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Books I’ve Read: Make It Count by Megan Erickson

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Make It Count
Series: Bowler University #1
Author: Megan Erickson
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 2014
Source: Bought
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

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I actually read this for the first time ages ago and then treated myself to the rest of the series when I was able to. Having said that I went back to refresh my memory of the characters their interactions and relationships. You may already know I work in education and have recently undertaking a training course covering different learning styles and barriers to learning. It made me analyse the way I learn and I was shocked to discover I have a real problem focusing on tasks. I always joked I had ADD because of how easily distracted I am with everything apart from reading. It turns out I really do have an attention problem, the less I was able to focus the more anxious I got and the less I was able to focus. A vicious cycle. you may be wondering why I am rambling on about learning styles and ADD, I do have a point I promise. Megan Erickson brilliantly portrays the struggle a person, in this case Kat, has with traditional  education. I could easily relate to Kat and the way her brain jumps from one thing to another :)

The story is told using third person narrative due to the myriad of tiny but completely relevant plot threads all twining together as the story progresses. The narrative alternates between Kat and Alec allowing insight into their inner thoughts and how easily words can be misinterpreted.

As I have already stated, Kat struggles in school but is determined to make something of herself when she could easily take the easy road by working for her parents. with undiagnosed dyslexia, Kat works extremely hard and views herself as stupid. She plays the part of airhead very well and tends to choose ‘meatheads’ for boyfriends so they don’t look below her beautiful surface. it is a way of protecting herself emotionally. My heart actually hurt for the way in which she views herself. I have a whole new appreciation for students with attention problems. I loved the strategies Kat has in place to help with her assignments and should really make a note of them for myself :)

Kat really doesn’t see herself clearly and is defining herself via her struggle with education. She is an amazing, caring, compassionate person. Kat is one of those people who would give you her last penny without thought, she goes above and beyond for her friends.

Alec is adorably rockabilly geeky, intelligent and fit thanks to running. Drawn to Kat on an elemental level yet conflicted due to her relationship with his best friend, Max. The chemistry between Alex and Kat is undeniable. You can see from very early on in the story they are meant to be together.

While the education debate and stigma of learning difficulties is tackled within the narrative. The theme of identity is covered and Megan Erickson does it so well. Looking at the drive to find the one person who sees us for who we truly are and loves that person unconditionally, I would go so far as to say the person who makes you a better person just by being with them. All while forging our own path even if it is found unexpectedly.

There is a lot going on in Make It Count laying the foundation for the series. Make It Count tackles a number of issues while maintaining the chemistry and romance within the plot.

Review: The Moment of Letting Go by JA Redmerski

Received from Publisher

Received from Publisher

Title: The Moment of Letting Go
Author: J Redmerski
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Publication Date: 11 Aug 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Piatkus in paperback original, 3rd September 2015, £8.99

You can follow the rules or you can follow your heart…

 

Sienna Murphy never does anything without a plan. And so far her plans have been working. Right after college, she got a prestigious job and gained the stability she’d always craved – until work takes her to the sun-drenched shores of Oahu and places her in the path of sexy surfer Luke Everett. For the first time, she lets her heart take control. Drawn to his carefree charm, she makes a spontaneous and very un-Sienna-like decision to drop everything and stay in Hawaii for two more weeks.

Luke lives fast and wild. When he meets Sienna, he’s convinced that some no-strings-attached fun is just what she needs. As their nights quickly turn from playful to passionate, Luke can’t deny the deep connection he feels. But there’s a reason Luke doesn’t do long-term. He can’t promise Sienna forever, when the enormity of his past has shown him just how fragile the future can be . . .

 About the author
J.A. Redmerski, New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries.

Received from Publisher

Received from Publisher

REVIEW 

I don’t know if anyone else has said this, BUT this story really reminds me of the movie Point Break but without the crime :) Personally, I really don’t understand people who do extreme sports and the glimpse at BASE jumping through the narrative re-affirmed my belief that adrenaline junkies be cray-cray.

I am not going to go into detail regarding the plot as you have to experience it for yourself in order to understand the emotions it encompasses. The narrative contains themes of grief, overcoming personal fears, gaining confidence and inner strength. The Moment of Letting Go views the world in an optimistic fashion whereby everyone should pursue their dreams as opposed by being weighed down by the reality of achieving economic stability. Looking at life to be lived rather than survived.

The dual narrative provided clarity to the themes already stated, there is a lot going on within the story, but it is dealt with in an understated manner; the pacing feels unhurried and yet, intensely emotional.

The characters are amazing and the true heart of The Moment of Letting Go. The transformation they undergo both individually and together allows personal reflection on following your dreams, trust, friendship and love as well as the ability to be non-judgemental of other people’s life choices.

The connection between Sienna and Luke is instantaneous and elemental from their first eye contact. While their relationship does progress quickly within the story the feeling of fate bringing them together adds to the romance overall.

The beautiful setting of Hawaii adds to both the romance and the imagery within the narrative.

 The Moment of Letting Go is one of those stories that clear away all of the necessary clutter we accumulate in our lives and break down what is truly important. We are all the sum of our experiences and who we share those experiences with is one of the greatest choices we make to ensure our own personal happiness.

Books I’ve Read: Dirty Little Lies by Clare James

Books

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Dirty Little Lies 
Series: Quick and Dirty #1
Author: Clare James
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: Jan 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Twenty-nine-year-old Stevie Sinclair has just lost everything: her boyfriend, her apartment, even her ugly bird named Free. (Yeah, she knows it’s stupid name, so don’t start.) But most importantly, Stevie’s lost herself.

As she shuffles through her days in worn-out Hello Kitty PJs—eating ice cream, sipping wine, and contemplating her next move—a magazine article catches her attention. Blaring black letters read: “How to Get Your Sexy Back in Six Easy Steps.”

Stevie studies the article in the trashy magazine like the good student she is and immediately knows what she has to do. With the magazine article in hand, and a bottle of red in her bag, Stevie embarks on a journey to reclaim her life and win back her ex.

Until she meets Gabe Shannon. Gorgeous, single, and on a quest of his own, Gabe introduces Stevie to a lifestyle that is sure to help get her sexy back and then some. If she doesn’t chicken out … (Oh, you know where this is going.)

What follows is a story of self-discovery, romantic gestures, erotic encounters, and following one’s heart–even if it leads in unexpected directions.

 

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I fell in love with Stevie from the very first page, she is a very relatable character, from her love of old movies, her vintage/rockabilly style and sarcastic wit she shines within the sea of plastic people.

Comfortable in her relationship yet lacking in passion, Stevie is devastated to think Max has been cheating on her. The little glimpses of Max label him as a douche nozzle, however, first impressions can be deceiving. The tangled web of plot threads is masterfully unwoven in tantalizing tidbits.

Setting out to gain control of her life and her womanhood, Stevie makes an unconventional list. Of course, the gorgeous stranger she encounters in a bar, Gabe, is all too willing to help her tick the items off her list 😉 I could really go with one of those lists if it included meeting someone like Gabe :) I’ve got to be honest and say the whole idea of ‘special’ clubs is a little outside my comfort zone, but fun to read about.

I am not going to go into detail about the plot apart from to say there is more than meets the eye going on within these pages. The continual little plot twists maintain the excitement and tension within the narrative.

The story is fast paced and practically combustible yet it is the heart-warming character development that is at the heart of the story and the element that makes Dirty Little Lies stand out in this particular genre.

Tantalizing Trailers: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Tantalizing Trailers: Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Falconer
Series: The Falconer #1
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date:

Synopsis from Goodreads

One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

Review: Bounce by Noelle August

Received from Publisher

Received from Publisher

Title: Bounce
Series: Boomerang #3
Author: Noelle August
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 25 Aug 20145
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Playing the occasional club gig just isn’t cutting it for twenty-two-year-old cellist Skyler Canby, who’s trying to support herself and her mother back home in Kentucky. Persuaded by her best friend Beth to accompany her on an audition for the first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment, she figures why not? Beth’s a shoe-in for the lead, but maybe Skyler’s newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out enough to score a small speaking part.

Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she’ll land the lead role or that she’ll have her shoes knocked off her feet by the kiss her audition partner, Grey Blackwood, plants on her—a kiss that feels very real and not at all “acted. ”

After throwing a party that causes thousands of dollars of damage to his older brother’s home, reckless musician Grey Blackwood gets roped into working off his debt on the set of his CEO brother’s newest project. Grey spends his days fetching coffee and doing odd jobs around the studio, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. He knows if he can stay focused, success as a singer is just around the corner. But that’s tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought.

Skyler and Grey have every reason to resist each other. But, like a song neither of them can get out of their minds, they have no choice but to go where the music takes them.

REVIEW 

Please remember this is the third book in the series and therefore, the review may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Skyler and Grey have been prominent peripheral characters within this series and I was over-joyed that not only did they get their own book but they were paired together. I am sure I am not the only person to read this series and imagine them together, they just seemed to fit despite Grey’s age.  Both talented musicians and extremely empathetic to others needs, tending to be selfless even if outward appearances would suggest otherwise in Grey’s case.

Both have emotional issues stemming from their upbringing. Grey’s barriers stem from abandonment issues via his birth mother and living in a family of over-achievers. An emotional barrier formed at the tentative age of 5 is a sizeable and deep-rooted problem to overcome. The authors do an amazing job of showing happiness is a choice within the narrative; finding something to channel your energy into and receiving fulfilment and contentment as a reward. I really loved seeing Grey’s eyes open to becoming hopeful.

Whereas, Sky has taken on a care-taker role within her family, emotionally and financially. She is utterly selfless although it borders on martyrdom at times. Initially, she is the epitome of pessimism; worrying about anything and everything while creating negative scenarios within her imagination. No wonder she struggles emotionally not having had anyone to take care of her. Although Grey is younger than Sky by a few years, he provides the level of care and attention Sky desperately needs and deserves.

The theme of identity plays an important role within Bounce delving into how we view ourselves as opposed to how we feel others view us; these contradictions within our minds can play a large part in our actions and subsequent consequences, as clearly portrayed with Grey and Sky. Realising your own worth is one of the foundation steps of making your own road to happiness.

It was a joy to see the continuation of the other characters from the previous books and follow Beth’s burgeoning relationship alongside the fireworks caused by Grey and Sky. Although I have to say I did not understand Brookes at all and am wondering if he is going to  get his own story?????

Garrett is an amazing minor character within Bounce, he adds sass to the story in an adorable camp fashion. He is sincere in his friendship with both Sky and Grey. undertaking the role of mentor and confidant with his idiosyncratic personality.

Body image issues make an ugly appearance within the narrative, as can be expected within the highly competitive and media focused world of acting. It was disturbing to discover fashion designers restrict the sizing of the clothes they manufacture aiding in the size zero culture promoted at presetn. Playing on people’s insecurities and requiring desperate measures in order to squeeze into the fashion/body image perception box that has been placed on women especially.

Although the romance is an integral part of Bounce for me it was the character development that really made the story. If you take anything away fro this remember HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE ♥