a song or maybe a poem. It was very nice to read. What could have been a pretty typical New Adult romance had an extra wow factor because of the writing.

It was also a quick read that I didn’t want to put down. I read most of it in one evening. I liked the chemistry between Shea and Baz. The tension between the two of them was palpable. Once again, I’m crediting the amazing writing.

The only thing that drove me a little crazy was the cliffhanger. Luckily, the second book in the series is already out so I don’t have to wait long to find out what’s next. If it wasn’t already out, I think I would be a little frustrated!

I truly enjoyed A Stone in the Sea . I think New Adult romance readers will love A.L. Jackson’s writing style.

Other books in the series:

Juniors

 Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Publication Date: September 22, 2015

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Synopsis:

High school junior Lea Lane recently moved to Hawaii with her actress mom. She hasn’t really made many friends on the island other than her childhood friend, Danny.

When her mom’s rich friends, Eddie and Melanie West invite Lea and her mom to move into their guest house. Lea’s not excited. Moving means living on her popular classmates’ property. She’s embarrassed to be accepting charity for Whitney and Will’s parents. Lea doesn’t want to be known at her posh private school as a charity case.

To her surprise, Lea finds herself becoming friends with Whitney and maybe something more with Will. She’s also experiencing more in life than ever before. But her friendship with the West kids may be changing Lea in a way she never wanted. Lea will have to decide if being friends with the West kids is worth losing the respect of the two people she cares the most about.


My rating: 3 out of 5 stars


I loved how Juniors started off. It was a creative start but something I could imagine happening in real life. Lea was a normal teenage girl trying to figure things out. I liked her the dynamic between her and Danny. It was a cute friendship. I also loved the nod to the Hawaiian culture and scenery.

Somewhere in the middle of the story, it lost me a bit. Lea got very immature and it was hard for me to read. A lot of it was very realistic but it still drove me nuts — especially her “relationship” with Will. I hated how she treated her mom, too. I was frustrated with the story and kind of wanted it to hurry up and end.

Then, right before the very end, the story picked up and went in the direction I was hoping it would the entire time. I wish it would have happened earlier. I would have liked more interaction between Danny and Lea. I would have loved for the entire book to have more Danny in it. He was the cute and funny part of it all.

Juniors wasn’t my favorite book by Kaui Hart Hemmings. The Descendants has that spot. I still think Juniors had a good message for teenagers, though. I would suggest it to young adults going through high school. It’s an excellent representation of what trying to fit in could be.

Deal Breakers

Deal Breakers by Laura Lee

Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher: LAN Fiction LLC.

Synopsis:

Devyn can’t leave college a virgin. She doesn’t want to start her new adult life without feeling like an adult. So, Devyn asks the one person she trusts the most to help her with her little problem: her platonic male best friend.

Riley’s always thought Devyn was hot, but they’ve kept themselves in the friend zone all through college. Riley is shocked when Devyn asks him to help with her little problem. He jumps on the chance to have one night, no-string attached night with her before they go there separate ways.

Now, it’s five years later and Riley can’t stop thinking he made the biggest mistake of his life walking away from his one night with Devyn. He’s decided to find her and make her see how perfect they are for each other. But Devyn and Riley’s one night together has more consequences than Riley imagined.


My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


I’ve been trying to figure out how to review Deal Breakers for the past couple of days. I’m a huge fan of friends to lovers books, so I should love this book. It was fun to read, but a couple of things felt off to me.

The first thing was the beginning of the book. While I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the evolution of Riley and Devyn’s friendship, Part One’s division into each year of college was a little too disjointed for me. I think I would have liked them more if they had been flashbacks or maybe just senior year.

Another thing that bothered me was Riley’s reaction to Devyn’s betrayal. There was like one day of anger and that was it. I know he wanted her back, but it didn’t feel realistic that he would forgive her so quickly. I also don’t think Devyn would have dove back into things with Riley that quickly either. I guess what it comes down to is the story was so fast-paced that it didn’t go deep enough for me.

Other than those couple of things, I did really enjoy reading Deal Breakers. I adored Riley. His POV was a lot of fun to read. I actually would have enjoyed the entire book in his POV. I also loved Nathan’s character. He was too cute!

I would recommend Deal Breakers to New Adult readers that enjoy a fun, fast-paced romance without a lot of angst.

**I received an electronic copy of Deal Breakers from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sincerely, Arizona

Sincerely, Arizona (Sincerely, Carter #1.5) by Whitney Gracia Williams

Publication Date: September 10, 2015

Publisher: WGW Books

Synopsis:

Sincerely, Arizona is an epilogue to Sincerely, Carter. It is FREE, but you must read Sincerely, Carter first.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely loved Sincerely, Carter when I read it a few months ago. It’s another one of those best friends to lovers stories that I adore. Sincerely, Arizona is a continuation of Carter and Arizona’s story and picks up where the first book left off. It was the perfect ending to Carter and Arizona’s story. It was short, but had all the things fans of the first book loved. It’s definitely worth reading if you liked the first book.

Other books in this series: