Review: All Played Out – Cora Carmack

Review: All Played Out – Cora CarmackAll Played Out by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University, #3
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
Published: May 12th 2015
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four-stars

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.

Straight A’s? CHECK.

On track to graduate early? CHECK.

Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

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

I can’t lie. All Played Out was in a tough spot from the start. It was a given that I would read it and enjoy it, but there was no way it would live up to my love for Silas’ story in All Lined Up. And truthfully, it didn’t. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. Actually I liked it more than I had anticipated.

All Played Out continues the story of the boys on the Rusk University football team focusing on wide receiver Mateo Torres. Torres is anything but serious. He’s a party guy that can never be tied down. The only thing he takes seriously is football and he’s happy that way. That is until Antonella DeLuca is brought into the fold. Nell is anything but a party girl. She has had one goal from the get go and that is to finish college (early even) and move on to the real world. But Nell has missed out on one thing, the true college experience. When she makes a list of things to do before she graduates and Torres offers his services, Nell may be in for more than she bargained for. And Torres may find out it could be time to get serious about something else…love.

True that Silas is still my favorite I found Torres very endearing in All Played Out. He was totally goofy and light hearted, but he also had a really emotional side to him that he kept hidden. I liked learning that layer of him. And I really liked him dynamic with Nell. They were definitely a ying and yang, but they somehow balance each other out. They also has great banter which made them going through Nell’s list a really fun experience. But what I really likes was how Nell brought out the serious side of Torres and how Torres made Nell relax and actually enjoy college and not be so perfect.

Although All Played Out could never live up to my love of All Lined Up, it found a new place in my heart. Torres and Nell told a story of their own and it was a story I liked. It wasn’t my favorite in the series but one I was happy to read. Now can I finally have Stella’s story??!!

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Review: Three Day Summer – Sarvenaz Tash

Review: Three Day Summer – Sarvenaz TashThree Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: May 19th 2015
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four-half-stars

Boy meets girl...at the most amazing concert the world has ever seen.
Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them..

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

Review

When I first heard about Three Day Summer I won’t lie, the cover is what intrigued me. I mean would you look at that thing? It screams 60s with those colors. And then I did some investigation and saw it took place at Woodstock. I knew I needed to read it after that. I have always been fascinated by Woodstock and what it would have been like to be there. And the good news after all that…the book lived up to the cover and my expectations.

Three Day Summer is about Michael and Cora, two very different people that find themselves both at the historic Woodstock festival. Michael is there trying to figure out what he wants out of life while Cora is there to further what she wants out of life. When the two of them have a chance encounter their days at Woodstock bring them on an expected adventure and to something they both really can’t fight, romance.

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Much like the movie Titanic Tash did something that is difficult to do with the story. She took a real life event and based a fictional love story around it. It was a risk working with such a well-known place but it worked. Michael and Cora’s stories fit right in with the Woodstock vibe and with hippie culture in general. Was there a thing or two that may have been a little farfetched? Sure. But for the most part the plot moved as naturally as it could for something that happened over just three days.

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Three Day Summer has probably one of the most well-known settings (at least I hope it still is) in music history, Woodstock. The three days of Woodstock are memorable for so many reasons. Whether it was the music, the weather, the lack of food, or the sex and drugs, Woodstock tells a story. Tash incorporated her two main characters, Michael and Cora, into this setting flawlessly. Reading the pages I felt like I was in Woodstock. She nailed what I imagined it to be like from the sound of the music to the chill atmosphere to the party vibe. It was so vividly described I couldn’t help but wish I was born when Woodstock happened and would have been cool enough to go.

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I really liked the difference in Michael and Cora’s personalities. First you have Cora, headstrong female that doesn’t dream about being a nurse or housewife. She wants to be a doctor and won’t let stereotypes or her nasty father stop her.  She has dreams and goal and want let sexism stand in her way. And then you have Michael, typical hippie. Drugs, apathy, laid back thoughts in life. War is in the forefront of his mind yet he doesn’t know if he is made out for the service or for school. He has no idea who he wants to be so he stays stagnant with the wrong people. When Cora and Michael meet you know it is going to be epic and Tash does not disappoint.

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I loved this book. There was one tiny part that I found farfetched and why it isn’t a perfect 5 rating wise, but everything else was so spot on. After reading it I immersed myself in 60s music and live recordings from Woodstock. I wanted to break out my wide leg jeans and pretend they were bell bottoms. I wanted to sit outside at a concert and get lost in music. Three Day Summer hit all the right notes for me and in the end I was just so happy to have found it. If you love romance and the history of Woodstock then you can’t miss reading this fabulous book.

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Review: Emmy and Oliver – Robin Benway

Review: Emmy and Oliver – Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperCollins
Published: June 23rd 2015
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four-half-stars

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy's soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life. . . . She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents' relentless worrying. But Emmy's parents can't seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart. . . . He'd thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who had kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing, and his thoughts swirling.Readers who love Sarah Dessen will devour these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver's father's crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

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

Review

I have been meaning to read a book by Robin Benway for a long time. Everyone gushes about the other books she has written but I have just never gotten to them. So when I had finished a book and needed to pick a new one the cover of Emmy and Oliver popped in my head. Best idea I have had in a long long time. I love this book, like a lot. And it really made me think about the people in the story and how I would feel if I were one or any of them.

Emmy & Oliver is the emotional story of Emmy and Oliver. When they were 7 years old their worlds were torn apart because Oliver was kidnapped by his father and missing for 10 years. The two of them went from being best friends and seeing each other every day to nothing. And then when they are 17 Oliver is all of a sudden back and Emmy, Oliver and everyone that has been missing him for a decade have no idea how to deal with it.

The beauty of Emmy & Oliver was actually something pretty simple. It was the human aspect to it. It was the fact that the story was real and possible. It was the truth factor. Because let’s be honest, this stuff happens. Parents get divorced and it is nasty and one takes the child who is the one that suffers. What Benway did with Emmy & Oliver was show the struggle and the human part of a familial kidnapping. It wasn’t glamorized for Hollywood or sensationalized for the media. It was a story of struggle and what is right and what is okay to feel. It is about getting back your life but still wanting to hold on to the old life you had even if it wasn’t what you thought it was or was supposed to be. That’s what I loved about this book.

As a child of divorce I thought about how my mom would have felt if I were Oliver. How I would have felt if I were Oliver. He was in a tough spot. He wasn’t mistreated, he was with someone he loved and who loved him. He was told stories that weren’t true but he believed to be. And then in an instant it all changed and he was left trying to figure out what was true and what was okay to feel. Then I thought about how I would feel if I were Emmy and all of a sudden my best friend was back. If I had built a life around the idea that I would never see him again to only have him show up. Basically I was invested and that is a testament to how Benway told the story and the characters she had tell the story.

Emmy & Oliver is such an emotional story of two teens finding their way back to each other and a way to be on their own. Oliver’s return causes changes in both of their lives that they have to figure out how to navigate. The story is about moving on when you don’t want to or are afraid too and it is told in a flawless manner. It is a book I will highly recommend and a book I will gladly have on my shelf. Pick this one up, but have some tissues handy for the feels.

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Review: Maybe in Another Life – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Review: Maybe in Another Life – Taylor Jenkins ReidMaybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press
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four-stars

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

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

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I don’t normally read Adult Fiction books. I mean I do on occasion but not often. But when I saw that Maybe in Another Life was a parallel life story I was intrigued. And I was pleasantly surprised when I read it by how much I enjoyed it. There were parts that I didn’t like and didn’t fit with my idea of a parallel life book, but all in all it was a good strong story on how lives can easily be changed.

Maybe in Another Life is the story of Hannah Martin, a girl that has never really felt like she had a home. At 29 she has no idea what to do with her life and where she wants to go with it. She is single with no great job that she loves and no roots anywhere. Deciding to return where she grew up to her best friend in LA Hannah attends a party at a bar where she runs into her high school boyfriend. At the end of the night she has to decide to stay with Ethan or go home with her friend Gabby. Each decision leads Hannah on a different life path, one she never expected and she gets to see what life would be like based on making one decision.

This book was very reminiscent of the late 90s movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. I loved how as the reader we got to see how drastically different Hannah’s life became just because she decides to stay or go. Where there similarities? Sure, which I liked. It helped keep the story connected. But there were also huge differences. But either way you looked at it Hannah grew as a person in which ever life ended up being hers and that was what was important. I also liked to see Hannah with the 2 different guys in the story and how they affected her and her life.

I did have some minor issues with how it all unfolded in the end and how I personally felt a little unbalanced from it, but all in all Maybe in Another Life was a great parallel life book. It was a fun read and a quick read. I would definitely suggest picking it up.

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Blog Tour: Proof of Forever – Lexa Hillyer (Giveaway)

Blog Tour: Proof of Forever - Lexa Hillyer (Giveaway)

Blog Tour: Proof of Forever – Lexa Hillyer (Giveaway)Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Published by HarperCollins
Published: June 2nd 2015
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From debut author and poet Lexa Hillyer comes the lyrical story of four seventeen-year-old friends who receive an unlikely chance to relive the perfect summer . . . and the devastating secret that could unravel it all. Elegant and evocative, Proof of Forever is one of those first novels that hooks you from the beginning and builds toward a stunning—and unexpected—end, calling to mind Gayle Forman and Ann Brashares.

Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe were once best friends. Now they barely speak. That is, until the fateful flash of a photo-booth camera transports them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed. Photos fade. Friendships dissolve. Summers end. But this one will change the girls forever . . . again.

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

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I was first interested in Proof of Forever because it reminded me of the Britney Spears movie Crossroads. I love a story about girls that are pulled apart, whether it is because they have grown apart or for other reason, that are all of sudden thrust back into each others lives. And although the book is very different from Crossroads, they did have some similarities and the same vibe.

Proof of Forever is the story of Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe, 4 girls that used to spend their summers at camp attached at the hip. But now they are virtual strangers as 2 years ago something pulled them apart. When the camp reunion happens though Joy is convinced they all need to come together and be together one last time. Not completely sold on the idea Tali, Luce and Zoe go along begrudgingly. But before they even know what happens a flash of a camera transports them back in time to the summer they were 15 and all had each other’s back. Now with only each other to count on the 4 of them must figure out a way to fix what broke and get back to the future where they belong.

I guess the main part that I liked about Proof of Forever didn’t end up being the friendships, but the growth of each individual girl. Joy, Tali, Luce and Zoe each had a lot of growing up to do and needed to look at their life before things got complicated. They needed to see what they were like before boys and popularity and the stress of perfection and anger got in the way of everything. It was a highlight to see them make the changes when forced to confront the past and what exactly tore them apart to begin with. It’s a fact that we all change as we get older, but if given the chance to look back would we do things differently? I liked that idea as I watched the 4 of them struggle with it.

All in all Proof of Forever definitely wasn’t Crossroads. It was something else. It was a different kind of story about friendship and growing up. And about how hard it is to stay true to what you feel and believe when other outside sources what you to behave differently.

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1) Liam Hemsworth or Theo James? Theo! Sexy.

2) Reading a Book or Writing a Book? Hard to answer—generally when I am doing one I have the urge to do the other!

3) City or Country? City to live, Country to roam on weekends

4) Phone Call or Text Message? Text

5) Series or Standalone? Standalone… I think?

6) eBook or Print? Print

7) Bad Boy/Girl or Good Guy/Girl? Bad, obviously

8) Sweet or Salty? Salty

9) Facebook or Twitter? Instagram

10) Noon or Midnight? Sunset (am I cheating?)

11) UPS or USPS? USPS.

12) Macaron or Macaroon? I would pick the two oo’s but I don’t actually like the cookie all that much! See my response to salty or sweet, above

13) iPhone or Android? iPhone

14) Cooking or Take Out? I have a love/hate with SeamlessWeb. Or more like addiction/hate. My husband is an amazing cook so I pick cooking if he’s home!

15) Eraser or White Out? White Out—also doubles as nail polish.

16) Sneakers or Heels? Heels

17) Ocean or Pool? Ocean (even though I’m terrified of big waves.)

18) Sour Patch Kids or Swedish Fish? Sour Patch, definitely!

19) DIY or Hire Someone? DIY (and then usually regret it)

20) Starbucks or Make at Home? No coffee for me, please! However, I’m known to spend way too much on iced tea at some fancy Brooklyn cafe when I could easily have made it at home.

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