Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann

Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
Series: Standalone
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow
240 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

 
Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places. 


I’ve only read two other books told in verse: To Be Perfectly Honest and What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones. Since I enjoyed them, I was intrigued by Ask Me How I Got Here when I discovered it on Edelweiss and saw that it was told in verse. While I enjoyed the style and the overall messages of the book, the story felt rushed to me and I wasn’t able to really connect with the characters or the story.

Ask Me How I Got Here deals with a lot of serious issues and serious topics: teen pregnancy, abortion, sexuality, feminism, life choices, the hypocrisy and sexism in religion. Despite dealing with all these things, it never felt like an ‘issue book’, which I appreciated. Addie was smart and funny, and I enjoyed seeing things from her perspective. The pregnancy and abortion happened with little fanfare (which seemed like a missed opportunity for a lot of real emotion, in my opinion), and the story dealt mainly with the aftermath and the unexpected changes Addie experienced. She lost interest in cross-country running, which was once her life, distanced herself from her family and friends, and found it difficult to enjoy the things she once did. I sympathized with her, but never felt myself truly connecting with her. There were times when I thought ‘I know I should be feeling more’, but I just didn’t.

SPOILER (highlight to view): One of my favourite parts of the book was Addie developing feelings for an old friend and former cross-country teammate, Juliana. It was unexpected, and the moments between Addie and Juliana were some of my favourites. I hadn’t heard anyone talking about this book being LGBTQ - probably because of spoilers, but at the same time, I feel going into it knowing the MC is bisexual would be a draw for many - so it really was a wonderful surprise.

Ask Me How I Got Here is a quick, enjoyable read, but it’s not one of those books that will stick with me. That being said, I would recommend it for fans of contemporary YA who enjoy stories about self-discovery that explore themes of sexuality, religion, and feminism.



Have you read Ask Me How I Got Here? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you enjoy books told in verse? Do you have a favourite?
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton

I'm thrilled to be part of the review tour for Chanel Cleeton's latest contemporary romance, Fly With Me. I loved this book SO much, and I can't wait for more people to discover Jordan and Noah's story and hopefully fall for them the way I did. You can check out the first chapter of Fly With Me here.

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Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Wild Aces #1
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
320 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Acquired this book: Via NetGalley in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
Add to GoodReads
Buy Fly With Me: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo || B&N || iBooks || Google Play

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Noah Miller—call sign Burn—loves nothing more than flying hard and fast. When he meets a gorgeous and sassy woman while partying in Las Vegas, he immediately locks on to her.

Jordan Callahan owns a thriving clothing boutique, but her love life is far less successful. Her luck changes when six feet, two inches of sexy swagger asks her to dance and turns her world upside down.

One scorching weekend becomes an undeniable chemistry that they can’t leave in Vegas. But the long distance relationship and their different lives threaten to ground their romance. And when the dangers of Noah’s job become all too real, Jordan learns being with a fighter pilot means risking it all for a shot at love…


I don’t even know how to start this review. Thinking about Fly With Me makes me smile and tear up at the same time. I’ve been on a lucky streak with great books lately, but Fly With Me has left the greatest impression. I had three initial thoughts before I started reading: 1) having read Chanel’s International School series, I figured Fly With Me would be sexy; 2) I thought it would be interesting because of the fighter pilot aspect and I knew approximately zip about fighter pilots or really the military in general; and 3) I expected to enjoy it. What I didn’t expect was to love the book from the first page and fall more and more in love with each page I read. This book has everything I love most about contemporary romance, and yet it’s unlike any other contemporary I’ve read. It was laugh-out-loud funny, unbelievably sexy, romantic, touching, heartbreaking, and hopeful.

Jordan was a great main character. She was smart, sassy, funny, and caring. Her easy, honest, witty voice made me connect with her immediately. One of the things I loved best about her was her confidence. I’d love to see more girls like this in books (and movies and TV and real life): girls who are confident, own their curves, own their imperfections, know they can be over the top and aren’t ashamed, enjoy sex without any apologies or reservations, feel comfortable in their bodies. Part of me wishes I could be Jordan and the other part desperately wants her as a friend.

I enjoyed learning about fighter pilots and military life, especially from the perspective of a significant other. It was obvious the author knew her stuff (check out this article to read the unbelievably romantic story of how Chanel Cleeton met her own fighter pilot husband - seriously, I cried), and she managed to weave in the informational bits in interesting, natural ways, which I appreciated. Jordan’s internal struggles felt very authentic, and I enjoyed watching how she figured things out. I was impressed and proud of her strength and her growth, the way you would be with a close friend who was going through something intense and managed to stay strong.

I adored Jordan and Noah as a couple. Their banter was hilarious and their sexytimes were so. Freaking. Hot. I loved their chemistry, and while they had an intense sexual attraction they also learned a lot about each other and genuinely cared about each other. They challenged each other and life challenged them, but they worked hard to make things work. I really believed in their love and rooted for them every step of the way. I laughed with them, cried for them, and swooned over them. They definitely earned a spot on my list of favourite literary couples.

Fly With Me is one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a long time. It’s funny, romantic, sexy, and full of heart and real emotion. It kept me up late at night reading (and bawling my eyes out) because I was so invested in these characters and their story. Jordan and Noah made a lasting impression and will stick with me for a long time. I can’t wait to continue with the Wild Aces series.




Originally a Florida girl, CHANEL CLEETON moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise and a fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure.  

Law school made Chanel realize she’d rather spend her days writing sexy stories than in a courtroom, and she hasn’t looked back since. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she’s happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, her three pups, and her husband. 

 

Chanel writes contemporary romances, women's fiction, and thrillers. She is published by Harlequin HQN, Penguin/InterMix, and Penguin/Berkley and is the author of the International School, Capital Confessions, Assassins, and Wild Aces series.

Find Chanel online:
 

 Watch for book #2 in the Wild Aces series, Into the Blue, coming July 5th

Eric Jansen—call sign Thor—loves nothing more than pushing his F-16 to the limit. Returning home to South Carolina after a tragic loss, he hopes to fix the mistake he made long ago, when he chose the Air Force over his fiancĂ©e.

Becca Madison isn’t quick to welcome Thor back. She can’t forget how he shattered her heart. But Thor won’t give up once he’s set his sights on what he wants—and he wants Becca.

Thor shows Becca that he’s no longer the impulsive boy he used to be, and Becca finds herself irresistibly drawn to him. But will Thor be able to walk away from his dream of flying the F-16 for their love or does his heart belong to the sky?

Pre-order now:


Have you read Fly With Me? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of Chanel's other books? Have you read any books with characters who are in the military?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Series: Standalone
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
496 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}


Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing - if everything's planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?


 

 
I have a confession to make: until The Unexpected Everything, I was worried I’d never love a Morgan Matson book as much as I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I enjoyed Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone, but they didn’t make the impact that Amy & Roger did. It seemed to be just me, because almost everyone I know who read those two books adored them. So I went into The Unexpected Everything with no expectations. I honestly didn’t even read the synopsis, I just saw the adorable cover and figured since I’ve read all of Matson’s other books I should read this one, too. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement; I absolutely adored this book and have added it to my list of favourite contemporary YAs.

The Unexpected Everything encompasses everything I love about contemporary YA: a main character with a great voice and lots of personality; strong, realistic female friendships; family issues; self-discovery and growth, and not just from the main character; and a romance that’s so adorable you can’t help but root for it. I loved Andie - she’s mature and responsible, partly because she’s been forced to be since her dad is a congressman and Andie has been pretty much on her own for the last five years since her mom died. She has great friends, does well in school, and has her future all planned out...until her summer plans - the plans that will help her future - fall through and she’s stuck in town with no job and nothing spectacular to add to her resume.

This is one of those books that has a string of fun events more than an actual plot. There’s the family aspect: the father-daughter relationship between Andie and her dad was messy, imperfect, and sometimes uncomfortable, but it budded into something that made me so happy. The romance: my new book boyfriend, Clark! He was adorable and nerdy and awkward and so good for Andie. I loved how he became part of the group, his bromance with Tom, and his respect and almost-friendship with Andie’s dad. The friendships: I want to be part of this group. I could picture myself with them at the diner, at the beach, running around for the scavenger hunt (one of my favourite parts of the whole book). The dynamics of the group were realistic - the closeness, the drama, the inside jokes, the laughter, the shared burdens and joys.

The Unexpected Everything was unexpectedly amazing. In a way it was simply a fun summery read about a bunch of friends hanging out - having pizza and ice cream, scavenger hunts, beach days, pool parties, group texts, diner breakfasts. The friendship aspect was important and meaningful, because it helped Andie grow, as did her family issues and her new relationship with Clark. Andie’s growth left me feeling satisfied and so proud of her. She started out thinking everything needed to be planned, needed to be a certain way, but she realized you don’t always have to have things figured out. You can change your mind or you can simply not know. Not everything turns out the way you think it will. Not all relationships are healthy and not all hurt feelings can be forgotten with an apology. I appreciated how realistic and believable it was, even when it was painful to read. This sweet, funny, emotional book is the perfect summer must-read.




{My review of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour || My review of Second Chance Summer || My review of Since You've Been Gone}
 
Have you read The Unexpected Everything? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of Morgan's other books?
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
http://www.bloglovin.com/en/blog/4690637

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Girl Against The Universe BOOK BLAST + GIVEAWAY!

Hello lovelies! I'm excited to be part of the book blast for Paula Stoke's upcoming YA, Girl Against the Universe. This book sounds great; I'll be reading an ARC soon and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you, as always! For now, here's Paula with some information about the book, a giveaway, and a special sale for another of her YAs. 

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Paula: Girl Against the Universe will release on May 16, 2016. I am so excited to share this book with the world, and particularly with people who are struggling with PTSD, survivor’s guilt, anxiety, shyness, or people who just feel like the odds are stacked against them. Maguire’s story is full of struggles and triumphs, new friends and family bonds. Even if your life is totally peachy at the moment, there’s a good chance you’ll find Girl Against the Universe funny and inspiring. I hope you give it a try.


Here’s what some amazing authors had to say about the book:

“Filled with equal amounts of empathy, humor, and heart, Girl Against the Universe is an empowering story about finding the courage to piece your life back together, even when it feels irreparably broken.”
--Tamara Ireland Stone, NYT bestselling author of Every Last Word


“I loved this sweet, slow-burn romance. Sports fiction at its best!”
--Miranda Kenneally, bestselling author of Catching Jordan


“Romantic, honest, and deep, Girl Against the Universe is one of those books where I couldn’t believe that the characters were only a figment of the author’s imagination—they simply jumped off the pages with their beautiful flaws and hard-earned wisdom.”
--Sarvenaz Tash, author of The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love


"Absolute perfection. Completely magical. Girl Against the Universe is a poignant, beautiful story." --Ann Aguirre, NYT bestselling author of The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things


Here’s the official flap copy for the book:

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

Just for fun, here’s my idea of the book in a single word:

And the book in a single GIF:

And even the book in a single song:




And what would a book blast be without a GIVEAWAY? Check out the Rafflecopter for how you can win a finished copy of the book—INT. US winner will receive signed book. INT winner will receive order from The Book Depository + signed bookplate. If you live in a non-TDB country, you can win an e-copy of the book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think? Will you be reading Girl Against the Universe? I highly recommend grabbing a copy of The Art of Lainey while it's on sale - it's super cute!
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wanderlust Wednesday Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch


 
 
Gelato in Rome <3

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Series: Standalone
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
390 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}


Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.



Love & Gelato showed up on Edelweiss shortly after my trip to Europe last year, and since I had Italy (and gelato) on the brain I was instantly intrigued. I waited until closer to publication date to read it, and when I finally picked it up, I told myself not to get my hopes up too high since I’ve been disappointed by a lot of my most-anticipated books lately. Happily, Love & Gelato not only lived up to my expectations, it exceeded them. This book had me completely charmed from beginning to end.

Lina had a great voice. She was funny, smart, and observant, and I appreciated that she was flawed. She was a believable character and one I easily related to. Ren was absolutely adorable. I loved that he wasn’t afraid to show his weird side, and I also loved how willing he was to help Lina. The two of them together had me alternately giggling and swooning, and it was so much fun to watch them start out as friends and evolve into something more. They had plenty of bumps along the way, which just made their story more believable, and made me root for them even more.

You know those books where you know something should bother you but for whatever reason - you’re reading it at the right time, you connect with the characters, the writing sucks you in, whatever - those things just aren’t an issue and you love the book? That’s how I was while reading Love & Gelato. There was a part of me that kept thinking ‘none of this would be happening if Lina would just talk to Howard instead of insisting on waiting until she finished her mother’s journal, but I was enjoying the story so much I wasn’t bothered. I liked the addition of Lina’s mom’s journal entries. Lina learned a lot about her mom that way, and it helped her connect with her after her death, learn more about her dad, and also give her ideas of things to see and do in Italy. I loved getting to see Italy through Lina's eyes; it made me long to go back and eat my weight in gelato, bask in the sunshine, and visit sights with hundreds or even thousands of years of history.

Love & Gelato is a compelling story about love, loss, friendship, and family. With the addition of the journal entries, it was like a story within a story, and both stories kept me enthralled. Full of real characters and vivid descriptions, this book had the perfect balance of fun, emotion, and romance.


Have you read Love & Gelato? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you been to Italy? Have you tried gelato? Do you have a favourite flavour or flavour combination?
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
Series: Standalone
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
304 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: Via NetGalley in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}


The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past…

I’m not sure if Wild Swan’s synopsis changed from the original, but for some reason I went into this book thinking it was going to have elements of the paranormal. Maybe because of Spotswood’s Cahill Witch Chronicles, or maybe because I was expecting some sort of actual curse/paranormal reason for all the women in the Milbourn family to die young and tragically. And while I’m stating random facts, I’ll also add that I expected to enjoy this book but not love it. I don’t know why. Do you ever go into a book thinking ‘this sounds good, it’ll be a nice addition to my reading list, but my expectations aren’t that high’? It doesn’t necessarily make sense, but there are just some books like that, at least for me. Within a few pages of Wild Swans, I knew I was wrong. I was completely enthralled from the very beginning, and I didn’t want to put it down. Wild Swans is an amazing contemporary YA that has become a new favourite.

I adored Ivy. She was complex, flawed, and had a great voice. After her mother abandoned her when she was only two, her granddad raised her. While her granddad is great, he expects a lot from Ivy - the Milbourn women all have a gift, and he’s determined Ivy will not only find hers, but also be the best at whatever she does. It’s a lot of pressure, and since Ivy doesn’t want to disappoint him, she goes along with it, trying all these new things, taking classes, and filling every spare moment with activities that will help her find her gift. I was amazed by Ivy’s maturity and strength. Besides the suffocating pressure of her granddad’s expectations, she also had to live with being abandoned at a young age and never knowing why. So when her mother returns, bringing Ivy’s little sisters in tow - sisters she didn’t even know existed - things become even more complicated.

Wild Swans tackles a lot of serious subjects, and does it in a way that felt very authentic and never preachy. I’ve read a few books recently that touched on feminism, sexuality, and/or gender identity and had me rolling my eyes at times because it felt forced or contrived. Spotswood wove these elements in seamlessly and in a way that made me have a huge amount of respect for her. There was varied and authentic representation of diversity in general, which I loved.

This book had the perfect blend of compelling plot and complex characters. I appreciated that all the side characters had a purpose and weren’t just there as scenery. I love stories that deal with complicated, messy relationships, and Wild Swans had that in spades. It’s hard to go into details without getting into spoiler territory, but I was so impressed with the way Ivy’s relationships were handled, both with her friends and her family. There were so many scenes that frustrated me and made me ragey on her behalf. Parts of the book were difficult to read and absolutely broke my heart, but Ivy’s strength and her growth made me so proud. I felt like she was one of my best friends and I was watching all this happen and cheering her on from the sidelines. It wasn’t all heavy and serious though - there were scenes that were quiet and lovely, and scenes that made me smile or laugh. It had a great balance. 

Wild Swans captivated me from beginning to end. Full of dynamic and memorable characters and believable real-life situations, this is one of my new favourite coming of age stories. If you enjoy books about self-discovery and growth that deal with messy and often complicated but also beautiful family, friendship, and first love issues in an honest way, I highly recommend Wild Swans.


 
Have you read Wild Swans? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you like books that deal with messy family relationships and friendships?
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
http://www.bloglovin.com/en/blog/4690637
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