Mini Review Mash-Up -- The Blood Guard & The Glass Gauntlet

The Blood Guard | Roy Carter
Release Date: March 4, 2014 | Two Lions
Genre(s): Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 279
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

When thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove's seemingly ordinary mom snatches him from school, then sets off on a high speed car chase, Ronan is shocked. His quiet, nerdy dad has been kidnapped? And the kidnappers are after him, too? His mom, he quickly learns, is anything but ordinary. In fact, she's a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure—thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive. Now all those after-school activities—gymnastics, judo, survival training—she made him take, make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling adventure—dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the Bend Sinister, a posse of evil doers with strange powers. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Greta, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he's never much liked and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan is left with only his wits and his mom's last words of advice: Trust no one. That's a lot for an ordinary kid to deal with. But then again, maybe Ronan's not ordinary at all.
I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.

While composing this review, I couldn't help but to ask myself, " When was the last time I've read middle grade? " Of course my memory is pretty shitty, and I couldn't come up with not one recent title off the top of my head, so I hopped over to goodreads to check my trusty " Read " shelf. Well, the answer to this question is still I DON'T FREAKING KNOW, (LOL) but I'm very pleased to say that The Blood Guard was a pretty decent reunion back into the genre. 

What I Liked
Lighting Speed -- This plot was so fast paced and I loved it! The author wasted no time putting things into play, and from the first chapter we witness wild chases, sword fights . . . everything you would expect from a middle grade fantasy!

Lighthearted Goodness -- Another aspect that made this story a pleasure to read was the lighthearted humor of the characters. Ronan was such a sarcastic little cutie, and our secondary characters Greta and Jack Dawkins, kept him on his toes and added their own wit to the story. Greta was definitely the voice of reason of the crew, I mean the girl was literally Hermoine's little sister, and Dawkins was someone's too-cool-for-school uncle who couldn't be killed! Oh and let's not forget Sammy who was most def the " Ron " of the group.

Round One . . . FIGHT! -- If you guys know me, then you know I love a great battle scene! I'm all for guts and gore being spilled, and even though this MG novel didn't take it THAT far, I was still given some pretty awesome battles! Ronan proved to be alot braver than most, (he reminded me alot of Harry's younger self) and even though he was thrown into a war he wasn't prepared for, I thought he handled it pretty well!

What I Disliked
Can I Get A Little More? -- Although I enjoyed the plot for the most part, while reading I kept feeling as if something was missing. There were enough twists and fights to keep me entertained, but it definitely left much to be desired. I can't put my finger on it though . . .

The Obvious -- Going into this, I knew that I would have a SLIGHT problem with the characters. They're super young, 13 to my 26, so decisions, actions, etc, that was displayed felt a little immature to me . . . as it should! This is completely a personal issue, and it isn't a major one at all. I was annoyed at times, the same way my three year old plucks my nerves ya know?

Release Date: August 18, 2015 | Two Lions
Genre(s): Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 272
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

Ronan Truelove barely survived his first encounter with his father and the Bend Sinister. Now, he’s determined to become one of the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect thirty-six pure souls crucial to the world’s survival.

Eager to prove he’s got what it takes, Ronan is sent on his first mission with his friends Greta and Sammy to visit a weird-sounding school and take a series of tests called the Glass Gauntlet. Paper and pencils and nerdy scholarship—where’s the life-or-death challenge in that?

But the Glass Gauntlet is actually something much more dangerous: head-to-head competitions against ruthless opponents. Nothing and no one are what they seem. Who can he trust, and who will kill him? Ronan has to figure it out fast because his enemies are multiplying, and soon he will have to pass the ultimate test: facing his father again and standing up to those who threaten not only him and his friends but also the world.

Everything that I enjoyed about the first novel was amplified, and all my dislikes improved tremendously in the sequel! The pacing was just as fast, the characters as humorous and witty as they can be, and the battle scenes and plot twists that I love so much were done exceptionally well! The Glass Gauntlet definitely didn't suffer from the " sequel blues " allowing it to be a complete step up from it's predecessor!

What I Liked
Did Somebody Say Academy?-- Yes you heard correctly! AH-CA-DA-ME! Whenever I hear the word " Academy " or " Boarding school " I jump right on it! I absolutely loved the setting, but I'm definitely on the fence with how much it reminded me of Harry Potter. (a good and bad thing) I found myself more intrigued by the story once they entered the academy and begun the tests of the Glass Gauntlet, especially when the competition started, and things got dangerous for Ronan and the gang.

What I Disliked
Inspiration or Carbon Copy? -- I noticed the similarities in the last book, but they were definitely more evident this time around. I've seen plenty of readers mention that they felt this book was heavily themed around the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series, and I must say I agree. I thought some scenes and even concepts MIRRORED both popular series a little too much for my liking. It think it's okay to be inspired of course, but as a reader, I want original work, crafted to stand out from the rest!

All in all, I truly enjoyed both books. Ronan is a character I will continue to root for, the secondary characters kept the dialogue light and funny, and all of the plot twists and battle scenes, turned this series into such a entertaining ride. Both The Blood Guard and The Glass Gauntlet has kick started my new craving for middle grade, and I can't wait to dive into another adventure!

Crown Of Midnight Reaction Review -- Clutches Pearls

Crown Of Midnight | Sarah J Maas
Release Date: August 27, 2013 | Bloomsbury
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 418
Edition: Kindle
Source: Purchased | Amazon

" A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend. "
From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Some of you have already heard this story from me countless of times . . . but who cares!
 Hush up and listen again lol! 

So last year after millions of recommendations from other readers, I finally picked up Throne Of Glass. I read it super quickly, and was surprised at how much I really enjoyed the concept, writing, and the characters. HOWEVER, I was a bit underwhelmed by the story, which resulted in me not loving it as everyone else did. For a while I didn't care, but then as the year passed I noticed the fandoms being made, the teams forming, the raving reviews being posted, and all of a sudden I felt left out. Around January I made the promise that I would atleast take a peak at the sequel to see if the series did indeed improve. Things got in the way, other priority books were read instead, and I found myself putting it on the back burner for another time, whenever that was I didn't know. But after reading and completely adoring ACOTAR, I made a second promise to myself that I would read the entire series of released books and that I would LOVE them. Well, Sarah made it hard to not live up to that promise because Crown Of Midnight came through and blew me the hell away!

One of the biggest issues I had with TOG, was that the beginning was slower than I would've liked. As we all know, Celaena is Ardalan's very own assassin, so I wanted to see her do what she does best! You're only given a sneak peak of what she has to offer towards the end of the book, but still it wasn't enough. To my delight, COM packed an incredible punch as it came out swinging in just the first chapter! Celaena definitely lived up to her name, and if action is what you're looking for, you're damn sure going to get it.

There were so many unexpected twists and turns, that every time something was revealed I was on edge like  . . .

This plot has an huge aspect of mystery surrounding it, and I was happy to see that Sarah's infamous riddles were better connected to the plot. Not to forget that the execution was definitely on point, leaving me muttering plenty of OH SHIT's when things got real.

Celaena Sardothien.
One Word:
She completely turned things up in this book, showing us the true definition of an assassin. If any book character would match my personality, it'll hands down be her.

If it's one thing that Sarah knows how to do, it's a well done romance. I guess you can call it a love triangle, even though it isn't entirely a triangle for all parties involved, but it's done so realistically, to the point it didn't bother me at all.

Anywho, the boys in this book are nothing less than swoon-worthy! Dorian is super adorable of course, BUT my heart is definitely taken by thee Chaol Westfall. * Drools * he's such a MAN! I just loved how both guys were protective over her, and you all know I thoroughly enjoyed the many " hump sessions " that surprisingly occurred. I will admit, I grew incredibly frustrated with some turn of events, but if Sarah knows what's good for her . .


Seriously guys, the beauty about doubting one's work, is that it allows a better chance for you to be floored by the story's greatness. My experience was everything and then some, completely exceeded my expectations by a long shot! The writing improved 100% , the plot was more fast paced and action packed, the characters had their own individual stories which added so much depth, and the twists were more deadly and harder to predict. There's not one thing I didn't love about this book, and if you need more convincing . .

JUST PICK THE DAMN BOOK UP! If you haven't already that is.

Mechanica ARC Review -- Sleeping Beauty Or Nah?

Mechanica | Betsy Cornwell
Release Date: August 4, 2015 | HMHkids
Pages: 304
Genre(s): Young Adult, Re-telling, Fantasy
Edition: Kindle
Source: Publisher

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.


" Was Cinderella always this . . . uneventful? If I watched the Disney movie today would I be this . . . bored? " These are legit questions I constantly asked myself while reading Mechanica. I would hate to use the word BORING to describe this book because . . well . . that's off putting to most, so maybe saying:
" A Well Written Snore-Fest " would suffice a bit better. 

I'm going to warn you guys now, this review is probably going to be all over the place because I'm beyond conflicted. While I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, and loved that the author incorporated some steampunk elements, it wasn't enough to carry this story, and unfortunately it ended up falling pretty flat. 

Cinderella Dressed In Yella, Went Upstairs To Kiss A Fella

My main obsession with re-tellings, is that you can do sooo much with them. For me, a successful one is when the author uses the roots of the original version, but adds their own creative spin composing a completely new story of their own. While Cornwell partially did this with joining two genres together, (YA and Steampunk) her story in my opinion followed the original to the T, causing it to be a tad bit  uninspiring, and * cough * predictable. 

In my reviews I usually go into detail about the plot just to give you guys a slight idea of what the story is about, but in all honesty, NOTHING HAPPENED HERE. There isn't a plot to discuss ladies and gentlemen. NO DIRECTION, NO MEANING, NO NOTHING and usually when this happens, I immediately give up and move onto something else, but I was rooting for Nicolette! Her situation with losing both of her parents, and having to live with the evil " steps " was depressing of course, but take that backstory away from her, and the fact that she's an amazing mechanic, and well . . . there's nothing else under the hood. (HA, see what I did there lol.)


If you managed to push through without pulling your hair out from boredom, then you've probably stumbled across my two main issues with this book: predictability, and INSTA-LOVE. First of all, you guys know how I feel about characters falling " in love " too damn fast. I mean I get it, it happens . . . but I'm more of a slow-burn romance type of gal. One thing that I refuse to let slide, is how the romance didn't even make sense. How is it possible, to LOVE a boy you've just met? Not to mention, you guys barely spent any time with each other, and when that quality time finally came around, (I remember only two scenes) you're all of a sudden in love? Come on Nicolette, you know better homegirl. However, in her defense, being locked up in a sellar with not much social interaction with people her age probably was the reason she was so excited about said boy. She reminded me of a guy that hadn't had sex in a long time. Just so damn overly-pumped for nothing you know?

Is It Over Yet? * Peaks From Under Covers *

Now if that wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back, it would be the fact that I knew EVERYTHING that would happen in the next scene. I was predicting Nick's future so well, you would've thought my name was Raven! It bothered me to no end to figure out what the major plot twist was BEFORE I EVEN KNEW THERE WOULD BE PLOT TWISTS! This was all due to the fact that the story followed it's inspiration wayyy to closely, allowing us to pretty much know what direction things where going, and how they'd be executed. There were differences of course, such as the use of magic, the interesting elements of steampunk, and the forbidden-ness of fae, but other than that, it was just a cranked up version of the original. 

I don't want to steer you guys away from reading this, but honestly because there's nothing you're really missing, it wouldn't hurt for you to skip it. As I mentioned before the writing and certain elements is what saved Mechanica from a DNF, but it'd seriously be a hassle trying to stay awake to even enjoy the little beauty Cornwell had to offer. If you're looking for something more fast paced, action-packed, with a slew of diverse characters, and NO INSTA-LOVE, then I highly recommend you read Cinder by Marissa Meyer!

Sometimes beautiful covers don't equal beautiful stories. * Le Sigh *   

The Heartbreakers ARC/DNF Review -- What Are We 12?

The Heartbreakers | Ali Novak
Release Date: August 4, 2015 | Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 336
Edition: Kindle
Source: Publisher
Rating: DNF

"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD...for four hours. She's totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she'll never see him again.

Except, Stella's life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.

I might sound like a complete ass when I say this, (you guys know I don't care either way) but can someone -- ANYONE explain to me, how this book was able to achieve a 4.05 rating on goodreads? I know I can't be the only one, there has to be others out there that despised this book just as much as I did. I mean seriously, if you not only FINISHED this book but LOVED it, then I owe you scrambled eggs and bacon in the morning, because LAWD you must have some killer brain cells!

" YOU'RE GOING TO LOVE THIS STORY IT'S SO FREAKING CUTE! " Said quite a few people when I made an announcement on twitter that I'd be starting it soon. The statement wasn't a complete lie, more so a half truth, because the story was indeed cute . . .  in a adorably-annoying-little-sibling-that-I-lock-in-closets-to-keep from-dealing-with-them-sort-of-way.

I was a victim of this, just in case you're wondering. I had a very mean older brother lol.

The Heartbreakers is told in the perspective of our main character Stella. Surprisingly she's a triplet, allowing us to closely follow her other two siblings, Drew and Cara as well. I'm sure there was a strong aspect of family somewhere after 48%, but the beginning pained me so much while reading, that I eventually gave it the middle finger and threw in the towel. If I sound angry, it's because I am! I had very high expectations for this, especially because 1) I read it after What You Left Behind, so strong competition there, and 2) it dealt with a a popular topic in YA (cancer) and I was hoping for another emotionally driven read, again like WYLB. Instead the story was incredibly juvenile, unrealistic as hell, and the insta-love bs had me mentally gouging my eyes out

After I finished reading, I skimmed a few reviews and wasn't surprised to see that other readers had the same problem as I . . . Stella. Man oh man, I wanted to kick this girl down a flight of steps. In the first couple of chapters I really liked her! She was such a sweetheart, and I loved how hard she went for her sick sister. However, fast forward a couple of chapters, throw in a cute boy, and poor Cara seemed to be forgotten. The " boy band " didn't make it any better either. None of them had any REAL personality, were flat as a pancake when it came to having depth, and let's be honest, they were nothing but a bootleg version of One Direction. Rockstars my ass, rename the title " Behind The Scenes: The Lives Of One Direction -- A Documentary " and this would've made prefectttt sense.

*Sarcasm *

To make a long story short, The Heartbreakers just wasn't for me. The writing and characters were beyond immature, horribly reminding me of fanfiction. I struggled trying to connect with the characters, and what I did manage to receive from the plot just didn't inspire me to carry on. Maybe it'll work for a much younger audience, or readers that enjoy the whole cutesy, fluffy side of YA. Either way, I'm staying far, far away from boy bands & rockstar stories. BLEH. 

Happiness For Beginners Audio Review -- A New Found Love

Happiness For Beginners | Katherine Center
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Narrator: Marguerite Gavin
Listening Length: 9 hours. 19 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Format: Audiobook -- Unabridged
Genre(s): Adult, Contemporary, Adventure

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen's well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen's own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.

When I first became a book blogger, I wasn't into audiobooks AT ALL. I tried listening to one (the title long forgotten) some hundred years ago, and it must have been a pretty horrific experience if I vowed to never listen to them again. But this community has a way of pushing you out of your comfort zone -- a way of making you fall in love with even your worst bookish enemy. So when I clicked on my audiobook, turned the volume to the max, and began to do whatever it is I was doing while listening, I never knew just how much I would LOVE this audio version until the last minutes were complete, and I was left longing for more.

Newly divorced and not sure what to do with her life, our main character Helen is in the middle of what I call a ' pre-midlife-crisis. ' In hopes to regain some type of order while doing something out of her comfort zone and pretty damn daring, she takes the advice of her younger brother Duncan by signing up for BCSC (Back Country Survival Course) which simplified is basically a wilderness survival camping trip. Little bro obviously had SOMETHING up his sleeve, because he convinces his best friend Jake to tag along, and together they embark on a journey of self-discovery, friendship, and even possibly . . . love.

What I've quickly noticed, are that audiobooks are super tricky. You see with novels, you can have a EH plot, iffy characters mixed with superb writing and it could all turn out to be a surprisingly great read. Unfortunately for audio, none of this actually applies, because if your main focal point -- the narrator, is complete shit, then the story is bound to sink faster than the Titanic. Lucky for us, our incredibly talented narrator Marguerite Gavin was a complete force to be reckoned with.

 At first, I was a bit nervous to find out that she'd be doing the voices of all the characters, female and male included of course, but she blew me away with how well she was able to transition from one character to the next. I especially loved how she captured my top 3 favorite characters. Helen with her quirkiness, Jake with his nerdy adorableness, (I mean he turned a closet into a nook to read books and play video games. How can you not love that?) and Beckett with his hippy/surfer vibe. It was hard not to be invested in this story when the characters came to life and sounded exactly as I had imagined them.

Happiness For Beginners will appeal to all readers intrigued by adventure. The romance isn't the focal point of the story, instead is shadowed by subtle messages like ' age ain't nothing but a number'. It's surprisingly fast paced, packed with bright characters that have so much to give, not to mention are down right hilarious, and the narrator is beyond impressive, taking this audio book to a whole nother level. If your a fan of adult fiction or chick lit as everyone is calling this, then I highly recommend you snatch it up, or sit down for a listen!

What You Left Behind ARC Review -- READ THIS NOW!

What You Left Behind | Jessica Verdi
Release Date: August 4, 2015 | Sourcebooks
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 320
Edition: Kindle
Source: Publisher

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.

All My Single Daddies, All My Single Daddies.

What You Left Behind was one of those books I KNEW I was going to adore. It was a completely different dynamic from what I'm used to reading, and I whole-heartedly appreciate Verdi for cracking open a new shell in YA. By switching up the gender roles, she allowed us readers to experience a refreshing and incredibly accurate depiction on a very common situation in today's society.

Ryden Brooks is hands down my favorite male character . . . ever. He's a star soccer player, enjoys reading from time to time, (Toni Morrison btw) a stocker extraordinaire at Whole Foods, and is a future prospect to UCLA, but it's his predicament that made me love him the most. As you all know, Ry became a single father after is girlfriend Meg passed away from Cancer. Everything happened so quickly, that he had zero time to prepare or plan, (not that it would've made much of a difference) and in a blink of an eye, his once normal life was turned completely upside down. 

When The Wind Blows, the Cradle Will Rock.

To be honest, I was super nervous this story would be way to cookie cutter for my tastes. This was my first novel by Verdi, so I wasn't sure how far she liked to test her limits, but she surprised me in such a good way. As a parent myself, I was truly able to sympathize with Ryden and his situation. Our main character struggled to come to terms with his reality. One moment he was Mr.Popularity, (the baby didn't change that at all actually) the next he was Mr.Dad, going through the dilemma of balancing his home issues, work, school, and a social life. 

If that wasn't depressing enough, we follow Meg, Ry's girlfriend as she lived out the rest of days through various personal journals. I became teary-eyed more times than I'm willing admit, because she just felt so . . . REAL. We only get snippets of her in flashbacks and journal entries, but the concept was done so well, it felt as if she was just as present as all of our other characters. But don't let all of this fool you, this story has some pretty bright moments, and here is where my favorite character comes into play . . . Joni.

Maybe I'm Amazed.

Joni was one of those girls you just have to be friends with. She has such a great aura about her, that she could lift the spirits of just about anyone. When she first stepped onto the scene, I just knew she'd be the ' interest ', but I was surprised to see that a relationship didn't build right away. There was plenty of sexual tension, (hehehehe) but I just loved how it was never AWKWARD between the two. Ryden was super laid back, but with her Latina sassiness, quirky personality/style, and down to earth demeanor, it was no surprise 
that these two became such great friends. 

Other than the amazing cast of characters, the aspect of this story that I enjoyed the most, was Ryden's growth as a character. We were truly able to witness him go from a bit of a selfish boy, to a young man well on his way to becoming an outstanding father. his reactions to many situations didn't surprise me, and I completely understood where he was coming from, but it was so good to see him turn things around, and put others first. Verdi delivered a beautiful novel about self-discovery, sacrifice, and keeping the faith when all odds are against you

What You Left Behind is hands down one of the best books I've read in a long ass time. It's a strong contender in the YA genre, being incredibly diverse, well-written, and emotionally driven. It's an inspiring and uplifting story wrapped with a heartbreaking bow, so if you're looking for a story that's lighthearted, full of prancing fairies, pixie sticks, and bubble gum, you damn sure won't find that here . . .

Rome In Love ARC Review -- Channeling Our Inner Audrey

Rome In Love | Anita Hughes
Release Date: August 4, 2014 | St. Martin's Griffin
Genre(s): Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Edition: Paperback
Source: Publisher

When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, she feels as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major motion picture, and gets to live in beautiful Rome for the next two months.

Once there, she befriends a young woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the amazing riches that Rome has to offer. But when Amelia’s boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting career, her perfect world begins to crumble.

While moping in her hotel suite, Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that start to put her own life into perspective. Then, she meets Philip, a handsome journalist who is under the impression that she is a hotel maid, and it appears as if things are finally looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell Philip her true identity. Not to mention that Philip has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career and love that she’s always wanted, or will she be forced to choose again?

With her sensory descriptions of the beautiful sites, decadent food, and high fashion of Rome, Hughes draws readers into this fast-paced and superbly written novel. Rome in Love will capture the hearts of readers everywhere.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.

Flashing . . Lights, Lights. 

When I received the offer to read and review Rome In Love, I was ecstatic! It would be my first novel where the story is inspired by Audrey Hepburn, one of my favorite film and fashion icons, (next to Marilyn Monroe of course) so I was excited to not only see how the author incorporated Audrey into the story, but also of how well it'd be executed. I can't say it was a bust because honestly it was quite good, however, there were some MAJOR flaws that kept me from giving this novel a rating it definitely had potential to deserve.

Our main character Amelia Tate, is an up and coming actress from America. When she's given the opportunity of a lifetime to play THE Audrey Hepburn in a ' Roman Holiday ' remake, it's no question that she's taking the offer. She hops on the plane without looking back, in pursuit to chance her dreams to be the best movie star of today's generation . . .

 I'm So Fancy, You Already Know.

The strongest point of this story was the author's vivid descriptions of tourist sites, restaurants, high fashion, and my absolute favorite, cuisine. It wasn't difficult to imagine myself in Rome, skipping down the cobblestone streets, savoring some weird combination of gelato, in a dress so expensive and far to damn hard to pronounce. She allowed me to not only see, but FEEL the atmosphere, and that aspect alone is what carried this story. 

But everything isn't glitter and gold now it is?

In the beginning, I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something felt OFF. About 100 pages in, with more happening in the story, I was able to finally pin-point what was bothering me so much . . . the dialogue. Their thoughts and conversations just felt so . . . incomplete. The characters would be talking, and all of a sudden the conversation would switch as if the person was cut off mid sentence. I had to re-read PLENTY of passages just to understand the exchange, and mixing a lack of emotion with that recipe, just cooked a meal for disaster. It was alot to get used to, and caused a serious rift in my weak connection with the characters. 

Where Is The Love, The Love, The Love?

When a story is set in Rome, it's like we KNOW there will be a romance. A hot, enchanting, swoon-worthy romance, but for some reason, cupid decided to be drunk all the time (like Amelia) and missed when firing his damn arrow! The relationship between Amelia and our second character Phillip just wasn't CONVINCING enough for me. They lacked any type of chemistry, and reading their scenes together felt like someone lit a firecracker then tossed it into a fountain flowing of water. Everything felt so forced and fast paced between our two love birds, and with the weird dialogue thing going on, I was pretty much doomed from the start. 

Well If You Don't Know, Now You Know $#%&!

Whenever my readers ask if I would recommend this book, my answer would be . . . sure. It wasn't SHITTY or anything, but there were a few (okay more than a few) hiccups that you would have to look past. If you're a fan of Audrey Hepburn, you will definitely appreciate the illusion that she was a character woven into the story. Through her letters, we read from her perspective during the making of ' Roman Holiday, ' and witness how cleverly the author mingled her POV with Amelia's. I do wish that the letters were written a bit traditionally. Instead, they were composed as if she was writing a story to her friend Kitty, equipped with dialogue and all. Ugh no more dialogue please!

If you're looking for a fast paced read, loaded with some descriptive text of the grand ancient city of Rome, and can jump over hurdles like a track runner, then I think Rome In Love may be worth a shot.