Sonntag, 1. Mai 2016

The Natural History of Us - Rachel Harris

Title: The Natural History of Us
Author: Rachel Harris
Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Spencer Hill Press for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release date.
One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who's forever owned his heart. Justin Carter has a secret. He's not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy...and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she'd ever forgive him. Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she's done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she'll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first. For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate's given him a shot at redemption, he's determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton...well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.

Sometimes, there are books that hook me right from the start. And when these books happen to be ARCs, I feel even more grateful for having received those. The Natural History of Us is one of those books. And it's also one of my favourite reads this year. We're only five months into 2016, but I can already tell that much.

Something about this book, the story plus the writing, held me captivated right from the start. Sure, this kind of story - sort of a second chance romance novel - has been told a million times already. Normally, I dislike reading about the same topics over and over again. But it was different here. There was so much more to it than the ever lasting misunderstandings, though yes, these appear too.

So, Peyton and Justin have been broken up for about three years now when suddenly a school assignment forces them to work together again. While Peyton isn't exactly happy about the current situation, Justin finally sees a chance to make things right, to explain why he did what he did three years ago. It's then that Peyton realizes she may not be as over him as she originally thought.

And yes, that sounds very predictable, I understand your doubts. But I think every Rachel Harris fan (which I am now. Definitely! Even though it was my first book by her) will agree when I say this is a masterpiece. It truly is. The chemistry between the two main characters is too strong to deny. I often blushed myself, because I was so lost in the story, so deeply in love with it. I hate not pointing out certain things specifically, but seriously... I'm still so over the moon by this book that it's impossible for me to find the right words describing it. The excitement leaves me speechless.

If I wanted to name a thing I kinda of disliked about The Natural History of Us, it would be the rodeo thing. But that's because I don't like horses. The rest about the story, the illness, the characters, their story, their past, their new beginning... That was all really beautiful and so well sorted out. Whatever feelings Peyton or Justin felt, it was like their feelings were copied on me. I love when an author is capable of doing so. It's a really hard task making the reader feel the emotions, and Rachel Harris did a fabulous job.

Again, this book is one of my ultimate favourites this year, which I'm a bit surprised about, because these days, I usually prefer new adult romances over young adult romances. And while it isn't immature in the least, it's also not as heavy as an adult romance. I loved it very much.

Donnerstag, 21. April 2016

Dreaming of Antigone - Robin Bridges

Title: Dreaming of Antigone
Author: Robin Bridges
Rating: 3.5 - 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its release.
“I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him.

I had a lot of time to read this, yes, and I only managed to read it now that it got published. Can I say I was scared? Because I was. It's been some time since I read a regular young adult book. I'm much more of a new adult reader these days, so whenever I browse through the titles in the YA section, I get a little scared that my love for this genre will fade or something. Which won't happen - I hope. But maybe if it eventually does, it's not because of Dreaming of Antigone. That book was seriously good!

People will say this book was good, but I think it was better than good (even though I just used the same word to describe it). Reading the first few chapters I was almost disappointed by how short they were, by how few things I understood. Nothing made sense to me. I got that Andria's sister had died and also because it had to do with drugs, but still, I missed the deeper meaning. And then, about 10% in, I was flashed. I was amazed. I don't even know why. Nothing spectacular happened, or maybe it did?! I think it was the mentioning of poems and that cute thing Andria had going on with a mysterious person. In class, she'd scribble a poem on her desk and when she returned the next day, for a new lesson, there'd be an answer - a new poem, scribbled down by a mysterious person. Oh, that was so cute!

Yet, sure... There was this Antigone topic that Andria discussed in class. Never having heard of that before (at least not that I remember and certainly not in English), I was lost. I love Greek mythology, so I guess sooner or later I'll find myself in a library and search for Antigone and all the others, but at this point, the talks, the discussions and the thoughts didn't make sense to me. I wish they had. New idea - read Dreaming of Antigone again when found out more about the Greek story behind it.

Reading about loss can be depressing (and oh was it depressing when Sophie, Andria's dog started feeling bad. I lost my cat this year, so that explains why I almost cried at that scene). But I liked the way Robin Bridges dealt with this topic. She didn't make it all depressive, the book wasn't all dark. Finding out the truth behind Iris' - Andria's sister's - death was shocking, yes, but I never felt overwhelmed by any darkness or something. I don't know how else to describe it. The balance was a good one, I guess that's what I want to say.

Then there is Alex. Alex was Iris' boyfriend. They did the drugs together and when Iris died, Alex had to go to rehab. The book begins when he is back - and clean for that matter. He carries a lot of guilt with him and Andria blames him for her sister's death. But the more time they are forced to spend together, the more do their feelings shift and soon enough Andria finds out that Alex isn't the one to blame for what happened. But no matter how much she likes him, is it really right to fall for your sister's boyfriend even if she's gone? Oh, I love stories like that - when the sibling of the one who died falls for the former boyfriend/girlfriend. Only now I realize it's most likely always a sister that dies. (Hey there, authors. Please include a brother too!)

Being a (wannabe) writer myself, I imagine it to be really hard coming up with a story around the relationship of the characters. I liked how Robin Bridges made Andria and Alex bump into each other when they did. I especially loved the stargazing scene at a party they both attended. That was really sweet. And that's exactly what Alex is. Sweet! He's super adorable. One of my favourite boys from any YA books I have read so far, gotta admit that.

One last thing about Andria's friends, who were friends of Iris as well. I think I'll read Natalie's book that is coming out in September, but I can't promise I'll like her. Or Trista for that matter. And I'd just rather forget about Caleb than consider him changing to become a better person. Andria and Alex were my favourite characters in this book. And Sophie. But even Andria's mom... I didn't like her. All she cared for were other people's opinions. I'm glad her feelings toward Alex changed with time, though.

Re-reading this review, I think I should take a class on writing a useful review, but this is how I see it. This is how I felt while reading Dreaming of Antigone, which developed into one of my favourite read this year pretty fast.

Undecided - Julianna Keyes

Title: Undecided
Author: Julianna Keyes
Rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Patchwork Press - Cooperative for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its release.
Nora Kincaid has one goal for her second year of college: be invisible. Last year’s all-party-no-study strategy resulted in three failed classes and two criminal charges, and if she messes up again she’ll lose her scholarship. But there’s one problem with her plan for invisibility, and his name is Crosbie Lucas: infamous party king, general hellraiser…and her new roommate’s best friend.

Crosbie’s reckless reputation and well-known sexcapades aren’t part of Nora’s studious new strategy, but as she’s quickly learning, her new plan is also really boring. When Crosbie’s unexpected gestures of friendship pull her head out of her books long enough to see past his cocky veneer, she’s surprised to find a flawed and funny guy beneath it all. The muscles don’t hurt, either. But as Nora starts to fall for Crosbie, the weight of one of last year’s bad decisions grows even heavier. Because three failing grades and two misdemeanors are nothing compared to the one big secret she’s hiding…

Of course I didn't manage to read this book on time. As always. Or quite often, to say the least. I am sorry for that, but you may wanna know that I mentioned this book to a lot of friends and other people and that was even before I started reading it. So I made some promo. I hope it gets picked up after my recommendation. Hope I could help a little with that.

I expected to read about a triangle romance, considering the cover and parts of the description. However, it doesn't include any triangle romance, a bit of triangle flirt maybe, but no romances. Definitely not that. And though I finished this book a few days ago, I can't decide whether I'm glad about that or not. I am undecided, so to speak, haha.

I found the female main character a bit annoying. I gotta admit that. Sure, she wasn't all that bad, but I am actually very happy we don't get a point of view from her former self - she used to be kinda like a party animal. When the author described that certain time of her life, I found myself being relieved Julianna didn't decide to write a whole book about that time. I wouldn't have liked it. Like, at all. I can see why some people behave like that and I also accept the fact that authors want their characters to be a little challenging and not too plain, but I couldn't have releated to that girl. And I think relating to characters is always an important thing too. Anyway, I couldn't relate to Nora - the character - in a lot of scenes, so there goes that theory...

Now, I really, honestly and seriously disliked her former friend Marcela. Nora still works with her, but she's mad after Marcela didn't stand up for her when being arrested and so on. It's complicated. Whatever. She seemed to be even more of a slut than Nora. (Alright, it's out there, I'm sorry. That's my opinion. I'm normally not a judging person and I'm not saying the character was badly written or anything. She was just a lot to handle for me. They all were.) The funny thing, Marcela secretly likes Nate - their boss - but would never admit it. And Nate's also in love with Marcela, not so secretly. But since Marcela doesn't give him that time of the day, Nate starts dating someone else. This is just a side story of the actual one, but I kind of enjoyed reading about the two. Do they get their own story? I would read that, no matter how much I dislike Marcela.

So, now off to the main part. The romance. Crosbie has a certain reputation, just like his best friend Kellan. But Nora has been there, done that and though she think Crosbie is handsome and very attractive, she doesn't want to end up as a Crossbabe. That's what the girls Crosbie slept with are called. (I liked that, by the way.) There are many situations in which is clear that Nora and Crosbie are attrachted to each other. And when they finally both realize this, there is still a secret Nora keeps that could ruin everything between them.

The secret Nora keeps isn't so secret. I mean, it is to Crosbie, but us readers find out pretty fast. Within the first chapter actually. I could complain about this, but I won't. Simply because finding out so soon didn't bother me. At least the author didn't want to drag this into eternity. I hate when that happens. However, I was annoyed by how many times Nora pointed out she didn't wanna be a Crossbabe. Alright, girl, we understood you the first time you mentioned that. Sometimes, she appeared to be a little naive, which was weird concerning her previous behaviour. Women, huh? haha.

All in all I really liked this book. I liked the author's writing, it was great! And the story might not have been mysterious or something like that, but it was fun to read. I liked the costumes described for the Halloween party and there were tons of other scenes that I enjoyed. Also, I am desperate for a Kellan book. I need one so bad! Forget about Crosbie! Once you finish reading Undecided, you'll want a Kellan.

Montag, 18. April 2016

After We Fall (Take The Fall #03) - Marquita Valentine

Title: After We Fall (Take The Fall #03)
Author: Marquita Valentine
Rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release date.
A tough cop with an even tougher past, Hunter Sloan has never let anyone stop him from getting what he wants—and he wants Evangeline Ambrose bad. With her gentle curves and raw vulnerability, Hunter's beautiful, mysterious new neighbor awakens his protective side. Determined to do right by a woman who's gone through hell and back, Hunter could be the one to take away the pain—so long as his own secrets don't sink their relationship before it begins.

Having escaped an abusive marriage, Evangeline simply wants to start over in the small, quiet town of Forrestville. She's also avoiding all contact with the opposite sex, because she just can't trust her instincts when it comes to men—not even with the sinfully sexy cop next door. So why can't she stop thinking about him? Hunter has darkness in his soul, and yet no one ever made her feel so safe. For all her best laid plans, Evangeline didn't count on choices this hard—or temptation this hot.

It's been a few hours since I finished this book and it's still so present on my mind. Unfortunately, it took me quite a while to finish it, but that's because I was so focused on another book, I own a physical copy of. It's just a lot more difficult for me to write a book on my cell phone these days. However, Marquita Valentine makes this 'pain' perfectly bearable.

After We Fall is my second book by this author and it won't be my last, I promise. After a few pages, I couldn't believe I had already read book in this series, because the writing is so very different from When We Fall. Or is that just me? Seriously, if I hadn't known better, I wouldn't have been able to tell it's the same author. That's not a bad thing, if you're worried. I was just surprised, that's all.

Even though this is just the second book by this author that I have dared to read so far (and if it wasn't for NetGalley, I probably wouldn't have even found out about this author), I think Marquita has a special talent creating perfect book boyfriends. I loved Hunter! He was so great. And although I am kind of 'tired' about reading of abused women (don't get me wrong, that subject is horrible and if you know anyone suffering from an abusive partner, make sure to let the police know. There is help!), I wasn't bothered by Evangeline. She was just learning how to stand up for herself and I loved seeing Hunter encouraging her to do that.

Their story seemed like a telling, not a made-up story. So, yeah... That's real talent here, I think.

I'm glad this story didn't focus on her previous YouTube career so much. I wasn't the least interested in reading about that. I mean, it was great what she did afterwards, using her account, but if there is one thing I mostly don't enjoy it's reading about 'famous' people. No clue why. Oh, and I totally adored Jake. Aww, he was the cutest dog. Animals always melt my heart, just like good book boyfriends, like Hunter, do.

Whether you are a fan of Marquita or look for a strong woman in a book, who doesn't depend on a guy but still decides to give love a chance after different bad happenings in the past, I suggest you go and grab your copy of After We Fall. I sure as hell enjoyed reading it, and I can't wait for Saylor's story. She added the nerdy-parts and gah, I am a sucker for nerdy people in books.

Montag, 28. März 2016

Before Hadley - J. Nathan

Title: Before Hadley
Author: J. Nathan
Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Patchwork Press - Cooperative for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release.
What's worse than a cocky new guy at school? A cocky new guy with a killer body and the attention of the entire female student body. Hadley can tell the minute she lays eyes on Caynan that he's someone to avoid. He may have looks and charm, but he's also got heartbreak written all over his pretty face.

Unfortunately for Hadley, Caynan has his sights set on her. She's the one girl who doesn't want him. The one girl who's turned off by his charm. The one girl who challenges him like no other. And, though she couldn't possibly know the truth about him, she seems to be the one girl who really sees him.

But with Caynan, things aren't at all what they seem. His secrets have secrets and everything out of his mouth straddles the line between truth and fiction. He knows better than to get involved with anyone, especially with his time limited in the new town, but he just can't seem to get Hadley out of his mind. Too bad for him, secrets never remain secrets for long.

Alright, so this book devides into two parts. I rarely come across these novels and I usually don't like it too much when years pass around the middle of the book and the second part focuses on the characters' future, but that system fit here. It just felt... Right. Because the male character's story is so unique and unusual, there had to be a second part.

Hadley is a rich girl, who isn't exactly popular, but still has a bunch of friends. Also, she gets invited to parties and that's where she meets Caynan. He's new to town and seems like the typical player, but there is something about Caynan that no one knows. And that is exactly what makes this book so thrilling. I mean, I have never ever read about such a character before. Well, maybe once, but that book wasn't anything like this.

You see, I can't tell what Caynan does, but it's shocking. And his secrets are what he fears might tear him and Hadley apart. But when Hadley finally agrees to go out with him, he knows he can't let her go. She's it for him. Too bad his father has got different plans for him and so it happens - a betray is in the making and Hadley sees Caynan for who he really is. Question is: Who is he?

Three years later, their paths cross again and while Caynan is still determined to make Hadley his, Hadley has tried to move on and can't see herself forgiving Caynan for what he has done.

Enough with my always-reapting summary. I can tell you... I was hooked. I mean, the scenes in the beginning weren't really much different from any other book I have read in the past. Hadley seemed like the girls I can't stand - feisty, yet totally insecure about themselves. Being feisty is their cover-up, their facade. And I think, it was like that, too. So, while I didn't like her much, I liked the plot idea. I usually don't enjoy any crime topics in books, so I was surprised by how much I wanted to find out about Caynan's story. His love for Hadley was so strong - nothing could destroy it. That was really sweet, however in the end, I didn't understand him anymore. And of course that is when Hadley changes her mind, last minute thing and all. That was too much of a drama for me.

So, my review is probably a mess (as always), but I think I made my point clear. Before Hadley is a great read, a thrilling read. If you like high school romances, shocking news, wrong decisions, stupid parents and second chanes in novels, then you'll most likely love it.

Dienstag, 22. März 2016

Wanting More (Love on Campus #02) - Jessica Ruddick

Title: Wanting More (Love on Campus #02)
Author: Jessica Ruddick
Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before its official release.
I can’t stop wanting her…

Bri Welch likes to play it safe. I don’t. She’s wound tight, and I’m all about a good party. But there’s something about her that makes me want to pull those uptight layers away one-by-delicious-one. But the worst thing is she makes me want more...

Wanting More is exactly my kind of book. Right from the start, I was hooked. And I was surprised by it, too, because I saw how many pages it included and became scared first. Lately, I've been enjoying quick and short reads much more, but this book was different for me. I got hooked on the story pretty fast and couldn't wait to find out more and more.

It's this typical kind of story that pulls me under a magic spell, it seems. Good girl, bad boy. Yeah, I'm one of those readers, if you know what I mean. I can't help it, but these stories never get old. They just don't. Like some people enjoy crime books about a hot detective and a nice cute bartender or whatever... I happen to like college romances including sweet girls and bad boys. And to be honest, Josh wasn't that bad. I mean, he was a player, definitely, yes. But from page one it was pretty clear he had a good heart. And if there is one thing I enjoy more than bad boys, it's bad boys with good hearts. Does that even make sense?

So, Josh isn't a good student, having switched his major a hundred times before. Finally, he is forced to pull his head together and that's when Bri joins the picture. She's a year older than Josh (which I looooved, by the way. It's always about older boys, so this was a nice change) and is set to help him with his courses, figuring out what he wants to do with his life. That's how I understood this system anyway. In the beginning, she doesn't think he has it in him to actually study hard for something. That's what encourages Josh even more. He makes a bet with Brianna - he passes his next few exams with Bs at least, and she has to join a party.

You see, Bri isn't the party girl. She doesn't go out that often and she's okay with it. I guess she and Josh both challenge each other to become a better person. And while Josh always says she's making him become a better man, I think it works both ways. I loved how well the author worked with their relationship's speed. The story never once felt rushed or dragged or something. Everything was worked out perfectly. I am jealous, yes, because I never achieve these things, so good job, Jessica!

Now, Josh doesn't think he's good enough for Brianna. For whatever reason. It has to do with the fact that she actually enjoys studying while he doesn't. Her ex-boyfriend's future is set - he is supposed to become a lawyer and Josh just can't offer Bri that much. He loves music, that much he knows, but what to do with his life? Well, that's another question. And then there is his father, who treats him like he isn't worthy of anything, like he is throwing his future away. Gah, I really hated his father at first. I'm glad about the way the author made it all work out somehow. (And I absolutely adored Josh's half-sister. She is such a cutie!)

We don't find out much about Bri's friends. Not at first, at least. We know there is this one close friend she has, but it's only when she starts developing feelings for Josh that we find out more about her "clique". Some readers might say we don't enough scenes like that, but honestly, I was happy about that. It wouldn't have done the book any good, forcing more stories about her so-called friends or something. The scenes we got were enough.

So, lastly, I wanna say that Wanting More is on my list of my favourite books 2016. I can safely say it will stay that way until the end of the year. As I said before, it was exactly my kind of book - just what I like. The story might sound ordinary, but believe me, it's really, really good.

Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders #02) - Cate Cameron

Title: Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders #02)
Author: Cate Cameron
Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC for letting me receive a digital copy of this book.
Sixteen-year-old Claudia Waring has never kissed a boy. Never been popular. Never been to a hockey game. All that’s about to change. Assigned to tutor Chris Winslow, a prank-loving, gorgeous hockey player, Claudia’s perfectly planned life immediately veers off course. And she kind of likes it. But as fun as Chris is, she knows she'll never fit in his world.

After his latest prank lands him in hot water, Chris has to get serious about school or lose hockey. Not an easy thing for someone as carefree as the defenseman. The biggest problem, though, is how much he wants to help his cute, buttoned-up tutor loosen up a little. But while confidence has never been a problem for him, around Claudia, Chris is all nerves. Why would a girl as smart as her ever fall for a jock like him?

I'm trying to think of a time I've read about a hockey player, but I think it never happened before. One or two times, tops. So it was kinda refreshing to dive into a sports I'm not really familiar with. I loved it as a kid, but it's not such a big sport here in Germany.

Anyway... Playing Defense is a really cute young adult read. Sometimes, the scenes were too long for me and I'd get bored, though. Especially that time Claudia and Karen met and decided to form a sisterhood. I didn't understand that at all and only by the end of the book, I kinda understood the advantages of it. Let me explain, the sisterhood is just something Claudia - the main character - and Karen - one of Chris' friends - come up with. They want to be awesome and the sisterhood - which is basically a clique, a club or whatever - is all about challenge yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone and such.

Now, that's the only thing I didn't like about this book, which is why I decided to mention it at first. Now I can focus on the good things about Playing Defense. The prank Chris pulled up in the beginning of the book reminded me of Simone Elkeles' books and everybody knows I LOVE her books. I was pleased some other author decided to create a character like that - a reckless one, someone who doesn't really care about anything than his friends, his favourite sports and pulling pranks. I usually would sell myself as someone who doesn't like that at all, but it just works. It worked really good for this book.

Focusing on the main part about this book - Claudia and Chris. Aren't they the cutest? Alright, so Claudia has never been kissed and when she is told to tutor Chris, of course she notices how handsome and attractive she is. But still, she feels like even if there was a chance with him, she doesn't belong with him and his group of friends. She's a nerdy kind of girl, someone who has got her whole education figured out. And Chris isn't. He knows he loves hockey and wants to keep playing, but he's also realistic and knows the chances are pretty slim to make it into NHL. The two of them are from two different worlds.

However, as Chris finds himself being interested in Claudia as more than just his tutor, Claudia agrees to let him join the sisterhood and both of their feelings shift. Everything could be daisies and other summer flowers and rainbows and whatever else there is... But there is Claudia's mother, a woman who isn't too pleased with her daughter's choice of boyfriend. And there isn't a single moment she lets Chris feel how wrong she thinks he is for her daughter.

I felt so sorry for Chris and wanted to give Claudia - or Dia as the sisterhood calls her - a wakeup call. She wasn't acting like herself, I wanted her to figure her out. I wanted her to find her own path, not the one her mother choose for her. Gosh, it was really frustrating reading about conversations with her mother and so on. And of course it took a major tragic to make her see what us readers knew all along - this isn't what is it supposed to be like, living someone else's dreams.

I feel like my review is more of a retelling of the book. I am sorry for that, but I can't really find any better words. If you like reading about boys that do sports and enjoy the young adult genre, I suggest you take a chance on Playing Defense, because it's really heartwarming. I enjoyed it.