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BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY + INTERVIEW – Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe Neill

Here is my review for this wonderful story...it might be the best in the series, yet!  Be sure to also check out my interview with Chloe Neill and the two giveaways below!

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY + INTERVIEW – Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe NeillDark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11)
by Chloe Neill
Add to: Goodreads

Review:
“If you touch her again, come near her again, I will tear you apart with my own bare hands, Master or not.”

There are so many things I love about this series. So many things I hold back after finishing a book because, really, how many times can you repeat all the same things you love about a consistently excellent series? I always do a mini-review, letting people know the main reasons I loved the story, and I hardly put all I truly feel into the review. Well, 7 mini-reviews later and I think it’s time I finally let all these built up emotions out-this book was excellent and people deserve to hear about it.

Ethan sighed. “It has nothing to do with pretty.”
“Not according to your brain,” I agreed. “But once again-”
Ethan held up a hand. “No need to repeat the point.”
“When I’m four hundred, do I get to date a twenty-five-year old?”
Ethan narrowed his gaze. “If you date anyone other than me at any point in your hopefully long and fruitful life, there will be trouble for both of us.”

I keep saying that these stories continue to get better, and it’s true, mostly, but there is something refreshing about a more sinister plot. Like, it’s known that when you pick up a Chicagoland Vampires book that there will be a mystery to solve, Ethan and Merit will have to conquer a new threat to their relationship, and there will be lots of love and snark exchanged between them. It’s a fact. It’s an inevitability. And I always get so excited to pick up the next new story. But this time there was something new. Sure, there’s always something new-But not like this.

Never has there been something that made me feel so icky about what could happen to Merit-or Ethan, for that matter. But when the return of an old figure from Ethan’s dark past reemerges, things begin to get….foggy. Merit’s defenses are down, Ethan isn’t (and can’t be) quick to save Merit, and no one can understand why, or how, this person is getting past their wards on the house. How does one protect another person’s mind? Is there even a way? And what happens when Ethan isn’t there to break the trance, and the next time he’s too late? What then?

There was nothing equivocal in his gaze, in the steadiness of his green eyes. “He was my nightmare, Merit. You are my miracle. He will not touch you again. Yes?”

Ethan, as always, was beyond words. He is so loyal to Merit and would do anything to keep her safe. And when Merit has a close run-in with this dangerous and mysterious enemy, it guts him that she recoils from his touch. She becomes withdrawn and so unlike herself, leaving everyone scrambling to keep the wards in place…even when there isn’t a break-anywhere in sight. It makes him moody, protective, possessive, and more than a little bit nervous (Waaaaiiittt, yeah, my bad he’s always like that-but, hey, it was a little more intense this time). Ethan likes to be in control, to be the alpha, to know he’s keeping the love of his life (and his house) safe. So, when bad things begin to surround his house, he’s more than unsettled.

“I like to think I’m more than the sum of my training.”
“You are,” Luc said. “There’s at least some hot beef or deep dish in there.”
“I am also more than Chicago foodstuffs.”
Ethan grinned at Luc. “Pumas? Diet Coke? Smart-assery?”
Luc snapped his fingers, pointed at Ethan. “Yes. And, like, three percent medieval literature.”
“You’re both hilarious. Really and truly. Comedy geniuses.”

And Merit. I adore this girl. She’s snarky, she’s funny, and she always has the best comebacks-I could be best friends with her. And, to top it all off, she can take care of herself. It’s not often you find a female lead with all the bells and whistles. But in this story, Merit feels violated, like she can’t defend herself even in her own home, in her own apartments, and with the man she loves sleeping right beside her. It’s a new kind of challenge for her and she spends the book doing everything she can to defend herself with no way of knowing what will work and when he’ll strike next….and what he’ll do to destroy the forever relationship she and Ethan have worked so hard to build.

Which was why Ethan returned to the apartments to find Mallory and me lying on the bed, television on, pooched stomachs taking a much needed breather.
“Oh, this is quite a sight,” Ethan said with obvious amusement, then spied the empty box of Mallocakes. “A vampire and sorceress done in by chocolate snack cakes.”
“Mallocake ‘splosion,” Mallory said weakly. “Pew, pew, pew.
“I think there’s one left.” I moved just enough to skim fingers against the box, tip it up. “Yep. One. You can have it.”
“Wait,” Mallory said, and put a hand on my arm while she deliberated, as if there was a chance she might be able to squeeze in one more. “No.” She waved me off. “I can’t. Go ahead.”
“This scenario isn’t really selling the Mallocake concept to me,” Ethan said.
“We’re having girl time.”
“Not the girl time I prefer to imagine, but so be it.”
“Perv,” Mallory said with a grin, rolling off the bed and trundling toward the door. “I’m going to roll myself downstairs.”
“Take care,” Ethan said. “And thank you for the ward.”
She burped indelicately.
“And that’s our powerful sorceress,” Ethan said, locking the door behind her.

I think the reason I liked this story so much was because of how it all progressed. There was a lot more action and it mixed really well with the banter and strategizing. I am so picky when it comes to this and I couldn’t have been happier with how it was all handled. There wasn’t a moment when I was bored or rushing to get past anything-every moment was important and every moment mattered. It was fast-paced and the love scenes were electric. Every minute was a rush as we tried to catch whoever was behind the sinister threats and when they were trying to defend the house. And, as always, the humor helped get us through every single moment.

I looked up at him. “Are you wooing me?”
“I’ve been wooing you since the moment our eyes locked on the first floor of this house.”
I gave him a flat look. “No, that’s when you accused me of being spoiled.”
“Details,” he said lightly, mouth drawn into a crooked grin.

So, I know that I gush a lot about these characters, but they are very dear to me and I am fully invested in whatever may happen to them. I want nothing more than for the prophecy to come about and for happy things to occur regularly for Ethan and Merit. Their love is tangible and it leaps off every page-every look, every touch, every embrace-they were made for each other. I cannot wait to see where the rest of the stories go, because this series has my heart. If you haven’t tried, you need to go and start these books now. You won’t regret it!

 

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 Interview:

Very rarely do we get the opportunity as readers to get inside the mind of our favorite authors, but Chloe Neill has offered to answer a few questions for the blog tour! Take a peek at what she had to say:

 

1. Just as your books inspired other authors to write, what authors inspired you to write?

When I started writing, I’d been reading a lot of Rachel Caine, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, and Stephanie Laurens, among others. I really loved reading stories in series, because you got to know the characters, the setting, and the little inside jokes and references that really made the book feel like a comfortable place to rest.

2. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Emotional upset?

Action scenes are definitely the hardest for me to write, so the last scene I usually write in the book is an action scene that I’ve put off. 🙂 It’s difficult for me to imagine a three-dimensional fight, and then translate that into words for the two-dimensional page.  Banter is the easiest thing–I can write characters chatting all day long. But it doesn’t make for a very interesting scene.

3. Which of your Chicagoland Vampire characters would you most like to spend extended amounts of time with?

Probably Merit. I think we’d get along very well.  Or Damien, because I think he has a lot of interesting stories to tell. 🙂

4. If you could cast Ethan and Merit in a Hollywood adaption of your books, who would you choose to play their
characters?

David Beckham isn’t an actor, but he’ll always be Ethan for me. I don’t really have a specific girl in mind who epitomizes Merit, so I’m certainly open to suggestions!

Thanks for having me today!

 

dd_tour

 

I am so honored here today to be able to represent one of the most hilarious, sexy, and addictive series I’ve ever read. Not often do I, or we as a blog, stick with such long series. But since the beginning, Ethan and Merit have stolen my heart and and I am so happy I came across this wonderfully delicious series. If you have never read these stories, that’s a shame. But if you’re even a little bit curious, pick up the first book in the series, Some Girls Bite, and I swear you’ll be enthralled from page one. Thanks so much, Courtney Neill!

 

Dark Debt will be available on March 3rd.

Preorder Here on any of these sites!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Powells | Books-A-Million | Audible |Kobo | Indiebound

 

Giveaways:

Us Star-Crossed Ladies are ecstatic to have a special little giveaway of our own, courtesy of Chloe Neill! Hurry and ENTER TO WIN!

Packet includes:

    • Cadogan House cotton tote bag
    • Cadogan House keychain
    • An autographed international Chicagoland Vampires or Dark Elite novel
    • Swag, including Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks and pens, and Cadogan House lanyards

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter the Dark Debt Grand Prize Giveaway, which runs February 23 through March 6 on Chloe’s web site.

What is the Grand Prize Giveaway prize?

      • An engraved Cadogan House medal necklace
      • A Kindle Paperwhite
      • Cadogan House cotton tote bag
      • Cadogan House keychian
      • Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks, pens, and lanyard

 

And here is a full list of all the other blogs participating on the tour:

Week One

Monday, February 23 – Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life | Lore Lush Books
Tuesday, February 24 – Star Crossed Book Blog | Little Miss Book Addict’s House of Books
Wednesday, February 25 – Once Upon a Twilight | Krista’s Dust Jacket
Thursday, February 26 – Goldilox and the Three Weres | Angel’s Guilty Pleasures
Friday, February 27 – Feeling Fictional | Rabid Reads

Week Two

Monday, March 2 – Booklovers for Life | Bad Bird Reads
Tuesday, March 3 (Release Day) – Saucy Wenches Book Club | Nomi’s Paranormal Palace | Fangs, Wands & Fairy Dust | Vampire Book Club
Wednesday, March 4 – Ceres Book World | Book Infatuation Reviews 
Thursday, March 5 – Consummate Reader
Friday, March 6 – Little Read Riding Hood | Three Chicks After Dark

2015 Favorites from a Series

2015 Favorite Series.13 We are ecstatic that we get to share our lists of favorite books in a series with you! Below you will find our fabulous list that includes all of our favorite series that we read in 2015!  Even though we read them in 2015, they could have been released in a previous year.  Click our reviews to learn more about each book, or click on the cover to purchase a copy.  We hope you find some new books to add to your to-read list.
Enjoy!
♥ The Star-Crossed Ladies  

Group Favorite Series (2+ of us ♥ed)



Jen (new) & Chelsea (re-read)

the hunger games suzanne collins
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review
catching fire suzanne collins
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review
mockingjay suzanne collins
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review

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Chelsea & Anna

i hunt killers barry lyga
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
game hunt killers barry lyga
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
blood of my blood barry lyga
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review

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a drink before war dennis lehane
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
dennis lehane darkness, take my hand
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
dennis lehane sacred
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
dennis lehane gone baby gone
Chelsea’s Review
prayers for rain dennis lehane
Chelsea’s Review
 

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pines blake crouch
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
wayward blake crouch
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
the last town blake crouch
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review

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Anna & Laura

A Darker Shade final for Irene
Anna’s Review
   

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Jen’s Favorite Series:
sins & needles karina halle
Jen’s Review
karina halle shooting scars
Jen’s Review
Bold Tricks Karina Halle Arttists Trilogy
Jen’s Review

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The Immortal Rules Julie Kagawa
Jen’s Review
the eternity cure julie kagawa
Jen’s Review
the forever song julie kagawa
Jen’s Review

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Broken Skies theresa kay
Jen’s Review
fractured suns theresa kay
Jen’s Review
 

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the return jennifer armentrout
Jen’s Review
   

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Chelsea’s Favorite Series:
dairy queen catherine gilbert murdock
Chelsea’s Review
the off season catherin gilbert murdock front and center catherin gilbert murdock

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dorothy must die danielle paige
Chelsea’s Review
the wicked will rise danielle paige
Chelsea’s Review
 

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an ember in the ashes sabaa tahir
Chelsea’s Review
   

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scarlet a.c. gaughen
Chelsea’s Review
Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
Chelsea’s Review
lion heart a.c. gaughen
Chelsea’s Review

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unwind neal shusterman
Chelsea’s Review
unwholly neal shusterman
Chelsea’s Review
unsouled neal shusterman
undivided neal shusterman
Chelsea’s Review
   

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white cat holy black
Chelsea’s Review
Red Glove holly black
Chelsea’s Review
Black Heart holly black
Chelsea’s Review

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wild things chloe neill
Chelsea’s Review
blood games chloe neill
Chelsea’s Review
dark debt chloe neill
Chelsea’s Review

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brandon sanderson steelheart
Chelsea’s Review
firefight brandon sanderson
Chelsea’s Review
 

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the wrath & the dawn renee ahdieh
Chelsea’s Review
   

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angelfall susan ee
Chelsea’s Review
world after susan ee
Chelsea’s Review
end of days susan ee
Chelsea’s Review

 

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this is not a test courtney summers
Chelsea’s Review
please remain calm courtney summers
Chelsea’s Review
 

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Anna’s Favorite Series
prince of thorns mark lawrence
Anna’s Review
king of thorns mark lawrence
Anna’s Review
emperor of thorns mark lawrence
Anna’s Review

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finnikin of the rock melina marchetta
Anna’s Review
froi of the exiles melina marchetta
Anna’s Review
quintana of charyn melina marchetta
Anna’s Review

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injustice gods among us
Anna’s Review
injustice gods among us tom taylor  

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deadly class reagan youth
Anna’s Review
Deadly Class, Vol. 2 Kids of the Black Hole by Remender Craig loughridge Deadly Class, Vol. 3 The Snake Pit by Rick Remender

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joe abercrombie the blade itself
Anna’s Review
   

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Laura’s Favorite Series:
the winner's curse marie rutkoski    

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5thwavecover the infinite sea 5th wave rick yancey  

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six of crows leigh bardugo    

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cinder marissa meyer Scarlet the lunar chronicles marissa meyer cress marissa meyer
winter marissa meyer    

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We hope you enjoyed our favorite series that we read in 2015 and that you found some fabulous new books to read!
If you want to check out more of our favorite books click to find out about our:
2015 Favorite Singles ✩✮✩ 2014 Favorites from a Series ✩✮✩ 2014 Favorite Singles.

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FRIDAY STARS–Your Weekly Must Knows 02/27/15

 

Friday Stars

Click book covers for ordering.

Giveaways

We’re having a special little giveaway of our own, courtesy of Chloe Neill!  Enter to win a Cadogan House cotton tote bag, Cadogan House keychain, An autographed international Chicagoland Vampires or Dark Elite novel, Swag, including Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks and pens, and Cadogan House lanyards! Click Here

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Enter to win $20 Amazon Gift Card (INT) or Paperback Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland, Paperback Sucker Literary Volume III by Kacey Vanderkarr (US only) Click Here

 

 

 

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Just Finished and Loved

Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe Neill – 5 Stars! This book was excellent and people deserve to hear about it. In the 1st book, Some Girls Bite – Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.  Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan Lord o the Manor Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude? and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war and there will be blood. Chelsea’s Review

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Just One Night (Sex, Love & Stiletto #3) by Lauren Layne – 5 Stars! This was an adorable friendship to lovers story. And when you became entangled in the heart of it all, it took an amazing turn into something that was raw and emotional. Definitely a must read!  Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But when Stiletto’s fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: Her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favor of a lifetime from the one man who’s always held her heart. Jen’s Review


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Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers – 5 Stars! Venomous, tortuous, and pulse-pounding, this subtle book sneaks up on you and sinks it’s claws into your soul.  Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of theFearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first. Chelsea’s Review

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Please Remain Calm (This is Not a Test #2) by Courtney Summers – 5 Stars! It was very raw and heartbreaking, causing me to cry more than once-and this novella was, like, only 100 pages. I was shocked. Sequel to This Is Not a Testwhere it’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, herworld collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?Chelsea’s Review

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King of Thorns #2 & Emperor of Thorns #3 by Mark Lawrence5 Stars!  The ending was epic and satisfying and above that, surprised me. Hours after finishing it, I find myself both happy and disturbed, truly amazed.  In Prince of Thorns #1: When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. At thirteen, he led a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king… It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him—and he has nothing left to lose. But treachery awaits him in his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce his will, can one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining? Anna’s Review #2 &  #3

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Reading Next

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – We’re all reading this next week and can’t wait to start!
“What do you want from me?” he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.  Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.
In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

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Upcoming Releases

The Trouble with Love (Sex, Love, & Stiletto Series #4) by Lauren Layne –  (Releases 3/03) As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.  After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.

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The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski(Releases 3/03) In The Winner’s Curse #1 Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.  They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.  Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe Neill (Releases 3/03) This book was excellent and people deserve to hear about it. In the 1st book, Some Girls Bite, Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.  Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan Lord o the Manor Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude? and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war and there will be blood.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

 

“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

It’s been so long since I’ve really sat down and wrote a review about a book that really mattered to me. Since I’ve had all this (all day)(endless) morning sickness, I’ve been pretty bleak about my outlook on reading and if I’d ever want to again-I know, right? Ridiculous. As if I’d ever give up my one true passion. But it’s been a long road…and when I saw Kaz on the horizon, I knew it was my time to reintroduce myself into the book community.

“Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch, Brekker. You have to be the craziest bastard I ever met.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

As everyone knows, Six of Crows has been my favorite read this year (yes I was late to the party). No, I haven’t had the longest, most prosperous reading year of my life (that was last year, boo), but when a book truly stands out, you simply don’t forget it. And so here was my baby boy, his final book coming up at the speed of light…and I knew I wouldn’t miss it for the world. But with that comes a lot of expectations.

Kaz had tapped his crow’s head cane on the flagstones of the tomb floor. “Do you know what Van Eck’s problem is?” 

“No honor?” said Matthias.
“Rotten parenting skills?” said Nina.
“Receding hairline?” offered Jesper.
“No,” said Kaz. “Too much to lose. And he gave us a map to what to steal first.”

For one….this is Kaz. You fuck up Kaz? I fuck YOU up. So…this author had a lot of hype to live up to in my pathetic world of nausea and the occasional regurgitation of Blue Raspberry Mr. Misty Floats from Dairy Queen. And not only did I have that larger than life hype in my head, but this was the FIRST BOOK to bring me out of my endless woes of re-reading and missing out on countless new releases. To say I was nervous would be an understatement.

Jesper tapped his fingers restlessly on his thighs. “Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?” “So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.”


So. Was it worth the hype? Was it everything I ever dreamed of and wished it would be? Was everything as perfect as the first? No. I’m sorry, but the answer is an absolute no. And I keep asking myself, if you didn’t love it as much as the first, if you have qualms about the integrity of the novel and all of the characters…why the 4.5 stars? Are you rating this so highly because you love Kaz more than you love the air you breathe? Or is it simply out of loyalty to your love of the first-Possibly your favorite book of all time under Hunger Games? And the truth of the matter is, I can’t answer that question. I really can’t. But what I can answer is this: No matter whether I believe this wasn’t what it could have been or whether it was and I just missed the party…I always, always rate with my gut. And my gut won’t let me rate lower than 4.5.

Kaz had rescued her from that hopelessness, and their lives had been a series of rescues ever since, a string of debts that they never tallied as they saved each other again and again. Lying in the dark, she realized that for all her doubts, she’d believed he would rescue her once more, that he would put aside his greed and his demons and come for her. Now she wasn’t so sure.

And every single one of my best friends, ask any of them (Harriet, Anna, Jenny, Jen, etc.) will tell you I do NOT lie on my ratings. They come from deep in my heart and I wouldn’t be able to stand it if I rated something less/more than what it deserved. So, I think I made it clear that, while I’m a tad confused on what made this click for me, I am set in my rating. If anyone is even still around I guess I’ll get to my thoughts on the book now.

“If you don’t care about money, Nina dear, call it by its other names.”
“Kruge? Scrub? Kaz’s one true love?”
“Freedom, security, retribution.”
“You can’t put a price on those things.”
“No? I bet Jesper can. It’s the price of the lien on his father’s farm.” The sharpshooter looked at the toes of his boots. “What about you, Wylan? Can you put a price on the chance to walk away from Ketterdam and live your own life? And Nina, I suspect you and your Fjerdan may want something more to subsist on than patriotism and longing glances. Inej might have a number in mind too. It’s the price of a future, and it’s Van Eck’s turn to pay.”

This book…..this book was not what I expected-both good and bad. Because, really, what did I even expect? I knew the first was out of this world creative, that nothing could compare….yet I longed for it to. Second books and third books are almost never my favorite…but I yearned for something better. And, while I didn’t get that, I did get a lot of things I was missing in the first. They weren’t as beautiful, far-fetched, as magnanimous as I had hoped, but they were there, and they were flawed…and how can I complain when I got my (cough) sweet Kaz to show his barest emotions, his most broken self to the only one left in the world he loved. I mean….Jesus. My heart couldn’t take any more. No, I didn’t get a full page proclamation of love-sorry to disappoint those who wanted that-but we did get the Kaz flair, the Kaz way of showing how much he cares, how loyal he is. And, frankly, despite what I had thought before…it was more than enough for me. This book was flawed. The crew was flawed. And Kaz was flawed….and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Around Pekka, he lost the shape of who he was—no, he lost the shape of who he’d fought to become. He wasn’t Dirtyhands or Kaz Brekker or even the toughest lieutenant in the Dregs. He was just a boy fueled by a white flame of rage, one that threatened to burn the pretense of the hard-won civility he maintained to ash.


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The beginning started out just as I’d hoped it would-right where it left off, give or take a week. They have very little time to get to Inej and free her from that bastard Van Eck, and Kaz (just a warning, this review is centered around Kaz so….yeah, sorry) is a man on a mission-A deadly mission. Everyone is battered and bruised, dedicated to the cause of getting their Wraith back, no matter what happens. After all, she has saved their lives countless times.


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But, here lies my largest issue: The POVs at the beginning. I’m sorry, but why do we have to wait one billion chapters to get into Kaz’s twisted head??? That pissed me off-No, the story wasn’t bad without it, but, for me, this felt odd. In the first book, he and Inej were the main POVs and I, quite frankly, liked it that way. In this one, it was all Wylan, Jesper, Nina, Matthias, etc..and THEN Kaz. And THEN Inej. I didn’t like that and it immediately put a sour taste in my mouth-NOW, I will just say this…it didn’t effect that much, I just was a pissy pink elephant about the whole thing. And, frankly, I thought the pairings at the beginning of the book were odd. I can’t explain it…it just didn’t feel right. Everyone was around, but I definitely was missing something. (TO HARRIET-Don’t worry, Kazzy bestie, he was not missing from the story, don’t misunderstand me).

“My mother is Ketterdam. She birthed me in the harbor. And my father is profit. I honor him daily. Be back by nightfall or don’t come back at all. Either of you. I need crew, not sentimental nubs.”

Now, while it didn’t effect the story…I do think it effected the intensity of Kaz’s character. This is why I LOVE him, okay? So when he is stifled by A) too much action (am I really stating this as a problem?) and B) No time in his mind I definitely noticed it. Which I guess brings me to the negatives, since this seems like the appropriate timing of both my review and the book: The middle. So many books effect me this way, even some of my absolute favorites, and I guess I just hoped that since book one had literally no slow parts, for me, that it would be the same here. But it was almost an opposite effect: There was literally so much going on at one point, that my mind couldn’t take it. Anna said it best: We missed the strategizing, the camaraderie, the banter, the scheming, and there was literally no time to do that. The weakest point for me, and where I lost interest for about 7%, was part three: Brick by Brick. This happens in many books, like I mentioned before, but I was hoping it wouldn’t here. And it ended quickly-it won me back almost right away-but it took a minute, and that scared me. I will say, though…it had one of my top three favorite Kaz quotes in the whole book-EEPS. That has to count for something!!


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So, with that doubt in my mind, which saddened me greatly that I had to consider that gap at all, I was suddenly more apprehensive of the rest of the story. Would it even out? Would I get my big declaration? Would I get the Kaz I had loved from story one? Well…not everything was what I’d expected, but there were some parts that were more, and that excited me so much I could barely contain my giddy glee. There are literally so many moments I could touch on, so many scenes I’ll never forget…Brutality, courage, loyalty, respect, love, betrayal [by the author] (sorry lady, but you definitely tried to pull a fast one on me I don’t know if I’ll ever agree with-at least how it happened).

He reached out and took Nina’s hand. Wylan suddenly felt he was intruding on something private. “I am grateful you’re alive,” he said. “I am grateful you’re beside me. I am grateful that you’re eating.”
She rested her head on his shoulder. “You’re better than waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips. “Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”

You think you have it all figured out, that everything is finally going to go as you had hoped from the very beginning, and then out of nowhere there’s yet another curveball thrown your way. And while that worked extremely well for the last half of the book, I must say it was sometimes a misfire in the beginning parts of the book. Like I said, I LOVE this series, but it wasn’t without it’s flaws and I feel the need to talk it out on this page. Yes, I’m rambling, but it’s how I’ve always done reviews so…

His eyes scanned her face as they always had, closely, hungrily, snatching at the details of her like the thief he was—the even set of her dark brows, the rich brown of her eyes, the upward tilt of her lips. He didn’t deserve peace and he didn’t deserve forgiveness, but if he was going to die today, maybe the one thing he’d earned was the memory of her—brighter than anything he would ever have a right to—to take with him to the other side.


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Okay, forget it, I’m just going to touch on what I care about most and then I’ll end the suffering that is this repetitive review: Kaz. Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz KAZ. How do you like me now, computer??? I swear, it keeps putting that damn red squiggly line under his name and, since I’ve mentioned him like 100 times, my screen is completely reddish-IT’S A NAME, DAMN IT. LEAVE ME ALONE. Anyway, I digress. Kaz has stolen my heart completely with his brutal truths, cutthroat way of life, ABSOLUTE LOYALTY, his cunning, his scheming face, his cane, his gloves, the phobia he was stuck with because of his unfortunate circumstances…..the list goes literally on and on. And that’s why I was so angry that he was such a small part, I felt, in the beginning. Wasn’t he the main character? He and Inej, mostly? Wasn’t he the reason they even existed, this crew? Well, I didn’t care about them, any of them, like I did him, so that was hard for me to swallow. So when he got back to normal (and his chapters came more frequently), perhaps even more brutal than before…it was like coming home.

The silence between them was dark water. He could not cross it. He couldn’t walk the line between the decency she deserved and the violence this path demanded. If he tried, it might get them both killed. He could only be who he truly was—a boy who had no comfort to offer. So he would give her what he could. “I’m going to open Van Eck up,” he said quietly. “I’m going to give him a wound that can’t be sewn shut, that he’ll never recover from. The kind that can’t be healed.”
“The kind you endured?”
“Yes.” It was a promise. It was an admission.


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It’s true that most of my expectations centered around Kaz, Kaz and Inej, and him getting everything his poor heart deserved (revenge included), but I still know what a good, COMPLETE story is so shhh. I am happy with his chapter closing the way it did, with more to come for him and his eventual (I hope) complete happiness…and I do believe Bardugo finished his story in a way that was completely believable. I did want bigger, grander things for him-But the story ended in the way I think it was meant to, mostly. There’s plenty more I could wish for and plenty more I could say…but I’m happy leaving his story here. I love him. I adore him. No one compares to him. End of story.

Inej thought of Kaz’s pale trickster hands, the shiny rope of scar tissue that ran atop his right knuckle. Van Eck could break every finger and both of Kaz’s legs and he’d never say a word, but if his men stripped away Kaz’s gloves? Inej still didn’t understand why he needed them or why he’d fainted in the prison wagon on the way into the Ice Court, but she knew Kaz couldn’t bear the touch of skin on skin. How much of this weakness could he hide? How quickly would Van Eck located his vulnerability, exploit it? How long until Kaz came undone? She couldn’t bear it. She was glad she didn’t know where Kuwei was. She would break before Kaz did.

This book was far from perfect…but it made me happy. It had pain and torture and brutal moments that any sick bastard like me would lap up happily in each and EVERY story….but it also had its moments I wish were better. It’s a fine line between obsession and sanity, loving a book and its characters too much for my own good. So I will take this as a win-I just know it could have been even better. Less plots upon plots, a little less confusion around the middle because so much was going on (not always a good thing), and the fact that all this made me care less about certain things…these are the issues I had that I wish didn’t exist. But the fact remains: Bardugo rules. Her characters will stay in my heart forever. Kaz can literally get out of ANY situation….and I am at peace with where this story went. I could be happier….but at least this isn’t one of my final book Chelsea fails that happen so frequently. No Mourners. No Funerals.

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Buddy Read with my LOVELY SNAKE-YAY!! We’re BACK! Well…at least for Kaz 😛


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View all my reviews

2015 Favorite Singles

2015 Favorite Singles.13 We read some fabulous books last year, and we are so excited to share our list with you!  We hope you’ll find some new characters that you’ll fall head over heels in love with from our favorite books that are stand alone.  They may be part of a series or have a spinoff,  but how they read you are given closure upon completion.  We read them in 2015, but they could have been released a previous year.  Click our reviews to learn more about each book, or click the cover to purchase a copy.  Below our lists is also a summary of each book – jump to that by clicking here.
Enjoy!
♥ The Star-Crossed Ladies  

Group Favorite Singles (2+ of us ♥ed)
Jen & Chelsea
blurred lines lauren layne
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review
Jen & Chelsea
the trouble with love lauren layne
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review
Chelsea & Anna
i'll meet you there heather demetrios
Chelsea’s Review
Chelsea & Anna
kiss the sky
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
Anna & Laura
simon vs the homo sapiens agenda becky albertalli
Anna’s Review
 

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Jen’s Favorite Singles:
Come back to me mila gray
Jen’s Review
forever with you wait for you jennifer armentrout j lynn
Jen’s Review
Fine Best Kind of Broken
Jen’s Review
right kind of wrong chelsea fine
Jen’s Review
isn't she lovely lauren layne
Jen’s Review
after the kiss lauren layne
Jen’s Review
just one night lauren layne
Jen’s Review
puddle jumping amber l. johnson
Jen’s Review

 

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Laura’s Favorite Singles:
Since You've Been Gone morgan Jellicoe Road melina marchetta the sky is everywhere jandy nelson breathe annie breathe miranda kenneally
every last word tamara ireland stone all the rage courtney summers A Midsummer's Nightmare kady keplinger the martian andy weir

 

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Chelsea’s Favorite Singles:
firsts laurie elizabeth flynn
Chelsea’s Review
practice makes perfect julie james
Chelsea’s Review
price of a kiss linda kage
Chelsea’s Review
to professor, with love linda kage
Chelsea’s Review
a perfect ten linda kage
Chelsea’s Review
the summer of chasing mermaids sarah ockler
Chelsea’s Review
faking normal courtney stevens
Chelsea’s Review
my heart and other black holes
Chelsea’s Review
the distance between us kasie west
Chelsea’s Review
duff kody keplinger
Chelsea’s Review
fall for anything courtney summers
Chelsea’s Review
courtney summers some girls are
Chelsea’s Review
 irresistibly yours lauren layne
Chelsea’s Review
     

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Anna’s Favorite Singles:
what we saw aaron hartzler
Anna’s Review
more happy than not adam silvera
Anna’s Review
made you up francesca zappia
Anna’s Review
teeth hannah moskowitz
Anna’s Review
brom the child thief
Anna’s Review
rachel caine prince of shadows
Anna’s Review
the song of achilles
Anna’s Review
the shadows of blackbirds cat winters
Anna’s Review
okay for now by gary d. schmidt dangerous boys abigail haas
Anna’s Review
charm & strange stephanie kuehn
Anna’s Review
 bounce xo noelle august
Anna’s Review
magonia maria dahvana headley
Anna’s Review
cracked up to be courtney summers
Anna’s Review
 gone hanna moskowitz
Anna’s Review
 everyday sexism by laura bates
through the woods by emily carroll fuel the fire ritchie
Anna’s Review
   

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Summary of each book:

blurred lines lauren layneBlurred Lines by Lauren Layne – When Parker Blanton meets Ben Olsen during her freshman year of college, the connection is immediate—and platonic. Six years later, they’re still best friends, sharing an apartment in Portland’s trendy Northwest District as they happily settle into adult life. But when Parker’s boyfriend dumps her out of the blue, she starts to wonder about Ben’s no-strings-attached approach to dating. The trouble is, even with Ben as her wingman, Parker can’t seem to get the hang of casual sex—until she tries it with him.  The arrangement works perfectly . . . at first. The sex is mind-blowing, and their friendship remains as solid as ever, without any of the usual messy romantic entanglements. But when Parker’s ex decides he wants her back, Ben is shocked by a fierce stab of possessiveness. And when Ben starts seeing a girl from work, Parker finds herself plagued by unfamiliar jealousy. With their friendship on the rocks for the first time, Parker and Ben face an alarming truth: Maybe they can’t go back. And maybe, deep down, they never want to.  Jen’s Review & Chelsea’s Review

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the trouble with love lauren layneThe Trouble with Love (Sex Love & Stiletto #4) by Lauren Layne – As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.  After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.  Jen’s Review & Chelsea’s Review

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i'll meet you there heather demetriosI’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios – If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.  Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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kiss the skyKiss the Sky (Calloway Sisters #1) by Becca Ritchie, Krista Ritchie Virgin. Sex addict. Daredevil. Alcoholic. Smartass … Jackass. Her five friends are about to be filmed. Reality TV, be prepared.   Rose Calloway thought she had everything under control. At twenty-three, she’s a Princeton graduate, an Academic Bowl champion, a fashion designer and the daughter of a Fortune 500 mogul. But with a sex addict as a sister and roommate, nothing comes easy. After accepting help from a producer, Rose agrees to have her life filmed for a reality television show. The Hollywood exec is her last chance to revive her struggling fashion line, and boundaries begin to blur as she’s forced to make nice with a man who always has his way.  Twenty-four-year-old Connor Cobalt is a guy who bulldozes weak men. He’s confident, smart-as-hell and lives with his equally ambitious girlfriend, Rose Calloway. Connor has to find a way to protect Rose without ruining the show. Or else the producer will get what Connor has always wanted–Rose’s virginity.  Chelsea’s Review & Anna’s Review

 

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simon vs the homo sapiens agenda becky albertalliSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.  Incredibly funny and poignant, this twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story—wrapped in a geek romance—is a knockout of a debut novel by Becky Albertalli.  Anna’s Review

 

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Come back to me mila grayCome Back to Me by Mila Gray – In this heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, a young Marine and his best friend’s sister plunge into a forbidden love affair while he’s home on leave.  When a Marine Chaplain knocks on her door, Jessa’s heart breaks—someone she loves is dead. Killed in action, but is it Riley or Kit? Her brother or her boyfriend…  Three months earlier, Marine Kit Ryan finds himself back home on leave and dangerously drawn to his best friend Riley’s sister, Jessa—the one girl he can’t have. Exhausted from fighting his feelings, Kit finally gives in, and Jessa isn’t strong enough to resist diving headfirst into a passionate relationship.  But what was just supposed to be a summer romance develops into something far greater than either of them expected. Jessa’s finally found the man of her dreams and Kit’s finally discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.  When it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither one is ready to say goodbye. Jessa vows to wait for him and Kit promises to come home to her. No matter what.  But as Jessa stands waiting for the Marine Chaplain to break her heart, she can’t help but feel that Kit has broken his promise…  Riley or Kit? Kit or Riley? Her brother or her boyfriend? Who’s coming home to her?  Jen’s Review

 

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forever with you wait for you jennifer armentrout j lynnForever with You (Wait for You #5) by J. Lynn, Jennifer L. Armentrout – Some things you just believe in, even if you’ve never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It’s out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she’s got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph’s eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.  Nick’s self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he’s knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she’s building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can’t walk away. Not when she’s the only one who’s ever made him wish for forever . . .  Jen’s Review

 

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Fine Best Kind of BrokenBest Kind of Broken (Finding Fate #1) by Chelsea Fine – Pixie Marshall wishes every day she could turn back time and fix the past. But she can’t. And the damage is done. She’s hoping that a summer of free room and board working with her aunt at the Willow Inn will help her forget. Except there’s a problem: the resident handyman is none other than Levi Andrews. The handsome quarterback was once her friend-and maybe more–until everything changed in a life-shattering instant. She was hoping to avoid him, possibly forever. Now he’s right down the hall and stirring up feelings Pixie thought she’d long buried . . .  Levi can’t believe he’s living with the one person who holds all his painful memories. More than anything he wants to make things right, but a simple “sorry” won’t suffice–not when the tragedy that scarred them was his fault. Levi knows Pixie’s better off without him, but every part of him screams to touch her, protect her, wrap her in his arms, and kiss away the pain. Yet even though she’s so close, Pixie’s heart seems more unreachable than ever. Seeing those stunning green eyes again has made one thing perfectly clear–he can’t live without her.  Jen’s Review

 

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right kind of wrong chelsea fineRight Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine – Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets . . . or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to keep her safe-but what’s not safe for her is prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.  Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him-and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in . . . and how much she already has.  Jen’s Review

 

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isn't she lovely lauren layneIsn’t She Lovely (Redemption #0.5) by Lauren Layne – Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she’s pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn’t exactly Ethan Price’s type, either. He’s probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund . . . or does he?  As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie’s a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan’s brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.  But when Stephanie steps into Ethan’s privileged world, the “acting” begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating them. And Stephanie faces a question she’s too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?  Jen’s Review

 

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after the kiss lauren layneAfter the Kiss (Sex Love & Stiletto #1) by Lauren Layne – Julie Greene loves flings. Loves steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and every now and then, that first sexy romp between the sheets. Comfy pants, sleepy Sundays, movie nights on the couch? Shudder. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career—a first-person account of that magical shift between dating and “I do”—she’ll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more.  Normally, Mitchell Forbes would be exactly that man. A devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, he should be the perfect subject for Julie’s “research.” But what Julie doesn’t know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose for once in his life. And the leggy journalist notorious for avoiding love is exactly the type of no-strings fling he’s looking for. In other words, Mitchell is the polar opposite of what Julie needs right now. And, at the same time, he’s exactly what she wants.  Jen’s Review

 

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just one night lauren layneJust One Night (Sex Love & Stiletto #3) by Lauren Layne – Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But when Stiletto’s fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: Her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favor of a lifetime from the one man who’s always held her heart.  Sam Compton knows two things about Riley McKenna: She’s the only woman for him. But as his best friend’s little sister, she’s also completely off-limits. Sam shouldn’t even consider her proposition: to have a one-night stand in the name of research. But the thought of another man putting his hands on Riley is more than Sam can handle, and soon he’s agreeing to one night with New York’s resident sexpot. But Riley’s full of surprises, and what starts as “one time only” soon becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn firsthand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.  Jen’s Review

 

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puddle jumping amber l. johnsonPuddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson – When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.  Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.  Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.  Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.  When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.  Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart. Jen’s Review

 

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Since You've Been Gone morganSince You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – Emily is about to take some risks and have the most unexpected summer ever. Hellogiggles.com says, “Basically I couldn’t be more in love with this book,” from the bestselling author of Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.  Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone who yanks you out of your shell.  But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. There’s just a random to-do list with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane?  Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.  Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?  Kiss a stranger? Wait…what?  Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find.  Go Skinny Dipping? Um…  

 

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Jellicoe Road melina marchettaJellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.  In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.  Laura’s Review

 

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the sky is everywhere jandy nelsonThe Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson – Adrift after her sister Bailey’s sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet, seductive Toby—Bailey’s boyfriend who shares her grief—and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs… though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.  Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes colossal mistakes and colossal discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.  As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.  

 

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breathe annie breathe miranda kenneallyBreathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5) by Miranda Kenneally – Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.  But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind-and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.  Laura’s Review

 

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every last word tamara ireland stoneEvery Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone – If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling. Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off. Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist. Caroline introduces Sam to the Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

 

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all the rage courtney summersAll the Rage by Courtney Summers – The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won’t now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.  With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, Courtney Summers’ new novel All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

 

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A Midsummer's Nightmare kady keplingerA Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger – Whitley Johnson’s dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She’s just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée’s son? Whitley’s one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin’ great.  Worse, she totally doesn’t fit in with her dad’s perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn’t even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she’s ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn’t “do” friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn’t her stepbrother…at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together. 

 

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the martian andy weirThe Martian by Andy Weir – Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.  Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.  After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.  Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.  But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

 

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firsts laurie elizabeth flynnFirsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time-the kind Mercedes never had herself.  Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy – so far. Her mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn – or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.  When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn‘s Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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practice makes perfect julie jamesPractice Makes Perfect by Julie James – WHEN IT COMES TO THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION…  Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson are lawyers who know the meaning of objection. A feminist to the bone, Payton has fought hard to succeed in a profession dominated by men. Born wealthy, privileged, and cocky, J.D. has fought hard to ignore her. Face to face, they’re perfectly civil. They have to be. For eight years they’ve kept a safe distance and tolerated each other as co-workers for one reason only: to make partner at the firm.  THERE ARE NO RULES.  But all bets are off when they’re asked to join forces on a major case. At first apprehensive, they begin to appreciate each other’s dedication to the law—and the sparks between them quickly turn into attraction. But the increasingly hot connection doesn’t last long when they discover that only one of them will be named partner. Now it’s an all out war. And the battle between the sexes is bound to make these lawyers hot under the collar…  Chelsea’s Review

 

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price of a kiss linda kagePrice of a Kiss (Forbidden Men #1) by Linda Kage – I don’t care what my cousin says; I am not the queen of impossible relationships. I mean, just because my last boyfriend tried to kill me and left a bit of a scar on my neck, then forced me to move across the country and legally change my name to Reese Randall to escape him, does not mean- Oh, who am I kidding? For a freshman in college, I have to have the worst dating track record ever.  It’s no wonder love is the last thing on my mind when Mason Lowe enters my life. But the chemistry between us is like bam! Our connection defies logic. And he’s just so freaking hot. Being around him makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt before. I even like bickering with him. He could be my soul mate…except for one teeny tiny glitch.  He’s a gigolo.   Boy, do I know how to pick them.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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to professor, with love linda kageTo Professor, with Love (Forbidden Men #2) by Linda Kage – Junior in college. Star athlete. Constant attention from the opposite sex.   On this campus, I’m worshiped. While seven hundred miles away, back in my hometown, I’m still trailer park trash, child of the town tramp, and older sibling to three kids who are counting on me to keep my shit together so I can take them away from the same crappy life I grew up in.  These two opposing sides of myself never mix until one person gets a glimpse of the true me. I never expected to connect with anyone like this or want more beyond one night. This may be the real deal.  Problem is Dr. Kavanagh’s my literature professor.  If I start anything with a teacher and we’re caught together, I might as well kiss my entire future goodbye, as well as my family’s and especially Dr. Kavanagh’s. Except sometimes love is worth risking everything. Or at least, it damn well better be, because I can only resist so much.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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a perfect ten linda kageA Perfect Ten (Forbidden Men #5) by Linda Kage – Let your hair down, Caroline, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.  I know I’ve closed myself off in a major way in the past year, ever since “the incident” where I messed up my life completely. It’s past time I try to live again or just give up completely. But this is quite possibly the craziest thing I’ve ever done. In a last ditch effort to invigorate myself, I’m standing outside Oren Tenning’s bedroom, I just peeled off the sexiest pair of underwear I own, and my hand is already raised to knock. My brother would disown me for doing anything with his best friend, and he’d probably kill Oren. But if I play my cards right, no one will ever know about this. Not even Ten.  Maybe after tonight, I’ll finally get over this stupid, irrational crush I hate having on the biggest jerk I’ve ever met. Or maybe I’ll just end up falling for him even harder. Maybe I’ll discover there’s so much more to my crude, carefree hunk than meets the eye.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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the summer of chasing mermaids sarah ocklerThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler – The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.  Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.  Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.  When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them…  Chelsea’s Review

 

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faking normal courtney stevensFaking Normal (Faking Normal #1) by Courtney C. Stevens – Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does—and deal with the trauma.  When Bodee Lennox—“the Kool-Aid Kid”—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up about the rape that has changed the course of her life.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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my heart and other black holesMy Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga – Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.  There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner.  Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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the distance between us kasie westThe Distance Between Us by Kasie West – Money can’t buy a good first impression.  Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers learned early that the rich are not to be trusted. And after years of studying them from behind the cash register of her mom’s porcelain-doll shop, she has seen nothing to prove otherwise. Enter Xander Spence—he’s tall, handsome, and oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and the fact that he seems to be one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But just when Xander’s loyalty and attentiveness are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. With so many obstacles standing in their way, can she close the distance between them?  Chelsea’s Reviewa

 

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duff kody keplingerDuff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger – Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush, who calls Bianca the Duff–the designated ugly fat friend–of her crew.  But things aren’t so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.  Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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fall for anything courtney summersFall for Anything by Courtney Summers – When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why?Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on…but are some questions better left unanswered?  Chelsea’s Review

 

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courtney summers some girls areSome Girls Are by Courtney Summers – Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around. Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from theFearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.  Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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irresistibly yours lauren layneIrresistibly Yours (Oxford #1) by Lauren Layne – Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.  Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.  Chelsea’s Review

 

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what we saw aaron hartzlerWhat We Saw by Aaron Hartzler – The party at John Doone’s last Saturday night is a bit of a blur. Kate Weston can piece together most of the details: Stacey Stallard handing her shots, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early. . . . But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same questions: Who witnessed what happened to Stacey? And what responsibility do they have to speak up about what they saw?  Anna’s Review

 

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more happy than not adam silveraMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera – In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.  When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.  Why does happiness have to be so hard?  Anna’s Review

 

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made you up francesca zappiaMade You Up by Francesca Zappia – Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. For fans of Silver Linings Playbook and Liar, this thought-provoking debut tells the story of Alex, a high school senior—and the ultimate unreliable narrator—unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. Alex fights a daily battle to figure out what is real and what is not. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8 Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. Can she trust herself? Can we trust her?  Anna’s Review

 

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teeth hannah moskowitzTeeth by Hannah Moskowitz – Be careful what you believe in.  Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.  Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.  Anna’s Review

 

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brom the child thiefThe Child Thief by Brom – The acclaimed artist Brom brilliantly displays his multiple extraordinary talents in The Child Thief—a spellbinding re-imagining of the beloved Peter Pan story that carries readers through the perilous mist separating our world from the realm of Faerie. As Gregory Maguire did with his New York Times bestselling Wicked novels, Brom takes a classic children’s tale and turns it inside-out, painting a Neverland that, like Maguire’s Oz, is darker, richer, more complex than innocent world J.M. Barrie originally conceived. An ingeniously executed literary feat, illustrated with Brom’s sumptuous artwork, The Child Thief is contemporary fantasy at its finest—casting Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, even Captain Hook and his crew in a breathtaking new light.  Anna’s Review

 

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rachel caine prince of shadowsPrince of Shadows by Rachel Caine – In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and—if they survive—marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.  Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona—and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona…  …And will rewrite all their fates, forever.  Anna’s Review

 

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the song of achillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – The legend begins…  Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.  hen word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.  Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.  Anna’s Review

 

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the shadows of blackbirds cat wintersIn the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her? Anna’s Review

 

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okay for now by gary d. schmidtOkay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt – As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.” In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon’s birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

 

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dangerous boys abigail haasDangerous Boys by Abigail Haas – Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense?  Or murder?  Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together – a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces.  Anna’s Review

 

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charm & strange stephanie kuehnCharm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn – He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.  He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.  Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.  Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths-that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.  Anna’s Review

 

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bounce xo noelle augustBounce (Boomerang #3) by Noelle August – Playing the occasional club gig just isn’t cutting it for twenty-two-year-old cellist Skyler Canby, who’s trying to support herself and her mother back home in Kentucky. Persuaded by her best friend Beth to accompany her on an audition for the first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment, she figures why not? Beth’s a shoe-in for the lead, but maybe Skyler’s newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out enough to score a small speaking part.  Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she’ll land the lead role or that she’ll have her shoes knocked off her feet by the kiss her audition partner, Grey Blackwood, plants on her—a kiss that feels very real and not at all “acted. ”  After throwing a party that causes thousands of dollars of damage to his older brother’s home, reckless musician Grey Blackwood gets roped into working off his debt on the set of his CEO brother’s newest project. Grey spends his days fetching coffee and doing odd jobs around the studio, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. He knows if he can stay focused, success as a singer is just around the corner. But that’s tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought.  Skyler and Grey have every reason to resist each other. But, like a song neither of them can get out of their minds, they have no choice but to go where the music takes them.   Anna’s Review

 

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magonia maria dahvana headleyMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley – Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.  Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.  Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?  Anna’s Review

 

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cracked up to be courtney summersCracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers – Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody–be totally alone–then everything will be okay…The problem is, nobody will let her.  Anna’s Review

 

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gone hanna moskowitzGone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz – It’s a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.  Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him…and if he’ll do it again…and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.  Lio feels most alive when he’s with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable…and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.  This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.  Anna’s Review

 

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everyday sexism by laura batesEveryday Sexism by Laura Bates – ‘If Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Womanis the fun-filled manual for female survival in the 21st century, everyday sexism is its more politicised sister’ (Independent on Sunday). After experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates started theeveryday sexism projectand has gone on to write ‘a pioneering analysis of modern day misogyny’ (Telegraph). After an astounding response from the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, the project quickly became one of the biggest social media success stories of the internet. From being harassed and wolf-whistled at on the street, to discrimination in the workplace and serious sexual assault, it is clear that sexism had become normalised. But Bates inspires women to lead a real change and writes this ‘extremely powerful book that could, and should, win hearts and minds right across the spectrum’ (Financial Times). Often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant, everyday sexism is a protest against inequality and a manifesto for change. It’s ‘a game-changing book, a must-read for every woman’ (Cosmopolitan). ‘Admirable and culturally transferable. “A storm is coming,” writes Bates. After reading this book you’ll hope so’ (Independent).Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.

 

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through the woods by emily carrollThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll – Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page.

 

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fuel the fire ritchieFuel the Fire (Calloway Sisters #3) by Becca Ritchie, Krista Ritchie Protect your family. At all costs.  It’d take the impossible to hurt Connor Cobalt, even for a moment.   Protect your family. At all costs.  At twenty-six, his narcissistic tendencies have made room for the people he loves.  Protect your family. At all costs.  And he loves Rose. But when his love is threatened, when his greatest dreams with her are compromised — what is the cost then?  Protect your family. At all costs.  Love will guide his choices.  For the first time in his life.  Anna’s Review

 

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We hope you enjoyed our favorite books that are stand alone and that you found some fabulous new books to read!
If you want to check out more of our favorite books click to find out about our:
2015 Favorites from a Series ✩✮✩ 2014 Favorites from a Series ✩✮✩ 2014 Favorite Singles

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