Review: Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker-Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published February 12th 2013 

Saving Wishes is about a girl, Charli, who lives in a small town called Piper's Cove in Tasmania. Tasmania is that small little island off Australia just to the south, isolated and extremely quiet. Not much happens there and for a seventeen year old Charli, who has lived with her brother there all her life, there's only one thing she dreams about. Getting off the island and seeing the world.

Her life is pretty simple. Best friend, Nicole, and Charli are taunted on a daily basis by the Beautifuls, a siblingship of girls who are extremely good looking, petty and often malicious. Charli has history with Mitchell, the brother, and she's never been able to live it down.

Along comes Adam, a french-american who has some secrets of his own. Once Charli and Adam get together their lives explode around them.

Saving Wishes was a sweet book. One I could empathize with as I know what being brought up in a small town is like. I disagree with many of the promotion blurbs depicting Charli as a troublemaker or too meek and mild. In my opinion Charli is fortunate to know who she is, and who she wants to be unlike many of the other characters in the story. She's smart, wise and knows her own limits. Yes, she lacks worldly experience but she's an old soul in a young body.

The chemistry with Adam was there from the start. Definitely not instalove but a fond connection pulled the two characters together. Twists, turns and lots of funny, witty moments kept them together. Not even the Beautifuls could penetrate our main characters armour!

The downside of this book and why I marked it to a 4* instead of a 5*? I couldn't help feeling a distance with the emotional side of Charli. Yes, her narrative told us all the things she was thinking but at times the romance and loving side of Charli and Adam wasn't enough to pull me in completely.

Other than that, a great start to what I'm sure will be a great series.

- CBx

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Review: Stay With Me (With Me #1) by Elyssa Patrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Published August 30th 2013 by Elyssa Patrick

This is definitely one of the books that I've liked more this year. The story of a child actress/starlet who basically wants to pull away from her old life and do normal stuff. Going to college and dating ordinary guys is a bit out of Hailey's comfort zone so its refreshing that she's even giving it a try.

I did like the good background settings that cropped in here and there. Anyone who watches E! or reads the gossip mags can only grasp at what life as a young superstar must be like. Admittedly I didn't learn anything new about her previous business but the author did certainly do her research.

I loved the boys network of Caleb and his housemates. Caleb is a safe and solid guy to fall in love with. He has no ulterior motive, no shady side to him. Just a nice guy who likes the girl! Any drama was always going to be in Hailey's head. Not anywhere else.

The big secret and its reveal? Well, it wasn't the biggest. Honestly, I wasn't even that surprised. Horrible what happened to her? Yes, absolutely. Did I doubt Caleb? Never in a month of Sundays.

I loved the HEA. I see that there'll be other books based on the other guys. Definitely worth reading!

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ARC Review: Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expected publication: April 22nd 2014 by HarperTeen

To grow up as a bloggers baby might have been quirky and fun as a youngster but now 15 year old Imogene has had enough. She can't even get out of bed in the morning without her mother waking her up and snapping a quick photo (with bed hair and all) for her blog, Mommyliciousmeg dot com. Even her name was chosen pre-birth by a blogging poll. What was once a feeling of being special for a mother and daughter is now an invasion of Imogene's privacy, in her eyes anyway.

This book has an intriguing premise, and one very real in bloggerland. The message is clear. How far is too far when blogging. Imogene's mother has forgotten how to be a mum, she's a blogger first and foremost. Imogene doesn't have many friends, never had a boyfriend and constantly is heckled by her schoolmates who all read Meg's blog. And Meg doesn't hold back. She announced her daughters first period, first bra purchase and other personal moments.

This story was believable to a certain extent, even to the point where I was almost cheering Imogene on for overcoming obstacles. I had to finish reading to find out what would happen.

Definitely worth a read mainly because its about blogging!

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ARC Review: Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Expected publication: January 28th 2014 by Harlequin Teen

I usually like Paige Harbison books. They have a realism and edginess that authors can sometimes not quite nail. Unfortunately I didn't connect with this one at all and was still trying to figure out the message the book was trying to convey.

Natalie and Brooke have been BFF's since a young age. When a new, hot guy arrives at school Brooke is the one to take a step out with him, although Natalie told her to put in a good word for herself. Brooke, who is a little jealous of her popular but introvert friend appears to take this as a challenge and soon enough Brooke and Aiden are dating. One year on, Natalie is still popular and quiet, Aiden is the nice, kind boyfriend, but Brooke isn't happy with her life. This is where the book picks up from.

The characters are very real. Brooke is obsessively jealous of her best friend and boyfriends friendship and thinks the only way to try to be more popular than Natalie is to drink and party. She seeks attention, craves it, wants guys to ogle her even though she has a boyfriend. Her jealousy soon gets mixed with antagonism. She hangs out with like-minded people who are not like Natalie. She begins to see how Natalie and Aiden are more suited as a couple but she refuses to give him up.

Natalie however goes to a party, a rarity for her. She wakes up the next day knowing something happened with a guy but is unsure who it was. Eventually, she sees a change in Brooke and keeps her growing feelings for Aiden undercover. After all, you do not get with your best friend's boyfriend, big no no!

The story is told from two POV's, Natalie and Brooke. My honest opinion is that the author wanted readers to warm to Brooke. To understand the whys and wherefores of how she works. Personally it only made me hate her even more.

Topics covered as our two best friends free-fall are drugs, alcohol abuse, pregnancy and cheating. I would say that they were all covered sympathetically, the author could have gone for a far more shocking story than she did.

Two things strike me as I finished. Firstly, the book title was wrong. It should have been Anything to be you. Certainly Natalie didn't do anything to get Aidens attention, she was just herself. And Brooke didn't want Aiden, not really so that doesn't work either. The second thing was that none of the characters talked. Even though they're all supposed to be very best friends and shared a lot of time together they never aired their laundry with each other. I mean, don't teenagers break up and make up all the time, not sit on problems and let them escalate as badly as they did in this book.

I honestly think the author took her finger off the pulse on this one and therefore it just didn't seem quite accurate. But that's just my opinion. :)

- CBx

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Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expected publication: December 31st 2013 by Balzer + Bray

The cover pretty much sums up the book. Sweet, innocent, little Wren and older (by a couple of years), Grayson. One adorable couple who want to try for something real. No pretence, no lies, just an honest relationship.

Wren Caswell, Doesn't participate in class.
Bright but quiet.
Quiet. Quiet.
Too quiet.
I tried not to let the evaluation bother me, but it did. Being quiet was not a conscious protest. It was my nature."

They do share a connection from the beginning of the story. Even though their beginning is Grayson acting an idiot in front of his friends and speaking down to her. Wren, equally not amused by him, is the only one looking when he starts choking on a mini sausage. One Heimlich manoeuvre later and he sees Wren through different eyes. In fact, his whole outlook on life changes.

She's just a girl, Grayson. 
A girl who saved my life. 
I wanted to sweep the hair away from her face, feel her body against me, without an audience or the threat of my imminent death.
Connecting with her had felt different. Real. I had to get to know her."

Don't be misled. This is a book of secrets and lies, back-stabbing school mates, evil Ava, and the beginning of a romance that might easily be thrown away if the couple doesn't try hard to make it work. Time and again Grayson's past comes back to haunt and ruin him. But Wren is a smart cookie. She's good at damage control, especially with herself. And she's definitely is not one to be underestimated. She's a fighter.

The only thing I would criticize is the lukewarm ending. The rest of the book had sizzling eyes, warm hands and plenty of kissing. I couldn't help feeling like I wanted a little bit more heat.

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