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Perfect Couple – Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple
By: Jennifer Echols
Superlatives – Book 2
Available January 2015

Description:
Perfect Couple is #2 in the Superlatives series about seniors at a Florida high school who are selected for their class’s superlative categories in the yearbook, and how the labels change the way they view themselves and alter the course of their lives.

Can your heart be put to a popular vote?

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can’t see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they’ve found themselves drawn together–first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they’re very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?

This Blonde’s Review:
Harper and Brody are not a couple you’d normally put together. But apparently their classmates see something that Harper and Brody never did and voted them to “Perfect Couple That Never Was.” Once the idea is in their heads they can’t seem to keep from considering it, despite already being in other relationships.

I really liked Harper. She was smart and creative. She was a kind person who I would have wanted to be friends with in high school. She’s cautious and wants to play it safe ever since her parent’s divorce. Brody is the star quarterback, popular and outgoing. Everyone loves him and all the girls like him. So why would he waste his time with a girl like her?

Yet apparently he’s been looking back her her curiously too. And when one thing leads to another, soon they decide to give a relationship a go. Maybe their friends see something they don’t.

Seeing them try to figure out if this is something they can make work was great. Because we can’t help but like both of them and want them to be together. They’re great together even though it isn’t as easy as they seem to think it should be.

And when they find out some surprising news Harper can’t help but want to run. So it becomes if they can make it work or not.

If you enjoyed the first book in this series then you’ll enjoy this one. You’ll enjoy the chance to get to know more of the characters you got to know in the first book.

I was also looking forward to this one because of my personal history. When I was a senior in high school I was also voted as half of a perfect couple that never was. In our case we just side eyed each other on the meeting where it was announced, I wondered about it a little, and that was the end of it. I was looking forward to a chance to see what Jennifer Echols had her characters do with it.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Around The World Tours, Book Review

 

Get Even – Gretchen McNeil

Get Even
By: Gretchen McNeil
Don’t Get Mad – Book 1
Available Sept 2014

Description:
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

This Blonde’s Review:
They don’t seem to have anything in common and they don’t talk to each other. Their lives only intersect by attending the same school but in no other ways. At least that’s what they want the rest of the school to know. In reality Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot are part of a group called Don’t Get Mad. They created it to get back at the bullies that no one seems to do anything about, the ones in positions of power.

Those same people in the power positions are the ones who want the group publicly known as DGM stopped. They torment students they think are part of the group, trying to bully and threaten them into confessing their part. The principal of the school has even allowed the formation of a group who mission is to take down DGM, claiming that DGM are the bullies who are causing problems. Again, because the ones DGM goes after are the power players, such as a gym teacher who mistreats the out of shape students.

I did enjoy this book but since we were bouncing between all 4 girls I didn’t feel that I really go to know them very well. I got glimpses of what they’re like and impressions about certain parts of their lives. They were great at working together until something terrible happens and a body turns up. Someone they had planned to target for taking advantage of a drunk student was found dead with one of their cards. Since they had no other connection besides the group it was too easy for them to start doubting each other and wondering if one of their own was doing it.

They were receiving mysterious pictures and packages about each other. We assume from the person who really did the crime. What I think is awesome is the part where it wasn’t just about HEY here’s a threat. Or Hey, here’s what i know. Each envelope contained a clue about another girl in the group. Which gave us more insight but also created so much doubt for the others. Some of them gave us motivation for why they would have joined DGM, while others gave more reason to believe they’d betray each other.

I enjoyed this one. At first I wasn’t so sure, but one they started getting the packages and everything got my mysterious with multiple treasure hunts going on at the same time I got more interested. I didn’t want to step away and try to remember who was doing what and what each thing meant. Then end was a bit of a shock to me though. I was really hoping for more info about what was going on, so that we as a reader could have an idea of who could be doing everything. Instead I felt that I was being given a suspect based on the DGM girls’ opinions of what it could be, but I didn’t really feel that. IT could have been but there were a lot of gaps too. I kind of expected a surprise reveal that Ta Da look who you didn’t expect. Except now I have to wait for the next book to find out more. The downside to reading a book that is not a standalone is that I don’t get all of the answers when I want them.

If you enjoy reading books where your characters get led on a fun chase to figure out who they can trust and if the puzzle pieces they have create a picture or more questions, then you’ll enjoy this one.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Around The World Tours

 

Famous In Love – Rebecca Serle

Famous In Love
By: Rebecca Serle
Available Sept 2014

Description:
The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen. 

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

This Blonde’s Review:
Paige is the girl next door. She seems to have the perfect life with a great high school experience, great friends, and even a good relationship with her family. Her life is what most people would call perfect. No enemies, no big drama, life is good. But what she really wants is to be an actress. When she auditions for a major movie and somehow gets a lead part she can’t believe it. She expects that at any time they’ll realize they made a mistake and she’ll lose the job.

Instead she keeps the job. She gets yelled at by the director all the time. She’s being mentioned in tabloids. Her friendships with her best friends back home are falling apart. Things aren’t easy as she does not feel like a big time actress.

She’s trying to take her acting career seriously but Rainer isn’t making it easy for her. As much as she wants to lay low and not cause headlines Rainer doesn’t seem to care. He is used to the attention and likes it. When they find out the third main member of their cast is Jordan, someone Rainer has history with. Paige can’t get a good read on Jordan but something draws her even while his attitude pushes her away. Rainer does everything he can to put his claim on Paige even though she isn’t ready for that.

So in this we have a love triangle of course. But it’s one between two guys who used to be friends before one believed betrayal. It’s also one where she hasn’t made a choice yet and still has time to.

I liked the book because I liked Paige and her friends. I didn’t really see the draw for either of the guys though. I got glimpses of their character and what made them tick, but not enough to really want one or the other for her. I liked Rainer’s way of helping her relax and have fun. But I also liked Jordan’s depth. And in the end sometimes we make choices based on other people rather than ourselves.

This is a book where even though I’d have loved to find out more about what could happen or change after the big announcement on who she chose, I also felt that there was no better place to go after that. Once you make a choice you can’t always go back and change it. And like she says about the character she plays. Sometimes you make the wrong one.

I liked the things that came out at the end of the book, but I didn’t like the way they influenced Paige’s decision. It was disappointing. I want to have the girl pick the guy and know it was right, not feel that they’re making a sacrifice for someone who doesn’t see what happened.

So while the whole world watches to see who is chosen, we rarely know what’s going on in another’s heart unless they choose to share it with us. And fame can be the biggest life changer, turning you from an open book who tells all into someone who barely shares anything.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Book Review

 

Rites of Passage – Joy N Hensley

Rites of Passage
By: Joy N Hensley
Available Sept 2014

Description:
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences. 

This Blonde’s Review:
Sam is part of the first group of girls to ever be admitted to the Denmark Military Academy. She knows it won’t be easy, but her life hasn’t been great lately anyway. Her brother gave her a dare to attend the school and she doesn’t turn down dares. She’s always been eager to keep up with the boys rathe than playing dressup with her mother. And since this dare was the last one her brother gave her before he committed suicide she knows she’ll do whatever it takes to get through. Life hasn’t been great for her lately anyway. Her brother is gone. She doesn’t have a good relationship with her father, a high ranking military man who seems to put the his military career above his family and doesn’t want her to embarrass the family name. Her mother is barely speaking to her since she hates everything to do with the military and sees Sam attending this school as a betrayal. Her surviving brother barely wants to acknowledge her existence for daring to attend his school and acts as though she’s only doing it to take something from him. Sam’s year isn’t going to be easy.

There are supposed to be 5 girls in the first class, but one doesn’t show and the other girls who mostly make us wonder why they bothered to sign up. The relationships that Sam makes with these girls are tricky and not the kind of strong battle buddy relationships that I would have expected. I started this book thinking the girls would have to band together. It didn’t work out quite that way.

There is a group at DMA that will do whatever it takes to keep girls from being part of the academy. To their mind it isn’t pure if they allow anyone different to join, and females are definitely different. Sam has to deal with this from members of her chain of command. She has people above her attempting to make things difficult for all of the women, but especially so for Sam. Sam refuses to allow it to them to break her. She takes it and doesn’t complain. Her drill sergeant tells her to jump chain of command if needed, but Sam doesn’t do so. She takes it.

Sam’s strength and determination is something to be admired. She knew that asking for help would be seen as more weakness so she accepted way more than she should have. And she didn’t know who to trust. Especially when one of the people she thought was there for her stepped back and left her to figure it out on her own. Luckily she wasn’t entirely alone. Sam has someone who offers to help her with mysterious emails. She also has her advisor who finds her brother’s old combat buddy, who is local and offers her a safe haven. Surprisingly that Army buddy is related to someone Sam already knows, someone who can be a great resource for her and matter very much in her life.

It started to get really ugly for Sam but she soon realized she had more people in her corner than she realized. When they start working together to take down the group trying to take them out there was no way they wouldn’t win. It was just a matter of what the cost would be and if they could take down everyone or just the local small potatoes.

I really enjoyed this one. Sam was a strong character and I love those. The girls who keep going and don’t let the people who will do anything to keep them down win. I also really loved Drill. He was so great. The way this one ended really makes me want a second book. I wanted Sam to get more! It worked out great but not perfect, I want to know how the next year plays out.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Book Review

 

Dead Zone – Robison Wells

Dead Zone
By: Robison Wells
Blackout – Book 2
Available Sept 2014

Description:
America is at war—and five teens are caught in the crossfire. 

It began with a virus. Then a series of attacks erupted across the nation. Now the true invasion has begun, and a handful of teenagers with impossible powers are America’s only defense.

Robison Wells blew readers away with his first novel, Variant, which Publishers Weekly called “a chilling and masterful debut” in a starred review. In Dead Zone, he delivers his most nail-bitingly tense read yet—and an electrifying conclusion to a two-book series that’s perfect for fans of The Maze Runner and I Am Number Four.

This Blonde’s Review:
In Dead Zone we get to see more of Jack and Aubrey as they continue trying to figure out the right thing to do. They know that Russia is somehow turning off all of their engines and electronics, making their vehicles and weapons useless. Jack, Aubrey, and the rest of their team will be working together to find what is causing it and how to stop it.

We also get to see some of the viewpoint from the teens who were on the terrorist side, but we see it more for the information than from any hope of connecting with them. Their logic is skewed and it makes me feel bad for them. Except in so many ways it seems that there is no good option. In the middle of a war no one can go home and go back to being a kid again.

In this one everyone had to make some hard choices and not everyone made the right choices. In the middle of a war there are always hard choices, so I like that the author was willing to have the characters make some hard choices that would change them. We didn’t see as much of the plotting from the terrorist side of things this time as last time. We don’t see as much of the view and plotting from the other side as we did in the first book. This one focuses more on how things work within the war effort in the military. We see what is happening with Jack and Aubrey’s training and team, as well as the ways things aren’t going as well as they could.

I still really liked Aubrey and Jack but I don’t feel that we got to know them much better than in the first book. This one was good but it was a lot more like we were racing to a finish line to find out what was happening. It was a good book, but I learned a lot more in the first book and there was a lot more to get through. So overall, I liked the first book better.

If you liked the first book you should definitely read this as well to find out what happens. I enjoyed finding out what happened with them and I know you will too.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Book Review

 

Even In Paradise – Chelsey Philpot

Even In Paradise
By: Chelsey Philpot
Available Oct 2014

Description:
When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do… or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.

This Blonde’s Review:
Late one night Charlotte helps a girl she hears getting sick in the bushes and can’t help herself from going out to help her. When she meets Julia Buchanan Charlotte soon finds herself being called Charlie and dragged into Julia’s life. A girl no one knows soon finds herself as part of the infamous circus that is the Buchanan lifestyle.

As glamorous as their life might seem, being a part of Julia’s life is more complicated than Charlie expected. As dazzling and high as Julia’s life seems to be, there are lows to go with every high. The Buchanans have experienced tragedy but don’t know how to handle it. When they meet Charlie she seems like a breathe of fresh air to them, her practicality and her ability to see things is refreshing and new to them. She is soon treated like one of the family, with them expecting her presence at various events.

As happy and carefree as Julia can be, there is a dark and destructive side to her. Charlie knows it has something to do with the death of Julia’s sister but she doesn’t know what happened. Even though Charlie is often put in the role of caretaker for Julia the family still keeps secrets from her. She isn’t allowed into the inner circle. Anytime she steps past the line of what Julia or the rest of the Buchanans will allow her to know or do she can feel the ice. But somehow Charlie loves them anyway. Julia is her best friend, and Sebastian is her crush, but Charlie loves the rest of the Buchanan family as though they’re her own. And the more I read the more I cared about them too.

The family asks for a lot from Charlie, at first it seemed that she accepted and was okay with that and it was frustrating to me, that they’d put so much on her. The part that made me still care for the Buchanans was that they do care for her in their way and want to offer her opportunities that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Charlie’s whole life was changed when she became part of the Buchanan clan. She was distanced from her friends and started to see the Buchanan lifestyle as normal.

I was surprised by the decisions that were made at the end of this book. I was sad for them, but also happy. Charlie’s life had been changed so much. It opened her eyes to things she wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and it gave her the strength to walk into the future that was best for her without fear.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Book Review

 

Don’t Touch – Rachel M Wilson

Don’t touch
By: Rachel M Wilson
Available Sept 2014

Description:
A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together… which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn’t sure she’s brave enough to let herself fall.

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who’s fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

This Blonde’s Review:
We all have thoughts and actions that we know don’t make sense, superstitions or habits that we can’t seem to shake. Most of them are harmless and may just cause others to shake their heads or chuckle. For Caddie it becomes something debilitating. She has the idea that if she can keep from touching other people somehow her family will stay together.

Caddie’s father has moved out and she’s scared her family will break apart. She knows that her thoughts about not touching others being enough to keep bad things from happening isn’t reasonable, but she won’t risk it. She starts to find that it is harder than she thought to not have to touch people. Keeping her distance and secrets from her childhood best friend, Maddie, that she is reconnecting with is difficult. Keeping her distance from Peter, the great guy she’s getting to know, is even harder.

Caddie’s struggles were hard to see and understand, but I liked the way the author eased us into it slowly with her. The way it started as something little she thought she could control and slowly grew out of proportion. How she could want touch but also fear it at the same time. Getting to see the way it worked in her mind made it easier to relate to what she was going through. It also made me think about how easy it would be for something to go too far that way.

I loved the other characters in this book too. Maddie accepted Caddie with her gloves and secrets, even though she obviously wanted to know what was going on. Peter was so great in his understanding and patience with Caddie, I really wanted her to be able to put everything aside so they could be together. The rest of the group was awesome too and I enjoyed getting to know them through Caddie, despite the distance she tried to keep from everyone.

I enjoyed getting to know Caddie. I could understand her desire not to tell anyone what was happening with her, but wished she was more open. My favorite parts of the book all happened after she finally opened up about it. Everything didn’t go away overnight because they really can’t, but seeing her try and seeing the things people were willing to do to help her was great.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Book Review

 
 
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