New to You (4): Sarah Reviews Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Sarah from What Sarah Read. I was really excited she signed up and wanted to read Letters to the Lost. You will see in her review that Gail and I have been telling her to read it for a long time. Check out her review below and find out! (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (4): Sarah Reviews Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer {+ a giveaway}Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
on April 4th 2017
Amazon, Goodreads

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

About a year or so ago I started hearing some buzz about an upcoming new release called “Letters to the Lost” and I was immediately intrigued. More specifically, Andi and Gail were raving about the book and how amazing it was (they both read it in one day), so I KNEW I had to add it to my TBR shelf. I added my copy to the pile of books on my nightstand and it just sat there…and sat there…and sat there. For almost a year. Even after I continued to hear amazing things about it from many other friends, I never got around to grabbing it off the shelf to actually read it. I look back at all those months I wasted and wonder why I was such a fool. How could I have waiting SO long to read such an amazing book? I will be eternally grateful to Andi for hosting this feature and finally giving me that push to read “Letters to the Lost”.

I absolutely loved the dynamic between the main characters, Juliet and Declan. The good girl and the bad boy trope is in full effect, but in a totally unique and refreshing way. These two get to know each other before they even meet each other and I absolutely loved how the relationship between them unfolds with plenty of twists, turns and bumps along the way. The chemistry that Juliet and Declan have is undeniable and I couldn’t get enough of the letters they shared back and forth. Their relationship was messy, complicated and not at all your standard boy meets girl love story. They were perfectly imperfect. For all the differences between them, the letters they wrote showed that they had more in common then they ever could have imagined. They bonded over their grief and their feelings of isolation, and even without ever meeting, they confided their deepest emotions in each other. The feels are SO STRONG in this book and I loved every minute of it.

All that being said, I think the thing I loved the most about this book was how the author refused to fall back on labels and assumptions, and instead challenged them. In ways both obvious and those more subtle, Kemmerer shows us that you can never really know what is going on in someone’s life and that you shouldn’t always jump to conclusions. “Letters to the Lost” has some shocking secrets and twists I never saw coming and I was completely invested in the story. Give me a book about friendship, emotions, family dynamics, self-discovery and, yes, falling in love…and I’m a very happy reader. This one had it all!

Oh, and I know this review is supposed to be about “Letters to the Lost”, but I can’t end my obsessive fangirling without mentioning the companion novel coming out next month, “More Than We Can Tell”. It’s technically not a sequel but does take place in the same “universe” and features one of my favorite characters from Letters, Declan’s best friend Rev. As hard as it may be to believe, I actually loved it more than Letters…and that is saying a LOT! It’s even more heart-breaking and complicated and I cried my eyes out several times. If that’s not a reason to pre-order I don’t know what is.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 3, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Sarah for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved Letters to the Lost AND More Than We Can Tell. Really such a fantastic companion series!

Have you read Letters to the Lost yet? If so what about the companion?

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Briefly Romantic (1)

I have been a fan of romance books for a long time, but I never got into the habit of reviewing them unless it was for a blog tour. To be honest I always found it hard to review a romance book. The set up is the same 95% of the time so there really isn’t much to talk about besides characters and the love of the story, which can be quite short. Well that brings me to this. Welcome to my new review feature, Briefly Romantic.

This post is dedicated to the publisher Forever

Briefly Romantic (1)One and Only by Jenny Holiday
Published by Forever
on February 27th 2018
Format: eARC, eBook
Amazon, Goodreads

In this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy, USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday proves that when opposites attract, sparks fly.

Miss Responsibility meets Mr. Reckless
With her bridezilla friend on a DIY project rampage, bridesmaid Jane Denning will do anything to escape - even if it means babysitting the groom's troublemaker brother before the wedding. It should be a piece of cake, except the "cake" is a sarcastic former soldier who is 100% wicked hotness and absolutely off-limits.

Cameron MacKinnon is ready to let loose after returning from his deployment. But first he'll have to sweet talk the ultra-responsible Jane into taking a walk on the wild side. Turns out, riling her up is the best time he's had in years. But what happens when the fun and games start to turn into something real?

I received this book for free from Netgalley, Purchased in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

One and Only was such a fun book. It had the typical plot, good girl with the reckless guy, but it felt anything but typical. It felt new and fresh. Jane and Cameron were anything but the stereotypes they were place in if you got to know them. And quite honestly they brought out the best in each other, kind of the ying to each others yang. They also had some of the best banter! They played off ea ch other nicely and were able to just be themselves when they were together without having to worry about the preconceived notions others had of them. All in all this was a fantastic start to a new series. I personally can’t wait to see what the next bridesmaid will be up to!

 

Briefly Romantic (1)Slammed by Victoria Denault
Published by Forever
on December 5th 2017
Amazon, Goodreads

Not every goalie plays it safe...
As a publicist for the San Francisco Thunder hockey team, Dixie Braddock is too busy rescuing the players from trouble to get into any of her own. Except, of course, when it comes to the super hot new goalie. Because when a guy's kiss curls your toes and sets your heart on fire, how the hell do you just walk away? But if anyone ever catches them together, she'll lose her job faster than any slapshot.Eli Casco is on the brink of having everything he ever wanted. He's finally been called up from the minor leagues to play on a championship team. And he just had the most mind-blowing night with the woman of his dreams. But now that he's an official Thunder player, Dixie is determined to keep her distance. None of the fame and fortune means anything to him without her to share it. If he truly wants Dixie in his life, it's time to throw down his gloves and put everything on the line.


The San Francisco Thunder series:

Score

It was strongly suggested I read Slammed, so I went against my policy of starting a series from the beginning and picked this one up. I’m so happy that I did. It was a really fun book. Eli and Dixie had the most amazing chemistry from the beginning to the end and I didn’t get that romance reading anxiety from the break-up that almost always comes. Because of how the story was written I wasn’t anxious for the dreaded moment and I really appreciated that. As a fan of hockey romances (I read a lot of them), this was definitely up there as a favorite and I’m grateful I broken my rule. After meeting Eli and Dixie I will happily go back and read book one.

Briefly Romantic (1)The Last King by Katee Robert
Published by Forever
on April 3rd 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

Ultra wealthy and super powerful, the King family is like royalty in Texas. But who will keep the throne? New York Times bestselling author Katee Robert introduces a red-hot new series.

THE MAN SHE HATES TO LOVE

Beckett King just inherited his father's fortune, his company-and all his enemies. If he's going to stay on top, he needs someone he can trust beside him. And though they've been rivals for years, there's no one he trusts more than Samara Mallick.

The rebel. That's how Samara has always thought of Beckett. And he's absolutely living up to his unpredictable ways when he strides into her office and asks for help. She can't help wondering if it's a legit request or just a ploy to get her into bed. Not that she'd mind either one. After all, she likes to live on the edge too.

But soon the threats to the King empire are mounting, and the two find family secrets darker than they ever imagined and dangerous enough to get them both killed.

I received this book for free from Netgalley, Purchased in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Last King is proof why you can’t always give up on an author. While I tried to read Katee Roberts before and it ended with a DNF, this one was fantastic! I loved the romance and the thriller involved in it. Beckett and Samara had the greatest push/pull relationship. When they let their guard down with one another the sparks really flew and the chemistry was off the charts. They were smart in understanding what a relationship between them would look like, but they were also unable to stay away from one another. And the thriller aspect was just enough to not feel over the top even with a few of the twists that happened. The end felt a tad off and rushed, but other than that everything about this wooed me. I can’t wait for book 2!

Make sure you have all three of these on your TBR!

What kind of romance books do you love? Share in the comments!

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New to You (3): Kelsey Reviews The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Kelsey. She was the one that started this whole thing when she read and reviewed Parallel so it was only fitting she came back. When she selected her books I thought The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash would work for her. Check out her review below and find out! (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (3): Kelsey Reviews The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash {+ a giveaway}The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
on June 14th 2016
Amazon, Goodreads

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Archie and Veronica. Althena and Noth.…Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

Andi and I have always had very similar tastes in books, and I always turn to her for some recs when I need them. So, when she started this feature I was so excited, because I knew there were books on there she has been telling/yelling at me to read (I actually have an ‘Andi Told Me To Read This’ shelf on Goodreads). Out of the few I chose, her final choice for me was The Geeks Guide To Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash, and as always, it was a great choice indeed!

The setting and overall theme for this book is one that I have not come across too often yet in my reading: hardcore fandoms and New York Comic Con, and I loved it! I think as a reader I can totally appreciate the characters enthusiasm for their favorite author Robert Zinc and his series The Althena Chronicles as I do with book series and characters that I love (ahem, finding a book signing last minute in NYC and making my mother run 2 miles with me to meet Morgan Matson. Worth it.). Comic Con has always been something my husband and I have wanted to attend, and now I REALLY NEED TO GO.  Hearing the descriptions of the convention center, the cosplay they saw, the exhibits, and just the overall energy has just heightened that want and definitely boosted it up on my “things to do” list. I think I even picked up on some good advice – i.e. have a plan! Have a schedule! People are crazy!

I want to be friends with these characters in real life. Graham just seems like the real deal to me – thoughtful, nerdy, creative. He wants to tell his best friend, Roxy, that he has feelings for her, and he wants to do it in a fashion worthy of a book or a movie. He plans an elaborate couple of days at NYCC centered around everything she loves, and while they are there he would find the perfect time to tell her his feelings. He gives it his all, but well, life throws one curveball after another at him (as it so often does).

I know Andi said something similar in her blog, but this book is just SO REAL and so authentic. Real situations with real outcomes that honestly aren’t always ideal. Things didn’t go as planned, ideas didn’t work, and timing didn’t always work. BUT its how life kept moving and going on as it would for anyone of us, and sometimes things just work out they way that they should in the end. Between this setting and this fun group of friends (and new friends) this book was an easy thumbs up from me! Can I have a sequel about Casey or Felicia now?? *grabby hands*

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 16, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Kelsey for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved it. And I’m thrilled I have a special shelf on your Goodreads!

Here’s my review of The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love.

Have any of you read anything by Sarvenaz Tash?

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New to You (2): Lauren Reviews All in Pieces by Suzanne Young {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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First up is Lauren from Bookmark Lit. She came to me with the book she wanted to read because I have been talking about it for years. 🙂 So without further ado, here’s Lauren’ thoughts on All in Pieces by Suzanne Young. (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (2): Lauren Reviews All in Pieces by Suzanne Young {+ a giveaway}All in Pieces by Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse
on November 8th 2016
Amazon, Goodreads

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

I’m already a huge fan of Suzanne Young’s books, but for some reason I kept putting this one off… even with Andi’s frequent recommendation. I jumped at the chance to read this for her blog because I knew that I’d finally have to do it – no excuses! I think the biggest thing that was deterring me is that I don’t really do heavier contemporaries. I like fluffy romance and don’t spend a lot of time being sad during books anymore. Well, clearly something worked with this book because I sat down and finished it in one sitting on a Sunday morning.

The premise of the story is that Savannah assaults her ex-boyfriend when he insults her younger brother. She spends most of her time taking care of Evan, going to her new school to deal with her anger management issues, and hanging out with her best friends. Her ex, Patrick, is still after her, looking for an apology, when she starts spending time with someone else from her class. Cameron is gorgeous and sweet and I totally fell in love with him. Savannah starts to open up again and soften her hard exterior. I loved her friendship with Retha and Retha’s boyfriend, Travis, even if it wasn’t necessarily the healthiest. There was a decent amount of girl-hate and judgement, plus dealing with their problems through violence, but I still felt myself drawn to them and understanding where some of their anger came from. Savannah was not a perfect character by any means. She was stubborn and unwavering in her support of her brother, even if it wasn’t always what was best for his future. I always appreciated where she was coming from even if I wanted to shake some sense into her almost every single chapter.

I don’t want to spoil too much about what happens, plot-wise, but I will say that everything comes to a head later in the story and it broke my heart. It’s a really hard story, but it’s one worth telling. I adored the last few chapters of the book and am really happy to note that it was relatively drama-free (at least romance-wise), which I love. I learned that I should absolutely never sleep on a Suzanne Young book, even if it doesn’t seem like a ~me~ book. The only reason this doesn’t get a full five stars from me is because of the frequent frustration with Savannah and the way some problems were handled, even though the constant fighting did make me smile way more than something like that should have! The moral of this story is to always listen to Andi when she yells at you to read a book, especially if the book is by one of your favorite authors and you have no excuses!

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 1, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Lauren for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved it. Fills my heart with joy!

Here’s my review of All in Pieces.

Have any of you read All in Pieces?

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Review: A Kiss in the Dark – Gina Ciocca

Review: A Kiss in the Dark – Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Published by Simon Pulse
on March 6th 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon, Goodreads

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.

Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.

Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.

But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The first time I read a book by Gina Ciocca was her debut, Last Year’s Mistake, in 2015. I enjoyed the book a lot. I really clicked with the writing. So when I saw Gina had another book, Busted, coming out in 2018 I was beyond excited. Read and loved that. And then there was A Kiss in the Dark. A book that sounded like equal parts romance and mystery mixed with a lot of teen angst. I was dying to get my hands on it. And when I did…loved! It was really everything I had built it up to be in my head and I’m so happy.

This book was the perfect mix of mystery and contemporary romance. As a reader what I loved is that I didn’t have the whole story from the beginning. You know that something happened. You know that friendships ended and hearts were broken, it you didn’t know why it happened and who was involved. All it took was one unforgettable kiss in the dark for Macy to go back to that year and unravel just what lead to it all falling apart and to figure out who kissed her and why. It was done really well. I had no clue what happened and how it lead to all the destruction until I was about 70% done, although I figured out the kiss early on.

On top of loving the mystery/romance aspect it helped that I loved the three main people involved, Ben, Joel and Macy. All three played a part in the mess that was their lives and it took a year for them to face it and to try and fix what they broke or missed completely. I highly enjoyed seeing their story unfold and the secrets they were hiding. Plus I admit to being a tad smitten with Ben. Sue me, he’s adorable.

All in all I think this was my favorite book by Gina Ciocca. There is something about her books that I just click with. Her writing style just gets me and I need more of her stories in my life. This is an author you need to check out and this is a book you need to read!

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