I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre #Review

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre #Review

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I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre #Review

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

four-half-stars
2B Trilogy #1
Published by: Harlequin, HQN on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Love & Romance, New Adult
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PJV Quickie: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard Ann Aguirre was writing a New Adult series – that’s sooo different from her other books!  I am happy to say I was not disappointed; I Want it That Way was a captivating story with an emotional touch that burrows its way in and squeezes your heart until it hurts.  I love it when a book affects me like that.

Review: Nadia Conrad is a college junior working her way towards a degree in special education.  She is moving into an off-campus apartment with three of her friends.  Daniel “Ty” Tyler is a single dad who lives in the apartment underneath Nadia.  The attraction between them is slow-moving, as Nadia is concentrating on school and her job at a local day-care, and Ty is concentrating on being a father, working during the day, and going to night classes.  I loved how they started talking to each other over the balcony and things reluctantly escalated from there.

I am such a sucker for a reluctant romance, and believe me, neither Nadia nor Ty wanted to fall in love.  There is no “bad boy” or “party girl” drama here, no external conflicts such as a serial killer or natural disaster, just the sweet, difficult, challenging relationship between two people who have too many obligations and not enough hours in the day.  They were terrific together.  I should add that while I normally hate when kids are written into the story because inevitably they’re annoying; that’s not the case here: he’s not precocious, just a regular kid who loves his dad and his daycare.

I also thought Nadia’s roomies were pretty cool – Ms. Aguirre does a great job giving them interesting personalities and stories without taking over Nadia and Ty’s story.  I am very much looking forward to the next book, As Long As You Love Me, which will be the story of her roommate Lauren and someone else I’m not going to spoil for you:)

Random: Be warned – every time you pick up this book, or someone walks by while you’re reading this book, expect to hear the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way”, either out loud or in your head.  Also, I don’t know why she picked BSB titles for her books, I wasn’t really a fan back in the day so maybe it would be obvious to a fan?

Recommendations: I think if you like New Adult, or you want to try New Adult, this would be an enjoyable read for you.  Fans of reluctant romance or single-parent romance may also want to give this one a try.

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The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone #Blogtour

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone #Blogtour

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The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone #Blogtour

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

four-stars
Published by: SOHO Press, SOHO Teen on August 12, 2014
Genres: Girls & Women, Mystery, Social Issues
Amazon Goodreads
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PJV Quickie: Written in biography-style through interviews with family and friends, The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is a chilling look at the life of a fictional teen whose talent burns brighter and brighter until it suddenly burns out, taking her young, promising life too soon. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is a fictionalized look at young fame, money, and mental illness that will leave you thinking about it long after you’ve read the last page.

Review:  I didn’t want to like this book as much as I did.  I’m using the word “like”, not “enjoy”, because I associate the word enjoy with fun. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone was not fun, but it was compelling.

Addison showed talent at an early age but, like with so many artists, there was a downside to her amazing ability in the form of mental illness.  As we read accounts given by her friends, brother, parents, mentors, hangers-on, and haters, the picture that forms is compelling and sad as she goes from promising young artist to someone who’s spiraling out of control. We know how it ends before we start, but reading the bleak journey that this poor young woman takes brought out a lot of mixed emotions from me for the way it presents mental illness and suicide. We never really know if it was an accident or suicide that killed Addison, but the end effect is the same.  Not that it glamorizes suicide, but the way everyone is affected and obsessed with Addison after her death gives me concerns about a teen who is perhaps already troubled picking up this book and romanticising the aftermath of suicide.

The book is full of photos of Addison and “her” artwork, (black and white in the ARC but according to the press release there will be 63 full-color original paintings and artwork in the book) that give this story a realistic feel. There are pop-culture references and other details that make reading Addison Stone an engrossing experience that leaves the reader with the feeling that she was, indeed, a real person.

Recommendations: If you are looking for an engrossing story that touches on the perils of fame, mental illness, or enjoy documentary-style stories, The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone will probably be a good fit.  Or, if you just want to try “something different”, I would recommend giving this book a try.

 

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone | Adele Griffin | Soho Teen | Hardcover | 8/12/14 | 9781616953607

 

As part of the Addison Stone blog tour, we’ve been asked to create something to memorialize Addison Stone.  I have created a poem from the POV of Addison’s BFF, Lucy Lim:

 

We were going to grow old together
Go on double-dates and  do those things besties do.
But you had another best friend that I just couldn’t compete with
and you allowed her to fill your empty spaces with lies

IDAIDAIDAIDAIDA

She took you away from me and I can’t even confront her about it

HATEHERHATEHERHATEHER

Are you with her now?
Is she allowing you the rest she wouldn’t grant you in life?
I miss you so much. I want you back.

And still, I feel relieved.

 

 

Adele GriffinAbout Adele Griffin

Adele Griffin is a two-time National Book Award finalist and the highly acclaimed author of numerous books for young adult and middle grade readers. Her works include Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be, and most recently, Loud Awake and Lost. Adele lives with her husband, Erich; their two young children; and their dog, Edith, in Brooklyn, New York.

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Conversion by S.C. Stephens #Review

Conversion by S.C. Stephens #Review

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Conversion by S.C. Stephens #Review

Conversion by S.C. Stephens

three-stars
Conversion #1
Published by: Self-Published on September 3, 2013
Genres: Adult, Family, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Amazon Goodreads
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PJV Quickie: Conversion is probably one of the strangest books I’ve read in a while:  there was quite a bit of WTF happening, yet I couldn’t stop reading.

Review: I was a fan of Ms. Stephens’ Thoughtless series, so when I saw she had written a vampire series I was very interested.  I knew going into it that it would be different, but what I got was totally unexpected:

The two main characters, Emma and Teren, have a meet-cute and the attraction is instant. They quickly get into a relationship but Teren seems to be taking it slowly… until he accidentally pricks her lip while they’re kissing.  She takes the news that he’s “sort of” a vampire pretty well.  I enjoyed the twist on traditional vampire lore. Then it gets weird.  They visit his family and secrets are revealed; things are not as happy-go-lucky as Teren has led her to believe.  Emma must make some pretty momentous decisions, and she doesn’t have a big window of time to make them in.  Then it gets weirder.  I’m not going into spoilers, but it felt like I was reading a category romance with a paranormal twist.  Just as I’m thinking I know what’s going to happen, a villain pops up out of nowhere with a weak premise.

There were some funny bits, but even so the story itself kind of dragged in spots; it definitely could have been shortened and the plot would not have suffered.  Throw in a self-centered best friend, a horribly scarred sister, and a really sweet ending, and you end up with a book that left me wondering what the heck I just read… and looking up the next book.  I have issues, I know.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for a vampire tale that’s a little different and not too dark, you might enjoy Conversion.  It’s lighter than traditional vampire lore, not dark and broody, and the hero is pretty likable.

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Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper #Review

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper #Review

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Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper #Review

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

four-stars
Published by: Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster on June 24, 2014
Genres: Adult, Horror & Ghost Stories, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Amazon Goodreads
At parajunkee.com we accept books in exchange for a review, we also use affiliate links for Amazon.

PJV Quickie: Molly Harper has this wonderful, almost-but-not-quite over-the-top way of writing that always makes me smile. Always.  Better Homes and Hauntings continues the trend of me wishing I was besties with her characters, in spite of, or maybe because of, the crazy situations they manage to get themselves into.

Review: Take one gardener, one billionaire computer nerd, an angry ex, a vengeful ghost, and an abandoned mansion, mix them together with Molly Harper’s signature humor, and what you get is an entertaining ghost-story with a twist.  The ghost-story aspect of Better Homes and Hauntings was surprisingly spooky – it wasn’t as light as I had expected and it was genuinely creepy. Molly Harper’s signature humor shines through and the hero and heroine were so nerdy and awkward that their slow-moving relationship was adorable.  The secondary characters are fabulous; my understanding is that this is a stand-alone but I would really love to see another story featuring the cousin.

Recommendations: If you’re already a Molly Harper fan – you know you’re going to love it. Fans of quirky paranormal romance will love Better Homes and Hauntings – even though there are no vampires or werewolves, this “ghost story with a twist” will keep you laughing (and a bit creeped out) until the end.

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Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James #Review

Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James #Review

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Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James #Review

Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James

four-stars
Blacktop Cowboys #6
Published by: NAL, Penguin on August 5, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Love & Romance, Romance, Western
Amazon Goodreads
At parajunkee.com we accept books in exchange for a review, we also use affiliate links for Amazon.

PJV Quickie: While I was introduced to Lorelei James’ seductive brand of cowboy in her Rough Riders series, it’s her Blacktop Cowboys that steal my heart. I was a little nervous going into Hillbilly Rockstar, since the hero of the story didn’t actually do any ranching, but I shouldn’t have worried – Lorelei James writes some sexy, sexy cowboys!

Review: Whenever I’m in the mood to read some hard-working, good-looking, fun-loving cowboys, I know exactly which author to turn to – Lorelei James.  In looking at my ratings for this series, I’ve given each of the previous books 4 stars.  In her Blacktop Cowboys series, she’s created a world in Muddy Gap, Wyoming that is full of sympathetic characters whose stories are irresistibly readable and I enjoy going back to visit with each new book.

Hillbilly Rockstar pairs two unlikely characters:  Liberty Masterson, a former soldier who now works for an elite security company as a bodyguard, and Devin McClain, a country-music superstar who is having some security issues on tour.  When a member of his crew is attacked on his personal tour bus, Liberty is called in to go undercover as his “assistant”. Devin doesn’t want a bodyguard, and Liberty doesn’t want to guard Devin, but her boss makes an offer she can’t refuse.

I liked Liberty in that she was confident and brash and doesn’t put up with stupidity. She works hard and has goals.  One thing that sort of stuck around in the back of my mind though, was the fact that she dated her superior officer in the army and then she dated her charge (Devin) as a security guard; I don’t have any sort of medical degree but this seems to be self-destructive behavior to me.

That being said, I really enjoyed reading these two interact and build trust between them. Their scenes together were sexy and fun. The mystery was a bit predictable, but for me the romantic interaction between Liberty and Devin made up for it. Both characters are stubborn and have issues that can’t be avoided while they’re spending so much time together in the isolated world of a music tour; they start off antagonistic towards each other, but that animosity turns to lust and then genuine affection.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for an entertaining Cowboy Romance, look no further than Lorelei James – great characters, steamy love scenes, and interesting storylines make her books hard to put down.

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