Monday, October 31, 2016

FAITHFUL BY ALICE HOFFMAN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Faithful by Alice Hoffman. Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book for review. As always all opinions are my own.


Ok, so this review might be a little biased and get a little gushy because I absolutely ADORED this book. Like so much so I want to give it a higher than 5 star rating.

Before I start this review, I just want to say that this book, and possibly this review in reference to this book contain serious trigger warnings for self-harm, sexual assault and suicide. Proceed with caution.

Initially, this story starts out with Shelby, who is still reeling after the car accident that nearly killed her best friend, Helene. Or at least, it might as well have. She is in a coma, no brain activity. She'll never wake up. She'll never speak again.

Shelby is ridden with so much guilt for what happened. She was driving, it should have been her who is in the coma. She's a nobody, she wouldn't have been missed much. For years, she just stops living. Barely scrapes by high school graduation with a pity diploma, never goes to NYU like she and Helene planned, and turns down a dark road of self harm and depression. I won't get into specific plot points, because they are key in this story so I'll just leave it there.

This book literally gutted me. I haven't felt so much in a book for a very long time. Shelby is so guilt-ridden and depressed, you are so sad with her. As her life progresses, she changes as well. She meets people who help her, and some people who use her. Eventually she is able to get to a good place in her life.

The writing of this book is so lyrical. It's only just over 255 pages, but it feels like so much more happens. There are only fifteen chapters, although I would consider them more as parts of Shelby's life, they span the course of years, almost a decade if my math is right. With each section, you get to see Shelby grow and become a person again. She was only a shell of herself before. I don't know what it was about the writing itself, but it was so beautiful. Everything was wonderfully described, I don't think I've read a book that was as lyrical as this one. Truthfully, I didn't even know what that meant until I read this book.

Another thing that struck me about this book was the element of realism. Nothing about this story was far fetched, and I think that makes it even more terrifying. I could have been Helene, or even Shelby. Their path's could have been one of mine if something like that happened. After Shelby moves to New York, she meets people who are homeless, people who are working at a pet store to take care of their three kids alone. It showed that people aren't perfect, that life's not easy, but you can make it through.

With any book that deals with serious issues, especially those with mental illness, you have to have hope balancing the spectrum. Even in Shelby's darkest moments, she had Ben. And then her dogs, and then Maravelle, and then James. Even if she thought she was alone, there was always someone to help give her hope, that would need her.

Finally, I want to talk briefly about Helene and the fact that her parents have her hooked up to life support for almost a decade. I can see why they did it, obviously. They don't want to let their daughter go. And I get why she needed to be 'alive' in the book, Shelby wouldn't be able to get closure, she was tortured by the thought of Helene living, but not really living. While that wouldn't be my personal choice, I appreciate the insight it gave, especially in helping to explain Shelby's emotions.

Overall, this book was phenomenal, and it is a must read for all.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

BLOOD FOR BLOOD BY RYAN GRAUDIN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with a hotly anticipated sequel for many, Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin. I recently read the first book Wolf By Wolf, my review is here if you want to check it out, and decided to read the sequel and conclusion to the duology. Thanks so much to Hachette Books/Little Brown Books for providing ARCs of this book at Book Con. A review was not requested, but because it is an early copy, I felt it was necessary to include one. As always, all opinions are my own.


I am reading this book right after reading the first book in the duology and I have to say, this one is so much better. I was unsure of how I felt about Wolf By Wolf, but this second book makes a major comeback for the series.

The story pretty much picks up right where the first book left off, I won't say how that one ended, because I don't want to spoil anything.

What I think really helped this book stand out is the fact that it is told in multiple perspectives, Yael, the main and only narrator of the first book, Luka, Adele's former love interest, and Felix, Adele's twin brother. I really think these additions to the story helped round out the narration, we don't just get Yael's views of what's going on, we also get it from two others, both male, both idyllically German. I think that really helped show what was going on in the minds of the German people once everything starts moving along, some are willing to help, after they see how horrible things have become for those who aren't the "superior" race, and some that still don't care about anything except there own safety.

I really liked seeing the inner workings of the resistance, and the Soviet's role in everything, with all that happened in the first book, there wasn't really much time to include a lot of the background info that this book includes. At the same time, this book isn't boring or stagnant. There is still a lot going on, and I felt like the stakes were even higher in this book than they were in the first one!

There is a bit more of a romance in this book, but it is definitely very, VERY background, just something, I think to lighten the mood a little bit. I didn't really think it was necessary, but it just made the ending even more horrific. Again, I won't say too much, but prepare to get your heart's ripped out.

This story is just so much more developed than the first book. We get more character backstory, for all characters, not just Yael, and there is so much heartbreak. At first I thought the author was just messing with us, but nope, she wasn't. There's happy feels and sad feels, just all of the feels.

Overall, I definitely would recommend this duology. If you read the first book, but didn't love it, I urge you to pick this one up. It is much deeper and emotional, but the story is still a great read.


Friday, October 28, 2016

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR BY NICOLA YOON - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, and I have to say, it is for one of my most anticipated releases of the year. And that book is The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon! 


I was able to snag an ARC of this book back at BookCon, and while a review was not requested, I am providing one because it is an early copy of the book. As always, all opinions are my own.

First of all, I will preface this review, nay, gush session, by saying that Nicola Yoon is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. I loved her debut Everything, Everything and I went into this book nervous, but hopeful that she could pull off another success. Let me just tell you, it was magnificent.

I loved *almost* every aspect of this book.

The story follows two main characters, Daniel and Natasha. Daniel is the second son of first generation Korean immigrants. Both he and his older brother Charlie were born in the States, but his family still very much strives for the Korean ideals, especially those within an immigrant family. While his older brother is on academic probation at Harvard, Daniel is expected to become a doctor. On the day they met, Daniel is on his way to his interview with a Yale alumni, someone who will hopefully solidify his acceptance.

Natasha and her family are undocumented immigrants from Jamaica. They moved to America when Natasha was 8 and her younger brother was born there. And, as it turns out, the day she and Daniel meet, she is leaving, being deported back to Jamaica. Her father, a struggling actor is trying to support his family, but his minor mistake has a major impact. Natasha won't go to college with her friends, she won't experience senior year. On the day they met, Natasha was on her way to meet someone to help save her family from being deported.

Obviously, this is a love story. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, end of story, right? Well, not really. While Daniel, the sensitive poet, falls head over heels for Natasha, pretty much at *second* sight, she isn't so convinced. After watching her own parents relationship crumble under the daily stresses, Natasha is skeptical. Especially because she doesn't really believe in love, or fate for that matter. She is a believer in science, and love isn't scientifically quantifiable.

There are many threads connecting the two, and this bittersweet romance shows the many ways in which people are connected.

I won't say too much more about plot, because I don't want to spoil anything but just know that not everything is how it seems.

I really loved how this story was told. There were the two main perspectives of Daniel and Natasha of course, but you also got the thoughts of those people who are connected to them, in small, short chapters. The security guard that checks Natasha's  bag at Immigration Services, Natasha's father, the guy who almost kills Natasha with his car, the Yale alum who's office is in the same building as Natasha's lawyer. Everyone is connected if you look hard enough, and this book gives small snippets of everyone around them.

This book also deals with some more serious topics. In addition exploring the world of immigrants, especially those who are undocumented, this book looks at race and how the world sees people of colour. I really loved how the roles were almost reversed, Natasha was the science lover who didn't believe in love, and Daniel was the hopeless romantic. So many times we see the player who needs to be shown that love exists and the girl tries to show him the way. This was the opposite of that, and I kind of loved that.

I also adored the ending. I wouldn't say too much, but basically you find out what happens, if Natasha gets to stay, or if she has to go, and then the epilogue just kind of speeds up over the course of a few years. You see what happened to everyone who was affected by these two teenagers, and the end, oh man the end. Prepare yourself for some tears. Nicola Yoon will shatter your heart, glue it back together and then stomp on it again. I've never gone through so many emotions before in such a small span of pages.

The one, minute thing I didn't love about this book was the insta-love. Now before you get the pitchforks, let me explain. I get that this book, being set in one day, doesn't really have a lot of time to develop a real relationship. But I just felt like Daniel looked at Natasha after like 10 minutes of knowing her and he was in love. I don't know if that's love or infatuation, I guess I'm a bit of a skeptic. Nonetheless, the romance and how it developed was still cute.

Overall, you don't want to miss this book. Whether or not you've read her debut, or whether or not you liked her debut, pick this one up.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

THE TRESPASSER BY TANA FRENCH - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Trespasser by Tana French. Thank you so much to Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Oh boy, where do I even start?

Well, let me first say that I haven't read the other 5 books in this series. I don't think it is necessary to read them all in order/before starting one of them, but I think it might have made me like the book a little bit more.

To be honest, this book let me down. I was expecting a thriller and I got a mildly suspenseful crime fiction. There wasn't really too much that was super exciting in this book.

The story follows Detective Antoinette Conway, the only female detective on the whole Murder Squad in Dublin. Normally, I'm ok with the whole "I'm the only woman, the men don't treat me like a cop" etc. but in this book it was just so over done. Maybe if I got some of the backstory as to what happens with Conway before this book, I wouldn't dislike it so much, but I found it so irritating. Even her daily interactions were a struggle to read, she would have a conversation with another detective and basically translate what he was 'actually' saying. It was hard to know if that's actually what they meant, or if she was just so sure they were being mean and giving her double meanings. Her bias clouded whatever you read, so you are constantly trying to figure out if she's just sabotaging herself or she's actually being messed with.

In terms of the crime itself, basically a young woman is found dead in her home after an anonymous caller reported that she "needed help." The detectives immediately suspect the boyfriend, he was coming over for dinner, rang the bell, and when she didn't answer, went home. But it becomes clear pretty early on that he couldn't have killed her, he doesn't seem the type. Still, every other lead the detectives get is a dead end.

I think my biggest problem with this book was the fact that there were no other suspects that seemed plausible, but at the same time, the obvious one just wasn't fitting the bill. It was had for me, as the reader, to get into the story because I just didn't feel like we had enough information to find any more suspects and because of that, the story dragged on.

This book is almost 500 pages, and it easily could have been reduced. There was a lot of extra stuff that didn't really seem necessary to me, then again, it might be because it was part of the series overall, not just this book.

The writing itself was good, like I said earlier, a little slow, but not that bad. I did find myself skimming a bit, especially towards the end, just because I was ready to get it over with.

I did almost DNF it about halfway through, I just didn't feel invested in the story and that it wasn't really going anywhere. In the end, I finished it and just feel meh about it.

I think my main problem lies in the fact that this book focuses on the detectives and their lives, and less on the actual crime. I think that for these sorts of books, I would prefer the crime and less on the detectives, unless it has real value to the story. I just don't know if the personal elements, at least of Conway, really added anything to the story.

Overall, this just wasn't my cup of tea.


Monday, October 24, 2016

HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU BY TARA EGLINGTON - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, although this one might be a bit of a rant... anyways, it is for How To Keep A Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an e-copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Oh boy, where do I start?

Basically this book is about a teenage girl, Aurora, who is trying to find her Prince. She has a whole program thing, and she and her friends are constantly on the lookout for guys who are PPs (Potential Princes). Anyways, she's dated, but wants to save her first kiss for someone special, her prince. However, when she accidentally lands herself the female lead in the schools play, she finds out her first kiss is going to be live, on stage in front of 300 people, with her neighbour Hayden, who she can't stand.

Can you already tell where this is going? If not, hang on. It becomes so BLATANTLY OBVIOUS you will want to bang your head on the wall. No, just me, okay...

Anyways, through this whole event, Aurora gets a Valentine's Day (her favourite 'holiday') surprise from a secret admirer. At this point, my stapler would have been able to figure out who the admirer is. But not Aurora, love-guru extaordinare! No, she and her friends have no idea.

**WARNING: RANT AHEAD**

As you can probably tell, my biggest problem with this book is that none of the characters know what's going on. I kid you not, she was guessing right up until he announced himself 2 PAGES FROM THE END OF THE BOOK. AND EVERYONE KNOWS WHEN SOMETHING IS 'FOR/FROM A FRIEND' THE PERSON IS ASKING FOR THEMSELF.

This was such a minor thing, but it distracted me the whole book. All I kept thinking was, okay, now she's gonna figure it out. No, ok, this time. Nope. I'm not even sure I could tell you how many best friends Aurora had, because I was so focused on the fact that none of them knew what was going on.

Now, there's dramatic buildup, and then there's just a character without a brain.

There was a bit of humour in this book, which made it a bit more palatable, but I just thought that for the most part, Aurora was just being a little spoiled. She's constantly complaining about how chivalry is dead, guys are just pigs, etc. and tries to convince her friends to do what she wants. It was like she was trying to be pro-feminism, but at the same time, she still wants a relationship. I just felt like she was a little bit confused.

There were definitely some parts I really enjoyed in the story, which kept me going even though I just about rolled my eyes out of my head. This story is a fluffy contemporary, through and through. There is mention of some deeper issues, her mother leaving and then coming back, conflict with her dad and his new girlfriend, but they are just kind of fillers for her home life.

I also agree with what another reviewer mentioned about the great, grand gesture at the end. It was super sweet, but I was so ready for the book to be over. There was no anticipation for the reader because her Prince was so predictable.

There was so much drama going on at school that I almost feel like I went to a sub-par high school. Tensions were never this high. Rumours never this unbelievable.

And finally, to end my tirade, I will end this review talking about THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN ALL CONTEMPORARY BOOKS, ESPECIALLY ROMANCES.

Are you ready?

COMMUNICATION.

I don't know how many times things would have been so much different, so much BETTER because of communication. Not even within the romance itself, although that would have helped things tremendously. But just among friends. There's this big dramatic moment with Jelena and Aurora which could have easily been put away if they just talked to each other. I've never seen such dramatic characters. Even with her dad, Aurora bites her tongue. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.

Ok, I'm going to end this here, because I'm exhausted mentally.

Overall, this was a fluffy romance with a blind narrator. Do with that what you will.


Friday, October 21, 2016

THE UGLY TEAPOT: BOOK ONE BY FRED HOLMES - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Ugly Teapot: Book One by Fred Holmes. Thanks so much to the author for sending me an electronic copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.



Ok, so basically, this is the story of a fourteen year old girl named Hannah who is struggling with the recent death of her father who was working overseas as a photographer during an assignment.

Right away, you see that Hannah is a little strange. She can understand and talk to her dog. At first, this really threw me off guard. I wasn't sure if she was actually hearing what he was saying or if she was just guessing at what he might have said, but I think she was actually communicating with her dog. And this, my friends, is just the beginning of a very strange story.

The story opens up on the day of Hannah's father's funeral and at that point she pretty much decides to use the possibly magical, mostly just ugly lamp/teapot to try and resurrect her father. Yup.

I think what struck me the most was just how fast we got right into the story. And I'm not sure I loved that concept. It was pretty much just ok he's dead, dog suggests lamp, no, thinks about it for 2 minutes, decides to rub lamp, boom genie. There wasn't the typical build up to the story, all that was pushed aside to dive in head first, and I think the story suffered a little because of that.

I won't get too much into the storyline itself, because I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that I think the events were a little outlandish. There was just so much going on, 200 pages wasn't enough to fully flesh out what needed to be fleshed out.

Along the lines of pacing, this story was so fast paced I was still processing one thing and we were 3 action scenes ahead. There is so much to process, there is not real time to sit and question if the lamp is real or not. I know this is supposed to be a series, and I think the next book will be about the next girl who wields the lamp, but I felt like this one book could have been at least three if it was just a little more structured and organized. So much had happened by the halfway point that I wasn't sure what was going on, let alone if anything was real, and I think that took away from the main message, especially by the end.

Even though this is a story about Hannah's father's death, and her grief, I don't really think that is addressed. And maybe because she wishes her father back to life, and they go on this crazy journey together, both the reader and Hannah don't really see him as truly gone, but I didn't really see this as a story of grief. And I suppose that everyone grieves differently, so I guess this is just Hannah's way of doing it. It wouldn't be mine, but I couldn't help but feel like it was just business as usual, she wasn't really affected by it once they were reunited.

I think part of the problems I have with this book stem from the fact that I might be a bit too old for this book. Truthfully, it is a middle grade book, maybe a young YA audience, but for me, I felt like I was so skeptical and just couldn't enjoy the story as it was because I was looking at it from an older, more critical angle.

The writing in the book was very well done, it was descriptive but not tedious and I found myself able to picture the landscapes in which the story takes place.

I will say that I finished this book and read it in about two and a half hours, so I did enjoy it enough to finish it. I wouldn't say that it was my favourite book, but I can definitely see many people enjoy this story.

I had a major problem with the ending however. I still don't really know what happened, and not really in a good way. I mean I understand it, but at the same time, I don't. There were so many other things had hinted things would be something else than what they actually were.

Overall, I liked this book enough to finish it, but I wouldn't have picked it up on my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MELODY'S KEYS BY DALLAS CORYELL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, this time with an indie book/author Melody's Keys by Dallas Coryell. Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review! As always, all opinions are my own.


This book was fantastic. A lot of the time with romances, especially new adult romances, things can go one of two ways, insta-love with so many steamy scenes its bordering on erotica or just enough romance to keep things interesting, but nothing too crazy. This book, thankfully, is in the latter category.

Basically, this is the story of Tegan, a twenty something who gave up her dreams of attending Columbia to stay and help out at her family's struggling bed-and-breakfast type business in the English countryside. Her parents announce that famed American pop star Mason Keane will be staying with them for the next few months to relax and get away from the spotlight, and Tegan is not too excited. Mason has a womanizing reputation and Tegan is too upset about giving up her dreams to want to get involved with someone.

I'm going to leave the synopsis there, because anything more would get spoiler-y.

I really enjoyed this book; the characters were interesting, and it was all set against a beautiful English backdrop.

For the most part, I really enjoyed Tegan. She was devoted to her family, stubborn and a little unsure of herself. Things did get a little cliche with the usual 'gorgeous girl doesn't know she's gorgeous' but I won't fault her too much for it. She had a lot going for her, she drew, well enough to get the Columbia scholarship, she played the piano, sang and wrote songs. Very artistically inclined.

On more than one occasion I was shocked by some of her family's comments and actions. They were very upfront, sharing many intimate details that maybe didn't need to be shared, and they were just about as crass as I expected a British family to be.

Tegan finds some love letters from when her great-grandmother and great-grandfather were alive, it turned out that her origins were not of Lord Lockwood, but a solider her great-grandmother had fallen in love with. I get that this a romance, and the letters were meant to show the love they had for each other, but after reading the first one and finding it so cheesy, I skimmed the others. They were reminiscent of old Harlequin Romances, overly dramatic and used elaborate illusions. I realize that they are to help show Tegan what love looks like, but I think I might be too cynical to truly appreciate them.

The build up to Tegan and Mason actually realizing there feelings was excruciating, but in a good way. They were both so unsure of themselves and what the other wanted, they were cautious. When they finally made things official, it was swoon-city.

A couple quick things I also want to mention. This book also briefly touches on some serious issues including rape, self-harm and depression. Nothing really gets too explicit, but just know there are references to it.

The writing throughout this book was very well done, frankly better than I was expecting. You never know what you will get with self-published indie authors, but I am happy to report the writing in this one was great. There was so much atmosphere; I really felt like I was in the book, something which is usually hard to do with 3rd person perspectives. I could see the estate, feel the base at the EDM concert and experience NYC with Tegan for the first time.

My biggest, and probably only real complaint with this book is the ending. I felt like there was still so much to the story, and I flipped to the last page and the book was over. I mean, for the most part things were wrapped up, but I just kind of felt like it was a bit abrupt.

Overall, I would definitely pick this book up if I saw it in the bookstore, I think, in my humble opinion, that it has great potential to be a best-seller.


Monday, October 17, 2016

KISS CAM BY KIARA LONDON - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Kiss Cam by Kiara London. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an eARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This was a great story about teens, and I think, relationships today. In a world full of social media presence and documenting every. Single. Aspect. Of one's life, this book was a refreshing step in that 'new age' direction.

Basically, this story follows three teens who have a vlog channel on VlogIt (I'm assuming that's like a generic YouTube? Unless there's actually something called VlogIt) where they document their lives, answer questions and do weird dares. Although the only perspective we get is June's, the story also follows her friends Jasper and Lenny, who she vlogs with, and June's other friend Allison.

The fans of their vlog, called "WereVloggingHere" (which, sidenote: I loved, even though they didn't use an apostrophe) have decided that Jasper and June are meant to be, and relentlessly "ship" Jaspier. Although, truth be told, if that's not what you're after, they also have Jenny (Jasper and Lenny) and Lenniper (Lenny and Juniper).

During one of the Truth-or-Dare episodes of the show, fans dare Jasper and June to kiss on camera. When they finally agree, their channel explodes with fans asking for more, and Kiss Cam is born. They each try to surprise each other with harmless, sparkless kisses to prove to the audience that they really are JUST best friends. Until someone decides that maybe, there's more to them...

One of the things I really loved about this story was the writing style. It was so descriptive I felt like I was right there with the characters, but not over the top and tedious. I also really loved the dynamic between June and her dad. They had some really meaningful conversations, and I loved how frank and honest he was. There was no beating around the bush when he wanted to ask embarrassing questions. June was able to talk to him about anything and he voiced his opinions, but ultimately, supported her.

I also really loved the inclusion of some of the modern-day life aspects in the story, specifically with the vlogging. It's fairly uncommon these days for people to not document things with photos or videos and share everything going on in their lives on social media, so I thought the vlogging added a unique, realistic interpretation of "kids these days."

Another thing that I appreciated was that even though the core friendship is based on 2 guys and a girl, there was never a concern of a love triangle. I thought a connection was a little more visible with Jasper than with Lenny at the beginning, so there was never a moment when I was worried Lenny would, out of nowhere, declare his undying love for June.

There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about this book, but there were also two main things that stuck out to me that I didn't love.

The first of which was Allison. As a character, she was great. But I just wished we saw more of her. I the beginning, she is introduced as June's history project partner, not friend, so maybe that was part of why I felt she was not really fully integrated in the story. I *think* she was meant to be a closer friend than she ended up as, and I wish she was more in the story. I get that Jasper is June's best friend, but she and Allison was supposed to be closer than just an acquaintance, especially with some of the things she was talking with her about. On a conversation-level, she was close with Allison, but she didn't FEEL close with Allison in general, if that makes sense.

I also didn't love how we only got June's perspective. Usually I don't mind single perspectives much, but I felt like we could have benefitted so much from even just a couple of chapters in Jasper's perspective. It is clear from pretty early on that they are not on the same page, and while I had my hunches, I would have had loved to see his take on certain things. I also felt like the story was lacking something with just her perspective, it could have had an extra dimension with his input.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book despite it's flaws. If you are looking for a cute, enchanting read, definitely check this one out!


Saturday, October 15, 2016

NO HOLDING BACK BY KATE EVANGELISTA - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone,

I am back with another book review, today it is the companion novel to No Love Allowed, No Holding Back by Kate Evangelista.


Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Firstly, this is the companion novel to No Love Allowed, which came out last year. I read and reviewed that book as well, and I think these books definitely need to be read in order. You will get spoiled for the couple in the first book if you read this book first.

Anyways, this book focuses on Nathan, Caleb (from the first book's) cousin and his relationship with his childhood best friend, Preston. It's pretty much clear to everyone, except Preston that Nathan has feelings for him that are outside those of a best friend.

Preston is focused on training for the Olympics in swimming, but when he starts to obsess about the results of whether or not he will get to train with the top trainer, Nathan decides to whisk him away to the European trip he planned for him and Caleb, who cancelled last minute, to help take his mind off of things.

I won't say much more about the plot, you'll have to read the book for that.

While it's been a while since I read No Love Allowed, I do know that I really enjoyed it. This book, not as much. I think part of the problem is that it is so short, just barely over 200 pages, there wasn't enough space and time to really develop either the characters or their relationship.

I also felt like some of the conflicts in the story, there were a few too many for my tastes, took away from the story itself. I think the biggest problem Preston and Nathan had was that they didn't communicate. Nathan wanted one thing, but wouldn't tell Preston what it was. Preston was so in his own world that nothing Nathan did got through to him.

This is (obviously) an LGBT romance, Nathan is openly gay, and while I don't recall much about Preston from the first book, I believe he is either gay or bisexual. I'm trying to broaden my horizons a little bit, because we need to support books and authors who have LGBT elements in them. The romance itself isn't that great, but I think that is just because I can't really see the characters romantically involved. They seem much more like friends than anything else.

I just don't know if this book worked for me on a lot of levels. Nathan was the only character I actually liked, but even he wasn't much to keep me invested in the story. I think the only reason I finished it so fast (about an hour and a half) was because it was so short and straightforward. There were just so many things thrown in that I'm not sure actually belonged. Natasha randomly shows up to find her ex Jackson (I'd bet anything that was to cue up a book for the two of them next), Nathan planning Preston's mom's luncheon (I get that is his dream, but it didn't really seem integral to the plot itself), and just the way Preston acted most of the time, he was so all over the place, first he maybe felt things, then he didn't, etc.

Overall, this book was not my favourite, definitely not within this series.


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Friday, October 14, 2016

SPOOKY FALL READS - BOOK RECOMMENDATION

Hello everyone!

I am here today with a slightly different post than my usual reviews. I was recently thinking that I wanted to read some fallish books. Fall is the perfect time for those heady thrillers and slipping back into a fantasy series you've been neglecting.

I've compiled a list of books that I think would be great on any fall TBR-  something a little creepier, or just something a little different from the typical summer contemporaries! Enjoy!

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

This book is so creepy. In typical Kurtagich fashion, this story is told in a mixture of 'novel text' and graphics (notes, journal entries, etc.) It took me a little bit after I finished this book to decide how I felt about it. But once you mentally digest it, you can easily see it is GENUIS. You can read more of my thoughts here.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

This is a book for fall, a book for winter, spring, summer, any season, any time. I am constantly thinking about this book, WEEKS after finishing it. This book is so important because it deals with sexual assault and rape culture, but there is a great darkness that translate to a perfect fall read. You can read more of my thoughts here.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

A great fantasy for seasoned pros and those who (like me) are still just getting their feet wet in the world of fantasy. Bardugo crafts such an amazing world and great characters PLUS, you can read this trilogy and then jump on the Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom bandwagon (which, by the way totally deserves a bandwagon!) You can read more of my thoughts here.

We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

More along the vein of the typical creepy, psychological thriller. There's mental illness elements, specifically SEVERE post traumatic stress disorder, and the writing is just so atmospheric you feel like you are in the story alongside the characters. That TITLE just gives you a glimpse of what it is going to be like! You can read more of my thoughts here.

Hopefully one of these will tickle your fancy and you find a great new read this fall!


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

THIS ADVENTURE ENDS BY EMMA MILLS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am here with another book review, This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending an eARC of this book my way. As always, all opinions are my own.


This was another book by an new-to-me author and I am telling you right now, I am preordering this book and ordering her other book as well! This is a new favourite for me and I cannot stop smiling.

This is the story of Sloane after her family moves to a small, vacation town in Florida from New York in her senior year of high school. Her father is a best-selling romance author, but after hitting a bit of writers block, decided to move the family out the hustle and bustle of the big city. Upon arrival, Sloane meets a set of twins, Vera and Gabe and is fairly quickly absorbed into their group of friends, including Aubrey and Remy, who are trying to work out their post-relationship struggles as it is.

I just loved so much about this book. And I just finished it too, so my apologies if it is a little gushy.

Firstly, I want to address Sloane's relationship with her father. He was such a great character, and in a YA world of non-existant parents, he was a gold star. He is pretty much her best friend. They talk about his books, he asks for writing advice, and upon meeting Vera, a social-media guru with enough followers on every social media platform known to man to get her 100 likes in 10 seconds, the discuss his latest obsession, a Twilight-esque paranormal TV show, and his discover of fanfic.

Sloane herself is a great character. She is sarcastic, and witty, but you can tell that it is a bit of a coping mechanism for her lack of deep, meaningful friendships. Back in NY, she didn't really have a best friend. Now, she uses her humour to cope and help her new friends cope with their various issues. In this rag-tag, Friends-type book, she is definitely the Chandler. But she is fiercely loyal and protective of her new friends.

I love how this book dealt with a lot of different, I don't want to say issues, but sub-genres. There of course was the death of Vera and Gabe's mother, some LGBT elements; Vera and her girlfriend, and just the general hardships of being a teen.

Along that vein, I really loved Mills' depiction of the grief Vera and Gabe feel. I think she did a great job relaying to the reader, because since everything was filtered through Sloane, it would have been easy to overlook. We see Vera racked with grief, secluded in her room for days and Gabe, feeling in his own more quiet, introverted way. The author could have easily avoided or made these moments less important, but I think she did a wonderful job of bringing to light their grief, and the different ways in which everyone grieves.

I think the synopsis is a little misleading in terms of the painting going missing. It makes it seem like it was stolen, as opposed to sold off. Still, Sloane goes on a mission to save it, taking a mini-road trip to get there.

I think what I am most impressed with in this book is Mills' ability to make everything realistic. The romance wasn't love at first sight, it slowly built. The grief didn't just disappear, it still reared its ugly head every once in a while. Plans and people change, things don't go as planned, auditions get messed up. These things happen, and I was so glad they were included in the story.

As well, the writing of this book was great. From the witty voice of the main character, to the realistic atmosphere of the story, I really enjoyed it. There was a lot going on, but life has a lot going on. You can't just focus on one bad thing, because there never is just one bad thing. And same goes for good things as well.

Part of me was a little bit upset that the romance didn't get off the ground until close to the end of the book, but then again, as Sloane says in the book, the getting together part is more interesting than any other part of the romance. It is definitely a slow burn, but I think the characters saw that there was something there, but as I said earlier, it wasn't love at first sight, it wasn't insta-love. It was a realistic, I like him, maybe he likes me situation, and that was so much better than any insta-love. I would have really loved a quick little epilogue or something to see them together more, but that's just me being greedy. The story did end perfectly.

Overall, I adored this book and am so glad I had the opportunity to read it! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a strong group of friends and some slightly deeper issues, but not anything too heavy that will weigh the story down.


Monday, October 10, 2016

AMY CHELSEA STACIE DEE BY MARY G. THOMPSON - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Ok, so this book, it's messed up. But I also couldn't put it down. I started it at 10 pm, and told myself at 12, I was going to bed. It got to 12 and I just couldn't stop. I had to know what was going to happen, and I couldn't go to bed without knowing the ending

This story follows 16 year old Amy, who has just made it back home after being kidnapped, and held captive for 6 years. Which should be great, and it is, but she came back without her cousin, Dee, who was also kidnapped with Amy. Amy comes home to find that her parents divorced; they couldn't handle it, her father remarried and has two stepchildren and her brother won't talk to her. Amy's aunt, Dee's mom is demanding answers, Where's Dee? Is she alive? Who took you? How did you escape? But Amy can't talk, otherwise something terrible will happen.

I won't say too much more about plot, because things get crazy, and you just have to experience that for yourself.

I really enjoyed the writing style, everything is told in Amy's perspective, and there are flashbacks to when Amy was still held captive. I thought that pacing was great, its a bit slow at points, but that just adds to the suspense and thrill. When we finally find out what happened and why Amy can't tell, it is shocking. Devastatingly so. I cannot even begin to fathom what it must have been like for either of the girls.

I can't remember the last time that I read a book that physically made me nervous. Like really nervous. Deep breathing in the corner, rocking back and forth nervous. The end of this book, it did that to me.

This book also deals not only with the psychological trauma Amy endured, but also having to re-adjust to real life. She was 10 when she was taken. Dee was 12. They missed middle school, most/all of high school. So much happened in that time period, even the little things. They don't know what music is popular, they don't know what music they missed. These things are hard enough to deal with, let alone coming home to two new families, and trying to remember it's okay not to just wear purple all the time.

I will just mention briefly, even though this book is labelled as Young Adult, I would definitely say that it is for the more mature of the YA readers, as it deals with such a serious topic, as well as includes repeated assaults.

The only reason why I didn't give this one a full five stars was because I was confused by a couple parts. One of which being what happened to Dee. I mean, I *know* what happened to her, but I felt like there could have been a little more depth on how her part of the story is described. I would have even loved a couple chapters from her POV, not alternating, but just a couple here and there to see how things were affecting her mentally.

I also want to say, this is not an easy book to read. There were passages were it was uncomfortable and disgusting, but that made it feel real and gritty. I think that also goes with the territory. You can't have a kidnapping story and have everything sunshine and rainbows. Nobody ever kidnapped someone because they wanted a friend and treated them well. Kyle is definitely not a remotely decent human being, and some of the things he says and does are horrendous. But he's a kidnapper.

Overall, definitely give this book a go if you are interested, or are just looking for a dark kidnapping book.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

THE REPLACEMENT CRUSH BY LISA BROWN ROBERTS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This was the perfect, lighter read! There was a romance, plus lots of nerdy Star Trek references and a book blogger/bookstore aspect which made it even better.

Basically, this book was just one big swoon.

The story follows Vivian, a book blogger who loves romances, and works at her mom's bookstore while she is off writing her next big mystery novel. Vivian is just starting a new school year and is looking forward to seeing Jake, her long-time crush and the guy she's been sneaking off with for midnight kisses on the beach, and making their relationship official. However, once she gets to school, she soon finds out that it was just a summer fling, and because she didn't want to take things to the next level, he's moved on. Heartbroken, Viv decides to make a list of replacement crushes, guys who she could see herself liking, but where chemistry isn't the main connection, because she doesn't want to be burned again.

Enter the hot new McNerd, Dallas. He loves Star Trek even more than Viv does, and has just moved to the small, beach town. The two don't officially meet until after school at the bookstore, where Viv learns that her mom has hired Dallas to update their old index card system to a computerized catalog. Viv definitely feels sparks with Dallas, but that's exactly what she is trying to avoid, and refuses to put him on her list of crushes. But Dallas soon starts to show feelings for Viv, threatening to destroy her entire mission.

I absolutely adored this book. The characters were so great and I loved the romance.

One of my other favourite aspects of this book was the fact that Viv was such a bookworm. We got glimpses of her blog, and insight into her world as a blogger and reviewer. I think the author did a great job representing her, and I especially loved the way I, as a blogger and reviewer, could relate to her. She held a bookclub for a group of ladies and it was just such fun seeing books being experienced in daily life.

The romance itself was great. I knew they were going to end up together from the beginning, so there was never that concern of insta-love, it was just kind of expected. But I loved that since it was clear *eventually* things would work out, I could focus on the little details, the way he knew exactly what smoothie she would like, the way she blushed when he talked about certain things, I was basically squealing with feels for at least half of this book. Even when things were going downhill, of course there had to be a conflict, I was so hopeful that things could work out. They liked each other so much, and they were so perfect for each other, I couldn't see things going any other way.

I also loved that while this book was a little cheesy in the romance, the characters and storyline was never too stereotyped or cliched. Like Dallas was a hot nerd, but he drove a Vespa, when he could have just as easily driven a motorcycle (although, in this case, I don't think I would have complained). And he was a star cellist, not a pro-sport player. And with Viv, her mom is dating a guy who has a son, Toff, who pretty much flirts with anything that moves. There was the opportunity for some weird, not-quite-step-sibling-romcance, but thankfully, they regarded each other more like brother and sister than anything else.

I also appreciated the slightly serious aspects to the novel, both Dallas and Viv realize how much their antics have hurt other people around them, and Jake, Viv's crush from the beginning is constantly lurking in the background, ready to make Viv wish she never told anyone about him practically forcing himself on her when she would do what he wanted. They weren't huge parts of the story, but they made it more real, not just a fluffy romance filled with rainbows and love.

I will say that one of the main things I didn't like about this book was Viv's best friend Jaz. She is constantly running her mouth and sharing things that Viv doesn't really want spread around. I'm not sure she can keep anything to herself, and while she was okay in the beginning, really got on my nerves as the book progressed.

I would love to see a spin-off book, coming back to these couples, especially Amy and Toff? Maybe, if they decide to see where things go? Nothing is really wrapped up for them in this book, but I would love to see what the future holds for them.

Overall, this is a great romance that is perfect for bookworms and fans of a romance that gives all the feels.


Friday, October 7, 2016

WOLF BY WOLF BY RYAN GRAUDIN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin.


First off, I just want to say that I don't know how I feel about this book.

I mean, I enjoyed it, but I'm just left feeling, I don't know, I guess let down.

All the blurbs on this book say that it is so fast paced, you're constantly flipping pages wanting to find out what's going to happen. But I think I only got a little bit of that.

Basically, this is the story of what Germany would be like if Hitler won the war and was still alive. A girl, Yael, a former Jewish prisoner, escaped from her bunker and made her way around the streets, stealing and scraping by. Then she is met be a man who is part of the resistance. Soon she starts training to become the one to kill Hitler and dismantle his regime. Yael has a gift, or a curse, depending on how you look at it. She was part of an experimental group, Patient Zero of a drug that was supposed to change anyone's appearance into that of Hitler's ideal, the Aryan race. But things didn't go exactly as planned, and Yael can change her appearance into anyone, if she knows what they look like.

Yael's big moment arrives when she is told to become Adele Wolfe, a winner of the annual motorcycle race across Japan and Hitler's conquered territory. She is to win the race, and then at the celebratory ball, kill Hitler in front of all the cameras. This is to be the signal to tell all other resistance members to move into action.

However, there are some unexpected events, Luka, Yael's competitor and apparently Adele's former love interest, as well as Felix, Adele's twin brother who has decided to enter the race to save his sister and bring her home.

This book switched back and forth from then, mainly Yael's time at the death camp and then later her time training with the resistance, as well as now, her journey across the continent to win the race.

I found the race itself the most action packed, but the background info is also so important to give context to what life under Hitler would be like.

I am excited to read the second book, just because this book does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, not too crazy, but enough for me to want to read the sequel.

Overall, an interesting read about what history could have been like.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

LAST SEEN LEAVING BY CALEB ROEHRIG - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig. Thank so much to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I really enjoyed this book, there were a lot of things I didn't see coming, but they were all things that made sense. There was nothing that confused me in terms of plot twists.

Basically, this story follows Flynn, a guy who's girlfriend has gone missing. At first, everyone, even the police think that she has just run away. After all, it would be just like January to run away to prove a point. But soon days pass, and there's no sign of January. Rumours start, people think maybe she was taken, after all, her step-father is rich and running for Senate, he must be able to pay a hefty ransom. Accusations get thrown around, and you have no idea what happened.

People start asking questions, including Flynn. Soon he finds out that the guy Jan worked with didn't really say the things she said he did, and Jan didn't actually hate everyone at her fancy private school. In trying to find out what happened to January, Flynn starts to find that maybe he wasn't true to either of them, and that he has a secret lurking, threatening to spill over.

I am not going to say too much more about plot, just because I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that I enjoyed everything that happened with Flynn. He finds himself, and is able to stick up to those who brush him off as a someone they can push around.

I'm not sure if it's just because we didn't really see too much of her, other than in flashbacks, but I just wasn't a fan of January's. What she went through was horrendous, but her personality just didn't work for me. She was mean to Flynn and manipulated those around her. She was living a double life, complaining to her coworker about her 'emotionally abusive' boyfriend, and then goading Flynn with lies.

I really liked the voice of this story, and the writing style. Obviously it was written from a male POV, which is fairly unique, especially in YA, and I think Flynn had a great voice. He was smart witted and I found myself laughing out loud (quite awkwardly) to some of the stuff he was coming up with. I also really enjoyed the flashbacks woven into the story. They were the only real glimpses we got of Flynn and January's relationship, and I found that they helped add both backstory on their dynamic, as well as show us who January is, since we get everything from Flynn's perspective.

There were a few things that confused me a little bit in this story, not in what happened, but how it happened. Most notably is Flynn's breaking and entering investigation. The way it was all described, I just couldn't see it happening, and I found myself wondering how he got out of that situation alive.

I would be hesitant to call this a thriller, even though I have marked it as such, just because it isn't *thrilling.* I mean, it's definitely a mystery, but it doesn't have that, on the edge of my seat, biting my nails off thriller vibe. There's maybe two scenes where things get intense, but it's definitely not the whole book.

I don't know how I feel about Micah's reaction to Flynn's secret. I mean, I guess it makes sense, he wasn't upset about the secret itself, just the fact that Flynn kept a secret from him in the first place. They've been friends since they were in diapers and they know everything about each other. I can get where Micah was coming from, and I don't think, personally, that it was overtly offensive. I think his reaction was typical, and I feel like the author did a good job of making it realistic. Micah did end up coming around, but I think we needed the tension and separation to grow Flynn's other relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was serious, but it had it's humorous moments to help break things up a bit.


Monday, October 3, 2016

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE BY JENNIFER NIVEN - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review! Today I am reviewing Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. I was able to pick up an ARC copy of this book from BookCon, back in May. A review was not requested, however, because I received an advanced copy, I am providing one anyways. As always, all opinions are my own.


This book follows two characters, in two alternating first person perspectives. Libby Strout, a girl who, ever since the unexpected death of her mother, has been overweight. She mourned her lose in the comfort of her own home, trying to fill the void, as well as work through her own fears and anxieties. Due to the abruptness of her mother's death, and the fact that it could be hereditary, Libby struggled with being able to leave her home, go to school, etc. Eventually, things got so bad that one day, she had to be cut out of her home in order to get to the hospital. Libby has come a long way, and is ready to go back to school, gets some friends and maybe meet someone. Jack Masselin is your typical charmer. He puts on a persona of what people want him to be, because he knows its better to be the hunter than the hunted. However, Jack suffers from undiagnosed prosopagnosia, a condition where he can't recognize faces. He's learned to cope and make do, but things are getting harder, he mixes up his girlfriend with her cousin, tries to take home the wrong kid when he goes to pick up his brother at a play-date. No one knows what's really going on in Jack's brain.

I really loved that, in true Niven style, these characters were so real. I think part of that is due to Niven's understanding of what the characters are going through. She based Libby on someone in her life, as well as her own struggles. Jack face-blindness is also based on her cousin and uncle, who both have the condition. I know when the synopsis first came out (not this one, a different one), a lot of people were offended by it, how a 'skinny' author was writing about the struggles of a 'fat' girl. I didn't get a chance to read the initial blurb, but I think a) having the background info that Niven has personally been affected by these issues and b) having read the book, there isn't really anything to be offended by here. If anything, as a bigger girl myself, I felt empowered. It would be one thing if Niven just sits there and wrote about how big Libby was, and how much weight she had to lose to be 'normal,' I wouldn't be okay with that, but she doesn't. She presents issues that her characters face in a tasteful and tactful way.

Okay, now that all that is out of the way, let's talk about the story itself.

Obviously, a large chunk of this book deals with the characters difficulties, but there are also the day to day aspects of life in high school (many of which I did not want to re-live) and of course, the romance. I don't know if it would really be considered insta-love or not. You can kind of tell from the synopsis and just the storyline in general that Libby and Jack will end up together. So, in my head, I was picking up on the little details that the characters themselves weren't even seeing. There was kind of a moment where they were like "Okay, I like this person." but it wasn't out of the blue or random. You could see it coming, they just kind of switched on.

This may be one of the best written romances I've read in a while. Niven's writing style is so descriptive, my breath was catching when their eyes locked. There are so many swoon worthy moments throughout this book, by the end, I was just a puddle of feelings.

I think in general, Niven did a phenomenal job of making you feel so much in this book. I've never really had a book where I was overcome by so many emotions, both positive and negative. I was smiling along with Libby and fuming with Jack when he finds out about his dad. Just every emotion the characters felt, I felt too. I felt like I was in the story.

I will say that this was a difficult book to read. There are just so many real issues going on. While I don't have prosopagnosia, nor had I really heard of it before this book, I still felt sick to my stomach when Jack went to pick up Dusty. I was feeling the fear he felt, the anxiety of being in that situation and having no control of what is going on. And eventing with his dad, it felt too real for me, and some parts were hard to read because I understood everything so well. And with Libby, I related to her in terms of being heavier, not really fitting in as well as others, although I never experienced bullying firsthand, I still felt her fears. At one point, she has to decide if she wants to get the test to see if she might have the condition that killed her mother. While I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be in that tough situation, I felt her feelings.

I will end this review with one more thought; on the romanticism of mental illness. Some readers have mentioned this about this book and her previous book, All The Bright Places. I don't really remember ATBP *that* much, but in terms of this book, I don't see that romanticization. Libby and Jack both have their anxieties and fears, although some more crippling than others, and I don't think they are made to be this sort of dramatic cover for a shallow story. From my personal experiences with anxiety specifically, Niven hits the nail on the head. To be perfectly honest, the mental illness aspect is more of a secondary condition to the main issues; though they go hand in hand. Libby is worried about the what if's because of a traumatic experience and Jack lives in the crippling fear that someone might realize something is wrong and that there is nothing anyone can do to 'fix him.'

Anyways, I could go on forever, but long story short, I urge you to read this book. We need stories like this, stories that deal with diverse character problems, whether that be race, religion, size, physical ability, sexual orientation, etc. and this book fits that bill extremely well.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

THE LOVELY RECKLESS BY KAMI GARCIA - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review of a book I loved, The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending an eARC of this book my way for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This book was so much more than I was expecting, but then, I wasn't really sure what to expect. It was my first Kami Garcia book, but certainly not my last, and the storyline sounded basic enough. But what I got was a fantastic book that I couldn't put down, and read in the span of less than two hours.

In terms of plot, this book is very simple. "Good" girl experiences tragedy, gets kicked out of private school and rebels by falling for "bad" boy. But there was so much more to the story.

Frankie is dealing with the loss of her boyfriend, he was recently murdered, and while she is the sole witness who can put his killer behind bars, she doesn't remember who it is. Through her PTSD, her brain is blocking out those memories that are too traumatic for her to handle, including the face of Noah's murderer. Living in a world where nothing matters, not even her own life, she gets caught drinking-and-driving and is booted from her private, Stanford feeder school, to a public school on the other side of town where kids don't play outside because the playgrounds are littered in more needles than dirt. Her elitist mother, appalled by Frankie's behaviour, sends her to live with her father, an undercover cop who is trying to bust a ring of car thieves.

On her first day at her new school, Frankie meets Marco. He's your typical bad boy from the other side of the tracks, don't mess with him unless you mean business kind of thing. While Frankie finds herself attracted to him, she can't let herself act on it, he's too dangerous and is definitely hiding something.

I absolutely loved this book. Even though the storyline is basic, and you can pretty much predict what is going to happen, I still loved it. It was the cliche without being cliche. The story has been done, but combined with Garcia's depictions of the illegal street racing, insight to Frankie's dad's undercover police work, and the way Garcia wrote the female characters.

The way females were depicted in this book was really refreshing. Besides Frankie, her friends Lex and Cruz are well-shown. Frankie knows what she doesn't want, and she is strong enough to go for what she does. Some of the situations she gets herself into are crazy, but she always pulls herself out. Lex has had a thing for their male-best friend Abel for a while now, but she knows with his recent gambling problem and his secrets, he will just break her heart. She is not naive enough to think that everything will just go away. Cruz is probably the strongest of the three, she has grown up in the wrong part of town, her abusive father is all she and her sisters have left but she stands up to him time and time again to protect them. She doesn't let anything anyone says get to her, and she can stand up to the rude comments from her classmates like no other.

I feel like this book could have had so many problems, but because of Garcia's writing style and the way she wove the story, I loved it. The romance was a little insta-lovey, but because of the way she wrote it, I kinda insta-loved Marco too *swoon.* Frankie also mentions later that while she loved Noah, deep down, they both knew they weren't "it" for each other. At least, she did. And I can totally understand that, the person you have a relationship with at 16 probably isn't going to be the person you marry and settle down with.

The themes in this book were great too, family over everything else, sometimes even law. There are so many touching scenes in this book, the love Marco has for his little sister Sofia. That first day, when he gets in a fight, someone brings her up and he loses it. You can't help but admire that love. He has given up more than any 17 year old should have to give up to help save Sofia from a future where he wouldn't be able to help her.

There were a couple of times where things went a little too far, Frankie was willing to sacrifice a lot for a guys she *just* met, but I get it. She thought she was doing what was best for everyone, excluding herself. One of the major character traits she has is her selflessness, and that really shined through time and time again, but sometimes I thought it might be too much.

I can't quite put my finger on why things worked out how they did in terms of plot, this had all the makings of being a cliche nightmare, but maybe that's why it worked. I went in thinking it would be predictable and cliched, but it blew me away.

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you are looking for some electric romance and a great, touching story.