Review: Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler

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Book Title: Under the Lights
Author: Dahlia Adler
Published Date: June 30th, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: YA LGBT
Series: Book 2 in Daylight Falls series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Spencer Hill Contemporary via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review
I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. If someone wants to figure that out for me, that’d be awesome. This book was utter perfection. Not only was the romance swoon worthy and sexy, but the friendships in here were absolutely awesome as well. Not to mention the diversity.

Josh was a royal pain in the ass initially. He drove me batcrap insane, but at the same time, he’d have me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He had the combination of humor and douche-canoe down pat. At the same time, I loved the friendship that developed between him and Vanessa. We don’t see enough opposite sex friendships in books and that really bugs me. It is possible for a girl & a guy to be friends and I really hate the implication that men & women cannot be friends without there being a ulterior motive.

Vanessa is involved with a boy named Zander. This boy wants things that Vanessa doesn’t want. He wants her to focus on him, and the future with him. He wants that future to include a purity pledge. That’s not what Vanessa really wants and she struggles with that and what that means. He is also intimidated by Josh, yes crude, rude pain in the ass, Josh. He’s convinced that Vanessa is stepping out on him.

Well technically it’s not Josh, Zander should be worried about. It’s Brianna. Brianna who is initially Vanessa’s stand in for Ally, Vanessa’s best friend. Brianna who quickly becomes Vanessa’s confidant and good friend. Brianna talks to Vanessa about the whole purity pledge thing

“You really don’t want to have sex until you’re married?”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then I respect that. If it’s really what you want. Is it?”

First of all, I absolutely LOVE Brianna. Not only does she support a person’s right to wait until marriage to have sex, but she verbalizes that viewpoint. Not very many people would voice that. And that is sad & so depressing. If someone wants to wait to be married to have sex, that’s their choice. Even though Brianna didn’t believe Vanessa, she still respected Vanessa’s choices. That’s important in both a friendship & a relationship.

“I just kissed my first girl. And yeah, I think I might be…”
“Gay?”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’m bisexual. What if I am?”
“What if you are? Like boys all you want Park. It still won’t fix this. I’m bi and I promise you it’s not a fucking light switch. You can’t just set it on ‘boy’ because it’s inconvenient that you like a girl right now. Widening your options doesn’t change the feelings you have.”

This stuck with me for many different reasons, most of them being because it took me four years to admit to anyone that I was bisexual. I struggled with feeling like I had to flip a switch and make sure it stayed on “boy” because it was inconvenient for me to like a girl. I totally related to Vanessa because of this. I remember feeling the same things that she felt.

The sex scene was steamy and sexy and so perfect. I absolutely loved it. There are virtually no LGBT sex scenes in YA, so I was super excited to see Bri & Van get it on and for it not to fade to black like so many other YA’s do. I was so, SO thrilled. I am very pro-sex in my YA and in some ways, even more in the subgenre of YA LGBT because there is such a lack of full on sexy scenes that don’t fade to black.

Van then has to go through the tough process of coming out. Coming out to her friends, her fans & to her family. Josh and Ally handle it perfectly and Josh’s response made me cry.

“So you’re a lesbian K-drama, not an axe murderer. Why do you say that like it’s the most horrible confession on earth?”
“Because it may as well be, and you know it!”

Van handles this whole thing better than I ever could. Especially given the fact that she lives in the public eye. She tells her parents. Her super conservative, Korean parents, and thankfully, she had her friends & Bri to console her when things become rough. I couldn’t help but remember how rough it was for me when I came out. Especially how rough things were between my Catholic relatives and myself. Things are better now, but it took a really long time. So reading about Van’s struggles with her family, really hit home for me.

This book and the friendships and the romance was utter perfection and I cannot recommend this book enough. Adler is amazing, and she captured so many of my thoughts and made them come out of Van. If you need a diverse read with a couple you can root for, then you need to pick up this book.

Blog Tour: Diamonds are Forever (The Secret Diamond Sisters #3) by Michelle Madow

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Title: Diamonds are Forever
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Series: The Secret Diamond Sisters #3
Genre: Young Adult
Length: 368 Pages
ISBN: 9780373211524
Add to your TBR List:  Goodreads
Buy Links:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository  |  Books A Million  |  iBooks

Synopsis
It’s cold outside, but the drama is hot!

The Diamond sisters jet to the mountains for spring break, and Savannah’s flirt-mance with an international pop star heats up as her pursuit of stardom succeeds. But is this romance meant to be, or has the right guy been in front of her all along? Meanwhile, Courtney takes the next step with her secret boyfriend—and future stepbrother—and as their parents’ wedding approaches, the pressure’s on to reveal their relationship.

Peyton’s figuring out a plan for her future, but she still feels guilty about getting her former bodyguard fired and wonders if she can get over him in the arms of someone else. But the biggest bombshell will change everything once again, because Madison’s ready to tell the huge secret she’s uncovered. And with the boy who betrayed her but who could be the love of her life fighting for his own life, she might need the Diamond sisters more than ever.

Review
I’m just gonna come out and say it, this book was the best book of the trilogy. It was so, so good. To the point that I basically devoured it in less than 24 hours. It was light, fluffy and full of drama. I don’t usually go for light & fluffy, but I needed a light & fluffy read so I grabbed this one.  It had everything I wanted in the final book.

In book two, I was not sold on the romances, but this time around, I loved the romances. Wait, let me rephrase that, I loved the way certain romances ended up. There is one couple in particular that I was rooting hard for. I was worried they wouldn’t be end game, but they were, so YAY!

I really loved Madison in this one. She just kept getting more likable as the series continued. For that, I am grateful. I wanted her to develop a sisterly relationship with Courtney, Peyton & Savannah, but I was worried that the three Diamond girls wouldn’t really welcome her into their family. Given how Madison had treated them at the beginning of the series, I don’t think I would have blamed them.

Things come to a head when all four Diamond girls and some friends of theirs are in Aspen for spring break. Hearts break, loyalties are tested and relationships are put back on track. I would love to talk more about the trip to Aspen, but that contains a ton of spoilers, so I probably shouldn’t.

I still see myself as a mix of Courtney & Peyton, and certain things about Peyton are so similar to me that I still find it disconcerting. Savannah is still the absolute complete opposite of me. I’d say that Madison is most similar to Courtney, but she’s got dashes of Savannah & Peyton in her as well.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It was a perfect ending to the trilogy. I am sorry to see these characters go because I think they are interesting and they always leave me wanting to know more about them. I am giving this book 5 stars and I am so glad I kept reading the series because it got better and better as it continued.

About the Author

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Michelle Madow wrote her first novel, Remembrance, in her junior year of college. Remembrance is the first book in The Transcend Time Saga, a three part series about reincarnation and true love that Michelle successfully self-published. The series was inspired by Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” music video. Michelle’s latest YA series, The Secret Diamond Sisters, about three sisters who discover they are the secret heirs to a Las Vegas billionaire casino owner, was published in March 2014 by Harlequin Teen. The second book in the series, Diamonds in the Rough, released in November 2014, and the third book, Diamonds are Forever, will be coming out in November 2015. Michelle is active on social media networks and has toured across America to promote her books and encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing.

Michelle lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she is writing more novels for young adults. She loves reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling the world, shopping, Disney fairy tales, Broadway musicals, and loves talking with fans on Facebook (/MichelleMadow), Twitter (@MichelleMadow), and Instagram (@MichelleMadow).

To chat with Michelle and other fans about her books, join Michelle Madow’s Street Team on Facebook!

Connect with Michelle:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads

Rafflecopter for Release Week Blitz Giveaway:
Michelle is offering up a fabulous prize during her Diamonds are Forever Virtual Tour event. One (1) lucky winner will receive a signed paperback set of The Secret Diamond Sisters, along with a swag pack that includes lipgloss, bookmark, sister postcards, pin! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:
Giveaway Link

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Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

EMBook Title: Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Published Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads

From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review
I needed something amazing, something that would blow me away. Given how I felt about The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, I was worried that I wouldn’t love this book. Especially seeing as it looked like something I was going to love.

Thankfully, I did love it.

Sadie was very much like me. She was sarcastic, fearless and fascinating. I loved her as a character because she reminded me so much of myself. I live life fearlessly, and so often, the girls I read about don’t live life fearlessly so I don’t always connect to them the way I want to. Sadie knows she’s sick, but she’s bound and determined not to let her illness hold her back. That kind of fearlessness and willingness to fight the drug resistant strain of TB that the entirety of Latham House has.

Lane, on the other hand was very much like me in the overachiever department. He reminded me a lot of myself when I was in high school. He was so focused on his life plan that in some ways, he really didn’t start living life until he was at Latham House. He had been so focused on school, getting into Stanford, that he never really took time out for fun. He probably couldn’t even give an example of it if someone asked him to.

Lane and Sadie were adorable together. I loved them together, and my favorite moment between them is when they kiss for the first time. I adored that part and I found myself grinning like a crazy person.

Books that are very character centered are usually some of my favorite books. This book was very character centered, and the characters were all fleshed out well. Even the secondary characters like Charlie, Marina and Nick were well developed. I love when that happens.

This book destroyed my feels in the best possible way. I love books that make me feel, and boy this one did just that. It brought the feels in a big way. I absolutely loved this book and am giving it 5 stars.

Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Book Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review
It’s no secret that I haven’t really clicked with Sarah Dessen’s books. I’ve tried several of them and except for The Moon and More, none of them have been to my taste for various reasons. I had heard this one was different, darker, and that made me curious. Everyone who knows me, knows that I prefer my contemporaries to be dark as opposed to fluffy.

That’s why Saint Anything really worked for me.

Yes Sydney really drove me crazy, but it was not unexpected given Dessen’s usual plot point of having a quiet female character who never speaks up for herself. Sydney’s older brother, Peyton is in jail after being involved in a drunk driving accident in which he paralyzed the boy. Sydney has always felt like she’s invisible and it gets even worse as she watches her parents deal with this.

Especially her mom. Wow, her mom was a tough woman to like. I mean, I knew it was probably hard for her to know that her son had caused such a serious accident, But she becomes so focused on trying to “fix” this, when there really is no such thing as fixing it. Even her husband, Peyton (yes there are two Peyton’s in this story, father & son) isn’t as obsessive as she is. As much as Julie Stanford believes that getting the whole family involved will help her son, this is jail, not the PTA.

Let’s not forget the creepiest guy in the entire book. Ames. He was Peyton’s best friend in prison and now he’s constantly around the Stanfords, sucking up to Julie, and creeping Sydney out. Does she tell her parents how much he creeps her out? Nope, and that really bothered me.

“It wasn’t like he had ever done anything to me, so I felt like it had to be my problem.” 

I wanted to strangle Sydney so much when she said this, because it didn’t matter if he had ever done anything to her. She had a right to feel however she felt about him, even if he never touched her in any inappropriate ways. That is such a teachable moment for girls, especially young girls. They need to know that it doesn’t matter if a guy never did anything to them. What matters is that they feel uncomfortable around a certain guy.

Case closed.

Peyton doesn’t tell her mom or her dad about her misgivings about Peyton. She doesn’t want her mom to lose him. Ames had been her mom’s rock during the latest crisis with Peyton.

“He hadn’t done anything except creep me out. And that wasn’t a punishable offense.”

Just being creeped out by him is reason enough to not want him around.

“Especially since I had nothing specific to point to, just a feeling. Everybody has those.”

Um, no Sydney, they don’t, and if they did, most people would speak up about them.

The Chatham clan really reminded me a lot of the Garrett clan from My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I loved the Garretts, and I loved the Chathams just as much, maybe even more. Something about the chaotic family subplot really works for me. Maybe it’s because I have such a small family, and sometimes wish I had a bigger family.

Layla accepts Sydney even as she learns about Sydney’s family, and especially about Peyton’s troubles. Layla is no stranger to siblings who have troubles, as her sister Rosie has a drug past. There’s also Mac who has made eating healthier a priority, and their mom, who has MS and their dad who owns a pizza place.

I have never craved pizza as badly as I was craving it the entire time I was reading the book. Well pizza and fries.

I love stories about friendship, and Layla and Sydney’s friendship was golden. Layla is the one who Sydney confides in the most. About Ames, about Peyton, about her parents, about David Ibarra, but there’s one thing that Sydney can’t talk to Layla about.

Her growing feelings for Mac.

I loved the romance in this one. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of the romance Dessen writes, but Sydney and Mac were awesome. Mac was swoony and Sydney grew stronger with him, which I absolutely loved. She started to realize there are other people who want her in their life without expecting anything from her.

Mrs. Chatham was awesome. She provided Sydney with a mother figure when Sydney’s own mother was too busy with Peyton’s troubles to pay any real attention to her daughter.

“Why do you feel like you have to shoulder your brother’s responsibility?”

Totally valid point because Sydney felt a lot of guilt. Guilt over something that was never her responsibility to begin with. It was utterly maddening to see her feel guilt for something her brother did.

“Because someone has to.”

Um yeah, like your brother.  Sydney needed to realize that it was not on her to shoulder this burden. It was her brother’s responsibility. Not hers.

Because this book was darker than most of Dessen’s previous books, I really liked it a lot. I enjoyed Sydney’s story arc especially because it was so important for her to realize that she matters, and her voice matters. The Chathams helped her realize that.

I am going to give this book 4 stars because it is my favorite Dessen book so far and it was captivating and interesting.

 

Review: Rebound (Boomerang #2) by Noelle August

Book Title: Rebound
Author: Noelle August
Published Date: February 10th, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Series: Book Two in Boomerang Trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Hooking up is only the beginning of the fun in this sexy and irresistible second installment of the thrilling New Adult series, Boomerang.
Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-two, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of the heap in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and knocks the tech wunderkind down, throwing his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.
Three years ago, Adam married his high school love—and then lost her in a tragic accident. Now, the heartbreak and guilt he’s tried to bury with work and women begins to take over his life.
Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. She’s got one chance to prove to her father that she deserves a place in his empire by grabbing control of Boomerang and taking Adam down.
But as Alison moves in on him, armed with a cadre of lawyers and accountants, she discovers there’s much more to Adam and Boomerang than meets the eye. Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? It appears so, unless Adam can forgive her for wrecking his life and trying to steal his livelihood. But Alison hopes that old adage is right. Maybe love can conquer all.
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
Review:
You guys know that I am normally so picky about my NA reads and how rarely I read NA because they disappoint me so much. Yet last year, right about this time, I reviewed Boomerang, which is the first book in the Boomerang trilogy. I fell in love with this book because they didn’t follow a typical NA formula that I had become so used to.
When I heard this book was going to be about Ethan’s ex, Allison and Ethan’s former boss, Adam, I was a little nervous to see how it would all play out. I didn’t expect to like Allison given what we had learned about her in Boomerang. Surprise, surprise, I ended up really liking her. She was in a tough position as her father was very powerful and used to getting his way through manipulation. Allison also loved horses, and I loved reading about how she cared for the horses her father owned.
Adam was a difficult one for me to warm up to. I didn’t love him in Boomerang, so I was hoping I’d love him in Rebound. I ended up liking him more and more as the book went on. He complimented Allison quite well. Where she was weakest, he was strongest. Where she was strongest, he was weakest.
That Catwoman/Zorro scene at the beginning of the book was H-O-T.
We also learn a lot about Adam’s past, which I loved. I didn’t know what to expect with his past, but when certain things revealed themselves, it was clear to me that he was still struggling mightly, but he was hiding it from so many people. Hiding things is so unhealthy and I felt bad for Adam, and really wanted him to find that happy ending.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Boomerang. It took me awhile to like Adam, and certain other things kinda bugged me about this book. I do still recommend not only this book, but the first book in this trilogy. I’ll be giving it 4 stars.

Review: NIL (NIL #1) by Lynne Matson

Book Title: NIL
Author: Lynne Matson
Published Date: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: YA/Science Fiction
Series: Book One in NIL trilogy.
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

Disclaimer: I own this book.

Review:
I honestly had no idea what to expect with this book. I had really high hopes for it, but wasn’t sure if it would deliver. And for a little while, I wasn’t sure it would. It was a bit slow in the beginning, which worried me. But by the time I reached page 80, it had picked up and I was captivated by the story. Plus, if it’s going to be compared to my all time favorite TV show, LOST, then the chances are pretty high that I’ll fall in love with it.

I had a hard time trying to figure out what genre I’d put this book in. It was obviously YA, but there were several sub-genres that I could have put it in. There was romance, there were paranormal elements and there was science fiction. In some ways, I find these kind of books the most compelling because there are multiple elements involved and they each do their part to tell the story.

Even though Charley & Thad were considered the main characters, I really loved Natalie. She was so vulnerable, so realistic. I loved how she trusted Thad and Charley despite all of the craziness going on. She cared about all of NIL’s inhabitants. She had a good heart, a caring heart.

NIL itself was interesting. Not only was it an island but it also seemed to be personified. I’d never seen this in a book before, so that was captivating. Was NIL also a person or was she seemingly personified because of the mental health of all the inhabitants.

“To NIL we come, from NIL, some go, and some like me, will stay. The clock winds down, our time runs out, and NIL will have her way.”

That is probably the creepiest song I’ve ever heard. Legitimate shivers. Not a lot was said about Ramia, but I was so, so curious about her. I actually had some theories about her and her connection to NIL. I probably spent a bit too much time thinking about her and her possible connection to NIL.

Now Charley & Thad. I understand that a lot of people were a bit iffy on how quickly things developed between them, but this wasn’t typical life. They were on an island for goodness sakes. It’s not like they had a million other life things to attend to, Yeah they were off searching for gates and even newcomers, but there was more time to develop a relationship. I liked them together, I rooted for them to get together and that is a great feeling to be able to do.

“You’re right, Charley. NIL does change the way you see things. NIL makes everything more clear. What’s important, what matters. And for me, that’s you.”

This book stressed me out completely. I can’t exactly say why it did, as it could be considered very spoilery, and I really don’t want to ruin it for others. But, I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it. I am giving it 5 stars and I cannot wait to read NIL Unlocked, which I’ll be starting ASAP.

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Book Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Published Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway.

Review:
Legitimate question: How does Kasie West do this?

I mean, this is her 3rd contemporary novel and she just has this ability to create swoony boys and put them together with imperfect girls. God, her formula is awesome. The Distance Between Us is still my favorite Kasie West contemporary, but The Fill-In Boyfriend is fighting for 2nd place alongside On The Fence.

We meet Gia just as she’s getting dumped on prom night by her boyfriend, Bradley. That was rough to read. High school can be a cruel place, especially if you attend a promo solo. For Gia, the idea of attending prom on her own is not something she wants to face. Not when Jules, her frenemy, has doubted the existence of Bradley since the beginning. The last thing Gia wants is to be seen as a liar.

On a whim, she asks a guy who just dropped his sister off, to be her date to prom. She wants him to pretend to be Bradley, and after a little bit of bantering, he agrees. The night ends a little rocky, and Gia doubts that she’ll ever see Fill-In Bradley again.

Until it’s revealed that she’s been sitting behind his sister in one of her classes all year.

Now it’s time for Fill-In Bradley to pass Gia off as his girlfriend at a party that his ex will be at. Fill-In Bradley is clearly still in love with his ex, and is willing to do whatever he has to do in order to get her to come back to him. His sister is all for this plan although she intensely dislikes her brother’s ex.

More craziness ensues at the party, but my favorite part was seeing the sparks increase between Fill-In Bradley and Gia. I could feel the chemistry between them, I felt like I could root for them as a couple. That, right there is an awesome feeling. 

I loved the romance between Gia & Fill-In Bradley. It worked for me because there were things that balanced each of them out. When things went sour between Fill-In Bradley and his ex, his self-esteem took a nosedive. Gia helped his confidence. Gia started off the book a bit uptight and rigid, but Fill-In Bradley helped relax her.

I loved Gia’s character arc. At the beginning of the book she is so obsessed with doing everything perfect, being friends with the right people, never showing her true emotions, but as the book unfolds, Gia starts to crack, she starts becoming more flawed, she starts expressing her true emotions, especially around her family.

On the surface, her family seems normal, loving and supportive of each other, but as the book continues on, we realize that Gia doesn’t really share anything with her parents, and her mom especially, keeps her emotions bottled up, just like Gia does. I did love her dad though. Her dad was awesome and protective.

“I hate boys.”
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No, well, he just hurt my heart.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”

This book explored the complexities of sibling relationships as well. I spent most of the book detesting the hell out of Gia’s brother Drew. He just seemed like such a jackass and most of the time, the things he would say would enrage me. Things between Drew & Gia were complicated, but I liked how it ended.

Friendships in your teen years are difficult as well. For Gia, her friendships with Claire, Laney and Jules were difficult. I truly think that Jules was awful, but that she was also the Alpha. Claire & Laney were the Betas. I also feel like Gia was never her true self around these girls. Like she had to behave a certain way for these girls to even tolerate her. The exploration of teenage friendships was truly great.

I really enjoyed this book, and it was everything I’ve come to expect from a Kasie West book. I am giving this book 4.5 stars. I’m not actually sure why I cannot give it the full 5 stars, but I definitely recommend it very highly for contemporary lovers.

“We’re not perfect and we don’t have to be.”

Release Day: Last Will and Testament (Radleigh University #1) by Dahlia Adler

Title: Last Will and Testament
Author: Dahlia Adler
Pub date: December 9, 2014
Series: Radleigh University
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwords
Synopsis
Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.


Dahlia Adler is author and lover of YA & NA. Blogger, and macaron fanatic.

Review: Famous in Love (Famous in Love #1) by Rebecca Serle

Book Title: Famous in Love
Author: Rebecca Serle
Published Date: October 21st, 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Series: Book One in Famous in Love trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen. 

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches
.

Disclaimer: I read this book with On The Same Page ARC Tours.

Review:
I was honestly a bit unsure about this book. I had had so many hopes for The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, but it hadn’t worked for me. I wanted to give the author another try, so I joined the ARC Tour for this book and boy am I glad that I did.

Normally I dislike the books that are all about the romance. I love books that are grittier in nature, ones that give me those feels. Yet as it turns out, I really needed a fluffy romance book this time around. I’ve been experiencing a bit of a slump lately, and it was really starting to drive me crazy. Once I started reading this, I couldn’t stop. It was exactly what I needed. A fluffy book with a love triangle (I don’t normally like love triangles but this one worked somehow)
Paige has been a normal teenager, until she gets plucked from obscurity to play August, the female lead in a blockbuster movie. I liked Paige a lot even though I couldn’t really relate to her. She was dealing with a lot of sudden changes, and at first she seems to want to stay connected with Cassandra and Jake, her friends from back home, but then she seemed to let things shift, where it became more about the movie and becoming August, and less about still being herself.
I normally don’t root for the “bad boy” but Jordan was awesome. He showed more of his personal side to Paige than Rainer ever did. He treated Paige like an equal, and that was something Rainer didn’t do. He protected her and coddled her and acted like she was a poor helpless little girl just because she was brand new to the scene. Rainer used to be the type of guy I’d go after. The fiercely protective type, and in fact my ex fiance was very much like him.
The cliffhanger! It’s gonna be a long wait to find out what happens next. I’m sure the drama is only beginning now that Paige picked her man (for now at least) Definitely read it if you’re up for a fun read with drama and love triangles at the center of it all. I’m giving this book 4 stars and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Review: The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending #1) by Rachel Harris

Book Title: The Fine Art of Pretending
Author: Rachel Harris
Published Date: September 30th, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Series: Book one in The Fine Art of Pretending series.
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Spencer Hill Contemporary via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Okay, so by now you guys should know that I generally don’t do light and fluffy. Light and fluffy normally bores me and I usually need depth to really enjoy the story. However, I had seen this cover awhile back and I fell in love with the cover. So when I saw it up on NetGalley, I decided to give it a shot, hoping desperately that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. One of the biggest predictors of whether or not I’ll like a book is how the character development is. If it’s strong and I see a great character arc with tons of growth and I know what makes these characters tick, I’ll like the book. Unfortunately, with this book, the lackuster character development, particularly for Aly, was what ruined the book for me.

I think Gabi had the right idea here. She was the only sensible girl who insisted on questioning Aly’s reasons for doing it. Gabi knew that changing your whole look just so guys will see you in a different light was insane. Yet Aly had been so sick of watching the boys pass her over for some other hottie, that Gabi’s words didn’t sink in like they should have.

Look, I’m not hating on Aly. Really, I’m not. I remember how it felt in high school to have all the boys see you as just a friend. It was incredibly hard and it does do a number on your self esteem when you see all the hot girls having dates constantly and no guy will even look your way. It sucks. I think it was just hard for me to relate to her as I would have never changed myself for a guy. When I was in high school (10+ years ago) I was definitely a tomboy and boys generally didn’t look my way. Was it hard? Yes, of course it was, but it never occurred to me to change myself just so boys would like me.

I never really felt “it” between Aly and Brandon. They didn’t sizzle off my Kindle like I was hoping they would. In romance books, chemistry is key and I just never felt like Aly and Brandon really had chemistry. I did like the tension between them, but I definitely felt like the chemistry was lacking between the two of them. Now friendship chemistry was absolutely there and I felt like they would have made better friends than romantic partners.

All in all, this book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t one I enjoyed either. I’m pretty indifferent to it actually, which really bums me out. The lackluster character development and the romantic chemistry were both major disappointments to me. For these reasons, I have to give the book 3 stars. I would recommend this book to a younger reader. I think the tone of this book is for a younger reader. I was never able to connect with it.