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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda KenneallyDefending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks,
Also in this series: Breathe, Annie, Breathe, Jesse's Girl
Published by Sourcebooks on 05 July 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Breathe, Annie, Breathe, Jesse's Girl

Place(s) Traveled To: Franklin, Tennessee // Murfreesboro, Tennessee // Brentwood, Tenneessee

First Line(s): When I was a little girl, Dad installed a gumball machine in our house.

It’s taken me awhile to come up with the right words to fully express my thoughts on DEFENDING TAYLOR by Miranda Kenneally and even these words don’t seem completely right. DEFENDING TAYLOR is everything that you would expect from a book by Miranda Kenneally but its also so much more. All off Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks books have some sort of theme to them, and not just the various sportsing that is mentioned either. For me, the main theme in DEFENDING TAYLOR is one of second chances. Its about making mistakes and learning to live with the consequences no matter what they are. Its about standing your ground when you think you are right even when telling one simple truth can change everything.

Taylor isn’t always the easiest character to like or even to understand at times but by the end of the book you can’t help but to sympathize with her and the tough choices she makes. What she did might be hard for some to understand but its something that happens all the time. Sometimes you make a tough choice thinking that the consequence won’t be that bad and if they are then you have to live them. I think that Taylor is very brave for what she did because her choice wasn’t an easy one and her family certainly didn’t make it any easier. Even though they could have done so. I really wasn’t a fan of Taylor’s family in this book so was really glad when she reconnected with Ezra as she needed a friendly face around.

Defending Taylor Quote

While at its heart DEFENDING TAYLOR is about making choices it also contains two of my favorite book tropes: second chance at love and friend of a sibling. Ezra is the BFF of Taylor’s brother and once upon a time they almost got together. When you learn their backstory it just makes your heart ache for what could have been. And while things could have been cleared up if the two just talked to each other there was pride and hurt feelings that got in the way. Plus, the timing then may not have been right as both of these characters needed to go through some things  before they were ready for their HEA.

DEFENDING TAYLOR is a book that I found hard to put down once I started it. I may not have always agreed with Taylor and her life choices but I did understand them. In the end, the thing I wanted most from DEFENDING TAYLOR was more. I wanted more story, more Taylor, more Ezra and just more of everything. Keanneally has a gift for writing feel good, heart achy stories and if you are a fan of her words then you don’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t read anything by Keanneally before then DEFENDING TAYLOR might be a good place to start. Its definitely a book that you want on your shelf this summer.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Defending Taylor

 

Add Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Click here for my review, Click here for Andi’s review)

Add Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen to Goodreads. (Click here for Andi’s review)

four-stars
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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Jesse’s Girl by Miranda KenneallyJesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks,
Also in this series: Breathe, Annie, Breathe, Defending Taylor
Published by Sourcebooks on 07 July 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Music & Musicians, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Breathe, Annie, Breathe, Defending Taylor

Place(s) Traveled To: Nashville, Tennessee // Franklin, Tennessee //Bristol, Tennessee // New York, New York // unknown, Viginia // Hoboken, New Jersey

First Line: Backstage, there’s so much security, you’d think it was the White House.

Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally may only be the second book of hers that I’ve read but I think that it will be my favorite. I really love the whole rock star trope so this one will always have a special place in my heart. Just as Maya and Jesse will as well. I just loved these two characters and I loved how their chemistry just sizzled off the page. Things weren’t always the easiest between them as Jesse is already so jaded for one so young but I loved watching as Maya broke through his walls and they built a strong and solid relationship. They had their ups and downs but overall Jesse’s Girl was a cute and fluffy read and I just flew through the pages.

Not only did I love Jesse and Maya but I adored all the secondary characters. Well, with the exception of that one guy who was such a douchebag!! Oh my stars did I want to reach within the pages and just smack him! But while I hated what he did to Maya in the end it really was one of the best things that could have happened to her. Its a cliche, but when once door closes a new one opens and that is exactly what this moment and what meeting Jesse was for Maya.

 

Jesse's Girl Quote

 

Jesse’s Girl was a fun story. It made me laugh and it hurt my heart and I hated for it to end. I just loved these characters and this world that Kenneally created. Kenneally’s books just scream reality and its so easy to lose yourself within their pages and to become the main character of her stories. You feel all the ups and downs that Maya goes through over the course of the story and while I’d like to think I’d act differently than she did at some points her actions fit her as well as the story.

I know that Jesse’s Girl is a book that I will find myself reading again and again. And with all the multitude of books that I have to read this is a very big deal as it can be so hard to find the time to revisit a story. But from the first moment that I started Jesse’s Girl I knew that these characters and this story would become old friends. This is a story that I’ll pick up when I’m sick or feeling distracted and know that I can easily loose myself within its pages for a few hours. Jesse’s Girl is a book that makes you happy sigh even as you are turning the last page and then sitting there for a few moments debating on if you should go back and start it over again from the beginning. So if this one isn’t on your bookshelf then you’ll want to fix that, like now.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Jesse's Girl

 

Add Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler to Goodreads.

Add The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Some Kind of Normal by Juliana StoneSome Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone
Published by Sourcebooks on 05 May 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Twin Oaks, Louisiana // Baton Rouge, Louisiana

First Line(s): I used to be the guy who had it all.

Some Kind of Normal is a companion book to Juliana Stone’s Boys Like You (goodreads) and takes place after the events in that book end. Its a continuation of the story and you first meet Trevor in Boys Like You but you don’t have to read that book in order to enjoy Some Kind of Normal. Which is a good thing because I still have to read Boys Like You which I’ve added to my wishlist since finishing Some Kind of Normal.  Some Kind of Normal is told in altering perspective and switching between Everly and Trevor which is usually a narrative style that I enjoy. However, in this book the voices were just too similar that it was hard to tell them apart. I also thought that there was too much breaking of the fourth wall and explaining of what typical guy behavior was. This often took me out of the story and it felt like Stone was trying to hard for that authentic male voice.

In terms of story, there isn’t a whole lot of originality in Some Kind of Normal. You have the good girl meeting the bad boy and the two fall in love. Everyone thinks the good girls life is all sunshine and roses but its not. Just as everyone thinks the bad boy has it all or in irredeamable but those assumptions too prove to be false. In the case of Trevor, he’s recovering from a bad car accident that left him unable to graduate on time with his friends along with some lasting medical effects. Everly is the good girl who is assigned to tutor him over the summer so that he can graduate. She’s a bit judgmental and stuck up and he’s rude and aloof but eventually they find common ground and start to fall for each other. Sound familiar? Yes. But a story doesn’t have to be wholly unique in order for it to be enjoyable.

Some Kind of Normal Quote

Some Kind of Normal isn’t a perfect book but it was a decent one and I enjoyed reading it. While the characters annoyed me at times I understood them and believed that they could be real people. The secrets that Everly and Trevor have are part of what separates Some Kind of Normal from all the other similar stories out their. They aren’t alone in their struggles but because they hold things close to the vest they feel bigger and more insurmountable then they are. Some Kind of Normal is a book that you can get lost in. This was a quick read for me and I read it in just two short sittings. While I didn’t always connect with Trevor’s voice I did like his and Everly’s characters. Mostly.

This was my first book by Juliana Stone but I liked her writing style and I am curious about her other books. As I said above I do plan on picking up Boys Like You and seeing how Trevor’s story starts. If you are looking for a good beach read this summer then you might want to consider picking up Some Kinds of Normal. Its an easy read and a good way to waste a few hours while sitting in the sun soaking up some rays.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Some Kind of Normal

Add Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

three-stars
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breath by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breath by Miranda KenneallyBreathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks,
Also in this series: Jesse's Girl, Defending Taylor
Published by Sourcebooks on 15 July 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Girls & Women, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 306
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Jesse's Girl, Defending Taylor

Place(s) Traveled To: Thousand Oaks, Tennessee

First Line(s): As a kid, I had the worst mile time ever.

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally is the first book of hers that I’ve read and I almost didn’t read this one as I didn’t realize that it was part of her Thousand Oak series. But after consulting with Twitter I was told that you didn’t need to read the others in order to read and understand this one so I decided to give it a shot. Breathe, Annie, Breathe was a quick read but I did find it hard to get into at first as I just couldn’t connect with with the main character. She was just all over the place with her emotions and seemed to transfer them onto others as well. I get that she was dealing with grief but she seemed to take it to the extreme. I know that everyone experiences grief differently but it just seemed over the top and took me out of the story. And if the grief was real then I really wish that she was in counseling for it as she wasn’t coping very well and as a result made some poor life choices.

I also didn’t really connect with Jeremiah either because he was such an ass in the beginning. He and Annie randomly hook up at the very beginning of the book and then he ignores her and doesn’t treat her very well. She then mopes about until he has a change of heart and then she is on the way to repeating her behavior with her dead boyfriend. In that, she wants to wrap her entire life up, in, and around his to the exclusion of all others. So for the first half of this book I really just wanted to smack these two characters up the head sideways. But then, they both seem to have this epiphany and the whole tone of the book changed for me. All of a sudden I began to like both Annie and Jere more and became invested in their story.

I experienced those heart achy moments that I so love experiencing in books and it just made me happy. So for me, the ending is what made this book and I was glad that I had stuck with it. As I said it was a quick read and there were moments of it that I liked. I liked how Annie grew over the course of the book because I don’t think I would have been able to finish it if she hadn’t. I admired her drive to want to do something for her deceased boyfriend even though I didn’t really agree with her reasons for it. I also liked how over time it because less what he would have wanted and more about what she wanted to do for herself. And while I didn’t always like Jere I do think that he and Annie compliment each other.

I enjoyed Kenneally’s writing and the world that she has built so I will probably read the previous books in the series. I think it will be interesting to see how they all connect with one another. Breathe, Annie, Breathe will never be a favorite book of mine but in the end I don’t think that my time was wasted in visiting Thousand Oaks.

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irishdarkblue

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Breathe Annie Breathe2

three-stars
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review + Guest Post: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Guest Post, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review + Guest Post: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
Published by Sourcebooks on 04 March 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Family, Friendship, Parents, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Tadita, Washington // Victoria, British Columbia, Canada // Lynden, Washington // Saanich, British Columbia, Canada

First Line(s): After pausing for a deep breath, I force myself to walk into the room with my head held high and my shoulders pulled back.

I became interested in 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler when I learned that it was a road trip book. I have a serious weakness for road trip books and so was excited to read this one. Only 16 Things I Thought Were True wasn’t quite what I expected in more ways than one. The first was one of the reasons why I wanted to read the book in the first place, the road trip. Or should I say the road trip that wasn’t considering how Morgan and her friends only drove to a place that was 4 hours away. Now I may be from Rhode Island but I can totally do that drive, hang out, and then turn around and drive back home again.

In 16 Things, Morgan and her friends spend the night in Victoria, Canada though this can be explained as the purpose of the trip is for Morgan to meet her father. A man she thought had abandoned her when she was a baby and never wanted anything to do with her. This is one of those things that Morgan thought was true but the truth isn’t so black and white as she learns after her mother ends up in the hospital and starts to spill secrets. This prompts Morgan to hop in her car along with her new friend and current boss (who may be a friend or something more) to drop everything and ambush her father.

Overall, I really enjoyed 16 Things and enjoyed the chemistry between Morgan, Amy and Adam. Adam was a guy that Morgan had lots of pre-conceived notions on but not everything she thought was true. He was a really sweet character and sure to delight as his and Morgan’s relations changes over the course of the book. Then there is Amy who is this sweet and bubbly and sometimes annoying character. She livened up every scene she was in and I often liked her more than Morgan.

Where this book lost me was the ending which just came out of the blue with no hint or warning or nothing. There was no time to develop that part of the story and also no time to process it. This whole section of the story just felt rushed, underdeveloped and almost as an after thought. It didn’t fit with the rest of the story and just changed the entire tone of the book for me. It took me out of the story and just left a bad taste in my mouth. If it wasn’t for this ending I would have enjoyed this book so much more than I did because up until then it was everything I could want in a contemporary story and if I ever re-read this book then I will be doing so by stopping before I get to that part of the book that I didn’t like.

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Guest Post: Janet Gurtler talks about her inspiration between writing a road trip book

I use TADITA WASHINGTON as the location for most of my books. This is a fictional town outside of Seattle. I chose it because the landscape and lifestyle is quite similar to British Columbia. As a Canadian, I’m familiar with it. I like having a small town setting because my books tend to be character driven and the setting and action. I also like using the same town and having tiny little guest appearances in the books from other characters.

The road trip idea came because I wanted my main character to be forced to go off to find her father, a father she doesn’t know. Part of her journey is learning to let other people into her life outside of online social media. She’s been kind of burnt by real life. The road trip forces her to get to know two people who otherwise she might not have paid much attention to.

I used Victoria, as it is a place I have been to and loved. And I really did want to have a character cross over to Canada. My homeland. I used some of my memories of the Island, the beauty of the Island.

irishdarkblue

three-stars
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