The Whimsical Mama

<3 Such is the life of a stay at home mommy and Army wife (:

Contemporary Beach Reading Recommendations June 30, 2016

I’ve always made it clear that I’m not that big of a contemporary fan. However, these are some great reads I highly recommend. I came up with my own selections after reading Jamie’s post. I also have featured non-fiction adult and non-contemporary young adult posts. Keep an eye out for my post with adult recommendations next week!

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  1. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. Mary recommended this to me when Bloomsbury was looking to share this fantastic debut. Knowing I’m not a contemporary fan, she knows when there are books that I’ll enjoy. She hit a home run with this one! Emery is now on my auto-buy list. Review here.

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2. When We Collided by Emery Lord. I’m telling you, Emery is a fantastic author. Her books completely wrap you up and you don’t want to stop until you’re done reading.

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3. The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord. I will shamelessly plug Emery’s books forever! Review here.

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4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Super quick and funny read! Review here.

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5. Rites of Passage by Joy N Hensley. Have you ever turned down a dare? What’s the most extreme dare you’ve ever done? Review here.

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6. 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen. Cute and funny debut! Review here.

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7. Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols. I love Middle Tennesse. It holds such a special place in my heart! Review here.

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8. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols. Oh, marching band. I miss you like WHOA. Review here.

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9. Love Story by Jennifer Echols. Creative writing and horses = BLISS! Review here.

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10. Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. Sheer brilliance! Review here.

All of these are light and quick reads. There are some heavy moments in them, but they’re all great beach reads!

 

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*ARC Review* The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord May 25, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 31 March 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, ARC provided by OTSP ARC tour
Status:standalone

Summary:
Following her pitch-perfect debut Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

My thoughts:
I received this ARC as part of the ARC tour hosted by On The Same Page. I also received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Neither of these copies swayed my opinion in any way.

Following in the vein of Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You is full of best friends and second chances. As her second book, Emery ran the risk of the “sophomore slump,” by The Start of Me and You is anything BUT a slump! The Start of Me and You starts strong and ends stronger.

My absolute favourite thing in The Start of Me and You is the power of friendship. Paige and her group of friends are the perfect example of a great friendship. It’s not perfect by any means, but what friendship is? They know and understand each other through thick and thin. There’s one phone call that brings to mind an important friendship defining moment in my life. I won’t spoil the situation though! If you want to know my moment, send me a message on twitter! (@armywife2310)

As Paige grows and starts her life anew, her group of friends grows and changes to include guys. This group is reminiscent of my group of friends in high school – only we were in band! I think Emery did a great job of showcasing that teen guys and girls CAN have a relationship with zero romance. I’m a firm believer that friendship isn’t influenced by gender. One of my best friends in high school was a guy. Yes, we did try dating. No, we didn’t magically fall in love. Yes, we were MUCH better friends than a romantic item!

That being said though, Emery does a spectacular job weaving in the path to romance. I love that this pair starts their relationship based on friendship. They get to know the real side of each other and the affection slowly shifts from friend to romantic interest. I was totally shipping them before the ship even sailed!

Another thing I applaud Emery for is showing the nerdy side of life. That the nerd and the jock can get along and even be best friends. Beauty is not the only thing to attract a mate. I loved the geeking out. I was all about some Quiz Bowl in The Start of Me and You! I loved the breaking out the big guns by Max with Pride and Prejudice. Brava Emery for showing a guy can be well read too! I loved how passionate Max was about his interests and not being ashamed over them. Love what you love! I also loved the Open Road Summer shout out. (:

I loved getting to see Paige grow and change as she worked her way through her grief and her new chapter in life. I couldn’t relate on a personal level other than a fellow classmate succumbing to cystic fibrosis complications as our senior year started. I didn’t know Erin well, but her death still had a huge impact on me. Paige’s courage and determination were inspiring. Each step was hard fought, but also won. She knew she could never go back to the way things were, but she worked hard to get things to where she wanted. Eve if a thing or two was not how she originally planned it to be.

A bit heavier than Open Road Summer, but still a quick and enjoyable read for this non-contemporary fan! I definitely recommend adding Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You to your spring/summer reading list and Emery Lord to your authors to always read list!

About the Author

I’m Emery, and I write books about flawed girls who are really trying, complicated families, friends who show up even when everything’s going down in flames, the boy who Gets You even when you don’t expect it, and the summer that changed everything.

Open Road Summer is out now, and The Start of Me & You releases March 31st, 2015.

I don’t check my GR inbox, but feel free to get in touch via ways listed on my website!
http://www.emerylord.com/p/site-qs.html

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Top Ten Tuesday #71: Characters I’d like to Check-in With April 7, 2015

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Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten Characters I Want to Check-In With

 

affiliate links used

 

1. Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)
Of course, I would like to know how EVERYONE is doing, but specifically everyone’s favourite Transfiguration professor. (:

2. Jemima Emerson from Time Enough for Drums
This is one of my favourite books of all time. I read it in Junior High and reread it ALL THE TIME. I need MORE. I want to know how Jem and John are. LOVE THEM!

3. Sturmhond from Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)
Oh, Sturmhond. I am so excited for Six of Crows this fall cause I am totally rereading the Grisha trilogy for full world LOVE! I was disappointed with the lack of Sturmhond in Ruin and Rising and I need to know how he’s doing.

4. Reagan, Lilah, and Matt from Open Road Summer.

C’mon, Emery. I need to know THINGS. I need more Reagan and Matt. I need more BFF time with Reagan and Lilah. PLEASE.

5. Alice Cullen from Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1).

Judge me not for Twilight. I freaking love Alice and I need to know how she and Jasper are doing. Love me some Jasper. Mmhmm.

6. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now, before you point out Go Set a Watchman will give us a catch up with the adult Scout, I want to know how she’s doing between them. Despite the controversy around the publication of Go Set a Watchman, I am excited for more Scout. I adore TKM and will be reading it this summer to prep for Go Set a Watchman!

7. Rhine and company from Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy Book 1).

I want to know how things are with everyone. How’s Cecily’s baby doing? How are things in the world after the cure? I just need to know all the things!

8. Jack and Schuyler from Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Book 1).

I need to know how my favourite fallen angel couple is. (: I hope there is more of them in the second Vampires of Manhattan: The New Blue Bloods Coven book! I neeeeeeeed more Jack and Sky in my life!

9. Ana and Sam from Incarnate Trilogy.

You really didn’t think I would have characters to check in on and NOT have this trilogy included, did you? For shame! I want to know how things are after Infinite. A Cris novella still would be nice. Just sayin’, Jodi.

10. June and Day from Legend Trilogy.

Do they get back together after that chance spotting at the end of Champion?! I need to know! I need them to at least be FRIENDS.

BONUS: Hayley Kincain from The Impossible Knife of Memory.

How is her dad doing with his PTSD? How is she doing? How’s her love life going? Is her dad still happy? So many questions I need to know!

What characters would you like to check in with? Any good ones I need to get to know? Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Add the books on Goodreads:

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 16 November 2014 – 4 April 2015 April 4, 2015

Filed under: Book Review,Books,Weekly Reading Review — Maura @ 11:57 pm
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It feels good to be back! After a break for summer, then drama stirring every time I was ready to jump back in, I was afraid I might just hang up my blogger hat. The idea to start a blog for some of the adventures with the kiddos has sparked the desire to fully jump back in the YA blogging world too. I can’t let drama get me down from about what I’m passionate!

Instead of trying to do a FULL recap from NOVEMBER until now, I’ll just let my reading speak for itself and start back with recaps next week. I will recount as best as I can remember on books I’ve gotten. No hope on library books except for what I have on hand now though. I will still include books I get/read with the kiddos, but there will no longer be Tot Time Thursday reviews/posts. All things children’s lit, homeschooling, etc will be over on our new blog Voyages of the Backyard Explorers!

affiliate links used below

Completed: (Starting in November til today)

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano
No Intention of Dying by Lauren DeStefano
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
The Dark Discovery of Jack Dandy by Kady Cross
Die Once More by Amy Plum
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
Gilt by Katherine Longshore
The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
Tarnish by Katherine Longshore
Brazen by Katherine Longshore
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

Read with the Kiddos
Ladybug Girl and the Dress-up Dilemma
City Adventures #1: Help Is On The Way! (Lego Reader)
Ten Rules of Being a Superhero (Christy Ottaviano Books)
Ninja!
Bitty Baby and Me
What Is a Princess? (Disney Princess) (Step into Reading)
Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River
Tiny Toons Adventure: Happy Birthday, Babs!
Luke Goes to Bat
The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School (Penguin Young Readers, L2)
Potty (Leslie Patricelli board books)
Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, No. 1)
On the Night You Were Born
The Knight at Dawn (Magic Tree House, No. 2)
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story
Murray’s First Book of Words (Sesame Street First Board Books)

Currently Reading:
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
Mummies in the Morning (Magic Tree House, No. 3)
Pirates Past Noon (Magic Tree House, No. 4)

New to Our Shelves:
From My OTSP Secret Sisters (last round and current round)
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter
Twisted Fate
The Last Apprentice (Revenge of the Witch)
The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins’ War)
The White Queen (The Cousins’ War)
The Red Queen (The Cousin’s War)
This Shattered World: A Starbound Novel

From Mary:
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, Book 1)
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Giveaways/Book Swaps/ARCs
Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Let the Sky Fall
Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story
Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy Book #2)
Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
Rebellion by Stephanie Diaz

Library:
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
The Artemis Fowl #2: Arctic Incident Graphic Novel 1st (first) Edition by Colfer, Eoin (2009)
Artemis Fowl The Eternity Code Graphic Novel
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception Graphic Novel (Artemis Fowl (Graphic Novels))
Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion)
Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor)
Tarnish by Katherine Longshore
Brazen by Katherine Longshore
Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Purchased:
Gilt by Katherine Longshore
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor)
Maid of Deception (Maids of Honor)
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Juliet Immortal
Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose)
The Scorpio Races
Red Riding Hood
Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols
Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns

How’ve you been lately? Read anything good recently? Have you checked out our new blog extension yet? Tot Time Thursday now has its own blog at Voyages of the Backyard Explorers!

 

*Blog Tour & Review* Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols January 11, 2015

 

PERFECT COUPLE

 

***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review as a part of the blog tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club. Many thanks to Simon Pulse!***   

 

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

 

***Affiliate links below***

 

Perfect Couple (The Superlatives)

Rating:5 stars
Pub date: 13 January 2015
Publisher:Simon Pulse
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: eARC provided by the publisher
Status: Book two of The Superlatives series

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Summary:

Perfect Couple is #2 in the Superlatives series about seniors at a Florida high school who are selected for their class’s superlative categories in the yearbook, and how the labels change the way they view themselves and alter the course of their lives.

 Can your heart be put to a popular vote?

 As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can’t see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they’ve found themselves drawn together–first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

 The trouble is, though they’re very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?

 

BOOK LINKS:

 

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Buy Links:
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Bookdepository
Kobo

 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES


2574dd3c017f7b34834ad71076b82e9a Biggest Flirts (The Superlatives)

(affiliate link)

 

Be sure to check out my review here!

 

b11ee40d580b2a3359715253fbfd9610 Most Likely to Succeed (The Superlatives)
(affiliate link) – coming August 2015!

 

My thoughts:
I must admit, I read this THE DAY I was approved by Simon & Schuster back in the summer. I wrote a RAVING review for it. Somehow, between being a scatterbrained mama of a preschooler and toddler and finishing/starting a review notebook, I have misplaced said review and now get to re-write it! Oh, joyous day! Haha.

If you’ve been around the blog for any amount of reviews, you know I am not the biggest fan of contemporary. Never have been. I am, however, a HUGE Jennifer Echols fan! Many thanks (again) to Mary. I am so honoured to be a part of the second book tour for The Superlatives. I was also a part of the tour for Biggest Flirts.

I am SO in love with these characters. It’s like reliving my group of friends from high school and it’s so great. (: My group of friends was the best. We had a mix of everything just like in Jennifer’s Superlatives. Of the two leading ladies so far, I have always been an equal mix of both. Tia has a giant could give a crap attitude and Harper cares A LOT. There are things I could give a flying rat’s rear in space about, but others, I worry insanely what people will think about it. Thus, equal mix of the two and the ability to relate to them on a deeper level. (I’m not used to this with contemporaries SO!)

I was in marching band like Tia, and I was also head photographer on the yearbook staff much like Harper. (: Thankfully, I didn’t have an a-hole boyfriend as my editor. I did deal with a lot of crap at times, but unlike Harper, I stood my ground. Kennedy is a whole different can of worms that I could relate to, but that is neither here nor there.

Watching Harper’s transformation from shy wallflower, to full blown confident young woman is inspiring. Portrayals of strong girls who can stand up for themselves are very needed in today’s world. Perfect Couple is definitely a book I hope both my son and daughter read as young adults. The way Jennifer showed that a couple can be close without having to have sex was very well done. I may be showing my mama side here, but the casual way of sex in our society is a bit much. (Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the sexy times in Biggest Flirts! But I also enjoyed the steamy makeouts in Perfect Couple too)

Unlike Harper, I didn’t draw the attention of the gorgeous football player. *sigh* I really loved Brody. He’s a guy’s guy and a super sweet guy all at the same time. He helps Harper break out of her shell and understand that she can be who SHE wants to be, not who Kennedy wants her to be, not what she thinks the world wants her to be. *swoons* You can only get the full appreciation of this by reading it to experience just how big of a pain Kennedy is and how awesome Brody is.

A BIG defining force in Harper’s life that I could relate to on the deepest level was her parents’ impending divorce. I often wonder how different my high school experience would be if my parents hadn’t gotten divorced. It’s something that completely changes EVERYTHING. It also contributed to a lot of my relationship insecurities much like Harper. It’s difficult to explain if you haven’t been through it.

This series is spectacular. It tackles a lot of important topics that teens face today. As a mom, I hope that Ladybug has the confidence she can turn to me for anything like Harper turns to her mom. I also hope Punk knows he can come to me too. Once again, Jennifer has hit it out of the park with Perfect Couple! ❤ It makes me even more excited for Most Likely to Succeed because SAWYER! FINALLY IT IS TIME FOR SAWYER. *ahem* Sorry. Do yourself a solid and check out this fabulous series. Please.

 

About the author

JenniferEcholsStanding

Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.
http://www.jennifer-echols.com | http://twitter.com/jenniferechols

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GIVEAWAY

Details: Win (1) of (5) books in the Superlatives series: BIGGEST FLIRTS (Superlatives #1) or PERFECT COUPLE Superlatives #2) by Jennifer Echols (US Only)

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

***affiliate disclaimer: If you purchase through my links on Amazon, the money I receive comes back to benefit the blog! I would appreciate it if you considered to purchase from my links!***

Biggest Flirts (The Superlatives)
Perfect Couple (The Superlatives)
Most Likely to Succeed (The Superlatives)

 

*Blog Tour* Don’t Touch by Rachel Wilson September 5, 2014

 

Don’t Touch

by Rachel M. Wilson

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: September 2nd 2014

Synopsis:
A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.
Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.
Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together… which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.
It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn’t sure she’s brave enough to let herself fall.
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who’s fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.
Don’t Touch is fiercely compelling, darkly funny, and hums like a high tension wire with energy.”  — Tim Wynne-Jones, author of Blink & Caution
“A tender love story about the beauty and the risk of showing someone who you really are.” — Nina LaCour, author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments




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Follow the FFBC Don’t Touch Blog Tour and don’t miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

 

 

Rachel M. Wilson is the author of the contemporary YA, DON’T TOUCH, forthcoming from HarperTeen, Sep. 2, 2014.
She graduated from Northwestern University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Rachel grew up in Birmingham, AL, and she currently writes, acts, and teaches in Chicago, IL.
Giveaway is open to US/CAN Only | Must be 13 or older to enter
 
 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 6 – 12 July 2014 July 12, 2014

This week was a little slow. I feel like I haven’t really gotten anything accomplished. I scrambled all week on my posts. Been in a bit of a reading slump too. I know I have a copy of Oceanborn on its way to me so… not really wanting to read anything else cause I’m so pumped up for it. (WOOT! It arrived just before this was due to post!!) I did devour Perfect Couple within 24 hours of receiving approval though! Haha. I knocked a few things out today too. Hoping to knock a few more HarperCollins September ARCs out in the next few weeks. (:


Completed:

Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Seamonster by Amalie Howard

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

The Too Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo

Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann (DNF 36%)

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick 

 


Currently Reading:

The Everything Mother Goose Book by June Rifkin (yes, we’re still working on it!)

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (paperback & audiobook) 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (audiobook)

Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris (ARC)

Waterfell by Amalie Howard

 

Read to the Kiddos:
Read to Tiger by S.J. Fore

Pete the Cat Too Cool for School  by James Dean

Ladybug Girl Says Good Night by David Soman & Jacky Davis

That’s Not My Meerkat by Fiona Watt


New to my shelf:

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (YALLFEST prep, clearance sale!)

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (Thanks Bloomsbury & Mary!)

Oceanborn by Amalie Howard (Finished copy, Thank you so much Amalie & Harlequin Teen!! <3)

Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (ARC, Thanks, Susan & HarperTeen!)

 

From the library:

as usual, more audiobooks! (:

 

 

 

 

*Blog Tour & Review* 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen July 11, 2014

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I am SUPER excited to be a part of Rachael’s blog tour for 17 First Kisses!! (:

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***I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to HarperTeen!***   

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

Rating: 5 stars
Pub date: 17 June 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC provided by the publisher
Status: standalone

Summary:
No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story

 

My thoughts:
I cannot ever remember devouring a contemporary in one afternoon. I was surprised to receive an ARC from HarperTeen. As I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary, but I thought I would give it a try. Alsison Linsow took the time to send it to me, so I could at least give it a chance. I’m very happy that I did. I believe this is a below the radar greatness that needs to be shared. It’s not your typical fluffy high school tale and I really enjoyed that.

I instantly related to Claire as the girl living in a small town, super excited to blow that popsicle stand. Hello, high school me! I also related to Claire on the “a boy is threatening our friendship deal.” Only I didn’t come out of my experience with my friendship intact. Now that neither of us are with said boy, we ocassionally talk, but our friendship was all but destroyed. Over a boy. A boy neither of us are with now. I’m even married with two kids! I would love to go smack our 16 year old selves and be like HE IS NOT WORTH IT. *sigh*

I loved including the story of how each kiss happened. It left me reflection on my kisses. Some I still remember fondly. Others, I wonder what the crap I was thinking. I mean, really.

Despite the name, the focus is on family and friend relationships which I really enjoyed.

It was chock full of flawed characters and uncertain situations and I loved it. I don’t like perfect characters or plots. I hate cookie cutter lives. Life isn’t like that and I think that’s my main problem with most contemporaries.

I did have a problem with the slut shaming. Kissing a few boys at a party makes a slut now?! Grr. Flirty? Yes. Slut? Not even remotely. That made me so angry and my heart went out to Claire. 17 First Kisses shows sex in a responsible, truthful way. Not hushed up like it’s shameful, but also not presented as a sex for all with no consequences. Classy and tasteful presentation. Brava, Rachael!

This debut is underrated thus far, and I hope it gets a chance to explode on the scene. There are lovey dovey scenes, snarky scenes, cliche scenes, everything and more to make a quick and enjoyable contemporary.  I highly recommend it. Go forth and enjoy it! (:

About the author:

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Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA where she’s working furiously on her PhD in neuroscience. When she’s not doing science or writing YA, you can find her chasing after her toddler and her two sled dogs. Her debut YA novel 17 FIRST KISSES, is forthcoming from Harper Teen. Rachael may or may not have had 17 first kisses…luckily she doesn’t kiss and tell.

Website: http://rachaelallenwrites.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7326808.Rachael_Allen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachael_allen

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*Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway* Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols May 12, 2014

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***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review as a part of the blog tour hosted by Itching For Books. Many thanks to Simon Pulse!***   

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

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Rating:5 stars
Pub date:20 May 2014
Publisher:Simon Pulse
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format:eARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of The Superlatives series

Summary:

Tia and Will’s lives get flipped upside down when they’re voted Yearbook’s Biggest Flirts in this sassy novel from the author of Endless Summer and The One That I Want.

Tia just wants to have fun. She’s worked hard to earn her reputation as the life of the party, and she’s ready for a carefree senior year of hanging out with friends and hooking up with cute boys. And her first order of business? New guy Will. She can’t get enough of his Midwestern accent and laidback swagger.

As the sparks start to fly, Will wants to get serious. Tia’s seen how caring too much has left her sisters heartbroken, and she isn’t interested in commitment. But pushing Will away drives him into the arms of another girl. Tia tells herself it’s no big deal…until the yearbook elections are announced. Getting voted Biggest Flirts with Will is, well, awkward. They may just be friends, but their chemistry is beginning to jeopardize Will’s new relationship—and causing Tia to reconsider her true feelings. What started as a lighthearted fling is about to get very complicated…

My thoughts:

I am so happy to be a part of the blog tour for Biggest Flirts today! I applied not thinking I would get it and was so happy when I did. I was a bit nervous though. I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary and while I had several Jennifer Echols books on my TBR (thanks to Mary) I had never read anything by her yet. Boy, have I been missing out!

Biggest Flirts really felt a lot like my senior year. I wasn’t a party girl or as big of a flirt as Tia, but goodness, the band memories!

Yes, Iam a marching band alum and that added SO much to my reading experience and brought back so many great memories. SO many memories. The early mornings, hot and humid days, long nights – I was back in the last week of July in East Tennessee all over again. I’m sure the heat and humidity is much worse in Florida though! As a former band kid, each practice scene felt so real. I was instantly transported through time and readers who weren’t in band will still be able to easily imagine the scenes before them. Jennifer does a fantastic job setting the scene in a realistic fashion.

Tia was easy to relate to because she felt so real and vulnerable. There were also girls like Tia in band, so I could relate on that level, too. I related more to her on the academic side than the relationship side. I was smart, but I really hated showing it, because I didn’t want to get hit with tons of responsibility. Also? Music. I stopped practicing flute on purpose so I could be middle of the road and not saddled with any section leader responsibilities. I loved the upperclass leadership responsibilities though!

Will was relatable for me, because I’d had my whole world ripped a part and flipped upside down before, too. I didn’t have to move across the country before my senior year like him, though. My parents got divorced. They ‘hid’ their fighting the summer before eighth grade. They said they didn’t want to ruin my summer or upcoming school year. I remember screaming at them that they were ruining my life, not just my summer. It’s definitely not a fun thing to have your whole world destroyed and my heart went out to Will.

I really enjoyed the banter between Will and Tia. It reminded me so much of me and my best guy friend in high school. There were times when we argued for the sake of arguing. It was definitely realistic cause I’ve been there! haha. I’m sure it would’ve been much worse and much more like Tia and Will had we been in the same section. He was a drummer so that made the connection even better. Goofy drummers! (I can trash on drummers since I married one! haha) 

As well as two strong main characters, they are surrounded by a great cast of secondary characters. I can’t wait to read some of their stories in the future books. It was great to see an interesting mix of personalities in Tia’s circle. Again, I was reminded of my time in high school. Believe it or not, band kids aren’t complete nerds and isolationists! (: We DO have friends outside of the inner circle of band. Not all band kids are friends either. 

Biggest Flirts was a fast and enjoyable read. As a fan of leaving the real world when I read, I loved this contemporary and definitely plan on checking out more of Jennifer’s books (including the rest of this series as they release!). I’m definitely becoming a Jennifer Echols fan! Many thanks to Mary for introducing me to her books, Shane for letting me be a part of the tour, and Jennifer for writing such an enjoyable story!

**Favourite Quotes**

Drum corps were basically marching bands with super powers. I have always admired drum corps! I love watching their competitions and have known a few people to march in the corps. Badass. All hail the drum corps.

“You get your energy from being by yourself,” I guessed. This was Harper’s description of the strange phenomenon I did not understand. “Having to talk to a bunch of people at once, especially people you don’t know, makes you feel drained.” Oh, man. Tia is describing Will, but this totally fits for me too. 

“I’m the king of the world,” he murmured. In a sexy satisfied tone that most chicks would use to reaffirm their love, I said, “You are the king of the dorks.” LOVE IT! (;

“Mr. Matthews, get off Ms. Cruz. I’m starting to sound like a broken record.” 

About the author

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Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.
http://www.jennifer-echols.com | http://twitter.com/jenniferechols

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