~What's Happening at Ramblings of a Daydreamer~
*BLOGGERS: Take Them by Storm book blitz sign-ups

*Win an Angel Island swag set
*Historic Fiction Reading Challenge: link-up December reviews + giveaway

Friday, December 19, 2014

2015 Reading Challenge: Dive Into Diversity

After signing up for a gazillion reading challenges in 2013 and 2014, and losing track/interest after a few months, I decided I wouldn't sign up for any challenges in 2015. But then I saw the Dive Into Diversity challenge, and I decided to break my challenge ban. Why? Because diversity in books is important to me, and this is a way not only to discover new authors, books, and bloggers who write, read, and support diversity, but it's also a good chance to spread the word and encourage others to read and write diverse books. Everyone wins!


Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge


The 2015 Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge is hosted by Reading Wishes and Rather Be Reading. It runs from January 1st, 2015 to December 31st. The idea is to write posts about diversity or read and review diverse books. There are no set numbers of books to complete, which is definitely a big draw for me, because I tend to lose track, and it eventually starts to suck the fun out of reading. The books can be diverse in any way - LGBTQ+ characters, POC characters, gender diversity, people of different religions or cultures, people with disabilities, etc. You can follow along using the hashtag #DiveDiversity.

 
The diverse books I read in 2014:

YOUNG ADULT
*To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
*Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
*The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
*My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter
*Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole
*Servants of the Storm by Delilah S Dawson
No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace
Great by Sara Benincasa
Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore 
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Everything Changes by Samantha Hale
 
NEW ADULT
*Off the Map series by Lia Riley
*Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
*Make It Count by Megan Erickson
*International School series (I See London, London Falling, French Kissed) by Chanel Cleeton
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

* = personal favourites/highly recommended
 
 

Shameless self-promo in 3...2...1...

My own diverse books:
Take Them by Storm (coming January 6th, 2015 ~ available for pre-order now)

    
What are some of your favourite diverse books? Are you going to Dive Into Diversity in 2015? Let's talk here or on Twitter!
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: French Kissed by Chanel Cleeton


French Kissed by Chanel Cleeton
Series: International School #3
Published: December 1st, 2014
Publisher: Self-published
256 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Acquired this book: From NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Kobo}
 
On the surface, Fleur Marceaux has it all. If only the facade matched reality. With one year left at the International School in London, Fleur’s struggling to graduate, her love life is a mess, and she can’t stop thinking about Max, her ex-boyfriend’s best friend. But all that pales compared to the blackmailer determined to destroy her.

There’s a social hierarchy at the International School and Max Tucker is outside the velvet ropes. After watching Fleur break his friend’s heart, Max knows to stay away from trouble, despite the crush he’s had on her since freshman year. But when they’re partnered on a project, Max learns there’s more to Fleur than meets the eye, and she just might be worth the wild ride.

The more time they spend together, the further Max falls. And when a kiss awakens a passion Fleur never imagined, she’s unable to resist Max, who she had thought was all wrong for her but might be the only thing that’s right. But will he stand by her when her secrets are revealed?



In I See London and London Falling I knew there was more to Fleur than met the eye. Even though she made me shake my head a lot and it was obvious she was her own worst enemy in many ways, she was realistic, and I appreciated that. She was who she was, and she didn’t apologize for that. She was one of those characters I sort of begrudgingly liked and even admired at times. I loved what a loyal friend she was to Maggie, and how even with her own stuff going on, she was still there when her friends needed her.

All that being said, I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d feel about her as a main character. As I said, I knew there was more to her than met the eye, but I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect to her since we seemed to have nothing in common. Once I started reading French Kissed, I knew my fears were unfounded. There really was so much more to Fleur than the fancy clothes, snobby attitude, and snarky retorts. Her polished veneer and perfect appearance didn’t stop her from having a lot of the fears and insecurities many other people have. Fleur’s growth amazed me, and I found myself actually feeling pride, the way I would watching one of my friends accomplish things, learn, and grow.

Then there was Max. Holy swoon! The chemistry between these two was unbelievable, and the sexy scenes…wow. So freaking hot! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to think of foreplay the same again after reading French Kissed. Besides being sexy and cold-shower-inducing, Max and Fleur’s love story was also beautiful in a way I didn’t expect. I was invested in their relationship, and it made me happy sigh, swoon, and even tear up. I was full-on happy crying by the end.

I also really liked how London came alive a bit more in this story. Through I See London and London Falling, I kept wishing we’d see more of the city, that it would become its own character in a way, but I never felt that. In French Kissed I really felt like we were in London, as well as Paris. There’s a reason I’m drawn to books with foreign settings - I want to feel like I’m escaping my real life, like I’m truly there in London absorbing all the culture, or in Paris watching the Eiffel Tower glitter at night. French Kissed succeeded in that, and made me anxious to return to Paris, and finally visit London someday soon. I was also really happy to see familiar characters; I got invested in Maggie and Samir’s story, so it was nice to see them, as well as other return characters.

Overall, French Kissed was the perfect ending to the International School series. Chanel Cleeton managed to take a character you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have much depth, and remind you over and over that appearances can be deceiving. There’s a huge heart under the perfect hair, beautiful face, and designer clothes. I’m going to miss the International School characters, and I couldn’t be happier that they got such an incredible send off.
 

    
Have you read French Kissed? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read the other two books in the International School series? What are some of your favourite NA books of 2014? Let's talk here or on Twitter!
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler


Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
Series: Radleigh University #1
Published: December 9th, 2014
Publisher: Self-published
414 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Kobo}

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

 
In a nutshell:
Is Last Will and Testament for you? Well…do you like:
1. A strong, kickass, smart-mouthed, sassy, hilarious, honest heroine who says what’s on her mind, makes mistakes, but always picks herself up and carries on no matter how hard things get?
2. A sexy, nerdy French Canadian who appears crusty, but actually has a heart of gold? (And is willing to take much-needed fashion advice?)
3. A romance that will make you swoon, make you want to scream, and leave you needing a cold shower (or six)?
4. A story that will make you laugh, tear up, root for the characters, and sigh happily at the end?
Did you answer yes to all? I hope you did, because those things are all awesome and they're all in this book. So READ. THIS. BOOK. You won’t regret it.

Last Will and Testament is one of those books that confirms my love of New Adult. With characters and a storyline that grip your attention—and your heart—it’s impossible not to get invested and love this book.

I loved Lizzie’s voice from the very first page. She was funny, irreverent, and unapologetically herself. She said what she thought, and she made mistakes. She was wonderfully flawed and realistic, and I loved her for that. I laughed so hard at some of the things she said and thought (especially the somewhat inappropriate things). It was refreshing to come across a character like her who just said it like it was. Her growth amazed me and made me so freaking proud, the way I would be of a friend who was floundering but did their damnedest to keep pushing, keep going, and do whatever it took to make it.
 
Then there was Connor. Oh Connor. *sigh* Despite seeming surly and way too serious, he actually had a heart of gold. He was such a good person. The way he helped Lizzie, the way he was there for her and the things he did for her made me love him so much. And I might be a little biased (okay, I totally am), but I loved that Connor was Canadian. I also loved that there weren’t any annoying stereotypes about Canada/Canadians, which in itself was refreshing. The first time Connor swore in French, I laughed myself silly, because it really is such a French Canadian Catholic thing to swear the way he did. It was endearing and funny at the same time.

Lizzie and Connor seem like such an unlikely couple, but I think that’s part of why they work so well together. They balance each other out, and Connor is exactly the type of guy Lizzie needs while she’s trying to keep her life together. He helps her, but also gives her the encouragement and support she needs to be strong herself and learn to be what her brothers need. I love how they both changed slowly into better versions of themselves for each other. It was never one of those ‘I have to do this or he won’t like me anymore’ type things, it was more like ‘he makes me want to be a better person and I should do this for myself as much as for him’. They had the type of love that makes you want to be a better person in general, without giving up who you are or compromising your true self. It was beautiful.

Besides being funny and realistic and heartfelt, this book is SEXY. Like super sexy, and I loved every second of it. Lizzie was completely open about and comfortable with her sexuality. She was like YAY SEX, which made me YAY LIZZIE. That was something else that was refreshing about this book. A lot of people say there’s too much sex in NA, but I think it’s all about the approach. If the sex is gratuitous or feels out of place, you might wish there was a fast-forward button, but in a case like this, where it’s such a positive thing, it’s welcome, at least for me. I wish there had been more books like this when I was younger, because then maybe I wouldn’t have had the narrow view of sex and pleasure I did when I was in my late teens/early twenties.

If you’re looking for a contemporary New Adult story that’s gripping, emotional, funny, sexy, and swoony, with the right amount of tension (but low on the angst), and lots of heart, I can’t recommend Last Will and Testament enough. This is one of my favourite books of 2014, and is high on my list of favourite NAs.  



   
Have you read Last and Will and Testament? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read Dahlia's YA debut Behind the Scenes? How do you feel about teacher-student books? What are some of your favourite NAs of 2014? Let's talk here or on Twitter!
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html

Cover Reveal + Giveaway ~ Longing by Lilly Avalon

Title: Longing
Series: Resist #2
by: Lilly Avalon
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Cover designed by Marie Landry
It's been two months since Allegra walked out of Devlin's hotel room. Well, two months and five days, but she's not counting. She needs to move on, but before she can, Devlin shows up again...as her new coworker. Seeing him at work every day is enough to make her lose her mind. Allegra tries to stay away from Devlin, knowing the effect he has on her, but she can't. The more she's around him, the more she's tempted to have something more with him. After everything that's happened in the past, it's a slippery slope that may land her in a place she never wants to revisit. Something is happening to her heart, though. A longing is building up that isn't one-sided...and doesn't feel temporary. He wants her. She wants a forever. Is it possible to have it all? 

*Longing is a full-length erotica novel, and the sequel to Resist*

Here All Along (Here All Along #1) Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble  
Resist (Resist #1) Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble 
More Than Words (More Than Words #1) Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble

Lilly Avalon is the author of the erotic romances Here All Along and Resist, and the upcoming novella More Than Words. 
She's somewhere in the midst of her twenties and lives mostly in the stories in her head. When she's not enveloped in the worlds she creates, she's out in the real world making stories happen. That or reading other romances. It's a toss-up.

Find Lilly online:

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: What If by AJ Pine


What If by AJ Pine
Series: If Only #2
Published: December 8th, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
300 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Kobo}

Sometimes it takes letting go of the past to find out who you want to be.

During his semester abroad, Griffin Reed almost gave his heart to a girl who loved someone else. Lesson learned. Now he’s home, where following in his father’s footsteps may not be what he wants, but it’s what his parents expect. It might be taking the easy road, but he doesn’t see a way out.

Something that could have killed Maggie Kendall took away the person she used to be instead. Her condition makes her dependent on sticky notes, photos, and medication just to get through each day. The last thing she needs is a distraction—or someone new to disappoint.

What they refuse to see is they are perfect for each other. Maggie makes Griffin want to be a better man, and he makes her believe a future is possible. But these two have to find a way to share the secrets ripping them apart, if they’re ever going to have a chance at happiness.


What if? What if…you were afraid your own body would betray you in a way that’s possibly deadly? What if…you were known as a player and no one saw you as anything but? What if…you were afraid to fall in love, but that’s exactly what happens? These are just some of the things Maggie and Griffin deal with in What If, a fantastic, realistic, unique New Adult book by AJ Pine.

I really liked Griffin in If Only, but his part in the story left me with a bittersweet feeling. I was also left feeling curious about this apple-shampoo-scented player, so when I found out he was getting his own story, I was excited. As much as I liked Griffin in If Only, I loved him in What If. There’s so much more to him than meets the eye. Both he and Maggie are incredibly complex characters. They’re both afraid to get involved in something serious because of their past experiences, so when they decide to ‘not date’ each other, they just want something fun and light. They get a lot more than they planned on, though, and I loved watching them progress from friends to something more. Their interactions ranged from sweet to swoony to frustrating to sexy to heart-achingly beautiful.

Some of my favourite things about What If (that you totally won’t get unless you read the book, so READ THE BOOK): Gilmore Girls, Wild card, spray paint, Polaroid camera, ground rules, MILES, Chicago, fancy lattes, reunion, sexy shirtless nerd reading in bed. There was so much to love about this book, and these things just barely skim the surface.

Pine did a fantastic job with the dual POV. There was never any repeat information, and Maggie and Griffin both had really strong, distinct voices. The secondary characters were fantastic, too. I liked Griffin’s sisters, and I LOVED Maggie’s best friend, Miles. He was incredible. I’m definitely rooting for him to get his own book. *nudges AJ* ;-) It was also amazing to see some familiar faces. I won’t get into spoiler territory, but there was a scene with certain characters from If Only that had me squeeing and happy crying.

What If is a beautiful, engaging story about self-discovery and love. I loved the emphasis on family and friends, and the romance had me invested from the very beginning. This story made me laugh, cry, and swoon. I can’t wait to see what AJ Pine writes next.
 
 

   
Have you read If Only or What If? If you haven't, is it on your TBR?
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html

Thursday, December 4, 2014

2014 Historic Fiction Reading Challenge December Link-Up + Giveaway


Hi everyone! Can you believe it's December already? This year has absolutely flown by. When I decided to do this challenge a year ago, I had high hopes for it. I was hoping for lots of sponsors and giveaways, and I wanted to read a ton of historic fiction books each month... unfortunately real life sort of got in the way, and the challenge wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but I'm so grateful to those of you who stuck with it, continued reading, and linked up your reviews each month. You guys are amazing!

I wish I could say that I plan to host this challenge again in 2015, but I know I won't have time. My work load is going to be even heavier, and I won't be able to commit to it fully, which I didn't realize last year. Blogging in general has taken a bit of a back burner in 2014, and while I hope to change that in 2015, I don't want to make promises I'm not sure I can keep. So, with that being said, thank you so much to everyone who participated this year, whether for a month or two, or all twelve. I hope you'll keep visiting Ramblings of a Daydreamer even without the challenge to lead you here. ;-) Even though I didn't read as many historic fiction books as I'd hope, I did read some great ones, and even discovered a few new authors, and some great new bloggers in the process. I hope you did, too!

A huge thank-you goes out to these sponsors: 
CJ Archer (blog, Facebook, Twitter)
Jodi Lamm (website, GoodReads, Twitter) 
Angela Misri (website, Twitter, GoodReads) 

Historic fiction reviews from participants:
January

If you have reviews for the month of December (or if you have previous reviews you forgot to link up) you can do so in this linky



Giveaway
This giveaway is open to Historic Fiction Reading Challenge participants ONLY, as a thank-you for participating. There's only one mandatory entry, and then the others are optional. One question is to tell me how many historic fiction books you reviewed this year, and that number will be added into the Rafflecopter as extra entries. 

 
How many historic fiction books did you read in 2014? Which was your favourite? Did you discover any new authors?
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: Inside Out by Lia Riley


Inside Out by Lia Riley 
Series: Off the Map #3
Published: December 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central/Forever
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Acquired this book: From NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, then bought a copy on release day
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Kobo}


{Read my review of Upside Down || Read my review of Sideswiped}


When Talia first moved from California to Australia to study abroad, she never dreamed she'd find the love of her life. Bran understands her like no one ever has before. And despite the numerous challenges they've faced, they've always managed to figure out how to stay together. But this time they'll face their toughest hurdle yet. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?




My heart is a bit broken right now. Why? Not because this book was anything short of perfection, but because it’s over. This series is over. *weeps in a corner* I loved all three Off the Map books, and finishing this series felt like saying goodbye to friends…friends whose heads you happen to be inside of and watch have sex on a regular basis. Wait, that sounds creepy…but if you’ve read these books, you’ll likely know exactly what I’m talking about. And you’ll likely join me in bowing down to Lia Riley’s greatness for writing such fearless, funny, frustrating, and freaking amazing books. These are without a doubt three of my favourite books of 2014, and among my favourite New Adult books, period.

As much as I loved Upside Down, I was slightly wary when I found out Off the Map wasn’t a series of companion novels, but a series about the same couple. I adored Talia and Bran and thought they were great together, but I wondered if I’d get tired of them or if something would happen that would make me dislike them or ultimately not want them together. After reading and loving Sideswiped, I realized I could happily read about this couple forever. And by the time I finished Inside Out, I knew this needed to be a series. One or two books wouldn’t have been enough (hell, three books isn't enough!). We needed time to watch Talia’s and Bran’s personal stories as well as their love story unfold so it would be believable, to really feel the depth of their love. And I did feel it, on every single page. I rooted for them from beginning to end, laughed and cried with them, and fell so hard for them. I loved watching their growth, individually and together.

Besides being a beautiful love story, Inside Out is also as ridiculously sexy as the first two books. Lia Riley knows how to write sexytime scenes that leave you needing a cold shower (or a steamy shower with Bran...heh). It doesn’t hurt that Bran is unbelievably hot and you can easily hear his deep, accented voice in your ear, and…*goes for that cold shower* This book is also laugh out loud funny. Lines like “Sweet Jesus on a tricycle”, “My mind hesitates, but my body is straight up HELLS TO THE YEAH, HI-HO SILVER”, and “Jiminy Fucking Christmas”, just to name a few, had me in hysterics. Give me a book that not only makes me swoon and fan myself and sigh happily, but also laugh like crazy? SOLD.

Something I mentioned in my reviews of the first two books, and that holds up in this last book is that I love that Riley doesn’t hold back. These characters leap off the page - they’re far from perfect, but they’re so real, which is part of why I love them. Everything about these characters and their stories feels so authentic, from the self-discovery, to the super hot sex, to the fights and obstacles and hardships. Their flaws make them perfectly imperfect, and also make Lia Riley one of my writing heroes. It’s one of my new goals in life to write brave books like the Off the Map series that just lay everything out there and are brutally honest, even when it’s hard and messy and hurts like hell…or potentially awkward like buying (and using) your first vibrator, getting vajazzled, or masturbating in front of your significant other…(all things I loved, by the way, because they were so honest and I’d never seen anything like that in books before, hence Lia Riley being my writing hero).

Inside Out turned me inside out in the best ways possible. It was the perfect ending to an absolutely fantastic series. I can’t wait to see what Lia Riley writes next.


If you know me at all, you’ll know U2 is my favourite band. They’re basically the soundtrack of my life. Their music has gotten me through the worst of the worst and the best of the best. If you ever see playlists for my own books, you’ll likely notice they’re at least half U2 songs. Anyway…I don’t give U2 songs away easily to other books (lol), but when I heard Song for Someone off their new album, I thought ‘I want to write a book inspired by this song’. And then the more I listened to it, I realized it’s MY theme song for the entire Off the Map series. Lines like this are SO Bran and Talia to me: 

You’ve got a face not spoiled by beauty
I have some scars from where I’ve been
You got eyes that can see right through me
You’re not afraid of anything they’ve seen
I was told that I would feel nothing the first time
I don’t know how these cuts heal
But in you I’ve found a right

~and~

You let me into a conversation
A conversation only we could make
You’re breaking into my imagination
Whatever’s in there, it’s yours to take

~and~

I’m a long way from where I was, where I need to be
If there is a light you can’t always see
And there is a world we can always be
If there is a kiss I stole from your mouth
And there is a light
Don’t let it go out


   
Have you read any of the books in the Off the Map series? Did you love Talia and Bran as much as I did? If you haven't read them, do you plan to? What are some of your favourite New Adult books?
http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.ca/p/about-me.html
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