Thursday, 30 May 2013

ARC Review: Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend (Confessions, #2) by Louise Rozett

Publication date: 5th July, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin (UK) Limited
Links:Amazon US/UK|Goodreads|The Book Depository
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 5/5 stars
If you’re not true to yourself, why should anyone else be?

In her second year of high school Rose Zarelli is determined to become Rose 2.0 - as in, innovative...superior...improved. Improved how? Well, Rose is setting some ground rules. This year she absolutely most definitely will NOT:
1) do things just because other people want her to
2) randomly shoot her mouth off
3) worry about whether she’s someone’s girlfriend—or not.
And most important of all she determined to tell off Jamie Forta, the boy who might just have broken her heart, once and for all and move on.
After all she’s older and smarter now. She can totally pull this off.
How hard can it be? Right? Right?


It's 3AM and my mind is reeling as in the past few hours, I have chuckled, smiled and cried into the early morning hours reading this beautiful gift for teens. I vaguely recall the numerous teen reads that filled my bookshelf when I was still in high school and NONE of them match up to the complexity and depth with which Confessions of An Almost-Girlfriend explores various issues that grapple us at the age of sixteen.

Confessions of An Almost-Girlfriend is the second part of the Confessions series, so if you're reading this review and haven't read the previous book, you would probably want to look up the first part.

The second Confessions book turns up the angst, conflict and confusion a notch which I thought would be impossible. The first book was an angry emotional rollercoaster on its own! Here, Rose struggles even more with standing out versus blending in, taking a stand versus staying away, figuring herself out and figuring others out. She finds it impossible to stay away from her grief over her father's passing away one and a half years ago as that's the only way she finds herself holding on to him. She struggles with trying to understand her mother's feelings as she wants Rose to shut down the memorial website she made for her father and cannot understand Jamie, the boy she adores, who is tapping at her window one minute and telling her they will not work out the next second.

Rose wonders if she's cut out for anything as her friends seem to blossom and shine around her. At the same time, she doesn't know what to do with compliments, always second guessing them and doubting herself. I felt so involved as she struggled and came closer and closer to facing up to who she was and accepting herself for it. A lot of things were beyond her control and a lot of decisions slipped out of her reach and that only added to the realism of the plot.

On the surface, Confessions has all the elements any teen series would have: cheerleaders, best friend problems, hook ups, break ups, crushes, bullying, mean girls and partying. What makes this series so much more intense is the layers with which various social issues that involve teens are explored; from identity to tolerance.

What more, there is so much more to these characters than what high school stereotype they fall under or the clique they belong too. There's a flicker of humanity even in the heartless "swim thug" the protagonist used to relate to in the eighth grade; before he entered high school and his ego grew with it. The mean girl has a story of her own. The protagonist is jealous, inconsiderate, irrational, self-doubting and indecisive at times but never refuses to acknowledge it. Nothing is black or white and the dynamics between various characters run deep. And they learn. They learn so much about real world issues without making it look like an After School Special.

By the end of the novel, I was proud. Of all of these characters. Of everything they had become when just a novel ago (Confessions, #1), they had just started high school and had been scorned and stomped over in every way. Despite the feeling that at times, there felt like there were too many issues and it felt like everyone had way too much on their plate, I still applaud this novel and the series for what it is. I cannot wait to read the next novel for more of this wholesome, emotional, honest and REAL series that I wish was written and published when I was still in high school.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Monday, 20 May 2013

ARC Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry (Pushing The Limits #2)

Publication date: 28th May, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Links:Amazon|Goodreads|The Book Depository
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5 stars
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again...

"I dare you..."
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does... Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

Dare You To is about Beth whom we've already met in Pushing The Limits. When she takes the rap for her mother, she gets arrested and is bailed out by her uncle Scott. Her uncle demands custody of Beth and she is whisked away to Groveton, the place where she grew up as a kid. Ryan, who approached her at a Taco Bell on a dare, seems like nothing but a privileged jock who wants to use her. When he hangs around even after the Dare is off, stands up to her and shows her how much he cares about her, it seems like there's a lot more in the cards. But Beth, who's cynical, sarcastic, badass on the outside and yet scarred by her past, her mother's abusive boyfriend, all of which turned her into a scared, scared girl is convinced that boys like him never end up with girls like her.

Dare You To, like Pushing The Limits, was an engaging read that made quite an impact! Both Beth and Ryan are trapped, almost, because of where they come from and in Dare You To, these barriers are recognized before they come apart. They were wonderfully fleshed out characters who stayed with me even after their story ended. 

I loved Ryan's growth throughout Dare You To. While on the outside, he seemed like Mr. Perfect, it was because he was following the perfectly mapped out life his father had planned for him. While his father was very invested in Ryan and his brother's future, it seemed to be to the point of being controlling. Ryan's brother, Mark, was shunned from the family the minute he did not meet the Perfect-Family criteria and only in the course of the book does Ryan stand up for his brother and go after what he wants. I kept picturing Dan from One Tree Hill as Ryan's father!

I felt Ryan's growth made him ready to be with Beth. Ready to dispel the beliefs in her head that no one is trustworthy and everyone can hurt her- beliefs triggered by very traumatic experiences  He is everything she needs and together, they are so much more. My heart went out to Beth throughout the novel and I was so glad she found Ryan. We also get glimpses of the central characters from Pushing The Limits: Noah, Echo, Isaiah and Rico. Let me just say Isaiah's presence was heart wrenching and haunted me throughout the novel! I'm glad he gets a story of his own in Katie McGarry's upcoming novel! 

Dare You To is told in two points of view, just like in Pushing The Limits and is a sweet, intense and explosive story!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Monday, 13 May 2013

Review: The Saddest Song by Susie Kaye Lopez

Publication date: 11th February, 2013
Publisher: Self published
Links: Amazon|Goodreads|Barnes&Noble
Source: Review copy
Rating: 3/5 stars
Where do you turn when you've lost your other half?

When Rainey Martin loses her high school sweetheart Garrett in a tragic accident right before the beginning of their senior year, her whole world is shattered. Feeling lost and alone, Rainey turns to the only person whom she knows might be able to comprehend her despair: Garrett's twin brother, Max. Max who is as devastated as Rainey, takes solace in their mutual misery. The two form an unlikely friendship that tailspins into a bond so deep it begins to make them uneasy. Could they each be what the other needs to feel complete again?

Told from the alternating perspective of Rainey and Max, The Saddest Song is a novel that explores love, loss and finding light inthe midst of darkness.

I wanted to read this book as the title reminded me of a song: The Saddest Song by Until June. It's a song that always managed to pull me into a vortex of intense sadness and silence. Rainey, the protagonist of The Saddest Song by Susie Kaye Lopez feels utterly devastated and helpless when she finds out that her boyfriend, Garrett, was killed in an accident. An accident that took place when he was on his way to see her.

Rainey is riddled with guilt and not entirely sure of how to deal with the loss of someone she imagined her future with. Everything, from her college plans, has lost meaning...

Max, Garrett's twin brother, feels just as emotionally wrecked and yet sees it as his duty to help both himself and Rainey get through the shock. The Saddest Song is about Rainey and Max picking up the pieces with some help from a psychic, a friend who can See ahead and a little help from Garrett himself. In the process, Max struggles to find words to a song he's been working on which he calls The Saddest Song.

The Saddest Song was a mixed bag for me. I did feel sympathetic towards Max and Rainey and everything they had to deal with. I loved the paranormal elements that gave the story a great deal of edginess; whether it was the psychic who wasn't simply guessing around or signs and messages from Garrett himself. The book also pays heed to the existence of soul mates, the One True Love you're meant to be with over lifetimes. I'm not really sure if I believe in soul mates but I've always thought of it as a beautiful idea and reading about it is always interesting.

The characters in the story were very likable! Almost all of them were people I'd instantly want to be friends with. Perhaps some of the secondary characters could've been more fleshed out... I felt we were only privy to their sunny sides... but I did enjoy reading about them! And while there was no particular character or sequence of events that annoyed me, sometimes the dialogue did. There were parts where the dialogue fell flat. It gave off practically no feeling or underlying sentiment when it was apparent that it was meant to be emotional. But in most other aspects, especially the descriptions, the story flowed pretty well.

Despite the issues I had with the book, I did want to find out what would become of Rainey and Max and I was happy to see them eventually learn to be honest with both themselves and each other! It is this growth that made it worth the read. The Saddest Song is by no means a perfect read but it's definitely worth a shot! It's a story of loss and acceptance, of music and messages from beyond, all of which aid fate and self discovery.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Friday, 10 May 2013

Feature and Follow Friday #11

Feature and Follow is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read!

Q: Happy Mother’s Day! Who is your favorite mom from fiction?

Good mom characters always make a book all the more wholesome! Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter
series is an obvious choice and obvious for a reason! She's the backbone of the Weasley clan! I still cannot get over, "Not my daughter, you *****!"

Also, Layken's mother, Julia, in the Slammed series by Colleen Hoover is someone who awed me with her strength. I won't say much about her hurdles at the risk of spoilers but her approach to life, acceptance of things and the way she dealt with the cards life presented her with was so inspiring. When Will and Lake had problems in the second part of the series, she was wisdom-in-a-vase! This woman is phenomenal!

I also thought Mia in Saving Francesca made as much of an impact on the reader as everyone she probably met and interacted with in the book. When Francesca thinks When I grow up, I'm going to be my mother I found myself nodding along (And tearing up. A little.).

Which fictional mom would you like to pay tribute to?

While I'm on GFC, Linky and can be followed by email, I'd prefer it if you could follow me on Facebook (Link to my page) since my Page is brand new ;)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Review: Double Click by Lisa Becker

Publication date: 27th March, 2013
Publisher: Create Space
Links: Amazon|Goodreads|CreateSpace
Source: Review copy
Rating: 4/5 stars
Fans of the romantic hit Click: An Online Love Story will enjoy another voyeuristic dive into the lives of Renee, Shelley, Ashley, Mark and Ethan, as Double Click picks up with their lives six months later. Are Renee and Ethan soul mates? Does Mark ever go on a date? Has Shelley run out of sexual conquests in Los Angeles? Will Ashley's judgmental nature sabotage her budding relationship? Through a marriage proposal, wedding, new baby and unexpected love twist, Double Click answers these questions and more. Readers will continue to cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends.

Double Click is the sequel to Click, a book I reviewed not long ago that chronicled the online dating adventures of Renee in the form of short, pun-filled, energetic and fun back-and-forth emails! Double Click is equally entertaining and ha-larious... where you're not as much privy to the online dating scene but it does a great job of sucking you into the lives of Renee, her best friends Mark, Shelley and Ashley! There's secrets, unexpected pairings, proposals and pregnancy blues in the ultra-cute second part to this fabulous feel-good series!

One thing I was really missing in Click was more of Mark's story! This is done complete justice to in Double Click. You're going to be sooo surprised when you find out who he ends up with! Mark's love interest made me giggle so much. They are so um, compatible. It was interesting to see the different ways in which his friends reacted to her and made her feel welcome (or not welcome)!

There's also a lot going on with Shelley... much more than her multiple business trips, that's for sure. And I grew quite fond of Ashley by the end of the book... in spite of her reverting back to the "old Ashley" with her pregnancy blues.

More than anything, I loved the parts in Double Click where Renee, Shelley, Ashley and their friends were just hanging out. The very light and very fun banter was enough to bring a smile to my face! While a great deal happened in the course of this book... there was no rush in pacing with scenes both relevant and completely irrelevant to the plot. With the email format, I found myself LIKING this utterly normal sequence and pace of events!

Double Click is the kind of book you read while lounging around. It's quick and it's fun and best of all, it manages to be what it is with consistent characterization and absolutely no suspension from reality! I liked Double Click even more than its predecessor and would totally recommend it if you're looking for a cute and hilarious read!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Blog Makeover!

I thought it was about time and thanks to Fahima @ I Read, Ergo I Write, it finally finally happened! She took time out to design the beautiful blog header you probably saw a few minutes back before scrolling down to this post! I cannot get over how much I love it! From the black cat to all those titles I loved reading throughout the year to the purple specs, the attention to detail is the coolest part!

Also, while customising the background and layout to go with the header, I finally got the Comment Reply feature and social media icons at the end of every post back! Don't know how that happened. I had a big problem with Comment Reply and the lack of social media icons in the previous layout.'s a great start to the summer! Hope you like the changes as much as I do!