Lying Out Loud – Kody Keplinger

Lying Out Loud coverLying Out Loud
By: Kody Keplinger
Duff Companion Novel
Available April 2015

Kody Keplinger returns to the world of The DUFF in this brand-new companion novel!

Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend’s house every night because she has nowhere else to go.

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with — secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

Ryder’s the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can’t stand — a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there’s one small catch: he thinks he’s been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she’s the girl he’s really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

This Blonde’s Review:
Sonny is the kind of girl who lies about everything. It is how she gets out of trouble and how she keeps people from looking too closely. She even lies to herself because she can’t accept some of the truths in her life. When she finds herself caught in a lie she didn’t mean to tell things get more complicated, especially since she has other secrets she is trying to find at the same time.

I really enjoyed Sonny, Amy, and Ryder. Amy is the best kind of best friend, kind and caring. She and her family have taken Sonny in as their own, even if Sonny isn’t able to fully trust it. Sonny is a girl with problems and you can’t help but feel for her. So much of what has made her the way she is isn’t her fault. Knowing there is a bigger secret that she doesn’t want to acknowledge makes it clear that her lies are a big defense mechanism. Ryder was a little harder to like at first but we couldn’t help but start to like him as we got to know him better.

Seeing the things that have happened with Sonny’s parents it becomes very clear why she has the defense mechanisms that she does. It also highlights how great Amy, her parents, and her brother Wesley are that they accept her as their own. Sonny has a safe place to be and people who love her no matter what she believes about her home life. It made me love Amy and her family so much more, even while the girls struggled in their friendship.

I enjoyed getting to see a little of Wesley and Bianca. I loved that they were happy together but still bickering. Though since it was a companion novel we don’t hear much about their story since Sonny doesn’t know it. You could easily read this book without having read the Duff. There are hints that there is a story there and it would make you curious to read the other book, but nothing that gives too much away except the part where they are together.

If you enjoyed the Duff you’ll enjoy this one too. There is a similar idea where two people don’t like each other and find themselves able to understand each other and fall for each other. But the stories themselves don’t repeat and you’ll love the glimpses of Wesley and Bianca. If you haven’t read The Duff you’ll still enjoy this if you like the idea of enemies falling for each other, him not knowing who he’s talking to, and her doing the best she can to clean it up without anyone finding out.


Until the Beginning – Amy Plum

Until the Beginning coverUntil the Beginning
By: Amy Plum
After the End – Book 2
Available May 2015

Don’t miss the first book in this series! After the End on Goodreads.

When Juneau’s clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people’s gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles’s cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau’s people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people – and herself – Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.

This Blonde’s Review:
Juneau has had to learn a lot in the time since her village disappeared. She’s learned that the world is not what she was taught and that there were many lies told. She has had to come to terms with many things to make it to where she is, but there is still much to learn to accept.

I really enjoyed Juneau and Miles in the first book so I was happy to see the rest of their story. We could figure that Miles would survive the injury from the last book but we had no way of knowing how Juneau’s attempt to save him would work.

I loved Miles and the way he was willing to accept Juneau’s strengths. He doesn’t recognize his own but through the course of this book we’re able to get to know him better and see him grow into a leader in his own right. Juneau’s strength and ability to trust her instincts is something that I loved about her in the first book and continued to enjoy about her in this one. She wasn’t taught to diminish herself and is able to teach Miles not to be ashamed of his strengths as well. They’re a great couple and a great team.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and I think that the second book did a great job of following up. Our characters learn more about themselves and each other and they continue to grow. They have to make hard choices and trust their instincts.

If you enjoyed the first book in this series you’ll want to find out what happens. If you haven’t read the first one I tried not to give away too many spoilers. If you enjoy reading about strong female leads and the guys who care about them then you’ll enjoy Juneau and Miles.


The Night We Said Yes – Lauren Gibaldi

The Night We Said Yes cover The Night We Said Yes
By: Lauren Gibaldi
Available June 2015

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

This Blonde’s Review:
Ella has had bad luck with guys. Her first real boyfriend cheats on her and offers a high five for friendship when he breaks up with her. Then she meets Matt. She’s instantly drawn to him and he seems to understand her. You might think they were a perfect match, they didn’t fight like her best friends did. But when he leaves town and stops talking to her she knows that what happened with him is worse than anything that happened with anyone else. Months later she still can’t get over him and expects to see him everywhere. Until one night she does.

When Matt shows back up in her life she doesn’t know what to think. She doesn’t want to care. He catches her curiosity by trying to recreate the night they met. A wild night with her best friends, the ones who would become his best friends too, where they say yes to everything. As they go through each part of the night we get to see relive the memories of what happened when they met and the fallout of what had happened to Ella after Matt left. Seeing past and present can be hard for me to fully enjoy but the way this one was written worked for me. I liked that we could see their relationship grow as well as the way the experience reliving the night caused so much internal conflict.

I couldn’t help but love Matt and hope that they were able to make things work. He was such a nice guy that we couldn’t help but want to find a good reason for what happened. But I also loved Ella enough that I didn’t want it to be something she forgave easily. I really enjoyed both of them as characters so much. And seeing their friends and their relationships was great. I think that the other relationships in the book were great foil, one relationship was turbulent while another was sweet and easy. Ella and Matt had something in between, something with potential if they can get past what happened.

I felt that the way Ella handled things was actually kind of great. She didn’t really leap to anything, she thought about it and made a choice about what she really wanted out of her life and for herself. With or without the guy I can’t think of anything I like more. And the things she came to understand about her friends’ relationships was great too, seeing that it isn’t always what we think is best. Sometimes we have to let people do what is right for them and expect the same for ourselves.

This is a book with a girl who has to decide what is best for her, the guy she loved or moving on without him. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy then you should definitely pick this up. I really enjoyed it.


School for Sidekicks – Kelly McCullough

School for Sidekicks coverSchool for Sidekicks
By: Kelly McCullough
Available August 2015

Being a hero isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be in this funny and genuine novel from adult fantasy author Kelly McCullough.

Evan Quick is a GIANT superhero geek who dreams of one day becoming a superhero himself. Every morning he checks to see if he’s developed his powers overnight, and every day there’s nothing. No flying, no super strength, no invulnerability—that always hurts to check—no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to turn off the alarm clock without smacking the switch.

But then Evan somehow manages to survive a supervillian’s death ray, and is sent to the Academy for Metahuman Operatives. Unfortunately, his new school is not what he expected, and instead of fighting bad guys, Evan finds himself blacklisted, and on the wrong side of the school’s director. If Evan ever wants to realize his dream, he must convince his “mentor” Foxman, a semi-retired has-been, to become a real hero once again.

This Blonde’s Review:
Evan has always dreamed of being a superhero, going so far as to keep a video diary to track and potential changes. Every day he wakes up and takes stock and every day is the same, no powers. Until his birthday when something strange happens, but everything believes it was a machine malfunction. When nothing else happens he assumes maybe they were right. When he’s involved in a supervillian’s attack and manages to survive and save the day he finds himself at a new school away from his family and everything he’s ever known.

Evan learns the hard way that there is more to life as a metahuman than he ever knew, and as a superhero geek he thought he knew it all. The things he learns aren’t all good and soon he is on a path to find out everything that is being hidden from them. Luckily Evan has made friends and manages to assemble his own team to determine what is happening.

I kind of loved that the things that they found out weren’t things that had an easy answer on what to do with the information. Was the school’s director right or wrong? And now that they know the things that they do, what do they do with that information? Until they are distracted from that unanswered question by some activity by the same supervillian that hit Evan with a death ray before.

I enjoyed this one, even if there were similarities to other sidekick books because there were enough things that were different. I like the idea of books that show that sometimes the big names are imperfect and the little guys can be the ones to step up and have a big impact. I also really enjoyed the way this one had some very hard situations regarding whether certain actions by people in positions of power were justified or not. It was very interesting.

If you like superhero stories that aren’t about the big names and instead are about the regular guy learning how to be the hero then you’ll enjoy Evan’s story.

1 Comment

Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Book Review


Love Fortunes and Other Disasters – Kimberly Karalius

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters coverLove Fortunes and Other Disasters
By: Kimberly Karalius
Available May 2015

In the tradition of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, one girl chooses to change her fortune and her fate by falling in love.

Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?

This Blonde’s Review:
Fallon has dreamed of attending high school in Grimbaud and following the family tradition of getting a love fortune that leads her to marry her high school sweetheart. Instead her fortune dooms her to a life without love and that is unacceptable. Luckily she is able to team up with an unlikely group of other students who also have unfavorable love fortunes and they work together to get to the bottom of what is happening with the love charms in Grimbaud.

This book was interesting, they act as though charms and fortunes are common occurrences and that the only thing that makes this town different is the accuracy of the love fortunes from Zita’s shop. Until you look a little deeper and realize that there are not other love charms available when there used to be many more available, including common free charms passed down by word of mouth. It was interesting to see.

Getting to know Fallow was so great. She is a little uptight, with rigid rules of what she will eat or wear, but when you’re raised the way she was it makes complete sense. She wants to care and to be part of things. With the reputation Sebastian has you know we aren’t supposed to like him but each little thing you learn makes it clear he’s the kind of character that has more beneath the surface. Collecting silence and a love of his grandmother are not characteristics of a guy that isn’t likeable.

If you enjoy books where the characters decide to fight what others have told them is their set destiny then you’ll enjoy this one. It was a good light read and might make you think about whether it would really be worth it to skip the heartbreaks and go straight to your true love if possible.

1 Comment

Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Book Review


Sweet – Emmy Laybourne

Sweet coverSweet
By: Emmy Laybourne
Available June 2015

*People would kill to be thin.*

Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

*But will they die for it, too?*

Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong.

This Blonde’s Review:
Laurel and Viv couldn’t be more different. Laurel wears boots and is comfortable with her weight. Viv likes to dress up and is always working to lose weight. When Viv’s dad pays for spots for both girls on a highly sought after celebrity weight lose cruise they have different views. Viv can’t wait to see how much weight she can lose and shows up prepared with smaller sizes of clothing. Laurel is happy with her size and only goes to support her friend.

Laurel catches celebrity host Tom’s eye right away. He can’t help but notice how different she is from everyone else and how real she is. But Tom isn’t the typical celebrity either, he wants more for himself and wants to live a healthy lifestyle. He chooses not to take an Solu since he’d rather work hard and eat right.

Tom and Laurel falling for each other the way they did was rather quick and unlikely, but I couldn’t help but like it anyway. His uncertainty and her unwillingness to be on display. They each had their shy points but they were willing to do what was needed for each other and to lean on each other. And they were smart enough to outwit solu and the other passengers.

The twist in the story was great. I loved the way they worked it around even with how unlikely it all was. If you’re willing to go with the story without worrying about how possible it all is then it was great and tragically terrible all at the same time.

If you enjoyed Emmy Laybourne’s other books you’ll likely enjoy this one too. And if you like books where being true to yourself is the best way to survive then you’ll enjoy this one.


Joyride – Anna Banks

Joyride coverJoyride
By: Anna Banks
Available June 2015

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

This Blonde’s Review:
Carly has had to grow up faster than any of her classmates. She can’t be a teenager since she is working hard all the time. She’s either studying hard in an attempt to make a better life for herself, or she’s working to earn as much money for her family as possible. Carly’s parents were deported several years before so she has been living with her brother while they both work hard to earn money to get them back in the United States.

When Arden does something big that causes him to see Carly he can’t seem to look away. He can see the way she tries to hide and fly under the radar. But Arden also sees the fire that she keeps hidden and knows that she would be the best accomplice in his pranks. Until he’s unable to see anyone but her.

I loved Carly and Arden. They have such different lives but neither have had it easy. Their baggage is heavy and not something any else can understand, yet somehow they’re able to help shoulder it for each other. They’re both strong characters who will fight for what they want. They didn’t know to fight for themselves until they met each other.

If you enjoy books with unlikely couples who teach each other what really matters in life then you’ll love Carly and Arden’s story.


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