Review: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Genre: Adult LGBTQ+ Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

Review:

Boyfriend Material is probably one of my favourite reads of 2020 so far. Luc’s inner voice is so tragically relatable – awkward, insecure, but also loving and hopeful – anyone who’s ever been hurt will instantly understand Luc’s vulnerability. Also, Luc is an absolutely lovable trainwreck in social situations, but they’re so LUC that you just end up wanting to give the poor guy a hug.

This book is simply life – there’s no HUGE drama that permeates the story – it’s all relational, and I appreciated that. There’s a big emphasis on support networks, friends, family, and love. Both Luc and Oliver have great friend groups, and the author found it important to give them all unique voices and ways of supporting the two lovebirds. Luc and Oliver themselves are also super supportive of one another – they don’t let each other get beaten down by assaholic relatives, or their own inner demons. All the little details of their relationship made them perfect for each other despite their differences and I loved every second of their love story!

I’d recommend it to those who loved If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane and Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. To set expectations, this is a fairly wholesome book – more fade-to-black than explicit – so don’t go into it expecting lots of sordid sex.

Boyfriend Material is chalk full of humour and ALL the feels. Despite its general lightheartedness, there’s a lot of psychology and emotion for the two MCs to work through. Full of heart and love, I definitely recommend this book to everyone!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.21/5

eARC obtained via Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid
Publication Date: Jan 7, 2020
Genre: Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synopsis:
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Review:

Such a Fun Age maintains a perfect balance between fun, compelling, and uncomfortable as you jump into a novel with real and flawed characters.

This story takes place in today’s world of influencers, imposter syndrome, and the question of “how on earth do we deal with the subject of race!?” Alternating between Emira and Alix’s POV, you really get to see how mindset, motivation, and personality really influence someone’s actions and how it’s received by others.

It’s interesting to see not only Alix’s perspective of a situation, but how her actions and insecurities lead to her end of sorts. And I was also surprised how the author wrote Alix’s friend group and the dynamic of it. Such a Fun Age examines the subject of race, class, and privilege from so many different angles that it really paints a diverse picture of how social pressures and media can impact one’s actions and decision-making processes.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how aspects of Emira’s life were presented. Emira is introduced as someone with insecurities and a general lack of direction that I know many millennials face after university. While the rest of her friends seem to have their lives together, Emira remains unsure of what to do with her life. Her scenes with Briar always stole my heart and I loved those scenes the most from the book.

Speaking of Briar – it’s amazing how every secondary character had a moment to shine and you got to see a bit of how they came into their biases and some of their character flaws/quirks that affected how they walked through life. Such a Fun Age has such a fantastically developed cast of characters. And knowing their motivations almost made everything worse because I was able to understand why they were doing/saying what they were. It made me uncomfortable because I knew it was wrong, but also because the trajectory of their story made their actions make sense.

Such a Fun Age is such a relevant read for today’s world, and delivers the message that no matter who you are your biases and experiences will affect how you approach a situation and the actions you take. Is there a remedy for that? I don’t know. This book doesn’t really present a solution so much as it presents us with the problem brief. I’m sure Reid has a lot more up her sleeve in terms of this subject and more. This is such a phenomenonal and important debut book from her and I’m excited to see what she has for us next!

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4.5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.06/5

ARC obtained via Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Review: How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Title: How to Make Friends with the Dark
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

Review:

Disclaimer: This book will rip you to shreds, tear your heart to pieces, and put it all back together again. Maybe. I’ll say it now – How to Make Friends with the Dark is one of the best portrayals of grief and regret I’ve ever encountered. Fantastically written, utterly heartbreaking, it will leave you sobbing, but you’ll enjoy it.

I have no words for how phenomenally this book was written. With every word, every action, every quiet moment in this book, you feel Tiger’s pain, grief, and heartbreak. Glasgow’s strong imagery and fantastic narration pulls you into the book and keeps you there, drifting in a world of grief that’s not your own, but you can’t help but be caught up in the moments of brokenness and emptiness Tiger has inside her. I honestly don’t know how to sell you on this book. Just that everyone should read it to understand grief – to prepare for it, to heal from it, to understand it. This book helped me feel like I wasn’t alone in my grief – it by no means healed it (this is not a book you should read if you want to be happy), but it was a stepping stone in my road to recovery from grief. Glasgow’s depiction of grief is just so realistic it’s dug its claws in me and I can’t seem to get them out. I don’t know if I want to. This book wins for my favourite so far of 2019. Of maybe all the books I’ve read in the past 10 years. It was that good.

Not only does Glasgow address grief, but she also looks at the foster care system. She gives a peek into a world that isn’t made for the fainthearted. A world of abuse, negligence, self-harm, addiction, and broken homes. I’m glad she doesn’t delve too deeply into this world, as the book is heartbreaking enough, but she does enough to make readers wonder if we could doing more for the kids who are trapped in the system, whether by choice or by circumstance.

Honestly, I don’t know what else to say. This is a fantastically written book about a really hard subject. How to Make Friends with the Dark is a book that will stay with you loooong after you’ve put it down.

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Pacing: 4.5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.26/5

eARC received via Indigo Books & Music via NetGalley.

Review: Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Title: Maybe This Time
Author: Kasie West
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
GoodReads

Synopsis:

One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

Review:

I can usually binge a Kasie West contemporary in one sitting. There’s something about her books that often feel like a palette cleanse for me – if I’ve read too much of a heavier genre, like fantasy for example, then a light easy YA contemporary is the perfect thing to get me out of my slump. However, it didn’t work with Maybe This Time.

The premise is promising – the story is told across nine events during which the character spends time with her best friend, Micah, and newest pain in the butt, Andrew. Sophie works at the flower shop and works the major events alongside her best friend’s family’s catering company. Sophie aspires to be a New York fashion designer though, not a flower arranger in a small town. She wants more. And I think that is perfectly fine. Everyone around her though? Not so much.

Her best friend Micah is judgemental, rude, and keeps pushing Sophie to do things that she doesn’t want to do??? Idk. It was a weird best friend dynamic imo. Andrew belittles her at every turn, her mom keeps trying to tell her dreams are unrealistic, and no one but Sophie seems to stand up for Sophie, and yet everyone judges her for it?? Like this guy yells at her for being stupid cause she did something small and annoying to offend him (BY ACCIDENT might I add) and she’s ready to have at him, but everyone is like CHILL SOPHIE. When Andrew’s dad treats him like trash, Sophie stands up for him, but then Andrew gets mad at her?? I don’t know, this is not a message I was really comfortable with, and the reasoning for everything later on really did not work for me. This was an ARC though, so they may change the story a bit to make it fit the end better, but the end just didn’t fit the build up from the rest of the story. There was just a bit of dissonance between event six to event nine.

Sidebar comment – I LOVE the section transitions – they’re beautiful, entertaining, and are a great addition to the book and Sophie’s character.

All in all, this book left me feeling super meh and blah. Definitely my least favourite of West’s contemporaries.

Plot: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
World Building: 2/5
Pacing: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
Overall: 1/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.78/5

ARC received through Indigo Books and Music in exchange for an honest review.

Review: My Life As Kelsey by Victoria Anders

Title: My Life As Kelsey
Author: Victoria Anders
Publication Date: May 1, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Work, rinse, repeat. That’s my summer in three words. Nothing amusing about working at an amusement park—until Stone Maverick Avery walks in with his designer sunglasses and rock star attitude. He’s totally out of my league. Oh, did I forget to mention, I’m not allowed to date?

My mom, who’s afraid I’ll end up an unwed, single teen mom like her, keeps me on lockdown from friends and boys. She insists my priorities be SATs and finishing top of my class.

As summer ends and 11th grade begins, I must say goodbye to my little bit of freedom. And goodbye to any chance of seeing Stone again.

But then it happens. That tragic event that redefines my life and turns it from monotonous existence to roller coaster journey: finding first love, learning the truth about my father, and discovering a different side of my mother. Twists and turns that teach me about all the facets of love.

In the end, will these lessons allow me to live a life of no regret or will I let my past pull me under?

My name is Kelsey. And this is my life.

Review:

My Life as Kelsey is very much a teen book. At the heart of it, Kelsey is trying to live her life. There aren’t any fantastical creatures, no harrowing adventures, just a girl doing her best.

Right from the start, you could tell Kelsey was a good person. She had her hangups (particularly her mother’s restrictions on her life), but she was kind, caring, and generally a nice person to spend time with. Throughout the book, she reacted in ways that were so realistic, it was hard to find anything that truly bothered me about her. She was a genuine character who had genuine reactions and I appreciated that immensely.

I really like the secondary characters too. Adam was super kind and loving, and Kelsey was honestly so lucky to have him. Stone was a super considerate and loving person, aware of his flaws and brokeness in a way that won me over. The characters and the writing honestly made this book so easy to read and settle into – I loved it!

The only reason I took away a star from my rating was the tragic event mentioned in the synopsis. It was indeed tragic, but Kelsey’s reaction and the reaction of those around her didn’t feel fully explored. If you’re looking for a book on “tragedy,” this one didn’t really touch me. As great as everything else was, this was the one thing that felt more like a plot device than a life-changing moment.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. If you’re looking for characters who are real with themselves, honest about their feelings, and open to love while caring for others, this is the book to read.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.11/5

eARC received via Victora Anders via Reedsy Discovery

Tour and Excerpt: Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen

Welcome to the Fake It Till You Break It tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Fake It Till You Break It
Author: Jenn P. Nguyen
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…

Excerpt:

She planted her foot firmly on my chest and pushed me back down.

“You can’t leave yet. They’re still home.”

“Well, what are we going to do until then?”

“It is Sunday . . .”

There was a small smile on her lips as her fingertips tapped together like Mr.  Burns from The Simpsons. My forehead scrunched together as her smile grew even wider. What the hell was she— It finally clicked when she leaned back to open her nightstand and pulled out a couple of those Korean face-mask thingies that made you look like a ghost.

“No. No. NO.”

“Yes. Yes. YES.”

Her hand smoothed them all out on the bedspread like a colorful pack of cards.

“Now which one do you want? I have moisturizing ones with aloe and cucumber. Some collagen wrinkle-free ones. Or even this one with a picture of a baby’s foot. I don’t really know what it does since all the words are in Korean, but I assume it’s something good. Look how soft and glowing that baby’s toes are!”

Picking up her feet, I shoved her off of my lap, and she flopped backward with a squeal. I grabbed the baby-foot mask from the bed and pointed it at her like a sword.

“I’m not doing this.”

Her eyes widened innocently.

“What? It’s not like it’s your first time.”

“One. Time,” I nearly growled.

“And we swore that we would never talk about it again.”

“And now it’s about to be two times that we will never talk about again. Come on, pretty boy. You have to keep up your looks if you’re going to be dating me. By the way . . .”

She knelt and faced me. Her elbows braced against my shoulder as she leaned forward and gave me a quick peck on the cheek.

“For future reference, that’s what a kiss on the cheek is supposed to be.”

Not sure why, but the kiss took me by surprise. I stared at Mia for a moment before finally pushing her away.

“Fine, you win. I’ll do it if it means you’ll stop kissing me.”

I ripped open a package before slapping the mask on my face. The strip on my nose wiggled as I sighed. Mia let out an identical sigh and poked at the moist edges around my chin to smooth them out.

“Ah, we’ve only been dating a few hours, and the magic is already gone.”

About the Author:

Jenn Nguyen fell in love with books in third grade and spent the rest of her school years reading through lunchtime and giving up recess to organize the school library. She has a degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans and still lives in the city with her husband. Jenn spends her days reading, dreaming up YA romances, and binge watching Korean dramas all in the name of ‘research’.

Giveaway:
Enter for a chance to win a print copy of Fake It Till You Break It!
Tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Title: All Your Perfects
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

Review:

I love Colleen Hoover’s books because they’re all so real. She manages to nail every emotion, action, and moment so perfectly that her books hit you right in the feels every single time.

This book moves back and forth between the “Now” and “Then”. “Now” tells us the story of Quinn and Graham in present day and the struggles they’re experiencing in their marriage. “Then” brings us back into time to about 10 years prior and walks us through the couple’s relationship at the beginning.

All Your Perfects opens up dialogue around societal expectations, and how even the most mundane and traditional questions can hurt people. I was watching Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, and one of the characters was pretending to be in a wheelchair during thanksgiving. As they went around the table, everyone was saying they were thankful for their family, their friends, yams, and this girl suddenly snapped and asked why people weren’t thankful for their legs and their ability to walk. All Your Perfects raises a similar question. What do we take for granted on a daily basis? Why are the struggles we face only up for conversation behind closed doors? And why is it taboo to be open about the obstacles we face?

This novel addresses everyday, human struggles, and how much work and effort is needed to sustain a relationship with another human being for the the rest of your life. It’s so easy to say you’ll make a commitment to another person, but executing that commitment in both the good and bad times is so hard. As much as we try to be, we are not always perfect.

I read this book three months ago, and just thinking about it again has me in tears, and I just can’t. When I get my physical copy in the next few days, I’m doing a reread, because it was just that good. If you’re picking up this book, get ready for a love story that will change hearts, mend marriages, and affect the way you see love. Honestly the best book of the year, hands down.

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: ALL THE STARS.
GoodReads Rating: 4.46/5

Book Depository Buy Link

eARC obtained via Simon and Schuster Canada and Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop

Title: She Regrets Nothing
Author: Andrea Dunlop
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
GoodReads

Synopsis:

In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth, the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.

Review:

I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed by a book. I have DNF’d books before, not because they were like this one, but because I knew I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy them. One day, I’ll get back to a lot of those books and I know they’ll be good.

This one though… Oh man. She Regrets Nothing made me regret requesting it on NetGalley. When I read the synopsis, I was getting a lot of Gossip Girl vibes, and yet I don’t think anyone in Gossip Girl was as entitled, selfish, and hypocritical as Laila. And that’s saying something, because the GG Upper East Side was fierce.

Laila is the perfect example of how wealth, or even aspiring to inherit wealth, can corrupt one’s character. While we begin the book sympathizing with Laila’s situation, that sympathy quickly dissipates as we see how she begins to treat people once she sees money.

There is gold digger and then there is Laila. She hopes to take New York by storm, and ride on the coattail of her rich and famous cousins. She gets into the good clubs, meets billionaires, and betrays basically everyone who is ever nice to her. Her cousins – Liberty, Nora, and Leo – take Laila under their wing. Nora and Leo let Laila live with them for free, Liberty gives Laila a job, and yet Laila remains the most ungrateful ingrate on earth. She continues to claw for more.

However, this is where the hypocrisy comes in – she faults the men that she meets for doing the exact same thing she is – trying to rise above their station and all that, and she looks down upon them from a high seat that no one ever gave her, and no one really thinks she deserves. Now this plot line goes on for about 80% of the book, and all I could do was sit there utterly exasperated by her. I stick by the rule of not quoting ARCs, but I’m fairly sure at least some of the quotes I have saved up are in the final version, and none of them make her look like a good person at all.

Then there’s the family scandal – no only is that plot line a stub as short as the TTC’s Sheppard line, but it’s not even acknowledged by the older people in the book until about 95% through the book. I was waiting for this huge revelation and I got nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Which leads me to the regret. I spent weeks trying to get through this book because I knew that I wasn’t turned off from it because of my mood, but because of Laila and her terrible character. In the end, I only liked Liberty and Reece, but at the same time, they were barely developed as characters and that drove me bonkers.

As a whole, I was left unimpressed by this book, not just for the terrible MC, but for the lack of plot, the poor execution, and the feeling of what-the-hell I was left with when I turned the last page. Definitely not a satisfying read for me.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
Writing: 2/5
World Building: 4/5
Pacing: 1/5
Overall: 1/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.65/5

eARC obtained via Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blitz: The Upside of Falling Down

Welcome to The Upside of Falling Down Book Blitz, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: The Upside of Falling Down
Author: Rebekah Crane
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synospsis:

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

Buy Link:
Amazon

Excerpt:

I was born twice. The first time was on July 9 to Paul and Mimi Haas in Cleveland, Ohio. My mother died six years later. My parents hadn’t conceived another child, and my father never remarried. I was born with brown eyes and brown hair, and for eighteen years, I was, for the most part, healthy.

I was delivered again on June 18, just weeks before my nineteenth birthday. The nurses said I was born unconscious with ash tangled in the burned ends of my hair. Rescue workers pulled me from the belly of an airplane, where I was stuck between two seats, like a cushioned sandwich. There was no mother to gaze down at me in amazement or cradle me if I cried, but according to my nurse, Stephen, there were a plethora of camera crews and flashing lights.

Out of the wreckage of that day, which included thirty dead bodies, I was a miracle. Amid so much death and destruction, I was born.

For a day, I lay in the hospital, unconscious, before I opened my eyes to the world for the first time. I had bleached blonde hair and a nasty bump on my head.

When the doctor sat down gently on the chair next to my bed and asked me a question, I could only think to respond with these words, “There are four emergency exits on this plane—two at the front of the cabin and two at the back.”

A handful of nurses and other staff broke into laughter, but my doctor didn’t. She asked me another question, a puzzled expression on her face, to which I replied, “Please take a moment to locate your nearest emergency exit. In some cases, your exit may be behind you.”

That’s when the room went silent. All the laughter fell out of the air.

“Can you tell me where you are?” the doctor asked in an accent unlike my own. It took me a moment to understand her, partly because of the accent, but also because of the odd question.

“Where I am?” I said, feeling around. “Clearly, I’m in a bed.”

A perplexed expression crossed the doctor’s face as the others looked on at the miracle that I was. “Yes, but do you know where? Specifically, what country?” she asked.

I thought for a long while, touching the bump on my head. The bump was a flaw, and something told me that’s not how this was supposed to be. People are born perfect, right?

“What happened to my head?”

“You don’t remember how that happened?” When I shook my head and didn’t offer an answer, the doctor asked me another question. “Can you tell me your name?”

It was a simple question, but at that moment, the complexity of it weighed me down, so much so that I had a hard time breathing.

“Or better yet, can you tell me anything about yourself?” the doctor asked.

“About myself?” I thought long and hard. As if the people gaping at me weren’t clue enough, my confusion should have been. A person shouldn’t have to think so hard about that question. It should come naturally. It’s me. I know me, right? But concentrating so hard made my head start to ache, and I thought I might pass out. And for all that thinking, nothing happened.

Nothing.

The doctor glanced at the nurses, who stared at each other, but all the looking didn’t find them any answers. I started to think answers don’t come that easily.

I died and was reborn on June 18 in a plane crash in Ballycalla, less than eight kilometers from Shannon Airport, and I awoke to a new life a day later in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ireland, not far away. When the nurse called me by name, I didn’t respond.

He touched my arm. “Your name is Clementine, love.”

“Clementine.” I said the name over and over in my head, hoping one idea would stack on top of another and another and create something concrete. A person filled with a lifetime of memories.

But nothing happened. Instead, I said, “I have no idea who you’re talking about.”

About the Author:

Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.

Author Links:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win 1 of 10 copies of The Upside of Falling Down + stickers! Open to US/CAN. Ends Dec 14/17.

Blog Tour + Review: Exposure

Welcome to the Exposure Blog Tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: Exposure [Incandescent #3]
Author: Sylvie Parizeau
Publication Date: Nov 22, 2017
Genre: New Adult Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

PHILIPPE-OLIVIER TISSEROT’s caffeine addiction is about to land him in uncharted territory and one hell of a ride. One that’s about to go viral.

Current status: Computer whiz to hacker to penpal.

Upgrade status: Lover.

Well, I’m still working on the lover part.

I’m just a computer geek studying at MIT. And now I’m in two places at once – the geek and the lover battling it out to get the girl.

The only problem is, my dream girl doesn’t know she knows me in either one of them.

Now I have to win her in both.

Please wait. Upgrade in progress.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Review:

If you haven’t started this series, don’t worry about it! This book is a lot richer if you’ve read the first part of the series, but it still works great as a stand alone (think K.A. Tucker Ten Tiny Breaths, it works, but read the others ’cause they’re great too).

I think my favourite part about this book is the true friendships that holds the guys together. P.O. is one of six super geeks who have lived together for over thirteen years (thanks boarding school!). Incandescently is Liam’s story, Apprehension is Zac’s, this one’s P.O., and the others are to come. Their friendship and banter made me laugh and smile throughout the entire novel and I appreciated all of P.O. one liner t-shirts boasting techy puns. P.O.’s letters with Aurele were also extremely cute, and I loved the easy banter they fell into. I found it interesting that the author actually made P.O. think in coding/techy terms. It was just simply what was happening, but everything was translated in his head to a language his character would understand better, and that added detail surprised me.

That begin said, at times I was a little overwhelmed by some of the complex language. Even my geeky friends wouldn’t use some of these words in sentences. I’m an English major and I wouldn’t use some of those words in a sentence that wasn’t for a term paper. As such, the whole 20 something getting their degree is a tad bit unrealistic to me.

Call me a sucker or a cliche, but I loved the letter idea – the writing was witty and they were well written in that, as a reader you knew what the words really meant, but the MC was clueless. I found this a good way to develop the character and allow the story unfold for itself. I did think that a couple of the aspects of the story were a little cliche (love at first sight, for one). However, I enjoyed the simplicity of the novel, as well as how adorable the characters and the writing was.

As a whole, it was a lovely, light read that really helped to cut through the stress of life. Definitely happy that I took the time to sit down with this one and am super excited to read the rest of the series as it comes out!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.25/5

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the Author:

A paralegal by day and incurable romantic by night, Sylvie is a cross-genre, and she takes Happily Ever After very seriously. The End just isn’t in her vocabulary.

An incorrigible daydreamer, she now feeds her obsession with epilogues by concocting stories in which heroes deal with the happy from the get-go. Ready, or not. And she confesses under oath to loving every minute of it.

Sylvie lives her own Happily Ever After in the beautiful mountains of Les Laurentides in Northern Quebec, alongside her whole set of characters.

In between treks in their backyard wilderness, you can find them hanging out at www.sylvieparizeau.com

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Enter to win a signed copy of Incandescently, Apprehension, and Exposure! Open internationally. Ends Nov 30/17.