City of B

When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It’s Real by Erin WattWhen It's Real by Erin Watt
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 30, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 413
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley's team decides it's time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he's settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of "normal." Under ordinary circumstances she'd never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn't have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley's team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley's a shallow, self-centered jerk? It's not like they're going to fall for each other in real life…right?



I borrowed When It’s Real from Scribd, because I was already a fan of Erin Watt’s book Paper Princess, and I wanted to see what else she had to dish up. I’m so glad I did because it was fabulous! I couldn’t put it down! I had originally borrowed an audio-book of it, but I can be a fast reader when I’m really into a book, and the narrator was not going fast enough for me. I wanted more, more, more! Plus, it was clear early on that there was going to be some moderate swears, and sexual content, and I felt weird listening to that during my work commute.

Oakley has a huge ego, is possessive, occasionally rude, and very often makes impulsive decisions, but even with all that, I still hearted him. I’ve now read a couple books where there’s a male movie star/musician/famous person, who starts a “fake” relationship with a “wholesome” girl to clean up their image. In the other books that I’ve read, the guy appears to be rude, dismissive, cocky, etc., but then deep down it’s all an act. Nope. Not for Oakley. I mean, he’s not a total a-hole, he can be generous, sweet, thoughtful, and kind, but he’s also occasionally all those other things too. I liked that his character was truly flawed, and that at the end of the book, he wasn’t completely cured of his unappealing qualities. He was real and relatable.

Vaughn also had her faults. I loved how she was super sassy and didn’t put up with Oakley’s bullshit. But unfortunately when it came to her boyfriend W,  she was very gullible and unwilling to acknowledge how much of a jerk he was. She should have dumped his ass way before Oakley entered the picture. I was so happy when Vaughn started to drift away from W and towards Oakley, because she finally started to realize that she deserved so much better than W.

The pacing for When It’s Real was spot-on, and the constant sass and sexual tension between Vaughn and Oakley had me frantically flipping pages.

This was a borrowed book, and will soon be a purchase of mine. I could definitely see myself reading it again in a year or so.

four-half-stars
City of B

Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life and the List by Kasie WestLove, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on December 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Goodreads
four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.


*This review is for the audiobook version*

Love, Life and the List, like every other Kasie West book I’ve read, is filled with heart, smiles, tears, and a dash of laughter. These are all the things I’ve come to expect and look forward to in any book written by Kasie West, the queen of contemporary romances.

When I’m reading a book by Kasie West, I never feel like I’m meeting the same characters or seeing the same story being told again. Every character that this author has ever created, has had their own individual personality, with unique strengths, weaknesses, and an original voice.

The story in Love, Life and the List is told by Abby, a fun, smart, super-snarky girl, who has been head-over-heels in love with her best friend Cooper for a long time. I loved Abby and Cooper’s relationship, their hilarious banter, and the stories of the past mischief they’ve gotten into. They have such great chemistry, and I was rooting for them to take their relationship to the next level the entire time I read this book.

Abby is quite possibly my favorite Kasie West character to date, because she was deeply conceived, with a great character arc. When the director of the art museum Abby works at tells her that her paintings lack “heart”, Abby starts a heart-growing list as a way to expand her horizons, to gain a greater outlook on life, and to tap into the deeper emotions she’s being told she doesn’t express well enough.

I thought it was pretty shitty of the art director to say that Abby’s work wasn’t good enough, because “art is subjective”, but I also didn’t disagree that Abby would highly benefit from trying new experiences. She has a lot of insecurities, tends to avoid confrontation, and is afraid of change, and the list she created with the help of her mom, and grampa, helped her work through all of those things. The heart-growing list is full of things like face a fear, learn a stranger’s story, read a classic book, and other tasks designed to help push Abby outside of her comfort zone.

Luckily, besides Cooper, who works through the list with her, Abby has her hilarious and endearing grampa to encourage her every step of the way. Her grampa is incredibly smart, and snarky, and definitely gave Abby her snarky-ness. I really loved his character, because I rarely see books with grandparents who play vital roles. Abby’s dad is off in the armed forces during the whole book, so her grampa filled that absent fatherly role. He was Abby’s number one fan, and it was so heartwarming.

Audiobook narrator: She was perfect! Not only did she sound like an actual teenage girl (what a relief), she was able to put a lot of emotion into her voice during highly emotional scenes.

Love, Life and the List is a must read for lovers of contemporary romances!

four-stars
City of B

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch [Blog Tour] Review & Giveaway!

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch [Blog Tour] Review & Giveaway!Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 8, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.


 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg            

My thoughts

Love & Luck was a quick, cute, fun read that had me laughing out loud often, and at one point, tearing up.

Addie is having a rough summer. Something awful happened between her and a guy named Cubby, right before she left for Ireland with her family. Whatever the something is, has caused a major rift between Addie and Ian, the brother that has always been her partner in crime, and her best friend. We don’t find out what happened with Cubby until nearly the end of the book, and the wait was nail-biting.

I didn’t like Addie in the beginning, because she was aggressive, and had a super bad temper that led to acts of violence against Ian. She took sibling squabbles to a whole new level, and I felt bad for her brother. Addie eventually grew on me, when she started contemplating and working through her misplaced anger.

My favorite character in Love & Luck, was definitely Rowan, because he’s a super nice guy, with a sweet disposition, and made a great mediator between the two feuding siblings. However, one of the main reasons I only gave this book 4 stars, was because I was disappointed with how Rowan’s dialogue was written. He’s supposed to have an accent that’s ‘100 percent Irish’, but his dialogue didn’t read as having that accent. I actually kept forgetting he was supposed to be Irish, because reading his lines was like listening to a 100 percent accented American.

I’ve never been to Ireland, but it’s on my top 5 list of must-travel places. Reading Love & Luck, has made me want to go to Ireland even more. Addie, Ian, and Rowan, are traveling across Ireland, stopping at historical landmarks, and every time they mentioned one, I immediately put the book down, and googled pictures. The landmarks in Ireland are breathtaking, and I really hope one day I can see them in person.

Before I finish this review, I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Love & Luck, because it really moved me.

You don’t need anyone, unless you want them. You’re enough all on your own.


About the author

         

Jenna Evans Welch was the kind of insatiable child reader who had no choice but to grow up to become a writer. She is the New York Times Bestselling author of LOVE & GELATO and the upcoming LOVE & LUCK.

When she isn’t writing girl abroad stories, Jenna can be found chasing her children or making elaborate messes in the kitchen. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and two young children.


Click here to follow the tour!

 

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four-stars
City of B

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press on April 5, 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: Audiobook
Source: Scribd
Goodreads
three-stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

 


*This is a review for the audiobook version*

I had a hard time getting into Tell Me Three Things, because in the beginning I really didn’t like the main character Jessie. Her inner dialogue was incredibly boring, and because she avoided talking to her new family and new classmates, there was an overabundance of that inner dialogue. I kept finding myself zoning out while listening.

I finally started to get into the story when Jessie started talking with Somebody/Nobody, a mysterious, self-proclaimed Wood Valley High school student who offers to teach Jessie the ins and outs of her posh new high school. This mysterious emailer was witty, clever, and handy, and brought out a side of Jessie that wasn’t there in the beginning. I finally started to enjoy her character when they began their online friendship, because Jessie was surprisingly witty too. Like Jessie, I started falling for SN.

I finished this book a tad disappointed, because SN’s identity was too easy to guess, but I was also a little happy when my guess was correct, because SN’s identity was the one I was wishing for.

Overall, this book was a good read/listen. It didn’t hit me with any intense emotions, and Jessie was very yawn-y in the beginning, but towards the end of the book I was hooked. The mystery of SN’s identity was consuming, and I was anxious to know if my guess was right. I definitely recommend this book to other contemporary romance lovers, because I think my problem with Jessie might just have been personal preference.

As far as the narrator goes, I had no problem with her. She sounded like a teenager, and was able to tweak her voice well enough for me to keep straight who was speaking and when.

three-stars
City of B

A Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca

A Kiss in the Dark by Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 341
Source: Library
Goodreads
four-stars

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.

Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.

Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.

But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

 


This was a cute, surprisingly non-soap-opera-y contemporary romance. Usually when there’s multiple teenage suitors in contemporaries it can get corny and over-dramatic. Thankfully the characters in A Kiss in the Dark were reasonably and refreshingly mature.

I really liked Macy. She’s always the first to befriend new students and the first to stand-up to bullies. Even though she had a tendency to cower when it came to her heart, she was always fearless when it came to protecting others.

It’s senior year when this book starts out, and during a football game, the stadium lights go out and Macy shares a kiss with a mystery boy. Macy spends her time in A Kiss in the Dark trying to figure out who the mystery kisser is, while also trying to process what led up to a falling out she had with three classmates junior year, two whom were good friends, and one who was a sort-of-almost boyfriend. I loved how Macy wasn’t one of those “poor me poor me” characters. She generally cares about her ex-friends and acknowledges that she played a part in the fall out.

This book flashes between the now (senior year) and the then (junior year). The swap back-and-forth was smooth and each timeline held my interest.

I couldn’t pick a favorite suitor, because I liked all the guys / potential mystery kissers. They were all wrapped in mystery and had secrets I was dying to find out. There wasn’t a single boring character in this book!

I’m not a fan of football, but strangely enough I loved the TV show Friday Night Lights, which this book reminded me of. A Kiss in the Dark is set in a quaint Southern town where football is life and the entire town comes together for spirit week and homecoming. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wished I had grown up in a town like that. My high school didn’t even have school dances and this book made me so jealous.

This book was paced nicely in the beginning, and then halfway through it started feeling off. I think it could have done with 50 or so less pages. Towards the last quarter of the book I guessed where the ending was headed for the characters, and even though I was right, I was still pleased and impressed with the wrap-up

I’d definitely read another contemporary by this author.

four-stars