Place(s) Traveled To: Redding, California // Pike's Peak, Colorado // Unnamed, Idaho // Chicago, Illinois // Nashville, Indiana // Lewis, Kansas // Cape Elizabeth, Maine // Jefferson City, Missouri // Unnamed, New Hampshire // Unnamed, Oregon // Unnamed, Pennsylvania // Toutle, Washington // Buffalo County, Wisconsin // Moorcroft, Wyoming
First Line(s): More than a thousand graduation caps flew into the air behind me, but I was already walking down the aisle between the concrete bleachers.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Megan Erikson's Trust the Focus when I requested the title for review but I did know that it included two of my favorite book tropes: the road trip and a friends to lovers romance. Trust the Focus starts off with Justin and Landon graduating college and embarking on a cross country road trip taken in memory of Justin's dad who had passed away. They plan to visit some of the places that Justin's dad photographed and re-rake the pictures with the his ashes in them. Along the way Justin has decided to confront the feelings that he's always had for his best friend, the openly gay Landry.
There are many ups and downs throughout this story and it made my heart ache on numerous occasions. There were also times when I wanted to reach into the pages and shake these characters as they weren't doing the things that I wanted them to do when I wanted. In other words, I was invested in this story from the start all the way until the end. I cared what happened to Justin and Landry and really wanted them to find their happily ever after. Where this book would lose me was when it got a bit preachy with other characters coming onto the page seemingly just to validate Justin and Landry as a couple. It was almost always the same phrasing and just made me sigh a bit as it just seemed a bit much.
Trust the Focus isn't a deep story but it was a fun, quick read and just what I needed at the time. Its a book that would make a great pallet cleanser between heavy reads as you just just lose yourself in the story without having to think too much. Landry and Justin are realistic characters and readers will cheer for them to find their happily ever after. Best of all there is no pointless breakup. Yes there is conflict and tension because no romance is without that but its all realistic in its execution and it will make your heart ache.
While there were parts of Trust the Focus that frustrated me I did enjoy it and I couldn't stop reading when I started. In fact, this was a book that I didn't mean to read at all. I'd accidentally deleted my current read off my kindle and then accidentally opened this one when I was trying to move another book into a folder. Then before I fully realized what was happening I was staying up way past my bed time hurriedly flipping through the pages as I raced to the end of the story. Thrust the Focus was my first book by Megan Erikson but it won't be my last as I enjoyed her writing and the characters that she created.
Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt is a companion book to her story, Two-Way Street (my review) and follows the cousin of Courtney. The two books are very similar in premise that they are almost interchangeable. The only real differences are the names, there is a dog and Jace is driving Peyton home and they are not heading off to college together. They have an existing relationship but unlike Courtney and Jordan theirs is more of a summer time fling but like Jordan, Jace just cuts off all contact without a word leaving Peyton all sorts of heart-broken. These aren't a grouping of books that you want to read back to back as you'll just get frustrated at the almost copy & paste of the story. But with some time in between the two the similarities aren't quite as glaring though still pretty obvious.
Peyton, like Courtney, is a bit of an unlikable character and I just don't get what Jace sees in her and the reason he had for cutting off all contact was just dumb. With as close as they were supposed to be the fact that he didn't ask her to explain was just rage inducing. Ugh to the ugh ugh ugh with the pointless breakup!! Nothing frustrates me more than that and this was just made me sigh and roll my eyes.
Overall though, Right of Way, is a quick brain candy type of read and its a good follow-up to an emotionally draining book. Its not a deep story and it doesn't take long to read which makes it a great pallet cleanser. While I didn't like Peyton at first she does change during the story and I do cheer for her and Jace's inevitable coming back together. While this isn't a book that I will re-read its not one that I feel like I wasted my time on either. Even with all the similarities to Two-Way Street.
Places Traveled To: Fayetteville, Arkansas // Tucson, Arizona // Los Angeles, California // Phoenix, Arizona
First Line(s): "Celebrity Seeker claims that I'm dating Troy again," I say as I skim the pages of the gossip magazine.
Not in the Script is the debut novel of Amy Finnegan and the third installment in Bloomsbury's If Only Series. This story focuses on a group of young actors who are pulled together to film a tv show in Arizona and is told from the perspective of Emma and Jake, two of the stars. Normally I really love alternating perspectives in a book because I love to know what the other person is thinking but in this instance I didn't love it as much as I normally would. This was because there was only one narrator used for the entire book and while Vanessa Johansson was a good narrator I really really really wish that a male narrator was employed for Jake's POV chapters. Listening to the audio it was sometimes hard to tell which POV perspective that I was in and Johansson didn't have a ton of distinction with her voices. There was enough to tell who was who once I got used to her style but things would have just been better all around if there was a male narrator in the mix especially since there was such a clear distinction between the two different POVs.
Other than my issue with the narration I did really enjoy this story. I enjoyed the budding romance between Jake and Emma and even liked her interactions with her two other co-stars, Brent and Kimmi. Though I could have done without the initial love triangle aspect because since one of the guys didn't get a POV chapter you pretty much know who Emma is going to end up with. Another character that features promenantly is Emma's BFF Rachel and like so many BFFs in young adult books Rachel isn't much of a friend to Emma. Rachel is bitter and jealous and all sorts of passive aggressive all because Emma became a star and she hasn't when its something that she wants more than anything. This is a sour friendship and I don't see why Emma puts up with Rachel's antics other than the fact that Emma is super nice and Rachel is a link to who she was before she became a big star. If there was a character that I wanted to smack in this book than it was Rachel even Emma's terrible mother would get a pass over my very strong dislike towards Rachel. *hulk smash*
My dislike of Rachel aside, I did really like Emma's character there were all sorts of ways that this girl could have become snobby, shallow and elitist because she entered Hollywood at such a young age. Instead she was genuinely nice and down to earth and cared about those around her. She not only worked a full time job since she was in elementary school but she also finished high school and worked in college classes where she could. She could have coasted on her salary but Emma is the sort of girl who always wants more and knows that she might not want to be a Hollywood A-lister forever. Which is why she and Jake make such a good match
Overall, Not in the Script, was a really cute read and one that has me on the hunt for read-a-likes. If I'd read the print version over the audio than I probably would have read it in just a day or two. Its a great book for when you need something light and not too serious and is just one of those feel good reads.
First Line(s): Jason was going to Brain Camp. It had another name, a real name, but that's what everyone called it.
Its no secret that I've read much Sarah Dessen but she is definitely one author that gets recommended to me a lot and most recently people have been telling me about The Truth About Forever so I decided to give it a shot. The Truth About Forever is told from the POV of Macy who at the start of the book is dating a robot named Jason. He's pretty boring and emotionless and as she is as well I almost didn't read much further. Coupled with one of the most vile mothers on the written page I spent a lot of time being annoyed by this book. That is until I met Wes. Wes was an amazing character and he turned Macy from being a robot into a real girl.
The start of The Truth About Forever was very slow and the ending felt rushed and inconclusive but I liked the middle. I liked when Macy was ditched by her boyfriend and when she started to actually live her life. Although this causes her much trouble at home as her mother prefers her to be an emotionless robot who does nothing but sit at home and study. All while complaining that she doesn't have friends. But when Macy starts to meet people and to show some emotion her mother goes ballistic and then grounds her.
While the pacing was off here I did really like how Wes and Macy interacted and I would have loved to have more scenes with them. They had this wonderful chemistry that simply lept off the page. I also liked Wes's brother and his friends and how they all breathed life into Macy. Despite the things that I didn't like about The Truth About Forever it was a fast read. I read this one in a single sitting and if the ending was just a little bit more then I probably would have rated this one higher. I also liked this one better than the first Sarah Dessen book that I read and so I am now more curious about her other books than I ever have been before. The only question is, which one?
First Line(s): I'm late, and its the first day of class.
Its no secret that I have fully embraced the New Adult category of books and am always looking new books in this genre. Not long ago when I mentioned I was looking for something to read several people in my twitter stream recommended to me Kristen Callihan's The Hook Up.The Hook Up started off rough with me as there was insta-lust and then the male lead was a bit of a jackass and I didn't find Anna to be very likable either. Characters are the core of any store and while I know that not all main characters are likeable there should be something to them that makes me care about their story. And that never materialized in this book.
Not only were the main characters unlikable but so where many of the secondary characters. I swear if I'd had a print version of this story then I totally would have tossed it across the room. Several times. The characters just made stupid choices and then moped about them. They pinned and angsted and moped when it was their choice to do what they did. When a simple phone call with a real conversation would have cleared everything up quickly. But no, instead they jumped to conclusions, were given poor advice and just annoyed the ever loving crap out of me.
The timeline in this book also didn't really mesh well with how events played out and I was surprised that when I hit the end of the story that so little time had actually passed from that initial meeting to the grand finale. There were also way to many spelling and other errors for me that should not have been in a finished book which kept pulling me out of the story.
In the end, The Hook Up wasn't for me and I am not sure if I'll read Callihan's other books in this series either. There was just too much whiny angst and cliches in this story for me. Plus the unlikability of the two main characters just made this one a difficult one to finish. But I did finish it, so there is that. There was some promise to this story and I kept reading it in the hopes that me frustrations with the story would all be worth it in the end. Alas, that never happened.
Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Watertown, New York // Brooklyn, New York
First Line(s): There comes a time in every single woman's life when the man who was once eh, not bad gets promoted to good enough.
When I was preparing to go to Paris last October I was looking for some light and fluffy books to bring with me to read on the plane and when chilling around the apartment after a long day of sight seeing. Around the same time a few friends on twitter were talking about Lauren Layne's Just One Night and I thought that it sounded like perfect reading for my trip. Just One Night is the third book in a series about four friends who all work for a woman's magazine in New York City. Normally I don't read a series out of order, even when the books are more companion than direct sequel as I like to know what came before. But I made an exception in this case as Just One Night included one of my favorite tropes, the best friend of a sibling forbidden love affair. Oh the tension that these books have!
Just One Night didn't disappoint in tension and feels although there were somethings that didn't mesh well. The timing of things didn't always mesh with how they were written and that would often take me out of the story. For example, Sam said his mother lived 5 hours away from the city but then they only drove an hour until they were there only to spend 15 minutes and then a mention of the 5 hour drive home. Maybe its the Rhode Island girl in me but I don't see anyone spending 10 hours on the road for a short visit somewhere. This could be different in the bigger states out west where everything is a million miles away but here on the east cost, we're itty bitty and that just seemed so excessive.
There was also many a time when I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into Riley and Sam. They made some stupid, boneheaded choices and the conflicts they had could have easily been solved if they just talked to each other. It just pains my heart when there is a pointless breakup that didn't have to be because the main characters were just so darn stubborn! Overall though, I did enjoy Riley and Sam's story. I thought that they had chemistry on the page and enjoyed the banter that they often shared. There is a part of me that wishes that I'd started this series at the beginning so that I could catch all the references that the previous couples made to their stories but I was never really lost during my read of Just One Night.
Just One Night was a cute, quick read and it was perfect for what I needed at the time. Lauren Layne was a new author to me but I do plan on checking out her other books. This isn't a perfect romance but if you are looking for a fun brain candy read/palette cleanser then this might be just the book for you.
Place(s) Traveled To: James Island, South Carolina // Maryland // Virginia // Valley Forge, Pennsylvania // Chicago, Illinois // Oklahoma // Ohio // Texas // Massachusetts // Maine // Los Angeles, California // New York, New York// Vermont // St Louis, Missouri // Kansas // New Jersey
First Line(s): The moment my horrible yearbook photo first appeared on millions of televisions, sending jaws dropping, phones ringing, and joggers tumbling off their treadmills across America, I was in the middle of my AP US history final.
When I first heard about Jenn Marie Thorne's debut novel, The Wrong Side of Right, I though that it sounded like a really cute and entertaining read. I was excited for it and when I received a copy for review I pretty much dropped everything in order to read it. Even with the subject, the death of Kate's mom and finding out who her father was, I was expecting a light and fluffy read. Something that would make me smile one moment and my heart ache the next as Kate dealt with her new family and new romance. However, The Wrong Side of Right turned out to be a lot more serious than I thought and those light and fluffy moments were few and far between.
Kate had to deal with a lot in this book, not just a new family but a whole new world. She was outed as a Senator's daughter and not just any Senator but one who was running for President. This puts her immediately into the spotlight as she's taken away from the life she'd been making for herself since her mom died. She becomes a political thing and is told how to stand, where to stand, what to wear and how to act. Her life is no longer her own and there is no one she can talk to about it and that broke my heart. Kate had no advocate and no support system in a world where she desperately needed one because no one was looking out for her.
That is until she meets Andy and they are able to bond over their fathers and the crazy, jaded politicial life that they both find themselves in. I really liked the romance between Andy and Kate as it was real and genuine and the two had some good chemistry. I just wish that there was more of it. There was so little in the book that I think this story suffered a bit as a result. I get why Andy couldn't play a bigger role based on who he was but it would have softened the deeper tones of The Wrong Side of Right and made it more relateable. I also really detested Kate's father and Andy would have made a good distraction from that.
Kate's father, when he is there, is never really there. He's always so focused on the campaign and what Kate can do for him. If she messes up in anyway and he loses points then he allows his team to treat her like crap all while ignoring her. Even when Kate's presence is helping him he pretty much ignores her. And that just bothered me so much. Not only that but Kate seemed so passive throughout the story and I just wanted to shake her and tell her to pitch a fit and cause a fuss and just BE A TEENAGER! I get that she's been through a lot and dealing with a political campaign couldn't be easy but she was just so accepting and showed so little life that teenage me totally got her rage on for Kate's behalf.
Despite all my various issues with The Wrong Side of Right, I did enjoy the overall story. It was an interesting looking into a world that I know I want no part of, one lived in the public eye where ever move is watched and commented on. The stress of that would be too much for me but Kate does manage to navigate its waters. I did like that she showed some strength and growth by the end and I liked her stepmother and siblings who also showed change and growth. I never did like her father and thought that he changed very little, if at all, and the end was a bit meh for my liking. All in all though a decent debut novel and Thorne will be on my authors to watch list for future reads.