The Score (Off-Campus, #3) by Elle Kennedy

The Score (Off-Campus, #3)The Score by Elle Kennedy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was hesitant to start this because I loved The Deal and was seriously underwhelmed by it’s follow up, The Mistake. I though this series might be a one hit wonder for me. That I would set The Deal firmly on my favorites shelf and then slowly lose interest in the rest of the books in the series. I’m so happy I was wrong.

I loved The Score. I never would have thought that I could end up loving gross, over-sexed, womanizing Dean Di Laurentis more than Garret Graham, but I do. So much more. This is by far my favorite of the three books.

Elle Kennedy did a great job developing these characters, their relationship, and their story. I believed. I bought into all of it and loved every second of it.

I highly recommend this book and the first in the series, The Deal, if you’re a new adult fan who can sometimes get fed up with the terrible writing, cheesy plots, and familiar tropes that the rest of the genre seems to overly utilize.

Did I Mention I Love You? (The DIMILY Trilogy, #1) by Estelle Maskame

Did I Mention I Love You? (The DIMILY Trilogy, #1)Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I cannot explain what it was about this book that made me like it enough to want to read the next one. There are so many reasons why this book sucks:

1. Eden is a pushover and pretty much does whatever it is her new friends want to no matter how self-destructive it is.
2. Tyler is totally worthless and there is absolutely no reason for them to fall in love. I did not buy their relationship development at all. Unless she has a savior complex, Eden has no reason to even like him. He is a scum bag who treats women like garbage.
3. Cheating.
4. Basically zero plot.

So I’m not sure why this was engaging and why I liked it. Maskame’s writing style is pretty awesome. She’s very readable and somehow seems to be able to make the dumbest minutiae interesting.

Read at your own risk. I’m not convinced I wasn’t totally blacked out when reading this because there’s no way it deserves 3 stars.

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aquirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny ThingsThe Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite thing about this was the teenagers acting like teenagers without acting like what adults think teenagers act like. These teenagers had been abused, neglected, and had suffered major trauma, but were trying to be better. They overreacted, they made poor choices, but it wasn’t because they were stupid or weren’t taking things seriously. It was because they’re teenagers. I remember being 16 vividly. I remember how important everything was and how I felt everything as if it was magnified a thousand times. I had my first boyfriend and fell madly in love with him for no reason. Then I got my heart broken as was more sad than I had any real right to be. This book conjured a lot of those feelings for me. I felt like the author did a pretty authentic job of recreating what it feels like to be 16 (at least in my experience). Maybe it’s that I live in a small town too (it’s called “Niceville,” for goodness sake), but I could relate to being able to bike every where and walking around town with friends.

Sage’s thing with cars was so silly that it would have made me want to stab my eyeballs out if not for my brief experimentation with veganism for absolutely no reason when I was 16. When I say no reason, I mean no reason. I had no moral objection to anything. I just thought being a vegan was cool. So I could see why 16 year old Sage would decide cars = bad. Especially with her past negative experiences with them. Sage had several reasons to avoid cars. I had zero reasons to justify being a vegan. I mean, besides being an unbearable idiot.

Additionally, I really liked how fully the author developed her characters. I felt like I had a good idea of who each person was. She really took the time to develop everyone and their relationships with each other. I loved this. The last book I read did an extremely poor job of drawing me into the book’s world so I was very ready to be fully absorbed in the book characters’ lives.

The book was, at times, super cheesy. Shane says himself that he doesn’t know how to be a boyfriend and the romantic things he does for Sage seem to be ripped out of an after school special. The rest of the book was so well done that I could get past it. And to be honest, the cheese sort of fit in with the rest of the book. Teenagers doing what they thing they should be doing because everything is so important and momentous and real to them.

I had 2 main complaints though:
1. Ryan. WTF was the point of this character. He seemed to exist only to be the catalyst to Sage’s transformation. As soon as she meets Shane it’s like the author was like “oh man. I better get this other dude out of the way so he doesn’t cause any drama between Shange.” I get that a lot of the consequences of Ryan’s quasi-removal from the story were essential to the plot and were super interesting to read, but I wish he would have been better incorporated back into the story. They’re BFF’s at the beginning and then all of a sudden (due to something super shitty Ryan does) he’s pretty much exiled from Sage’s life and only allowed back in as a very minor supporting character. I think a lot more could have been done with Ryan in the story. It seemed like a waste.

2. SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!

How awkward was that sex scene? I mean, I wanted it to happen, but I wish it would have happened after Shane came back from juvie or something. It’s revealed after, that Sage doesn’t take her clothes off while doing the deed because she doesn’t want him to see her scars on her arms. I feel like this should have been an indicator that the sex shouldn’t have occurred. I didn’t like this revelation. It made me uncomfortable and took away some of the sweetness of the “first time” I was imagining took place behind that fade to black that was written.

Dumplin’ (Dumplin’, #1) by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this a lot more than other reviews led me to believe I would. I liked Willowdean and her confidence even though she could be a total asshole. And she was. a TOTAL. ASSHOLE. But I feel like that’s pretty typical of high school students, especially when you’re overweight and bullied and insecure about your body and what people are saying about it. Willowdean had a lot right, she did her best to be confident and to stick up for herself and other people.

I didn’t like her attitude towards the other “misfits” (for lack of a better word) in the book. She acted as though she was somehow better than the other girls and they needed Willowdean, a cool, better, more normal girl to make sure everything turned out okay for them. It was sort of obnoxious, but not enough to make me hate her.

The worst part of this book was Willowdean’s relationships with boys. I didn’t quiet get why they liked her. Bo and Willowdean don’t interact very much before they’re kissing outside of Harpy’s and the football player asks her out on the first day of school. I would have liked to have seen these relationships develop before I was supposed to believe that these boys thought Willowdean was the best thing since sliced bread.

Overall this was a really good read that I enjoyed, but I wouldn’t read it if you’re looking for a satisfying romance. This book honestly could have done without the romance component and focused more on Willowdean and her development.

The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

The Distance from A to ZThe Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would have given this 5 stars until I read the last page, turned it, and saw no epilogue. I have never been more angry with an author for her shitty ending ever. All that for nothing. I hate you, Natalie Blitt. You are the world’s meanest person. I am so furious I can’t even see straight.

That ending was some serious bullshit. If I wanted to “draw my own conclusion” or whatever I would write my own book.

I loved the first part of this book. I loved how Abby and Zeker were full, deeply flawed characters. Abby was so absorbed with irrationally hating all athletes because of her family’s total obsession with baseball that she has a hard time allowing herself to like Zeke. Zeke likes Abby so much that he doesn’t feel like he can be honest with her without losing her.

I loved the slow burn romance set against the summer program setting. This is one of my favorite settings. I loved how Abby sees things differently in French and wasn’t written to seem older than she was in the book. She was young, and immature, and made some poor choices, but genuinely cared about her friends and her goals. Abby and her roommate’s relationship was wonderful. I loved watching this friendship develop.

Abby and Zeke were a fantastic couple despite their issues. I loved watching their relationship grow and develop into more than a friendship. Which is why I felt completely ripped off at the end of this book. I can’t believe the author ended it like that- which no resolution, no epilogue, and no reassurance that things have worked out for the main characters. I know that there’s no contact between a reader and an author and that they’re in no way obligated to deliver the ending I want, but at times, depending on the tone of the novel, I feel like there almost is an implied agreement that the author won’t make you fall in love with two characters and a world for no reason. I feel like that’s what this author did. I’m not happy about it and I’m not sure I’ll read another Natalie Blitt novel.

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

You Look Different in Real LifeYou Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m sure why I liked this so much. It certainly wasn’t the protagonist, Justine. She was such a jerk. I know she’s a teenager and teenagers are angsty and annoying, but something just wouldn’t let me use that as an excuse. She was very woe is me despite everyone telling her how great she is and how she’s the lynch pin for most of the book. Her pity party was pretty unbearable.

But despite Justine’s terrible attitude, I found myself fully engrossed in the story and not able to look away. I wanted the kids to come back together as friends and overcome their personal and collective demons. I wanted the documentary to be a success. I just wanted everything to turn out OK.

This is one of those quintessential coming of age stories where so much seems to happen, but when you look back on it, there really all that much to it. Sometimes I really like that- if it’s done well.

Act Like It by Lucy Parker

Act Like ItAct Like It by Lucy Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. Act Like It is a well done slow burn romance. The pacing is steady and I was engaged the entire time. I’ve read a lot of new adult novels so I was glad to see that despite a rather formulaic plot, the author allows the characters to keep their personalities and the difficult hero doesn’t act completely lobotomized by love. Don’t you hate that? I hate that! When the whole premise is that the hero is an ass (or arse, in this case), but as soon as he meets the heroine he’s the nicest guy in the world? In Act Like It, Richard retains his arse-ness and is simply tempered by the heroine.

I don’t really have a whole bunch to say about this. It wasn’t my favorite new adult romance, but it was definitely enjoyable. I didn’t roll my eyes once while reading it. There were times that it was a little too British for me and I had no idea what the characters were saying, but I was mostly able to figure it out (except for the epilogue. So British. I had no fracking clue what was happening.).

This is rather tropey ((view spoiler)), but it somehow comes off well done and tolerable. I never once thought this book was silly or cliche. I very much liked it.

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

And no tears were shed. I am made of stone.

It wasn’t so much that I didn’t enjoy this, as much as it was I felt like I could have enjoyed it more.

First of all, the blurb is incredibly misleading. Romance, my ass. The “romance” (if you can even call it that) in this book was terrible. It was my least favorite thing about the book. This book didn’t need a romance. Will and Louisa didn’t need to fall in love for this book to accomplish what it set out to. Their loved seemed rushed and undeveloped- as if the author decided to throw it in at the last minute even though it wasn’t in her outline. I didn’t feel like it made sense, it wasn’t necessary, and it wasn’t well done. I was hoping this book would have been similar to The Year We Fell Down. It wasn’t.

I somehow enjoyed reading about the daily minutia of Louisa and Will’s lives. Lou was a quirky character. I liked her a lot. I didn’t feel the same way as other people did- that she was silly and had no desire to do any better for herself. I think the world needs all kind of people and it’s OK to live in the same town you grew up in as long as it makes you happy.

The book was very well written and I get why people like it, but the 8 billion 5 star reviews led me to believe it would be more earth shattering than it was. I did not cry- not one single tear- despite the fact that seemed to be what the book set out to make me do (with it’s Nicholas Sparks letter at the end and all). It didn’t make me reexamine any of my choices or relationships or actually really feel anything. When I read the last sentence and closed the book my thoughts were something along the lines of: “That was nice. What’s next?”

Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill, Liz Czukas

Call Me, MaybeCall Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really disliked this. The first couple chapters or so were rather cute, but then as Justin and Clementine got more and more serious for no obvious reason, I got more and more aggravated.

These two characters have no chemistry. I didn’t feel anything the entire time I was reading a novel. It might as well have been a chemistry text book for how interested I was in it. I have never been so tempted to DNF a book at 93%. I just didn’t know if I could take the monotony any more.

The book was filled with random minutia about Clementine’s day-to-day life and her struggles as a poor little rich girl trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I wish the book would have spent more of its time building a relationship between Justin and Clementine than it would have with pandering to the book reviewer audience. I absolutely hated the “Clementine is a book reviewer/blogger” story line. It always makes it seem like an author is trying way too hard to make the character relate-able.

No one in this book was unbearable. The characters were likable. I liked Clementine and I liked Justin. I just didn’t understand why they liked each other. They just all of a sudden do. Clementine shares a couple text messages and several 3 minute phone calls with the guy and she’s suddenly confident enough in his character to have phone sex with him despite her previous scandal. It just wasn’t believable to me. The characters have sex on the first date and suddenly seem so into each other that they want to spend all of their free time together despite not really knowing all that much about each other. The author didn’t do a very good job building their relationship. I didn’t believe in it so it wasn’t something I wanted to read about.

In summary: I found this book extraordinarily dull.

I received this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata

Rhythm, Chord & MalykhinRhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I was the type of person that could ignore multiple instances of misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and slut-shaming then I may have given this book 5 stars. It has everything I like: great characters, road trips, musicians, comedy, interesting side characters, an interesting storyline, a slow burn romance; but I can’t let it go. I can’t. It was AWFUL. For whatever reason, the author felt compelled to have her characters demoralize anyone and everyone who isn’t a cisgendered male. It’s not ok for women to be called sluts and whores over and over again. It’s not ok for someone wish someone would “have sex with a transvestite” or to think it’s funny when someone is hit on by a person who is transgendered. It is completely beyond me why that’s hilarious ans succcchhhh a great insult. I guess transgendered folks should just lock themselves inside and never interact with other people. They certainly shouldn’t have a sexuality or show romantic interest in another person. HOW DARE THEY?!

I’m sorry. This is getting ranty, but it makes me so upset that I couldn’t have enjoyed this book without feeling guilty about it. I liked it, but I shouldn’t have because the amount of hate written in its pages is disgusting.

I’ll leave you with this, from the queen herself: