Book Review – Beautifully Broken by Laura Lee

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TITLE: Beautifully Broken
AUTHOR: Laura Lee
PAGES:  326 pages
PUBLISHED: November 15th 2016
PUBLISHER: LAN Fiction LLC
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Forbidden Romance

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
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SUMMARY:

The story begins with our heroine Kat, drinking in a seedy bar on her 18th birthday when she meets Gavin. Or “Sparkles” as Kat dubbed him. We learn quickly that Kat has had a tough life. She has been in the foster system since she was a kid, never knew her dad, and has a heroin-addicted mother who is barely present in her life. Tonight she is trying to forget her problems and Gavin seems like the perfect distraction. Their attraction to one another is off the charts and neither of them can deny it.

Kat goes home with him and lies about her age and turns every question he asks –like what she does for work – into a game so he barely knows anything about her. Imagine his surprise when a few days later she is sitting in his classroom and Gavin a.k.a. Sparkles is also Mr. Cooper her English teacher! They both try to deny their attraction and know their situation is wrong even though he didn’t know she was in high school and she is eighteen, but fighting their feelings is harder than they thought.

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MY REVIEW:

When I first saw this book and all the 5 star reviews I was a little skeptical. The premise of a forbidden romance between teacher and student isn’t something I normally find appealing to read but something compelled me to pick this up and I am glad I did! This book definitely goes down as a guilty pleasure read.

Kat was really an amazing character. Life threw her so many curve balls and she took everything in stride. She was even more mature than Gavin in certain parts of the novel. And even though parts of her were broken, Gavin’s constant reassurance of telling her she is worthy of love and respect helped her feel whole again. It was such a feel good novel in that aspect even though there was a ton of seriously dark drama. This was definitely more real than I thought it would be from the blurb, which was a good thing. The dialogue was very well written as well. Their flirty banter was cute and believable and Kat and her friends acted and talked like real eighteen year olds.

I also liked the non-judgemental aspect of stripping in the novel. Kat described most of her coworkers as being college students just trying to earn a quick buck so they can advance in life. We find that some of the girls that have worked there have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, veterinarians etc. Although I think this is not the case for many strip joints, I think it is still a good lesson that you shouldn’t judge someone for where their life leads them.

I know some readers have a hard rule with cheating and I think this may blur the line….Just a forewarning but (view spoiler). Decide what you will about that. I didn’t mind but I know others consider once the two main characters have had any kind of physical contact another woman/man in the picture is unacceptable.

I was also really frustrated with the ending. I could completely understand Kat’s POV and why she chose what she did but Gavin really had no excuse.

Overall this was a really interesting and angsty read. If you are looking for serious drama but with a HEA then this is the book for you! Thank you Netgalley, LAN Fiction LLC, and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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ARC Book Review – Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally

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TITLE: Coming Up For Air
AUTHOR: Miranda Kenneally
PAGES:  320 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: July 1st 2017
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
GENRE: Young Adult, Romance, Sports, Contemporary

MY RATING: 5/5 birds
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MY REVIEW & SUMMARY:

Guys, this was so good.

Like really, adorably, amazingly good!

I wasn’t a huge fan of Catching Jordan, Miranda Kenneally’s first novel in the Hundred Oaks series. When I received this from Netgalley I wasn’t sure what to expect. As someone who absolutely loves swimming, I was hoping this would entice more than football does and I just could not put it down! I seriously read this in one sitting! Although the romance was perfect (who else loves the “best friends to something more” trope?), I was absolutely enthralled with Maggie’s competitive swimming world.

Maggie is trying to qualify for the Olympics. Her entire life is eating and swimming. Her only free time involves hanging out at the local burger place on Friday night with her three closest friends, Georgia, Hunter and Levi. Levi is her best friend and the most understanding of her schedule as he is a competitive swimmer as well. As Maggie lives vicariously through her friend’s lives she realises that she may be missing out of the quintessential high school “experience”. After a disastrous hook-up Maggie decides to ask Levi to help her gain some experience before heading off to college. After he hesitantly agrees the line between friendship and something more becomes blurry.

The healthy sex attitude in the novel blew me away. The way the characters, and especially one of the teachers, approached sex was really well done. It wasn’t something to be ashamed of. It wasn’t this crazy secretive thing. No one pretended that teenagers don’t want to experiment and have sex. It was realistic and healthy and just normal. A real breath of fresh air in the YA world and I have to applaud Kenneally for that.

Even if you didn’t love Kenneally’s other novels, I would still recommend this. Kenneally does an amazing job of showing us Maggie’s intense routine and it was hard not to admire Maggie’s passion and determination. It really does amaze me that there are people out there this dedicated to their sport.

Now I am going to have to go back and read the rest of the Hundred Oak series!

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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ARC Book Review -Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah’s Scribbles)

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TITLE: Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah’s Scribbles)
AUTHOR: Sarah Andersen
PAGES:  128 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: March 7th, 2016
PUBLISHER: Andrews McMeel Publishing
GENRE: Graphic Novel/Comic Book, Humor, Non-Fiction

MY RATING: 5/5 birds
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MY REVIEW:

I received this as an ebook and I’m so curious if this will have that same velour fuzzy stuff on the cover that the first novel had. That stuff was the best.

Much like the first comic book of Sarah’s Scribbles, I feel like all introverts need to read this. Sarah Andersen is so relatable it’s mind-blowing. Even things that don’t have to do with being introvert or having social anxiety were relatable to me. Like how she always steals her boyfriend’s clothes (hmm big sweaters) and the panel that describes all the alternative things a boyfriend brings to the relationship (I checked off each one). It feels like Sarah Andersen knows you personally, which makes me happy because it reminds me that even if I often feel alone in this world there are many people who do think/act like me.

Even though there were a few panels that were very similar to previous ones I felt like the entire book was more inspiring than the last. I loved all of the female friendship positivity.

And I might be an outlier here but I think I like this one better than her first book. Maybe just marginally as I gave them both 5 stars. Sarah you can do no wrong!

P.S. I would also like to know how some girls have beautiful hair after four days of not washing. I’m definitely the second-day = gross hair type person. No amount of dry shampoo can tame these locks.

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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ARC Book Review – A Long Walk Home by Piper Landen

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TITLE: A Long Walk Home
AUTHOR: Piper Landen
PAGES:  166 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: December 27th 2016
PUBLISHER: Patchwork Press
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Animals

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

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SUMMARY:

For Romance Week on Goodreads I decided to pick up this cute short novel from NetGalley. The story started off with Casey finding a stray dog in a park and deciding to take him home. Casey has no experience with dogs and is very unsure. She contacts a rescue agency and works with them to find a home for the stray dog that they end up calling Baloo. Casey decides, with her roommate’s consent, that she will foster Baloo until he finds a permanent home.

Casey goes back to the park to hand out flyers if anyways knows Baloo and meets a gorgeous runner named Charlie. She keeps running into him until he asks her out. It’s a cute (somewhat cliché) meet cute.

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MY REVIEW:

Overall the novel is exactly what you expect. It is only 160 pages long (ebook) and very adorable, with lots of little antics by Baloo and insta-love.

I didn’t really enjoy the writing as I found it a bit disjointed and too formal. There were massive walls of text just explaining Casey’s day and what the dog was going in too much detail that had no action or dialogue to break it up.

The dialogue between Casey and Charlie was also a bit awkward. I didn’t understand some of the “jokes” and conversations they had. For example when she first texted Charlie he asked if she had any dietary restrictions (which I assume to mean vegan or something) and she answers “Once upon a time, I did the paleo thing, back when I was exercising for fun, like a maniac (no offense). But I got past it. All food is good food as far as I’m concerned.”

Huh? Why does she say ‘no offense’? Is it because she always sees him running and assumes he is an exercising maniac? Because she used the word maniac? This was just an example of many dialogues that I did not understand in this novel.

I thought Charlie and Casey’s first date was actually really cute but unfortunately I didn’t actually like Charlie at all. He seemed to have quite the temper and I didn’t like how he got mad so fast and didn’t hear Casey out. I didn’t actually get a sense of a HEA here which is bit disappointing, especially in a romance novel.

Because this novel was so short it suffered because I don’t recall Casey every talking about what she did for work/school and she seemed to either be hanging out with Baloo at home, with Charlie, watching Netflix and it seemed really unrealistic. Charlie’s occupation wasn’t mentioned either. I felt like I really didn’t to know the characters well at all.

Overall, despites its flaws this was a very quick and cute read. Perfect for Romance Week on Goodreads!

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Review – For Finlay

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**ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

TITLE: For Finlay
AUTHOR: J. Nathan
PAGES:  214 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: January 30, 2017
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Sports

MY RATING: 4/5 birds

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SUMMARY:

Finlay lived her entire life in the shadow of her older brother, football star Cole Thatcher. She hates always being referred to as Cole’s little sister and always craved an identity of her own. This causes her to push her older brother away, a mistake she regrets every day when her brother suddenly dies.

Two years later, moving to a new town to work for the Alabama college football team she is trying to live her brother’s dream. Even if it means working beside the new quarterback Caden Brooks. She has reasons to hate him for taking her brother’s place on the Alabama team but soon hatred turns into sexual tension as neither of them can deny the strong attraction they feel.

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MY REVIEW:

This was a very sweet NA book that reminded me a lot of the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. I am glad I picked this up, even though I really have no interest in football because it was very enjoyable! Both Finlay and Caden are great characters. I like how the mistake and the whole reason that Finlay hated Caden as much as she did before even meeting him was very realistic and this book had no drama just for drama’s sake. The conflict was well written and interesting.

The only issues I had was that I could have done without Caden’s POV entirely! I felt like it didn’t really add much to the plot for me and it would have been interesting getting to know Finlay better and learning more about what she wanted to do in life, like picking a major, future plans, her relationship with her parents etc.

I also found some of the scene changes in the novel disorientating. For example, Caden and Grady get into a fist fight and instead of continuing that storyline and finding out what happened, it starts the next scene with Finlay swimming at 4 am. The author could have easily started the new paragraph in Caden’s POV. Where did the rest of the day go? We obviously learn what happened when Caden comes to where Finlay is swimming but I would have rather followed the story closer…or why have Caden’s POV at all?

The epilogue was very sweet and we definitely get a HEA, although I was a bit disappointed that Caden never resolved his issues with his dad because I felt like his dad’s new wife had a point when she spoke to Caden at the hospital when he was sleeping beside Finlay.

Overall this was a very fun and entertaining read but it goes beyond the typical NA novel by talking about dealing with death. If you enjoyed The Deal by Elle Kennedy or Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock I would definitely recommend this!

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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