~What's Happening at Ramblings of a Daydreamer~
*Link up your August & September reviews for the 2014 HFRC
*Win a paperback of Depth of Field by Chantel Guertin (Canada Only)


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace


No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace
Series: Standalone
Published: September 8th, 2014
Publisher: Flux
240 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult/LGBT
Acquired this book: From the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Olivia's twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam's girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam's latest fling. A call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoey sees right through Olivia's tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses that he's in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?


I really enjoyed No One Needs to Know. Olivia and Zoey were both complex characters, and I enjoyed their separate stories, and also how their lives intertwined. There was a part of me that knew I should be upset because cheating isn’t okay, and a love triangle involving twin brother and sister should be weird, but…I just couldn’t get too upset over it. I knew it was wrong, and I wouldn’t condone it in real life, but somehow it worked for the purpose of the book.

Olivia and Zoey weren’t what they seemed - to each other or to themselves. They were stuck in the roles they thought they had to play, for whatever reason, and didn’t know or think they could be anything different. They seemed like the typical snotty rich/mean girl, and the ‘charity case’ with a chip on her shoulder. And while they did fit into those roles at times, they were both so much more. They learned a lot about themselves and each other through the course of the book, and I really enjoyed watching their growth. I loved seeing how they surprised each other, and how that surprise turned into admiration and then something more.

No One Needs to Know had a bit of everything. There were sweet, touching moments, funny moments, romantic moments, moments that made me mad (usually on behalf of one of the characters), and moments that made me nod my head in approval as I watched the girls evolve. This book won’t be for everyone - I’ve already seen people saying they had major issues with the love triangle - but I found it entertaining and compelling. 
 
 
{Read my review of The Truth About You and Me}

  
Have you read No One Needs to Know? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? How do you feel about love triangles? What's your favourite LGBT book?
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Blitz: Resist by Lilly Avalon


Resist by Lilly Avalon
Resist #1
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Purchase from: Amazon 
 Add to Goodreads

 Resist Cover

Allegra Maxwell is sick of the monotony of life. It's all work and no play, and right now she wants to play. She shows up at her company's yearly meeting with one goal in mind: have a one night stand with a stranger. What she doesn't count on is Devlin Pierce walking through the door.
When Allegra first met Devlin, she knew he would be nothing but trouble. After he proved her theory true last year, she made a vow to avoid him at all costs. He's the last person she wants to see, and he knows it. He refuses to leave her alone though. As much as she tries to fight it, the pull he has on her is undeniable. Her ability to resist him proves impossible when Devlin makes her an offer she can't refuse.
One night. That's all he asks. That's all she wants. Or is it?

Lilly 

Avalon
Lilly Avalon writes new adult and erotic romances. She's in her twenties and lives in a cute little apartment in a small city. She loves reading romantic stories as much as she loves writing them. Her favorite things include dancing, watching scandalous television dramas, and autumn. Lilly Avalon is a pseudonym. 
Download Here all Along for free HERE

IndieSage PR


Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Pulled Under by Michelle Dalton


Pulled Under by Michelle Dalton
Series: A Sixteenth Summer novel
Published: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
304 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From  Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

A shy teen befriends an attractive beach town tourist in this refreshing summertime romance, in the tradition of Sixteenth Summer and Seventeenth Summer.

In the small town of Pearl Beach, Florida, Izzy Lucas needs only her surfboard and the water to be completely happy. She wants nothing to do with parties, popularity contests, or showing her face around the clich├ęd touristy hangouts. Izzy’s tight group of coworkers at the local surf shop have tried relentlessly to break shy Izzy out of her (sea)shell. But Izzy isn’t interested…until the day Ben Barker walks into the store.

Ben’s from the city. He’s cute, charming, and wants her help adjusting to beach town culture. As the weeks of surfing lessons and pizza shack visits fly by, Izzy and Ben realize their attraction goes beyond mere friendship. But Ben is only in town for three months, and Izzy wonders if this amazing guy is worth stepping out of her comfort zone for what might be the perfect summer romance—or her first heartbreak.


Pulled Under is a really sweet summer read that’s perfect for the beach or a lazy day when you want something light and fun.

As a shy girl myself, I connected easily with Izzy. She talked a lot about being an introvert, and I definitely saw a lot of myself in her. She had a great voice - funny and smart. She was a very realistic sixteen-year-old girl; there were times I wanted to shake her, but at sixteen, of course she’s not always going to make the best decisions or handle certain situations in a mature way. I liked that she had flaws, and I also liked that she grew as a person.

Ben was adorable. I love a boy who’s able to laugh at himself as well as make other people laugh. His relationship with Izzy was slow and sweet, very innocent and believable.

The highlight of the book for me was Izzy’s family and friends. I loved how close she was to her loved ones. Her friends were true friends, very supportive and caring, and her parents weren’t the typical absentee parents we usually see (or rather don’t see) in a lot of YA. Her dad was awesome and hilarious, and ended up being one of my favourite characters.

Something else I really liked about this book was all the surf talk. I didn’t know much about surfing, but I learned a lot reading Pulled Under, and it was really interesting. Toward the end it started to feel like a little too much surfing, and people who aren’t interested in surfing might get bored with it, but I’m the type of person who loves learning new things, so I found it mostly enjoyable.

I really liked the ending. At first it seemed like everything would be wrapped up a little too neatly, but it wasn’t. I usually have mixed feelings about open endings but I thought this was more realistic, and I was left feeling satisfied. 

If you’re looking for a book with a sweet romance, lots of humour, and a great portrayal of female friendships, I highly recommend Pulled Under.

 
 
   
Have you read Pulled Under? What did you think? If you haven't read it, is it on your TBR list? Have you read any of Michelle Dalton's other books?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wanderlust Wednesday #3

Wanderlust Wednesday combines my love of books with my love of/desire to travel. I've had a wicked case of wanderlust lately, and I've been reading a lot of travel books, so I thought a new blog feature that combines travel and books would be fun! This is going to be a weekly feature; if anyone would like to join in, let me know and I'll set up a Linky so we can visit each other's posts.

Week 1 we visited Paris, week 2 we visited Rome, and this week we're visiting Australia. I'm doing something a little different this week because instead of just talking about a book and its setting, I'm posting an actual review. But, in keeping with the 'wanderlust' theme, I want to tell you about how I 'met' Lia Riley, and how something she said stirred up my wanderlust (as if it weren't bad enough!).  

A few weeks ago, Chanel Cleeton had a Facebook party for the release of her novel London Falling. Lia was one of the hosts, and she asked about the craziest/most exciting trip you took in your early twenties. My answer was that I'd gone on a cross-country trip with a girl I met online and had only known for nine months (and hadn't actually met in person until she showed up on my doorstep after a 13-hour drive). People thought I was insane, but I didn't really think anything of it at the time, and it was one of the most epic trips I've ever taken. Lia replied and said that was the time to take trips like that, before you got tied down with big responsibilities, a family, etc. And I thought...I'm 30 and still don't have those big responsibilities yet. No husband, no kids, no house, plus I'm self-employed and can take time off whenever. I've been wanting to travel for years, but one thing or another has always stopped me. Lia's comment felt like a sign, though.

I talked more about this in another blog post, but long story short, that comment of Lia's inspired me to ask my childhood best friend if she'd like to travel with me next year. Neither of us can afford it this year, and we're not exactly sure we can afford it next year, but we're going to try our hardest to find a way, and I feel like this might FINALLY happen. I've been waiting so long. So, thank you Lia!

 


Upside Down by Lia Riley
Series: Off the Map #1
Published: August 5th, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central/Forever
384 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary New Adult/Romance
Acquired this book: From the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Kobo}

If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

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

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

I’d just like to preface this review by saying it’s no secret I love New Adult. I love to read it and I love to write it, and it makes me sad to see so many people putting it down (although thankfully this is happening less and less). I read two amazing NAs in a row (first Noelle August’s Boomerang, and then Upside Down), and I feel like I’m going to be holding every other NA book up to the standard of these two books from now on. Not comparing, but I feel like these books have set a new standard for what this category needs, and what could possibly help more people take it seriously as a category. The world needs books like this, with realistically flawed people finding their footing, finding their path, finding love, finding themselves. 

Okay, now my actual review… ;-)

From the moment I saw the gorgeous cover for Upside Down, I was intrigued. When I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read the book. I love ‘destination’ books and I haven’t read many books set in Australia.

There are so many things to love about Upside Down, but I’ll start with Talia. She’d dealt with so much, and yet she managed to stay strong (even though she’d probably argue with that), and hold onto her humour. She was struggling with OCD, grief, guilt, and so much more. I loved how neurotic she was. I don’t have OCD, but I’m definitely obsessive and deal with anxiety, so I related to a lot of the things she thought, said, and did. A lot of the time her inner dialogue felt like it was coming from my own head, and I loved that feeling of connection and understanding. Her family alternately broke my heart and made me ragey. Her mom was a real piece of work and needed a serious reality check. Both her parents had their own not-so-healthy ways of dealing with grief, and Talia was left on her own. They were so wrapped up in themselves, they didn’t notice how much she was suffering, and my heart broke for her because of that. 

Bran wasn’t your typical leading man. I loved that he didn’t make apologies for who he was. He was a bastard and he knew it. He didn’t sugarcoat things, he didn’t say pretty words for the sake of it. He was a conundrum - could be the world’s biggest jerk, but he liked to cuddle. Sexy as hell, but also vulnerable. I wasn’t sure I was going to like him, and while there were a few times I wanted to throat-punch him, I ended up loving him.

I appreciated that Talia and Bran’s relationship happened slowly. From their first snark-tastic encounter to their tentative friendship to the OMG SO HOT sexytimes to them trying so hard to let their walls down and let each other in. It was push-and-pull from beginning to end, a mostly slow burn with bright flashes of what their relationship could be if they’d just let it happen. I loved it. I also appreciated that Talia didn’t turn into a vapid airhead when Bran was around. I’m so tired of seemingly strong heroines turning into spineless jellyfish the minute a hot guy looks shows interest.

Holy mother of GAAAAAAH, Lia Riley can write sexytimes like nobody’s business. Seriously. I almost needed a cold shower or six. And not only were they incredibly sexy, they were realistic and honest, which was so refreshing. I’ve read so many sex scenes that either made me cringe or shake my head, but these were perfect. There were several sexytime scenes, but they weren’t gratuitous; they had a purpose and they fit with the story, which made me enjoy them even more. 

Lia Riley has a really unique writing style. I can’t quite pinpoint what’s so different about it or why exactly it stood out so much, but I noticed it from the beginning. It was simple but beautiful, and it definitely helped with connecting to the book and the characters.

Upside Down is everything New Adult should be. It has romance, humour, genuine emotion, and characters that are well developed and realistic, all wrapped up in a beautiful, vivid setting. Australia came alive for me as much as Talia and Bran did. I’m eager to find out what happens with these two next in Sideswiped. 

 



  
Have you read Upside Down? Have you ever been to Australia? Have you read any other books set in Australia that are must reads?
 
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 Historic Fiction Reading Challenge Aug/Sept Link-Up


If you haven't signed up for the 2014 Historic Fiction Reading Challenge, it's not too late. You can sign up here.

Hi guys! Sorry I didn't post the August link-up sooner. I had the post done and then my power went out and I lost the post, and then forgot to redo it. I haven't been blogging as much lately, but I'm hoping to get back into a regular schedule from now on. Since it's so late in August, I'm going to post a joint link-up for August and September. I'm going to try really hard to find a sponsor for October so you guys will have the incentive of a giveaway. ;-)

 
If you'd like to check out fellow participants' reviews, you can see all the January reviews here, the February reviews here, the March reviews here, the April reviews here, and the May reviews here, and June reviews here, and the July reviews here.
 


Here's a refresher of how this works:

  • You read as many (or as few) historic fiction books as you want during the months of August and September

  • Post your review on your blog (or GoodReads, Amazon, etc if you don't have a blog) between now and September 30th

  • Post a direct link to your review in the Linky below

  • If you didn't have a chance/forgot to link up your reviews from previous months, you can link them up now. No double posting of reviews though please.


Reminders: 

  • If you're on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #2014HFRC to update your progress or when you share your reviews. I'll randomly retweet tweets that use the hashtag.
  • You don't have to post the challenge button on your sidebar, but if you'd like to, you can grab the code in my right sidebar.
  • If you're interested in becoming a sponsor for the Historic Fiction Reading Challenge by donating books, ebooks, swag, gift cards, etc., please contact me at irishstar_83(at)hotmail(dot)com. If you're an author, I'll spotlight your book for the month and include your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.; if you're a blogger, I'll spotlight your blog and other social media. All sponsors are listed on the 2014 Historic Fiction Reading Challenge page, which will stay up all year.

 

How many historic fiction books did you read in July? Which was your favourite? What do you plan to read in August and September?
 
{Facebook || Twitter || GoodReads || Instagram || Pinterest || YouTube || Author blog}

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Depth of Field by Chantel Guertin


Depth of Field by Chantel Guertin 
Series: Pippa Greene #2
Published: August 12th, 2014
Publisher: ECW Press
190 pages (paperback)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}
 
{Read my 4-star review of The Rule of Thirds}

Two weeks in New York City should be the time of Pippa’s life: she’s attending the prestigious Tisch Photography Camp, her boyfriend, Dylan McCutter (two months and counting!) is coming with her, and their parents are 500 miles away. Talk about lights, camera, (swoony, unchaperoned) action! But what should be 14 unforgettable days of bliss turns into chaos when her one and only nemesis, Ben Baxter, proves to be surprisingly more complex than she could’ve ever imagined, and her Tisch mentor, a renowned photographer, seems to have a lot more to do with her parents’ past than anyone wants her to know. Is Pippa out of her depth?


 
Depth of Field is the continuation of Pippa Greene’s story from The Rule of Thirds. Pippa is a young photographer; photography was something she shared with her dad, who died the year before. He was a professional photographer, and his passion for the art was something he passed on to Pippa.

One of the things I liked best about The Rule of Thirds was how authentic Pippa’s voice was. She was basically a regular 16-year-old girl who had insecurities, made mistakes, and learned a few things about life and love along the way. I still liked Pippa in Depth of Field, but she seemed…different. In a way, this book felt like it was part of a different series. Maybe it’s because there was a different setting, plus so many new characters and we didn’t get to see Pippa’s boyfriend and best friend, who were quite prevalent in the first book, but it felt almost too different.

Just like with The Rule of Thirds, there was a lot of stuff packed into this little book. At just under 200 pages, Guertin managed to tell a lot of story, which is quite impressive. Oddly enough, even though Pippa seemed really different in this book, I connected with her more in some ways. I understood her better, I think. When I was 17, I went to France for 10 days, and even though we had chaperones, we had a lot of free time, so I can understand Pippa’s excitement at having freedom, and the not-so-great choices she made. She’s an unchaperoned 16-year-old in NYC, of course she’s not going to be a saint! Also, having lost my own dad to cancer at a young age, I could understand Pippa’s desire to do anything to stay close to him, plus honour his memory. A lot of her choices and interests in life revolve around her dad - what he liked, what he did - and I can understand that, but I also hope she’ll find some of her own interests and passions, and become her own person.

I wasn’t sure if this book was the second in a duology or part of series, so the cliffhanger ending surprised me. The Rule of Thirds left me feeling like some things were left too open, and I felt the same with Depth of Field. There were a lot of unanswered questions and loose ends, and even though there’s going to be another book (at least I assume there is), it felt too open. It would have been nice if at least one aspect of the story had been tied up enough to leave me feeling satisfied but wanting more, instead of ‘Ugh, that’s how it ended?’

Overall, Depth of Field is a good continuation of Pippa’s story. If you enjoy realistic YA fiction with an authentic voice, I’d recommend this series. I’m looking forward to seeing where Pippa goes next and how she handles the hurdles ahead.


 

ECW Press was generous enough to send me an extra copy of Depth of Field to give away to one lucky winner! There's one free entry, and then you can do as many or as few entries as you like. ;-)
 
*Open to Canadian residents only (sorry everyone else, shipping is expensive!)
*Must be 16 years old or older to enter


Check out the entire tour line-up for more reviews, giveaways, and other fun stuff!
Words of Mystery - Friday, August 1 - Giveaway & Review
Sukasa Reads - Saturday, August 2 - Review & Giveaway
Stay Bookish - Monday, August 4 - Tisch Camp post, Dream Cast, Giveaway
Booking it with Hayley G - Tuesday, August 5 - Excerpt & Giveaway
The Book Belles - Wednesday, August 6 - Review
Read My Breath Away - Thursday, August 7 - Review
Write All the Words! - Friday, August 8 - Review & Guest Blog
Ramblings of a Daydreamer - Sunday, August 10 - Review & giveaway
The Book Bratz - Monday, August 11 - Review & Giveaway

  
Have you read The Rule of Thirds or Depth of Field? What did you think? If you haven't read them, are they on your TBR list?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review: The Rule of Thirds by Chantel Guertin


The Rule of Thirds by Chantel Guertin
Series: Pippa Greene #1
Published: October 13th, 2013
Publisher: ECW Press
196 pages (ebook)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: Bought
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Sixteen-year-old Pippa Greene never goes anywhere without her camera. She and her best friend/supermodel-in-training Dace long ago mapped out their life plan: Pippa will be the noted fashion photographer, and Dace the cover girl. But ever since last spring, things have changed for Pippa — and her junior year at Spalding High proves to have its own set of challenges. Not only is Vantage Point, the statewide photography competition, in three short weeks, but her mandatory volunteer placement lands her at St. Christopher’s Hospital, a place Pippa never wanted to set foot in again. With humour and pluck, she navigates her new role as a candy striper (watch out for Code Yellows), her changing relationship with her best friend (goodbye Honesty Pact), and — perhaps most stressful of all — her new love interests (yes, love interests plural).

Will Pippa make it to Vantage Point without having a panic attack? Will either one of the guys prove less sketchy than her last boyfriend? Can she and Dace figure out a way to dream big and be best friends? One thing is certain: real life is a lot more complicated than a photograph.
Pippa Greene is a 16-year-old photography lover. Photography was something special she shared with her father, and he passed his passion for it on to her. The Rule of Thirds is laid out like a countdown of the weeks leading up to Vantage Point, a photography contest with a cash prize, but more importantly, a spot at a photography camp at the college Pippa’s dad went to in New York City.

I loved Pippa’s passion for photography. Her camera was like an extension of herself. As someone who’s always been interested in photography (and always had a secret dream of being a photographer), I connected easily to Pippa. I really liked her, and thought she was a realistic sixteen-year-old - a bit self-involved at times, unsure, up for adventure. She was easy to relate to, and I sympathized with her problems.

I read The Rule of Thirds in a day. That may not seem like a huge feat since the book is only about 200 pages, but I’m an incredibly slow reader, so it actually says a lot about the book. I was drawn into Pippa’s life and was curious what was going to happen and how everything would get resolved. There was a lot of stuff packed into this short book - family and friend issues, romance, grief. It was mostly a light read, with funny moments peppered throughout, but it was also unexpectedly emotional. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but having lived through something similar to what Pippa went through before the story started, there were moments where my heart broke for Pippa.

As for the romance and the love interests, I loved one and thought the other was totally sleazy. I’m not normally a huge fan of love triangles, but this one was done well. It was a believable portrayal of teen romance, and the fact that one boy made me swoon hard…well I can’t complain. ;-)

I really liked the theme of ‘light in the darkness’ throughout the book. With everything that happened to Pippa, it would have been easy for her to get sucked into a dark hole of sadness, and while she had her moments, she was strong and resilient, and I admired her for that. 

One major aspect of the book was left unresolved, and that didn’t sit well with me, since it was something really serious. I’m hoping it’ll be dealt with in the second book, but it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

Overall, The Rule of Thirds was very enjoyable. Quick and funny, with surprising emotional depth, and a heroine that’s easy to root for, The Rule of Thirds is a must-read for fans of contemporary YA. I’m looking forward to seeing what Pippa gets up to next in Depth of Field.
 


  
Have you read The Rule of Thirds? What did you think? If you haven't read it, is it on your TBR list? Are you interested in photography?


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