The Things You Kiss Goodbye – Leslie Connor

The Things You Kiss Goodbye
By Leslie Connor
Available June 2014

Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.

This Blonde’s Review:
Bettina was amazed when her father allowed her to start dating Brady. He’s a sweet football player with popular friends. The friends never accepted her or their relationship, they say it as something temporary. As time goes on Brady stops being sweet and starts to mistreat her. When abuse starts slowly it is easy to think maybe it isn’t that bad. Except when seen from the outside it’s clearly wrong.

Thanks to Brady’s abuse and her need to get away Bettina meets a guy she calls Cowboy. He’s kind and allows her to be without criticizing her. Their friendship grows and she starts to find it harder to resist spending more time with him. Bettina tries to maintain their friendship without her family or Brady catching on. Her family isn’t very supportive, her father is very strict and treats her like everything she does is an inconvenience to him.

When Bettina realizes that the way she feels for Cowboy is bigger than everything else, she decides it is worth being together even if her family will be against it. I didn’t really feel the connection. It seemed to just happen without feeling like we had gotten to know him well. It’s like we were told about a few things and those few things were supposed to endear us quickly. I wasn’t feeling it though.

When something huge happens Bettina is devastated. Watching her struggle to get through is sad. I didn’t connect very strongly with most of the characters, there were a few side characters who had more passion and life to them that I’d have rather known more. Seeing the way people treated her after that kind of blow made me so angry with the people around her. I hated seeing that but at the same time, it was more realistic than if everyone had suddenly become supportive.

I liked that not everyone came around in the end, some characters slowly came to realize that they were wrong while others made excuses. I didn’t care for the way they wanted to push of the blame on others. I also didn’t like that not everything came out when I felt that it should have, some secrets shouldn’t stay hidden.

I didn’t connect to the characters the way I like to. I also wanted more relationship building. The tragedy was sad but it wasn’t something that hit me. It really was like a sad thing that happened to someone else. But that was the thing that made the rest of the book worthwhile.

This would be a good book for someone who wants to see a character recover and become stronger after something turns their life upside down. You’ll appreciate the character growth at the end most.

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Book Review


(Don’t You) Forget About Me – Kate Karyus Quinn

(Don’t You) Forget About Me
By Kate Karyus Quinn
Available June 2014

Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

This Blonde’s Review:
Skyler lives in a town where people don’t get sick. Life threatening diseases like cancer have no power there. Sounds perfect. Except for the part where every four years the teenagers in town turn deadly. Skyler’s sister lead her classmates onto a bridge to jump and 16 died. Following that Skyler has turned into the kind of person who is drugged at all times, her life is flying by and she doesn’t know what is happening. Except that now Piper has to wake up. She has to find out where Piper is and why no one seems to know what happened to her.

This one was actually pretty interesting. I didn’t care for Skyler and couldn’t understand her desire to drug herself into oblivion. As the book goes on we see that her family life is troubled, her father didn’t care for her and would ignore her existence. Her mother loved him to distraction and allowed him to use her and cheat on her so wasn’t there for her daughters. The only person Skyler had was Piper. They were both gifted, Piper could get people to do things while Skyler could pull their secrets.

I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. Skyler wasn’t a character I connected with at all, but I felt bad for her and couldn’t help but hope she would find her sister. As the story went on there were more things that didn’t add up and made it clear there was more going on than Skyler was aware of. I liked watching as things slowly revealed until everything opened up.

If the book sounds interesting then you should definitely give it a try. The characters aren’t strong enough that we get attached to them, but the stories in the book and the secrets that reveal themselves were great.

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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Book Review


Just Like The Movies – Kelly Fiore

Just Like The Movies
By: Kelly Fiore
Available June 2014

Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. 

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. 

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

This Blonde’s Review:
This book is one of those easy fun reads where nothing plays out quite like it should. It is a typical fluffy girl book. Take two girls, one popular and one invisible, their love of romantic chick flicks, two hot guys, and prom approaching. It was adorable.

Lily and Marijke build a friendship based on trying to get the guys they want to want them back. Sure, Marijke has the guy but he’s not really there. Her boyfriend has other priorities and puts her last no matter how often she puts him first. She will do whatever it takes to get him to say he loves her. Lily is invisible and has no idea how to get her guy to notice her. Working together they use the best romantic movies they know to win their guys over.

The best part of this book in my opinion was the way nothing worked out the way it did in the movies no matter how they tried. They find themselves in situation after situation and no matter how great it looks, somehow it doesn’t play out the way it should. But the other best part is the friendship they find with each other.

Of course the girls end up with their best possible endings, but they don’t necessarily get there quite as easily as they would have hoped. The character development for Marijke and her boyfriend were great because they had to learn a few things before anything between them would grow. Lily and her guy had a few things to realize themselves but may have had an easier path of it since theirs was something new.

This book is relatively predictable. Once you know what’s coming you know what will happen. But this isn’t supposed to be a big deep and unpredictable book. It’s supposed to be a fun and enjoyable read and it fits. If the idea of two girls trying to use scenes from a romantic movie seems like your kind of book then you’ll enjoy this.

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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Book Review


Free to Fall – Lauren Miller

Free to Fall
By Lauren Miller
Available May 2014

What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall?

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

This Blonde’s Review:
We are a society dependent on our phones. We don’t remember phone numbers anymore since our phone has them. We don’t have to wait patiently without anything to do because we have games, books, texting, and any number of things on our phones at all times. In Rory’s world there is also an app called Lux. Lux will help you make the best decisions, it knows the restaurants you like and the best drink choice at a coffee shop. It knows who you should date and what school you should go to. If you follow Lux’s instructions your life will be wonderful. Just don’t let Doubt, that voice inside your head that could tell you differently, sway you from the path.

Rory has been a good girl, following Lux and doing everything she should her whole life. Until she goes away to school. Suddenly she starts hearing the Doubt. She finds herself in situations where the Doubt tells her things correctly, people refer to things she doesn’t understand, and she meets new people who open up her eyes. Is North, the new guy she met, right to avoid using Lux? Is the secret society she’s being introduced to going to shed light on the things she doesn’t know? And does she have a teacher out to get her? There are so many things that cause questions in what used to be her very clear and obvious life.

I enjoyed this. There were so many great characters supporting Rory, even if some of them didn’t start off on the right foot. The choices she makes aren’t always perfect, but seeing her go from good girl who uses her app to order a drink to rebel who wants to change everything is great. Rory learns things about herself and the people around her that she never would have expected. Some of those things seem like they were unnecessary and easily moved past, while others were great ways to build on the story.

While there were several points to the book that didn’t seem necessary the general idea was still an entertaining one. If the description sounded good to you give it a try. It isn’t one of my top books of the year partly because of the parts that felt unneeded, but it was one that had me wanting to see where the author would take it. I finished this book pretty quickly because it kept me looking for the end.


Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

Open Road Summer
By: Emery Lord
Available April 2014

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

This Blonde’s Review:
I really enjoyed this book and a big part of that is because Reagan is an imperfect character. The more the book goes on we see that she isn’t just moody and protective, she has good reason to be that way. She has made a practice of bad choices and putting herself at risk. Watching her work on getting her life straight while being there for her friend was great. Her dedication to her best friend was fantastic.

Matt Finch is the cute guy who comes into the picture as Lilah’s opening act. The press thinks he’s involved with Lilah but something about him draws Reagan. She doesn’t want anything to do with it though. He’s a charming ex boy band guy so she thinks she has his number. Until she starts to learn some new things about him. She starts to see that his life isn’t as easy as she thought it was. And she starts to fall for the guy Matt, not the star.

Reagan’s best friend is a big country music star and is considered a big sweetheart. She’s loved and looked up to. Except the world doesn’t see the part where her heart has been broken thanks to her big love setting her free to go live her dreams. All Reagan can do is be there for her. They still love each other but want different things, so man bashing isn’t even an option. Instead it’s just getting by day by day and being there for each other. Reagan’s friendship with her is seen in the now and with memories that show that their bond is stronger than what many are able to find. Seeing their love for each other and the lengths they’d go to is so great. The friendship is not just some side piece to the romance. The friendship is what matters more than the romance.

I loved that this book was about more than just falling for the guy. It’s about friendships making it through everything, being there for each other, and learning to love yourself way more than it is about any guy. Though watching the way she learns to care for him and trust him was so great as well and still made it about learning to be herself than going for the cute guy.

I really liked this book and look forward to reading more by Emery Lord. If you enjoy the idea of seeing a damaged character learn how to love herself again then you’ll enjoy this book. Everything else was great but secondary to Reagan finding herself.

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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Book Review


Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend – Katie Finn

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend
by Katie Finn
Broken Hearts & Revenge – Book 1
Available May 2014

Summer, boys, and friendships gone sour. This new series has everything that perfect beach reads are made of!

Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long?

When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.

Gemma’s plan is working (she’s finding it hard to resist Josh), but she’s finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is?

This Blonde’s Review:
When I started this book I expected another light fun read that I’d enjoy since I do like books that have a similar plot. Except that this one had so many little things that has me looking back and thinking that I loved when This happened or That. They weren’t huge things, there were just enough little things added together to really make me want to go out and buy a copy of this book when it comes out in May.

Gemma isn’t a bad person, but when she was in a rough spot in her life she made some bad choices and hurt people who mattered to her and to her father. When she has to go back to the Hamptons for the first time since everything went down she hopes that she won’t run in to Hallie. Hallie is the girl who could have been like a sister to her until Gemma did her best to destroy everything.

After meeting a cute guy on the train who turned out to be Hallie’s brother Josh and a misunderstanding about her identity, all Gemma can do is go along with the idea that she’s really someone else and work to get to know Hallie again. Watching Gemma get to know Hallie and Josh was great, I really enjoyed all of them. There were little things that kept happening to Gemma that had me wondering a time or two if Gemma was running into a string of bad karma thanks to the continuing lie or if something else was happening to her. And the great thing is that those things were all small enough that it really can go either way. One minute I assumed one thing then something would happen to make me think something else.

The end of this one really was great. I loved it and can’t wait to read the next one! I would love to tell you more about the hows and whys but I just can’t spoil it for you. I was left with so many questions and I really hope to find out more in the next book. Which I really wish was coming out soon rather than knowing this one isn’t even out until May. Dang.

If you enjoy mistaken identities, righting past wrongs, cute guys, and a case of serious bad luck then you’ll enjoy Gemma’s story. You really should get a copy in May when it comes out.

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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Book Review


Nantucket Red – Leila Howland

Nantucket Red
By Leila Howland
Nantucket – Book 2
Available May 2014

Cricket Thompson’s lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she’s headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn’t anticipated. It’s hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn’t just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she’s been trying to ignore-her own heart.

This Blonde’s Review:
In the first book in this series we see Cricket have to stand on her own without her best friend or the family she has adopted as her own. She has to find her own way, fall in love with the wrong guy, and deal with her parents in ways she never had before. In the second book she’s moving on from losing her boyfriend and has been alone. She got into a great school but now she has to find the money to afford the real experience of living in the dorms instead of at home. That means going back to Nantucket.

In this one we see Cricket growing up and becoming more confident in the life that she has built on her own. She builds more relationships with the people around her, she starts repairing her relationship with her best friend, and learning how to be around Zack again. When everything Cricket has worked for looks like it could be lost thanks to a bad decision she has to figure out how to make the best of everything and learn something about herself at the same time.

I really enjoyed this one. I think I may have even liked it better than the first book. In this one Cricket is more confident and she’s taking chances she would have been afraid to take in the first book. Watching her grow and realize what she wants and what is best for her was really great. She wasn’t the same person in the same place, she was someone new. I felt like she ended this book a much stronger person than she would have been if she never went through everything that she did.

If you’ve read the first book you won’t be disappointed by the changes in Cricket’s character. You’ll probably find you like her better now. If haven’t read the first book but enjoy books about characters who have to learn who they really are when they’re set adrift without the people who matter to them then you’ll want to read Cricket’s story.

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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Book Review


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