Review: Before You by Amber Hart

Posted by Dianne on Saturday, October 18, 2014. Filed under: , ,
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I've read this book back in July and it has been sitting in my drafts for so long. I finally decided to just get it over it. So here's my review of the mature YA/NA contemporary romance debut of Amber Hart, BEFORE YOU!

Before You (Before & After, #1)
Title: Before You (Before & After #1)
Author: Amber Hart
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Date of Publication: July 29, 2014

Some say love is deadly. Some say love is beautiful. I say it is both.

Faith Watters spent her junior year traveling the world, studying in exquisite places, before returning to Oviedo High School. From the outside her life is picture-perfect. Captain of the dance team. Popular. Happy. Too bad it’s all a lie.

It will haunt me. It will claim me. It will shatter me. And I don't care.

Eighteen-year-old Diego Alvarez hates his new life in the States, but staying in Cuba is not an option. Covered in tattoos and scars, Diego doesn't stand a chance of fitting in. Nor does he want to. His only concern is staying hidden from his past—a past, which if it were to surface, would cost him everything. Including his life.

At Oviedo High School, it seems that Faith Watters and Diego Alvarez do not belong together. But fate is as tricky as it is lovely. Freedom with no restraint is what they long for. What they get is something different entirely.

Love—it will ruin you and save you, both.

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

I've read Before You before reading His Reverie and this is definitely better than the latter. Waaaaay better. I had to compare because both have the same premise and spoiler alert for His Reverie, both have heroines that are daughters of a church pastor. Glad to say that Before You has more depth and has more dimensional characters you'll root for.

My feelings for this book have been very confusing. It was like teetering on a three-way seesaw if ever there is something like that. I was so excited for this book that I even featured it as a Waiting on Wednesday. It's just that I read the first chapters and damn, I was hooked. So when I finally started it, I already felt that I'll give it four stars. Then le slump happened and I couldn't keep my attention and interest with the book. I kept finding reasons why it's not working for me and why I'm not liking it. In the interest of fairness, I dropped the book for a bit and picked it up when I was in a better mood. Then it was smooth sailing after that. It went to a four-star again then something happened and I was shouting at home and I was ready to give the book five stars even with all the things I didn't like at first but then meh, Amber Hart didn't follow through the shocking and shattering plot arc so it went back to four stars. Then after some time, my loving views regarding the novel petered out and it went back to three stars.

Don't get me wrong, I love the characters. I thought they were dimensional and I was rooting for each of them. Faith is the pastor's daughter and she has been dressing very conservatively and has been dating the same boring guy for the longest time. Everything she does is calculated as she doesn't want to bring shame to her father. The only real thing she shows is her love for dance. She has been harboring a secret too that only her family and her best friend know. Because Faith Watters is not perfect. She is so far from perfect.

Then we have Diego Alvarez. His family fled Cuba after the mob killed his mother and almost killed him and his father. He's the quintessential thug-looking Hispanic with all his scars and tattoos but of course, inside, he just loves his family. I especially love Diego's scenes with his cousin Javier and his very large extended family. Sure, the characters aren't exactly unique but they check all the boxes: motivations, secrets, wants, needs, and everything else.

One of the main themes of Before You is expectation. Faith is expected to be conservative, nice and perfect, when she isn't. Diego is expected to be bad and even if he didn't start a fight, he's always the suspect. I love how Amber Hart tackled the very real divide race incurs. It's the 21st century, yes, but ethnic and racial discrimination is still everywhere. We might not be doing it purposefully but it is so ingrained on our minds. Really, this novel touched upon a lot of subjects, such as drugs, poverty, and a whole lot more. I applaud Amber Hart for dealing with social issues, making them innate into the story, which allows time for romance. However, it just felt like Faith's preachy and all. Oh, yes, it's in dual POV so yay!

Now, I think Before You lost me in the romance department. Sure, Faith and Diego have crackling chemistry but yes, it is a wee bit instalove. All my issues are rooted in there so I can't really discuss it. Plus, I really don't approve of using other people to make the other person jealous.

Anyway, there's this big twist at the end which made me hyperventilate and which broke my heart. But then, Amber Hart didn't push through with it so we can get our HEA. I already admitted defeat and that this is a heartbreaking novel but <spoiler alert> HOW MANY TIMES CAN A PERSON DIE BUT NOT REALLY DIE??? TWICE IS TOO MANY TIMES ALREADY <end of spoiler>. I had issues with the ending bit. But it was still a four-star at this point.

It got to three stars when I remembered how forced the writing was to me, especially Faith's perspective. Just, while I was reading it during my slump, it felt like it was trying too hard to be poetic? To be lyrical? It was full of short sentences, with all that italics. It was so angsty that it felt fake to me. I don't know, maybe it's just me and that slump talking. 

Even though I didn't fully love this book, I still recommend it. I think I would have loved it if I read it at a different time. I'm a fan of Katie McGarry and Amber Hart's writing is reminiscent of Katie's. I even think Before You is like the heightened and more frighteningly real version of Crash into You. We have actual mobs and gangs in here who are old and really scary. Real danger alert! Anyway, Before You would be perfect for fans of Katie McGarry and those who love angst in YA.

About Amber Hart

Amber Hart grew up in Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She now resides in the Smoky Mountains with family. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing or daydreaming. She's the author of the Before & After series (BEFORE YOU, AFTER US, MAYBE ME), and the Until You Find Me series (UNTIL YOU FIND ME, sequel TBA). Rep'd by Beth Miller of Writers House. 

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{Blog Tour} Review + Giveaway: Ben Fox: Squirrel Zombie Specialist At Your Service by Daisy Whitney

Posted by Dianne on Thursday, October 16, 2014. Filed under: , , , ,
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Ben Fox: Squirrel Zombie Specialist at Your Service

Title: Ben Fox: Squirrel Zombie Specialist At Your Service
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Spencer Hill Middle Grade
Date of Publication: October 14, 2014

Ten-year-old Ben Fox has good friends, a great dog, and a lightning-fast little sister who drives him a bit batty. The only thing in the fifth grader's life that's truly annoying--well, besides having to wear braces on his feet every day--is the family's wily Siamese cat, Percy.

Ben has always suspected something was off about Percy, who has never shown him or his beloved dog, Captain Sparkles, much affection. But now he's sure something is off--Percy has raised an army of squirrel zombies in the backyard and they're ready to take on the dog.

It'll be up to Ben to figure out how to stop the dastardly cat before the dog falls prey to the feline's nefarious plans, especially since Percy and his newly reanimated squirrel friends are gunning for nothing less than a full-scale Animal Zombie Apocalypse--when all the dogs start to behave like cats.

If only Ben could enlist his mom's help in the undead animal war. But his mom is petrified of things that go bump in the night, so Ben's only hope is to team up with his little sister. The battle won't be easy though, because squirrel zombies are the most dangerous of all...

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Jennifer of Spencer Hill and NetGalley for the review copy! This in no way affected my views of the novel.

I initially identified myself as a YA-MG blogger then a YA-MG-NA blogger then I ultimately gave up and I'm now a YA-NA blogger. It's just that, I actually don't read middle grade novels that much. At all. Well, ever since I started blogging. But then, Daisy Whitney, who's absolutely one of my favorite authors, is releasing a middle grade book. I resisted at first because hello, it's MG! In the end, I succumbed to my love for Daisy and the need to read ALL HER BOOKS.

Oh, the trepidation I felt before starting this. But then, the first chapter was amazing that I couldn't help but read the next page and the next and the next. I highly enjoyed this novel, which was surprising because like I said, I'm not big on MG novels. Daisy actually told me about this novel long ago, about squirrel zombies, and that she plotted it with her son. I thought the idea was ingenious and cute but until then, that was just a presumption. And now that I've read it, I think those were correct.

Ben Fox is a ten year-old kid who witnessed their pet cat raising squirrel zombies in their yard. He also has cerebral palsy and so he's the slowest in gym and he always trips and falls. I loved how Daisy Whitney wrote a main character with a disability but didn't make it his ticket to playing the woe-is-me card. A kid named Rafael always teased him in school but he didn't stoop to that level. He also has an amazing best friend in Nathan, his battle-loving, ninja-costuming classmate. Ben was a sweet son, a smart kid and his CP was the least of his problems. It was Percy, their family feline who's the leader of a squirrel zombie pack and who's turning his dog, Captain Sparkles, into going cat-like.

I read this book in a breeze and I think middle-graders will too. It was fun and unique and so enjoyable. Ben was such a relatable character and kids will love the adventure and plotting he does throughout the novel. I'm not an expert in MG novels but I think Ben's voice fit a ten year-old's. However, there were some words that may not be in a middle-grader's vocabulary but maybe that's just me. I'm not American and English is not my first language.

Overall, Ben Fox just proved that Daisy Whitney can write anything and it will be amazing. This is her first foray into middle grade novels and I think she could absolutely write more and kids will enjoy them. With a sleazy and scheming cat and its squirrel zombie pack, Ben Fox was a joy to read, for both kids and adults alike. I just might start reading and reviewing middle grade books here in the blog again, all thanks to this book!

About Daisy Whitney

Daisy Whitney is also the author of the young adult novels THE MOCKINGBIRDS, THE RIVALS, WHEN YOU WERE HERE, and STARRY NIGHTS. Her books have received critical acclaim including NPR Best Teen Read, ABC New Voices Pick, ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, an NCIBA Book of the Year Honorable Mention, a Romantic Times Best of YA, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best.


Review: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Various Authors

Posted by Dianne on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Title: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Authors: Various Authors
Editor: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of Publication: October 14, 2014

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the review copy! Receiving a copy did not affect my views.

Like most anthologies, some stories in here were gems and some were hmm-okay and I thought one was why-is-this-even-included. In general, I enjoyed reading this anthology as evidenced by the four stars I'm giving it. However, I was also close to giving it only three stars but I just love some of the stories so much (I squealed, I cried, I smiled that crazy smile, etc.) that it elevated my reading experience and general feelings about the whole anthology up a notch. In the spirit of pinpointing what I loved about this Christmas short story collection, I shall review each story. Here goes!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell (4/5): Confession: This is my first time to read Rainbow Rowell's work. No kidding. Yeah, I started Fangirl but I'm not yet done with it (third person POVs aren't exactly my best friends except for Jennifer E. Smith's) so this story freaked me out. What if I don't love Rainbow Rowell? What if??? Good thing I didn't have to wonder about that because good lord was this story so cute! It's a best-friend romance too and just, I don't want to tell the plot because it's a short story! You'll know everything!

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link (2/5): I admit, I'm not a huge fantasy reader so when the fantasy element came up, I felt that I wouldn't really enjoy this. I was also honestly shocked that there was a non-contemporary story and I realized that nowhere was this anthology promoted as a contemporary Christmas romance short story collection. #expectationsvsreality However, I wouldn't say "it's not you, it's me" with this short. I didn't connect with any of the characters and once again, I shipped the wrong guy. Which pretty much dulled my whole reading experience. I just wanted it to end. So sorry, Kelly!

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena (4/5): First story in a male's point-of-view and what can I say, I love this! The characters in here are college-aged as well and are away from their family and I can definitely relate to that. Plus points for Shy (yes, that's the guy's name) being Mexican (I think) and being quite poor. I just get his issues about pride (prideful person in here) and how he can't stop being a filial son. I think Matt infused his own knowledge into this character and seriously, I dig it. Plus, Shy and Haley were so cute. Haley, especially. Attagirl!

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han (3/5): Now, I've only read To All The Boys I've Loved Before of all of Jenny Han's books and I loved it. I love it so much I will bake and sacrifice fruitcake cookies for it. It kinda owns my heart. So I tried to lower my expectations with this because expectations kill! So I quite liked this story though it kinda broke my heart too. (Or maybe that was the steak I was eating while reading this short.) Still, diversity in characters! Natalie is Korean and the general premise of the story was unique and ingenious. I wasn't just swept away into it all.

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins (5/5): Sooo, another confession. Geez, this review seems like a gun full of bullets to fire for all the must-read books I haven't read. I've only read Steph's Lola and the Boy Next Door and I didn't love it. Moreover, I'm still not done with Anna and the French Kiss because I have certain dealbreakers only a few characters have crossed... So I was once again super wary of this but fear not because Stephanie Perkins' contribution to this anthology will make you blush with joy, giddiness and shipping feels. Seriously. I was like "OH CUTIE PIES EEK EEK OKAY GET IT ON THANK YOU EEK EEK". This is still YA of course but hey, kissy-kissy, THANK YOU STEPHANIE PERKINS.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan (3/5): Being in the list of my favorite authors, this is quite a low rating honestly and I feel bad. But then, I guess it was just suddenly a bit gloomy and I didn't feel as much as I usually do with David's books. Still, it features a gay guy couple, half of which is Jewish, and some realistic concerns/feelings about those in relationships.

Krumpuslauf by Holly Black (3/5): Another fantasy so yes, you should understand that I am not too keen on those. But then, I actually pretty liked this, and the subliminal message and theme I thought it might be sending. Cool concept though but things went pretty WHAT at the end with the fantastical element coming up.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman (5/5): I've only read Gayle's IF I STAY and I loved that one and so wow, Gayle Forman is really a rock star. THIS. SHORT. STORY. THAT BANTER. A diverse character and yes to college-aged teens! And yes to college problems and yes to everything about this short. I went "What the hell, why is this only a short story???" with this. I'd love to read more!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire (4/5): I am weak with prankster guys (e.g. Louis Tomlinson). I just love that brand of mischief and that glint in their eyes that they get when they're plotting something naughty. Soooo, yes, I enjoyed this one! Then we have a pastor's daughter who just kicked the stereotypical walls surrounding her with her quick, witty and forward lines and comebacks. Cute!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White (5/5): Oh gods, this short. It. broke. my. heart. in. the. best. way. I cried. I CRIED. Kiersten White, what have you done? Love the characters, love quirky Ben, love the internal conflicts, the external ones, EVERYTHING. The reveal, the touching moment, the resolution, the ending, EVERYTHING. Just, love. So much love for this.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter (4/5): Hulda! The voice of the MC is fun and I had fun reading this. The premise was that Hulda and Lydia switched flights and now, Lydia's with Hulda's boyfriend. So quirky, so yes, I enjoyed the heck of it.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor (4/5): Fantasy alert! But geez, Laini Taylor's prose is captivating. It reads like an epic, an oral story passed centuries after centuries. It had that old vibe and that sleepy tone which I don't know how she achieved but yeah, this is the kind of fantasy I can get into. The ending? I had goosebumps. I think it was perfect to end this collection of holiday-themed short stories with this.

So that's it! Be sure to get your copy NOW. It's out now! Get it, get it, get it!

{Blog Tour} Review + Giveaway: Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Posted by Dianne on Sunday, October 12, 2014. Filed under: , , , ,
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Trust Me, I'm Lying

Title: Trust Me, I'm Lying
Author: Mary Elizabeth Summer
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date of Publication: October 14, 2014

Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Mary Elizabeth Summers and NetGalley for the review copy! This in no way affected my views of the novel.

What a solid read! I was hooked right from the first sentence. Who wouldn't be with this?
I can't say I have much personal experience with conscience.
You got me, Julep Dupree, hook, line and sinker. Reading this book was a blast! I've always been a fan of mysteries and thrillers, whether in literature, film or TV, especially those involving spies. But what I even love better than spies? Grifters. Con artists. Swindlers. Yes, those are my favorite characters of all time. Neal Caffrey from White Collar definitely made me a full-fledged grifter-loving person (not firsthand though but in medium). Julep explained it so good, that con artists make people believe that something that doesn't exist exists. They're making people trust them only to POOF, you've been duped.

We start the novel on the job, of course, where we get introduced to Julep's best friend and sidekick, Sam Seward. They both go to this super swanky private school and Julep's known there, hush hush of course, as a fixer. In fact, we get to meet Murphy right after, a geek, hiring her to make the hottest girl in school, Bryn Halverson, to be his date in the upcoming dance. He has liked her ever since middle school, when she was far from hot. His earnestness is so cute.

But then, when Julep goes home, her apartment is ransacked and she's sure it has something to do with her dad, the grifter who taught her all she knows. All she has is a gun and what might be a clue. It is now up to Julep, and Sam, and all her wits and smart and the favors she has racked up, to solve the mystery. Where is her father? Why is he missing? Who are they up against with?

And that's how we get all the gears rolling in this high-staked novel. Don't even think that just because we have a sixteen year-old lead that the dangers in this book are petty. No missy, they aren't. The clues were really hard and dangerous to find and even then, they aren't really clues. They're just riddles that don't make any sense. Another thing I love? Sleuthing. Oh good lord, Nancy Drew was my hero back then and as Julep channels her inner Nancy Drew, I end up sucked even more to this book.

With that in the clear, I guess I shall discuss the romantic bits then. As expected, I'm #TeamSam because he's the best friend! He's the sidekick! He's the underdog. Even if we all know that Julep only sees him as a friend. However, I can't deny though that Tyler was really sweet and helpful and very concerned about Julep's situation. He brought her pizza! He helped her forge fake IDs! Yes, Trust Me, I'm Lying could be a little bit cheesy at times but I didn't really care because Julep's sixteen and she never really thought about fluttery stomach and tachycardia feelings before. She's just keen on getting to Yale and I wouldn't blame her to like Tyler because let's face it, Tyler is so likable. I really like the teens and actually, all of the characters in here. The dean, Mike, Murphy, Heather, Dani, everyone! Sure, they could be a bit stereotypical but they were all full of heart.

And if you think this novel is all rainbows and unicorns at the end, you're wrong. I was actually shocked at how the author went far with the plot and I just applaud Mary Elizabeth Summer because DAMN, THAT WAS GREAT. It didn't bode well for my heart but that was freakin' amazing. No spoilers here but guys, this is not fluff. Moreover, Juleps' ruminations about her family, her past, her future, her priorities, they were legitimately issues you can relate to. Sure, not everyone wears disguises to get into private clubs but Julep's wants and dreams are very realistic of someone who wants to move on from her status quo.

The end of the novel wasn't a cliffhanger but it definitely ended wherein there can be a next book and this could be a series. And I say, YES, MAKE IT A SERIES. For once, I actually want more. I highly enjoyed Julep's voice and I want to read more of her antics and scams and jobs.

I'd hate to use the actual blurb to pitch this book but it sums it up perfectly. Fans of Ally Carter will really dig this book. We got a Ukrainian mob, a hacker sidekick best friend who just might be in love with our heroine, the hottest guy in school who insists on helping her, and a missing dad. Add to that the stress of making the hottest girl in school go with a nerd for a dance, making fake IDs for high school kids to party with, oh you, should I list them all? Julep will win you with her affinity for the sarcastic, her street smarts and her heart. Mix in lots of action, scheming, sleuthing and grifting and I am fawning all over Mary Elizabeth Summer's debut novel. It's just her freaking debut novel and it's this addicting! Trust Me, I'm Lying is another great addition to mystery thrillers in YA! I definitely recommend this book to everyone!

About Mary Elizabeth Summers

Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat. TRUST ME, I'M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.

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{Blog Tour} Review + Giveaway: Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan

Posted by Dianne on Saturday, October 11, 2014. Filed under: , , , ,
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Not in the Script (If Only . . . #3)

Title: Not in the Script (If Only... #3)
Author: Amy Finnegan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Date of Publication: October 7, 2014

The best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script.

Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.

Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.

When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children's and NetGalley for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel in any way.

When I read the blurb for Not in the Script, I knew I had to read it. HOLLYWOOD. It's one of my auto-read topics. Hollywood romance? That even sets it higher in the priority list. Hollywood teen romance? OH GIMME THAT NOW AND DON'T TALK TO ME FOR HALF A DAY. Which is what happened with Not in the Script. I read it immediately after getting it and only resurfaced after bouts of giggling giddiness and swooning and yet another crush on a fictional boy. And a girl crush on a fictional girl. Oh, the glee this book has brought me during my slump!

So to make this a tad bit easier for me, I'll just list the reasons why you should read Not in the Script  in 3... 2... 1...!

1. Hollywood. Duh. But even better, we get a view of the process and all the tabloid nonsense (and sometimes, the truth) in here. We're not dealing with a film production, but with a TV show. Love it! From auditions, test screens, lessons, awards, getting back in the public's good graces, having your mom as your manager, wanting to do your own thing, dating a co-star, so many topics were covered! Especially for a Hollywood fiend like me, this is gold.

2. Emma frickin' Taylor. Geez, Emma's such a sweetheart but she's also sarcastic and witty and totally... NORMAL. It's like she's not this amazing actress and all that. Sometimes, while reading the book, I even forgot that she and Jake were celebrities. They're just doing their best on their job and it so happens that some of the problems they face where of Hollywood in nature. But the rest? Purely personal. Plus, Emma finished her high school early and she's taking college classes. A girl who puts as much importance to education when she can just ditch it gets so much awe from me.

Moreover, I love love how Emma's issue before filming started is that she's gonna act with her Ultimate Crush Brett Crawford. A star has a huge crush on another star! So cute. To the point that he's her wallpaper. I guess that's why I can relate so much to Emma. It's because I'm such a fangirl and she is too!

3. College age! They are all college-aged and thank you! I mean, I know, I'm reading YA and I shouldn't be giving extra points to books that I can relate to more because of the characters' ages but I can't help it! I was reveling while I was reading it because yay, college woes!

4. Okay, I won't prolong this any longer but JAKE "THE BOD" ELLIOTT. What a gentleman, which greatly contrasts with Brett's asshole tendencies (more on that later), what a sweet and filial son, what a determined and dedicated and smart person, I mean, I can go on and on. But I don't want you to think that I'm completely being over the moon with this book just because of a boy (although mostly it's Jake's plain awesomeness that made me like this) so I'll just say that Jake is worth knowing so YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.

5. Side characters! Oh boy, the joy I had with all the side characters. Sure, Brett was in over his head most of the time and he was kind of a dick, but I am fairly sure that we can unearth more of how deep his character is if given the chance. Those glimpses in the book hinted at more and AMY!! Please write a book with Brett as a main character? Please? Or maybe just a short story? I actually really really like Brett, in that, I like to read bad boys with issues. Kimmi was such a stereotypical diva though but she entertained me and I like her plot arc too.

6. But really, the conflicts were gold. Emma has been burned too many times from dating her co-stars. But Jake seems different. Could it be different this time? Jake's mother needs him but he needs to work too. How can he balance everything? Emma's mom as her manager isn't working anymore. How can she fire her mom as her manager? There are a whole lot more that tackles college, business, career, friendships, family, everything. Not in the Script is so jam-packed but in the best way because there's enough time for everything, nothing is rushed but nothing is taking too long either. Amy Finnegan sure knows how to toe that line.

7. Lastly, of course, the ROMANCE. This review has become too long but JUST. READ. IT. Haha, I'm such a tease!

Amy Finnegan's Not in the Script is even more addicting than your favorite TV show. You'll empathize and root for Emma the whole ride, swoon not only from Jake's hotness but contract diabetes from his sweetness and all around honesty and humility. Most fiction books set in Hollywood play all the stereotypes and tropes to an exaggeration but in here, it feels like we have real people and they're just, oh, you know, worth a million bucks and so famous. I highly recommend Not in the Script for teens and teens at heart. Have fun!

About Amy Finnegan

Amy Finnegan writes her own stories because she enjoys falling in love over and over again, and thinks everyone deserves a happy ending. She likes to travel the world—usually to locations where her favorite books take place—and owes her unquenchable thirst for reading to Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling. Her debut novel, NOT IN THE SCRIPT, came about after hearing several years of behind-the-scenes stories from her industry veteran brother. She’s also been lucky enough to visit dozens of film sets and sit in on major productions such as Parks and Recreation and Parenthood.


{Blog Tour} Review + Giveaway: Stars in Their Eyes by Lauren Blakely

Posted by Dianne on Wednesday, October 8, 2014. Filed under: , , , ,
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One day left until STARS IN THEIR EYES is out! STARS IN THEIR EYES contains A STARSTRUCK KISS, the prequel novella to this story which I reviewed this Monday. When you buy this, there will be no cliffhanger. Whatever, I'm sure you'll just straight-up buy this because Lauren Blakely! Lauren is on my auto-buy list and she should be on yours too!

Stars in Their Eyes (Wrapped Up in Love)
Title: Stars in Their Eyes (Wrapped Up in Love #2)
Author: Lauren Blakely
Date of Publication: October 9, 2014
Genre: contemporary NA romance

A sexy and swoony new adult romance...

Celebrity photographer and college senior Jess Leighton desperately needs to crash the wedding of the year. Snapping just one pic of the A-list Hollywood couple tying the knot will pay her way through grad school. But with security tighter than the bride-to-be's corset, she'll need more than her camera and smarts, she'll need help from her biggest rival--hot, British, motorcycle-riding William Harrigan, whose sexy accent can melt the panties off any woman. He's the last person Jess should trust, but he's her only ticket in.

William Harrigan wants one thing - to stay in L.A. past college graduation. With a student visa set to expire, the clock is ticking. When he lands a gig that pairs him with the beautiful blond spitfire Jess, he's scored his best shot at living out the American dream. Winning her trust would be a whole lot easier, however, if he didn't have ulterior motives...

But there's no faking the intense attraction between them. Try as they might to resist each other, soon sparks are flying, as they devise a plan to sneak into the ceremony. But when Jess' new celebrity client raises the stakes, she starts to smell blackmail, and soon she and Will are chasing down cheating directors, staking out clandestine trysts, and making fake IDs, all while sneaking scene-stealing kisses and hot nights together.

The audience loves a happy ending, but in a town where everyone's acting and no one's playing by the rules, can Jess and William find their own ever after in time?

Pre-order from Amazon | B&NiBooks (Contains the prequel novella, A Starstruck Kiss. No cliffhanger!)


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Lauren Blakely for the review copy! And to Kelly of InkSlinger PR for the opportunity to be on the tour. Receiving a free copy and being part of the tour did not affect my views of the novel at all.

I previously reviewed the prequel novella A Starstruck Kiss (click for review), which is also included when you buy this. So I'd get straight to what happens next, which coincidentally, are also why you should read this right away.

For fans of heist stories, you'll love Stars in Their Eyes because Jess and William just so happens to be intent on crashing the wedding of the year. Our two protagonists work together for Jess to snap photographs that will get her to med school and William helps Jess so he can stay in America. I can't dwell much on the hows and whats of this set-up because hello, spoilers, but rest assured Jess and William working together is a blast. By working together I mean...

ALL ABOUT THE SIZZLE. Oh you, Lauren. You just KNOW how to bring in all the hotness into the room. So yes, this novel is sexy but not TOO graphic. It is for mature audiences and has graphic sex scenes so kids, stay away!

Sweet. Not only are Jess and William sizzling with chemistry, they're also sweet. I tweeted how I had this fluttery feeling in my chest while and after reading this because William is so freakin' sweet, cooking healthy food for Jess and all that. It just gives you a warm feeling all over.

The reason why I only gave four stars to ASK is that I still don't know much about our protagonists. Jess and William are both amazing on their own and especially together but I wanted more. But all is well in SITE because we got to know the characters in a deeper way. Jess suffered from bulimia and is now hellbent on never losing control again, and that includes not falling for a guy. The last time she went off the wagon was when her grades plummeted because of her boyfriend. William shared more of his problems too and we also saw how moral he is and how adorable he and his brother Matthew (from Far Too Tempting) are. I just love the family love all around.

All the cameos. Oh, I forgot to mention in my review of ASK that Jess is actually Bryan's sister from Caught Up in Love so we got cameos by Bryan and Kat, which I love. Actually, it is so nice to be a fan of Lauren and to read all her books because everyone just makes a cameo or she nods at them. For fans of Pretending He's Mine (I think I'm the biggest fan of this), Jess's HR person at the hospital she volunteers in shows her a picture of Reeve on her PC. Jill and Davis from Playing With Her Heart show up and Jess even takes a picture of them and Jill catches up on Jess. For those who loved Lauren's erotic series starring Julia and Clay, Clay is actually actress Riley Belle's lawyer. See? Just about everyone is here and every time someone is mentioned I just smile this motherly smile because I know you guys! Still, this is a separate series and Lauren just gifts her fans with little nuggets. You don't have to read all her other books to enjoy her Wrapped Up in Love series.

Still, the Hollywood setting. Jess and her best friend, Anaka, keeps on saying how the best romantic comedies devastates the audience first then delays gratification on seeing the stars be together and hooking up. Jess loves the movies and Anaka is a budding screenwriter and these are my people, you guys. I'm one of those people who always say "in the movies" or "this is what would happen if we were in a movie". I devour pop culture as much as Jess and I love reading all about Hollywood, its ins and outs, everything.

Lastly and okay, I have to discuss this. Yes, this is pretty much instalove but like I previously said in my review of A Starstruck Kiss, I didn't mind it because it was well-written and hello, it's by Lauren Blakely. She can convince me of anything and she's one of the few authors who can make me remove my cynic hat for a bit. Instalove does happen, I guess, so be it. But while this is the case in here, see that five stars on the rating? Yes? Because I didn't care. I was caught up in Jess and William's whirlwind romance, all the shenanigans to catch photos of the stars, crashing the wedding, EVERYTHING. I was with them through it all and I wanted William to stay and I wanted them to be together and THAT FLUTTERY FEELING IN MY CHEST??? I'm not kidding. Lauren Blakely just does it, every single time.

So, if you haven't heard of Lauren Blakely, uhm, you need to read a book of her, stat! I'm darn freakin' excited for 21 Kisses, the next book in this series, starring Anaka's cousin Kennedy. CAN'T WAIT!!

About Lauren Blakely

Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat, heart, and humor, and her books have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. Like the heroine in FAR TOO TEMPTING, she thinks life should be filled with family, laughter, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. Her novels include Caught Up In Us, Pretending He’s Mine, Playing With Her Heart, and Trophy Husband. She also writes for young adults under the name Daisy Whitney.

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Review: A Starstruck Kiss by Lauren Blakely

Posted by Dianne on Monday, October 6, 2014. Filed under: , ,
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A Starstruck Kiss (Wrapped Up in Love, #1)

Title: A Starstruck Kiss (Wrapped Up in Love #1)
Author: Lauren Blakely
Date of Publication: September 29, 2014

A sexy and swoony new adult romance...

There are no two ways about it — William Harrigan is a certified babe. He’s sexy, smart, and British, and he wants nothing more than to charm the pants off of fellow college senior Jess Leighton. Well, he does want other things; he just can’t tell her about the job he’s working since it maybe, possibly involves her. Jess, who moonlights as a celebrity photographer, is laser-focused on earning enough money snapping pics to pay her way through grad school. But when the criminally handsome William moves in on her turf, she’ll have to fend off the competition as well as resist the guy who makes her heart race and her skin sizzle.

Because this man is not to be trusted.

Right? Though if Jess wants the million-dollar picture she desperately needs, she’ll have no choice but to trust Will, and he’ll have to come clean about everything he wants from Jess. Including her.

*A STARSTRUCK KISS is book 1 in WRAPPED UP IN LOVE, a spin-off series of the NYT Bestselling CAUGHT UP IN LOVE series.*

Purchase from Amazon | B&N (Take advantage! It's free for a month!)


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Lauren Blakely for the review copy! This in no way affected my views of this novella.

Lauren said she thinks this is my kind of story and I did think so, even with just the blurb. Because, HELLO, HOLLYWOOD. I love Hollywood, I love catching up on all the celebrity gossip. I'm the kind of person who is a regular at Who's Dated Who (omg, I finally confessed this in public), Wetpaint, JustJared, JustJaredJr (because really, I'm still a teen living in a yuppie's body) and I love reading casting news, dating rumors, EVERYTHING. I gobble it all up. (Except for reality show stars, thank God. I plan to stay away from getting addicted to those.) Anyway, this is such a long intro. All I wanted to say is that YES, Lauren was right, this is my kind of story and here are the reasons why it could be yours too!

HOLLYWOOD. But, we don't get the common perspective of a star. We get the perspective of Jess, a twenty-one year-old pre-med student who's paying for college and funding her med school by taking pictures of celebrities. Yes, you got that right, our heroine is a paparazzo. Give it to Lauren to still write a fresh story in this day and age. So, we definitely get to see a lot on how the paparazzi works and the whole symbiosis I never realized the paparazzo and celebrities have. Celebrities hate paparazzis supposedly but then they need them too for their fame. If the portrayal in here is realistic, then I guess you'll learn a thing or two too like me.

College and post-grad problems! YAY for a new adult romance that tackles WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Jess is just trying to put dough in her med school fund and William's student visa expires in two months. For those who have read Far Too Tempting (click for review), William is Matthew's younger brother. Which also means he's British. He's in LA studying East Asian Languages on a student visa and he'll be sent back to the Queen in two months if he doesn't turn it into a working visa. So we get to read about the hardships, difficulties and setbacks William face just to stay here in the US, which is what he wants to do. He hasn't graduated yet, which puts him at a disadvantage in getting a permanent job. I just love how Lauren tackled post-grad problems because finding a job is hard and it's a problem soon-to-be-graduates all have.

Sizzling chemistry. Jess and William are both so playful and they tease each other all the time. Then there's their physical chemistry. Basically, they just check all the boxes in what you're looking for in a romantic pair.

They're not broken! They don't hate their parents! YES A THOUSAND TIMES OVER.

DUAL PERSPECTIVE. Oh it's just the gift that keeps on giving! William is especially funny in this cheeky way so it's really really fun to read his side of the story.

My only qualm about this novella is that it felt like a lot happened already when in fact it's just been three days since Jess and William met. Well, it's true that a lot has happened but it just went to fast for me. So for those raising their eyebrows right about now, yes, it might irk those who hate instalove, which includes me. But amazingly, it all felt natural in here because they were just bantering and they had chemistry. They're attracted to each other but that's it. For now that is because the story continues to STARS IN THEIR EYES, the full-length novel out this October 9! Be sure to get this novella while it's free!

About Lauren Blakely

Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat, heart, and humor, and her books have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. Like the heroine in FAR TOO TEMPTING, she thinks life should be filled with family, laughter, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. Her novels include Caught Up In Us, Pretending He’s Mine, Playing With Her Heart, and Trophy Husband. She also writes for young adults under the name Daisy Whitney.

Website | Twitter | Facebook