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BOOK REVIEW – Isn’t She Lovely (Redemption #0.5) by Lauren Layne

BOOK REVIEW – Isn’t She Lovely (Redemption #0.5) by Lauren LayneIsn't She Lovely (Redemption #0.5)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

“Think of it as screenplay fodder,” I say, putting a hand on her back and leading her towards the escalators. “Angry Gothic Girl discovers Fifth Avenue.”

“I’ve been on Fifth Avenue before, fool,” she snaps.
She’s so lovely.

Well….wasn’t that lovely? I quite enjoyed that. I’m as surprised by my five star rating as anyone else, but what can I say? When the book suits you, it suits you. I couldn’t have chosen a better time to delve into this story.

It had the perfect amount of wit, banter, romance, angst, and laugh out loud moments. Sometimes when I used to pick up a NA book, I would regret doing so-but not once in this hilarious novel did I want to put it down. That in itself is refreshing. It’s been a while since I’ve been positive towards a NA rather than indifferent….and I am so so glad that spell was broken with these two hilariously clueless students from different sides of the tracks.

Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?

I’m not going to lie-I’m feeling a little fangirlish about this one-so beware-I’m not normally so mushy but I think there is going to be a TON of gushing and proclamations of love for this book ahead. You’ve been warned.

Ethan Price chose better than he knew when he picked Stephanie Kendrick to play Barbie to his Ken. 
Because Stephanie Kendrick was once Steffie Wright.
Cheerleader, student council president and prom queen.
Impressing parents? Please.
I used to do that shit in my sleep.

I’m utterly and completely sad this book is over. Normally I put a book down and I’m like, ‘okay, what’s next?!’ but the moment I put Isn’t She Lovely down, I felt an immediate ache in my heart and I silently wished there was more that could happen without the story turning round and round in a slow, monotonous repeat, but sadly books don’t work that way and this is a perfect example of a book ending just as it-and where it-should. THIS is the reaction I want when I switch genres. THIS is how I want to feel when I read something I don’t normally read. THIS…was great.

I turn my head to watch him as he launches into some ridiculous story, and I’m not thinking about whether this is one of the truths or the lie.
I’m thinking that Ethan Price is putting on a damned good show in an effort to cheer me up. In an effort to make me forget.
But mostly, I try not to think about what I’m feeling.
Because what I’m feeling has nothing to do with our charade.
What I’m feeling seems real.

I, admittedly, was going to lower my rating-I was. There were SO many mentions of her boobs (yes, her massive boobs) in the first 30% of the book that I would have been drunk had I made a bet with myself to take a shot every time her lady lumps were mentioned. As the story progressed, though, it became a little inside joke that she would play up and it was scarcely mentioned except for when it would be expected that the anatomy in question should be mentioned…so that really helped. But in the end?? It didn’t matter. They could have mentioned her pelvic region fifty times and I wouldn’t have batted an eye-I ADORED this story and literally nothing could lower this rating. Okay, if they had all miraculously died in a plane crash I’d have been livid, exceedingly so, but that’s besides the point-Spoiler alert-they didn’t. ISL made me happy and gave my life vivid color in the sunniest shades possible as my world in real life has turned a nasty shade of gray…and, ultimately, I couldn’t ask for more in a book.

Knock it off, Price. She probably has Kill Them All tattooed on her ass or something.

The thing about this story is, they both have a problem that neither one of them has told anyone about or talked to anyone about it. They don’t realize how it has truly effected their attitudes or how it has broken them on the inside. That is one of the main points that fueled the story and I found myself continually hoping to find out what had happened with them to make them so defensive, but maybe it takes meeting a kindred spirit to truly help heal when no one else seems to get what’s truly going on, on the inside-what’s really hurting them. Ethan may have been overly into his image and might have made mistake after vapid mistake, but in the end, he had a heart of gold and just didn’t realize he didn’t know any better. He’d never been asked to be any other way and until that crazy, dark haired girl with black clothes from head to toe waltzed in and he didn’t know how to handle it. I loved seeing his transformation and how it all worked out in the end…I can’t say how, but sometimes the sweetest gesture in the world can end up with you busting out laughing at how ludicrous and (I guess) adorable it is. Then Stepahnie-She was the same with not wanting to change her ways, but they were both stubborn and needed to realize that there’s more to life than trying to make a shocking statement or trying to fade into the background. We don’t know why, but when we do find out why she’s become this way, our hearts break for this girl that has essentially shut everyone out and we root for nothing but the best for her…and then we cringe as she and Ethan duke it out when they both try to make the ultimate statements time after time.

I roll my eyes as I start tossing socks into the bag. “Let me guess. You want to know if I still have my old uniform.”
He sets the picture back on the nightstand and moves towards the door. “Nah. Not my thing. But I think I could develop a thing for girls in combat boots.”
I spin around in surprise, wanting to see his face, wanting to know if he means what I think he means.
But he’s already gone.

This is so different from what I always read. Like SO out there compared to normal. This is just a standard, everyday normal NA book for most people, but to me this isn’t normal. Everyone has their own ‘normals’-mine just tends to be paranormal and dystopian. But maybe that peril I so desperately seek isn’t only in dystopians. Aren’t angst and peril sometimes one in the same? I don’t mean literally, but figuratively speaking-there are different types of angst and different kinds of peril-and maybe I’ve noticed this before in my dystopians and paranormals, but never thought to apply it to YA/NA. Angst sometimes gives you that desired effect that makes you feel as though the world is dropping out from beneath your feet…as if the characters will be lucky to survive another day-Because their hearts are so broken and because they are going through such emotional turmoil. My favorite scenes in those crazy para/dystopians are those at the end when the hero or heroine is desperate to save the other-when they are willing to do anything, even die at the hands of the enemy, to save the other-That moment when they have nothing else they want to live for but that one person in the most dangerous of positions…all at the hands of the bad guy. I love the characters being stripped bare and that we get to see who they truly are and what they are really made of. I might have hit the nail on the head before about angst and peril being one and the same at times, but I’ve missed this detail slightly in my NA/YA novels before, and I fell in love with this relatively uneventful and mild version of the emotional peril I do so crave in my cut throat books. I just needed a reminder of why I used to love this stuff before it got all cliched and boring. Or maybe Lauren Layne just knows how to write a perfectly balanced story. That might be it, too.

“Are you sure it’s okay? I feel a little…”
She doesn’t finish the sentence, so I turn to glance at her, and ah, hell, she looks vulnerable. Those wide blue eyes are silently begging me to reassure her that yes, she can pull this off, and yes, she’ll be okay without her black-eyeliner defense against the world.
“You look beautiful,” I say softly.

See how I went all dramatic there?? I don’t do that for just any book. I don’t just fangirl for no reason-a story has to touch me in a different way and this book did, for whatever superficial reason.

So fun and just the right amount of snark and angst. Cute, lovable, and the most fun I’ve had reading a book in what feels like forever. I. Do. Not. Laugh. Out. Loud. At. Books. End of story. But this story had me laughing out loud and giggling like a little girl, then covering my mouth to stifle the insane urges to cackle like a madwoman.

I’m just more of the beer and football type while I’m at school. At home, it’s more chess and Scotch, but whatever. The point is, I saw at least five dudes in that classroom wearing nail polish. Nail polish.
I wouldn’t be caught dead.

I am SO happy I decided to read this after putting it off for so long- the only mistake I made? Waiting this long to read it. Or maybe I picked it up at the perfect time. Because as I finished last night, I was sitting there with a giddy, goofy smile on my face and I couldn’t have been happier. Preppy Price and Goth Girl for the win. Over and out.

ARC kindly provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers) & iBooks (click on titles)
***Each book can be read as a standalone, but best enjoyed in order.***
isn't she lovely lauren layne
Isn't She Lovely
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea
broken lauren layne
Broken
Reviews:
Chelsea
crushed lauren layne
Crushed
Reviews:
Jen
Chelsea
Anna

BOOK REVIEW – Broken (Redemption #1) by Lauren Layne

BOOK REVIEW – Broken (Redemption #1) by Lauren LayneBroken (Redemption #1)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


See, not so long ago, I was a bona fide romantic. I believed in true love and happy endings.
And then I grew up.

Ya know….I wasn’t going to give this five stars. It made me happy, it was clearly going in a totally different direction than book one with Ethan and Stephanie, but it was clearly only a solid four star from page one. I loved it, but I didn’t LOVE it. Then, at about 50-60%, I realized that I could. Not. Put. This. Book. Down.

It started to consume my thoughts and take away any coherent function I attempted throughout the entirety of my day…and that’s when I became obsessed. In Isn’t She Lovely, I was hooked at the very beginning…it was light, provocative, and all around just funny. With Broken it was a different kind of build, a different story altogether. From page one it was darker and perhaps a little melancholy. It was no longer a story about the cheated-it was about the cheater. It was about a young war veteran who is scarred not only on his body, but in his mind. This story, my friends, was about not only the physical kind of scars, it was about emotional scars. The scars no one sees as they fester away at your soul and eat at your heart.

I force myself to walk out the door. For one heart-stopping moment, I don’t know how to live with myself.
But then I remember: I’m half dead anyway.
-Paul

Olivia wanted redemption from her past misdoings. And Paul…well Paul just wanted to remain a recluse. Now, here’s the kicker. Olivia is Ethan’s (from book one) ex. How could I possibly like this chick? For one, she cheated on Ethan. Secondly, I hate series where the main characters from book one are no longer the main characters as the stories continue. If anyone wondered what (another, yes another) one of my pet peeves was, this is one of them. Countless times BG (Before Goodreads)I would read these series and literally just get so bored. Each story was as monotonous as the last, continually recounting the same problems over and over for different couples in different areas. But not with Lauren Layne. If anyone could convince me to read a series with different characters in each book, it’s her. See, I broke my own cardinal rule about not reading continuations because I hate rating books low when I know going in I will get annoyed or bored….but this is turning out to be one of the series that puts me in the best of moods ever-I just can’t believe it.

“Come on,” she says, scooting around to get in front of me. “Don’t you want to know why a hot twenty-two-year-old with everything going for her is hiding out here in Maine?”
I give her a glance over my shoulder. “Did you just call yourself hot?”
Olivia smiles a gotcha smile. “Aren’t I?”
I flick my eyes over her. Yes. “Maybe.”

I think what I loved most about this book was its ability to be as harsh as it was sweet. No, it’s NOT okay to down someone to make yourself feel better, but after the initial shock of seeing how Paul reacted to anyone within a 10 foot radius at first, it became natural. Like…I was always waiting for the next mean thing he’d say. It was beyond harsh and absolutely appalling…but it broke my heart. He was just so….wounded. I fell for him the minute it switched to his POV and we got to see this tortured soul. He wants to be mean, he wants to chase people off-but only because he is so broken (see what I did there? *wink wink*) on the inside. He doesn’t believe he’s fit to be a part of society, not anymore, not with his jagged scars, limp, and overall hideousness. Except he’s still gorgeous-it’s his attitude that makes him ugly, and that’s the biggest obstacle. So he does the only thing he knows how-he pushes person after person away with his brutal words…until he’s finally all alone.

She’s tempting. Not just in the sexual way, although yeah, there’s that. But with that briefest of glimpses, she tempts me with something worse: she makes me long for normal.
She has to go. Now.

Until Olivia. Olivia has dropped out of school and wants to atone for hurting the person she’s loved since they were children. She wants to volunteer to help another to cleanse herself of the guilt she feels and the things she did wrong. Her vapid lifestyle doesn’t escape her-she realizes she hangs with snobs, and she wants nothing more than to reach out and make a difference, far from New York right into the heart of Maine. But what she finds isn’t an old war vet. No, she’s found an all new kind of monster, a monster named Paul Langdon.

She makes me forget to breathe. She makes me forget everything.

It’s obvious from the start they are both using each other. But what I loved most about this story is that they both knew they were in it for very different reasons-it’s refreshing that that wasn’t the climax where they both run away crying because they realize their new feelings are only a way to get to their ultimate goal-no, from the very beginning they go blow for blow with one another with only a cringe and a nod, and I loved it. It is SO hard to make a mean guy likable. Maybe that’s a fad for some girls, but for me, if the guy is an ass, he better have some damn good redeemable qualities, and somehow Layne made me fall for Paul within moments-no matter how nasty he got. He had a heart of gold and it shone through with each nasty comment he spat as he attempted to keep his heart from inevitably breaking-it was all just a farce and it was so sweet to see that crusty exterior crack and eventually break.

I love Paul, the person. I love his darkness and his shadows. I love his smile and the kindness he tries so hard to hide. I love the boyish quarterback beneath the war veteran, and I love the scarred right side of his face even more that the perfection of his left. 
I love him.

So, if you didn’t catch it before, I’ll tell you now: I loved this story. I have fallen for this series. It is amazing. It is crazy. It is addictive. Even with all the heartbreak and angst and turmoil in this story, I was obsessed with seeing how it all ended. Even through the tears they shed, Layne managed to lift my mood and make me laugh despite the harshness and tone of the story. I still giggled, I still laughed and I was still fanning myself because of how hot the sexy scenes were. I think I’ve found one of my favorite authors for both sweetness in the male leads and hilarious banter. The banter in these stories is so over-the-top funny but yet so believable-I feel like they are conversations I have every day with my friends and boyfriend (yes, I have the weirdest, most hyper conversations) and it’s so hard to portray real life banter. So I guess now I will finish this review and wait for the next amazing installment…and wait….and wait…and wait. Damn, I don’t want to wait.

**ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Some of the quotes above are subject to change upon the books impending release.**

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers) & iBooks (click on titles)
***Each book can be read as a standalone, but best enjoyed in order.***
isn't she lovely lauren layne
Isn't She Lovely
Reviews:

Jen

Chelsea
broken lauren layne
Broken
Reviews:
Chelsea
crushed lauren layne
Crushed
Reviews:
Jen
Chelsea
Anna

****************************************

Can I just say HOW EXCITED I AM to have this ARC in my grubby little fingers?!?!?!?!?! SO. ECSTATIC.

Can’t. Wait. To. Read.

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Just Sayin’

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