Blog Tour + Book Review + Book Playlist + Giveaway: Only The Good Die Young by KK Hendin

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Only The Good Die YoungTitle: Only The Good Die Young

Author: KK Hendin

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: I received this e-book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review as part of this blog tour

The first year of college is supposed to be about parties, parties, and getting the hell out of Texas. Instead, Milcah Daniels is spending her eighteenth year in and out of Houston’s hospitals. Her hair is falling out, they’ve cut off her boobs, and if she makes it to nineteen, she’ll consider it a personal miracle.

Breast cancer really has a way of messing with a girl’s social calendar.

When Milcah’s temporarily discharged from the hospital, she’s determined to get a tattoo for every medical procedure she’s had. Her quest leads her to Skin Stories, a new tattoo parlor a block from her apartment. And to it’s infuriatingly sexy artist, Callum Scott.

Callum is everything Milcah wants, and everything she shouldn’t have now. A new relationship when the official prognosis is one to five years is a terrible idea. But Callum doesn’t know about the breast cancer, and Milcah’s not running to tell him.

But when the doctor says things are actually looking positive, her entire life turns upside down. How is she supposed to start living again when she’s finally learned to accept her death?

Where do I even begin with this story? I don’t think I have ever been as torn apart as I was while reading through Milcah’s story. It was one of those stories that had happy moments, heart breaking moments and then moments that hit me so strongly that I had to stop in the middle of a scene to just let it all soak in.

Milcah is by far one of the most realistic and complex characters I have ever read. I would say that my heart went out to her during this story but I sort of have a feeling that would end with me getting a lifetime supply of glares from Milcah. Her story was as tough as she was. I wanted so badly for her to just be alright. For the cancer to be gone, for her boobs to still be there, for her to feel no more fear. But that is not the way life goes and I applaud KK Hendin for not sugar-coating a single second of it. Through the endless doctor appointments, through getting her boobs cut off, through leaving her life behind and trying to start all over by herself, Milcah was a fierce fighter whether she realized it or not. I loved this strength she had about her but at the same time, I also loved her fear. I know that may sound kind of weird but it made her even more real to me. Milcah’s fear of death, of being sick, of loving and living was what a lot of this story was about and it was these little messages that KK wrote so beautifully that had me turning page after page.

While I loved the deeper, heart-felt, thought-provoking moments in this book to absolute pieces, I also loved the fact that the story was enriched with fun, light-hearted moments brought on by Milcah’s sassiness and Callum’s general awesomeness. I loved that through the pain and sickness Milcah was able to hold true to who she was which was this feisty, say-it-how-she-means-it type of girl. But a certain boy makes Milcah second guess everything she believed before. I loved that Callum was this walking, talking, extremely good-looking mass of sweetness, surprise, and compassion. He was there for Milcah, supported her, pushed her beyond her comfort zone, and taught her what it meant to really live. I loved that while he looked like a total bad-ass, he was this super sweet man who would do anything for Milcah.

While I loved just about everything this truly beautiful story had to offer, I couldn’t help but wish that it were longer. I wanted to know more about Milcah, more about her family, and more about her relationship with Callum. To me it felt like it ended way too early but I can certainly see why KK ended it the way she did. It wrapped up nicely but not perfect, on a happy not but not on a for-sure one. In a way, I couldn’t see this story ending differently.

Only The Good Die Young isn’t a story you take lightly. It will break your heart, multiple times actually, it will make you swoon, make you happy, make you cry, and even make you think about life, death, and everything else in between. It isn’t an easy story to read for those reasons but despite how hard it is the brutally, beautifully honest way it is written makes it all worth it in the end.

BOOK PLAYLIST:

KK has put together an awesome playlist to go along with Only The Good Die Young. After reading the book and now listening through the songs, I could so see where they play a part in this story. I hope you all enjoy listening to it!

I spent a lot of time simultaneously attempting to draft this book and g-chatting one of my dear friends, Alex Brown. Somehow, our conversations ended up with us trading songs that made us cry. To get us in the mood of writing sad things, I guess :) Or because we’re both twisted souls. Both of these are entirely possible.

Some songs that were on repeat while I was drafting:

Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

Fix You by Coldplay (or this version from the Sing-Off)

Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine

Let Love In by Goo Goo Dolls

For Good from Wicked (Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel)

Falling Slowly from Once (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

Leave from Once (Glen Hansard)

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Bright Lights and Cityscapes by Sara Bareilles

Hero by Family of the Year (recommended to me by the lovely Tabitha Martin)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

KK Hendin’s real life ambition is to become a pink fluffy unicorn who dances with rainbows. But the schooling for that is all sorts of complicated, so until that gets sorted out, she’ll just write. Preferably things with angst and love. And things that require chocolate. She’s the author of the NA contemporaries HEART BREATHS and ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG.

She spends way too much time on Twitter, where she can be found at @kkhendin, and rambles on occasion over at www.kkhendinwrites.blogspot.com.

Blog // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK:

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes and Noble

GIVEAWAY:

Click here to enter the giveaway!

FOLLOW THE TOUR:

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Blog Tour + Book Review + Sneak Peek + Giveaway: He Belongs With Me by Sarah Darlington

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He Belongs With Me

Title: He Belongs With Me

Author: Sarah Darlington

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Source: I received this book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review

Two girls. One Leo.

Identical twins, Maggie and Clara Ryder, both grew up with Leo Maddox, billionaire playboy, apparent alcoholic, and heir to his grandfather’s world-famous Maddox hotel empire. Their roles were cemented long ago: Maggie, as his best friend and Clara as his childhood nemesis.

But when a simple twist of fate changes everything and both girls start to fall for the lean, mean, ridiculously sexy and seemingly spoiled Leo… which girl will win his heart?

Throw in a little mischief, drama, and one smoking-hot bartender and lines are sure to blur. But one thing’s for certain, neither good-girl Maggie nor rebellious Clara will be satisfied until they each figure out where they belong.

He Belongs With Me was a book that ended up surprising me. It was funnier than I first expected, sweeter than I could have imagined it being, and the characters had me in a constant state of indecision when it came to picking a favorite.

I appreciated that this book was written in dual points of view. First off, I simply love dual POV’s when they are done right and secondly, this book is about twins so it really allowed me to get to know both Maggie and Clara. They may be twins but they are incredibly different girls with totally different sides of the story. It was actually really fun thinking I knew all about one character and then learned something very different when the POV changed.

At the beginning, I loved Maggie. She is a hard worker, a good daughter, responsible, and always doing the right thing. My heart went out to her because from the very beginning we learned that she’s had her heart-broken by a sucky ex-boyfriend and her twin sister, the one person she is supposed to be closest with. Luckily Maggie has her best friend to confide in. Leo is one of those guys every girl wants for a best friend (or perhaps more!) He is super attractive, yes, but he is also kind, fiercely protective, and always there when you need him. He may have his share of problems, but he seems like a genuinely nice guy…unless your name is Cora.

Cora was a character I told myself I was going to hate. After hearing what she did to Maggie, I couldn’t help but feeling that way towards her. However, things in this book aren’t always as they seem and as the story went on, Cora very quickly became my very favorite. She turned out to be more complex and layered than any other character in the book. She is a little wild and a little crazy yes, but in her own way, she is also thoughtful and almost sort of sweet. She is just a little lost and lonely and a lot misunderstood but I so enjoyed watching her grow and learning more and more about her throughout this book.

Because of her actions towards Maggie, Leo is actually pretty mean to her. But since things in this story are never quite what you think they are, I soon found out Leo’s bitterness towards Cora is just a cover. Like Cora, Leo is a character I enjoyed more and more as the story went on. He definitely seemed like a different person around Maggie than he did Cora and it was a bit hard to get a grasp on the “true” Leo but I can say that at the end of the story, I was really happy with who the real Leo turned out to be.

While I enjoyed a lot about this book there were a few things that I wish were a bit different. I think in this story Cora and Leo really stole the show. Perhaps that’s the way it was supposed to go but I just didn’t find myself loving Maggie and Dean as much. They weren’t as well-rounded as Cora & Leo and their relationship just seemed off to me. I kept hoping there would redeem themselves for me by the end of the book but when I finished reading, my feelings were just so/so on the couple.

I liked that this book was full of surprises! I loved that neither Cora nor Leo was quite what they seemed! The direction this story took, who ended up with who, and the overall happy feeling of the book was unexpected, but unexpected in a good way! It is definitely worth the read if you are looking for a fun, quick romance!

If this book had a song, it would be….

Somebody to Love by Queen

I had fun picking the song for this book! You have four 20-something year olds all trying to find someone to love, all thinking they know who they should love and I guess sometimes it just doesn’t work out how you think it will.

SNEAK PEEK:

“Clara?” His eyes searched my face, screaming with unexpected vulnerability and fear. He seemed genuinely worried about me. “What’s going on? Say something, please. Are you okay?”

I nearly lost my nerve. How easy it would have been to kiss him and fall into his arms all over again? A big piece of me wanted to do just that, but one moment of weakness was all I was going to allow myself for the day. “Am I okay?” I asked him, trying to sound indifferent and not angry. “What’s that annoying code word you and Maggie used to say all the time? The two of you probably thought I was too dumb to crack that little language you created to use against me. Oh yeah, I remember now. Peaches. I’m just totally peaches.”

Standing tall, I reached my arm above his head and slowly poured the remaining contents of my beer on top of him. A shocked breath left his lips, but he didn’t budge and took the beer shower like a man. “Real mature, Clara,” he grunted, glaring a shitload of hate-fire my way as the liquid coated his hair, face, and clothes. Angry as hell and soaking wet was a good look on him.

“That’s for making me care,” I told him, setting my empty glass back down on the table. Then my hand swung hard and made stinging contact with his wet face. “That’s for being a jerk to me since we were kids. And this…” I stood up on my tiptoes, grabbed hold of his handsome, shocked face, and planted one firm kiss on his wet lips. “That’s so you know I’m not fucking around.” I held onto him for another moment. “Prove it to me,” I whispered. “Prove to me you aren’t an ass and I’m all yours.”

Then I pulled away, turned on my heel, and left Leo standing there, soaking wet and stunned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Darlington

Sarah Darlington is obsessive by nature. When she gets an idea in her mind, it becomes impossible to shake. Take her debut novel, HE BELONGS WITH ME, for example. Before deciding to write New Adult Romance, she wrote three different versions of the same Young Adult Novel where her main characters were teenage superheros from an alternative universe. It never worked.  It drove her crazy. Then she dropped the superhero bit, added some spice, and suddenly everything started to click. She found her niche. And if it hadn’t been for her obsessive nature she never would have learned how to write in the process.

Sarah lives in Virginia, is married to her high school sweetheart, and is currently spending her days chasing around a very active toddler. When she gets a chance to breathe, she writes.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK:

Goodreads // Amazon // Amazon UK // Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY:

Click here to enter the giveaway!

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Book Review + Book Playlist: Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine

Best Kind of Broken

Title: Best Kind of Broken (Finding Fate #1)

Author: Chelsea Fine

Publisher: Forever, and imprint of Grand Central Publishing

Release Date: TOMORROW!!! (March 4th, 2014)

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Source: I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review

Pixie and Levi haven’t spoken in nearly a year when they find themselves working―and living―at the same inn in the middle of nowhere. Once upon a time, they were childhood friends. But that was before everything went to hell. And now things are… awkward.

All they want to do is avoid each other, and their past, for as long as possible. But now that they’re forced to share a bathroom, and therefore a shower, keeping their distance from one another becomes less difficult than keeping their hands off each other. Welcome to the hallway of awkward tension and sexual frustration, folks. Get comfy. It’s going to be a long summer.

Goodness gracious you guys, I freaking loved the guts out of this book. Chelsea Fine has a way of crafting a story that is as honest as it is beautiful, as heartbreaking as it is hopeful, and as snort-inducing as it is tear-creating. In the pages of this book I fell in love with the characters, their past, their present, and everything else in between

When it comes to main characters, Pixie was as perfectly imperfect as they come. Her personality was so freaking realistic that I kept hoping she were a real person so I could be best friends with her. It was easy to see from the first few chapters that Pixie had faced something tragic making her a little more closed off than normal. Her heartbreak was evident for sure but what I loved most is that Chelsea made her a fun and enjoyable character despite all the sadness that surrounds Pixie and her past. She would go off on these long and rambly tangents when she was stressed or embarrassed, the little quirks she thought to herself or even spoke out loud were hilarious, her way of interacting with Levi (i.e. blowing the fuse while he was doing something) had me laughing the whole time, and the way she carries herself was just so very enjoyable and made her one of my all-time favorite female MC’s.

When it comes to Levi, I loved him just as much as Pixie but for different reasons. While Pixie has this hilarious, quirky personality that helps to hide the pain she carries, Levi wears his pain and guilt like someone would wear their clothes. My heart went out to this guy because I could tell just how broken he was over what happened between him and Pixie in the past. Like Pixie though, Chelsea wrote Levi has an incredibly enjoyable character despite the darkness and sadness that surrounds him. I love that he was such a guy in this book. He was territorial and protective of Pixie but not in a creepy way, more of a “I really, really, REALLY care about you” way. He was also very sweet and caring even if it didn’t always come across that way. Seeing the way he took care of Pixie in the past and the subtle ways he tries to do the same for her in the present made me realize just how great of a guy he truly was.

The book would be pretty great if it was ONLY about Pixie and Levi but Chelsea added in characters like Jenna, Pixie’s best friend, Zack, Levi’s best friend, and Ellen, Pixie’s aunt who happens to be hers and Levi’s boss, and this book went from pretty great, to absolutely, positively AMAZING. If you know anything at all about me, you know I lurrrve me some fantastically written secondary characters who could pretty much have a book written all about them. Well it is my pleasure to tell you that Best Kind of Broken is chop-full of them. Jenna is this feisty, hard-ass, but also super supportive best friend and I absolutely love the fact that she is there for Pixie but also doesn’t push Pixie to share about her past until she’s ready. And then there’s Zack who I absolutely ADORED. Chelsea, if you are reading this, could you please make a book, a novella, even just a teaser devoted entirely to him? Zack was really freaking hilarious but not in a in-your-face-cracking-jokes-non-stop way but more in a wacky-and-quirky-where-does-he-come-up-with-this-shizz way. He is definitely the humor that Levi needs in his life and I loved that he pushed him to be more than his past. And then we get to Ellen who, you guessed it, I LOVED. Pixie and Levi are each lost after the tragedy that occurred in their past but Ellen and her Inn soon become their safe haven, their new home, the place they reconnect. I love Ellen for her constant strength and the support she offers each character. For different reasons, Levi and Pixie are missing a mother figure in their lives at the moment and Ellen fills that void for them.

So what’s better than a book full of ah-freaking-mazing characters? A book that has great writing to connect all of these characters. You guys, if these characters don’t draw you in (which they undoubtedly will, BTW), then Chelsea’s writing will do the trick. It was flawless, beautiful, hilarious, heartbreaking, and genuine. I felt like the characters were real-life people dealing with real-life situations. I felt like the past these characters had together and the way Chelsea wove it with the things that are happening during the present was done seamlessly. And finally, Pixie and Levi’s story while it has it moments of tragedy and heartbreak, definitely left me with a happy, tingly, gushy, I-want-to-hug-the-guts-out-of-both-of-them feeling.

If you read any NA book this year, do yourself a favor and make sure it’s Best Kind of Broken.

BOOK PLAYLIST:

I was really excited to make up a playlist for this book. Sometimes I am just struck with inspiration and I certainly got that for Best Kind of Broken. I have the playlist below and I would love it if you checked it out! Each song is on there for different reasons; either they remind me of a certain character, a scene in the book, or the story in general. Take a listen and let me know what you think of it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chelsea Fine

Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // YouTube // Instagram // Goodreads

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK:

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble

Book Review: Searching for Beautiful by Nyrae Dawn

Searching For Beautiful

Title: Searching For Beautiful

Author: Nyrae Dawn

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Release Date: March 4th 2014

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review

Before, Brynn had a group of best friends, a loving boyfriend, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And after…she had none.

When Brynn lost the boyfriend who never loved her, the friends who feel she betrayed their trust, and the new life just beginning to grow inside her, she believes her future is as empty as her body. But then Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community center, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of.

But can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life’s own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?

When it comes to Nyrae’s books, I’ve come to expect certain things from them. First there is Nyrae’s brilliant writing. She has this way of telling a story in a beautiful, honest, gripping way. Next there is the characters that are realistic and flawed in the most spectacular ways. And then there is a sense of peace, hope, and happiness I get at the end of each book. She has this way of tearing your heart out throughout the course of the book but somehow manages to piece it back together by the end. Searching for Beautiful, while it may be different from any other Nyrae Dawn book I have ever read before, had all of these characteristics and so much more.

Brynn’s story is one that I think everyone should read. It will likely break your heart but regardless, it is an important message, one that Nyrae portrays beautifully. Nyrae split this story up into “Before” sections an “Now” sections so we got to see the person Brynn used to be and the way Brynn is now. Hearing about how vibrant and care-free she was when her mom was around to how lost her and her dad became after her mom’s death, then how dependent she was on Jason, a boy who had bad news written all over him but she failed to see, and finally to how broken, scared, and lonely she was when she was left without her mom, without Jason, and without anyone to rely on but herself.

Brynn’s problems only seemed to be doubling with every turn of the page and she was slowly unraveling, which is why I was so grateful when Christian entered in all of his advice-giving, friend-being, candy-chewing, guitar-playing glory. Christian was there for Brynn when it felt like no one else was. He was there to listen and give her advice when she needed it most. What I liked most about Christian was not these other great qualities he had but it was because he was not always likable. Now I know that sentence might come as a shock to you but allow me to explain. Christian can sometimes be judgmental and harsh, he sometimes says things to Brynn without thinking of how she will take it, and his temper gets in the way a few times. So why is it that I like this most about him? IT MAKES HIM REAL! I loved that Christian seemed so incredibly realistic. Guys, well people in general, don’t always say or do the right thing, they aren’t always overly kind and thoughtful but at the end of the day, a good friend tries their best to be there for someone else and this people is exactly what Christian is, a good friend to Brynn.

I also really appreciated the characters of Brenda, Christian’s mom and Emery, a girl who Brynn meets at the community center. Brenda is such a loving, kind, supportive person. This is the first person that Brynn really talks to after her life falls apart. No one could ever take the place of her mother but I think Brynn was in desperate need of a mother figure of some sort and Brenda helped fill that void. As for Emery, she was a good friend for Brynn when Brynn’s friends weren’t there for her. Like Christian, she was a flawed character but despite these flaws, she was honest and there for Brynn when Brynn needed her.

Even though Christian, Brenda, and Emery were there for Brynn, this story isn’t really about leaning on people when life gives you piles and piles of lemons. It’s more about learning to be strong, realizing you are more than your mistakes, and seeing just how amazing, beautiful, and strong you really are. This is a lesson that Brynn learns throughout the course of Searching for Beautiful with some help from these other awesome characters yes, but mostly, it is a lesson she learns on her own. This is why this book was so different from any other Nyrae book I’ve read before. Usually there is a beautiful romance involved and for this book, the romance didn’t really take the lead. It was more of a story of a girl learning to love herself, flaws, mistakes, and all.

Do you see what I mean now? Searching for Beautiful is a story we should ALL read.

If this book had a song, it would be…

This is something new I am going to try to add to all of my reviews. If I don’t do an entire playlist for a book, I am at least going to pick a song to go along with it!

Nothing Stays The Same by Luke Sital-Singh

This song is brilliant and I feel like it fits the book for many reasons. The whole heartbreaking-yet-hopeful feeling I got while reading Searching for Beautiful is the same feeling I get when I hear this song. Also, the lyrics are so fitting with the book. So much is changing for Brynn through the course of the book and the lyrics of this song definitely nail that message home.

WHERE TO FIND THE AUTHOR:

Website // Goodreads // Twitter // Facebook

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK:

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble

Blog Tour + Book Review + Giveaway: I See London by Chanel Cleeton

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I See London

Title: I See London (I See London #1)

Author: Chanel Cleeton

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Source: I received this book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review

Maggie Carpenter is ready for a change— and to leave her ordinary life in South Carolina behind. But when she accepts a scholarship to the International School in London, a university attended by the privileged offspring of diplomats and world leaders, Maggie might get more than she bargained for.

When Maggie meets Hugh, a twentysomething British guy, she finds herself living the life she always wanted. Suddenly she’s riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes and going to the hottest clubs. The only problem? Another guy, the one she can’t seem to keep her hands off of.

Half French, half Lebanese, and ridiculously wealthy, Samir Khouri has made it clear he doesn’t do relationships. He’s the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted…and he’s everything she can’t resist. Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending. In a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change in the blink of an eye.

I See London by Chanel Cleeton is a fantastic example of a well-written New Adult book. It had all the parts I like best about NA; the well, new adult characters, a bit of romance, and a whole lot of self discovery. Becoming an adult is a scary thing that includes growing up, making decisions, and making even more mistakes. All of the characters, not just the main character, in this book were facing their newly found adulthood and all in different ways. I loved feeling like I was a part of this group of friends as they embraced the good and the bad parts of growing up while living in London.

The main character, Maggie was enjoyable yes, but what I liked about her was the fact that she was incredibly normal. I don’t mean any of this in a bad way but she wasn’t extraordinary, or at least in the beginning; she was an average girl from an average town in the U.S. She had a few friends from high school but never really fit in there. Her home life was good but her mother left and her father was never around leaving her grandparents to care for her. She went to school, worked hard to get good grades but really that was about it. Whether it was intentional or not, Maggie being this normal, typical girl, made this story totally work for me. Even though there was nothing super duper extra special about her, she still got the chance to travel all the way to London to go to school, she was able to go on these fun, exotic trips, meet people from all over the world, and experience all sorts of awesome things. It made me believe that me or my friend, my sister, or really any other normal girl out there could experience something like Maggie’s story too. I especially loved watching Maggie blossom throughout this book. She starts off so quiet and shy but with the help of her new friends, she soon learns to come out of her shell.

Maggie’s experience was a whirlwind, one I am still trying to wrap my head around. She got to explore London on her free time, she was able to travel to Venice and Paris, she partied in hot new night clubs. and hung out with people from Lebanon, Paris, and Nigeria. To say I was a little jealous of her is a bit of an understatement. I loved this aspect of the story because through Chanel’s writing, I felt like I was right there with her characters. The imagery was beautiful and even though I have never been to these exciting places outside of my dreams, I truly felt like I was there.

I absolutely adored the characters we met throughout the book. All of Maggie’s friends are coming from different walks of life. Fleur is this stuck-up, beautiful rich girl. But the more you get to know her, the more you learn she is really a great friend once she lets you in. Mya is funny and supportive but underneath the brave face, she is struggling through parental issues. And Samir, well where to even begin with him. Maggie says a few times in the book that he is hard to figure out and honestly, that couldn’t be more accurate. On the outside he is this hot, rich player but as him and Maggie slowly get closer, the more you see that there is more to Samir than his sly grin and effortless shrug. Maggie and all of her friends couldn’t be more different from one another but I appreciated and grew to love them

It wouldn’t be a story about a girl figuring herself out in a new, exciting city without a little romance, right? Maggie and Samir have an attraction to one another from their very first meeting but it is an attraction that Maggie tries to fight with all that she has. Despite her best efforts though, Maggie and Samir always seem to find a way to each other time and time again. Samir makes a pass at Maggie, Maggie gets embarrassed and/or angry, she says something sassy to him, he counters back, there may or may not be kissing involved. Rinse, wash, repeat. The banter and back and forth between these two was so much fun and it had me wishing for more of it. While I loved that their relationship was filled with fun moments, there were a lot of hard moments too. They both are fantastic at pushing one another away, they both know how to push buttons, and they both know when to walk away from something truly great. Despite all of this though, I absolutely adored that they didn’t have a picture perfect relationship. It, pretty much like everything else about this book, seemed very real to me.

I See London by Chanel Cleeton was an adventure of a book. The setting was brilliantly written and it made me feel like I was the one taking classes in London and vacationing in places like Paris for spring break. The relationships and friendships that were created between the well-developed characters were very realistic and Chanel wrote it in a way that made me feel like I was part of their little group too. This book was definitely an enjoyable read and I cannot wait to see where the next book takes Maggie, Samir, and all of their friends!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chanel Cleeton

Originally a Florida girl, at seventeen Chanel moved to London to attend an international university.  In the four years that followed, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, learned how to dance, travelled through Europe, and made lifelong friendships.  Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever.  But fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, when an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves, swept her off her feet.

Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea.  An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she is happiest curled up with a book.  She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband.  Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers.  Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 3, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK:

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GIVEAWAY:

Make sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and an I See London inspired necklace!

Click here to enter the giveaway!

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Blog Tour + Book Review + Giveaway: The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons

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The Deep End of the Sea

Title: The Deep End of the Sea

Author: Heather Lyons

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Source: I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review as part of this blog tour

What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong?

Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age.

But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.

This book was such a fascinating, beautiful story that includes a unique twist on Greek Mythology, a love story that made me swoon more than I should probably admit to, and a girl’s quest to overcome the crappy hands that life keeps dealing her.

Medusa, or at least the version of Medusa in this story, was a character I loved from the very first few pages. As the story went on, she changed from not only a character that I loved, but also a character that I was rooting for and learned to appreciate more and more. At the beginning, she is this scared, lonely girl who was forced into a wretched life on an isolated island. The only rumor that proves to be true concerning Medusa is her hideous appearance and eyes that can turn people to stone. Otherwise she is a caring, sweet, compassionate person. She lets only two people into her life not because she prefers to be alone but because she worries for their safety in her presence. The first of her friends is Mikkos, an old sailor who happens to be blind and therefore immune to Medusa’s curse. The other is Hermes, you know THE GREEK GOD HERMES, who becomes Medusa’s closest friend after years and years (and by “years and years” I do in fact mean “thousands”) of slowly chipping down the wall Medusa has built around herself.

It is within these first few chapters of the book, the chapters in which we are introduced to the real Medusa, not the one of myths and legends, and meet the few people she lets into her life, that I first fell hard for this story and for Heather’s writing. I knew early on that I would adore any outcome of this story because it was already so different from any other Greek retelling I have ever heard about before. Mix that with the manner in which Heather tells this story and you have something that is just beautiful and incredibly unique.

While I loved meeting Medusa and reading about her friendship between Mikkos and Hermes, this story doesn’t really begin until Hermes petitions for the reversal of Medusa’s curse. From that moment on, the book was an emotional roller coaster for sure, but an emotional roller coaster I would not change a single second of. Medusa goes from what she considers herself as, a monster, to a practically normal girl. She goes from a person totally closed off from the rest of the world to a girl surrounded by not only people, but Gods and Goddesses! This transition and all of the changes that Medusa goes through cause an onslaught of emotions which I thought were written and handled very realistically, or I guess as realistic as you can get in a Greek mythology retelling. She has struggles, moments of intense feelings of grief and confusion, moments where she wishes she were alone on her island again. But then there are moments where she opens up a little more, lets more and more people in, and then finally begins to embrace this second chance she was given.

During this transition period for Medusa, we are introduced to several characters that you thought you know about before. For instance, Hades and Persephone. Did you know that they enjoy throwing parties (okay, this one mostly belongs to Persephone), know each others coffee preferences, and how to make each other smile on a regular basis? And what about Aphrodite? Did you know she enjoys shopping, is the kindest person you could ever meet, and is incredibly loyal to those she cares about? We also get to see a whole lot more of Hermes and oh my, that God is as dreamy as you can imagine a Greek God being. He is fiercely loyal and protective of Medusa, he cares for her whether she is half reptile or totally normal, and he can be this mix of understanding, totally goofy, and super sweet. This twist that Heather puts on these Greek Gods and Goddesses is so much different from the stories already out there and I love The Deep End of the Sea even more for it.

It wouldn’t be a story about Greek Gods and Goddesses without a little bit of romance, now would it? I am going to start off by saying that the romance in this story is my ultimate favorite kind of romance. It is one of those romances that start off as friendship. Learning each others like and dislikes, knowing one another inside and out, being supportive and kind when the other needs it most. And then that friendship oh so slowly and delicately blossoms into something more. It blossoms and blooms and causes all the feels because you want it so bad and saw it coming from a mile away but were excited beyond words for it anyways. Yes, this book includes this kind of romance and no I am not going to spill the beans on just who it is but rest assured, you will fall in love, you will swoon, and you will root for this couple just as much as I did.

If I were to list out the reasons why I loved this book, we would be here all day long. And as much as I love your company, I am sure you don’t have the time for that. So because of that, let me be short, sweet, and to the point: this book is brilliant. Heather’s writing is beautiful, the story she crafted is unique in all of the best ways, and the journey Medusa takes from page one until the very end, is a journey you will not want to stop reading.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Heather Lyons

Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

Website // Goodreads // Twitter // Facebook // Pinterest

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK:

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY:

Click here to enter the giveaway!

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Blog Tour + Book Review + Giveaway: Party Girl by Rachel Hollis

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Party Girl

Title: Party Girl

Author: Rachel Hollis

Published By: Chic Publishing

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Source: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review as part of this blog tour

Landon Brinkley is making her dreams come true. After years of poring over glossy photos of celebrity parties in People and US Weekly, she’s landed her Holy Grail: an internship with the fabulous Selah Smith, event planner to the Hollywood elite.

Moving from small town Texas to Los Angeles, Landon finds herself in a world in which spending a million dollars on an event – even for kids’ birthdays – is de rigueur. The thrill of working on A-list parties and celeb weddings is enough to get her through the 75-hour workweeks, the nightmare of a multi-day film festival, and abuse at the hands of a mercurial boss. LA is full of opportunity for fame, fortune and even love. But confronted with the seamy realities of the business, she is forced to make a choice: do whatever it takes to get ahead, or stay true to herself.

A roman a clef in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada, PARTY GIRL draws on the author’s real life experience for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the celebrity-obsessed world of event planning. From the party habits of America’s favorite underage singer to the worst Bridezilla of all (the kind that graces the cover of your favorite magazine), PARTY GIRL reveals the ugly side of Hollywood’s prettiest parties.

Reading Party Girl by Rachel Hollis is the most fun I’ve had while reading in a LONG time! There were just so many fantastic aspects of this book that all worked so well together and made me adore it to absolute pieces. The characters, the parties, the horrible bosses, and the quirky best friends; they all were what made this book cute, quirky, and a definite favorite!

Landon was an extremely likeable character from the very first page! While she was a way more girlie than I could ever dream of being, I couldn’t help but connecting with her as a character on so many levels. She was ready to embrace this new, exciting life in Hollywood and nothing was going to stand in her way. Her outlook on life (before the evil boss!) was so positive and enthusiastic; it definitely made me smile! Once Landon reaches Hollywood and is introduced the crazy, hectic, harsh reality that happens only when you are an intern for an assistant of an assistant of Selah Smith THE PARTY PLANNER, she gets nervous and a little overwhelmed, yes, but that confidence and determination to make something special out of her life never faltered. I really loved and appreciated Landon as a character for that very reason!

Landon also seemed like such a real, honest, genuine character and I think that’s why I fell so head over heels for this story. She is this fantastic mix of all of my favorite personality traits: sure she is confident but she has moments of insecurity, nervousness and fear. She is girlie and bubbly which means she is mistaken as a “dumb blonde” a lot but she is smart and savvy in all the best ways. She has quite a few setbacks personally and professionally but she also has a lot of great moments too in which she was really able to show how she grew as a person! By the end of this story, I just felt like I knew her not as a character but as a friend!

Another one of my favorite parts of this book were the other characters! There was such a crazy, quirky cast of characters each bringing their own something special to the story! Landon’s roommate, Max was hilarious even if she didn’t mean to be. Max is this tough girl with a bit of an attitude (and scowling) problem but seeing her friendship with Landon grow, was one of my favorite parts! Landon’s co-workers (the ones that weren’t evil and horrible!) like Taylor and Miko, were such a pleasant surprise. Not only did they add humor to the book but they were rooting Landon on the whole time and I loved them for that!

This book also contained some romance; an unexpected but sweet, adorable, lovely romance all the same! Landon first meets the handsome, rich, and successful Brody Ashton while choking on a muffin in an elevator. From that moment on, Landon and Brody’s interactions are awkward at best. She feels like she’s out of his league and he pegs her wrong from the beginning. This is my favorite type of romance though because they start off in a tense place with their relationship but we got to see that transform to acceptance of one another, the start of their fragile (but still intact) friendship, and finally blossom into full-on love. It was slow-building and sweet in all of the best ways!

While I ADORED this book for all of these reasons and more, there is one particular aspect I cannot fail to mention; IT, the book, not just the character, was so real, genuine, and fun! I was SO glad I read about the author before going into this book because knowing a little more about Rachel and all of the awesome things that she as done in her career so far, made this book seem even more authentic to me! She has (or at least I suspect she has!) gone through a lot of what Landon went through; from the internship, to the horrible boss, to the exciting parties, and finally to starting her own party planning business.

This is a book I have been pushing onto people before I even finished reading and it is a book that I will be pushing onto people for a long time! I adored the characters, the relationships between them, and the party planning aspect but more than that, I love the good feeling I got when I read this book. It is fun, delightful, adorable and I honestly cannot suggest this one enough!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel_Hollis

Rachel Hollis is the founder of the popular lifestyle blog www.thechicsite.com and Los Angeles-based event planning firm, Chic Events.  At 27, she was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the “Top 30 Entrepreneurs under 30.”  She has designed and produced fabulous parties for many of Hollywood’s elite, including Bradley Cooper, Rashida Jones, Al Gore, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ivanka Trump, Jamie King, and Cuba Gooding Jr. (just to name a few).  Most recently, she planned the nuptials of actress Sara Rue’s wedding, which garnered national coverage in magazines such as People and US Weekly.

In 2010, Rachel appeared as the wedding planner on the WE Network show “Jilted?” This six-part relationship series followed potential brides as they gave their suitors ultimatums to see if they would get the wedding of their dreams or get “jilted.”

In addition, Rachel is a lifestyle expert for The Talk, EXTRA, The Nate Berkus Show, The Steve Harvey Show, KTLA Morning News, Fox 5, Better TV and a regular contributor on PopSugar TV and Celebrations.com. She has been featured in People, InStyle, OK! Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Better Homes and Garden, Traditional Home, Entrepreneur, Grace Ormand and the TV shows “Jilted” and “I Do Over” for the WE Network, “The Traveler’s Guide to Life” on the Travel Channel” and “Self Made.”

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK:

Goodreads // Amazon

GIVEAWAY:

0B0B5176  0B0B5186  0B0B5165

You guys are so lucky because this giveaway is AMAZING! Basically there are two HUGE prize packs, which are both filled with products that our main character, Landon, LOVES!

Bag 1

Essie Resort Collection

Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream

Kokokahn Lip Balm

Nicole by OPI Nail Polish

big sexy hair styling product

Acure leave-in conditioner

RGB Nail Polish

Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balm

 Bag 2

Essie Resort Collection

Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream

Kokokahn Lip Balm

Nicole by OPI Nail Polish

big sexy hair styling product

Sulwhasoo Exfoliating Gel

RGB Nail Polish

Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balm

Click here to enter this AMAZING giveaway!

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