Book Review – Game Plan

Title: Game Plan (Varsity Girlfriends #4)
Author: Kayla Tirrell
Published: May 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: It’s okay

Synopsis:

I’ve only got one shot to win his heart.

I’ve had a crush on Preston Royce for as long as I can remember. Only, I’ve never told him, or anyone, because he doesn’t see me that way. (And because his sister, Charlie, happens to be my best friend!)

But when Preston’s girlfriend breaks his heart, Charlie comes up with a plan to get them back together–a plan that involves Preston and me pretending to date.

Yeah, it’s a bad idea cozying up with a guy who’s still in love with his ex, but it may be my only chance to get close to him before we graduate high school. He thinks we’re faking.

Meanwhile, I’m falling more in love with him…

Game Plan is perfect for anyone who likes their sweet romance with a dash of drama. It is the fourth book in the Varsity Girlfriends series.

“Every time I felt like I’d made some progress in turning mine and Preston’s fake relationship into something real, she showed up and reminded me exactly where I stood. I was a placeholder, and my only purpose was to make Beth jealous” (chapter 14)

Happy book birthday to Game Plan, by Kayla Tirrell! Thank you for a free copy in return for an honest review.

My heart is bursting from my chest! The utter sweetness of this story completely oozes off the pages in the best way possible. I’m so happy that we get to revisit the Royce family in a whole separate book, but now with a deeper look into the character of Preston. My heart is SWOONING for Daria’s and Preston’s fake relationship. Have I mentioned before how these types of stories are my favorite? The only sad thing is that basketball season is basically over at the beginning of the book, so there’s not much action on the court for a sports romance.

Daria is struggling to define who she is and what she wants. Her parents have a very clear idea of who they think she is, but all the options outside of their plans is overwhelming. All she knows for sure is that her best friend’s brother stole her heart many years ago and she might die from embarrassment if they found out. Which is probably why she said yes to Charlie’s harebrained idea for Daria to fake date Preston. Nothing can go wrong there, right?

I was rooting for Daria the entire time. It felt so familiar to revisit this town and all the people around them that help shape their every day lives, but I think that’s what makes this story, making a full circle back to book one, all the more sweeter. There’s no one else I wanted to root for in the whole series more than these two.

Book Review – Courtside Crush

Title: Courtside Crush (Varsity Girlfriends #1)
Author: Kayla Tirrell
Published: February 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

So much for senior year being the best part of high school.

It all started when I caught my boyfriend cheating on me.

I did what any girl would do—I got revenge. Of course, it didn’t stop there. Thanks to a condemning video, I also got eight weeks of community service and athletic probation right before basketball season is supposed to start. (There goes my spot as captain!)

Thankfully there’s a guy at Marlowe Junction’s Helping Hands who makes passing the time more enjoyable. He’s gorgeous, funny, and a huge basketball fan.

Too bad he’s also my brother’s biggest enemy…

Courtside Crush is a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, perfect for anyone who likes their sweet romance with a dash of drama. It is the first book in the Varsity Girlfriends series.

“There was just something special about drama that brought everyone out from the woodwork. These were people I didn’t talk to on a daily, or even weekly, basis. Why did they think they had special privileges?” (chapter 16)

Happy book birthday to Kayla Tirrell’s Courtside Crush. Thank you, Kayla, for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Charlie is mad. She isn’t always one to stay out of trouble in the first place, but now her potential for athletic scholarships is in jeopardy because she just wanted to teach Anderson a little lesson for making out with girls who are not Charlie. Really, he’s the one at fault here. Even her super protective step-brother agrees. To make things worse, now she has to spend every Saturday volunteering with Marlowe Junction’s Helping Hands or she’ll be expelled! At least there’s a cute guy stuck there, too.

This book has all the feel-good romance of a YA contemporary, mixed with the ever present drama of high school, plus an endearing, supportive family. What I loved the most was that I didn’t feel like I was being told that Charlie’s family was close, or that her best friend was supportive and sassy, or even how sweet of a guy Jackson is, but rather I was shown it by getting a vivid window into their lives. This is captivating writing for me. Charlie’s struggles are so raw and seemed to never end—constantly dealing with bad news after bad news with hard decisions all mixed in. In the end, you’re absolutely rooting for her as she learns about who she is, and how to stand up for herself when the world sends wave after wave to knock her down.

Tirrell’s Courtside Crush is a fun sports romance with a refreshing style of storytelling for the genre. Tirrell’s writing stayed away from cliche, overly descriptive scenes and characters, which helped me emerge in the book completely because I was allowed to use my imagination. The character development was pretty wonderful, and I found myself completely drawn into Charlie’s family dynamic. I will definitely be looking into Tirrell’s other books.

Book Tour/Review – Hot Pursuit

Title: Hot Pursuit (To Catch a Thief #1)
Author: Kay Marie
Published: August 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: Don’t Like It

HotPursuit

Synopsis:

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days meets White Collar in this sassy and sweet romantic comedy, new from bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis, writing as Kay Marie.

All Jolene Carter has ever wanted is a bakery of her own. There’s only one problem. Her father, Robert Carter, is a world-renowned art thief and she’s, well, sort of his protégé. But he’s promised her this next job in New York will be their last, and she won’t let anyone get in the way of her dreams…especially not the distractingly delicious FBI agent hot on her tail.

Agent Nate Parker has been on the Robert Carter case for years, and if rumors of the aging criminal’s retirement are true, this might be his last chance to nail him. With the legacy of his late father in the back of his mind, the stakes are more personal than anyone realizes. He won’t let anything stand in the way of justice…especially not the red-headed vixen who keeps giving him the slip.

He’s a cop who’d never bend. She’s a con who’ll never break. But all’s fair in love and larceny…

“But there was a different kind of glory to be found in the shades of gray. A different kind of beauty, if he’d just open his eyes and see, if he’d only let her show him” (p. 216)

Happy book birthday to Hot Pursuit by Kay Marie! Thank you Kay Marie and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Jolene and Nate’s story is sassy, sexy, and funny. Jolene has a way of getting under Nate’s skin and screwing up his perfectly organized, black and white world. If only she could stop playing with him for a day, maybe he’ll finally be able to pin all her family’s crimes on them.

Jolene never asked for the criminal life and she’s starting to learn that there’s more at play in this game that she thought. All she wants in life is to be able to create new bakery inventions and open her own bakery, but with everything she’s done for her father, will that dream ever become tangible?

Kay Marie writes a fast-paced, fun story where the lines between good guy and bad guy get blurred, and the only way either can win is by letting go of the things that give them those titles. I enjoyed learning about Jolene and Nate’s individual stories, and how it brought them to where they are today. While the characters were enjoyable, I found the writing lacking. Kay Marie uses short, abrupt, and even repetitive sentences to add to the drama, but they are used so liberally in this book that I started to get annoyed. I found myself reading faster to find out what happened, but also to marinate in the writing as little as possible. The story was fun, I just wish it was better written.

Purchase Link:

Amazon

About the Author

Kaitlyn Davis, a bestselling author with over a quarter of a million books sold, writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name Kay Marie. Publishers Weekly has said, “Davis writes with confidence and poise,” while USA Today has recommended her work as “must-read romance.”

Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she’s not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found playing fetch with her puppy, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family. If you have any questions for her–about her books, about scheduling an event, or just in general–you may contact her at: KaitlynDavisBooks@gmail.com

Sign up for Kaitlyn’s newsletter to stay up-to-date with all of her new releases, to receive exclusive subscriber bonus content, and more!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
$25 Amazon gift card

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Book Review/Blog Tour – Just One of the Royals

JOofRTour

Follow the rest of the tour HERE!


Title:
 Just One of the Royals (The Chicago Falcons #2)
Author: Leah Rooper and Kate Rooper
Published: June 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: It’s okay

unnamed

Synopsis:

Star hockey player Daniel Sacachelli wants only two things: 1) for the Falcons
to win next season, and 2) for his secret — the fact he’s actually the prince of Eldonia — to never make its way to Chicago. But if Daniel keeps avoiding his crown, their family will lose their kingdom forever.

Madison Myong can’t believe that her will-they-or-won’t-they best friend Daniel is
really a prince! He’s always seemed more rebel than royal. But now, he needs to clean up his image, fast. Posing as his long-time girlfriend, Madison accompanies him back to Eldonia, intending to give Daniel a makeover fit for a king.

Only, the more royal Daniel becomes, the more Madison misses her best friend. And if she does her job right, she’ll lose him forever…

“But I know that in order to pull this off, I’m going to have to let go of every real thing about me. I’ll have to become someone else, someone new, someone…royal” (chapter 6).

Happy book birthday to the second book in the Chicago Falcons series, Just One of the Royals by Leah and Kate Rooper! Thank you to the Rooper sisters, Entangled Teen, and Chapter by Chapter for my eARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. While I have not read the first book in the series, these books are actually just different stories about different people on this hockey team, so there isn’t a ton of build up missing by jumping into the second book, and the reoccurring characters are reintroduced.

This book felt very much like The Princess Diaries vibes: Daniel is a prince who grew up living a normal life in Chicago. He needs to be whipped into shape and lose his bad image in order to take the throne of a small European country after the death of his father. The biggest difference is that he brings along his best friend and secret crush, Madison, to play the role of his girlfriend in order to improve his image. Boy, do things get messy there!

Madison’s goal in life is to be a big time movie star, so when she is offered the role of a lifetime, and the opportunity for her big break if she succeeds, there’s no way she’d turn it down! Especially when it means more time with her best friend. But with so much acting going on by both Daniel and Madison, how is anyone supposed to tell what’s real and genuine, and what’s not? Are the people they strive to portray taking them away from the people they really are?

Just like Mia Thermopolis, while learning about this country he is being asked to rule, Daniel learns about the people, the culture, and begins to love everything about it. He starts to take a genuine interest in the people around him, which is honestly one of the biggest character growth scenarios he goes through. It’s no longer about what he wants when he wants it, but about how the people around him are affected.

The playboy who gets serious about one girl trope seems to be super common in YA contemporary books lately. It didn’t really feel necessary to this plot–there are plenty of other ways Daniel can be selfish and unfit for the throne. From this aspect, there doesn’t seem to be much creative liberty and I was wishing for more depth to Daniel.

 Purchase Links:

Amazon | Amazon Australia | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author

leah_and_kate_rooperLeah and Kate Rooper are sisters from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Growing up beside the Pacific Ocean and inside a temperate rainforest fed their sense of adventure as children, and nourished a curiosity for strange and distant lands. They fed this curiosity with books – lots and lots of books. After experiencing the magic of Middle-earth, they began creating their own worlds. When they’re not writing, Leah and Kate spend their time blogging and vlogging about their travel adventures and their writing journey.

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Giveaway

 Giveaway Details:

$20 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour/Review – Breaking the Ice

Title: Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2)
Author: Julie Cross
Published: December 2017
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

Breaking the Ice Cover

Synopsis:

The second book in the Juniper Falls series from NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally and Abbi Glines.

Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.

Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner.

But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules.

“She leans into my personal space, her eyelids fluttering, all innocent looking. “Are you scared of me, Fletch”” (chapter 13)?

Thank you Entangled Teen, Chapter by Chapter, and Julie Cross for a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review. You can check out the rest of the tour by clicking the banner below. I also reviewed the first book in the Juniper Falls world HERE.

BreakingTheIceTour

Follow the rest of the tour HERE.

While it was fun to come back to the secret filled, hockey obsessed small town of Juniper Falls, I almost feel like I enjoyed this installment more than the last.

Fletcher and Haley both have to take Civics in summer school for different reasons: Fletcher to get ahead and get out of this gossip-filled town, Haley to make a better grade since hers have been suffering. There personalities are even wildly different. Fletcher keeps low under the radar, he is focused and driven, aiming to stay invisible except on the ice. Haley is the queen bee of the school, head cheerleader, easily distracted, but equally driven through her obsessive lists. Who knew they would need each other to get through this class?

The stakes in Breaking the Ice feel high, and are so interesting. The struggle to understand their relationship, their feelings, and the person underneath their labels is super believable and I was completely hooked. As Fletcher and Haley get to know each other, they find so much depth beyond their labels, which was fascinating to discover along with them. The tension between the two of them as they try to work as friends, even friends with benefits, but are so obviously crazy about each other, was just delightful.

Cross sends the reader through so many twists and turns throughout this book, it is almost impossible to know what will happen next. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was rooting for the two the whole time, through each of the twists. Cross’s characters have such depth and are incredibly enjoyable, especially the banter between them. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Anyone else begging for a Jamie story?

About the Author

Julie-Cross_Author-Photo

Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, Chasing Truth, Off the Ice and many more to come! Julie Cross was a longtime resident of central Illinois but has recently moved her entire family across the country to continue her academic studies at Stanford University.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review – No Vain Loss

Title: No Vain Loss (No Ordinary Star #3)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: November 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Rating: 2 stars
Cover: Like it

no vain loss cover

Synopsis:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do.
A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.
This is the One World.
The year is 2524.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic young adult novel in three parts is set in a world where Christmas—among other things—is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three parts, this is the breathtaking story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

In No Vain Loss, the world is on the brink of the greatest war humanity has ever known. Lives will be lost. New truths will be revealed.

*I received a free eARC of this book from the author in return for an honest review. Check out my reviews for the first two books in the series HERE and HERE.*

 The long awaited finale of the No Ordinary Star series is finally arriving November 25th. I’ve loved following along the journey of Felix and Astra in their dystopian world. This final book answers a lot of questions, while bringing me back to this creative world Frank has dreamt up and the characters I’ve grown to care about. The first two books have built up to this big struggle of powers in the final book, and Frank did a good job of keeping the foreshadowed action exciting.

However, I had quite a few problems with this installment. While the ideas are good and the twists have been built up, the writing itself seems incredibly rushed and spacey in comparison to the other books. I found myself getting frustrated because it felt like Frank was talking in circles, frequently repeating herself several times before moving on to the next thing—and I’m not even talking about the different perspectives. Often times I’d finish a page and wonder why it took so long to say one thing. Everything felt scattered and it was exceedingly hard to stick with it. I even feel like the synopsis shows signs of this, and it doesn’t actually tell you anything about the story.

In the first two books, getting Felix’s perspective AND Astra’s perspective added to the plot immensely, especially because they both came from different backgrounds of knowledge. In the third book, the different perspectives seem pointless because they don’t add anything different to the story. There were also these moments where Felix and Astra would have entire conversations with their eyes: fully fleshed out thoughts being conveyed without a sound. I definitely feel like you can tell someone something with your eyes, but these conversations felt like such a stretch, I had a hard time believing it was anywhere near possible. The suspension of disbelief was just not there.

I was so excited about this final installment and, while I felt like my questions were answered and some of the plot twists were long awaited, I just felt like it missed the mark by a mile. I wanted to love it, but I just ended up confused by the circular writing.

Book Review – Plains of Sand and Steel

Title: Plains of Sand and Steel (Uncommon World #2)
Author: Alisha Klapheke
Published: June 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads 

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Don’t like it

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Synopsis:

A ruler’s young bride with a body to conceal, a mercenary bent on revenge, and the Fire magic that will alter their story forever. The Wrath and the Dawn meets Truthwitch in the second standalone, full length novel of the Uncommon World series. When her new royal husband dies at the beginning of an invasion, Seren must hide his body and use the visions the Holy Fire gives her to save the Empire from itself and its enemies. But if the high-ranking general who hates her discovers her secret, he’ll have her put to death.

When invaders slaughter Ona’s family and shatter her artist life, she joins Lucca, an experienced mercenary and her exact opposite, and heads into war. She just knows the “chanting” she can do—imposing one’s will on the world and watching it come to life—will break the invaders and give her sweet vengeance.

Both want to save the Empire but with tangled histories and new passions swirling around them, their divided motivations turn a possible victory into a deadly storm. Join the battle today.

“Ona could smell her own fear and rage like vinegar and blood. Her hands had never vibrated with this kind of power. She was going to kill so many people today.” (Chapter 7)

Happy book birthday to Plains of Sand and Steel by Alisha Klapheke, book two in the Uncommon World series. You can check out my review of the first book Waters of Salt and Sin HERE. I just want to say thanks to the author for giving me an eARC to read. PLUS, she just released the map of the world and goodness, I love book maps, don’t you?

This book goes straight into the action and conflict in the first chapter, resulting in a total emersion into the character’s lives instead of a building up of their stories. We get a chance to hear more about each character’s backgrounds, desires, fears, etc as the story continues. This is different than the first book, but I felt it appropriate for these characters (how many times can I say characters in one paragraph?). Similar to Waters of Salt and Sin, Plains of Sand and Steel deals with some conflict between different classes and roles, however, it was not as much of a focus.

Let’s take a minute to talk about these strong females Klapheke has given us! Seren has found herself in a role she’s completely unfamiliar with after her husband, the Kyros, dies. Her family has been working their way upward in the class system for generations. Seren’s father was hired as the high-ranking general, which brough Seren into the scene to be married to the Seren. After his death, she finds herself in a unique position where she has to decide whether or not to fight for the position of Kyros, a position she believes she deserves but others don’t because of her blood. And fight she does. With encouragement from her friends, she recognizes the unique power she has and the desire she has to lead her people. She not only stands up and demands her title of Kyros, but she stands by her people’s side to fight with them. Of course, it’s a process. She learns to overcome her fear and that nagging voice telling her she’s not good enough, but the journey is inspiring. Just look at this badass line she even gets in chapter 24:

“Never seen a woman with,” he made a flourishing kind of motion with his hands, “these…type ideas.”
“It’s the Holy Fire that gives me these ideas. And perhaps if you asked more women about their thoughts, you’d hear more good ideas.”

On the flip side, we’ve got Ona. Ona is badass from the get-go, she’s already gone through the character development to get her there. But she’s quite different than Seren. Her only goal in life is to kill every last invader because of the wrong they’ve inflicted in her life. She is a passionate fighter and throws herself at everything she does. Ona is ruthless. Her care for the people close to her is the only evidence that her heart isn’t rock solid. And to wrap it all up, she is vulgar and sassy. It’s like night and day, yet both are badass and strong. The only difference is that Seren knows her limits.

Okay, I should probably let you get to know the other characters by actually reading the book, but I just got so excited about these strong females! That being said, there’s some other great characters, like my dear Lucca, but you should just get the book to get to know them yourself.

There were some slower parts that were difficult to get through when life got in the way, but once you got through them, the plot picked up with vengeance. My other disappointment was the cover. I know some people love them, but artistically it’s hard to completely support them.

It was a fun and exciting read. The entire book is basically a battle: a battle with the invaders, a battle for the role of Kyros, a battle with self-discovery, and a battle of secrets. If you like action, what are you doing? Go read it for yourself.

Did you count how many times I said “characters?”