[ARC Talk] Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

Book Details:

Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Raincoast Books)
Read: August 2017

Synopsis:

A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.

With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.

Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Raincoast Books for a review copy of this book! 

I always love getting contemporary romance books for review. I’m kind of over the dystopian, post-apocalyptic books right now, but a good contemporary book I can always devour.

This book started out just how I love my books – quirky and fun, with adorable characters who have great chemistry. I loved the relationship between Jenny and Chance but while it was cute in the beginning, it seemed to get pretty serious crazy fast. And this isn’t romance that I’m talking about! Can insta-friendship be a thing? Like, one moment you didn’t know this person and the next they’re your best friend the only person you would do anything for. It just wasn’t believable.

I also thought that this book could have done well enough on its own with two people falling in love (not totally a spoiler, since it’s in the synopsis), but there was way too much drama thrown in, especially parental drama. The parents weren’t realistic at all to me. I also kind of despised the romantic drama in the book and I felt like a lot of it gave the wrong message to young readers.

I did like that this book was told in alternating POVs, something I love reading, and it’s nice to get into both of the main characters’ heads in a story. Ultimately, though, that wasn’t enough for me to really enjoy the story the way I wanted to – there were just too many flaws. I did enjoy reading it and especially loved the first half, but it’s probably not a book I’d recommend.

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[Book Talk] Lucky In Love by Kasie West

Book Details:

Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Read: July 2017

Synopsis:

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

My Thoughts

Without a doubt, I absolutely love Kasie West. I’m sad because I’ve now caught up on ALL of her books and now have to wait for the next new one! And this book I was really looking forward to reading because I also read Jennifer E. Smith’s book Windfall earlier this month, which is another book based on a teen winning the lottery. While I thought that one was good, but not great, I was eager to read this one to see if my thoughts differed.

Honestly, while I love Jennifer E. Smith’s writing, I feel like Kasie West’s book was much better. There’s just something about her writing that made this book not about the money but all about the money. It’s very much about relationships and I adored the romance in this book. It was slightly cliche, the whole idea of someone not knowing about your fortune so they can’t treat you any different, but I loved it all the same. I loved the zoo setting and how we got a glimpse into Kasie’s parents’ relationship – also, that we didn’t get all of this information until after the lottery win. It was nice to get a good background rather than the story starting off with such a big thing happening. Like any book about winning the lottery, this story was about finding who your true friends are and really figuring our who you are after such a life change.

Can we also just talk about how perfect the cover is? I love that I can see the characters as Maddie and Seth, and they’re right there at the carousal in the zoo. Too many times I look at a book cover and wonder how it fits in with the story but this one was perfectly planned. And the colours are just gorgeous! It’s the perfect summer book cover.

I might be biased, but I love Kasie West. She’s one of my favourite YA contemporary authors in that she writes stories that are full of relationships, from familial to romantic, as well as fun situations that seem both normal and out there situations. I can’t wait until her next book!

[Book Talk] The Drowned Girls (Angie Pallorino, #1) by Loreth Anne White

Book Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Thomas Allen & Sons)
Read: August 2017

Synopsis:

He surfaced two years ago. Then he disappeared …

But Detective Angie Pallorino never forgot the violent rapist who left a distinctive calling card—crosses etched into the flesh of his victim’s foreheads.

When a comatose Jane Doe is found in a local cemetery, sexually assaulted, mutilated, and nearly drowned, Angie is struck by the eerie similarities to her earlier unsolved rapes. Could he be back?

Then the body of a drowned young woman floats up in the Gorge, also bearing the marks of the serial rapist, and the hunt for a predator becomes a hunt for a killer. Assigned to the joint investigative task force, Angie is more than ready to prove that she has what it takes to break into the all-male homicide division. But her private life collides with her professional ambitions when she’s introduced to her temporary partner, James Maddocks—a man she’d met the night before in an intense, anonymous encounter.

Together, Angie and Maddocks agree to put that night behind them. But as their search for the killer intensifies so does their mutual desire. And Angie’s forays into the mind of a monster shake lose some unsettling secrets about her own past . . .

How can she fight for the truth when it turns out her whole life is a lie?

My Thoughts

Thank you to Thomas Allen & Sons for a copy of this book! 

Whether it’s a review book I pick, or an unsolicited review book, or a book someone gave to me, or a book curated through a book box, I feel like there’s always this feeling I have that I’m NOT going to like the book. I don’t know what the difference is between this and if I buy the book myself in a store, but there’s always this weird bias in my head when I start reading any of these books.

However, a lot of the time I’m pleasantly surprised and such was the case with Loreth Anne White’s book, The Drowned Girls. My book blogging friend Ambur sent me a copy, thinking I’d like it, and immediately I was drawn into the gorgeous cover and the heft of the book. It’s just over 500 pages and I was in the mood for a good mystery that would pull me in and have me hooked. And this book had me so hooked!

As I read the story about Detective Angie Pallorino and her search for the person who is killing the young “drowned” girls, I immediately felt like I was reading a mystery a la Kelly Armstrong or the like. Angie was an awesome character. She was tough, resilient, sexual, and just such a great female lead. I loved that along with the mystery of the story, she also had a mystery of her own she had to solve. I instantly loved her and pretty much 100 pages in I had to see when the next book in the series would be out because I was for sure adding it to my reading list.

I also love that there’s ROMANCE in this book – I have a soft spot for romance in any genre of book, but I do love mysteries where two people fall in love. It’s not usually a sweet kind of love that you’d find in your usual romance book, but it’s intense, sometimes forbidden, and there’s usually a reason why these two people can’t be together. I loved the romantic lead and also that the romance wasn’t first and foremost in the story. First we have the mystery of the main story, then the mystery of Angie’s past, and then the romance. It’s hot and heavy, but not too hot and heavy to be deemed erotic, but just right for a book like this.

Honestly, I finished this book so interested in reading more of the author’s work, I loved it that much. And I have The Lullaby Girl already on my wishlist – it comes out in November and hopefully we get more of Angie’s story as well as a solid mystery!