Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: "Keeping Mr. Right Now" by Robin Bielman

A temporary agreement neither could keep… Brainy, organized Sophie Birch is no beach bunny. In fact, she’s totally out of her element among the sun-bronzed crowd at a film festival in beautiful White Strand Cove. When a surf lesson introduces her to Zane Hollander, suddenly she's up close and personal with the world's sexiest surf star. But what can a great-looking, experienced athlete possibly see in a klutzy out-of-towner who’s never set foot in the ocean? Zane Hollander's playboy reputation has never been a problem…until recently. Now his management team wants him on his best behavior to entice a meaningful new sponsor. Sophie Birch is the perfect girl to help reform his image. She's genuine and respected—and their relationship is purely fictional. But the more Sophie blooms under the beachy sun, the more Zane knows he'll just break her heart. Because nothing's more important to Zane than following the tide.
Super cute book! This is pretty much the perfect beach read - not too long, with a beautiful setting and an evenly paced plot, as well as some interesting characters.  I really enjoyed both Sophie and Zane, and the supporting characters were intriguing enough to warrant a look at the next books in the series.

Although I was able to identify with Sophie, being that she's a nerdy, inexperienced career girl, Zane is the character I really empathized with. I can't imagine what it would be like to grow up with such an emotionally abusive father. Even being at the top of the surfing world isn't enough to erase the scars that were inflicted during Zane's youth. He's doing a good job of trying to get past all that, with the support of his closest friends and remaining family, but when his dream sponsorship opportunity comes up, he still needs to work through his self esteem issues in order to become a real contender. His friends also believe that his image needs a bit of an overhaul, and that's where Sophie comes in.

I really enjoyed the development of Sophie and Zane's relationship.  It was a bit of a slow burn, but it was never boring and I was never left hoping that they would just jump each others' bones and put an end to that ever present sexual tension. Plus, the slow build up seemed to suit Sophie's somewhat shy personality. It was great to see Zane share things with her that he'd never shared with others, and I was satisfied to see Sophie becoming more confident and self assured as their week together progressed. 

If I were to change anything about "Keeping Mr. Right Now", it would probably be the ending. Things just seemed to work out a bit too quickly and neatly. All in all, though, I still thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would be happy to check out more by Robin Bielman.

My rating:  3.5 stars

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: "We Are The Goldens" by Dana Reinhardt

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart. When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellayla. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

First off, I gotta say, I freakin' LOVE Felix de la Cruz!  He is the awesomest boy best friend ever!  Nell's relationship with him really had a positive impact on this story - it's probably what will stand out most in my memory of this book.

The rest of this novel is really good, too.  I enjoyed the San Francisco setting, the complex yet loving relationship Nell shared with Layla, and watching Nell navigate all the challenges of being a high school freshman.  Even though there's twenty plus years between myself and Nell, I could still totally relate to her.  In fact, one part of the story in particular resonated with me because I found myself in the exact same situation as Nell once upon a time.

I guess my one criticism of this book is that it tried to deal with a  wide variety of issues in such a  short span, and thus there were a lot of loose ends.  Although I don't always mind when things aren't tied up nice and tidy - it's more realistic that way, after all - in the case of "We Are The Goldens", I would have liked just a little bit more closure. 

My rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: "On the Fence" by Kasie West

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can out-run, out-score, and outwit every boy she knows--including her long-time neighbor, and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chi-chi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and bedazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pick-up game. To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

My thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

One of my top reads of the year!  This was my first Kasie West book and I absolutely loved it!

The characters were fantastic!  I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to like Charlie in the beginning because of how she acted, but I quickly came to adore her.  Braden was the perfect mix of friend and something more - I loved him!  And Charlie's brothers - also awesome!  I hereby vote for Gage to get his own book!

Of course, there was more to this book than just the fabulous characters.  The plot was perfectly paced - I was never bored or wanting to skim.  And I was really surprised at how deep things got at the end.  I definitely wasn't expecting that and maybe shed a tear or two!  It was also so much fun to see Charlie getting in touch with her more feminine side - definitely a few laugh out loud snorts from me!

So I've used 8 exclamation marks in this review so far, which normally I would think is too many, but in this case doesn't feel like nearly enough.  If you haven't got the gist of what I'm trying to say so far, then here it is in a nutshell - awesome book, go buy it and read it now! (!!!)

My rating: 4.5 stars