Review: A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak

A Winter Wedding (Whiskey Creek #9) by Brenda Novak

Publication Date: October 27, 2015

Publisher: Mira

Synopsis:

Kyle Houseman has given up on love. He’s already married and divorced the wrong woman once. He also knows he’ll never find anyone that compares to his ex-girlfriend, Olivia. Kyle knows it’s his fault they didn’t end up together, but the fact that she married his step-brother is still raw. It makes family dinner tons of fun.

Country music sensation Lourdes Bennett came to Whiskey Creek to escape the spotlight and work on her new album. She was supposed to be spending the Christmas holiday squirreled away in Whiskey Creek with her fiance Derrick. Instead, she’s here alone dealing with the possibility that Derrick might not be as loyal to her as she thought.

When Lourdes can’t get her rental’s furnace to work, she calls her landlord, Kyle. As Lourdes and Kyle begin to get to know each other and become friends, they both notice a spark. But will Lourdes be willing to give up Nashville for a quieter kind of life in Whiskey Creek?


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Whiskey Creek is one of my favorite contemporary romance series. I love the group of friends Brenda Novak has created the series around. I’m always curious to find out which friend is the next to fall in love and who it will be with.

I was excited when I learned we were finally getting Kyle’s story in A Winter Wedding. I’ve been waiting to see inside his head ever since I read Olivia and Brandon’s story in When We Touch. Since Kyle’s been (not so secretly) in love with Olivia the entire series, I wondered what kind of woman would be able to capture his attention.

Brenda Novak couldn’t have created a better character than Lourdes to win Kyle’s heart. She was strong and independent — everything Kyle needed in a woman after dealing with his ex Noelle. I loved the connection they had and how protective of Lourdes Kyle was.

Since I mentioned Noelle, I have to say I absolutely loved her part in this story. It was fun to get a glimpse into her head and see what she’s been thinking the entire time she’s been pining after the ex-husband who is in love with her sister.

Kyle’s story was everything I was hoping it would be. A Winter Wedding was the perfect Christmas-time contemporary romance  read. It was fun, fast-paced and included all of the Whiskey Creek characters I’ve grown to love. If you love contemporary romance series, I would highly recommend the Whiskey Creek series and A Winter Wedding.

Other books in this series:

        

Before the Blog: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

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Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Publication Date: August 6, 2009

Publisher: Orion

Goodreads Synopsis:

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Why did you choose this book? 

I remember thinking it was pretty hilarious when I read it. I thought they did a pretty good job on the movie version released last year, but (of course) the book was better.

 When did you read this book? 

2009 or 2010. I’m not sure exactly. I picked it up at Borders Books when it was on the new(er) releases shelf.

Who would you recommend this book to?

Adults that enjoy a good, comical book.

Review: The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry

The Air He Breathes (Elements #1) by Brittany C. Cherry

Publication Date: September 25, 2015

Publisher: BCherry Books

Synopsis:

Elizabeth knows she should stay away from Tristan Cole. Everyone has told her he’s bad news. But there’s something inside Tristan that Elizabeth can relate with. Elizabeth sees Tristan and knows he’s not what they make him out to be. She knows he is just damaged like she is.

As Elizabeth gets to know Tristan, she finds an understanding and shared loss they can both relate to. It brings them closer together and soon they find themselves using each other in ways they never planned.

But they can’t go on forever living in the past and the future hold surprised neither of them could ever imagine.


My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


The Air He Breathes began as New Adult romances normally do: Messed up guy meets messed up girl. They are the only ones who really see each other. Then, Elizabeth and Tristan’s relationship went in a weird direction I didn’t like. They started using each other in a way that disturbed  me. The story lost me for a bit. Thankfully, Tristan and Elizabeth’s relationship got back on the right track and it went back to being what I have to come to expect from NA romances. But then, BAM! Surprise twist — in more ways than one.

Holy smokes. The Air He Breathes was not what I was expecting at all. Well, that’s not entirely true. I could foresee what was going to cause the biggest problem in Tristan and Elizabeth’s relationship from the beginning of the book. Other parts of it were a complete surprise, though. I didn’t expect the twist toward the end. That blew my mind.

For the most part, I really enjoyed Brittany C. Cherry’s writing and characters. I loved the bits and pieces I got to read of Tristan’s past life. Even though they had been through a similar situation, Tristan was more interesting of a character than Elizabeth was to me. I would credit that to some of the secrecy behind Tristan.

My favorite character in the whole book, though; had to be Elizabeth’s best friend Faye. She was outspoken and hilarious. Some of the things she said — oh, my! She was such fun to read.

Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure how to rate The Air He Breathes. There was so much going on in this story. It almost felt like two or three different books in one. Some of it I loved, other parts I hated. Overall, it was really good. So when it came down to rating it, I kept having to ask myself if I just liked it or did I really like it? It falls somewhere in between, so I went with 3.5 stars.

So, would I suggest reading it? Yes! If you like NA romances, give this one a try. While my rating is on the average side, I did really enjoy The Air He Breathes.

Wicked Restless by Ginger Scott

Wicked Restless (Harper Boys #2) by Ginger Scott

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Synopsis:

Andrew Harper knows what people in his small town say about his family. His brother, Owen,  may have tried to protect him from the rumors and hurt, but Owen’s gone now. Andrew’s on his own now to prove everyone wrong.

Then, Andrew meets new girl Emma Burke at school. She’s the most beautiful girl Andrew’s ever seen. She’s also smart and sweet. Emma’s heard the rumors, but she doesn’t seem to care. It makes being stuck in the small town of Woodstock bearable.

Emma may not be the talk of the town, but she has problems of her own to deal with. Problems she’s keeping secret from Andrew. She knows she needs to tell him, but she just wants to be a normal teen for a while.

As Andrew and Emma are quickly falling for each other, they will be faced with a choice that will change the directions of their lives forever. Their choices will not only divide them but ruin them.

Five years later, Andrew can’t let go of the pain. He’s hurt and angry.

Andrew always wondered what he would do when he saw Emma again. Now, he knows: get revenge. He has the perfect opportunity to do it and he’s going to take it. But as he puts his plan in motion, the truth of what happened all those years ago starts to present itself — along with feelings he thought were long gone.

If Andrew and Emma can’t make peace with their past, they may lose out on their future.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Wicked Restless is the second book in the Harper Boys series. I couldn’t wait to read it because I absolutely loved the first book, Wild Reckless. (You can read my review here, if you’re interested.) Wild Reckless was about Owen Harper, while Wicked Restless is about his younger brother, Andrew. Each book can be read as a standalone, but there are some things that carry over from Wild Reckless to Wicked Restless.

Dude, socks. If you just wore socks, this wouldn’t have happened.

Wicked Restless started out sweet, cute and funny like many YA contemporary romances. Andrew and Emma’s instant connection during P.E. class is funny and cute. I was so excited for this couple!

“I want this girl to be the girl – my girl. The one I take to things and experience everything with.”

Then, everything gets all complicated and messed up. It turns into the angst filled NA romance I was expecting. It plays with my emotions in ways I didn’t expect.

The decisions Andrew and Emma make tear them apart. It tore me apart! It was heart breaking to read. I hurt for Andrew. He was trying to be such a good person and all it did was prove the rumors true. I couldn’t help but dislike Emma. I felt like she ruined his life. I kind of hated her. I honestly wondered how Ginger Scott could ever redeem her at this point.

Flash forward five years. Andrew has changed. He’s no longer trying to prove he’s not what people think he is. Andrew runs into Emma again. Understandably, he hates her and wants revenge. (I kind of want revenge on her myself!) He doesn’t care about anything but making Emma suffer.

It’s from this moment that every choice Andrew makes is gut wrenching for me to read. I didn’t like what the past five years had done to him. It was so sad to see who Andrew had become. When Andrew takes his anger out on Emma, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. I went quickly from hating her to understanding her. I wanted Andrew to understand her, too. I wanted the sweet and innocent Andrew back.

I’m not going to give anything else away from the story. Just know that I absolutely loved Wicked Restless. It played with my emotions in so many different ways. One minute, I was happy. The next, I was angry. It went on the entire book! Everything felt so intense. At times, the story took turns I wasn’t quite sure I believed. That didn’t matter, though; Ginger Scott’s writing is so good and packed with so much emotion that I could look past those things. Wicked Restless was an amazing follow up to Wild Reckless. Now, I hope Ms. Scott will give us a spin off in the form of Andrew’s roommate, Trent. Love that dude.

If you are a NA reader looking for an emotionally intense series filled with beautiful writing, I would highly suggest Ginger Scott’s Harper Boys series.

Other books in this series:

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!

Before the Blog: Left Drowning by Jessica Park

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Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

Left Drowning by Jessica Park

Publication Date: July 16, 2013

Publisher: Skyscape

Goodreads Synopsis:

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.
Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Why did you choose this book? 

Because I loved it. It’s that simple, really.

Left Drowning was one of the first NA books I ever read. I was shocked at the amount of emotion it had me feeling. After reading it, I wanted to find more books like it. It’s still one of my favorite books. I was so happy when Jessica Park released the sequel, Restless Waters this fall. (Find my review here.)

When did you read this book? 

October of 2013

Who would you recommend this book to?

Readers who like emotionally packed books filled with damaged characters trying to heal. Also, readers who enjoy books by Colleen Hoover, Ginger Scott and Amy Harmon.

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:

 

Firebird

Firebird by Jennifer Loring

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Publisher:  Limitless Publishing, LLC

Synopsis:

Stephanie Hartwell is a journalist with something to prove. She knows her way into writing higher profile sports stories is to interview hockey superstar Aleksandr Volynsky.

Bad boy Aleksandr Volynsky is known to be a tough interview. He hates the media and has no problem giving reporters a hard time. But Stephanie has an in with Aleksandr. He’s the boy she once thought she’s marry. If anyone can get Aleksandr to open up, it’s Stephanie.

Aleksandr Volynsky does not give interviews, but he’s being forced into this one. He doesn’t know whether to be pleased Stephanie Hartwell will be interviewing him or mad. He’s wanted nothing more than to see her again, but eight years of silence has done nothing but heighten the rage he feels toward her. It doesn’t help that she’s engaged to another man. She was always supposed to be Aleksandr’s.

Even with all Aleksandr’s rage being aimed at Stephanie, she can’t help feel the chemistry between the two of them. She’s trying to keep things professional, but she’s having a harder and harder time fighting her feelings for him. Stephanie’s supposed to be happily engaged and writing the story of her life. Instead, she’s questioning every decision she’s ever made.

After Aleksandr and Stephanie decide to take things to the next level, their worlds come crashing down on them. Do they have what it takes to come out on top of it all — together?


My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Okay, so I’m going to get the one negative thing I have to say about Firebird out of the way so that I can sing it’s praises like I really want to do. There is cheating and a lot of womanizing in this book. (If those two things bother you, this book is not for you.) It was disturbing to read about the two main characters having sex with other people — especially when they’re thinking about each other. Ewww. BUT I know this stuff happens in real life, so it won’t make or a break a book for me. Now, on to the fun part!

Besides the cheating part, Firebird was an incredibly good romance. It was fast-paced and action packed. I couldn’t put it down. Something new was always happening and the story was constantly building. I was surprised at the twists and turns that took place. Just when I thought the story might be coming to an end, something else would happen to take the story in a new direction.

I absolutely loved Aleksandr. To be honest, most of the time he was a big fat jerk. But I kind of loved that about him. He didn’t hold back and once I knew why, I appreciated it even more. I don’t want to give too much away, but I felt that his story was an important one. I loved the way his character developed over the entire book.

Stephanie, on the other hand, drove me nuts at times. One minute, she was a smart and tough chick. The next, she made horrible decisions. I liked her, but at times she made it hard to.

Together, Stephanie and Aleksandr were scorching HOT. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other! There was a sweetness between the two of them that I loved — especially from Aleksandr. He was so crude, but he had a secret soft spot when it came to Stephanie. It made me smile a lot.

As for the hockey, I liked that Jennifer Loring included some actual hockey plays and not just the players. It added another great dimension to the story. I don’t know much about hockey, but it seemed realistic enough to me.

I would highly recommend Firebird to adult contemporary romance readers that love sports related romances.

**I received an electronic copy of Firebird in exchange for an honest review.

Outspoken

Outspoken by Lora Richardson

Publication Date: Agust 18, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Synopsis:

One thing Penny has never been in life is outspoken. She’s always gone with the flow and done what everyone wanted her to do. Others’ opinions have always mattered more than her own. But that’s going to change.

Penny’s going to spend her summer before (maybe) going to college at the beach in South Carolina. She’s going to leave her seven siblings and Montana hometown behind. She’s using checking up on her elderly grandfather as her excuse, but in reality Penny wants to break away from the person she was before. For once in her life, she’s going to be the person she wants to be. Penny’s going to be outspoken.

Just as Penny’s starting to gain her independence, she meets Archer. Everyone tells her to avoid him, but Penny feels drawn to him. While Penny’s trying to be her own person, she can’t help but worry about Archer’s opinion. Will her worrying about what Archer thinks be the end to her new life? Will she continue to be outspoken or will she revert to the girl who simply goes with the flow?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Outspoken is a coming of age tale. It’s set in that time in life when a young adult is trying to find themselves and their voice. Penny’s no longer a child, but she’s not sure how to be an adult and stand up for herself yet.

Outspoken is one of those books that is harder for me to review. While I loved the story and writing, I disliked the main character Penny. She rubbed me the wrong way. I know she was trying to be truthful, but her delivery was lacking finesse. Everything that came out of her mouth was so negative. I know she was striving to speak her mind, but if she was a new friend of mine, our friendship wouldn’t last long. She never seemed like she even wanted to hang out with her new friends, Gwen and Marissa. She needed to learn giving in to spend time with her friends didn’t always equate to giving up a piece of herself. But that’s part of what this story was about, so I feel bad complaining! Penny was just trying to find her voice.

Despite my dislike for Penny, I did enjoy the storyline. I liked how she set out on her own to discover herself. What she was going through was very relatable. And Penny did have her redeeming moments. I could see a glimpse of the sweet person she was when she went above and beyond to help the people she met through her job at the grocery store. I also loved the way she wanted to take care of her grandfather, Cal. My favorite Penny was the person she was when she was with Archer. She seemed to find a happy medium when she was with him. She wasn’t quite as negative but she also didn’t lose herself in him. I wanted to read more of this Penny.

What I enjoyed most about Outspoken was the cast of supporting characters. I loved them all! Gwen and Marissa were a ton of fun. Archer was the silent, brooding “bad boy” with a lot of depth. All of Penny’s grocery delivery customers were interesting and added a ton of dimension to the story. Penny’s family seemed really fun, too. I would have liked to read more about them and their relationships with each other. I have a feeling they would have been a hilarious bunch.

So while I didn’t always enjoy Penny, I did always enjoy the story. I thought it was a great YA coming of age story about a girl on the path to adulthood trying to find herself. I think this book would be highly beneficial for young adults going through that time in their lives to read.

**I received an electronic copy of Outspoken from the author in exchange for an honest review.