Open Road Summer by Emory Lord

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Plot summary:

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

*** Three stars

I enjoyed the premise of this book and I was really excited as I got started, but ultimately my main problem that kept me from enjoying it as much as I expected was the main character and the fact that she was just negative almost the whole time. I understand she has some serious baggage, but she just seemed to hate almost everyone she came in contact with. In the last 20 percent when she’s dealing with an issue with Matt, she is so closed off and persistently so. At one point she says about Matt, “He doesn’t deserve me.” But I struggle to remember any kind of selfless gesture or anything she did for Matt throughout the book, and wonder what makes her think *she* deserves *him.* He writes her songs, he pursues her, listens to her talk about her issues, and throws out a grand gesture toward the end, and she’s still just a … shrew. I just really didn’t care if she got a happy ending or a bad ending or what because ultimately I did not like her. I admittedly “relate” more to main characters who are more like me, the good girls, but I could have liked Reagan, the bad girl, if she was just a little less negative and judgmental and a little more open. The only times she resembled a character I might have liked was a few times with Dee.

That was a long rant, but I still enjoyed a lot about this book, and therefore I give it three stars.

Starstruck by Nicole Ciacchella

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Plot summary:

Lex Harrington is living a stranger’s life. After high school, she and her boyfriend, superstar quarterback Brad Wakefield, headed off to college, secure in the knowledge of their brilliant future. Then an injury ended Brad’s football career, and he convinced Lex to drop out of school and return home with him, where everything fell apart.

Because the glossy surface of their relationship concealed a dark truth: years of emotional abuse culminating in Brad’s walking out on Lex and their infant son. At twenty-three, she’s a single mother with no future prospects, struggling to make ends meet while dealing with the aftermath of her destructive marriage.

When Jaron Richards left for college, he vowed he’d never look back. Brad laid waste to his friendship with Lex, leaving nothing to bind Jaron to his hometown. But his unrequited love for Lex has never faded, even as his star has begun to rise, making him Hollywood’s hottest new actor.

Now Jaron is back in town to film his latest movie, and his presence stirs up everything Lex would rather forget. Can they find a way to pick up the pieces and build a future together?

*** Three Stars

I think this story got off to a good start, and I liked how it interspersed flashbacks with the present to give us a picture of “then” and “now.”
Ultimately, I think the most “action” or plot actually happened in the past, when Lex was still with Brad. The author did a great job of painting an emotionally abusive relationship. In present day, Lex is just kind of empty and trying to make it through each day.
While Jaron is a celebrity and has experienced all kind of amazing things since his career took off, we don’t hear or see too much about those things. He talks about maybe being spotted by papparazzi or tabloid people when out with Lex, but nothing ever happens with that. She visits him on set, but there aren’t that many details showing that part of his life.
As for Lex, she once had aspirations but ever since Brad left her to fend for herself and their son, she doesn’t really dream anymore. When Jaron comes to town, he attempts to repair his friendship with Lex, and what follows is a lot of thinking, a lot of navel-gazing, a lot of the same sentiments repeated about how Jaron loves Lex but he just wants to be in her life again and how Lex is afraid that once Jaron leaves town she and Owen will just be hurt again.
It is kind of hard to see the “love” that pops up from Lex since, even well into Jaron’s visit, she says she still only sees him as a friend. I don’t know if ultimately she loves him or loves how he is with her child.
I think I would have connected more if the slow-paced relationship had more spark on Lex’s side, and if there had been more plot than a lot of talking or thinking about the past and hurt feelings. I expected something to pop up with the celebrity aspect, or for Brad to pop back in, but nothing exciting happened.
It’s a really well written book but I think the story could have had more to it to make it more entertaining and keep my interest.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Undone by Cat Clarke

ImagePublisher’s plot summary:

Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she’s learning to live with it.
Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online … and he kills himself.
Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down.

**** Four stars

This book has not yet been released in the U.S., so I read an ARC from NetGalley before its May 6 release. This was a very heavy book about a girl who seeks revenge after her best friend is outed via a video online and subsequently kills himself. She decides to get back at the group of people she believes are responsible for recording and posting the video of her friend. From there, she seems to effortlessly mix in with this group of popular and messed up teens, best-friending a girl and dating one of the guys, even though previously they didn’t seem to know she existed.

The book is sprinkled with letters her friend Kai wrote to her before he killed himself. It took me a little bit to get into the story, but once we get to the party where Kai was recorded, the activity picks up and I was very intrigued about what would happen. Things don’t go exactly as Jem had planned, of course, and ultimately the people responsible for Kai’s humiliation are not who she expected. The ending is pretty bleak, but from what I understand of Cat Clarke, all bets are off in her books! Overall very intriguing book and something quite different from the typical fluffy romance books I read.

A Kiss by the Book by Christy Hayes

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Publisher’s plot summary:

College senior Zach Chamberlain’s charmed life has always gone according to script:
Date the prettiest girl in high school, check.
Football scholarship to a division-one school, check.
Heisman contender, check.
Buy engagement ring, check.
On track to graduate with honors, check.
There’s just one glitch. His girlfriend is in love with his younger brother and breaks up with him in the middle of his senior season. Shocked, betrayed, and embarrassed, Zach turns to the only woman he can trust: his nerdy tutor.

Tutoring college athletes at Southeastern State University is more than a job for Jenna Peterson; it’s a way for her to pay it forward after long-ago tragedy struck too close to home. SE State’s golden boy, Zach Chamberlain, isn’t the first jock Jenna’s tutored with cover-boy good looks, and he won’t be the last. When he asks for her help with statistics, Jenna assumes he’s as egocentric as the other athletes on her roster. A wildly inappropriate and lackluster kiss at the worst possible time doesn’t do much to disprove her theory.

Zach will do anything to save face in front of his family, and he uses Jenna’s bleeding heart and unfortunate circumstances to enlist her help over the holidays. Jenna begins to realize Zach is more than a pretty face as his storybook life begins to unravel. When a sprig of mistletoe provides the perfect opportunity for Zach to affirm his skill, the searing kiss pits the playmaker against the rule maker in a kiss to the end. When secrets are revealed and the game’s on the line, will they follow the script, improvise, or throw the book out the window?

**** Four stars 

This is the second book in a series by Christy Hayes, and I really enjoyed the first book as a standalone. I think for this book, you really should read #1 first to have an optimal understanding of Zach’s relationship with Emily and Dylan previously before you get into his story with Jenna. That being said, you don’t need to read the first book to know what’s going on or follow along with the story. In fact, book #2 goes through events that we saw in book #1, just from a different perspective in each occurrence. We go back to the time when Zach came to visit Emily at school and brought Jenna along to tutor him as well as visit her cousin, the kiss between Zach and Jenna that Dylan walked in on, as well as the breakup scene between Zach and Emily and the reveal about Dylan and Emily. 

So by the time we get into new story territory, we’ve gotten to know Jenna a little better than in the first book and we see that Zach is having a confusing time dealing with everything. I admit that Dylan is more my type than Zach, and I did enjoy Dylan and Emily’s story better than Zach and Jenna’s. I kind of wish the visit to the Chamberlain house for Thanksgiving had more sparks or confrontations, and it still doesn’t feel like we got to see real closure or amends between Zach and Dylan, even though there were signs that they can at least be around each other without any blatant hostility. 

Still, I enjoy this series and that the characters are in college, and I hope that in the future books we get to see more closure between Zach and Dylan as well as explore the other characters we met in book #1. 

I received a free ebook via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

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Publisher’s plot summary: 

Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

**** Four stars

This was a pretty fun book to read, especially having traveled parts of Europe in the past. I never went to Italy, but I could still totally relate to and remember the feelings associated with stepping off of a plane into what felt like totally intimidating and new territory. Some of the things that came back to me were trying to understand another language, soaking in the ancient history you just can’t find in America and how you felt when you ran into another American or English-speaking person – some relief and some feeling of kinship in a foreign place. 

My experiences traveling helped and hurt my reading experience in a way, as it enhanced the main character’s feelings but also made some of her actions seem a little unrealistic. Most of that related to Darren, the American love interest she runs into almost right away. First of all, any time I met an American in my 8 months of living abroad, the first thing we did was ask each other where we were from. You wanted to know right away if this person had any sort of proximity to your home, and so it seemed very strange and more of a plot device that Darren and Pippa don’t do this until well after they have met. Secondly, the fact that they never exchange contact information also seems odd, though maybe more understandable in their first couple of meetings. 

The romance(s) Pippa experiences are not as swoonworthy as I had hoped – Darren is just the kind of hero I like, smart and sort of nerdy and not your typical Alpha Male bad boy/model type guy. Yet he and Pippa had a very, very slow-moving relationship that was fraught with misunderstandings, breaks in them seeing each other and again, the head-scratching fact that they never exchanged like email addresses or anything! Some email pen-pal thing might have made their relationship seem more deep during the times when they wre not in the same city. I guess that kind of emphasized the whole “fate” thing of them continuing to meet up accidentally, but still. If a guy likes you, he asks for your number or email or Skype name or whatever. 

In the end, Pippa got off rather easily for the stunt she pulled of skipping out on art school, which was kind of a huge major deal. Thankfully her friend, who was the only one besides her grandma to know her true whereabouts, was smart enough to tell when it was necessary. 

Ultimately this is a book that, while it won’t stay with me for a long time and I likely won’t re-read it as I have “Anna and the French Kiss,” is still a good depiction of traveling in a foreign country, the feelings one feels and the different kinds of people you meet. Everyone should leave their home country at least once – America doesn’t have the luxury of being a short train ride from another country like many European countries do, and the plane tickets alone can scare you off of trying, but it’s truly worth it and provides a lifetime of memories. 

I received a free ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

ImagePlot summary:

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

***** Five Stars

When I first read the plot summary for this book several months ago, I was completely and totally uninterested. It seemed like it was going to be a very cookie-cutter story, and if the only plot was two people falling in insta-love, I was not intrigued. The thing that changed my decision to read the book was reading some of the reviews here that did include spoilers, the spoilers that I am about to mention from here on out.

SPOILER ALERT

It totally threw me for a loop that in a book about two people who bond over writing music, one of them is completely deaf. I never expected that would be the case, and was very interested to see how not only would the characters write music together but how they would communicate for most of the book. I liked that Colleen Hoover didn’t have Sydney magically learn sign language in a week’s time or something like that, which would have been very unrealistic. Some of the text or laptop conversations were a bit long-winded, but they were an interesting and necessary tool for Sydney and Ridge, and I think she played some of those conversations just perfectly.

Then throw in the wrench about Ridge having a long-term girlfriend, who is also deaf, who is the sweetest and best girl ever, who has a life-threatening illness, who he will never ever dump, and you’ve got quite the conundrum.

I saw some frustration in others’ reviews about Ridge’s inability to let go of Maggie on his own, how Sydney seemed like the 2nd choice, etc., but I think Hoover wrote it perfectly in that the only way Ridge could leave Maggie without feeling a lifetime of guilt and being a total d-bag was if it was Maggie who realized they were together for the wrong reasons and Maggie who convinced him she didn’t need him anymore. I think his love for Maggie, as he discovered, was largely based on what he thought was her need for him, and he was a good enough guy that he was never going to leave her as long as she needed him.

I liked that when he came to Sydney, she made him wait for several months before giving their relationship a try. They definitely needed that break and she needed to be convinced that he truly loved her in a way he hadn’t loved Maggie.

I know some people just absolutely hate cheating in a book, and while I don’t mind reading about it, I think the struggle in this book, with the cheating only being a kiss and emotional affair, was very intriguing, to look at how hard Ridge battled his feelings for Sydney, how hard he tried to be honorable, and the fact that he couldn’t control his feelings made it seem like they were inevitable.

When I can read an almost-400-page book in one sitting, stay up way past my bedtime to do it, and wake up thinking about the book, that is five stars to me. I have Hopeless on my Kindle, still haven’t read for some reason, but I did read Slammed and its sequel. I enjoyed this maybe a lot more than those. It was so different when I thought it was going to be the same as everything else.

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

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Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter’s town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam’s girlfriend while he’s in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn’t at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what’s real and what’s fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds – her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

*** 1/2 stars ( Three and a half stars)

This is a cute story about a girl who is the opposite of starstruck given the opportunity to spend time with the biggest heartthrob in the country. I pictured a Zac Efron circa High School Musical type guy for the role of Adam. Carter is hired to be Adam’s fake girlfriend while he films a movie in her small town. The reason she is selected is because Adam’s fallen under some negative press and his agent wants to tend to his image. Though Carter has zero interest in participating, a financial crisis involving her brother forces her hand. This is a very easy read, nothing life-changing or mind-blowing, but a story that presents just what it promises – a fun and lighthearted plot that is a bit too good to be true, but nice to imagine for a few hours of reading.

Release date: April 29, 2014

I received a free ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

The Quick Guide to Home Organizing by Sandra Felton

ImagePublisher’s summary:

This proven forty-day plan helps readers achieve a well-ordered home and life. Practical and easy to apply, it shows how to get control of clutter, chaos, and disorganization. Each day readers learn tried and tested organizing tips such as how to recognize the time realities of modern life, keep email and paperwork under control, simplify solutions, and more. An orderly home is only forty days away!

****Four stars

And now for something completely different…
I know I run a blog about new adult and young adult books, but I really wanted this book when I saw it on NetGalley because I am a huge organizing freak!
I do what I can, but dream of doing even more organizing in my life. I scour Pinterest looking for things that will simplify my life.
So I requested and was granted this book, and I was very excited just looking through the table of contents.
Some of the chapters include “Sort and Store Paperwork, “Free Yourself from the Burden of Options,” “Zap Hidden Hindrances,”  and “Revamp your Family Room and Kitchen.”
Each day’s work is very take-charge and asks you the hard questions, which you can’t help but ask yourself. Sandra Felton gives very specific advice about what to do, how to approach each process and she does it in a comforting way. “Let’s do this together.”
Organizing and cleaning and tackling the clutter in your life can be very overwhelming. While the steps are broken down to Day #s, and the idea is to do this in 40 days, I like the idea of tackling this book just one day at a time, but not necessarily 40 days in a row. You don’t have to do it all at once, but just do what you can and then go on to the next when you’re ready.

I received a free ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Plain Jayne by Laura Drewry

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Plot summary:

The summer of her dreams is about to get a reality check.

They said it couldn’t be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren’s nerves and she can’t wait to return to summer camp where she’s valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she’s broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn’t even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.

But Matt isn’t giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn’t really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she’s more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren’s friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she’s changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?

**** Four stars

This was an interesting take on a friends turned to lovers plot, as it was a very slow build-up, which I liked, and the two main characters, adults with lives and pasts and plenty of time to have sorted through their feelings, still had a of sorting to do even though they had known each other forever. Nick and Jayne are thrown together when she comes back to town to revive her grandmother’s bookstore, which has become the site of a potential “Extreme Hoarders” episode. Though they last saw each other at Nick’s wife’s funeral, which apparently ended with his mother-in-law kicking Jayne out because she was a distraction, they still easily fall back into their friendship. Nick dates a lot and is completely oblivious at first to his burgeoning feelings for Jayne, which have been underneath the surface all along. Jayne is a very strong personality who doesn’t like to show emotion, which doesn’t make things easy. I enjoyed this fun, easy read that is a solid take on a well-known plot.

I received a free ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Release date: April 8, 2014

Camp Boyfriend by JK Rock

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Plot summary:

 

The summer of her dreams is about to get a reality check.

They said it couldn’t be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren’s nerves and she can’t wait to return to summer camp where she’s valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she’s broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn’t even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.

But Matt isn’t giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn’t really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she’s more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren’s friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she’s changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?

**** Four Stars

“Camp Boyfriend” is a cute book about a girl torn between the past and present, who she wants to be and what people think she is supposed to be.

Lauren is in a love triangle with her cute boyfriend, who she had been planning on dumping until his family fell apart, and Seth, her camp boyfriend, who is always only limited to 2 months a year. When the two collide one summer, she feels as if she is being torn in two.
I really liked how easy this was, and I felt like Lauren was very relatable even as she kind of juggled two guys and tried to figure herself out.
I am excited that this is a series. Very quality YA writing good for an easy read.

I received this book as a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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