Review: More Happy Than Not

19542841Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Publisher: SoHo Teen

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBQT

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?


4.5 / 5 Stars


Adam Silver is a brilliant storyteller. I loved the way the story was set up and flowed in More Happy Than Not. It was creative and not what I was expecting at all. There were twists and turns I never saw coming. It was amazing how seamlessly many different issues were woven into the story.

Not only was the way the story unfolded different and interesting, but so were the characters. The main character, Aaron, could have been very annoying and frustrating to readers because of the way he complained about the hardships and unhappiness in his life. Instead, Aaron was easy to relate to. I could empathize with him and liked him. I wanted him to achieve his ultimate happy ending. I rooted for him the entire time.

The other characters were whipped cream on top of the Aaron sundae. Thomas had a maturity about him, even if he was lost in life. You couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend than Genevieve. She stood by Aaron through it all, no matter what happened. I have to admit my favorite character was Me-Crazy, even if he was a horrible person. The fact that he gave himself that nickname was perfect. He had me laughing most of the time.

 

The only thing missing for me in More Happy Than Not was more information about what came next for Aaron. I kind of felt like I was left hanging a bit. I needed an epilogue or something. I’m dying for more!

More Happy Than Not is a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. It’s definitely a book I would recommend.

 

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Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

7600924Title: Forbidden

Author: Tabitha Suzuma

Publication Date: May 27, 2010

Publisher: Definitions

Genre:New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.


Forbidden is probably the hardest book I have ever reviewed. I wish I could say I loved this book, but I can’t. The subject matter was just too disturbing and taboo to be enjoyable to read. What I can say is that it was beautifully written. Only an exceptionally talented writer could deliver a story so brutally wrong and still have you empathizing with its characters.

I felt sympathy for every character in this book. My heart went out to them. Despite their flaws, I loved them. There were so many wrongs committed to each of them on so many levels. I wanted happy endings for them all. Mostly, I wanted to be able to forgive Maya and Lochan their actions, but I couldn’t. It was frustrating and devastating because there could never be a happy ending for them. There could never be an ending that would be completely satisfying to me. What I was left with at the end of Forbidden was a deep sadness. It’s a book that will stick with me for a very long time to come.

You probably noticed there are no stars on this review. I honestly couldn’t come up with a rating. How do you rate a story which makes you super uncomfortable, but love the characters? I haven’t been able to figure it out. Would I suggest reading it? That depends entirely on the reader.

 

 

 

Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

224293501Title: The Start of Me and You

Author: Emery Lord

Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

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?


5 / 5 Stars


I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but The Start of Me and You  is the start of me and my love for Emery Lord’s books. Wow. Her writing is beautiful.

The title The Start of Me and You would lead one to believe this book is a romance. It is so much more than just a romance. It is a story of friendship and helping each other through the tough times in life. The romance most definitely played second string to the friendships in this book. Those tight friendships made the romance even sweeter.

I’m honestly kind of at a loss for words with this book. I feel like I can’t do it justice with this review. If you’re a YA contemporary romance lover, you should definitely read this book. It’s now one of my favorites. I can’t wait to read more of Emery Lord’s books.

 

 

Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

23110334Title: Blocked

Series: Blocked, #1

Author: Jennifer Lane

Publication Date: October 24, 2014

Publisher: Psyched Publishing

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Political Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?


4 / 5 Stars


 

What originally drew me to Blocked was the cover. I love sports related romances and I was intrigued by the volleyball. I had never read a romance centered around the sport, so I was excited to see how it would play into the story.

Several things surprised me about Blocked. First, the amount of volleyball in the book. Second, the parts psychology and beliefs played in the story. Third, how politics and family worked into it all. Blocked had so many different components going on.

Blocked was unlike typical New Adult sports romances I’ve read, where the romance is heavy and the sport is light. Several scenes featuring the sport were showcased throughout the book. It helped to develop the characters and explain their actions.

At first, I didn’t like Lucia. Her poor body image and low self-confidence drove me nuts. I could relate to it, but at the same time it frustrated me because–Hello! Lucia’s a college athlete. You have to be in darn good shape to be a college volleyball player. But as the book went on, I grew to understand her thinking and the psychology aspect of it all. I ended up liking her character and how she triumphed over her problems.

Dane was the quintessential New Adult jock. I loved him from the beginning. He was hot, cocky and talented. Dane also had problems of his own, but they didn’t quite move me the way Lucia’s did.

My favorite parts of the story were when Dane and Lucia gave into their feelings for each other. I loved the slow-burn of their romance and how they took care of each other.

What really made this book interesting and different, though, was the Presidential race between Lucia’s Republican dad and Dane’s Democrat mom. It influenced everything the two did, from their actions on the court to their feelings for each other. Neither wanted to fall for someone of the “wrong” political party. I loved the way they worked through their many different beliefs to come to an understanding so they could have a relationship. It made me wish more of the world could do the same.

My only major complaint about Blocked was the ending. I would have liked more than I got.

**I received an electronic copy of Blocked from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

25393664Title: The Distance from A to Z 

Author: Natalie Blitt

Publication Date: January 12, 2016

Publisher: Epic Reads Impulse

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.

Seventeen-year-old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to wear baseball caps and jerseys every day.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between who she is and who he is is worth the risk.

Epic Reads Impulse is a digital imprint with new releases each month.


4 / 5 Stars


 

I loved reading The Distance from A to Z. It hooked me right away. I couldn’t tell it was written by a debut author. The writing was amazing, the characters were well developed and the romance sweet. There was even a little bit of mystery behind Zeke to add to the romance. Why not 5 stars then, you ask?

I couldn’t stand Abby half the time. Her hatred of everything sports related was a little over the top. I get that it played into the plot of the book, but it felt crazy. I was expecting a bigger, badder explanation behind her hatred than what actually caused it. Plus, even when it was explained, I felt like I was missing something. Was their a fall out with her mother? What really caused the big switch in Abby’s life?

There were some great things about Abby, too, though. She was an amazing friend. The way she looked out for Alice was sweet. Her relationship with her brothers was cute. Their love for baseball may have annoyed her, but she put up with it (for the most part) because she loved them. I also loved her relationship with Zeke. Her confusion over their friendship/romance felt real and like something I would have gone through as a teenager.

Zeke was pretty perfect. He was that popular guy who was both nice and smart. My only complaint about him was that at times he seemed older than 17. He had a maturity about him.  I’m not sure if that came from his dedication to his sport or what, but it seemed like he was about five years older than Abby to me.

So, even though Abby annoyed me at times, I still loved this book and would highly recommend it to YA contemporary romance readers. I’m actually hoping Natalie Blitt comes out with a sequel to The Distance From A to Z. I would love to see where Zeke and Abby’s relationship goes from here. (There is a short deleted scene from the ending of the book on Natalie Blitt’s website for anyone who wants a little more of the story. It does contain spoilers, if you haven’t read the book yet.)

Oh, and last time I checked, you could download The Distance From A to Z for $1.99 on Amazon.

 

 

 

Review: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

22449806Title: The Year We Fell Apart

Author: Emily Martin

Publication Date: January 26, 2016

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.


4.5 / 5 Stars


The Year We Fell Apart is a coming of age romance about a soon-to-be high school senior, Harper Sloan. Harper earned a bad reputation last year after an encounter in the school pool. Her actions got her kicked off the swim team. The past year has been tough and it looks like this summer will be no different. Her mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer and her best friend turned boyfriend turned ex-boyfriend, Declan, is back from boarding school.

Harper knows her relationship with Declan is over, but she can’t help the feelings she has when he’s around. She wants nothing more than to repair their relationship, but Declan obviously wants nothing to do with her. So Harper does what she’s done best this past year, she lets the rumors surrounding her define her.

The Year We Fell Apart broke my heart over and over again. It did it slowly, throughout the entire book. Each major revelation crushed me and made me see each character in a different light. They were constantly evolving, as were their relationships with each other.

Harper was a tough character to like. Honestly, I wanted to give her a good shake! The way she let her bad reputation define her and how she used it to cope with life was frustrating. I hated how she became what her harassers said about her. Her way of coping hurt her more than it helped her, and it was painful to read. I wanted her to dig herself out of the hole she was creating, but she had no desire to do so.

Harper’s relationship with Declan and it’s demise was sad and, at times, mysterious. She obviously blamed herself, but as the story unfolded I could see that Declan wasn’t as perfect as Harper made him out to be. The back and forth of their friendship/relationship during the summer made things harder for her. Like many teenage girls, she was basing her life and her self-confidence around a boy.

What really broke my heart, though, was the last fourth of the book. Even after she began to work through her problems with Declan, she continued to put herself in bad situations. And when she finally stood up for herself, it was kind of too late. Her actions exploded in her face. It was really sad because truly wasn’t a horrible person.

Here’s the thing about The Year We Fell Apart, though. No matter how frustrated with Harper I was, I couldn’t put the book down. I loved it. It was so beautifully written and filled with emotion. Even when I hated a character, I loved them. I wanted to see them overcome their problems and be happy.

I can’t believe this is Emily Martin’s debut novel. I’m incredibly excited to see what comes next. (I would love a follow up to The Year We Fell Apart or a second book about Chris.)

 

Review: That Girl, Darcy by James Ramos

27242522Title: That Girl, Darcy

Author: James Ramos

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Publisher: Future House Publishing

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED that geeky guys never get to date the pretty girls with permanent scowls.

To Elliott Bennett, life is simple. It’s all parties, skateboarding, and arguing over who would win in a fight between Hulk and Superman with his friends. It’s his senior year, and he wants nothing more than to soak up his final year of freedom before real life begins.

That is, until Darcy Fitzwilliam and her best friend Bridget move in to the only mansion in the neighborhood. When Elliot meets Darcy at a party, he finds out that she isn’t into skateboarding (which he lives for), she hates science-fiction (which he loves), and she thinks his friends are a pack of morons (which, honestly, might be half true)—and yet, there’s something irritatingly intriguing about her.

When Elliot’s cousin Jake starts to date her friend Bridget, it complicates Elliot’s plans to ignore the scowling Darcy for the rest of the year. Why is Darcy so . . . ugh? Elliott doesn’t know, but for some reason, is determined to find out—even if she doesn’t know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars.


5 / 5 Stars


I’m going to admit something a little troubling. I can’t remember reading Pride and Prejudice. I know I’ve read it, it’s been too long. But that doesn’t matter because it’s not Jane Austen’s novel I’m reviewing. It’s James Ramos’ and it was phenomenal!

In That Girl, Darcy, Elliot’s world is turned upside down when Darcy Fitzwilliam and her best friend Bridget move to town. Darcy is snooty and judgmental — Elliot can’t stand her. But then his cousin Jake starts dating Bridget and Elliot is forced to spend time with Darcy.

The more Elliot finds out about Darcy, the more he wants to know. He’s convinced it’s because she’s a puzzle he wants to figure out. That has to be it. He couldn’t possibly like her…

I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire time I read That Girl, Darcy. There were so many outstanding things about this book! It was fun. It was fast-paced. It was both humorous and insightful. I could go on and on!

My favorite thing about That Girl, Darcy, though,  was the characters. The characters were well developed and each had such a different personality. I loved them all!

Elliot, being the main character, stood out the most. He should have been a boring character because he just went with the flow and was in a state of avoidance all of the time, but he wasn’t. His indecision over what path his life was to take after high school and his frustration over how he felt about Darcy felt so real. I loved reading his point of view. I could even identify with some of his feelings of being “lost” as an adult.

Another character that really stood out for me was Christian, the head of the school newspaper. I enjoyed Elliot’s interactions with him. He was such a pompous jerk. His declarations and conversations were hilarious.

Honestly, I’m shocked this is Ramos’ first novel. His writing in That Girl, Darcy is so eloquent and smart. I can’t wait to see what he’ll write next.

**I received a copy of That Girl, Darcy from Ryan Mendenhall and Goodreads First Reads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.