Mini-reviews to prove that I’m still alive

I think I’ve been watching too much TV lately instead of reading and blogging. Actually, to be honest, I usually get posts written during down time at work and work has been SUPER busy recently. So there’s that. But anyway…on to these mini-reviews.

RefineRefine by Nichole Van
I just like all of these books. They’re nice, clean romances with a combination of both modern and regency storylines. I like how we keep catching up with old characters and learning more about secondary characters. This is the fourth book in the series and I would actually recommend reading them in order. I know there’s at least one more after this one as well. Our main character in this one was just as delightful as all the other main characters have been. I was really glad to get more insight into Linwood’s character because he really had been portrayed in a pretty poor light in the previous books. I honestly think I could read hundreds of these books without getting tired. Van does a good job of not being too formulaic. 4/5

My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
This book is so fun! It’s told from three alternating perspectives, but I honestly loved them all. I’m not sure if each author took one perspective to write or if they all worked on all three, but the whole thing was just so good. It was a really funny and fun take on an alternate history and it actually made me want to look some stuff up afterwards. This isn’t a part of history that I’m super familiar with, so it was definitely interesting to actually learn some things. I thought the chemistry between characters was really well done as well. My only issue was that I wished the shape-shifting had a little more logic to it. Why do people turn into the animals that they do? And why is there a flash of light? I just wish that aspect of the book had been a little more fleshed out. But overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to more from this series! 5/5

You Are HereYou Are Here by Jennifer E Smith
For some reason it’s taken me a really long time to read this book. I started it a while back, but just never finished it. It’s not my FAVORITE Jen E Smith book, but it’s also not my least favorite. I think the main character was a little aloof and hard to connect with at times. It was interesting getting the two perspectives because I felt like our main character was one way in her head, but then came off completely different when Peter is just observing her. I obviously liked the road trip aspect of the book (always a good time) and I liked their dog as well. Though…let’s be honest, the three-legged dog was a LITTLE random and didn’t really add much to the story. 4/5

P.S. I Like YouP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Lately, I hadn’t been super impressed by Kasie West’s books. I really enjoyed her first one and moderately enjoyed the next one, but she’s had a few that I just really didn’t connect with. This one was different. A lot of times I find the enemies to lovers trope a little tiresome, unrealistic, or cliche.  Luckily, this one broke the mold a little for me. I thought both characters were pretty fun and I really liked Lily’s family. Her interactions with them seemed so genuine and her parents really just seemed like some of the coolest people. I definitely recommend picking this one up. 4/5

So there you guys go. Proof that I’m still alive and reading stuff.

REVIEW TRAIN: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord [GIVEAWAY]

I’m so happy to have the opportunity to participate in this Summer Review Train with some of my favorite bloggers! I hope you guys have been enjoying all of the different stops, because I know I have. Check back tomorrow with Space Between the Spines for the last stop on the Review Train and a GIVEAWAY!

Reagan is currently on tour with her superstar best friend Lilah Montgomery (but everyone that actually knows her calls her Dee). Both girls just got out of relationships and are ready to have a fun, girls only summer. Unfortunately, a strategically cropped photo of Dee appears on the internet and when some of her fans turn on her, management is forced to bring on a new act to open for her. Matt Finch is definitely not Reagan’s type but apparently no one told him that.

After reading Lord’s book The Start of Me and You I thought that I definitely need to read everything from this author. Open Road Summer was great, not necessarily on par with The Start of Me and You in my opinion, but still fantastic. Reagan was, at times, hard to like. She had a serious attitude problem and the reader gets the sense that she really has no idea who she is at the end of the day. I would not say that Reagan is necessarily a good role model even though she does grow a lot by the end of the book. She likes to dress in tight, revealing clothing, she smokes (though she is trying to quit), and she isn’t that shy about drinking. Lord has almost made her into an anti-hero type and uses Dee as a contrasting figure.

The relationships throughout this book were really great. I love when authors portray strong girl friendships and even though Reagan and Dee are so different, they’re still such good friends. At the start, their friendship doesn’t really make sense, but the reader gets some glimpses into their past throughout the book that gives their relationship more depth. Another relationship that I really liked was between Reagan and her dad. Her dad doesn’t feature that prominently in the story line, but I feel like they have a couple of good moments and it’s obvious how hard he’s trying to be a good dad. Some people in the blogging community have commented on how parents seem to be absent in YA books? While that’s kind of true in this book as well, I think Lord does a great job with her adult characters of portraying good parents. Reagan’s dad and both of Dee’s parents are portrayed in a really positive light.

Overall, this book was really fun. I liked the road trip-esque aspect of it and I liked that our characters had some obvious development at the end. Reagan wasn’t always my favorite, but at least I feel like I could understand most of her mindsets and reactions.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Summer 2016 Review Train Dates and Stops:

May 30th – Genni at Ready, Set, Read reviewed The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
May 31st – Lauren at Always Me reviewed Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs
June 1st – Laura at Blue Eye Books reviewed The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
June 2nd – Sam at Tsundoku Books reviewed Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia
June 3rd – Czai at The Blacksheep Project reviewed Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
June 4th – Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense reviewed The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
June 5th – Ashley at [Insert Title Here] reviewed Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
June 6th – Sinead at Less Reality, More Books reviewed The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
June 7th – Ashley at What’s She Reading? reviewed Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
June 8th – Brittany at Space Between the Spines is reviewing Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins + GIVEAWAY!

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Eva knows who Will is (everyone knows who Will is). When he starts coming to her tutoring sessions, she senses that they have a connection (despite the fact that Will has a girlfriend). School is about to end and finally the timing seems right–Will is single and Eva is confident that he feels something too. Unfortunately, Will is about to move across the country to live with his father and his father’s new wife. What’s a girl supposed to do when she lives in New York and her soulmate is in California?


Who doesn’t love a good road trip book? I, personally, LOVE THEM (see Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour). This book grabbed me right from the beginning and did not let go. Eva and Annie are both such great characters. I loved reading about smart girls who are also just fun, normal people. They’re focused, but not myopic. They have goals, but they’re not unrealistically narrow-minded. They have this great friendship and a natural understanding of each other that only comes from years of quality time spent together. I also loved that, in this case, our main character is kind of the sidekick. I thought Will was a really well-written character too. We’re seeing him mostly from Eva’s perspective and I felt all of the same feelings that she did when they finally see each other again. My only complaint about characters was that they seemed a tad too mature for their age, but at the same time they have experienced things that would naturally mature them…so maybe it is realistic.

The adult characters were also extremely well-written. I loved just how present they are throughout the story and not in the typical way. They’re humorous and embarrassing and well-meaning and just so real. I loved that. In this book, we’re given such a good portrayal of the imperfect relationship that can exist between mother and daughter–it’s not always a buddy/buddy relationship like you see in other YA books. Overall, the adults in this book really add another layer to the story and gave me one more reason to fall in love with it.

I thought this book also had really great character development. Throughout the journey, Eva learns things about herself and about her various relationships with other characters. I really feel that by the end of the book, Eva has grown a lot as a person and has come to some really important conclusions. The ending was real and so perfect.

From my description and review, this book may seem like a lightweight, but I assure you it is not. It deals with death and loss in a couple of different ways and perspectives. Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It’s not going to be about what you think it is. I won’t elaborate much more beyond that, but it took me by surprise.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. Some mention of underage smoking.
Sexual Content: Moderate. Nothing crude or too explicit (our main character loves romance novels so there are some brief, non-explicit “quotes”).

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matason

Amy is responsible for getting herself and her mother’s car from their old home in Raven Rock, California to their new home in Stanwich, Connecticut. The only problem is that after the accident, Amy doesn’t drive anymore. So Amy enlists her friend’s son, Roger, to act as driver for the trip. As they embark on their cross-country roadtrip, Amy and Roger find that they are both on quests that may cause them to take a little (or not so little) detour.

7664334Another excellent Morgan Matson book! I really loved that the book focused on Amy and Roger. We got to know both characters really well–it was almost as if the reader is the third passenger in the car. You definitely are able to feel sympathetic towards both characters. All of the secondary characters were great as well! They really added flavor to the book as a whole and kept it from being one-note with just our two main characters. At the same time, they didn’t take attention away from Amy or Roger. The characters had their moment, but didn’t leave the reader feeling like we’d rather stay with them than continue on with Amy and Roger.

I also really liked the playlists and pages from Amy’s travel journal. It really added another layer to the story and was a fun addition. It added variety and helped the reader to better visualize the places that Amy and Roger were visiting. It definitely made me want to go on a cross-country roadtrip!

Overall, this was a really fun and unexpectedly deep story. Amy is dealing with things that, really, no teenager should have to deal with. I don’t necessarily agree with how she treated her mom at times, but I think in the end Amy does realize that she wasn’t quite fair to her mom all of the time. I would definitely recommend this book!

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate. A few scenes with brief, strong language.
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Moderate. Sex is mentioned a few times, but nothing explicit.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate. One secondary character has a drug problem.

HELP WANTED: Audiobooks

Hello readers! I’m going to be taking a long road trip fairly soon and I get carsick if I try to read in the car (this is something that has caused me much sadness throughout my life). So I’ve decided to give audiobooks a try instead. I can’t remember the last time I listened to a book on tape, so I need YOUR help picking out what audiobook(s) to bring with me.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you can probably tell that I read a lot of YA–mostly romancey or fantasy stuff–but I am open to reading other books. What are some audiobook titles that a first timer like me should pick up? Note: I leave next week so think about titles that won’t have holds at the library.