The Bridge by Jill Cox

the-bridgeOh my goodness. Ya’ll.  To come back from such a long hiatus and and start back with this book…floored.  I adored these characters, the writing was completely captivating and the scenery is enrapturing.  PLEASE buy this amazing book from a self publishing author HERE!

Title: The Bridge

Author: Jill Cox

Summary (by Goodreads):

Meredith Sullivan has three goals:

Win the Beckett Scholarship to study abroad.
Move to Paris for a year.
Leave boy-next-door Drew Sutton (and her ridiculous heart) behind.

There’s only one problem: Pete Russell. Yes, he speaks French like a native, but he’s boorish and snarky with a penchant for unflattering nicknames. So when Pete shows up on her flight to Paris, Meredith starts to wonder if that scholarship covers a year in Antarctica instead.

But as the autumn leaves begin to fall in the City of Light, Meredith learns a thousand things about Pete she never knew. And to her surprise, she’s suddenly torn between the future she’d always imagined with Drew and a new path with the kindred spirit she never saw coming. Because sometimes, what you don’t know about a person has already changed your life.

First Sentences:

Pythagoras believed that three is the perfect number.  Maybe he was right, or maybe he was the original Jedi master.  Whatever the reason, the number three is everywhere.

Three blind mice. Three wishes. Three’s a crowd.

Third time’s the charm.  The third degree. The third wheel.

You can’t blame a girl named Mer-e-dith Fi-o-na Sul-li-van for noticing this phenomenon.  We moved to Oregon from Ireland nearly three months after my 3rd birthday, on March 3rd.  I graduated third in my high school class – all of the hard work, non of the glory.

My Take:

Oh sweet motherly goodness of all that there is, for a beautiful sweet YA fiction with a strong and smart female lead who isn’t bogged down with every teenage angst known to man.  This book was beautiful and funny, witty and romantic, real and raw all at the same time.  I found myself in complete understanding of our girl and yet rooting for seemingly the “wrong guy”.  I never do that!  Jill is an author ninja. 

We all have that one relationship. The one where that other person sees right past you.  The person that you’ve always been friends with but can never seem to get them to “see you” – to actually look at you as anything more than just that side kick or pal.  But what happens when you actually gain their attention?  And then what happens when the relationship you thought you were supposed to have with that person, doesn’t quite add up to what you thought it was going to be?

ryan-gosling-emma-stone-la-la-land-trailer-dance.gif

What if a dance changes it all?  What if a dance with someone you never figured you’d even want to talk to…changes your life?  Although, can we all just say if it’s Ryan Gosling – we’d all say “yes”?  If any of you (male or female) passes up the opportunity to dance with that beautiful man I will be so upset at you.  Extremely disappointed.

Meredith is our smart, head down in the books, good girl who has earned the opportunity to go on an amazing journey to learn and study in France.  One out of three students picked to gain this scholarship of a lifetime to go and study abroad belongs to our girl.  But when things change and a fourth person is added to the scholarship list, Pete Russell, all she can see is this frat guy who is friends with her “I wish you could see me as something more than a friend” Drew.  Pete Russell is nothing more than God’s way to torment her, in Paris, for a year.

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Drew is Meredith’s best friend, always have been, always will be friend. But when Drew finally does notice her and asks her to be his girl…she finds that she is wondering why it doesn’t quite feel like how she thought it would.  When the long distance glitter of a new relationship fades to the sharp jealousies and misunderstandings, Meredith starts wondering what is going on and why her heart doesn’t seem to flutter for him like it used to.

Set amidst the beautiful scenery in France, we travel with Meredith and her friends all around the museums and beautiful picturesque parks and bridges along the way.  Her life living in Paris, the seasons that change, and train rides that take us to some amazing places is another reason why I fell in love with this book!

As time progresses, Meredith realizes that maybe she’s been someone else’s “see me” person.  Maybe she had been so focused on Drew that there had been a person there, all along, waiting for her to see him.  What if the persona of who this guy is to everyone is just a shallow mask compared to what he’s prepared to show her?  And this is where you’re like “Dang it Meredith, open your eyes and dump your jerk of a boyfriend because this guy WANTS you woman!!”

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Needless to say, I got involved emotionally into this book!  Our amazing author takes us on a journey through France as a tour guide, but also into Meredith Sullivan’s life as she learns about herself and about her heart.  Ms. Cox, please say you are writing more and that you will be publishing more, pronto!

Myst~

PS – TODAY is the day this book is released so take a look-see at this book on Amazon and you won’t regret spending the $3.99 for this super amazing book!

“Nerve” by Jeanne Ryan

This book was hard for me to put down…it builds with a heavy sense of foreboding but with an eagerness of seeing just how far will it go and if our girl has the “nerve” to go through with it.  I really really enjoyed this book!

Title: Nerve

Author: Jeanne Ryan

Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin)

Summary (by Goodreads):

A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly

When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it’s exhilarating–Vee and Ian’s fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they’re directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they’re playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?

My take:

Disclaimers and such: I received this book from DAC ARC Tours!  Thank you for letting me read and review this ARC and thank you to Dial Books as well!  So although, I received this book for free in exchange for a review, all thoughts are my own.  This book was published September 13th!

In the book, “Nerve” is a new reality game based on the idea of someone taking a dare and, when successfully completed, earning a prize.  Contestants may enter by completing a preliminary dare and making sure the video is streaming through their phone to “Nerve”s website as they are completing the dare.  With enough views, comments, and popularity, “Nerve” will dare the contestant to do something else.  The dares get bigger and so do the prizes, but once you start, do you have the nerve to actually go through with all of it…to the end?

We find Vee in the beginning of the book as a back stage makeup artist to her friends who are in a school play.  No recognition and no fame has put Vee in the backseat watching everyone else get all the glory.   She doesn’t mind it, but a little recognition wouldn’t kill would it?  To gain the attention of a certain boy in particular, Vee enters the Nerve game by completing a preliminary dare and with the growing number of fans…Vee finds herself texted by Nerve to do another dare, but this time for a prize.  And so it begins…

I tried to find a “Pringles – Once you pop, you can’t stop” gif, but couldn’t find one!!  If someone finds one, tell me where and I’ll put it up!

We have a couple of characters in this book, boys in particular.  Matthew: the boy who Vee has a crush on, but she can’t tell if he’s really that into her or just after her best friend.  Tommy: the good boy that has a crush on Vee (and who Vee should like back), but he doesn’t have the guts to tell her.  Ian: the very cute boy that Nerve pairs Vee with as a partner to go through competitions/dares with.  I picture Scarlet O’Hara out on the lawn in the beginning of Gone with the Wind…if you haven’t read or seen the movie, just…now.  Go see it now.  It’s a classic.

As the dares progress, feelings escalate and the feeling of invincibility sets in, but just how far is too far?  Pretty soon we see the true nature of each person.  Is Ian too perfect?  Will Tommy be there for her in the end?  Who is Matthew really crushing on?

The book really feels like an adrenaline rush and it starts with coasting, then goes to jogging….and then you feel like you’re sprinting to the end.  What I think drew me in the most was the fact that this seemed like a game that you would possibly see on TV.  With all the reality shows…why not have one where people are dared to do crazy stunts for prizes at home with friends watching?   Question is, would you be one of the people to do it and have the nerve to do everything they ask?

Read it!  Read it!  Loved it!!  🙂

Myst~

Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie

With everything going on in the middle east and the loss of our ambassador and ex-navy seals, I found this book to be fitting.  Please keep your thoughts and prayers on the families who have lost loved ones or are seeing them being deployed to help protect the Americans still living in those countries.  This book totally caught me by surprise.  I knew what it was about and I knew it would probably deal with a few tough situations, but this book had so many moments where you didn’t know how things could ever be set right.

Title: Personal Effects

Author: E.M. Kokie

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary (by Goodreads):

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life.

First Sentences:

Of all the lame shit on Pinscher’s backpack, his “War is Not the Answer” sticker pisses me off the most — even more than his “Practice Nonviolence” button, which makes me want to practice some violence on his face.

It’s not enough that I have to listen to him run his mouth all the time.  But to have to see all his slogans and crap on his backpack, watch him strut around and show off, laughing like it’s all a big joke — it’s almost too much to take.  Espectially on Monday mornings.  Especially on a Monday morning after an even more shitastic than usual weekend.

My take:

Disclaimers and such: I received this book from DAC ARC Tours!  Thank you for letting me read and review this ARC and thank you to Candlewick Press as well!  So although, I received this book for free in exchange for a review, all thoughts are my own.  This book was published September 11th!

I want to preface that this book does contain profanity, a fair amount. As you probably saw from the first few sentences.  Our main character is also a boy and is dealing with the rush of hormones, so he does deal with the temptation that all boys deal with at that age.

The other thing our boy, Matt, is dealing with…is a whirlwind of anger.  Anger at his physically abusive father, who swears his punches are to help him “man up”.  Anger at his mother for leaving them when he was only 4 or 5 years old.  Anger at his brother for dying while serving in the Army overseas.  Anger at bullies at school who wear shirts/pins that try to undermine the war and make it seem like Matt’s brother, T.J., died for nothing.  Everything soon comes to a head and Matt finds himself “seeing red” with consequences.

The only saving grace to Matt is his best friend, Shauna, who has the courage to stick with him through everything he deals with and is there to listen, to provide a shoulder, or just a distraction from the life he’s learned to deal with.

Matt feels the only way to deal with the loss of his brother and abusive father is to find the personal effects of T.J. and go through them.  Everything that they got back before the funeral has been hidden by his father and Matt cannot seem to find them, no matter how hard he looks.  He strikes a break one day when 3 lockers of personal effects come in from the Army filled with everything Matt owned and had with him.

After his dad leaves for work one day, Matt goes through each locker looking through each item.  Uniforms, t-shirts, iPods, pictures, and letters.  Lots of letters.  People Matt has never heard of…along with one person in particular who has written Matt over and over.  Who were these people?  Who is this “C”?  Could T.J. have had a relationship and not told Matt?  Why would Matt show up for a week at home, tell him he was deploying to go back to the middle east, but actually spend months with these people before really going back?

I liked this book.  I read through the bulk of it one night and finished it the next morning.  It was such a “real” feeling book.  I could see this unfortunately happening to someone like Matt and it made me want to sit up with him to find out what was really going on and who his brother really was.

Myst~

Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell

Super excited to see this one published in a few days!!  This book is great at showing what teens are like and what a teen feels when thrown in an adult situation.  It’s gritty but great and a good read!  Definitely worth reading.

Title: Narc

Author: Crissa-Jean Chappell

Publisher: Flux

Summary (by Goodreads):

“You’re going to hate me forever when you learn my secret.”

Seventeen-year-old stoner Aaron Foster was offered a choice: go to jail or turn undercover narc to find the dealer who’s funneling drugs into Miami’s Palm Hammock High School. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He’s human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase who’s obsessed with video games and street magic.

With a cop from Narcotics breathing down his neck, Aaron gets himself invited to parties where the deals go down. To get close to the school’s biggest players, Aaron lies to everyone–most of all, the cute but troubled Morgan Baskin. With the Everglades party on Halloween night–and a planned drug bust there–just days away, Aaron realizes that he’s falling hard for Morgan . . . and trying to protect her could cost him everything.

My take:

Disclaimers and such: This was a book from NetGalley.  It was given to me to read and review for free; I am not getting paid for this review.  This is my honest and true opinion.  That being said, thank you to Flux for letting me read and review this book!!  Everyone else, look for it to be released NEXT Wednesday!!!

Aaron gets pulled over one night for running a red light and a cop finds weed in the car…actually on his younger sister.  When forced between seeing his sister go to jail or help the cops find who is supplying his school with drugs, Aaron chooses to become an undercover narc.  Aaron soon has to choose between his newly made friends and the local law and finds that the right thing is hard to do.

Aaron makes friends with some new people; mainly 2 girls, Skully and Morgan.  Skully’s parents are filthy rich but have no time for her or her diabetic brother; so she lives in her own mansion and throws parties all the time.  Morgan’s step-mom has convinced her that she was too fat and needed to be a size zero…ever since then she’s been trying to fix herself with drugs and cutting.

Aaron’s father was killed overseas in Iraq while taking pictures of soldiers.   This leaves his mother, who is barely home to notice anything going on, with him trying to take care of things while looking over his little sister.  Poor guy!  So he truly feels alone in anything he does and feels like there’s no one to talk to.

I loved how conflicted Aaron got over friends and family.  Even though he knows what needs to be done in order to keep his family together, the friends he’s made need help and getting them sent to jail doesn’t sit right with him.  The author does a great job showing how putting kids in an adult situation doesn’t always mean it’s a black and white issue…there are many shades of grey.

I’m normally not big on contemporary books, but I really did enjoy the book, the characters, and the dilemmas.

Myst~

Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

I don’t know if I really actually liked this book or not.  The writing in it, for me, didn’t seem as “up to par” as some of the other books I’ve been reading lately.  I really liked the idea, but I also felt the author maybe backed herself into a corner in trying to get the characters together…I’m confused with my feelings about the book, can you tell?

Title: Temptation (Temptation #1)

Author: Karen Ann Hopkins

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Summary (by Goodreads):

Your heart misleads you.  That’s what my friends and family say.  But I love Noah. And he loves me.  We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other’s arms. It should be  ROSE & NOAH forever, easy. But it won’t be. Because he’s Amish. And I’m not.

First Sentences:

Holy crap.  I watched the churning water rush over the driveway and back into the swollen creek bed.  I’d never seen anything like it before, and from the look of incredulity on Dad’s face, neither had he.

Sam and Justin, on the other hand, were enjoying the bizarre scene wading knee-deep into the current with their street clothes on, splashing each other like maniac dolphins.  Actually, now that the storm had passed and the sun was peeking its way out from behind the fluffy clouds, it was beginning to feel like a sauna, and I was seriously thinking about joining my brothers.

My take:

Disclaimers and such: I received this book from DAC ARC Tours!  Thank you for letting me read and review this ARC and thank you to Harlequin as well!  So although, I received this book for free in exchange for a review, all thoughts are my own.  This book will be published/released on June 26th!

First things first…I like the idea for the story.  The idea of an Amish boy and a “regular” girl falling in love is a cool premise.  Making it work is a whole ‘nutha story unfortunately.  The author does SUCH a good job showing how young these teens are that when it comes down to the final decision of Noah leaving his entire family/church/life OR Rose completely converting to being Amish and leaving everyone/everything she knows…it makes it seem completely impossible for the author to have one of the characters actually make a choice without upsetting the reader.  And she couldn’t leave her two characters to end up separated…that would just REALLY make us mad.

Secondly, I actually cared for our characters.  I maybe liked Noah more than Rose in the sense that he had convictions and family and knew his place in life.  Rose, on the other hand, could just use her eyes to get anything she wanted and in getting what she wanted, she became a little selfish.

I’m having a really hard time doing a review for this book because I really am torn.  I want to like the book for the “real” characteristics of it, but at the same time…I was upset with the ending.  I am NOT posting spoilers.  I just…the ending…*throws hands up*

This is the first to the series…I don’t know if I can read the second book.  I think I’m maybe more upset at the parents in the book.  One set seems to be overbearing and the second doesn’t seem to care and therefore the kids have issues that they try to fix with another person in their life…I should have majored in psychology!

Overall, I’d give it 3.5 stars.  I liked the characters and the idea.  I wasn’t crazy with the execution and the way it turned out.

Myst~

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

I just finished the book a little bit ago and love the different challenges the author put in the book that still linger in my mind.  What crosses the line and goes too far?  What is necessary for a major competition?  Is it ever okay to take a drug to help?

Title: Virtuosity

Author: Jessica Martinez

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary (by Goodreads):

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot…what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her–and riles her up–like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall….

First Sentences:

The balcony felt cold under by my cheek.  Ten floors below me the traffic of Lake Shore Drive purred, but it seemed miles away.  Everything before me was perfectly still: a black starless sky over Lake Michigan, my bare arm jutting out between metal mars, and burnt-orange scroll of my violin rising out of my clenched fist.  It would be as easy as opening my hand.  I could just uncurl my fingers one by one, and when the last one relaxed, the violin would slice the night sky like a blade plummeting to the ground below.

My take:

I enjoyed the book!  It was definitely different than what I usually read, but I am so glad I took a change of pace!

Carmen is a product of her mother (who was once a famous singer) and a playboy father whose family has good old-school money.  Her mother developed polyps on her vocal chords, leaving her to surgeries and soon becoming “normal” by giving up her dreams of singing.  Her father left and only came to see her once or twice a year.

Carmen, who is now 17, has always taken violin lessons, but it’s been at the expense of a life outside of music and her homeschooling.  I was homeschooled…but this was just some crazy homeschooling.  Carmen had a bad recital a year earlier and was prescribed a beta blocker to help with nerves.  Unfortunately this lead her to feeling dependent and no longer was one pill enough to handle a recital, one helped with lessons and three started working for performances.

The only problem is her mother was so distraught about her own career being cut so short, that her pushing Carmen leads to a feeling of not being stop taking the pills for fear of failure.

Carmen meets her competition and Jeremy is everything she needs to stay away from.  But when she starts to fall for him and starts to realize the leash she’s been living on…it leads to dramatic decisions and fights between her and her mother.

But then something else comes to light.  It’s something that Carmen had never thought would happen.  It destroys her and everything she’s felt she’s ever accomplished.  When faced with the challenge, her decision puts into motion consequences that can’t be undone.

I was a music major in college and a lot of the book talked about the classical music industry and their attitudes towards music.  A lot of it is so true and so sad….

We both knew the rules.  The classical music industry is run by snobs, and musicians who try to spice up their images aren’t taken seriously, even if it isn’t just for the image.  Even if it’s because they want to test out jazz.  We have agents and managers, recording contracts with major labels, teachers and mentors to make sure we don’t do stupid things like moonlight at Chicago jazz clubs.

Again, I really liked this book.  It was a good change of pace from the other books I’d been reading lately.  🙂

Myst~

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

I was surprised by how much I liked this book!  I’m not much of a contemporary novel reader, but it was so nice to take a break from the paranormal, deal with real people, and not have to worry about a sequel!  Don’t get me wrong…books in a series are great, it’s just nice to have closure every once and a while!

Title: Graffiti Moon

Author: Cath Crowley

Summary (by Goodreads):

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

First 5 Sentences:

I pedal fast.  Down Rose Drive, where houses swim in pools of orange streetlight.  Where people sit on verandas, hoping to catch a breeze.  Let me make it in time.  Please let me make it in time.

My take:

I enjoyed the story!  The book goes back and forth between our girl Lucy, a guy named Ed, and his friend Leo/”Poet”.  It’s not a fast paced novel, but it shares a story of a one night adventure that Lucy and Ed go on together.

Lucy has been obsessed over a guy named Shadow.  He does graffiti work all around town and although she has never met him, she “knows” he’s THE one.  So when a guy slips to Lucy that he knows Shadow and where he might be, Lucy and her friends go on an all-nighter to find Shadow and to finally meet him.  The only problem is that Ed is part of the “party” to find Shadow and Lucy has been determined to steer clear of him.

Here’s the deal…Lucy and Ed went out on a date a couple years back and she ended up breaking his nose.  Her side of the story goes that he grabbed her “arse” and since it was a first date…she broke it.  But she vomited once she got home because she couldn’t handle the blood and was sorely disappointed that the evening didn’t go as planned.

Ed’s side of the story is that it was purely an accident and he was sorry it happened…even before his nose started bleeding everywhere.  But neither of them share their full sides of the story to each other and since that night, they’ve been trying to stay as far away from each other as possible even though they still harbor feelings.

As the night progresses and people drop out of the search party to enjoy a real party, it leaves Ed and Lucy to find Shadow together.  While searching, Lucy and Ed start opening up to each other to talk about anything and everything.  During the middle of it all, Lucy professes her feelings for Shadow to Ed.  What she doesn’t know is that she has unknowingly told Shadow, himself.  This isn’t a spoiler, it’s covered in like the second chapter of the book…the summary just makes it sound like it’s a big unknown.

The writing was great.  The excerpts between Lucy and Ed is “Poet” and his chapters are always so cool to read.  Just fun little blips in the book that makes you want to re-read it to see what details you may have missed the first time.  It was like a little distraction, but relevant at the same time.  It’s hard to explain.

Will Ed tell Lucy the truth about him being the famous “Shadow”?  What happens when the sun comes up and the night is over?  I enjoyed the book and recommend it!

Myst~