More Than Words is hands down my favourite of Lilly Avalon’s books. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, cute, and sexy.
Dana had a great voice - very funny and...moreMore Than Words is hands down my favourite of Lilly Avalon’s books. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, cute, and sexy.
Dana had a great voice - very funny and fresh. Landon…oh Landon. Can I have you please? He was so sweet and swoony, and let’s just say I wouldn’t mind having a lesson or two from him. ;-) These two had great chemistry; the build up and anticipation was SO hot and had me flipping the pages of my Kindle as quickly as I could.
A lot of times with novellas, you’re left wanting more, but I was completely satisfied with More Than Words. I rooted for the characters, swooned, fanned myself, and then let out a happy sigh at the end. I can’t wait for Lilly’s next story! (less)
Upside Down, the first book in the Off the Map series, was emotional, funny, sexy—basically everything New Adult should be. I loved Talia and Bran’s story, and while I was excited to see more of them in Sideswiped, I admit part of me was a bit wary. Sometimes when there’s a series about the same people, it can ruin the feelings you first had for them. You might get tired of the characters, or they go in a direction you don’t like, or any number of other things. So even though I loved these characters and part of me was like GIVE ME ALL THE TALIA AND BRAN, I went into Sideswiped cautiously. I think it’s a testament to Lia Riley’s writing that after reading Sideswiped I love these characters even more and wish I could read about them forever.
It was easy to get invested in Talia and Bran’s love story in Upside Down, and that feeling just grew in Sideswiped. Their relationship is far from perfect, but the love they have for each other is beautiful. The romantic things they say to each other had me alternately swooning and sighing wistfully. Then there were times when they infuriated me so much I wanted to knock their heads together…hard. In many cases, that might make me dislike the book itself, because the characters are just so freaking stupid you wonder how they can function, but that wasn’t the case with Sideswiped. Talia and Bran are so human, so real. They both have issues—together and separately—and they’re legitimate issues people and couples deal with. They make mistakes, they sometimes say things that make you cringe, but it’s REAL, and I love that.
Their struggles were very real and believable—wondering what to do after school; wanting to stay together, but not sure how to make it work; wanting to do things they’re passionate about, but worrying what it would mean for their relationship. I felt for them and wanted things to work out, but wondered how they could. Their situation seemed hopeless at times, and that really came across.
Now, let’s see, what else can I gush about? ;-) This book wasn’t all seriousness and angst though; there was a lot of humour—great banter, plus funny internal dialogue from both characters. I was happy to see more from Bran’s perspective this time around. Dual POV can sometimes be a disaster, but Riley pulled it off seamlessly.
Something else I love: how Riley doesn’t shy away from anything. She puts it all out there. In the first book there’s this part with a vibrator that shocked me because you rarely read about stuff like that. It was funny and sexy and honest. In Sideswiped there’s a scene in a waxing parlour that had me just about rolling. My mouth was hanging open and I ended up in a complete giggle fit. Riley took scenarios that could be totally shocking and possibly uncomfortable and made them hilarious and relatable. I love the overall messages about pleasure and sex. I also love how realistic the sex scenes are. They’re ridiculously hot, but there are small things you don’t often see in sex scenes that make them real, and make them things you can relate to. They’re not just wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am sex scenes, they’re sensual and just SO FREAKING HOT. I appreciated that Talia became more adventurous sexually and enjoyed exploring and knew it was okay to have a healthy, active sex life. There need to be more books like this, where the sex is a natural part of the story and isn’t thrown in as an afterthought or to reach a quota of sexytimes.
Lia Riley is officially one of my favourite voices in New Adult. The world needs more books like this—honest, real, raw, relatable, funny, sexy, and memorable. I was emotionally invested in Sideswiped from beginning to end. It made me laugh, made my heart ache, inspired me, and made me believe that true love really is possible. Even though I’m going to be sad to say goodbye to Talia and Bran, I’m eager to read the conclusion of their story in Inside Out, and then to see what Lia Riley comes up with after that. (less)
I’ll admit, I went into this book with fairly high expectations. I’ve read quite a few LGBT books this year, and they’ve been all over the place - some great, some good, some just okay. I keep waiting for that one that will feel like the definitive LGBT book, the one I recommend to everyone because it’s so amazing…but Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, unfortunately, wasn’t it.
This book is quite simple in most ways - the writing, the characters, the plot. I contemplated DNFing this book for at least the first half because nothing was really happening, and I wasn’t connecting to the characters. I never did fully connect to the characters, but I’m glad I kept reading. There wasn’t much plot-wise and the characters didn’t have much depth, but the story was mostly entertaining.
Leila was really naïve and seemed very young. Her inner dialogue, her observations, her outlook on the world, and the things she said and did made me feel like I was reading about a tween at times instead of someone in her mid-teens. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike her. I thought her confusion, insecurities, and fears rang mostly true. Coming out is never easy, but when your parents are from a country where it’s illegal to be gay, I can’t imagine how hard it must be to deal with those feelings and the worry of what will happen when you come out.
One thing I loved about this book was the diversity. I enjoyed learning about Leila’s family, their customs, etc., and I liked that she wasn’t the only diverse character in the book. It still amazes me how little diversity there is in YA these days, so I really appreciated that there was a rainbow of characters in this book, from different ethnicities to religions to sexual orientation.
My favourite parts of this book were the interactions between Leila and her family. I wanted to throttle her sister at first, but she ended up having much more depth than expected. The scenes with her parents were alternately amusing, frustrating, embarrassing, and touching.
Overall, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel was pretty middle of the road for me. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I think it’s worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for LGBT YA with lots of diversity, humour, and romance. It’s an easy, light read. (less)
I’d just like to preface this review by saying it’s no secret I love New Adult. I love to read it and I love to write it, and it makes me sad to see so many people putting it down (although thankfully this is happening less and less). I read two amazing NAs in a row (first Noelle August’s Boomerang, and then Upside Down), and I feel like I’m going to be holding every other NA book up to the standard of these two books from now on. Not comparing, but I feel like these books have set a new standard for what this category needs, and what could possibly help more people take it seriously as a category. The world needs books like this, with realistically flawed people finding their footing, finding their path, finding love, finding themselves.
Okay, now my actual review… ;-)
From the moment I saw the gorgeous cover for Upside Down, I was intrigued. When I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read the book. I love ‘destination’ books and I haven’t read many books set in Australia.
There are so many things to love about Upside Down, but I’ll start with Talia. She’d dealt with so much, and yet she managed to stay strong (even though she’d probably argue with that), and hold onto her humour. She was struggling with OCD, grief, guilt, and so much more. I loved how neurotic she was. I don’t have OCD, but I’m definitely obsessive and deal with anxiety, so I related to a lot of the things she thought, said, and did. A lot of the time her inner dialogue felt like it was coming from my own head, and I loved that feeling of connection and understanding. Her family alternately broke my heart and made me ragey. Her mom was a real piece of work and needed a serious reality check. Both her parents had their own not-so-healthy ways of dealing with grief, and Talia was left on her own. They were so wrapped up in themselves, they didn’t notice how much she was suffering, and my heart broke for her because of that.
Bran wasn’t your typical leading man. I loved that he didn’t make apologies for who he was. He was a bastard and he knew it. He didn’t sugarcoat things, he didn’t say pretty words for the sake of it. He was a conundrum - could be the world’s biggest jerk, but he liked to cuddle. Sexy as hell, but also vulnerable. I wasn’t sure I was going to like him, and while there were a few times I wanted to throat-punch him, I ended up loving him.
I appreciated that Talia and Bran’s relationship happened slowly. From their first snark-tastic encounter to their tentative friendship to the OMG SO HOT sexytimes to them trying so hard to let their walls down and let each other in. It was push-and-pull from beginning to end, a mostly slow burn with bright flashes of what their relationship could be if they’d just let it happen. I loved it. I also appreciated that Talia didn’t turn into a vapid airhead when Bran was around. I’m so tired of seemingly strong heroines turning into spineless jellyfish the minute a hot guy looks shows interest.
Holy mother of GAAAAAAH, Lia Riley can write sexytimes like nobody’s business. Seriously. I almost needed a cold shower or six. And not only were they incredibly sexy, they were realistic and honest, which was so refreshing. I’ve read so many sex scenes that either made me cringe or shake my head, but these were perfect. There were several sexytime scenes, but they weren’t gratuitous; they had a purpose and they fit with the story, which made me enjoy them even more.
Lia Riley has a really unique writing style. I can’t quite pinpoint what’s so different about it or why exactly it stood out so much, but I noticed it from the beginning. It was simple but beautiful, and it definitely helped with connecting to the book and the characters.
Upside Down is everything New Adult should be. It has romance, humour, genuine emotion, and characters that are well developed and realistic, all wrapped up in a beautiful, vivid setting. Australia came alive for me as much as Talia and Bran did. I’m eager to find out what happens with these two next in Sideswiped. (less)
When I read the synopsis of Gates of Thread and Stone, I was really excited. Plus, I mean, that cover is just so beautiful and eye-catching,...more4.5 stars
When I read the synopsis of Gates of Thread and Stone, I was really excited. Plus, I mean, that cover is just so beautiful and eye-catching, right? Between the cover and synopsis, I had extremely high hopes for Gates of Thread and Stone, and I’m thrilled to say it lived up to my expectations. This book drew me in from the first page and held my attention right to the last page. It was gripping, exciting, mysterious, and well written, with a tightly woven, inventive plot.
I really liked Kai. She was feisty, smart, and strong. She loved her brother fiercely, and would do anything to make him happy and make life easier. She was a believable teenager - at times insecure, uncertain, selfish, impulsive - definitely flawed, and I loved that. We didn’t see much of Reev, Kai’s brother, but from Kai’s thoughts and memories of him, plus the few glimpses we did get, you were able to get a good sense of the protective, loyal older brother who would do anything to keep his sister safe.
Then there was Avan. Oh Avan. *swoon* I loved him. I loved the will they/won’t they pull between him and Kai, and the slow build of anticipation toward the possibility of something beyond friendship. I alternately sighed and squealed every time they touched, especially as the story went on and things were so uncertain. They had each other when everything was falling apart and even though there were moments I wanted to knock some sense into Kai, I loved these two together.
The world building in this book was fantastic. I was fascinated by the Labyrinth and the world beyond, and was able to picture it all clearly. The whole thing had a dark and creepy post-apocalypse vibe to it. I loved that this book was different from anything I’ve read.
I’ll admit, part of me was hoping this would be a really strong standalone. Up until close to the end I thought it might be, but by the end, I knew there would have to be a continuation. The ending was bittersweet, but I’m hopeful it will get worked out in the sequel, and since I loved these characters so much I’m happy to get the opportunity to see them again.
Gates of Thread and Stone is a fast-paced adventure full of magic and romance. I think this book will appeal to a lot of readers, whether you like fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, or romance. Gates of Thread and Stone has a great concept, and Lori M Lee executed it with finesse. I highly recommend this one.
Last year I read and loved Taylor Jenkins Reid’s debut, Forever, Interrupted. I knew she was a talent to watch out for, so I was excited when I learned about her second book, After I Do. One of the things I loved most about Forever, Interrupted was how brutally honest it was. Reid wasn’t afraid to tell it like it really is, and I loved that. I was pleased to discover After I Do was told with that same candor and wit.
After I Do was a different kind of love story. We go into it immediately seeing the cracks in Lauren and Ryan’s marriage. Most stories are about how a couple comes to be, not how they fall apart and deal with the aftermath. I appreciated the original perspective of this story. Despite being the same age as Lauren, I didn’t think I’d be able to relate to her, since I’m single and have never been married. I was surprised when I found myself nodding along to a lot of the things she said/thought. I felt like I got Lauren, and considering how little we actually have in common, I’d say that’s a pretty great accomplishment on the author’s part.
Lauren had a strong voice. One of the things I loved about her (and this was one of the main things I loved about Forever, Interrupted as well) was how she said things that most people probably think but are too afraid to say out loud. Some of these things were shocking, hilarious, and embarrassing, but they were all so true, which made me connect with her even more. Despite the serious subject matter, there were moments of humour and levity that were perfectly timed. Even though there were a lot of great messages packed into the pages, I felt like the book didn't take itself too seriously, if that makes sense.
Lauren’s journey of self-discovery wasn’t easy. There weren’t any lightning-bolt moments or major overnight revelations, it was slow and painful and messy and complicated and beautiful. In other words, it was realistic. Lauren's family was incredible; they were definitely one of my favourite aspects of the book. There aren’t enough books with healthy portrayals of family, but Reid nailed the dynamics between Lauren and her siblings and mother.
After I Do is a story about the fragile, complicated, and often-chaotic nature of love, life, and family. I felt like I went on Lauren’s journey with her; I felt her heartache, her uncertainties, and her triumphs. I laughed and cried and came away feeling like I’d learned a few valuable lessons about life. Taylor Jenkins Reid has a magical way with words. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. (less)
Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend was a fast-paced, funny comedy of errors about the ultimate revenge and trying to make amends for past wrong doings.
This book was compulsively readable. Even though I was pretty sure I had things figured out from the beginning, I stayed up until 2am to finish it because I just couldn’t put it down, and I had to know what happened. And even though my guesses were right, there was still a feeling of shock when everything was revealed. Finn weaved a tight story full of laughably horrible situations, accidents, and sticky situations.
One downside to the story for me was that I didn’t connect with the characters. I liked Gemma, but for some reason I just couldn’t connect with her. It felt like she never went past being the girl who was trying to make amends. We didn’t get to know much about her beyond her horrific behaviour as an 11-year-old and how she was trying to make up for it now. We didn’t get to know much about any of the other characters either, so it was hard to connect with them.
Then there was the ending. Gah! We don’t often see cliffhanger endings in contemporary stories, but it worked for this book. Things could play out in a number of ways in the next book, and I’m curious to see how everything gets resolved, and what fresh drama Finn will come up with for her characters.
If you’re looking for a quick, highly entertaining contemporary story with a summery setting and plenty of teenage drama, give Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend a try!(less)
I’ve always loved Peter Pan and anything even remotely related to Neverland. I love the idea of a magical place where children go when they don’t want to grow up. I never thought I’d be able to accept anything where Pan was made out to be the villain, until this past season of Once Upon a Time. They took the legend of Peter Pan and turned it on its head in the most amazing, sinister, heartbreaking way, and I loved it. That, and Captain Killian Hook from OUAT, made me even more interested in all things Neverland. I jumped at the chance to read Alias Hook, a story that seemed to turn Neverland and its inhabitants into characters that were familiar in one way but also completely new.
I loved Alias Hook from the first few pages. Beautifully written, compelling, and completely captivating, this book - and Captain James Benjamin Hookbridge - stole my heart in a completely unexpected way. Narrated by Hook himself, the well-known ‘villain’ of Neverland, we get to see his side of things. I was surprised by his patience and kindness, his humour and intelligence. I never thought I’d be even remotely okay with Peter Pan being portrayed as a villain, but Jensen wrote this book in a way that made it completely plausible. I sympathized with Hook at every turn, and desperately wanted him to find a way to defeat that horrible, insolent, spoiled little brat Pan. (Side note: Don’t get me wrong; I still love Peter Pan in general, but I was able to separate my lifelong view of him as a capricious, harmless youngster for the sake of this particular story).
Throughout the book, I felt like I was right there with Hook. I would imagine writing a story set in Neverland would be pretty daunting, but Jensen did a fantastic job. The setting was lush, and the characters leapt of the pages. I loved that so many different aspects of the original story were worked into the book and had their own unique spin - the mermaids, the fairies, the Indians, Hook’s crew. This book made me laugh, made my heart ache, made me swoon, and it even made me cry. It was sexy in ways I didn’t expect, and I loved that.
Alias Hook is a fairytale for adults. It’s for those of us who never stopped believing in magic, and maybe even still indulge in a game of make-believe from time to time. I fell head over heels in love with Hook, and I never wanted his story to end. This book touched me deeply, and got its hooks firmly in my heart (heh heh, sorry I had to!). If you enjoy fantasy, romance, adventure, and magic, Alias Hook is a must read. (less)
I’ll admit that when I read the synopsis of My Soon-to-be Sex Life, I was equal parts shocked and curious. I thought it takes a lot of balls (in a good way) for an author to write a book like this, since sex + teenagers often equals controversy. I was curious how the subject matter would be handled, and while I didn’t love this book, I appreciated the overall message.
Charlie is a fiery, sarcastic, smart-mouthed teenage girl on a mission to lose her virginity. She has all the pieces to the puzzle, she just can’t quite figure out how to get them all together. When her mom checks herself into rehab and sends Charlie to live with her grandfather, her plans gets derailed.
Besides the humour, the thing I liked best about this book was how realistic Charlie was. She was far from perfect, she made mistakes, she did and said stupid things. She was completely believable. Nobody at that age has things figured out, especially when dealing with as much as Charlie was. I liked her best friend and her mom’s best friend, and thought they were nice additions. Eric was just okay for me. Their relationship fell flat for me, and I just couldn’t get invested in it. I wasn’t completely sure what either of them saw in each other. My favourite relationship was the one between Charlie and her grandfather. They were a great match - each of them said what they thought, and the snarky conversations they had were hilarious.
This book sort of felt like a bunch of random events thrown together. Some of them made sense, some of them not so much. There were a few things that were never really explained. Why did Charlie’s mom hate her dad so much? Why was Charlie in such a hurry to lose her virginity? Those were two main plot points, but they were never explained.
Overall, My Soon-to-be Sex Life was cute and funny. It fell flat for me in several areas, but Charlie’s spunk and sass made up for a lot of it. If you’re looking for a book with unique characters and an atypical storyline, this book might be for you.(less)
I read (and loved) The Great Gatsby in high school, so when I heard about Sara Benincasa’s Great - a modern day retelling of The Great Gatsby where the characters were teens - I knew I had to read it. While I ended up with some mixed feelings about this book, I thought it was overall a good attempt at retelling a well-known classic.
I loved how Benincasa worked in all the Gatsby characters, but with a twist - Naomi as Nick the narrator, Jacinta as Jay Gatsby, Delilah as Daisy. I thought it was really clever. Naomi lived with her dad during the year, but spent the summers with her mother (a Martha Stewart type) in the Hamptons. She leads a regular life with her dad in Chicago, but in the Hamptons she has to live up to her mother’s standards by dressing a certain way, acting a certain way, and being friends with the ‘right people’. Naomi was against it all at first, and didn’t want to be part of the superficial lifestyle lead by everyone around her, but she slowly got sucked into that world.
I had a soft spot for Jacinta, just as I did for Jay in The Great Gatsby. Despite coming across as very sophisticated and worldly, she had this innocence and naivety about her. She was so desperate for people to like her, and she wanted to please people at any cost. She had a sweet, childlike quality to her that made it hard for me not to like her.
Benincasa did a great job of modernizing a classic. I liked that technology played a big part, showing how it can be a wonderful thing or a person’s downfall. As someone who read and loved The Great Gatsby, I enjoyed watching how things played out, and how Benincasa twisted the original in a creative and compelling way while still holding true to the heart of the story.
Ultimately, Great is one of those books that’s sort of fun and frivolous. I love really dramatic reality TV, and that’s what this book felt like a lot of the time - lots of drama and intrigue, people with more money than brains, broken hearts, broken friendships, lies, and betrayal. Not a whole lot actually happened until toward the end of the book, but it was mostly a fun ride getting there. Retelling such a well-known classic - one that’s had several movie adaptations (the Paul Rudd as Nick version is my personal favourite) - was ambitious, and I think Benincasa did a really good job. As a retelling, it has a lot of appeal, but I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I weren’t familiar with the original. (less)