Book Review: Stand-Off by Andrew Smith

Genre: 

Young Adult, information pills Contemporary

Pages: 

448 pages

Part of a Series?:

Book #2 of Winger series

Release Date: 

September 8th, page 2015

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

My Review:

While this review will remain spoiler-free, there is no guarantee that there will not be spoilers for Winger. Please click here for that review. 

 

I was so unbelievably excited to get my hands on this novel. It took so long, to me, for this book to finally hit the shelves. I’m also pretty sure I drove everyone insane by trying to get my hands on an ARC, which inevitably failed. Sigh. So I had to wait like the rest of you for this book to hit shelves.

I went to the book event at the Grove to go see Andrew and get my hands on it. He read aloud from it, and from beginning to end, I laughed. I knew exactly what I was in for once I started this book.

And yet I didn’t know. Let’s be honest, from the beginning, this is definitely an Andrew Smith book. It made me laugh, and it had that sort of randomness, that quirkiness that just makes me so happy when I read his books. Ryan Dean is still random and smart as hell and full of random thoughts. I love his drawings and I love the relationship that he has with Annie. That is absolutely beautiful. I love that it progresses and its not all sunshine and rainbows, but there’s work to it, like any relationship. I love that realism. I love the humor. The “friendship” between Ryan Dean and the Abernathy just had me cracking up the entire book, especially every time Ryan Dean told him to stop talking. It made me laugh so hard.

But what I love about this book is how much we see Ryan Dean change and grow up and deal with the things that happened to him in Winger. With Joey’s death brings a lot of problems for Ryan Dean West, and its interesting to see a character you know so well deal with that. He’s not the same person. He’s lost a bit of his goofiness, and he’s afraid to befriend anyone, because of what happened to his best friend. I think Andrew has a way of capturing it that’s just great. You’re laughing, like always, but you’re also right there with Ryan Dean, experiencing the same things that he is, and the panic attacks felt incredibly real. I experience them periodically and those scenes hit me hard.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the sequel. I was just glad to have Ryan Dean back. Winger is one of my favorite books period. I definitely expected a lot of laughs, and a lot of randomness and a lot of really cool comics and drawings. All of that was delivered. But the super human story of Ryan Dean and his relationship with Annie and his relationship with his roommate, Sam, and dealing with all the things that are piled up on top of him…that was unexpected but completely beautiful. Because that’s one of the things that makes Andrew the incredible writer that he is; he’s able to be funny and emotional and romantic and a hundred of different emotions at the same time, and bring it all together for a really well-written, character-driven, fantastic story. Another absolute winner, and is now sitting on my “favorites” shelves, right alongside Winger.

Basically…the whole book made me feel like this…

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

 

Book Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Genre: 

Young Adult, visit web Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 

304 pages

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

June 16th, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

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Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

My Review:

 

Dear Owl Crate,

Thank you SO SO SO much for putting this in your July box. Seriously. Thank you. I had never heard of it before I found it in my box, and it sounded so good and I knew that I had to dive into it. And I’m so glad I did.

This book was SO fabulous and awesome and so good and I’m so excited for it, and I just kind of want to shove it in everyone’s faces, like, guys, this is Lauren’s debut novel and its wonderful and you need to read it.

First off, her voice is just great. She writes in alternate voices between the Ella in the past and the Ella of the present, same character but she writes them so perfectly. Its the same person both times, but you can see the growth and the change and all of that between the two and I think that’s a really hard thing to figure out, and she does it just beautifully. I was hooked on both versions of Ella super fast.

Plus its a summer novel. It has the big summer feel to it, you know? When you get out of school and everything seems possible. Summer is this huge blank slate and all you can think about is how beautiful and open and blank it is and how its just going to be the best summer ever. And you get that in both of the summer nights we see in this book. I love that. I don’t get that feeling as much as I did when I was younger and didn’t have to work and all that so its nice to get that feeling in the form of a book.

And its just a great story. Matt and Ella, Jake and Mia, and everyone they encounter in their crazy adventure? Its just great. I love them all. They’re all flushed out, and you put them together and they just create this beautiful story. Its high school and its romance and its uncertainty and its mistakes and running around, doing stupid things, and I miss that sort of thing sometimes. Its just a great story. First love, adventures, I loved every single moment of it.

Thank you Owl Crate, you sold me as a fan of Lauren Gibaldi. This book was incredible and I can’t wait for more to come out. I’m anxiously awaiting.

Rating: 

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Upside Down by Lia Riley

Genre: 

New Adult, rx Contemporary, this site Romance

Pages: 

384 pages

Part of a Series?:

Book #1 of the Off the Map series

Release Date: 

August 5th, buy more about 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

My Review:

I’m not going to lie. It took me awhile to get into this novel. My friends and I recently started our own little version of a book club, and this was my choice for the club. It caught my eye at Target and it had a blurb from JLA, who I adore so much, so I decided to read it. I ended up really really liking this book but I must admit, it took me a bit to get into it.

It starts off slow and I think that’s the problem with it. I have a hard time connecting with Talia right away and I’m not sure why that is is. She’s similar to me in ways and she lives in California, in a part of California that I’ve been lucky enough to visit, and, funnily enough, is the basis for the fictional town that I’ve created for my own NA series. Its not until she’s in Australia, going to school, and still struggling with the things she tried to escape in California…that’s when I finally connect with her. She’s sort of run away from her problems but her problems have followed her and the book becomes about her facing them head on and that’s when I finally got hooked. Her struggles, her insecurities, her anxiety and OCD….that is when she became a real person to me.

Then enter Bran. Who, by the way, is sexy as hell, and now I really want to go to Australia and meet a tortured Australian boy who will show me an amazing time in bed. Moving on, I adore his character. I love the tortured boy thing a lot and we know there’s a lot going on there with Bran and its frustrating but it only makes you love him more. He has trust issues, he’s had his heart broken before and he obviously has this connection with Talia but he’s unwilling to just take the plunge.

The two of them have a lot to deal with it, especially when it comes to the past. When they connect together, it takes a lot of time and a lot of push and pull, but they eventually are able to open up to each other and share their struggles and become closer because of it. Their romance is beautiful and heartbreaking all the way to the last page. I didn’t realize that this was a series and even though the ending of this book is absolutely beautiful, I know there’s much more that these two have to go through in the future and I can’t wait to dive into book two and read more about them.

Rating: 

3.75 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Forever with You (ARC) by J Lynn

Genre: 

New Adult, viagra Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 

384 pages

Part of a Series?:

Book #5 in the Wait for You Series

Release Date: 

September 29th, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

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Book Depository

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Some things you just believe in, even if you’ve never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It’s out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she’s got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph’s eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.

Nick’s self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he’s knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she’s building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can’t walk away. Not when she’s the only one who’s ever made him wish for forever . . .

My Review:

I read this book incredibly fast. Maybe in a few hours. There are two reasons for this. One of the reasons is this: we went to an event in Las Vegas where J Lynn was signing and she had 30 copies of this book to give out. I got the very last copy. Being the fabulous friend I am (I’m so modest haha), I wanted to share it with my friends. I knew that I was the fastest reader and I had to finish it so I could pass it around.

I also read through this book because I think this may have become my favorite of the series. Okay, not really because I still say Be With Me is my favorite BUT this one is a seriously close second. Like by a minimal percentage between the two.

I was excited to read Stephanie’s story. Stephanie is someone we barely know through other people but I was hooked on her right away. Yeah, she’s hooked up with a few dudes, but once she is there for Tessa when Tessa comes home to find her dead roommate, I knew that she was going to be important and that I would just love her.

A few pages in and I was already so totally sure. There’s a quote from her in the beginning that immediately made me love her.

“I’ll never really understand it, I realized as I sat there, staring at the red and green flecks of the leftover peppers, why others’ sexual habits bothered people — especially other women — so much. Of all people, you’d think women would be more tolerant of other women’s choices, but sadly, a lot aren’t. In a lot of ways they could be worse than the guys. It wasn’t like I was sitting in judgement over those who waited for marriage or believed sex automatically equaled love. I could care less if someone had two partners or fifty. So why did they have to?”

That’s when I fell in love with Stephanie. She felt really similar to me. She wants to find love. She wants to settle down and have a relationship. But in the meantime, she’s going to have fun. She’s safe and all that but comfortable in her own body and if she sees a guy that she’s attracted to…she goes for it and doesn’t feel one ounce of guilt about it. And I absolutely love it. There should be no guilt for that. Its just perfect as hell.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Nick as well. And I love the story that they have. I love that an unexpected situation brings the two of them together. I love what came for the two of them from that. I love their story. I love Nick. Oh I adore Nick. I love how we have this view of him but when things change for him and Steph…he just steps up and becomes this person and I just fall madly in love with him. I love Nick.

But this book was amazing to me because of Stephanie and her story. I felt connected with her right away. And what she goes through in this book has happened to me. I know the sort of feelings it leaves, I know how it never really goes away and I know the feeling of disappointment in leaves in yourself, like you should have known, you should have done something more. I know that’s vague but spoiler free, remember? Especially since there’s still a TON of time until this book is out and I don’t want to ruin it for everyone. But I loved this book and the characters and I love Stephanie. If there was a character that was so like in J Lynn’s series, I would say Stephanie. I thought Tessa for awhile and I’m definitely still like Tessa but Stephanie…I bonded with her right away.

I’ll just say this too: we get a lot of really awesome news for other couples we’ve fallen in love with over the past few books and we see some super awesome things for them and it was allllll the feels. Such a beautiful book. Sigh. If you’re a fan of this series, definitely pick this up at the end of September!

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Asa by Jay Crownover

Genre: 

New Adult, dosage Contemporary, information pills Romance

Pages: 

400 pages

Part of a Series?:

Book #6 in The Marked Men Series

Release Date: 

April 21st, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

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Book Depository

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

My Review:

Oh Asa. The finale of this series was so much fun, so emotional and just the perfect way to bring this entire family to a conclusion. I’m working on my own NA romance series and the last book of my series is going to involve a bad boy trying to redeem himself so I was excited to read this book, not only because its the conclusion, but because I was excited to see how Asa, who we meet in book two and see throughout the series, falls madly in love with a cop.

We meet Royal in book 4, Nash’s book, because she lives across the hallway from him. And immediately as soon as we met her, I knew I loved her. I knew she was going to be important. She’s gorgeous and sassy and hard working and obviously dedicated to her job as a cop. I love the connection she immediately has with Asa and I love her just period. She’s struggled with her mom, even though she loves her, she struggles with her guilty over what happened to her best friend and partner in the field and she struggles to figure out who she is and what she wants. She seems so confident and perfect in the other books but I love that you really get to see her in this book, and she’s flawed but she’s determined, and she’s incredibly determined when it comes to Asa, and seeing that he’s changed and worthy of love, and most importantly, worthy of her love.

Then you have Asa. See I love Jet and Ayden so I got a very negative first impression of Asa and even though Rome likes him, and he becomes friends with Nash and Rowdy and he’s obviously becoming a better person, its hard to get rid of those feelings about him. But once you’re in his brain and you can see what he went through and how he legitimately struggles to be a better person…its just so hard NOT to fall in love with Asa. He genuinely wants to be a better person; he does. But its hard for him, and its also incredibly hard for him because he’s determined that he’s a bad guy, he’ll always be that way and he doesn’t deserve anything better. That struggle keeps him from becoming the best person he can be and it prevents him from being the person Royal knows and wants.

But when they come together, and pick up the pieces and put each other back together, and fall in love…its just absolutely perfect. They both find a family and a new chance with each other and they are folded into the Marked family and oh, the feels were so real as I finished this book. I loved the way Royal and Asa were so magnetic and meant to be together and I love how they sort of saved each other but I also loved how everything from book one until this comes together. You see everyone in the Marked family come together, get married, start families and all of those things and I just can’t handle how it was just the perfect ending.

So…when are those Saints of Denver books coming out hmm? I’m ready for them ;)

Rating: 

4 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Rowdy by Jay Crownover

Genre: 

New Adult, shop Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 

322 pages

Part of a Series?:

Book #5 in The Marked Men Series

Release Date: 

October 21st, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

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Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

After the only girl he ever loved told him that he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and set out to live up to his nickname. A good ol’ boy looking for good times and good friends, Rowdy refuses to take anything too seriously, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Burned by love once, he isn’t going to let himself trust a woman again. But that’s before his new co-worker arrives, a ghost from the past who’s suddenly making him question every lesson he ever learned.

Salem Cruz grew up in house with too many rules and too little fun—a world of unhappiness she couldn’t wait to forget. But one nice thing from childhood has stayed with her; the memory of the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who’d been head over heels in love with her little sister.

Now, fate and an old friend have brought her and Rowdy together, and Salem is determined to show him that once upon a time he picked the wrong sister. A mission that is working perfectly—until the one person that ties them together appears, threatening to tear them apart for good.

My Review:

Moving along in my determination to finish the Marked Men series ever since I fell massively in love with Jet in book two, now we are on to Rowdy and Salem. And I’m not going to lie, this was the book that I was probably the least excited for. I have this thing about names. I know that sounds kind of weird but its true! I don’t like weird names. My friends laugh because my book characters have been Summer and Charlie, McKinley and Jake, Zoey and Ash, Evie and Austin, Sydney and Carson, Lucy and Jesse. Boring names, according to them. I honestly had no idea how I was going to get past their names.

Yeah, I got past their names so fast. And that’s because Jay creates such beautiful, familiar, fantastic, amazing, emotional, awesome characters in both Rowdy and Salem. What I love the most about these two is that this is a reconnection for them. Its sort of like Saint and Nash but not really. Rowdy and Salem have always been in love with each other, always, but it just took a lot of time and distance and reconnection for them to figure it out and once they do? Bam. Its just gorgeous as hell. These two characters are vibrant and alive and they are the most memorable in the series because of how real and unique they are.

I also love the story that goes along with this, other than just the romance. I love Salem finding her place in Denver, and I loved the story with her sister and her family. Obviously I don’t like what happened TO her sister because its just awful as hell but I like that we get to see how Salem changes from who she was when she was with her family and how strong she is now and how she’s able to be there for her sister. Its a touching story, and seeing Salem dealing with her past and moving into the future, its just awesome. I also love that we see Rowdy struggle with the same thing, struggling to put aside what happened in the past and accept all the amazing people that have come into his life and become his family.

They both go through similar struggles but they’re brought together and I think being together is what makes them even stronger by the end of the book and I love that kind of story. I love that there isn’t one relying on the other but they rely on each other, make each other stronger and they come out, together, in the end, bigger and better people. That is what makes this book SO damn good.

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Nash by Jay Crownover

Genre: 

New Adult, buy more about Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 

302 pages

Part of a Series?:

Book #4 in The Marked Men Series

Release Date: 

April 29th, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

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Book Depository

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Will their past determine their future?

Saint Ford has worked hard to achieve her childhood dream of becoming of nurse. Focused on her work and devoted to her patients, there’s no room for love. She doesn’t need a guy making waves in her calm, serene life—especially when he’s the unforgettable hottie who nearly destroyed her in high school. Dark, brooding Nash Donovan might not remember her or the terrible pain he caused. But he turned her world upside down… and now he’s trying to do it again.

Saint has no idea that Nash isn’t the cocky player he once was. Uncovering a devastating family secret has rocked his world, and now he’s struggling to figure out his future. He can’t be distracted by the pretty nurse he seems to meet everywhere. Still, he can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them —or how she seems so desperate to get away from him. But the funny, sweet, and drop-dead gorgeous Saint is far too amazing to give up on—especially since she’s the only thing in his life that seems to make sense.

When Nash discovers the truth about their past, he realizes he may have lost her heart before he could even fight for it. Now, Saint has to decide: is Nash worth risking herself for all over again?

My Review:

So besides Jet, I think Nash ended up being my favorite in this series. I absolutely love the story of Saint and Nash. Oh I love it so much. By this book, I knew that I was completely sold on this series. Done. Over. I’m a huge fan and I’m ready to just lay down my heart to the Marked Men. And then here’s Nash to just make me fall massively in love with him.

Saint isn’t as much my favorite as Nash but I can see her, I can relate to her. Simple words said when she was in high school have had an affect on her for her entire life. Her entire life! That’s incredible. But it feels very very real. Words have an insane power over us, both good and bad. Sometimes, I think, especially the bad. Which is what happens to Saint, and what makes it worse, those words are said by none other than Nash himself.

Then you have Nash, who is revealed to be the son of the man he thought was his uncle his entire life. And as he’s finding out this incredible truth, which feels like a punch in the gut because Nash already saw him as a father figure and feels betrayed, he also finds out the guy is dying. Legit dying. And it brings a lot of things into perspective. After drinking himself into a stupor and then being “saved” by Saint…the two of them just keep running into each other. Its magnetic. They’re obviously meant to be together.

I think the best part of this book, to me at least, is the way they are brought together. How their insecurities and the drama going on in their lives and both of their tendencies to be scared at times gets in the way but they just keep getting pulled back together. They have an incredibly beautiful romance and I love Nash from page one to the very last page of this series. Because even as his world is being turned upside down and he finds out he has a father, and he has to take over Marked and open up a whole new shop, and all of this, he just takes it. He goes with it in the best way he can and he makes it work. And he falls in love along the way.

Only book four and the feels are real…stay tuned for books five and six…

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars