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Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things – Ann Aquirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things coverThe Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
By: Ann Aguirre
Available April 2015

Description:
Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…

This Blonde’s Review:
To start: I love Sage and Shane. They’re both great characters and I couldn’t get enough of them. Neither of them have had an easy life though they’ve dealt with it differently. Sage is queen of positivity, carrying around a pad of post its leaving notes for people she notices having a hard day. She tries hard to be perfect and make sure that her aunt won’t regret having her around. She doesn’t want anyone to look into her past or guess that there is a shadow Sage buried beneath the surface. Shane wants to go unnoticed and fly beneath the radar. He just wants to get by and get through.

Something about Shane speaks to Sage and she can’t help but find herself drawn to him. She finds herself searching him out and doing what she can to take care of him, even if he doesn’t want to be taken care of. She’s a nurturer and he’s someone who needs to be cared for. Luckily Shane seems more bemused by the efforts than offended most days. He doesn’t know how to take it since he isn’t used to anyone caring about him, especially someone like Sage who does it without obligation.

Seeing the way their relationship grows was so great. The things they have to overcome internally and the battles they have to fight to make a relationship work really made it clear that they couldn’t have been any more perfect for each other.

I liked the way the author brought Sage’s past to light and showed her the impact she’s had on the people around her. We don’t always see how important we are. And for someone like Sage, who only hears from the people who thinks what she does is dorky, it was amazing to see that it was just as positive as she always hoped and it was ale to build on itself all day. It was great.

If you like books that have characters with history and baggage who have to overcome their issues to trust that they can find happiness together then you’ll enjoy this one. I thought it was great.

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Liars, Inc – Paula Stokes

Liars, Inc coverLiars, Inc
By: Paula Stokes
Available March 2015

Description:
For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV’s How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called “Captivating to the very end,” Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

This Blonde’s Review:
Max is the kind of guy who would rather spend time with his girlfriend than babysit his younger siblings. If that means purposefully getting detention every weekend so he can sneak away to see her while she tells her family she’s working on something else then that’s what he’ll do. He doesn’t care about how it looks or what people think of him. In some ways Max is a typical teenager, he doesn’t fully appreciate his family or what he has. You may think he would appreciate them more since he was adopted and he refers to it often, instead he takes it for granted and acts as though it’s expected, placing his wants and his friends over everything else.

When he covers for a girl he barely knows in order to get detention he stumbles across a way to make some extra money. He lies for his classmates and they pay him for the cover stories. When his friend Preston wants to pay him for a story he doesn’t think anything of it. When Preston doesn’t come home he still doesn’t want to worry until evidence starts to pile up to make it look like he’s being framed.

I enjoyed this book, seeing the way the groundwork was laid against Max. It was interesting seeing Max’s history and his friends’ pasts come to light. As he works to find Preston he discovers things about his friends that he didn’t expect. There were some things that we had to take on faith for the sake of the book but there was enough groundwork that it still worked. You can see where this is going but the different lies and secrets that show up are enough to make you wonder if you’re seeing what you think you are. You start to look for other possibilities and aren’t sure what is really happening until it’s out there.

If you enjoy reading books with some mystery to solve then you’ll enjoy this one.

 
 

Trouble from the Start – Rachel Hawthorne

Troule From The Start coverTrouble from the Start
By: Rachel Hawthorne
Available April 2015

Description:
Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Lauren Barnholdt, and Susane Colasanti, Trouble from the Start is a sweet and romantic read about a good girl who falls for a bad boy.

Avery knows better than to fall for Fletcher, the local bad boy who can’t seem to outrun his reputation. Fletcher knows he shouldn’t bother with college-bound, daughter-of-a-cop Avery. But when their paths cross, neither can deny the spark. Are they willing to go against everything and let their hearts lead the way? Or are they just flirting with disaster?

A companion novel to Rachel Hawthorne’s paperback original The Boyfriend Project, this title is perfect for fans of summer beach reads and sweet treats.

Description:
Avery is a good girl who does what all good girls do. She focuses on the future and doing the right thing, doesn’t party or date much. Fletcher is a guy with a reputation that no one would ever think of as being a match for Avery. Even though no one would see them as a couple Fletcher has noticed Avery for years. When she goes to a party and has her first experience drinking it is Fletcher who comes to the rescue.

I loved Avery. She has such a great family that you wish you could be part of, seeing the way they’re there for each other and for others was so wonderful. It is easy to see how she could be the kind of caring person who would have made an impact on someone without knowing it. Fletcher was one of those characters I couldn’t help but love either. He has had trouble in his life, which is how he finds himself taken under Avery’s dad’s wing, but he doesn’t broadcast it to everyone. He is more likely to make a joke and deflect than admit to his problems but he doesn’t see a future for himself because of it.

Seeing Avery and Fletcher make their way to a relationship is adorable. I loved seeing them get to know each other and learn to trust what they were building together. I also enjoyed learning about Avery’s family and their relationships too. Hearing about the way they give back and getting a hint of what her parents were to each other was heartwarming, it made me want to know a family like hers.

This book was so great if you enjoy reading about about opposites attracting and getting together no matter what everyone else might say. This was mostly light and lovely and it makes me want to read The Boyfriend Project pretty quickly to find out about Avery’s friends.

 
 

Everything That Makes You – Moriah McStay

Everything That Makes You coverEverything That Makes You
By: Moriah McStay
Available March 2015

Description:
One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

This Blonde’s Review:
We never know what our lives would be like if something else had happened. If something tragic hadn’t happened, or what if it did. In this book we get to see two potential outcomes of a trip to the zoo. In one version an accident happens and Fiona is scarred. In the other version Fi is outgoing and making things happen for herself.

We always think of how our lives could be different, but what I loved about this book is that the author didn’t only show the big changes in Fiona/Fi’s life, she also showed changes in the other characters. Not just that she was friends in one life and not in the other, but that there were things about these other characters that were different. The people around you affect you and change you, so the changes in Fiona/Fi rippled to make changes in her brother and the friends she had in each life. So often you see books with two lives where the characters are basically the same person just with or without the friendship of the main character. In this they were different people, had different plans and different lives. I loved that and I believe it may be my favorite thing about this book.

I also loved getting to know Fiona and Fi. I connected with Fiona better than I did with Fi, Fiona was more internal and didn’t want to show herself as much. Fi was a jock, outgoing and determined. The two were so different from each other. Some people are meant to be in our lives no matter what happens and some people are meant to change our lives. For Fiona and Fi their lives are changed by the same family in different ways. I liked the symmetry of having these people make an impact and having the ones connected to them react differently to Fiona/Fi based on how they met and who she was before. It was so interesting.

I really liked this book and it was hard not to go into detail about the things that happened, comparing what I liked versus what I really liked. If seeing two halves of what could have been appeals to you then you’ll like reading Fiona/Fi’s life. I enjoyed reading Fiona/Fi’s life and the way her life impacted those around her.

 
 

The Secrets of Attraction – Robin Constantine

The Secrets of AttractionThe Secrets of Attraction
By: Robin Constantine
Available April 2015

Description:
Madison Pryce thinks she’s got everything figured out—she’s working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie’s life upside down.

Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again.

Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse’s band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.

This Blonde’s Review:
Madison won’t commit, even though her boyfriend is everything other girls might want. He’s hot and cares for her. She can’t seem to let herself think of him except something casual. Jesse had his heart ripped apart when his girlfriend got involved with his best friend and the former drummer in his band.

The world is a small place. Madison and her best friend go to a coffee shop after yoga every Thursday. Jesse works at the coffee shop. When Jesse’s friend, coworker, and fellow band member tries to hit on Madison’s friend they finally meet and talk to each other. They run into each other in other cute ways that keep drawing them together, such as when Jesse crash’s her school’s dance to check out the competition, until Jesse picks a new drummer. A drummer who happens to be dating Madison’s best friend.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved Madison and could have related to her unwillingness to commit to anything. She’s someone I would have wanted to be friends with in school because I understood where she was coming from in so many ways. And Jesse was so great. He wasn’t ready to rush into anything after getting his heart broken but watching him be drawn in by Madison anyway was great. I really enjoyed getting to know both of them.

The way they slowly learned to care for each other and get to the point where they wanted to be together. They each had things to figure out before they could get there, but seeing them grow was great. I loved it.

If you like the description and books where two people get past their own hangups to try to make a relationship work then you’ll love this.

 
 

When Reason Breaks – Cindy L Rodriguez

When Reason Breaks coverWhen Reason Breaks
By: Cindy L Rodriguez
Available February 2015

Description:
A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

This Blonde’s Review:
Emily and Elizabeth couldn’t be more different. The girls may go to the same school but they don’t have the same friends or interests. Elizabeth skips class and acts out. Emily is a good girl who follows all rules. But they both feel a connection to Emily Dickinson’s poetry.

We switch between both girls viewpoints without knowing who is struggling and who is going under. They have such different issues but we know that one of them will give up and attempt suicide. The girls are able to see things in each other that no one else can. They have enough distance from each other and can recognize the struggle that no one else can seem to see. They’re going through different things but they can recognize the pain in each other.

Seeing the different viewpoints was a great way to see that not everyone is what they seem. There is always more to the story. I had a hard time connecting with either of the girls in the story. I may have understood Elizabeth better of the two but I really felt the most for some of the secondary characters. Some of them, like Emily’s boyfriend, I really liked and would have wanted to know what they saw.

Overall I liked this but wasn’t blown away. If the description sounds good to you I think you should still give it a shot. It wasn’t right for me but it was a good book anyway, one where I wanted to find out what would happen and how it would impact everyone.

 
 

Finding Paris – Joy Preble

Finding Paris coverFinding Paris
By: Joy Preble
Available April 2015

Description:
Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can’t trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who’s moved them all to Las Vegas. It’s just the two of them: Paris, who’s always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love.

But Leo isn’t going anywhere yet… until Paris ditches her at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared?

When Leo reluctantly accepts Max’s offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is a not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold tightly.

This Blonde’s Review:
Leo is driven, she wants to be a doctor and do more with her life than rely on a man to take care of her. Their mother is too busy focusing on making sure she has a man to be there for her daughters. Instead Leo and her sister Paris depend on each other. They’re very different, Paris is artistic and spontaneous while Leo is scientific and practical.

Paris talks Leo into going for pie with her after a breakup. That’s where Paris talks Leo into talking with a cute guy and how she meets Max. Leo doesn’t think too much of Paris walking to the car until she doesn’t come back after quite some time. Soon Leo and Max find themselves on some kind of scavenger hunt to track Paris down. Leo isn’t sure what’s happening, if Paris is in trouble or if she’s playing a game. All she knows is she has to find her and that Max seems willing to help.

As Leo and Max race around looking for Paris they get to know each other better and it becomes clear they’re a great match. But there are obviously some secrets they’re still keeping from each other. They start to open up to each other but there are some secrets that are buried so deep that we don’t see them. When Leo figures out where Paris is she knows it’s up to them to get there as fast as possible. Everyone has secrets and they’re all going to be exposed.

When they go to confront Paris and prevent something huge the secrets that come to light are big enough to destroy everything they thought. I actually really loved the way everything happened in this book. Obviously some things aren’t what we want for others to go through, and most secrets are secrets for a reason. But the way they dealt with the fallout was so understandable and as perfect as you could expect to find in a YA book.

If you like reading books that seem to be all fun and games but have characters finding their way to the truth then you’ll enjoy this.