Tag Archives: young adult

Book Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Title: FireworksFireworks_JKT

Author: Katie Cotugno

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.




 

Katie Cotugno just released a new book and of course I had it pre-ordered months ago! Fireworks fell a little short for me though, compared to her previous novels How to Love and 99 Days, yet I still devoured this book in a matter of days because Cotugno’s writing is so easy and fun to read.

The characters in Fireworks weren’t as easy for me to love as characters in her previous books. I felt like everyone was unreachable, like they were on a pedestal and I couldn’t relate to them easily. Dana came from a not so well off family, so she should have been easy to relate to, but I wanted to see more of her home life. What did her mother think of her leaving town to become a girl in a pop group? Did her mom even notice she left? And why didn’t she bring a swim suit with her to Orlando?! Don’t Floridians always have swimsuits with them no matter what?!

The romance was just enough in this, I was kind of worried it would be lacking based on the plot, but I was very pleased in the end. I found myself putting a ton of trust in Alex, more trust than I’ve ever put in a male character. He was so kind and patient with Dana while she was going through her problems in Orlando and back home in Jessel.

What I find funny is I never seem to like Cotugno’s main characters best friend. I hated Olivia so much. She came off as a backstabber from the beginning. We don’t see a great conclusion between ‘Dolivia’, but I think it’s the only conclusion that would have worked.

And that cover, Katie, keep doing the polaroid look on your books! Like 99 Days and this, they are so aesthetically pleasing! I’m loving all of her covers so much!

Though Dana doesn’t get a 100% happy ending, I like to believe that she was at least happy with her decisions. And I love that about all three of Cotugno’s books. She leaves them open-ended but without a cliffhanger. You know that the character is going to be all right, but they still have some conflict by the last sentence, just nothing major.

Overall, if you’re going to read anything by Cotugno, I’d read 99 Days or How to Love first. Fireworks doesn’t do Cotugno’s writing justice. However, I am so pumped for her next novel, Top Ten, that’s supposed to come out later this year.

 

May Wrap Up & June TBR

 

May Wrap Up

Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

If you love fantasy and you’re looking for an up and coming author, you need to check this book out. It’s great for people who are trying to get into reading the fantasy genre and lovers of fantasy already. Check out my review here.

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Huge fan of Katie Cotugno’s writing! Sadly, this one fell short for me but it was devoured in about a week because I love her writing so much. If you’re going to read any of her books, my top recommendation is 99 Days. Review coming on my blog June 9th.

June TBR

I want June to be a decent reading month and I think I can manage 4-5 books. I don’t have Camp NaNo until July, so I plan on reading my heart out!

 

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry- The second book in the Thunder Road series. I meant to finish this one in May but I didn’t feel like reading because I was sick for about a week and a half.

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry- The third book in the Thunder Road series! I’m just going to finish the series this month because I know they’re fun and easy reads.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen- New Release from Sarah Dessen! This comes out June 6th, and I’m pumped up for this one!

Mann Cakes by Mysti Parker- My husband was at a book signing in April and he brought me home a copy of this from one of his author friends. She managed to sell out of this book! So cool!

Into the Deep by Samantha Young- This one was recommended to me by a friend and I decided to give the series a shot considering they take place in Ireland. I recently got my DNA test results back and found out I’m 24% Irish, so now I’m kind of obsessed with anything related to my ‘home country’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

Title: Shadowlith (Book 1 in The Umbral Blade Series)1490375765404

Author: Stuart Thaman

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars




 

Alistair the Fourth was a mighty general from a long-forgotten war. Four hundred years later, Alster Lightbridge is barely a shadow of his legendary namesake. Crippled and confined to his family’s estate, he spends his days dreaming of something larger than himself—something worthy of his name.

Encouraged by his tutor to explore the Lightbridge archive, Alster discovers a magical dagger with the power to cleave shadows from their bodies. Blade in hand, Alster finally understands his purpose, though he needs to find a four-centuries-old grave in order to fulfill it.




 

I don’t read fantasy… at all… but when my husband tells me that he’s putting out a YA fantasy novel, I have to read it! That being said, I’m going to try my best to make this review as unbiased as possible, though I do believe it is well deserving of a perfect 5/5 star review.

What I love to see is writer’s get better as they progress in their novels. This being Thaman’s second fantasy series, I believe it’s a huge step forward in his writing. If you were to compare this novel to his first book, you could tell more time and effort has been put forth.

It’s also an easier read, and there’s less characters to remember than the first fantasy series, The Goblin Wars. I’m used to reading contemporary YA where there are only a handful of characters to follow. Shadowlith has about six main characters to focus on. This allows you to feel more emotions for each character. Elsey was probably my favorite character (that survived) because of the changes she went through during the beginning of a book. She was so excited to get out of the town that she grew up in and go on an adventure with her friend, but then accidents happen and she realizes this adventure to find the Shadow King’s tomb is not for the faint of heart. I really hope in the second book that we see her grow up more and become a super badass female worrier.

Now the ending….

No spoilers ahead! I promise.

I felt like this book closed off on a good note. Let’s say if you didn’t want to read the rest of the books in the series, you could stop (but you don’t want to!) However, Thaman does set our characters up for a huge plot for the next book which I really loved.

Definitely, check this one out. Loved Alster and Elsey.

 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen Review

Title: Saint Anythingsaint_anything-540x822

Author: Sarah Dessen

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars




 

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.




 

I’ve read seven of Sarah Dessen’s books, now eight and I’ve always been a huge fan. Her books are super cute and fun to read. I usually reserve her books for my summer time reading, but I finished this one in March because I wanted to get it out of the way before her new novel comes out.

This one fell a little short for me, but the writing was fantastic and it’s one of Dessen’s more mature novels, as in the plot is something an adult may experience and I felt like Sydney was very mature for her age, even for a YA character. She’s gone through something life changing that not many teens her age have to deal with, which makes her seem wise beyond her years.

I’m guilty of loving ‘insta-love’ and this book was not that at all like Dessen’s other books. This novel is more of a story of friendship, to my surprise I loved seeing Sydney’s interactions with the Chatham’s (mainly Layla, Mac and Mrs. Chatham).

You know what’s nice? Seeing our main character interact with her parents. It’s a pet peeve of mine when parents are only mentioned in one scene of a YA novel. In this novel, we see her parents in almost every chapter. I can’t stand her mother’s opinions and choices, but it’s nice to still know she is a teenager and someone’s at home worrying about her.

Was anyone else thoroughly creeped out by Ames from the very beginning?!  Way to go Mrs. Dessen for coming up with the most unsettling character I’ve ever encountered in your books!

The character development in this novel was excellent. Dessen manages to pull us into a scene and then give us some backstory on the character and then get us back into the scene again.

However, if you’re looking for a cute summer love story like we’re used to from Dessen, you’re not going to find it in this one. The romance doesn’t begin until the novel is over 75% of the way through and we don’t see much either, just a few kisses. Mac seemed like the only underdeveloped character because of this. I really wanted to see more back story with his weight and why it didn’t work out with his ex girlfriend. I probably would have given this a perfect rating had their been more of a relationship like I’m used to while reading Dessen novels.

Dessen did give us a great ending though, solving most of Sydney’s problems up in the final chapter… well except for the one…

Anyone planning on reading Once and For All!? I have it on preorder!

 

Trusting You and Other Lies Book Review

32441709Title: Trusting You and Other Lies

Author: Nicole Williams

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Publication Date: June 20, 2017




 

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years–do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum–the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out–and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?




 

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This was the cutest book! I loved the characters so much, and didn’t encounter anything that I hated about the book. So why didn’t I give it a perfect rating? I felt like it left me wanting more and a lot more. This book could have been way longer, I really wanted to see Phoenix and Callum’s relationship bloom a bit more and see how Phoenix interacted with other counselors.

This book was too short, I just wanted it to continue! Which, I guess is a good thing but I needed more Callum!

I thought the ‘family camp’ situation would be weird but it actually worked for this book.

By the end, the moral of the story is tied up with a nice bow, pulling the title and the plot together which I thought was fantastic. Also thought it was genius to name the character Phoenix and talk about her rising from the ashes.

Trusting You and Other Lies, is a fantastic read for your summer vacation! And because I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover, look at that one! It’s gorgeous!

 

 

Nowhere But Here Book Review and May TBR

 

Title: Nowhere but Here (Thunder Road #1)23492282

Author: Katie McGarry

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars




 

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.




 

At first, this book was a little tough to get into. But by the time I hit a certain part, I just couldn’t go to bed without finishing it. It’s a pretty fast pace read, with a little bit of action. I wanted to read this because I had finally finished watching Sons of Anarchy and I was craving more from a motorcycle club.

All of the characters in this novel are really thought out and I honestly didn’t meet anyone I hated… well, I lied, I hated the Riot when we finally met them. Though Oz is a bit of a jerk in the beginning, I was really rooting for him toward the end. I was rooting for him and Emily to find happiness, together.

This is definitely a great book to read, doesn’t hurt that it was written about the state I live in! I will definitely be reading the rest of the series!




 

May TBR

This is the final weekend for Camp NaNoWriMo, and my book reading was lacking because I was focusing on my writing, but May should be a good reading month for me.

Here’s all the books I plan on reading:

I’ve also been casually reading The Power of a Praying Wife Devotional by Stormie Omartain, about a chapter every other day because I’m working on developing a deeper faith. It’s been a great book so far and I recommend it to any Christian woman who is getting married or already married!

The Fill-In Boyfriend Book Review

Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend51bshpugrel__sx350_bo1204203200_

Author: Kasie West

Genre: Contemporary YA

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.




 

Spoilers in this review!

Apparently, this wasn’t the first book that I’ve read by Kasie West but I was surprisingly pleased by this one. It was on sale for a few bucks on Kindle, so I got a copy without really knowing what it was about.

At first, I wasn’t a fan of Gia, but she grew on me… West did a great job with that. Though her friends were horrible, I really just wanted her to be done with them. I loved how West never really gave us a resolution with the end, but it still felt okay that her and her friends weren’t on good terms when the book ended. Gia was always just the girl who wanted to be perfect at everything, even being a girlfriend, but once Hayden came into the picture, things changed. She became a likeable character.

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I’m a huge fan of ‘istalove’ in YA contemporary but that didn’t happen in this one. We don’t actually have Hayden and Gia get together until toward the end of the novel, to my surprise, I actually liked that and it was very realistic. There were times I wanted to punch Hayden and there were times that I thought he was THE most amazing (fictional) boyfriend that I’ve ever read. Seriously, he was so kind and compassionate, I assume he got that from living with his single mother and his younger sister. Hayden had my heart melting throughout this novel…

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As for the real Bradley, I’m glad he only existed in two to three scenes, he seemed like a slimeball.

Gia’s parents really bothered me (as did her brother), her father was so passive about everything and her mother was a control freak, robot who wanted her kids to behave a certain way without expressing themselves. I really wanted to see Gia break down her mother’s walls toward the end, just a little bit more.

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Fill-In Boyfriend now puts me 5 books ahead on my reading challenge! I think it’s going to be a great year of reading for me! If you’ve read any of Kasie West’s books, which one should I check out next?

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Camp NaNoWriMo: Week 1 Recap

It’s been a little over one week since the April session of Camp Nano began. One week already! I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit distracted due to trying to finish watching the final season of Sons of Anarchy (yes, I still haven’t finished that show) and 13 Reasons Why (based off the book, it’s so good and I’m only 5 episodes in)!

Sunday we had a cabin word war that ended up being very successful! Four or five of us ended up participating. Since we all had different schedules and live in different areas, the word war went from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday and I ended up writing a little over 3,000 words. I’m still about 3k behind, but this weekend we’ll be having another word war, so I hope to catch up then.

One of my cabin mates told me a really good idea that helped with my writing Sunday. It’s the ‘write one page’ task. Where you can’t get up to do anything until you write one page. This helped tremendously!

I’ve also used some advice that my husband heard once where you can’t stop writing at a chapter break. That also helps a ton, because I don’t forget what I was previously writing. It’s hard for me to continue on something if I finish the chapter.

Planning on doing another cabin word war this weekend, hopefully I can catch up!

Anyone else doing Camp Nano? Any tips and tricks to share?

Current camp stats:

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Also, some side news. On April 17th, my husbands new YA Fantasy novel will be released! This is going to be a good one! If you’d like to check it out, find it at any of the 1490375765404following links:

You can also get a signed copy at any of his events he’ll be doing this year! Or he takes orders off of his website and will sign.

Coming Up For Air Book Review

Title: Coming Up For Air32470593

Author: Miranda Kenneally

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 2/5

Release Date: July 1, 2017




Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?




I received this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While browsing through ARC’s on NetGalley, I stumbled upon this one and thought the cover was gorgeous and I knew I wanted to read it so I sent in a request and it was on my kindle within a week! Sadly, I didn’t really get into the book until about 40% of the way in. I felt like the characters were not mature at all, especially Maggie, who thought ‘hooking up’ was the mature/adult thing to do. I was honestly ready to put this book down after a few chapters, but I felt like I needed to finish it and give it the chance to redeem itself.

It was nice to at least see my character struggling with having a romantic life because swimming was taking up all her time. That gave this story a bit more substance. I would have liked to see more reasons why she was attracted to Levi and see a bit earlier his interaction with other girls at swim meets. Toward the end, mostly at the swim meets, I felt like a lot of it was the author making a list of activities that Maggie was going. ‘Coach took us to the hotel, then we got ready, then we got in the van to go swim…’

I feel like this book could have been a 4/5 stars for me, but the maturity level of Maggie was very low even though she kept saying how mature she was. She didn’t seem like a 17 year old girl, she seemed to be a few years younger to me.

The first three chapters and the epilogue were my least favorite parts. I was so lost during the epilogue but soon realized it was another set of characters from a previous book, but after a few paragraphs I just skipped that part.

I’d recommend this book to high school students, if you’re like me and you’re in your 20’s still reading YA, you might want to pass on this one.

So You Finished Your Novel. Now what? (The Last July Update)

This week I finally finished my novel that I’ve been working on and off since the summer of 2013. I finished all the edits from my editor (my husband) and I’m not feeling too bad. Well, I wasn’t until I went to consider submitting it. This week, to my surprise, has been a rollercoaster of emotions over this manuscript.

You see, I felt pretty good about this novel until about 90% of the way through the edits and then I began second guessing myself. Is this book good enough? Have I literally just been rewriting my favorite books? What if I get rejected my first time? I don’t know how to take that.

My novel is my baby. A novel I struggled with reaching 50k during NaNoWriMo, and 70k for edits, has grown over 81k words! That amazes me! I pretty much scrapped the original document, I think there’s only 15% that resembles what it originally was.

Now what? I’ve made contact with a publisher and now we wait. The hard part is trying not to edit anymore. Literally, woke up this morning thinking, maybe I should change some things.

Luckily, the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo begins next Saturday, so that will take my mind off writing on my finished novel and concentrating on a new one. I’m pretty excited about this new one too! I pretty much have over half of it mapped out!

Have you ever submitted a manuscript? What part of the novel writing process is the scariest to you?