Monday, June 30, 2014

Riding The Wave by Lorelie Brown Review

Riding The Wave by Lorelie Brown
Series: Pacific Blue #1
Publish Date: July 1, 2014

Published by Signet
336 Pages
Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N  


The gray-green swells of San Sebastian haven’t changed in ten years, but Tanner Wright has. The last thing he expects to find back on his home turf is the love of his life.... 

With a make-or-break world championship on the line, professional surfer Tanner Wright has come back to the coastal California hometown he left a decade ago, carrying only his board and the painful knowledge of his father’s infidelity. Now that Hank Wright is dead, Tanner intends to keep the secret buried to spare his mother and sister the burden.

The last time Avalon Knox saw her best friend’s brother, she was fourteen and he was a twenty-year-old surfer god. She’s never understood or respected the way Tanner distanced himself from the family that has embraced her. But now she has the professional chance of a lifetime: to photograph Tanner for the competition—if he’ll agree.

Out on the waves, they find in each other passion that’s impossible to resist. And Tanner’s not the only one trying to move forward from his past. As the competition heats up, secrets get spilled, and lust takes over. How close can Avalon get to this brooding surfer…without getting burned? (from Goodreads) 

Riding The Wave by Lorelie Brown

My Thoughts:  I can't imagine a much more appropriate fun, summer-y contemporary romance than a book set on in a beach town with a backdrop of surfing with plenty of romance and a little bit of drama to boot. Riding The Wave is the first book in a new series by a new-to-me author, and even though it took me a little while to get my bearings with this one, once I did, it took me right to one of my happy places while I was reading - to the beach.  

Riding The Wave takes place in a place called San Sebastian, a place blessed with waves perfect for surfing. This is the home of the Wright family - pro surfer Tanner Wright's family - but Tanner hasn't shown his face around there for almost a decade. Tanner has his reasons for not coming home - he knows an awful secret about his father that he took with him to his grave, a secret that tore his relationship with his father apart. Tanner could never stand to go back home and look into the faces of his family knowing that his father was deceiving them in such a way. With the surfing world championships taking place in San Sebastian, Tanner has no choice but to come home and unfortunately, that secret has followed him. 

Avalon Knox has been living with the Wright family for years. Technically not blood-related, she is Tanner's sister's best friend. The last time he came to town, she was a young teen. Avalon has been following entire Tanner's career due to her years-long crush. Avalon is a talented surfer on her own, but her heart lies with photography. She has been hired by the company that sponsors Tanner to photograph him for an exclusive spread, which could ultimately boost her career. It will also put her in close proximity to the guy she's crushed on her entire life. Could Tanner ever see her the same way she has always seen him?

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Riding The Wave is marketed as adult contemporary romance, and it is certainly that, but there is far more going on in this book than just a romance. There is the fun of the surfing, which is not something I have read about often, and I enjoyed it. There is the beach, which I always, always, always love. And there is some family drama coupled with the drama of the big secret that has followed Tanner back into town. 

I like Tanner as a character. Even though he is angsty at times, I think I understand why. He has carried the weight of someone else's big secret around for a long time, and that must be horribly stressful - especially with the way that it made him decide to stay away from his family. I get why Tanner made the decision that he did - to keep his father's secret - and why it made him feel that he had to stay away...but I wish that he had not felt that way. His family seems so great, and I just love great family relationships. The way they embraced his return after so many years away - it just seems like perhaps they could have worked something out. BUT alas! What we have here is a Tanner that has returned for his surfing championships with the weight of the world on his shoulders...and the secret has followed him! DRAMA! 

Thankfully the lovely Avalon is there to help him through these trying times. It doesn't hurt that Avalon has always held these massively intense crush-like feelings for Tanner (and she really loves his family) so she steps right up to help him through his issues - this is a big deal because she goes into it with literally no clue what his problem is, why he has such a chip on his shoulder, why he had such a big issue with his father. Between Avalon being stuck to Tanner as a "press" person for her photography job and Avalon hanging out with Tanner when they're "off the record", a relationship was bound to form. It forms quickly and there is chemistry, and it is passionate and steamy. 

I recommend Riding The Wave for fans of adult contemporary romance, fans of summer reads, and fans of a beach setting. I enjoyed this beach read.  The next book is set to release early next year and looks to be like another fun, beachy, surfing good time.  

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Riding The Wave will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Romance
Great Setting
Romance: No Triangle. 

Riding The Wave by Lorelie Brown
will be available for purchase on July 1, 2014. 

*I received a copy of this book  from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. Thank you Signet! 

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Five Ways To Fall by K.A. Tucker Review

Five Ways To Fall by K.A. Tucker
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #4
Publish Date: June 24, 2014

Published by Atria Books
Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N  


Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her.

Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about.

If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking… (from Goodreads) 

Five Ways To Fall 
by K.A. Tucker 

My Thoughts:  Coming to the end of a series is such a bittersweet thing for me. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY LOVED EVERY SECOND OF READING AND RE-READING THIS SERIES. But I understand that it has to end sometimes and that's okay. 

Speaking of endings, Five Ways To Fall is a great way to end this series because it gives a voice and a story to one of my favorites characters from the previous books, Ben. Ben is a lovable fixture that hovers in the background - we know him as well-developed, but always in the secondary cast as a staff member at Penny's, the bar that has employed more than one character. I've loved the way that Ben always was humorous enough to offset whatever was going on at the time, and I've hoped that I would be able to know more about him. 

You guys, I love Ben. I really do. He not only is just as great in the role of "main character" as he is when he part of the secondary cast, but he brings a great back story and WONDERFUL family along with him. 

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Before we talk about Ben, let's talk about Reese, the gal that graces the cover. Reese is a bit of a firecracker. She's a little bit wild and a lot smart. At the beginning of the story, she has gotten herself into some trouble - she's doused the walls of her ex-husband's apartment with red paint...because not only did she find him cheating on her, but he let the woman move in and take over the place before Reese had the chance to remove her own belongings. How rude! So she did what any scourned and hurt woman would do - she REACTED before the thought, she ended up at the police station, and she ended up calling her stepfather to come and help her out with her little problem with the local police. A lawyer, her stepfather Jack ends up helping her by offering her a deal: if Reese will get her act together and become a licensed paralegal, she has a job waiting for her at his Law Office. A few months later, that's exactly where she finds herself. BUT! The weekend before she is to begin her new career, Reese heads down to Cancun for a little celebration. While she's there, she meets Ben

Ben is attracted to Reese immediately when he sees her at the bar in Cancun. Sure, he's only looking for a good time - the same for her - so neither bother to find out where the other lives. When he takes her back to his room, NOTHING ends up happening the way it is "supposed" to and they both chalk it up as a disaster...but Ben thinks about this gal when his trip is over. He tries to find her and can't (because she gave him a fake name). Newly graduated from law school, imagine his surprise when he finds that the great job he just landed is at the law firm that Reese's stepfather owns! 

There are awkward moments, sure. There is so much fun and humor in this story. I don't want to spoil what happened in Cancun, because it REALLY IS FUNNY. And then it is really sort of funny how these two try to navigate working together in a professional environment when they had met under such casual circumstances, and then parted in such embarrassing ways without exchanging contact information. The two never expected their fling-that-wasn't-really-a-fling to morph into a professional relationship, then a friendship, then anything more** than that, BUT IT DID. And you guys, just like always, I LOVED reading how it unfolded. There are, of course, bumps along the way for both of these main characters, but they had to lean on each other and their friends to navigate through. And they did. AND WOW IT WAS SO GOOD. 

**Oh, yeah, office policy states that there are no office romances allowed. So much fun, this one! 

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I always love a strong, fiesty heroine that is flawed. Reese is and she knows it, and she owns it. At the beginning of the book, Reese is at a kind-of "rock bottom" state, having found her husband cheating - and she has had to call her stepfather to bail her out and help her which, as an adult, can be kind of humiliating. The thing is that she realized THIS was her time to deal with her immaturity issues and clean her self up a little bit. When stepfather Jack offered her the deal that he did, Reese realized that it was a great opportunity to move forward in life, and she took it. The great thing about her is that she never changed who she was as a person - she still loved classic rock music, guitars, old trucks, and things like that. She didn't change anything about herself on the inside because she gained an education and a career, and I loved that. 

Reese did act a little crazy and impulsive during her vacation in Cancun, which is when she met Ben (so hilarious) - she never thought she'd see him again! It is so funny how the two ended up not only crossing paths again, but working so closely together. She was forced to deal with the embarrassment of how she left Ben in Cancun, and thankfully Ben's fantastic sense of humor made it a great read and much easier for her to deal with (although I'm sure she would have loved for him to NOT make fun of her, because HE DID). Ben brought to the law firm a sense of humor that none of the other employees had, and I think that once the initial shock of working with him wore off a little bit, his presence in the office actually made Reese like her job even more. It was fantastic that the two ended up working together. It sounds too good to be true in the beginning, but it really works out and is quite humorous and romantic. 

More than that, though, I loved their back stories. Both Reese and Ben have some issues within their families that have left them with things that they need to deal with - things that keep them from committing to relationships, trust issues, that sort of thing. Reese has had more than one set of parents; Ben's one set of parents are dysfunctional. The two help each other navigate these issues really well - they bounce their troubles off of one another and understand the hurts and pains that come along with having not-so-perfect parents and how that can result in relationship issues. It's great to read how they work through things, helping each other in such a healthy way. The two spend a large portion in denial that they have feelings for one another because they don't really know or understand what a healthy relationship is or looks like, but in truth THEY ALREADY HAVE ONE. It's lovely when they realize this and have to admit to themselves and one another what "those feelings" that they're feelings really are. This relationship is not one that overcomes some giant obstacle and eventually the two get back together - these two have a really great coming-together and I LOVED IT. 

ALSO! It is no secret that I love stories that are heavy on sibling and family relationships, and this one is. I love books that have a great setting, and Five Ways To Fall has a great setting in Ben's mother's orange groves. I loved the way that some of the characters from the previous books were mentioned and a few even graced the pages. In my mind, as I was reading, I was trying to pick out which character would be the focus of the next book (AND I DID), but even so, I think that this is a fantastic ending to what I consider one of my favorite series. I just love, love, loved it. 
Five Ways To Fall, I think, could be read just fine as a standalone even though there is mention of previous characters, but I loved experiencing it after having read the previous books. I do believe that either way would work just fine. 
I recommend Five Ways To Fall by K.A. Tucker to readers that enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance, great settings, and books with really fantastic family and sibling relationships. There is great comic relief in this book because of the main character, Ben, and his personality and honestly, I couldn't imagine a better character for K.A. Tucker to end this series with. There is a novella scheduled for release later this year to tie-in with this series, but it will be as a prequel to Ten Tiny Breaths

I'm telling you guys, I will miss hearing new stories from these characters. I feel like I have gotten to know them and that I have been following them like they're distant cousins or something. That may sound really weird, but as a reader, when you really connect with a series and love it to pieces like I have loved this one, ENDINGS ARE SO TOUGH! But I am excited for this author and I can't wait to see what is next for her, and I am thrilled to have these books on my shelves so I can re-read them in the years to come. 

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Five Ways To Fall will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
with Issue
Romance: Slowly developing. 

Five Ways To Fall by K.A. Tucker
is currently available for purchase. 

*I received a copy of this book  from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. Thank you Atria! 

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Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Find K.A. Tucker: 

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Big Giveaway Below!

**Open Worldwide!**





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Friday, June 27, 2014

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick Review

What I Thought Was True 
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Published by Dial BYR
Publish Date: April 15, 2014
416 Pages
Source: Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is. -(excerpt from Goodreads) 

What I Thought Was True 
by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Huntley Fitzpatrick's My Life Next Door was one of the books I featured during my first Contemporary Month and I love the way it sticks out as one of my first Contemporary "loves" - I loved the characters and the setting, but more than that I remember thinking that I absolutely loved the story itself; I felt like I had fallen into it as I read. I waited eagerly for What I Thought Was True to release so I could read it, and while it took me a few chapters to find my way into the story, I eventually felt like I had fallen into this one too. I love that. 

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While I mentioned above that I waited eagerly for the release of this book, I have to admit that I was also a little bit scared. I loved the previous book by this author. I mean, I LOVED IT. And for me, sometimes that can be a very scary thing - what if this one isn't as good? It happens, ya know? So when it came in for me at the library, I let it sit there a few days before I started it. And then when I DID start it, I read it slowly, taking more than a week to finish it (where I read the first book in one day). 

What I Thought Was True tells the story of how Gwen learns that she is wrong about so many things she thought about life, love, money, her family, her friends. It's a fantastic coming-of-age tale that takes place over the summer with a great setting and a wonderful cast of characters that made me laugh and tear up and swoon like crazy. This book is what I had hoped for, and I'm learning that this is what we can all expect from Author Huntley Fitzpatrick. This makes me very happy. 

I fell hard for the well-rounded group of characters, both the main cast and the secondary cast. Leading gal Gwen is a hard-working young girl with a bright future and a great head on her shoulders. But she has plenty of preconceived ideas that hold her back in several areas of her life - Gwen's transformation in this area of her life from the beginning of the book to the end of the book is part of the "coming-of-age"/character development that I enjoyed so much about this story. Gwen begins the book almost living in a bubble that she has created, consisting of her family and a few close friends, and she doesn't tend to venture far outside of her "circle" because of some bad decisions from her past that seem to follow her around. Gwen's summer takes an interesting turn when Cass - the guy she calls a "mistake" from her past - ends up working closely with her at her summer job. This is kind of a big deal. 

See, Gwen is not rich, but she works for the rich people. She works for the vacationers during the summer, for the people that spend their summers by the shore. Gwen's mother and father both work for the summer folks, as do the rest of her family and friends. But Cass...he's one of the wealthy ones. He ends up working for the summer folks not by his own choice, but that summer job puts Cass back in Gwen's life where he had been avoidable before - and this is a very good thing for us, the readers. It takes Gwen a while to realize that it is a good thing, however, and she has her reasons for that. Gwen and Cass did not start off their summer perfectly, but their story unfolds in a remarkable way and I loved reading it. 

Cass is a great character. One of the wealthy boys from the mainland, he would typically attend a private school where Gwen would go to public school. Except! His circle of friends include people that usually are not very nice to the people like Gwen - the people that work for the summer folks - but Cass is not really like the rest of his peers. Again, this is obvious to us, the readers, much sooner than it is to Gwen (partly because she is a little stubborn) but once she figures this out, WOW, the story is so rich and amazing and swoonworthy and wonderful. 

And as expected, the author placed a ton of fantastic supporting characters in this book for us to enjoy. THEY ARE ALL SO WONDERFUL. So very wonderful. Gwen has a wonderful family - AAAH they're so vivid and three-dimensional! And Cass' friends remind me of some of the characters I've seen in John Hughes' movies. But it is Gwen's best friend and cousin that are some of the most interesting - their story is almost, almost as interesting and heart-pulling as the story between Gwen and Cass. 

Really, there are several different stories happening in this book at the same time - several different characters/groups of characters have things going on. Each of these subplots are strong along but weave together splendidly - trying to talk about them all in this blog post would do the book a disservice. It is far better to just pick up the book give it a chance (or re-read). Both of this author's books are perfect for summertime, actually, and they are both excellent, so there is no going wrong in choosing either of them. Both have really wonderful settings, family/sibling relationships, wonderful and respectful love interests that I myself would bring home to my parents, an interesting dynamic between the couples as far as socioeconomic status goes, and great casting. 

What I Thought Was True is a spectacular book, just like I'd hoped it would be, and perfect for summer. It is suntans and summer storms and swimming after work. It's hanging out with friends and working a summer job. It's making mistakes and fixing mistakes and glorious summer love. It's family, family, and family. And friends. I'm not sure how Huntley Fitzpatrick is able to do it so well, to paint such a vivid picture of a lively group of people that is super-realistic and emotional and just all-around wonderful. I really just want to read the book again and again. I absolutely adore characters that are not perfect and yet their story seems to be, and HERE WE HAVE THAT. Gwen is not perfect and Cass is not perfect but YOU GUYS THIS STORY IS PERFECT. I love it so. 

I am so excited about what comes next for Huntley Fitzpatrick. So, so excited. 

I recommend What I Thought Was True for fans of Young Adult Contemporary with romance, great relationships, and a great setting. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to love this book as much as I love Huntley Fitzpatrick's first book, there is plenty of room for them both in my heart. 

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What I Thought Was True will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary Romance
Romance: Slowly-developing. No Triangle. 
Great Main & Secondary Characters
Sibling/Family Relationships
Great Setting
Standalone

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
is currently available for purchase. 

******************************************************************

Have you read this book yet? Thoughts? 

Have you read My Life Next Door? 
Thoughts on that one? 



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Thursday, June 26, 2014

On The Fence by Kasie West Review & a Giveaway

On The Fence by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen
Publish Date: July 1, 2014
320 Pages
Source: Borrowed
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
 -(excerpt from Goodreads) 

On The Fence by Kasie West

I have learned by now that I can expect great stories from Author Kasie West and I also know by now that she is instant-read status. I have loved everything that I have read by her. Regarding her contemporary books - last year's The Distance Between Us, and most recently, On The Fence - I literally read them both with smiles on my faces. 

I think that On The Fence is probably my favorite of West's books to date, and the reasons why are the same reasons that tend to pull at my heartstrings in any story. Main character Charlie (who is a girl) lives with her father and her overprotective brothers, and of course there's the guy-next-door that she claims as a brother, but really isn't. Her mother died years ago and naturally Charlie still mourns for her, but more than that she has arrived to the place in her life when a mother would make everything easier - from how to dress and act like a lady...to wearing make-up...to having friends that are actually girls...to handling the always-tough subject of boys and what to do when she has a crush. Charlie copes with these things by pretending that she doesn't care about any of it, by being the best tomboy she can be, by playing sports as well as any guy ever could. Charlie has no idea that all of the guys around want a chance to go out with her because she's, well, she's Charlie.

Then two really interesting things happen: 
  1. Charlie's dad makes her get a job to pay off a traffic ticket. She hates it, but she does it. Through this job, she finds a couple of gal friends who teach her quite a bit about "being a girl." 
  2. Charlie finds herself spending one-on-one time with Braden, the guy next door - the one guy she claims as a brother that isn't really a brother. 
***********************************************************

There is so much fun and fantastic packed into this story. First of all, there is Charlie and her transformation. I liked the Charlie at the beginning of the book but I just LOVED the Charlie at the end of the book. She had a tough time at several points - life is hard under regular circumstances, and Charlie had a few really awkward and hard things pop up here and there - but she got through them really well. She is a really great and well-written character because she is not afraid to put herself out there and be tough, and yet at the same time, she makes mistakes and she is not afraid to own up to them. Charlie follows this path to finding herself, this really fantastic coming-of-age that really only truly begins throughout the course of this book, and it was absolutely a thrill to read. 

What made it all-the-more fantastic was the bond she had with her brothers (including Braden, the guy next door). She loved these guys so fiercely that their sibling relationship almost jumped off of the pages, and that made me want to hug this book. In a household where the mother was missing and the father felt awkward in taking care of his teenage daughter, these brothers really stepped up and helped their dad out - they were her friends, her brothers, and her protectors. Sure, they were overprotective to the point of annoyance (for Charlie) and hilarity (for me) at times, but I loved reading their relationship all the same. Their inclusion of Braden into their bunch was as much due to their friendship and proximity as it was to his less-than-ideal home situation, and it made me love them even more. These are some of my favorite bookish brothers ever, I think. 

And Braden - what a ride for this guy! How awkward would it be to be included into a family with the girl that he is crushing on - playing sports with her every day, joking around and laughing and cutting up every day, seeing her every single day - and being treated as another brother? Charlie genuinely saw Braden as her brother...she even called him that...until she began meeting him outside at night for little chats at the fence between their property. This, THIS. This is when things got really interesting and things began to change. 

I loved the way everything went down with Charlie and Braden and her brothers. I love how everything unfolded. Everything felt completely real and true, and I could imagine myself being a bystander and watching one of my friends going through what Charlie was experiencing. That is what is so great about this book - and of course the swoon factor. On The Fence is absolutely refreshing and cute and fun, and I loved it so much. I devoured it (just like I have Kasie West's other books). 

I recommend On The Fence by Kasie West to fans of YA Contemporary with romance, fans of fantastic sibling/family relationships, and fans of friendships-to-romances. Great book, great character, fun romance, and HELLO! super-cute cover! 

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On The Fence will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary Romance
Romance: Slowly-developing. No Triangle. 
Great Main Character with Development
Sibling/Family Relationships
Friendship-to-Romance
Stories with Sports
HEA
Standalone

On The Fence by Kasie West
will be available for purchase on July 1, 2014.

******************************************************************

Because I love Author Kasie West so much and because I want others to read her books AND because I'm moving and clearing out my shelves, I have a giveaway for you! 

(Open Worldwide) * (Ends 7/31)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Some Contemporary Month giveaways will require following this blog due to the cost of international shipping. Thank you for understanding!* 



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Update! And....Contemporary Month news!

1. It's June, which means it is Audiobook Month. Wait, it's June? Where the heck has the year gone?



Speaking of audiobooks, I've listened to a ton of them lately. I think - at the time I published this blog post - I have completed 13 or 14 audiobooks this month and am currently listening to two. That is a little more than my norm for a month, you guys. BUT! It is because...

2. I'm moving! Oh my goodness, I'm moving. Wow, it's really starting to sink in that this house isn't going to be my house anymore. I'm only going couple of hours away - I'll still be within the great state of North Carolina. I hope this will be a positive move and I am cautiously and nervously excited about it. PLUS, SIDENOTE: both of my sisters and my Dad live where I am going! I haven't lived near those guys in years and I'm bursting with excitement over being able to see them regularly. 

However, I do have this weird packing anxiety that is actually real. Like, it's an actual thing. Example: it takes me something like three-ish hours to pack things that might take you guys thirty minutes to pack. It is extremely terrifying and extremely overwhelming, and yes I have actually seen a counselor for it. (Too much information? I know it is irrational. Encouragement? Yes, please!) Needless to say, my stress level has been through the roof and I have not even turned on my computer for something like three weeks and I have listened to audiobooks pretty much exclusively (which is why my count for this month is so high). For some reason the audiobooks help me focus on the story I'm hearing, which helps me forget that I'm packing, and I am actually able to get some work done. 


Source
Crazy, right? YES, completely bizarre. But it works for me somehow. It lessens the stress in one of the most stressful events ever: moving. 


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3. And speaking of June, it's almost over! Which means July is only days away! 


July means my Contemporary Month event is ALMOST HERE. YAY! 

I know I'm more than excited about it - it is already better than I've ever done before, and I'm excited to be bringing my thoughts on all types of contemporary for you guys. 

**In fact, I have a few contemporary things that will be going up BEFORE July, so be ready! 

4. I love this blog. I have missed this blog while I have been preparing to sell this house and move. But HERE I AM, ready to kick out some CONTEMPORARY CONTENT. 

I hope you guys will pump me up and help me out by: 

  • Participating! Just stop by and say hi! Leave comments!
  • Enter the giveaways. 
  • Share your thoughts on what the things you see that you have read and liked.
  • Share your opinions if you didn't like a book. It's totally okay! I love these comments!
  • Fangirl with me if you loved a book and tell me why. I'm a complete fangirl sometimes.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review | The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #2
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Publish Date: June 1, 2014

274 pages
Source: Author for Review - Thank you!
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

She's hiding something big. He's hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley's life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It's a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet's fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID -- with a newly minted name on it -- she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she's falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.
The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won't work anymore. And if they can't learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they've struggled to keep. (from Goodreads) 


The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

My Thoughts: I recently read The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen and fell FAST and HARD for the characters in that story. I loved the way this author brought the college experience and athletics together and mixed it with real life - her characters had real life issues (one had a disability that is not often found in New Adult contemporary). The setting was fantastic and everything felt authentic and realistic and I was like YES THIS IS REFRESHING, I WANT MORE!  

It is not at all surprising that I have fallen fast and hard for this second book in the series, The Year We Hid Away. I met main character, Bridger, in the first book and actually crossed my fingers that I would get to know more about him and OH YAY LOOK AT THIS! This is his story! As much as I loved his story (and doggone it, I do mean LOVED), I loved the other main character in the book, Scarlet.

Author Sarina Bowen has made me squeally and nerdy over this series, and very quickly. Hello there, The Ivy Years Series: Welcome to the top shelf. Welcome to instant-read status. 

(You can read my thoughts on The Year We Fell Down 
by Sarina Bowen HERE.)

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THIS IS THE #2 BOOK IN THE SERIES, BUT
THERE ARE NO SERIES SPOILERS IN THIS BLOG POST. 

I knew that when I started The Year We Hid Away, I would need to block out a chunk of my life to devote to the story and the characters, and that is exactly what I did. I absolutely LOVED falling back into the world of Harkness College and getting to know Bridger McCaulley and Scarlet Crowley. 

Bridger is main character Adam Hartley's good friend in the first book, and he pops up just enough that we get different glimpses into his what kind of character he is during that time. This book, however, takes place in the following semesters, and we are focusing on a very different Bridger; we see MORE and WHY of everything... more about the behaviors we saw then and also the "Why?" behind his behaviors and lifestyle now. Some big things have happened to shake up Bridger's world between books and he has had to grow up, man-up, and rearrange his priorities. He's done a great job but MAN OH MAN, some days life is just hard for him. 
Do you ever have those times in life when things aren't great, and then they get worse, and then you think "You have GOT to be kidding me?" or "WHY does stuff like this keep happening to me?" After Bridger ends up changing his life, he has to go into a sort of stealth-mode because he doesn't want anyone to know what has happened - he has his reasons, and they are really good ones. But life dishes out hard stuff all the time and sometimes he feels like it is almost more than he can take. Bridger finds that his old life is a life he can now only dream about. No time to cry about it, no time to wish for something different. He has to keep going, keep going, keep going. One day it will all be worth it. 
I love a really well-written, vulnerable character that shows weakness and admits flaws. While Bridger is incredibly strong and awesome, he is also quick and able to admit when he is wrong or at fault. He is a new Bridger. His friends do not understand his behavior - they feel like he is avoiding them or shutting them out or that he is never around anymore. That isn't really it at all; Bridger has just become more mature. Shifting priorities will do that to you, right? (So will meeting a pretty girl named Scarlet.)

Scarlet's story isn't one that I have read in a character often, and I love what the author brought to the table with her. She is finally able to get away from home as a freshman - leaving an absolutely stifling, horrible, embarrassing, crazy situation with her father. Scarlet is basically on her own now, and she couldn't be happier. She finally feels like she can breathe. Except, really, even though she has done everything she can to leave the ghosts of her family's past behind, it is much harder than she anticipated. Scarlet thought that if she came to school and kept quiet about her past, people wouldn't know - and that works out for her for a while. Meeting Bridger in her classes, though, is the best thing that could have happened to her. 

Bridger represents a break from the stress of the rest of her life, which is really great because that is exactly how Bridger feels about Scarlet. She feels like she can be herself around him without bringing the heaviness and weight of who she used to be into the picture. With Bridger, she isn't her father's daughter, and she doesn't have to worry about what he is constantly thinking about her. He represents a fresh start. She is finally able to gain some confidence and develop an identity. I loved reading about Scarlet because I know there must be people out there in the real world like her. 

I also feel certain that there are people out there in the real world JUST LIKE BRIDGER, and I think that is why I like him so much. Plus even though he is going through a tough season in his life, he is not one of those angsty male characters. He is still considerate and respectful and kind, and I love this. It does not lessen his sexiness or attractiveness one bit. Loved this guy. I knew I'd love his character before I began this book, I just didn't know how much. 

I love the world of Harkness College and the surrounding town. I completely feel taken in by this campus and the area around it. I love that the hockey was in this book just like it was in the first book - so fun! I loved that there was plenty of emotion and intensity in this book, but not too much. The Year We Hid Away really made me think about what being in Bridger's situation and being in Scarlet's situation must really be like, but at the same time it was not to heavy for me to really love this story. There was plenty of laughing and happiness too. 

I'm telling you guys, I loved the first book but I loved this book even more. With several more books planned for this series, YOU CAN'T EVEN KNOW HOW EXCITED I AM. Seriously, I have clappy-hands about these books.  

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GOSH I KNOW I HAVEN'T REALLY TOLD YOU THAT MUCH ABOUT BRIDGER. I know you're probably wondering what I'm alluding to when I talk about his life and how it has changed since the last book and all. I'm telling you to trust me, it is better if you find it all out as you read - you will love Bridger and his backstory and his relationship with Scarlet all the more, and you will understand why he has had to do everything he has had to do. Scarlet's portion of the story is given to us a little bit in the summary, but believe me when I say that her life twists and turns a bit until the end. YES, this is a romance, but it is my favorite kind of romance, the kind that mixes with real-life issues and real-life stuff and character development and overcoming obstacles. There is not much better in a book than characters that come out better in the end than they were when they started. This is what we have here. 

All I want to do is sit here and gush about how much I love The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen, but just tust me when I say that if you love New Adult or Contemporary Romance, especially with some issues and character development, you will like this one. The guy is great and the setting is great and the story is plausible and I want MORE PLEASE, as soon as possible. GREAT NEW ADULT RIGHT HERE, you guys. 

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EXCERPT from The Year We Hid Away

“Stalker,” Bridger said, cocking one ginger eyebrow at me. “I need to hear you play.”

“Play what?”

“A song. I want to hear one.”

“Um… maybe. If you can do me a little favor.”

He crossed his arms, and I was momentarily distracted by the curved shape of his forearm muscles. “Favor? What’s this going to cost me?”

“Well… could you stop calling me Stalker?” I knew my objection to his nickname was a little silly. But the past year had made me sensitive to anything even remotely creepy.

His green eyes went wide. “Sure. That’s it?”

I nodded.

“Okay. Now play me a song,” Bridger said. 

My hands felt a little sweaty, and I had to wipe them on my jeans. I shouldn’t have been nervous, because I spent a lot of restless hours last year playing the living crap out of my guitar. When nobody at school will speak to you, and there’s a full drama playing inside your house, there is really no better way to spend time than practicing music. But still, I was anxious to impress.

Putting the guitar strap over my head, I checked my tuning. Then I launched in to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama. With its distinctive opening riff, I knew it would sound impressive. And I’d played it a hundred times before.

I kept my eyes on the fret board, not because I needed to look, but because I felt shy. After the first few bars I began to relax, the music pulling me in. 

When the song was done, I waited until the last note died away. And then I couldn’t avoid his face any longer. Bridger was looking down at me with big eyes, dark green, the color of the sea before a storm. “Damn, Scarlet,” he whispered. “You amaze me.”

My cheeks did their thing, becoming hot. I busied myself with removing the guitar strap from around my neck. But I fumbled it, twisting my hair in the strap. “Ouch,” I swore.

Bridger reached up to untangle me, and I felt my status tumble quickly from “possibly cool” right down to “dork.” But just as I was beating myself up about it, I noticed something peculiar. After Bridger pushed my tangled hair off my shoulder, his hand stayed there, warming my skin. Then, his fingers cupped my cheek. My gaze flew to his, and I found him studying me.

Ever so slowly, he leaned in. Then his lips barely whispered across mine, and I felt myself break out in goose bumps. But he didn’t kiss me properly. Instead, his lips came to hover over the corner of my mouth, a spot on my body which I’d never guessed was so sensitive. “Is this okay?” he whispered, his lips so close that I could feel the words vibrate on my skin. “I find you a little hard to read.”

Hell yes. But I didn’t trust my voice to answer him. Instead, I turned my face the tiniest distance towards his, hoping he’d understand. My heart slammed against my ribs as his mouth found mine…

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The Year We Hid Away will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance with Issues
Romance: Slow-Burn. Friends-to-Romance.
Great Secondary Characters
Alternating POV
Setting: College Campus
Athletics 

The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen
is currently available for purchase. 

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Sarina Bowen makes her home in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where she lives with her family, eight chickens and a large pile of skis and hockey equipment. She is a graduate of Yale University.

Find Sarina Bowen: 


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The Ivy Series: 







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