Book Review: 180 Seconds

180 Seconds – Jessica Park – Skyscape – Published 25 April 2017

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Synopsis

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

My thoughts

Wow. Wow. God save the Queen. God save the Queen wow. Whatever that was I was not expecting that. That!!! That mess of human emotions that was so achingly, amazingly, indulgently perfect. I want to read it again. Indulge and fall in love and feel it all again. I melted and laughed and overheated and cried buckets. This review may not be coherent because of reasons. Many reasons.

Allison is starting her junior years of college. She is happy her roommate never shows and is content to spend her college experience as she always has – hiding in her room, studying and blocking out the world. Her sixteen years in foster care taught her to never expect anything, to protect herself and build the walls around her heart as high and thick as she can. It’s safer to keep everyone out, even her adoptive father. Everyone except her best friend Steffi. And then, Allison finds herself pulled into a social experiment, where she unwittingly spends 180 seconds with (unbeknownst to her) social media celebrity Ebsen Baylor. 180 torturous, amazing, emotional-roller-coaster seconds. Her reaction: run. Steffi encourages her to chase after what could be and to be brave, but Allison isn’t sure if it could ever be worth the risk.

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Book Review: Off The Ice

Off The Ice

Off The Ice – Julie Cross – Juniper Falls #1 – Entangled Teen – Published 28 February 2017

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Synopsis

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

My thoughts

Confession: I didn’t read the summary before deciding I wanted to read this book. All I needed to know was that it is written by Julie Cross and I was in. I love her contemporary novels.

At first, Off The Ice could have been any teen-y, high school drama, hockey novel. But let’s not forget that it’s written by Julie Cross, so pretty soon the characters started to expand and deepen in complexity, the situation got more complicated and basically it became totally addictive.

I was a little confused at first (probably because I didn’t read the summary) about who our main characters were and how they were connected. Tate is the younger brother of Claire’s best friend. The prologue starts the story and gives readers an insight into the big event of Claire’s last night in town that connects her and Tate. And it’s not something romantic, like I assumed. Instead it is far more complicated and terrible. At this point Tate has his own girlfriend but he has always had a crush on his sister’s best friend. It’s just that Tate was never on Claire’s radar and certainly not romantically. Now, one year later Claire is back in Juniper Falls and dealing with her own family problems. One glance at Tate and she suspects that his problems haven’t disappeared either. And also…Tate isn’t the scrawny kid he used to be.

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New Book Releases December 2016

New Book Releases for December 2016

Well, it looks like December 2016 will be a lean month for me in terms of new books. But those book that are celebrating their release in December more than make up for it with great stories and fantastic authors. Here are the books that are on my list for this month.

Young Adult Fiction

Split The SunSplit The Sun – Tessa Elwood – Inherit The Stars #2 – Running Press Kids – Published 6 December 2016

Kit has achieved a status of notoriety thanks to her mother blowing up their planet’s archive. Kit is left feeling both guilt and hopelessness, despite her ignorance about her mother’s deadly plans, despite what the rest of the planet chooses to think about her. But it seems like no one will let Kit fade into the obscurity she craves – not the crowds who lay blame, the government who seek answers, a rebel group of protestors that think Kit might live up to her mother’s apparent glory, her family who only want to take from her, nor the boy who lives in the apartment above Kit. Kit will need to decide what she will fight for – if anything.

Young adult fiction – Science fiction.


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New Book Releases November 2016

New Book Releases for November 2016

Due for release in November 2016, this is a list of books that have made it on to my to-read list – and there are some very exciting new releases!

Young Adult Fiction

The Best Possible AnswerThe Best Possible Answer – E. Katherine Kottaras – St Martin’s Griffin – Published 1 November 2016

Is this book:
A) about family, family implosion and how to ride the chaos of family
B) a story of strong friendship and how it can hold you together
C) about second chances and learning to trust yourself again
D) a fun story of summer friendship and romance
E) all of the above

“Hint: test-prep research shows that you should actually always pick E.”

Young adult fiction – Contemporary.


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New Book Releases October 2016

New Book Releases for October 2016

Due for release in October 2016, this is a list of books that have made it on to my to-read list – an exciting mix of contemporary, mystery, fantasy and sci-fi novels.

Young Adult Fiction

Everyone We've BeenEveryone We’ve Been – Sarah Everett – Knopf Books – Published 4 October 2016

Addison Sullivan has been in an accident. In its aftermath, she has memory lapses and starts talking to a boy that no one else can see. It gets so bad that she’s worried she’s going crazy.

Addie takes drastic measures to fill in the blanks and visits a shadowy medical facility that promises to “help with your memory.” But at the clinic, Addie unwittingly discovers it is not her first visit. And when she presses, she finds out that she had certain memories erased. She had a boy erased. But why?

Young adult fiction.


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New Book Releases September 2016

New Book Releases for September 2016

Need to top up your to-read pile? Here are the newly released books that have caught my eye for September 2016. Click on the covers for more information.

Young Adult Fiction

The OnesThe Ones – Daniel Sweren-Becker – Imprint – Published 6 September 2016

Cody has always been proud of being a One. She and her boyfriend James were two of the lucky babies from the 1% of the U.S. population that were randomly selected to benefit from genetic engineering. Now, she and the rest of The Ones are excelling. They are healthy, beautiful, and talented. They aren’t otherworldly, just perfect. And to some, that’s not fair.

Young adult fiction: Science-fiction


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New Book Releases August 2016

New Book Releases for August 2016

Looking for some new books to add to your to-be-read list this month?  Here are the young adult, adult, new adult and Christian fiction titles due for release in August 2016 that are on my to-read list. Click on the covers for full reviews.

Adult Fiction

Everything We KeepEverything We Keep – Kerry Lonsdale – Lake Union – Published 1 August 2016

Aimee’s life is turned upside down when her fiancé is proclaimed dead after being missing for months. Gone are her dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart, starting a family and maybe even opening a restaurant of her own. But moving on with her life is hard when she has doubts that James is truly dead.

Adult fiction: Contemporary/ Mystery


Young Adult Fiction

How To Keep Rolling After A FallHow To Keep Rolling After A Fall – Karole Cozzo – Swoon Reads – Published 2 August 2016

After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance.

Young adult fiction: Contemporary.


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Book Review: 738 Days

738 Days

738 Days – Stacey Kade – Forge Books – Published 7 June 2016

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Synopsis

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

My thoughts

The first half of 738 Days could have been a young adult contemporary/thriller, with plenty of heartbreak and family complications, but the second half was definitely new adult romance. I loved the story, love the characters (really, really loved both Chase and Amanda), and loved the mix of movie-star madness with the total heartbreaking reality of Amanda’s story of survival.

Amanda was kidnapped when she was sixteen and spent 738 horrible days as a prisoner and victim of abuse. Now, two years after her rescue, she is sick of being the shaking, terrified victim hiding in her closet. So when an unexpected visit from actor Chase Henry sends her running (literally) for her wardrobe, she takes up Chase’s offer to work together, to help him with his publicity and to hopefully spark her bravery so she can start living her life again and prevent her family from falling completely apart. Amanda doesn’t expect to fall for Chase, nor to finally feel something good, but can’t help her new-found feelings as she gets to know Chase as more than just an out-of-luck actor.

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Book Review: You Before Anyone Else

You Before Anyone Else

You Before Anyone Else – Julie Cross and Mark Perini – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 2 August 2016

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Synopsis

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her “good girl” persona, so she’ll try Eddie on for size.

New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the “good girl” stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.

Enter Eddie Wells. He’s shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie’s bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

My thoughts

Consider this a standing ovation. This book was a million times better than I expected. I fell totally in love with the story, with the romance, with all of the characters, but most especially with Eddie and Finley.

Okay, so there is the summary for this book and then there is what I consider to be a whole story underneath that. In the book’s summary, Finley is a model who is trying to break out of her ‘good girl’ shell. And yes, that’s true, but Finley is also the girl who loves and supports her family and who is using modelling to fund her dreams. Eddie is, at the start, portrayed as the ‘bad boy’ with plenty of deep, dark secrets. And yes, Eddie has a shady past and plenty of secrets, but he is one of the most genuine, caring male protagonists I have read. It is hard to say more without giving anything away, and I think it is better to know less about this story, but please don’t take the summary at face value. There is so much more to this story.

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Book Review: Defending Taylor

Defending Taylor

Defending Taylor – Miranda Kenneally – Hundred Oaks – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 5 July 2016

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Synopsis

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

My thoughts

Taylor has a new mantra – no more boys. Well, that’s not going to work for a contemporary young adult romance, now is it… Equal parts coming of age, self discovery and family relationships, and with a heavy dose of romance, Defending Taylor continues Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series.

Taylor has sworn off boys after taking the fall for her boyfriend. But she never could have predicted just how big the fallout was going to be. Expelled from school, dumped from her soccer team, and the reason her father has dropped in polls during the key time in his political campaign, Taylor is ordered back home where she is to start a new school and hide out until the bad press dies down. But the other girls on Taylor’s new soccer team don’t seem to want her there and bumping into her older brother’s best friend only adds more complications to her already complicated life.

Does giving up boys count if it’s a guy you fell for years ago? You can hardly blame Taylor for falling again for Ezra, he with the wicked smile, green eyes and construction worker’s muscles. And the whole brother’s best friend thing usually brings a complication that I enjoy in romances. But their relationship wasn’t all that complicated, really. Once Taylor and Ezra reconnect and straighten out the past miscommunications, their relationship develops quickly.       Continue reading