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Posts Tagged: School Type: Public High School

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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Friday, April 15, 2016

Review: Finding Perfect by Kendra C. Highley

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Finding Perfect by Kendra C. HighleyFinding Perfect by Kendra C. Highley
Published by Entangled Crush on 14 Sept 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 199
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Alderwood, Texas // Dallas, Texas

First Line(s): “All in all,” Mr Granger said, ” the scores on the midterm were pretty good, so I didn’t feel the need to grade on a curve.”

Sometimes when you pick up a book its not the right time and so you may not like it as much and others its that perfect moment to read the book so just leaves with all those happy heart achy feels. Such was the case with me and FINDING PERFECT by Kendra C. Highley. If I’d read this in a different time and place I may not enjoyed it as much as I did but as it was I was totally swept away in the story and feel head over heals for it. Granted, there were things that I epicaly despised like Paige’s mother who was super duper awful. I hated the pressure that Paige’s parents put on her and how they told her that there would be time for fun later and now was the time to work work work! So much pressure that she’d freak out over a grade that was anything less than an A and even an A wasn’t acceptable as it wasn’t an A+.

While I agree that teens should have a focus on school and grades, I don’t think that it should take up all of their time. Balance is needed in order to live a rich and full life. Especially when you are 17. There is plenty of time to work and be serious and the longer you put off having a life the less likely you are to actually have one. Its so much harder to be free when you have a job and a house and bills to worry about. To put so much pressure on a girl at 17 is just a recipe for said girl to self destruct and burn out long before she’s an adult.

Finding Perfect Quote

But what I did love was the relationship between Paige and Ben. Oh there were times I wanted to shake them both because a big part of the plot centered around a failure to communicate (and we all know how that trope annoys me) but I loved them when they were together. They had great chemistry and banter and complemented each other so well. I liked the people that they were when then were around each other and its Paige and Ben that totally made FINDING PERFECT for me. I also adored the character of Zoey, Paige’s BFF, because she was a true BFF. She was there to support Paige when she needed it and tell her the truth when she needed that as well. No frenemy here.

The best way for me to describe the plot of FINDING PERFECT is to relate it to a 90s rom-com. The plot is a little hokey at times and the ending was super cutesy and too neatly tied up. But it was everything that you’d expect from a 90s romantic comedy. FINDING PERFECT has its ups and downs and its far from a perfect book but it made my heart ache and it hit all the right note with me. So because of that I really fell for this story. I hated to hit the last page and to leave this world and its characters. I’m hoping that Highley decides to write some companion stories so that we can see more of Paige and Ben and see where they end up after The End. For me, FINDING PERFECT was a story that I got lost in. It was a quick read and exactly what I needed. If you are a lover of 90s rom-coms and contemporary YA then you should totally give FINDING PERFECT a shot.

irishdarkblue

IR - Finding Perfect

 

Add The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

four-stars
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

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

Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel BandeiraBookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Series: Ever After,
Published by Spencer Hill on 19 January 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, People of Color, Young Adult
Pages: 378
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Lambertfield, New Jersey // Pine Barrons, New Jersey // Boston,

First Line(s): I rocked forward, balancing my book on my knees and tried to ignore the yelling and chatter around me.

BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER by Isabel Bandeira is a book that had me written all over it and I was very excited to receive a review copy of it. For me, this was a short read and I read it on the plane on the way home from visiting a friend in Michigan. It kept me awake and entertained but it was also kind of forgettable. This is the sort of book that I’m wishing I’d read on my ereader or when connected to wifi because I have no notes for it and only a few dog-eared pages (*gasps…I know!!*) to make things of interest in the story. I do recall that there were things that I liked out the main character, Phoebe, but there were things I didn’t like about her either.

Phoebe is the sort of girl that most bookish souls can relate to (and maybe even were in their high school days) she’d rather read at lunch than discuss fashion trends or gossip. Her idea of a fun day is to go to a book signing at the mall over shopping at the mall. That’s not to say she’s a total geek, because she’s not, she just isn’t always into the same things as her friends are. Her friends, for the most part, accept this side of Phoebe and let her live in her books but also make sure she gets out and enjoys the life of your average teenage. I did like the friendship aspect of this book and thought that Phoebe and her friends were solid and realistic and no frenemies in sight.

Bookishly Ever After Quote

Where Phoebe got on my nerves was with how actively she seemed to avoid the realization that a boy she liked actually liked her back. Despite all evidence to the contrary, and even with her friends shooting her therories down, she had blinders on when it came to Dev. As such, this girl ran so hot and cold when it came to him that it was frustrating to watch and I don’t blame Dev for how he acted at times. Dating is hard enough without adding mental obstacles to the whole ordeal…especially in the shark infested waters that is high school! I often wanted to reach into this book and give Phoebe a good shake because she was just so over the top clueless.

On the whole BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER isn’t a bad book. Its cute and fun but it is forgettable. This isn’t a book that I’ll reach for when my brain can’t handle words but yet wants words because I’m not entirely sure that it will stick in my brain for the long term. Its a clean book (from what I recall) and good for a younger teen but older teens may not like it as much as there is little in the way of drama. Which isn’t always a bad thing but sometimes you just want something more in a story. Perhaps it just wasn’t the time or place for me to read this book. Depending on its plot, I may check out the sequel but if its more Phoebe cluelessness and a breaking up of the HEA then I will probably give it a pass. I like HEAs and even though HS relationships rarely last forever I do like ending a book with happy characters.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Bookishly Ever After

 

Add On the Fence by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyDumplin' by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray on 15 September 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Health & Daily Living, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 375
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Clover City, Texas // Odessa, Texas

First Line(s): All the best things in my life have started with a Dolly Parton song.

I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy I had my reservations. Even before all the hype around it began and that hype only increased my wariness of this book. I really didn’t think that DUMPLIN’ was going to be a me book and I didn’t even consider picking it up until I was traveling in Greece with a friend and she sold me on this book. A thing for which I’ll be forever grateful to her for doing because I *loved* Willowdean and couldn’t get enough of her story. DUMPLIN’ is a powerful little story and I found that once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down again. I was engrossed. I was enthralled. I was completely and totally lost in its pages.

DUMPLIN’ is a story that will speak to many readers on many different levels. Its not just Willowdean’s story but the story of everyone who has ever struggled to fit in and find their place in the world. Its raw and amazing and I wish that I had this story when I was a teen. Willowdean is a perfectly flawed character. She’s strong and insecure. She’s smart and naive. She’s everything and nothing all at once. Her journey is all about learning to love yourself and learning that your imperfections are what make you uniquely wonderfully perfectly you. Willowdean teaches us that no one can do you better than yourself so you better be the best dang you that you can be.

Dumplin Quote

Another thing that I like about DUMPLIN’ is that while there is a romance to the story the story isn’t about the romance. Its not about Willowdean trying to find someone to love her but about her learning to love herself. But what romance there is will just make your heart ache! My only complaint is that there weren’t enough scenes between Willowdean and Bo as I would have liked to have seen more of them together. Because even though DUMPLIN’ is the story of Willowdean I do so enjoy my swoony moments. So I do hope that these two make a decent cameo in the upcoming companion which will be released a millenia from now in 2018.

DUMPLIN’ is a book that I think everyone should read. If you are one the fence then jump off of it and into this story. If I’d listened to my first instincts I would have missed out on reading this amazing unputdownable read. It was fresh and funny and had all the things that I love in a story. There was laughter and tears and moments that just hurt my heart. We’ve all been a Willowdean and we all could learn from her knowing that its okay to let our sparkle shine no matter what anyone else says. We are all beauty queens and we don’t need the crown to prove it.

irishdarkblue

IR - Dumplin

Add Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

Add The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on 26 July 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Distance Between Us, Pivot Point, Split Second, On the Fence, The Fill-In Boyfriend

Place(s) Traveled To: Morris, Arizona

First Line(s): A lightning strike. A shark attack. Winning the lottery.

There are few authors out there in which I get really excited for…ok that’s a lie…but you know the feeling I mean that bouncy excitement when you hear that author x has a new title coming out. Its that moment when you know you want the book right that instant and it almost doesn’t even matter what the book is about because you want it and you’ll love it because it is author x. Well, Kasie West is that sort of author for me and I yearn for a new book from here even as I’m just starting her newest book. Such is the case with P.S. I LIKE YOU which is a story that I devoured and then was left a wee bit sad at the end because I didn’t savor that first time read. I’ll never experence these characters for the first time again and yet I know that there is nothing that could have slowed down my reading process because the story was just that engrossing.

West has a gift for writing likable and believable characters and in creating a world that you want to exist in. Kasie West’s characters aren’t perfect, they make mistakes and there are times when you want to shake them. Lily could be frustrating at times with her attitude towards one character but over all I adored her. I also loved her friendship with Isabel. Those girls are everything I like to see in a friendship in books. They support each other and they also call each other out on their crap. I hated when they fought and my heart ached during those moments and I loved when they came back to each other. They were real friends, unlike so often in a YA book when the BFF is more of a frenemy than a friend.

PS I Like You Quote

And then there was the boy. *inesrt happy sigh here* Oh how I loved how West reveled the plot of PS I LIKE YOU. I adored the note exchange and how Lily and her love interest got to know each other without bias. In letters you can more easily be yourself. You don’t have to pretend if you don’t want to and over the course of several exchanges Lily and her guy revealed secrets and likes and just got to know each other without filters. There was no pretending or putting up false fronts and their exchanges just make your heart ache at times. Especially when the time comes to leave letters behind and to maybe find that common ground in the real world. This transition is one that West does beautifully and oh how it all made my heart melt in the end.

PS I LIKE YOU was a quick read and one that I loved. In my opinion, you really can’t go wrong with a Kasie West book. They are fun and enjoyable and I’ve loved them all. Although if I were to pick a favorite then, right now, it would be PS I LIKE YOU. This book isn’t perfect but its pretty gosh darn close and I know that I will be re-reading it often. PS I LIKE YOU has everything I adore in a story and even a little bit more. Its Kasie West at her best and I’m already hungering for her next book. West is usually an instant love for me and if she is for you as well then you’ll be wanting to make sure you get your hands on PS I LIKE YOU.

irishdarkblue IR - PS I Like You

Add In Real Life by Jessica Love to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review: In Real Life by Jessica Love

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: In Real Life by Jessica LoveIn Real Life by Jessica Love
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 01 March 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, People & Places, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To:  Unknown, California // Las Vegas, Nevada // Henderson, Nevada // Fontana, California // Primm Nevada

First Line(s): My best friend and I have never met.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up IN REAL LIFE by Jessica Love other than it sounded like a really cute story. After reading the first chapter I was hooked and didn’t want to put this book down. I loved Hannah’s voice and I loved her relationship with her sister Grace and her BFF Lo. Together they were fun and adorable and I wanted to be in the car with them as they road tripped it to Las Vegas. Their relationship isn’t perfect and there where times I wanted to shake Lo and Grace for their behavior, especially towards Hannah, but overall I loved their dynamic because it was real. Friends and siblings aren’t always going to get along and there are times when you are shitty to each other but that the love that binds them isn’t there. Love does a great job highlighting all these various shades of the friend and sibling relationship.

Love also does an amazing job with Hannah. As I said above, I loved her voice. She’s smart and pretty and awkward and all the things that so many people will be able to relate to. She makes a crazy decision to finally meet her BFF Nick, who she might also love, and jumps in whole heartedly even though she isn’t entirely sure what she’ll find at the end. I loved how Grace and Lo supported and encouraged her in this as Hannah was a little too straight-edged at times but that is in part because of her upbringing as a Korean-American and in part because her sister and Lo do enough crazy and they need Hannah to help ground them.

In Real Life Quote

 

IN REAL LIFE is a quick read and one that made my heart ache. Oh how I hated some of the things that happened because I wanted Nick and Hannah to meet and admit that they’d fallen madly in love. But then, if that was the story then it’d be pretty boring and I’d have very differently feelings. Instead, IN REAL LIFE has some secrets and twists and turns and heart ache as these characters all do and say things that makes you want to shake them. As a reader, I became totally invested in this story and felt so many feels. And even though there were times I wanted to shake Nick or Hannah or Lo or Grace I also adored all of these characters. I wanted everyone to find their Happily Ever Afters and I hated for IN REAL LIFE to end. Seriously, I need more words!!

For me, IN REAL LIFE is very much like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS only instead of a boarding school in France there is a road trip and Las Vegas….though each book has the Eiffel Tower so see, the same! lol Hannah and Nick face many of the same obstacles as Anna and Etienne. Hannah and Anna are both girls out of their element and so a little shy and don’t want to take risks for fear of change. But they are both brave and while it takes time they each make a leap in order to take charge of their happiness. I think that Anna and Hannah would be good friends.

I picked up IN REAL LIFE expecting a cute story and I got that and so much more. I loved this book and I know that its one that I am going to be re-reading. Its a wonderful story and if you trust me at all then you are going to want to have a copy of it on your shelf.

irishdarkblue

IR - In Real Life

Click here to add Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Click here to add PS I Like You by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

four-stars
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Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Posted by Irish in 2 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia AdlerBehind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler
Series: Daylight Falls,
Published by Spencer Hill on 24 June 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Movie Stars, Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-stars
Also by this author: Just Visiting

Place(s) Traveled To: Hayden Heights, California // Los Angeles, California // New York, New York

First Line(s): If my phone buzzed one more time, I was going to pull it out of my backpack and hurl it at the linoleum.

If I say it once I’ll say it a dozen times pretending to be okay with your best friend fake dating your boyfriend will never end well. The main plot of BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler is just this situation and its one that I’ve seen done in various ways in other books. The most common form of this trope is to have two people fake date each other and then they really fall in love and that is a trope I enjoy. The one in BEHIND THE SCENES though I don’t like near as much. Its just a little too close to cheating even when there is no real cheating and all too often someone is going to get hurt.

Though even though I knew that the whole plot was going to end in disaster the thing that I disliked the most about BEHIND THE SCENES was the Mary Sue heroine, Ally. She was ALWAYS putting herself down and she more than anyone kept trying to put Liam and Van together because “they are so perfect and beautiful and Hollywood” they are so perfect for each other and Ally was everything they weren’t. She was never honest about her feelings or with her best friend or boyfriend and just help make such a hash of things. Neither Van or Liam wanted to fake date it was all Ally pushing them to do it and then she gets mad when she gets hurt? No, sweetie just no…you make your bed and you must lie in it.

Behind the Scenes Quote

Van was also pretty annoying as she was just so selfish. She tried to be a good friend to Ally at times but mostly it was all me me me and Ally must bow to her schedule and whims. Van really didn’t do anything to appease Ally’s fears, although as Ally kept so many secrets about her feelings I really can’t blame Van all that much. Because Ally was just a royal train wreck of a girl and her insecurities just drove me batty!

I also found BEHIND THE SCENES to be very repetitive. Ally just dwelled on the same issues over and over and then did nothing about them. The only really saving graces for BEHIND THE SCENES was the sweetness of Liam and his BFF, Josh. Yes, Josh could be a jerk at times but he’s the sort of rogue with a heart of gold that I love. Its Josh that has me curious about UNDER THE LIGHTS (goodreads) but I’m not sure if he’s enough of a draw as the synopsis just makes the whole story seem a bit disjointed. Have you read UNDER THE LIGHTS? Does Van redeem herself? Is Josh worth it? Let me know!

irishdarkblue

IR - Behind the Scenes

Add The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Famous in Love by Rebecca Searle to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

two-stars
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth FlynnFirsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 05 January 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Rancho Palos Verdes, California

First Line(s): Tonight, I’m doing Evan Brown’s girlfriend a favor.

FIRSTS is the debut novel of Laurie Elizabeth Flynn and is a book that doesn’t shy away from some tough topics. For one, FIRSTS talks a lot about sex. Not just talk about it but also shows characters having sex. Which isn’t an uncommon thing for teenagers to do (even if parents would like to pretend otherwise) but its not a topic that is commonly shown in YA books.

FIRSTS is a raw book with a heroine that isn’t always the most likable. She thinks that she’s doing a good thing by sleeping with other girls’s boyfriends for their first time but its really just a cover up to hide the pain of her past. That part of the story was hard for me because I really despise cheating in a book and even though Mercedes felt like she was helping she was really just helping these boys cheat. So I didn’t always like Mercedes or her choices but I did like how FIRSTS portrayed her as both smart and pretty because all too often it seems like a character, or even a person in real life, can be only one or the other.

Firsts Quote

What I liked about Mercedes was how real she was. This is a girl who wants people to think she has her act together but she’s really just struggling to hold on. She pushes the people away who want to get close to her and draws in those who only want to use her. She feels like if she controls how much people around her see then the less chance she’ll get hurt. But life doesn’t work that way its messy and complicated and sometimes you get hurt and just as you hurt those around you. And despite all her best intention Mercedes did gather a good group of friends around her, Angela and Fayer….and also Zach. Oh Zach. I adored that boy and I loved how he saw Mercedes for who she was and not who she tried to appear. It was all these secondary characters that made me fall in love with this story.

FIRSTS is a book that is raw and it doesn’t really hold anything back. It shows a side of growing up that many people want to ignore that teens have sex and that teens can be cruel. But it also shows how caring they can be and the struggles that they face. FIRSTS is a fast paced read that is really well written. Flynn has a gift with narration and even as I didn’t always like Mercedes I did like her voice. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is definitely on my author watch list because I can not wait to see what story she brings into the world next. And if you haven’t read FIRSTS yet then get on it. Its a hard book to describe just how great it is but it is. Take this from a girl that usually avoids books with cheating like the plague and yet with FIRSTS I couldn’t get enough of this world.

irishdarkblue

IR - Firsts

Thanks to Tiff from Mostly YA Lit for her help in choosing these read-a-likes!

Add Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang to Goodreads. (Click here for Tiff’s Review)

Add Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik to Goodreads. (Click here for Tiff’s Review)

Click here for Tiff’s review of Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn.

four-stars
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: First & Then by Emma MillsFirst & Then by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on 13 October 2015
Genres: Adaptation, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Parents, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Temple Sterling, Florida // Reeding, South Carolina

First Line(s): My college essay was titled “School Lunches, TS High, and Me,” and it was every bit as terrible as you’d expect.

When I hear that a book is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel I am both excited and wary not unlike how I feel when Hollywood announces that it will be making a movie out of a favorite read. This is how I felt went I began Emma Mill’s book FIRST & THEN which is based off PRIDE & PREJUDICE, one of my favorite Jane Austen books. (Though much like Devon all Austen books can be my favorite when I read them.) I really enjoyed the character of Devon, even though there were times when I wanted to shake her. FIRST & THEN like so many other books suffers from a lack of character communication and that just frustrates me to no end. This frustration could also be passed on to Ezra who also could have benefited from talking more. But much like Mr Darcy, Ezra definitely falls into the broody, silent type category.

Frustrations aside though I really adored this story. I enjoyed the secondary characters and how both Devon and Ezra interacted with Foster. Foster was adorable and I just loved all the scenes that he was in. I could have done without Devon’s crush on Cas and some of that whole plot line but it was realistic though I do feel that it went on too long in this book. I also wasn’t a fan of how Cas dealt with it all and I seriously could have smacked him at times. But have I mentioned how much I liked Devon and Ezra? Because I did. And I enjoyed how this story played out. FIRST & THEN was a quick read and I finished it in rapid time because once I picked it up I hated to put it down. While its not a perfect book it definitely was the right book for me in that moment that I read it.

First & Then Quote

On thing I did wish in this book was that there was more to the relationship of Ezra and Devon. I get that its a PRIDE & PREJUDICE retelling and Mills really followed that story line well but I wanted more kissing! I wish that there was more to the story so we could see Ezra and Devon as a couple because so much of the book was spent with them apart and being all angsty and in like with each other. This is where communication skills really could have helped the situation. Although, this again is reflective of real life as humans often have trouble talking about feelings with other humans.

Overall, I thought that FIRST & THEN was smart and funny and I loved how it was written. This is a great modern adaptation for PRIDE & PREJUDICE and I think it will appeal to fans of that story as well as those who have never read a Jane Austen novel. There is a simplicity to this story that works well and makes a good escape from the every day. FIRST & THEN is a feel good novel that will make your heart ache (in that way that I love) and will leave you with a smile on your face. This is a book that I know I’ll be reading more than once and this is an author that I am looking forward to reading more books from.

irishdarkblue

IR - First & Then

 

Add Play On by Michelle Smith to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Trouble From the Start by Rachel Hawthorne to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia AdlerJust Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Published by Spencer Hill on 17 November 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 348
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Behind the Scenes

Place(s) Traveled To: Charytan, Kansas // Lawrence, Kansas // Various Unnamed Places, Kansas

First Line(s): There comes a crossroads in every great friendship in which one of you has to tell the other a painful, ugly truth.

Its no secret that I love a good road trip book and so when I heard about JUST VISITING by Dahlia Adler I knew that I had to read it. JUST VISITING is the story of Reagan and Vic who are best friends and seniors in high school. Since they met, two years before the start of the book, all they’ve talked about is going off to college and leaving their small town. They have a plan and they are counting down the days until graduation when they can start the next stage in their life. JUST VISITING shows Reagan and Vic heading off to various colleges that while still in their home state are far enough from home to offer a whole new start. Along the way though they learn that maybe all their carefully laid plans may not be what is the best thing after all.

I loved the friendship in JUST VISITING. Reagan and Vic were so real and you feel their bond. They aren’t perfect and they get into fights but they make up, they apologize and move on. There is no fake-BFF syndrome to be found in this story so when they hit a rough patch your heart breaks for them. Just as when Reagan and Vic start to realize that their paths might not be going in the same direction your heart aches for this bump in the road. But at the same time you know that these girls are going to be ok. They are in it for the long haul and they will be stronger because of it. Part of what I love about JUST VISITING is how Adler shows that its ok to change your plans even though you were certain that they were set in stone. That the world won’t end because you decide that may this college over that one is really the right one for you. That life is about making choices and finding your path and that even if you make a wrong turn you can always find your way back to where you were meant to be.

Just Visiting Quote

There is more to JUST VISITING though than just the friendship although that is the main story line. There is also a romance and family drama. Oh is there family drama. And then there is this whole random story line about why Reagan is a bit of a social outcast in her small town and that just bugged me throughout the book. I get that small towns can hold a grudge but this just seemed so extreme and just took me out of the story. Just as the over emphasis on race and the huge chip on Vic’s shoulders. I loved how there was a lot of diversity in this story but Vic just seemed to hate on everyone and make such snap, harsh judgement on what people were thinking before they even spoke because she was Mexican. Those moments often had me sighing a bit and seemed a little out of character for Vic who was always so happy and looking on the bright side of life. In my opinion, the judgementalness would have seemed more in character for Reagan over Vic.

My issues aside, I did love Reagan and Vic and I also adored the character of Dev. Oh he annoyed me at times but then so did Reagan and Vic. The annoyances are part of what made all these characters seem so very real. There were times when JUST VISITING was a bit hard to like but that was partly because the book was so real. JUST VISITING is a fun read but it does deal with real world issues. There are times when JUST VISITING is very raw and powerful and its definitely a book worth reading. JUST VISITING is also one of those rare unicorn books where the epilogue did not suck. Its an epilogue with substance and I liked it. Though I do feel like there could have been another chapter or two between where the book ends and where the epilogue begins. It just felt like something was missing between the two and I just wish that gap had been filled. But overall, I was very happy with JUST VISITING and its a book that you should have on your shelf.

irishdarkblue

IR - Just Visiting

Add Open Road Summer by Emery Lord to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add With This Heart by R.S. Grey to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

four-stars
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