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.

Series Review: Broken Hill High (Sheridan Anne)

Lately, I’ve been searching for series that have a similar feel to Tijan’s Fallen Crest High. I miss the emotion and drama of that series. One of the series that popped up when I went looking was Broken Hill High. Since it was available on KU, I decided to give it a try.

Book 1:

Broken Hill High is the first book in the series. It starts when Tora is a senior in high school. Her parents have left the country to take care of her ill grandmother, and while they’re gone Tora is forced to stay with her parents’ friends. Tora is not excited to stay with these friends because they have two sons who hate her. Nate, another senior, is particularly mean to her. You know what they say about boys who bully girls, though. It turns out there’s a very fine line between love and hate for Nate. Soon Tora’s dating the bad boy of Broken Hill High, and life starts to get even crazier. All of the attention has the people who would like to take Nate down gunning for Tora.

I thought this series started out pretty strongly. I liked Tora. I even liked Nate. The beginning of relationship was actually pretty sweet. That sweetness combined with all the over the top drama was a lot of fun.

Book 2:

Broken Hill Halo is really just more of Broken Hill High. Tora loves being Nate’s girlfriend despite all of the drama that brings. Instead of being meek like she was when Nate tormented her, Tora’s learning to stand up for herself. Being with Nate has given her courage. Instead of standing by and watching, she’s dealing out her own wrath. Tora’s changing in little ways in this book. Some of them I liked, others I didn’t.

Book 3:

Things begin to take a turn for Tora in Broken Hill Hurt. The ramifications of her actions have started piling up. Her parents aren’t so sure Nate is the best influence. Tora’s determined to prove to them that he is. The problem is that Nate agrees with them. Now, Tora has to learn how to deal with everything crashing down around her.

Things have turned toxic pretty quickly for Tora. I felt badly for her, but I actually agreed with her parents. I had respect for Nate. I got what everyone was trying to do and point out to her.

Book 4:

In Broken Hill Hearts, Tora is still learning to live without Nate. He’s there, but he’s not. Tora is determined to make Nate see the errors of his ways. It’s hard when she can’t stay out of trouble or drama, but she’s going to do it. I still felt bad for Tora, but I liked the direction she was headed with this one. I felt like she really grew a spine and figured out what she needed to do for everything in her life to work itself out.

Book 5:

Broken Hill Havoc begins a new chapter in Tora’s life. She’s left Broken Hill High behind and is now at Broken Hill University. The setting may be different, but the drama is still abundant. Tora and Nate have settled into their relationship. It’s not so up and down. That’s okay because Tora’s relationship with Brooke is. Honestly, I couldn’t stand that girl and how she didn’t believe Tora. That was the most frustrating part of this book. I did like how all of the storylines wrapped up. It was also interesting to get a chapter in Nate’s POV. It makes me excited for Broken Hill Honor.

Book 5.5:

Broken Hill Honor was a novella in mostly Nate’s POV. It was cute and sweet. It wrapped up this series in a great way.

Overall thoughts:

Broken Hill High is a dramatic series filled with over the top teenage drama. There is fighting, love, sex, partying, violence, and relationship troubles. I would classify it as NA romance or very mature YA romance based on the amount of sex and partying involved. Many of the scenes require maturity to read and process.

I liked that the main character, Tora, who start off as quieter, weaker girl and blossomed into a strong young women. Sometimes I wanted to roll my eyes at her actions and reactions, but I did feel like she reacted like a 17-year-old would react. Her relationship with Nate throughout the books progressed well. I liked the ups and downs of it.

Nate was the classic bad boy who ruled the school. He had nasty habits and was a jerk, but he also had redeeming qualities. He was extremely loyal. Once Tora was his, he was incredibly sweet to her. Nate would have done anything to ensure Tora’s safety. I didn’t always love his choices, but I wasn’t supposed it.

Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Tora’s friends. They were just kind of there and added a little to the drama. I did really love Nate’s brother Jesse, though. He was a ton of fun. I liked his friendship with Tora. Puck was also another fun friend of Nate’s.

What this book was missing from this series, in my opinion, was emotion. There was emotion written in the book, but I didn’t always feel it myself. I wasn’t consumed by Tora’s feelings. I felt for her not with her. I wanted to feel with her. That’s the only way I can think of explaining it.

Broken Hill High was a fun series to read, but I wasn’t in love with it. I did appreciate how addictive it was, and I think readers who like books with a lot of drama will enjoy it.

Series Rating: ★ ★ ★

Review: Fumbled Hearts (Meagan Brandy)

Fumbled Hearts
Series: Tender Hearts, #1
Author: Meagan Brandy
Narrators: CJ Bloom, Alexander Cendese
Publication Date: September 21, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

He’s the persistent playboy who refuses to walk away. I’m the impassive new girl with nothing left to give.
Things are about to get complicated…

After months of refusing, I finally agreed to make the move to Alrick Falls. My family thought it was best – that a new scene would be good for me—and I was sick of having the same conversation.
So here I am, and the plan is simple. Smile through each day and avoid her at all costs.
It’s perfect.

Until the cocksure quarterback comes into play.

The last thing I want is his crooked grin and dark brown eyes focused on me.
Yet here he is, constantly in my space, pushing me, daring me to care. Telling me what I think and feel, as if he knows.
He doesn’t know anything. And  I plan to keep it that way.


Yeah. I’m not where to start with this review, but I’m going to apologize ahead of time if it ends up being a complete rant.

I have to give Meagan Brandy props for her ability to write completely messed up characters. I have read a couple of her books now, and both of them had characters who had been through some rough times. Kalani’s flippant, hard-shelled personality was exactly what I would expect of someone trying to shield herself from the world. I loved how Nate broke down Kalani’s walls and how sweet their relationship was.

Everything else drove me absolutely positively nuts. Despite understanding Kalani’s attitude, I hated it. I hated the way she acted. She had a superiority complex that was insane. She complained others were judgemental, but she was just as judgemental. The way she treated people — Nate included — was not good. Kalani hid things from Nate when she didn’t have a reason to. She kept him at arm’s length even when she swore she loved him. She was a mess and I don’t think she truly got the smack in the face she needed.

I loved Nate. He didn’t hide who he was or what he did. He treated Kalani in a way I didn’t think she deserved. Nate did have a time of stupidity, but I wasn’t shocked by it and he had legit reason to be upset. He could have solved his problems before they started, but I didn’t blame him for his conclusions.

The rest of the characters were crazy, over the top high school students. I never really got a good read on Kalani’s cousin and her boyfriend. Parker was a sweetheart, but I couldn’t figure him out for a while. Things didn’t go where I thought they would with him, so I have to admit that despite not loving this book I will be reading the second. I loved Nate’s parents. Everyone else sucked in that snotty, mean girl/guy way.

Now for one of my biggest complaints about Fumbled Hearts. It was set in high school. HIGH SCHOOL, people! These characters and their actions were more suited for COLLEGE. Kalani had been emancipated for like FOUR YEARS before this book. She was 18. Who gets emancipated at 14? Maybe some kids do, but it seemed crazy when it could have easily have been only a year or two with the storyline. Then, there was all of the drinking and sex. I know this stuff happens in high school, but with the attitudes of the characters it made the whole feel of the book that much older. I kept waiting for someone to show up pregnant with all the talk about sex without a condom at times and pulling out. Seriously, why is this included? Nate’s parents seemed more than happy to let their son have sex under their roof AND didn’t say much when he admitted to not using a condom all of the time. If you’re going to write sex into a YA book, PLEASE advocate safe sex or show the consequences. Finally, there was the ending. It was cheesy and I honestly expected more from it.

I found Fumbling Hearts to be an addictive listen. The narrator did a great job, and I wanted to know what was going to happen to these messed up characters. I just didn’t really enjoy where things went. It was all too problematic for me. 🙁 I’m hoping book 2 is better.

Review: Boys of Brayshaw High (Meagan Brandy)

Boys of Brayshaw High
Series: Brayshaw High, #1
Author: Meagan Brandy
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Girls like you aren’t exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way.”

Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for “troubled teens”.

I didn’t listen, and now I’m on their radar.

They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they’ve deemed me fit.

Too bad for them, I don’t follow rules.
Too bad for me, they’re determined to make sure I do.

Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings…these are the boys of Brayshaw High.

And I’m the girl who got in their way.


The Boys of Brayshaw High is a book I picked up solely because Kayla told me it was similar to Fallen Crest High by Tijan. I’m a sucker for that series, so I knew I had to read it. I have to agree that it had a similar feel as FCH, so if you like that series you will most likely like this book. Now for more about this book.

I have some mixed feelings about The Boys of Brayshaw High. You can probably tell that from my 3 star rating. I liked it, but there were some things that made me shake my head. I didn’t always appreciate where the story went. There was one particular cabin incident that had me rolling my eyes and disgusted. Not because I couldn’t handle what was going on, but that it didn’t fit in the way it was supposed to in my opinion. I also found one of the twist’s timelines to be a bit confusing based on the characters’ ages and what year they were in high school. (Oh, and speaking of high school, this book might be YA aged but it was definitely new adult.) My biggest issue was probably that I didn’t connect to Raven for a really long time. I found her interesting, but a little off-putting. Honestly, her attitude sucked. I got why and got used it, but I couldn’t get used to some of the dumb decisions she made.

Now that I have those things off my chest, let me talk about what I loved about The Boys of Brayshaw High. Meagan Brandy’s writing is addictive. It had the perfect amount of angst and the emotions flowed with the story. I found myself completely caught up in all of the drama. That’s one of the things I loved most about this book — the drama. It was all over the place and kept up right until the end. I also enjoyed the twists Ms. Brandy included. I didn’t see most of them coming. I was surprised by the cliffhanger ending — which makes me mad because I didn’t realize this was a newly released book and the rest of the series isn’t out yet. Dang it!

While I didn’t always like Raven, I found her to be a great character. The chip she had on her shoulder was certainly justified. I hurt for what she had been through growing up. I hated how people treated her and slut shamed her based on her mom. (Normally, I would cringe at all the slut-shaming, but it did work with the nature of this story line.) Raven’s relationship with the Brayshaw boys was a lot of fun. I loved the steps she went through to figure out her relationship with them. It was so explosive and gritty.

The Brayshaw Boys were another one of the best things about this book. They were horrible, but also surprisingly appealing characters. I totally got why they had Raven all messed up in the head. Royce was the fun-loving one. He made me smile with his nicknames and antics. Captain was the quiet, sullen one. He had a nice sweet side. Maddoc was…mysterious. He was the leader of the pack. I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated the guy half the time. He was so cruel, and yet he had some tender moments that I couldn’t look past. I loved that he also got a point of view in this book. It would have been enough to have just Raven’s, but his brought something extra special to the mix. One thing I need to say is that I didn’t get enough answers when it came to these guys. I understand that now since two books are still coming in this series, but I’m back to being angry that they aren’t released yet because I can’t stand the mystery!

There is so much more to this book than what I’ve included in this review. It’s really hard to explain all the dynamics and crazy stuff that happens because I don’t want to spoil anything. Just know that if you love a gritty, darker, angst-y romance then you should be right at home with The Boys of Brayshaw High.

Review: Famous in a Small Town (Emma Mills)

Famous in a Small Town
Author: Emma Mills
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.

The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.


Famous in a Small Town is one of those books that is hard to assign a rating to. Emma Mills’ writing is so good. She always keeps me captivated with her words, stories, and characters. I loved reading it, yet there were a few things that bothered me.

The small town setting of Famous in a Small Town was a lot of fun. I loved how I could imagine the businesses and houses as if I was there with the characters. The close-knit but also stifling feel of a small town came across well. I could feel the ups and downs of living somewhere so small in each and every character.

Sophie was a great main character for this book and its setting. She loved living in Acadia.  I understood her fear of the future, of leaving home and everything changing. Sophie didn’t want to lose the close connection she had with her friends and family. I loved her, but I also became annoyed with her. Her involvement and dedication to her marching band was something to commend her for, but it was almost too much at times. She became extremely fixated on things, and it took me a very long time to understand it.

As in every one of her books, Emma Mills created a cast of memorable friends for her main character. Brit and Flora complimented Sophie is different ways. Flora was a sweet, simpler friend for Sophie. Brit was the rougher, blatantly honest one. Terrance and Dash were the male counterparts that evened out there group. I loved how they all interacted with each other and the closeness they shared. I do have to admit that there were a couple of times I wanted to throttle Brit. I didn’t feel like she was being the best of friends to Sophie, but I think we all have one of those friends who doesn’t know when to keep their mouth shut.

Then, there was August. August was new to town. Sophie baby-sat for his brother and brought him into her friend group. August and Sophie had an instant connection. They got each other’s humor and had instant chemistry, but they were just friends. I didn’t always love the way August treated Sophie. He abused their friendship at times. Sophie handled it well, but she also was more forgiving than I hope most of us would be. Probably not, but I want to believe so.

But wait? What about Megan, the famous hometown singer? What happens with her and getting her to come back to town? Well, that’s something you will just have to read this book to find out yourself. There are some surprises I didn’t see coming with this part of the story. Actually, there were several things I didn’t see coming that threw me off a bit. I couldn’t decide if I loved them or not.

Overall, Famous in a Small Town was a great YA contemporary read. It had memorable characters, a touching story, and a group of friends I would love to revisit.