Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Between Us And The Moon by Rebecca Maizel

* * *

A luminous young adult novel that evokes Judy Blume’s Forever for a new generation.

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.

Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this story about how life and love are impossible to predict.

The story starts out cute despite our protagonist Sarah ("Bean" to her family and closest friends) having a broken heart. Sarah is the kid you don't have to worry about because she has it together. She's just smart and responsible. For past few months, she’s been tracking the trajectory of a comet for research that she hopes will win her a scholarship. This is where she is in her element surrounded by equations, hypotheses and facts. What she’s not so good at is reading people, like when her boyfriend shows up to her house to break up with her the night before she leaves for Cape Cod for the summer. He claims it’s because she hasn’t noticed how much he’s changed. He accuses her of hiding behind her telescope and notes, observing life rather than living it. His accusation stings but she can’t help but wonder if there’s a ring of truth to it. Look at her older sister Scarlett, who manages to be the life of the party. Sarah feels socially inept next to her, not to mention that their parents expect her to be the responsible one and Scarlett to be the flaky one.

Sarah decides that a change is in order so she concocts this plan to observe Scarlett in her element and take on her attitude and mannerisms in order to break free from her old self. The "Scarlett Experiment" takes her out of her comfort zone and leads to a few embarrassing if not funny moments. On her first day attempting to be Scarlett she meets Andrew, a local. He’s nineteen, in college, surfs and works on one of the fishing boats. She allows him to assume that she’s going to college. She throws in that she’s heading to MIT. Umm...no. She’s only fifteen and a couple of days shy of her 16th birthday.

I thought the story was cute initially. I mean Sarah is all kinds of naive and adorable. I liked how she'd make scientific notes when observing her sister's behaviour. Branching out to make new friends and being a "normal" teenager is not something that comes naturally to her. It’s understandable that she's at that stage in her life where she wants to be seen as more than just a studious kid. But as she and Andrew fell harder for each other, I began to worry about where the plot was going. I was very uneasy with her withholding her true age. Seriously? What was she thinking? The guy could get in trouble, like jail time trouble! She knows she has to come clean but she's so in over her head that she's scared. Even though she was more herself with Andrew and he liked her for that, that didn’t negate the lies upon lies that were stacking up. The truth eventually comes out but not before some irrevocable damage has been done.

Between Us and the Moon is about growing up and screwing up while you’re at it. There are good things that come out of it – Sarah does come to accept who she is, makes friends, stands up to her family and reaches her educational goals. She also encourages Andrew to reach for his dreams and not to set them aside in an attempt to atone for an incident he wasn’t responsible for before they met. Still, the story felt incomplete to me because it didn’t provide any insight as to the fallout after all her lies are revealed. Despite the whole lying about her age which pushed that “wiggy button” for me (thank you BiblioJunkie Shel for that term), I still consider this a good read. And I’d be interested to know someone else’s thoughts on it.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

* * * 1/2

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

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 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.

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?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through 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.

Emmy & Oliver starts with Emmy’s recollection of the last time she saw Oliver when they were seven years-old. That day and the events leading up to his disappearance have stayed with her since. Though she and her friends moved on, she still remembers him, holding out hope that her childhood best friend and neighbor will reappear someday.

That someday arrives ten years later. They’re 17 now and so much has happened in between. Oliver’s return is extremely awkward for everyone. His family wants him to have space and time to adjust leaving Emmy to wonder if he’s the same boy she remembers. Oliver’s readjustment to his home and school are not easy but somehow Emmy is able to reach him and they begin to reconnect. He confides in her that he’s feeling overwhelmed and trapped by his mother’s expectations. Apparently they have that in common because she feels confined by her mother’s overprotectiveness.

The story deals with a number of things. First we have Emmy seeking more independence and space from her well-meaning but overprotective mom. She doesn’t even know that her daughter loves surfing and wants to surf for a college team. Despite that, Emmy is a bright young woman with a good head on her shoulders. She understands where all the worry stems from. Then there’s a very solemn Oliver who’s painfully assimilating into life with his mom and her new family. He’s trying so hard to keep everyone happy without causing too much disruption. Everyone is expecting him to be ecstatic about being saved and to automatically fit into this new life. But the truth is that he has mixed feelings about his dad and what he did. When he reveals his dilemma to Emmy it’s one of the most genuine moments in the book. It’s a perspective that would never have occurred to me and was handled very sweetly. 

I couldn't help picturing Emmy and Oliver as little kids, innocent and carefree because that's what I wanted to return to. And I see that I pictured them the way this little community continued to see Oliver even upon his return – as a child. Child abduction is horrifying and his disappearance had reverberating effects. His return should have been a veryhappy reunion for the family signaling a return to life as normal before the bad stuff happened. The truth is, it's awkward and hard. Everyone has changed and they all need to make room and adjust. Oliver’s fragility in all of this broke my heart into little pieces. But things have a way of righting themselves and Emmy & Oliver delivers on that in its own way.

~ Bel

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Peek In The BiblioBin #155

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the lovely ladies at Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.


Armed & Dangerous (Cut & Run #5) by Abigail Roux

Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6) by Abigail Roux

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg


Last First Kiss (Brightwater #1) by Lia Riley

The Girl I Was Before (Falling #3) by Ginger Scott

Fearsome (Fearsome #1 ) by S.A. Wolfe

Meet Me At The Beach (Seashell Bay #1) by V.K. Sykes

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Girl I Was Before (Falling #3) by Ginger Scott

* * * *

I’m the selfish one. I suppose that’s the nicest thing people say about me. I’ve heard the other things, too. “Paige Owens is a pretty girl with nothing else to offer. She’s just a good time at a party. She’s stupid, heartless, cold and useless. All she cares about is getting a guy to look at her. Why would anyone want to be her friend?”

Some of those things are true. Others were true. They’re all hurtful.

None of it matters.

I’m ready to make the hard choices. I’m ready to face the consequences. I’m ready to be the girl I was before, and I’m done being the one who lost her way.

I’m ready to become the girl Houston Orr sees when he looks at me.

Houston isn’t a star athlete. He doesn’t play in a band. He’s never going to be president, and his life is so far away from simple and easy it isn’t even funny.

He wasn’t part of my plan. But I’m starting to think plans are overrated, and maybe our stories are what we make them. And mine depends entirely on me, and the choices I make…starting now.

Houston is my fairytale. He’s perfectly imperfect. He’s poetry and life. He’s truth and heartbreak, all rolled up in a tall body with dark hair, broad shoulders and green eyes that lull me into submission. He’s nothing I ever thought I wanted, but the very thing I need. He’s the only guy I’ve ever really loved, and he thinks I’m a princess. I fell into him, and now I’m holding on.

But sometimes life takes away our ability to choose. Sometimes…things aren’t in your control. Sometimes, it hurts to be selfless. My only hope is that when it comes time to choose, I get it right.

Welcome to my once upon a time and wish for happily ever after.

It's finally here! The Girl I Was Before has been on my radar for ages and I was so excited to finally read it! After being in the background in the previous Falling books, Paige, the girl with the abrasive manner that takes some getting used to, finally gets the spotlight. She's the prissy, high-maintenance sorority girl to Houston's lai-back, no-fuss demeanor. An he's that one guy who sees more to her. He works at a deli and she orders sandwiches – it’s a particularly silly flirting ritual they have going but it holds the barriers that Paige has in place. She’s currently in the midst of a personal crisis – after learning that her sorority sister Chandra made her twin Cass’s life a mess in book two, she decides to exact revenge. While Paige and Cass may not necessarily be the closest of sisters – and yes, let’s not forget that it was she who provided Chandra with the hurtful information against Cass – no one messes with her family.  Paige has always wanted the sorority life, to be with her kind of crowd instead of her sister’s keeper and by bringing down a very popular and powerful sorority girl, Paige risks losing all that. Perhaps a complete overhaul is exactly what she needs right now.

Paige is not easily likable which is why I was surprised by how much I ended up caring about her. Her complexity is refreshing and I felt privileged to get to know her better. I liked Houston as well – he’s a stand-up guy struggling to keep his personal responsibilities and college life in check. He’s also very attracted to Paige and very much aware that she’s hesitant about getting involved. He’s not intimidated by her haughty demeanor like most people are. He pushes just enough so that she notices him. It’s his kindness and generosity toward her that put a little chink in that armor. When he tells her that she can do better for herself than the Neanderthal boyfriend she has, she’s both offended and charmed. Houston’s not the popular athlete type and not exactly someone Paige would date. But he’s a gentleman and he provides a solution for Paige when trouble brews at the sorority house and she needs to move out.

Another aspect of the book I appreciated is how much Paige struggled with her feelings towards her sister. Theirs hasn’t been the easiest of friendships. She knows she has screwed and is trying to fix it. I think the depiction of sibling rivalry and emotions are pretty spot on. Sisters are complicated creatures.  Paige and Cass attempting to find mutual ground and some connection reminded me of how far my sister and I have come in our relationship.   

The Girl I Was Before demostrates that you never know what someone has going on in their life. Paige, Houston and even archnemesis Chandra have secrets but Paige is very much the central star in this one. She’s letting go of the past, letting go of the fear to evolve into a new person, mending relationships and building new ones. Through all the social upheaval and messes, she becomes a better, stronger person with a keener sense of what and who is important to her. The thing I love most about Ginger Scott's writing is how she delicately peels away the complicated layers that make up her fascinating characters. I didn't take to Paige when I'd first met her but the young woman we end up with a welcome discovery!  

Everything about the Falling series has been superb, and I've totally enjoyed their adorable covers, too. Do yourself a solid and add this series to your TBR pile!

~ Bel

Check out the Release Day Blast for an excerpt and a chance to win  an autographed set of the entire Falling series (US) or the ebook set (International)!

      The Girl I Was Before (Falling, #3)
 Goodreads     I     Amazon     I     Google Play     I     Barnes and Noble     I     Kobo

Thursday, June 25, 2015

That's What HE Said Thursday #34

Image courtesy of Kei at The Lovely Pages Review

That's What HE Said is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful ladies at Chapter Break. It's a chance for us to spotlight and gush over a quote from our current book crush to the object of his desire. We like to pretend it's us ;)

What better way to celebrate our book boyfriends?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Meet brand new book boyfriend material, Saywer Kane from Last First Kiss by Lia Riley. Ladies, if you're in the mood for a quiet, solid hero, Sawyer is your man! And he's a sheriff to boot, so he comes with his own uniform. In this scene, he leads Annie, his one-time high school crush who who has come home, to their secret swimming spot along the river. The whole set up is very sweet with Saywer trying gently to convince Annie to give them a second chance. 

Last First Kiss was released this past Tuesday and you can read my review here. In meantime, drool away ladies!

~  Bel

He pressed his lips tight and then returned her smile.  “No, Annie Girl.”  He tugged her bathing suit strap and planted a kiss on her shoulder.  “Right now I want to love you until all you’re saying is my name.”

~ Last First Kiss (Brightwater #1) by
Lia Riley

      Last First Kiss (Brightwater, #1)

Last First Kiss (Brightwater #1) by Lia Riley

* * * 3/4

A kiss is only the beginning...

Pinterest Perfect. Or so Annie Carson’s life appears on her popular blog. Reality is... messier. Especially when it lands her back in one-cow town, Brightwater, California, and back in the path of the gorgeous six-foot-four reason she left. Sawyer Kane may fill out those wranglers, but she won’t be distracted from her task. Annie just needs the summer to spruce up and sell her family’s farm so she and her young son can start a new life in the big city. Simple, easy, perfect.

Sawyer has always regretted letting the first girl he loved slip away. He won’t make the same mistake twice, but can he convince beautiful, wary Annie to trust her heart again when she’s been given every reason not to? And as a single kiss turns to so much more, can Annie give up her idea of perfect for a forever that’s blissfully real.

Full disclosure: I don’t typically veer towards small town romances for my reading pleasure. What’s different this time is that THIS is Lia Riley and since I love her Off The Map series, I’m all about following her through her latest endeavour!

Annie reluctantly returns to her small town of Brightwater as a divorced single-parent who needs to assemble a plan for her future while picking up all her broken pieces. She’s a champion putting on a brave face for her sweet son, Atticus, and it’s only in those solitary moments when she allows herself to crumble just enough. On the agenda as well is to get her family farm ready for sale. It’s just far too expensive to maintain and her family wants out. This causes mixed feelings for Annie who has bitter memories of being the town’s oddity yet she loves her family home. 

Running into Sawyer and realizing that she still has the hots for him is not in the plan. No, not when she’s still trying to figure herself out. Sawyer is the opposite. He's so happy she's back and sees a chance to make up for an unfortunate misunderstanding that happened years before. He wants to make it right with Annie now. Sawyer is the ultimate good guy without what Lia Riley has described as the “man flu”. He knows she's vulnerable at the moment, and though being around Atticus makes him wonder if he has the potential to be a capable dad, he doesn’t want to be discounted.

I was utterly wrapped up in this charming story that has two of the sweetest and most likable characters I've ever come across. Gentle, quirky Annie is still struggling with insecurities and Sawyer just wants to love her. The sparks come out in full force as they get reacquainted and it’s just a matter of who can hold out longer.

Aside from Annie and Sawyer, there are some other pretty awesome characters that’ll be fun to get to know as they series wears on. There’s Sawyer’s crotchety grandma who’s carrying the flag for the family’s decades-long feud with Annie's, Archer who's Sawyer’s Lothario of a brother and finally Edie, who’s new to the community. The town of Brightwater that this is set in provides a lovely respite from reality. I felt like I was on vacation. I look forward to more from this series – Right Wrong Guy featuring Archer and Edie comes out in August.  Go on and get smitten!
~ Bel
      Last First Kiss (Brightwater, #1)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (154)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

Second Chance Summer (Cedar Ridge, #1)By Jill Shalvis
Publication Date: June 30, 2015

RESCUE MECedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks)
By Miranda Kenneally
Publication Date: July 7, 2015

Practice Makes Perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

Exposed (Captive #2)By Brighton Walsh
Publication Date: July 21, 2015

In this sexy, suspenseful New Adult novel, a young woman hiding from her criminal past is taken captive by her ex-boyfriend, the ultimate bad boy.

Evie is about to embark on the perfect life. Beautiful, poised, and engaged to a rising business star, she fits the part of trophy wife perfectly, except for one thing: her entire identity is a lie. 

Five years ago she created a new identity for herself, but it all crashes back when something she witnessed years ago comes back to haunt her. Now she's in danger of losing more than her social status. 

Determined to protect the careful life she's built for herself, Evie doesn't want anything to do with Riley, the criminal for hire who broke her heart years ago. But Riley has other ideas. He's never forgotten Evie, and to protect her, he steals her away. Hidden from the world, sparks begin to fly as old memories resurface and their passion reignites.