Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Publication Date: 8/1/12 (orig. 6/28/09)
Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.
And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?
My Thoughts ~
Raw Blue is a story that will sneak up on you, and punch you straight in the heart. The story is set on and near the beaches of beautiful Sydney, Australia, and I couldn't help but fall in love with the beautiful visual Kirsty Eagar created.
Carly was a broody, closed-up protagonist. Something happened to her, something really awful, and the depression and shame threatens to consume her. Rather than face her family's expectations of her and her life, Carly simply leaves. Surfing is her passion and in the waves she finds peace. Soon she falls into a new life, but never quite opens up, until Ryan. Ryan has troubles of his own, but a healthy outlook on life and the past. Carly and Ryan make a beautiful pair, if only she can let go of the past.
Quietly devastating and ultimately hopeful, Raw Blue was perfection.
Publisher: K.A. Linde
Publication Date: 7/29/12
Jack and Lexi never had a typical relationship. After 2 years without speaking, she receives a phone call that changes everything. He unexpectedly asks her to convince the new girl, Bekah, that he's ready to commit. Jack is calling now after everything they had been through because there is another woman. She can't believe it. Follow Lexi in this heart wrenching drama as she relives her past relationship, or lack thereof, with Jack, and not just in her own mind, but to his fiance-to-be. Throw in Bekah's hot brother who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, a past with more secrets to unravel than you can even imagine, and you get a recipe for disaster. Find out what happens to Lexi as she travels to Atlanta to get the closure she so desperately desires from Jack, and how the bumps of life seem to keep getting in the way.I'll admit. I was very, very reluctant to read Avoiding Commitment. I mean, it's a book about big fat cheaters. But...
Once upon a time, in the small, small town I grew up in...I had a best friend like Lexie. A girl who believed the no-good sack of horseshit she was "in love" with was going to leave his wife. To be fair, she didn't know he was married when they started going out, just like Lexie. So after a good long while, he finally dumped her. Yep, that's right. She still wanted him after all the lies and manipulation. But you see, my friend just wasn't a smart girl. Because she then started boning the husband of her co-worker and friend. At that point, I had to drop her, even though we'd been best friends since the age of six and were as close as sisters. My point is - people can be really dumb. They're human and come with all sorts of awesome (-ly awful) quirks.
So anyway, Avoiding Commitment is a tough read. Did I like it? Yes and no. Did I have fun reading it? Almost never. These characters were frustrating beyond belief. Did I want to hurl my kindle the hurl my lunch? Yes, and sometimes. Did I find it addictive and fascinating? I sure did.
I did find the writing to be a little "off" for me. The issue was head-jumping. The book is told through Lexie's point of view, but then mid-scene the narrative would start describing what Jack was thinking. Also, there were a few times that it completely went to someone else's pov, mid-scene, without notice. But overall, I was able to handle the writing style.
Here's the deal. If you don't like to read books with frustrating characters who almost always make bad decisions, this probably isn't for you. Avoiding Commitment is a book about messy people and messy relationships. I will say that by the end, Lexie finally started wising up. Some.
And yes, I dove head first into book two, Avoiding Responsibility.
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Publication Date: 9/29/12
Taylor Caldwell can't decide if she wants to kiss her new college roommate or punch him.
On the one hand, Hunter Zaccadelli is a handsome, blue-eyed bundle of charm. On the other, he's a tattooed, guitar-playing bundle of bad boy. Maybe that's why Taylor's afraid of falling in love with him, or anyone else. She doesn't want to get burned, and even though her other roommates adore him, she wants him gone before it's too late.
Hunter himself has been been burned before, but the fact that Taylor calls him out on his crap and has the sexiest laugh ever make him decide maybe love isn't a lost cause. They make a bet: if she can convince him she truly loves or hates him, he'll leave the apartment--and leave her alone. The problem is, the more time they spend together, the less she hates him, and the more she moves toward love.
But when the man who holds the key to Taylor's fear of giving up her heart resurfaces and threatens to wreck everything, she has to decide: trust Hunter with her greatest secret, or do everything in her power to win that bet and drive him away forever.
Girl meets boy. Girl decides she hates boy before she gets to know him. Guy falls in love with the girl, despite her hostility. It's a back and forth battle in the battle of love.
I had really high expectations for My Favorite Mistake. This is another self-published hit that was quickly grabbed up by a big publisher. It has gotten great reviews and sounded right in my wheelhouse. I did like it, but I didn't love it. I think the problem was Taylor. She was hostile, and I get it. She's had a really tough time. But Hunter was a good guy who'd done nothing to earn it.
The majority of the story was Hunter and Taylor's day-to-day life. Bickering. Flat out fighting. Deciding whether to trust one another with their deepest secrets. There's a lot of value to Taylor and Hunter's journey, and I really liked the ending.
Series: Stand alone
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Publication Date: 12/25/12
If you’re looking for a story about a good, humble girl, who’s been hurt by someone she thought she could trust, only to find out she’s not as vulnerable as she thought she was and discovers an empowering side of herself that falls in love with the guy who helps her find that self, blah, blah, blah...then you’re gonna’ hate my story.
Because mine is not the story you read every time you bend back the cover of the latest trend novel. It’s not the “I can do anything, now that I’ve found you/I’m misunderstood but one day you’ll find me irresistible because of it” tale. Why? Because, if I was being honest with you, I’m a complete witch. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy.
I’m Sophie Price...And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most envied girl to the girl no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“Hold me tighter,” I whispered against his teeth. He clutched me closer yet not tight enough. “More,” I demanded.
He drew me firmer against him and I felt every ridge of his body.
“Is that close enough?” he laughed into my throat.
“Perfect,” I told him.
Vain is not what I expected, at all. To be fair, though, I went into the story with no idea that I was getting an epic adventure. Vain is the transformative journey of Sophie Price, the girl who seems to have everything, but actually has very little. As a court punishment, she is sent to an orphanage in Africa to work, and hopefully learn humility, sacrifice, and appreciation. There is also a gorgeous co-worker, Ian, whom Sophie comes to respect and (maybe) fall in love with.
Besides Sophie's journey, Vain also deals with some heavy social issues. The horrific genocide in Africa, extreme poverty, and the lack of basic healthcare we take for granted are a few such issues. It's an eye-opening story that has me counting my blessings.
The one aspect of Vain that felt a bit off to me was linked to Sophie's age. She is sixteen, I think, and it seemed sort of odd that a judge would approve of sending someone that young to a war-ravaged country across the world, one in which death and violence is a daily occurence. I think if Sophie had been older, this would have felt more realistic. Having said that, I loved the story. I loved Sophie and Ian. And I loved Fisher Amelie's writing voice. I can't wait to read more of her books.
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication Date: 1/10/13
A smart, unexpected romance from an award-winning author.I read Salvation at the recommendation of Candace at Candace's Book Blog, who was kind enough to lend me her copy. I am so thankful that I read Salvation because I found it to be a quietly profound story that snuck up a shocked me with its beauty.
Salvador Resendez--Salva to his friends--appears to have it all. His Mexican immigrant family has high expectations, and Salva intends to fulfill them. He's student body president, quarterback of the football team, and has a near-perfect GPA. Everyone loves him.
Especially Beth Courant, AKA the walking disaster area. Dreamy and shy, Beth is used to blending into the background. But she's also smart, and she has serious plans for her future.
Popular guy and bookish girl--the two have almost nothing in common. Until fate throws them together and the attraction is irresistible. Soon Beth is pushing Salva to set his sights higher than ever--because she knows he has more to offer, more than even he realizes.
Then tragedy strikes--and threatens to destroy everything that Salva has worked for. Will Beth's love be enough to save him?
Thoughtful and romantic, this is a beautifully written story about following your heart and fulfilling your potential.
Salva and Beth were both characters that most readers will immediately fall in love with a root for. They both have profound circumstances that could hold them back, but they each struggle against the past and what is expected of them to move forward. As Salva and Beth become friends and fall in love, I read with an impending sense of doom, hoping against hope that these two could grab the lives they deserve.
This is a book that touches upon immigrants and the struggles they face, and I wish I could force this book into the hands of closed-minded individuals. Besides that, it is a simple, beautiful story of not only two young people falling in love, but also about grief, guilt, acceptance, and hope.
I highly recommend Salvation.
Series: Beaumont #1
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Bandit Publishing
Publication Date: 12/27/12
I was never supposed to be a rock star. I had my life all planned out for me. Play football in college. Go to the NFL. Marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.
I broke both our hearts that day when I told her I was leaving. I was young. I made the right decision for me, but the wrong decision for us. I’ve poured my soul into my music, but I’ve never forgotten her. Her smell, her smile.
And now I’m going back.
After ten years.
I hope I can explain that after all this time.
I still want her to be my forever girl.
Good grief. Forever My Girl was perfect. Everything I hoped for and more. This was yet another "going home" story, which are currently my kryptonite, and it was so well done. Liam was sexy, sincere, and devoted. He did all the wrong things for the right reasons, and wants to make things right with Josie, the girl he left behind. He's led home by tragedy (seriously, grab the tissues), kept there by a shocking surprise, and soon discovers his home was exactly where he'd left it ten years prior. Now all he has to do is convince Josie that she always was and will always be his "forever girl".
Author Heidi McLaughlin delivered a spot-on story. I will without a doubt be reading and recommending whatever she puts out. And after the teaser for book two (at the end of FMG, still untitled) I will be pouncing on that the day it releases.
Contemporary Romance fans: get this book.