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Archive for the tag “romance”

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Started: 10.1.15; finished: 10.5.15

Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars

my rating: facepalm

pages: 384

found: library

My main thought after reading this book is, “ow, my forehead hurts,” from all the times I facepalmed. Molly has got to be one of the dumbest, unlikable protagonists I’ve ever read bout. I liked the book enough, mostly just to see what moronic move she would make next.

In every situation, she chose the worst possible option available to her, and keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over, never learning until the end. At first, I felt sorry for her, because despite her responsibility in the initial incident, things were really crappy for her. More so than they should have been because no one in town would let her move on from her mistakes (also, they only seemed to punish her for something that took two people to do). As the story went on, though, I wanted to punch her in her face because everything that happens from that point on is on her. She made bad choice after bad choice.

About the best thing that Molly did was to finally stand up for herself against Julia and her idiot friends at the end–something she should have done a long time ago. Also, in the end, I felt a little sympathy towards her as she found out that Gabe’s intentions weren’t all that honest at the beginning of summer and Patrick also had ulterior motives in his feud with Gabe. They were both screwing with her head, and when you are bad at decision making, that spells disaster.

I summarized the book for my fifteen-year-old daughter who facepalmed about as hard as I did. It was a cautionary tale in don’t be a dumbass like Molly Barlow, and when your mom is a writer, don’t tell her your deepest, juiciest secrets, lol. Said to my fifteen-year-old daughter that likes to tell me all of her illicit doings and secrets. Fodder for my next novel, darling, fodder for my next novel.


Review: Epic Fail by Clare LaZebnik

Review of Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

epicfailStarted: 7.23.15; finished: 7.23.15 (read: 2013, 2014)

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: read again and again

pages: 295

found: in my library

Epic Fail has become one of my favorite soft teen romance novels. I love it for a quick read at the beach or to get me in the mood to write. I’ve read it three times now which is a record for me with any book.

I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice (I’m pretty sure I’m the only woman that hasn’t), but I’m a little familiar with the storyline. Maybe it’s because of that, I never got bored with Epic Fail. I didn’t know what to expect, having never read the original, so I was always surprised.

I loved the development of Elise and Derek’s relationship. As an adult, I laugh at all the idiotic things they do, but I understand that from a teen’s perspective, they all make perfect sense at the time. Hearing stories from my own teens… Well, I wish her life was more like Elise’s.

My favorite part was the slow realization that Derek is nothing like Elise expects and very much likes her, but is just as insecure as she is. It’s cute how they orbit each other, getting pushed and pulled from their mutual attraction, their friends, and enemies.

Elise was a bit of a dolt, not believing Derek like her–she was too wrapped up in her judgmental attitude. Juliana was a little too nice. I know a lot of teens, and I don’t think I know one that nice. I know ones that act nice around certain people (like adults), but when they’re out with their friends… not so much. I think it’s mostly because she doesn’t even get mad at her own sisters. She just accepts everything and always smooths over the disagreements everyone else has. I have five kids–three of them are teens–they fight constantly, even the “sweet and nice” one.

That leads me to Layla. If she were my kid I’d want to strangle her. I don’t think any of my kids are as annoying and spoiled. I get that she feels left out and hates sharing a room with her younger sister (who is ten and acts like a baby). My almost thirteen-year-old currently shares a room with her nine-year-old sister and five-year-old brother, and the only issues they have is the brother getting into their things and him needing to go to bed before they do. My nine-year-old acts nothing like Kaitlyn, but she has friends that do–most of them are only-children.

Chelsea also ticked me off–what a selfish, entitled brat, but I found her to be believable. There are kids like that–I’ve seen it among my children’s friends.

Anyway, Epic Fail will always be one of my favorite teen romance novels–my go-to book for a fun afternoon read. Maybe one day I’ll actually write a proper review.

Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles


leavingparadiseStarted: 7/20/15; finished: 7/20/15 (originally read: 2/24/13)

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: worth rereading

pages: 303

found: on my shelf (originally: library)

I picked up this book from the library in 2013. I love a good romance with a lot of teen angst. I know I’m weird that way. I read in a day last time.

Well, we were heading to the coast this week, and I needed something on the light side to read, so I grabbed this off of the shelf, having bought it used to keep in my collection (my Kindle has been taken over by my kids). I almost finished it between the three hour car ride there, a half hour at the beach (before the waves called me) and the three hour ride home. It was done before I went to bed.

What I like about this book is the development of the friendship between Caleb and Maggie. It seemed believable and real, if not odd. How many people make friends with the person that ran them over with their car and ruined their life? I think it worked because there was the basis of a friendship already there, from growing up together. I loved that they were able to talk open, freely, and honestly (well, to a point on Caleb’s part) about the accident. They don’t pussyfut around the topic like everyone else in their lives.

I also loved how Mrs. Reynolds went out of her way to get them past their issues. She knew they were meant to be together. I cried when she died. Especially when Maggie started babbling about the flowers. I just lost it at that point. Then Caleb goes to her house seeking refuge from the one adult he trusted only to find out she had died. It was heartbreaking.

This was one of the few teen books I’ve read that doesn’t end happily with the boy and girl together. I cried again at the end when Caleb refuses to stay. His attitude through the whole book rubbed me the wrong way, but I can excuse it since his situation with his family and friends was pretty messed up. His reactions to situations were annoying, but realistic in a way because teens do stupid things and say stupid things, often just to get a reaction. I know–I have three of them. I can’t imagine being in Maggie or Caleb’s shoes.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this book just as much the second time around. It’s a short book, perfect for a day trip. It might not be the light, fluffy read most people like when sitting on the beach, but it had just the right amount of sarcasm and angst for me.

Book Review: Stargazing from Nowhere by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas

Review of Stargazing from Nowhere by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00044]Started: 11/19/13; finished: 11/19/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: OK

pages: 448

found: netgalley


I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the premise about a small town girl, Kristen, who blogs about celebrities getting to meet one of those celebrities, one she thoroughly trashed on her blog but secretly has a crush on. I liked that Michael, the drummer of the band she used to like but then didn’t like, is actually just a normal guy under a lot of pressure. I loved all the unresolved sexual tension and the angst and the sweet little romance between Kristen and Michael.

But I had a lot of problems with the book. First, it just went on and on and on and on. It probably could have ended at about the halfway mark and still been a decent, sweet love story. But is just when on with the main character, Kristen, thinking the same things over and over. A lot of it self-pity and whining because she screwed up her life by keeping secrets and just being stupid. Okay, she’s fifteen, going on sixteen so some of it is forgivable and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done anything differently in her case because confrontation always scared me, but after awhile it got annoying.

Second, her mom… I wanted to strangle her at certain points. Namely when she invites Michael over only to insult him and make both of them feel stupid and hurt. What kind of person does that? She’s just as immature as her daughter and she gets increasingly selfish as the book goes on about her dancing thing. I have five kids of my own so I get wanting to do stuff for yourself but she was blaming her daughter for her potential loss at the competition. That’s messed up.

Third, everything was too perfect. Michael was perfect, the guys in the band were nearly perfect, Scott was perfect, Uncle Jack was perfect. Especially Uncle Jack. Even Maggie came off as perfect. Oh, and Colin. While I was reading this my thirteen-year-old daughter came in carrying on and on about One Direction and their fans and some mobbing in LA today. It wasn’t the first time I looked at the story and felt it kind of read like fanfiction, with the names changed. It sounds like some of the 1D fanfic my daughter and her friends write (not saying this is fanfic, just that it reads like it). Kristen is like the anti-Mary Sue where everything she does is bad and screws stuff up more.

Another thing that bugged me is we never do find out who hacked her blog or blew her cover. I would have liked to have known just for curiosity’s sake.

I did love the ending. It brought closure to Kristen and Michael. But in the end I gave it a gracious three stars. It would have gotten more if half the pages had been cut, Kristen had confessed or her cover blown at the midpoint and then they get back together shortly after that. There was so much subplot that could have been taken out at the end and so much internal dialogue that was just whining and rambling on about her problems that she created over and over.

Book Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Review of The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

thesummerifoundyouStarted: 11/18/13; finished: 11/19/13

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars

my rating: GAH

pages: 239

found: netgalley

Okay, so I’m trying to finish up the last 13,000 words or so of my NaNoWriMo novel and I’m just kind floating there with no motivation or inspiration. I need to read, I think. I need some good old-fashioned teen love drama to get me in the right mood to write my teen love drama novel.

And boy did I get it with this book. I gave it five stars probably because I was in such a mood for this kind of book. It just had me all twisted up inside. In a good way.

The book is about Kate, a senior in high school, who has been dealing with the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes for a year. Or more precisely, not dealing with it. She’s got her parents and sister and best friend worrying about her constantly, making her feel closed in. Then her boyfriend breaks up with her. Here comes the teen drama. Oh, how perfectly this book captured the melodrama of being seventeen.

Enter, Aiden Connelly (which happens to be a name we almost chose for our last child). He’s living above the garage of Kate’s best friend, her cousin. Aiden’s trying to figure out his life after losing his arm in Afghanistan.

The two get set up, sort of, by Jen (the best friend) as a kind of distraction from their problems. Despite Kate saying just about every inappropriate thing you could say to a guy with only one arm there’s a connection between them.

The book is from both POVs so you get to see how confused both of them are as they wade through their ever changing lives and slowly fall in love. Okay, it wasn’t that slow, but it takes them awhile to figure it out.


I know a lot of people don’t like this kind of drama but I live for it. I loved the heartache and confusion and fears. Heck, I’m almost 37 and I still have a lot of that drama going on in my life—like finishing school and figuring out what I want to do with my life once my kids are all in school.

I did feel some of the book was predictable and Kate kind of annoyed me that she wasn’t taking things seriously but she’s only 17. I can picture myself at that age just wanting to ignore the problem instead of facing it straight on. I kind of did that with my own crippling depression.

I LOVED Aiden, though. Even Kate describing his shoulder and scars… it made him all the more appealing. And I loved how he was written, muddling through life trying to figure out how to live with only one arm. And not his dominate arm. I felt his frustration and anger. I remember in grade school we did this experiment where we all taped our thumbs to our palms and went around for the day without opposable thumbs. It was nearly impossible to do anything.

My only big complaint is they never say the words. They both say they really like each other but I wanted those three little words. Still, I thought it was a beautiful story.

Book Review: Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Review of Love Story by Jennifer Echols

lovestoryStarted: 11/15/13; finished: 11/16/13

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: AWWW with a touch of UGH

pages: 243

found: library

This book, at the title implies, is a love story. But not in the conventional sense. It starts with Erin in creative writing class at a New York university. It’s her turn to have her story critiqued. She’s used her own personal experience of growing up on a horse farm in Kentucky for the setting, the character modeled after her and the boy that worked in the stables with his father. A boy she’s always felt a connection with even though she rejected him as her equal when school started in seventh grade. She’s sure her dreams of becoming a famous author will begin this day after her classmates read her story.

And then her “stable boy” walks in to join the class. She’s mortified but no one knows they know each other. This sets of a chain of events where the two spin around each other, coming close only to be pushed away by one or the other. Their sparring reaches epic proportions as their stories for class get more and more personal and racy. Only their close friends know the truth. Things get harder as their feelings pull them closer and closer together. In the end all the pieces of their stories fit together to tell a love story—one still in the making.

Overall I think this book was sweet. I loved how Erin and Hunter play off of each other. Their friends are equally entertaining especially Manohar and Summer. I thought the book started out a little slow, though, and Hunter seemed way too cool and smooth. But even thought it’s slow it eventually starts laying out the history of the two and how the mistakes of their pasts of lead them to where they are—in the middle of a love story they are writing as they go along.

Both of them screw up countless times but it seems Hunter made the most effort to fix things. Erin just gave up or thought the worst of Hunter at every misstep which was kind of annoying. I really enjoyed the richly painted settings of New York City and Kentucky. I’ve never been to either (well I think we drove through Kentucky and Louisville when I was on a high school trip for orchestra one year) but I could completely picture these two places.

But I think what I loved the most was all the unresolved sexual tension and angst. I’m a junkie and can admit it.

The thing I hated the most was the end because it just… ENDS!!!! Maybe it’s just me but I wanted to see what Erin’s grandmother thought of the whole thing. To actually see Erin and Hunter work things out.

Book Review: Almost Mine

Review of Almost Mine by Lea Darragh

almostmineStarted: 10/13/13; finished: DNF

Goodreads rating: 1/5 stars

my rating: DNF

pages: 231

found: netgalley

The synopsis for this book had a promising hook for the kind of books I like to read:

Cate has always taken Nick for granted. Through a wild youth of mistakes, bad choices, and self-destructive behaviour, Nick has been the one thing that Cate could count on. She knows he loves her, but she can’t love him back. He’s too perfect, too strong, too caring. She has darkness in her that can’t handle that much light.

When an unexpected pregnancy forces them into a marriage of convenience, Cate hopes that Nick can love her enough for the both of them. But as time passes, Nick grows frustrated and finally decides to cut himself loose. Will his absence prove to Cate just how much she needs him?

It sounded like a cute little romance between two long time friends that develops despite all the crazy stuff that happens in their lives. I guess, maybe it could have been, but I couldn’t get past the first three chapters. I dislike writing harsh and negative review but ever since I tried reading this book all I’ve done is complain to my friends about how bad it is and how I can’t get through it. So I finally decided it was time to put it to bed.

My main problem with this book, or at least the first three or four chapters, is that is is sloooooow and so boring. It starts out with the main character, Cate, thinking about her life and how she wants to win back her husband’s affections despite the obvious chasm that has grown between them. Will doesn’t even stay in their house anymore but lives in the office near their winery/restaurant.

When her endeavors don’t work she goes into flashback mode. Except it’s the crappy kind of flashback. Chapter two starts with her telling us she has to explain how her and Will met and how they got to the point of the first chapter. Oooookaaaay. This is where my issues began. There’s nothing wrong with flashbacks in a novel. And there’s nothing wrong with starting a novel in the present and telling the rest of it in flashback. If you do it right. This was not done right. At least not as far as I got into it.

Chapter three was just her telling us what happened. There’s no actual action. Stuff happens but I felt so detached from it I couldn’t even begin to care about the events or the people. Chapter three was more of the same. By the end of that chapter I couldn’t take it anymore.

On goodreads it has pretty good ratings. Maybe I missed something by not finishing it. I kind of scanned ahead some but it was just more of the same and none of what I read held my interest and I greatly disliked Cate who was using Will throughout her life when it was convenient for her because Will was in love with her. Despicable (but also can be a good story).

So my ultimate rating is DNR so my review should be taken with a grain of salt. Read it yourself and decide if it gets better after the first three chapters. Maybe it will be your kind of book. It just wasn’t mine.

Book Review: Hooked by Liz Fichera

Review of Hooked by Liz Fichera

hookedStarted: 10/13/13; finished: 10/14/13

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: AWWW

pages: 363

found: library

Fred Oday likes to play golf. A lot. So when the varsity coach from her school asks her to join her team she’s pretty stoked. There’s a problem, though. The team is all boys and she inadvertently knocks Ryan Berenger’s best friend, Seth, off the team. Oh, and the boys all hate her. Fred knows it won’t be easy to fit in but she never thought the boys would try to sabotage her game. They snicker and call her names behind her back. Except for Ryan, her partner on course. Little by little the two become friends, maybe something more. But the team and Seth keep getting in their way and much to Fred’s disappointment he chooses them over her. Fred’s determined to not let her heartbreak mess up her golf game, though, because she’s the best player they have and their only chance at going to state.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s from both Fred’s and Ryan’s POVs so you get to see both sides of the story. How Fred, a Native American that lives on a reserve outside of Phoenix, deals with being an outcast at her school and on her own team; and how Ryan, typical suburban golden boy, begins to see his world and his friends in a different way thanks to Fred.

Along for the ride is a cast of characters that includes Seth (Ryan’s idiot best friend), Gwenyth (Ryan’s overbearing girlfriend he keeps trying to break up with), Sam (a boy from the Rez that has a crush on Fred), Trevor (Fred’s protective older brother), the coach and Fred’s parents.

Seth is a complete jackass. He’s crude and mean and a bully. He picks on Fred constantly, calling her Pocahontas and a slew of other racial slurs but I really felt his racism was secondary to the all out jealousy he felt against her getting his spot on the team and taking his best friend away from him. Gwenyth is a total bitch and does everything she can to keep Ryan away from Fred, even after Ryan has made it clear he doesn’t want to see her any more. Ryan likes Fred, as a golfer, as a person, as a friend and then as something more. That in turn leads him to see his friends in a new light—one he doesn’t like.

The little love story between Ryan and Fred was also secondary to the overall plot of golf (as a meaning of expression and strength for the otherwise timid Fred) and family issues both teens faced. I also felt the racial tensions were secondary to the plot. They just served as conflict to progress the plot. Fred comes off as very weak at first. She doesn’t stand up for herself, keeps her head down and just lets people call her names. She’s not like the other Rez girls who are loud and proud about their heritage. This seems like a major fault but I totally understand Fred. I was bullied in school (and not for racial issues) and I felt the same way—like I didn’t really matter and no one cared. I ate lunch alone all the time. Luckily Fred had her Rez friends to help her through it.

Ryan starts off as the typical golden boy jock. He’s the best player on the team (until Fred shows up), likes to party and do stupid stuff for the hell of it. At first he’s pissed at the idea of Fred taking Seth’s spot but then he sees her play and his respect for her quickly turns into a friendship. He likes Fred. There’s just that pesky problem of his sometimes girlfriend, jealous best friend and the rest of the team that don’t understand Fred and don’t want her around.

I really, really liked this book. I liked that the love story didn’t take center stage, and in fact, was barely there (Fred and Ryan were barely together as a couple at all through the book). It was still sweet and felt real. Plus it lead to a lot of angst and drama which I love.

At the end of the book were a couple chapters from a “sequel”. It’s actually more of a companion piece centering around Fred’s friend, Sam, and Ryan’s younger sister, Riley. Kind of like how Katie McGarry takes supporting characters from her first novel and gives each their own book. I can’t wait to read the next book, Played, when it comes out.

Book Review: Crashing Into You by B.D. Rowe

Review of Crashing Into You by B.D. Rowe

crashingintoyouStarted: 10/13/13; finished: 10/13/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: OK

pages: 165

found: netgalley


I got this book through netgalley because the blurb sounded interesting. I have a few mixed feelings about it. I thought the beginning was good. I loved the banter between Sydney and Evan, they were really cute together and I love the whole unrequited love aspect. And Sydney with Lukas was cute, too.

I loved when Sydney and Evan finally figured out their feelings for each other and Lukas finding someone to love. There were a lot of steamy scenes and a lot of funny ones.

On the other hand there were a lot of WTF? Moments. I don’t want to spoil too much but the way Melanie dies just had me rolling my eyes. It was just way too out there. And the way Sydney reacted whenever drinking was brought up. I understand her issues with it but she keeps saying she’s okay with her friends drinking but then gives lectures and acts all pissy. Make up your mind already—are you okay with it or not.

Then things get stupid at the end.

Really, this book should have ended after Sydney and Evan finally got together and Lukas found Robert. It would have been a nice sweet little love story. A short story. The rest just seemed like drama tacked on to the end that made little sense.

So really I’m giving three stars for the first half and a WTF? for the end but it kept me reading to find out the truth. But the ending was a let down. After all these great moments where the book could have ended happily she keeps going and ends it with a big question mark about the future. Maybe she plans a sequel. This was the author’s first book. I liked the writing for the most part although Sydney’s constant dreams and fantasies about sleeping with Evan came off as kind of skeezy since Evan was her roommate’s boyfriend and they happened way too often.

I think the characters needed a little more development and for the plot to make a little more sense. Everything happened very quickly leading to a quick read (I read it over a few hours while watching a football game and eating pizza). Some stretching of events and padding could have made this into a much better novel.

Book Review: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Review of How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

howmysummerwentupinflamesStarted: 10/12/13; finished: 10/13/13

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: AWWW

pages: 320

found: library

I have a thing for road trip stories, especially after my family’s crazy, disastrous move from Chicago to the Portland, OR area years ago. How My Summer Went Up in Flames starts with Rosie blowing up her ex-boyfriend’s car. At least that’s what it says on the Temporary Restraining Order she receives. She swears she only set a box of mementos on fire then watched from a distance as Joey came out. Uh, did I mention the stalking? That might have been part of the TOR, too.

Worrying about their daughter’s obsession her parents agree to send her on a road trip with the boy next door, Matty, who Rosie has known forever. Joining them are Matty’s friend, Spencer and Spencer’s hot older brother, Logan who comes off as a real control freak in Rosie’s opinion.

Over the course of a week and 3000+ miles the group drives from New Jersey to California. Rosie learns a lot about who she was, who she is and who she really wants to be. And as annoying as the boys are she can’t help but feel affectionate for them, fart jokes and all. They’re her boys. She’s especially sad when the trip is over and she has to say good-bye to Logan who’s staying behind to go to college.


I loved the internal struggle Rosie went through as she tried to rid herself of the obsession over her ex and figure out what she really wants from her life. And Logan… one minute the biggest pain in the ass in the world and the next the sweetest guy you could ever meet. He could keep a girl confused for a long while. But my favorite thing about him is his little lasso move to round everyone up and back in the car. It made me smile every time. I also loved all the bickering and banter between all the characters. Hell, I just loved all the characters and how the guys were always looking out for Rosie. I always wished I had friends like that.

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