Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What You Left Behind Blog Tour

Author: Jessica Verdi
ISBN: 9781492614401
Book Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: August 4th 2015
Publisher: Sourcebook Fire


Goodreads Synopsis:

Jessica Verdi, the author of My Life After Now and The Summer I Wasn’t Me, returns with a heartbreaking and poignant novel of grief and guilt that reads like Nicholas Sparks for teens.
It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college. 
The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions. Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?




Excerpt: 

Chapter 1



If there’s a more brain-piercing sound than a teething baby crying, I can’t tell you what it is.
I fall back on my bed, drop Meg’s journal, and rake my hands through my hair. It’s kinda funny—in an ironic way, not an LOL way—that I even notice how greasy my hair is with the wailing filling my room and ringing in my head. But I do. It’s gross. When was the last time I washed it? Three days ago? Four? I haven’t had time for anything more than a quick soap and rinse in days.
And here I used to purposely go a day or two without washing it. Girls have always liked my chin-length hair that falls in my face when I’m hunched over a test in school and that I have to pull back with a rubber band during soccer practice. But now it’s gone past sexy-straggly and straight into flat-out dirty.
God, I would kill for a long, hot, silent shower. I would lather, rinse, repeat like it was my fucking job.
Tears squeeze between Hope’s closed eyelids and her little chubby feet wiggle every which way. Her pink, gummy mouth is open wide, and you can just begin to see specks of white where her teeth are coming in.
Her crib is littered with evidence of my attempts to get her to please stop crying—a discarded teething ring, a mostly-full bottle, and this freakish, neon green, stuffed monster with huge eyes that my mom swore Hope liked when she first gave it to her, though I have no idea how she could tell that.
I pick up Hope and try massaging her gums with a damp washcloth like they say to do on all the baby websites. I bounce her on my hip and walk her around my room, trying to murmur
soothing, shhhh-ing sounds. I even rub her head, as gently as my clunky, goal-blocking hands can manage. But nothing works. The screams work their way inside me, rattling my blood cells.
Yes, I changed her diaper. I even brought her to the doctor last week to make sure nothing’s actually wrong with her, some leftover sickness from Meg or something. There’s not.
Ever since Hope was born six months ago, I’ve been learning on the fly, getting used to the diapers and bottles and sleeping when she sleeps. I spend all of my free time reading mommy-ing websites, finding out which stores have the right kind of wipes, and shopping at the secondhand store for baby clothes, because they’re basically just as good as new and Hope grows out of everything so fast anyway.
Hope’s never fully warmed to me. She always cries more when I hold her than when my mom does—but it’s never been this bad. This teething stuff is no joke. According to the Internet, anyway. It’s not like Hope’s giving me a dissertation on what she’s feeling. Whenever I get anywhere near her, she screams her head off. Which means no matter how hard I try or how many books I read or websites I scour, I’m still doing something wrong. But what else is new?
Lately I’ve had this idea that I can’t seem to shake.
What if I’m missing some crucial dad-gene because I never had one of my own? What if I’m literally incapable of being a father to this baby because I have zero concept of what a father really is? Like beyond a definition or what you see of your friends’ families and on TV.
I have no idea what that relationship’s supposed to be like. I’ve never lived it.
And inevitably that thought leads to this one:
Maybe finding my dad, Michael, is the key to all of this making some sense. Maybe if I tracked him down, I’d finally be clued in to what I’ve been missing. The real stuff. How you’re supposed to talk to each other. What the, I don’t know, energy is like between a father and a son. Not that I’m into cosmic energy bullshit or anything.
If I could be the son in that interaction, even once, for a single conversation, that could jumpstart my being a father. Right? At least I’d have some frame of reference, some experience.
But that would require getting more info about Michael from my mom. And I’ve already thrown enough curveballs her way to last a lifetime.
The music blasting from Mom’s home office shuts off. Five o’clock exactly, like always nowadays. She loves her job making custom, handmade wedding invitations for rich people. Before Hope, Mom would work all hours of the day and night. But it turns out babies costa shitload of money, and despite how well Mom’s business is doing, it’s not enough. So the new arrangement is that during the day Mom gets to turn her music on and her grandma duties off while I take care of Hope. Then Mom takes over when I leave for work at 5:30.
In a few days that schedule’s going to change, and I don’t know what the hell we’re going to do. That’s another topic I haven’t brought up with Mom. She keeps saying we need to talk about our plan for “when school starts up again,” like she’s forgotten that soccer practice starts sooner than that. Like it doesn’t matter anymore or something.
But I can’t not play. Soccer is the one thing I kick ass at. It’s the whole reason I’m going back to school this fall instead of sticking with homeschooling, which I did for the last few months of last year after Hope was born. Fall is soccer season. I need to go to school in order to play on the team. And I need to play on the team because I’m going to UCLA on an athletic scholarship next year. It’s pretty much a done deal. I’ve even spoken to their head coach a few times this summer. He called me on July first, the first day he was allowed to contact me according to NCAA rules. He’s seen my game film, tracked my stats, and is sending a recruiter to watch one of my games in person. He wants me on his team. This is what I’ve been working toward my whole life. So Mom’s delusional if she thinks I’m giving it up.
I wipe the tears from Hope’s face and the drool from around her mouth. Her soft, unruly, dark hair tickles my hand as I set her down in her crib. She’s still crying. She grasps onto my finger, holding on extra tight, like she’s saying, “Do something, man. This shit is painful!”
“I’m trying,” I mumble.
I meet Mom in her office, where she’s sitting on the floor, attempting to organize her materials. Stacks of paper and calligraphy pens are scattered among plastic bags filled with real leaves from the trees in our yard. Three hot glue guns are plugged into the wall, and photos of the Happy Couple glide across Mom’s laptop screen.
“Hippie wedding in California?” I guess, nodding at the leaves. The people who hire Mom to make one-of-a-kind invitations always want a design that relates who they are. Mom and I started this game years ago. She tells me what materials she’s using, and I try to guess what kind of people the Happy Couple are. I’m usually pretty good.
Mom shakes her head. “Hikers in Boulder.”
Or I was pretty good. Now everything is so turned around that I can barely think.
“That was my next guess,” I say.
Mom smiles. She’s been so great about everything. She’s not even pissed about me making her a thirty-five-year-old grandmother. She says that she, better than anyone, gets how these things happen. But this is not your typical “oops, got pregnant in high school, what do we do now?” scenario, like what happened to her. This is the much more rare “oops, I killed the love of my life by getting her pregnant in high school, and ruined my life and the lives of all her family and friends in the process” situation.
And deep down, I know Mom knows that. Mom’s green eyes used to sparkle. They don’t anymore. It’s not because of the baby—she loves that kid to an almost ridiculous level. It’s because of me. She’s sad for me. Even though the name “Meg” is strictly off-limits in our house, I can almost see the M and E and G floating around in my mom’s eyes like alphabet soup, like she’s been bottling up everything she’s wanted to say for the past six months and it is about to overflow. I need to get out of here.
“So, I’m out,” I say quickly, clipping my Whole Foods nametag to my hoodie. “Be home at ten-fifteen.”
Mom sighs. “Okay, Ry. Have fun. Love you.”
“Love you too,” I call back as I head to the front door.
She always says that when I leave to go somewhere. Have fun. She’s been saying it for years. Doesn’t matter if I’m going to school or work or soccer practice or a freaking pediatrician’s appointment with Hope. Have fun. Like having fun is the most important thing you can do. Like you can possibly have fun when you’re such a fucking mess.
*
I’m restocking the organic taco shells in the Mexican and Asian Foods aisle, trying to block out the Celine Dion song that’s playing over the PA system, when I notice a kid, no older than six or seven, climbing the shelves at the opposite end of the aisle. His feet are two levels off the ground, and he’s holding onto a shelf above him, trying to raise himself up another level.
“Hey,” I call down the aisle. “Don’t do that.”
“It’s okay. I do it all the time,” he says, successfully pulling himself up another foot. He lets go with one hand and stretches toward something on the top shelf.
“Wait.” I start to move toward him. “I’ll get whatever you need. Just get down.”
But there’s a determined set to his jaw and he keeps reaching higher, the tips of his fingers brushing a bag of tortilla chips. I keep walking toward him, but I slow down a little. He really wants to do this on his own, you can tell. I’m a few feet away, and he’s almost got a grab on the bag, when his one-handed grip on the shelf slips and his Crocs lose their foothold.
Suddenly he’s falling backward, nothing but air between the back of his head and the hard tile floor. I move faster than I would have thought possible, given how tired I am. I shoot my arms under his armpits and catch the boy just before he hits the ground.
The kid rights himself, plants his feet safely on the floor, and looks at me. My heart is beating way too fast, but I tell it to chill the fuck out. The kid is fine. Crisis averted.
“Thanks,” he mumbles.
“No problem.”
He ducks his head and starts to walk away.
“Hey,” I call out.
He stops.
I grab a bag of chips off the top shelf—funny how easy it is for me to reach; sometimes I still feel like a little kid who the world is too big for—and hand it to him.
He takes it, no thank you this time, and disappears around the corner.
I’m dragging my feet back to the taco shells, back to the monotony, when there’s a voice behind me.
“Why, Ryden Brooks, as I live and breathe.”
My spine stiffens. I haven’t heard that voice since before I left school in February. I turn and find myself face to face with Shoshanna Harvey. Her soft, Southern Belle accent comes complete with a delicate hand to the chest and a batting of long, thick lashes. I fell for that whole act once. Before I found out about a little thing called real life.
Apparently today is weird-shit-happening at Whole Foods day. I saw her in the store once about a month ago, but ducked down a different aisle before she saw me. This time, I’m not so lucky. “You do know we live in New Hampshire, not Mississippi, right?”
Shoshanna just purses her lips and studies me. “How are things, Ryden?”
“Things are great, Shoshanna. Really, just super.”
“Really?” Her eyes are bright. Clearly, she’s never heard of sarcasm. “That’s so great to hear. We’ve been worried about you, you know.”
“We? Who’s we?” You never know with Shoshanna—she could be talking about her family or she could be talking about the whole damn school.
Just then another familiar voice carries down the aisle. “Hey, Sho, how do you know when a cantaloupe is ripe?” It’s Dave. His hands are placed dramatically on his hips and he’s got three melons under his shirt—two representing boobs and one that I’m pretty sure is supposed to be a pregnant woman’s belly. A flash of rage burns through me but I smother it deep inside me where all my unwelcome emotions reside. It’s getting pretty crowded in there.
“Dave,” Shoshanna hisses, her eyes growing as-wide-as-possible in that thing people do when they’re trying to get someone to take a hint without saying the actual words.
He follows Shoshanna’s nod toward me and drops the doofy grin. “Oh. Hey, Ryden.” He relaxes his stance and the cantaloupes fall to the floor.
I look back and forth between Shoshanna and Dave, and it all clicks. They’re the “we.” My ex-girlfriend and my former best friend are together. That kind of thing used to require at least a “Hey, man. Cool with you if I ask out Shoshanna?” text, but I guess we left the bro code behind right around the time my girlfriend up and died and I became a seventeen-year-old single father. Yeah, Dave and I don’t exactly have much in common anymore.
“You work here?” Dave asks.
“Nah, I just like helping restock supermarket shelves in my free time.”
“Oh. I thought…” Dave looks at my Whole Foods nametag, confused.
“He was kidding, Dave,” Shoshanna whispers.
Ah, look at that. Sarcasm isn’t completely lost on her after all.
“Oh. Right. We’re, uh, just getting some food for the senior picnic tomorrow down at the lake. You coming?”
I stare in Dave’s general direction, unthinking, unseeing. I forgot all about the picnic, even though it’s been a Downey High School tradition for pretty much ever.
Dave keeps talking. “Coach said you’re coming back to school in September. You are, right? We really need you on the te—”
“Hey, Ryden, can you help me with a cleanup in dairy?” a female voice asks, cutting him off. “Some asshole kids decided to play hacky sack with a carton of eggs.”
I blink a few times, push the picnic out of my mind, and look down to find what used to be a box of blue corn taco shells crumpled in my hands. Oops.
The source of the voice is a girl with short, medium brown hair that is juuust long enough to fall in her eyes, skin just a shade or two lighter than her hair, earrings stuck in weird places in her ears, and tie-dyed overalls over a black tank top. She looks like she works in a Whole Foods. Definitely a lesbian.
“Uh, yeah. Sure,” I say. I turn back to Shoshanna and Dave, glad to have an excuse to bail on this happy little reunion. “Gotta go.”
“Bye, Ryden!” Shoshanna’s voice travels down the aisle after me.
“Yeah, see ya tomorrow, Ry.”
I shake my head to myself as I follow tie-dye girl to dairy. Good thing that wasn’t awkward or anything.
Once we’re out of sight of the Mexican and Asian aisle, tie-dye girl stops walking and spins on her heel. “Right, so…” she says as I screech to a halt behind her. “There’s no cleanup in dairy.”
“Huh?” That’s all I got. I’m so tired.
“Sorry, it just looked like you were having a moment there. Thought you might need a little help with your getaway.”
I lean back against a display of recycled paper towels. They’re soft. I could totally curl up right here on the floor and use one of the rolls as a pillow.
“Thanks,” I say. “How did you know my name?”
She points to my nametag.
“Right” I say. “Where’s yours? Or do you not even work here?”
She pulls the top of her overalls to the side to reveal a nametag pinned to her tank top. Joni. “I’m new. Started the day before yesterday and already blew my first week’s paycheck on ungodly amounts of pomegranate-flavored soda. That stuff is like crack.”
I smile for the first time in centuries. “Nice to meet you, Joni,” I say.
“I saw you catch that kid,” she says.
“Oh.”
“That was cool.”
I shrug. “I guess.” There’s an awkward pause, like she’s waiting for me to say something else. “Well, see ya,” I mumble and book it out of there as fast as I can.
“Nice to meet you too, Ryden,” Joni calls after me.

Giveaway: 
(US)




Author's Bio:

Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. Her favorite pastimes include singing show tunes at the top of her lungs (much to her husband’s chagrin), watching cheesy TV, and scoring awesome non-leather shoes in a size 5. She’s still trying to figure out a way to put her uncanny ability to remember both song lyrics and the intricacies of vampire lore to good use.


Author's Links:


Praise for What You Left Behind

“A powerful indictment of reparative therapy--a sweet love story--and an unforgettable main character!” --Nancy Garden, author of Annie on My Mind
 “Ryden’s story is a moving illustration of how sometimes you have to let go of the life you planned to embrace the life you’ve been given. A strong, character-driven story that teen readers will love.”
--Carrie Arcos, National Book Award Finalist for Out of Reach

Praise for The Summer I Wasn’t Me:
“Verdi has written a book that I wish I wrote.” --Sara Farizan, author of If You Could Be Mine

“His [Ryden’s] candid voice is endearing, and although his present-tense narration at first seems like every other teen novel on the shelf, the granulated iteration of baby details helps to illuminate the crushing burden he feels. Other characters are also well-drawn, and the plot moves along tidily to a satisfying conclusion. Verdi balances her plot elements deftly.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Verdi holds nothing back, shedding a realistic light on Ryden's situation, his decisions, and their very real consequences. His voice is spot-on and doesn't sugarcoat the harsh realities that he faces. It isn’t often that a book nails the male teen voice as well as Verdi does in this work. An excellent addition to YA collections.” — School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Teens will be hooked by the premise but will stick with Ryden and  
his friends in this all-too-real portrait of a modern family.” — Booklist

Friday, July 24, 2015

Blog Tour Review: Playing With Trouble



Author: Chanel Cleeton
Book Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Release Date: July 21st
Publisher: Penguin/Intermix
Book Source: NetGalley - WordSmith Publicity

Buy Now: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Google Play - iBooks - Kobo - Penguin

Goodreads Synopsis:

The author of Flirting with Scandal presents her second book in a sexy contemporary romance series about three sisters in a powerful political family, the scandals that threaten to destroy them, and the passion that drives them…
The daughter of one of the Senate's most powerful figures, Blair Reynolds was ready to become the ultimate political wife—until she caught her fiancé cheating on her wedding day. Law school is a fresh start, her shot at putting the pieces of her life back together. That’s the plan, at least. Until trouble comes in the form of her Torts professor, the man whose arrogance infuriates her in class but haunts her private fantasies.
Graydon Canter had a fortune and a place on all the hottest "Thirty under Thirty” lists, until a series of personal missteps nearly destroyed his career. A year teaching at a D.C. law school is just the break he needs to get his life back in order, as long as nothing—and no one—trips him up.
When Blair and Gray are forced to work together, their explosive attraction becomes impossible to resist. But Gray’s demons have drawn him dangerously close to the edge, and Blair has spent her life playing by the rules. Will she break them for a shot at love?


Review:

I'm a huge Chanel Cleeton fan! I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that a lot, if it wasn't obvious, then here's a video where I rave about her with the previous series. Also, here's my review of the first book in the Capital Confessions series. Anyhow, I'd been ridiculously impatient to get my hands on this book that I read it a couple of months ago, the second I got my hand on the ARC. I read it again recently before writing my review, and just like with the previous book, I may have read a small spoiler into the next book and I'm super excited for the last book in this series.

Blair has started law school, still reeling from her disaster of a wedding and the scandal that arose from news on her father's illegitimate daughter coming out. Blair feels like she's a disappointment to her family, due to their high expectations of her and her father's elections putting a strain on things. Law school isn't what she really wants, but it's a compromise to get her father off her back for breaking up with her fiancé after catching him cheating on her with his best man on their wedding day. But her low LSAT scores, Law school, and her family are putting a huge strain on her. And her huge crush on her sadistic professor doesn't help matters one bit, especially since she can't stop thinking about him. Gray's life has spiraled out of control, both privately and publicly that it's a wonder he wasn't disbarred. Teaching at a crappy college is his way of making nice and trying to get some control back into his life and tame his addictive personality. Too bad his new addiction happens to be one of his students, who he enjoys torturing so much because it brings out a weird fire in her he can't resist.

I remember thinking Blair didn't make much sense to me when I read about her in Flirting With Scandal. She was too nice and it just seemed out of the blue. However, getting to see her here, her character made so much sense. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, her every move has to make her parents look good, she's not allowed much freedom or a life of her own. She has to play nice and put on a brave face even though the gossip columns keep tearing her apart for the failed wedding and the disaster with her father and Jackie (his illegitimate daughter). She's a kind, sweet, overly friends but really insecure person. She's flawed and feels like a ticking time bomb, about to explode to show who she really is, making her own decisions and having her own opinions. Her attraction to Gray is one of those decisions she is desperate for. Gray was definitely the bad guy if we follow a character pattern here, but in the sense that he admits it and feels it deep down. Even though he tries to repent and make up for his mistakes, he doesn't have a high opinion of himself, enter Blair with her kind and loving personality, trying to make him forgive himself and accept the things that he's done to change, that he wasn't the villain he thought himself as. Blair is very loving and forgiving. She is happiest when she is doing things for other people. We got to watch her lose her cool as things explode all around her, but we also get to see Gray as this strong warrior trying to protect her.

I absolutely fell in love with both characters, their pain and conflicted selves as they explore their attraction, their growth as they go through problems and how they deal with what's thrown at them. What I like most about this series is that there's a big contrast between these characters, and the characters from the last series I read by the author. Chanel used some of her personal experiences to create these very entertaining and complex worlds, and frankly I've enjoyed them so much! I can't wait for more by her.

Rating: 4.5/5!





AUTHOR INFORMATION: 

Originally a Florida girl, CHANEL CLEETON moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise and a fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure. 
Law school made Chanel realize she’d rather spend her days writing sexy stories than in a courtroom, and she hasn’t looked back since. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she’s happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, her three pups, and her husband.
Chanel writes contemporary romances. She is published by Harlequin HQN, Penguin/InterMix, and Penguin/Berkley and is the author of the International School, Capital Confessions, and Wild Aces series.



AUTHOR LINKS:



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Playing With Trouble Release Day


Playing With Trouble by Chanel Cleeton
July 21, 2015
Capital Confessions #2
Contemporary Romance 
Penguin/InterMix


BOOK SUMMARY:
The author of Flirting with Scandal presents her second book in a sexy contemporary romance series about three sisters in a powerful political family, the scandals that threaten to destroy them, and the passion that drives them…
The daughter of one of the Senate's most powerful figures, Blair Reynolds was ready to become the ultimate political wife—until she caught her fiancé cheating on her wedding day. Law school is a fresh start, her shot at putting the pieces of her life back together. That’s the plan, at least. Until trouble comes in the form of her Torts professor, the man whose arrogance infuriates her in class but haunts her private fantasies.
Graydon Canter had a fortune and a place on all the hottest "Thirty under Thirty” lists, until a series of personal missteps nearly destroyed his career. A year teaching at a D.C. law school is just the break he needs to get his life back in order, as long as nothing—and no one—trips him up.
When Blair and Gray are forced to work together, their explosive attraction becomes impossible to resist. But Gray’s demons have drawn him dangerously close to the edge, and Blair has spent her life playing by the rules. Will she break them for a shot at love?


Praise for the work of Chanel Cleeton: 
Flirting with Scandal by Chanel Cleeton has it all. A sexy hero, strong heroine, delicious romance, sizzling tension, and plenty of breathtaking scandal.
I loved this book!
- New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy

**
Scorching hot and wicked smart, Flirting with Scandal had me hooked from page one! Sizzling with sexual tension and political intrigue, Cleeton weaves a story that is as complex as it is sexy. Thank God this is a series because I need more!!
- New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris

**

Sexy, intelligent, and intriguing. Chanel Cleeton makes politics scandal-icious. 
- USA Today bestselling author Tiffany King


BOOK LINKS: 







NOW AVAILABLE!

Flirting with Scandal by Chanel Cleeton
May 19, 2015
Capital Confessions #1
Contemporary Romance 
Penguin/InterMix


SYNOPSIS: 
The author of I See London sets her sights on Washington, D. C., with a sexy new series about three sisters, the secrets they keep, and a powerful blog with a knack for exposing scandals...
Jackie Gardner knows all about dirty little secrets. The illegitimate daughter of one of the most influential senators in Washington, D.C., she grew up surrounded by the scandals and shadows of politics. Now that she's landed an internship with a powerful political consulting firm, she's determined to launch her career and take this city by storm.
William Andrew Clayton was born for politics. He knows the drill: work hard, play discreetly, and at all costs, avoid scandal. At twenty-six, his campaign for the Virginia State Senate is the first step to cementing his future. It's time for him to settle down, to find the perfect political spouse. He needs a Jackie Kennedy, not a Marilyn... 
When Jackie meets Will in the bar of the Hay-Adams Hotel, sparks fly. But the last thing Will needs is to be caught in a compromising position, and an affair with a political candidate could cost Jackie her career. When what began as one steamy night, becomes a passion neither one of them can walk way from, they must decide if what they have is really love, or just another dirty little secret...

PURCHASE LINKS: 



AUTHOR INFORMATION: 
Originally a Florida girl, CHANEL CLEETON moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise and a fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure. 
Law school made Chanel realize she’d rather spend her days writing sexy stories than in a courtroom, and she hasn’t looked back since. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she’s happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, her three pups, and her husband.
Chanel writes contemporary romances. She is published by Harlequin HQN, Penguin/InterMix, and Penguin/Berkley and is the author of the International School, Capital Confessions, and Wild Aces series.



AUTHOR LINKS:


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lying Out Loud : Book Review

Title: Lying Out Loud
Author: Kody Keplinger
Book Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: July 2nd 2015
Publisher: Hachette Children's Books
Book Source: NetGalley

Buy Now: Amazon - B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:


Revisit Hamilton High in this MUST READ for all fans of The DUFF - co-starring Bianca and Wesley.
Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend's house every night because she has nowhere else to go.
Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with - secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.
Ryder's the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can't stand - a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.
But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually 'like' him. Only there's one small catch: he thinks he's been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she's the girl he's really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

The DUFF is a New York Times Bestseller and a major motion picture starring Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Mae Whitman and Alison Janney.


Review:


The interesting thing about Lying Out Loud is that neither character is very likable to begin with. I found both of them annoying, and pretentious in their own ways, but they also had me intrigued.  Ryder is the new boy in school who couldn't open his mouth once without dissing the town, the school, his classmates, and the circumstances that made it vital for him to move to Hamilton. Naturally, he didn't make much - or any - friends with such an attitude. The one person he didn't diss, was Amy, who he was seriously crushing on. However, both Amy and Sonny weren't big fans of Ryder, so when he texts Amy to ask her out on a really bad day for Sonny, she decides to write him a really mean text reply to feel better. Both she and Amy laugh about it, only as a joke, but with no intention of actually sending it, just saving it, Sonny clicks on the wrong button. Amy is mortified and so Sonny promises to apologize, only it doesn't stop at that as Sonny finds herself texting Ryder repeatedly and falling for him and that he is slowly falling for her... but he thinks she's Amy. This time Sonny's numerous lies lands her in a problem that might cost her both her best friend and the guy she loves.

I'd honestly wanted to know more about Amy since I read the DUFF so I was glad to see her here, even if she wasn't the focus of the book she played a large part in it. I enjoyed learning more about the family dynamics in the Rush family since in the DUFF, it had been all Wesley, with tiny glimpses of Amy and mentions of his parents. The problem is, I couldn't reconcile these really loving, incredible and completely involved parents with the ones from the first book, which was one of the very few issues I had with this story. Though maybe they were trying to make it up by overcompensating? But Sonny talked about them as if it was the norm, the way they'd always been, which shouldn't be true.


With Keplinger's usual fashion, once you ignore the surface and what shows of Sonny and Ryder's pretentious characters, you get to slide into their depth and learn more about each of them, slowly making you fall for them. Kody has a way of creating very flawed characters, always unique, with the most bizarre but very real situations and I absolutely love that about her. Her writing is incredible, gripping, and flows easily. I like how this book was more about forgiveness, redemption, standing up for yourself, not taking advantage of others as well as so many things as each character starts to recognize their faults and learns from them. I truly loved it!

Rating: 4/5.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Trust Me cover reveal puzzle piece

Hello guys! Today is kind of fun as I'm participating in the Trust Me by Romily Bernard cover reveal. I was a really big fan of the two first books in this series and can't wait to read the conclusion!

Here's a piece of the cover that should be fully out by the end of the day.


The next piece should be out at 12PM EST time @Fiction Fare

Make sure to check it out throughout the day! For more info on book one Find Me click here.
Here's a link of my review of book two: Remember Me

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hello, I Love You Book Review

Author: Katie M. Stout
ISBN: 1250052599
Book Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: June 9th 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:

A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.
Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.
She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol. 
Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process. 


Review:

I had completely forgotten what the book was about by the time I started reading it, and I like how it gave me a fresh look onto the story with no expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was about a girl going to a boarding school in Korea of all places. It was actually an interesting venue and unexpected for me, but I think that makes it a cool book for people interested in Korean culture as the characters brings that up alongside Grace's journey.

Grace travelled halfway across the world to escape family drama she just wasn't ready to face. She takes this brave venture into the world, something she probably wouldn't have embarked on before due to the fact that she was linguistically inept. So fleeing home must have been for a good reason. You can tell something is off and how affected she is about the family problem from how nervous she is, how she tries to battle her anxiety by reciting periodic table elements and not talking about home a lot. She doesn't have an easy relationship with her parents, but she misses her siblings a lot. I did like that part of the story, it showed various sides of her as she went from wanting to do something that wasn't related by any means to the music industry in order to avoid the family legacy, even if she hated it. Grace is escaping, only to actually find herself, face her demons and try to make a new life starting over.


Aside from Grace, I didn't feel like the characters had much depth, and I didn't get closure on a few things by the end of the story. I'd wanted to know a lot more, and was sadly disappointed when that didn't happen. But I did enjoy myself nonetheless. It was a fun read and I love anything with cultural diversity whether in setting or characters - or both.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ever Last Word Book Review

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
ISBN: 1484705270
Book Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: June 16th 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:

If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.
Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off. 
Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.
Caroline introduces Sam to Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear. 

Review:

I've never honestly read a book about a person with OCD. I think watching a season of Monk was as far as I went with my knowledge of it. All I knew of it was the counting, the superstitious parts, however, I never knew it can be obsessing about anything including thoughts. It was very enlightening to get to know about a different side of it and it's inspiring me to read more about the disease. I'm glad I got around to reading this book, because maybe I'm a little OCD myself.

Samantha obsesses over things. Boys, the number three and mostly, words. Her life is very strained as she tries to hide her OCD nature from her childhood friends and everyone else around her, except she can't seem to help telling her new friend Caroline everything. She entrusts Caroline with her secrets, insecurities and habits, and in return Caroline shows her a brand new way to deal with them,  and a new safe haven in The Poet's Corner at school. There she meets new people, experiences new things and her brand of crazy seems to lessen, but is it really?

I loved this book so much. It spoke to me on so many levels and I enjoyed every second of it. Granted, there were some fairly predictable parts for me, but that didn't make the story any less enjoyable, I just wanted to know more. The element of realism in the writing and plot was so incredible, which grabbed hold of my attention and kept me going until I was done with the story. I laughed, cried and thoroughly delighted in this book.

The best thing about the story is that it helps you embrace who you are no matter what. Your brand of crazy, your quirkiness, your weird habits, they're all parts of what make you special, and that no matter how abnormal you feel you are, everyone is special, we just need to understand that.

I roll my eyes. "Really, Sue? Special?"
"Very. Your brain works differently, Sam. Sometimes it does things that scare you. But it's very special, and so are you."
'Thank you." I smile at her. It's a kind thing to say. But I know where she's going here. "You're sharing this story to make me tell AJ, aren't you?"
"I'm not making you do anything. Whether or not you tell him is entirely up to you. I'm merely reminding you to embrace who you are and surround yourself with people who do the same."
"When am I going to stop making mistakes, Sue?"
Her laugh catches me off guard and I look up at her wide-eyed and confused. "Why on earth would you want to do that?" she asks.
I stare at her.
"Mistakes. Trial and error. Same thing. Mistakes are how we learned to walk and run and that hot things burn when you touch them. You've made mistakes all your life and you're going to keep making them."
"Terrific."
"The trick is to recognize your mistakes, take what you need from them, and move on."
"I can't move on."
"You can't beat yourself up, either."

I am not personally good with poems, I really suck at them actually. But I did appreciate what the Poet's Corner stood for, why it was there and its rules. It's a great outlet for people who feel inadequate, unappreciated, and have a lot of things going on in their lives they can't control. Everyone needs and outlet, and this place where you're not judged, you're encouraged and driven into working harder and accomplishing other things. One of the best rules is that poetry is about self-expression, you cannot criticize someone's work or your own.

"I wrote this last weekend in my room. And, okay, I'm sayin' it." He pauses for dramatic effect. "This one sucks."He stands up, holds his hands in front of him, and lets the guitar fall slack so the strap catches it. He's gesturing toward himself in the go-ahead-let-me-have-it kind of way, and everyone around me starts ripping papers out of notebooks, balling them up, and chucking them at him. He laughs and keeps gesturing with his hands, silently telling them to keep it coming.I look over at Caroline. She won't make eye contact with me, so I lightly elbow pixie cut girl. "Why are they doing that?" I ask, and she comes close to my ear. "It's one of the rules. You can't criticize anyone's poetry, but especially not your own."
Everyone is allowed to feel things I guess, everyone has a particular place that inspires them or makes them feel at ease, and another thing they believe in, is that these places? They're important.

"Why do you always start by saying where you wrote your poem? Why does that matter?""Is there a place that inspires you?"I picture my room, huddled down in my sheets far past my bedtime, writing until my hand huts. It's fine, but I wouldn't call it inspirational. Then I think about the pool."Yeah."AJ looks right at me. "We think those places matter. We think they're worth sharing, you know? Because when you share them, they become part of the poem."

Anyhow, this book made me fall in love with it. It caused me pain, joy and made me laugh. It gave me goosebumps and stayed with me for days since I read it. So I definitely think it's worth the read and can't wait to get my own copy of it!

Rating: 5/5!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Nowhere But Here

Author: Katie McGarry
ISBN: 0373211422
Book Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: May 26th 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:

 McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both. 
Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down. 
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

Review:

Katie McGarry has a thing where she gives you a particular setting with a character so opinionated on a particular topic. The protagonist always has a valid reason for said opinion and presumed truth. But, as the story proceeds, every opinion the reader and the protagonist had are torn into shreds. I kind of love that as well as the creative ways she makes that happen, and the journey you take with the protagonists throughout the story. I anticipated it and was sure there was more to the story than meets the eye. I'm just really happy I didn't see it coming and was surprised by the ending. Not many stories can manage that.

I am so deeply enamored with the "Pushing the Limits" series, and as much as I admire her as an author, and adore everything she's written so far, I have to admit I was a bit wary. I read a bunch of books on gangs and motorcycle clubs before, and they scare me because of the inevitable heartache that comes along with it. I'm not saying her other stories didn't have any heartache, let's face it I bawled like a baby with Pushing the Limits. But here, police can't serve as a justice enforcer as a way to solve the problem. Gangs don't work that way, so I was prepared for the worst.

The story is about Emily, a normal girl with a bunch of fears, living a normal quiet, safe life. She's adopted and loves her dad, but isn't really fond of the moments she had to spend with her biological father. When her parents receive an email informing them that Eli, Emily's biological father, his mother died, which in turn made Emily's mother freak out and want to make her small family go to attend the funeral. But then, insanity ensues as Emily suddenly stumbles into a conflict between two gangs and she's forced to spend time with Eli and his family, as well as be forced to have Oz as her 'babysitter', to make sure she's safe.

Initially, I actually wasn't that big a fan of both Emily and Oz. I found them annoying.  But as the story went on, and I got to know more about them and their stories, I got to learn more about their fears, insecurities, loyalties and the buttons that made them click. I absolutely love the character depth in the story and that I got to learn more about them both.

My nerves were on end throughout the entire story as I was very terrified of what will be happening at the end. It was such an incredible, well rounded story that took me on a very emotional ride. I laughed and cried a lot, which in my book meant that it was a very well written book. I enjoyed following the story as it unravelled, and seeing the characters develop, change, and grow up by the end of the book. I was gripped and had a hard time stopping, I couldn't manage until I was completely done with the story to be honest.

Rating: 5/5!

I can't wait for it to come out and for me to get my own book. Not to mention I need to know what happened with Violet and Chevy, like need to know. It's been messing with my mind wanting to know what happened there.

For now, I've got these cool bookmarks to tide me over!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Breathe, Annie, Breathe: Review

Title: Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Author: Miranda Kenneally
ISBN: 1492608661 
Book Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: July 15th 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.
But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.


Review:

I have to be honest, the first time I read the synopsis for this story, I was completely certain I'll hate it. I thought it would be too sad, and just not my kind of story at all. However, once I started reading books by Miranda Kenneally, I fell in love with her style and some part of me thought that maybe I should give this one a chance. I'm so glad I did.

Off the bat I need to just say something, if I EVER end up with someone, I want it to be someone exactly like Jeremiah. There, I said it. I'd steal him too if it's possible. Sorry Annie, but I'd definitely keep him. He's incredible, sweet, patient, encouraging and so understanding. I absolutely loved him. Granted, some of his adrenaline junkie ways worry me, but if I'm being honest, I'd love someone to push me into doing those kinds of things. Bungee jumping, Sky diving, all sorts of other crazy things he's hooked up on. I love it.

My favourite part of this story is how both characters are struggling with things, they felt essentially real and I quite enjoyed getting to know both of them. I really loved that Annie was doing this for her dead ex-boyfriend, though there are some things there I wish were addressed by the end of the story, but it was still great. I liked the character development and the struggle of trying to achieve this dream for Kyle. I enjoyed the schedule and the updates every now and then. I liked how it wasn't easy and how the author made it so that we could see how hard it was for Annie and how challenging it was. I'd contemplated doing this so many times myself, but I was honestly never brave enough for it, it sounds like a very vigorous, hard and stressful training routine to up your stamina for a marathon. I applaud her for it, and honestly wish I could do it. I'm also jealous because she had such a great support system in everyone around her, pushing her to do it, fighting with her to keep her on track. Does she not realize how lucky she is?

There's dealing with lost friendships, finding yourself but not letting particular things define you. It's about overcoming your challenges, but also finding ways to forgive people around you and working hard. It's about not giving up. It made me cry, laugh and have a very emotional ride overall.

This was such an incredible story, my absolute favourite in the series, and I loved the character interaction, especially with both Jere and Annie, it was epic. The writing was incredible as well. I can't wait for more from the author.

Some of my favourite quotes:

"A boy should fit into your life - not become it. High school is when you start to define yourself. Don't define yourself as the girl who has a boyfriend and nothing else."

"Maybe you don't have to figure out life at all. Maybe it just is."

"All decisions are different in hindsight. Maybe all we can do is make the best decisions we can in the moment, using the best information we have right then."

Reasons why I LOVED Jeremiah:

"If you don't put yourself out there, if you don't take risks, you can't truly feel."

"You make me feel three times the rush of skydiving or bungee jumping... I felt the biggest rush of my life when you said you loved me."

"I can't. I can't. It hurts."My stomach feels like it got turned inside out. I lean over and get sick again, right in front of him. I clutch my side. He suddenly stands up. I grossed him out.But then I feel him sitting down behind me, stretching his legs to cradle mine. His arms circle my middle. "I've got you. Relax."I lean against his chest, working to catch my breath. [...]Jeremiah whispers in my ear, "You are going to finish this for him. You will."That just makes me cry harder. I blink away my tears, staring at Jeremiah over my shoulder."Kyle's counting on you, Annie."

Rating: 5/5!