Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Last Hour by Charles Sheehan-Miles Review with Giveaway

The Last Hour
by Charles Sheehan-Miles
Series: The Thompson Sisters
Publish Date: April 19, 2013

482 Pages
Source: Author for review - Thank you!

Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Twenty-seven year old Carrie Thompson-Sherman has the life she always wanted: her PhD, a prestigious fellowship, and an amazing husband. 

Her life begins to unravel as a jealous colleague puts her fellowship in jeopardy and a haunting secret Ray Sherman carried home from Afghanistan comes to light. 

Hounded by a federal investigation and the ensuing media feeding frenzy, Carrie and Ray desperately lean on each other, until a disastrous accident puts both Ray and her sister's lives at risk. 

In the last hour, Carrie and Ray will each find themselves faced with a choice.

A choice that will change everything.  -(from Goodreads) 

The Last Hour is the third book in Charles Sheehan-Miles' Thompson Sisters series. The books are companion stories that obviously follow the Thompson family and MY GOODNESS they are excellent. I've read A Song for Julia (HERE) and Just Remember to Breathe (HERE) and absolutely loved them both. Every time I pick up one of these books, I think it can't be possible to love it as much as the one before it - but every time, I'm wrong. I'm so invested in this family and I feel like I know them all so well, it's ridiculous. It's fiction, you guys. 

The Last Hour is the story of sister Carrie Thompson and Ray Sherman - I've met them before in the previous books so I was overjoyed to spend some time with them on a more intimate level. If you've not read either of the previous books IT'S OKAY, you don't have to - these books can be picked up in any order, really. 

Within the first paragraph, which was a horrible car accident, I was holding my breath. Not everyone in the car walks out conscious and talking - a couple of the people on the inside have some pretty serious injuries. I'm telling you, there was some tough, emotional, gut-wrenching stuff written into these pages and it was hard to read after I have spent so much time getting to know and love these characters so much. But I've grown accustomed to Charles Sheehan-Miles writing really great, emotional, and sometimes tough stuff into his stories and it felt really good to be back in shis world with this family again even though they were having some of the worst times of their lives. 

Neither of the previous books hooked me in quite the same way as The Last Hour. That isn't to say they are not really wonderful stories, because they are. But this one is a little different in terms of what is at stake for this couple and their future together. I was on the edge of my seat, I had to remember to actually inhale and exhale, and there was some mad Kindle-clicking involved. I almost think I need to read it again just to take the time to absorb everything because I was trying to devour everything on the first go round. 

I highly, highly recommend any and all of the books in The Thompson Sisters series by Charles Sheehan-Miles to anyone that is looking for a great story. Again, you can pick them up in any order and start the series. Fans of strong family relationships and sibling stories will absolutely love these books, and they are wonderful New Adult romances. I wrote about them when I recommended New Adult books HERE and I will continue to throw these titles out to people in real life and online. I'll quickly pick up the next title by this author. This series is solid, friends. 


The Last Hour will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
with Issues
Romance: No triangle. Already established.
Stories with Military subplot

The Last Hour by Charles Sheehan-Miles
is currently available for purchase.


Charles Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and nonprofit executive. He is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America's Future.

Follow Charles Sheehan-Miles:  Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook / Website


And now for a Giveaway!

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Visit each of these blogs for 
reviews, promotional posts, and chances to win. 

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Big News from Alessandra Thomas! SUBJECT TO CHANGE Cover Reveal & PICTURE PERFECT Cover Re-Launch

First! PICTURE PERFECT has a new cover! 

Picture Perfect by Alessandra Thomas
Series: Picturing Perfect #1
Publish Date: March 26, 2013
306 Pages
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Fashion design major Cat Mitchell has a closet full of gorgeous clothes - and not a single thing fits. After two years of runway modeling for easy cash, an accident shattered her lower leg bone and her self-esteem in just one swift fall. Ten months of no exercise, prescription steroids, comfort eating and yoga pants meant returning to campus as a size twelve instead of her former size two. When her gorgeous long-time friend with benefits sees her for the first time after her accident and snubs her in front of all her friends, Cat’s self-image hits rock bottom. Her sorority sisters all insist that she looks gorgeous, but all Cat sees is the roll of her stomach when she sits down, or the dimpling at the back of her thighs that wasn't there last year. Cat’s therapist prescribes something radical to stop the downward spiral - nude modeling for a nearby college's human form drawing classes. When Cat faces her fears and bares it all for the class, she realizes that she's posing naked in front the most gorgeous, buffest guy she's ever seen in her life. He asks her out after the class, and after one steamy night together, Cat's absolutely smitten.

Nate’s pretty close to perfect – he takes Cat rock climbing when he discovers that it makes her feel strong and becomes a great chef after he learns that the perfect pesto sauce makes her swoon. Cat starts to feel like her old self again - confident and beautiful - as long as Nate's around. Even when he discourages her from entering the Real Woman Project, a design competition for plus-sized apparel, she reasons that he's just trying to prevent old body image wounds from splitting wide open again. But when Cat goes home with Nate for Thanksgiving, she discovers something shocking from his recent past that proves that he hasn’t always been so encouraging of women of all shapes and sizes. Cat has no idea what to think, but she does know one thing - this might destroy their relationship before it's even had a chance to get off the ground. 

Before Cat can figure out whether the real Nate is the sensitive, adoring guy she fell in love with, or an undercover asshole, she'll have to finally feel comfortable in her own skin - even if it means leaving him forever.
 -(from Goodreads) 

I read Picture Perfect back in March and was completely taken in by this story - I could identify with Cat in so many ways. So, so many of us can! I think all older-YA/mature-readers need to pick this one up. 

(You can read my thoughts HERE to see why I loved it so much.) 

Next! SUBJECT TO CHANGE has a cover! 

Subject To Change by Alessandra Thomas
Series: Picturing Perfect #2
Publish Date: June 25, 2013
300 Pages
Find It: Goodreads

Joey made her dad a deathbed promise that she would become a doctor, and dedicate herself to fighting the very cancer that took his life. There’s just one problem -three years into her pre-med classes, she's struggling to stay on top of the curve, let alone prove she's dazzling enough to earn a spot in an Ivy League medical school. In a Hail Mary move, she throws a basic Business 101 class into her semester schedule, banking on a perfect score to boost her GPA.

That is, until she’s paired for a final project with Hawk, the bartending, motorbike-riding, gorgeously bedheaded loser who falls asleep in class and communicates in one-word sentences.

Hawk does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, which sets Joey on edge – in every possible way. As they get to know each other, her urge to scream at him is curbed only by her fantasies of tearing his clothes off. Soon those fantasies become reality, and Joey realizes Hawk makes her feel more fully herself than any of the rich boys her mother and sorority sisters approve of.

But the promise to her father hangs over her head, and the harder Joey tries to succeed in her chosen career, the faster everything falls into a hopeless tailspin of bad grades, broken promises and guilt. It doesn't help to have Hawk sitting like a devil on her shoulder, insisting she should be free to live however she wants to live - like he does.

The only thing Joey knows is that her neatly organized life is crushing her - and Hawk's bad attitude might be the only thing that can save her. -(from Goodreads) 

Alessandra Thomas won me over with the first book in this series. I loved Cat Mitchell's story so much that it's basically a no-brainer that I'll be back for Subject To Change as soon as I can get my grabby hands on it. Impatient, impatient! Can't wait for release day! 

Congratulations Alessandra! These look great! 


Alessandra Thomas is a New Adult writer who swears she was in her twenties yesterday. Since she's not, she spends her time looking back on her college years fondly, and writing sexy stories about guys and girls falling in love and really living life for the first time. When she's not writing, you can find her with a spoonful of ice cream in one hand and the newest New Adult release in the other.

Follow Alessandra Thomas:  Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook


Are either of these on your to-read lists? 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler Review

The Book of Broken Hearts 
by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: May 21, 2013
352 Pages

Source: ARC Tour/Publisher
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking. -(from Goodreads) 

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler 

My Thoughts:  This is my first Sarah Ockler book! I feel like I'm finally in the contemporary-readers club and it feels pretty good. 

The first thing you need to know is this:
This cover is so pretty. It caught my eye right away. 
It actually made me think that this book was a nice, fluffy romance.
That's the funny thing about being me and judging books by their covers. This book is a nice romance and I loved reading about Jude and Emilio - but there is way more in this book that just a romance. I feel like I've said over and over lately that I've picked up books expecting one thing and what I've gotten is something way more with much more depth and emotion. 

I think in this case, what we have is actually two stories in one. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
Jude and her Papi are looking to have Papi's old motorcycle restored. 
They end up hiring Emilio Vargas. 
Emilio Vargas is one of the infamous Vargas brothers, and the Hernandez family has sworn off getting involved with the Vargas family forever - that is, after two of Emilio's older brothers completely shattered the hearts of two of Jude's older sisters. Jude's older sisters have kept to their promise, and now it's up to Jude to do the same. Initially this is easy for Jude, but it actually becomes difficult with each passing day. 

Emilio is great at working on Papi's motorcycle. He seems to know exactly what he's doing and Papi enjoys his company. He is patient and he's kind and he's never given Jude any reason to suspect that he is anything at all like she had always heard his brothers were. As time progresses, Jude finds that she looks forward to the days she will spend around Emilio. And she knows that she eventually has to break this news to her sisters - she is not looking forward to this. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
Papi is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease, 
which is drawing the Hernandez family closer and breaking their hearts. 
So this, this is the part that I didn't really know about when I picked up this book. I'm not sure many readers have known about Papi and his issues. But goodness gracious, this family is pretty devastated by this and it certainly pulled at my heart with their grief at his deteriorating condition. It was even worse when it was Papi in the scenes on the pages - watching him become more forgetful and then realizing what is happening to him, and watching Jude have to go through this by his side. Hello, heart break city. 

The restoration of the motorcycle is what is supposed to keep Papi alert and healthy and feeling good. That's the entire idea behind this project and Jude is hell-bent on seeing it through and making sure it happens. But as the summer wears on and stuff pops up - potential obstacles to the motorcycle being finished, plans for the future, things like that - Jude finds herself finding comfort and strength in Emilio Vargas, even when she's taken a blood oath to never, ever, ever get involved with his family. 


Wow, The Book of Broken Hearts. A great story, first of all. I always love it when I'm pleasantly surprised and I think that happened here as I got way more than I anticipated. I loved the sweet romance and while it was definitely my favorite part of the book, I didn't mind the part of the story that involved Jude's family and her Papi. However, I'm probably gonna take a beating when I say that I thought the whole idea of the oath swearing off the Vargas brothers was kind of crazy. 

Regarding Jude's family: they were such an interesting bunch. I found myself interested enough in what all they had going on, but I'll be honest and say that I had a super hard time really connecting with them on much of an emotional level. The idea of taking a blood oath - actually drawing blood - and making out a contract stating that you will never become involved with another family? That sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. In this story, the older three sisters were much closer in age, with a several-year gap before Jude came along. So we have these three older sisters - two with broken hearts - that had sworn off an entire family, and I get that they wanted nothing to do with these three older brothers. I really do. But to expect Jude to go along with it seemed kind of crazy. SURE it makes for a good story, but because I found myself like yeah, whatever to this part of the story, I had a harder time other parts of the story, like the sibling relationship and Papi's health issues. I suppose buying into that oath and contract and sister-agreement thing was kind of important to the foundation of the story, and I kind of missed the mark on that a little. BUT! 

That's not to say that I didn't like the family or the family dynamic - that's just to say that the fact that these sisters expected Jude to play by their outdated oath was a little bit...ridiculous? Unacceptable to me? So I was really happy when Jude stepped out and grew up and developed into her own person over time - enough that she was willing to voice her opinions and stand up against the oath she was told to take she took when she was a young child. 

Phew. Now that I'm probably an outcast for voicing that...

I liked Jude. I liked her unease and her discomfort with Emilio being around the house and her thought processes on what she should do about the whole thing. She was in a really tough position, being at that age and in that situation with her Papi and her sisters and Emilio out in the garage after signing that dumb oath years ago. I love that she still went out to the garage and kept him company while he worked and that she recognized that despite her sisters' disdain for his family, Emilio was good for her Papi. The summer in this story is a summer of growing up for Jude, and I love that coming-of-age. 

But just as much, I love the romance. The crush on Emilio, complete with being unsure of what to say to him and the fluttery feeling in her heart when he was close. Emilio was not quick at all with anything - gosh, he was torturously slow - but he was confidant and a little bit cocky and that's always fun. 

Ultimately, I liked this book and I liked this story. I am so, so glad that Jude rose up and over that oath she took and became her own person. I'm glad that it was Emilio that was chosen to work on the motorcycle. I'm glad that I finally read a Sarah Ockler book and I'm glad that I'll read Twenty Boy Summer as my next Ockler book. Hopefully soon. 

I recommend The Book of Broken Hearts for fans of YA Contemporary with Romance, books with strong family ties, and books with sibling relationships. 


The Book of Broken Hearts will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary
Romance: Slowly Developing. No Triangle.
Books with Strong Family Relationships, 
Sibling Relationships. 

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
is currently available for purchase. 


Is The Book of Broken Hearts on your to-read list?
Have you read it yet? 

Have you read any other Sarah Ockler books? 

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The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy Review + Giveaway!

by Alyssa Rose Ivy
Publish Date: May 17, 2013
248 pages
Source: Author for Review - Thank you! 
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 

This isn't a deep book about first loves or self-discovery. If you want a book like that, I'd be happy to recommend one, but I don't have that kind of story to tell. Instead my story is about rash decisions and finding out that your dream guy is bad in bed. It's the story of when I finally went skinny dipping, and how my life was never the same again. Oh, and it's also the story of my freshman year of college and realizing Mr. Right might have been there all along. 

The Hazards of Skinny Dipping 
by Alyssa Rose Ivy 

My Thoughts: This book was so much fun to read! 

Juliet is ready to head off for college when she receives an envelope from her cousin, Amy, with a list inside -  on the list are five things to complete before going to college. The fifth thing on the list? Skinny dipping. Lucky for her, she has the perfect place - her family's private beach house has a pool. Unlucky for her: just when she thinks she's home alone with no neighbors, hunky hunky neighbor next-door Dylan drives up and walks over. While she's in the pool. Naked. Because she's crossing the last thing off of her pre-college list. Which is skinny dipping. Awkward!

One more thing: Juliet has had a crush on Dylan for years. 

So...things just progress from there in what seems to be the most natural and normal neighborly way. Dylan just takes his clothes off and decides to go skinny dipping with Juliet. Then BAM! stuff happens. Then they're back at college - list completed, thankyouverymuch - and they're now a couple. While this is probably not very likely to happen in real life (unless you went to school with some of the people that I went to school with), it was a very, very entertaining start to the story and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I was totally okay with Juliet and Dylan - until Dylan became a weirdo. Why do the hunky characters always turn into weirdos in these books? 

He ends up being possessive, controlling, all that and then some - that's our Dylan. At first, Juliet just takes it in stride because she did have a crush on him for so long and now YAY!! she finally has him. But when the straw breaks the camel's back after Dylan pulls this one crazy stunt, I was thrilled that she cut him loose and let him go. AND that she stuck to it even when he was trying to be persistent. Way to go, Juliet. Thank you, Alyssa Rose Ivy. 


While all of this Dylan-business is going on, Juliet has pledged a sorority. And she is working hard in her classes. And she has gotten a job. She's working at this little pizza place with Reed, who is just her friend (she tells Dylan over and over). Reed is that guy, the good-looking one who is also a little bit cocky, the smart one, the really great friend. He's the one that encourages her, who builds her up, who kind-of looks out for her. Naturally, he doesn't really like Dylan all that much. As Juliet works her shifts with Reed, their friendship builds, which is awesome. 

We all need good friends, right? 

So when she and Dylan break up, Juliet goes to her friend. Reed. Who, as it turns out, kind of likes her. Why do the hunky characters always turn into weirdos in these books? To make room for characters like Reed. 


The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy is a really great New Adult Romance. Why? Because it is exactly what the summary says it is. It isn't too deep and it is fun. While some of the characters have some issues they clearly need to work on, this just isn't an issues-contemporary book. This is more on the easy, breezy side. I'd take this one outside and read it by the water. Or in the yard. Or in my favorite chair. And not have to worry about being bogged down with the issues (which I do love, but not every day). 

Juliet made me laugh with her whole skinny-dipping thing. The book starts out with the skinny dipping, actually, so we get to know quite a bit about Juliet and who she is and what she's willing to do/be/put up with right away. But then we get to watch her with Dylan, which is a little on the wonky side but only because Dylan might not be everything she thought. While she's dating this guy, there are several others that show interest in her that I want her to pursue, but nope! - this girl stays true to her man. Gotta hand it to her, she's a faithful one. And smart - I was proud of her for finally sticking up for herself once she'd had enough of his mess. 

Dylan had the potential to really bother me - like in a real-life way - but because this book isn't issues-heavy and because of how this story is written, he just didn't. Somewhere in the background, I know he is trouble but I knew that Juliet could take care of herself too. (It was so not-stressful reading the book and realizing that I didn't have to worry about the characters. I know that I'm not the only one that gets that way.)

Then there's Reed. He is practically perfect in every way, just like Mary Poppins, and I'm not even joking. From the moment he steps onto the pages, I wondered why on earth Juliet was with Dylan. Reed made me laugh with his cocky attitude and there were swoons on very many occasions. I just thought he was great. Everyone that reads this one will like Reed. 

It was so unexpected and nice and wonderful to pick this one up and being stressed out about anything. The story was fun and it felt summer-y and seasonal and I loved it. I'm going to be reading Alyssa Rose Ivy's Clayton Falls series for the Summer Series Challenge in June (as it overlaps the contemporary event) and I'm more than a little eager to get started on it now. 

I recommend The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy to fans of New Adult Contemporary Romance, fans of easy, fun stories, and guy-girl friendships. 


The Hazards of Skinny Dipping will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: Slowly-developing and Very Swoony. 
Books with guy-girl friendships. 
Setting: College. IN THE SOUTH. Yesss!
Great summer read. 

The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy
is currently available for purchase. 


Alyssa Rose Ivy is a New Adult and Young Adult author who loves to weave stories with romance and a southern setting. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. After years as a perpetual student, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Find Alyssa Rose Ivy: Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest /  Website 


And now for the Giveaway!

Author Alyssa Rose Ivy is offering
filled with all kinds of neat stuff!

This contest is open to US and Canada Only. Ends May 21. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin Review

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: April 1, 2013
330 Pages

Source: Publisher
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 

If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy. -(from Goodreads) 

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin 

My Thoughts:  THIS THIS THIS is the exact type of contemporary story that I love. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin is filled with so many of the things that make my heart both swell and choke at the same time and GOSH that is just the best feeling when I'm reading a contemporary story - all of the emotion behind those words. This story just dismantled me and left me sitting there helpless, and I absolutely loved it. 

I knew from the summary that there would be some terrible, tragic event and probably some guilt involved. I knew that Finn and Autumn would grow up together and be best friends and that there would maybe be a love story tying them together. Oh man, I couldn't wait to get started on this story.


Finn and Autumn did, in fact, grow up next door to one another. They were together almost 24/7 from a very young age, even spending the night with one another until it became inappropriate to do so. After that, they were together until their mothers told them it was time to go to sleep - except at bedtime, they'd hang out of their bedroom windows (which faced each other) and talk until the wee hours of the morning. Their friendship was so incredible to witness and read and imagine in my head, even when it was realized through flashbacks. Sadly, Finn and Autumn grew apart at a certain point in their lives. At school, they ran with different crowds - opposing social groups at school, which became uncomfortable at times (to them and to me), but everyone managed. Once home, though, in the safety of their homes and yards, there were still the comfortable stolen glances and silences, even though the two had grown apart. See, Finn's mother and Autumn's mother were best friends and the four often ate dinner together, had holidays together, did things together. So these two friends-that-weren't-friends-at-the-moment still spent plenty of time together. 

Both had respective other halves - Finn had the beautiful cheerleader Sylvie and Autumn was paired with the emo/rebel-boy Jamie. There is so much time - years - devoted to these other boys and girls, and it was painful for me (me, who loves friendship-relationship-loves) to read the intensity of these relationships. They were intense, but not with an intensity of love - it felt like the intensity came with Autumn and Finn trying so hard to love Jamie and Sylvie. It was like they were trying to convince the world that they really did love these other people. And maybe they did? They probably did. But it was so so so obvious to me, the reader, that these two were meant for one another. 

And this is such a tricky thing, isn't it? To have two people, two characters, that are at such a young age be obviously so deeply in love and for it be believable? I always find myself rooting for these young couples even though I know that the odds are stacked so, so against them. Finn and Autumn even have their mothers cheering for their union. In the eyes and hearts of their mothers, it's written in the cards for these two to be together. And for me, that's what I really, genuinely, truly wanted. So every time I turned the page, I hung onto every glance and every word between these two. I clung to every thought that one had about the other. I was willing them together as I was reading, as if they were two people that I could push in the same direction. 

There is a point in the book when one of them thinks he/she might be falling for the other one. It's kind of like an A-Ha! moment for him/her. BUT TO ME, I COULD SEE IT ALREADY - PAGES AND PAGES AND CHAPTERS BACK. It was like I was waiting, just waiting for the catch-up. And the other one? The other one appeared to have already arrived at that conclusion. Maybe, anyway? It was sometimes obvious and sometimes hard to tell but MY WORD YOU GUYS reading about it was so delicious and torturous, and I just couldn't get enough. I couldn't. 

Then, as the summary suggests, there is a time when these two need to sort out how they're really feeling about one another. I suppose in real life, any friends that are in a position like Finn and Autumn need to come to this place before they can go to the next stage of their lives, before they transition into the next part of what is to come. So I'm reading and I'm gripping the Kindle with a ferocity that I can't even describe because I want so badly for things to end up my way and I've forgotten that the book began the way that it did...and oh oh oh, these next pages and chapters are where my heart just GOES. 


It's like they've waited their entire lives to get to this point. Their moms have waited their entire lives to get to this point. And here they are. And this is it. And I'm so invested. And my heart is so invested. Which is why this book is so perfect and wonderful and amazing and beautifully written and OH MY GOSH I can't say enough about it. THIS is how life sometimes is and just OH! the beauty and pain of it all. 


When the book was over, I felt like I needed someone beside of me so I could just grip a shirt or a wrist and stare or scream or cry or something. But I was by myself so all I could do is just sit quietly and let the tears fall off of my face and just sit in this story for awhile. I just had to sit there and be in the story for a while and do nothing else. 

This book. This book is yet another reason that THANK GOD I read contemporary. What a story! What a telling. And what a cover - which on another glance after finishing the book, just pulls at my heart even more. 

The "What-If's" in life are so hard. They are so, so hard. I could sit around and say "What If?" all day long and it doesn't do a thing. 

That is such a huge concept behind this story. 

I recommend If He Had Been With Me for fans of YA Contemporary with Realistic Fiction, readers who love the issues contemporaries, and readers that love great guy-girl friendships in books. This book is absolutely fantastic and I am overjoyed that I got the chance to read it. 


If He Had Been With Me will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Books with Guy-Girl Friendships.
Issues: Death.

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
is currently available for purchase. 


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Monday, May 20, 2013

Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa Review + Giveaway! #CFMonth13

Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa
Series: Fight or Flight #1
Publish Date: March 12, 2013
356 Pages
Source: Purchased
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 

Be smart.
Keep your head down.
And look out for number one.

These are the rules Jay has lived by for the past two years. The rules of surviving life on the streets. But when Em comes bursting into his life, in all of her disastrous glory, the rules go right out the window.

Flee what’s been left behind.
And never look back.

Emerson’s plan was simple. Though, it was easier said than done. The city streets are dangerous and unforgiving to a new arrival. Especially, a seventeen-year-old girl who’s never known anything but life in the suburbs. Sometimes, however, what’s lurking behind those white picket fences can be more frightening than any dark alley.

Both of them made the same decision when life got overwhelming—to run from their demons. Brought together by fate or circumstance, Em and Jay find the kind of love neither of them ever expected. But, when those demons come back to haunt them and their love is on the line, which instincts will they choose to follow this time . . . Fight or Flight?
-(from Goodreads) 

Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa 

My Thoughts:  Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa is one of the best YA/NA Contemporary books I've read in ages and ages. And ages. 

The first thing you need to know is this:
Emerson is leaving. She doesn't care where she goes.

She just has to get out. 
The book opens as Emerson is waiting up in the middle of the night, rocking away in her rocking chair. She grabs her heavy backpack and tiptoes out of her house, careful to avoid the third-to-last step in the stairwell. She knows that if she's caught, there will be hell to pay - or worse. She has $52.83 in her pocket, which isn't much, but she'll just have to make that last. She can't let HIM hear her leave. Her entire survival depends on slipping away unnoticed, without HIM finding out. She needs to be far, far away when he realizes she's gone. 

In thinking and planning ahead, Emerson decided to leave at dawn on a Saturday - at a time when there would be the least amount of cars out, to avoid prying eyes. She'll ride trains all day, go as far as possible. Once she gets there, she'll ditch her wallet, her pictures, her insurance cards, her Social Security card, everything everything everything that makes her Emerson James. She'll be a different person. Forever. And finally, she'll be away from HIM. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
Jay spots Em at the train station.
Wide-eyed, she stands out among the crowd.  
Em has arrived to the city. She's done the things she said she would do. Now what? She has no idea. And it shows. 

Jay sees her with her wide eyes and her full backpack - like someone just begging for trouble in the city. Just like someone without a clue. Like someone begging to be mugged, beaten, hurt in some way. She ought to just stand up and announce to the whole place HEY I'M HERE AND I'M NEW IN TOWN - COME TAKE MY STUFF AND EAT ME ALIVE! Jay decides to follow her because he's already noticed that someone else is following her too, and he knows this guy - he's nothing but trouble. Jay feels protective over this girl for some reasons, which he really can't afford. Out here, it's every man for himself...but the look on this girl's face is something that he just can't walk away from. The fear, the sadness, the hollow, empty desperation behind her eyes...

Em stops for a second to look at a map and sits her backpack down. Immediately, the other guy that is following her grabs it. What does she do? She takes off after the guy to get her stuff back! WHOA NOW. Jay stops her, tells her that the guy that swiped her bag will likely kill her for whatever is in there - it's best to just let it go. Jay is hoping that what he has just said will scare her enough that she'll go back home BUT NOPE! He doesn't know what she's running from, though. Jay doesn't know about HIM. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
Against his better judgment, Jay takes Em to his squat. 
Nobody shares their squat, but Jay takes Em back to his place. (That's a really big, big deal.) Em is a little afraid but she has no better option and Jay seems nice enough, so she goes. Jay knows that bringing this girl with him means he has another person to look after, another person to slow him down every day, another person to attract attention, another mouth to feed. But he does it anyway. Every day, Jay wears himself out looking for day-jobs to try and earn enough money to buy food for he and Em for that day, and then he does it again the next day. And the next day. And the next day. He makes Em promise to stay inside - don't leave the house. She doesn't yet know how to survive on the streets and with her looks and her small size, she'd likely be taken or taken advantage of right away. It doesn't take long for Jay to work himself sick. Literally, sick. And then there is just one thing after another that threatens to knock these two down. But they work together and they fight hard to survive. 


Good gracious, this book. When I started Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa, I have to admit it was because the summary sounded pretty good and the cover looked amazing. I had NO IDEA how much depth the story contained, how incredible it was, and how invested I would become in the lives of Em and Jay. 

In the beginning, I knew right away that Emerson was leaving; I could feel her desperation to not just leave, but to flee her circumstances - so I knew that she didn't care where she ended up and how awful her situation ended up being as long as she was away from HIM. It takes a while for Emerson (aka Em) to open up to Jay and to the reader about why she is so desperate to get away, but by the time she did, she had already won me over and I WAS TOTALLY ON HER SIDE. There is no way you can read this book and doubt this girl. For Em to be willing to live on the streets, to go without food, to be without blankets in the Northeastern US in the wintertime, to go without medications after being hit by a car, to to without bathing, without anything - something suspect had to be going on, ya know? It took Em a while to trust Jay, and I felt so thankful when she finally did. 

Jay was acting on instinct and his gut when he followed Em in the train station - and thankfully so. When he acted against his better judgment to bring her to his squat, it was awfully good of him to be so giving and kind. When he got up after little to no sleep to stand in line and hope hope hope for work...then to actually work hard all day for just enough money for a little bit of food...then to share it with her while starving himself - oh, what kindness. When Jay was protecting Em from other people that had less-than-honorable intentions for her, I respected him so much because he put himself in harm's way over and over for this girl he barely even knew. Jay's character did nothing but make me like him the more and more I read him. There were times when he had to act out of desperation for their situation, but I never ever faulted him - I can't even begin to put myself in the situation of these two. 

I never felt like Em or Jay annoyed me, and that was something I was wondering about as I read. Sometimes when you read these books that are so issues-heavy (particularly with a female character that has an issue) it's easy to feel manipulated or annoyed by her OR to feel like she is overly whiny. I never felt this way with Em - or with Jay. They accepted their circumstances - sure, they wished for better - but they accepted how things were and they worked together to make the best of what they had. They even found time to laugh a little when they could. 

Another thing that I appreciated so much with this book was that there was no overlying romantic tone to the story. Em and Jay were far too busy trying to survive the streets and trying to find food and stay alive - they didn't have time to have a romantic relationship or to have swoony, steamy scenes. Yes, they did lie closely beside each other a couple of times to use each other for body warmth, which is realistic. Yes, they did become friendly companions and establish trust and a rapport with one another, which is realistic. But a romance? Not really - nothing to speak of until the the story is established, when it was appropriate. And even then, it begins as a love that is different than we normally read about because this relationship begins in a way that is different than those that we normally read about. 

I just loved Fight or Flight - I finished the story and felt like I had found a real jewel that I could read again and again. There were a few characters in the story along with Em and Jay that I liked quite a bit, and I'm excited that Author Jamie Canosa is writing a story that will feature one of them. I KNOW that I will not look at this circumstance - young people living on the streets - in the same way again, ever. I know that I am still thinking about this story and I finished it quite a while ago. Things like a bed, blankets, a shower, warm food, toothpaste - chose comforts of life - these things randomly make me think of Em and Jay and how hard they had to fight just to not let life get them down. 

For those that are afraid that this story might be too much of a drag - it really isn't. It's a fantastic survival story and it ends on a positive note. I recommend Fight or Flight to readers who enjoy YA/NA contemporary stories with issues and a hint of romance, great characters, and survival stories. I am anxiously waiting for Sink or Swim, the spin-off that I mentioned above, and I am anxiously awaiting for the sequel to this story, which looks like it will be a continuation of the story of Em and Jay. SO MUCH MORE to come from Author Jamie Canosa and you guys, I am so, so excited. 


Jamie Canosa is a full time author of YA literature, which she absolutely loves. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. She currently resides in Ravena, NY with her wonderful husband and three crazy kids . . . plus the dog, the bird and the rabbit.

Current works:

Upcoming works:
Heart and Soul #4

Find Jamie Canosa: Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


And now for the Giveaway!

Author Jamie Canosa 
is offering an ebook copy of 
to one lucky reader! 

This means this contest is open worldwide, friends! 

*Ends midnight Monday, June 3, 2013*
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