Book Review – Off Center

Title: Off Center (Varsity Girlfriends #2)
Author: M. F. Lorson
Published: March 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

I knew exactly what I wanted out of my senior year.

A full ride to Northwestern University, the title of American High School Journalist of the Year, and a kiss, not just any kiss, but one from the boy I’ve been in love with since the sixth grade.

By October, my plan was fully in motion with liplock by Christmas imminent. Imminent, that was, until Andie Mercantile moved to Marlow Junction, swooping both my beat and my man.

Now, I’m stuck writing the sports column–a subject I know nothing about. My goals aren’t unobtainable, but they will take a lot more work. Just because a sports writer has never won Journalist of the Year before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And as for the kissing part, I’m not counting myself out just yet.

After all, maybe learning a bit about competition is just what I need.

Off Center is the second book in the Varsity Girlfriends series.

“It didn’t take a detective to pick up on the fact that I’d spent the entire proactive staring at Mackey like he were the second coming of Zac Efron” (chapter 13)

Thank you Kayla Tirrell and the Varsity Girlfriends team for a free copy in return for an honest review.

Lane is driven, a hard worker, and a hopeless romantic. It’s easy to get swept up in her goals and she fights to make her senior year everything she dreams it could be. Even when her very specific plans crumble in her hands, she tries to make the most of it by still striving to be the absolute best she can be.

The more we learn about Lane, about her relationship with her dad, the emails she writes to her best friend, the fear of failure, the more I just want to hold her tight and tell her everything will work out. It’s so sweet seeing her learn that on her own as she learns to take the things that come to her instead of holding out for an ideal.

These stories hold a lot more depth than I was expecting going in, and it does not disappoint. Plus, is there anything more sweet than a when a character falls for the opposite of what they think they need? The love interest completely tugs on all your heart strings with his big, but oh so sweet, personality and his desire to see the best in people.

I kind of want to revisit these characters. I love that this series looks at the lives of different people in the same school, and how their lives overlap, but I kind of wish I could keep reading about Lane and Mackey just a little bit longer.

Blog Tour/Review – Watching You

WatchingYouTourBanner

Follow the rest of the tour HERE!

Title: Watching You
Author: Shannon Greenland
Published: July 2nd 2018
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars
Cover: Like it
WY
Synopsis:

Viola’s always been that girl from that family, so a scholarship to a prestigious private school in Florida was supposed to be her ticket out of poverty and into a brand-new life. But Viola’s secrets have followed her. Her relationship with the intelligent and gorgeous Riel should have been the salvation she needed—he understands her troubled past better than anyone. But then weird things start to happen.

Frightening messages.

Missing personal items.

The unsettling feeling that she’s being watched.

Viola’s never been one to give her trust easily, but she’ll need to trust in Riel if she’s going to survive her stalker. Because she’s not fighting for a new life anymore—she’s fighting to stay alive.

“I’ve been watching you…” (chapter 36)
Happy book birthday to Watching You by Shannon Greenland! Thank you Greenland, Entangled Teen, and Xpresso Book Tours for giving me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. This thriller/romance was a honestly more romance than thriller,  but I still found myself seeing things out of the corner of my eye and jumping as a result.
Viola finally made it out. She’s going to be the first person in her family to graduate high school, to go to college. After all her hard work, and maybe a little fib or two, she got into her dream private school for her senior year of high school, all on a full-ride scholarship. All she needs to do is keep her head down and her grades up and she could have a real shot at getting into MIT and away from her life of poverty. Only, by taking the scholarship, she learns that she forced Riel, the scholarship student of the past three years, to pay the ridiculous tuition out of pocket, while juggling raising his sister and working every chance he can get. Honestly, the fact that he’s so nice about it just makes Viola feel more guilty.
Riel is such a dream boat. He was born in Spain and Greenland’s descriptions of him will make your heart patter. He’s kind, thoughtful, calculated, and competitive. Does he get any better? While he and Viola get off to a rough start, he ends up being the anchor to Viola’s life when strange things start happening–like that weird feeling that someone is watching her.
Viola’s struggle with trying to be friends with people who have never had a problem with money is refreshing. Her drive and hard work to build a future for herself, to help her family is inspiring. And the friendship and romance that builds between her and Riel is captivating!
Some of the dialogue, particularly in the beginning, felt very unnatural and it was harder to get lost in the book until the initial background stories were built. I also wish that the stalker “chapters” weren’t included at all–they were not necessary to build the tension, didn’t actually add anything, and the writing specifically for those chapters was very awkward. I almost wanted to skip them, but was worried I’d miss some important information. Now that I’ve read them, I can tell you with confidence to just skip the stalker chapters for a better flow to the story. Otherwise, this was a fun read that draws your heartstrings, while keeping you very much on your toes!

Purchase Links:

 Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author
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Shannon Greenland is the award winning author of several novels including the teen spy series, THE SPECIALISTS, and the YA romances, THE SUMMER MY LIFE BEGAN and SHADOW OF A GIRL. She also writes thrillers under S. E. Green and lives off the coast of Florida with her very grouchy dog.

 

Giveaway

Giveaway Details (INTL):

3x $10 Amazon gift cards

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Blog Tour – Sneaking Out

Title: Sneaking Out (Chased #1)
Author: Chuck Vance
Published: March 2018
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult

SO

Synopsis:

Could you sleep next to a murderer?

Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.

For fans of “A Study in Charlotte” and boarding school lit, “Sneaking Out” (book one in the “Chased” series) immerses readers in the privileged prep school world, with a mystery that exposes the dark side of life on a residential high school campus.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

“Come quick! You gotta see this!”
Luke was just exiting Talbot and walking toward the quad behind the library when Andy Slater called out to him. He stopped and waited for Luke as several students ran past, taking the path toward the pond.
“What is it?”
“Just come! They think they found something.”
“By the time Luke and Slater made it to the pond there was a large group of kids clustered in the northwest corner pointing at something. Luke could see two security guards in front of the pack, furiously talking on their walkie-talkies, and one on his knees by the pond.
“What is it?” Luke asked.
Andy elbowed through the crowd, with Luke following. There was frenzied excitement in the air, and everyone was pointing and talking nervously.
“It’s a bra!” said Andy, who had a better view from his vantage point.
The news rippled through the crowd, setting off a cacophony of comments and outbursts.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” some student called out.
“The Southborough Strangler was here!” shrieked a girl’s voice.
“Was someone else murdered?” another girl called out.
“Okay, everyone, move aside.” Mr. Hamaguchi, a science teacher, pushed his way through the crowd. “Step back right now or you will be receiving demerits.”
The students dispersed enough to make a path for Mr. Hamaguchi and the additional security guards. Mr. Hamaguchi bent down next to the security guard, who was using a stick to pull the bra toward him. Luke heard footsteps slapping the pavement and glanced to his side to see Mr. P. running from the direction of Archer. His tie was askew and his hair windblown.
“What is it?” asked the dean, moving toward Mr. Hamaguchi.
The guard pulled up the bra in time for everyone to see that it was a lacy and red. He immediately bagged it in a Ziploc and sealed it closed. Mr. Hamaguchi and the dean conferred in hushed tones, and everyone stood still, craning to hear what they were saying.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” Andy called out.
Mr. P. put his hands up. “Everyone back to class.”
“Should we be worried?” a girl’s plaintive voice called out.
“No. This was obviously a prank, and not at all funny,” warned Mr. P. “We will be looking into this.”
“How do you know it’s a joke?”
“Yeah, maybe someone else was strangled and dumped in the pond.”
That set off a new wave of frenzied discussions.

About the Author

 

 

Chuck

Chuck Vance is a pseudonym for a bestselling writer of both adult mysteries and novels for young adults. Vance attended boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University. Vance has lived in New York, Moscow, London, Paris and Los Angeles and is frequently on the move.

Website / Goodreads

 

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
2x signed copies of Sneaking Out + 2x $25 gift cards

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal – Fighting Fate (Joining of Souls #2)

I am so pleased to share the cover reveal for Shaila Patel’s second book, Fighting Fate, which will be released April 5th (not soon enough if you ask me). Fighting Fate is the second book in the Joining of Souls series. You can read about the first book in the series, Soulmated, HERE!

As I have probably mentioned before, Shaila has become a dear friend to me. We bonded over her first book, chocolate cake, and her silly creativity. Shaila puts a lot of research and imagination into her stories—I can’t wait for you guys to hear about the other things she’s got up her sleeve. Why don’t I give you a little glimpse into who Shaila is for yourself? (I know I usually do the author bio last, but I’m obviously trying to delay the cover reveal for last. *smirks and does hair flip* Wait. That doesn’t mean scroll to the end! Patience is a virtue, you know…) You can also check out an interview I did with Shaila when she released book one HERE.

About the Author

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and chuck it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. SOULMATED, her debut novel and the first book in the Joining of Souls Series, was the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. Book 2, FIGHTING FATE releases April 2018. She loves craft beer, tea, and reading in cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or gushing about her favorite books online.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | BookBub
Keep updated by subscribing to Shaila’s newsletter. Sign up here.

Let’s take a look at what Fighting Fate will be about:

Empath Liam Whelan is determined to protect Laxshmi “Lucky” Kapadia, the girl he loves, at all costs–even if it means breaking her heart to keep her alive. Stopping the joining cold means Liam’s life is in danger from the Soul Seekers and the ruthless Minister Gagliardi who now has designs on Lucky. Liam has no choice but to find the strength to fight his desires, fight the joining, and fight fate.

After the unthinkable happened, Lucky’s “hallucinations” have been working double-time. Heartbroken and plagued by doubts, she meets a man who gives her a mind-blowing explanation for her predicament. Her apparent savior provides her with an escape from her hell: run away with him or return to her drab existence and watch Liam move on with her heart in his hands. All Lucky ever craved was to be in control of her own fate, but when her only choices fight against her heart, can she find the strength to battle for what she wants?

Okay, that’s not enough for me. It’s okay, though, because I have an excerpt for you today, and then we can annoyingly flip through our calendar apps together and wonder why we have to wait SO LONG.

Excerpt

Under the cover of her porch, I returned her bag to her. We moved apart. With the connection broken, she let out a shuddering sob. The pain of separating from her hit me square in the chest. I wanted to hold and comfort her, but I was already making a dog’s dinner of this just by being here. This would set her back—set us both back.

She turned away from me. Her hand shot up to her mouth, and her shoulders shook. I instinctively stepped forward, but all I could do was curl my fingers into my palms to keep from touching her.

“I miss you so much, Liam,” she said, the words choked out between hoarse cries. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be weak.” She slapped away her tears and turned to face me. A bolt of lightning cracked nearby. I couldn’t stay. The tingling was pulling us together like it was some sort of magnetic current.

“You’re not weak. I miss you too, Lucky.”

Her eyes grew cold in an instant. The fury of the sandstorm I sensed from her made me gasp, and I stumbled back. “Jaysus, Lucky.” We were crossing interpretations again. I was reading her emotions as air metaphors instead.

She barreled toward me, her hands balled up, apparently unaware of the effect her anger had on me. “You have no right to miss me. You left me!” She beat her fists against my chest, and I had to grab her by the wrists to stop her.

“Are you thinkin’ this has been easy for me?”

She wriggled free from my grip. “Whose fault is that?” she yelled above a roll of thunder. I didn’t want her to see the pain on my face, so I turned away, holding myself up on the white, wooden railing. The whirlpool of her anguish surrounded me, making my head ache.

I took a deep breath and lowered my voice. “Lucky, I broke my promises to you. For that, I’m truly sorry. But I had little enough choice. None of that changes my feelings for you.”

“I’m not The One, so it’s time to move on. Is that it? Regardless of how you feel? Of how I feel?” Her voice cracked. “You’re a coward.”

I heard her fumbling for her keys. She’d be inside soon, and I’d rather be fighting with her on the porch than be without her.

“So where next, hmm?” she asked. “North Dakota? Vermont? Ooo, I know. You should go to India. You could play this game for the rest of your life!”

I turned to face her. Her sarcasm was brutal, but I deserved all that and more.

She tried to unlock her door, but the keys slipped from her grip. She stooped to pick them up, but her fingers were shaking so badly, she dropped them again.

“Dammit!” She crouched a second time and sucked back another sob.

I swept down and set my hands over hers to steady them. Taking the keys, I unlocked the door, followed her inside, and bundled her in a blanket from off the sofa. Lucky didn’t protest. We stood there, dripping water on her mum’s carpet, staring into each other’s eyes. Grabbing fistfuls of the covering around her neck, I gently rocked her, tugging her closer, fighting the craving to kiss her. My breaths came out fast and shallow, and only clinging to the material with both hands kept me from sneaking a touch of her soft skin. If I didn’t leave now, I’d stay because I didn’t have an ounce of the strength she had. Maybe I was the coward she’d accused me of being.


Blog Post Header

Okay, okay, the moment you’ve been waiting for—time to see THE COVER!

Pre-order from your favorite venue HERE!

Giveaway

Want to hear something even better? You could win an Advanced Readers Copy to read the book before everyone else! Check out the link below. One of the entries is to answer the question, “Would you risk death to join (I mean metaphysically, of course!) with your soul mate?” I look forward to hearing your answers!

Win a Fighting Fate PB ARC (U.S.) or an eARC (Int’l)! Plus a $25 Amazon eGC (Int’l)!
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Review / Blog Tour – Sugar Lump

Title: Sugar Lump
Author: Megan Gaudino
Published: January 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay

SL

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world—CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count.

But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles. Devastated by the possibility of having to move yet again, CC discovers everyone has been keeping a massive secret from her—including her own father.

“but all I could think about was how Sugar Lump was full of crazy people” (p. 40)

Thank you Entangled Teen, Xpresso Book Tours, and Megan Gaudino for a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review. You can check out the rest of the tour by clicking the banner below.

 

How would the world work if everyone were to achieve the American Dream? What are the stakes in achieving that? CC and her dad move into the most perfect town in the world, with picturesque views that attract wedding parties from across the world. But something very strange is going in and everyone seems to be keeping something from CC, even her own dad.

I couldn’t put this down. The creepy vibes and commentary on the American Dream drew me in and kept me hooked.  The descriptions were vivid and the characters perfectly quirky. CC’s internal struggle between what she thinks she wants and what this strangely perfect town wants for her is riveting. Plus, could Thorne get any sexier? I found my heart racing every time his name was mentioned because I wanted to uncover the mystery of who he was just as much as CC.

However, the ending felt super flat and I was unsatisfied. The conflict between CC and Thorne and the town’s secrets creates this amazing tension and it feels like the ending was a complete copout. I wanted more and was honestly a little bit annoyed. There was no justice and no promise of a continued fight.

This is my first read by Gaudino, and I’m guessing it will not be the last. The writing is beautiful and the characters mysterious. I just hope her other books have a better written ending.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

 

Megan Gaudino works in a high school library by day and on her own books by night. She’s made up of a mixture of black clothing, iced coffee, and a desire to go adventuring. Those things sort of come together naturally to form a writer. She lives in Pittsburgh where you can find her reading, writing, and Instagraming.

Goodreads / Twitter

 


GIVEAWAY!

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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 – Turtles All the Way Down

Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Published: October 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russle Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see” (p. 9).

John Green has finally released another book, and one about a girl navigating life with anxiety and OCD no less. In the promotion for his new book, Green revealed that this story is a special one as he deals with these things as well. No wonder it took a while for him to finish—but the wait was well rewarded!

Green has a style of writing in the YA genre that is uniquely his own. His characters deal with tough issues in a very teenager way, but they are also very smart, which is something that isn’t done much in YA. Not that other authors are writing stupid characters, but Green allows his characters to wrestle with things by asking deep and intellectual questions—ones that I don’t see in other books. As Aza struggles with her OCD, she is struggling to understand who she is and if she can possibly be a person apart from the circumstances in her life. She’s constantly researching facts far beyond high school curriculum because she MUST know the answers. And yet, she is still a short sighted, self-centered teenager like the best of them. Somehow Green is able to create characters that are so intellectual without taking away from the fact that they are teenagers with a lot of life and learning ahead of them. Turtles All the Way Down is just another phenomenal example of this.

Aza explains her anxiety in the best way that she can, which is often jumbled and confusing, but captures the feeling so well. I found myself using some of her descriptions to explain to my boyfriend how it feels when I get anxious about something. Another theme throughout this book that I was actually pleasantly surprised to find was that of economical differences. Davis is obviously the son of a billionaire, but Aza and her best friend Daisy have several conversations about financial privilege and what “poor” looks like to them. I personally grew up in a lower economical status than many of my friends in high school, yet I never felt like we had to go without because of money. This theme throughout the book really resonated with me and I feel like Green raised a lot of interesting points by doing this.

Turtles All the Way Down is a book that our society needs. We need books that are open and honest about mental health, that helps people who don’t know understand, and that shows those who do that they are not alone. However, I love that, while Aza’s struggles were a huge part of the plot, it wasn’t the only thing going on in her life. She was also learning, as most teenagers do, about love, loss, how to be a good friend, and that the world is so much bigger than ourselves. She learns so much more in her own way, but I want you to learn along with her—pick up this book as soon as you can!