Wednesday, May 29, 2013

book coverARC: 274 pages 
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: May 7, 2013
ISBN: 9781455598991
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Give and Take #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

Deception
Maddie Simcoe knows the devastation that comes from keeping secrets. Now, she's desperate to move on from the heartbreak that almost destroyed her -- trading wild passion that once made her knees weak for a life of comfortable stability. But before Maddie can start over, she must return home to put the past behind her once and for all...
Passion
When Maddie blows back into MJ Rocha's life, nothing will stop him from proving to her that walking away from him was the biggest mistake of her life -- not even the engagement ring she wears. Her every look, every touch tells MJ that the fire that once raged between them still burns hot, and MJ won't give up until Maddie gives in to the inferno.
Redemption
Trapped by a hurricane roaring through Turtle Tear Island, MJ and Maddie find shelter in each others' arms. While the lightning flashes, MJ and Maddie are helpless to fight bonds of desire that tie them together. But just as they're about to surrender to the torturous longing that consumes them both, the storm unleashes violent secrets from MJ's past...secrets that could wash away all MJ and Maddie's hopes of forever...



Taken by Storm tells the story of MJ, who was raised by his rich but evil grandfather Enzo on the Rocha estate, and Maddie, the house manager's daughter. MJ and Maddie grew up together and were best friends until they became something more. But Enzo was determined to keep them apart (especially after Maddie learned a deep dark secret about MJ) and Maddie was forced to leave without saying goodbye to him. However, a year later, Maddie came back hoping to sort out her old feelings about MJ so that she can say "yes" to her boyfriend's marriage proposal with confidence. But MJ was determined not to loose Maddie again and will stop at nothing to keep her by his side forever... Dun dun duuun!

Okay, it's not so dramatic as that. 

The synopsis was what drew me to picking up and reading Taken by Storm but it didn't really give an accurate description of the book. I was expecting a second-chance romance/survival type of story with the main characters trapped alone on an island because of a hurricane, which forces to work together to survive as well as work on their relationship problems. When I found out that MJ is 4 years younger than Maddie I got even more excited because I've been digging the younger man/older woman romance trope lately. I thought I was in for an On the Island (Garvis-Graves) kind of read.

But, no.

Taken by Storm was mostly a back-and-forth between MJ who wanted to make Maddie his again but also wanted to know why she left in the first place, and Maddie who was determined to keep the secret because Enzo threatened to fire her dad if she told MJ (but she didn't want to tell MJ the secret because will hurt him). The whole tell-me-why-you-left-I-won't-tell-I'm-protecting-you-you're-mine-tell-me-why-you-left-I-won't-tell-I'm-protecting-you-I-can't-live-without-Maddie-why-won't-she-tell-me-why-she-left-me-I-won't-tell-I'm-protecting-you* is peppered by steamy flashbacks and more of MJ's family drama. 

I really wanted to enjoy Taken by Storm because it had a lot of components I like in my romantic reads but I just couldn't get into the story or the characters or the writing. The first third of the story was okay and the flashback scenes when Maddie and MJ were young kids were cute but it was just had too much of the same* and the dialogue was disjointed and I couldn't get behind the main characters. MJ and Maddie both got on my nerves and they were too juvenile--MJ was kind of a jerk and Maddie was kind of an indecisive limp noodle.

I made myself finish Taken by Storm, driven by the fact that I did feature this book earlier this month. I just started this book when I made that post and I was pretty confident I will like it but, unfortunately, Taken by Storm was not for me.**


**Before my review deters you from picking up Taken by Storm, I urge you to read other reviews on Goodreads to get a second opinion. Taken by Storm currently has an average of 4.06/5 stars (from 405 ratings).

Taken by Storm is book 2 in the Give and Take series but it can be read as a standalone book.
I really, really like The Liar Society series and I am so excited to read how everything will end, especially after the ending of book 2.

And I am so happy that Bradley Farrow (who I fell in love with in book 2) and Kate might be a thing.

book cover
New friend into old, the bond of the Sisterhood will never grow cold.

Life at Pemberly Brown is a whirlwind for Kate Lowry. Determined to finally destroy the secret society responsible for her best friend Grace’s death, Kate joins the Sisterhood hoping to go all Trojan Horse on their asses. But the night of her initiation another student at Pemberly Brown dies in what looks like tragic accident.

Kate knows better.

Kate and her faithful ginger, Seth Allen, immediately uncover a connection to the boy’s death and the secret societies that rule Pemberly Brown. But it’s not until Kate begins receiving pages from Grace’s old journal that she begins to piece together what really happened the night she died and how it connects to Pemberly Brown’s most recent tragedy.

Meanwhile, Kate’s ex-boyfriend Liam is following her around like an angry guard dog and she’s falling hard for the mysterious Bradley Farrow. Both boys are tied up in the mystery that surrounds Pemberly Brown, but only one of them can truly be trusted.

In this chilling conclusion to The Liar Society series Kate will fight to save her school from the evil that lurks beneath its hallowed halls. But will her quest destroy her or finally lead her to true love? She can only hope her third lie’s the charm.
The Liar Society: Third Lie's the Charm will be released on December 3, 2013 from Sourcebooks. For more info about the series, visit check out the authors' website. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.


"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here every Wednesday. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

book coverARC: 416 pages 
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: May 14, 2013
ISBN: 9780316220361
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Truth or Dare #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

When a simple round of truth or dare spins out of control, three girls find it’s no longer a party game. It’s do or die.
It all started on a whim: the game was a way for Tenley Reed to reclaim her popularity, a chance for perfect Caitlin “Angel” Thomas to prove she’s more than her Harvard application. Loner Sydney Morgan wasn’t even there; she was hiding behind her camera like usual. But when all three start receiving mysterious dares long after the party has ended, they’re forced to play along—or risk exposing their darkest secrets.
How far will Tenley, Caitlin and Sydney go to keep the truth from surfacing? And who’s behind this twisted game?
Set against the backdrop of Echo Bay, an isolated beach town haunted by misfortune,
Truth or Dare is a highly charged debut that will keep readers in suspense from beginning to end.




Caitlin and Tenley are best friends and two of my most popular girls in school. Sydney is a loner who finds solace behind the lens of her camera. But when someone starts leaving the three girls dares that threatens to reveal their secrets if they do not follow through, things quickly spiral out of control.

Each girl had experienced horrible tragedies and/or have a horrible home life--Sydney has a serial cheater of a dad and has pyromaniac tendencies; Tenley lost her dad and was left with her superficial mom; Caitlin was kidnapped when she was younger and is plagued by nightmares, is being pressured by her mom about Harvard, suffers from panic attacks, etc. Hence, they all have secrets they do not want to get out. But no matter the drama and awfulness the girls faced there was disconnect between myself as a reader and their characters. Tenley, Caitlin and Sydney went through terrible ordeals but I couldn't hurt or fear for them and fully empathize with theim as I wanted to. The way they were written felt almost clinical, they were missing that heart that makes you care for them.

What impressed me most was that Truth or Dare gave me the run around, trying to figure out who the sinister darer was. Usually, I am able to figure out who the bad guy was early on whenever I read mystery novels but, here, it took me a while. I had a theory as to who it was (and I was right!) but it was not until a major clue at about the last fourth of the book that I was 100% sure. I really liked that it kept me second guessing myself throughout.

Truth or Dare is a bit of a monster book at over 400 pages and the build up was huge and exciting to that final confrontation with the darer. Like I said, it gave me quite a run around trying to figure out who the bad guy was. Unfortunately, parts of that final confrontation was glazed over (I really wish the comeuppance of the darer wasn't told in a flashback after the event), which made it a bit of a let down. Also, the mystery continues on to book two and there were plenty of unanswered questions which was frustrating.

Okay, this is sounding like a negative review when I did ENJOY Truth or Dare.

It's one of those books that despite its major flaws, I still liked it. Because while I was disconnected to the characters and the ending left me frustrated, the mystery was engaging and the horrible secrets and drama was exciting. I kept reading wanting the next clue as to see if my bad guy theory was correct, I wanted to see what horrible thing the darer will make the girls do next, I wanted to see how the boy dramas and BFF dramas will all unfold... All of that was very readable.

I gotta say though, I found Truth or Dare a better read than The Rules for Disappearing (the other mystery/triller I've read this month).

Monday, May 27, 2013

book coverE-ARC: n/a pages 
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: June 4, 2013
ISBN: 9780316249096
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Duff 1.5, A Midsummer's Nightmare 1.5
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

Explore the uniquely teen world of high school drama, secrets, and romantic entanglements in these short stories that revisit a familiar cast of characters from THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) and A Midsummer's Nightmare, but from completely fresh perspectives that will intrigue fans of Kody Keplinger and new readers alike.
In "Abbreviations & Alliterations," fans of THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) will reconnect with BFFs Casey, Bianca and Jessica – all home for Christmas break. At a party, Casey makes out with Toby Tucker, who dated best friend Bianca senior year. And everyone knows the rule—you do not hook up with your friends’ exes!
In “People Worth Knowing,” enjoy the story of Bailey James (fans of A Midsummer's Nightmare may remember her as the adorable sister of Nathan and stepsister of Whitley)! New to the cheerleading squad at Hamilton High, Bailey is eager to make friends. But when Bailey inadvertently helps the most popular girl in school bully another student, she needs all the help she can get to set things straight.




Secrets & Lies contain 2 short stories, "Abbreviations & Alliterations" and "People Worth Knowing."

Abbreviations & Alliterations is a follow up to The Duff, the story is about Casey (Bianca's best friend--the tall, blonde one) and it is set after their first semester of college during winter break. Basically, Casey and Toby start to date and Casey hides it from Bianca because she felt that she was betraying her for dating B's ex-boyfriend.

I never considered Casey and Toby when I read The Duff but they work. They were so cute together! Toby was a such a sweetheart. I liked Casey too, despite her constant use of abbreviations (OMG, WTF, STFU, etc.) in everyday speech was a kinda silly (this habit of people drives me bonkers in real life--it did come to play in Casey's big gesture in the end that was just... cute, so I guess I can forgive her). This story is just a big ball of cuteness!

Even though the story was short, it was well-paced and satisfying. I also enjoyed "seeing" [still-cranky] Bianca and Wesley again. Overall, a great follow up to The Duff.

I was more to read more Casey, Toby, Bianca, Wesley and Jessica! I think Jessica needs an HEA too, Kody! Especially now that she may finally be "seeing the light" about Harrison Carlyle.

People Worth Knowing is about Bailey James, Whitley's stepsister from A Midsummer's Nightmare. We know that Bailey made the cheer squad towards the end of AMN. But being a cheerleader and trying to become friends with the most popular girl in school was way more complicated than Bailey first thought. When she unintentionally helped said popular girl bully another classmate, she knew had to make things right again.

Bailey's story was more serious but just wonderful as "Abbreviations & Alliterations." I really loved Bailey in AMN and it was fun reading more about her. How she handled the bullying situation with a little help from Whitley and Nathan--Go Bailey! The sort of twist in the end with the bullied girl was kinda unexpected. Kody Keplinger even managed to include an adorable "start of something" between Bailey and a cute sophomore. Great read!

Secrets & Lies is a MUST-READ for fans of The Duff and A Midsummer's Nightmare, or if you're new to Kody Keplinger's books, it will give you a taste of the awesomeness (but I must say that though the stories can be read as standalones, they are better if you read The Duff and AMN first). Despite the short length, both stories managed to be well-paced, satisfying and very, very enjoyable. More please, Ms. Keplinger!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

book coverE-ARC: 52 pages 
Publisher: Entangled Flirt
Release Date: May 13, 2013
ISBN: 9781622661398
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone 

Synopsis (from Goodreads) 
When Eden Carver, Iowa farm girl turned NY actress, decides to seduce the sexy cop next door, she begins to wonder if she’s bitten off more than she can chew. The last thing Officer Jay Bennett wants is to cross a line with the sweet and innocent country girl—no matter how much he’d like to help himself to a nibble. Not only are they in the friendship zone, a na├»ve girl like Eden doesn’t belong in his dangerous world. But when she asks him to help her rehearse lines, and things go from simmer to boil, he finds himself doing the one thing he swore he’d never do. He knows he needs to walk away from temptation, but when sweet little Eden bites back, it tilts his world on its axis. Because biting back changes everything.


Hold Me Down Hard is very short at only 51 pages and I read it one sitting. But even though it's not long it still packed plenty of steam.

 Basically the story was about Eden, a farm girl from Iowa who moved to New York to be an actress, and Jay, a city cop. They're good friends and neighbors and both were in lust with each other but neither made a move, each for their own various reasons. But, after learning that Eden sometimes runs her lines with Jay, Eden's friends suggested that Eden write her own steamy script and get Jay to "help" her so that she can then seduce him. She does and what happened after that was plenty steamy.

I will pretty much read any friends-to-lovers story (that was what drew me to read and review this one even though I usually avoid novellas) but I admit when I first started reading HMDH I wasn't sure if I was going to like it even though it was really short. It read much too cheesy for my tastes. Fortunately, it did get better and the voice/writing was good. Of course since it is a novella, things happen very quickly and simply and the characters were not very fleshed out--not that I minded because I didn't really want to spend more time with Eden and Jay.

It is a fluff read--quickly read and forgotten--but I think it packed enough punch and steam that it is enjoyable at the moment (which is basically what novellas aim to do). If you want to read something you don't have to dedicate a lot of time to, Hold Me Down Hard is worth looking into.
Why I covet this book: Because book 1 and 2 was freakin' excellent and I'm DYING to know how the series will conclude. All I gotta say is that Day and June better end up together, together. And the author won't pull a "cop out" (i.e., Mockingjay, Requiem, etc.) sort of ending.

book cover
The explosive finale to Marie Lu’s New York Times bestselling LEGEND trilogy!

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.
Champion will be released on November 5, 2013 (I already have it pre-ordered! EEeeepp!!). For more info and news about the novel, visit check out the author's website. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

And the other book I covet is--

Why I covet this book: I was going to stay far, far away from Covet even though I LOVED On the Island because there's a very strong hint that there's gonna be cheating (ARGH!!!) but after reading this review on Goodreads, I think I will read it after all.

I didn't think I was going to like On the Island but I ended up loving it so I'm going to trust that the author will work her magic and I'll end up liking (maybe even loving?!) Covet.

book cover
From the author of the New York Times bestseller On the Island.

What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross.
Covet will be released on September 17, 2013. For more info and news about the novel, visit check out the author's website. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.


"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here every Wednesday. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Good afternoon (or good evening?) fellow book lovers,
Are you looking for something to read this summer that is non-YA? We'd like to suggest A Certain Summer by Patricia Beard.

We haven't read A Certain Summer yet but we thought we'd dedicate a post about it since it is in our TBR pile and it is coming out tomorrow.

"Nothing ever changes at Wauregan.”

That mystique is the tradition of the idyllic island colony off the shore of Long Island, the comforting tradition that its summer dwellers have lived by for over half a century. But in the summer of 1948, after a world war has claimed countless men—even those who came home—the time has come to deal with history’s indelible scars.

Helen Wadsworth’s husband, Arthur, was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, but the official explanation was mysteriously nebulous. Now raising a teenage son who longs to know the truth about his father, Helen turns to Frank Hartman—her husband’s best friend and his partner on the mission when he disappeared. Frank, however, seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life that Arthur’s absence has left. As Helen’s affection for Frank grows, so does her guilt, especially when Peter Gavin, a handsome Marine who was brutally tortured by the Japanese and has returned with a faithful war dog, unexpectedly stirs new desires. With her heart pulled in multiple directions, Helen doesn’t know whom to trust—especially when a shocking discovery forever alters her perception of both love and war.

Part mystery, part love story, and part insider’s view of a very private world, A Certain Summer resonates in the heart long after the last page is turned.
From the lovely summer-y cover (LOVE!!) to the island setting, you should definitely keep this book under your radar this summer. For those who enjoy WWII-era reads, A Certain Summer explores what happen to families after the war is over.

Here's a taste:
Prologue

Nothing ever changed in Wauregan. That was the island's purpose, its life force--and its myth. If there were questions, there were answers, either in the Rule Book devised by its founders and unaltered in half a century, or in the collective memory of its summer people.

The colony's traditions had survived two world wars and the Great Depression, yet in the summer of 1948, undercurrents and disruptions caused by the recent conflict swirled and sucked.

Helen Wadsworth was not alone in needing the island's serenity to soothe her, although her situation was singular. The other women in the colony were either reunited with their husbands, if sometimes tenuously, or were war widows. Helen was officially neither. 

Four years earlier, her husband, Arthur, had been reported "missing, presumed dead" on an OSS mission in France. Since then, the War Office had not elaborated on the original statement. There was one person who might be able to tell her more, but like so many men who had returned from combat, particularly those who had served in the secret service, he had been particularly mute on the subject...
Be on the lookout for A Certain Summer at your favorite bookstore or library because it comes out on May 21st (tomorrow!). For more information about the book and to read other readers' thoughts about the novel, check out its Goodreads page.

Let us know what you think of the excerpt or any of your thoughts about the book.

Happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

book coverFormat: E-ARC
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: May 14, 2013
ISBN: 9781423168973
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Rules for Disappearing #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.
But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.


The Rules for Disappearing is one of the 2013 debuts I was most excited for because I just love the sound of the Witness Protection premise. Sadly, while it wasn't a bad read, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

We follow "Meg" (her real name is Anna) as she and her family are once again transfered to a new town by the Witness Protection Program. This time they are transplanted in a small Louisiana town and Meg is determined that this will be her family's last move--for that to happen she will have to lay low and not draw any attention to herself, especially in school. She is also making it her mission to figure out what her dad did to get them into the Witness Protection Program in the first place. However, her plans didn't quite work out because her family seem to attract attention like flowers attract bees and a cute boy, Ethan, was adamant in getting to know her and to be her friend.

Like I said, The Rules for Disappearing is not a bad read. If you are looking for a mystery-lite with a strong romance, you may enjoy this. But for me most of the story was too conventional, too cardboard. Nothing really surprised me when I was reading it and the twists I saw a mile away. There were some parts that may have added some meat to the story like Meg's alcoholic mom, her dad who may be making deals with the wrong people and the man who may not be who he says he is--they could have turned the story into a darker fare but they were mostly glazed over. Instead the story focused more on Meg's relationship with Ethan.

I am all for romance but I thought, Meg and Ethan got together too easily. I never really understood Ethan's interest in Meg in the first place because it seemed there wasn't much to like about her when they first met. Also, Ethan was too perfect to be realistic.

But I did sympathize for Meg/Anna's character--how she was dealing with all the moving around and her frustration of not understanding why they were in the Witness Protection Program, the pressure of keeping her family together and taking care of her little sister, and basically having to carry all her possessions with her (in her "go-bag") so that she and her sister will have their stuff in the highly likely chance that they will be plucked in the middle of the night and moved to a new location without warning. I felt sorry for her and I rooted for her to figure out the "whys" and hopefully help her family get out of Witness Protection.

The Rules for Disappearing did not quite live up to my expectations but it was still a pretty good read. If you like mystery/thrillers on the lighter side, you may enjoy it more than I did. Oh, and the daisies on the cover? **Wink** They show up at the end of the novel. While The Rules for Disappearing is not a book I'd recommend you run to the bookstore to buy, it's definitely worth borrowing in the library.


Enter to win a copy of The Rules for Disappearing:
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hello friends,
It is almost time for summer and if you're on the lookout for awesome beach reads, we have you covered. Just look for the "Michelle & Leslie-Approved Beach Read" stamp in the next few months!

We are featuring a novel that earned that [coveted] stamp today.
For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.
Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.
But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.
A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.
Here's a little taste of this summerific novel:
I loved being at Jules's house. It was big but not too big, buzzed with a mild, pleasant chaos, and smelled faintly like her mom's perfume. And Jules's room was my favorite. It had dark wooden floors and big windows with white, floaty curtains. It was painted a deep but calming blue. Jules called the color "Nantucket blue" because she said it was the color of the ocean on a clear day in Nantucket.

"Do you think I'll lose my virginity to Jay?" I asked, biting my lip to hide my smile, not wanting to jinx anything. Jules and I are both virgins, although she'd come very close last summer with some boarding-school guy.

"It's possible," Jules said. "But don't do it right away."

"Oh my god, no. Six-month rule," I said. Jules and I decided that six months was the perfect amount of time to got out with a guy before sex. With that kind of time, you would know you weren't being used. I lay back on the bed and started at the ceiling.

"I just thought of something bad," I said. "What if Jay turns out like his brother?" Jay has an older brother who was just like him in high school: gorgeous, popular, athletic, but he quit college, got arrested for drunk driving, and now lives at home and works at the bagel shop. "He's such a loser."

"Cricket," Jules said. "That's mean." But she was smiling. This was the thing about Jules. I could always say what I was really thinking to her and she wouldn't stop liking me. Actually, I got the feeling when I said stuff like this, stuff you can think but really shouldn't say, it made her like me more.

Nantucket Blue is out in stores and your public library now, so pick up a copy. This book is so GOOD! Read my thoughts about Nantucket Blue here. For more information, check out author Leila Howland's Tumblr and Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Happy reading,
Michelle
book coverFormat: E-ARC
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: May 7, 2013
ISBN: 9781423160519
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.
Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.
When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.
But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.
A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.


Take Nantucket Blue to with you when you go on your vacation--it is the perfect summer beach read!

I put off reading this novel because I wasn't a fan of the cover and the main character's name--I really thought I wasn't going to enjoy it. How very wrong I was! Once I started reading, I quickly devoured this novel and I was really sad to see Cricket (her name eventually grew on me) go after I finished reading it.

Nantucket Blue follows Cricket Thompson and her summer in Nantucket. We learn that Cricket's dad had remarried and her mom was still really down as a result of the divorce. Cricket was hanging out a lot at her best friend Jules Clayton's house to get away from her parents. She grew especially close to Jules's mom, the vivacious Nina. When she was invited to spend the summer with the Claytons in Nantucket, Cricket was ecstatic, largely because her long-time crush Jay Logan will be vacationing there too. But when Nina died suddenly of an aneurysm, everything changed. Jules became cold and distant and retracted Cricket's invite to spend the summer with her family.

Still determined to be close to her best friend and to be there for her while Jules was going through a tough time, Cricket took a job as a maid at an inn in Nantucket. Though Jules continue to be distant, Cricket formed new friendships with her co-workers and even became a sort of intern for a writer staying at the inn. She also soon found herself falling for a guy (not Jay Logan) she shouldn't be falling for. But will she work things out with Jules? Or, will her new relationship drive an even bigger wedge between them?

I really liked Cricket's character. She's the type of character I want to be friends with. She never gave up on Jules no matter how much she pushed her away. She made mistakes but she learned from them and because a better person. I enjoyed watching her grow up throughout the novel, from an insecure girl to someone with more self-confidence and self-assurance. I also really liked how she got closer to her mom and helped her come out of the melancholy she was in.

Nantucket Blue wouldn't be a perfect summer beach read without a romance and it did not disappoint in that department. Cricket's romance with her "secret lover" was really sweet and very swoony. It will definitely satisfy all the romantics out there.

The themes of friendship, family, growing up, teen sexuality, love, loss and healing was perfectly blended in this novel. The ending has what I like to call as "satisfyingly openended." Not everything was tied up nice and neat but, in this instance, I didn't mind the few loose ends that left us readers to imagine what will happen next. In my opinion, it's actually better this way. 

There was a lot to like in this novel and found nothing I disliked. The writing was well-done and the pacing was consistent throughout. I thought Howland's voice was terrific and I definitely want to read more by her. I highly recommend you read Nantucket Blue this summer (preferably at the beach with a nice, cool drink and the wind blowing through your hair)--trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Click the image for more M&L-Approved Beach Reads

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Friday + Dorm Packing

Friday, May 10, 2013 with
Hello friends,
Happy Friday!! It is craziness and chaos right now right now as I try to pack up and clean my dorm by... well, today.
Even though I finished my papers early and I didn't have to worry about finals, I still had finals brain because there's just always so MANY things to do in the last week before at the end of the school year. So, I didn't have time to write the Taken by Storm review I planned to do or any other posts for that matter. Sigh.

As for Leslie, she is headed to the Big Island (aka Hawaii island) this weekend with her school band and she'll be posting about her trip when she gets back.

But, yeah, we will be back next week with more posts, especially book reviews. For now, we have a couple of giveaways going on:
Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green. Ends 5/14.
and
Taken by Storm by Kelli Maine. Ends 5/20. US only.
Enter both if you haven't already. Have a great weekend everyone and happy reading!

-Michelle

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hello fellow romance readers,
If you're like me and like reading second-chance romance and have been bitten by the NA (new adult) reading bug, then I think you will like Taken By Storm (out May 7th--tomorrow!) by Kelli Maine.
The emotional rollercoaster of the USA TODAY bestselling Give & Take series by Kelli Maine continues with MJ and Maddie's story!

DECEPTION
Maddie Simcoe knows the devastation that comes from keeping secrets. Now, she's desperate to move on from the heartbreak that almost destroyed her -- trading wild passion that once made her knees weak for a life of comfortable stability. But before Maddie can start over, she must return home to put the past behind her once and for all...

PASSION
When Maddie blows back into MJ Rocha's life, nothing will stop him from proving to her that walking away from him was the biggest mistake of her life -- not even the engagement ring she wears. Her every look, every touch tells MJ that the fire that once raged between them still burns hot, and MJ won't give up until Maddie gives in to the inferno.

REDEMPTION
Trapped by a hurricane roaring through Turtle Tear Island, MJ and Maddie find shelter in each others' arms. While the lightning flashes, MJ and Maddie are helpless to fight bonds of desire that tie them together. But just as they're about to surrender to the torturous longing that consumes them both, the storm unleashes violent secrets from MJ's past...secrets that could wash away all MJ and Maddie's hopes of forever...
Taken By Storm is one of the books I am currently reading. Look for my review later this month. Need to read reviews now? Check out Taken By Storm's Goodreads page and read what others are saying about this book.

Want something to whet your appetite? Here's an excerpt (Warning: Some profanity ahead.):
"Were you and MJ always friends?" Rachael asked. "I'm sorry. It's none of my business. You just looked a little wistful when you talked about him."

Maddie clutched the edge of the bench. "We were more once, but we weren't good together."

"Why were you bad together?" Rachael asked.

Maddie hadn't told a soul the real reason she'd left MJ. It had been eating away at her for over a year. She wanted to tell someone so badly, but the words were locked deep inside.

"We just were. What we had wasn't a get-married-and-grow-old-together kind of love. It's the kind that burns too fast and explodes. It was too intense." Maddie leaned back and looked up at the sky. "It was young love and not a real, adult relationship that takes into account jobs and futures and goals and the gritty, everyday things that couples face." Maddie sighed. "It was kids' play."

***
Bullshit.

MJ stood listening at the library window. Listening and seething. 

"Kids' play my ass," he muttered. She was afraid. He didn't know why, but he'd make her face her fear.

He'd let her stay away far too long. Now she had these crazy-ass thoughts in her head. 

But that was about to change.
Intense, right? Now that you've read the excerpt, enter to win a copy of Taken By Storm! We have one copy to give away to a lucky reader of this blog. Ends 5/20 and open to US residents only. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck and happy reading,
Michelle

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Feature and Follow

Thursday, May 2, 2013 with
Hello new (and old) bookish friends,
I am finally out of my homework cave that I've been in since Monday and it feels great! And now I want to make new book blogging friends and there's no better way than a joining in on the fun of a Feature & Follow post. YAY!!
Just a little bit about me: I'm Michelle and I am one of the owners of this here blog--the other is my sister Leslie. We are both avid readers of YA novels. I love to read romance novels too and recently I've been really into new adult novels. My favorite authors include Melina Marchetta, Kody Keplinger, Jaclyn Moriaty, Lorelei James, Julie James, Laura Griffin, among others.

Outside of blogging, I am currently pursuing my Masters in library science (future librarian! woo-hoo!!). I love eating out, especially if it's sushi. I love watching movies and TV (my current faves are The Voice, New Girl, Modern Family, Happy Endings, The New Normal... if it's a smart comedy, I'm there).

As for our blog, we mostly feature/review young adult novels and romance novels. We also do a lot of author interviews, giveaways (we're currently giving away TRUTH OR DARE by Jacqueline Green), blog tour posts and memes like WoW and StS.

I just started reading:

If you got to us first, please leave a comment with your blog link and I'll be sure to stop by and follow. Thanks for visiting us!

Love,
Michelle