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BOOK REVIEW – Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

BOOK REVIEW – Just Visiting by Dahlia AdlerJust Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.

“Duh.” He reaches out and flips up the one white curl that hangs in my face.
“Rogue, obviously.”
“Oh, yes. Her. Obviously.”
He gives me a you must be kidding look. “Please tell me you know who Rogue is.”
“Hey, I knew ‘Frak.'” That has to count for something.”

I’m not gonna lie : I spent the first percents bitching about the clichés in Reagan’s life. Let’s see…
✔ She’s a straight-As student (of course she is)
✔ Her parents don’t give a damn about her (of course they don’t) and she’s the one acting like a reasonable adult when it comes to bills, food, well, everything.
✔ She lives in the trailer park of a nowhere town that she can’t wait to leave (with reasons)
✔ She works her ass off at a dinner (I’m beginning to think that every teenager works in a dinner)

Perhaps all these facts don’t scream clichés for you, but after having read many coming of age stories these past months I can’t say that I got an original vibe at first.

But then enters Victoria, the second MC. Victoria, whose parents … Are you ready? Really? Sure? Okay. You’ve been warned. They care about her education and about her in general *GASP* I knoooow. Crazy stuff right? I absolutely loved witnessing Vic’s close relationship with her mum and the way they communicated every day (using ASL, by the way, because her mum is deaf).

Not to mention the original use of alternative POV between the 2 friends, Reagan and Victoria. It’s a nice change from the boy/girl POV we get 99,99% of the time. I say yes to that.

This is probably where Just Visiting stands out from many other young adult novels : indeed Dahlia Adler offers us girl friendship done well : look, Vic and Rae are different in a lot of ways (family, hobbies, boys) but they don’t judge each other and the rare times they do, it feels realistic and natural. They don’t NEED boys to enjoy their time together and they SUPPORT each other whatever happens. Thank you so much for that, Dahlia.

It’s no surprise to me that when Dahlia Adler creates cute boys, they’re really adorable, not the “I’m supposed to be cute but in fact I am a stalker/controlling asshole/prick” we often find.

I mean, Dave Dev : How in the world am I supposed to resist that guy, huh?
✔ He’s a (cute) dork and attends parties with a Battlestar Galactica T-shirt.
✔ His dialogues with Reagan often show a oh-my-god-this-is-awkward-but-funny quality I can’t help but find incredibly appealing.
✔ He doesn’t sugar-coat Reagan’s problems and despite being smitten, he’s still able to call her on her shit when needed.
✔ His shyness doesn’t prevent him for being… driven, let’s say. God. He made me smile so much.

He’s just so freaking cute, I swear! As for the other one…. I won’t say who he is, but awww good guys definitely make for a good change 😀

In my opinion Just Visiting handles several issues in a positive way :
✔ First of all, yay to diversity! I really appreciated how Dahlia Adler dealt with Victoria’s Mexican origins and what it means to be a minority when living in nowhere town, without never belittling her roots but showing pride over them. Plus, Dev is Indian, what I found really refreshing in all this ocean of golden boys we call YA fiction.
Poverty isn’t sugar-coated and all the details in Reagan’s life felt realistic to me.
✔ The sex issues brought real and positive vibes to me : there are talks about protection, consent, and not a once of slut-shaming.

Okay, so at this point you’re probably wondering why my rating isn’t higher. WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED, ANNA? The fact is, I rarely give 3s to books, because most of the time I end despising or loving a story. Truth being told, I kind of hate giving 3s. Is that a thing?

For me, what will draw the line between a book I liked and a book I loved is so personal and linked to my feelings that it’s really difficult to assess the exact reasons. What I can say is this : something was missing for me to be truly involved in the characters’ life.

It could be the characters’ voices that I found pretty juvenile, to be honest, but we’re dealing with teenagers, so perhaps I’m not being fair.

It could be the way the characters keep holding back events from their pasts INCLUDING TO THE READER which has a tendency to annoy me. We’re in their head, dammit! I always fail to understand how people actually manage to censure themselves. Do you ? Because I definitely don’t.

But… To be frank, if this story contains a lot of details that I genuinely liked, I never really cared about the characters, as if they lacked this extra layer to make me interested : in the end, I’m still not sure if I know them enough to understand them and it’s a deal breaker for me. This story, how good it is, won’t stand out in my mind, and in the end, that’s why I can’t rate it higher.

This being said, it could be different for you, so don’t hesitate to try it^^

*The book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review (thank you so much!). It did not, in any case, influence my opinion.*

BLOG TOUR + BOOK REVIEW + GIVE-AWAY – Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler

BLOG TOUR + BOOK REVIEW + GIVE-AWAY - Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler

BLOG TOUR + BOOK REVIEW + GIVE-AWAY – Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia AdlerUnder the Lights (Daylight Falls #2)
by Dahlia Adler
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.

“The thing is, K-drama, sometimes you just have to accept that no one else’s opinion means shit, you know? Sometimes you just have to do what makes you happy and say fuck to everyone else.”

► These characters sound so REAL to me, I can’t even express how much I find this fantastic. Yes, I have to admit that it took me ages to warm to them, but in the end? In the end I’m glad to have had the opportunity to follow them.

Josh is this guy we see in a Reality TV show and ask ourselves what the fuck he did to deserve (Haha, talk about a super prize) to show his life on TV. The fact is, I’m not objective because I hate that stuff. I have zero interest in anything celebrities related, especially when it comes to their love life/partying/children. I don’t fucking care about that. So, you know, I should hate him. I should despise him – I don’t. Truth be told, he annoyed and maddened me sometimes, but no, I don’t loathe him. Yet I did get pissed at his continual comments about girls doing blowjobs to him. I mean, was it really necessary to refer to them every time he was at a party? Every fucking time? I don’t think so. But move on.

So, yeah. Josh’s an asshole and a womanizer – sorry but there’s no other way to put it. Josh’s an asshole and yet, I doesn’t hate him, because first he’s unapologetic and doesn’t ask for people – including the readers – to love him and then he isn’t the love interest here. Don’t get fooled, I’m not saying that he’s that kind of super jerk but broken inside many authors LOVE throwing at us, because he’s not. He’s way more complex and interesting than that. According to me, although he doesn’t strike people as the unconfident type, he’s afraid and doesn’t trust himself for shit. In my opinion? He’s just feeling lonely but hey, I’m not a psy you know, only a teacher^^. Anyway – Josh struggles to become the person he wants to be, hell, he doesn’t even know who he wants to be, and to see him growing up was fantastic.

✘ I’m not gonna lie, Vanessa wasn’t my favorite person in Behind the Scenes. Not because of the scheme they had to play with Liam (in my opinion Allie should have said what she thought, but hey, who am I to judge?) but although she was an interesting character, I had a hard time relating to her and yes, I have to admit that to me she was quite a bore.

So, did she improve here? Well, I kind of hated her at first. She annoyed me so much. But in the end? Definitely. Even if she doesn’t become my favorite character, being in her head helped me to understand her better, and in the end, I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity to really know her, even if I wasn’t always feeling involved in her story unfortunately. I mean, I enjoyed her romance with Brin, but in my opinion we didn’t get enough time to really become involved in their relationship. I definitely wanted more of them together, let’s say.

✘ I know they aren’t under the lights here (Haha) but can I say that I was ecstatic to see Liam and Allie again? Well, let’s be frank, mostly Liam. Really, I don’t know under what spell I fell, but every time he appears I can’t help but smile like a complete moron. However, I have to say that to see their relationship’s evolution through Vanessa and Josh’s eyes worried me something fierce. Of course I understand that life goes in the way and that people, even in love, don’t always act perfectly but damn, that was painful for me, and sometimes I felt like Liam acted out of character. And… Oh, fuck that. I’m just gonna say it : I cared more about Liam than I did about Josh or Vanessa, and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. Is it because I love his character too much that I wasn’t able to completely invest myself in their story? I don’t know. Maybe. It’s just how it was.

✘ Finally, the other girls – namely Shannah and all – were portrayed as such stereotypical bitches, for real, and as in Behind the Scenes, it did bother me. Really, it made me wonder if I was just too naive about the girls living in that world – anyway, I can’t believe that they’re all like that, I can’t, and if I’m wrong, well, it’s on me.

► When I reread what I wrote about the characters, it occurs to me that you may wonder why I liked this book if I wasn’t their biggest fan, but THAT’S THE THING!I’ll take flawed but realistic characters over perfectly boring ones any day, as long as the author doesn’t try to justify their actions. Dahlia Adler never does that. Josh is an asshole? Sure. Nobody is forcing me to love him – yet he is complex and multi-layered, he evolves, so YES, he IS interesting as a character (and he did make me laugh so much, but then, I may have an horrible sense of humor, because you know, I’m French and all)

Well, despite the fact that I didn’t quite like it as much as Behind the scenesbut let’s face it, I’m such a fangirI when it comes to Liam, I can’t even believe myself, I thought it was a pretty courageous book, for starters, because it comes as a surprise.

Indeed this is NOT our regular contemporary romance. And this is so much BETTER as it is.

✘ This is not about a guy who’s going to fix some girl – or some guy, for that matter.

▪” /> This is about finding your place in the world.
▪” /> This is about difference and how to live in a world that put people in little boxes.
▪” /> This is about emancipation and how to learn to be true to yourself.
▪” /> This is about friendship and family – and what we’re ready to do to protect it.

And yes, we get to see Liam again but I have to stop being obsessed now. I swear, I will!

Oh, and by the way, this writing? I’m in love with it, and I shall read anything Dahlia Adler writes.

 

“Anyone who doesn’t want you to be happy with who you are is an asshole. Fuck pleasing everyone else. You only live once. Who are you gonna do it for?”

► What are you waiting for? Go discover these awesome books!

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Follow the Under The Lights by Dahlia Adler Blog Tour and don’t miss anything! Click on the link to see the tour schedule.
I’m an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I blog at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and the Barnes & Noble book blog. I also write contemporary YA (The Daylight Falls duology) and NA (The Radleigh University series). Rec-ing books is approximately my favorite thing in the universe, with macarons being a close second. Come say hi on Twitter, where I’m @MissDahlELama!

BOOK REVIEW: Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1) by Dahlia Adler

BOOK REVIEW: Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1) by Dahlia AdlerBehind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1)
by Dahlia Adler
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

“Why the hell do you do all this stuff if you hate it? Is it, like, in The Rules of Being Attractive that you must become an actor-slash-model?”
He smiled slowly, my heart melting just a tiny bit with each new millimeter. “Does that mean you think I’m attractive?”

Ugh. I’m still not sure what to rate this. I can’t decide whether to give this 3 or 4 solid stars, but 3.5 seems right. This book wasn’t what I was expecting, but I also don’t know what I was expecting. Hm. I am so odd-I mean, seriously, the blurb says exactly what it is and I still was surprised by it. Meh.


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And more often than not, I can get past all the little idiosyncrasies and malfunctions of a story-really, I’m a pro. I look past the stupidest shit…but for some reason, these types of stories have the power to either make me hate them…or love them. But, it turns out that I hate them, more often than not.

I love you, but I have to date her for the media. I love you but I have to hug and kiss (pecks on the cheek or mouth, I guess) your best friend for the fans. I can’t wait to spend time with you, but I have to hang out with her in public. Never mind that they can’t even get some damn fro-yo without it blowing the whole media scandal right out the window.

He reached around and pulled me back, folding me into his arms. “Ally, listen to me.” He tipped my chin up until I was staring directly into his ocean-colored eyes. “You are beautiful. So beautiful it hurts.” He took my hand and placed it on the warm skin of his chest. “Tu as mon…How do you say ‘heart’ again?”
Coeur,” I answered, feeling my own squeeze.
Tu as mon coeur,” he repeated with a smile, stroking my cheek with his index finger.

But there were lots of things I liked about this, too. Namely Liam-


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He was literally the only thing/person/event that didn’t bother me. He was absolute perfection. Now, that doesn’t mean his little media scheme didn’t kill me-it did. But, for that, I blame Ally. Sorry, Ally, but you screwed up, bro-BIG TIME. I would NEVER have disillusioned myself to believe something could be so simple or easy. Never. From the very beginning, Liam tried to make the easy choice-the correct choice…but she quickly squelched that. And no, no one wants to play their jealous girlfriend card so early, but let’s be honest-when does a fake relationship deal EVER work out in the feelings arena? Mmhmm. That’s what I thought.

My point is, that while Ally wasn’t a horrible lead, she also wasn’t a bright lead, either-by any means. I mean…sigh. Come on. Just…really? I think that was my largest problem-you tell someone to do something, and then you get upset time and again over it. And I understand-fickle, right?! SO AM I! But agh I am such a hypocrite but….I just couldn’t handle it from her. AND I HAVE NO CLUE WHY.


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The writing was fresh and fun and easy to read. It flowed seamlessly from page to page with the ease of an exhaled breath. But, only sometimes, there was a liiiittle cheesiness in the dialogue between friends. Like, her and Liam? Perfect. The chemistry? So hot. Nail on the head. The dialogue wasn’t forced and it felt authentic and adorable. They really loved one another and it seeped off the pages. But then she’d have a convo with her family or her best friend or the girls and guys at school-or Nate-and I would find myself rolling my eyes. I was being judgmental, sure, but more than once I heard this incessant little chant in the back of my mind-Lara Jean, Lara Jean, Lara Jean…


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And oh GAHD, did I loathe Lara Jean. I’m being unfair, I know, because Ally is NOTHING like Lara Jean…but sometimes I’d see little glimpses of her naivety and it grated on me a bit-not a ton, just a teensy bit. I do believe this author deserves more recognition, and I am shocked to see this book hasn’t even reached 1,000 people having read it yet.

“This is ridiculous, you know. You could get any girl you want.”
“And so I did,” he pointed out firmly, kissing me hard on the lips in a “stop talking like that” gesture.

Yikes. This review turned out to be a big old wash. I liked it and I didn’t like it. Simple. I adored Liam. I adored how much he cared for her and did for her-even behind the scenes (har-har) when we couldn’t see it. Their relationship and chemistry were adorable. But then there were the negative things like Ally not saying what she meant and getting mad about preventable things and cheesy friendship stuff and ugh. So….I don’t know that this type of story is for me, but I also don’t know that I’ll ever stop trying. My mind is still trying to process what I think and feel so….hm.


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BOOK REVIEW – Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1) by Dahlia Adler

BOOK REVIEW – Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1) by Dahlia AdlerBehind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1)
by Dahlia Adler
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

EXT. COUNTRY HOUSE – 04/22
In some one-horse town of French country, far later than the dusk, a woman’s shrill cry split the dark silence.

INT. COUNTRY HOUSE – 04/22
Four pairs of eyes 3 of whom are pets, and yes, that’s unnerving just the same are staring at a strange creature who’s frantically clapping her hands.

ANNA, French Reviewer and Teacher, 30s and who isn’t a creature, thank you very much, stops squealing.

ANNA
(excited)
That was sooo good!

INDY, 6, cat, resumes toileting after throwing another WTF?! glance around him.

JOY, 7 months, boxer, ambles over to the couch and sits down in front of Anna.

ANNA
(louder)
I mean, this book was just so freaking cute! No, no, I’m not saying it was perfect but come on, look at me! LOOK AT ME!

(stands up and does an awkward little dance)
It made me so happy!

JOY
(staring)

The phone RINGS. Anna drops the e-reader she was still clutching to her heart no comment, I know how lame it sounds and searches under the blanket to answer the call —

*3259 rings later*

ANNA
Hey sorry I couldn’t find my fucking phone in time –

VOICE
(over phone)
Whatever but hey! What were you doing today? I tried to call you like, thousands times!

ANNA
Oh God you will not believe what I just read : a contemporary romance setting in (whisper) Hollywood.

VOICE
(incredulous)
You did not. I mean, you hate everything Hollywood related! You don’t even know most of the actors’ names in the movies you watch, and I don’t even talk about your stupid gossip magazines phobia!

ANNA
I know, and that’s exactly why I’m beyond enthusiastic right now. Hear me out : you know I crave for realistic and multi-layered characters and how much it’s difficult to find believable and adorable romances lately, yet how stunning as it is, this book offered me everything I was desperate to read. Don’t get fooled, I’m not saying that it’s perfect, it really isn’t, but even if the story isn’t free of cliché, I fucking adored it – (starts writing down). Look, let me tell you what I loved, okay?

VOICE
Okay, okay, it does seem amazing, but didn’t you just say that it wasn’t perfect?

ANNA
But that’s the beauty of it! Please don’t expect a perfect book, because you would be disappointed. Indeed there are cliché (for example : Ally doesn’t realize that she’s gorgeous, Liam is well, insanely hot, we come across a few overused sayings…). However, how could I complain when the writing was compelling, the dialogues funny and that I ended loving the characters as they’d be friends of mine? When it seems that I haven’t root for a couple that much for months? I couldn’t. I won’t.

THE END

PS : For once, after many books where French language was terrible, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of grammar errors (except bonne nuit) and I wanted to throw a little thank you here, because that’s amazing.

Oh, and before I forget, of course,

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